Vol. XVIII, No. 2
News and Views
An interfaith exhibit of rare manuscripts of the Bible opened March 1 in St. Peter’s Square. The exhibition, Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord), features more than 150 manuscripts and artifacts from the Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and Orthodox traditions. A collaboration between the Vatican, the Green Collection (aka Museum of the Bible), and the American Bible Society, the exhibit runs through April 15.
The exhibit includes some of the earliest fragments of the Book of Genesis from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, among the earliest-surviving Bibles, which contains the most extensive early biblical texts in Aramaic, Jesus’ own language. Also featured are biblical papyri, Torah scrolls and the Jeselsohn Stone, a 3-foot-tall, 150-pound sandstone tablet discovered near the Dead Sea in Jordan. This stone, dating from 100 BC, contains Hebrew text prophesying the coming of a Messiah who will suffer, die, and rise again.
A working replica of the Gutenberg press, built by Rusty Maisel of Fort Worth, Texas, is also part of the exhibit.
The exhibit is accompanied by a lecture series during March. The inaugural lectures took place March 2 at the Istituto Patristico Augustinianum and featured Jesuit Father José Maria Abrego de Lacy, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute; David Lyle Jeffrey of Baylor University; Gordon Campbell of the University of Leicester, England; and Andrew Atherstone of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Campbell is a noted scholar of the King James Version of the Bible.
“We seek to tell the amazing story of the preservation and translation of the most loved, most debated and the best-selling book every year and of all time”, said Steve Green, the primary benefactor of the Green Collection, a private collection of biblical antiquities.
He said the exhibition at the Vatican was inspired by Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI’s letter on the Bible, following the 2008 Synod of Bishops.
The exhibit’s creators hope to find a permanent home for the extensive Green Collection of some 44,000 biblical artifacts. They are currently investigating possibilities for a permanent exhibit on the Bible in Washington, DC.
Sources: Catholic News Service (CNS), National Catholic Register, Vatican Information Service (VIS)
The Ordinariates, the former Anglican groups who entered the Catholic Church according to Anglicanorum Coetibus, have adopted a liturgical calendar that differs from the one in use in the rest of the Latin Rite Catholic Church, but reflects the Anglican calendar in the Book of Common Prayer — and former Catholic usage.
The Ordinariates’ liturgical calendar eliminates “Ordinary Time” as in the current Roman calendar, and restores traditional designations for the Sundays of the Church year: the Sundays after Epiphany, the pre-Lenten Sundays (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima), and Sundays after Pentecost (or after Trinity).
The calendar also includes the traditional Ember Days of prayer and fasting, and the Rogation Days. The Ember Days were prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Saint Lucy’s Day (December, 13), Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, and the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14). (The Rogation and Ember Days were removed from the universal Roman calendar in 1969, and are subject to the conferences of bishops.)
The Ordinariate Calendar is subject to exactly the same canons, conventions, and regulations as the other liturgical calendars of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
The two ordinariates — Our Lady of Walsingham in Britain, established January 15, 2011, and Chair of Saint Peter in the US, established January 1, 2012 — have also adopted a Lectionary using the Revised Standard Version-Second Catholic Edition, and will use The Book of Divine Worship, published in 2003 for the Anglican Use Catholic parishes in the United States.
Less than a week after celebrating Vespers with Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, announced his resignation as leader of the Anglican Communion at the end of this year. He will become the master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University, on January 1, he announced on March 15.
Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams had celebrated Solemn Vespers together at San Gregorio al Celio Basilica in Rome on March 10. The occasion marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding by Saint Romuald (ca 950-1027) of the Camaldoli monastery.
The location of the event had special significance; it is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans. The basilica was the place from which Pope Saint Gregory I the Great (ca 540-604) sent Saint Augustine and forty monks as missionaries to the Anglo-Saxons at the end of the 6th century. Saint Augustine is the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The basilica on the Caelian Hill in Rome is the site of Pope Saint Gregory’s family home, which he converted into a monastery and served as abbot until he became pope. (The current abbot of Camaldolese monastery is a former Anglican priest.)
In his homily on the occasion, Pope Benedict urged all Christians to “renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity”.
Westminster Abbey Choir to Sing with Sistine Choir at Vatican
A few days earlier, on March 6, it had been announced that the Choir of Westminster Abbey in London will join the Cappella Musicale Pontificia, or Sistine Choir, for the celebration of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
The joint communique said that “this momentous ecumenical occasion is the first time in its over-500 year history that the Sistine Chapel Choir has joined forces with another choir. The invitation to Rome followed Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the abbey in September 2010, when he attended Evening Prayer and prayed at the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor with Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, as part of his State visit to England and Scotland.”
Archbishop Williams commented that because Saint Peter is also the patron of Westminster Abbey, “celebrating together his apostolic witness and example is a powerful reminder of the call that our Churches share to be faithful to the apostolic fullness of the Gospel today”.
The two choirs will sing at First Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside-the-Walls on June 28, and at Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on the morning of June 29. The Westminster Abbey Choir will also sing Vespers and Mass with the monastic community at the Benedictine monastery at Montecassino, the burial place of Saint Benedict. The Benedictine monks established Westminster Abbey in 960, and their tradition of daily worship continues there to this day.
Sources: VIS, various
The response of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X to the Holy See’s most recent effort to reconcile the group with the Church was “not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift”.
On March 16, the Vatican Press office released a brief report on the Holy See’s attempt to regularize the status of the SSPX. (Bottom line: no progress). The announcement was made after a two-hour meeting between Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X.
The text of the Vatican’s report follows:
“During the meeting of 14 September 2011 between [Cardinal Levada and Bishop Fellay] the latter was presented with a Doctrinal Preamble, accompanied by a Preliminary Note, as a fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See. This defined certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation [of] Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and ‘sentire cum Ecclesia’ [thinking with the Church].
“The response of the Society of St. Pius X to the aforesaid Doctrinal Preamble, which arrived in January 2012, was examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before being submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement. Pursuant to the decision made by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Fellay was, in a letter delivered today, informed of the evaluation of his response. The letter states that the position he expressed is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X.
“At the end of today’s meeting, moved by concern to avoid an ecclesial rupture of painful and incalculable consequences, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X was invited to clarify his position in order to be able to heal the existing rift, as is the desire of Pope Benedict XVI”.
The SSPX was given another month to accept the Doctrinal Preamble. The group, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, adamantly rejects the authority of the Second Vatican Council.
Its members were excommunicated in 1988, following the archbishop’s defiance of Pope John Paul II’s order forbidding episcopal ordinations. In his letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, the Holy Father wrote, “… especially contradictory is a notion of Tradition which opposes the universal Magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the Body of Bishops. It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ Himself entrusted the ministry of unity in His Church”.
Although the excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, the SSPX remains in a situation of “ecclesial rupture”.