Pascal Ceremonies overshadowed by current affairs

Source: FSSPX News

At the end of the Pascal Mass, Benedict XVI pronounced the traditional blessing Urbi et Orbi in many languages, before tens of thousands of faithful massed outside the Basilica of Saint Peter’s in Rome. He conveyed the Pascal message of forgiveness, kindness and truth in a suffering world, mentioning the Christians in Pakistan and elsewhere, who are undergoing religious persecution, the earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile, and those made by the drug trafficking in Latin America. He made no mention, however, of the cases of paedophilia brought to light these last few months, nor of the media campaign organised against his own person. Indeed, just before the Pascal Mass, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, broke the usual rules of protocol and addressed the Pope directly, assuring him of the support of «the people of God, who will not let itself be turned away by idle chatter: the Church is with you!». He continued: «With you are the cardinals your colleagues in the Roman Curia, with you the bishops» around the world and «with them the People of God, who do not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials that sometimes assail the community of believers». Cardinal Sodano, applauded by the 50.000 faithful present that day, also took up the defence of the priests «who generously serve God’s people in parishes, schools and hospitals», as well as in the «missions in the farthest corners of the earth».

Two days earlier, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical House, had angered Jewish leaders during the Good Friday ceremonies, by establishing a parallel between anti-Semitism and the accusations against the Pope and the Church. Quoting a letter from a Jewish friend of his comparing the current attacks to the «collective violence» endured by the Jews, and to the «more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism». The Vatican, through the mouth of its spokesman Federico Lombardi, immediately distanced itself from these sayings, insisting that they did «not reflect the official position» of the Church. Fr. Cantalamessa apologised in an interview published two days later in the Italian daily paper Il Corriere della Sera, saying that he did not intend to «hurt the feeling either of the Jews or of the victims of paedophilia». He declared: «I sincerely regretted [my words] and ask for forgiveness».

In France, during the celebration of the Chrismal Mass at Notre-Dame in Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, before 600 priests, 70 seminarians, a hundred or so deacons and over 2,500 faithful, denounced «an offensive aimed at unsettling the Pope, and through him the Church», especially castigating « the broadcast media who celebrate Easter in their own way by choosing the evenings in Holy Week to focus their skills for criticism on the Church and the Christian Faith ».  He has lamented that «in our democratic country where Christians are still full citizens, it is not certain that they are such when it comes to processing information.»

In Ireland, during the Easter Mass, a small group of protesters gathered outside Dublin Cathedral to hang children's shoes on the railings outside; the shoes symbolizing the victims of paedophile priests. Some even tried to enter the Cathedral precinct to place the shoes near the altar. Although restrained by the police, the small group managed to shout down the Archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, when he entered the Cathedral. Some demonstrators carried placards saying: «Hypocrites for Jesus. Catholic Church rapes, abuses, destroys children and covers it up, covers it up, covers it up.» In the United States, several associations of victims also took advantage of the Easter celebrations to show their anger.