It is a long tradition in the Roman academic institutions to have a meeting at the beginning of the academic year between the faculty and the head of the institution.
In the case of the "Pope’s University" as it is sometimes called, the Pontifical Lateran University (one of my almae matres), the meeting was held last Monday 8 October, between His Excellency Most Reverend Rino Fisichella, the rector magnificus and the faculty of all the institutes at the Lateran.
Bishop Fisichella, one of Rome’s auxiliary bishops, is a major player on the Roman scene. He is known to be very papalino (loyal to the Pope). People see him as moving upward. He is very articulate and speaks fuor’ di denti… with blunt frankness.
My spies have filled me in on the meeting with the faculty and what Bp. Fisichella said.
Beyond the usual blah blah that goes with all Italian meetings, there were some stunning fireworks.
Bp. Fischella made three powerful statements about issues of great concern at the Lateran.
The first doesn’t interest us as much here in this particular blog, though it is important. Bp. Fisichella indicated that there were some concrete instances of demonstration of rascist attitudes on the part of some faculty. Concrete instances were reported to him. This is totally unacceptable and in his words: "This stops now." We can do nothing bu stand up an applaud this strong statement on the part of Bp. Fischella. This is a man who will not sweep anything under the tapetto. Frankly, in my experience students from third world countries are sometimes treated pretty poorly by the euro-liberal profs.
Secondly, he said that no student will be badly treated, looked askance at, or in any way belittled for wearing clerical clothing such as the cassock or Roman collar. Apparently there were instances of condescension on the part of some members of the faculty toward men who were more conservatively dressed. Again, as bishop Fischella put it: that stops now. In my experience, in years past students were often treated with disdain if they wore the cassock or collar regularly despite particular law in the Diocese of Rome that clerics and seminarians are to wear the cassock, habit or suit with collar. Times are changing.
Thirdly, and more important for the work of WDTPRS, he said no one is to make judgements about men who want to attend Masses celebrated with the older form of Missal, the Mass of Piux V. The Pope has spoken on this matter. His provisions are clear. They will be respected.
My spies say that Fischella was in no way kidding around. He was deadly serious, leaning forward and powerful, leaving no question in the minds of his listeners that anyone going against these points would have him to deal with.
There was nothing hypothetical about the points he brought up. He said he had "casi concretissimi". "I am taling about concrete cases that have come to my attention. That ends now".
Times are changing and the word has gone out.
The old aging-hippy liberalism, that was in no way respectful of liberty, has been handed its hat and shown the door.
Fischella, who is definitely handing out some of those hats, has been talked about as a possible future Prefect for the Congregation of Catholic Education or perhaps as Secretary of the CDF when Angelo Amato moves along to a Prefect’s post.