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Archbishop Milingo and Onora O'Neill

Catholicnews.com reported on Archbishop Milingo's Mass of 21 November 2002.

It explains that he appeared to deviate from the prearranged programme several times. First by coming up to give the homily:

"... Archbishop Milingo set aside an official prayer book that was already on the lectern and flipped through the booklets to read a series of healing prayers based mostly on the Psalms.

Then, encouraging the other priests to join him, he held his hands over the congregation, which sang a hymn petitioning the Holy Spirit for physical, emotional and spiritual healing while the screams of several sick people echoed off the church's stone-vaulted walls. ..."

The article describes the elaborate security precautions used: dozens of security agents, the pews roped off, Archbishop Milingo remaining in the sanctuary and being ushered away when stopping to talk to someone in the procession. Its his first public Mass in 15 months. But even with all this and the media spotlight on the event there were the deviations from the official liturgical books.

According to the article:

"... In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera Nov. 21, Archbishop Bertone said the Zambian archbishop, a former Vatican official, had agreed to respect church rules and would no longer recite healing prayers during Mass or perform public exorcisms. ..."

Its an understatement to say there is a credibility problem.

What can be done when those with authority go off track? Archbishop Milingo is the extreme example, attempting marriage. But there is also the problem of bishops moving pedophile priests and deviating from the liturgical books.

There seems to be an unwillingness and inability to do much about it.

Yesterday on the radio I heard the lecture "Trust and Terror" by Onora O'Neill. I was impressed: "All trust risks disappointment."

"... A supposed right to a fair trial is mere rhetoric unless others - all relevant others - have duties to ensure such trials: unless judges have duties to give fair decisions, unless police and witnesses have duties to testify, and to testify honestly, and so on for all involved in a legal process. Duties are the business end of justice: they formulate the requirements to which Declarations of Rights merely gesture; they speak to all of us whose action is vital for real, respected rights. ...

Where states or parts of states are weak or failing, it is idle to object when they do not secure full rights for everybody: they can't do it. ..."

This reminds me of Nigeria, with its recent deaths. Catholicnews.com reports on what Father George Ehusani wrote:

"... "What we have been witnessing in Nigeria in the last few years is actually the failure of state and the collapse of governance. There is nothing on the ground to demonstrate that ours is not a land run over by political bandits, ethnic warlords and religious fanatics," ....

"The average citizen now seems to have lost confidence in the capacity of those in power to protect lives and property," ...

"Where one part of the country can decide to operate an Islamic legal code that is clearly at variance with the national constitution, cutting off the limbs of petty offenders, condemning poor adulterers to death by stoning, and harassing non-Muslims every so often, the impression created is that no one is in charge of our affairs, and there is no law and order in place," ..."

After the lecture Onora O'Neill was asked about the Christian attitude to love. I thought she gave a good reply:

"It seems to me entirely fundamental but it is so difficult to get that into the right arena so I looked at a slightly narrower thing which was the question of not lying, which of course is central to the Christian tradition. And we know, and I don't have to tell anyone here, what sort of lies and half truths are commonly circulated and we know how difficult it is to challenge the lie, particularly the lie that is the lie of one's own friends or one's own community, and I think that trust is built by not going along with that sort of thing. And it's very difficult. I chose something small but I actually think it's half way to heroic: not putting up the communist party slogans in the shop sounds to us easy. We haven't faced this one. But there are analogous things that could be done among us."

By J.R. Lilburne, 27 November 2002. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

Catholicnews.com "Archbishop Malingo resumes public ministry" of 22 November 2002

Reith Lecture 2 "Trust and Terror" by Onora O'Neill

Catholicnews.com on Nigeria, 26 November 2002