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The Day After: A Prayer

Saints Pope John XXIII and John Paul II: pray that we may be given far better Popes than you both were.

Mundabor

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Four Days To Go: Infallibility And Mortality

Thanks to the stupidity of our not-so-beloved V II clergy, Catholics the world over are going to be put to a hard test in four days' time.

I have already written on the matter, and have since not found any evidence to the contrary that the infallibility of the canonisations concerns merely the fact that the canonised person is in Heaven. In other words, neither the heroic virtues nor being, say, a halfway acceptable Pope are infallible requirements for the purpose.

Which makes a lot of sense. If Joan of Arc is canonised, must the English become supporters of France? Does the canonisation make of Celestine V a good Pope? And where exactly would the heroic virtue to be seen in St. Dismas for pretty much the entire duration of his life, and his chosen, ahem, profession, bar those hours on the Golgotha? Did Christ ask him to pass a decade-long trial, and prove a life of heroic virtue? No, he made Dismas santo subito instead.

Or let us look at the other side and let us say canonisations are not, and have never been, infallible. What are they then: pious suggestions? Strong hints that someone might be in heaven? “Oh dear Padre Pio, unless the Pope was wrong, please intercede for me!” Hhmmm, doesn't sound like much to me…

“Oh, but you must pick one about whom you are persuaded! Then it will be all fine!” some of you might say. But come on, if it comes to that then it is our personal opinion that really counts, and the entire concept of canonisations crumbles. Say: I do not need any Pope to be practically persuaded that Pius XII is in heaven. Padre Pio had a mystical vision of him in heaven, and Padre Pio's conviction is good enough for me every day of the week. But there is no need for canonisation for that. Barring the obvious concept that in the end only God decides, people didn't need to wait for St Francis' canonisation in order to have an extremely strong degree of confidence that he was in heaven, either.

No. If you ask me, Canonisations can only reasonably mean, if we want to give them the sense most Catholics have always given to them, that in this matter God will not allow mistakes. Because if He did, then there would never be any additional security given by the canonisation, and we would all go back to the “servant of God” scenario: the dearly departed was a very saintly man because of abundant and widely proved examples, and it is therefore very probable that he is in heaven. Unless we are mistaken. Which we could be. Always. Even if he is canonised. Does this make sense? Is this reasonable? Are we of such little faith that we start to doubt God's work whenever things happen we do not like?

Or look at it from the other side: if JP II is not in heaven, why would God allow a canonisation that is, has always been and will always be considered by most Catholics a most solemn, infallible assurance of beatific vision, and company with God? Would God not protect this pious belief, or prevent it from taking such solid roots in the Christian thinking? How can it be that the belief in the infallibility of canonisation – though not, properly speaking, dogmatically declared – could spread in such a way and be so strong after 2000 years? Why would, for example, God have allowed that the canonisation be extended beyond, so to speak, historically safe, “certified” martyrs?

It does not make sense to me. It is like stating that God has allowed the Church to believe what is wrong for 2,000 years. At this point, everything that has not been dogmatically and infallibly declared could be questioned, too, because hey: if it's not officially infallible, then it's everyone's guess.

I rather think this: that if either John or John Paul are not in heaven, the Holy Ghost has inspired Francis not to proceed with the canonisations, but Francis has, with typical stubborn rebellion, decided it was all merely a chimaera of his fantasy, a bad mood of an impressionable old man. And then in the next very few days he will have to die, or will be put in the impossibility of proceeding to the canonisations; because God allows Francis to fool men; but He Himself, He will not be fooled.

Rejoice, therefore. If these disgraceful – because of the message they send, and the V II propaganda they are meant to encourage – canonisations are a lie, the lie will not come to pass, and we might get rid of a disastrous Pope to boot. If they come to pass, they aren't a lie, and we will do what we as Catholics do: believe, obey, and be glad for other people's blessings.

Which does not mean you have to approve this or that Pontificate.

No one ever asked you to approve of highway robbery because of St. Dismas, either.

Mundabor

 

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.

Mundabor

Reverse Cafeteria Catholics

No, Sir. You can't have the infallibility of canonisations removed...

No, Sir. You can’t have the infallibility of canonisations removed…

One reads around (not on this blog, happily) the comments about the impending canonisations, and can’t avoid being shocked.

I am sure there are out there people who criticise the mad nuns for being against male priesthood, but think they have the right to question who is in heaven. 

Last time I looked, canonisation was a matter of infallibility. Besides being what the Church teaches, it makes sense. If the Church authorised us to think that a canonised saint is not in heaven, canonisations wouldn’t make any sense anymore. It stands to reason that if canonisations are to have the value the Church attaches to them (you may pray such and such for help, say, with the certainty he or she is in heaven), then they must be infallible. If they aren’t infallible, then they don’t make sense. But this is also, in the end, idle talk. Canonisations are infallible because the Church says they are.

I struggle, therefore, to understand those who keep mentioning the Koran kissed by the late Pope John Paul II, or the atrocious liturgical abuses, or the inaction in front of the priest scandals, or the selective blindness – in good faith, of course – towards people he trusted like Maciel, as if these were in any way evidence this canonisation is “wrong”. A Sedevacantist might think so and still call himself coherent, but everyone else cannot think so and not call himself a Sedevacantist.

Canonisations are infallible, as is the teaching about male priesthood. Those who think they know better in matters of canonisations (without clearly saying they believe the sea is vacant) aren’t more Catholic than the mad nuns who think they know better in the matter of male priesthood.

Therefore, the question is not that Pope JP II could not have gone to heaven after kissing the Koran, & Co., but that he most certainly managed to get to Heaven after doing it. Obviously, and if Catholicism is to have sense at all, he will have repented. But to rebel to infallible teaching just because we don’t like the consequences is just what a mad nun would do.

We know JP II did manage to get to heaven, because the Church says so.

That’s it.

It doesn’t make sense to harp with the “ifs” and the “buts”. It doesn’t make sense to say that if one doesn’t “understand”, then it might not be so. Every “if” and every “but” simply dies in front of the infallibility of canonisations. 

What we say we are, we must also be. We say we are Catholics. This means we believe everything that the Church believes, and profess everything that the Church professes. The infallibility of canonisations is not an innovation of V II that some evil prelate suddenly wants to smuggle as infallible doctrine. on the contrary, it is part and parcel of the way the Church understands Herself.  

Don’t be a reverse cafeteria Catholic.

Mundabor

The Canonisation of V II

Renaissance Prince Pope Pius XII, pray for us!

Together with the new Encyclical, the Holy Father today announced the canonisation of both John Paul II and John XXIII. In the case of the latter, the Pope waived the usual requirement for a second miracle.

My limited understanding of these things tells me that canonisations are a matter of infallibility; therefore, the day the Pope decides to canonise Annibale Bugnini, or Pope Leo X, I will shut up and believe they are both in Heaven. So much easier is to get accustomed to the idea of the two men slated for canonisation, whose personal piety and saintliness is not questioned. The matter of infallibility also has as corollary that the Holy Ghost will strike Pope Francis dead if John XXIII is not in heaven, which in my book is guarantee enough the Holy Father has read the file with a certain attention.

In fact, I consider such canonisations, in themselves, very encouraging for the likes of us, because whilst great Saints of the past come to us with an aura of granitic heroism, the limits of the earthly decisions and actions of the two new saints are very evident to everyone with some attitude to thinking, particularly concerning the Koran-kissing, Buddha-on-the-altar, Pray-with-infidels John Paul II. If, therefore, one can commit such impious acts and still manage – after suitable contrition, no doubt – to land straight to Heaven without a more or less painful and prolonged stop in Purgatory, there is some bigger hope for us not so pious, but less sacrilegious sinners to, at least, avoid hell.

What is not only bad, but of course very bad are two intended consequences of these canonisations.

1. The V II crowd will desperately try to smuggle personal saintliness for the canonisation of V II itself; which is bollocks, but just what the Argentinian doctor ordered. Can't wait for the beatification of all the VII heavyweights from Rahner to Meisner.

2. Pope Venerable Pius XII is still waiting – I mean, he is not waiting; but we are; though in a sense we aren't, either – for the beatification, for which leaked information published on this blog state the beatification mass prayer is ready, a clear sign the procedure has been concluded. It strikes one as odd – but again, also as normal – that the Pastor Angelicus is forgotten in this way. I suspect his old habit of praying (and counting! counting!! I kid you not!) rosaries sits badly with the current Pontiff; besides the fact that Pope Pius XII was, clearly, very much the “Renaissance Prince”…

What, therefore, these canonisations mean for the likes of us? They mean that we must, in our little circle of half-Catholics, agnostics and utter infidels, explain that not being canonised does not mean not to be in Heaven; that the soul in Heaven is past any care whether he is canonised or not, much less when; and that the decision to canonise a saint is also a political one (because a Pope can decide a certain canonisation is not opportune, for example, whilst another one is). From such decision we can see, for example, which direction a Pope wants to give to his reign, but not who was the saintlier man, much less the better Pope.

Let us rejoice, then, at the news of two very questionable Popes (I mean obviously: questionable qua Popes) in Heaven. I wish heaven to people I strongly dislike, I will have no difficulty whatever in exulting at he canonisation of two saintly men.

The obviously planned canonisation of Vatican II is, of course, a different matter altogether. Actually, the canonisations call for more frequent cannon work, as you can be sure the pansies will now stage a full scale program of celebration.

Thinking of which, yours truly is even tempted to think the decision to proceed to these new canonisations has been precipitated by the utter indifference with which the Catholic world has (not) greeted the anniversary of V II; an indifference calling for measures which, from a purely political point of view, reek of desperation. As if two, or twenty, canonisations could make right what is wrong.

Vatican II must die, and die will it one day.

In the meantime, let us rejoice. They made it straight, we can make it in instalments.

Mundabor

 

Why The Abdication Was Wise

Not exactly weak:Pope Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus.

If you have looked at the Video of Pope Francis visiting the Pontiff Emeritus yesterday, you could probably not avoid noticing how frail Benedict looked. If one thinks that only at the beginning of February he was still fully in charge, one begins to have a very clear picture of why his decision to abdicate was a wise one.

I never bought the story of the “Cross from which the Pope is not supposed to step down”. If the duty of a Pope had traditionally been to be frail and ineffective, the Popes would have been traditionally chosen among the oldest and sickest, in the hope their frailty goes on for as long as possible; after which, the next sick old man would have been picked up.

We all know this was never the case, and when it happened that old men were chosen for the office it was because a ” transition Pope” (that is: one of whom the Cardinals thought he would not occupy the position for very long) was considered preferable to a long impasse or a very public quarrel.

Please also consider the most famous Popes were men full of energy. Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Urban II, or Pius IX (to mention just a few) were Popes who would have never thought it would be better for them to be old, frail, and ultimately factually irrelevant. Popes were meant to reign, not to be put in a shop window (or a “Popemobile”) for all the world to see Catholicism is de facto without its guide.

Pope Pius XII was a Pope I continue to go back to, because it seems to me in most cases if you want to know how a Pope did it right you only have to look at what this great Pope did. Pope Pacelli was a man of such strong energy and iron will, that in one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Church he united in himself the functions of Pope and Secretary of State. Nothing less than full control was enough for him. This, my friends, is a Pope who sees his role rather differently than being looked at behind the bullet proof glass of a vehicle. In fact, Pope Pius XII thought of resigning when it became clear to him he could not reign properly anymore; and we are talking of a time where the Church had things so much under control – though challenges are always there – that the Western societies of the Fifties seem to belong to a different age than the present ones.

What does this tell us? It tells us that a Pope is supposed to function as a Pope, rather than as a televised ad for Catholicism. The “shop window Pope” is very well for the Curia, who can easily manipulate him; or for the local hierarchies, who can do as they please; but it's not good at all for the Church, who needs to be led by Peter, not by a bunch of Cardinals no one ever made Pope and avoiding, at least on this earth, every accountability.

It is not surprising that weak or ill Popes cause the Curia to become inefficient, or corrupt. What is surprising is that the same people who lament the Curia's inefficiency (or corruption) are perfectly fine with years and years of impotent Popes, unable to reign or, alas, even to think properly. They don't see that weak Popes, like weak Kings or Emperors, unavoidably lead to the supremacy of the shrewdest manipulators, to a total lack of accountability, and to an environment of savage intrigue, whereas strong Popes will, for good or for bad, steer the Barque where they want to, and be clearly seen as responsible for what they do.

If we are honest with ourselves, Benedict wouldn't have gone down in history with the nickname “the iron Pope” if he had been in best health every day of his Papacy. Still, the exercise of power always needs a certain amount of energy, of inner fire, of will to demand and command that builds on a certain amount of strength. This strenght is needed to cope with the adrenalines, the difficult decisions, the opposition, the punishments if must be, that the exercise of power invariably demands. Seeing Benedict in yesterday's video, it is abundantly clear this fire isn't there any longer.

An intelligent man, and a man who loves the Church, Benedict must have seen it. He had also seen from very near the quasi-Sede Vacante situation created in the last five, or more, years of his predecessor's reign. He has, I am certain, correctly assessed such a situation as damaging for the Church; and he has decided to draw the consequences from his own situation for the good of the Church, irrespective of the criticism he knew would be levelled at him.

Pope Benedict wasn't an Iron Pope, but he understood the need for the Church to be guided by a Pope, not by an unelected small group of shrewd manipulators. He was intelligent enough to see the issue, and unselfish enough to take a step he knew would be criticised. It pains me, it truly pains me to see a man able to take such a selfless decision, and being criticised for it.

If you ask me, this, what Pope Benedict showed us, was the true courage and the true humility; not the iron cross, the black shoes, and the absence of Mozzetta.

May the Almighty grant Benedict serene days of prayer on earth, and reward this gentle man for this beautiful act of courage.

Mundabor

 

The Inner Contradiction Of Assisi III

King Theoden, facing the impending Assisi III meeting

To say it with King Theoden, “and so it begins”: the dreaded Assisi III is upon us.

I cannot avoid noticing that in these last days, the secular/atheist press has given some space (more than I ever dared to dream) to the criticism from conservative Catholics of the past Assisi exercises, and the efforts made by the Holy Father to make things differently. You find in the so-called “Guardian” one of the frequent examples of the last weeks.

One cannot avoid a smile at seeing that the numerically still small fraction of conservatively minded Catholics is now so much in the centre stage of Catholic life that even the dark red “Guardian” notices its presence. Still, it seems to me that already today – and very probably, more so in the next days – it can be easily said that this Assisi gathering brings to the light the mistakes of the past ones. In his effort to let people know how to do it right, the Holy Father brings to the attention of the Catholic world how, in the past, it was made wrong. This, of course, provided that this gathering doesn’t give rise to scandals, which – though I am personally half-optimist, as long as I can – remains to be seen. 

If Assisi I and Assisi II were right, then there was no necessity to point out to the differences. If they were wrong, then I continue not to see the necessity of, one generation later, informing the Catholic planet of the fact. It seems to me a bit as if the Vatican would promote a new and orthodox version of Jansenism in order to show that what was done wrongly in the past can be done rightly in the future.

Add to this that I am very afraid to be submerged by the worst possible “we are the world” rhetoric, the piercing smell of peace and love molasses already reaching these not-so-delicate ears.

We will see how this pans out. I trust that it will not be anything anywhere similar to the 1986 gatherings in his heretic potential, but I am afraid that it will still be much different from how Conservative Catholics would have done it.

If they thought they had to do it, that is; which I personally don’t believe at all.

Mundabor.

Test Your Patience: Bishop Vienneau

I have written only hours ago about the message of Pope Benedict to the German bishops, that they are better at being organised than at believing in God. Some mild – for my standards – reflections about the inadequate shepherds these past decades have given us followed.

In a spectacular confirmation of Pope Benedict’s words – and very probably, of the fact that the Holy Father’s talk is rather better than his walk – I read today about this story, brilliantly explained by the “Reluctant Sinner”.

Seriously, go there and try to stay calm. I couldn’t, and frankly I do not feel that I could write about this with the necessary serenity.

Before you click away, you may want to click on the link on the right, that will lead you to the small page dedicated to the daily offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It wasn’t enough for me, but it might be for you.

I am making an effort, as you see, not to say what I think.

The worst of all that is that I must admit that it isn’t probable that there will be consequences. This is the world we live in.

Bishop Vienneau is, by the way, an appointment of the late John Paul the Not So Great.

Mundabor

German Church Better at Organising than Believing in God, Says Pope

Weak appointments, weak Church

The CNA reports Pope Benedict’s observations about the German Church with the following words:

Using Catholicism in Germany as an example, the Pope said that while the German Church was “superbly organized” it was perhaps lacking in a “corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in a living God.”

Having lived in Germany more than some years, I can only confirm the analysis. Whilst no one can deny that the German Church is very well organised – besides the German penchant for organisation, this is an extremely wealthy Church – during my German years I could never escape the impression that for all German Christian organisations (the Only Church as well as the Protestant ecclesial communities) God is an embarrassment that can be safely mentioned only in the most innocuous of circumstances, that is: in conjunction with “feel-good” issues like world peace, or social justice.

This is why the Holy Father’s words are important: the Pope is telling his bishops that an important reason why the Germans are getting more and more distant from a healthy approach to life – the critic of the Western secularism is here clearly aimed at the specific situation he is dealing with –  is that “the faith in a living God” is lacking in strenght in his own shepherds.

I see the same happening here in the UK of course, though I find here in the UK examples of spotless orthodoxy that would be probably more difficult to find in Germany. But the message is clear: if the shepherds don’t have a strong faith, how will they be able to give a strong faith to their sheep? As always, the fish stinks from the head down.

When we ask ourselves, though, who has appointed the present German hierarchy, two names come to mind: Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. My suggestion to the Holy Father would be – if I were ever be asked to give one – that if he wants that the German Church has a strong faith it might help to appoint bishops who have it, rather than failed social workers obsessed with popularity, and with the Kirchensteuer.

Another interesting observation of the Holy Father concerns the difference that people coming from other countries see in the individual attitude of Westerners: the obsessive self-centredness.

Even coming from Italy – a partly secularised country, but where traditional values still have a stronger hold than here in the North – I was rather shocked at seeing how here in the UK and in the USA the pursuing of one’s every  whim has become a religion in itself. A married couple informing their friends that they are going to split will be inundated with messages of “support” and wishes of “happiness”, reinforcing the idea that the pursuit of the individual happiness of the two be more important than the godly institution they have just decided to bomb. Not so in Italy, where la famiglia, exactly as la Patria – and, alas, often even more so – has rights on the individual that go above his own pursuit of an anyway largely illusory personal happiness.

This in Italy, a partially secularised country. I can imagine the shock of people coming from African countries, where not many think twice about walking for hours every week to go to Mass, and the Christian commandments are different from their Western counterparts “be nice”, “don’t judge” and “provided no one is harmed, it isn’t a sin”.

I heard with my ears a Catholic priest say that he didn’t know the Ten Commandments by heart, and wasn’t interested in learning them.

I don’t think you’ll find many of those outside of the West.

Mundabor

About “Instant Saints”

Unnecessary and controversial haste: Blessed Pope John Paul II

We all know and hopefully dislike the “instant” that has become so common in our time. Instant coffee, instant soup, instant gratification. After a while, it turns out that the instant coffee isn’t really at par with the non-instant one, the instant soup is even worse, and the instant gratification is not really gratifying and only takes one away from more important gratifications requiring, alas, much more time; guitar instead of video games, say, or learning Italian to read your Dante properly, or just something simple like a slowly and lovingly cooked meal rather than pre-processed garbage.

Andrea Tornielli at “Vatican Insider” has now a rather worrying story about a new manifestation of this instant gratification mentality, “instant canonisation”.

The re-inventor (in modern times) of this new fashion is – and how could it have been otherwise – the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was not one for waiting, particularly if easily gained instant popularity for the Church was part of the equation. Therefore, he sounded around whether in the case of Mother Theresa those oppressive red tape procedures – already largely massacred from … himself – could not have been skipped altogether, elegantly jumping the boring formality of beatification and immediately starting to work on the next Great Media Show And Popularity Festival, Mother Teresa’s canonisation.

Those asked must have politely defined the initiative, in “Yes, Prime Minister” parlance, “courageous”, because even if John Paul II skipped, with the usual athleticism, the minimum waiting time, the beatification itself was not skipped.

We are now informed that after the death of the late Pope, the same ideas were circulated; this time, concerning Pope John Paul himself, and promoted by none other than his secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. Here the Polish athleticism reached Usain Bolt proportions, the idea that a Pope should make a historical exception in the matter of the canonisation of his own predecessor being very similar to Merriam-Webster’s definition of “questionable”.

Happily, Pope Benedict had the sense of braking the impetus of the former secretary, though he didn’t see it fit to stick to the rules, either. Therefore, we got another “exception”, the second in just a few years. Predictably, this second exception didn’t fail to damage the institution of Beatification, – which is, as you will remember, not a matter of infallibility like the canonisation – attract vocal criticism and, in general, succeed in making of a rather uncontroversial institution the object of loud disputes.

This, the late Pope had not deserved, as his undoubtedly saintly character and exemplary life (as a religious, I mean) would have certainly allowed for a slowly cooked, but far more savoury and enjoyable beatification at a later point in time. It surprises one that the Church, accustomed and expected to think in very long terms, should completely forget her own wise habits regarding an institution so directly linked with her prestige and reputation.

Like instant coffee and instant soup, instant beatification proved a rather tasteless, inferior product.

Mundabor

One Day At The National Catholic Reporter

Hieronymus Bosch, "Hell", Detail.

Below are some of the comments in the comment box of the National Catholic Reporter. Let us see what kind of deluded humanity we find there.

There is the one who has decided that 2000 years of Tradition are just wrong, whereas he himself is, of course, right:

The whole system of leadership appointment needs change and should come from the bottom up not the top down.

Then there is the one who doesn’t need the Church, because the Church doesn’t serve him and doesn’t accommodate his needs:

I answer to God not to any priest, bishop, or pope. I find less need everyday for a non-responsive, self-serving hierarchy.

Interesting is also the one who thinks that God himself has been conned these last 2000 years. Thankfully, we now have him to tell us what God always wanted:

The “Way” that Jesus showed us and invited us to follow had no hierarchs, not even the Temple priests

Amuse yourself with the one who says himself a Catholic, whilst also saying that being Catholic is bad (hey, his ex-Lutheran wife, but rather still Lutheran wife, “taught” him so). One wonders who has converted whom:

I was raised as a Catholic (Big C) and married a Lutheran, who converted to the big C. She has taught me that the word ‘catholic’ should never have the big C. The day we accept that we are catholic, and not Roman Catholic, we will all be better off.

Or do you prefer the obsessed trendy with nightmares of Trent restoration:

Benedict is doing a more disgusting job than John Paul II in trying to drag Catholics back to Trent.

What about the Pentecostal “the Holy Spirit directs us” chap, who at the same time is obviously not directed by the Holy Spirit to write in proper English (emphases mine):

Since Vatican Council II—the People of God have implemented what the Council was directing them to do. It was JP II (the Grate) and Benedict the Panzar Pope, who were/are trying to drag people back to where THEY were comfortable—a Church of subserviant people—who are “little people, simple (read stupid) who need their bishops to point out the way for them (this is a synopsis of Benedict’s thoughts)

Finally, there’s the anarchist revolutionary, believing in Revelation through the Internet. Unfortunately he misses the signs of the times, big time. He also seems to believe that higher education is a modern invention:

When all is said and done, I think point #4 in your critique is the bedrock of the revolution that is now happening in the modern church. The current so-called leaders are still living in the ages where only members of the clergy could read and only members of the hierarchy could make spiritual decisions. Now, in the modern age, vast numbers of people are thinking for themselves because of the effects of institutions of higher learning and the availability of research and documentation.

This is just the result of a couple of minutes of browsing, and all the comments are taken from merely two blog posts.

You’d never say this come from the site of a magazine calling itself “Catholic”.

Mundabor

Fatima and Universae Ecclesiae

Tomorrow is the 13th May, the day of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the children of Fatima.

It migh tbe a coincidence that this be the day for the publication of Universae Ecclesiae, the new Ecclesia Dei document with the instructions about Summorum Pontificum. But I love to think that it isn’t.

The document would appear to be not good, but very good and if the legal part is followed by a robust enforcement (perhaps with the one or other exemplary punishment of some of the most reluctanct bishops, following a pattern that has started to take form in the last months), then this might be an important step forward toward a Church where everyone has reasonable access to a Tridentine Mass.

If I may allow myself the thought, I think it’s fair to say that on the day of John Paul II’s death – around only six years ago – no one would have imagined that things would have progressed so far, so fast. Again, we now need a healthy enforcement.

In all this there was, mind you, no schism. Schism is, I think, rather an excuse for inactivity than a real danger.

Mundabor

Pius XII: Beatification Prayer Is Already Approved!

Many signs of upcoming beatification: Pope Pius XII

Browsing the net, I have found that this rather impressive news had already been published by the Corriere della Sera last November. The link is not accessible without logging in, therefore I will link to this for those of you blessed with a knowledge of the most useless, but most beautiful language on the planet.

The information is very clear and rather complete, and it is improbable that the Corriere della Sera would risk a blunder on such a matter. It would therefore appear that the prayer has been written by don Nicola Bux, an advisor of the CDF, and that it has already obtained the imprimatur from Cardinal Bagnasco, the head of the italian Bishop’s Conference.

It also transpires from the article ( I didn’t know it) that Rai Uno has broadcast a TV series about the life of Pius XII, obviously criticised by the professional holocaust-whinos among those of the Jewish persuasions. Being Rai Uno rather conservative, still clearly Catholic and with the best links with the Vatican, it seems clear to me that the work was meant to “prepare” the Italians to a beatification that it is now difficult not to consider probable in the next few years. In addition, it seems even more difficult to believe that all preparatory work would be made without at least a “safe” miracle, whose existence has been wildly rumoured but never confirmed.

I do hope that Pope Benedict will find the courage to proceed with the beatification of this great, great Pope, choosing – as he must in this case – to weather the storm caused by the liberal, the ignorant and some of the above-mentioned “older brothers and sisters”. A political decision, of course, by which the Holy Father will have to weight the positive and – if any 😉 – negative effects.

May I remind you on this occasion that, on the day of Pope Pacelli’s death, the great saint Padre Pio had a beatific vision of the Pope in paradise, surrounded by angels, which went on for hours. Padre Pio himself never made a mystery of such an occurrence and for the rest of his life showed the utmost certainty about the holy Pope being in Paradise. It goes without saying that the devout followers of Padre Pio – yours truly among them – will, due to the extraordinary power and duration of this vision, find it difficult not to be as persuaded about Pope Pius XII’s immediate access to Paradise as the great Saint himself was.

Let us hope and pray. It seemed clear to me, though, that it is now only a matter of “when”, not “if”.

Mundabor

Hans Küng Criticises JP II …. For Being Pope And Catholic

"Vecchio malvissuto": Hans Kueng

Hans Küng lives in a world apart, rarely disturbed by inconvenient things like, say, reality.

From his separate planet, this vecchio malvissuto (yes, Manzoni again) has given an interview to the German Frankfurter Rundschau (reds, mind you; think of them as of the German “Guardian”) and has said some astonishing but, nevertheless, rather entertaining things. Let us examine some of the pearls of this heretical wannabe “thinker”, whose logic a child knowing his Penny Catechism could demolish without a second thought  (and therefore, “cannabis thinker” might be more appropriate).

The Rundschau says that;

Küng argues that John Paul’s harsh treatment of Latin American liberation theologians such as Gutierrez and Boff represented the “exact opposite” of decent Christian behaviour

This is really, really not funny. The late Pope slept very soundly for about five years (means: the usual useless appeals, followed by other useless appeals) before finally acting against the so-called Liberation Theology. This inaction was a scandal and nothing less than a disgrace. But no, in cannabislandia you are unchristian because you move against heresy. I’d like to know with what behaviour (after the many years of sound sleep) Mr. Küng would have been satisfied. Conversion to heresy, methinks. Or passing the joint.

On the “santo subito” events, our man says:

“The whole thing was just a con act by conservative and reactionary Catholic groups, especially those ones that are very strong in Spain, Italy and Poland.”

One really wonders whether this man reads the newspapers. All over the planet, conservative Catholics are in a frenzy because of the rush with which this beatification has been pushed through, and the chap thinks that it has been… manipulated by them. I wonder when in Mr. Küng’s mind you start being “conservative”. Probably when you wear a priest’s habit (or when you don’t want to smoke joints).

The biscuit must, though, go to this one:

“John Paul II is universally praised as someone who fought for peace and human rights. But his preaching to the outside world was in total contrast with the way he ran the church from inside, with an authoritarian pontificate which suppressed the rights of both women and theologians.”

Even by sixty-eighters standards, this is rather unbelievable. A Pope is criticised for being…… a Pope! He is considered oppressive for being…. Catholic! What does this chap smoke in the morning ?!

It is beyond me how this man could ever be considered a Catholic, let alone a theologian. Either he is not compos mentis because of excessive marijuana consumption, or he is so firmly in the hand of the devil that he doesn’t even care to disguise it anymore in any conceivable way. He reminds one of the beautiful words of Father Corapi:

My grandmother, who had only an eighth grade education, knew more than many theologians because she knew the truth.

Hans Küng has culpably and willfully chosen not to  know the truth; or perhaps he knows it all too well and tries to undermine, it because he is on Satan’s side.

In all this, he cannot even see the great scandal which, alone, destroys all his pot-related (or, alternatively, satanic) theories: that he has not yet been defrocked.

In both cases, another beautiful Corapi saying applies:

When you crash against the rock, you will not damage the rock but you will hurt yourself.

Mundabor

Blessed John Paul II: An Attempt At User’s Instructions

Nadia Sepiello, "Padre Pio". Source:http://www.galassiaarte.it/Pittori/nadia_sepiello.html

Reading around the Internet some of the reflection about today’s beatification of John Paul II, I would like to point out to a couple of aspects which are, in my eyes, rather important in order to put today’s events in the right perspective. Though I have already written a similar post here, I’d like to tackle the issue again from the point of view of the effect it causes on others, particularly non-Catholics.

1) A beatification has the same rank of a private revelation. No Catholic is obliged to believe that the person made blessed really is in Paradise. This obligation only comes into effect with the canonisation. This should, I think, always be said very clearly when you discuss the matter.

2) A beatification (or a canonisation) exclusively deals with the saintly life and heroic virtue of the blessed or saint and with the presence of the required number (if any; for the beatification of martyrs no miracles are required) of miracles, but is no endorsement of the operate of a person as a Pope, or in whatever other public role he might have been involved. Please stress this to everyone you talk about the matter. This should also be stressed with much energy whenever someone mentions the beatification.

3) The great “expansion” of the number of beatifications starting from JP II is, in my eyes, questionable; still, given the fact that as a Catholic do not have to believe a single one of the beatifications anyway I allow myself to feel relaxed on the point. My – or your – questioning the opportunity of such a number of beatification is therefore perfectly orthodox.

4) More delicate is the question about canonisations. As Catholics, we are bound to believe that the canonised person is in Paradise. As Catholics, we must believe that the Holy ghost would never, ever allow a Pope to make a mockery of the process. Every criticism of the new canonisation process must therefore keep this truth in sight: that every canonisation is to be accepted by the faithful as truth, be they very few or very many. This is very important if we want to avoid confusing our interlocutors.

5) Personally, I didn’t like JP II’s pontificate; not one bit; neither as a whole, nor in any one of his single most defining traits. I’d say that after Paul VI, JP II can be considered the worst Pope of modern times, by a comfortable margin. But this is my assessment of his pontificate, not of his saintliness.  I strictly detach the first (the in my eyes catastrophic effect of almost 27 years of “Wojtylism”, by which an entire generation of Catholics grew up without even knowing the Ten Commandments, but ready to fill airports) from the second (the fact that the man was really trying to do his best, and was personally very holy).

6) “Holy” doesn’t mean, again, perfect in the same way as heroic virtue doesn’t mean perfection.  People have their own foibles and character’s traits, the blessed and saints as everyone else. Even Padre Pio had his shortcomings, and was harshly criticised because of them. But we honour the saint anyway; even more so, because in reflecting about the shortcomings of very saintly men we can better understand how difficult it was for them, as for everyone else.

I assume that every conservative Catholic can easily agree with all the above points, though there will be obvious differences in the assessment of the concrete situation. Again, by every criticism we run the danger of confusing the Catholics and must, therefore, be particularly prudent.

If I were challenged by non-Catholics, or by non conservative Catholics, to say a word about the beatification I would accurately separate:

a) the man from the pope,

b) the canonisation from the beatification and

c) my dislike with this or that part of the new procedure with the Catholic Truth concerning canonisations.

As Catholics, please let us be mindful that whilst we can criticise the beatification procedure as much as we want, we must be mindful not to give the impression that we have ceased to believe in the binding value of the canonisations.

In addition, by the appalling ignorance about Catholicism now rampant ever among Catholics themselves, I wouldn’t give any critical, liberal Catholic a reason to believe that Catholic truth are considered not so untouchable, if even conservative Catholics appear to attack them.

Within the boundaries of acceptance of Catholic truth in the matter, I’d say that everyone should feel free to exercise his criticism as much as he likes.

A non-Catholic seeing that a Catholic can be very critical, but is always loyal will register the fact and, at a more or less conscious level, remain impressed.

Mundabor

Blessed John Paul II, 1. May 2011

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

In view of tomorrow’s beatification, I re-post what I wrote in January.

——————————————————————-

And so it is out: the beatification of JP II will take place on the 1st May.

I am, as no reader of this blog can avoid noticing, no great fan of the man as a Pope. I think that his contribution to the fall of Communism is vastly, vastly exaggerated (the one who did it for communism was clearly the Gipper; George Walker Bush and Pope John Paul II only reaped the benefits afterwards and the liberal press would commit suicide rather than give Reagan his due) and I find it frankly extraordinary that a Pope should be praised for…. being opposed to Communism.

As far as his work as Pope is concerned, I personally think that the only redeeming feature of his too long Pontificate is the fact that he came (excluding the short weeks of what could have been a wonderful Pope, Albino Luciani) after Paul VI, the undisputed Jimmy Carter of the Church. JP II’s actions against the problems of his time (say: the Dutch Schism, Liberation Theology, the rampant “spirit of Vatican II”-mentality) can be considered in a halfway positive manner only in the light of Paul VI’s tragic impotence, but were slow and contributing to the confusion of Catholics by every other modern standard. In his appointment of Bishops, JP II will probably prove one of the most disastrous Popes of all times as he is the main responsible for the appointment of an entire generation of bad shepherds, who have almost completely given away Catholicism and will now continue to afflict the Church for a couple of decades to come.

A further problems of JP II’s pontificate is, in my eyes, the stubborn refusal to deal in an exemplary manner with people clearly responsible for grave misconduct. Cardinal Law’s treatment, or Cardinal Groer’s, are in my eyes great stains on his pontificate as they show an attitude towards grave problems by which the desire to avoid scandal and public admission of fault comes before the desire to send clear signals as to how the Church is led and what behaviour is expected from the men at the top.

And then there’s the media orgy. JP II’s pontificate can be remembered as the age of the dumbing down of everything Catholic, the search for popularity at all costs, the media circus, the desire to sink towards common people aspirations and conveniences instead of drawing them to aspire higher to Christ. From the unspeakable rock concerts (in which Catholicism had to witness the head of Catholicism being publicly scolded by rock singers; Pope Pius XII must have cried from Heaven), to the interconfessional/ecumenical/heretical events in Assisi, Fatima and elsewhere, to the in itself obviously heretical kissing of the Koran, to the relentless seeking for TV time in his pursuit to travel in the furthest corners of the globe whilst Vatican work was clearly neglected (cue the inefficiency and indecisiveness in tackling the problems of the Church, like the evident issue of rampant homosexuality in the seminaries), John Paul II’s years have diluted and banalised the Catholic message. The most dramatic example of this sad development was seen in his last days, with a huge media happening and a vast attention from a mass of individuals obviously not caring in the least for Catholicism and merely attracted by the next media-pumped collective hysteria in purest Lady Diana style. When he died, JP II had successfully transformed himself in the Che Guevara of our times, a man whose face is on millions of t-shirts carried by people who don’t even know who he was and what he wanted, but find the projected image someway cool. In the meantime, a generation of Catholics was raised without even the basis of proper Catholic instruction but hey, there were 500,000 people when he went out of the aeroplane so we are doing fine.

One of the least palatable aspects of this attitude was the late Pope’s desire to please the masses by sending ambiguous messages which, whilst not openly contradicting the Church’s teaching, were meant to give them a varnish of political correctness and make their distorted perception popular when the real ones clearly aren’t. He formally abolished the capital punishment in the Vatican, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the legitimacy of capital punishment is integral part of Catholic doctrine and as such not modifiable and not negotiable. He asked for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during the Crusades, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful of the saintliness of their cause and of the glorious page represented by the Crusades themselves. He was personally contrary to every conflict happening in his time, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the Doctrine of War is also integral part of Catholic teaching. As a result of this, Pope John Paul was vastly perceived – particularly by poorly instructed Catholics, let alone by non-catholics – as a white-clothed pacifist opposed to capital punishment and ashamed for the Crusades. I am not aware of any effort he made to counter this widespread popular impression and no, this is not good.

Allow me here to also remind my readers of the Lefebvre affair. From the information I have found and read, it seems to me that a clash of egos (it happens among the saintliest men; it’s human nature) played a more than secondary role in the events but that at the root of the mess was JP II’s refusal to understand when things have gone too far and it is time to stop being stubborn and to start being reasonable. Hand on heart, I thank God for Lefebvre’s courage and determination on that occasion. To use an admittedly strong image, when the father is drunk the son who refuses to obey him is not going against the family and his father’s authority, but respecting and upholding them and the values they represent. The SSPX’s affair is, if you ask me, just another of the many avoidable blunders of John Paul II’s pontificate.

~~~

Still, behind the Pope there was the man. A deeply religious, pious, spiritual, sincere, kind man of God. A man whose mistakes were certainly never made in bad faith and whose first desire was to protect the Church and to win new souls to Christ. A man in front of whose deep spirituality and pious nature most of us (and certainly yours truly) must hang their head in shame. A man of whom you can criticise everything, but not the pure heart and the honesty of his intentions.

Whenever Catholics criticise the many mistakes of his pontificate (as they, if you ask me, should do far more often and much more vocally in order to avoid another pontificate like his to be ever repeated), they should remember – and should remind the enemies of the Church – of the purest of hearts behind those mistakes and of the example which John Paul II continues to give as a saintly man.

A saintly man is not necessarily a good Pope and a good Pope is not necessarily a saintly man. Much as we would like to see both qualities together, this is by far not always the case.

When we are blessed with a saintly Pope, I can’t see why we shouldn’t – whatever the shortcomings of his Pontificate – draw strength and inspiration from his saintliness.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Mundabor

“Assisi III” Gathering Takes Form

oh well, at least THIS is behind us...

The Press office of the vatican has released a multilingual communiqué about the planned meeting in Assisi, in the meantime known as “Assisi III”. If you scroll here you’ll see the English text.

As expected, Pope Benedict will do things in a radically different manner than his soon-to-be-beatified predecessor. Among the positive aspects I would mention:

1) The express intention of avoiding the mess of the other times (particularly 1986). The statement says (emphasis mine):

Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism.

No Buddhas on altars, and no mistake.

2) The express mention that there will be no common prayer. People of different faith will just – to say it poetically – shut up and everyone of them will pray individually as he can. The fact that everyone prays according to his own religion doesn’t make the act “ecumenical” (in the wrong sense) in the least. This is, it seems to me, not different from what happens in a stadium before the shooting of a penalty. I will eagerly await what conservative Catholic sites write about this, but I personally don’t see any need to be alarmed by the exercise in itself.

3) The event is very much low-key: a selected group of people starting a train journey from Rome to Assisi. Also, no multi-day kermesse but a rather sober programme beginning and ending on the same day. This is no mega-gathering, rather a day out.

As largely expected, scenes like these ones are not going to be repeated; rather, Pope Benedict chooses to emphasise beforehand that he is going to make it differently. Still, I think that this is not a good thing as he is, in a way, trying to repair Assisi like Gorbaciov tried to repair communism, but the first is every bit beyond repair as the second.

Some aspects of the gathering are, in my eyes, still questionable; not “JP II-questionable”, though; rather, questionable from a purely Catholic point of view:

1) I’d have thought that the Pope’s role is to convert those who are not Catholic, not to dialogue with them. I know that dialogue is so much “en vogue” nowadays, but everytime I read about “dialogue” I have the strange impression that here the message is broadcast that Catholicism and heresy – or Catholicism and Atheism – are positions which meet on a foot of equal dignity.
They don’t. Truth meets Lie, and Faith meets Unbelief. It may be that this will be the bearer of good fruits; still, the supremacy of the Truth should be stressed by none more than by the Pope himself. This here doesn’t help.

2) Assisi I is called “historic meeting”. Historic in shame, blasphemy and heresy, yes. But to extol such a goddamn mess as an example of virtue seems to me – even allowing for the explicit clarification that this time, things are going to be made in a radically different way – way out of the mark. Again, Pope Benedict tries to repair a toy already irreparably damaged in the eyes of orthodox Catholics and no amount of totschweigen und schoenreden of the unspeakable shame of 1986 will change an iota in this.

3) this time, atheists are also invited. They are invited on the ground that they “regard themselves as seekers of truth” and feel that they “share responsibility” for this planet. This sounds rather strange to me. I’d have thought that the gathering would have a religious aspect in that it shows people of different faiths but united by their belief in the supernatural. If you extend this to atheists, well why not to homo and lesbian organisations, or neonazis, or wiccans, or the like? They all “see themselves” as “seekers of truth”, let alone think that they “share responsibility”….

Next thing you know, Satanists will asked to be invited. Hey, let’s dialogue!

4) (Achtung! Pure Mundabor-esque point!) I don’t know about you, but I still have a slight impression of easy populism whenever I hear about a “peace” event. Peace is easily said and more universally liked than football, or chocolate. It doesn’t make any news that a religious leader promotes peace. Rather, it seems to me that peace is getting too big a place at the Christian table. In my eyes, it would be high time – for a change – to start re-instructing the faithful about the doctrine of war instead of feeding them the easy fare of cunning politicians and senseless dreamers. We can’t close our eyes in front of simple realities of the human condition just because it is more convenient or popular to do so. The Truth must, I think, be said whole, not only the convenient bits. Marches for “peace” are not very scarce; nor is the message controversial; nor is there any need to stress it.
One wonders.

All in all, one can – I think – safely say that the worst fears have been dissipated. But one can also – I’d say, with equal security – say that this initiative still reeks a bit of that easy populism that played such a massive role during the pontificate of the late JP II.

I still wished this had never been started.

Mundabor

Pastor Angelicus For German Speakers

Pastor Angelicus

Those among you who have the rare ability to read German (a very beautiful language in its own right; not easy to assimilate for sure, but ready to compensate the one who puts the effort with countless pearls of breathtaking literary beauty) will certain enjoy this blog site.

In the superior two-column format allowed by the Blogspot structure (not found by me on WordPress at the time of beginning this blog, and sorely missed afterwards when changing format or even “blog provider” would have meant a major disruption, pain in the neck and possible loss of information; but I digress…) you will notice that the left column is devoted to the usual, beautifully orthodox, Catholic apologetics, whilst the right column is devoted to none else than the Pastor Angelicus: the favourite of conservative Catholics the world over and the last great Pope: Pius XII.

I translate the best citations therein reported near the original German text:

“Nur die katholische Kirche protestierte gegen den Angriff Hitlers auf die Freiheit. Bis dahin war ich nicht an der Kirche interessiert, doch heute empfinde ich große Bewunderung für die Kirche, die als einzige den Mut hatte, für geistige Wahrheit und sittliche Freiheit zu kämpfen.”

“Only the Catholic Church protested against Hitler’s attacks to freedom. Until then I wasn’t interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone had the courage to fight for spiritual truth and for moral freedom”.

Albert Einstein, 1940.

“In dieser Weihnacht ist der Papst mehr denn je die einsame aufbegehrende Stimme im Schweigen eines Kontinents. ”

“This Christmas, the Pope is more than ever the lonely voice raised amidst the silence of a continent”

New York Times, commenting on Pius XII’s Christmas address, 1942.

“Die katholische Kirche und das Papsttum haben bewiesen, dass sie so viele Juden, wie sie konnten, gerettet haben.”

“The Catholic Church and the Papacy have demonstrated that they have saved as many Jews as they could”

Raffaele Cantoni, Head of the Jewish Welfare Committee during the War, 1946.

“Mehr als alle anderen haben wir Gelegenheit gehabt, die Güte und Edelmütigkeit des Papstes während der Jahre der Verfolgung und des Schreckens kennen zu lernen in einer Zeit, da es schien, dass für uns keine andere Hoffnung mehr bestand.”

“More than any other had we the opportunity to know the goodness and noble mindedness of the Pope during the years of persecution and terror, in times when it seemed that for us there was no other hope anymore”.

Elio Toaff, Roman Chief Rabbi, 1951.

“Die ganze Welt schwieg über die Schoah, und da will man jetzt nahezu die gesamte Verantwortung für dieses Schweigen auf die Schultern des Souveräns legen, der weder Kanonen noch Flugzeuge hatte; der sich zweitens bemühte, seine Informationen mit denen zu teilen, die solche Waffen hatten, und drittens, in Rom und anderswo eine große Zahl derer zu retten vermochte, für die er die moralische Verantwortung trug.”

“The entire world kept silent during the Shoah, and now they want to unload almost all the responsibility for this silence on the shoulders of the Sovereign who had neither cannons nor aeroplanes; who, secondly, went to great lenght to share this information with those who had such weapons and, thirdly, in Rome and elsewere succeeded in saving a great number of those, for whom he carried moral responsibility”

Bernhard-Henry Levy, 2010

I understand that the celebrations for the upcoming beatification of the saintly, but rather ineffective (other would say: catastrophical) John Paul II will divert some attention, for the time being, from this truly saintly, truly courageous, truly Catholic, truly great Pope. Still, even in the weeks leading to what will certainly be a huge media event we should never forget the towering figure of our beloved Pastor Angelicus.

Canonisation, Beatification And Papal Infallibility.

Beatified or not, my hero. Pius XII, "Pastor Angelicus".

Following a very interesting intervention of Schmenz in reply to a former post, I spent some time looking for some credible description of how a Catholic is to react to a decree of canonisation or beatification. This particularly in view of the upcoming beatification (and one day, perhaps, canonisation) of the late Pope JP II, an event which will clearly excite both an oceanic wave of enthusiasm and a smaller, but noticeable one of dismay.

I have already made clear that in my eyes the worth as a Blessed of John Paul II is to be seen in his saintly character, not in his working as a Pope. This is nothing new or wrong as a beatification or canonisation isn’t, nor could it ever be, a seal of approval of political action.

Now let us see what the Catholic Encyclopedia says on the matter of canonisation.

1) There are two types of canonisation, formal and equivalent.

Formal canonization occurs when the cultus is prescribed as an explicit and definitive decision, after due judicial process and the ceremonies usual in such cases. Equivalent canonization occurs when the pope, omitting the judicial process and the ceremonies, orders some servant of God to be venerated in the Universal Church; this happens when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted

2) It is evident that modern canonisations are all formal ones; that they are the object of a prescription; that the decision is explicit and definitive. That they, as such, bind every Catholic. In matters of canonisation,ours is not to reason why“. This is only logical, as the nature itself of the canonisation is to give the faithful certainty, not hope, that the canonised person is in Heaven.

3) Whether the decree of canonisation is an expression of Papal Infallibility (as, says the Catholic encyclopedia, most theologians think) or not, the result of the canonisation is evidently not less binding, and this is what interests us here. When the Church formally decrees that Titius or Caius are Saint Titius and Saint Caius, every Catholic is bound to accept this as part and parcel of his Catholic belief. Still, this mandatory belief does not stretch to the man in question having done everything right and not even to his having had heroic virtue; what every catholic is bound to believe is merely that the canonised person is in heaven.

Very different is the case of Beatification.  The Catholic Encyclopedia again:

This general agreement of theologians as to papal infallibility in canonization must not be extended to beatification, not withstanding the contrary teaching of the canonical commentary known as “Glossa” […] Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command;

Clearly, here the Church is not saying “you have to believe”, but “you are allowed to believe”. You can therefore – as long as no canonisation intervenes – refuse to believe that the one or other person declared Blessed is in heaven in the same way as you can, say, not believe in the Fatima apparitions.There can be no question of infallibility, because there is no question of prescription in the first place.

In practical terms, this means that a Catholic is allowed to question the prevalent opinion that, say, John Paul II is in heaven but is not allowed to question the prescriptive decree that, say, Padre Pio is.

Mundabor

Catholics And Catechisms

Reading here and there, I sometimes have the impression that there is some misconception about what a catechism is.

Particularly the younger generations (those grown up in the doctrinal vacuum of the Paul VI – JP II era) must be under the impression that the one issued under Pope John Paul II is the Catechism, either believing that there was no catechism before it or that this catechism made everything that came before it superfluous.

I would like to point out to a couple of concepts and give the reader some background and reading hints.

1) A catechism is not infallible. Every catechism is nothing more than an attempt at explaining Catholic teaching in a way easily digestible for the non theologically trained laity. Similarly, no catechism is mandatory. There is an official catechism, but every catechism approved by ecclesiastical authority (particularly if in tempi non sospetti, as we say in Italy) can be used with profit.

2) Catechisms are broadly of three types: for small children (that is: coming from the time when people still cared to convey Christianity to children); for boys and girls approaching the age of confirmation or preparing to it and, lastly, for adults and confirmed youth. In some cases, entire sets of catechisms were released at the same time (the Catechisms of St. Pius X and the Baltimore Catechisms are probably the best known examples).

3) As a result, some catechisms can be of better quality than others, and some better suited to the intended readership. Always for this reason, catechisms can be criticised if someone believes that they contain doctrinal errors. As a catechism is never ex cathedra, it is never expression of papal infallibility.

4) Typically, a catechism was written in question/answer format, a remnant of a time when important things had to learned by heart (and as a result, remained impressed in the faithful’s memory) and the question/answer method made it easier both to learn the subject matter and to control the level of preparation of the pupil. I don’t need to comment about the consequences of abandoning this method.

5) There are many catechisms and every good catechism can be used by you with profit. With the recovery of Catholic tradition and the advent of the internet, the access to catechisms is nowadays certainly better than at any other time in the history of Christianity. Therefore you can easily pick a catechism that suits you and start working seriously on it. Catechisms are also more and more available as applications for smartphones, which means that you can have your favourite catechism always with you and read from it on the train, in a queue, etc.

Following, I will give some information about the catechisms I know myself. I am grateful for every indication of further catechisms available in English.

1) Catechism of John Paul II.

This is, if you ask me, the worst catechism of them all. I mention it first so that you are not tempted to waste money by buying a paper copy of it. This catechism is written for a more mature audience (priests themselves, and well-instructed laity). It is not truly fit for summarily instructed Catholics (that is: most of them). Furthermore, it is burdened by an obsessive need to justify almost every concept with V II documents, which besides being grating in itself gives the not properly instructed Catholic (that is: most of them) the impression that Catholic doctrine is obsolete if not confirmed by the Council; furthermore, it makes the printed work bulky and unpractical to carry. This catechism is also notable for the huge effort of political correctness and attempt at making people digest uncomfortable concepts (say: doctrine of war, or capital punishment) by formulating them in the most clouded way as possible. This is clearly wrong as Truth must be given straight, not diluted according to the readers’ dalai-lama-cum-ghandi prejudices.

This catechism is also notorious for having been heavily attacked by a noted theologian of the XX century, simply known as the Abbé de Nantes, who accused it of being heretical on a dozen of counts. Whilst the Abbe de Nantes was a man not noted for mincing words and prone to extreme criticism, on this occasion he must have found attentive ears in the Vatican, as you will read below.

If you need to improve your Catholic instruction – let alone if you need to begin with it – the best thing that you can do with this catechism is to stay away from it.

2) Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

This is a serious catechism. It is commonly called the catechism of Benedict XVI because published during his pontificate and probably with his massive intervention. The date of publication is so near to Pope Benedict’s accession that it is widely thought that this catechism was ready and – so to speak – waiting for the end of JP II’s pontificate to be published. This beautiful catechism is notable for the following elements:

1) It recovers the traditional question/answer form.
2) It is easy to read and to carry and it does what a catechism is supposed to do: provide a short but effective and orthodox instruction for everyone.
3) It reacts to the criticisms of the Abbe’ de Nantes – to the full, widely published satisfaction of the latter – on all accounts.

This practical, beautiful, unimpeachable work should find a place on the shelves of every Catholic.

3) Douay Catechism of 1649

This catechism, now available online, is a masterpiece of Catholic writing. The extreme elegance and beauty of the language is the more astonishing, because still very clear and easy to understand even for a foreigner. This work is kept short and to the point, and its question and answer system is extremely effective. This is a diamond of a catechism. You compare this and JP II’s work and can’t avoid thinking that the ability to write properly is not what it used to be.

4) “Penny Catechism”

This is another little pearl of a catechism. It was issued In Pennsylvania but being very little and cheap to buy probably owes its name to the penny it cost to purchase it. It has accompanied the formation of countless young Catholics. Its English is not as elegant as the Douay’s, but this is a highly effective instrument to learn the basics quickly and seriously. The 370 answers/questions were meant to be memorised and digested one a day for around a year. This little book will easily bring every Catholic to a level of orthodoxy and knowledge of Catholic doctrine far surpassing that of most Catholic politicians, and of the totality of “liberal” Catholic bishops. At the same time, such catechisms give one the entire measure of the massacre of basic Catholic instruction coldly perpetrated and ruthlessly executed after V II.

5) Baltimore Catechisms

This is also a product of the US clergy of the XIX century. Three catechisms of increased levels of difficulty were issued, plus a fourth one that is the No.3 with an added commentary. As you can expect, the quality of the work is very high and the availability of different versions allows one to pick the catechism most suitable to his needs. We can note from this catechism that a seven-to-eight-years-old child was fitter in his Catholic instruction than the vast majority of nowadays’ cafeteria catholics and – possibly – than a good number of regular churchgoers. Go figure.

6) Catechism of St. Pius X

This is the unofficial translation in English, made a couple of decades ago to encourage the diffusion of one of the catechisms of St. Pius X. The great Pope and Saint was responsible for the creation of three such catechisms (again: for little children, for more advanced young men and women and for adults), though their adoption never became mandatory and they only found regional application. I found years ago (and lost in a hard disk casualty) the Italian version some years ago and once again, the clarity of the Italian therein used greatly impressed me. The English translation seems rather good too, though it is important to remember that this is not an official version.

These are the choices I would recommend. Again, I don’t think it wise to waste money on the V-II ridden, politically correct, bulky and unsuitable for beginners JP II’s product.

I hope this helps. Best wishes of progress in Catholic instruction to you.

Mundabor

Sainthood And The Church

As you can see here, there are a lot of saints.

The impending beatification of John Paul II will no doubt cause many questions among non-Catholics as to what this beatification is, and might reinforce many of them in their errors and misconceptions about this beautiful Catholic institution of beatification and canonisation.

I’d like here to give some very short explanations in bullet points, in the hope that in the coming months some non-Catholics may end up here and get some benefit from them and that Catholics may get some points to give explanations if and when required.

1) Everyone who is in paradise is a saint. Everyone. Angels are saints, the Holy Innocents are saints, etc.

2) Normally we cannot know whether someone is in Paradise. When the neighbour dies we know that he is either in hell, or in purgatory, or in paradise. Purgatory is widely believed to be the most frequent occurrence at death, but no one really knows. In Catholicism, individual certainty of someone’s destination is a sin of presumption, unless one believes one’s own private revelation (say: an apparition); indirectly, he can draw a big amount of confidence from the truth of a credible revelation to someone else (say: Saint Padre Pio’s well-known hours-long mystical vision of Pope Pius XII in Heaven on the day of his death). ” I believe that John Lennon is in Paradise because he wrote such beautiful music” does not qualify.

3) Catholic theology says that those in purgatory cannot effect intercessory prayer for those on earth, but those on earth can do the same for the souls in purgatory; on the other hand the saints can pray and intercede for those on earth, but not for those in purgatory. Notice the “circle” of prayer here, with saints being able only to help those on earth, who themselves are the only ones who can help those in purgatory. In this way there is a beautiful solidarity, a chain of love or if you prefer a “prayer cooperative”. This common destiny and common purpose uniting every good Catholic (souls in hell aren’t catholic, and can’t be helped) is called by the Church “communion of saints”.

4) As a consequence, a Catholic will need some clues to know those to whom he can pray for intercession knowing that they will actually hear their prayer and be able to intercede for them. He can obviously ask Christ or the Blessed Virgin directly, but the beauty of the communion of saints is in the mutual giving and receiving help like members of a loving family. Therefore, one may prefer to ask a person particularly dear to him to help him and to intercede for him by Christ. In order to do so, he’d be helped if he knew, instead of hoped, that the relevant person is really a saint, that is, is really in heaven. Mind, though, that no Catholic is forbidden to ask for the intercession of someone of whom he thinks that he is very probably in heaven.

5) God helps this system of “prayer cooperative” by making known that the one or the other actually is in heaven. He does so by linking a miracle to this person. With one miracle one can be declared Blessed, with two he can be declared a Saint. Notice that here the “s” is capitalised. Whether the miracle has occurred is decided – after an always careful and generally lengthy process – by a Vatican “ministry”, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

6) Whilst the miracle is God’s choice, the decision whether to declare the beatification or sainthood is the Pope’s choice and it is an eminently political one. A Pope might think a canonisation dangerous or politically not convenient (eg. because it could spark a wave of persecutions, as in Thomas More’s case; or a wave of slandering, as it is probably the case by Pope Pius XII), or he might not be persuaded himself that the work of the congregation was really good, that is: that the person is really in paradise. He cannot “kill” the process though, merely let things rest.

7) One day, a Pope decides that the moment has come and a man or woman is ready to be declared Saint. His decision is inspired in the sense that God takes care that a Pope does not make mistakes in this matter*.  In the last centuries, this process was very slow and people canonised were people who had lived a couple of centuries before, but there always were exceptions. The late Pope John Paul II was himself of the opinion that canonisations (and beatifications, comes to that) of recently deceased people were the best choice, because their memory is still well alive among the faithful. This was the thinking followed in the first thirteen centuries or so, with some canonisations being really, really fast (think of St. Francis: death on the 3 October 1226; canonisation on the 16th July 1228).

8) Coming back to 6), the beatifications or canonisations of particularly popular people have always been relatively uncomplicated, whilst those pertaining to politically sensitive people have been, or are being, slower. But be assured that Thomas More and Pope Pius XII do not care in the least for that. There is no race to be canonised first and the speed of canonisation is no indication whatsoever of the “ranking” among saints. This is important in order to understand that calls of “santo subito”, particularly when angry or expressing a demand rather than a wish, are not really Catholic and are more suitable to football stadiums.

9) Once a Pope has taken his decision about a canonisation, every Catholic is bound by it*. A Catholic rejoices for every canonisation not only because of the happy news, but because he knows that many people will be drawn to Christ through the canonisation of the person they love.

The reasons for a fast-track for John Paul II are now evident. The sainthood of the man is uncontroversial among everyone except the most severe sedevacantists; his popularity makes of such a beatification a great weapon in the Church’s hands; his beatification helps to shift the accent from the political aspects of his pontificate (which many don’t like, yours truly included) to the towering spiritual dimension of the person.

It is not – and it can never be – about “giving precedence to celebrities”; it is about recognising that:
a) The Pope seems to believe that God wants hom to know that the man is in Paradise, and
b) the Pope doesn’t see any political obstacle to his declaring so in front of all Christianity.

This is as simple as that. It doesn’t mean that one only becomes blessed if he is a celebrity. It doesn’t mean that only famous people are said to go to heaven. It doesn’t mean that “Church celebrities” get special favours compared to those whose beatification has not been declared and emphatically it does not mean that, between two saints, the one is “more of a saint” that has been canonised or beatified.

Mundabor

* the matter is slightly different with the beatification. With it, the Church merely declares that it is “worthy of belief” that the person in question is in heaven. There is, though, no obligation for every Catholic to feel bound by this.

Blessed John Paul II, 1. May 2011

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

And so it is out: the beatification of JP II will take place on the 1st May.

I am, as no reader of this blog can avoid noticing, no great fan of the man as a Pope. I think that his contribution to the fall of Communism is vastly, vastly exaggerated (the one who did it for communism was clearly the Gipper; George Walker Bush and Pope John Paul II only reaped the benefits afterwards and the liberal press would commit suicide rather than give Reagan his due) and I find it frankly extraordinary that a Pope should be praised for…. being opposed to Communism.

As far as his work as Pope is concerned, I personally think that the only redeeming feature of his too long Pontificate is the fact that he came (excluding the short weeks of what could have been a wonderful Pope, Albino Luciani) after Paul VI, the undisputed Jimmy Carter of the Church. JP II’s actions against the problems of his time (say: the Dutch Schism, Liberation Theology, the rampant “spirit of Vatican II”-mentality) can be considered in a halfway positive manner only in the light of Paul VI’s tragic impotence, but were slow and contributing to the confusion of Catholics by every other modern standard. In his appointment of Bishops, JP II will probably prove one of the most disastrous Popes of all times as he is the main responsible for the appointment of an entire generation of bad shepherds, who have almost completely given away Catholicism and will now continue to afflict the Church for a couple of decades to come.

A further problems of JP II’s pontificate is, in my eyes, the stubborn refusal to deal in an exemplary manner with people clearly responsible for grave misconduct. Cardinal Law’s treatment, or Cardinal Groer’s, are in my eyes great stains on his pontificate as they show an attitude towards grave problems by which the desire to avoid scandal and public admission of fault comes before the desire to send clear signals as to how the Church is led and what behaviour is expected from the men at the top.

And then there’s the media orgy. JP II’s pontificate can be remembered as the age of the dumbing down of everything Catholic, the search for popularity at all costs, the media circus, the desire to sink towards common people aspirations and conveniences instead of drawing them to aspire higher to Christ. From the unspeakable rock concerts (in which Catholicism had to witness the head of Catholicism being publicly scolded by rock singers; Pope Pius XII must have cried from Heaven), to the interconfessional/ecumenical/heretical events in Assisi, Fatima and elsewhere, to the in itself obviously heretical kissing of the Koran, to the relentless seeking for TV time in his pursuit to travel in the furthest corners of the globe whilst Vatican work was clearly neglected (cue the inefficiency and indecisiveness in tackling the problems of the Church, like the evident issue of rampant homosexuality in the seminaries), John Paul II’s years have diluted and banalised the Catholic message. The most dramatic example of this sad development was seen in his last days, with a huge media happening and a vast attention from a mass of individuals obviously not caring in the least for Catholicism and merely attracted by the next media-pumped collective hysteria in purest Lady Diana style. When he died, JP II had successfully transformed himself in the Che Guevara of our times, a man whose face is on millions of t-shirts carried by people who don’t even know who he was and what he wanted, but find the projected image someway cool. In the meantime, a generation of Catholics was raised without even the basis of proper Catholic instruction but hey, there were 500,000 people when he went out of the aeroplane so we are doing fine.

One of the least palatable aspects of this attitude was the late Pope’s desire to please the masses by sending ambiguous messages which, whilst not openly contradicting the Church’s teaching, were meant to give them a varnish of political correctness and make their distorted perception popular when the real ones clearly aren’t. He formally abolished the capital punishment in the Vatican, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the legitimacy of capital punishment is integral part of Catholic doctrine and as such not modifiable and not negotiable. He asked for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during the Crusades, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful of the saintliness of their cause and of the glorious page represented by the Crusades themselves. He was personally contrary to every conflict happening in his time, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the Doctrine of War is also integral part of Catholic teaching. As a result of this, Pope John Paul was vastly perceived – particularly by poorly instructed Catholics, let alone by non-catholics – as a white-clothed pacifist opposed to capital punishment and ashamed for the Crusades. I am not aware of any effort he made to counter this widespread popular impression and no, this is not good.

Allow me here to also remind my readers of the Lefebvre affair. From the information I have found and read, it seems to me that a clash of egos (it happens among the saintliest men; it’s human nature) played a more than secondary role in the events but that at the root of the mess was JP II’s refusal to understand when things have gone too far and it is time to stop being stubborn and to start being reasonable. Hand on heart, I thank God for Lefebvre’s courage and determination on that occasion. To use an admittedly strong image, when the father is drunk the son who refuses to obey him is not going against the family and his father’s authority, but respecting and upholding them and the values they represent. The SSPX’s affair is, if you ask me, just another of the many avoidable blunders of John Paul II’s pontificate.

~~~

Still, behind the Pope there was the man. A deeply religious, pious, spiritual, sincere, kind man of God. A man whose mistakes were certainly never made in bad faith and whose first desire was to protect the Church and to win new souls to Christ. A man in front of whose deep spirituality and pious nature most of us (and certainly yours truly) must hang their head in shame. A man of whom you can criticise everything, but not the pure heart and the honesty of his intentions.

Whenever Catholics criticise the many mistakes of his pontificate (as they, if you ask me, should do far more often and much more vocally in order to avoid another pontificate like his to be ever repeated), they should remember – and should remind the enemies of the Church – of the purest of hearts behind those mistakes and of the example which John Paul II continues to give as a saintly man.

A saintly man is not necessarily a good Pope and a good Pope is not necessarily a saintly man. Much as we would like to see both qualities together, this is by far not always the case.

When we are blessed with a saintly Pope, I can’t see why we shouldn’t – whatever the shortcomings of his Pontificate – draw strength and inspiration from his saintliness.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Mundabor

Assisi Now And Then

You say "Assisi" and he goes off. Bishop Fellay.

The SSPX has criticised in a rather harsh way the Pontiff’s decision to hold a new Assisi meeting.

“We are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi”, declared Bishop Fellay and one can only wonder what Bishop Williamson would say if he were allowed to do so freely without being confined in some remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I have already written about the matter and it seems to me that whilst I agree with Bishop Fellay on the fact that this is not a brilliant decision, the choice of words is not a particularly happy one. In my eyes, Bishop Fellay talks and speaks as if Pope Benedict were another John Paul II. I do not think this is the case. Besides the fact that even Pope John Paul II had to see that things had gone far too far in 1986 and took care that the worst excesses were not repeated during the second Assisi gathering in 2002, it is very clear after almost six years of pontificate that Pope Ratzinger has nothing of the “let’s be hip”-mania, of the desire to be perceived as modern and in synchrony with the times that made so much damage during his predecessor’s pontificate.

During these years we had no Koran kissing, no kissing of the ground, no rock concerts and no search for easy ways to please the crowds. Nothing in Benedict XVI’s demeanour says “I will accommodate your need to be entertained or to feel good in the cheapest possible way”. The Assisi-mentality is clearly not his and this (in my eyes, ill-advised) renewed Assisi-gathering a tribute to the good intentions of his predecessor, whose beatification is clearly imminent and who is still a powerful weapon in the Church’s evangelisation effort.

At the same time I must disagree with the generally excellent William Oddie, who in his reaction to the SSPX’s utterances exaggerates in the other direction and calls the SSPX on their way to the funny farm.

What happened in 1986 must never, ever happen again. It was a damned shame and a show of breathtaking TV-fuelled ecu-maniac orgy of the worst kind. That excellent defenders of Catholic orthodoxy like the SSPX be concerned is certainly understandable, though the way of expressing these concerns might be (and in my eyes, certainly is) open to criticism.

Let us also say that “when the mills were white” Catholics were not allowed to pray with non-Catholics and this for the simple reason that such an exercise generates confusion among Catholics and can easily lead to the perception that what faith one subscribes to is of no great importance. By all talking of peaaace and looove, we should never forget that whoever isn’t Catholic is in the wrong shop , however saintly he may be.

I also disagree with Oddie that an orthodox Catholic should not think that he is more orthodox than the Pope. Of course he should, and he should every time that this is the case. The Holy Ghost guarantees infallibility to the Pope only when he speaks ex cathedra; it doesn’t guarantee at all that the Pope may, in his behaviour, frontally go against Catholic teaching. Pope Benedict IX sold his Papacy, and no one says he is not a Pope for that. The same goes, of course, for the kissing of Korans. A Pope is infallible but nor impeccable. Sometimes, Popes make a mess of things and sometimes they make a huge mess of things (Paul VI comes to mind). To say this is not un-Catholic in the least and doesn’t call for any farm, funny or not.

Assisi 2011 will, I am rather sure, be nothing similar to the catastrophe of 1986. But this doesn’t seem to me sufficient reason to go back there anyway. The risk of awakening ghosts from a shameful past is too big.

Mundabor

Good Lord, not an Assisi gathering again!

Assisi, St. Peter Church, 27th October 1986. A statue of Buddha is placed over the tabernacle. Buddhists make an offering with incense, Catholics priests assist to the ceremony.

I gather from “Rorate Coeli” that in today’s Angelus the Holy Father announced that

on the 25th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Assisi for the meeting of different religious leaders in 1986, he will visit Assisi in October 2011 for a meeting with “Christian brothers of the different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions, and, ideally, all men of good will”.

My first observations, a caldo as we say – are as follows:

1) I wonder how long will it take before the Church stops repeating JP II’s mistakes, just because he made them. JP II’s “franchise” might still be strong, but whether it is useful to orthodox Catholicism is a different matter altogether. Methinks, it isn’t. Not in the least. The old Assisi gatherings were a goddamn disaster and a shame. They should be remembered only to be ashamed about them. For details even more shocking than the photo posted above, please follow here (yes, it’s about “interreligious” projects in Fatima. No German? Ahiahiahi….).

2) I am absolutely sure that this will not be allowed to become another new-age-cum-Buddha heretical fest like the former occasions, particularly 1986. Pope Benedict is the one who stopped the original Assisi-gatherings (of which a further one was planned already when he became Pope) in the first place. In the matter of orthodoxy, nothing untoward is going to happen. Those who have experienced the Pope’s visit in England & Scotland know that he can talk very, very straight.

3) I do think, though, that this is a mistake. Whilst the Pope is never shy of pointing out that to him ecumenism means “you come to me”-ism, in this case the choice of the historically and emotionally laden Assisi seems to me the worst possible. It will easily – nay, surely – become a battleground among conflicting tendencies: the Holy Father’s desire to come to Assisi to point out what real ecumenism is, and the Birkenstock-clad cohorts of pacifist, third-worldist, socialist and covert-liberation-theology troops (many of them, I am afraid, Franciscans) that will unavoidably try to hijack the event for their own agenda.

In my opinion, the Assisi gatherings should have been left alone as an example of how not to do ecumenism. This initiative is bound to create false hopes in all those who don’t really get the Pope’s message and are always waiting for an excuse to say that the Holy Father is aligned on their position.

If you ask me, this is a bad start of the year.

Mundabor

Pope’s Carelessly Worded Statement Will Be Misused By Secular Press.

Not a good day for him

Let us make no mistake, this was an own goal. A perfectly useless and perfectly avoidable one. One which puts into question the ability of the Pontiff to defend Catholic teaching in a way not capable of manipulation by the secular media. This is a falling back to the days of John Paul II, when Catholic doctrine was not overtly contradicted – of course not – but badly represented in a way which made manipulation easy and widely spread. Read the words of the Pontiff again and you’ll see that whilst not contradicting Catholic teaching in the matter, his words open the way for misunderstanding and manipulation. He didn’t “change the rules”, at all. But his careless wording will allow superficial people to think so and the press to report so.

Last time I looked, the use of condoms was not morally justified. It is not justified because it is artificial contraception. Let us look at this again, what does the Church says about the use of condoms? That it is not morally justified. Oh, and we also know that it is not morally justified. We also know that if it is not morally justified no Pope can ever make it morally justified, because the Pope is not the maker of the rules, merely their custodian.

Ah well, we have this down then.

Now, let us all be aware of simple facts of life: that the Church knows that people are sinful. Whilst never justifying sin, the Church has always acted in a way meant to use common sense and sound judgment. The Church has always – when circumstances so required – accepted facts of life as a lesser evil. But she has always been attentive to say that this does not make the evil justified. The Church has, in fact, no system allowing the faithful to “choose the lesser evil”, even when she herself accepts (not justifies) the fact of life that evil will happen. A Catholic may never choose evil, and that’s that. It is evil to commit sodomy, and it is evil to use a condom. The Church can’t take the sodomy out of the equation and say “if you really couldn’t stay away from another person’s backside, then you may use a condom“. The Church says that you don’t commit sodomy, period.

The Papal States allowed prostitution. Prostitution was, in fact, rather an industry in Rome before reunification. But this doesn’t mean that the Church considered going with a prostitute “justified”, nor that it thought that it was justifiable in some circumstances, nor that she said that if you go with a prostitute, then you may use a condom.

The same for condoms. In Fascist Italy the use of condoms was a criminal offence in general, but it was allowed inside of brothels and the Church never said a word against this, obviously tolerating a lesser evil. But this didn’t mean that the Church said that it was in any way justifiable to use a condom, or that fornication is justifiable in those circumstances where you really have blue balls and are on your way to better yourself. The Church merely recognised the existence of a fact of life (original sin; leading to lust; leading to prostitution) and dealt with it the best she could. She certainly didn’t provide any justification for sinful behaviour. One must stay away from the brothel, period.

She also never said that for a prostitute to use condoms might have indicated an awakening of her better moral nature. This is simply naive and misleading. The prostitute uses the condom to avoid pregnancy and diseases, as everyone else. Whatever awakening there might be in the single circumstance, any speculation about the fact that she might express this by using condoms only suggests in the less attentive that a prostitute is justified in using condoms.

The fact that a sin happens doesn’t mean that it is fine for it to happen. The fact that by committing a certain sin a worse sin can be avoided doesn’t make the sin fine. The more or less adventurous considerations as to the motives with which a person commits a sin don’t justify the sin, either.

A mexican drug cartel member in the very first, extremely vague step of his redemption may start torturing enemies in a less cruel way before killing them, but this doesn’t mean that he is allowed to torture and kill them.

After the careless words of the Pope, the entire world will now start saying that the Pontiff considers the use of condoms justified in certain circumstances. This is simply how the world goes and it is very naive to think that it may happen any other way.

Not only must a Pope never tamper with doctrine, but he must never be perceived as to be doing it. Never ever. It is his duty, whenever he explains the position of the Church in certain circumstances, to do so in such a way that no misunderstanding are possible and no Catholics confused. But this is exactly what has happened this morning, with Classic FM (5 million listeners every day) clearly giving the message that the Pope has modified the Church’s position.

When the press thinks they can say that, it is a clear sign that a Pope has communicated in a very poor way.

The Pope’s statements will confuse honest Catholics and will provide an infinite amount of excuses (not only about condoms) to lukewarm Catholics concerning everything that it difficult to accept to them. This was absolutely avoidable and seriously undermines the Pope’s efforts to fight aids in the right way.

Mundabor

The Pope, The President And The War

Not perfect for sure; but sorely missed in Mundabor's quarters.

In just a few days, the autobiography of George W Bush will hit the bookshelves. From the parts already given to the public as appetizers it would appear that Bush was moved from the firm stance of the Pope about embryonic stem cell research to severely (if not completely) restrict research activities which would lead to the killing of embryonic lives.

This piece of information is important for several reasons. The first is to show that Bush (a great president if you ask me; not as great as Reagan for sure, but infinitely better than Al Gore would have ever been, every day of the week) was, ever after becoming the most powerful man on the planet, humble and perceptive enough to change his mind about important moral issues. One compares with Obama, and stuns.

The second is the fact that the separation of Church and state doesn’t mean that a President can’t think Christian, let alone that he shouldn’t be guided in his actions by Christian motives. Again, the comparison with a President who comes to the point of expunging references to God when mentioning the Declaration of Independence is evident. Bush’s life rests on his faith, Obama’s on his absence of it.

The third is – and it is sad to have to say it here, but say it we must – that when the two men were obviously disagreeing, it was – if you ask me; but you are reading this, so you are – the President who was right.

The widely publicised personal opinion of the Pope, that the war in Iraq was wrong, has been too often manipulated and misconstrued as a kind of “Catholic doctrine of pacifism”, which would be open heresy but which has been eagerly seized by pacifists, cathocommies and assorted lefties the world over. The parallel affirmation of Joseph Ratzinger – that it be perfectly legitimate for Catholics to disagree whether the Iraq war is opportune, or not – is on the other hand ignored with beautiful regularity and when it was first uttered did not fail to shock honest but misinformed Catholics confusing JP II’s protopacifism with Catholic teaching.

The truth is that John Paul II – whether because of sincere desire for peace or because less and less able to think clearly, or more probably for both reasons together –  abandoned himself, particularly in his last years, to a sort of “kindergarten Catholicism” never short of a trite banality and of a common place but very palatable for the masses, particularly the non-Catholic ones. He drove things to the point of giving a completely distorted perception of Catholic Doctrine on a series of issues: on the legitimacy of war, where the ultima ratio criterium was pushed to absurd consequences, just two millimetres away from open heresy; on the Crusades,  where carefully worded anodyne declarations spread the impression (make no mistake: wanted) that he had asked for forgiveness for them; on ecumenism, where to the much-publicised Assisi madness the effrontery of the kissing of a Koran was added; on the prestige and dignity of the Papacy, where he went to the point of participating to a rock concert and being publicly scolded as a result; or on the death penalty, where two thousand years of Christian teaching were conveniently re-interpreted as to give the impression that nothing short of Holocaust would ever justify the capital punishment.

Thankfully, our Dubya was rapid in following the Pope when he was right but equally as prompt in disappointing him when he (the Pope) was wrong. Granted, Bush is not a Catholic (for now at least: rumours of his conversions have made the round of the blogosphere already), but he certainly has that kind of solid common sense thinking, deep felt religious feeling, and ability to act with courage when necessary which have been the stuff of many an excellent Catholic converts before him.

I am in no doubt that he would make a much better convert than Tony Blair, although like the latter he’d have to fight the negative influence of his spouse. On the occcasion of the publishing of his book, I’d be glad if you would join me in a short prayer for his health and serenity, and for his conversion.

Mundabor

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