Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two Popes and a Priest: Someone's let the Holy Spirit get loose

I have never been deep into the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since I was taught as a child that nobody including St. Augustine could understand it, I really haven't tried. But some times, I get this feeling like this morning that someone has set him lose. Bill O'Reilly claims he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write his new book "Killing Jesus" which I understand pictures Jesus among other things leading a tax revolt against the Romans. That's not quite the way I read scripture. It was the money changers in the Temple (a veritable free market) that most caught Christ's ire. O'Reilly stands to make millions from his book. Perhaps he's mixed-up about what kind of spirit actually motivates him.

Every morning when I arise whether it's at 5:00AM, yesterday (after 4.5 hours sleep) or at 5:45AM today after 6.45 hours sleep (Can't stand Bill Maher much and Alex Baldwin (who I met once) is not my cup of tea) and check my E-Mail. Among other things I am on an E-Mail alert from the NY Times for articles on the Catholic Church. Today, was a humdinger. One of the articles I can not help but comment (Church to poll Catholics on attitudes on social Issues such as contraception, abortion and gay rights) and the other matter suggested by that is an immodest proposal: Sainthood for two deserving clerics: (And a little thanksgiving for a third soon to be canonized) .

I know to non-Catholics and  ex-Catholics, the whole  sainthood thing is a bit too much and, particularly when it comes to the recent trend of clerical canonizations (i.e. Pope John Paul II).a bit overdone. I guess I who is belligerently remaining in the Church would agree. In fact I just wrote it (supra).

The late Father Robert Poveromo who passed away last year was close to our family, particularly my late son Michael. In fact in one of our last conversation, Mike told me that Father Poveromo had agreed to be is personal confessor. I remarked to “Father Bob” that I felt that the greatest of saints since the time of the Apostles was St. Francis and he responded “Some of us think he was the only saint.

It was with some satisfaction that I noted the intent of POPE Francis to join the canonization of Pope John XXIII with that of John Paul II, his half namesake, half in name only, Now maybe, it’s time to get into the game for I propose the beatification of two clerics: Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (Pope Pius XI) and Fr. Peter Rinaldi, either of which could rightfully (if not jointly) be called “Patron Saint of the Holy Shroud.

This is not a place to begin a long conversation about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. I believe the evidence is convincing to the  near beyond reasonable doubt plateau. I say that as a lawyer who has just won a substantial jury verdict for a client where I had to grapple with issues like circumstantial evidence. Peter, Achille and  John and John pray for my client (and me) that survives an appeal. If it is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, it is the most important object on the face of the earth.

Pius XI, the Shroud of Turin and the Jews

There are two outstanding accomplishments of Pius XI that argue for his sagacity, if not his sanctity. Let’s take the Shroud first. As a young man, Achille had climbed the Alps with  with another young adventurer, Paul Vignon. Vignon suffered a physical and nervous breakdown. While recuperating who took of painting and later worked as a assistant to the famous French biologist Yves Delage. Delage asked Vignon to investigate the authenticity of  the Pia photographs and the rest is history (covered in my manuscript in Chapters Five (Maelstrom) and Six (Resurrection of the Shroud).

It was as Pius XI, that he requested the 1933 exposition of the Shroud and it was at that exhibition a young Turinese seminarian, Peter Rinaldi encountered both Paul Vignon and future giant of Shroud studies Pierre Barbet.

Perhaps Pius XI most acclaimed act occurred during his dying days in 1938 when working with an American Jesuit priest he prepared an encyclical denouncing the Nazi’s for the their incipient Jewish pogrom and the neo-paganism which they represented. His secretary of state of Cardinal Pacelli who became Pius XII was not pleased. He has been also proposed for sainthood by Vatican clerics but since I can not say anything good about him, I’ll remain silent.

Peter Rinaldi after graduating from the seminary came to America. He publicized the Shroud in an article  published in US Sign Magazine while he was  still in seminary. His article created a firestorm of interest in the United States and led directly to the formation of the Hold Shroud Guild in the US. I will simply state that without Rinaldi’s tireless leadership and encouragement there might not have been a film Silent Witness and there certainly would not have been a STURP scientific investigation of the Shroud in 1978. It was his unique position as a priest in the US with connections in Turin that was instrumental but most instrumental perhaps was his gift for finding funds to finance both the STURP and Silent Witness.

I don’t think that I need add anything about John XXIII, he’s going to be canonized.

While your about if you are so inclined say a prayer for Rev. Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman charged with explaining Pope Francis while  he stays on the same page as Pope Francis. That’s a tough job. Compared his charge, the toughest jobs in the US (President and Mayor of NYC) are a walk in the [Central] park.

His most recent exercise was explaining that the Francis’ call for a poll on the attitudes towards controversial social issues wasn’t a big deal. Lombardi tried to downplay its importance. He didn’t do too well.