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Book Review: A primer on how to recover the art of preaching

Diego Cervo/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Nov 23, 2021 / 12:33 pm (CNA).

For the past decade, one of the missions of Father Daniel Cardó’s parish, Holy Name in Sheridan, Colo., has been liturgical renewal. With the hope of leading the congregation into full, conscious, and active participation at Mass, the church sanctuary was remodeled with beautiful details and symbols, the stained glass windows now depict glorious saints, the congregation loudly and joyfully chant the propers of the Mass, and the choir sings works of Palestrina, Byrd, and the like each Sunday.

In addition, careful preparation is taken with Cardó’s homilies in order to engage, encourage, and educate his flock. His latest publication, “The Art of Preaching: A Theological and Practical Primer” (The Catholic University of America Press, 2021) is a natural extension of the homilies he preaches each Sunday as well as his work as the Benedict XVI Chair of Liturgical Studies at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As a professor of homiletics, he has experience teaching seminarians studying for the priesthood the art of preaching, which he neatly organizes in this book, aiming to provide the theoretical and theological foundations of preaching, along with very practical advice and examples. As the author indicates in the introduction, his goal has been to create one volume with all the basic teachings for those aiming to learn or improve the art of preaching. 

At the beginning of the book, Cardó outlines both the challenges and opportunities that homilists face when preaching, encouraging them to use the powerful platform they have each Sunday to do something great with their homilies. But, needless to say, encouragement is not enough. The book offers a wide and well-researched view of the necessary foundations for preaching.

After an engaging first chapter in which the author describes the challenges for preaching, particularly those of our day and age, the book offers a useful overview of the main Magisterial teachings on the homily. Based on this, the author unpacks in a short chapter the best insights from the art of rhetoric, both classic and modern. Building on this human foundation, the reader is taken into a journey through the theology of preaching, reflecting on the who, where, and what of homiletics. 

"The Art of Preaching," by Father Daniel Cardó. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America Press
"The Art of Preaching," by Father Daniel Cardó. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America Press

The book enters into a more practical section, with the chapters on the preparation and the delivery of the homily. The author offers very concrete advice based on the best literature on the topic, but also on his own experience of preaching and teaching to preach. Homilists will appreciate the suggestions for preparation and the tips for delivery. 

Cardó illustrates his points through the example of the preaching of St. Augustine, and closes this section with the bold suggestion that all preachers are theologians who put their years of learning into practice in the daily and weekly effort of exploring God’s message to his people here and now. 

The second section of the book is a well-selected “Homiletics Reader,” containing 14 brilliant homilies, with brief introductions and questions for study and dialogue. 

Lay people who read this book might be surprised by how fruitful the experience can be. The laity too, as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said about this volume, “will be grateful for this book,” which, we can only hope, will be read by many seminarians, deacons, priests, and bishops. As such, Chaput also says, “The Art of Preaching will be a wonderful gift for all your clergy friends.”

Women scholars discuss danger of redefining women

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. / Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

South Bend, Ind., Nov 23, 2021 / 11:46 am (CNA).

Efforts to redefine women undermine their feminine dignity and unjustly pressure them to resort to abortions to keep pace with men in the workforce, a panel of women scholars said earlier this month in a discussion that highlighted the harmful consequences of de-sexing society.

Titled “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice,” the Nov. 13 discussion took place at the 21st annual fall conference of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, and featured presentations by English professor Abigail Favale, legal scholar Erika Bachiochi, and writer Leah Libresco Sargeant.

Favale, the dean of the College of Humanities at George Fox University, in Newberg, Ore., spoke about the dangers of divorcing the terms “woman” and “female.”

Currently, she noted, “defining a woman as an adult human female is considered hate speech” by some, and use of the terms “pregnant woman” or “breastfeeding” can be labeled discriminatory. Yet “appropriating the identity of a woman is considered laudatory, liberating, the next frontier of civil rights,” she said. 

“[I]f woman no longer names the billions of persons who are female, how do we speak about them?” Favale asked.

Apparently, the answer is not so easy. Favale cited three failed definitions as proof.

One, from the Australian Academy of Sciences, defines a woman as “anyone who identifies as a woman.” A second definition, offered by British philosopher Katherine Jenkins, is someone who “experiences the norms that are associated with women in her social context as relevant to her.”

A third definition comes from trans-identified person Susan Striker, who says a woman is “useful shorthand for the entanglement of femininity and social status regardless of biology — not as an identity, but as the name for an imagined community that honors the female, enacts the feminine and exceeds the limitations of a sexist society.”

Favale says these definitions unseat the dignity of women in a deeply disquieting manner. 

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame
Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

“The most stunning aspect of this linguistic insurrection is the unnaming of female humans,” she said. “To quote Helen Joyce: The quest for the liberation of people with female bodies has arrived at an extraordinary position: that they do not even constitute a group that merits a name.”

The divorce between woman and adult human female also puts women in physical danger, Favale argued.

Women are the primary beneficiaries of the “few sex segregated spaces that continue to exist in western, liberal democracies — bathrooms, locker rooms, prisons, shelters, sports teams — [and] all of those exist for the benefit of women who are more vulnerable to sexual assault and harrasment,” she said. 

Ironically, Favale lays blame at the feet of the feminist movement. 

“For the past five decades mainstream feminism has enthusiastically been sawing off the branch it has been sitting on,” Favale said. 

“While there are myriad iterations and definitions of feminism, a common denominator among them is ostensibly a serious concern about the status and well-being of women,” she said. “And yet this very concept has been steadily eroded of content by feminists themselves.”

Without a reuniting of the two terms, warns Favale, the dignity of women will no longer be protected. 

“[A] feminism that rejects an entire definition of woman grounded in the concrete reality of the sexed human body cannot effectively advocate for those whose lives and circumstances are shaped by that body,” she concluded.  

Is it men who’ve been liberated?

Bachiochi, a pro-life feminist legal scholar and fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., elaborated on these bodily realities in her discussion of “the natural asymmetry of the sexed body.”

As Aristotle observed, “males reproduce outside of themselves and so can walk away, and females reproduce inside of themselves and so cannot,” Bachiochi noted. She went on to describe the physical differences between male and female arousal, the effect of testosterone in men, and the waves of oxytocin which uniquely affect the woman after the sexual act, chemically bonding her to her sexual partner whether he is worthy or not. 

“[A]t the heart of sex, there is a deep inequality,” she argued. 

Bachiochi claimed this asymmetry has prompted many movements to rectify the imbalance.

“Now, throughout human history women have attempted all sorts of means and methods to manage and even escape these natural asymmetries, asymmetries that make women vulnerable not only to stronger and more libidinous men, but also to the dangers and difficulties of childbearing,” she said. “From nascent contraceptives to dangerous aborations even to infanticide, desperate women have often resorted to desperate measures.”

What is new today, she said, is that women believe that equality with men “demands the affirmative right to engage in the killing of one’s own vulnerable and dependent child” and the right to engage in “putatively consequence-free sex just like a man.” 

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame
Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

Ironically, however, women’s liberation seems to have liberated men more than women, she argued. She highlighted that women experience this “right” to consequence-free sex with a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

Many women engage in casual sexual relationships “as a kind of right, a right that..too often becomes a kind of duty,” one that can result in the unintended consequence of pregnancy, Bachiochi said.

“It is the government, then, in seeking to restrict abortion, that would force [a woman in this position] to be a mother,” she said. “And so equality demands, from this perspective, that women enjoy the right to engage in a life-destroying, child-destroying act.”

Bachiochi, who also serves as the director of The Wollstonecraft Project at the Abigail Adams Institute, contrasted this attitude with the vision of Mary Wollstonecraft, a British advocate of women’s rights.

Wollstonecraft believed that asymmetries in the sexed body led to further asymmetries in the political, legal, and social realms. But rather than seeking to rectify these differences by making women more like irresponsible and libidinous men, Bachiochi said, Wollstonecraft and others believed the solution to procuring equality lay in greater chastity among the male sex. 

“The little respect paid to chastity in the male world is, I am persuaded, the grand source of many of the physical and moral evils that torment mankind, as well as of the vices and follies that degrade and destroy women,” Wollstonecraft famously said. 

“In Wollstonecraft’s view, engaged and attentive fatherhood was the very best means to direct men’s desires properly, by bringing them into the light of shared domesticity,” argued Bachiochi. 

The pressure to conform

Sargeant, the author of “Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer,” and “Building the Benedict Option,” agreed with Bachiochi’s contention that women’s equality is not synonymous with the ability to have sex and walk away from any consquences as men can do. 

“[C]ontraception and abortion are the most dangerous compromises that women are asked to make in order to make up for not being as good at being men, as it would be convenient for others if we were,” she argued. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg thought … that women cannot have equal protection under the law, cannot be equal as citizens, without having the ability to pay the entrance price to society, which is the ability to abandon somebody who is vulnerable and depends on you,” Sargeant said.

While that premise is false, she said, this is the way society is currently structured.  

“Abortion is one more example where we say to a woman, ‘The problem is that you are a woman. It's your responsibility to find a way for us all not to have to deal with that unpleasant reality, and whatever compromise, whatever sacrifice, whatever suffering you have to cause … is worth it because we don’t have room for women here,’” Sargeant said.

Sargeant sees this outlook manifested in the unreasonable pressures routinely placed on new mothers to return to work days or weeks after giving birth. In essence, women in these situations are told to be like men, she said.

Instead, Sargeant argued that the culture needs an entirely different argument about the human person, one that recognizes vulnerability, dependence, and the dignity of love, rather than asking women to conform to a standard of masculine autonomy.

Traditionalism, American-Style

It wasn’t hard to anticipate the reception that Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodes would get in the United States: hostile (from those already militantly opposed to the pope) or lukewarm (from most of the U.S. bishops). It follows a pattern that began in 2013, with the reception of Francis’s pontificate in general: a minority of U.S. bishops willing to show their communion of intent with the pope; a majority reluctant to engage with him one way or another; and a very small but very vocal sliver of bishops and lay intellectuals who charge Francis with breaking the Church apart.

The latest addition to this pattern is a new book raging against Traditionis custodes, a multi-authored volume titled From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio ‘Traditionis Custodes’ on the Latin Mass. There’s a long list of very short chapters written by a number of prominent authors—some cardinals, some bishops, and Catholic activists and journalists known for their animus against Francis, among them Cardinal Raymond Burke, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, and senior writer at National Review Michael Brendan Dougherty. Carlo Maria Viganò makes a predictable appearance, but also included is Michel Onfray, the French atheist whose well-documented, unashamed anti-Catholicism is evidently no problem for the publishers of this volume as long as he professes his love for the old Mass in Latin. Their appearance between the covers of a book probably gives the authors the illusion of power and influence, but this collection shouldn’t be confused with the serious works produced by Catholic publishers with much larger revenues and market share.

Still, it does represent an escalation in the rhetoric against Francis, and it further positions the current pope as the enemy of the pope emeritus. This is remarkable coming from cardinals and bishops and anyone else who, until the beginning of Francis’s papacy, made total obedience to the pope a key element of their Catholic identity. I’m not saying schism is around the corner; it’s hard to imagine that in the universal Catholic Church. But in the Catholic “metaverse” in which many of these authors live, a schismatic mentality has taken root.

This is a crisis in urgent need of a Catholic-to-Catholic ecumenism. It’s a different kind of situation from previous splits between Catholics in communion with the bishop of Rome and those who rejected Vatican II in an earlier post-conciliar period. A helpful comparison might be the movement created by Marcel Lefebvre in the early 1970s, which ultimately led to the creation of the Society of St. Pius X and the excommunication of its leader in 1988 for illegally consecrating four bishops. True, there are similarities between today’s traditionalism and Lefebvre’s traditionalism—namely, that those rejecting liturgical reform represent just a tiny fraction of the college of cardinals, the episcopate, and the Catholic flock; and that their rejection of liturgical reform really amounts to a rejection of Vatican II. But it’s important to note the differences.

The first is that the center of Catholic neo-traditionalism is no longer exclusively French-speaking Catholicism in Europe, but conservative Catholicism in the United States. (In this sense it should be noted that the “globalization of Catholicism” does not necessarily make the Catholic Church theologically more progressive.) While there remains a French component to the opposition to Pope Francis and synodality, the transatlantic axis that has been in place since the eighteenth century has shifted, so that the voice of American Catholic traditionalism has become louder than the French.

Though the new traditionalists make up a very small minority of Catholics, they nonetheless have an outsized voice both in conservative mainstream media and on social media.

The second is that the though the new traditionalists make up a very small minority of Catholics, they nonetheless have an outsized voice both in conservative mainstream media and on social media. Catholic neo-traditionalism in the United States isn’t really on the fringe anymore; it’s not viewed as alien to the culture the way the French viewed Lefebvrists in the 1970s and ’80s, ridiculing the movement as vestige of nineteenth-century Catholic subculture.

A third difference is that neo-traditionalism is attached to and benefits from the momentum of a political crisis in the United States. Lefebvre’s movement remained at the margins of the political battles in France, but American neo-traditionalism overlaps with so-called “Catholic Trumpism” and fuels itself on never-ending culture-war issues. Prominent Catholic clergy and laity resisting Francis and his implementation of Vatican II (not just on liturgical reform) have found representation in one of the United States’s two major political parties, which gives them visibility that Lefebvre’s followers never had. At the same time, this Catholic neo-traditionalist movement does not depend entirely on the insurgency of the political right, since it seems to have adherents among the Catholic hierarchy. Ecclesial discourse itself increasingly includes culture-war language. The speech by USCCB President Archbishop Gomez earlier this month, in which he criticized America’s so-called “new religions,” is an obvious example. This has important consequences for the future: American neo-traditionalism has not had to create separate seminaries for the formation of future priests; it has transformed them from the inside. Consider the election of Bishop Steven J. Lopes as new chairman of the USCCB’s committee of liturgy. Lopes, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, is responsible for shepherding former Anglicans who came into communion with the Church after Benedict XVI’s 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus and doesn’t even lead an ordinary Latin rite diocese. This is one more signal that on the implementation of Traditionis custodes, most of the U.S. bishops are agnostic at best, if not reluctant or resistant.

One final difference: when Lefebvre was at work, the Church could rely on an institutional narrative of continuity between Paul VI and John Paul II in defending the authority and legitimacy of Vatican II, while at the same time making some liturgical concessions (as John Paul II did) to traditionalists. But the rupture that Benedict XVI created in advancing liturgical traditionalism (see 2007’s Summorum Pontificum) and in his policies on Vatican II is something today’s traditionalists can exploit—and they do. The new Catholic right can now take advantage of the fact that, thanks to Francis’s predecessor, the papacy is no longer identifiable with the task of defending ex officio the conciliar teachings and its reforms (promulgated by Paul VI, canonized by Francis). This is the most consequential difference between the first generation of French-speaking anti-Vatican II traditionalists and this new, English-speaking generation, which plays the game not only from inside the Church, but also from mainstream news outlets.

The appeal to Benedict XVI in this book and elsewhere is particularly dangerous in this regard, given that the emerging Catholic right wing seems to want to roll back much of Vatican II along with the liturgical reform. As for how the rest of the Church—especially the U.S. hierarchy—wants to respond, it’s not quite clear yet. But the threat is real, and it presents a real test. How we face it will say a lot about the Church. Certainly there should be pastoral sensitivity towards those affected by Pope Francis’s motu proprio. But there certainly should not be any catering to the explicitly anti–Vatican II sentiments of these self-appointed defenders of an imagined Catholic tradition.

The campaign against Traditionis custodes by the self-proclaimed movers-and-shakers of “orthodox Catholicism” doesn’t amount to a real schism, and for the most part their rhetoric and social-media strategy of victimization hasn’t spilled over into the discourse of American Catholics whose resentment toward Francis is more vague and amorphous—and who don’t seem to have the same subversive intent. Nor do they have the capabilities that the right-wing elites do—this stunt of a book being an example, which is less an appeal to ordinary Catholics than to the resentments of insiders opposed to Francis. That’s their real audience, and it’s why such books need not become bestsellers to have a long-term impact on the Church. Even as a stunt, it in some ways arrives as a manifesto in advance of the next conclave, whenever that conclave may be.

The Steadying Hand of Experience

The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.—William Osler One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.—James Russell Lowell Adventure is worthwhile.—Aesop Years ago, as a newly minted third-year medical student turned loose (from two years of mind-numbing classroom lectures) to roam the medical wards of a bustling Minneapolis hospital, I felt someone warmly put their hand upon my shoulder. Turning, I beheld the unfamiliar face of a wizened senior physician. Grey, stooped, and bespectacled, he smiled at me and pointed to the numerous books and cheat sheets awkwardly stuffed into the groaning pockets of my white coat. “Someday,” he winked, “you won’t need to carry any of those around.” As he walked away, I muttered, “When?” What on earth was he talking about, and how would I ever arrive at such…

Cordileone to Catholic students after boycott of pro-life assembly: 'Do not be victims of the culture'

Credit: Wuttichai Jantarak/Shutterstock / null

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 22, 2021 / 19:19 pm (CNA).

The archbishop of San Francisco has encouraged students at a local Catholic high school to reject the lies of the abortion industry and become courageous advocates for life, following a boycott of a pro-life assembly at the school. 

“Do not be victims of the culture,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote in an open letter to students at Archbishop Riordan High School. 

Cordileone met with student leaders at the high school on Nov. 8 to discuss the incident.

The meeting was "a chance for productive and thoughtful dialogue," said the high school's interim president, Tim Reardon.

Cordileone wrote an open letter to all students in preparation for the meeting. The text of his letter was published by First Things Nov. 19. 

“There are powerful forces in our country that use slogans to co-opt you into being agents of their own self-serving agendas. You must see through the lies,” he said in the letter.

The students staged a walkout Oct. 22 to protest an all-school assembly featuring pro-life speaker Megan Almon.

According to an account of the incident by the San Francisco Chronicle, students began to exit the auditorium and file into an adjacent gym about “five minutes” into the presentation, leaving “a few dozen of the school’s more than 800 students” in the auditorium for the entire talk.

The walkout has since gained media attention after a video of the walkout went viral, with several hundred thousand views on TikTok.

“My school tried to hold a pro-life assembly,” on-screen text on the video of a throng of masked students reads, “So we walked out.”

In his letter, Cordileone praised students for their idealism and energetic advocacy for justice. He then challenged the students to discern the truth about abortion. 

“Abortion is the killing of a human life,” Cordileone wrote. “This is a scientific fact. The fetus in the mother’s womb is a unique, growing human being, with its own unique DNA. 

“The method of killing depends on the stage of pregnancy and type of abortion, but often involves such techniques as dismembering the limbs, crushing the skull, and burning the body,” he said.

But above all, abortion is a moral issue, the archbishop wrote. 

“No matter the method, abortion is a horrendously violent act,” Cordileone said. “This is not hyperbole. It is scientific fact.”

Cordileone went on to challenge students to advocate for the truth about abortion, which is not glamorous, but fosters greatness. 

“Think of the abolitionists of the mid-19th century, or the advocates of civil rights of the mid-20th century: They did not fit into the societies of their times, advocating for politically unpopular and unfashionable causes,” he wrote. “They risked, and some lost, their lives in the effort to correct the greatest injustice of their time. We now regard them as the moral heroes of their generation.”

He cited Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This, though, only happens when a new generation of moral heroes rises up to correct the injustice,” the archbishop wrote. “This requires a strong backbone, great spiritual stamina. Will you be the moral heroes of your generation? Do you have what it takes?”

Cordileone urged the students to cultivate their prayer lives. He wrote that only Christ—and His Church—can offer women true choice in the face of an unplanned pregnancy, and healing after an abortion. 

He encouraged young women at the high school to cherish their fertility as a blessing that does not come at the cost of progress for women.  

“God has given you the awesome gift of being able to conceive and bring to the light of day a new, unique human being, with an immortal soul,” he wrote. “I’m old enough to remember a time when our society cherished this gift and protected it; indeed, in effect, society organized itself around it.”

“It is true that back then women were deprived of many opportunities that they now enjoy, and this is progress to be celebrated. However, it should not come at the cost of women having to cancel out this awesome gift.”

Cordileone challenged young men at the high school to respect women as equals, not as tools to be used for selfish pleasure. 

“You still have a ways to go before you mature into full manhood,” he wrote. “If you want to remain a boy forever, then spend your life caring only about yourself and every little immediate pleasure that you desire, because to be a real man requires a life of sacrifice and virtue. 

“It also means acting responsibly by showing respect toward women as your true equals and cherishing and respecting that awesome gift she has of bringing new life into the world,” he said.

He prayed that students at Archbishop Riordan High School would be open to learning and growing in their knowledge, “and especially open to hearing and trying to understand points of view different from your own, even points of view with which you strongly disagree.”

“I wish that is what those of you who walked out of the speech by a pro-life activist recently would have done,” he wrote. “This action put on full display one of the blind spots of youth due to young people’s lack of extended life experience: gullibility.”

After shocking Waukesha Christmas parade attack, Wis. Catholics grieve and pray

Catholics and others were injured, and at least four people killed, when a car drove through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21. / Getty Images

Waukesha, Wisconsin, Nov 22, 2021 / 16:51 pm (CNA).

Catholics in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha have responded with grief, prayer, and solidarity after an SUV drove into marchers in the city’s Christmas parade. Five people were killed, and among the nearly 50 injured are a Catholic priest, multiple parishioners, and Catholic schoolchildren.

“As the shepherd of the Catholic community of southeastern Wisconsin, I feel compelled to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by this senseless act,” said Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee said in a video message on Monday. “When confronted with the shock and the grief encountered by our brothers and sisters in Waukesha, it is now important for us to turn to our faith which offers us God’s loving presence and consolation.”

Like other schools in the city, Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha cancelled Monday classes. The high school, which had a contingent marching in the parade, held a prayer service at 12:30 p.m.

St. William Church in Waukesha scheduled a bilingual prayer service at 6 p.m. Central Time Monday and said it would be streamed live on its Facebook page and YouTube.

“Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha,” the archbishop continued in the video. “Please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families, and those who are traumatized from witnessing the horrible scene.”

“I know that people of every faith and tradition will call their communities together and offer to God their sense of confidence in his ability to guide us through this difficult period and offer hope and healing,” said Listecki. “God bless you.”

A red SUV barreled through barricades and into a crowd marching down the main street of Waukesha just before 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 21. Videos posted on social media showed a dark SUV racing down the parade route past horrified onlookers moments before marchers were struck, with police in pursuit.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, the Waukesha Xtreme Dance team, and a marching band were also struck by the vehicle, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Several of the dead were part of the dancing grandmothers’ group, while another was a Citizen Bank employee walking with a float. 

The youngest to die was 52, while the oldest was 81. Those hospitalized for their injuries included at least 18 children.

Also marching in the parade were individuals and institutions of the local Catholic community.

Waukesha has four Catholic parishes. In the wake of the incident, the city’s parishes provided social media livestreams of the rosary and Eucharistic adoration.  

Authorities named Darrell Brooks Jr. as the suspected driver, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Among other recommended charges, he could face five charges of first-degree intentional homicide, each of which has a sentence of mandatory life in prison.

Brooks, 39, was the subject of an ongoing domestic violence case. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said Nov. 22 that prosecutors had recommended an “inappropriately low” bail in this case and it is investigating the recommendation.

In the last two years Brooks has faced three charges of recklessly endangering others’ safety. He jumped bail for a July 2020 incident for allegedly firing a handgun during an argument.

Most recently, in early November, he allegedly ran over a woman with his vehicle in the parking lot of a Milwaukee gas station. She was hospitalized for her injuries. Brooks was free on $1,000 bail.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, Waukesha police chief confirmed that Brooks was involved in a “domestic disturbance” before he drove onto the parade route. There was an unconfirmed report that a knife was involved. Officials said on Monday that there was no police pursuit related to that incident, CNN reports.

Brooks has a significant record of other criminal convictions.

Bishop of Charleston prohibits confirmation, anointing of the sick in ‘Tridentine Form’

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, South Carolina / Bill Kennedy/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 22, 2021 / 16:12 pm (CNA).

Priests in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. may no longer administer confirmation or the anointing of the sick in Latin using the pre-Vatican II Roman Missal, under a new policy that goes into effect Sunday.

The policy announced by Charleston Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone also limits the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, and comes in response to Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, or “Guardians of the tradition.” The papal edict states that it is each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Traditional Latin Mass in his diocese.

The Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 is known as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

The new “Policy Regarding Celebration of the Mass of 1962 in the Diocese of Charleston” goes into effect on Nov. 28, the first Sunday of Advent. It identifies four parishes in the diocese where the Traditional Latin Mass may be said on Sundays and holy days of obligation, under certain conditions.

Guglielmone stipulates in the new policy that the Traditional Latin Mass cannot be celebrated for midnight Mass at Christmas, or during the Triduum or the Easter vigil. A single Traditional Latin Mass is allowed on All Souls Day. On weekdays, the older rite may be celebrated “if an additional Mass is celebrated according to the ‘NOVUS ORDO’ on the same day,” the policy states.

The four parishes where the Traditional Latin Mass can be celebrated are: Stella Maris in Sullivans Island; Sacred Heart in Charleston; Prince of Peace in Taylors, and Our Lady of the Lake in Chapin.

The policy also limits the celebration of certain sacraments in the “Tridentine form.”

Confirmation and anointing of the sick are not permitted, the bishop states. Baptism is allowed only at the request of the parents. Matrimony using the older rite is permitted with permission of the bishop, and funerals are allowed only at “specific prior written request of the deceased.”

A note adds that “Baptism, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick can be celebrated in Latin according to the most recent updating of the rites.”

“Those priests who have been celebrating this Mass prior to the date of Pope Francis’ MOTU PROPRIO and who have indicated to me that they were doing so, may celebrate this Mass” in the four parishes, Guglielmone states in the policy.

A spokeswoman for the diocese confirmed that the new policy is in response to Traditionis custodes. “The motu proprio from the Holy Father requested that each bishop evaluate their diocese and implement specific instructions regarding the celebration of the Mass of 1962,” she told CNA. “After reviewing the rites thoroughly and consulting with the pastors of our diocese, the bishop approved this policy effective the first Sunday of Advent.”

The spokeswoman also addressed the sacramental regulations in the policy. “Regarding the specific limitations on certain sacraments, these decisions were made based upon the rubrics and study of the rites,” she said. “For example, before Vatican II the Mass could not be celebrated after 12:00 p.m. on a Sunday and not before midnight the day before a major feast day. Thus, there is no permission in the rubrics to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass on Christmas Eve.”

Guglielmone was appointed bishop of Charleston by Pope Benedict in 2009. The text of the new policy is below.

The new policy of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., regarding the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. CNA
The new policy of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., regarding the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. CNA

Not Quite Silenced

The Roman parable of John Courtney Murray looms large in the modern American Catholic imagination. The Jesuit theologian argued that the First Amendment was in keeping with Catholic orthodoxy at a time when the Holy See still insisted that the American model of religious freedom was a suboptimal church-state arrangement—tolerable only when the optimal arrangement, a Catholic confessional state, was out of reach. Officially censored by the Holy Office in 1954, Murray’s ideas would be vindicated a few years later by the Second Vatican Council, and specifically by the Declaration on Religious Freedom (1965), which Murray himself helped draft. As former Commonweal editor Margaret O’Brien Steinfels once said, it is “the Catholic rule of thumb, that anyone with a good idea for changing Church teaching or practice, I think here of John Courtney Murray, ought to be made to suffer for it.” Yet, so far, we have known only the contours of Murray’s pre-conciliar ordeal. Despite the meticulous historical work of Joseph A. Komonchak, who has been painstakingly piecing together evidence from a wide array of personal, ecclesiastical, and governmental archives, a crucial perspective was still missing: that of the Holy See itself.

The recent opening of the Pius XII–era archives has changed that. In a pandemic-stricken Rome, Vatican archivists have been working against both the clock and the virus to process the huge number of documents from the Pacelli pontificate and make them available to researchers. Scholars, too, have had to deal with sudden interruptions, longer waitlists, and retrieval failures. The Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (ACDF), as the Holy Office was renamed in 1965, was no exception. By mid-April 2021, however, a new holding finally popped up on the ACDF’s digital research portal: a four-volume file titled “Church and State. Ideology of John Courtney Murray, S.J.” The file contains annotated copies of Murray’s writings and addresses, correspondence to and from the Holy Office (including denunciations of Murray sent by Joseph C. Fenton, Francis J. Connell, and the canonist Thomas O. Martin); and the written evaluations of various Vatican officials. 

What fresh insights can be expected from the newly available records? These documents help fill in what had been, until recently, a half-painted picture. Take the example of Murray’s 1950 memorandum to Msgr. Giovanni Montini, who was then Substitute for Ordinary Affairs of the Vatican Secretary of State and would later become Pope Paul VI: “The Crisis in Church-State Relationships in the U.S.A.,” a copy of which Komonchak retrieved among the papers of Claire Booth Luce in the Library of Congress and edited for publication in 2017. Several major questions remained about the memorandum’s exact genesis and its fortunes in the Holy Office. When and how did the document make its way to Rome? Who reviewed it? How did it become part of the dossier used to censor Murray? 

 

The newly available ACDF records shed light on how Murray’s ideas were actually perceived in Rome.

While silent about the memorandum’s genesis, the ACDF file can help us answer other questions. We learn that the memorandum landed at the Holy Office in September 1953, bundled with Murray’s Theological Studies articles from 1948 and 1949, and with the responses that Montini had solicited from the three U.S. cardinals (Edward Mooney, Francis Spellman, and Samuel Stritch) and the apostolic delegate Amleto Cicognani. Acknowledging the importance of these responses for reconstructing the cross-Atlantic conversation on religious freedom in the 1950s, Komonchak published the only two he was able to locate, those written by Stritch and Connell, next to Murray’s memorandum. But the context in which these essays were produced remained obscure. We now know that Connell’s comments had been requested by Cicognani, while Spellman—who would later sponsor Murray’s participation as a theological advisor to Vatican II—had sought the expert opinion of John Fearns and William O’Connor, rector and professor of dogmatic theology, respectively, at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York. That means the Holy Office could count on seven responses to help gauge the attitude of the U.S. hierarchy toward Murray and the issues he raised in the memorandum. Scholars finally have access to all these responses as well.   

Even more importantly, the newly available ACDF records shed light on how Murray’s ideas were actually perceived in Rome. The Holy Office’s cardinal-members usually relied on expert theologians and canon lawyers (consultores) to review each case that came before them and to indicate the appropriate course of action. Reading the different resolutions (vota) proposed by the consultores who worked on Murray’s case helps us understand exactly what part of his argument was suspect in Roman circles. 

These vota reveal a surprising degree of sympathy toward the American Jesuit. They generally acknowledge the good faith of Murray’s attempt to square traditional Catholic teaching on church and state with the reality of increasingly pluralistic societies. While sharing Murray’s concerns, however, even the most sympathetic Holy Office officials remained unpersuaded by his claim that the American religious-freedom regime was a legitimate alternative to the confessional state. The consultores were particularly critical of Murray’s argument that the state need not be confessional in order to ensure the harmony of positive law with natural and divine law. In his 1950 memorandum, Murray argued that a lay state, too, “is subject to the sovereignty of God and it recognizes that its acts and legislation ought to be in harmony with the law of God; but the political form of the State requires that this harmony be effected by the people.” But how would that work, exactly? The Holy Office’s reviewers pressed the point. They argued that a state programmatically unwilling to judge religious truth would not be able to protect Catholic values from their repudiation via democratic procedure. Sometimes majorities were wrong. As embarrassing as the defense of the confessional state was becoming for the Church in the 1950s, the American model seemed like a non-starter. 

The consultores’ appreciation for the seriousness of the questions Murray raised, if not for the soundness of his answers, led them to recommend relatively mild disciplinary measures. The German Jesuit Franz Hürth, then a professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, recommended in his votum that Murray be ordered to refrain from holding and teaching propositions that were contrary to the traditional doctrine of the Church—but only actual doctrine, not just the prevailing opinions of particular theologians. By distinguishing these opinions from doctrine, Hürth was not just narrowing the scope of Murray’s censurable infraction but also carving out some space for legitimate scholarly debate on the subject. 

Like all historical documents, the newly accessible ACDF sources open as many questions as they answer.

The consultores’ opinions, however, merely constituted the first step in a complex process. Next, the cardinal members of the Holy Office had to discuss the different vota and decide whether to adopt their recommendations or to issue an alternative verdict. A first draft of the Holy Office’s decree on Murray’s case rejected Hürth’s recommendation and outright forbade the American Jesuit to ever write or lecture on the church-state question again. Yet, when Pope Pius XII reviewed this draft together with the vota, he found such blanket prohibition excessive. It would be enough, he decided, for Murray to submit any writings to the Jesuit General Curia for accurate review. Hence came the censorship verdict that scholars are familiar with. We now know that this final verdict was the result of compromise and of the pope’s own mitigating intervention. 

 

Like all historical documents, the newly accessible ACDF sources open as many questions as they answer. What led Pius XII to make his decision on the Murray case? How did this case resemble, or differ from, other comparable cases the Holy Office dealt with during this pontificate? What does this livelier-than-expected debate within the Holy Office reveal about the status quaestionis of religious freedom at mid-century? Further research in ACDF and other Vatican archives is still needed to help scholars answer these interpretive questions.

Still, early findings already suggest that we might soon tell Murray’s story in a different way. Rather than merely exemplifying institutional obstinacy in the face of progress, it might illustrate the Church’s ongoing struggle to find a path between secularism and the confessional state. As Vatican II’s legacy of religious freedom elicits renewed debate in American Catholic circles—and present-day “Murrayites” face the challenge of a new generation of “integralists”—this newly released material from the Vatican archives offers an opportunity for deeper engagement with the relevant historical precedents. 

Issue: 

Encounters Between Equals

Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a contested tradition for centuries. In colonial times indigenous peoples looked to her for strength, while Church and civic authorities contended she was a sanctifier of their stratified society. After Mexican independence, government officials lauded her as the emblem of the new nation, while many Catholic clergy asserted she was calling the nation to repentance and a renewed commitment to the ways of Christ. Today devotees link Guadalupe to an even broader range of concerns. Native American groups engage her as a source of indigenous spirituality. Supporters of the pro-life movement revere her as the patroness of the unborn. Chicana feminists contend that her purpose is to liberate women and all the oppressed. Church leaders proclaim her as a force for evangelization. 

As competing parties vie for a hermeneutical edge in channeling Guadalupe’s potency, their divergent and at times conflicting emphases underscore just how influential a phenomenon Guadalupe has become. Shrines are dedicated to her as far south as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe, Argentina, and as far north as Johnstown, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her presence among Catholics is now a global phenomenon, as evidenced in worship spaces like an altar dedicated to her at the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, a chapel next to the tomb of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and a Guadalupe parish church in Puchong, Malaysia. The influence of Guadalupe extends even beyond the bounds of official religion, especially in Mexico and the United States. She regularly appears in scenes of telenovelas, films, murals, art, poetry, tattoos, T-shirts, and refrigerator magnets. Today the increasing number of perspectives on Guadalupe presents what could be deemed the postmodern challenge to understanding her: when the presence and meanings of traditions such as Guadalupe expand, their power to unite people around a common vision or cause can diminish. 

Some scholars have responded to Guadalupe’s interpretive malleability with the bold claim that, in the words of the late Stafford Poole, absent a documented “objective historical basis” for the Guadalupe-apparition tradition, “the symbolism [of Guadalupe] loses any objectivity it may have had and is at the mercy of propagandists and special interests.” In this view, unless there is evidence to verify the historical origins of the Guadalupe tradition, theological and other analyses of its messages are prone to co-optation. Of course, such pitfalls loom whenever a religious tradition has a wide-ranging sphere of impact, regardless of the extant textual evidence underlying its historical origins. The primary factor that leads to manipulative interpretations, in other words, is a religious tradition’s sway over the hearts and minds of believers, not its lack of historical substantiation. 

Nichole Flores addresses the historicity question at the outset of The Aesthetics of Solidarity: Our Lady of Guadalupe and American Democracy. She acknowledges the need for continued investigations into the historical context out of which the Guadalupe tradition emerged. At the same time, drawing on the works of other contemporary scholars (including those of this reviewer), she articulates insights such as Hans-Georg Gadamer’s concept of the history of effect, underscoring that for religious symbols such as Guadalupe we need to study both the history of their origins and the history of their evolving influence. Thus while the precise details of the tradition’s sixteenth-century origins are debated, “what is historically demonstrable is that the Guadalupe devotional tradition has been a potent religious and political narrative for people and communities in Mexico, in the United States, and throughout the Americas and the rest of the world.” Far from inducing theologians to abandon the field of Guadalupan interpretation, Flores concludes that the potential for manipulation makes critical theological assessment all the more urgent.

Far from inducing theologians to abandon the field of Guadalupan interpretation, the potential for manipulation makes critical theological assessment all the more urgent.

Flores’s own assessment contributes substantially to this urgent need. She echoes the insistence of Roberto Goizueta and other contemporary theologians that Guadalupe should not be examined in isolation, but in her encounters and relation with the indigenous neophyte Juan Diego, whom Pope John Paul II canonized in 2002. Thus Flores examines both ongoing theological and other interpretations of the Guadalupe tradition, as well as aesthetic performances like the drama The Miracle at Tepeyac, which the Chicano community-theater group Su Teatro developed in Denver beginning in the 1970s. Her volume proposes a political theology for U.S. democracy “predicated on a relational anthropology in which the encounter between equals within the context of oppression is offered as the narrative’s interpretive key.” The Guadalupe–Juan Diego encounter, in other words, is not merely a historical tradition but a lens through which to meet and learn from the poor and abandoned of today’s world. Juan Diego models the poor as protagonists for a robust and transformative solidarity. Foregrounding the relation between Juan Diego and Guadalupe underscores the ethical dimensions of the Guadalupe tradition and provides an antidote for temptations to co-opt and manipulate it. 

The latest volume in Georgetown University Press’s distinguished Moral Traditions series, The Aesthetics of Solidarity draws on the work of a number of scholars, especially John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, and Alejandro García-Rivera. First, Flores assesses Rawls’s political philosophy, which underscores justice as fairness. He envisions a society whose members share basic rights and collaborate within an egalitarian economic system that conditionally allows economic and social disparities, but only to the extent that they leave the least-advantaged better off than they would have been under conditions of equality. Flores’s critique of Rawls centers on the implications of his work for aesthetics. Rawls presents a vision of political stability amidst diverse social groups, but Flores argues that he fails to adequately consider the struggles of the marginalized. The forms of expression among marginalized peoples include religious ones such as their Guadalupan devotion, which Rawls fears are too group-specific to meet the standards of public reason that overshadow religious, racial, class, and other differences within a pluralistic society. Yet in limiting religious expressions to the private realm, Flores concludes, Rawls presents a set of allegedly impartial and predominantly rational standards in public discourse that tend to privilege the perspectives of dominant communities. The result is the undervaluing of the potential of faith and its aesthetic expressions to empower the political participation of marginal groups.  

Martha Nussbaum builds on Rawls’s work with her theory of political emotions, that is, emotions that take the nation as their object. While she embraces many elements of Rawls’s thought, she adopts a more positive view toward the role of emotions in public life. She contends that narrative-based aesthetic forms such as literature, theater, and film focus societal members on pressing issues that need to be addressed, even if those artistic expressions do not provide a consensus viewpoint on how to address them. Thus the aesthetic, which can be a divisive source of tribal passions or even violence, can also motivate vigilance and action to confront social ills. It can accentuate the essential human elements of complex social problems, and motivate political participation among the varying groups in a pluralistic society. Nonetheless, Flores echoes other critics in noting that Nussbaum’s notion of political emotions emphasizes civic virtues such as justice and equality, which stabilize society by inculcating respect for our fellow citizens and for extant political norms. But Nussbaum’s theory is less sympathetic to political emotions such as anger at racism and other forms of injustice. Thus she does not account adequately for the particular aesthetic expressions of racialized communities such as those of the Denver Su Teatro community theater group. Flores highlights how Su Teatro interwove the traditional Guadalupe apparitions narrative with the local community’s advocacy on behalf of immigrants and its protest of the decision of archdiocesan officials to close their parish church. The anger and lament manifested in this drama are important political emotions that must be addressed in any attempt to systematize the pursuit of justice in a pluralistic society.

The beauty of flowers, song, and the tenderness in Juan Diego’s encounters with Guadalupe have decidedly political dimensions: they are expressions of her solidarity with him.

Alejandro García-Rivera, along with other Latinx theologians, provides a vision that more fully encompasses marginalized groups, the common good, and individual rights. García-Rivera articulates the communitarian theological anthropology in Latinx theologies, a view of the human that is fundamentally relational. Like Juan Diego in his encounter with Guadalupe, these theologians show that Latinas and Latinos do not tend to see themselves as autonomous individuals, but as communal beings formed by the relationships that constitute who they are. At the same time, García-Rivera joins various colleagues in asserting that this pervasive relational view can gloss over individual differences. It can even silence marginal or abused members of Latinx families and communities under the pretext of a false sense of family honor or group solidarity. To combat such tendencies, García-Rivera calls for the advancement of the “community of the beautiful,” one in which both the relational and individual elements of our humanity are respected. Without losing sight of the whole, such a community foregrounds particular experiences and persons, particularly the most vulnerable. Aesthetic practices such as Guadalupan devotion, which encompass both universal messages as well as the concrete encounter with the poor one, Juan Diego, enable this process of foregrounding. Thus aesthetic encounters can focus attention on marginalized persons, build bridges across the differences between peoples, and forge communities through a common act of interpretation and commitment to social purpose. Aesthetic experiences guide us to go beyond a quest for the uniformity of an imposed and superficial “oneness” to the wholeness of a deeper unity that does not erase difference.

 

Flores concludes that the Guadalupe tradition illuminates a paradigm of aesthetic solidarity that is necessary for democratic politics. The beauty of flowers, song, and the tenderness in Juan Diego’s encounters with Guadalupe have decidedly political dimensions: they are expressions of her solidarity with him and sources of his re-humanization after the debilitating effects of the Spanish conquest. Aesthetic experience also enables Juan Diego to grasp both the relational and individual elements of his humanity. He is drawn into relation with Guadalupe, but he also questions and even contests her directives. She in turn does not relegate him to the status of a passive subject, but respects his active partnership with her in their common mission. This enables Juan Diego to confront the colonial authorities in the person of the bishop. Juan Diego demands not just that the bishop fulfill Guadalupe’s wishes and build her a temple, but that the colonial authorities and societal structures respect the voice and humanity of indigenous peoples. The Guadalupe–Juan Diego encounter is an aesthetic experience that foregrounds the suffering and humanity of the downtrodden, deepens their appreciation of their full humanity, and enables them to be agents of personal and social transformation.

Flores insists that everyday religious practices should be examined as an instance of aesthetic expression, but she largely limits herself to analyses of the interpersonal dynamics in accounts of the Guadalupe–Juan Diego encounter, as well as theatrical productions and a few public processions with explicitly political overtones. Inclusion of the most prevalent of Guadalupan devotions—rosaries, mañanitas, flower offerings, parish feast-day celebrations, and the like—would be a welcome addition to her analysis. Nonetheless, theologians, other scholars, pastoral leaders, artists, and activists would do well to emulate Flores’s deft engagement of the Guadalupe tradition as an ethical tradition centered on the encounter between Juan Diego and Guadalupe. The Aesthetics of Solidarity models how to honor the Guadalupe tradition while consciously seeking to not co-opt it for one’s own purposes. Grounded in superb exposition of contemporary political philosophy and Latinx theologies, this volume also provides a constructive dialogue between those schools of thought and the religious traditions of the marginalized. Flores’s study offers significant insights for understanding the importance of marginalized groups, their struggles for justice, and their religious expressions within the political landscape of a pluralistic society. 

The Aesthetics of Solidarity
Our Lady of Guadalupe and American Democracy

Nichole M. Flores
Georgetown University Press
$49.95 | 184 pp. 

Issue: 

Jackie Kennedy’s Veil and the Weight of Apocalypse 

Fifty-eight years later, the images are still so very vivid. The funeral cortege; the deeply somber and silent crowds lining the streets; the riderless horse, named “Black Jack,” carrying a pair of highly polished, be-spurred boots in his stirrups to represent the fallen leader. The quietly respectful narration of the media, so unimaginable today, as a young matron, surrounded by the enormous Kennedy clan and appropriate members of the government leadership, walked behind her husband’s flag-draped casket. Most do not recall that Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy had only months earlier lost her infant son, Patrick, born five weeks prematurely. Most do not consider that her post-natal chemistry and the terrible grief of losing a “preemie” (a subject less readily discussed or even acknowledged back in the day), had likely combined to lay its own silent burden on her, one to be carried in the face of public…