The sartorial splendor of truth

The good sisters of America may have a whole new quality of life matter to ponder after a perusal of some photos unearthed by the troublemakers at the National Catholic Reporter of Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for the Religious, at a March ordination of six new deacons for Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest at the institute's mother house in Gricigliano, Italy, near Florence.

The good cardinal appears decked in all his 18th (16th? 15th?) century finery. No Georgetown sweatshirts he! Thee? Rodé, of course, is the man charged by Pope Benedict to conduct the Apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious congregations. I am encouraged to learn, from John Allen's interview in the same NCR issue, of how Vincentian "simplicity and humility is still part of his spirituality."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jim McCrea
8 years 1 month ago
Posted at dotCommonweal today by Ann Oliver:
Cardinal Rode’, gowned in red,
Disapproved of the nuns’ new threads.
“Unnatural ladies! You’re a major disgrace!”
Cried he, as he smoothed his skirt of lace.
8 years ago
New Liturgical Movement is among a number of superb new resources for those with a sincere and serious interest in correcting the inanity, relentless dumbing down and mindless vandalism afflicting the liturgy and sacred art and music today. The photos were never "earthed" so they could scarcely have been "unearthed".
And the nitwits at NCR are not "troublemakers", they are merely nitwits. The write-up NCR posts along with the photos is the most vacuous and pathetic flapdoodle.
8 years 1 month ago
Gabriel; I agree that we should stretch to 'go along' with cultural uniqueness. e.g.Drums and dance in Africa etc.. But those in charge in Rome have obligations to the universal church.
Jason Berry reports this about Cardinal Rode'  and this is not a cultural uniqueness.
'Rode has spoken glowingly of the Legion in speeches and sermons since Maciel’s dismissal. In 2007, according to a Legion insider, the cardinal was a guest at a Legion conference in Atlanta on family values, where Jeb Bush was keynote speaker. He said Rode went on to a Legion-paid  vacation in Cancun.'
Gabriel McAuliffe
8 years 1 month ago
Ed -
What are you talking about?  This doesn't at all have to do with what I just wrote, or what the post up above is about.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 1 month ago
The meditation and photos ARE rather funny ...
Gabriel McAuliffe
8 years 1 month ago
Kevin -
Thanks for your sincere reply.
Pearce Shea
8 years 1 month ago
Kevin, I think your post was an unnecessary, cheap dig.
Gabriel, I think Ed's response to your first post is pretty telling where all of this is coming from. As you and I both know, the trads would love to see the progressives all burned at the stake and the progressives would like the Pope to publicly single out, shame and excommunicate every single trad for their sins of arrogance, greed, etc. That Rode and the LCs are both very popular and (even after Maciel's fall from grace) quite powerful is a huge annoyance for some of those in the progressive camp. Thus the unnecessary piece in the NCR and this post here. For people like Ed, the fact that Rode is popular among the LCs, would go on a LC "vacation" (those are usually called retreats, but Jason Berry, who has pursued both Rode and the LCs with the same sort of spastic, noisome zeal that Mike Walsh devoted to Opus Dei, has never let objectivity or facts get in the way of his conclusion*)  is no shock. They are both of them the embodiment of all things wrong with the trad side of the Church! As far as Ed is concerned, speaking at the same event as Jeb Bush, elaborate liturgical practices and garments, conservative politics, and lavish indulgent (has anyone been to Cancun, anyway? The place is a hole.) are all part and parcel of the same thing.
*In the words of Stephen Colbert, "I prefer my opinion: facts change, but my opinion will never change."
Brendan McGrath
8 years 1 month ago
Just to add some opinions/thoughts of my own - Personally, I see nothing wrong with all of the traditional vestments, rubrics, etc.; I think it's possible and valuable to have a variety of liturgical styles in the Church.  On the National Catholic Reporter's site, I saw people raising questions about to what extent the elaborate materials come at the expense of helping the poor, social justice, etc. - certainly that's a valid question, but I'd argue that it must be possible BOTH to have these elaborate rituals AND to help the poor.  Of course, it's another question whether the people in these photos actually DO help the poor, but even if they don't, that doesn't mean that elaborate ritual is INHERENTLY or INEVITABLY opposed to charity and social justice. 
Some would argue that we shouldn't have these vestments, or big cathedrals, etc. when there are people in poverty - I admit it IS hard to argue with that; but I feel like there must also be some place for art, beauty, etc.: I mean, otherwise, how could you justify doing ANYTHING other than charity and social justice?  Should no one spend any time writing books, painting works of art, composing music, etc. so that they can use that time to feed the hungry instead?  Also, with regard to big cathedrals and elaborate rituals, does it perhaps change things if we consider that (in theory, at least?) the poor and the homeless are welcome to them as well?  Perhaps this is a naive and invalid point; I'm not sure.  But as a Church, we do so much (and should always do more) to address all kinds of needs for those who are underprivileged - could beautiful cathedrals, rituals, etc. perhaps be addressing a need as well, the need for beauty, for an experience of aesthetic grandeur which one might otherwise never have?  I'm not sure how much people who are poor, homeless, etc. ever come into the big cathedrals - if they don't usually, then it'd seem that in addition to addressing material needs, we can and should make sure they're welcome to liturgies, etc.  I could be horribly wrong about all of this; I'm just sort of thinking out loud here.
On a related note, people often say that the Vatican should sell off all its art and give to the poor - but I've sometimes wondered why nobody makes the same arguments about the federal government.  I.e., why isn't anyone complaining that we should get rid of the Smithsonian museums, sell everything in them, and use the money to fight poverty?  Why don't we sell the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, etc.?  Sarah Silvernman recently told the Pope to sell the Vatican - why don't we sell the White House and the Capitol Building? 
Tim Lacy
8 years 1 month ago
That NCR piece is quite unfair-superficial at the very least.  I'm with Gabriel in that this kind of sniping lowers the tone of *America*. I'm also with Brendan, philosophically and theologically.  The Church shouldn't *always* question the cost.  What we're honoring and where we're headed count for something.  We can help the poor and honor God with beauty.  - TL
Jeremy Zipple
8 years 1 month ago
I disagree with those calling this a 'gotcha moment' or 'unnecessary’ and ‘a cheap dig'. This set of pictures speaks volumes about the vast – perhaps unbridgeable – chasm which exists today in the Church between traditionalists and progressives. These photos convey that reality much better than any news report could.  Perusing them, I thought of my 84-year-old aunt who, as a member of a prominent and progressive religious community, has been visited by Cardinal Rode's team.  My aunt spent her life as a pastoral associate/social worker in inner city Detroit, sporting sneakers and sweatshirts as she lived and ministered among the urban poor. And it makes my head spin to contrast her spirituality, ecclesiology, and theology of ministry with that of Cardinal Rode's. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the two are radically irreconcilable. As these pictures indicate so vividly, placing Cardinal Rode in charge of an evaluation of my aunt’s community is analogous to hiring Glenn Beck to conduct an internal audit of the National Organization of Women.  For better or worse, this is a reality facing the Church, thus I don’t see why America or NCR should be prohibited from acknowledging it.
Gabriel McAuliffe
8 years 1 month ago
''I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the two are radically irreconcilable,''
Tell me, am I part of your aunt's church or Cardinal Rode's church? 
As for Glen Beck, who is he?
Gabriel McAuliffe
8 years 1 month ago
In all charity, was this post really necessary?  It sounds more like a "gotcha" moment to me.
This is why I sour at the divide that we have in the Church.  "Progressives" are just as guilty of it too, believe it or not.
And we don't have to consult Ripley's for that, either.
Still praying for us all to be one.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A reflection for the third Sunday of Advent
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 16, 2017
Homeless people are seen in Washington June 22. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee, released a statement Nov. 17 proclaiming that the House of Representatives "ignored impacts to the poor and families" in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act the previous day. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
The United States is thwarting the advancement of millions of its citizens, a UN rapporteur says.
Kevin ClarkeDecember 16, 2017
Why not tax individuals for what they take out of society instead of what they contribute?
Paul D. McNelis, S.J.December 15, 2017
Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for another three years, informed sources told America this week.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 15, 2017