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After The Censorship: Blogging In The Age Of Francis

The marketing strategy proved not entirely popular.

The marketing strategy proved not entirely popular.

The matter of the “Protect the Pope” blog is making waves, and one can be confident the one or other will learn a thing or two from this.

What I have learnt (up to now) is this:

1. It is very easy to silence an ordained blogger, if he is a priest or deacon. A phone call or meeting or even a letter should be enough. The casus belli will always be easily found, as a good Catholic blog will be controversial, and someone will always complain by the bishop; and the bishop will not need anything more. He will then smugly invite the blogger in question toenter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church”.  

2. It might soon become fashionable to silence an ordained blogger. True, Pope Benedict has encouraged priests and deacons to blog; but that was then, and this is … Francis. Francis is a man who has already expressed his fear that the TLM might be “divisive”. It would be very easy for him to state, when he finds the time is ripe, to say that priests and deacons should just stop blogging and spend more time in the favela, or traveling with the bus, or embracing wheelchairs, or making phone calls around, or doing all other edifying things he does. Just not blogging, because blogging is divisive, and can easily be uncharitable, and this, and that, and the other, no? At this point, cue the regular purge starting, as a great number of bishops will protect their chances of advancement by just doing what the powers that be wish that they do. 

3. Things are, though, not so easy. “Protect the Pope” has never been so linked to, and Bishop Campbell (the blog’s censor) has never looked so bad. The blog is alive and kicking and it will continue to be so; it will, probably, become a beacon of, so to speak, blogging resistance. This will put the bishop in an even worse soup than he is now, then the order to the deacon to make the wife stop the blog would not look very good, or modern, or Francis-like; and very probably the blog wouldn’t stop, either.

4. Other priest bloggers have intervened: Father Z and Father Finigan make no mystery as to whether they like the Campbell soup, and Rorate Caeli predictably finds it inedible. Countless others blog, smaller taken individually but not insignificant if taken together, also deal with the issue. So let us make some calculations here: you close one blog, one hundred blogger criticise you, and they will take care you are not forgotten. As a strategy, it doesn’t seem very brilliant to me. There will always be so many blogs run by Catholic laymen,  that even the suppression of all the clerical ones will have pretty much a zero effect. People go on the internet to look for information, and they shall find it. Whether from moderate priests or from less moderate laymen, it depends from the soup the clerical bloggers are made to eat.

So, as I write the 17 March the situation is as follows: the blog has never been so read, and even if it were to be silenced one day it would still be like wanting to stop the tide with a sand barrier, as we did as children at the seaside.Only, as children we knew we could not stop the tide, we just had fun trying. In this case, I have the impression there is all of the trying, but there will be none of the fun.

No. I don’t think it’s smart. Unless the bishop wants those who look for information to be more likely to land on my blog, that is. 

Well, Your Excellency, what shall it be? Chicken, or chilli soup? 


Spot The Waffler

The Bergoglio Pan makes the best waffle all the time.

Well, Father Z made my day today.

He reports a quotation from JP II. Pope Wojtyla was being interviewed by Vittorio Messori. Being one in the mould of Bergoglio, Messori asks the Pope, of all things, whether he was not “obsessive” about pro-life issues.

Now stop a moment and reflect on the forma mentis of those like Messori. To them, the unpleasant parts of Christianity are those to be glossed over as fast as one can; one who insists on such disharmony-creating ideas like fighting against abortion must, therefore, be forcibly suspected of being “obsessive”. Personally, I would be ashamed of even thinking, let alone asking, such a question to anyone, let alone a Pope. But I digress…

Pope JP II answered as follows:

The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”

By all the liturgical and ecu-maniacal shortcomings of Pope Wojtyla, I doubt Francis will ever express himself in such clear-cut way, even if he were to be Pope for the next 77 years. More worryingly, I doubt Francis thinks like Wojtyla did; because as I have just said, what the heart feels the mouth will tell.

Little review: what did Francis mouth tell? A generally smart commenter, signing as “the chicken”, has made the googling for us:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.”

The difference is like the day and the night, and it is serendipitous that JP II spoke exactly about the issue of “obsession”.

Another commenter, signed David Andrew, has a rather insightful, if far too gentle, contribution:

this is a beautiful illustration of precisely why so many serious-minded, orthodox Catholics are confused and upset with the seemingly endless instances of the current Bishop of Rome making oddly-constructed statements that are then quoted out of context by the liberals. For whatever reason, Francis seems completely incapable of making an eloquent, unequivocal and direct statement in answer to a question such as this when being interviewed, thus giving the mainstream, liberal, small-”c” catholic press ample room to twist and torture his words which then sews confusion.

Well, I must disagree in that after several openly subversive interviews followed by the correction of exactly nothing, it seems clear to me who is wanting the twisting of sound Catholic teaching. Still, the point is well made: the one talks straight of unpleasant things, the other simply waffles around.

Or worse.


Summorum Pontificum: The New Archbishop Of Ferrara Does Not Mince Words

God might be Italian: The Cathedral in Ferrara

The Cathedral in Ferrara

If you click at Father Z’s blog, you will find a wonderful sermon from the Archbishop of Ferrara, Luigi Negri.

It is as blunt as an Italian Archbishop can ever be; the remark with the ecclesiastical tribunal is very telling.

We do not know whether the “Franciscan simplicity” will impact the Traditional Mass, but this is one Archbishop on the right side.

As an aside, you could do worse than considering Ferrara in your next Italian holiday. One of the most beautiful places on earth (think Siena without the hills), Ferrara with his huge historic centre (it was probably the biggest city in Europe at the beginning of the XVI Century) will leave you speechless and breathless.

A city blessed with so much beauty is now also blessed with a staunch and very blunt defender of the Traditional Mass.




What Is Wrong With Amazon?

It is very recent news that Amazon, together with other worldwide operating companies like Google, have issued a public endorsement of so-called same sex marriage in the vigil of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the Defence of Marriage Act.

At the same time, we are informed from Father Z’s blog that his affiliate program with Amazon was terminated without warning or explanation.

I might be a tad paranoid here, but apart from the obvious disgust at Amazon’s unspeakable behaviour I cannot avoid wondering whether the two above mentioned events might not be related, that is: Amazon is targeting those opposed to their homosexualist agenda and quietly eliminating them from their affiliate program to please their own internal Gaystapo.

Again, I might be too suspicious here, and in a normal world one would suppose Amazon is interested in selling books and related products first; but we don’t live in a normal world, and there is no saying whether the Gaystapo at Amazon might not manage to pursue their perverted agenda at the expense of their shareholders.

Perhaps the one or other of the readers, ideally who have shares of the company, might plant a question on the site and enquire whether Christian sites are being specifically targeted.

As for myself, I will seriously consider switching to a different system (say, Sony) when the time comes, and plan to use my Kindle exclusively for free books.

Which, I thinks, serves the faggots right.


Hell and Mercy

Do you wish him Hell? Heinrich Himmler.

Extremely interesting and thought-provoking blog post from Father Z about Rudolf Hoess, the man in charge of the Auschwitz extermination machine. Please do not confuse him with Rudolf Hess.

Father Z’s post says something actually rather normal for an orthodox Catholic, but which must sound rather strange – or worse, offensive – to the more liberal, or simply less instructed, elements.

It is remarkable that the ones who are so ready to express some kind of wish hell may be empty – in his last movie, Nanni Moretti puts the words in the mouth of a Cardinal, and I can easily imagine he heard such heretic bollocks from a true one – are the one least likely to wish salvation for those they don’t like.

I do not consider myself a man endowed with particular goodness, but I can at least frankly say that I do not wish to see in hell anyone in particular; not even Luther, or Stalin, or Ken Livingstone; though I of course wish that God’s will be done and so can’t say I am in any opposition to anyone at all being in hell. Therefore, if Himmler is in hell I am perfectly fine with it, and if he isn’t I am perfectly fine with it, too; but wishing that he be to hell? No! Of course, for those who die publicly unrepentant – but who knows what happened in their private spiritual life, to which no access is given to us – one can say it is extremely probable that – bar an always welcome repentance – they are now in hell.  But their repentance would be exactly that: welcome.

In this case, Hoess not only repented privately – and it is documented he called a priest, and confessed his sins – but accompanied this with a public repentance and confession of guilt. Therefore, whilst we can of course never say whether one is saved, the assumption that the man was saved is entirely reasonable and consistent with Catholic orthodoxy; and I wish him he obtained salvation, from all my heart.

But no, the liberal crowd wants Hell outlawed; but if Hell must be, they want to tell us who is  there. Strangely, though, those who die in public defiance of God can be rather safely presumed to have escaped hell; possibly because they were nice to kitties.

I also warn my readers from the mistake of thinking the only way for the worst Nazi war criminals to avoid hell is God taking everyone out of it (a heresy, I think). Hell is certainly there, but no one can say who is certainly there. Heinrich Himmler might be saved, and yours truly go to hell ( a sobering though this, I assure you; but better to have sobering thoughts, than dangerous illusions of “what a fine chap I am”).

These personalities are, in fact, part of the challenge and paradox of Christianity. It may seem absurd that one can supervise the killing of countless innocent people and be, one day, called to enjoy God’s presence, and another may spend his life fighting for, say, the welfare of foxes and the health of daffodils and end up in hell. But the simple fact is, we are told the rules behind this, and on a second reflection the rules make perfect sense even from the rationale point of view.

The bottom line is whenever it seems to me God may have done things in the wrong way, it is senseless to think I am the one who is right and it is just as stupid to think I can bend the rules so they satisfy me, and invent some strange machinations to square the circle. I am always reminded of the Medjugorje lady who went around tweeting one can decide to repent after death…

For myself, though, whenever I pray the Fatima prayer I’ll try to apply it to everyone: Luther, Stalin, even Ken Livingstone.


Two Words On Father Z and Mssss. Zagano

As you might have noticed, the blog post about Ms. Zagano has been taken offline.

I obviously continue to stay behind every word that I have written.

On the other hand, Father Z suggested that I take it down, thinking that the strong words therein contained may be used by the (well…) lady as a further instrument of propaganda against him.

As the blog post was written specifically in defence of Father Z, I will gladly let him be the judge of what is the better way to react to attacks moved against him.


Niceness, The New Religion

William Hogarth, "In The Madhouse"

From Father Z’s blog, a barely believable – if we lived in normal times – story about a canadian Catholic school. In said Catholic school the idea of having a crucifix in every classroom was in the past considered – for reasons I do not even want to think about – not really necessary. I know, I know…..

This year, this state of things changed and every classroom was equipped with his crucifix.

Thinking that this would make some explanation necessary (a crucifix: what will then that be, one wonders….), a teacher (and principal of the school) decided to give some “explanations” to every class in the school.

The explanation centered about Jesus not having physically risen from the dead. Not only Easter, but the entire concept of divinity of Christ, and with that of Trinity, goes herewith out of the window as I can’t understand why God would decide that he can resurrect, but prefers not to and tells us a lie about it instead, clearly allowing this lie to be believed for some 20 centuries before a Canadian minus habens comes along.

Because this is, according to one brave girl who immediately challenged him, what is all about: Jesus “never resurrected”, the whole thing is “like a metaphor that you follow” and, you know, “people have taken the Bible too literally”.

In the view of this “enlightened” teacher in a Catholic school, the “moral” that Jesus died is right but hey, “the story is wrong”. The man is, at this point, launched toward the creation of a completely new religion and dutifully delivers: “Because He died in our honour we should be nice to each other,” or if you prefer to put it another way “the crucifix represents helping others” and when the students look at it “that’s all it’s supposed to mean”.

And there, a new religion is born. This new religion, “BeNiceAnity”, has a vague flavour of Christianity and actually can even tolerate a Crucifix, but not without an explanation that says: “hey, don’t take it all too literally with this Christ: the chap is still six feet under (at which Mundabor would have asked: “where’s the body? Who has stolen it? Who has lied about it? Why?”) and you must just relax, be nice to each other and try to be helpful” (and, no doubt, inclusive).

I don’t want to think what private issues a man can have to want to blasphemously offend Christ in this way, in his role as teacher, in a Catholic school, but one doesn’t have to be a genius to see that they must be huge.

One would wish the chap all the best in his chosen new professional path. Whatever that is, I’m sure he’ll be better at that than he was at teaching.


The Dissident Priest And The Seminary

Priest clowns, clown priests....

Beautiful intervention of Father Z a propos the priest who has been asked to recant his support for so-called ordination of women or be dismissed from the seminary of Maryknoll.

Father Z’s comments are beautiful and most certainly worth the reading.

I feel the need, though, to add some short considerations of mine:

1) How en earth can it happen that a priest supports so-called women ordination for what have obviously been many years before he is asked to recant or face consequences.

2) How on earth can it happen that a priest supports so-called women ordination and he is still a priest.

3) How on earth can it happen that seminary goes from 300 to 10 seminarians without anyone thinking that in order to do so, they must have made serious mistakes.

4) How on earth can it happen that a seminary with 10 seminarians is allowed to stay open and employ an array of teachers, administrative personnel and the obvious costs of the structure.

This sad piece of news is disconcerting in more ways than one.


Spiritual Bouquet For Pope Benedict

Beautiful initiative from Father Z, inviting the faithful to a Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict in the month leading to the feast of St. Joseph.

I gladly follow his invitation to other Catholic bloggers to direct my readers to his site and to give some contribution to this beautiful initiative.

I particularly like the fact that Father Z is obviously aware and obviously not pleased with the proposed structure of the Instruction about Summorum Pontificum. Still, his reaction is a prayerful one.


Women And Head Covering In Church

6 June 1987, Ronald Reagan and spouse visit the Pope in the Vatican. Nancy Reagan wears a veil.

I have already written about the decision of the Colombo’s Cathedral to impose a rigorous dress code with obligation for women to use the veil during Mass.

Father Z posted an interesting poll meant at knowing whether his reader thinks that a) a head covering should be worn and b) in this case, whether this should be made mandatory.

You can go directly to the site and click your way to the poll, where you will be able to vote even if not registered.

Interestingly enough, the YES to the head covering variations are majority among both sexes, with in both cases those preferring to leave freedom of choice being more numerous than those preferring that it be obligatory as it was in the past.

I was very pleased to read Fr Z confirming that the habit of covering the head among churchgoing women seems to be coming back again as this confirms my anecdotal observations both at the Oratory and elsewhere.

I have voted for the mandatory covering of the head for the following reasons:

1) I don’t think that this is the kind of obligation that could let anyone feel uncomfortable. It is an obligation out of love and those actions of which we make obligations out of love are the most beautiful ones.

2) Men have the obligation, not the choice, of uncovering their head when in church. Rightly so. The resurgence of male headgear (from formal hats to baseball caps to, well, hoods) hasn’t had any effect on this very simple, natural rule.

3) The women’s obligation of covering one’s head in church was a tradition of the past. Beautiful concept, tradition. Something passed from generation to generation …… before the V II generation decided that hey, it was not good enough anymore. In my eyes, whenever one recovers Church customs of the past one can never go wrong. If it was good in my grandmother’s time, it can’t be wrong now and if my grandmother never wondered whether the veil or hat should be mandatory I don’t think we should wonder now. You see, my grandmother lived in time when Christianity was more important than individual freedom. Food for thought.

4) Head covering is considered a traditional sign of modesty for women even outside of mass (see photo). Whilst one doesn’t advocate women always having to cover their heads, it is clear that if the covering of a woman’s head is a sign of modesty, the church is the natural place for it.

I salute the return of this beautiful tradition, then. I see in it another small step towards the recovery of liturgical sanity. Let us hope that this old custom may spread more and more in the decades to come.


Extraordinary Ministers And Conservative Catholics.

Father Z has, some time ago, posted an interesting post about a Catholic churchgoer explaining why she might renounce communion on the tongue.

What could have seemed the usual rant of an oldish feminist now deciding that communion on the tongue is too much identified with “Catholic Crusaders” turned out to be a real and well-meant concern of desecration of the host due to the inability of many “extraordinary ministers” to cope with communion on the tongue.

I’d like to give my short comment in the usual intolerant and crusader-like way.

1) If you ask me, the lady’s mistake was that she chose to receive communion from an eucharistic minister in the first place. As the priest is always there giving communion a Catholic who wants to receive on the tongue should actually do the obvious thing and queue on the priest’s line, whilst the “communion in the hand”-crowd will be left, if they really really want, to the eucharistic minister(ess).

2) The priest can certainly be blamed for not properly training the eucharistic ministers but in all honesty, not many priests expect one who wants to receive on the tongue to queue on the eucharistic minister’s line. I was surprised to read that something like that happens at all.

3) My personal experience is that on such occasions (where eucharistic ministers are present) the queue to receive from the priest is much longer than the ones to receive from the eucharistic ministers and I have seen scenes that were authentically embarrassing for the latter. Nowadays, eucharistic ministers are as much in fashion as bell bottom jeans. Thank God for that.

4) It goes without saying that the recovery of sound Catholic practice goes through the abolition of eucharistic ministers, a sad and ridiculous leftover of years of theological drunkenness and liturgical abuse. The same goes for the communion in the hand, something reminding me more and more of Donald Trump’s hair or Elton John’s clothes.

A conservative Catholic should, in my eyes, vote with his own feet and receive communion in the same way as countless generations before him have done.

It is not about better training the eucharistic minister. It is about getting rid of (well) her.


Will Catholics come Home?

Father Z informs us of an initiative of two US (Arch)Dioceses, meant to encourage Catholics who have stopped practicing to come back to the Sacramental life.

Whilst one can only be appreciative of every effort to get lost sheep back to the fold, I allow myself to point out to the fact that just to say “please, please come back!” will not yield a great dividend unless a ruthless analysis of why the sheep have gone away in the first place does not precede the initiative.

The sheep have gone away because the shepherd has become rather weak, rather superficial, rather cowardly and rather stupid. The sheep have gone away because the shepherd has become even too weak to tell them that they are supposed to stay within the fold rather than being scattered everywhere.

If the shepherd starts telling the sheep “what do you want to do today?”; or to appoint a sheep comittee to tell him how to make his work; or to substitute his daily job of being a shepherd with that of being a “friend” of the sheep; or to talk to the sheep about social justice rather than caring for their welfare and security or, in general, to tell them that in these enlightened times the sheep have become so evolved that they don’t need shepherding anymore, it is really no surprise that the sheep become less and less.

Nor will the sheep come back just because the shepherd starts telling them what a good company he is, or what fun, or how socially aware they’ll become if they start being near him (being “led by him” is a word he would, obviously, never use) again.

The way to attract the sheep to the fold is always the same one: to be a good shepherd. The is what the shepherd should never have stopped doing. If the shepherd starts recovering the notion of the importance and dignity of his role, the sheep will slowly but surely start gatherng around him, because they see in him a refuge and protection, and indispensable help on their journey through life. Then, and only then, will the shepherd be able to lead them effectively and to let them feel protected and cared for.

Too many within the Church have renounced their role (particularly when unpleasant) and refused to do their job. This comes at a price and my impression is that the bad shepherds who did so will be punished far more severely than the careless sheep unable to see any use in them.

The recovery of church attendance goes through a recovery of the role of the Church, of the role of the priest sunday after sunday, homily after homily and controversy after controversy, of the basic understanding of what the Church is.

As long as this analysis is not done and the painful (for those looking for popularity and, ohh that word, relevance) consequences consequences of the choices to be made are not clear, there’ll never be any increase in church attendance.


The Tridentine Mass And The Sense of The Sacred

Very interesting post from Father Z, who is basically requested how the Tridentine (I am against the use of “TLM” as a matter fo course; if it was the Tridentine for my grandfather it is fine for me, too) can be made interesting again to a person who, as a child, felt it is an imposition.

My answer would be to see the Tridentine Mass as one saw the obligation to learn as a child or the obligation to eat things different from, say, chocolate.

The Mass in itself has not changed, it is our attitude which must rise to the appreciation of the Mass. This requires a bit more work than it is necessary to appreciate, say, chocolate but it is perfectly doable anyway. It is a bit the same process many of us had to undergo with the learning of school subjects which might have seemed dreadful when very young and turned out to be extremely fascinating at a more mature age.

At Mass, we meet Christ. There can be nothing wrong with the Mass in itself. If we get a wrong feeling when thinking about the Mass, we must reflect whence it comes and how this feeling can be overcome. In the case of the Tridentine, the discomfort can only come from reminiscences of past impositions. These are nothing to do with the Mass itself.
If the discomfort should be caused by other factors (say: an unpleasant priest, an irreverent Novus Ordo, disturbances) then we should consider attending elsewhere. Still, we aren’t justified in thinking that the Mass should do something to interest us, as opposed to us becoming interested in the Mass.

Places like Amazon (not places like Waterstone’s) are full of books who can beautifully introduce one to the Tridentine. Know Your Mass is a simple, easy to understand, very orthodox, nicely made one.

Books like it is what, I think, should be suggested to those approaching the Mass again.

On Friday Penance again

Father Z has a post over a sort of debate published in the Catholic Herald and originated by the fact that (even!) the Bishops of E and W are now thinking about reinstating the practice.

I have written about the penance some time ago and will not repeat the argument. What I would like to stress here are the elements emerging from the discussion:

1) It is a very good sign that the Bishops of E and W (people who have a problem even with traditional days of obligation) are now thinking of reinstating Catholic traditions.

2) Personally I think that what they should do first is to a) reinstate the days of obligations and b) start to severely stress the Sunday Mass obligation.

3) I say this because if our hierarchy is not even able to request observance of Catholic rules when it is most important (Mass attendance), the request to reinstate traditional practices might – even if commendable in itself – sound hollow or, worse, fake. Particularly if it is accompanied by the usual self-flagellation meant to make one oh so accepted by the anti-Catholic public, as in “make penance on Friday to save the world from globaluormin“, or the like.

I am also against the argument that such a penance would be a small thing, or that in modern times it would have lost part of his meaning.

Catholicism is made, to a not little extent, of small things. They are what, brick by brick, builds the edifice of our salvation. To cross oneself when passing a church is a small thing, but it has been known to save souls. To say an Hail Mary or three is not a big sacrifice, but it causes joy in Heaven. A small act of contrition in the middle of the cares of our day is not a big thing in itself, but it is part of a habit and, as every Catholic should know, habits are very important in the economy of salvation.

As to the welfare argument, it might be argued that abstinence from meat on a Friday is more relevant today (when many people eat meat every day, so that to abstain from meat on a Friday requires a change of habit and the offering of a small sacrifice) than it was in days past (when the fewest people could afford to eat meat every day and therefore Friday abstinence was more a matter of planning than of sacrificing an otherwise affordable meat meal).

In general, it is very positive to see that old traditional Catholic practices are being, one by one, rediscovered. Personally, I think that the Bishops of E and W are not at the head of the movement, but merely following it.
Still, as long as they start to deliver I’ll not be the one to complain.


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