Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Wednesday in Rome
With Some Randoms

Some random American cardinal presided over the solemn Ash Wednesday mass in St. Peter's Basilica this morning, and some random layman prayed publicly for the Pope to recover from the flu.

U.S. Cardinal James Stafford(R) receives ash from Cardinal Angelo Sodano as he leads the traditional Ash Wednesday mass in place of Pope John Paul II, in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 9, 2005. The Pope, starting his second week in the hospital after flu and breathing difficulties, failed for the first time in 26 years to preside at the Ash Wednesday services starting the run-up to Easter. Photo by Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

Run Up
To Easter?

Does that make Good Friday the end zone and Easter Sunday the touchdown?

Pope Misses His First Ash Wednesday in 26-Plus Years as Pontiff

By Daniela Petroff Associated Press Writer
Published: Feb 9, 2005

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Roman Catholic faithful prayed for Pope John Paul II's recovery as he missed out on Ash Wednesday prayers that ushered in the solemn and sacred Lenten season for the first time in his 26-year papacy.

Though the Vatican says the 84-year-old pope's health continues to improve since he was rushed to the hospital Feb. 1 with breathing spasms and the flu, doctors have persuaded him to prolong his stay to be on the safe side. His eighth night in the hospital passed calmly, the ANSA news agency said early Wednesday.

In services later at St. Peter's Basilica, American Cardinal James Stafford presided in the name of John Paul - a reluctant substitution for a pope deeply stirred by the traditional period of penitence, sacrifice and reflection that culminates with Easter.

Stafford read his own homily in Italian, conveying no message from the pope to the Vatican's resident cardinals, archbishops, bishops and others assembled for a ceremony originally scheduled as a papal event. Several thousand faithful attended the prayer service, which involved the sprinkling of ashes on prelates and believers.

"In addressing you, brothers and sisters, I feel the joy and the honor of leading this solemn ceremony in the name of the Holy Father," said the American cardinal, who heads the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with excommunications and other issues.


An unidentified layman offered a prayer asking God to "grant health and comfort to our beloved Pope John Paul II so that he may continue his pastoral ministry for the good of the church and all humanity."


Ash Wednesday traditionally kicks off a few weeks of spiritual reflection for the pope ahead of the taxing Holy Week services, which culminate with Easter on March 27.

Excuse me!

Kicks off?


Did a sportswriter pen this story?

With the pope in such frail health, it remained unclear whether he would be able to preside over the traditional March 25 Good Friday prayer service at the Colosseum re-enacting Christ's Passion. He has long since stopped walking in the Colosseum procession while carrying a cross; in recent years, the faithful have carried the cross and made the symbolic Stations of the Cross walk while the pope observed and read a homily.

The pope's long struggle with Parkinson's disease and crippling hip and knee ailments have many Roman Catholics questioning how long he can continue to serve. The Vatican's No. 2 official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, caused a stir this week by publicly suggesting for the first time that the Vatican may be discussing the sensitive issue.

Popes may resign but cannot be forced to do so, and John Paul repeatedly has said he has no intention of abdicating. The last time a pope willingly resigned was in the 13th century.

"It is bad taste to talk about it, and it's even worse because the starting point of this debate is the pope's flu," a leading Italian cardinal, Giovanni Battista Re, told the newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday. LINK


Here's my bad taste take on the situation:

It seems there's a war going on inside the Vatican (and inside the hospital where the Pope now resides).

Il Papa's closest confidants and counselors obviously don't want him to abdicate.

What happens if he's unable to communicate?

In this day and age, unlike the 13th century, it's nigh onto impossible to hide the Pope's health crisis from the public.

Is his flu the result of the religious right's so-called (ersatz) scientific theory called Intelligent Design?

If not, why not?

Last question:

If the Pope can't say mass, does Lent still kick off without him?

I guess it does...

As long as some random excommunication expert can be paraded out as a stand in.

Sorry, sincere believers.

This situation (the obvious Vatican spin on Il Papa's health crisis) just irks me to no end.

Whatever the outcome, I'm sure that all anxious cardinals will praise God's will.

Watch for Cardinal Angelo Sodano to be a top contender MVP for the papacy... if he can carry the ball past Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger!

And the beat (and Lent) kicks off goes on...


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