A reminder, Fr. Tom Cassidy, provincial superior, is writing from Rome, where he is attending to meetings in his role as president of CMSM (Conference of Major Superiors of Men).
It is now Sunday morning in Rome and I am preparing to take a bus later this morning to our generalate to attend the deacon ordination of Pablo Minambres Barbero, scj, from Spain. Deacon ordinations at our generalate are a bit rare as most of the students are priests working on advanced degrees. Pedro completed his theological studies in Spain and is working on a doctoral degree from the Gregorian University.
I am able to attend the ordination and celebration to follow since this is Sunday and all Vatican offices are closed. That is not the case on Saturday as weekends do not begin until 1:00 PM on Saturday afternoons. That gave us the opportunity to visit the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) at 9:00 AM and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum at 11:30 AM.
It would be safe to say CICLSAL is the most important discastre we visit as it is responsible for religious life in the Vatican scheme of governmental organization. It is currently headed by his Eminence Frank Cardinal Rodé. We were slotted for an hour and-a-half, and it would be safe to say the time flew as we had many topics to cover in reporting on the activities of CMSM and its members. Since, by its mandate, CMSM represents all pontifical male religious in the United States, that covers a wide spectrum from contemplative and monastic communities to communities of apostolic life.
Hank Lemoncelli, OMI, chaired our meeting. Hank has been very helpful to CMSM as an American attaché to the Secretary. In addition to being helpful in preparing the agenda and seeing to it that we were able to stay on topic and cover all the material, as someone living in Rome he steered us to a great restaurant for pranzo (the noon meal) to mark the conclusion of our encounter and for all the start of il weekend for all.
Since LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) were following us at CICLSAL at 11:00 AM after our coffee break together, those of us from CMSM headed down the street to meet with his Eminence Joseph Paul Cardinal Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
Although we had met with Cor Unum last year this was my first opportunity to meet with Cardinal Cordes as he was out of Rome last year. He gave us an overview of the activities of Cor Unum. Though it does distribute small amounts of money to projects around the world the Cardinal clearly indicated the task of his council is to give a theological and philosophical foundation to the works of charity. He was also very complimentary to the works of religious communities around the world in aiding the poor.
One of the challenges for all is the fact that with less religious men and women involved in these activities, and the increase lay participation, how does one preserve the theological and philosophical underpinnings to the works of charity so that is not just a job?
Cardinal Cordes shared with us two books he has recently published on, on priests, in honor of the year of the priest, and another directly related to the activities of his pontifical council, Where Are The Helpers:
On December 25, 2005, Pope Benedict CVI published ‘Deus caritas set’ (“God is Love”), the first Encyclical of his papacy. In Part I, Benedict CVI analyzes human and divine love in terms of eros and agape; presenting love as a fundamental force, Benedict argues that in the Christian, biblical understanding, love is a single reality with many dimensions. He declares to the world that ‘the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others’ also carries cultural, political, and legal implications, arising from the fact that ‘love of God and love of neighbor’ are ‘inseparable’ and form a single commandment.
Caritas, the ‘practice’ of love of neighbor, is the teem of the second part of the Encyclical. As Cardinal Cordes explains, ‘the Encyclical represents the magna cart a of our work: to orient and to inspire the charitable work of the Catholic church.’ In this volume, Cardinal Cordes offes his own studies and the reelections that investigate the meaning of Christian help, comment on the theological, spiritual, and canonical guidelines of Deus caritas set, and illustrate concrete ways to help the needy and, in doing so, experience the goodness of God.
Notre Dame Press (http://undpress.nd.edu/book/P01390).
Tomorrow we will once again be visiting various Vatican offices. In the morning we will first visit the Council on the Laity and then the Congregation for Bishops headed by his Eminence Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re. In the afternoon we will be meeting with USIG/USG (Union of Superior Generals). The day will end with a reception for Roman Cardinals and staffs at the Conventual Franciscans house inside the Vatican. Trusting it won’t rain, the reception will be on the roof and I’m told its quite a view. I have invited several people from our SCJ generalate to join us, and will meet them at St. Peter’s around 6:00 PM.