|Preacher of the Papal Household|
Cantalamessa in March 2016
|Ordination||19 October 1958|
by Gaetano Malchiodi
|Birth name||Raniero Cantalamessa|
|Born||22 July 1934|
Colli del Tronto, Ascoli Piceno, Kingdom of Italy
Ordination history of
Raniero Cantalamessa Catholic priest in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and theologian. He has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, under Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.(born July 22, 1934) is an Italian
Raniero Cantalamessa was born in Colli del Tronto, Italy on July 22, 1934. He was ordained as a priest in the Franciscan Capuchin order in 1958. He holds doctoral degrees in theology and classical literature. He formerly served as a professor of ancient Christian history and the director of the Department of Religious Sciences at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, resigning in 1979. Cantalamessa also served as a member of the International Theological Commission from 1975 until 1981.
In 1980, Cantalamessa was appointed the Preacher to the Papal Household by Pope John Paul II. He has remained in this position under the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. In this capacity, he provides meditations to the Pope and other high-ranking officials each Friday during Lent and Advent, and is "the only person allowed to preach to the Pope."
Pope Francis, who had hoped to make a visit in person, and the Bishops of the United States (through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and its President, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese), had chosen Father Cantalamessa as the preacher, homilist, and spiritual director for their retreat, at Mundelein Seminary to deal with the 2017-2019 sex abuse and concealment crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church. This gathering takes place in advance of a February 2019 meeting of the presidencies of all the world's Catholic episcopal conferences with Pope Francis at the Vatican about the abuse crisis and cover-up worldwide, after which the U.S. and other conferences will revise and establish new guidelines, statutes, and commissions for dealing with the crisis, especially as it pertains to abuses and concealments done by Bishops themselves, as opposed to laity, religious, seminarians, deacons, or priests.
In 1988, Cantalamessa, in his book The Mystery of Christmas (Sydney: St. Paul's Publications, 1988) made a statement on Jewish–Christian relations, acknowledging that the Church must reassess its identity based upon its Jewish roots: "Quite a few in the Jewish religion have started to acknowledge Jesus as 'the glory of Israel.' They openly acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and call themselves 'Messianic Jews."...These help us to overcome certain gloomy prospects of ours, making us realize that the great original schism afflicting the Church and impoverishing it is not so much the schism between East and West or between Catholics and Protestants, as the more radical one between the Church and Israel." He then wrote: "We are not saying this in a spirit of proselytism but in a spirit of conversion and obedience to the Word of God because it is certain that the rejoining of Israel with the Church will involve a rearrangement in the Church; it will mean a conversion on both sides. It will also be a rejoining of the Church with Israel." (101)
In December 2006, Cantalamessa urged Pope Benedict in an Advent sermon to declare a day of fasting and penitence in response to child sex crimes by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church. There was no reported reaction from the Pope.
In 2010, Cantalamessa caused controversy with his sermon during Good Friday prayers in St Peter's Basilica. According to media outlets, he implied that the sensational coverage of alleged child abuse and cover-ups within the Roman Catholic Church was evidence of anti-Catholicism, and bore similarities to the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism". Cantalamessa responded that he was reading directly from a letter received earlier in the week from a Jewish friend; the unidentified letter writer was expressing his contempt for what he considered a blatant media assault on the Pope. A Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, later gave a statement saying that Cantalamessa was not speaking as a Vatican official. The statement added that Cantalamessa's comparison could "lead to misunderstandings and is not an official position of the Catholic Church".
On March 29, 2013, in a Good Friday homily delivered in St Peter's Basilica, Cantalamessa preached in favor of clearing away "the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris." He then referred to St Francis of Assisi as exemplifying the creative destroyer of ecclesial traditions:
As happens with certain old buildings, over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church".
Father Cantalamessa is the author of several books on theological and spiritual topics. A selection follows:
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