Tomorrow 22nd February is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Whilst St. Peter’s feast day is the 29th June, the feast of the 22nd February is more directly aimed at celebrating the Petrine Office. This feast is, therefore, as Catholic as they come.
This feast day might be an occasion to explain to some non-Catholic in your circle of acquaintances why you are Catholic. When requested, I proceed more or less in this way:
1) And I say to thee: that Thou are Peter…. Jesus doesn’t say to Simon that he is a nice chap; or that he is very perceptive; or that he himself is surprised that among the apostles Simon was the only one to give the right answer to his question “Who do people say that I am?”. No, he changes his name and calls him a rock.
2) and upon this rock I will build my Church…. Jesus doesn’t say “I will build my first church”, nor does he say “I will build my provisional church”. Jesus picks a rock, and builds upon him One (1, Una, Eine, Une) Church.
3) and the gates of Hell shall not previal against it….. It, that is: the very same Church built on Peter, the “rock”. That one, and no other. Jesus doesn’t say “the Gates of hell shall, in around fifteen centuries, prevail against the Church I built on you”, nor does he say “the Gates of Hell shall prevail against the Church built on you but hey, let us be happy with a generic term of “church” so it can work even when yours goes astray”. He is very specific: he builds one Church upon one man and gives his promise of indefectibility to this – and no other – organisation.
4) And I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven….. This is also dumb-proof: keys are a very obvious symbol of power and authority and it is clear here that Jesus is speaking with extreme solemnity. He doesn’t say to Peter: “Peter, you keep the key for the moment” or “look mate, gotta go; keep the keys until I find you or yours unworthy, will ya?”. No, this is a solemn promise evidently made for all times, as his just pronounced promise about indefectibility must make clear to the dumbest intellect.
5) ….and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. For those who should at this point still not have gotten what is going on, Jesus becomes even more explicit: Peter has the keys, and the keys mean authority upon the faithful now and forever; an authority given in the most emphatic terms possible.
The meaning of these phrases; the clear solemnity Jesus gives to his words; the crescendo of emphatic declarations of such a broad and clear scope do not leave room for any possible doubt and as a result, Protestants have nowhere to hide. Whoever reads Jesus’ words with a minimum of intellectual honesty cannot avoid to recognise that the Only Church of Peter’s time (and of the following fifteen centuries) is the Only Church of today and that as a result whatever grievance against the men who run the Church does not change a iota concerning the position of authority of the Church. As to the complaint that some Popes were oh-so-bad (not much worse than many a tv-preacher I’d say, but laissons tomber….), Peter wasn’t immaculate either, but his shortcomings didn’t prevent Jesus from promoting him to rock of His Church.
To believe anything different from the fact that the Only Church founded by Jesus is.. the Only Church means to believe one or more of the following:
1) that Jesus made a mistake in founding His Church on Peter;
2) that Jesus was mistakenly persuaded that Peter’s successors would be good chaps, but had his toy ruined by the baddies who succeeded Peter;
3) that Jesus couldn’t count;
4) that Jesus’ words had a sell-by date, or
5) that Jesus made his promise of indefectibility without taking it seriously.
Or perhaps one could decide to read and understand the only possible meaning of such emphatically worded statements, as Jesus repeatedly made.
There is only One Church, folks. It’s the only one founded by Jesus. Simple, really.
Another beautiful blog post of Mgr Charles Pope (this is the Monsignor with no uncertain trumpet, or talking about locks and keys: when are they going to make him a bishop?), reminiscing of a country in which Christianity was not the enemy, but a deeply felt part of the everyday – and national – consciousness.
I could very well relate to his situation because, on a slightly different plane, I had analogous experiences and I saw the Italian society change in the meantime, though not in such a dramatic way. We had the “Hail Mary” and “Our Father” every morning at school before beginning lessons; religion (that is: Catholicism) was part of the curriculum from kindergarten on, and at school we had religion one hour a week. The country lived at the rhythm of the Christian clock; Christmas was very keenly felt, and the music above one of the most popular Christmas jingles, back in every home year after year. Sunday was the day of rest, Mass and football; the Crucifix was in every classroom, the Pope unceasingly on TV, the mass televised in its entirety at twelve every Sunday. There was a very fortunate radio program every evening and replied every morning: “ascolta, si fa sera”. Millions of children have listened to it whilst having breakfast, for sure, with Handel’s music the same year after year.
Many things have changed now. Sunday is not such a Christian day as it used to be, as the necessity to stress oneself seems to have extended to the seventh day; come to that, Sunday football has also been massacred on the altar of television, and a generation of Italians has grown up without knowing the incredible emotion of “tutto il calcio minuto per minuto”, the most beloved (from men) and most hated (from women) radio program of all times, with a soundtrack and emotions every Italian knew. No TV could ever equal it, I never felt the same emotion again.
Technology has made us stupid, the relentless quest for televised excitement has taken the best emotions away from us. We just pay much more for them; but I digress…
Crucifixes are still in every classroom, and in a healthy reaction to the attack of mad atheists and subversive Muslims the country has successfully fought to keep them where they are supposed to be. But you see that the country has changed; if not dramatically so, certainly worryingly so. “Ascolta, si fa sera” and “tutto il calcio minuto per minuto” are both still there, but the first now hosts Evangelicals and Jews, the second is mutilated by the TV-dictated match schedule.
In all this, the country is being rather admirable at keeping its Catholic roots. Not because of the generally disgraceful clergy (this is the country where some member of the clergy has the nerve of supporting the building of mosques, and others lend churches to Muslims; I hope they repent before they kick the bucket), but because Catholicism is surprisingly resilient, is in the very bone marrow of the country. In Italy, what Catholicism you still have you owe it to the wisdom and resilience of the people, not to the courage of the priests.
Like Monsignor Pope (I always smile at the name…), I see changes around me, and a society certainly less Christian. But I also see a huge untapped reservoir of Christian resources all over the West. It seems to me that Christianity is not dying at all, rather a bit of a sleeping giant; that when the Christian leaders (and most importantly, the Catholic ones) wake up and start to blow the battle horn, the soldiers will not be slow in rallying. In Italy, euthanasia and crucifixes have been clear Christian victories, and after four decades of clerical silence (meaning with this: clerical silence) opposition to abortion is probably not far from 40%. In England, a Pope whose attempted arrest had been feared has drawn crowds unthinkable just the week before; always in England, the virulent anti-Catholic media attack of Easter 2010 has caused a spectacular run of faithful to the churches in the Holy Week in what was clearly a massive popular reaction to the media attacks.
The troops are there. Even in England! Yes, they must be mobilised and trained. But the real problem is not the absence of troops. It’s the lack of willing generals.
Pope Benedict XVI has launched today News.va, the all-new portal of the Vatican created to integrate various Vatican communication activities. A link has been already provided for your convenience under Links (Catholic).
By clicking you’ll find easy access to news from the Osservatore Romano (this is very impressive: it is now 7pm in the UK and there is a beautiful .pdf version of Tomorrow’s “Osservatore” that you can read online, for free), from the news agency Fides, from the Press Office of the Vatican and from other media and information sources. You can even click and listen directly to the Vatican radio, in several languages.
Even a layman like me notices that this is not something patched together in an approximate way. Wherever you click, the format remains the same, the information seamlessly integrated in the site whilst at the same time giving you the possibility to access the relevant media (to listen to the radio, to read the newspaper, to go to the “Osservatore Romano”‘s site instead of reading from the news.va platform).
You can share everything at your heart’s content of course, and in a sign of the times the Pope has sent the news of the start of the service with a tweet (another sign of the times being that he has done so from an iPad; Steve Jobs sends his greetings and if I were him, the relevant image would go in the ads planetwide… ).
It all works fine, and makes a good impression to this layman. It is easy to use and very convenient in the possibilities it opens. For example, I had never thought of listening to the Vatican Radio on the internet; but now it is only a couple of clicks away, in my language of choice.
If Pope Benedict wanted to give himself some nice toy for his sixtieth anniversary of ordination, I must say he has chosen a beautiful and perfectly useful one.
Ad multos annos!
The news about the extraordinary interview given from the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Policarpo, has already gone around the internet for a couple of days. The news was, I must admit, too incredible to dedicate to it a blog post until further news from a reliable source are available.
Now Rorate Caeli publishes an ample excerpt of his interview. I allow myself to mention here some of the more enlightening parts.
It was not by fortune that Jesus chose men to be apostles and gave women another kind of attention… [sic]
“Another kind of attention”. This is, I have to say, more than vaguely creepy. It sounds as if the Cardinal had given the interview after a good meal, with good wine and a glass of port, or three. Very unfortunate choice of words, for sure.
Once I was here in the Diocese and, when we had a discussion, there was a young women who asked the question: why can’t women be priests? And I decided to risk it. I said: you are right, but, in order that others study this matter, it is necessary to know if there are candidates…[sic]
Besides the extreme lack of intelligence of the argumentation – “would you want to do it?” is certainly not a logical argument; I mean, in Kindergarten perhaps, followed by “nananananananaaa”, but not between adults; and yes, the deluded candidates for such “jobs” are not missing, for sure – the Cardinal dares to answer to the feminists: “you are right”.
This is a man whose tongue is not properly under control, or not well-connected with his brains.
All kept their heads down.
Good Lord. That’s the argument! The women kept their heads down! Even if he had just said that ….. they were right! What a formidable debater we have here. A true Prince of the Church.
Once, in the context of an international meeting on the new evangelization, in Vienna, this question was posed, and I said that there is not, at this moment, any Pope who has the power to do that.
This calls for a tranquilliser. Let us repeat this verbatim: “There is not, at the moment, any Pope who…..”. Is the good Cardinal looking for a suitable one? Has he already advertised to fill the vacancy? “Pope sought. Power to ordain women is an absolute requirement. Send your CV to Card. Policarpo, Lisbon.” Or should there, in fact, be one, but he has missed the train and couldn’t make it to the ordination of priestesses? Or is the good Cardinal waiting for a new Pope from Mars, who will be able to do it? Questions, questions……
You gotta love that Port wine, though.
It goes on.
This would create tensions, and it will happen only when God wants it to happen and, if it is in His plans, it will happen
Ah, now we know it! Male priesthood is not a matter of infallible (in-fal-li-ble; I-N-F-A-L-L-I-B-L-E) Ordinary and universal Magisterium. It is something that God might simply change! God changes His mind pretty regularly, didn’t you know? Just as the Twelve Commandment became Ten and the Sixteen Apostles (at least two of them, very probably, women; we don’t know for certain) were reduced to Twelve we might, one day, have women priests! Simples! Be patient though, will you?
Yes, you know what I’m thinking….
It goes on.
The Holy Father John Paul II, at one point, seemed to settle the matter. I believe that the matter is not settled like this; theologically, there is no fundamental obstacle; there is this tradition, let us say it this way… [sic] it was never different. (Emphases mine)
(Your humble correspondent stops here, because he feels unable to keep composure and write about the matter in a way acceptable for polite ears).
(Well, Wimbledon is good to calm yourself down. Now, where was I….)
Note the words. Pope John Paul “seemed to settle the matter”, but then he apparently forgot to. Or Cardinal Policarpo was just not there. Or he just can’t read. Apparently, then, according to our hero “there is no theological obstacle”. It’s not a theological matter, you know. It’s just that, hey, it just happened to never be otherwise. As they say, “shit happens”! But you never know, one day the Vatican might find a letter from Heaven saying to do it differently! It has happened already, don’t ya know? It’s called the “Ordinary, Universal and Disposable Magisterium”. Yes, a bit like Kleenex. We love that thing here in Lisbon! We use it all the time! No, not the Kleenex…
At this point, I do not even think that Port wine can do this. Not the one I know, at least, unless Portuguese Cardinals have access to some very, very strong stuff.
It goes on….
The problem is on another level, in a strong tradition, which comes from Jesus, and in the ease with which the reformed churches went that way. This did not make the solution of the problem any easier, if this problem has a solution.
So, you know what the Cardinal thinks it has happened? Jesus has created a problem! Instead of doing Cardinal Policarpo the favour of having a couple of token women as every serious, “equality sensitive” multinational would do, he just goes on stubbornly appointing an all-male, chauvinistic team; one where women can’t even find a place as reserves to be inserted in the last fifteen minutes, when you’re winning 3-0 and are playing 11 against 10. Oh well, it is what it is, we’ll have to live with the problem now…. And look, Jesus, we look even worse now, because the Protestant teams ( I’ll call them “churches”, of course; “reformed churches”. I know it sounds heretical, but hey, we can’t say “there’s only one Church”, right?) have inserted women in their teams with such… ease! Good Satan, this is embarrassing! What do we say to the customers now! This is going to give us a serious marketing problem! We need to change the product, Jesus; we truly do!
And now, dear readers, is the time for some serious, sad reflection.
The hypothesis that the Cardinal might have drunk too much, and might have lost control during the interview, is in my eyes not entirely unfounded. If you read the interview, he loses his thread several times, once at the very beginning; he sounds confused and creepy; he seems not to reflect on the huge heresies he goes on spitting. In short, he looks like one surprised at a very bad time, and who didn’t have the presence of spirit to call it a headache and leave the thing for another day. It happens more often than you think, Ken Livingstone is just the last example.
This would be the charitable explanation. Let me stress this: the charitable one; the one which considers human frailties; the one which tries to discount the open heresy and to find an explanation for his inexplicable words, a halfway understandable excuse for his inexcusable blabber.
On the other hand – and sad as it is to have to say so – Rorate Caeli informs us that this is the same man who has overseen the Portuguese church in a time of legalisation of abortion on demand and of same sex marriages without opposing more than some obligatory meowing; the one who has presided over a collapse of church attendance but is still the owner of the very telling privilege of presiding over the only capital in Europe still without a Tridentine Mass.
A coincidence is a coincidence, but….. you know the rest…
Once again, this shows that the Liturgy is so closely intertwined with the theology, that you can’t separate the two. Where you have bad liturgy, this will create bad theology. Where you have stubborn opposition to Catholic liturgical orthodoxy, you will have the ideal ground for the spreading of heresy.
The Liturgy is the Church. When you use violence to the Liturgy, you use violence to the Church. The rest follows automatically.
I truly hope that in the next days the Cardinal will offer to the press a strong refutation of his words. But as this has not yet been the case, I can’t imagine that there is a realistic chance for this and that we must face the reality of an openly heretical Cardinal. Nothing new under the sun of course, but sad nevertheless.
Therefore, unless this man was “tired and emotional” at the moment of giving the interview, the only possible conclusion is that the Patriarch of Lisbon is openly heretical, and has the gut to clearly and openly defy the Pope’s and the Church’s authority in matters clearly pertaining to the Ordinary and universal Magisterium.
When such a challenge to the Church’s teaching authority is moved, and from such an elevated position, it is the duty of the Pope to correct, admonish and if necessary punish the person responsible.
If the Pope lets this provocation pass without correction, his authority and prestige will be irrevocably damaged and after the Patriarch of Lisbon, other heretical senior churchmen will come out of the wood and start expressing their more or less veiled approval for heretical theories. This must be stopped now, as it has already gone far enough.
The days of the Popes who limit themselves to administer some nice words of guidance and counselling should have ended long ago. As Romano Amerio beautifully pointed out, the role of the Pope has traditionally been one of both direction and prescription. If the Holy Father only focuses on the first aspect and neglects the second, heresy, anarchy and schism will be the result. It will be Pope Paul VI all over again!
The Cardinal needs our prayer. But just as surely, he needs to be kicked out, sharpish. There can be no excuse, no reason of opportunity, no fear of schism that can justify the permanence of such openly heretical cardinal at his place. Souls are at stake. Those who have the duty to act will have to anwer for these souls.
The place where to address your righteous indignation are as follows:
Congregation for the Clergy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation for Bishops: Palazzo della Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10, 00193 Roma, Italy (email address not found)
Holy Father: email@example.com
Please try to be much more moderate than I was here. There’s a time for the sword and a time for the floret. You’ll be addressing Princes of the Church or even – at least officially – the Holy Father himself. I’ll do it as soon as I can.
Frankly, at the moment I can’t.
It would appear that a new consistory is rather probable within the end of the year.
This is not entirely surprising as the vacancies are now numerous. By the end of the year there will be the possibility of appointing 15 Cardinals (if Pope Benedict wants to remain by the number of 120 elettori, that is). Now, this is at least one eighth of the next conclave, probably more – due to the system which sees Cardinals continuously losing electorate – and it is clear enough that every consistory can, in and of itself, radically change the situation at the next Conclave.
Pope Benedict is still in rather good health, but at 84 and with a past of heart problems I’m sure he is not planning for a reign of JP II’s duration. It is therefore rather important that this consistory injects the right energies into the next conclave.
Much is at stake, as both Summorum Pontificum and the relationship with the SSPX and the other traditionalist groups could be seriously compromised in case the next conclave results in a serious mistake. On the other hand, a careful but noticeable shifting of the centre of gravity towards the right wing would give everyone the serenity necessary for long-term hopes.
Ideally – if you ask me – Pope Benedict would appoint only one or two of the liberals to appease them (Nichols’ appointment is this time, alas, very probable) and choose for all other places men of undoubted liturgical and theological orthodoxy, possibly rather young so that they stay around for a long time.
I wish the Holy Father a long and healthy reign of course, but the demographic reality is what it is and it must be clear to us that this might be the last consistory of this pontificate.
Ad multos annos, Papa! But please, please conservative appointments!
Strange things happen these days at the FSSPX. I have already written about the potential offer of a worldwide ordinariate for Traditionalists, and of the subsequent clarification from Bishop Fellay that no formal offer has been made. On this second occasion, the Italian blog Messa In Latino insisted that the news (Ordinariate on its way of being offered; formal document not ready yet) are authentic and from credible source.
We now have, from the same blog, two pieces of news; the first rather, the second very interesting.
The first is that Bishop Williamson has criticised the offer of Ordinariate (which was clearly expected), at the same time confirming that he has a source of information directly inside of Ecclesia Dei. He adds the definition “Apostolic Ordinariate“, with the adjective not mentioned by Messa in Latino. This sounds like one with one ear inside Ecclesia Dei, and not particularly pleased at what he hears.
The second is that Bishop Fellay has been summoned to Rome, together with his two assistants, for the 14th September, 4th anniversary of the day Summorum Pontificum came into force.
Fellay is supposed to deposit the SSPX’s final relation about the doctrinal talks, but the date is a sensitive, directly relevant and historical one and it is not difficult to imagine that something might be in the making here. What day would be more apt for this second historical step, than the anniversary of when the first came into force…
Against this datum of 14th of September would, on the other hand, speak the fact that in October we will have the questionable “Assisi III” gathering, and it is easy to imagine that the spirits at the SSPX will be rather excited. If, therefore, a formal offer is presented mid-September, the discussion within the SSPX will develop in the weeks leading to the Assisi gathering. Not good for them, and not good for Rome. Good, actually, only for Williamson and the other opposers of full reconciliation.
We will see out this pans out. In the meantime, the clear nervousness of Bishop Williamson and the symbolic date for Bishop Fellay’s meeting with the Pope do give some reason to hope.
The Italian blog Messa In Latino – which had published the original rumour – today informs us that Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a document outlining the proposal of an Ordinariate for the FSSPX and other traditionalist groups.
Messa In Latino confirms that such a solution has been (tentatively) outlined to the FSSPX. The explanations given by the blog as to how reconcile this with Fellay’s words are as follows:
1) Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a “concrete project” (say: a definitive document of proposal), not the existence of a verbal, in principle proposal to proceed in this way.
2) It would appear that the announcement has caused some discontent within the FSSPX, with the least moderate part predictably opposed to any solution which doesn’t represent a complete backpedaling from Rome.
3) It would appear possible that in light of this situation, Fellay himself may have wished the postponement of the official proposal to a later time, in the meantime hoping to consolidate the approval for such a solution.
4) The proposed Assisi meeting in October is not going to make things easier; again, this might speak for an official proposal after the sandstorm to be caused by the Assisi gathering has settled.
It all makes much sense to me and I do not think that the Italian translation will reveal fundamental changes. Whilst it is predictable that the intransigent fraction will not be happy with the solution, I frankly can’t see why the vast part of the SSPX clergy should refuse it, provided that the ability for the SSPX to continue to operate in complete autonomy (which means: to continue to criticise V II documents ad libitum) would not be compromised. It is not that Lefebvre was any softer regarding V II before his excommunication, so there is no need to fear that return to full communion will mean the necessity to accept the V II documents as pure gold.
What is important to notice is that Messa In Latino boldly confirms the rumours. In this respect, the presence of a written document is in my eyes not really decisive, as after so many years of disagreements there is no real hurry and the idea of waiting until, say, Advent does make sense.
I will keep you posted if further news appear.
This Michael Voris video is, I must say, rather harsh even for his standards. Which is not bad, actually, as the present situation justifies in my eyes a good dose of harshness, and then some.
The basis of Voris’ message is that the bishops can’t pass the buck and blame the modern times, or the media, or the situation they have found for the lack of orthodoxy we see all too often in Catholic parishes. It is exactly the duty of the bishop to react to modern times (times have never been “old”, in fact, and every age has always had its own challenges and difficulties), to pay attention that his priests behave orthodoxy, to take care that Catholic teaching is correctly – and actively – represented in the media however possible, and in general to take care of the souls of his diocese.
It is true that, as Voris points out, things are not so extreme as they used to be and one must admit that there is no Liberation Theology around, neither has Pope Benedict to confront a bishops’ rebellion remotely comparable to the Dutch Schism, or to the Winnipeg Statement. Still, there is a lot of nonsensical waffling around, convenient espousing of fashionable ideologies and, most importantly, almost complete blindness towards heterodox priests, heretical theologians and politicians who are Catholics in name only.Voris makes two concrete examples regarding “homo masses”, but the same complaint can be made regarding, to name just two, abortion or contraception.We will not have any meaningful resurgence of Catholic thinking in the West, until the Bishops start to do their job properly collectively and not only with the courageous initiative of a small number of brave men not fearing unpopularity.
The only integration of Voris’ thought that I would like to make is that if it is undoubtedly true that the bishops are responsible for what happens in their own dioceses, it is equally honest to admit that the Popes are responsible for the quality of the bishops. It is not that those appointed were noted for their own courage and/or orthodoxy and then magically became cowardly and/or heretical after the fact. Rather, the bad quality of many of today’s bishop can be directly attributed of the bad quality of the appointments. This simple fact must – unpleasant as it is – be brought at the very centre of the debate if we want to avoid the situation in which Popes ask their bishop to behave well, whilst appointing people predisposed to behave badly. In this respect, it is i my eyes cleat that an awful lot must be accomplished still, and that Pope Benedict’s papacy can be – again, in this respect – archived as a missed opportunity.
I’d have to ask a theologian whether it is ok to call very bad bishops – as I seem to understand the word from the video – “bums”; but frankly, I wouldn’t say that they haven’t deserved to some clear words anyway.
The Daily Telegraph (you will remember, this is the newspaper which calls itself “conservative” but calls homosexuals and sodomites “gay” and puts obscene photos of homos kissing on their internet page, for every child to see) gives us just another example of how not to be a journalist.
As you can see in the link, there are several anti-Catholic messages in this article:
1) the reference to the Nazi-built stadium. Now, not even the “Telegraph”‘s most astonishingly leftist journalist would, I hope, suggest that all public buildings and structures erected by the Nazis (and an awful lot of them there were; if you ask me, mostly extremely beautiful; many survived the war) be destroyed because hey, “they were built by the Nazis”. If this is a logical statement (which it is), it follows that the Olympic Stadium is simply… the Olympic stadium and the fact that it was built by Hitler is, subsequently, neither here nor there. Clearly, though, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible.
2) The journalist is good enough to mention the fact that Pope Benedict’s membership of the Hitlerjugend was compulsory, but one wonders what relevance the Pope being drafted (that’s just what it was: you got drafted and you became a member of the Hitlerjugend, there was no other organisation where you could have landed) as millions of Germans of his age has to his travelling to Germany. Once again, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible.
3) Just in case you didn’t get the message, among the hundreds of articles about Pope Benedict the “Telegraph” could have linked to, what do our pink heroes choose? But of course! They choose an article with the following title: “Vatican: don’t mention the Pope’s Hitler Youth past”. Think of this, this is a historical papacy which gave us Summorum Pontificum; a visit to England is not many months old, which visit stunned the country for its success and the amount of public participation; also directly related to the British Isles, Anglicanorum Coetibus is another historical step with potentially vast long-term repercussions on the future of Anglicanism. But what do you think the “Daily Homograph” considers worthy of being “related” to the papal visit? Ah, the fact that the Vatican tries to influence journalists about the Pope’s past, of course! Once again, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible. , and here a dab of “oppressive and manipulative Vatican” is added for good measure.
4) Then there’s the matter of the Catholics “leaving the Church” in record numbers, which is clearly bollocks. What all these people do is very clearly not stop going to Mass – at least, not because they stop paying – but simply stop paying the “Kirchensteuer”, the infamous “church tax” in place in Germany and in a couple of other countries. This is a typical Protestant construct, a (voluntary but in the past, more or less socially expected) tithe paid directly from one’s wage which leaves the faithful with no control whatsoever as to how much he wants to give, and to whom. This is Castrism, not Christian charity. The result is that Germany has a clergy both extremely well off, and extremely tepidly Catholic. Why should they care? They can abandon themselves to every sort of circus and liberal tomfoolery and the money is there, guaranteed and aplenty….
The system of the “Kirchensteuer” is now clearly going down in flames, as it should. But this doesn’t mean that interest in Catholicism is diminishing, let alone that people are leaving the Church in record numbers. It just means that they are fed up with having to pay a “church tax”, which can only be good for the local church and might, who knows, force some of their priests to convert to Catholicism.
5) Dulcis in fundo, the entire article is, actually, wrong. The news here is that a big venue had been booked for the Papal visit, but this venue had to be abandoned because…. it is not big enough. This means that the attraction of the Pope is beyond the previsions, even considering that this is the travel of a German Pope to his own country.
What about, then, a headline like: “Success of Papal Visit forces change in venue”, or: “Crowds wanting to see Pope Benedict force use of Olympic Stadium”, or: “Papal visit: 40,000 places not enough for Berlin”. Note here that Berlin is historically Protestant and nowadays largely atheist, which makes the news even more noteworthy.
Well, it wasn’t to be. Something had to be found to smear the Holy Father with a dash of Nazism, and downplay the success his visit is very clearly heading to. You can’t tell your readers that this Pope awakens great sympathy even in uber-Liberal Germany so that a big stadium must be used, can you now? No, let us build the article on the “crisis of Catholicism” in Germany and let us paint the Pope with a broad Nazi brush. Let me see, what headline could we use? hmm, yes: “Pope’s Berlin Mass moved to Nazi Olympic Site” will do…
The “Daily Telegraph” is a nest of anti-Catholic hacks, in part motivated by the clear homosexuality to be found among their ranks. It is just that the newspaper being officially “conservative” doesn’t allow them to make an overt anti-Catholic and pro-homo propaganda, and more subtle messages must be sent.
Please don’t buy this rag.
I have written last year about the scandalous Mass allowed every year by the every inch as scandalous Archbishop of Vienna, Cristoph Cardinal Schoenborn.
The event might happen – and is, in fact, scheduled to happen – again this year, unless sincere Catholics the world over manage to let Cardinal Schoenborn either see the light, or get a well-deserved slap from Rome.
Click on the link for the details. Mind, though, that this is rather strong stuff.
You can sign Gloria.tv’s petition here
If you feel like wasting some time, you can politely complain (in English too) by the Archbishop at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can write to the Congregation for the Clergy denouncing these scandalous shepherds at email@example.com
The email of the Papal Nuncio in Austria is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can write to the Holy Father himself at email@example.com
Come on folks, let’s do this. The mass will be stopped or not as the case may be, but the stronger the uproar, the more difficult it will be to go on with such scandals.
In addition, please consider that Schoenborn is, in theory at least, papabile and the public uproar will certainly not help him when the time comes.
I have written two days ago about the interviews of Mgr Pozzo and Bishop Fellay.
As you can read here, my impression was that the distance between the two sides was greatly reduced and that particularly Fellay seemed to indicate that now only a decision from the Vatican was waited for, though I thought that the Vatican would prefer to wait for the funeral of the V-II generation before taking action.
If the generally very well informed Messa In Latino blog is right, this might not be the case.
First the text in Italian:
Il Papa sta per proporre a mons. Fellay la costituzione di un Ordinariato, per regolarizzare la situazione della FSSPX e delle sue comunità alleate, lasciandogli la piena (e indispensabile, visti certi epìscopi in circolazione) autonomia nei confronti dei vescovi diocesani. Alcuni membri di una comunità Ecclesia Dei hanno potuto precisare che questa proposta canonica sarà fatta nel corso del presente mese di giugno a mons. Fellay.
My unworthy translation:
The Pope is going to propose to Mons. Fellay the constitution of an Ordinariate to regolarise the situation of the FSSPX and of the communities allied to it, by leaving to the SPPX the full (and, given certain bishops going around, indispensable) autonomy towards the diocesan bishops. Some members of an Ecclesia Dei community were in a position to confirm that this canonical proposal will be made to Mons. Fellay during the present month of June.
If confirmed, this would be huge. It would mean that in one fell swoop not only the FSSPX would be given full communion again, but there would be a ready platform for all those desirous to attend Mass, and to live the Church, in the old way.
Again a commentary of Messa In Latino:
E’ una soluzione win-win, in cui tutti avrebbero moltissimo da guadagnare: da un lato Roma ricucirebbe una dolorosa rottura e troverebbe truppe fresche e determinate per condurre la battaglia del recupero di quanto gli ultimi decenni hanno dissipato; dall’altro la FSSPX si laverebbe dello stigma di ribellione e di ‘scisma’, potendo così svolgere un apostolato ben più efficace e senza subire i mille pregiudizi che l’accompagnano nella mente del cattolico medio, pur conservando appieno l’attuale libertà di movimento e di azione.
Again, my unworthy translation:
This is a win-win situation, by which everyone would have an awful lot to gain: on the one hand, Rome would heal a painful fracture and would find fresh and determined troops to carry the battle of the recovery of what the last decades have squandered; on the other hand, the FSSPX would wash itself from the stigma of rebellion and “scism”, thus being able to carry on a much more effective apostolate, without having to suffer the thousand prejudices associated to it in the mind of the average Catholic, but still keeping the actual freedom of movement and action in full.
If confirmed, this would be in my eyes as big as Summorum Pontificum.
Please, Please God make this come true…
Rorate Caeli has a very interesting double post, in which a recent interview of Bishop Fellay is linked to an interview given by Mgr Pozzo of Ecclesia Dei. Both interviews contain what in my eyes are very interesting points.
Looking first at the interview with Pozzo, there is an expression that will probably make some waves (emphasis mine):
It does not seem conceivable that a call into question of the Second Vatican Council may happen. Therefore, where do these discussions might lead? To a better understanding of this?
Mgr Pozzo’s Answer:
They concern a clarification of points that detail the exact meaning of the teaching of the Council. It is what the Holy Father started to do on December 22, 2005, by interpreting the Council within a hermeneutic of renewal in continuity. Nevertheless, there are certain objections of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X that do make sense, because there has been an interpretation of rupture. The goal is to show that it is necessary to interpret the Council in the continuity of the Tradition of the Church.
Note that Mgr Pozzo says that SSPX and CDF are working together at seeing whether a shared understanding of V II can be achieved. It will not be a dismissal of V II as a cretinous thing to do in itself (shame, ndr), but it might lead to the same thing, that is: the rigorous exam of V II so that every interpretation not in rigorous continuity with the pre-V II Church is clearly and unequivocally rejected. This would lead, in a word, not to a formal dismissal of the V II documents, but to their thorough re-interpretation in light of Catholic orthodoxy. Basically, it means exposing all their shortcomings, misleading formulations and wrong interpretations by still saying that, apart from the shortcomings and the misleading formulations, they were never meant to be interpreted wrongly in the first place.
This seems to me a clear indication that the distances are reducing, as the explicit words of Mgr Pozzo about the SSPX’s objections “making sense” further underscore. In a situation where no word is said casually, I think this is worth noticing.
Even more worth noticing is the interview given some days ago by Bishop Fellay, which Rorate Caeli reports under the same link. Fellay allows himself very interesting words (emphasis mine):
I believe that, at some level, the Good Lord linked us with this crisis, because we work for the restoration of the Church, but this may still last for a decade, maybe two. It is necessary to have lots of courage and perseverance. This can be resolved tomorrow, this may be resolved the day after tomorrow. All is in the hands of the Good Lord.
Unless I am totally mistaken, there are two important points here:
1) Fellay sees something like one or two papacies as the maximum wait before a full reconciliation. He talks like one who can see from the development of the talks that time is on his side. Basically, he seems to imply that there are some toads that have been clearly recognised, but that the Vatican will not be ready to swallow until the Council has been pushed further into a historic (and less emotional) dimension and the generation who has lived it has proceeded to – hopefully – greener pastures.
2) The first point seems to me further stressed by the revealing words that I have emphasised. I do not know about you, but to me these words seem an extremely emphatic assertion that the distance has now become very small, and the Vatican must decide not the if, but merely the when of the formal steps leading to a full reconciliation. At any rate, I can’t imagine Fellay using such words unless he is persuaded that every big obstacle has been removed from the way.
Not for the first time, I get the impression that the only thing now necessary before the SSPX is in full communion again is the death of the generation who has lived the Second Vatican Council, and the possibility to put things straight from a more relaxed, less controversial historical perspective.
Some time ago I wrote a blog post about the desperate gesture of twenty-five French priests writing to Cardinal Ouellet and asking him to the help the Holy Father to select better bishops
I do not know whether the letter had a direct effect on this appointment (and it might, in fact, well be that the decision had been taken before the letter being received), but one can certainly say that the new appointment for Aberdeen will not cause any such letter to be written.
Abbot Hugh Gilbert, OSB is known to be a holy and very orthodox man. He had been openly rumoured as a successor for the unspeakable Archbishop Murphy O’Connor (so openly, in fact, that it moved the Spectator to write an article about him) and with the benefit of hindsight it is no less than a tragedy that instead of him the almost-as-unspeakable Vincent “Quisling” Nichols was the chosen one.
Perhaps the key to this appointment’s interpretation lies in the clear perception that Nichols’ appointment was a serious mistake, and that the best thing to do now is to react by injecting a good dose of holiness and orthodoxy in the clergy of the British Isles, clearly in dire need of it.
Pluscarden is a success story not only because of the prestige of the institution and the reputation acquired by its Abbott, but because it thrives. Once again, it is plain to see that seriously intended Catholicism – not trendy waffling around – is what is needed.
I am not as deluded as to think that the new Bishop will now avoid some political adjustment to the new situation and in fairness, being a bishop is not the same as being an abbot; still, it is fair to say that one can have the highest hopes of his becoming an exemplary bishop and to shame Vincent “Quisling” Nichols just by way of contrast.
Congratulations to the Abbot for his new appointment and best wishes for his, no doubt, excellent work as Bishop.
Joe Biden met the Pope yesterday. We do not know what the Pope said to him (I hope he slapped him; someway I doubt it), but we do know what Joe Biden, the highest-ranking Catholic in name only in the land, thinks of his being Catholic. The man suffers, like many of his Catholic colleagues, of a strange form of schizophrenia. At home, Mr. Biden thinks that life begins at conception. But as soon as he goes out of the door of his house another Joe Biden takes over. This one “cannot impose his personal convictions in the legislative arena” and therefore (!) backs abortion.
I thought being a politician was about having personal convictions, but I must be gravely mistaken here: being a politician is obviously about saying what people want one to say and make a living out of it. Brilliant.
More brilliant (this time, though, seriously) is the answer given to him – some time ago, but CNA rightly reports it – from his bishop:
“No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’ Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’”
Brilliant here is not the concept (which is rather banal, and should actually be understood by every person with a bit of sense in his head), but the fact that a bishop openly exposes the hypocrisy of such cowardly – or, worse, purely fake – Catholic politicians.
One could hope – if he is in a really, really good mood – that this meeting with the Pope will lead to a change of Biden’s stance about, at least, abortion. Unfortunately and not being in such a really, really good mood I am more inclined to think that Mr. Biden is merely trying to get some headlines and polish his image among Catholics on the cheap.
Feast your eyes (and ears!) with this Catholic pearl.
Not only you find here a beautiful Tridentine Solemn Mass almost in its entirety, but you also have the commentary of no less than Fulton Sheen, both explaining details of the Mass and providing a short translation of the Latin text as it is sung. This is the Easter Mass of 1941 in the church of Our Lady Of Sorrows, Chicago.
The beauty and solemnity of this Easter Mass, the reverence, the accuracy of every detail (beautifully explained by Fulton Sheen) put to shame the very thought of getting rid of such breathtaking splendour.
Seriously, what the Conciliar Father were thinking – and in the years immediately after the Council, figuratively speaking, smoking – will always be beyond my simple understanding.
CNA has a beautiful Papal intervention, aimed at stressing the necessity of good evangelisation work.
One must say, this Pope is good at talking. Take for example these two phrases:
“It is important to make them understand that being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity.”
“proclaiming Jesus Christ, the sole Savior of the world, is more complex today than in the past, but our task continues to be the same as at the beginning of our history. The mission hasn’t changed, just as the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the apostles and first disciples should not change.”
I see a slight problem, though. To talk the talk is all good and fine, but from a Pope able to talk the talk with such clarity, one would expect the ability to walk the walk with far more energy and determination than this is the case now. It seems to me more and more that Pope Benedict sees himself not as an enforcer of orthodoxy, but as one whose task is to prepare the way for future orthodoxy. He often gives to me the impression that he is working so that his successors may act, but without acting directly with anywhere near the energy that would be required.
Summorum Pontificum was obviously huge, and Universae Ecclesiae provides the priests and faithful (after, if I may say so, too many years of inaction) with valid instruments to improve its implementation. What I miss, though, is the concrete action on the ground, the factual providing for robust evangelisation rather than the talking about it; in short, the walk.
We still are afflicted with bishops like Nourrichard (Benedict’s appointment to his present position) and Fonlupt (whose very recent appointment even sparked a reaction in form of a letter from French priests); we have an Archbishop of Westminster (also a Benedict’s appointment to his present position) openly boasting that he is nuanced about homosexual relationships and doesn’t know whether he will celebrate their “marriages”. If you read around this blog, you’ll find many more examples, but you get my drift: evangelisation is best made by first putting one’s house in order.
The Church is not in order. The number of bishops with either heterodox views or without the guts to defend orthodoxy is staggering. The situation is so bad, that when a bishop dares to do his job properly this makes huge waves, so unexpected it is. Many of these liberal, heterodox or cowardly bishops have been appointed, and continue to be appointed, by Pope Benedict and I am sorry to say so, but as long as this continues every beautiful talk about the need of a new evangelisation will sound little more than verbal decoration.
Make no mistake, I am a big fan of Pope Benedict’s reforms and I think that, as a Pope, he is a huge improvement on his saintly but catastrophic predecessor. Still, I think that he will be remembered rather as a Pope who prepared the ground for concrete action, than as one who acted decisively himself.
Summorum Pontificum is no concrete action if after four years we still have very few Latin Masses, and nice talks about the needs of evangelisation are no concrete action if the evangelisation is then left to the devices of the Nourrichards of this world, whom the Pontiff himself appoints. Concrete action is to take care that the sheep are provided with good shepherds, and that the shepherds take care that the priests are sound.
Evangelisation via television doesn’t work, much less evangelisation via “encouragement speech” to people whose theology and praxis is almost beyond repair. Evangelisation is done from the pulpit; with a reverent celebration at the altar; with a strong defiance of unChristian politicians; with an insisted, frontal assault on secular thinking.
Most of all, evangelisation is done by forcing the Nourrichards of the world to march allineati e coperti like as many soldiers, or by getting rid of them without delay.
I have written in the last weeks (and before) rather often about strange liberal creatures with clear difficulties in reconciling themselves with Catholicism.
Their problem seems apparent – I would say, it is made by them very apparent – by the inability of these chaps to dress like ordained people. If they have an obligation to dress like clerics, they seem blissfully unaware of it. Let us see some example of this “liberal fashion”.
This is bishop Nourrichard, he of the Thiberville scandal
You can note from this photo that the man likes yellow, and green; that he doesn’t look particularly sober ( an impression of mine, for sure; pastis is not very strong after all…..) and that he has not been blessed with a familiar environment stressing the value of elegance or, at least, basic decency. Congratulations to bishop Nourrichard for the “country bumpkin” prize.
The next one is bishop William Morris, he of Toowoomba
This man was clearly raised up in a more tasteful environment. The shirt is well pressed, the tie well matched, the colours are elegant and dignified. Particularly so, because the sign of the Vatican boot on his backside is not visible on this picture.
The problem is that by looking at the photo you’d never say that he is, of all things, a Catholic bishop; which is, clearly, what he himself wants.
Don’t worry, though: having being kicked out by the Holy Father he is now a retired bishop anyway. If he is defrocked – as he should – he’ll have even more scope for his well-pressed, tasteful shirts. Or perhaps he will then decide to follow his vocation and will dress like a Morris dancer.
Next in line is our “priestesses subito” soi-disant Catholic theologian, Hans Kueng.
Herr Kueng prefers a sober, traditional style, with a white shirt complemented by a regimental-type tie and a sober London smoke jacket. This would be very fine, if said Herr Kueng were not a religious. The problem with the way he dresses is that he is clearly trying to let you forget that he is a Catholic priest. A circumstance which he has, very probably, long forgotten himself.
Dulcis in fundo, the hero of the hour; the idol of worldwide pedophiles; the staunch defender of sodomy with children; the -apparently – former Dutch Salesian Superior Herman Spronk.
Note the inquisitive, attentive, piercingly liquid eye. This is a typical expression that once would have been defined “tired and emotional” but we today, unaccustomed to the niceties of the past, simply call drunk. These expressive facial traits – you see in them a clear sympathy for the tragedy of good men, cruelly separated from the children they love by a ruthless Vatican hierarchy and oppressive superiors in Rome – are aptly matched to a factory-worker casual jacket and a dark blue, probably rather coarse, shirt. We all know how much children love blue, and the casual dress is also clearly meant to avoid being intimidating. Sinite pargulos venire ad me is the extremely creepy message here.
These are all examples of liberals of various kind previously dealt with on this blog, the last three in the past couple of weeks.
Once again, it is clear that symbols have power, and that the way one chooses to follow regarding his exterior appearance often accurately reflects his interior world.
The religious habit has a powerful symbolic force. It is not surprising that those who betray the Church start by betraying the habit.
Unfortunately, the massive material gathered by them now requires subscription. But Pave The Way – an organisation with extensive access to the Vatican archives – has now released an additional document, revealing that the Allies themselves had asked Pope Pius XII to stay silent about the german deportations of Jewish from Hungary, to avoid the Pope denouncing, whilst doing so, the massacres perpetrated by the Russians.
Notice that whilst the Germans were deporting, the Russians were raping and the Allies were politicking, the Vatican was saving 25,000 Jews from Budapest alone through their vast net of religious institutions and brave helpers.
This documents reveals a typical Pius XII: a shrewd diplomatician forced to move in extremely difficult times; doing all he can to help the oppressed whilst at the same time paying attention not to do anything which might be of damage to the oppressed themselves – one can easily imagine what would have happened in France, in Poland, perhaps in occupied Italy if he had openly and frontally attacked the Nazi regime on the holocaust – and to his Catholic fold alike.
What once more emerges, is a Pope admirably mixing courage, intelligence, prudence and diplomacy.
What a splendid Pope we had, and how fitting that this great man be, in the mad decades that followed his death, be slandered from the anti-Catholic and anti-Christian wolves.
We already know that the beatification prayer for his beatification mass has been already approved. This makes his beatification, to all practical purposes, only a matter of when. But I do think that another cry is here appropriate:
From the German site Summorum Pontificum, a communique’ of the German SSPX about Universae Ecclesiae:
Two points are particularly noteworthy:
1. Zur Frage des Papstamtes
Die Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X. anerkennt Papst Benedikt XVI. als rechtmäßigen Papst und als Oberhaupt der katholischen Kirche. […]
1. On the question of the Papal Office:
The Society of St. Pius X acknowledges Pope Benedict XVI as legitimately reigning Pope and as the Head of the Catholic Church. […]
It follows a clear distinction between them and the Sedevacantists. We knew that already, but I think there is a lot of confusion around.
2. Zur Frage der neuen Messe
Die Bruderschaft bestreitet nicht die Gültigkeit der neuen Messform. Wenn sie korrekt gefeiert wird – was an vielen Orten allerdings nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist – ist sie eine gültige Messfeier. […]
Again, my translation:
2. On the question of the New Mass
The Society doesn’t question the validity of the new form of Mass. When it is celebrated correctly – which in several places is not an automatic occurrence anymore – it is a valid Mass celebration […].
It follows, again, a rather convoluted explanation that the Novus Ordo be valid, but the SSPX has doubt about its “legality” or “legitimacy” or “lawfulness” (Rechtsmaessigkeit), an expression that I can’t explain to you – in my simple world, if you recognise its validity it means that you recognise the right of the Church to celebrate it – and would make a clarification of the SSPX very welcome.
Still, I find it positive that the SSPX in Germany has explicitly intervened making clear that they recognise both the Pope’s legitimacy and authority, and the validity of the New Mass. It is sad to hear incorrect or outright mendacious information about the Society and this kind of intervention is just what is required to deal with it. I wish the SSPX would intervene more often on these points, as otherwise they offer the flank to misinformation or outright calumniation.
From the reader “Knight of Malta” on Rorate Caeli. Too beautiful to ignore…
I have already written about the removal of bishop (little b) William Morris from his diocese of Toowoomba, in Australia. The matter seemed to me so straightforward as to not even deserve a long post: a bishop is openly heretical, refuses to recant for around five years and is, as a consequence, (merely) removed from office.
There is obviously an element of novelty in terms of something being actually done, but the matter in itself should be, I thought, rather not worth the discussion.
A magazine astonishingly calling himself “catholic” (National Catholic Reporter is the official name; must be a remnant of times long gone) devotes to the matter its editorial. This editorial makes for astonishing reading and I wonder whether even rabid Episcopalian feminists would express themselves in the way the CNR editorial team, people in dire need of our prayers, do.
This editorial shows either the most appalling ignorance of the bases of Catholicism (which is not credible, these being professionals) or a deliberate will to defend and propagate heresy. This is not even cafeteria Catholicism. This is marijuana Catholicism, and no mistake.
Let us take some example:
1) the removal of the bishop is registered, but on the merit of the removal nothing is said. The question “is a Pope in the right when he removes an openly heretic bishop?” is not posed at all.
2) Instead, the usual comparison with the pedophile scandal is made. Whilst this might have a point in showing that the Pope (and clearly: the former Pope) might have been harsher with other bishops too, it fails to tells us why he shouldn’t have been as harsh with our Morris dancer.
3) These people appear never to have read Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. That even the discussion about women priests is forbidden (to everyone, let alone to bishops!) simply escapes them. That a Pope be authorised in view of the Church’s Magisterium to do so, evidently, too.
4) The clumsy, whining attempt at Morris’ defence is contradictory: on the one hand it is said that the bishop’s questions were, so to speak, “rhetorical” ones; on the other side it is opined that this was so just to avoid trouble. So they want us to do believe that the bishop is a heretic, but also that he shouldn’t be removed because he didn’t say that openly and the Pope has, clearly, to be stupid whilst the NCR people are intelligent.
The entire article is written in this spirit. Heresy is called “to speak freely”, and the decision to silence heresy “dysfunctional”.
I know Muslims who are more Catholic than these people, and far more likely to obtain salvation.
Please pray for these unfortunate people.
Rather astonishing remarks from the Holy Father during his address to the participants at the Conference for the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. Let us read the piece in the translation of Rorate Caeli (emphases mine):
The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond this same “conciliar reform” (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1), whose purpose, in fact, was not mainly that of changing the rites and the texts, but rather that of renewing the mentality and placing, at the center of Christian life and of pastoral [activity], the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Unfortunately, perhaps, even by us, Pastors and experts, the Liturgy was treated more as an object to be reformed than as a subject, capable of renewing Christian life,
This is astonishing. Totally en passant, Pope Benedict informs us that V II was not about reforming the liturgy, but about an extremely and conveniently vague “renewal of the mentality”, and (incredibly) about placing the Eucharist at the centre of Christian Life.
It is as if the Holy Father would, with just a few chosen words, demolish the entire edifice of Vatican II by just saying that its value is not in what it was done, but rather to be sought in an extremely undefinable “renewal” which, when you take away the renewal effectively put in place (that is: the rape of the Liturgy, and the departure from staunch defence of Catholic values), means everything and nothing.
The second point is, in his well-meant attempt to hide the shame of Vatican II – rather offensive of the pre-conciliar Church. This idea that the extremely strong and pious church of the decades up to the Fifties, marked by a respect for the Eucharist rather forgotten in our times (a Church in which the mere idea of receiving communion standing on the hands would have been considered preposterous, and in which the idea that the Mass must be an interactive circus rather the re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice would have been considered utterly Protestant), would have not put the Eucharist in a central place is just outlandish. Frankly, I think that the Holy Father should back pedal on this, and apologise.
In his attempt to defend the indefensible (that is: to try to make sense of V II), the Holy Father goes on saying that unfortunately the Liturgy was treated more as an object of reform, than as a subject. This means, if we want to give meaning to a rather rhetorical expression, that the Liturgy has not been treated as the centre itself of the Church’s life, but as material for experiments. Which is absolutely true, but contradicts squarely what the Holy Father has said above, that the scope of V II was to put the Eucharist at the centre of pastoral life.
The liturgy is at the centre of Church’s life and the Eucharist is at the centre of the Liturgy. You can’t say that V II was made to put the eucharist at the centre of Church life and in the same breath admit that the liturgy of which the Eucharist is the absolute focal point has been neglected and mishandled. The abuse of the Liturgy is abuse of the Eucharist, and this claim of the supposed (and up to now rather unknown) aims of the Second Vatican Council is nothing more than a pious attempt to try to hide its total and utter failure by extolling some supposed and vague good intentions.
The Holy Father has understood that V II is bankrupt. Unfortunately, though, he falls short of openly saying what every sensible Catholic has long realised. Instead, he tries to redefine the Council so as to let the wasteland it left appear like nothing more than a somewhat careless byproduct of some vague, but pure, ideal.
Once again, the Holy father’s approach to the Council reminds me of Gorbachev’s approach to communism: to try to save what has openly and irremediably failed by redefining it and attempting to persuade us that it was not about its original intent, but about something different. But you know what? It wasn’t. Communism was aimed at destroying Capitalism (and religion) and substitute them with a completely new world and humanity, and Vatican II’s “renewal zeal” was simply aimed at destroying the traditional Catholic understanding of morals and liturgy and substitute it with an age of alignment between religious and secular values.
V II was there with the main aim to – not to put too fine a point on it – brown-nose to “modern times” and Protestant thinking. This, the Conciliar Fathers have done with great zeal, both during and after the Council, in the most shameless of ways.
I appreciate the fact that the Holy Father has with his statement dealt another blow to the already abundantly disgraced edifice of V II. But I do think that it is time to come clean and openly tell the truth about what has happened and why, instead of recurring to verbal gymnastics about what V II was apparently about.
The entire mentality of V II needs to be demolished and those years remembered as years of infamy and crisis the likes of which the Church has possibly never experienced during the course of Her entire existence, not even during the darkest phases of the past.
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”.
It is very well-known that Pope Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus, was a great supporter of the Fatima apparitions; so much so, that one of the names with which he is remembered is the Pope of Fatima.
An important issue of the Fatima apparitions is the great importance put by Our Blessed Virgin on the daily recitation of the Rosary. It is therefore no surprise that this great Pope would at some point address the importance of the rosary in an encyclical letter.
It is particularly indicative that this happened in 1951, in the middle of the Cold War. The Holy Father chose the day of the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, the 15th September, to address the entire Catholic world with Ingruentium Malorum.
Let us see some of the – in my eyes – most relevant and instructive passages of this work.
We well know the Rosary’s powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature.
The most convenient and the most fruitful means. This is an important reminder both of the power of the Rosary (that Padre Pio didn’t hesitate in calling “weapon”) and his “convenience”. What this holy Pope means by this is explained a bit later, when he says that through the Rosary
[….all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.]
The Rosary is so beautifully simple, that everyone can profit from it, no matter how simple or uneducated. This simplicity is one of his greatest beauties, because it makes it so accessible.
The simple structure of the Rosary is also extolled by the Pastor Angelicus from a different angle, namely that:
The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
This is not a new form of prayer (think of the endless affirmations and repetition of sacred words used in the Eastern religions), but it is a point that is still not less valid and also followed by the most elementary common sense and by the wisdom of the ages: repetita iuvant.
How does it work, concretely? The Holy Father writes beautifully about this that:
from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed.
Little by little, imperceptibly. One doesn’t have to expect miracles from the Rosary (or from any other form of prayer or devotion, by the way). Praying the Rosary is the work of a lifetime, not a specific event with a before and an after. It is like the habit of living a healthy life, not the injection which cures the disease. I would say that the The recitation of the Rosary is, in a sense, as much a way of living than it is a way of praying.
So much so, that Pope Pius XII stresses the importance of the recitation of the Rosary in the daily life of the family; he does so with extremely beautiful words:
What a sweet sight – most pleasing to God – when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.
In this fashion, the Rosary will help both the adults and the children:
This meditation on the Divine Mysteries of the Redemption will teach the adults to live, admiring daily the shining examples of Jesus and Mary, and to draw from these examples comfort in adversity, striving towards those heavenly treasures “where neither thief draws near, nor moth destroys” (Luke 12, 33). This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.
Please note here a point rarely stressed this day, but extremely important in any age: as a child naturally sees in his parents the source of authority, seeing their parents kneeling before the majesty of God will readily impress itself in the child’s receptive mind.
Pope Pius XII spoke to Catholicism during the cold war, with the Communist monster reigning over half of Europe, and threatening the other half. This is what Pope Pius had to say about the way to destroy the evil menace:
We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this prayer, strong like David with his sling, the Church undaunted shall be able to confront the infernal enemy, repeating to him the words of the young shepherd: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies . . . and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear, for this is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands” (I Kings 17, 45-47)
“Not with force, not with arms, not with human power” was Communism defeated, but with the determination of staunchly Christian people (Ronald Reagan very probably the most important single person); the prayer of millions of Christians and, of course, countless shoots from that most powerful weapon, the Rosary.
This great Pope had the misfortune to become Pope in the most grievous of times, and to have to absolve his role in possibly the most dangerous situation a Pope personally – and Catholicism collectively – were ever called to confront.
It will be a comfort to you to know that the Rosary was always in his mind and in his prayers.
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.
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.
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.
This – as always – excellent Michael Voris video* points out to a very important aspect of the current crisis: the fact that vast parts of the Church (among both the clergy and the laity) simply refuse to see it.
This is largely due, I think, to the increasing influence the media have on the easily impressionable. A Pope gathering extremely large crowds can give the impression that Catholicism is prospering, but this is only a very superficial impression. Catholicism is certainly on the increase, but in vast part of the West its shallowness – and in the worst cases a quiet abandonment of catholic orthodoxy – has been if not actively promoted, certainly tolerated through silence.
When 75% of Catholics don’t go to Mass and almost as big a percentage doesn’ t even believe in the Real Presence, the crisis is there irrespective of how many airports you may fill.
I disagree with Voris’ only in one point: that in this crisis the heresy is not a deliberate choice, but largely a matter of astonishing ignorance of the faithful, ignorance carefully built in 45 years of relentless dumbing down of everything Catholic.
My personal experience is that most non-churchgoing Catholics haven’t any meaningful idea of what offence it is to be a Catholic and not to go to Mass; and as they perfectly well know that many priests wouldn’t insist on it, they are not really going to change their mind when the occasional Mundabor explains the facts to them: when the rules conflict with the reality they see at work every day, a reality amply tolerated by the clergy, how can this be differently?
The same goes for abortion, contraception and the like. In a world where it is rather difficult to find priests who have the gut to say to the parishioners in their face that it is not about what they consider right, but what the Church says it’s right, how do you want to avoid even churchgoers going around picking and choosing? If their priest never tells them so much as a half uncomfortable word, and reduces everything to “celebrating” and “accepting” and being “tolerant”, how can we expect that this rubbish is not going to influence them in their daily lives?
And I am talking of the churchgoers here, let alone the lapsed Catholics.
In the last months I have taken the habit of asking those who say “I am a Christian, but….” (followed by a heresy of their choice) whether they can recite the ten commandments to me.
Of the supposed Catholics, no one can.
The “heresy” of our days is fed by people who don’t even know the ten commandments but have persuaded themselves that they can call themselves “Christians”; a concept that not more than two generations ago would have seemed absurd I do not say to every theologian, but to every child of ten years of age.
The consequence of this is, in my eyes, that one or two generations of committed instruction of Catholics through both the clergy and an aggressive work of propaganda through the media would let the heresy naturally recede; because in the crisis we are living the heresy is not due to a willed, deliberately chosen frontal conflict with the Church, but to the sheer ignorance of what being a Catholic implies.
The way to this goes, in my eyes, through the recovery:
1) of the Liturgy (how do you want people to believe in the Real presence, if you feed them the dumbed down, protestantised New Mass?);
2) of proper Catholic instruction; and
3) of an assertive mentality and media behaviour replacing “social justice” rhetoric with true evangelisation.
The crisis is vast, but it is not such a deep ideological hiatus as, say, the Heresies of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli were.
Bring proper instruction to the sheep, and they will naturally come back to the fold.
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.
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.
In the rather disconcerting matter of the Instruction on Summorum Pontificum, extremely clear signals are now being received a bit everywhere that the Instruction is going to be (largely) rather an improvement on the existing Motu Proprio than the sabotage attempted in the rather dangerous corridors of the Vatican.
That things are largely improving is now proven by the fact that a “trendy” magazine (whose name I do not want to make in case it should bring them two or three clicks) basically confirms the conservative content of the Instruction in its latest draft.
If this matter will end up with a lieto fine (that is: with only minor damage but with the official, if certainly ignored, clear indication that Summorum Pontificum is here to stay) I think that some lesson will have to be learned, like for example:
1) That whilst the corridors of the Curia are now certainly more conservative than they were 15 or 20 years ago, conservatism does not necessarily mean favour for the Tridentine.
2) That this Holy Father – good person as he is – has his own people so little under control, that they can dare to think to partially undo the most important provision of his papacy under his very nose. Think whether this could have ever happened to St. Pius X, or Pius XI, or Pius XII! A rather alarming lack of leadership is apparent here and if I were allowed to respectfully voice my opinion in the Holy Father’s presence I’d suggest that he might dedicate less time to writing and more time to selecting the right people, demanding that they work properly and controlling that they do as they are told. There’s a time to be a theologian and a time to be a Pope, methinks; particularly when episodes happen which, like this one, clearly point out to what can only be a diffused praxis instead of a single episode thought out by imaginative prelates.
3) That the leak has been providential and very well-timed, and that it pays to voice one’s dismay when things are attempted that are a shame to Catholicism. Leaks are, at times, good for one’s Church, and for one’s liver.
I will not translate the (as so often: how refreshing!) rather harsh word of Messa In Latino to those who say – as the weak and spineless are bound to say – that it is oh so unchristian to criticise a document before it is out. Rather let it go out, would their recipe be; after which they’ll invariably say that now ithat t is out it doesn’t make any sense to complain…..
The fearful will always have a reason why they don’t want to battle, but they’ll prefer to call it “love for peace” or even “obedience”. Bad Catholicism, if you ask me.
This battle has been (apparently) won because brave people (first of all Messa in Latino and Rorate Caeli) have had the gut to call a spade a spade and to do it out loud.
Nothing un-Catholic in that. On the contrary!
But we certainly need more commitment in the Curia, and a more decisive action from the very top.