“My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many people in our community, I’m married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We’ve lived happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And so we greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord’s Supper together. What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?”
Only possible answer:
“You must convert to the Catholic Church”.
Is this too much to ask of a Pope? Really?
It is certainly beyond the pale for this Pope; who, offered the only possible answer on a silver plate, throws himself in the usual confused blabbering; at the end of which we have no answer at all, but we understand the man is trying to make her as much of a honorary Catholic as he can without telling her the brutal facts: that she isn’t and that this is very, very bad.
The only way is conversion. There is only one shop. You are in or out. If you’re out you are in danger of damnation. That’s it.
Basic Catholic fare for every peasant until V II.
Too much for a Pope now.
Do you remember all those Proddies who knew Catholicism only by hearsay, and wanted to tell you how Catholicism works? Those who told you about Papolatry, and would not want to grasp the true nature of Papal Infallibility?
I wonder how many of them are being cured.
It must be impossible for a Protestant interested in the faith not to notice what is happening: a general insurgence of orthodox Catholics against the dangers of a wicked Pope. True, the Proddie in question might say to himself that the majority of those who call themselves Catholics sides, for all they know and insofar as they bother to make a conscious choice, with Francis; but the shortest reflection on the situation on his own camp will also persuade him that the ignorant and superficial majority does not in the least stand for what a denomination believes, and if you want to know it you will always have to turn to the orthodox minority, to those who – wrong as they are, of course – really care.
The critic of Papolatry is, therefore, confronted with a new reality: a massive opposition to the Pope exactly among that minority of hardcore Catholics he knows reflect the true stand of Catholicism. He must know – if he thinks about it honestly and without prejudice – that it cannot be that they are straying from Catholicism; rather, he will realise that the Pope is; and they notice it, and say it out loud, and do so out of their care for the salvation of souls; and they do so – as they will discover, when they research it a bit – within and because of the purest, most beautiful Catholic teaching.
The mainstream, “cafeteria” Proddies may think that Francis is “changing the Church”; but the attentive minority will certainly know better, because they will observe mechanisms at work that they well recognise; and will realise that, when you look at things drily, what they always thought of the Catholic Church just isn't happening.
How many among the Proddies have the intellectual honesty to recognise it? Rather few, I am sure. How many among them will start to move in the right direction? Fewer still, no doubt. But every soul has infinite value, and it is just among those Proddies who, actually, deeply care that some of the most brilliant Catholic minds have come: the John Henry Newman, the Ronald Knox, and the G K Chesterton of the world.
It is consoling to me – and, hopefully, to some of you – to think that in the middle of this mess, some Protestants are starting to really think, and to slowly walk in the right direction; and that God in His Mercy is providing for some water lilies to grow and prosper in the sea of mud this papacy has – wickedly building on errors of the past, but certainly pushing the problem into a whole new dimension – created.
As we look in astonishment at the extent of the mess, and must witness the tidal wave of excrements under which Francis is submerging the Church, we must also realise that God turns everything in His own favour, and will use Francis' tsunami of excrements as the dung to further the grow of a new generation of Catholic plants.
It would have been, of course, better if all this had not happened, at least from an earthly perspective; but then, if we look at it soberly we must recognise that a mass rebellion at all levels of clergy and laity could not do anything else than attract a horrible punishment in some form or other. Francis might well be this punishment, or the first instalment thereof. But the same God who put wonderful seeds of faith in the middle of Auschwitz, and caused brilliant Protestant minds to see the light, and baffle Protestants to this day – and who knows how many the Chestertons and Newmans and Knoxes have converted, even after death – will, I am sure, use this test to show to some fine Christian minds the beauty of Catholicism. A beauty that becomes the more resplendent, the more a horrible Pope tries to betray it.
“Harvesting the Fruits” has an excellent post about modern “evangelisation” thinking, with… added surprise
I suggest that you follow the link to enjoy the post and discover the surprise.
I will, as always in this case, only add a couple of further personal reflections:
1.The idea of “proximity and meakness” as non-existent “reconciliation” can only come from a mind that has grown so far away from even a basic concept of Catholicism that it confuses every vague feeling of devotion to the Blessed Virgin with the end of a state of obvious heresy. This Bishop clearly has no idea of what he is talking about, and the only question is whether he never had any whatsoever, or just forgot the basics in the course of the years.
2.The priest isn't much better. Instead of encouraging the woman to pray for good priest, he proceeds to be exactly the kind of bad priest that causes the scarcity of priests in the first place. More than meek, he seems effeminate to me. He arrives among his flock and the first two things he does is apologise and whine. I have never been a priest, but I can think of another option or two, both including the words “shut up” and “repent” to anyone who has left the Church.
These people stil think that you can gain souls for the Church by being a eunuch in black. Sheesh. Where have they been these last 50 years?
3. For this very confused bishop, “to pray” seems to be the only requirement, and it seems rather clear if one prays “he faces Lord Jesus”. With this reasoning Luther was a saintly man, Muslims face Lord Jesus, and one should be very optimistic for Wiccans, Sikh and Hindus too. You see, if prayer is the passepartout to heaven only the atheists are going to stay out; which, by definition, makes every religion equally good; which, by definition, makes Christianity superfluous; which, by definition, makes Christ's sacrifice useless.
Pray for this bishop, for his effeminate priest, and for all those like them.
Unless they change their mind, something tells me their punishment will be absolutely terrifying.
I might be considered one of “those who are sincerely seeking the one true faith.” Having become fed up with the emotionalistic (is that a word?) qualities of many Protestant denominations, a couple years ago I started making tentative steps towards exploring whether it would be right to “cross the Tiber.” I was deeply moved by reading some of Evelyn Waugh’s books such as Brideshead Revisited, and by some of the works of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. Also, the emphasis on intellect and some other qualities drew me towards Catholicism.
But the combination of Pope Francis, his “conservative” admirers, American bishops such as Dolan and the prevalence of “The Church of Nice” in Catholicism has stopped me dead in my tracks. No more movement towards the Tiber for me, at least for the forseeable future. One of the main sticking points for me seems to be the very heavy emphasis on authority in Catholicism. I can see how authority has its value, but there have been some huge negative ramifications of it, not just with following bad popes but clearly in the sex abuse scandals. And I have read and heard so many Catholics tie themselves into knots lately, justifying the comments and actions of Francis, and justifying Vatican II, which, it seems clear to me, has almost destroyed Roman Catholicism. Yes, there are the admirable traditionalist groups, but they seem very far from the mainstream in the Church. Even Michael Voris, who I long watched and admired, believes that the Pope is off limits to criticism.
The comment below appeared at the excellent blog of Louie Verrecchio. I feel that a couple of words (or more) of encouragement might be in order not only for the good of the soul in question, but as a little help to all those who might be in a similar state of Francis-induced confusion.
The poster makes, if you ask me, a very Protestant mistake: he confuses the organisation with the shortcomings of the people who run it (the Dolan of the world), and the people who belong to it (the blind Pollyannas who bend over backward to justify everything the Pope or even a priest says or does). When, therefore, the people in charge are way below what is expected from them – Francis and Dolan are the two last examples; or the priest abusing of his position to abuse children; or the bishop helping him to get away with it – this leads him to question the organisation, rather than (merely) the men, bot those who are leaders and those who are led.
This is not the way the Church works. This is not what Catholicism is all about.
To choose Catholicism is to choose the Truth. Truth can’t change, nor can it be devalued by the unworthiness of those who are supposed to defend it, or the blindness of those who can’t get the message – often, because they have never been taught it properly -. I am Catholic not because I like Francis – whom I abhor – or Vatican II – which I despise – or Catholic priests – whom I consider very bad on average -, but because the Catholic Church is the Bride of Christ. It’s as simple as that.
Christ never told us to be Catholics only when the hierarchy is sound. He never told us to wait for a good Pope to convert to Catholicism. He never gave us the option whether to be Catholics or not according to the quality of the leadership. When we talk about the Church, the only valid criterion to discern whether we must be members or not is whether it is the Church Jesus found on Peter, or not. It is, therefore we must.
The Church is much more than an earthly collection of people, buildings, offices, buses, wheelchairs, and black shoes. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Catholic pledges his allegiance to the Bride, because he acknowledges that She, and She only, is the spouse of the Bridegroom. Popes may come and go; they may be saints or sinners; they may even have no idea of sound Catholicism like the current one; they may even be positively evil people, like certainly many were in the darkest times of the, say, ninth to twelfth century, and like the current reigning one may well be himself – unless he is just a mediocre, unintelligent, vain Jesuit -. The Popes and Cardinals may be as bad as they like – and they will pay a price for it, make no mistake -; but this does not change one iota in two fundamental things: 1. what the Church is and 2. whether we should be part of it.
No Catholics of the past, both converts or cradle ones, have ever been promised a sound leadership. It was never part of the deal. If I were asked to state why I am Catholic I would not point my finger to St. Peter’s dome. I would point it up to the skies. My Catholicism rests on Christ, not on Francis. Therefore, no abyss of shame Francis may ever lead to Church to would move me to deny her.
Protestants see their own church as they see their political affiliation. If they don’t like the leadership, they seek somewhere else. If one “minister” isn’t sound enough, they will seek another “ministry” they like more.
Catholics see the Church as mother, in both a heavenly and an earthly sense. The earthly mother can be criticised, and can be criticised harshly if she deserves to be criticised harshly, but the mother she still remains. If one has an alcoholic mother he will have to find strong words to tell her – if he loves her, at least -; but he will not say to her ” you are not my mother”.
The mother is the mother. The Church is the Church. That’s it.
The Pope could be drug addict, alcoholic, pedophile, sodomite, murderer, and thief. This would not change my allegiance to the Church one iota.
Certainly, I would pray the Lord that the man may be converted, or taken out of the way (whichever the Lord, in His goodness, thinks best). Certainly, I would suffer for it like the one suffers whose mother is alcoholic. Certainly, I would not be shy in calling such a Pope drug addict, alcoholic, pedophile, sodomite, murderer, and thief if it were apparent that he is giving scandal by being all these things. I would have to, in order to avoid others to be confused by his behaviour, and in order not to be an accessory to the scandal. But never ever, never ever would I think that the deal Christ has given me is not good enough, and I am too good to be a part of the Church he gave us.
“Church” is a very complex word. I doubt there is another word in Catholicism that has so many meaning and nuances like the word “church”. A building for worship is a church; the community of the local christians are the local church; a diocese is a church, and so are the faithful of this diocese; the family is also a church – ecclesia domestica -; every one of the many Rites in Catholicism is a church, and there are other meanings still. But most importantly, besides the earthly organisational characters the church has a heavenly character, of which no Catholic ever loses sight. This is the heavenly Church, as holy and perfect as Her origin. The Church is holy because She teaches a holy doctrine, She is holy in Her mission and – again – origin, and She is holy for all the other reasons a good priest will be able to explain to you better than I ever could. She is not holy because the Pope is good, and She does not stop to be holy if the Pope isn’t good, or is an outright disaster, or is positively evil, or a drug addict, alcoholic, pedophile, sodomite, murderer, and thief.
Catholics know this. They believe in the Church, not in a Pope. In bad times they will make their voice heard; but in all their troubles they will keep their eyes firmly set on heaven. And when they look up, they will know that over there there are no Protestant sects, no wannabe “anglo-catholics”, no strange groupings of confused men, no heathenish or Jewish or Muslim anything; but only the Bride of Christ, perfectly holy and perfectly truthful.
This is why many, like me, criticise the Pope – and boy, how could one not do it who has eyes to see! – without this denting their Catholic faith in the least. On the contrary: if my faith is tested by a bad Pope, I will strenghten my faith by clinging to the Church even more closely; praying more; learning more about Her; praying more for the wayward Pope; putting all my trust on heaven, not on the reckless statements of a man drunk with popularity, and as vain as a peacock.
God gives some Popes, God tolerates some Popes and God inflicts some Popes, said St Vincent of Lerin.
If you ask me, God has inflicted this Pope on us so that we may pay the price of the unspeakable arrogance of 50 years of Neo-Modernism. This is cause for sadness for the punishment we have merited, and certainly calls for us to merit – one day – the end of the punishment by reacting to the mistakes or outright abominations of the past 50 years. But a bad Pope, or many bad Popes, are certainly no reason to question the Bride more than we would question the Bridegroom.
I am not a theologian, or even a priest come to that. A good priest – like, say, a SSPX one – would be able to give far better guidance. But this is the contribution I can give to the original poster and to all those who must be in his position.
Convert to the One Church, not to Francis.
My dear Proddie friend,
You read now everywhere about the scandal caused by the disgraceful Pope Woodstock, and perhaps you think the man’s antics expose the intrinsic weakness of the Church. Perhaps you even think – in your lack of proper knowledge of Catholicism – that Francis may change the tenets of what you call the Roman (meaning by that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) Church.
Dear friend, you couldn’t be more wrong. Allow me to explain to you why.
The Pope doesn’t own the Church. He isn’t her CEO, either. He is merely the custodian and the caretaker of the enormous edifice entrusted to him; an edifice he has the duty to transmit, intact and properly maintained, to the next custodian.
The caretaker of a huge palace cannot decide that a wing should now be demolished, and a new one built in its place. He cannot add, or take away, anything from the real estate entrusted to him. His job is to care that everything looks good, everything works properly, the walls remain solid, the garden is properly maintained, and so on.
Granted, the caretaker could be a lazy man. Or he could be corrupted, and steal the money meant for the maintenance. The palace will, at some point, look shabby. The light bulbs will not work, the doors will start to squeak, mildew will appear in the basement, and the gardens will be a proper mess.
In extreme cases – like, well, now – the caretaker will be a kind of socialist hothead, a Che Guevara fan not only uncaring, but outright resentful of the splendour of the palace; a splendour that he considers offensive to the poor outside, living in their small cottages. Don’t ask me why he applied for the job of caretaker, or why no one tells him the poor living in the college love the palace and its splendour, and know that the Palace embraces and makes place for all the good villagers. This letter is not about these issues.
The socialist hothead caretaker will, then, do his work as… badly as he can. The palace will look miserable when seen from the road, and its state of disrepair will be evident to the blind. The caretaker will, in the meantime, go around in the village, boasting that he has brought the palace nearer to the people and clearly implying if he could he would knock down the whole thing and build a sanitised favela instead, where everyone can do pretty much whatever he pleases provided he loves.
But the palace is still there. Immense. Towering over the petty, vainglorious caretakers. Indestructible.
The smart villagers, too, look at the palace and can see beyond the broken window panes, the missing roof tiles, and the dirt everywhere. They even see beyond the perverts going in and out of the palace as if they owned the place, merely because they are friends with the caretaker. The villagers can still very well see how wonderful the palace is, magnificent even in its dirt! In fact, the shabby grandeur of the palace confirms them in their knowledge that the elder are right and no matter how bad the caretaker, the palace will stay forever. Without moving one inch, or losing one room, or having another added. They know – because they have been properly taught by their parents, and by the wiser villagers – that every effort of the subversive caretaker will not in the end make more damage to the immense Palace than a six-year old scratching with a fork against a huge block of granite. Many in the past – say the elder in the village – were the caretakers who did their job badly, or very badly. There were a couple who even let bombs explode inside. The Palace buried them all.
This, dear Proddie friend, is the deal we Catholics have. We have an assurance of immutable truth that is utterly immune from any attempt at devastation. A now 2000 years strong system of truth: beautiful, perfectly coherent, shaped by the Holy Ghost through many saintly thinkers, always transmitted and believed without substantial change – though expanding and growing like a majestic oak tree – has been sculpted in marble; utterly, utterly beyond the reach of the most stupid, the most drunken, the most evil, or the most deluded caretaker. Nor can this system be manipulated by taking a book and saying that black means white, and Jesus is what we wish he is. The system is not based on written words, that can be twisted and turned; but on the Truth behind the written words and that originated them in the first place. This Truth can be neither twisted nor turned without all those who know the Truth immediately noticing it. Many have tried to change the Palace. No one has succeeded.
Think about the last weeks. Even by the most outlandish statements of Pope Woodstock, in writing, black on white for the all world to see, there is no scarcity of twisters and turners. Try that with 2000 years of coherent faith, assisted by the Holy Ghost, and good luck to you. The written word will always be twisted, unless there is a Truth behind that itself cannot be twisted.
A Catholic is not, as many of you Proddies think, delivered to the caprice of one man, or of an oligarchy of few men. The very opposite is the case! A Catholic is protected against the abuses of his shepherds much better, in a much more unassailable way than any of you Proddies will ever be! There is no truth more unassailable than the one promoted from the start, and of which the first principle is that it can, and will, never change.
Caretakers wil come and go. Empires will appear and become dust. These United States of yours, of which you are so proud, are to the huge Palace but a recent, temporary appearance. Make no mistake, the latter will see the former become dust too, and pass away. The Palace will still be there, with its Truths intact – though still with caretakers of varying ability and integrity – when those United States of yours are but a footnote in History.
Are the (smart) villagers angry at the caretaker? Very. They love the Palace, and to see it ravaged, very poorly maintained, dirtied and inhabited by perverts and sycophants makes them suffer. Some of them can’t sleep at night, so much they suffer.
But their anger is never fear for the destiny of the Palace. They have the promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail, and they know that the Promise is made to this particular Palace, and to this one alone. They will have to live with the antics of the caretaker – and, very probably, of his foreseeable successors – for as long as it takes. They will, alas, very probably die without seeing the garden taken care of again, the window panes repaired, the entire place cleaned and dusted, the perverts chased away in shame. So be it, then. They will love the Palace so much more.
But in the end, they know the Palace will be there as magnificent as ever, with no room added and none taken away, when the angry caretaker is a small rectangle of ground in the village cemetery, and the passers by stop and look at the stone, and say to each other “this one, he was truly bad”.
Then, they will continue their walk. Under the shade, so to speak, of the great Palace.
Dear Proddie friend, now that the antics of the caretaker are known beyond the old village, take this as an invitation to visit it, and ask to know more about the big, great Palace. You will, if you approach it without prejudice, be very impressed with the beauty, the magnificence, the logic, the coherence of the entire huge construction. You will at this point understand you cannot avoid dealing seriously with what the Palace represents, and what it is asking of you. You will, if your work is assisted by grace, understand that you want to become one of the admirers of the palace. Even if the palace has a revolutionary hothead as a caretaker. The more so, perhaps, because of it.
The Palace has always attracted people from other villages, you see. Its magnificence is such that, even with missing roof tiles and broken window panes, it still exercises a huge attraction.
Get near to the Palace, my dear Proddie friend.
Believe me: it is waiting for you.
Let us imagine (it is theoretical; but not so much) that someone came to me saying that he is thinking of converting to Catholicism, but in light of the most recent developments he is now in doubt whether to continue on this road.
What I would say to him? Would I be able to give to him some words of encouragement? Would I suggest to him that he goes on along the chosen path and toward conversion to a Church led by the likes of Archbishop Mueller?
Yes of course I would. I would in the most decided of ways. Let me explain why, so that the one or other friendly Proddie thinking of taking the best decision of his (eternal) life may not be tempted into falling back into heresy and, perhaps, perdition.
Out of my sleeve, the arguments I would use are described below. I invite the readers to add other arguments in order to help our imaginary (but not so much) friend.
As the need to help this imaginary (but not so much) friend might be rather pressing and I have no time to revisit my books on the matter, si sbalio mi corigerete… I would, therefore, argument as follows:
1. The Church is the Truth. The Church (as the eternal institution, the Bride of the Lord) can simply not be separated from the Truth. You cannot think the Church as separated from being the Truth more than you could think of water as separated from being wet.
2. “Church” is a very complex word. The building where the mass takes place is called “church”, but the members of that parish are also called “church”. A family (even a nuclear family) is called “church” (ecclesia domestica). A diocese is also called “church”. The faithful in that diocese are called church, too. The different rites of Catholicism are all called “churches”. Then there is the Church who is, on earth, the visible manifestation of the Bride of Christ. But it does not stop there, as Church is intended, in its ultimate meaning, as a heavenly organisation. Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus refers to this last one. To belong to the Church means to belong to the heavenly Bride of Christ, not to agree to the more or less heretical blabbering of bad priests, bad bishops and bad popes.
3. The Church representatives are (here on earth) not always right, and at times plain wrong. I have given my take about infallibility, and reading the blog post might help the one or the other. But the fact that we must always, always keep in mind is that the Truth that the Church is is not less true because God allows her representatives (as he did Judas) to wound her. This is not the protestant church down the street, whose raison d’être for the faithful ceases the moment they stop agreeing with the pastor.
4. The Church has the right to our obedience even when we are forced to disobey to her representatives. If the bishop asks me to participate to some Friday service of some Muslims, I say “no” and don’t care two straws if he says to me that I must do it to promote ecumenism, or to give testimony of my Catholicism, or for “peace and understanding”, or because he orders it. The “first rule of the Italian army” applies: wrong orders are not executed. I do this, because I owe obedience to the Bride of Christ before I do to the bishop. As always, Archbishop Lefebvre explains this much better than I ever could.
5. The Church is not questioned, she is simply obeyed. As to her representative, the way they will be obeyed (or esteemed) will depend from the way they do their job. This is the reason why even among popes – as among bishops, etc. – some are considered wonderful, some very good, some so-so, some positively mediocre, and some unmitigated disasters. Still, Padre Pio’s saying still stands, that we must love the Church even if she kills us.
In my eyes, a person of prompt intellect and ripe understanding will draw from these arguments enough energy to not only weather the present storm, but be sufficiently prepared for a life of storms, as other one or two or three generations of this madness might be the lot the Lord has allotted to us, probably to punish us for our sins, and perhaps also so that we may train our virtues.
The fundamental step is, in my eyes, the abandonment of the purely Protestant thinking based on which an institution loses credibility if we happen to think their leaders are behaving badly.
Petrus did behave badly, though he recovered in the end. He had to be publicly rebuked by Paul, even, then Paul was no retiring wallflower, and did not suffer under clericalism.
The Church will be with me forever, and I will be with her forever. I will be faithful to her until my last breath, and if the Pope begins to dance in his tutu on St. Peter Square to promote understanding among the people this will not change my allegiance to the Church. Not-one-bit. It would be better for me to die of a horrible death before reaching that point, than to live 120 years of purest unalloyed happiness after deciding that I do not need the Bride.
I hope this helps.