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Q&A  April AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
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Roman Curia?

Roman Dating (AUC)?

Eastern Rite Pope?


Our Lady of the Rosary
Roman Curia?

    Question:  A commentator on the Internet said that one of the effects (intended or unintended) of Pope Benedict’s resignation was that it allowed for the total replacement of the Roman Curia.  What is the Roman Curia?  Couldn’t the reigning Pope fire any or all of its members if he so desired?  Do all of its members lose their jobs in the event of a papal vacancy?

    Answer:  Last question first.  The Church does not cease to function when the Pope dies or resigns.  A few important posts must be filled throughout the interregnum.  People will continue to petition the Cardinal Penitentiary to have excommunications lifted, and dispensations granted.  The Papal Chamberlain must still manage the revenues and properties of the Holy See.  The Roman diocese continues to be administered by the Cardinal Vicar General.  Papal legates continue to represent the Holy See to foreign governments.  The overall government of the Church is entrusted to the College of Cardinals, albeit with a somewhat limited scope.

    The remaining Curial positions “cease to function” and their holders are at least tacitly expected to offer their resignations to the new Pope.  The new Pope is quite free to replace anyone whom he pleases—which is equally true of a reigning Pope, any time during his pontificate.  Of course, firing everybody would be terribly bad for morale, and would probably the subject of a lot of scandal-mongering.  A newly elected Pope would have much more latitude, for everyone acknowledges that he must have people with whom he can work on a personal level.

    The makeup of the Curia has changed over the centuries.  We no longer have a Congregation for the Maintenance of the Papal Fleet, nor a Congregation for the Index (list of prohibited books).  With the demise of the Papal States, some hereditary positions ceased to exist. Some departments have changed names over the years: the Holy Inquisition became the Holy Office, and more recently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

    As detailed on the Vatican website, the modern organization of the Curia serves the following function and includes the following “dicasteries:”[1]

In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors (Christus Dominus, 9).

·                     Various Congregations which exercise jurisdiction:

The Secretariat of State

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (including the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission, and an Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Congregation for the Oriental Churches,

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,

Congregation for the Causes of Saints,

Congregation for Bishops,

Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples,

Congregation for the Clergy,

Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,

Congregation for Catholic Education.

·                     Various Tribunals:

The Apostolic Penitentiary, which handles matters of conscience and censures reserved to the Holy See.

The Roman Rota, hearing cases concerning bishops, the nullity of marriage, and appeals from diocesan courts.

The Apostolic Signatura, which may judge the procedures used by the Church’s other courts.

·                     Various Pontifical Councils

Pontifical Council for the Laity,

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (including a Commission for relations with the Jews),

Pontifical Council for the Family,

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,

Pontifical Council Cor Unum (providing care for the needy),

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants,

Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers,

Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts,

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

The Pontifical Council for Culture

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications

·                     Various Offices of the Holy See

Apostolic Camera, headed by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whose chief function is to administer the Church during a papal vacancy[2]

Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See

Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See

·                     Various other bodies

Prefecture of the Papal Household (often referred to as the Audience Office)

Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff

Central Statistics Office of the Church

Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO)

Office of Papal Charities

Fabric of St. Peter

Excavations Office

“Latinitas” Foundation

Vatican Publishing House

Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

Pilgrimages to the Apostolic See

Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music 

Vatican Press

Labor Office of the Holy See

The Swiss Guard

 Our Lady of the Rosary
Roman Dating (AUC)?

    Question:  On the calendar, what does “A.U.C. 2766” mean?

    Answer:  Ab urbe condita” or “Anno Urbis Conditae” is Latin for “from the founding of the City” or “the year of the founding of the City.”  “The City, of course, is Rome, and 2766 indicates that we are currently in the 2766th year since the City’s founding by the mythical twin brothers Romulus and Remus.  There is some scholarly debate over the exact date of the founding of the City, but the generally accepted convention is that A.U.C. dates are 753 years greater than the corresponding dates A.D. (2013+753=2766).

    Roman dating often resorted to naming the officials in power and the number of their years in office at the time.  For example, as in Luke’s Gospel: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee....”[3]  The system of dating AUC for pre-Christian Roman events became more popular after the monk, Dionysius Exiguus (c. 470–c. 544) conceived of dating events relative to the birth of Our Lord (Anno Dómini or A.D.).

    Christians ought not be ashamed to refer to dates A.D. and B.C.  The date A.U.C. is put on the bulletin as a sort of historical curiosity, but dates C.E. and B.C.E. seem to be consistent with the desire to deny Jesus Christ.

 Our Lady of the Rosary
Eastern Rite Pope?

    Question:  Have we ever had an Eastern Rite Pope? (JDA, Port St. Lucie)

    Answer:  The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and would follow the Roman Rite for Mass and the Sacraments, regardless of his origins.

    It is difficult to identify the rites practiced by the individual Popes before their election.  In the ancient world, Greek names were not uncommon, even among non-Greeks.  Pope Saint Anacletus, for example was almost certainly a Roman.  Pope Saint Evaristus was born in Bethlehem, of Greek Jewish parents, but nothing much is known about his early life or how and where he became a Christian.  Pope Saint Anicetus was from Syria, but again we have very little biographical data.  Pope Saint Eleutherius is known to have been born in Greece, but came to Rome and served as a deacon under Pope Saint Anicetus.  Pope Saint Zosimus was born in Calabria, a highly Greek region of Italy.  Pope Saint Agatho is depicted in Greek vestments in an Eastern picture book known as the Menologion of Basil II—but such pictures tell more about the mind of the artist than about the subject.  Pope Saint Gregory III was a Syrian, in priestly Orders when he came to Rome for the death of his predecessor.

    Theodore I was a Greek, born in Jerusalem, but was a Cardinal Deacon of the Roman Church before being elected successor to Pope John IV.

    The thoroughly Roman Pope Saint Gregory the Great had served as apocrisiarius—a sort of ambassador for the Holy See to the Imperial court during the pontificate of Pelagius II.  He introduced into the Roman Mass the alternating of the Greek Kýrie eléison and Christe eléison between clergy and people—but not in the Greek fashion of responding to a litany.

    From the Antiochene liturgy, the Agnus Dei was added by Pope Sergius I (r.687-701), a Syrian by birth.

Our Lady of the Rosary 

    Question:  What is “Distributism” and is it a suitable Catholic middle ground between capitalism and socialism?  (JDA, Port St. Lucie)

    Answer:  “Distributism” is a “cobbled together” socialism of the type that might be employed by altruistic utopians in a medium sized community somewhere in a developing nation that can afford to leave that community alone while giving it a measure of protection from outside threats. The United States had several such communities in its first fifty years or so—for the most part they failed when succeeding generations fell from the original upper-middle class or otherwise ceased to share the founders' ideals, and as government taxation and conscription became more intrusive.  Such utopian enclaves were more viable in the days before the Income Tax and the need to involuntarily raise armies.  Were an entire country to adopt distributism, it might have serious difficulties defending itself against more aggressive neighbors.

    For those who are unfamiliar, there are several articles describing and endorsing distributism in the July 1998 and the October and November 2002  issues of The Angelus. They appear to be urging it as an economic system for a nation.

    Distributism holds out the hope of returning to the simpler life of yesterday, based more on rural cottage industry than modern industrial methods. As such it sounds good to Catholic ears in that it promises a return to extended family life, away from the evils and temptations of dwelling in a crowded apartment among strangers. The premise is that there is such a thing as “the Christian economic system,” that distributism is that system, and that Christian values can be built into the system instead of being built into the people.

    Distributism distributes production—not wealth. By a series of new taxes, distributism makes it unprofitable for anyone to own a chain of stores or a department store, to finance an enterprise by the sale of stock (other than to its own workers), or to achieve any economy of scale in production. The cottage industry is thus made competitive by taxing everything that is more efficient. Wealth is not “re-distributed” to anyone—it is simply suppressed! The resulting decline in material wealth is seen as a “plus” by those who feel that the world is plagued with too many goods, but certainly not by the poor.

    Capital intensive industries like communications, transportation, mining, energy, and heavy production would be state monopolies. The state would locate its heavy industry in rural locations, and short working hours would allow laborers to raise their own meat and vegetables in the family plot. They would, of course, be paid less because they will raise many of their own necessities.  Given the material expectations of modern man, it is difficult to imagine the state restricting itself to a few major industries.  We may not think of pocket combs and toilet paper as being capital intensive products—we would if such things were available only from cottage industries, making them with hand tools, at the prices they would have to charge.

    For utopian communities to function harmoniously they must be able to expel the unproductive and allow the dissatisfied to leave of their own will. Otherwise they must become brutal in order to enforce conformity with the community's standards. This becomes a danger as community membership falls off with new generations -- it is more inevitable in a utopian nation—to say nothing of a utopian world order.

    Perhaps the greatest danger in a distributist society is the degree of control granted to some “elite” and to the bureaucracy run by that elite. In any form of government, bureaucracies become an end in themselves; they become entrenched and control the very mechanisms that might be used to remove them. Obviously, removal or change is even harder if the bureaucracy is essential to the economy.  In this connection, one is reminded of the Corporate Socialism of pre-war Italy and the United States.

    The Church has no approved political or economic system.  People are free to govern themselves as they will for as long as they do not encroach upon the rights of God, His Church, or each other. No human system will ever work properly without virtuous citizens who demand virtue from their leaders.

    Here in the United States our problems have less to do with “the system” than they have to do with the failure of the people to make the system work. Most have not read the Constitution since their fifth grade days. Only a handful actually understand how money is (in spite of the Constitution) circulated, controlled, and charged for by the private banking system.  The enormous, ever bloating bureaucracy continues to attack the moral law no matter which of the two (supposedly opposite) parties is in power. For the most part our citizens are blissfully ignorant of the proper role of government, and don't even want to think about restoring the Republic to virtue—everyone is getting something from the government, so suggesting a return to legal government is looked down upon as a form of sedition.[4]


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