Wednesday, May 11, 2005

". . . that, of course, would be a breach of protocol."

Today's Gazette has an amusing story on a purported protocol breach involving Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. When Her Royal Highness arrived at City Hall yesterday for an official visit, Hizzoner kissed her on both cheeks - a move that evidently surprised the Princess, visibly irritated protocol officials and provided a context for the following:
[After the incident,] Tremblay denied he had done anything wrong.

"It happened. This is Montreal! It was fantastic. She
didn't mind. She kissed me too," Tremblay said.

Royal spokesperson Hans Kemp told The Gazette: "I don't know
if she was amused, but I can tell you Her Highness was not upset. She
definitely was not upset."

One official with the Dutch entourage refused to say the mayor had made a
gaffe. "To say that it was a breach of protocol would embarrass the person
who may have breached protocol - and that, of course, would be a breach of protocol."
A classic comedy of manners. Some readers may query what this has to do with my life as a novice. The honest answer is nothing, other than the fact that I read the online version of The Gazette regularly and that this story provided me with a chuckle on a midweek work day. AMDG.


At May 13, 2005 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I came across your blog about a week ago in the midst of studying for finals (funny how the end of the term always corresponds to my discovery of new and interesting corners of the internet!) so first off thanks for introducing me to the Examen (funny how my religiosity also tends to peak around this time!). I was searching for reaction to Fr Reese's resignation from America, and am curious to know how you and those around you have received this news. I for one am very concerned ...

At May 13, 2005 5:52 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thanks for the comments - I'm glad my paltry scribblings provided you with an enjoyable diversion during finals (I used to make a lot of great web discoveries myself during study week). Hope you have a good experience with the Examen too.

I've been trying to maintain a prudential silence about the Reese case, but since you asked here's my thoughts in a nutshell. I've never met Tom Reese, but my impression is that he's a pretty moderate guy, and I hate to see him placed in the position of a scapegoat. Given new America editor Drew Christiansen's foreign policy background, it's possible that he'll devote more space in the magazine to international affairs, but I expect that on balance the publication will change very little. I'm also hopeful that Christiansen's previous work with the U.S. Bishops has given him the opportunity to build the kind of relationships that could prevent or ameliorate the kind of conflicts that apparently led to Reese's resignation. At this point, however, all any of us can do is wait and see.

At May 15, 2005 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And pray ... I know there has been a media bias against the new pope (and I myself have had to overcome my initial "Nov 3-syndrome" upon hearing " Cardinale ... RATZINGER!") but it does seems to confirm fears that critical conversation on issues important to many Catholics will not be tolerated in this papacy. A Harvard professor was recently quoted in the Globe as saying that "in the future, good Catholic theology will be done ... at non-Catholic institutions." Fr. Leahy and others were quite to defend academic freedom at BC, but the mere perception is damaging. On another note, please pray for the family, friends and teammates of Scott Laio who died tragically yesterday.

At May 15, 2005 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also didn't jump up and down upon hearing the choice of the new pope but I wouldn't be so gloomy. Reading more about Pope Benedict and his works gives me the impression that he's more open than he's painted to be. Perhaps many of us who are not used to toeing the line will be forced to but this will also be a papacy which will make the Catholic faith go back to its roots to be more coherent.

There are so many things from our religious heritage that have been lost to us that it can be considered almost a loss of identity. On a parallel plane, I can illustrate this with an experience of being back on campus (in the Philippines though) sometime back. It was shocking for me and many from my batch that students didn't seem to know what we considered as basics of Jesuit education. Where was "preferential option for the poor" and "faith and justice" in their lifestyles? But then again, they couldn't even articulate these concepts intellectually. So we began to ask, what is a Jesuit university? What is it supposed to mold its students? Pretty soon, Pope Benedict might ask us what makes one Catholic.

At May 17, 2005 12:01 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Anon -

I hope, as you do, that we will not see a chilling of academic freedom on Catholic campuses in the coming months and years. Jesuit universities like BC (a school I have tremendous admiration and respect for, by the way) have a critical role to play in providing spaces where the Church, the Academy and, in a larger sense, modern society and culture can come into dialogue. I hope and pray that the dialogue continues.

Know also that I'll be praying for Scott Laio, his family and friends. I'll also see to it that prayers for him at offered at our community Mass at SCU tomorrow.

At May 17, 2005 12:58 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Karen -

I'll agree that one gets a very different perception of Benedict XVI from his writings than we received in media reports of his tenure at the CDF; I'm only beginning to become acquainted with his written work, but what I've read suggests as much. Once again, I'm in wait/see/pray/hope mode.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your experiences about students' understanding (or lack thereof) of Jesuit values in a university environment. It's not surprising that the issue would be debated as much at the Ateneo as at BC or Georgetown, but I'd imagine the debate must play out differently in Manila than it would in Boston or DC.

At May 20, 2005 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe- I’d sensed your high regard for BC (a place I love too) from your previous posts ... though after reading your glowing description of that backwater in Indiana I'm not so sure ... :)
Karen/Joe- I imagine one big difference in the way Jesuit identity is articulated at Manila vs. Boston (I can't speak for DC) is the extent to which Catholicism is taken for granted. While the Jesuit "basics" you bring up--human rights/social justice/solidarity with the poor-- are prevalent here, Catholic "basics" (for example, I hadn't previously known of the Examen before reading this blog) aren’t (necessarily). Perhaps the opposite is true in Manila. I’d also suspect there is greater religious pluralism and other kinds of diversity on campus here. An interesting result is that these same Jesuit ideals are very consciously used to frame the work of non-Catholic campus groups (Jewish, Episcopal, etc.) and to advocate causes (notably gay rights) outside (at odds with?) traditional Catholicism--in some sense "finding Jesuit values in all things."

At May 21, 2005 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting discussion we have here.

Yes, it's very different in Manila. I won't even compare the socio-economic profile of the studentry. What is worth noting is that we start college at 16 on the average (I even had a 14 year old freshman). On one hand, you have students who are only starting to find themselves and seriously think of their beliefs. On the other hand, they are more malleable for for college formation programmes.

Joe - I taught freshmen and so I didn't really expect them to be well-acquainted with Jesuit values yet. However, if I look at the performance of student organisations in general, they seem to have not maintained the orientation that we thought was basic. Perhaps one of the reasons is the lack of Jesuit presence in student organisations. There are actually more Jesuit scholastics now than when I was in school (I think) but they also have a lot of new apostolate areas in and out of campus, which in a way left organisations to lay faculty. Anyone who has had a Jesuit adviser/mentor would know what this implies.

Anon - I think the students haven't totally lost the f&j consciousness but what we were reacting to was its seeming dilution. When I entered university, we were just 5 years out of the Marcos regime and the original rhetoric of theology of liberation was still very relevant. People were still on fire, so to speak. At present, our society has not changed much in terms of social structures but their embodiment is much different. Civil liberties have also been restored, there doesn't seem to be any urgency for the average student. Personally, I get impatient when I see such complacency amidst poverty and misery.

Regarding religious pluralism, you are right. We are a predominantly Catholic country which has distinctly Iberian religious roots (the other Ateneo universities in Mindanao - southern Philippines - are in an Islamic area though). Although we have openly gay faculty members and students, there is no gay rights group on campus, much less one advocating abortion.

I understand what you mean by Jesuit ideals very consciously used to frame the work of non-Catholic campus groups and to advocate causes outside traditional Catholicism. This is good as Ignatian ideals influence even non-Catholics. However, I also believe that this is one of the compelling reasons why we need to know our negotiables from our non-negotiables such that we don't give up what is essential.


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