Q&A April AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
Roman Dating (AUC)?
Eastern Rite Pope?
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?
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
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:”
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).
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
Congregation for the Clergy,
Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,
Congregation for Catholic Education.
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.
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
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
The Pontifical Council for Culture
The Pontifical Council for Social
Various Offices of the
Apostolic Camera, headed by the
Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whose chief function is to administer
the Church during a papal vacancy
Administration of the Patrimony of the
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
Vatican Publishing House
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre
Pilgrimages to the Apostolic See
Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music
Labor Office of the Holy See
The Swiss Guard
On the calendar, what does “A.U.C. 2766”
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....”
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.
Have we ever had an Eastern Rite Pope? (JDA, Port St. Lucie)
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and would
follow the Roman Rite for Mass and the Sacraments, regardless of his
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.
What is “Distributism” and is it a suitable Catholic middle ground between
capitalism and socialism? (JDA, Port St. Lucie)
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.