I had to smile when I read on Rorate that Pope Francis is asking the Pontiff Emeritus to … complete the encyclical letter on Faith. I could almost hear the Pontiff says to the Emeritus, in tears, “aiutami, Benedetto!” after comparing the existing text with his own additions…
Don’t take me seriously, of course. It is normal for encyclical letters to be either written or co-written with expert theologians (when they are expert, or rather orthodox), and even a smart Pope like Pius XI asked his very own Cardinal Pacelli to write Mit Brennender Sorge. Nothing wrong or unusual per se.
Still, I had to smile…
Also interesting is the other news the Pope is working at an encyclical letter on (you guessed it) poverty, hopefully and allegedly intended in the proper way. Beati pauperes is clearly being hinted as a possible name for this effort.
We shall see, but I don’t think I’ll need to read any period of this twice, or will emerge from the reading tremendously enriched.
No great risk of controversy, either. Expect rather grilled tofu on soya sauce. I do not doubt the, ahem, simplest Catholics will be delighted, and the tofu blogosphere will be utterly, utterly delighted.
We shall see, and read. I do not doubt which of the two encyclicals will make the better reading.
Rorate Caeli has a very timely excerpt from Casti Connubii.
This great Pope was not one to mince words, not even in official documents. It is interesting to read today what he wrote not one century ago, and wonder how progressive priests would see a priest who would dare to use the sam e words today. But again old priests believes in Jesus, and many modern bishops don’t.
[S]ince, in order that the deceits of the enemy may be avoided, it is necessary first of all that they be laid bare; since much is to be gained by denouncing these fallacies for the sake of the unwary, even though We prefer not to name these iniquities “as becometh saints,” yet for the welfare of souls We cannot remain altogether silent.
Look, he says, there comes a point when one has to speak, and to speak plainly. If we don’t, the simple will suffer. If we do, we will behave charitably. How different from the “sensitive” mantra of our times, rather trying to persuade us that you can’t say to a sinner that he is wrong, because he could…. persevere in his sin! Genial!
The great Pope then goes on to demolish the idea that marriage be a human, rather a Divine institution, and to point out to the consequences of such error:
The evil of this teaching is plainly seen from the consequences which its advocates deduce from it, namely, that the laws, institutions and customs by which wedlock is governed, since they take their origin solely from the will of man, are subject entirely to him, hence can and must be founded, changed and abrogated according to human caprice and the shifting circumstances of human affairs
First of all, note the word “evil”. I am grateful for any reference you may email to me of any modern (Post V II) Pope or Bishop who has defined commonly held tenets of the modern thinking as “evil”. Methinks, nowadays references to “evil” have become rather rare (very “insensitive”, you know; people could be shocked, and sell their mother to an itinerant circus); I have more than the suspicion than when the word “evil” is used, this is done in a way that doesn not offend anyone: for example, denouncing “greed” or “the destruction of the planet”: so convenient.
Secondly, notice the argument: the consequence of this thinking – namely: that the laws governing wedlock might be changed according to the shifting circumstances of human affairs – is an evil in itself. The late Pope doesn’t stop – here, at least – to explain to you why a human-based regulation of wedlock is evil. It isn’t Christian, and this is proof enough of its being evil. How different from the attitude of the modern heathen a’ la Archbishop Nichols; people who have the gut to tell us that they are “nuanced” in regard to “civil partnerships”, and are satisfied to only point out that it shouldn’t be called “marriage”. I cannot imagine a Pope XI leaving him at his place, whereas you see that Popes greatly differ in energy and incisiveness of action.
But the good old Pontiff is not satisfied yet, and continues to hammer the errors of his – and every – time. Continuing the explanation fo the consequences of the above mentioned evil thinking, he sees as one of these
that the generative power which is grounded in nature itself is more sacred and has wider range than matrimony – hence it may be exercised both outside as well as within the confines of wedlock, and though the purpose of matrimony be set aside, as though to suggest that the license of a base fornicating woman should enjoy the same rights as the chaste motherhood of a lawfully wedded wife.
Read these words slowly and carefully:license of a base fornicating woman. Here, I am rather sure you have never ever read such words from a post V II Pope or Bishop. The lack of “pastoral sensitivity” of such words is such that a priest who would dare to express himself in such a way today would be very probably severely reprimanded by his bishop, whilst the latter would profit from the occasion for another show of “sensitivity” towards unrepentant sinners, obviously at the cost of his expendable priest.
I also wonder how, say, Archbishop Vincent Nichols would answer if plainly asked whether the fornicating woman should have the same rights of the lawfully wedded wife. With some politically correct waffle, very probably.
Pius XI was a strong, energetic, vigorously Christian Pope. He didn’t do “sensitivity” much, though you can plainly see he was more charitable than the entire present body of E&W bishops together.
O for a return of Popes likes the ones of the past.
Some people think (I know they do, though it is beyond me how this happens 😉 ) that this humble correspondent is too harsh towards the Heresy; that he shouldn’t use this word, heresy, at all; that to do so is rude and (how was the word again?) uncharitable.
But the simple fact is that heresy is heresy however nice the relevant heretic, and that heresy is wrong and leads the faithful to error.
Here (courtesy, once again, of that Catholic wonder called Rorate Coeli; you’ll have to scroll down to the 6th January 2011) we have another example of how heresy, deprived of the help of the Holy Ghost, leads into fatal error and contributes to the demolition of Christian values and of Western societies.
At the Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Anglicans opened the door to contraception. They did it in the usual way such things happen, as taboos are seldom broken openly and defiantly. They just adjusted and tweaked the Truth to the point where it suited the times enough as to allow those people who really wanted to disobey the rules to feel authorised to do so. The issue was contraception, the wording is as follows (emphases mine):
“Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience”.
This is the same game we have seen at play about divorce, abortion and homosexual relationship and it is the same game we are now seeing played about euthanasia. You don’t try to slam the door open, as this would never succeed. You just open it very little, and leave it to the times and the shift in moral values – shift in values that your first opening will invariably introduce – to open the door completely until there is even no remembrance that in the past the door was always supposed to be shut, no ifs and no buts.
There are Christian principles and there are, we are told, Christian principles in light of which one can go against Christian principles.
Yep, these must be Anglicans…
Thankfully, there is one shop that is the Only One and whose moral values are not shaped by the desire to do as one pleases. Thankfully, Christ has given us a Church against which the Gates of Hell will never prevail.
The Church (the Only One) reacted promptly to the convenient and politically correct pollution of Christian values operated by the Anglicans. The Church knows that when you begin to set the door ajar, it is only a matter of time before it is wide open. The Church also knows that Truth has no “best before” date and is in no need of being turned upside down under the pretence of allegedly using “the same Christian principles”.
Below is the reaction of the Church, with the encyclical letter Casti Connubii, recently turned 80 (emphases mine):
“Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”
Note the political incorrectness of Pius XI’s words. He makes clear that the Christian tradition on the matter was uninterrupted, not even touched by the heresy of Luther and by the following ones. He treats the Anglicans with a (with today’s eyes) shockingly brutal “some” which doesn’t even leave them the dignity of a group worth the legitimation of their existence, like “ecclesial community”. He proceeds to a strongly worded statement that God has given to the Church Only the task of preserving the Truth, and that this Truth speaks to us through the Pope’s mouth. Clearly, vague innuendos to Catholic truths and barely understandable statements with Catholicism hidden after multiple layers of easy-to-digest platitudes were not the speciality of this saintly man.
Let me say it once again: Truth is Truth and it does not tolerate the pollution with human conveniences. If one proceeds to make exceptions and distinguos in exceptional cases, the cases will soon start to become less and less exceptional as society becomes accustomed to the idea that there is a way out. See divorce. See abortion. See, well, everything. If one starts to hide this pollution with an illusory application of “the same Christian principles”, there will be no limit to the use of vaguely Christian-sounding platitudes to unhinge whatever doctrine has now become unpalatable. When one starts to make exceptions to a principle, the following generation will not even remember what the principle was.
Thankfully, the Church still stands erect in the midst of moral ruin. More proudly erect at some times than at others perhaps, but erect she stands nonetheless. About the moral ruin, surely no doubt is possible.
What immediately takes the attention of the reader is the political incorrectness of this booklet, more so today than it was at the time for sure. This is rather natural as the booklet is a popularised synopsis of Casti Connubii, Pius XI’s encyclical letter on marriage.
All the “uncomfortable” parts are considered without embarrassment, in encouraging but rather clear words: mixed marriages, abortion, divorce, the respective roles of the parents, the difference to a christian education dealing with marriage and “sex education”. One sees that the problem of those times where largely the problems of our times (poverty, for example, or the surprising fact that apparently there was already a certain number of single mothers).
By reading the rather slender booklet, you’ll discover a view of marriage certainly not taught for the last forty years at least, and still very powerful so many years later, as if these booklet had been written to help us recover Catholic values rather than to help past generations to keep them. Shocking as it may seem to many a modern reader, this booklet makes – as all of Catholic teaching – deep sense and he who spends some times pondering the truths herein contained has spent his time wisely.
Just a curiosity: the reference to the Italian state adopting the law of the Church for the regulation of marriages is literally true. The “Patti Lateranensi” between the Fascist Government and the newly-constituted “State of The Vatican City” established the rule that Canon Law would rule Italian marriages, with e.g. the consequence that marriages could only be annulled if the Sacra Rota (the Church’s tribunal) said so and the Italian government had – unbelievably from a secular perspective – no saying in the matter.
One wouldn’t necessarily advocate for 2010’s Britain the same rules applied in 1930’s Italy. Still, this booklet shows how much can be improved or, better, restored.