Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Of All The Times....

Lord knows, this is no time to take a break, but for months now I have been signed up for a retreat over the next few days.  So give me leave and I will try to be back with you Monday or Tuesday next week.  Meanwhile pray with me for Benedict as he makes history by going into retiremen and pray for the Church in these challenging days. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Papal Resignations! IX

Blessed John Henry Newman
As you notice, I very rarely post comments but I often try to respond to them in topics I choose for blogs.  Recently I had several inquiries as to how I view the magisterium if I think that certain Church teachings regarding contraception, same-sex relationships, divorce/’remarriage, in vitro fertilization along with other subjects such as sharing the Eucharist with non-Catholics, clerical celibacy, and women’s ordination need to be discussed openly and honestly at every level of the Church.  The implication of the questions is that once something is defined by the magisterium it cannot be changed.
Well, remember this is a historical blog.  I don’t deal with theology qua theology—only with the history of the Church, and at times the history of the development of theological teachings in the Church.  And—remember this too—my consideration of history is not only about the past but also about what light the past sheds on the present and what opportunities for the future the past reveals to us.  People who limit the study of history to the past and don’t consider the past as metaphor that permits us to speak of the present and the future are not historians, they are antiquarians.   The Church has far too many antiquarians, including whoever it is that has been dressing Pope Benedict up in the left-over glad rags of past centuries.  Nevertheless, I am not anxious to go there in this posting. 
The past shows us that the magisterium, including infallible statements, are not irreformable.  Pius XI condemned the Ecumenical Movement in his 1928 Encyclical Mortalium Animos which was completely overturned by the Decrees Unitatis Reintegratio, Nostrae Aetate, and Dignitatis Humanae at the Second Vatican Council.  Remember it was an encyclical that was overturned—the same medium through which Pius XI condemned contraception in Casti Connubi (1928) and Paul VI extended the condemnation to the use of “the Pill” in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae.  This teaching is considered to be infallible; the condemnation of ecumenism was once so thought also. 
In the 1302 Bull, Unam Sanctam, Pope Boniface VIII wrote: Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.   
The Church has long moved away from such doctrine—long before Vatican II—but certainly Nostrae Aetate with its positive comments on non-Christian religions and the Divine truths they reflect is more than a repudiation of Boniface’s teaching, it is a contradiction. 
Mortalium Animos and Unam Santam reflect teachings once considered infallible.  On a lesser level, in the 1930’s Pius XI refused a petition from the bishops of France to declare Saint Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church on the grounds sexus obstat: her sex (female) was a barrier to such a position.  Hmmm.  That argument is used today in a different context. Some forty years later Paul VI named the first two women as Doctors of the Church—Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena.  John Paul would name Thérèse to that honor in 1997.  Theologians can argue about the ability of the Church to alter doctrine but historians view it from a different perspective, unencumbered by an agenda of apologetics.
What I wrote is that the Church needs to have honest conversation on a wide variety of issues.  The faith of the Church is not solely the teaching of the magisterium—it is the deposit of doctrine and it is the faith held by the faithful, that is by the Church which is not limited to the hierarchy but comprises the community of the baptized.  The Deposit of Doctrine, or the corpus of Tradition, is the province of the theologians who have studied the doctrines along with their roots in Divine Revelation and their historical development through the centuries.  The consensus fidelium—the consensus of the faithful—is the living faith as held and understood (using that term as held intuitively rather than as intellectually fathomed) in the hearts of the baptized.  History shows us, as Blessed John Henry Newman explained so well in his essay On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine, that magisterium, theologians, and faithful must work in tandem for doctrines to take hold.  The current dissensions among the hierarchy, the theologians, and the faithful indicate to the historian that this is not yet an opportune time to state the teaching of the Church on a wide variety of issues.  But we cannot afford to come to a standstill, thus conversations are necessary to reach that single voice proceeding from a single heart.
Such conversations will not be easy and such accord will not be quick.  We Americans and Western Europeans have a tradition of imperialistic arrogance that we know better than our “little brown brothers” of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific Rim.  We are shocked that they do not see questions about the role of women or about human sexuality from the same perspectives that we do and we think that they are backward for viewing these issues differently.  We are, I suppose, as entitled to our prejudices regarding them as they are theirs regarding women and gays.  Or, maybe we are no more entitled to our prejudices than they are to theirs.  But in any case an honest and frank discussion in a universal Church will not come to easy resolutions, nor will all be pleased with the outcomes, but we need to undertake the process nevertheless.  We can see the chaos which has befallen the Anglican Communion when the Churches of the North have moved unilaterally in directions in which the Churches of the South are unprepared to go. But the alternative is not to stay stuck and go nowhere.  If we believe that the Holy Spirit is here to guide the Church, we need to trust that Spirit and begin the process.             

Monday, February 25, 2013

Papal Resignations! VIII

The chimney in the Sistine
Chapel that will signal the
election of the new pope.
Electing a pope while there is a living former pope is pushing the Church into unchartered waters.  Pope Benedict was expected today to approve rules permitting the opening of the conclave to be advanced from March 15, what had been the earliest possible date under existing rules.   As I mentioned in the February 16th posting, beginning the conclave on March 15th would probably throw the installation of the new pontiff into Holy Week—a time in which those Cardinals who are also residential archbishops need to back in their own dioceses.  But there is a problem in advancing the date, as that shortens the time the Cardinals have for the necessary discussions to discern what the Church needs in new leadership.
The critical situation in which the Church finds itself—and to which I referred in my last posting—is only highlighted by today’s announcement of the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien from his post as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and his decision not to attend the conclave due to allegations that he is guilty of “inappropriate behavior” going back thirty years.  Several priests and a former priest have accused the prelate of unspecified actions, the implication being of sexual advances. 
The Catholic Church is in a serious crisis of credibility and it will take more than a new pope for it to face the challenges successfully.  Regardless of the Cardinals’ desire to be home in their own dioceses for Holy Week, shortening the time for the Cardinals to meet and discuss the qualities needed in a new pope is not a helpful strategy right now.  The Vatican Bank scandals, clerical misconduct, the pedophilia scandals, the abuse of power in the Curia, the challenges by the Lefebvrist schismatics, along with serious questions as to where the Church is going in ecumenism and interfaith relations, liturgical policies, role of women in the Church, the state of the Church in China, all require intense study and discussion by the College of Cardinals so that they can help set an agenda and then select the most suitable candidate to carry out the necessary reforms.  This is not a papal election like the election of 1958 or 1963 or the elections of 1978.  Work that should have been done in 2005 and was not can no longer be delayed.  Benedict did not create these problems and they were—for the most part—in place when he was elected.  Josef Ratzinger convinced the Cardinals that he was the man who could deal with the problems.  It turns out that he was not, as he himself now recognizes.  This time the Cardinals need to settle in and come to a consensus on what must be done before the situation becomes irreparable.  Only then can they discern who the right candidate is to face the challenges and bring necessary reform to the Church. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Papal Resignations! VII

Sixtus IV (seated), one of
several gay popes
It has been a few days since I have posted and I am sorry because this is such a fascinating time.  Most recently there have been a spate of articles in the Italian press and then picked up by the American press that Benedict is resigning because an investigation into the leak of papal documents last year has revealed a network of gay prelates in the Roman Curia—the bureaucracy that runs the Church. 
Is there such a network?  Well, I am not sure that there is a “gay network” but the presence of prelates with same-sex attraction in the papal administration is hardly enough to send Paul Revere up into the cupola of Saint Peter’s with his lanterns.  The Italian newspapers regularly carry stories about one monsignor or another arrested on the Pincio or in the Villa Borghese gardens or the back of the Capitoline for performing obscene acts with some fellow or other.  Bishops and cardinals tend to be more discreet, but Roman dinner parties are always abuzz with this sort of gossip.  One exceptionally handsome Canadian priest I know who was doing graduate work in Rome had two Cardinals practically clawing each other’s eyes out at a reception in the Lateran Palace some years back.  And this is nothing new—all since Vatican II—as Michael Voris and some of the neo-cons are saying.  Peter Damian complained about the problem back in the eleventh century.  Good heavens—there have been gay popes:  Benedict IX, Sixtus IV, Leo X, Julius III.  Paul II is reported in some sources to have died having intercourse with a page in his household.  Julius II, while he had fathered several illegitimate children is also said to have had male lovers.  Rumors have abounded about several modern popes as well but nothing that I can substantiate. 
Neither the history nor the present situation would be news to Benedict whose long years in the Curia before his election made him only too familiar with the seamy underbelly of the Church.  I don’t give credence to his resignation being due to the shock that not everyone on his payroll is a saint.  But this papal election is unlike any in recent history because it is clear that the Church needs Reformation and it had better come from within and be thorough or it will come from without in the form of schism.  The papacy has not been held in such low esteem in centuries. 
An essential component of Reformation must be candor and it is time for the ban on discussing certain subjects to be lifted.  Several Cardinals have already spoken about the need to reevaluate the requirement for celibacy in the Church.  We do need to have honest discussion on that matter.  But permitting clergy to marry without an overall honest and frank discussion about human sexuality—and a discussion that involves the laity (whose province practical knowledge about sex and sexuality is)—would be dangerous to the moral climate of the Church.  We need to talk honestly about every aspect of human sexuality—same-sex attraction, contraception, masturbation, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, sexual compulsions, pedophilia and the whole shooting match (pardon any double entendre)—not to give license to immoral behaviors but for an honest understanding and moral reappraisal of human sexuality.  A sexually active clergy—gay or straight—at the heart of the Church’s administration simply exposes the superficiality of current moral teaching.  I am sure that some of the sexually active clergy in Rome—or in your parish or mine—are irresponsible people who have lost their moral compass but I am also sure that there are  men of good character and serious commitment who are in relationships that are not only mature and responsible but are grace-filled. In the same way I know that there are good Catholics who practice contraception or who have employed in vitro methods to become pregnant.  I know couples whose marriages are not recognized by the Church but whose marriages are also obviously a source of great grace.  Our public and private stances are at a variance and a cosmetic resurfacing won’t do.  It is time that the Christian family has some honest heart-to-heart talk about what constitutes a moral life and permit a theology to develop that is consistent with our contemporary experience.  The sex is not nearly as sinful or as dangerous to the Church as is the hypocrisy of professing standards to which we do not in life subscribe.        

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Papal Resignations! VI

Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI
In my preivous entry I mentioned Father Robert  Barron’s assessment of the papacy of Benedict XVI.  I am a fan of Father Barron and his work, but he is an apologist (one whose work it is to present the Church and its teaching in a light that is meant to win souls to its truth) not a historian.  From an apologist’s perspective, I think he did a fine and fair evaluation of this papacy, but I would like to tackle the subject from a historian’s perspective.  It might be somewhat less sugar-coated, but I would be far from negative.  That being said, I would have to begin by saying that overall the pontificate of Benedict XVI has been a tremendous disappointment, more to the Holy Father, I would imagine, than to anyone else.  His aim from the beginning was to revive the Christian faith and culture of Europe but there is no evidence of success in this matter.  Voices that have called for the very sort of renewal that would fan into new flame the embers of Christian Europe—voices such as the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini or the Swiss Abbots Martin Werlen and Peter von Sury—have been pushed to the margins while prelates that echo the same-old-same-old, and bizarre movements such as the Restorationist Institute of Christ the Sovereign Priest have found encouragement, albeit not by Benedict himself but by a Roman bureaucracy that has no consistent focus.  The result is that there has been absolutely no improvement in Benedict’s eight year reign in the state of the European Church. 
In my years in Rome I saw Benedict often—both as Cardinal Ratzinger and as the Pope.  He is a gentle and cultured man.  A sincere man.  Ironically in his days as the theological adviser to Cardinal Frings of Cologne during the Council, he was one of the principal sub-architects of the Council, but he seems—like the children of Israel in the desert—to have had a failure of confidence somewhere along the way.  He also seems to have had a compulsive need for control and management yet been unable to assert that control once in a position to do so.  His accession to the papacy in 2005 was according to a carefully engineered plan that Cardinal Ratzinger had meticulously put in place over the last ten years or so of John Paul’s papacy. He did this not out of ambition, I believe, but of a deep felt need to take control of the Church to correct the course that the Council had set and of which he had second thoughts.  He had no idea of reversing the Council but of a rather drastic revision of its course. In the end he was not successful in this matter other than ordering some still unpopular changes in the Roman Missal’s vernacular translations. 
His legacy will be his resignation.  What will give him a place in the history books is his courage to walk away from a task that is greater than his strength.  There is no shame in this—to the contrary he is to be congratulated for his candor and his rigorous self-awareness and for his putting the good of the Church ahead of his own desires.  Moreover, he has set a precedent giving future popes an option—and perhaps even a mandate—to do something popes have not felt free to do in centuries.     

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Papal Resignations! V

I am a big fan of Father Robert Barron and his use of the media to bring the Catholic message to popular audiences—not that I think Father Barron is always right (because I don’t) but because he makes a serious attempt to cast Church teaching in a positive—rather than a negative—light.  Let me give you an example.  I recently received an email alert on Father Barron’s estimation of the legacy which Pope Benedict is bequeathing to the Church.
I would evaluate things somewhat differently than Father Barron. In the first place Father Barron says that in some instances Vatican II was “weirdly or oddly interpreted???”  Really?  By whom?  O sure there was a priest here or a religion teacher there who had some strange ideas they labeled “the spirit of Vatican II” but the serious criticisms of how the first generation post-Vatican II Catholics “interpreted” the Council imply that the initial set of reforms of the liturgy or ecumenism or the role of the laity were not what the Council Fathers intended.   But it was the Council Fathers themselves who were responsible for the initial changes.  The Pope and the bishops who made the changes were Paul VI and the very bishops who sat at the Council.  The 1970 Missal, for example, was prepared by men (yes, men, I know, I know, but it was all men in those days who did this sort of work) who were the Council Fathers.  The bishops who turned the altars to face the people and put the liturgy into the language of the people had sat in the Council as voting members.  The bishops who appealed for laity to be permitted to bring communion to the sick or help distribute communion at Mass were the very Council Fathers themselves.  Men who wore their miters when they approved the Decrees on Ecumenism or non-Christian religions were the very men who went home to their dioceses and initiated interfaith and ecumenical prayer services and inter-religious charitable and relief programs.  Bishops who were at the Council came back and appointed laity to head Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities and diocesan finance boards.  So I am not so sure that the Council was interpreted “weirdly or oddly;” indeed I am somewhat suspicious that certain ecclesiastics—including Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI—haven’t tried to use this red herring to twist the Council to meanings somewhat different than the Council Fathers meant.  And when Father Barron denies that the Council was meant to “modernize” the Church I cannot but ask what Pope John XXIII mean by “aggiornamento” which means literally (and remember this Pope likes things to be translated literally) “bringing up to the day.”  Excuse me, Father Barron, but the Council was meant precisely to modernize the Church!  Duh!
In some respects Vatican II was mean to represent evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) change.  I would see the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity or the Decree on Social Communications to be evolutionary documents.  I would even argue that the Decree on the Liturgy and the liturgical changes which were implemented by Paul VI to fulfill the mandate of that decree were evolutionary, not revolutionary.  The Vatican II Rites were in most regards a return to earlier practice which should be understood to be evolutionary as certainly archaisms were dropped from the Mass or the Sacramental Rites because they no longer served a function.  An example would be the “offertory” rites of the Tridentine Mass or the second Confiteor before the communion of the faithful—or the rites that separated the communion of the faithful from the communion of the priest.  The “Last Gospel” would be another example. These were accretions added in an earlier period to the Liturgy to serve a purpose that was no longer required.  The addition of several more Eucharistic Prayers gave an option for the central prayer of the Mass and Prayer II in particular was the restoration of an ancient Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Rite. All that being said, however, there were revolutionary elements to the Council.  The Decrees on Ecumenism, Non-Christian Religions, and Freedom of Conscience represent a 180 degree turn in Catholic magisterial positions; there was nothing evolutionary about them.  Dei Verbum, the Decree on Divine Revelation, and Ad Gentes, the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church broke new ground in Catholic thinking.  Pope Benedict would like us to swallow the story that Vatican II represents a “hermeneutic of continuity” with the pre-conciliar Church—and in some respects it does—but equally true is that in many regards there is a hermeneutic of discontinuity.  That means the Church, at Vatican II, said in regard to some issues—“Sorry, we have been wrong about that.”  The Church doesn’t like to admit that it has been wrong but we historians know that often it has been wrong and it is best to admit it.
I am afraid that I have spent far too much time being negative on Father Barron’s assessment when in fact where he is right I think he is right on target and I think he is right in the vast majority of what he says.  I would agree that what Benedict saw as evolutionary about Vatican II was “evolution for mission.”  I think Pope Benedict, first as Josef Ratzinger the theologian and then as Josef Ratzinger the Prelate—both as Archbishop of Munich and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—and finally as Pope Benedict saw that the Second Vatican Council was an attempt to focus the Church on its Mission to the World. 
Furthermore, I believe that Father Barron is correct in saying that Benedict stressed the positive message of the Church.  I think that the current negative tone voiced by so many (especially American) bishops is a distortion of what the Holy Father is trying to get across.  I think the Pope is genuinely concerned about bringing souls to Christ, not driving them away.  There is nothing of the righteous Pharisee of the Pope—I only wish I could say the same about the caped and mitered fools whose high-handed arrogance has all but destroyed the credibility of the institutional Church in the United States.      
Related to the positive tone the Pope has tried to convey in his encyclicals and Sunday Messages, I agree with Father Barron that the Pope has stressed an “affirmative orthodoxy” with the central message of Divine Love, but again in pulpit after pulpit we are hearing only the message of judgment and condemnation that is not merely disheartening the faithful but driving them away in droves.  I would nominate the clergy of the Diocese of Arlington in particular for the Bad Shepherd Award. Travelling up and down the east coast as I do—with occasional jaunts to the Midwest and California—I must say that there is a particularly toxic atmosphere south of the Potomac where a very selective use of the magisterium matched with a derision for the Council has been used to rob God’s people of hope in parish after parish.  I commend the dozen or so faithful parishes of that diocese where the faith is being kept alive by clergy with a shepherd’s heart and their lay collaborators who cherish the Second Vatican Council and are trying to keep it alive.   

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Papal Resignations IV

Well, we have seen some previous resignations, so now let’s look at this papal resignation.  It was a shocker when I turned on the news last Monday morning at 5:30 AM to be greeted with an announcement that the pope was resigning.  As a historian I never expected to see this.  I remember the 1978 election in which Karol Wojtyla was elected as John Paul II—the first non-Italian pope in over 450 years and what a bombshell that was, but it was small news compared to a papal resignation. 
One of the most obvious things to Vatican watchers is that this resignation caught not only me but the papal household by surprise.  While a few close aides undoubtedly had some heads-up on it—someone had to check the text for Benedict’s Latin; he’s good but even a good Latinist knows to get his work checked out before he does an official document—it was clear from his confusion that Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s Press Secretary wasn’t in on the secret.  The poor man didn’t know whether to **** or go blind talking to the press Monday, obviously unprepared for such an announcement.  And Jesuits hate to be unprepared.  They rarely are.  And then all this confusion about a conclave and when it can begin and how it gets convoked with Cardinals tripping over one another to make the necessary plans.  Indeed the timing was not thought out and the announcement would appear to be somewhat spontaneous as the timing projects a conclave on the eve of Holy Week, a time that most of the Cardinals have responsibilities in their home dioceses.  Had Benedict consulted anyone he would have been advised to have done this either a month earlier or made it effective for after Easter.  No, while Benedict may have given the matter thought for some time, the actual decision was clearly somewhat spur-of-the moment and without consultation of his top officials.    
So what is the story?  My hunch is that Benedict was well aware of the fact that the papal power has drifted into the hands of Curial officials and that he had become unable to reassert papal control over his own bureaucracy.  The only possibility for the pope to be allowed to be pope is for a younger and more energetic man to come in and shake up the curial apparatus.  If you remember some earlier postings I have brought up rumors that Cardinal Bertone, the papal Secretary of State, had managed to consolidate the day to day running of the Church into his office, leaving Benedict to be the face but not the guts of the papacy.  Moreover, while Bertone was put in place to clean up the corruption of his predecessor, Cardinal Sodano, it seems that his ambition for power has, displayed Lord’s Acton’s famous principle that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  (See entries for June 7, 2011, February 15, 16, June 4, June 10 2012)
Josef Ratzinger, like all of us, has his shortcomings.  He probably has fewer of them than most of us.  He certainly has fewer failings than I.  But one thing Benedict has and has in plenty is integrity.  I suspect that it is this integrity that led him to personal decision to move aside and let someone come in and try to regain control of the Church’s central apparatus.  If he found himself unable to lead the Church into the paths he believes the Church must follow, Benedict would see the need to resign rather than to maintain the charade that he was pope while decisions were being made in his name but with which he could not agree.  More in the next posting

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Papal Resignations! III

As I have written in other postings, I am reluctant to call the bishops of Rome “popes” until the beginning of the fifth century, not because I don’t think they exercised a leadership role that extended beyond the Church of which they were bishops, but for several reasons, not least of which is that the title “pope” was not used in its modern sense of the Universal Pastor of the Church at least until the time of Leo I.  The Roman Church—and its bishop—certainly had an influence that extended throughout the Christian communities of the vast Roman Empire from at least the end of the first century, but the word “pope” gets very much overloaded with significance and authority, and power that becomes part of that office only later is too often projected back upon the Roman bishops of the first centuries making them retroactively something that does not fit the historical facts.   This is a problem with those who do “Church history” which is a branch of apologetics rather than “history of the Church” which is held accountable to the same standards of factual accuracy as the history of any secular institution.  Nevertheless, if one is looking at the subject of papal resignations, we can certainly begin by looking at the resignation of Pontian who was the Roman bishop from 230 until 235. 
Pontian was Bishop of Rome during a time of relative peace for the Church during the reign of Alexander Severus.   He held a synod that condemned Origen though I am not sure on precisely which counts as much of Origen’s work survives in orthodoxy while some of his ideas are clearly heretical.  More to our point, at the death of Alexander Severus the new Emperor, Maximinus the Thracian, initiated a persecution of the Church and Pontian was deported to the mines of Sardinia. Rather than leave the Roman Church without a shepherd, Pontian resigned the See.  Anterus, a Greek freedman, was elected to replace him in Rome. Pontian was to die after only a month or so in the mines.  His remains were brought back to Rome by Fabian, his successor but one, two years after his death.    
A less noble figure to resign the papal See was Benedict IX.  He was young—barely 20 and maybe not even that, but he came from the family of the Counts of Tusculum—a noble family that dominated the papacy in much of the ninth and tenth centuries and put the porno into what is called the papal pornocracy. (See entries for Jan 15 and June 6 2011.)  Benedict’s father was Alberic III, Count of Tusculum and the great-grandson and great-great-grandson respectively of Marozia and Theodora, who were in their day each mistresses of various popes. Two uncles, brothers of his father, had been Popes Benedict VIII and John XIX.  Benedict VII and John XI were also apes in this family tree. Benedict was cut of a somewhat different bolt of cloth than his ancestors—not that he was virtuous but more that this preference in lovers ran to men rather than to the ladies and he delighted in having orgies in the Apostolic Palace.  He was forced from Rome in 1044 and Sylvester III was elected in his place.  There is no record of Benedict’s resignation at this point, yet Sylvester is recognized as Pope and not called an anti-pope by historians.  I am not sure why.  The following year, however, Benedict’s godfather, a pious man and a cardinal, John Gratian, persuaded Benedict to resign.  He gave Benedict a handsome endowment on which to live.  Gratian was then elected as Gregory VI. 
Gregory VI was soon to resign himself.  Benedict rethought his resignation and tried to reclaim the papal throne.  So now you have three men claiming to pope—Sylvester III, Benedict IX, and Gregory VI.  The Emperor, Henry III, convoked a council at Sutri which deposed Sylvester and Benedict.  Gregory was acknowledged as true pope but asked to resign because in providing the endowment for Benedict to live on in retirement, it appeared that he, Gregory, had “bought” the papacy—paid Benedict for it.  Gregory resigned the papacy and was taken to Germany by the Emperor to remove him from Rome and interfering with his successor, Clement II.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Papal Resignations! II

Celestine V
In our last posting we spoke of the resignation of Gregory XII.  The pope previous to him who had resigned was Celestine V who was pope for only just over five months in 1294.  Celestine had never wanted to be pope.  He was a hermit, a noted ascetic in an age and culture where extreme asceticism was often mistaken for holiness.  Thus he had a reputation for sanctity while in fact he may have been no more than a pious eccentric.  Of course pious eccentrics are not necessarily bad people and Celestine seems to have been a genuinely good person even if given to devotional extremes. But just as good people don’t necessarily make good presidents—think of Jimmy Carter—neither do they make good popes.  In fact, the last thing that is helpful in the Chair of Saint Peter is a man whose personal integrity leaves him naïve to the evil surrounding him.  That, alas, was Celestine. 
He was chosen pope at a time when the cardinals were deadlocked between the candidates of various rival families of Roman nobility.  The Colonna, the Orsini, the Caetani, and other Roman families vied for control of the papacy and played off one another in conclave after conclave in the thirteenth century.  After the death of Nicholas IV in 1292 the Cardinals were unable to come to a consensus for more than two years.  Pietro Angelerio, also known as Pietro da Moronne (his hermitage had been at Moronne near Naples), a hermit monk known for his rigid asceticism, wrote the cardinal electors a letter castigating them for not giving the Church a pope.  The cardinals, frustrated, elected Pietro.  Pietro refused.  A delegation of prelates and the Kings of Naples and Hungary prevailed on him finally to accept and he was crowned pope at L’Aquilia, about 62 miles north east of Rome.  He chose to reign under the name Celestine V.
His papacy was a disaster and Celestine knew it.  He was an old man—79 years old—and had been a monk his whole life.  He had no idea how to deal with the politics of the papacy.  From the very first he wanted out.  And he had a very sly canon lawyer to advise him on just how it could be done in Cardinal Benedetto Caetani.  Celestine resigned.  Caetani was elected on the first day of the conclave.  Celestine returned to his hermitage but was not allowed to remain there.  Caetani, now Boniface VIII, was afraid that Celestine would fall into the hands of Boniface’s enemies and be used against him as a sort of counter-pope.  Celestine tried to flee to what is today Croatia, across the Adriatic from Italy but Boniface’s agents captured him and kept him under arrest at Ferentino south of Rome.  He died ten months later—some claim murdered on orders of Boniface, but that is unlikely. 
Boniface was an ambitious man who was sort of the papacy’s Richard Nixon in as that he would have been a good pope, even a great pope, except for his character flaws that in the end turned his virtues into vice.  His hunger for power and his arrogance brought him into conflict with Philip IV of France, a man whose greatness was matched by a truly evil character.  (Philip was also known as Philip the Fair, but Fair as in good looking not as in a good man.)  Boniface was flawed; Philip evil to the core—but a great king.  And just as there is a lesson to be learned in the Jimmy Carter like goodness of the ineffective Celestine, there is a lesson to be learned in the evil Philip who was a good king.  Good men are often not great men and great men are rarely good men.  We won’t go into Boniface’s papacy for now except to say that Dante placed Boniface in the deepest ring of hell and he put Celestine in hell as well—though not as deeply—for making Boniface’s papacy possible by himself resigning the responsibility to which he had been entrusted.  And Benedict?  Well his papacy has been lackluster, perhaps even plagued, though by no means as bad as Celestine’s.  But learn from Celestine—there is no guarantee that papacy Benedict makes way for will be any better and it could be worse.  Let us pray that it won’t be.   

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Papal Resignations!

Conclave that elected
Martin V 1417 at the
Council of Constance
  Well, I guess we have to interrupt our series on the origins of the Church of England to look at this currently developing topic of Papal Resignations.  Let me tell you, I was caught by surprise.  It has  been 598 years since a pope has resigned and while Benedict seems to love rooting through Vatican closets for old things to wear I had never thought he would go so far back to find such an interesting precedent for some drama.  So what I want to do in this blog and the next is talk about earlier papal resignations and then maybe in the following entry or two, tell you what I think is going on that motivated Benedict to take this step which is, like God himself, fascinans et tremendum. (That is Latin for fascinating and awesome)  
The last pope to resign office was Gregory XII in 1415 but that resignation was under a very different set of circumstances than Pope Benedict’s announcement yesterday.  Pope Gregory had promised the Cardinals of the 1406 conclave that elected him that he would resign, although once in power, he reconsidered and had to be somewhat forced to follow through.   You see, it was at the time of the great schism when you had a man in Avignon claiming to be the Pope and a man at Rome claiming to be the Pope.  Christendom was divided in allegiance.  Gregory was elected to fill the vacancy left by the death of Innocent VII, the Roman claimant.  The Cardinals who elected him—only fifteen in the conclave—made him promise that should the Avignon claimant, Benedict XIII, be persuaded to resign, Gregory too would resign.  Then a single candidate could be elected to replace the two of them, healing the schism.  It was a safe bet for Gregory that Benedict would have no intention of resigning and Gregory seems, despite the promise, to have had no intention either. 
Gregory and Benedict got into this sort of pas de deux of each trying to out maneuver each other into resigning and leaving the field to the survivor.  Each claimant had his own set of cardinals whom he had named,  but a majority of the cardinals belonging to each were disgusted at both popes by their lack of resolve to end the crisis and began to negotiate with one another behind the popes’ backs as to how to resolve the issue and bring the Church back to unity.  The Cardinals called a Council for Pisa at which they intended to depose both popes and elect a new one.  And in 1409 the Council of Pisa in fact declared both pope’s deposed and elected Alexander V.  The only problem was that neither Gregory nor Benedict accepted the Council’s verdict and so now you had three popes!!!
Sigismund, the King of Hungry and of Germany and soon to be Holy Roman Emperor pressed for another Council to resolve this dilemma.  Alexander V meanwhile had died and his successor, John XXIII—at Sigismund’s instance—called a Council for Constance in Switzerland.  It met in November 1414.   29 Cardinals, 183 bishops and archbishops, 134 abbots, and 100 theologians met.  And yes, the theologians were not simply advisors but full participants in the Council.  Sigismund himself presided over the Council.
At this point, Gregory’s conscience took over and he agreed to a plan to preserve the Church.  He appointed two legates to represent him at the Council, Carlo Malatesta—a powerful layman and military leader—and Giovanni Dominici, the Dominican Cardinal-Archbishop of Ragusa.  The legates, acting in the name of Pope Gregory, officially recognized the Council and then offered Gregory’s resignation.  The Council in turn recognized Gregory as the legitimate claimant to the papacy, accepted his resignation, deposed the other two claimants (including John XXIII who had convoked the Council) and elected Odonne Colonna (remembered Odie O. Cologne from King Leonardo and His Short Subjects?  No, probably not.  I know that I had though he was part of Rocky and Bullwinkle until I looked it up on that Sedes Sapientiae, Wikipedia. But I digress)  Colonna took the regnal name Martin V.    However—and very curiously—the Council did not elect Martin until after the death of the Gregory, two years after his resignation.   This means that there were not two popes, or a pope and a retired pope, at the same time, but rather the Apostolic See was left vacant for those two years with the sitting Council running the Church.  This too is important to note as today Councils are suspended during a papal interregnum with the claim that a Council gets its authority from the Pope and when there is no pope, a Council lacks authority.  That was not the case with Constance.  Constance broke popes (Gregory,  Benedict, and John XXIII) and Constance made popes—Martin V.  It was the height of Conciliar power. Moreover, just to demonstrate the power of the Council, the conclave that elected Martin consisted not only of Cardinals but of delegates from the Council.  On this precedent, centuries later when Pope John XXIII died between the first and second sessions of the Second Vatican Council, it was suggested that the Council Fathers, or a delegation of them, might participate in the papal election but that was not done.  In fact, Paul VI—after his election—had to re-convoke the Council as its authority was deemed to have lapsed with the death of John XXIII.  Papal power had vastly expanded in the centuries between Constance and Vatican II. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Foundation of the Anglican Church III

The Image of Christ as Apollo
found in the Vatican Necropolis
beneath St Peter's Basilica.  The
rising sun is here used as a
symbol for the Resurrected
Before we go on let me draw your attention to two aspects of Romano-British Christianity that bear note.  The first is a small point but could have some significant repercussions.  In my last posting, I used the illustration of an ancient church discovered in the archeological dig at Calleva Attrebatum, a Roman town on the site of modern Silchester in Hampshire.  What I found curious about this church is that while it runs on an east-west axis, the altar was at the western end, the doors at the eastern end.  I say this because there is always much discussion about how early churches were oriented, that is built facing eastward to that priest and people faced the rising sun as they celebrated the Eucharist.  This argument is used by those who want to reverse the altars in Catholic Churches and have the priest again face away from the people as was the usual custom before the Second Vatican Council.  Well, this ancient church could be a sort of fluke in the normal practice except that as I have noted in other blogs that deal with the “ad orientem” (facing eastward) issue, the practice was not followed at Rome where ancient churches can be found facing every direction of the compass.  Yes, the ancient churches of Rome face every direction of the compass except that Saint Peter’s Basilica and Saint John Lateran Basilica—two of the three Constantinian Basilica’s in Rome face westward. That does not seem to be a co-incidence given that they are such prominent churches built under imperial supervision. The argument, for St Peter’s, was always given that the terrain of the Vatican Hill gave the builders no choice in how to situate the church, but in fact Constantine had his builders level out the hill and built the basilica on top.  It could have  been built in an eastward position.  Moreover, while the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls—the third of the Constantinan basilicas in Rome and the “twin” to St. Peter’s—faces east, I was surprised on a recent visit to Rome to read in a museum display at Saint Paul’s that it too originally faced west.  Hmmm.  And now we find an ancient church in Roman Britain also facing west.  Could it be that these churches were built so that the bishop or priest standing at the altar faced, not the rear wall of the Church, but, looking over the altar, faced the east and the rising sun?  Was there a Roman peculiarity here of situating the priest—but not the faithful—to face the rising sun?  We do know that the custom in Rome up to at least the 11th century was for the bishop or priest to stand behind the altar facing the people, not with his back to them.  A westward facing Church would permit the celebrant to face the rising sun while maintaining the Roman custom of facing the faithful over the altar.
Now, the late Monsignor Klaus Gamber in his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (Die Reform der römischen Liturgie)made the somewhat preposterous claim that in St. Peter’s and other westward facing churches, the people stood at the Eucharist facing eastward towards the open doors of the Church to greet the rising sun.  This means, that they would have stood with their backs to the priest and the altar for the Eucharistic Liturgy—a very strange position, especially if they believed that Christ became truly present in the Eucharist.  Gamber would have us believe that the faithful stood facing a symbol of Christ—the rising sun—while their backs were to his Real Presence in the Eucharistic Gifts?!?  Gamber was opposed to the liturgical reforms that followed the Council and his work is more a polemic undermining the Liturgy of Paul VI than it is a critical study of Liturgical history.  Jungmann and Dix still remain the better works for liturgical history.  Nevertheless, Gamber is often cited by those neo-traditionalists who want to restore the pre-conciliar rites, especially the ad apsidem position of the priest at the altar with his back to the people.    
What we do know about this small Roman church in Hampshire is that the altar was freestanding.  A somewhat more elaborate mosaicked square in the apse of the Church marks where the altar would have stood and like all other altars of the period it was square and free standing.  The priest presumably stood behind it in the Roman fashion facing the congregation and beyond them the rising sun. 
What is this importance of the rising sun?  We have wandered far from the topic of this chain of postings—the history of the Anglican Church but it is worth commenting on none the less.  The Eucharist was normally celebrated early in the morning—at dawn.  The ancient cultures were far more sensitive to the interplay of nature and religious faith and the liturgy expressed this.  From the beginning of the Christian cult the rising sun was a symbol of the Risen Christ.  In the catacombs of Rome, or rather in a Christian tomb in the necropolis beneath Saint Peter’s Basilica, one can see Christ depicted at the god Apollo whose chariot daily drew the sun on its arc across the sky.  The paradigmatic liturgy of the year—the great Vigil of Easter—was always timed so that the great prayer of Thanksgiving, the Eucharistic Prayer, was being sung at the moment that the morning sun, representing the Risen Christ, broke over the horizon.  Each Sunday, therefore, the liturgy was celebrated at dawn to continue the Easter celebration in the weekly Eucharist.  The Sunday Eucharist was seen—and still is—as the weekly renewal of the Easter Proclamation.  We moderns with our vigil Masses and our preference to lie abed on Sunday mornings with coffee and papers have lost that connection.  Anyway, let’s get back to British Christianity.   
My second point that I wanted to make regarding Christianity in Roman Britain is that is spawned a heresy.  Pelagius (c. 354- c.420) was a British monk who came to Rome at the end of the fourth century. (There is some possibility that he was from Brittany in France rather than from Britain but most sources believe he was British.)  Coming out of the very strict ascetic tradition of hiberno-british monasticism, he was a man of very severe temperament shocked by the moral laxity in Rome.  (He would have an absolute apoplectic seizure if he saw Rome today.)  He blamed this laxity on the influence of Augustine of Hippo—who was still alive—the distinguished North African bishop-theologian who determined the course of Western theology and is usually considered a rigorist, though not by Pelagius.  Pelagius was actually far more morally rigid than Augustine and he thought that Augustine’s emphasis on grace was simply a cop-out that let people blame God for their own moral failures.  “I committed perverse sexual acts because God didn’t give me the grace to resist,” or as Geraldine used to say “The devil made me do it.” 
Little of Pelagius’s writings have survived.  His name being associated with heresy, his once-extensive writings were destroyed early on.  We know what various councils such as the one Augustine called at Carthage in 418 claim he taught but Pelagius was not at that Council and had no opportunity to explain himself.  The Council of Diospolis in 415—at which he was present—heard him out and confirmed his orthodoxy.  From what little we do know, we probably should conclude that Pelagianism, the heresy named after him, is more of a caricature of his actual teaching than an accurate reflection.  Pelagianism says that the human person is capable of doing good moral acts independent of God’s grace.  This is a heretical position, but nowhere do we find that it is actually what Pelagius taught.  Being a strong Augustinian myself and having what might even be an overdeveloped appreciation for the mystery of Grace, I abhor Pelagianism which I see very much reflected in the shallow naiveté  of today’s happy-clappy Matthew Fox pseudo-Christianity.  Of course I think the morose and sullen pseudo-Catholicism of Michael Voris and Joseph Fessio is shot through and through with Jansenism, equally heretical and the moral opposite of Pelagianism. 
All this takes us far away from today’s topic, the development of the Ecclesia Anglicana but I did want to draw reader’s attention to the vitality of the Romano-British Church before we move onto its Celtic salvation and the Anglo-Saxon era.                

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Foundation of the Anglican Church II

Plan of a Christian Church from
the Roman Period found at
Silchester, England. A curious
feature of this church is that it faces
west rather than east as was the more
normal practice
  In speaking of the Ecclesia Anglicana or the English Church, one of the things of which we need to be precise is the term “English.”  When you see the Latin word for English—Anglicana (Anglicanus, a, um), you can see why.  Anglicanus and its English derivative “English” refer to the Angles—a Germanic people who, along with two other Germanic peoples, the Saxons and the Jutes, began to migrate to the British Isle in the fifth century.  In other words there were no English (Angli, Angles) in England until sometime between 400-500 AD.  We usually refer to the people who lived in the southern half of the Island before the Anglo-Saxon migrations (or, some would say, invasions) as the Britons.  (The northern half of the Island populated by the Scoti and the Picts.) Thus when we talk about the Church in Britain in this period of Roman domination we would not refer to it as the Ecclesia Anglicana or the English Church.  But there were no “Roman Catholics” in Britain at this period either.  There were simply the Romano-British Christian communities.  There were bishops at what is today London, York and Lincoln. Other cities and towns such as Colchester, Bath, Carlisle or Verulamium, which flourished in the Roman period probably had their Christian communities as well, each with its own bishop.  Certainly by the beginning of the fifth century (400 AD) the predominant religion in Britain would have been Christianity.  And as Britain was part of the Roman Empire, Christians there would have been aware of the Church of Rome and its Bishop.  They almost certainly would have included the name of the Bishop of Rome in the diptychs signifying that they were in communion with the Church and the bishop of Rome.  But they weren’t “under” the bishop of Rome in any sense. 
Let me digress for a moment to tell you about the diptychs as this is an important feature—and a feature we still follow today—for the unity of the Church.  The diptychs were two panels hinged together on which were written the names of the living for whom prayers were offered on the one side, and the names of the dead to be commemorated in the prayers on the other.  On the side of the living would be included the names of the prominent bishops and Churches of Christendom.  The priest or deacon would read out these names during the prayers so that hearing the names of the leading bishops, a travelling Christian would know they were in a catholic (note the small “c”) and not some breakaway sect or heretical faction.  Today, at Mass, we include the name of the Pope and the local Bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer.  Thus when I am at Mass away from home, and I hear the Pope’s name I know I am in a Catholic Church and not an Episcopalian or a Lutheran Church where the Liturgy is very much the same.  (Don’t be smug. I know devout Catholics who have been to Episcopal or Lutheran Eucharists and not known they were in the wrong pew.  This can be particularly tricky if there is a language barrier.)   
While these Churches in Britain were in communion with the Roman Church they were in no way “under” the Roman Church or its Bishop, whom we may now refer to as “the Pope.”  (It would not be precise historically to call the bishop of Rome “the Pope” before Leo the Great, (pope 440-461) or certainly before the Constantinian settlement, c. 315. But that is another subject entirely.)  Each of these Churches would have elected its own bishop in the traditional way—an assembly of the laity along with the clergy—with the election confirmed by the bishops of the surrounding communities.  That bishop, once elected, would have governed the local Church without reference to outside authority other than that of any council of the bishops of his region that might be held, or an Ecumenical Council called by the Emperor. 
The coming of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in the fifth century uprooted but did not destroy these British Christian communities.  At the beginning of the fifth century, Roman troops were called home from the far-flung corners of the Empire to protect the city of Rome from the various invaders that threatened it.  Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410, threatened by Attila in 452, sacked again by the Vandals in 455, and finally sacked once more by the Ostrogoths in 546.  (We won’t deal here with later sacks.)  Once the Roman troops had withdrawn, these Germanic tribes saw room for expansion in the rich and fertile British Island.  As they moved in, the native British population shifted more and more to the west and to what is now Wales to escape them.  The Germanic peoples were pagans of the old Germanic religion with Wotan and his buddies from the Ring of the Nibelung.  In places like York and London and Eboracum (York) Christianity held on by a thread but the centers of Christianity shifted to the west and south west and to Wales with the surviving Briton population.  This was the Britain of Arthur and we know little about it with any certainty, but at the very time Christianity was most vulnerable, reinforcements to the faith came from the west in the Celtic missions. And that is for next time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Foundations of the Anglican Church I

The Galilee of Durham
Cathedral,  site of the tomb
of the Venerable Bede
In the previous posting, I raised the issue of whether the newly discovered remains of Richard III—Shakespeare’s evil hunchback king—should be reburied with Catholic Rites or Anglican ceremonial.  Richard was, after all, a Catholic.   But then Anglicans claim that he was Church of England at a time when the Church of England was in communion with the Roman See.  Was there a Church of England  before Henry VIII and his break?  This is an important question for historians because the legitimacy of the Anglican Church hinges on the question: Did Henry VIII found the Anglican Church or did he take the already existing Anglican Church out of communion with Rome?  If the former, the Anglicans are a sort of religious Johnny-come-lately religious movement; if the latter then they have a legitimate identity as one of the ancient Christian Churches.  Should Catholics work for the conversion of Anglicans and Episcopalians—or is our aim to restore communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Church of Rome? 
Popular opinion thinks of the Anglican Church as being founded by Henry VIII when he split the Church in England from the Pope so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, having tired of his wife Queen Katherine of Aragon—but that just shows us how little we know about the history of the Church, or rather, how much our understanding of the  history of the Church has been shaped  by religious opinions rather than  historical facts.
The term “Anglican Church” was around for at least three hundred years before ol’ Henry ever got peeved with the Pope and the idea of a Church of England, if not the terminology itself, is even much older.  Certainly the Venerable Bede, a Church historian (673-735) had a very clear idea of the English Church as a body with a distinct identity within Christendom that differentiated it from the Roman Church and the other distinct ecclesial communities that comprised the universal Christendom of his time.  To Bede, the English Church was as different from the Roman Church as was the Greek or the Irish Churches of his day.  Bede, in fact, wanted to smooth over some of the differences in religious practices, but he did not want the English Church to lose its unique identity.  Of course the English Church—that is the Anglican Church for Ecclesia Anglicana means simply that, the English Church—was in communion with the Roman Church  but it was in no way absorbed into it.  While it held the Roman Church and its Bishop (the Pope) in honor, it had its own distinct rites and ceremonies, it chose its own bishops, it held its own synods and councils and it formulated its own canons. At the time of Bede, it was its own Church in full and free communion with universal Christendom represented by the five great Patriarchial Sees of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem.  As a Western Church it had its strongest ties to the See of Rome, the Western Patriarchate but like the other Churches maintained its autonomy.  
Christianity had come to England before the end of the second century and perhaps as early as the last decades of the first century.  What is today England and Wales was a province of the Roman Empire and even as the faith had spread to Rome from the Pentecost Preaching of the Apostles, it spread from Rome throughout its empire as merchants and soldiers and government officials and slaves and tourists and sailors moved about the wide empire, settling in countless places and bringing with them the religious beliefs of the Empire, of which Christianity was but one.  There is even an old tradition that Joseph of Arimathea had comes as a missionary after the Ascension of Christ.  Other legends talk about Philip the Apostle sending missionaries to Britain, or perhaps even one or another of the apostles going there themselves.  None of this can be verified, however, and all of these stories have the stuff of legends more than facts about them.  But that is not to say that Christianity may have arrived in Britain even as early as 50 AD, or perhaps a few years before.  We simply do not know the earliest date but we can say that by 150 it is all but certain that there were Christian communities in the Roman towns of Britain.  We know that there were three British bishops present at the Council of Arles in 314. One of these was Restitutus, Bishop of Londinium, today’s London. British bishops were also present at the Council of Sardica (Sofia, in modern day Bulgaria) in 347 and the Council of Rimini (In what is today Italy) in 359.  This tells us that the British Church was not a stand-alone entity but was in communion with the Universal Church represented by the Emperor.  (Yes, it was the Emperor, not the Pope, who represented the oecumene or Universal Oneness of the Church just as it was the Emperor, not the Pope, who had the right and duty to convoke Ecumenical (oecumenical) Councils. Bet you didn’t learn that in fifth grade. 
You see, the “Church” of the first five centuries was not a single Church under a Pope but a communion of local Churches, each with its own bishop, who recognized the authenticity of faith and legitimacy of practice of one another.  There were certain measuring sticks of orthodoxy—the Trinity, the divinity of Christ—as well as a  unity of practices such as the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, baptism as the rite of initiation into the community, and an Episcopal system of leadership where deacons and presbyters assisted the bishop in his ministry. As the centuries moved on the rites of these Churches began to vary more and more in incidentals, but they used, for the most part, the same scriptures in their worship and common patterns, if not the rites themselves, for their liturgies.  By the sixth century these local churches began to coalesce around one or another of the five great patriarchial Sees.  Christians the West, both Europe and North Africa, began looking more and more to the Church and Bishop of Rome for leadership.  Christians in the eastern parts of North Africa looked mostly to Alexandria.  Christians in Greece and Asia Minor—what is today Turkey—as well as southern Italy and Sicily to Constantinople because they were under the political domination of the Emperor there.  Christians in Syria and beyond the Eastern boundaries of the old empire, looked to Antioch.  Christians in the ancient places of Palestine, looked to the Patriarch and Church of Jerusalem.  This period of the history of the Church uniting around the five great Patriarchs is called the Pentarchy.  It surprises us Catholics to think of a period of the history of the Church where the Pope wasn’t running the show but a universal jurisdiction of the Roman See only emerges in the eleventh century.   But we can talk about that at another time; we are getting ahead of our story if we want to focus on England.  Suffice it to say that by the fourth century Christianity was well established in Britain and the Roman Church and its bishop were held in honor but not acknowledged as having direct authority.