Thursday, June 30, 2022

FBI investigating Archdiocese of New Orleans


FBI opens sweeping probe of clergy sex abuse in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The FBI has opened a widening investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans going back decades, a rare federal foray into such cases looking specifically at whether priests took children across state lines to molest them, officials and others familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press.

More than a dozen alleged abuse victims have been interviewed this year as part of the probe that’s exploring among other charges whether predator priests can be prosecuted under the Mann Act, a more than century-old, anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines for illicit sex.

Some of the New Orleans cases under review allege abuse by clergy during trips to Mississippi camps or amusement parks in Texas and Florida. And while some claims are decades old, Mann Act violations notably have no statute of limitations.

“It’s been a long road and just the fact that someone this high up believes us means the world to us,” said a former altar boy who alleged his assailant took him on trips to Colorado and Florida and abused him beginning in the 1970s when he was in the fifth grade. The AP generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted.

The FBI declined to comment, as did the Louisiana State Police, which is assisting in the inquiry. The Archdiocese of New Orleans declined to discuss the federal investigation.

“I’d prefer not to pursue this conversation,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond told the AP.

The probe could deepen the legal peril for the archdiocese as it reels from a bankruptcy brought on by a flood of sex abuse lawsuits and allegations that church leaders turned a blind eye to generations of predator priests.

Federal investigators are now considering whether to seek access to thousands of secret church documents produced by lawsuits and shielded by a sweeping confidentiality order in the bankruptcy, according to those familiar with the probe who weren’t authorized to discuss it and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Those records are said to document years of abuse claims, interviews with accused clergy and a pattern of church leaders transferring problem priests without reporting their crimes to law enforcement.

“This is actually a big deal, and it should be heartening to victims,” said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a think tank focused on preventing child abuse. “The FBI has rarely become involved in the clergy sex abuse scandals. They’ve dragged their feet around the country with respect to the Catholic Church.”

The U.S. Justice Department has struggled to find a federal nexus to prosecuting clergy abuse, hitting dead ends in cases as explosive as the ones outlined in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report that disclosed a systematic cover-up by church leaders. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed church records in Buffalo, New York, the same year in an inquiry that similarly went quiet.

“The issue has always been determining what is the federal crime,” said Peter G. Strasser, the former U.S. attorney in New Orleans who declined to bring charges in 2018 after the archdiocese published a list of 57 “credibly accused” clergy, a roster an AP analysis found had been undercounted by at least 20 names.

Strasser said he “naively” believed a federal case might be possible only to encounter a host of roadblocks, including the complexities of “putting the church on trial” for charges like conspiracy.

But federal prosecutors have in recent years employed the more narrowly focused Mann Act to win convictions in a variety of abuse cases, including against R&B star R. Kelly for using his fame to sexually exploit girls, and Ghislaine Maxwell for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. In 2013, a federal judge in Indiana sentenced a Baptist pastor to 12 years in prison for taking a 16-year-old girl across state lines for sex.

Among the priests under federal scrutiny in New Orleans is Lawrence Hecker, a 90-year-old removed from the ministry in 2002 following accusations he abused “countless children.” Hecker is accused of abusing children decades ago on out-of-state trips, and other claims against him range from fondling to rape.

Hundreds of records currently under the confidentiality order “will reveal in no uncertain terms that the last four archbishops of New Orleans knew that Lawrence Hecker was a serial child predator,” Richard Trahant, an attorney for Hecker’s alleged victims, wrote in a court filing.

“Hecker is still very much alive, vibrant, lives alone and is a danger to young boys until he draws his final breath,” Trahant wrote.

Asked by telephone this week whether he ever abused children, Hecker said, “I’m going to have to hang up.”

More recent allegations are also drawing federal attention, including the case of Patrick Wattigny, a priest charged last year by state prosecutors after he admitted molesting a teenager in 2013. His attorney declined to comment.

Wattigny’s 2020 removal from the ministry came amid a disciplinary investigation into inappropriate text messages he sent a student. The case sent shockwaves through the Catholic community because church leaders had frequently characterized clergy abuse as a sin from the past.

“It was happening while the church was saying, ‘It’s no longer happening,’” said Bill Arata, an attorney who has attended three of the FBI interviews.

“These victims could stay home and not do anything,” he added, “but that’s not the kind of people they are.”

Clergy abuse is particularly fraught in Louisiana, a heavily Catholic state that endured some of the earliest scandals dating to the 1980s. Last year, it joined two-dozen states that have enacted “lookback windows” intended to allow unresolved claims of child sex abuse, no matter how old, to be brought in civil court.

But with few exceptions, most notably a former deacon charged with rape, the accused clergy have escaped criminal consequences. Even at the local level, cases have been hamstrung by statutes of limitation and the political sensitivity of prosecuting the church.

The archdiocese’s 2020 bankruptcy case has also frozen a separate court battle over a cache of confidential emails describing the behind-the-scenes public relations work that executives for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints did for the archdiocese in 2018 and 2019 to contain fallout from clergy abuse scandals.

While the Saints say they only assisted in messaging, attorneys for those suing the church have alleged in court records that Saints officials joined in the church’s “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.” That included taking an active role in helping to shape the archdiocese’s list of credibly accused clergy, the attorneys contend.

Attorneys for those suing the church have attacked the bankruptcy bid as a veiled attempt to keep church records secret — and deny victims a public reckoning.

“Those victims were on the path to the truth,” Soren Gisleson, an attorney who represents several of the victims, wrote in a court filing. “The rape of children is a thief that keeps on stealing.”

July is devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus


Catholic Prayer: July Devotion: The Precious Blood






Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. Like the Sacred Wounds of Jesus, His Precious Blood deserves special honor because of its close relation to the Sacred Passion. That honor was given to it from the beginning by the Apostles who praised its redeeming power. (Rom. 5:9 "we are justified by His blood"; Heb. 13:12 "and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate"; 1 John 1:7 "and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.")

In recent times the devotion has been encouraged by Blessed Gaspar Buffalo, founder of the Congregation of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. When Pope Pius IX was in exile from Rome in 1849, he had as his companion Don Giovanni Merlini, the third general of that Congregation. This saintly priest suggested to the pope that he make a vow to give the feast of the Precious Blood to the entire church, if he should regain the papal territory. Without binding himself by the vow, the pope immediately extended the feast to the whole Church. On the old calendar it was celebrated on July 1, but Catholics may still continue this tradition by increasing their devotion to the most precious Blood throughout the entire month of July.

See this article from the Catholic Culture library, Apostle of Devotion to His Most Precious Blood: St. Gaspar del Bufalo.


Most Precious Blood of Life Eternal, price of sinful man's redemption, by whose saving streams the thirst of souls is quenched, and their stains are washed away, Thou Who dost plead the cause of man before the throne of infinite mercy, from the depths of my heart I adore Thee and desire, as much as lies in my power, to make atonement for the injuries and insults that are constantly offered Thee by mankind, and especially by those who rashly dare to blaspheme Thee. Who will not bless and praise this Blood of infinite value? Whose soul would not be inspired with love for Jesus Who shed It all for us? What would be my fate, had I not been redeemed by this Divine Blood? And what drew Thee from the veins of my Saviour even to the last drop? It was love! O boundless love, which has given us this saving balm! O priceless balm, welling from the fount of immeasurable love! Grant that all hearts and tongues may praise Thee, magnify Thee, and give Thee thanks, now and throughout all ages. Amen.

July special prayer intention of the Pope


The Pope's Monthly Intentions for 2022


We pray for the elderly, who represent the roots and memory of a people; may their experience and wisdom help young people to look towards the future with hope and responsibility.

Ist Saint of the Day for July


St. Junipero Serra

Feastday: July 1
Patron: of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified: Pope John Paul II
Canonized: September 23, 2015, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., by Pope Francis

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.

At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.

In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.

He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.

Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

Remembering the victims in Texas human trafficking tragedy


Local residents pay a visit to mourn the victims at the scene where dozens of migrants were found dead inside a trailer, San Antonio, TexasLocal residents pay a visit to mourn the victims at the scene where dozens of migrants were found dead inside a trailer, San Antonio, Texas 

San Antonio Archbishop: Migrant tragedy cannot be allowed to "pass by"

Archbishop Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Texas, speaks about the tragic loss of lives on Monday, when dozens of migrants were found dead in an abandoned trailer on the side of the road.

By Francesca Merlo

The survivors of Monday’s migrant tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, are all minors, and other than one – the only one who is able to speak – they are all as yet nameless.

“This is the story of the immigrants, migrants and refugees on the southern border with the US” and one of the most terrible aspects of this massacre, according to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio Texas. An abandoned lorry containing 46 dead migrants was found on the side of the road in the city. The number of those who have died has now risen to 51.

Being loved by a community

When we consider the massacre of Uvalde, Texas, not long ago, in which 19 children and two teachers were shot dead in an elementary school, the victims and their families had names. They were part of a community that loved them and they were never alone, says Archbishop Garcia-Siller. These migrants, representing a small percentage of the nameless people risking their lives in hope of a better one, are alone and nameless.

Speaking to Vatican News, Archbishop Garcia-Siller recounted his visit to meet the survivors of the San Antonio tragedy in various children’s hospitals around the State.

“Only one person is doing noticeably better,” said the Archbishop. Her name is Sebastiana and she is sixteen years old. Another, who opened her eyes from her unconsciousness just as the Archbishop was leaving, smiled through her tubes and managed to nod when the Archbishop, after listing various Southern and Central American countries, mentioned Guatemala. She recognised and nodded at the sound of her home country. “It is very painful,” says the Archbishop.

Archbishop Garcia-Siller lauded the hospital workers, noting how well each patient was being looked after. Each person is accompanied by members of law enforcement, he recounted, “because there is a federal investigation underway.”

Three people have been taken into custody following the discovery of the trailer, though authorities still do not know whether they were definitely connected to the incident.

Pope Francis’ call for a change of heart

Archbishop Garcia-Siller went on to speak of the message of solidarity received from the Holy Father, who calls for “a change of heart”. That is what we need, says the Archbishop.

“We must do better, so these situations, which have now become common, may cease.”

First, we need to recognise what happened, says the Archbishop, “we cannot just allow situations like this one, or the one in Ubalde, to just pass by.” The real change, however, comes on the level of the legislators, continues Archbishop Garcia-Siller. He recounts his move to the US, “many years ago”, noting that since then “nothing has been done to address the immigration reform” and because of this, the suffering is in cycles and is “beyond understanding”.  We will be sending letters to the lawmakers, assured Archbishop Garcia-Siller, as they are the only ones who can change some of these laws.

We, along with all people of faith, continue to pray, to honour the dead and be close to the living, says the Archbishop.

He then told the story of his encounter with a young girl, around three or four, during his visit to the hospitals. She had no connection to the tragedy that occurred on Monday night, but upon seeing the Archbishop took his hand and asked that he please pray for her migrant "sister", now in heaven.

“I will pray and ask her to talk to you, so that you can remember her voice and be near her,” responded the Archbishop.

Be close to the living, honour the dead

Archbishop Garcia-Siller explains that he decided to recount this painful story because “if in some way we can express to people from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and all the other countries, that we are with their beloved ones, living or dead, and that we pray for the living to be restored into fullness and a better quality of life, whilst honouring the dead”, we are close to them.

“We trust in God,” concluded the Archbishop, and we must grasp any sign of hope, because “we know that God, in doing His work, will multiply it."

Toward Christian reconciliation, unity


Pope with delegation of the Ecumenical PatriarchatePope with delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Christian reconciliation a way toward peace amid 'senseless' war

Meeting with a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Pope Francis thanks God for ecumenical progress over the years, and stresses the need to reconcile with separated Christians, especially as the world faces a "cruel and senseless war."

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Amid "a cruel and senseless war of aggression in which many, many Christians are fighting one another," Pope Francis says "reconciliation among separated Christians as a means of contributing to peace between peoples in conflict" is very timely.

The Holy Father made that point on Thursday when meeting with a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Vatican, the day after the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Following a long-standing tradition, the delegation is in Rome this week to help build unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

The visit comes as part of the “traditional exchange of delegations for the respective feasts of the Patron Saints: 29 June in Rome for the celebration of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and 30 November in Istanbul for the celebration of St. Andrew the Apostle."

The Pope welcomed them this morning, saying he was grateful for their visit, and asked them to convey his greetings to his "dear brother" Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to the Holy Synod.

Recalling their presence at Wednesday's Eucharistic liturgy, the Pope told them their presence "was a source of great joy" for him and for all present, saying it visibly manifests "the closeness and fraternal charity of the Church of Constantinople towards the Church of Rome."

Commitment to advancement toward full communion

The Holy Father noted that the traditional exchange of delegations between the two Churches for the celebration of their respective patronal feasts "is a tangible sign that the days of distance and indifference, when our divisions were considered irreparable, is long past."

“Today, thank God, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Churches are engaged in a fraternal and fruitful dialogue and are committed in a convinced and irreversible way to advancing towards the restoration of full communion.”

Reflecting on those who initiated this process, the Pope recalled "the unforgettable Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras," as the 50th anniversary of his death approaches, "a wise and courageous pastor who continues to be a source of inspiration for me and for many others."

"It was he, who spoke of 'Sister Churches, Brother Peoples,'” the Pope said.

Sister Churches, Brother Peoples 

The Holy Father highlighted the need for Christians to reconcile amid the torment of war.

“Reconciliation among separated Christians, as a means of contributing to peace between peoples in conflict, is a most timely consideration these days, as our world is disrupted by a cruel and senseless war of aggression in which many, many Christians are fighting one another.”

Before "the scandal of war," the Pope said, our concern must not be for talking and discussing, but for weeping, for helping others and for experiencing conversion ourselves

"We need to weep for the victims and the overwhelming bloodshed, the deaths of so many innocent people, the trauma inflicted on families, cities and an entire people." 

"How much suffering," he decried, "has been endured by those who have lost their loved ones and been forced to abandon their homes and their own country!" 

He said we need to help "our brothers and sisters" and "exercise that charity which, as Christians, we are obliged to show towards Jesus, present in the displaced, the poor and the wounded." 

Jesus and armed conquest have nothing to do with Lord's Kingdom

“But we also need to experience conversion, and to recognize that armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism have nothing to do with the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.”

He stressed these tendencies have "nothing to do with the Risen Lord, Who in Gethsemane told His disciples to reject violence, to put the sword back in its place, since those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and Who, cutting short every objection, simply said: 'Enough!'"

Seeking Christian unity, the Pope said, "is not merely a question internal to the Churches," but rather an essential condition for the realization of an authentic universal fraternity, manifested in justice and solidarity towards all." 

"It calls for serious reflection on the part of us Christians," he said.

Starting anew in Christ

Pope Francis called on those with him to reflect on several questions.

"What kind of world do we want to emerge in the wake of this terrible outbreak of hostilities and conflict?  And what contribution are we prepared to make even now towards a more fraternal humanity?" 

As believers, he said, "we must necessarily find the answers to these questions in the Gospel: in Jesus, who calls us to be merciful and never violent, to be perfect as the Father is perfect, and not be conformed to the world."

Pope Francis encouraged, "Let us help one another, dear brothers, not to yield to the temptation to muffle the explosive newness of the Gospel with the seductions of this world."  And not to turn the Father of all, 'who makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous', into the god of our own ideas and our own nations." 

"Christ is our peace," the Pope said, noting that by "His Incarnation, Death and Resurrection for all; He has torn down the walls of enmity and division between people."  He said let us start anew from Him.

Sign of Hope

The Pope observed as a sign of hope in the journey towards the restoration of full communion, the meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church, which, after an interruption of two years due to the pandemic, took place in May. 

"It is my hope that the theological dialogue will progress by promoting a new mentality," he said, saying: "Let us pray for one another, work with one another and support one another by looking to Jesus and His Gospel." 

Pope Francis concluded by praying, "May the holy brothers Peter and Andrew intercede for us and obtain the blessing of God, the Good Father, upon our journey together and upon the entire world."

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Remembering the many martyrs of Rome persecuted by Nero


First Martyrs of the See of Rome

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

Pope Francis issues new Apostolic Letter on beauty and sacredness of the liturgy


File photo of Pope Francis presiding at Holy MassFile photo of Pope Francis presiding at Holy Mass  (Vatican Media)

Pope: 'Overcome polemics about the liturgy to rediscover its beauty'

With an Apostolic Letter to the people of God entitled "Desiderio desideravi”, Pope Francis calls for Catholics to overcome forms of aestheticism that appreciate only outward formality or allow sloppiness in liturgy, noting that “a celebration that does not evangelize is not authentic."

By Vatican News

The Pope has written an Apostolic Letter to the people of God on the liturgy, to recall the profound meaning of Eucharistic celebrations as it emerged from the Council and to encourage liturgical formation.

Pope Francis published "Desiderio desideravi" on Wednesday, which includes 65 paragraphs elaborating on the results of the February 2019 plenary of the Dicastery of Divine Worship and follows the motu proprio "Traditionis custodes."

The Pope's Apostolic Letter reaffirms the importance of ecclesial communion around the rite that emerged from the post-conciliar liturgical reform. It is not a new instruction or a directive with specific norms, but rather a meditation on understanding the beauty of liturgical celebration and its role in evangelization. It concludes with an in appeal: "Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Let us safeguard our communion. Let us continue to be astonished at the beauty of the Liturgy” (65).

Encounter with Christ

The Christian faith, Pope Francis writes, is either an encounter with the living Jesus or it is not.

“The Liturgy guarantees for us the possibility of such an encounter. For us a vague memory of the Last Supper would do no good. We need to be present at that Supper.”

Recalling the importance of Vatican II's constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium," which led to the rediscovery of the theological understanding of the liturgy, the Pope adds,” I want the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church not to be spoiled by a superficial and foreshortened understanding of its value or, worse yet, by its being exploited in service of some ideological vision, no matter what the hue” (16).

After warning against "spiritual worldliness" and the Gnosticism and neo-Pelagianism that fuel it, Pope Francis explains that “Participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice is not our own achievement, as if because of it we could boast before God or before our brothers and sisters” and that “the Liturgy has nothing to do with an ascetical moralism. It is the gift of the Paschal Mystery of the Lord which, received with docility, makes our life new. The cenacle is not entered except through the power of attraction of his desire to eat the Passover with us” (20).

To heal from spiritual worldliness, we need to rediscover the beauty of the liturgy, but this rediscovery “is not the search for a ritual aesthetic which is content by only a careful exterior observance of a rite or is satisfied by a scrupulous observance of the rubrics. Obviously, what I am saying here does not wish in any way to approve the opposite attitude, which confuses simplicity with a careless banality, or what is essential with an ignorant superficiality, or the concreteness of ritual action with an exasperating practical functionalism” (22).

The Pope explains that “every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time, gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed. Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down. But even if the quality and the proper action of the celebration were guaranteed, that would not be enough to make our participation full.” In fact, if “astonishment at the fact that the paschal mystery is rendered present in the concreteness of sacramental signs, we would truly risk being impermeable to the ocean of grace that floods every celebration.” (24). This amazement, the Pope clarifies, has nothing to do “the vague expression ‘sense of mystery’ [which is] sometimes among the presumed chief accusations against the liturgical reform.” The amazement of which the Pope speaks of is not a kind of bewilderment before an obscure reality or an enigmatic rite, but is, “on the contrary, marvelling at the fact that the salvific plan of God has been revealed in the paschal deed of Jesus” (25).

Living liturgy to the fullest

How, then, can we regain the ability to live liturgical action in its fullness? In the face of the bewilderment of post-modernity, individualism, subjectivism and abstract spiritualism, the Pope invites us to return to the great conciliar constitutions, which are not separable from one another.

He writes that “it would be trivial to read the tensions, unfortunately present around the celebration, as a simple divergence between different tastes concerning a particular ritual form. The problematic is primarily ecclesiological.” (31)

Behind the battles over the rite, in short, lie different conceptions of the Church. The Pope points out he does not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council, and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Quoting the theologian Romano Guardini, Pope Francis says that without liturgical formation, “ritual and textual reforms won’t help much” (34).

He insists on the importance of formation, first of all in seminaries: “A liturgical-sapiential plan of studies in the theological formation of seminaries would certainly have positive effects in pastoral action. There is no aspect of ecclesial life that does not find its summit and its source in the Liturgy. More than being the result of elaborate programs, a comprehensive, organic, and integrated pastoral practice is the consequence of placing the Sunday Eucharist, the foundation of communion, at the centre of the life of the community. The theological understanding of the Liturgy does not in any way permit that these words be understood to mean to reduce everything to the aspect of worship. A celebration that does not evangelize is not authentic, just as a proclamation that does not lead to an encounter with the risen Lord in the celebration is not authentic. And then both of these, without the testimony of charity, are like sounding a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (37).

The Pope further highlights the need to educate in the understanding of symbols, which is increasingly difficult for the modern person. One way to do this is to care for the “art of celebrating”, which “cannot be reduced to only a rubrical mechanism, much less should it be thought of as imaginative — sometimes wild — creativity without rules. The rite is in itself a norm, and the norm is never an end in itself, but it is always at the service of a higher reality that it means to protect.” (48) The art of celebrating cannot be learned by “frequenting a course in public speaking or in persuasive techniques of communication”, it requires “a diligent dedication to the celebration, allowing the celebration itself to convey to us its art” (50).

"Among the ritual acts that belong to the whole assembly, silence occupies a place of absolute importance” which “moves to sorrow for sin and the desire for conversion. It awakens a readiness to hear the Word and awakens prayer. It disposes us to adore the Body and Blood of Christ” (52).

Liturgy about Christ, not celebrant

Pope Francis then observes that in Christian communities their way of living out the celebration “is conditioned — for better or, unfortunately, for worse — by the way in which their pastor presides in the assembly” and he lists several “models” of inadequate presiding, albeit of contrasting features: “rigid austerity or an exasperating creativity, a spiritualizing mysticism or a practical functionalism, a rushed briskness or an overemphasized slowness, a sloppy carelessness or an excessive finickiness, a superabundant friendliness or priestly impassibility.”

These are all models that have a single root: “a heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the centre of attention” (54), amplified when celebrations are broadcast online. Whereas, “to preside at Eucharist is to be plunged into the furnace of God’s love. When we are given to understand this reality, or even just to intuit something of it, we certainly would no longer need a Directory that would impose the proper behaviour” (57).

Concluding his Apostolic Letter, Pope Francis asks “all bishops, priests, and deacons, the formators in seminaries, the instructors in theological faculties and schools of theology, and all catechists to help the holy people of God to draw from what is the first wellspring of Christian spirituality,” reaffirming what is established in “Traditionis custodes” so that “the Church may lift up, in the variety of so many languages, one and the same prayer capable of expressing her unity,” and this single prayer is the Roman Rite that resulted from the conciliar reform and was established by the saintly pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II.