Those among you who have the rare ability to read German (a very beautiful language in its own right; not easy to assimilate for sure, but ready to compensate the one who puts the effort with countless pearls of breathtaking literary beauty) will certain enjoy this blog site.
In the superior two-column format allowed by the Blogspot structure (not found by me on WordPress at the time of beginning this blog, and sorely missed afterwards when changing format or even “blog provider” would have meant a major disruption, pain in the neck and possible loss of information; but I digress…) you will notice that the left column is devoted to the usual, beautifully orthodox, Catholic apologetics, whilst the right column is devoted to none else than the Pastor Angelicus: the favourite of conservative Catholics the world over and the last great Pope: Pius XII.
I translate the best citations therein reported near the original German text:
“Nur die katholische Kirche protestierte gegen den Angriff Hitlers auf die Freiheit. Bis dahin war ich nicht an der Kirche interessiert, doch heute empfinde ich große Bewunderung für die Kirche, die als einzige den Mut hatte, für geistige Wahrheit und sittliche Freiheit zu kämpfen.”
“Only the Catholic Church protested against Hitler’s attacks to freedom. Until then I wasn’t interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone had the courage to fight for spiritual truth and for moral freedom”.
Albert Einstein, 1940.
“In dieser Weihnacht ist der Papst mehr denn je die einsame aufbegehrende Stimme im Schweigen eines Kontinents. ”
“This Christmas, the Pope is more than ever the lonely voice raised amidst the silence of a continent”
New York Times, commenting on Pius XII’s Christmas address, 1942.
“Die katholische Kirche und das Papsttum haben bewiesen, dass sie so viele Juden, wie sie konnten, gerettet haben.”
“The Catholic Church and the Papacy have demonstrated that they have saved as many Jews as they could”
Raffaele Cantoni, Head of the Jewish Welfare Committee during the War, 1946.
“Mehr als alle anderen haben wir Gelegenheit gehabt, die Güte und Edelmütigkeit des Papstes während der Jahre der Verfolgung und des Schreckens kennen zu lernen in einer Zeit, da es schien, dass für uns keine andere Hoffnung mehr bestand.”
“More than any other had we the opportunity to know the goodness and noble mindedness of the Pope during the years of persecution and terror, in times when it seemed that for us there was no other hope anymore”.
Elio Toaff, Roman Chief Rabbi, 1951.
“Die ganze Welt schwieg über die Schoah, und da will man jetzt nahezu die gesamte Verantwortung für dieses Schweigen auf die Schultern des Souveräns legen, der weder Kanonen noch Flugzeuge hatte; der sich zweitens bemühte, seine Informationen mit denen zu teilen, die solche Waffen hatten, und drittens, in Rom und anderswo eine große Zahl derer zu retten vermochte, für die er die moralische Verantwortung trug.”
“The entire world kept silent during the Shoah, and now they want to unload almost all the responsibility for this silence on the shoulders of the Sovereign who had neither cannons nor aeroplanes; who, secondly, went to great lenght to share this information with those who had such weapons and, thirdly, in Rome and elsewere succeeded in saving a great number of those, for whom he carried moral responsibility”
Bernhard-Henry Levy, 2010
I understand that the celebrations for the upcoming beatification of the saintly, but rather ineffective (other would say: catastrophical) John Paul II will divert some attention, for the time being, from this truly saintly, truly courageous, truly Catholic, truly great Pope. Still, even in the weeks leading to what will certainly be a huge media event we should never forget the towering figure of our beloved Pastor Angelicus.
Death toll for a bastion of V-II (in its worst form) nu-church. Maynooth College is going to close after 216 years, the last decades of which spent attracting claims of not being fit for purpose. This is the result of the recent Apostolic Visitation.
Please notice that this doesn’t mean the end of the formation of Irish seminarians; nor does this mean the end of a specific programme for them. More simply, it means that the souls of the seminarians are going to be protected by allowing them to become priests in a healthy environment, away from the bad influence of a progressive establishment.
Irish seminarians will in future be formed in an ad hoc restructured Pontifical Irish College in Rome.
Vicinity to the Pope and orthodox formation. One may hope that the vocations from Ireland will soon increase.
In a Father Z’s post, a very perceptive Bishop (outside of Europe, of course) makes a lot of intelligent observations about why the Novus Ordo is woefully inadequate and how the return to the Vetus Ordo will be the “saving grace” of the Church.
Of his many points, one struck me light a lightning: what if EWTN would start transmitting its daily mass ad orientem.
Think of it: the biggest Catholic sender on earth broadcasts its daily Mass with the Tridentine use. Very rapidly (after some weeks of feeble protest, perhaps; perhaps with a keen curiosity from the start) the Tridentine would become familiar to millions who never had the opportunity to assist to one before; nay, who didn’t even know that there was the possibility of attending to such a Mass!
In a matter of a few months, perhaps a few weeks, a huge number of them would not only become accustomed to it, but start to cherish the sobriety, the atmosphere, the solemnity, the sense of sacredness that the Tridentine conveys so well to all those who take the time and make the effort to understand it. Soon, these very people would start asking their own priest what about that beautiful, spiritual Mass they see on EWTN. What will the priest answer then, “we don’t do this”? “You are 45, but not a stable community?”.
In a world more and more made global by mass communication media, a single decision could have a planetary impact.
I do hope they’ll think seriously about it.
See here a very optimistic Michael Voris about the soon to be released Instruction regarding Summorum Pontificum, about which much has been written on these pages.
Voris’ message is that his sources indicate two powerful measures in favour of the scope of Summorum Pontificum:
1) the instruction that one part of the seminarians (in every seminary, I assume) is to be instructed in the celebration of the Tridentine, and
2) words aiming at appealing to the bishops to stop boycotting Summorum Pontificum.
Whilst this sounds good at first sight, i can’t avoid posing myself the following questions:
1) what is of the already leaked – and confirmed from several sources – restrictions to the celebration of the Tridentine in the Diocese of Milan (Ambrosian Rite)?
2) What is of the also leaked rumours of ban of celebration of the Tridentine for ordinations, and of the old version of the Masses of religious orders?
Voris doesn’t say anything on this. One hopes that the outcry has been the end of those provisions. They were most certainly there as confirmed even by those who disputed their devastating influence on the edifice of Summorum Pontificum. But it goes on:
3) Why should the rectors of the seminaries take heed of what Pope Benedict says, perhaps giving some lips service if they really can’t avoid it, and
4) why should the bishops stops ignoring the Pope’s wishes now, when ignoring him is exactly what they have been doing all these years, unpunished.
At the root of the problems are not the bishops – whose allergy to proper Catholicism was always obvious – but Pope Benedict himself, who doesn’t do anything concrete to care that his “reform of the reform” is not only proclaimed, but seriously put to work. What we have, on the contrary, noticed is that those very same bishops who drag their feet and undermine his work are not only not punished, but are often promoted. There is nothing in Pope Benedict’s work that says that he doesn’t want to be only an innovator, but an enforcer of his own innovations.
On the other hand, the day Pope Benedict decides to force his bishops to acquiescence – I doubt it very much, but would be extremely happy to be contradicted by facts – he will not need any new documents, the removal of a dozen of the hardest cases being a rather more effective and immediate mean to this end.
As it is today, the impression is that Pope Benedict is happy to be the one who paves the way for a recovery of traditional Catholicism, without being the one who actually takes care that this recovery also happens in the lives of Catholics the world over. He probably thinks that this gradualisms will – as the Italians would say – save the goat of the “reform of the reform” together with the cabbages of the internal peace.
We will see. For the moment, I allow myself not to share Voris’ optimism both on the content of the Instruction, and on its ultimate application.
Citizenship must be considered today within the context of globalization, which is characterized, among other things, by large migration flows. Faced with this reality, as I mentioned above, it is necessary to combine solidarity and respect for the law, lest they upset social life, and the principles of law and cultural and even religious tradition which formed the Italian nation must be taken into account.
The speaker is clearly saying: immigration must be allowed to happen in conformity of the religious traditions of the land. Read it again if you don’t believe it, it is unmistakable.
You will now ask me who is the author of such oh so intolerant, racist, non-inclusive (actually, positively excluding), discriminating words.
Nick Griffin, the BNP chef? Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader? Or perhaps someone from the newly constituted but rapidly expanding English Defence League?
You have lost, dear reader. The author of these words is a fellow called Pope Benedict XVI.
I can hardly imagine the scandalised reaction of our modern, inclusive, pro-everyone-and-everything, moral vacuum politicians a’ la David Cameron (our Prime Minister, now openly against Christianity) had the above mentioned statement come, verbatim, from any one of the chaps already mentioned; the outrage of the champagne sipping liberals and the cries of the professionally persecuted. But this comes from the Pope and it will be a little more difficult to attack him frontally, particularly after the success of his visit has shown that Catholicism is better ignored and undermined quietly (the bishops will take care that there is no reaction) than attacked openly.
True, the Pope was speaking to the Italian mayors, in a country that is far away from venerating every form of multiculturalism and whose open-heartedness to newcomers has always been within the frame of a clear expectation that they adapt to our customs. His job was, so to speak, easier there than it would be here. Still, it is good to notice that what in England is considered racist and non-inclusive is considered rather standard fare in Italy, and mentioned without any qualm by a Pope.
This gives you the exact measure of the PC-madness currently infesting Britain.
I have received some time ago from the Catholic Truth Society some of their newest booklets. Among these one has caught my attention: “Pentecostalism”.
The booklet is very interesting because it explain to a Catholic in simple words and in rather concise form what Pentecostalism is, why it has so much success and where the danger of the approach lie. In particular, the aspect of the direct relationship with God attracted my attention.
You see, for us Europeans (let alone: Italians) people saying things like “The Lord directed me to do so and so” really sound arrogant to the point of blasphemy and therefore such expressions are, in the Old Continent, unheard of. One is tempted to ask whether the Lord has sent an email, or perhaps a text message, and whether the broadband connection is rather expensive.
It turns out that such expressions derive from a sincere, if naive, desire to really have a “direct line” with God. Not one in the Catholic sense (the relationship with God developed through faithful prayer, Mass attendance, submission to the rules of Holy Mother Church and prayerful carrying of the crosses God decides to give us), but one in the literal one: do this, don’t do that. Therefore it can happen that when one questions some decisions which to one appears rush, but which to the person in question have clearly come via Divine Broadband (say: a man marries a woman he has known only for two weeks because “the Lord directed him to do it”) the reaction can be rather harsh and unable to comprehend how a third party may put in question what the Holy Ghost himself has clearly directed him to do. By reading the booklet I suddenly understood the logic behind the assassination of Marvin Gay from his preaching father: no idea whether he was a Pentecostals but hey, if the Holy Ghost has directed him to do so….
I am frankly glad never to have met a Pentecostal, because by all my admiration for religiously fervent people (even if, alas, heretics) I can’t imagine a discussion with them being anything else than a ridiculous barrage of “the Holy Ghost Himself has given me the Truth, so shut up”. I can also easily imagine what consequences such mentality may engender; the Lord has directed me to ask from you for so and so much money, might the pastor say; the Lord has directed me to file for divorce, will the bored husband (in perfect good faith, probably) soon declare, and so on.
And in fact, the entire exercise seems to be strongly based on a personal relationship with God which is – and cannot but be – highly emotionally charged. Now, emotions can play very dirty tricks to us. Particularly when we proceed to brainwashing ourselves every day; particularly when we ardently desire to be “directed” in some way; particularly when all this happens in religious matters, with their explosive emotional potential.
Emotions are like a faithful dog. If we train them every day they’ll do exactly what we want them to. Nazis, commies and all other nut cases have successfully manipulated themselves to utter stupidity by just picking highly emotional themes and fully delivering themselves to them. Che Guevara could kill in cold blood a couple of dozen prisoners at a time without any big perturbation. Dr. Goebbels understood the power of emotional self-suggestion with great lucidity, it is surprising that the devastating potential of such purely emotion-driven approach is not yet fully recognised.
Please compare this with Catholicism. A rigid, coherent system of rules valid in all situations and at all times. A complicated, but universally applicable system of criteria to resolve moral dilemmas and difficult situations (think of the doctrine of war; or of the “double effect”). A link to the Lord which doesn’t need (though it may have) an “emotional relationship” at all, but on the contrary asks for worship and submission even from those not graced with mystical experiences or with a strong feeling of God’s presence. A closely knit system of moral rules to which even the Pope is bound and which are therefore guaranteed not to be abused under the pretence of an “inspiration from the Holy Ghost”. The resulting impossibility of the absurd consequences of such “direct line” mentality (husband says that the Holy Ghost has directed him to move to California; wife thinks that the Holy Ghost has directed her to keep her husband in Arizona; I wouldn’t want to be in that kitchen….).
The desire of a direct line with Heaven, of an intimate contact with God is an understandable one and I do not doubt that many of these Christians are sincerely devout.
But between desiring something and being let free to believe that our conviction is the fruit of Divine inspiration the step is very short, and very dangerous. It is the deification of whatever we feel strongly enough about, a life spent listening to gut feelings rather than solid common sense; the constant danger of having solid moral rules polluted by individual preferences and the constant abuse of the Holy Ghost, forcibly hijacked as the inspiring force behind – say – both the marriage and the divorce.
Thank God for Holy Mother Church, asking us to submit to rules which not only make a lot of sense, but are immutable and not at the mercy of the whim of religious leaders or, unavoidably, of our own fantasies of broadband connection with Heaven.
The recent events about the so-called “civil partnerships” give me the occasion to explain why I think that the Church in England is culpably marching toward complete irrelevance even on the rare occasions when she seems to show a couple of milk teeth.
Archbishop Peter Smith has criticised, in unusually (for him) strong words, the plans of this pagan Government to allow so-called “civil partnership” ceremonies to be held in churches. This would seem all in order, if the intervention of Archbishop Smith weren’t the signal that the Church is simply not doing enough, not even remotely, and that she is constantly shooting herself in the foot in the process.
What Archbishop Smith seems not to get (or doesn’t seem interested in getting) is that in a democracy religious freedom is never abolished overnight, but always through a process of continual erosion by which the last concession to the pagan world becomes the basis for the next one.
Take the so-called “civil partnerships”. If homosexuality is not criticised by the Church in the strongest terms, it is no surprise that calls for civil partnerships will, in time, emerge from this or that corner. Basically, the average politician is an institutional coward easily bullied by pressure groups and it is in the nature of democracy that he will tend to represent the opinion of these groups, however little numerically, unless he can expect equal or worse troubles from their opponents. It is only when the Christian mainstream starts occupying the ground and showing readiness for combat at an early stage, that the combat becomes superfluous.
But Peter Smith doesn’t declare war on active and militant homosexual behaviour (remember: less than half a percent of the population) and as a result he gets the so-called “civil partnerships”. These are the fruits of cowardice and in the bishops’ expectations – that to be silent on this problem wouldn’t create bigger ones – we see all the incompetence and naiveté of a Neville Chamberlain.
When you cave in once, it will go on. Once the homos have obtained so-called “civil partnerships”, they’ll start to make pressure to be allowed to have them performed in a church. But this will not be compulsory, they say now. You’ll be allowed to say “no”, they say now, so why be upset?
Then, it will go on. Once the principle has been accepted that two perverts have the opportunity to legally “unite” in a church (as it has previously been accepted that they may form “unions”; as it has even before being accepted that sodomy is all right), how simple must one be not to realise that it is only a question of time before the homos will cry “discrimination” against anyone who does not allow them to?
Then, it will go on. If homos are allowed to have a statutory recognition of their “union”, and to have this performed in a Church, why shouldn’t they be allowed to call this “marriage”? And why shouldn’t they think that it is their right to have this marriage performed wherever they please in order not to be “discriminated against”?
If you think that this is political fiction, think again. Our not-very-esteemed Prime Minister already talks of civil partnership as if they were families, as he has explicitly stated that his defence of family includes civil partnerships. He clearly even seems to consider abominations like sodomy and civil partnerships part and parcel of Western values. He has lost long ago the very notion of what Christianity is, of what it means to be a Christian, of what the Commandments are, of what the Sacraments are. The man is a pagan, full stop.
We see this pattern everywhere. Abortion legislation didn’t start as abortion on demand. Divorce was allowed only in limited cases. Homosexual behaviour was, at the beginning, merely decriminalised. You give the Pagans one finger, and you expect that they’ll not try to take the entire hand?
Therefore, Peter Smith has it all wrong even when it would seem that he has it right. He can’t hope that it be allowed to him to remain silent about the so-called “civil partnerships” and get away with it. His cowardice will persecute him by forcing him to fight later the battles that he didn’t have the guts to fight sooner.
More in general, the Church in England can’t hope – if the bishops really are in good faith, which can be legitimately questioned and which must be questioned at least in the case of Vincent “Quisling” Nichols – that to cave in to the popular mood about civil partnership will save them from the necessity to fight. The fight will come on them anyway, but in worse terms, on a more unfavourable battleground and with a rearguard battle. This is what happens to you when you think that you can betray Catholicism and get away with it and all the English bishops, bar none, are culpable of this cowardice (or worse, of this malice). Christian values must be defended loud and clear, on every possible occasion, from the start, and the bishop is the man for it.
Archbishop Peter Smith should spend his time continuously and vocally asking for the repeal of the legislation about civil partnerships. He should start to talk publicly and strongly about the abomination of homosexuality. He should wish for legislation criminalising sodomy to be reintroduced and boldly say so. He should say this loud and clear, insistently and without fear. A couple of years of the “Padre Pio treatment” and Cameron & Co. (cowards, remember, because politicians) would not even think of titillating themselves with proposals like the last one. The awakening of just one tenth of the Catholic population would be enough to have Cameron & Co. running for cover faster than a Taliban vehicle under the fire of a Gatling gun and swearing that he never, ever approved of homosexual behaviour.
Archbishop Peter Smith has, like all his colleagues bar none, shut up for too long. The time is coming when he will not be able to shut up any more, but at that point the Church will already be under siege by a pagan society it has appeased for too long, and forced to a battle that has not been prepared because there was no courage to choose to fight. At the same time when he – semel in anno – spends some words in defence of Catholic values he shows all the incompetence of the lukewarm, indifferent, cowardly but permanently smiling shepherds that four decades of institutionalised appeasement of secularism have given us.
The battle is clearly coming but you can’t fight a good battle with the Neville Chamberlains of the world. Let us hope that starting with the next Papacy (about this I have already lost every hope of meaningful improvement in the average quality of our bishops) new appointments will give us the leaders we need to fight the good fight against the dark forces of secularism.
We don’t need cowardly bishops. We need people willing to take out the Gatling gun, and use it every day.
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.
Beautiful initiative from Father Z, inviting the faithful to a Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict in the month leading to the feast of St. Joseph.
I gladly follow his invitation to other Catholic bloggers to direct my readers to his site and to give some contribution to this beautiful initiative.
I particularly like the fact that Father Z is obviously aware and obviously not pleased with the proposed structure of the Instruction about Summorum Pontificum. Still, his reaction is a prayerful one.
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
“Truly The Antidote To The Crisis”: Bishop Fellay On The Traditional Liturgy And Summorum Pontificum
Read here the part of an interview to Bishop Fellay of the SSPX more directly regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.
In my eyes, in his commentary on Summorum Pontificum Bishop Fellay has all his bases covered. He expresses the following concepts:
1) Summorum Pontificum has great importance because it recognises that the Traditional Mass has never been abrogated. This is of obvious meaning for the SSPX.
2) This fact is not at all diminished by the fact that most Bishops actively boycott SP.
3) Summorum Pontificum is the obligatory starting point for every renewal of the Church liturgy.
4) As the liturgy is the real core of the Church’s life and activity, to repair the Liturgy would mean to repair the Church and every repair of the Church cannot be done without repairing the Liturgy. Bishop Fellay says about the Tridentine Mass;
it is truly the antidote to the crisis. It is really very powerful, at all levels. At the level of grace, at the level of faith…. I think that if the old Mass were allowed to be truly free, the Church could emerge rather quickly from this crisis, but it would still take several years!
(I’d rather say “one generation or two” but hey, I like his optimism.. ).
Bishop Fellay stressing the importance of Summorum Pontificum may simply be instrumental to his desire of showing that the SSPX is right in protecting the Old Mass, or might be the result of his having received some hints about the content of the proposed instructions and wanting to intervene in a discreet manner in its defence. He is very diplomatic on the point as whilst he clearly criticises both the incoming beatification of JP II and – with much more energy – the initiative of Assisi III, he refrains from saying a single word of criticism toward the instruction.
It appears to me that Fellay is well aware that every negative consequence for Summorum Pontificum as a result of the Instruction would greatly add to the SSPX’s popularity and prestige in the eyes of conservative Catholics the world over as millions of well-educated, liturgically savvy Catholics would understand that the SSPX is the only safe bastion against the smoke of satan famously (and insistently) entering the doors of the Church.
The rest of the interview is also interesting and possibly worthy of separate blog posts. As always, you can read here and there some rather unusual words ( on page one, talking about the current discussions with the Vatican, Bishop Fellay says: “it is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome”, which is strong tobacco by any diplomatic and un-diplomatic standard), but on the whole by reading this contribution I have the impression that I always had in the past by reading SSPX documents: that they are a bit cantankerous and not always very diplomatic in presenting their point of view but boy, they are 100% Catholic and no mistake.
This is about a DOXA poll regarding Summorum Pontificum made in 2009, that is: more than 2 years after Summorum Pontificum.
Whilst not entirely new, it is relevant to us because the source is the most prestigious poll institute in Italy. The results of the poll are rather astonishing and are given here in short form:
1) Of those who go to mass at least once a month (rather high in Italy: 51% of the Catholic population), only 64% knew about the possibility of having a Latin Mass. This means that two years after SP, many priests had not considered necessary to even mention the existence of this historic motu proprio. Then they say, of course, that the faithful “don’t want the Mass in Latin”.
2) Asked whether they would have any objection to both the Novus Ordo and the latin Mass being celebrated in their own parish, 71% of the respondents says they would not have any objection at all.
3) Among the weekly churchgoers, 40% would go to the Latin Mass every Sunday. Please read it again, I have checked the numbers! By the way, this means 9 million people every Sunday.
This was a poll made among people who often didn’t even know about Summorum Pontificum and the possibility of having a Mass in Latin and therefore could not educate themselves about the differences of the two masses, let alone assist to the Tridentine Mass for some time to assimilate them. The numbers are therefore nothing less than astonishing and once again, they come from the best known and most reputed polling institution of the Country.It is very obvious that there is a strong appetite, a very vivid interest for the recovery of old Catholic traditions.
If the Pope had more courage to go against his liberal bishops, a generalised use of the Tridentine Mass with an extremely strong following among weekly churchgoers might become the reality in the country in just a few years as there can be no doubt that the enthusiasm for the Tridentine Mass among seminarians is very common.
I thought that in these troubled days, such information might be of some value.
You have (hopefully) read here about the possible attempt to sanitize Summorum Pontificum. If you haven’t done it, I ask you to follow the link and make good use of the email addresses herein contained.
From Paolo Rodari’s Blog we are informed that these were all rumours without a basis in reality.
After reading both sides (one of the few times where it is an advantage to be able to read Italian) I must say that Rodari’s denial of the rumours is not very reassuring – better said: it is positively alarming – for the following reasons:
1) Rodari contacts his sources and these say to him: “don’t worry, no watering down is happening”. I wonder who would ever say to him “be worried, that’s exactly what is going to happen”. A denial is, in my eyes, credible if it gives new information; if, for example, an explicit commitment to the expansion of the celebration of Tridentine Masses had been conveyed to Rodari, this would have been a powerful reassurance. Nothing of the sort has happened.
2) As it transpires, Rodari’s sources confirm that Scicluni and Canizares are the two main actors. This was unknown to anyone until… the leak about the watering down. This confirms that the sources of the rumours are very well informed.
3) You don’t need to be a fan of “Yes, Prime Minister” to understand that such leaks always happen for a reason. In this case, it seems rather clear that the draft of the instructions has been found rather unpalatable by conservative men within the Curia, who are now acting to stop the mess before it becomes a bomb.
Summa summarum, I would say that Rodari’s affirmation do nothing to tranquillise conservative Catholics. On the contrary, they only show the precision and credibility of Messa In Latino‘s sources.
Please keep sending the emails.
I have already written about Msgr. Charles Pope (the “Monsignor with no uncertain trumpet” and the Monsignor dealing with “the lock and the key”). He has the rare gift of expressing himself in a highly imaginative and entertaining manner and is always a pleasure to read.
This time, Monsignor Pope (what a name, by the way…) deals with, so to speak, medical issues. In his experience (and in that of many of us, I am afraid), the spiritual development of many Catholics stops at age seven or eight and doesn’t progress much further as he goes through life; on the contrary, the risk of regression to first spiritual infancy and utter Catholic illiteracy is rather big and frequently observed.
Still, Monsignor Pope doesn’t fail to notice that whilst arrested development in every other aspect of life would not fail to greatly worry the parents, in the case of spiritual formation to remain at the level of a seven-year-old is considered nothing worrying at all. His example is in my eyes a bit extreme for a churchgoer, but it applies wonderfully to the army of lapsed Catholics out there whose theology is restricted to easy and convenient platitudes a’ la “God is Love” and “do not judge”; platitudes taken out of every context, uttered whenever convenient and generally very apt to persuade the spiritual child that there is no need to make any homework, let alone any penance, let alone any effort to be a better child.
I would give the main responsibility of this disastrous state of things to the Catholic clergy (yes, I do “judge” when I see a scandal, but he who criticises me is “judging” me too) who are, even more than the parents, those primarily in charge of the propagation of the Catholic message.
If here in the West we had courageous priests ready to risk their popularity instead of cuddling their audience with easy slogans and insipid common places, the message would get outside and reach, more or less indirectly, those who do not attend. You’d have an army of churchgoers properly instructed and ready to go out and spread the message with reasonable accuracy. Most of all, you’d have the end of the simplistic “celebration” mentality – utterly devoid of any obligation and only concerned with its own shallowness – now slowly infecting Catholic life. I was well in my Forties when I first heard people talking of “celebrating” instead of “mourning”, or before the astonishing meaning given to the words “do not judge” by the ignorants and the liberals became clear to me. I assure you these things didn’t happen in the Countries where I had been living up to then and I started to wonder what strange of Christianity this is, where people call themselves Christian but know more of Ghandi than Christ. Also here in Blighty was my first case of a person candidly reporting of being sure of being Christian, but not being sure of having ever been baptised. “I assume I was”, she said, “though my mother never mentioned it”. Church of England apparently, so a baptism should definitively have occurred. Words fail me.
Here in the West we have a massive epidemy of spiritual arrested developments and the problem continues to spread because many priests are (nothwithstanding the long years of theology studies, by which one wonders whether anything sensible has been learned at all) either astonishingly untrained or, more probably, predictably cowardly.
Proper Catholic instruction starts from the priest and the pulpit. If the priest does his job, more and more parents will send their children to be properly instructed; more and more adults will have intelligent answers to give to their friends; more and more of Catholic patrimony will start spreading around and become again, in time, part of the cultural patrimony of the country.
It must all start by the priest and the pulpit.
A parallelism has been made from some quarters between the usual strong opposition of the liberals to everything Vatican and justified with the “spirit of Vatican II” on the one side, and the fact that the new translation of the Mass will be implemented without major traumas (or better said, without overt opposition: how many priests will implement the new mass perfectly on time is another cup of tea) on the other side. The implication here is that the “spirit of Vatican II” is slowly going out of fashion.
I would like to comment on this as follows:
1) I so wish journalists would refrain from the temptation of seeing “trends” everywhere, or inflating things out of proportion for the sake or an article, or of a headline.
2) Priests will implement the new Mass just because they have to, open refusal to obey leading to serious consequences for their livelihood. As (supposed) martyrdom has never been a speciality of the liberal priest, there is no overt opposition to be awaited.
3) The “spirit of Vatican II” is being taken care of by the professional category of the undertakers. Their action will become more and more incisive in the years to come, but I can’t notice old sixty-eighters becoming any less sixty-eighters or just more tired of being obnoxious morons, let alone rediscovering the beauty of a reverent Mass.
Such “movements” usually end because they land in the same place as their promoters: six feet under.
4) If anything, the British clergy is more heretical today than it was twenty or thirty years ago. No English bishop would have, decades ago, publicly declared that he “doesn’t know” whether the Church will accept the “reality of gay partnerships” and no bishop would have dreamt of ever saying that he is “nuanced” and does not oppose civil partnership. Actually not even people in open revolt to the authority of Rome like Henry VIII would have ever dreamt of saying such absurdities.
Nowadays even an Archbishop of Westminster is allowed to say such things and remain unpunished.
The “Spirit of Vatican II” is alive and kicking. It goes together with dissent or open heresy of all sorts and – in the absence of any strong action from the Vatican, nowhere to be seen at the time – it will die only as its proponents kick the bucket in increasingly larger numbers.
This is the sad (but encouraging in a sense, as the undertakers are clearly on our side) reality of the Church in England. Supposed trends out of thin air do not help to deal with the many, serious problems.
From Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam an interesting observation (mentioned also by others) about the IPhone application meant to prepare one for confession.
Typically, the worst part of the press has not lost the occasion to be misleading and superficial, possibly engendering in the most acutely lapsed Catholics the idea that it be now possible to, so to speak, self-confess and self-absolve oneself with the help of an iPhone application.
Of course, the readers of this blog very well know how things stand. But it might be useful to be vigilant and decidedly refute every opinion set in circulation by the uninformed. It might be even better to try to casually throw the app in as preparation to confession, just to have a good thing mentioned… 😉
If we remember the confusion generated by Pope Benedict’s careless words about condoms, we have the idea of what damage can be created among the very many for whom Catholicism is only as a distant voice, and who will receive Catholicism as a distant and often distorted echo. They shouldn’t be neglected and the effort to have as many doctrinal points as possible right among the majority of the general public is, in my eyes, essential if we want these lost sheep to come back to the fold.
If you want to have an immediate perception of everything Vatican II represents, look no further than these two photos, courtesy of the always excellent Rorate Caeli blog.
I do not need to tell you which one is the old altar and which one is the new one. I would like to make the following observations:
1) The doubt whether the bishop (this is the Cathedral of St. Vincent in Viviers, France) who considers such a movable (look at the carpet) and almost casual device suitable for a Consecration believes in the Divinity of Christ is fully justified. I’d say the more intelligent question at the sight of such an opprobrium is how long ago the bishop in question has lost his faith, or whether he ever had one.
2) If I had even someone as infinitely lower than Christ as my King or Head of State at supper I’d never dream of dedicating to him my kitchen table, or my movable camping device, or the small breakfast table in the balcony. I would think that to prepare for my guest the best that I can offer would be the most elementary sign of my respect for my guest, and of my fitting tribute to his rank. I am rather sure the bishop who had the idea of commissioning such a sacrilege thinks the same, too and would never dream of receiving his distinguished guests in boxers and flip-flops, nor of inviting them to dinner and let them sit on the portable table in a corner of the patio.
Whenever I see such altars I can’t avoid thinking of someone who receives you in his undies and thinks it cool. This goes together with the modern times, when young idiots wear their undies as substitute for the back of their trousers and think it cool, too; but at least, they aren’t bishops.
3) I am very much in favour of the Holy Father talking, as he does here, of the necessity for the priest to “oppose the trend of the time”, to be “like a tree that has deep roots” as opposed to the “portable” ideology of the post- V II clergy. But I can’t avoid noticing that the Holy Father is very shy in walking the walk and that he – not to put too fine a point on it – continues to allow what he criticises. This is the same spirit of encouragement instead of demand already championed by Paul VI and John XXIII and about which I have already written here. It hasn’t worked these last 45 years and I can’t imagine that it can start working now.
This altar is a shame and a mockery of Catholicism. The downplaying of what happens on the altar is so evident as to make explanations superfluous; nay, I go as far as to say that the reason for such an altar is to make the downplaying of the Consecration perceivable to the dimmest wit. Symbols and images are very powerful and say one thousand words with a single statement. In this case, the statement can’t possibly be overheard.
Such clergy (the bishop, and those attuned to him) need our prayers, but they need to pull themselves together more, and they need correction the most. Beautiful speeches about the need for the priest to “not be chaff” are not really useful unless they are accompanied by the opportune measures and by a robust enforcement of the behaviour requested of them.
Following a very interesting intervention of Schmenz in reply to a former post, I spent some time looking for some credible description of how a Catholic is to react to a decree of canonisation or beatification. This particularly in view of the upcoming beatification (and one day, perhaps, canonisation) of the late Pope JP II, an event which will clearly excite both an oceanic wave of enthusiasm and a smaller, but noticeable one of dismay.
I have already made clear that in my eyes the worth as a Blessed of John Paul II is to be seen in his saintly character, not in his working as a Pope. This is nothing new or wrong as a beatification or canonisation isn’t, nor could it ever be, a seal of approval of political action.
Now let us see what the Catholic Encyclopedia says on the matter of canonisation.
1) There are two types of canonisation, formal and equivalent.
Formal canonization occurs when the cultus is prescribed as an explicit and definitive decision, after due judicial process and the ceremonies usual in such cases. Equivalent canonization occurs when the pope, omitting the judicial process and the ceremonies, orders some servant of God to be venerated in the Universal Church; this happens when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted
2) It is evident that modern canonisations are all formal ones; that they are the object of a prescription; that the decision is explicit and definitive. That they, as such, bind every Catholic. In matters of canonisation, “ours is not to reason why“. This is only logical, as the nature itself of the canonisation is to give the faithful certainty, not hope, that the canonised person is in Heaven.
3) Whether the decree of canonisation is an expression of Papal Infallibility (as, says the Catholic encyclopedia, most theologians think) or not, the result of the canonisation is evidently not less binding, and this is what interests us here. When the Church formally decrees that Titius or Caius are Saint Titius and Saint Caius, every Catholic is bound to accept this as part and parcel of his Catholic belief. Still, this mandatory belief does not stretch to the man in question having done everything right and not even to his having had heroic virtue; what every catholic is bound to believe is merely that the canonised person is in heaven.
Very different is the case of Beatification. The Catholic Encyclopedia again:
This general agreement of theologians as to papal infallibility in canonization must not be extended to beatification, not withstanding the contrary teaching of the canonical commentary known as “Glossa” […] Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command;
Clearly, here the Church is not saying “you have to believe”, but “you are allowed to believe”. You can therefore – as long as no canonisation intervenes – refuse to believe that the one or other person declared Blessed is in heaven in the same way as you can, say, not believe in the Fatima apparitions.There can be no question of infallibility, because there is no question of prescription in the first place.
In practical terms, this means that a Catholic is allowed to question the prevalent opinion that, say, John Paul II is in heaven but is not allowed to question the prescriptive decree that, say, Padre Pio is.
Very good news from Whispers in the Loggia.
Bishop Robert Vasa, head of the Diocese of baker and former top aide of Bishop Bruskewitz (you can’t come with better credentials than those) has been appointed coadjutor to Bishop Walsh of Santa Rosa’s diocese. This clearly means that Vasa is Walsh’s successor when the man retires in two year’s time.
The contrast is striking. Walsh is one of those bishops California produced so well in the past, whilst Vasa – to quote Rocco Palmo – “comes with an enthusiastic national following on the Catholic right”. Please savour the words “enthusiastic”, “national”, “following”, “Catholic” and “right” as Italians do with good grappa, letting it descend very slowly through the throat, carefully, a few drops at a time. It enhances the experience.
Whilst one can’t say that Pope Benedict’s appointments will earn him much praise once he is gone (the trend has been rather to appease the old sixty-eighters and the local potentates, leading to people like this colourful chap bringing shame and disrepute on the Church), here and there some brilliant decision is clearly visible; in this respect, California seems to be considered by the Holy Father in particular need of repair, as the appointment of the rather conservative Gomez for Los Angeles in substitution of Mahony shows.
Bishop vasa is the kind of Bishop mentioning the possibility of excommunication for dissenting Catholic politicians; or clearly saying that being in favour of abortion is a “disqualifying factor” for a candidate; or criticising openly the modern fashion of bishops’ statements that appease everyone, mean nothing and can be interpreted as one likes best.
This is one carved out of the right wood, and no mistake.
Interesting video from Michael Voris about the time Catholics spend… being Catholic.
Voris’ argument is that outside of church, most of the time is spent immersed in the worldly atmosphere around us; in doing this, many people stop being Catholic at every practical level and simply accept that the world around us has become un-Christian to a shocking extent. This not only makes the role of the Catholic ineffectual (or not so effectual) in the world around him, but makes it more probable that the worldly society around him will slowly absorb him and become the normal, legitimate world, opposed to which the 50 minutes at Mass become a short immersion in a parallel universe without any real relevance to our lives.
The matter is less banal that it might appear, because the list of issues about which Catholics are simply silent has grown to astonishing proportions. Divorce, contraception, abortion, sexual promiscuity, sexual perversions, euthanasia and all other behaviour which our ancestors would have considered unthinkable are now tolerated by Catholics with the same indifferent attitude with which rain and cold are accepted, and I don’t want to think how many Catholics are more angry for the queues on the M25 than about abortion.
Yes, most churchgoers are at some level aware that they are against abortion, but this is far from becoming concrete action: from speaking out loud with friends and family, to taking this into consideration when voting, to caring that one’s own children grow up with the right moral values.
Others are more acutely aware of the evils of present times but seem content to keep their Christian practice private, happily (and conveniently) renouncing to make the Truth heard whenever reasonably practicable. No fuss, no anger, no loss of popularity. A bit too easy, says Voris.
Left alone, those 50 minutes are not enough to ensure Catholic values within the family, let alone to make a more Catholic world. Voris’ appeal is, therefore, important in that it reminds the Catholic that his mission begins when he goes out of church, rather than remaining confined to church attendance.
Don’t be a fanatic, but don’t be a coward. Remember that you’re a Catholic and that you are requested to beat witness of the Catholic Truth. Remember your responsibility toward your family and children and as a friend, a colleague, a voter.
It is beautiful (particularly in these turbulent days) to be proud to be Italian. This letter is written by Catholics concerned about the possible effects of the next Assisi gathering; as a result, they beg the Holy father not to travel to Assisi.
The wording is absolutely beautiful. Instead of only reporting or commenting some passages, I will report the parts of the letter published on CITI in their entirety.
Most Holy Father,
(…)We take the liberty of writing you after having learned, precisely during the massacre of the Coptic Christians (Ed. in Egypt, December 31, 2010), your intention of convening in Assisi, in October, a large inter-religious assembly, 25 years after “Assisi 1986”.
We all remember this event that took place so long ago. An event like few others in the media, that, independently of the intentions and declarations of he (those) who convened it, had an undeniable repercussion, relaunching in the Catholic world indifference and religious relativism.
It is this event that caused to take effect among the Christian people the idea that the secular teaching of the Church, “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic”, concerning the unique character of the Savior, was in some way to be banished to the archives.
We all remember the representatives of all the religions in a Catholic sanctuary, the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, lined up with olive branches in hand: as if to signify that peace does not come through Christ but, indistinctly, through all the founders of any credo whatsoever (Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Kali, Christ…)
We remember the prayer of the Muslims in Assisi, the city of a saint who had made the conversion of the Muslims one of his objectives. We remember the prayer of the animists, their invocation to the spirits of the elements, and of other believers or representatives of atheistic religions, such as Jainism.
The effect of this “praying together”, whatever its goal may be, like it or not, is to make many believe that all were praying to “the same God”, only with different names.
On the contrary, the Scriptures are clear: “Thou shalt not have false gods before me” (First Commandment), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6)
Those who write here in no way contest a dialogue with each and every person, whatever his religion may be.
We live in the world, and every day we speak, discuss, love, even those who are not Christian, because they are atheists, indifferent, or of other religions. But that does not keep us from believing that God came down to earth, and let Himself be killed to teach us, precisely, the Way, the Truth, and not just one of many possible ways and truths. Christ is, for us Christians, the Savior; the only Savior of the world.
We recall with consternation, going back 25 years, the chickens beheaded on the altar of St. Claire according to tribal rituals and a statue of Buddha placed on the altar in the church of St. Peter, above the relics of the martyr Vittorino, killed in 400 AD to bear witness to his faith.
We remember the Catholic priests at the initiation rites of other religions: a horrible scene, for, if it is “ridiculous” to baptize into the Catholic faith an adult who does not believe, just as absurd is it for a priest to undergo a ritual of which he recognizes neither the validity nor the utility. By doing this, one ends up just spreading one idea: that rites, all rites, are nothing but empty human gestures. That all the conceptions of the divine are of equal value. That all moralities, that emanate from all religions, are interchangeable. That is the “spirit of Assisi”, upon which the media and the most relativist milieus of the Church have elaborated, sowing confusion. It seemed to us foreign to the Gospel and to the Church of Christ that had never, in two thousand years, chosen to do such a thing. We would have liked to rewrite these ironic observations of a French journalist: “In the presence of so many gods, one will believe more easily that they are all equal than that there is only one that is true. The scornful Parisian will imitate that skeptical collector, whose friend had just made an idol fall from a table: ‘Ah, unhappy one, that may have been the true God’.”
We therefore find comfort for our perplexities in the many declarations of the Popes who have always condemned such a “dialogue”. Indeed, a congress of all religions has already been organized in Chicago in 1893 and in Paris in 1900. But Pope Leo XIII intervened to forbid all Catholics to participate.
The same attitude was that of Pius XI, the Pope who condemned Nazi atheism and Communist atheism, but deplored at the same time the attempt to unite people in the name of a vague and indistinct sentiment, without religion, without Christ.
Pius XI wrote thus in Mortalium Animos (Epiphany 1928) concerning ecumenical encounters: “We see some men, convinced that it is very rare to meet men deprived of all religious sense, nourish the hope that it might be possible to lead peoples without difficulty, in spite of their religious differences, to a fraternal agreement on the profession of certain doctrines considered as a common foundation of spiritual life. That is why they begin to hold congresses, reunions, conferences, frequented by an appreciably large audience, and, to their discussions, they invite all men indistinctly, infidels of all kinds along with the faithful of Christ and even those who, unfortunately, have separated themselves from Christ or who, with bitterness and obstinacy, deny the divinity of His nature and of His mission.
“Such undertakings cannot, in any way, be approved by Catholics, since they are based on the erroneous opinion that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy, in the sense that all equally, although in different ways, manifest and signify the natural and innate sentiment that carries us towards God and pushes us to recognize with respect His power. In truth, the partisans of this theory fall into a complete error, but what is more, in perverting the notion of the true religion, they repudiate it, and they fall step by step into naturalism and atheism.”
In retrospect, we can say that Pope Pius XI was right, even on the level of the simple opportunity: in reality, what has been the effect of “Assisi 1986”, in spite of the just declarations of Pope John Paul II, aimed at forestalling such an interpretation?
What is the message relaunched by the organizers, the media, and even the many modernist clerics desirous of overturning the tradition of the Church? What came across to many Christians, through the images, which are always the most evocative, and through the newspapers and television, is very clear: religious relativism, which is the equivalent of atheism.
If all pray “together”, many have concluded, then all religions are “equal”, but if this is the case, that means that none of them is true. At this time, you, cardinal and prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, with Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, and several others, were among those who expressed serious doubts. For this reason, in the following years, you have never participated in the replicas proposed each year by the Community of Sant’Egidio. (…)
These past years you have taught, without always being understood, even by Catholics, that dialogue has its place, and can take place, not between different theologies, but between different cultures, and not between different religions, but between men, in the light of that which distinguishes us all: human reason.
Without recreating the ancient pagan Pantheon; without the integrity of the faith being compromised by a love for theological compromise; without Revelation, that is not our own, being modified by men and theologians in the aim of reconciling the irreconcilable; without placing Christ, “sign of contradiction”, on the same level as Buddha or Confucius, who, besides, never said that they were God.
This is why we are here to expose to you our fears. We fear that, whatever you may say, television, the newspapers, and many Catholics will interpret it in the light of this past and of the present indifferentism; we fear that, whatever you may claim, the event will be read as a continuation of the manipulation of the figure of St. Francis, transformed by today’s ecumenists into an pacifist, a syncretist without faith. It is already the case…
We are afraid that whatever you may say to clarify things more, the simple faithful, of whose number we are, everywhere in the world will see but one fact (and that is all that will be shown, for example, on television): the Vicar of Christ not only speaking, debating, dialoguing with the representatives of other religions, but also praying with them. As if the manner and the end of prayer were indifferent.
And many will think mistakenly that the Church has henceforth capitulated, and recognized, in the line of the New Age way of thinking, that to pray to Christ, Allah, Buddha, or Manitou is the same thing. That animist and islamic polygamy, hindu castes or the polytheistic animist spiritualism, can go hand-in-hand with Christian monogamy, the law of love and pardon of the One and Triune God. (…)
Most Holy Father, we believe that with a new “Assisi 1986”, no Christian in the Orient will be saved: nor in Communist China, nor in North Korea or Pakistan or Iraq… on the contrary, many faithful will not understand why in these countries, people still die martyrs for not renouncing their encounter not with just any religion, but with Christ. Just as the Apostles died.
In the face of persecution, there exist political, diplomatic means, personal dialogues between States: may they all take place, and as well as possible. With Your love and Your desire for peace for all men.
But without giving those who wish to sow confusion and to augment religious relativism – antechamber of all relativisms –, an opportunity, for the media included, as appetizing as a second edition of “Assisi 1986”.
With our filial devotion,
Francis Agnoli, Lorenzo Bertocchi, Roberto de Mattei, Corrado Gnerre, Alessandro Gnocchi, Camillo Langone, Mario Palmaro
There is truly nothing to add.
I hope that the Holy Father will give this letter careful consideration.
Fatima and Sacro Vergente Anno: Pius XII’s Consecration of “The Peoples Of Russia” to the Blessed Virgin
It is well-known that among the requests of the Blessed Virgin in Fatima was the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.
Less well-known is the fact that Pope Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus, also known as “The Pope of Fatima” for his relentless support to the apparitions, did consecrate “all the peoples of Russia” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1950.
I am informed that this consecration is widely believed to be somewhat short of the Blessed Virgin’s request, though in all honesty it is not clear to me why it should. It is, though, evident from Sacro Vergente Anno and from further Vatican documents that the great Pope, Venerable Pius XII, had to take care of political considerations in the way he responded to the Blessed Virgin’s request. Therefore, during the “hottest” phase of the Cold War he had limited himself to consecrate to the Blessed Virgin the peoples of all world (not wishing the potential political repercussions of a more direct action); whilst in the comparatively calmer 1952 he felt the moment come to the consecration to the Blessed Virgin of the peoples of Russia so that their freedom (and the freedom of the Church) may be achieved.
I will publish below the relevant part of Sacro Vergente Anno, in the elaborate but extremely elegant Italian in use when people had a somewhat longer attention span and could read longer sentences without becoming dizzy. Following the original text I will write a personal attempt at translation.
I am grateful to all those who will send a message with some link pointing to:
1) an official translation of Sacro Vergente Anno or at least of the relevant passage, none of which I could find.
2) the facts as to why the consecration according to the wishes of Mary is widely considered not to have been completely complied with; perhaps it could be because it was a consecration of the peoples of Russia rather than of Russia itself, though this seems rather a quaestio de lana caprina to me.
In the meantime, enjoy another spectacular example of the work of a truly spectacular Pope.
Noi, pertanto, affinché più facilmente le Nostre e le vostre preghiere siano esaudite, e per darvi un singolare attestato della Nostra particolare benevolenza, come pochi anni fa abbiamo consacrato tutto il mondo al Cuore immacolato della vergine Madre di Dio, così ora, in modo specialissimo, consacriamo tutti i popoli della Russia al medesimo Cuore immacolato, nella sicura fiducia che col potentissimo patrocinio di Maria vergine quanto prima si avverino felicemente i voti, che Noi, che voi, che tutti i buoni formano per una vera pace, per una fraterna concordia e per la dovuta libertà a tutti e in primo luogo alla chiesa; in maniera che, mediante la preghiera che Noi innalziamo insieme con voi e con tutti i cristiani, il regno salvifico di Cristo, che è «regno di verità e di vita, regno di santità e di grazia, regno di giustizia, di amore e di pace»,(8) in ogni parte della terra trionfi e si consolidi stabilmente.
And therefore we, in order that Our and your prayers may be more easily answered, and in order to give you a special attestation of our benevolence, in the same way as a few years ago We consecrated the entire world to the immaculate Heart of the virgin Mother of God, so now, in a very special way, consecrate all peoples of Russia to the very same immaculate Heart, in the safe confidence that with the extremely powerful protection of the virgin Mary the wishes expressed by Us, by you and by every good person for a true peace for fraternal concord and due freedom for everyone and for the Church in the first place, may be answered as soon as possible; in such a manner that, through the prayer that We send up to Heaven together with you and all Christians, the reign of Christ, harbinger of salvation, which is “kingdom of truth and life, kingdom of sainthood and grace, kingdom of justice, of love and of peace”, may triumph and steadily consolidate itself everywhere on earth”
The impending beatification of John Paul II will no doubt cause many questions among non-Catholics as to what this beatification is, and might reinforce many of them in their errors and misconceptions about this beautiful Catholic institution of beatification and canonisation.
I’d like here to give some very short explanations in bullet points, in the hope that in the coming months some non-Catholics may end up here and get some benefit from them and that Catholics may get some points to give explanations if and when required.
1) Everyone who is in paradise is a saint. Everyone. Angels are saints, the Holy Innocents are saints, etc.
2) Normally we cannot know whether someone is in Paradise. When the neighbour dies we know that he is either in hell, or in purgatory, or in paradise. Purgatory is widely believed to be the most frequent occurrence at death, but no one really knows. In Catholicism, individual certainty of someone’s destination is a sin of presumption, unless one believes one’s own private revelation (say: an apparition); indirectly, he can draw a big amount of confidence from the truth of a credible revelation to someone else (say: Saint Padre Pio’s well-known hours-long mystical vision of Pope Pius XII in Heaven on the day of his death). ” I believe that John Lennon is in Paradise because he wrote such beautiful music” does not qualify.
3) Catholic theology says that those in purgatory cannot effect intercessory prayer for those on earth, but those on earth can do the same for the souls in purgatory; on the other hand the saints can pray and intercede for those on earth, but not for those in purgatory. Notice the “circle” of prayer here, with saints being able only to help those on earth, who themselves are the only ones who can help those in purgatory. In this way there is a beautiful solidarity, a chain of love or if you prefer a “prayer cooperative”. This common destiny and common purpose uniting every good Catholic (souls in hell aren’t catholic, and can’t be helped) is called by the Church “communion of saints”.
4) As a consequence, a Catholic will need some clues to know those to whom he can pray for intercession knowing that they will actually hear their prayer and be able to intercede for them. He can obviously ask Christ or the Blessed Virgin directly, but the beauty of the communion of saints is in the mutual giving and receiving help like members of a loving family. Therefore, one may prefer to ask a person particularly dear to him to help him and to intercede for him by Christ. In order to do so, he’d be helped if he knew, instead of hoped, that the relevant person is really a saint, that is, is really in heaven. Mind, though, that no Catholic is forbidden to ask for the intercession of someone of whom he thinks that he is very probably in heaven.
5) God helps this system of “prayer cooperative” by making known that the one or the other actually is in heaven. He does so by linking a miracle to this person. With one miracle one can be declared Blessed, with two he can be declared a Saint. Notice that here the “s” is capitalised. Whether the miracle has occurred is decided – after an always careful and generally lengthy process – by a Vatican “ministry”, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
6) Whilst the miracle is God’s choice, the decision whether to declare the beatification or sainthood is the Pope’s choice and it is an eminently political one. A Pope might think a canonisation dangerous or politically not convenient (eg. because it could spark a wave of persecutions, as in Thomas More’s case; or a wave of slandering, as it is probably the case by Pope Pius XII), or he might not be persuaded himself that the work of the congregation was really good, that is: that the person is really in paradise. He cannot “kill” the process though, merely let things rest.
7) One day, a Pope decides that the moment has come and a man or woman is ready to be declared Saint. His decision is inspired in the sense that God takes care that a Pope does not make mistakes in this matter*. In the last centuries, this process was very slow and people canonised were people who had lived a couple of centuries before, but there always were exceptions. The late Pope John Paul II was himself of the opinion that canonisations (and beatifications, comes to that) of recently deceased people were the best choice, because their memory is still well alive among the faithful. This was the thinking followed in the first thirteen centuries or so, with some canonisations being really, really fast (think of St. Francis: death on the 3 October 1226; canonisation on the 16th July 1228).
8) Coming back to 6), the beatifications or canonisations of particularly popular people have always been relatively uncomplicated, whilst those pertaining to politically sensitive people have been, or are being, slower. But be assured that Thomas More and Pope Pius XII do not care in the least for that. There is no race to be canonised first and the speed of canonisation is no indication whatsoever of the “ranking” among saints. This is important in order to understand that calls of “santo subito”, particularly when angry or expressing a demand rather than a wish, are not really Catholic and are more suitable to football stadiums.
9) Once a Pope has taken his decision about a canonisation, every Catholic is bound by it*. A Catholic rejoices for every canonisation not only because of the happy news, but because he knows that many people will be drawn to Christ through the canonisation of the person they love.
The reasons for a fast-track for John Paul II are now evident. The sainthood of the man is uncontroversial among everyone except the most severe sedevacantists; his popularity makes of such a beatification a great weapon in the Church’s hands; his beatification helps to shift the accent from the political aspects of his pontificate (which many don’t like, yours truly included) to the towering spiritual dimension of the person.
It is not – and it can never be – about “giving precedence to celebrities”; it is about recognising that:
a) The Pope seems to believe that God wants hom to know that the man is in Paradise, and
b) the Pope doesn’t see any political obstacle to his declaring so in front of all Christianity.
This is as simple as that. It doesn’t mean that one only becomes blessed if he is a celebrity. It doesn’t mean that only famous people are said to go to heaven. It doesn’t mean that “Church celebrities” get special favours compared to those whose beatification has not been declared and emphatically it does not mean that, between two saints, the one is “more of a saint” that has been canonised or beatified.
* the matter is slightly different with the beatification. With it, the Church merely declares that it is “worthy of belief” that the person in question is in heaven. There is, though, no obligation for every Catholic to feel bound by this.
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.
The SSPX has criticised in a rather harsh way the Pontiff’s decision to hold a new Assisi meeting.
“We are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi”, declared Bishop Fellay and one can only wonder what Bishop Williamson would say if he were allowed to do so freely without being confined in some remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
I have already written about the matter and it seems to me that whilst I agree with Bishop Fellay on the fact that this is not a brilliant decision, the choice of words is not a particularly happy one. In my eyes, Bishop Fellay talks and speaks as if Pope Benedict were another John Paul II. I do not think this is the case. Besides the fact that even Pope John Paul II had to see that things had gone far too far in 1986 and took care that the worst excesses were not repeated during the second Assisi gathering in 2002, it is very clear after almost six years of pontificate that Pope Ratzinger has nothing of the “let’s be hip”-mania, of the desire to be perceived as modern and in synchrony with the times that made so much damage during his predecessor’s pontificate.
During these years we had no Koran kissing, no kissing of the ground, no rock concerts and no search for easy ways to please the crowds. Nothing in Benedict XVI’s demeanour says “I will accommodate your need to be entertained or to feel good in the cheapest possible way”. The Assisi-mentality is clearly not his and this (in my eyes, ill-advised) renewed Assisi-gathering a tribute to the good intentions of his predecessor, whose beatification is clearly imminent and who is still a powerful weapon in the Church’s evangelisation effort.
At the same time I must disagree with the generally excellent William Oddie, who in his reaction to the SSPX’s utterances exaggerates in the other direction and calls the SSPX on their way to the funny farm.
What happened in 1986 must never, ever happen again. It was a damned shame and a show of breathtaking TV-fuelled ecu-maniac orgy of the worst kind. That excellent defenders of Catholic orthodoxy like the SSPX be concerned is certainly understandable, though the way of expressing these concerns might be (and in my eyes, certainly is) open to criticism.
Let us also say that “when the mills were white” Catholics were not allowed to pray with non-Catholics and this for the simple reason that such an exercise generates confusion among Catholics and can easily lead to the perception that what faith one subscribes to is of no great importance. By all talking of peaaace and looove, we should never forget that whoever isn’t Catholic is in the wrong shop , however saintly he may be.
I also disagree with Oddie that an orthodox Catholic should not think that he is more orthodox than the Pope. Of course he should, and he should every time that this is the case. The Holy Ghost guarantees infallibility to the Pope only when he speaks ex cathedra; it doesn’t guarantee at all that the Pope may, in his behaviour, frontally go against Catholic teaching. Pope Benedict IX sold his Papacy, and no one says he is not a Pope for that. The same goes, of course, for the kissing of Korans. A Pope is infallible but nor impeccable. Sometimes, Popes make a mess of things and sometimes they make a huge mess of things (Paul VI comes to mind). To say this is not un-Catholic in the least and doesn’t call for any farm, funny or not.
Assisi 2011 will, I am rather sure, be nothing similar to the catastrophe of 1986. But this doesn’t seem to me sufficient reason to go back there anyway. The risk of awakening ghosts from a shameful past is too big.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Egypt found itself in the exclusive lists of the countries singles out by the Holy Father for not doing enough to protect Christians (he forgot India and Pakistan, I would say; but perhaps he thought these last two go sans dire).
The Egyptians complain that the security of Christians in Egypt is an internal matter of the Egyptian government. This might well be, but the Pope hasn’t said that he wants to run the Egyptian security policy; he has merely said that they are not doing enough.
I think, though, that a great embarrassment hides behind this uncomfortable reaction. It is not advisable for any government (particularly if relying on massive transfers from the US to stay halfway afloat and last time I looked only Israel received more transfer from the US than Egypt) to be in the black list of the Vatican and to be branded as a country not doing enough to protect Christians. I doubt that even Iran would look without worry to a similar situation but whilst Iran doesn’t have to be worried about the effect on their purse of 70 millions US Catholics, Egypt does.
Let us, then, register this little diplomatic scuffle as a sure sign that the Pope’s move will force the Egyptian government to deal with the matter rather than limiting itself to the usual whining of third world (please substitute this with the politically correct expression) fake democracies (please do it again).
I am pretty sure that the readers of this blog like Cardinal Pell. It will therefore please them to know that our valiant soldier has taken Christ’s Sword in his hands and is, once again, vigorously whirling it around.
His very effective communication style is miles away from the mellifluous and innocuous tone of our Bishops here in Blighty. His sentences are rather short and rather clear. They are rather uncomfortable, too.
Apparently, in Australia the year 2011 will see parliamentary debates about two issues directly involving Catholic teaching: so-called homo “marriages” and euthanasia. As it happens so often, many local Catholic politicians are bravely deciding to shut up in the hope that no one notices that they’re supposed to be good Catholic when it’s uncomfortable, too.
Cardinal Pell has noticed.
Some snippets of a true Shepherd’s prose:
“If a person says, ‘Look, I’m not a Christian, I’ve a different set of perspectives,’ I disagree but I understand,”
If a person says to me, ‘Look, I’m nominally a Christian but it sits lightly with me,’ I understand that.”
“But it’s incongruous for somebody to be a Captain Catholic one minute, saying they’re as good a Catholic as the Pope, then regularly voting against the established Christian traditions.”
Cardinal Pell doesn’t make any discount to Catholic politicians trying to draw political capital from their religious affiliation and clearly tells them what this entails. He says that
“If you’re espousing something that’s not a Christian position, don’t claim Christian backing for that.”
He is totally unapologetic about his position, too. Try this (emphasis mine):
“I’m not telling people how to vote,” […] “I’m telling people how I think they should vote. I’m an Australian citizen and I have as much right to do that as any other citizen.”
“I’m telling people how I think they should vote”. When was this last heard in England or Wales? Alas, such clarity of Catholic message is unheard-of among those who have the task of proclaiming and defending it among us.
Do you want proof? Look no further than here.
I rest my case.
I gather from “Rorate Coeli” that in today’s Angelus the Holy Father announced that
on the 25th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Assisi for the meeting of different religious leaders in 1986, he will visit Assisi in October 2011 for a meeting with “Christian brothers of the different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions, and, ideally, all men of good will”.
My first observations, a caldo as we say – are as follows:
1) I wonder how long will it take before the Church stops repeating JP II’s mistakes, just because he made them. JP II’s “franchise” might still be strong, but whether it is useful to orthodox Catholicism is a different matter altogether. Methinks, it isn’t. Not in the least. The old Assisi gatherings were a goddamn disaster and a shame. They should be remembered only to be ashamed about them. For details even more shocking than the photo posted above, please follow here (yes, it’s about “interreligious” projects in Fatima. No German? Ahiahiahi….).
2) I am absolutely sure that this will not be allowed to become another new-age-cum-Buddha heretical fest like the former occasions, particularly 1986. Pope Benedict is the one who stopped the original Assisi-gatherings (of which a further one was planned already when he became Pope) in the first place. In the matter of orthodoxy, nothing untoward is going to happen. Those who have experienced the Pope’s visit in England & Scotland know that he can talk very, very straight.
3) I do think, though, that this is a mistake. Whilst the Pope is never shy of pointing out that to him ecumenism means “you come to me”-ism, in this case the choice of the historically and emotionally laden Assisi seems to me the worst possible. It will easily – nay, surely – become a battleground among conflicting tendencies: the Holy Father’s desire to come to Assisi to point out what real ecumenism is, and the Birkenstock-clad cohorts of pacifist, third-worldist, socialist and covert-liberation-theology troops (many of them, I am afraid, Franciscans) that will unavoidably try to hijack the event for their own agenda.
In my opinion, the Assisi gatherings should have been left alone as an example of how not to do ecumenism. This initiative is bound to create false hopes in all those who don’t really get the Pope’s message and are always waiting for an excuse to say that the Holy Father is aligned on their position.
If you ask me, this is a bad start of the year.
Beautiful blog post from the “Reluctant Sinner”.
Its author clearly does not put into question the orthodoxy of the Holy Father; nor does he believe that the Pontiff wanted to start a debate or change things in matters of contraception in any way. But he clearly points out to the fact that the words of “clarification” from the Pontiff (as reported by the never-so-very-safe Lombardi) add fuel to the controversy rather than putting an end to it.
The simple fact is that whilst even the new “explanations” as reported by Father Lombardi do not change anything in the Catholic teaching (or in the Pope’s thinking, come to that) about the matter, this bad habit of reporting single phrases without a context is not doing anyone (particularly the Holy Father, let alone the many confused Catholics) any favour.
The words were carelessly chosen first in the choice of the homosexual/condom scenario to explain that even an evil man can gradually, slowly develop first signs of moral awakening. Yes he can, but if the concept is expressed in this way it will be misunderstood. Then came the extraordinary initiative of the Osservatore Romano to break ranks and publish excerpts of the interview without context or comment, which made things much worse anyway and unleashed the mastiffs of the secular press. Thirdly came the “explanation”, which – whilst not unorthodox in the least – is still such that the untrained secular journalist could, perhaps even in good faith, think that the Holy Father really meant that the female prostitute is justified in using the condom.
It is now, I respectfully dare say, necessary that a carefully worded statement is issued – not by Lombardi but by the Pope himself – clearly saying what is what. This should be done not in order to explain to well-instructed Catholics what they already know, but in order to put some order among the ranks of the not-so-well informed Catholics (the vast majority, nowadays) who could easily be misled from what they think and read that he would have said.
The problem is, in its root, of Vatican making. No doubt about that.
Time to clear the mess once and for all, I think.
Condomgate continues to rage and, if it was necessary, shows with increasing evidence the damage made to the Catholic cause by the careless example chosen by the Holy Father.
As I have (easily) predicted in the past, the discussion is now – among cafeteria catholics and all those who don’t want to accept Church teaching whenever it doesn’t suit them – about the Pope not having justified the use of condoms in certain circumstances, but having justified it anyway or, in some other version, being wrong in not doing it. In both cases, dissent is rearing its ugly head. This is a serious matter because we are not talking of individual weakness here, but of rebellion. Rebellion is the realm of Satan and his minions. A Catholic must accept the teaching and when he sees himself unable to understand it he must pray that he may get the right understanding. If he fails, he must pray more. Submission to the Church is first, understanding of it is second. Credo quia intellegam, non intellego ut credam.
With the basis of reasoning clear, let us examine the condom question again. I have often repeated that a sinful behaviour doesn’t justify particular modalities to carry the sinful activity. It doesn’t, because the activity is unjustified. This must be the cornerstone of every reasoning in the matter.
A killer is not justified in his killing his victims in a less cruel way. A violent husband is not justified in punching his wife whilst wearing boxing gloves. A sodomite is not justified in wearing a condom whilst committing sodomy. Therefore, it can’t be said “Pope Okays use of condom by sodomy” any more than it could be said “Pope Okays use of boxing gloves in beating wife”. This must be clear because these are simple facts (and rather basic facts) of Catholic moral teaching.
Now, the army of “understanding” journos goes on saying “oh well, what about the case of husband and wife? Should the Church not give her assent to the use of a condom by a husband with AIDS to protect his wife’s health by an intercourse we know is going to happen?”. This is as logical as to ask: “Should the Church not give her assent to the use of boxing gloves to protect his wife’s health by an attack we know is going to happen?”.
The answer to this is: the husband with AIDS must refrain from intercourse exactly as the violent husband must refrain from beating his wife. That the use of boxing gloves might be, from the part of a husband, a first step & Co, & Co. doesn’t change an iota in the answer to the questions.
This is where the profoundly secular thinking of the “compassionate” troops clearly shows up. In their reasoning we find the complicity with sin so typical of the anti-Christian world. Wrong behaviour is simply seen as inevitable. People are, in fact, not even asked to avoid it because I can’t credibly say to a violent husband that he is supposed not to beat his wife whilst endorsing his use of boxing gloves.
The simple truth (a truth with necessitates of a Christian prospective to be properly understood) is that not having sex is not more impossible than not beating one’s wife. Whilst there might be difference in the degree of difficulty to achieve this (some people have a very strong sex drive) there is no doubting the fact that none of the two are impossible to achieve.
The lawmakers all the world over reason the same way. They don’t give to imprisoned child rapists sheep and hens so that they have something to rape whilst in jail; nor do they give to the jailed violent husband some substitute animal in order for him to perform his necessary bodily function of being violent. They both land in a jail with no way to give in to their tendencies and – unsurprisingly – they don’t die.
Similarly, even in the changing world of criminal law felonies remain forbidden even when due to compulsion and the compulsion may diminish the severity of the punishment , but can never exclude it. You can’t decriminalise violent drunken behaviour because one is a drunkard, or child rape because one acted “compulsively”. Simple common sense.
Also, lawmakers never say “let us find authorised ways of practising child raping or bestiality, because they are going to happen anyway”. That’s not how it works. Moral imperatives don’t tolerate justified way of violating them because when you accept the justification, you are destroying the moral imperative. No raping. No domestic violence. No bestiality. No sodomy. No infection of your spouse. These are the only acceptable answers.
Sex is not unavoidable. Sodomy, as exceptionally pervert, is even less unavoidable. Hundreds of millions of people live in chastity every day and he who thinks that the army of singles – even in the most corrupted Western countries – is composed of people who just need to have sex has a very skewed perception of the real world outside of the film industry.
We live in a world where progressive (often: homosexual, or lesbian, or promiscuous) journalists tell us that sex is something that just must happen. Bollocks. Every village of Christian Europe, everywhere, in all centuries past, tells a very different story. Not in the sense that people were saints, but that celibacy was something accepted and lived in a way simply unacceptable (because inconvenient) to the modern thinking by a great number of people.
The argument “but they are going to do it anyway so let us find ways to limit the damage” smacks of saying “but rapes through african militias are going to happen anyway so let us find ways to have the girl raped in a more gentle way”.
He who says that shows that he hasn’t a great problem with rape, after all.