Sep 7, 2009


This lovely anecdote was posted by Jeremiah at Queering the Church on 09/07/09.

I’ll never forget the story told to me by a religious, now deceased. He was stationed for a while at the English College for late vocations in Rome, and went to Venice on holiday with a couple of seminarians. In that enchanting city, he and one of his companions became lovers. Feeling guilty, my friend went to confession in San Marco – and told his story to a Monsignor who was on duty in one of those open Baroque confessionals (he knew he was a Monsignor by the violet piping on his cassock). Here is what the anonymous prelate told him: ‘We must always respect the teaching of the Church, which represents the wisdom of the centuries. But you must also listen to what God is telling you, in this experience.’ At this point, my friend was in tears, and the Monsignor came over to his side of the confessional and embraced him. Years later, on the election of John Paul I, my friend recognized him as that wise and accepting counsellor.

A lovely anecdote. How many stories of Luciani exist of this nature. If true (and I have no wish to doubt it), then the ‘Monsignor’ would have been Archbishop Luciani (moved to Venice as Patriarch in 1969) who was known to take ordinary confessional duties in the Basilica. This quote from New Advent may illuminate the issue: “Instead of addressing patriarchs as “Vostra Beatitudine”, archbishops as “Your Grace”, bishops as “My Lord”, abbots as “Gracious Lord” one may without any breach of etiquette salute all equally as Monsignor. …The most venerable patriarch bears the title Monsignor as well as the simplest honorary chaplain.” The Archbishop’s casual dress would have been indistinguishable from an ordinary Monsignor.


colkoch said...

Jayden, what I like about this story is the 'monsignors' emphasis on our need to respect church teaching. The expectation for the laity to respect a teaching is a long way from expecting them to mindlessly obey a teaching. This notion respects individual conscience while giving honor to Church teaching, the tradition in which it rests, and the working of the Holy Spirit in the individual.

Oh if only JPI had lived even a little longer.

Jayden Cameron said...

Colleen, I agree and that's what makes the story so plausible as well as so touching, Luciani without a doubt would have put church teaching first (which is why some Cardinals felt secure enough to elect him) but he would have been capable of nuance and sensitivity to movements of the Spirit which might (after testing) expand our understanding of church teaching.