Monsignor Guido Marini, 56, above, closing the doors of the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican just before the opening of the last Papal Conclave in March of 2013. Monsignor Marini was the Master of Pontifical Ceremonies in the Vatican from 2007 until today, throughout the last part of the pontificate of Pope Benedict and the entire pontificate Pope Francis, but yesterday Marini was promoted to be the bishop of Tortona in northern Italy, near Genoa, his native city. The change had been rumored for some time.

    Below, a RomeReports video of the occasion. You may see all of the monsignors who are not voting cardinals file out of the huge doors of the Sistine Chapel on March 12, 2013. The doors squeaked, as you can hear, and one watcher commented “Those door hinges could do with a few squirts of WD40″ (a lubricating oil spray that reduces friction in hinges)

    Above, Pope Francis celebrating Mass with Monsignor Guido Marini at his side as the Master of Papal Ceremonies

    Letter #96, 2021, Monday, August 30: Marini

    A key holdover from the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has, after eight years, been promoted by Pope Francis so that he will no longer be in the Vatican.

    Monsignor Guido Marini, 56, was promoted yesterday to be the bishop of Tortona in northern Italy, not far from Genoa, where Marini was born and raised.

    A date for the monsignor’s episcopal consecration has not been set.


    On March 11, 2013, the day before the beginning of the last conclave, at a ceremony presided over by the Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone, Monsignor Marini (photo above) led the non-cardinal officials, support staff and other non-elector personnel with duties in the conclave in taking an oath of secrecy pertaining to the conclave.

    The next day, after the cardinal-electors had taken their oath in the Sistine Chapel, Marini called out the command “Extra omnes” (“Outside, everyone!”) and personally closed the chapel doors once all outsiders had left the chapel.

    Now, Marini himself is out of the Vatican and out of Rome.

    Here is how the Exaudi Catholic News website reported the promotion:

    Monsignor Marini Named Bishop of Tortona

    Has Been Serving as Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations

    August 30, 2021

    By Jim Fair

    Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Guido Marini, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Genoa, as Bishop of the Diocese of Tortona, Italy. Monsignor Marini has been serving as Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations.

    To many, Monsignor Marini may not be a familiar name but his face has been on television screens around the world almost as frequently as that of the Holy Father. Since 2007, he has been the figure at the shoulder of the Pope during liturgical celebrations, ensuring that the rite went just right.

    Monsignor Guido Marini was born in Genoa on January 31, 1965. After graduating from high school he entered the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Genoa, where he obtained a Baccalaureate in Theology. Ordained a priest on February 4, 1989, he continued his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he obtained a doctorate in utroque iure (in both canon and civil law). In 2007 he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology of communication from the Pontifical Salesian University.

    He has been: personal [secretary] to Cardinals Giovanni Canestri (1988-1995), Dionigi Tettamanzi (1995-2002), and Tarcisio Bertone (2002-2003); Lecturer in Canon Law at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy – Genoa Section and the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences (1992-2007); elected member of the Presbyteral Council (1996-2001); Canon of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (2002-2007); Director of the Diocesan Office for Education and Schools (2003-2005); Spiritual Director at the Archiepiscopal Seminary (2004-2007); Archiepiscopal Chancellor; member by right of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and member of the Episcopal Council (2005-2007). Since 2007 he has been Prelate of Honour of His Holiness.

    He became Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations in 2007 and was confirmed in the post by Pope Francis in 2013. Since 2019 he has also been in charge of the Pontifical Musical Chapel.

    For the academic year 2018-2019, he was Invited Lecturer in Papal Liturgy at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo. Since his ordination to the priesthood, he has also carried out his ministry in the context of preaching spiritual exercises, spiritual direction, accompanying various youth groups, and as a spiritual assistant to various religious communities.

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    Here is how Hannah Brockhaus of Catholic News Agency reported the story:

    Pope Francis appoints Vatican Master of Ceremonies Msgr. Guido Marini to Italian diocese (link)

    By Hannah Brockhaus

    Vatican City, Aug 29, 2021 / 04:40 am

    Pope Francis on Sunday appointed the Vatican’s papal master of ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, bishop of a northern Italian diocese.

    Marini, who has been in charge of papal liturgies since his appointment by Benedict XVI in 2007, was Aug. 29 named Bishop of Tortona, a diocese of around 280,000 people.

    Marini, 56, grew up near Tortona in the city of Genoa, where he served as chief liturgist for four years. The bishop-elect has degrees in canon and civil law. Prior to his appointment to the Vatican he was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Genoa and a spiritual director in the seminary.

    Since 2019, Marini has also been responsible for the Sistine Chapel Choir. According to a biography by the Vatican, “from his priestly ordination to today, he has also carried out his ministry in the field of preaching spiritual exercises, spiritual direction, accompaniment of some youth groups, and as a spiritual assistant of some religious communities.”

    There are eight papal masters of ceremonies, of which Marini was the head. They are responsible for organizing and overseeing all liturgical celebrations of the pope. Since 2007, with few exceptions, Msgr. Marini could be seen at the side of Pope Benedict XVI and then Pope Francis during papal Masses and other liturgies both at the Vatican and abroad.

    Marini’s replacement was not announced Aug. 29, though there are three candidates for the position, according to sources who spoke to CNA earlier this summer.

    One is Msgr. Diego Ravelli, a 56-year-old priest from northern Italy who has been head of the office of papal almoner since 2013 and also serves as one of the masters of ceremonies.

    Another candidate for the role is Fr. Giuseppe Midili, director of the liturgical office of the Vicariate of Rome, and the third is Msgr. Pietro Moroni, dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urban University and consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

    The change in papal master of ceremonies is one of a number of recent personnel changes to Vatican offices and dicasteries, part of Pope Francis’ continued reform of the Roman Curia.

Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages

    Msgr. Marini is clearly committed to the theological vision of Pope Benedict XVI, particularly as manifest in the latter’s writings as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Above all, however, Msgr. Marini’s understanding of the liturgy as divinely-initiated revelatory event is clearly grounded in the logic of the Second Vatican Council and twentieth-century liturgical and sacramental theology; likewise, his sense of the eucharistic sacrifice is dependent on the Council, with its emphasis on the totality of the Paschal Mystery as including the resurrection.—Liturgist Cody C. Unterseher (1976-2012), reviewing Monsignor Marini’s one book, Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies (2011). Unterseher, an Anglican, was Priest Associate and former Theologian in Residence at Christ Episcopal Church, Bronxville, NY, and an oblate of Assumption Abbey in Richardton, ND. He held a B.A. in Theology from the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND; an M.A. in Liturgical Studies from Saint John’s School of Theology•Seminary, Collegeville, MN; and an S.T.M. in Anglican Studies from The General Theological Seminary, New York, NY. At the time of his death, he was working toward a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and serving as editor of The Anglican, the journal of The Anglican Society in North America. Fr. Cody died suddenly from complications associated with an aneurysm in April, 2012.

    Marini is the author of one book, which was reviewed on June 19, 2011, by the late Cody C. Unterseher. Here is a copy of that review:


    Book Review: Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies by Guido Marini (link)

    June 19, 2011

    By Cody C. Unterseher 

    It is a rare treat for one experienced Master of Ceremonies to receive a glimpse of the motivating logic of another experienced Master of Ceremonies, even one from another ecclesial tradition. Such a treat was to be had in reading Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies by the Rev. Msgr. Guido Marini, Master of Apostolic Ceremonies and Head of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

    This volume consists of a number of brief essays, some of which first appeared on the website of the Holy See, as translated by Father Nicholas L. Gregoris and edited together by Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas for publication by Newman House Press, of which Fr. Stravinskas is director.

    In addition to the “Publisher’s Preface” and author’s Foreword (“Entering the Liturgical Mysteries through Rites and Prayers,” originally an address to a liturgy conference at Mileto in 2010), nine essasys comprise the bulk of this collection.

    The topics of the essays include: Holy Communion received on the tongue by kneeling communicants; the Pallium; the Pastoral Staff; placement of the Crucifix at the center of the altar; chanting the gospel in Greek during major Papal liturgies; observance of Silence within the eucharistic liturgy; conservation and use of the Latin language in the Latin Rite; Beauty in liturgy; use of the pontifical Dalmatic and Cardinal Deacons. Each essay, five to seven pages in length, discloses the theological and historical rationale underlying present liturgical practice in the Papal Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church; that is, the essays serve above all as apologiae for the distinct liturgical practices that have marked the papacy of Benedict XVI. The essays are easily accessible by the average reader: direct in tone; didactic, but free from academic jargon.

    For each of the topics on liturgical practices, Msgr. Marini adopts an irenic tone in laying out his theological position and reading of history regarding the practice, then (where applicable) notes the occasion of its (re)introduction or alteration in the papal liturgy. Throughout the text, the author gracefully avoids the polemics that have appeared in some from some commentators on papal liturgical practice. This is a particularly welcome and refreshing feature of the book — regardless of whether or not one agrees with Msgr. Marini’s interpretation of history or his particular choices in actual liturgical enactment.

    One would expect a “hermeneutic of continuity” to run throughout the text: this is certainly the case, with historical examples serving to underscore that theme. But the presentation of that hermeneutic is understated.

    While some of the assertions made can be challenged based on the author’s choice of historical sources — regarding the development of the dalmatic and the office of cardinal deacon, Msgr. Marini presents an uncritical dependence on the Liber Pontificalis for data from before the fifth century (pp. 105-110) — most early evidence is presented with some acknowledgment of uncertainty.

    At times, the author’s presupposition of continuity appears to make little room for the idea of historical accretion or distortion. Thus, when discussing changes in the style of papal pallium (pp. 53-57), while not maligning the use of the ancient-style pallium early in the papacy of Benedict XVI, Msgr. Marini speaks of the current, smaller version as “underscor[ing] better the continuous development that this liturgical vestment has known,” without questioning whether or not such development truly serves the symbolic function of the vestment in the church’s liturgy.

    Likewise, when speaking of the difference between the design of the (new) papal pallium and that worn by metropolitan archbishops, Msgr. Marini states that this difference “makes clear the diversity of jurisdiction signified by the pallium,” without acknowledging that difference in style has not heretofore served such a symbolic distinction. Fortunately, lapses such as the latter are rare; unfortunately, lapses such as the former are common, undoubtedly due to the author’s adopted irenicism (which does, over all, serve the volume quite well).

    The author’s basic theology of liturgical worship is presented in large brushstrokes in the Foreword of the book. Msgr. Marini is clearly committed to the theological vision of Pope Benedict XVI, particularly as manifest in the latter’s writings as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Above all, however, Msgr. Marini’s understanding of the liturgy as divinely-initiated revelatory event is clearly grounded in the logic of the Second Vatican Council and twentieth-century liturgical and sacramental theology; likewise, his sense of the eucharistic sacrifice is dependent on the Council, with its emphasis on the totality of the Paschal Mystery as including the resurrection. In short, his theological presuppositions are thoroughly contemporary.

    This volume will be welcome by all with an interest in the current papacy and its liturgy, especially by those committed to taking the current form of the papal liturgy as a model. For its documenting of this papacy’s liturgical practices, as well as for certain (though by no means all) historical references — including a lengthy translated excerpt on the reading of the Greek and Latin Gospels from the 1904 Le Solenni Ceremonie della Messa Pontificale Celebrata dal Sommo Pontefice of Giambattista Menghini — this book belongs especially in public and private collections of liturgical history. For Masters of Ceremonies who like to look over the shoulders of their colleagues, this volume will be an appreciated glimpse into the logic of one of the world’s most complex and impressive ceremonial systems.

    Guido MariniLiturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies. Pine Beach, NJ: Newman House Press, 2011. 111 pages.

    $10.00 — ISBN: 978-0-9778846-5-0

    Available from Newman House Press

    And this is how the more conservative website, GloriaTV, wrongly reported the story, on December 5, 2017, almost four years ago, when the site, wrongly, predicted that Marini would be “gotten rid of” the next day. It, of course, did not happen that way:    

    Pope Francis Kicks Out Monsignor Guido Marini (link)

    December 5, 2017

    Pope Francis will use a “term limit” in order to get rid of Monsignor Guido Marini, 52, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies. Marini has for a long time been under suspicion to be “too Catholic.” His successor will be Monsignor Diego Ravelli. The appointment will be announced on December 6 [Note: in 2017]. When appointed in 2007, Marini was connected to Benedict XVI’s alleged desire for a reform of the reform which never materialized. Now, he will become the rector of a local shrine in northern Italy.


    Finally, it was Monsignor Marini in October 2019 was asked by Pope Francis to place a bowl with various plants, one producing red flowers, on the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica at the close of the Synod on the Amazon Region. Here is a link to a Fr. John Zuhlsdorf report on that event, which has a link to my own story on the matter. (link)

    On another matter: our office has been receiving many emails and phone calls from people asking whether they might receive a religious exemption from vaccination for their children, who are being required to be vaccinated in order to go to school. The parents are concerned because they have questions and reservations about how the vaccines were manufactured (whether the vaccines depended in some ways on aborted human fetal tissue, something they would regard as immoral) and about the potential side effects of the vaccines in years to come, especially in view of the fact that young children up until now seem to have had very little risk of getting gravely ill or dying from the Coronavirus. We do not know whether there are any Church officials who might be willing to help such parents and their children obtain such “faith-based exemptions,” so we are raising the question here: does anyone know if it possible to obtain a religious exemption from anyone in a position of authority in order to assist such concerned parents?

    In this context, I publish here an article that appeared in Catholic World Report on May 9, 2021, almost four months ago now.    

    Why Catholics should oppose vaccine mandates (both private and public) (link)

    Some assorted observations on serious (and often-ignored) legal, medical, ethical, cultural, social, and theological concerns surrounding COVID vaccinations and mandates

    May 9, 2021 

    Rachel M. Coleman

    • Most people have heard of Buck v. Bell (1927), in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled lawful a Virginia statute permitting sterilization of the “unfit.” Many know the infamous line of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s ruling: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Many people do not know, however, the sentence that immediately precedes it: “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination (Jacobson v. Massachusetts [1905]) is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.” There was a direct connection, at least in the minds of the Supreme Court justices, between compulsory vaccination and compulsory sterilization.

    • This connection should give us pause in our present situation, when there is a lot of talk about the need for vaccine mandates for COVID-19. This is a disease which has a >99% survival rate for people under 70 years old (the survival rate is 94.6% for those over 70). Thus, while it seems to make a great deal of sense for those older than 70 and those with exacerbating conditions to receive the vaccine, what are we to say about the tremendous pressure, exerted by both public and private authorities, for absolutely everyone to get vaccinated—even children, upon whom COVID-19 seems rarely to have any effect whatsoever?

    • The Church, too, is not unaffected by the present trend. Catholics, and Catholic institutions in particular, are also exerting pressure for universal vaccination. But not only does this program of complete vaccination lack a clear scientific basis, as just noted, exerting pressure in the way it requires arguably looks very much like what is at its core an anti-Christian attempt to control.

    • The Buck v. Bell case ushered in an era of state-backed eugenical programs in the United States, leading to things like the North Carolina Eugenics Board, which routinely sterilized minorities and poor people; the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which experimented upon black men; and anti-miscegenation laws, which, one supposes, were intended to protect people from themselves.

    • We’d like to think we are far beyond such horrors, but I very much doubt it. In some sense, we can now exert violent control over human bodies and lives both more broadly and more hiddenly, thanks to the rise of modern technology. And even if we insist that we are beyond temptation here, do we want to test our theory by giving the state, and the corporate oligarchy that works with it, the sweeping powers required to enforce vaccine mandates?

    • But let us return for a moment to eugenics. People think it looks exclusively like state-backed programs such as eugenics boards, or Josef Mengele, or the Holocaust. But eugenics is both more and less than these concrete programs: it is a logic.

    • The logic of eugenics is a logic of willful control. It is anti-creational. The Christian understanding of creation is that it is a gift: received from Another, animated by a purpose and an order that precede man’s will. Eugenics, by contrast, attempts to reject the gift and is at root a bid by man to assert his will over the order of creation, rather than being steward to it.

    • Humanae vitae articulates this logic well, though the encyclical stops short of calling it eugenical: “the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that [man] is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life” (2).

    • Am I saying this in order to equate the COVID-19 vaccines with forced sterilization? Of course not. I am, however, saying that there seems to be a similar logic at work in both—especially in view of the effort to exert immense public and private pressure on those who hesitate about receiving the vaccine. Again, even the appearance of a logical similarity between forced sterilization and compulsory vaccinations should at least give us pause.

    • Let me lay my cards on the table and propose the following thesis: Modern medicine has an anti-woman bias. I say this on account of what I see as its tendency to view women’s bodies as if they were men’s bodies with some inconvenient body parts attached. Modern medicine, in short, does not regard women’s fertility as central to their health, but approaches it as a problem it doesn’t know how to handle. The medical establishment then tries to suppress this problematic fertility with contraception, to jump-start it with IVF, or to erase it all together with sterilization.

    • Modern medicine is by nature short-sighted: it is focused on treating symptoms now, rather than on waiting to understand why they are arising and what they can tell us about the whole. For the same reason, modern medicine lacks the patience to understand women and their fertility. This is how we end up with the disasters of thalidomide and diethylstilbestrol. The history of modern medicine is littered with women’s bodies—and the bodies of their children (it is fairly well known that mothers who were prescribed thalidomide for their morning sickness gave birth to children with severe limb deformities; it is less well known that the children of mothers who were prescribed diethylstilbestrol are much more likely to have problems with their fertility—and their daughters are at much greater risk for blood clots and cancer. We are now seeing epigenetic effects in the grandchildren of those women who were prescribed diethylstilbestrol).

    • Vaginal mesh is another example of the horrors inflicted upon women because of an over-hasty modern medicine directed all too often by the interests of pharmaceutical companies, rather than by the health of the patient. Some types of hormonal contraception increase a woman’s risk of fatal blood clots three to nine times, but this has never halted the production and use of birth control. Jennifer Block’s excellent Everything Below the Waist is a mine of information on these matters, while Caroline Criado Perez’s book Invisible Women documents the phenomenon of the bias against women in both modern medicine and modern science.

    • The lesson is this: when modern medicine moves too quickly, women suffer most immediately. Men suffer too—it’s just that their suffering is not as immediate or apparent. How we treat women—and in particular their fertility—is a bit like the canary in the coal mine: it reveals how we approach all of nature (human and otherwise).

    • We know that many women are reporting irregularities with their period after receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Given what’s at stake—women’s health, their fertility, and human nature’s capacity to be, literally, pro-creative—why are we barreling ahead with this program of vaccination? Shouldn’t reports like these give us pause? Are we sure that we are not backing ourselves into a logic of violent control that is akin to that displayed in eugenics?

    • I am not arguing that no one should take the COVID-19 vaccines. I am arguing that we ignore these kinds of signals about their possible long-terms effects at great risk.

    • The biotechnology being used in the vaccines available in the United States has never before been used in vaccination. We do not and indeed cannot have data about its long-term effects. And yet we seem to be barreling forward with a population-level experiment while preparing to take coercive measures against those who would hesitate.

    • In April 2020, the New York Times reported that it would likely take us until November 2033 to produce a vaccine. We have rushed this process in an unprecedented way. Why? So that we might attempt to guard ourselves against the possibility of suffering and the very slight possibility of a more immediate death?

    • So much for the risk-benefit calculus. But I am also arguing that these vaccines in particular, combined with the pressures being exerted to force it upon everyone, look an awful lot like a form of hasty, eugenics-like control that is totalitarian in spirit.

    • To repeat: I am not arguing no one should take these vaccines—it in fact seems prudent that many who are at higher risk should take them. But compulsory universal vaccination looks like an attempt to exert control over every single person on the planet. It thus smells strongly of the logic of eugenics and of its sponsorship by the state and its techno-corporate actors (which, it must be said, stand to profit a great deal from every person being mandated to take the vaccine).

    • The Church has always acted as a counterbalance to the (attempted) political and cultural hegemony of the state. It’s one of the reasons Rome murdered Christians en masse.

    • By contrast, Catholic institutions, such as universities, that claim to serve the Church, but are also joining the attempt to mandate an experimental vaccine, are not first serving the Church. They are making it clear that they serve the state first by exerting the same pressure upon the people as the state is.

    • Many Catholics argue that we should get behind vaccine mandates (or even mandate them ourselves) for the sake of the common good. But public health is not synonymous with the common good. In order for a good truly to be common, it must transcend individual consumption. For a good to be transcendent in this sense, moreover, it must be wholly shareable by many at the same time. A cake is not a common good because you and I cannot enjoy the same piece at the same time: by definition it is not common. The same is true of a road, no piece of which you and I can use at once.

    • Creation, and its logic, however, is a common good. It is common to all of humanity, past, present, and future. It transcends us, preceding both our existence and our individual will.

    • The anti-creational logic of eugenics is by definition also anti-transcendent because it is the assertion of one individual’s (or group’s) will over nature. It says that the individual’s will should supersede the logic of creation. And it does so, as history has shown us repeatedly, at the expense of the most vulnerable.

    The COVID-19 vaccines—their hasty development, their unknown long-term effects, the private and public means being used to pressure everyone to get them—represent the assertion of control over nature, over human beings, that looks very much like the logic that is eugenics.

    • All of this stands in sharp contrast to the biblical directive to steward nature, not assert our will over it.

    • Christ did not ask us to be safe at all costs. He did not ask us never to risk. He asked us to understand that he is the way, the truth, and the life. He asked us to believe—profoundly, to the core of our very being—that our lives are not in our own hands, but they are in the hands of the Father. He asked us to see, protect, and preserve what his Father created.

    • We are not given the gift of existence never to die, but so that we might live.

    Rachel M. Coleman is an Assistant Professor of Theology at Assumption University in Worcester, MA. In addition to her PhD in Theology, she holds a BS in Biology and BA in Philosophy. She researches primarily in the area of metaphysics, and often writes on the intersection of philosophy, theology, and science.

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