I have received a couple of very disquieting – I would say: delirious – messages from some confused Jew; possibly drunk, or else a foreigner without a good command of English.
I think it is fitting here to publish Pope Pius XII's (yes: the hero who saved more than 800,000 Jews from persecution and very possible death) prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the English translation:
Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us pray. Let us kneel. [pause for silent prayer] Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Whilst the translations I have found say “faithless”, my rusty Latin would indicate that the prefix “per” in oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis indicates “wrong”, the idea of “wrongness”. As in pervert (per and versus, in the wrong direction) or perjury (per and iurare, “to give a wrong oath”). Therefore, it seems to me that the translation should primarily convey the concept of “wrong faith”, rather than that of “no faith”; which last would almost seem to suggest that the Jews are atheists; albeit I do get that as there is only one faith all those who are outside of it are, strictly speaking, “faithless”.
I ask you to join me in this sincere prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Say also, in your charity, one or three Hail Marys for the offence to the Blessed Virgin of the possibly drunken guy.
Ecumenism, Mundabor's way.
Pope Francis’ just released disgraceful encyclical has, among its extremely numerous vices (see an excerpt of them in my Francis Papers page above, just scroll to the bottom), the one of being strongly influenced by atheist thinking.
Worse (even) than this, Francis has already given more than a hint (actually, he has screamed from the rooftops, only not in encyclicals yet) that an atheist can be saved by following his conscience (see here and here).
The Bishop of Rome, unhappily reigning, wants you to believe and profess that atheism can be perfectly fine not only for salvation, but as a general way of thinking. Francis has no qualms whatsoever with people claiming to be “good without God”; he even asks them to send him “good thoughts”, or the like (alas, this time no link…).
This is today, in the Age of Sodomy.
But how was it before?
We only need to look back 65 years and we find a wonderful encyclical of the great Pope Pius XII, Anni Sacri. The encyclical is very pithy and can be read in its entirety in a short time, so I encourage you to do it. There are no great discussions about why the atheist is logically wrong (remember when Mr Smith bought a new watch?). The letter is entirely devoted to the necessity for the bishops to fight against the atheist mentality within the families and in the public sphere.
The Pastor Angelicus would not even dream of telling you that an atheist can be saved in his atheism, is he “follows his conscience”. This is the thinking of an atheist or a very confused deist. he says instead (emphases mine):
As you know, once religion is taken away there cannot be a well ordered, well regulated society. In this point lies the urgency to spur on priests under your guidance in order that, especially during the Holy Year, they spare no efforts so that souls entrusted to them, with their false prejudices and erroneous convictions cast aside, and hatreds and discords settled, may nourish themselves on the teachings of the Gospel and thus participate in Christian life so as to hasten the desired renewal of morals.
You can’t found a societal order on anything else than Christ. Those who think otherwise must change their mind. Unless they get to understand the truth, they will be spiritual starving individuals.
There are other very interesting points touched in the encyclical, that are – that cannot but be – completely opposite to Francis’ Castroite Weltanschauung. But this here seemed to me the most relevant: those who Francis considers good guys helping him to do what is really important (not Christ, no; redistribute income and have a world government that tries to prevent you from using the aircon) are to the Pope of Fatima a veritable poison of society, one that every bishop and priest must do his best to extirpate.
How the times have changed. What a sad joke the papacy has become.
Excellent post from this blog page (I hope the link works) with a comparison between Barron’s senseless talk and some sound Catholics like Pope Pius XII and St. Paul.
I invite you to visit the site (the Barron video is posted again), but just in case the blog author were to “pull a Werling” at some point in future it is wise to copy and paste the texts. Emphases of the author.
37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies. This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers.
Romans 5:12-19 (RSV) Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned —  sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.  But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.  If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
the view of a non-literal, non-historical Adam is also contrary to the understanding of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the second Eve: a motif very common in the Church fathers and in Catholic Mariology ever since their time. If there wasn’t a literal Eve who said “no” to God, then by analogy there would be no literal Mary who said “yes” and made redemption possible, in terms of being the Mother of (the incarnate) God (the Son).
Therefore, just as the Pauline analogy of Adam and second Adam (Christ) requires a literal understanding, so does the Eve-Mary analogy. Just as there was a literal Adam who really fell (and the human race with him (Rom 5:15; 1 Cor 15:22), thus requiring the redemption of Christ, so there was a real historical Eve who said “no” to God, and hence by analogy, a real Mary who said yes and led the way to redemption by being the Mother of (the incarnate) God.
There is more on the site, which again I invite you to visit. I will do so as time allows.
I allow myself for now merely to remark that what goes against 2,000 years of Christian thinking must be, after a two-seconds reflection, forcibly wrong even if it seems to appease the fashion of the time. Once again, it is proven a peasant with a pure heart and respect for what is taught to him has a better sensus catholicus than these vainglorious bringers of novelty and confusion, who remind me rather of Monthy Python’s crazy prophets.
I for myself will continue to pray the Blessed Virgin: “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve”. No, I mean in the literal sense. Really.
Please, Lord: if these people are intelligent, let me die stupid.
Another very interesting blog post from Father Ray Blake concerning, among other things, a poorer Church.
Whilst this is not the only interesting point Father makes, I would like here to write some reflections on this issue.
It seems to me that particularly after V II poverty has been vastly overrated, if not almost deified. Reading about the Church of the past I never got the impression that the Church feels the need to be poor, or that there be any particular grace in being poor. True, God's providence works with everything, and poverty can be an excellent way to grow in holiness; but in others, poverty will lead to degradation or outright revolt against God, so again there is no indication poverty is a blessing in itself.
Padre Pio did not treat his rich followers differently than the poor ones, nor did he consider them second-class followers. In all ages, pious people have used their riches to give us the massive monuments to Christianity that we find all over the Christian world. Even today, in many countries, an awful amount of the expenses of the Church is actually paid by the rich (I wish I remembered where I read here in the UK donations from wealthy individuals make 40% of the total income). Whilst everything can be a vehicle of God's grace, and God may use poverty and financial misfortune as a medicinal remedy, or even as a special sign of affection for those He loves – and whom He will allow to get, through their poverty, nearer to him – I don't think it can be said that poverty is desirable in itself. If it were so, Catholics would not seek to alleviate poverty, but would rather limit themselves to congratulate the poor for the blessing so copiously showered upon them from God; and the more starving, the better.
In fact, we see that the contrary happens: the poor is given the chance to grow in holiness through patience, perseverance in prayer, lack of envy for the rich, gratefulness for their help and useful activity to better his situation if he can; and the rich can grow in charity by helping the poor, using God's grace ad maiorem Dei gloriam, and grow in charity avoiding the sin of pride, loving the poor and the afflicted, and understanding wealth is, like every other grace, given to one so that he makes good use of it.
This is not the narrative I see too often around me, and which rather states the childish equivalence “poor, good” and “rich, bad”. In this I see the sin of envy that causes socialism, communism, and liberation theology, and that this envy is covered under a blanket of supposed pious feelings makes it the more odious.
I make a point of saying a prayer for every obviously rich man I see on the streets of Central London – you see a lot of Ferraris, and the like – in the same way as I pray for every one I see on a wheelchair or with an obvious disability; not because I think that the rich is more in need of prayers than I am, but because it helps me to understand that God's providence works in the rich and the poor alike, and I do not need to be despondent, much less envious, because others have infinitely more earthly goods than I have.
I know, the one or other can take some saint out of context and let him state that rich people go to hell, & Co;, but these generally colourful encouragements to embrace one's condition or use one's wealth properly can never be used to go against the univocal Church teaching on wealth, about which I have written in the past (the search function is your friend).
The mentality that wealth is “bad” unavoidably leads to the other mistake that the Church and Her components must, consequently, be poor. Again, it is not known to me this is the way the Church traditionally saw itself. Rome alone has several thousands churches all telling a different tale. Granted, it can be part of the rules of a religious order that its members be poor, but such rules do not extend to the order itself, nor to parish priests, much less to the Church as institution.
If you ask me, the Church must not only be rich, but she must be splendid. She must have beauty and splendour to honour God, and the financial muscle to intimidate her enemies; her priests and bishops should be always ready to suffer persecution and death for Christ, but they should also live, whenever possible, in a way at least proportionate to the dignity of their office; if they have special powers and responsibilities, their outward appearance, residence, transport and general way of life should reflect their special role.
Modern bishops don't want to live in palaces, but they would also not be able to justify, with their Christian zeal, their living there. Their modesty is the modesty of the mediocre, and their simplicity the somplicity of the philistine who doesn't know beauty, and therefore thinks doing without it is no big deal; it's the modesty of the one who refuses the fine wine, because his horizon does not go beyond Pepsi. Many agree with such bishops, and with the Pepsi mentality.
Of course such people don't understand why the Church should be rich and splendid and powerful: they would want the Church to be as mediocre and little as they are. Of course they want the bishop to drive a Ford Focus and live in an apartment: they would be envious if he had a Mercedes S-Class and lived in a palace. Of course they want the Church to “sell her treasures”: they will never understand their beauty.
There is nothing wrong with a Prince of the Church living in a palace, provided he is a true Prince of the Church. Princes are not called to be poor. But they are called to be true Princes of the Only Church, rather than caricatures of social workers desperate for approval.
Give me a strong Bishop, truly committed to Christ, truly ready to fight the fight. I will, with many others, make some sacrifices so that he can have the palace and the S-Class Mercedes, the cooks and the servants, the glory and the splendour of the Only Church.
Interesting article from Ann Widdecombe (alas, on the “Guardian”) about the PR attitude of the Church.
In short, Ann Widdecombe if of the opinion that the Church does not defend Herself vocally against the allegations and accusations of the secular press because she does not even make “much of a fuss” when her own priests and nuns are killed. Similarly, the Church does not do even 1% of the PR work of every modern government about the good work She does everywhere because not to trumpet around one’s good works is Jesus’ instruction. Brilliantly, Ms. Widdecombe sees the link to the brilliant work of the Church to help the Jews during WW II.
This interesting reflections do introduce, though, another problem, promptly recognised by the author. By being so weak, the Church does not help – and in many case, positively confuses – the common Catholics, who may often feel humiliated or ashamed of perceived grave faults, or even slowly detach themselves from proper Catholicism. It is obvious that a true Catholic will always stay with the Church and will not be influenced by malicious propaganda, but if we look at the reality on the ground we must recognise that 40 years of “Catholicism light” have greatly lessened the resilience of ordinary Catholics when the Church is attacked from the forces of secularism and no proper reaction is made promptly available to them.
In my eyes, the most efficient way here lies in the middle. Yes, the Church must not go around trumpeting all her good deeds as if it was a Prime Minister asking his PR staff to glorify the latest “policy”. But at the same time, the Church should be much more aggressive and much more vocal when the issue is not the good the Church does, but the evil other do against Her. If TV channels are gravely biased against the Church, this must be repeated ad nauseam and in time even the thickest heads will get the message; if there are widespread lies about Pius XII’s work during WW II, the Church must take care that Catholics all over the world are correctly informed; if the press gives the impression that the Church is a criminal organisation mainly occupied with keeping Her priests out of jail, statistics and comparisons with other professions and situation must be spread everywhere and no, to profuse oneself in apologies is not enough.
A much more assertive work of proper information of Catholics on current issues would not only avoid the risk of the creation of a diffuse anti-Catholic sentiment (as currently tried in the UK on a vast scale), but would give ordinary Catholics better weapons to deal with the enemies of the Church.
There is a middle way between being a boaster and a doormat.
I am now in the process of reading (and digesting) Romano Amerio’s Iota Unum. Professor Amerio was chosen as perito from the Bishop of Lugano during the fateful years of the Second Vatican Council and therefore not only had all the documents going through his desks, but was also best informed on the background events.
Professor Amerio’s ruthlessly honest analysis of the changes experienced by the Church in the way it presents itself – and of how the Church hierarchy has modified the way of interpreting Her role – offers the starting point for a vast number of discussions. Today I would like to dwell on the role of the Pope.
Professor Amelio identifies the role of the Pope as being basically twofold: direction and prescription. The first is the identification and formulation of proper rules of conduct which are in themselves not binding but mere suggestions; the second the prescribing and enforcing of a certain behaviour. Historically, Popes have used both functions in various ways, but the ability of the Pope to act as a source of prescriptive law (that is: to demand and to enforce rather than merely to suggest) has never been downplayed.
With the Second Vatican Council, a dramatic change occurs. The papacy shifts, to use Amerio’s words, “from governing to admonishing”. The first function is clearly downplayed and considered more or less obsolete, the second one is now declared to be the weapon of choice.
Let us read from the Opening Speech of the Council: confronted with the problem of how to deal with error, John XXIII declares that the Church
prefers today to make use of the medicine of mercy, rather than of the arms of severity.
John XXIII indicates that the Church wants to resist error
by showing the validity of her teaching, rather than by issuing condemnations
This concept that mercy and severity be intrinsically opposed (so spread today, even in the everyday language) is a novel idea. It is, in fact, contrary to the firmly held belief of the Church that, as Amerio beautifully puts it,
the condemnation of error is itself a work of mercy, since by pinning down error those laboring under it are corrected and other are preserved from falling into it.
This tragically weak conception of the role of the Papacy rests on the rather naive idea that errors be, in the long term, self-correcting; that in other words be sufficient for the Church to merely point out to the right thinking in order for the straying sheep to, in time, see the errors of their ways and naturally come back to orthodoxy.
This new concept of the way a Pope exercises his powers – which Amerio aptly calls, with Isaiah, Breviatio Manus Domini or “foreshortening of the arm of the Lord” – does not die with John XXIII but continues unabated, and even in a dramatically accentuated form, under the pontificate of his successor Paul VI.
Paul VI is so weak that when the “Dutch schism” occurs (an unbelievable event in which a so-called “Dutch Pastoral Council”, a gathering of more than 5000 representatives of the Church in Holland, convened in the presence of the Bishops and voted with a 90% majority for the abolition of priest celibacy, the employment of secularised priests in pastoral position, the right of bishops to exercise a deliberative vote on papal decrees and even the ordination of women) his reaction is to point out to all the errors of the deliberation, but at the same time to ask the bishops: “what do you think that We can do to help you, to strenghten your authority, to enable you to overcome the present difficulties of the Church in Holland?”.
This is breathtaking. Paul VI is confronted with a compact group of heretical bishops and far from severely punishing them, he asks them what he can do to strenghten their authority. Here we see not only the great personal weakness of the Pope, but the utter inability of the new “soft” approach toward error to avoid its spreading and its becoming more and more aggressive. The Dutch schism was in fact not silenced until John Paul II demanded obedience rather than meekly suggesting it.
But Paul VI was not the only one. Let us read the words of Cardinal Gut, the then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, regarding Paul VI’s approach to liturgical abuses:
“Many priests did whatever they liked. They imposed their own personalities. Very often unauthorised initiatives could not be stopped. In his great goodness and wisdom, the Holy father then made concessions, often against his own inclinations”.
Here, a Cardinal sees in the giving in to unlawfulness an indication of “goodness and wisdom”. Furthermore, the repeated indication of initiatives which “could not be stopped” by those whose job would have been to stop them reveals all the scale of the weakness dominating the Vatican corridors in those fateful years.
Even heresies can be stopped. Even extremely spread ones. It just takes the right people at the helm.
Only two days ago I have pointed out to the great courage and firmness showed by Pope Pius XII in front of Nazi evil. Today I point out to the “self-demolition” (not my words: Paul VI’s) started just a few years after the death of that great Pope.
The contrast couldn’t be more dramatic.
One of the consequences of the remarkable levelling to the minimum common denominator of almost every conceivable activity is the scaling down of those elements of ceremony once cherished as beautiful and today considered arrogant or elitist. In fact, one can go as far as to say that nowadays whatever is not absolutely and tragically plain is at high risk of being labelled as “elitist” or “snob”. We see this everywhere but what I would like to mention with you today is the style of Papal appearances.
There was a time where a Pope would – on certain and particularly solemn occasions – be carried on a sedia gestatoria. This was a kind of movable throne, splendidly adorned, offering the advantage of making the Pope visible by a large crowd whilst at the same time beautifully stressing his (literally) exalted position. It goes without saying that the entire exercise was not entirely “democratic”, but as the Church never was and never would be no one really cared for such matters. On the contrary, in former times – before egalitarianism started to infiltrate every aspect of public life – such shows of authority were expected, respected and not disliked at all. Men need symbols and something like a sedia gestatoria had a highly symbolic meaning.
Not anymore, at least for now. John Paul II first refused to use it, evidently considering a Pope unworthy of being revered and honoured as such. John Paul II also started to dress down in other ways (for instance: no papal tiara).
If you ask me, dear reader, this is all very wrong. Men need symbols. They breath them. Few things are more natural and speak more directly to the human mind than the visual or aurial experience of power and authority. The Pope is powerful; he has authority. A lot of it, in fact, as we would be at a loss to find another person on the planet with the authority to remove or fire anyone of more than 400,000 employees of his organisation at will and with the only appeal given to…. himself; let alone a person with such a high moral authority over 1.15 billion faithful.
Men need symbols and those in position of power and authority have always naturally availed themselves of various means to stress this authority and to make it visible, palpable, audible. There is nothing wrong with that.
Pope Benedict is showing some timid signs of wanting to recover the rich symbolic tradition of the Papacy, but he has still not revived the use of the sedia gestatoria (nor that of the papal tiara). The nowadays omnipresent “security reasons” cannot be brought as an excuse because the use of the sedia gestatoria can be modified to make it safer (say: only within a church) and increase both the visibility and the safety of the Holy Father. Had a sedia gestatoria been used, last year’s episode in St. Peter could not have happened at all.
We are now seeing the first signs of a change of direction, albeit things proceed – as so often in Church matters – rather slowly. We can only hope that, in time, the vast symbolic patrimony of the Church will be fully recovered and proudly considered a powerful symbolic weapon instead of an embarrassment.