Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lying to Peter

I beheld this mosaic during my first visit to  St. Peter's Basilica at the beginning of last month. It is found  above the so-called Altar of the Falsehood and depicts the final part of the incident described in Acts 5: 1-11
The married couple Ananias and Saphira appeared separately before St. Peter and  in succession told him the same lie about income they had gained from the sale of a field. Ananias was immediately struck dead. Minutes later, Saphira appeared and totally unaware of her husband's fate, when St Peter asked her the same question about the funds, she repeated the lie, and was also struck dead. . 'The Seminarians Guide' has this to say about the mosaic: 'It is supposedly placed in front of the priest as he leaves the sacristy to celebrate Mass, a permanent reminder to him that he is called to give himself entirely to God and to the service of His people, and woe to the priest who selfishly withholds his promise.' And one might add, as MS and I agreed when standing before the mosaic, woe to anyone, priest or not, who lies to Peter, by concealing from him, the full truth of  a situation.

It is perhaps not the greatest work of art in St. Peter's and has been criticised because its colours are too vivid. Nevertheless the image and our thoughts about it have stayed with me ever since. I have thought also over the past days that another message is held in the fact that the two culprits told the same lie independently. Neither one could claim that the other was partly responsible and plead that as an excuse. In the end the decision to lie is personal whoever else has been involved. A very hard lesson, but easy to run away from.

Either the present successor of Peter has completely lost his marbles (higlly unlikely), or he has not been given the full facts of the case. Today I found a most useful pdf document issued by the USCCB and which explains exactly how bishops are chosen. See here  It's worth reading if you're not clear on any point. It also makes painfully apparent just how many opportunities there are at various levels of the selection process, for information to be 'edited' even before it gets to the Nuncio, let alone the Congregation. My researches today lead me to believe that the local Province of Clermont Ferrand to which Rodez belongs, must be largely responsible, certainly more so than the nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura. Last night I was puzzled to discover that he was nuncio in Canada, moving to Paris at about the same time as Cardinal Ouellet went from Canada to Rome. Nuncio and Cardinal therefore must know each other quite well. Either the latter trusts the former, or if he doesn't then he would have been more careful about his recommendations. Further, 'Golias' a very left wing French journal, is slightly puzzled about Archbishop Ventura's 'docility' in sending on the locally favoured names to Rome. It also seems that several other priests had refused to accept the offer of the Rodez diocese. In any case  'Golias' is crowing about what has happened and closes its piece by saying 'The Tradis have every reason to be worried!'

Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia

Tomorrow I continue with the Novena to the Holy Spirit, pleading for all who have been involved in the Rodez appointment, and particularly for our dear Holy Father as he prepares to celebrate his diamond Jubilee of Ordination.


Genty said...

That was a useful bit of research. Thank you.

One still doesn't know, or ever will, who the cardinal relator was in this instance or whether as a matter of course a cardinal relator is of the nation or continent where the relevant diocese lies.

The document doesn't indicate how closely involved the entire Congregation is with each individual case, or whether it relies on a (smallish) quorum to examine the evidence and present its conclusions. I'd guess that worldwide there must be many dozens of preferments in the offing so it would make sense to divvy them up.

But reading through the document, it does smack of the old boys' network to me and, to some extent, explains why we (in E&W at any rate) keep getting more of the same.

Jane said...

Bearing your points in mind will continue the research, particularly about the Cardinal Relator.


Genty said...

Thanks, Jane.

Genty said...

Me back again. There's a 1984 article which is quite comprehensive.
The link is rather long but if you google Thomas J Reese + The Selection of Bishops you should get the pdf.
It was written in 1984 but I don't suppose things have changed much.
Hope this helps.

Jane said...

Thanks Genty. Will look it up after Vespers from Zagreb.

As for change. One hoped there would be one after the appointment of Cardinal Ouellet as Prefect.