Monday, July 20, 2009

"I'm the Bishop of the Moon"

There's a story here in Baltimore about our beloved Archbishop-emeritus-emeritus, William D. Borders. He was ordained bishop in 1968 and made the first Bishop of Orlando, Florida. The new diocese encompassed central Florida and included Cape Canaveral, from where, the following year, Apollo 11 launched, bound for the moon. After that historic launch and lunar landing, with all the images of our astronauts walking, golfing, and planting the flag, Borders made an ad limina visit to Rome to meet with Paul VI. During their meeting, Borders rather nonchalantly observed, "You know, Holy Father, I am the bishop of the Moon." Pope Paul looked at him rather perplexed - probably wondering where along the line this American prelate lost his mind. Borders then continued by explaining that by the existing (1917) Code of Canon Law, he was the de facto ordinary of this "newly discovered" territory.

Archbishop Borders is 96 years old now, and he is still a beloved part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I hope he is as beloved in his former diocese - and on the moon.

9 comments:

Fr. Jay Toborowsky said...

I thought Ralph Kramden was Bishop of the Moon, since he kept promising to send Alice there.

Daniel said...

actually according to canon law, the austronauts are covered by the military archdiocese of the usa, not florida.

tpringle said...

Well technically, the churches that minister to those at the Kennedy Space Center are operated by the Diocese of Orlando. We are, therefore, the Diocese of the Moon!! :-)

Mary from the Prairie said...

I think that as long as the astronauts didn't moon the bishop, it's all good.

gouletdr said...

Actually Daniel, the Archdiocese for Military Services did not exist yet during the Apollo missions. The Armed Forces fell under the Archdioces of New York. So technically, under the 17 code, our Archbishop Borders was quite right! As a former Army Chaplain, well, he does not lose either way!

Grim Reader said...

What is the relevant canon law?

Fr. Austin Murphy said...

I don't know enough about the old Code to say. Until Vatican II, though, the Church was still looking at certain areas through the lens of the Age of Exploration. So, for example, when Columbus and other explorers "claimed" portions of America, these territories were under the jurisdiction of Spain, Portugal, England, etc. The Holy See would then set up an Apostolic Administration, but this would usually operate from the country that laid claim. I could be wrong on this, so if anyone has further elucidations, fell free to comment.

Daniel said...

It all depends on whether the explorers (whether military, mercenary or quasi-military (Ie civilians working for the military)were under a military ordinate or were civilians cared for by their local ordinary.

Gouletdr is correct that the Archdiocese for Military Services was the archdiocese of New York at the time, as their was no separate ordinariate.

So the issue comes down to who was caring for Neil as he was first, New York as a mercenary/quasi-ex military, or Orlando. The civilian/military issue is more imporatnat than whether he is Catholic or not (unless of course he is Eastern Rite)

thewhitelilyblog said...

I'm working on a science fiction series at my blog in which the newly appointed bishop of the universe to Alpha Centauri overcomes his claustrophobia and joins the Regina Coeli for a race to save wheat on earth by bringing back carbon-dioxide-resistant genes from the distant galaxy. The Regina Coeli, a space ship, is a newly designated Catholic confessional state (consisting of several Catholic families; NASA decided to organize the ships by family, since the trip will take several generations, and these families were free to set up the political structure), racing for a billion dollar prize against the Space Bunny, a second ship and bastion of liberal values. The working title is Confession, starting at Parts One through Four, at this link:
http://thewhitelilyblog.wordpress.com/page/2/

Gosh, would I welcome some feedback! I'm afraid I didn't know there was already a bishop of the moon, but my story is fiction. And there's this, which is not fiction: we will be in outer space someday, maybe soon if we have any sense, and the Church will be there. But the whole playing field will be different. We will be able to return to earlier forms of political organization (like monarchies, if we wished) economic activity, like coops and guilds(how future space colonies should be organized, in my opinion)and we could have confessional states again if we wished, and we should wish. People get to heaven better when their duties as citizens overlap with their duties as Catholics, and we could have that again as in the Middle Ages. It could really be Back to the Future. And just in time: the secular state is dead, paralyed, future-less, corrupt, wrung out. It has become atheistic, as earlier popes warned and Vatican II ignored (we're trying to fix it now), and prevalent abortion is only the beginning. When the state has a license to kill the innocent for whatever pretext, it's ov-ah.