Couldn’t Pope Gregory have fixed that OTHER calendar problem?

If Gregory was going to go through all that change, maybe he could have addressed a more peculiar problem – the faulty naming of the months.

As you may know, there was a switch in the Western world from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar that the vast majority of us use today. “The motivation for the reform was to bring the date for the celebration of Easter to the time of the year in which the First Council of Nicaea had agreed upon in 325. Because the spring equinox was tied to the celebration of Easter, the Roman Catholic Church considered this steady movement in the date of the equinox undesirable… Between AD 325… (when… the vernal equinox occurred approximately 21 March), and the time of Pope Gregory’s bull in 1582, the vernal equinox had moved backward in the calendar, until it was occurring on about 11 March, 10 days earlier.”

The fix was to make years that are exactly divisible by 100 NOT leap years, UNLESS they are exactly divisible by 400. “For example, the year 1900 was not a leap year; the year 2000 is a leap year;” 2100 will NOT be a leap year. They recalculated a year as “365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, 12 seconds.”

The Catholic countries adopted the change right away. The Protestant countries, not so quickly. “Britain and the British Empire (including the eastern part of what is now the United States) adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, by which time it was necessary to correct by 11 days. Wednesday, 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday, 14 September 1752.” This is why one sees references to two dates for George Washington’s birthday in February 1732.

If Gregory was going to go through all that change, maybe he could have addressed a more peculiar problem – the faulty naming of the months. Specifically, September through December. Their names suggest they are the seventh through the tenth months, yet they are, of course, the ninth through the twelfth months.

Couldn’t have Gregory created a 14-month year? After December, he could have declared a couple of intercalative months, and start the new year with March, which once HAD been the beginning of the year. It would have made sense to start with the month of the vernal equinox (in the Northern Hemisphere), wouldn’t it have? Not that the Catholic church of the 16th Century would have necessarily noticed, but other cultures also start the calendar in March.

Also, if you think about it, New Year’s Day is really a terrible time for resolutions.

While I’m musing on this, my daughter was complaining about the weekend. Well, actually, that if Sunday is the first day of the week, how can it be part of the week’s END? I explained that in many places, the week actually starts on MONDAY – something I didn’t realize until I took high school French – so the week’s end actually makes sense, in rational countries. There is actually an ISO standard that designates that Monday starts the week. Naturally, the US will have none of that; it’s too rational, rather like the metric system.

P is for Pope Francis I

Pope Francis has launches reform of Vatican bureaucracy, with a cleanup of the Vatican bank.

As I have noted, I’m a Protestant with an odd fascination with Catholic popes. The accession, in March 2013, of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, 76, to become the 266th head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, especially when his predecessor, Benedict XVI is still alive, intrigued me.

I admit that I’ve enjoyed that he’s made some in the church hierarchy nervous, when he faults the church’s focus on gays and abortion, though that feels more like optics rather than actual change to me. He may be right, though, when he describes ideological ‘Christians’ as a ‘serious illness’ within the Church.

More interesting to me is his suggestion if it’s understood correctly in a secular press, that it’s OK not to believe in God if you have a clean conscience. For a different perspective on what the Pope may have meant, read Anthony Velez, who is studying for the (Protestant) ministry.

Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville had perhaps the best take on the new pontiff in the Huffington Post:
Many traditional Catholics are beginning to feel–as Time magazine columnist, Mary Eberstadt recently suggested–that they have been “thrown under the popemobile.” …

They would be wrong. While Pope Francis has said that “we cannot insist only ” on these culture war issues, most have not noticed that he also added that “the teachings of the Church are clear…and I am a son of the Church…but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”…

And, while traditionalists maintain that we still need to talk about them sometimes, an increasing number of progressives and traditionalists are beginning to acknowledge the possibility of finding a true common ground. If Pope Francis can help us reach that common ground, then his pontificate will truly be the “one we have been waiting for.”

A few years ago,…I titled a chapter in [my book Status Envy], “A Pope Away from a Perfect Life.” The chapter suggested that progressives have always believed that they were a “pope away” from a Catholic Church that would allow full reproductive rights, female ordination, and same-sex marriage.

It is likely that progressives–and traditionalists as well–will still have to wait a while for that perfect life. Besides, Christians know that we all remain “strangers in a strange land” here on earth. There will never be a “perfect life” here. But Pope Francis is simply asking that we all work together to make that life better for each other. Perhaps it is time to start.

Frankly, I’m more impressed that Pope Francis has launched the reform of Vatican bureaucracy, with a cleanup of the Vatican bank. In September, “the bank released its first-ever financial report (it is doing quite well, making $117 million last year, more than quadruple the 2011 figure. This year’s number is projected to be substantially lower partly because of the costs of the transparency campaign).” Now, to quote someone else, THIS is a change I can believe in.

This action, tied with his simpler lifestyle, more in keeping with Scripture than some German bishops have been living, gives me some hope that some positive permanent change might come from this papacy.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

Popes I have recalled

I worried about Benedict even before he took office, as his conservative rhetoric as cardinal preceded him

For a non-Catholic, I have an irrational interest in the papacy, especially the recent guys. When I was a kid, I always got my World Almanac and once a year, at least, looked at the lists of all of the popes, which included the antipopes, those popes opposed by some faction of the church. As you see from this list from the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were a lot of them, and they tended to be in chronological clusters.

Limiting the discussion to the popes in my lifetime:

Pius XII (1939-58) – I don’t remember him specifically – I was a child when he died – but I had heard for years he had done little or nothing concerning the Holocaust during World War II. Clearly, he said and did far too little, though what he DID say occasionally riled up both the Germans and Mussolini in Italy.

John XXIII (1958-63) – My favorite Pope. I’m shocked, looking back, how short his tenure was. As he was fairly advanced in age, he had the Second Vatican Council convened fairly early on, which “would make a new start toward achieving Christian unity by putting aside the hostilities of the past and acknowledging the Catholics’ share of responsibility for the scandal of a divided Christianity… He received Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant religious leaders with extreme cordiality and made sure they were invited to send observers to the Vatican Council. He removed certain words offensive to Jews from the official liturgy of the church.”

Paul VI (1963-78) – If I were to make a comparison that American political science buffs might appreciate, Paul carried out many of John’s wishes in the same way Lyndon Johnson was able to fulfill John Kennedy’s civil rights agenda. “From the very outset of his years as pope, Paul VI gave clear evidence of the importance he attached to the study and the solution of social problems and to their impact on world peace… Such problems dominated his first encyclical letter…, and later became the insistent theme of his celebrated Populorum progressio (“Progress of the Peoples”), March 26, 1967. This encyclical was such a pointed plea for social justice that in some conservative circles the pope was accused of Marxism.”
The singer Donovan took an unkind swipe at this pope, Poke at the Pope [audio and lyrics].

John Paul I (1978). There was an 88-day New York City newspaper strike in 1978, which shut down the New York Times, the Daily News and the Post from mid-August through early November. It missed, among other things, the Yankees repeating as World Series champions, and the entire papacy of John Paul I. Of course, his short tenure has led to much speculation that he had been poisoned. He was the last Italian pope.

John Paul II (1978-2005) – Over time, I have developed real mixed feelings about him. On one hand, he worked toward bringing down Communism and made efforts towards Christian reconciliation with the Jews. Conversely, he was lousy on the sex abuse issue and is retrograde regarding the status of women. His comic book was quite popular.

Benedict XVI (2005—2013). I worried about him even before he took office, as his conservative rhetoric as cardinal preceded him. My concern proved to be warranted with regard with gays, e.g.

His greatest achievement, besides being the first pontiff on Twitter, and an appreciation of art, was becoming the first pope since the Gutenberg Bible was printed to reign in office, right after he received news of a warrant for his arrest. It already has made it into MAD magazine, and, of course, the Onion.

The first thing I wrote on Facebook after the surprising announcement was to suggest that the next guy will be from the Americas, Africa, or Asia. The cardinal from Ghana had spent time in the Albany area. But will the faithful accept a Hispanic, a black, or an Asian? I think we’re about to find out.


Sanctus – why so Subito QUESTION

The papal party line is that it’s happening because “the people” want it.

I’ve had a great interest in all the Popes in my lifetime, odd, I suppose, since I’m not Roman Catholic. I thought John Paul II was an inspirational political leader, who helped bring down the Iron Curtain. I think he showed great compassion to the man who tried to kill him in 1981.

When I worked at FantaCo, and the Pope comic book came out in 1982, quite early in his papacy, we got so many people coming through our doors who had never been there before and never came after. I don’t know how many we ordered, but I sensed at the time that we could have sold twice as many as we had, at least.

But I just don’t understand the rush to beatification, a large step towards sainthood. The papal party line is that it’s happening because “the people” want it. This ignores those people who are less kindly disposed. I’m not cynical enough to suggest that it is the church’s attempt to divert attention away from the sexual abuse scandal by pedophile priests, about which JP was slow to respond effectively. But it IS a part of his record.


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