Monday 4th May 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Finnish Scholar In Rome . . . A Non-Catholic Sets The Catholic Record Straight

April 5, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By ALBERTO CAROSA

ROME — Villa Lante al Gianicolo, located on one of the many picturesque hills of Rome with a unique view of the eternal city, is probably one of the best-preserved Renaissance villas in the city and is the property of Finland. This stately mansion houses the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Finland’s cultural institute, and the Finnish Embassy to the Holy See.
One of the main purposes of a cultural institute is obviously to arrange cultural events, such as the conference, “Pilgrims or Benefice Hunters? Ordination of Finnish Clergy in the Fifteenth Century Roman Curia.” It was held there February 19, under the auspices of the institute’s current director, Tuomas Heikkilä, a professor of history attached to the University of Helsinki. He has authored books on Finland’s patron saint, St. Henry of Uppsala.
Although I feared facing some of the usual anti-Catholic Church tirades that the intriguing title seemed to suggest, I nonetheless decided to attend the event, due to my interest in covering the Christian presence in Scandinavia. But, to my pleasant surprise, I had to eat humble pie, because the event turned out to be exactly the opposite, with a non-Catholic speaker exposing an anti-Catholic bias in a noted scholarly work.
The conference consisted in the presentation of and reflections on a book the speaker, Dr. Jussi Hanska, who teaches medieval history at the University of Tampere and Ecclesiastical History at the University of Helsinki, coauthored with his Finnish colleague Kirsi Salonen of the Universities of Turku and Tampere. The title is Finland: Entering a Clerical Career at the Roman Curia, 1458–1471, of the series Church, Faith, and Culture in the Medieval West (Ashgate Publishing Co., 2013).
As a follow-up to his lecture, Professor Hanska confirmed in a subsequent e-mail interview that the book was the result of his most demanding commitment ever, in the form of a decade-long project. It was prompted, as happens at times, almost by chance when some ten years ago he was at the Vatican Library to do research.
While consulting a book, The Church in Italy in the Fifteenth Century by the British historian Denys Hay (1915-1994), he was struck by what he read on pages 54-55. As a result of a single document investigated, the British scholar concluded that the Ordinations of priests at the Roman Curia, and specifically in the Camera Apostolica (Apostolic Chamber), during that century entailed proceedings that often “must have lacked dignity, and usually they must have involved only the most superficial verification of qualification and title. The ill-arranged, not to say slatternly, organization of the registers themselves confirms that a certain degree of disorderliness pervaded the whole process.”
To employ more updated language, we might say that the whole process was marked by an evident “lack of transparency.”
The above-mentioned document, identified as ASV, Cam. Ap., Libri format., vol. 4, f. 2r., is kept in the Vatican Secret Archives and Professor Hanska ultimately decided to see it for himself. He could not have been more astonished in finding out that the thesis upheld by Denys Hay — namely, that the ordinands were overwhelmingly some sort of uneducated, greedy, benefice-seekers adventurers whom the Vatican Curia failed to unmask and reject, be it for lack of diligence or due to incompetence or bribes-based complicity — was devoid of foundation.
The negative conclusions so arbitrarily drawn by Denys Hay, he continued, have serious implications. Although his book was published long ago, in 1977, it was reprinted in 2002 and still retains considerable clout in British and American academic circles, all the more so if one considers that there is hardly any other book in Italian (or in any other language) which tries to describe what the Italian clergy and their parishioners were like in the 15th century.
This was the century prior to the Reformation and in Italy it has generally been seen with either neglect or recrimination. Whereas Protestants tended to see the Church becoming ever-more corrupt, Catholics lamented that it was “paganized” by the Renaissance. Be that as it may, unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations like Professor Hay’s are precisely the kind of material that can trigger and/or foster what is at times known under a specific term, “black legends,” namely, a sort of mud-slinging exercise against the Catholic Church and its clergy.
Alas, long gone are the days when the English-speaking cultural domain was graced by academics of the caliber of Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), a British scholar who is considered among the greatest English-speaking historians of the 20th century!
Back to Professor Hanska’s discovery. The initial result of his mere curiosity soon developed into a much wider plan and actually turned into a mammoth job: a thorough screening of 14 volumes of Libri Formatarum, viz., the registers of Ordinations which have survived thus far. Due to this massive material, he had to limit his investigation to the pontificate of Paul II, from 1464 to 1471, for a total amount of 1,673 Ordinations of secular clergy (excluding religious orders, since they represented a particular case from the viewpoint of canon law) in the Roman Curia.
Next step was to source information on these clergy: Who were they? Where did they come from? What was their background? Why did they decide to be ordained in Rome? Besides the good amount of data already contained in the Libri Formatarum, Professor Hanska was able to collect further evidence from other sources, such as the Repertorium Germanicum and other documents from the Vatican Secret Archives.
Again, Professor Hay’s assumption that those ordained in the Camera Apostolica were inept candidates with neither education nor titles, but with enough money to “buy” their Ordinations, was proven wrong.
For example, the Finnish professor wondered, how could these Ordinations have “lacked dignity” if their religious celebration took place in the majestic Basilica of St. John Lateran, in the Sancta Sanctorum Chapel? Moreover, a great many of the names in the list of the candidates to presbyteratus were preceded by two initials, H and L, standing for Habuit Letteram, meaning that they had received from their bishops a littera dimissorialis, viz., the permission to be ordained in another diocese.
But Professor Hanska further pointed out that another abbreviation could be noted: r.p.e., namely, rector parochialis ecclesiae. This is the clear indication of a certain status, in the sense that these ordinands had already a cura animarum, viz., they were taking care of souls in a parish church and therefore in terms of canon law being fully ordained was mandatory. Normally a stipend was also attached to a parish church, and this stipend could be used in part to pay the vicar taking care of the parish church during the ordinand’s absence and the rest by the latter as a bursary, if he was also a university student.
We should also bear in mind, the professor emphasized, that we know nothing about half the ordinands, but whenever data are available about them, invariably the same picture emerges: They were well-educated members of the clerical establishment and at times not even foreign pilgrims, but persons living in Rome, many of them even in the Curia or relatives to well-known members of the Curia, in some instances next-of-kin of the Pope himself.
And the few cases of ordinands coming from Finland, the professor concludes, are no exception, since the relevant documentation points to the fact that they were also members of the career religious establishment, however low-ranking they might have been — a far cry from any idea of benefice-hunters.
To sum it up all, all available data confirm that well-educated members of the then ecclesiastical elite were ordained in the Camera Apostolica, rather than scoundrels, rogues, and crooks as contended by Professor Hay in his book.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Pope’s doctrine chief under attack as he takes strong stand for marriage and family

muller

ROME, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ top advisor on Catholic doctrine is coming under attack as he continues to defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality amid a campaign by a “progressive” faction of prelates. On…Continue Reading

Obama Admin. Denies Visa to Nun Pleading For Persecuted Iraqi Christians – Will Media Cover?

The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea spotlighted the plight of a Catholic sister, who was denied entry to the U.S. by the Obama administration, in a Thursday item for National Review. She noted how “every member of an Iraqi delegation of…Continue Reading

States could force Catholic priests to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ or lose legal status: Justice Scalia

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) – If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right, one justice has said that the government could force clergy of all denominations to perform gay “weddings” or lose the ability…Continue Reading

The Attack on San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone–Who’s Behind It and Why?

In spite of a recent newspaper poll that showed 89% of the public supports San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a small but vocal group of people are keeping up a campaign to get Pope Francis to replace him as archbishop…Continue Reading

Christian Leaders Threaten Civil Disobedience

“We will not obey.” That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage. “We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,”…Continue Reading

Feminist Steinem Touts Abortion, Ridicules Church at St. Norbert College

gloria

Abortion advocacy, support for euthanasia and applause for excommunicated and “ordained” women priests—such were the highlights of last week’s “dialogue” with radical feminists Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks on the Catholic campus of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.…Continue Reading

Vatican hosts two leading pro-abortion, population control activists at climate conference

April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Two of the world’s leading pro-abortion advocates were addressing a Vatican workshop on the environment today. At the same time, a press conference at the Palazzo Cesi, in Rome, organised by the Heartland Institute, was…Continue Reading

Climate Change Skeptics Write Open Letter Urging Pope Francis to Rethink Global Warming

ROME, Italy, April 27, 2015 (Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.) – As the Vatican gears up for a high-level workshop on climate change this Tuesday, a group of 90 prominent scientists, religious leaders and academics have written an open letter to Pope Francis,…Continue Reading

Charlotte Bishop To LGBT-Advocate Nun Gramick: You’re Not Speaking in My Diocese

Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis has cancelled a speaking event by Sister Jennine Gramick that was scheduled to take place at one of the parishes in his diocese. Sister Gramick is the founder of New Ways Ministry, self-described as a “gay-positive…Continue Reading

OVER 500 PRIESTS . . .PRIESTS INVITING PRIESTS TO WITNESS TO THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

As Catholic priests we commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting the teaching of the Church on marriage in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke criticizes German cardinal’s ‘ridiculous’ claim that German Church is not a ‘subsidiary of Rome’

ROME, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview today with the prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who suggested German Catholic dioceses are not a “subsidiary of Rome” on the question of Communion…Continue Reading

Scandalous Commencement Honors Announced at Eight Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges have announced scandalous speakers or honorees at their 2015 commencement ceremonies, according to The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual review of college graduations. Many colleges wait to release the names of their honorees and speakers, so…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: Bear The Fruits Of Membership In Christ And The Church

pope311

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches – Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches, dependent on Him. Through this parable, “Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him.” What is this new way, the Pope asked? Although Jesus is no longer with us as He was with the Disciples, we are able to remain united with Christ “in vital…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Attends Swiss Guard Flag Ceremony

swiss

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis attended a Swiss Guard ceremony Friday afternoon — unexpected by most of the people present — and addressed the corps, speaking as well about the characteristics of a commander, according to the Gospel. Following the nomination in February of Christoph Graf as the new Commander of the Swiss Guard, the military corps held a ceremony May 1 for the inauguration and blessing of its new flag. Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Pope: Parish Must Be ‘Privileged Place’ Of Listening, Proclamation

(Vatican Radio) Faithful from the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro paid a return visit to Pope Francis on Saturday. The Pope received the pilgrims in an audience and recalled the message of solidarity he shared with them during his pastoral visit last July. He also spoke of the call of parishes to be missionary communities. “Every parish is called to be a privileged place of listening and of the proclamation of the Gospel; a house of prayer…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Saint Joseph And The Dignity Of Labour

pope770

(Vatican Radio)  To mark International  Labour Day which coincides with the Feast day of  Saint Joseph the worker, Veronica Scarisbrick takes a look at the special devotion Pope Francis has for this Saint. As well as focus briefly on one of the social issues central to his thinking: the dignity of labour. Let’s begin with his devotion to Saint Joseph as there’s quite a list of things that connect Pope Francis to this saint. Among…Continue Reading

Reel Faith . . . An Interview With Catholic Actor And Filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui

By REY FLORES Eduardo Verastegui is a man on a mission. He is tirelessly traveling, either working on his latest film project or helping to promote his most recently completed one. On top of that, Verastegui (pronounced Ver-ah-steg-eeh) also helps run a crisis pregnancy clinic in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The…Continue Reading

Give Every Child In Baltimore A $17,329 School-Choice Voucher

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + “The education system has failed them.” That is part of the explanation that Billy Murphy, a lawyer representing the family of Freddie Gray — who died after his spine was…Continue Reading

John-Henry Westen . . . Addresses Developments In The Synod Of Bishops On The Family

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: Maike Hickson holds a doctorate in French literature from the University of Hannover. She is a contributor to LifeSiteNews.) + + + John-Henry Westen, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family website, LifeSiteNews.com, gave a talk in Front Royal, Va., at Human Life International (HLI), on April…Continue Reading

Biblical Values — Or Vegas Values?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Almost all of the declared and undeclared Republican candidates for 2016 could be found the weekend of April 25 at one of two events, or both. The first was organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and held in Point of Grace Church in Waukee. Dominated by evangelical Christians, who…Continue Reading

Leadership Conference Of Women Religious . . . Agrees To Vatican Corrections, Will Continue to Dialogue

By ELISE HARRIS (Wanderer Editor’s Note: Reactions to and interpretations of the LCWR-Vatican joint report have been mixed. (Phil Lawler at catholicculture.org concluded that statements from Gerhard Cardinal Mueller and from Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, president of LCWR, “do not guarantee that the Vatican intervention will prove successful. They do, however, demonstrate that the process…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Church is holy. Sanctam: The ultimate goal of the Church is personal holiness, identification with Christ, as St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is not merely covering oneself with the Blood of Christ, and allowing the inside to remain sinful…Continue Reading

The Mystery Of The Church

By DON FIER The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, as the “convocation” of God’s people, was prefigured from the beginning when our first parents sinned and were promised a Redeemer. Her remote preparation began with the calling of our father in faith, Abraham, and her immediate preparation began with the election of the Chosen People of Israel, a sign…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in his blog (http://johnkippley.com) about the long-term consequences of dissent from Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, John Kippley said that this dissent not only “entailed the rejection of the whole idea of natural law as the reasoned basis for Catholic moral teaching,” but it allowed Catholics to substitute personal preference for personal morality, which means…Continue Reading

True Love Of Others

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 1 John 4:7-10 John 15:9-17 In the second reading today, St. John calls us to love one another because love is of God. This last part of the sentence is very important, especially in light of what follows: Whoever loves is begotten by God and…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Affirms… “Our Church Is The Church Of Martyrs”

(Editor’s Note: In his daily homily of April 21 at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father reflected on martyrdom and the Church. Elise Harris, writing for Catholic News Agency, summarized some of the events that underlay Pope Francis’ talk. (Among those imprisoned for the faith is “Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who in 2010 was convicted of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius V

By CAROLE BRESLIN Can anyone imagine a more challenging time in the history of the Church than the 16th century — besides this century? The Protestant Revolt north of Rome decimating the numbers of faithful Christians; to the west, England persecuting all Catholics; to the southeast, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquering at will place after place, setting their…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Spain

By CAROLE BRESLIN Saints come from all walks of life. There are scholars and illiterate, rich and poor, men and women, religious and laity, kings and peasants. There are those who are more active in their faith and those who are more contemplative. Despite the widely varying backgrounds of the saints, they all have several things in common. First of…Continue Reading