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Utente Gold
Just a bit of chronological context: 'INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY', which became an almost-instant theological classic, was published one year before Jorge Bergoglio was ordained a priest.




Hitherto unpublished essay in new book
is vintage Ratzinger grand cru
even in his Emeritus years

May 9, 2018

The book will go on sale May 10, but Settimo Cielo is previewing here its most anticipated pages: a text by Joseph Ratzinger that bears the date of September 29, 2014, and has never been published until now, on the capital question of the foundation of human rights, which, he writes, are either anchored in faith in God the creator, or do not exist.

It is a text of crystalline clarity, which Ratzinger wrote in his retirement at the Vatican one and a half years after his resignation as pope, in commenting on a book - published in 2015 under the definitive title "Diritti umani e cristianesimo. La Chiesa alla prova delle modernità" (Human rights and Christianity. The Church put to the test of modernity) - by his friend Marcello Pera, a philosopher of the liberal school and a former president of the Italian senate.

In his commentary, the Emeritus Pope analyzes the irruption of human rights in the secular and Christian thought of the second half of the twentieth century, as an alternative to the totalitarian dictatorships of every kind, atheist or Islamic. And he explains why “in my preaching and my writings I have always affirmed the centrality of the questions of God.”

The reason is precisely that of guaranteeing that human rights have their foundation of truth, without which rights are multiplied but also self-destruct and man ends up negating himself.

The volume in which this composition is about to come out, together with other texts by Ratzinger on the connection between faith and politics, is published in Italy by Cantagalli: Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, Liberare la libertà. Fede e politica nel terzo millennio, edited by Pierluca Azzaro and Carlos Granados, preface by Pope Francis, Cantagalli, Siena, 2018, pp. 208, 18 euro.

It is the second in a series of seven volumes entitled “Joseph Ratzinger - Selected Texts,” on the fundamental themes of Ratzinger’s thought as theologian, bishop, and pope, published contemporaneously in multiple languages and in various countries: in Germany by Herder, in Spain by BAC, in France by Parole et Silence, in Poland by KUL, in the United States by Ignatius Press.

Both volumes issued so far have a preface by Pope Francis.

And here is the previously unpublished text that opens the second volume of the series. The subtitle is the original, by Ratzinger himself.

Elements for a discussion of the book by Marcello Pera
"The Church, human rights, and estrangement from God"

by Joseph Ratzinger

The book undoubtedly represents a great challenge for contemporary thought, and also, in particular, for the Church and theology. The discontinuity between the statements of the popes of the nineteenth century and the new vision that begins with Pacem in Terris is evident and on it there has been much discussion. It is also at the heart of the opposition of Lefèbvre and his followers against the Council. I do not feel able to give a clear answer to the issues of your book; I can only make a few notes which, in my view, could be important for further discussion.

1. Only thanks to your book has it become clear to me to what extent a new course begins with Pacem in Terris. I was aware of how powerful the effect of that encyclical on Italian politics had been: it gave the decisive impulse for the opening up of Christian Democracy to the left.

I was not aware, however, of what a new beginning this represented also in relation to the conceptual foundations of that party. And yet, as far as I remember, the issue of human rights actually acquired a place of great significance in the Magisterium and in postconciliar theology only with John Paul II.

I have the impression that, in the Saintly Pope, this was not so much the result of reflection (although this was not lacking in him) as the consequence of practical experience. Against the totalitarian claim of the Marxist state and the ideology on which it was based, he saw in the idea of ​​human rights the concrete weapon capable of limiting the totalitarian character of the state, thus offering the room for freedom necessary not only for the thinking of the individual person, but also and above all for the faith of Christians and for the rights of the Church.

The secular image of human rights, according to the formulation given to them in 1948, evidently appeared to him as the rational force contrasting the all-encompassing presumption, ideological and practical, of the state founded on Marxism. And so, as pope, he affirmed the recognition of human rights as a force acknowledged throughout the world by universal reason against dictatorships of every kind.

This affirmation now concerned not only the atheist dictatorships, but also the states founded on the basis of a religious justification, which we find above all in the Islamic world. The fusion of politics and religion in Islam, which necessarily limits the freedom of other religions, and therefore also that of Christians, is opposed to the freedom of faith, which to a certain extent also considers the secular state as the right form of state, in which that freedom of faith which Christians demanded from the beginning finds room.

In this, John Paul II knew that he was in profound continuity with the nascent Church which was facing a state that knew religious tolerance, of course, but that affirmed an ultimate identification between state and divine authority to which Christians could not consent. The Christian faith, which proclaimed a universal religion for all men, necessarily included a fundamental limitation of the authority of the state because of the rights and duties of the individual conscience.

The idea of ​​human rights was not formulated in this way. It was rather a question of setting man's obedience to God as a limit on obedience to the state. However, it does not seem unjustified to me to define the duty of man's obedience to God as a right with respect to the state. And in this regard it was entirely logical that John Paul II, in the Christian relativization of the state in favor of the freedom of obedience to God, should see human rights as coming before any state authority.

I believe that in this sense the pope could certainly have affirmed a profound continuity between the basic idea of ​​human rights and the Christian tradition, even if, of course, the respective instruments, linguistic and conceptual, turn out to be very distant from each other.

2. In my opinion, in the doctrine of man as made in the image of God there is fundamentally contained what Kant affirms when he defines man as an end and not as a means. It could also be said that it contains the idea that man is a subject and not only an object of rights. This constitutive element of the idea of ​​human rights is clearly expressed, it seems to me, in Genesis: "I will require a reckoning of the life of man from man, from everyone for his brother. He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has man been made” (Gen 9:5f).

Being created in the image of God includes the fact that man's life is placed under the special protection of God, the fact that man, with respect to human laws, is the owner of a right established by God himself.

This concept acquired fundamental importance at the beginning of the modern age with the discovery of America. All the new peoples we came across were not baptized, and so the question arose whether they had rights or not. According to the dominant opinion they became genuine subjects of rights only with baptism.

The recognition that they were in the image of God by virtue of creation - and that they remained so even after original sin - meant that even before baptism they were already subjects of rights and therefore could claim respect for their humanity. It seems to me that here was a recognition of "human rights" that precede adherence to the Christian faith and any state power, whatever its specific nature may be.

If I am not mistaken, John Paul II understood his effort for human rights in continuity with the attitude that the ancient Church had toward the Roman state. In effect, the Lord's mandate to make disciples of all peoples had created a new situation in the relationship between religion and the state. Until then there had been no religion with a claim to universality. Religion was an essential part of the identity of each society. Jesus's mandate does not mean immediately demanding a change in the structure of individual societies. And yet it demands that all societies be given the possibility to welcome his message and live in accordance with it.

What follows from this in the first place is a new definition above all of the nature of religion: this is not a ritual and observance that ultimately guarantees the identity of the state. It is instead recognition (faith), and precisely recognition of the truth.

Since the spirit of man has been created for the truth, it is clear that the truth is binding, not in the sense of a positivistic ethics of duty, but rather on the basis of the nature of truth itself, which, precisely in this way, makes man free. This connection between religion and truth includes a right to freedom that can licitly be considered as being in profound continuity with the authentic core of the doctrine of human rights, as John Paul II evidently did.

3. You have rightly considered the Augustinian idea of ​​the state and of history as fundamental, placing it as the basis of your vision of the Christian doctrine of the state. And yet the Aristotelian view may have deserved even greater consideration.

As far as I can judge, it had little importance in the tradition of the Church of the Middle Ages, all the more so after it was taken up by Marsilius of Padua in opposition to the magisterium of the Church. Afterward it was taken up more and more, beginning in the nineteenth century when the social doctrine of the Church was being developed.

One now began from a twofold order, the ordo naturalis and the ordo supernaturalis; where the ordo naturalis was considered complete in itself. It was expressly emphasized that the ordo supernaturalis was a free addition, signifying pure grace that cannot be claimed on the basis of the ordo naturalis.

With the construction of an ordo naturalis that can be grasped in a purely rational manner, an attempt was made to acquire an argumentational basis through which the Church could assert its ethical positions in political debate on the basis of pure rationality.

Correctly, in this view, there is the fact that even after original sin the order of creation, in spite of being injured, has not been completely destroyed. To assert that which is authentically human where it is not possible to affirm the claim of faith is in itself a correct position. It corresponds to the autonomy of the sphere of creation and to the essential freedom of faith. In this sense, an in-depth view is justified, indeed necessary, from the point of view of the theology of creation, of the ordo naturalis in connection with the Aristotelian doctrine of the state. But there are also dangers:

a) It is very easy to forget the reality of original sin and arrive at naive forms of optimism that do not do justice to reality.

b) If the ordo naturalis is seen as a complete totality in itself and does not need the gospel, there exists the danger that what is properly Christian may seem to be a superstructure that is ultimately superfluous, superimposed on the naturally human.

In effect I remember that once I was presented with a draft of a document in which at the end some very pious formulas were expressed, and yet throughout the whole argumentational process not only did Jesus Christ and his gospel not appear, but even God did not, and they therefore seemed superfluous.

Evidently it was believed it was possible to construct a purely rational order of nature which, however, is not strictly rational and which, on the other hand, threatens to relegate that which is properly Christian to the realm of mere sentiment. The limitation of the attempt to devise a self-contained and self-sufficient ordo naturalis emerges clearly here. Father de Lubac, in his "Surnaturel,” tried to show that Saint Thomas Aquinas himself - who was also referred to in the formulation of that attempt - did not really intend this.

c) One fundamental problem of such an attempt consists in the fact that in forgetting the doctrine of original sin there arises a naive confidence in reason that does not perceive the actual complexity of rational knowledge in the ethical field.

The drama of the dispute over natural law clearly shows that metaphysical rationality, which in this context is presupposed, is not immediately evident. It seems to me that Kelsen is ultimately right when he says that deriving a duty from being is reasonable only if Someone has placed a duty in being. To him, however, this thesis is not worthy of discussion.

It seems to me, therefore, that in the end everything rests on the concept of God. If God exists, if there is a creator, then being can also speak of him and indicate a duty to man. Otherwise, the ethos is ultimately reduced to pragmatism. This is why in my preaching and in my writings I have always affirmed the centrality of the question of God.

It seems to me that this is the point at which the vision of your book and my thought fundamentally converge. The idea of ​​human rights ultimately retains its solidity only if it is anchored to faith in God the creator. It is from here that it receives the definition of its limitation and at the same time its justification.

4. I have the impression that in your previous book, Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians, you evaluate the great liberals’ idea of God in a way different than you do in your new work. In the latter it appears as a step toward the loss of faith in God.

On the contrary, in your first book you, in my opinion, had convincingly shown that without the idea of ​​God European liberalism is incomprehensible and illogical. For the fathers of liberalism, God was still the foundation of their vision of the world and of man, so that, in that book, the logic of liberalism makes the confession of the God of the Christian faith necessary.

I understand that both assessments are justified: on the one hand, in liberalism the idea of ​​God detaches itself from its biblical foundations, thus slowly losing its concrete strength; on the other, for the great liberals, God is and remains indispensable. It is possible to accentuate one or the other aspect of the process. I believe it is necessary to mention both. But the vision contained in your first book remains indispensable for me: that is to say, that liberalism, if it excludes God, loses its own foundation.

5. The idea of ​​God includes the fundamental concept of man as a subject of law and thereby justifies and at the same time establishes the limits of the conception of human rights.

In your book you have shown in a persuasive and compelling way what happens when the concept of human rights is split from the idea of ​​God. The multiplication of rights ultimately leads to the destruction of the idea of ​​right and necessarily leads to the nihilistic "right" of man to negate himself: abortion, suicide, the production of man as a thing become rights of man that at the same time negate him.

Thus, in your book it emerges in a convincing manner that the idea of ​​human rights as separated from the idea of ​​God ultimately leads not only to the marginalization of Christianity, but also to its negation. This, which seems to me to be the true purpose of your book, is of great significance in the face of the current spiritual development of the West which is increasingly denying its Christian foundations and turning against them.

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Utente Gold
The very illustration for the brochure of the Met exhibit betrays a completely secular view of what the show is about. Detail of an evening ensemble by John Galiano for Dior,
2000-2001 collection, taking off from a papal ensemble complete with miter.

All the photos I've seen so far of the 'celebrity' appearances at the opening night for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new exhibit fancifully called ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ are appallingly atrocious - not just for the utter lack of taste in what most of them chose to wear, but in the obvious delight of those whose garments represented the ugliest, most outre spoofs of Catholic symbols one can think of despite the gold and gems, tulle and taffetta and lace, out of which the gowns were confected...

The exhibit being a project of the Met's Costume Institute, not surprisingly the bulk of it appears to be Catholic-'inspired' creations by name dress designers of the past several decades. Which, of course, tends to overshadow the actual historical pieces lent by the Vatican to curator Andrew Bolton, who made 12 trips to sell his idea and then to choose the 42 items from the Vatican Sacristy that would provide the 'actual' substantiation for his theme.

Bolton is quoted as saying: "The heart of Catholicism is a storytelling tradition, so I wanted the show to unravel a series of stories and conversations, which to me is part of the Catholic imagination. It is meant to stimulate discussion. It is not meant to resolve thousands of years of Catholicism. But it is meant to show an aspect of the Catholic faith which is all about extraordinary beauty" and goes on to quote Benedict XVI about how the way of beauty could be, for many, a starting path for religion. The artifacts Bolton chose may do that, but not, it seems, the creations that are supposedly Catholic-'inspired'.

Bolton's Vatican picks ranged from a papal tiara with 19,000 gems, of which 18,000 are believed to be diamonds, to something as simple and prosaic as a pair of red shoes that belonged to John Paul II (who is represented in the exhibit with papal garb of cape, white cassock and zucchetto, plus the shoes.) A fashion commentator said of the shoes that they "helped earn him the nickname 'the Prada Pope'", in which I think she got her popes mixed up. No one ever made a big deal out of papal red shoes until the secular press chose to use it as a mocking symbol for Benedict XVI, about whom they soon established the myth that his red shoes were custom-made by Prada, a whopper that also cleverly embodied the idea of the now-famous saying that 'the devil wears Prada'.

Left, Pius IX dalmatic, 1845-1861; right, papal red shoes that belonged to St. John Paul II [that's a Class I relic on exhibit!]

Left to right: the exhibit catalog; papal tiara of Pius IX, 1854; chasuble of Pius XI, 1926.

About a chasuble of Pius IX, which took 15 women 16 years to embroider, Bolton said, "It's better than anything you see in the Lesage atelier in Paris. It's just extraordinary. I think that one's faith, no matter what faith you adhere to, generates an extraordinary creativity. That is what I would love people to come away with. It's not always Catholic. To reflect on their own faith and whether that has impacted their own creative development and whether that generates or fuels one's creative development. I find that really fascinating — how faith has created such extraordinary works of art, whatever it is."

Anyway, here are two commentaries on the show...

Make Catholicism weird again
May 8, 2018

In 1904, during a debate in France over the anticlerical government’s takeover of church property, a young Marcel Proust wrote an essay for Le Figaro inviting readers to imagine a future in which the Catholic Church vanished completely from his country’s memory, leaving only the bones of French cathedrals as its monuments.

Then he further imagined the cultured elites of some future France rediscovering the texts and chants and rubrics of Catholic liturgy, and in a spasm of enraptured aestheticism, restoring the cathedrals and training actors to recreate the Tridentine Rite Mass.

In his vision, like devotees of Wagner making pilgrimage, “caravans of swells make their way to … Amiens, Chartres, Bourges, Laon, Rheims, Rouen, Paris,” and inside France’s Gothic churches, “they experience the feeling they once sought in Bayreuth … enjoying a work of art in the very setting that had been built for it.”

But of course the recreated Catholic liturgy and revived Catholic aesthetic would never be the real thing; the actors might know their roles, and the incense might waft thick, but attendees could “only ever be curious dilettantes; try as they might, the soul of times past does not dwell within them.”

Proust’s essay, lately translated by Catholic traditionalists, came to mind while watching the beautiful and blasphemous spectacle at the Met Gala on Monday night, where a parade of stars and fashionistas swanned about in costumes inspired by the aesthetics of Catholicism, while a wide variety of genuinely Catholic articles, from vestments to tiaras, were displayed in a Met exhibit titled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

Like Proust’s “caravans of swells” attending liturgical performances, the attendees at the Met were paying a cultural homage to the aesthetic riches of the Roman Church — when, of course, they weren’t sexing them up for shock value. But the spectacle was not exactly Proust’s prophecy come to life, because unlike in his thought experiment, Catholicism today remains a living faith — weakened but hardly gone, with as complicated a relationship to its own traditions as any lapsed-Catholic museum curator or celebrity dressing up as the Maid of Orleans.

This complication is apparent in the Catholic response to the Met Gala itself, which consisted of an institutional blessing for the spectacle — not just Cardinal Timothy Dolan opening the museum exhibit, but the Sistine Chapel Choir performing for the swells and starlets in the evening — followed by an angry Catholic social-media backlash against the evening’s various impieties. When a living faith gets treated like a museum piece, it’s hard for its adherents to know whether to treat the moment as an opportunity for outreach or for outrage.

But the complexity runs much deeper, because to the extent that part of the Proustian prophecy has come true, to the extent that elements of the Catholic tradition have turned into archaic curiosities to be rediscovered by aesthetes and donned lewdly by Rihanna, the choices made by the church’s own leaders have played as much of a role as the anticlericalism of Proust’s era.

It was the church’s own leadership that decided, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, that the attachment to the church as culture had become an impediment to the mission of preaching the gospel in the modern world.

It was the leadership that embraced a different approach, in which Catholic Christianity would seek to enter more fully into modern culture, adopting its styles and habits — modernist and even brutalist church architecture, casual dress, guitar music, a general suburban and Protestant affect, etc. — in order to effectively transform it from within.

It was the leadership that decided that much of what Proust depicted as Catholicism’s cultural glory — the old Mass above all, but also a host of customs and costumes and rituals — needed to be retired in order to reach people in a more disenchanted age.

This idea was hardly absurd in theory; from Roman Empire days through missionary efforts, Christianity had often advanced through inculturation, importing a consistent religious message into varying cultural forms.

But Catholicism’s attempt to do the same with modern culture since the 1960s has largely seemed to fail. The secular culture welcomed the church’s Protestantization and demystification and even secularization, praised the bishops and theologians who pursued it, and then simply pocketed the concessions and ignored the religious ideas those concessions were supposed to advance. Meanwhile, that same secular world maintained a consistent fascination, from “The Exorcist” down to, well, the Met Gala, with all the weirder parts of Catholicism that were supposedly a stumbling block to modernity’s conversion.

This failure, and how exactly Catholics should interpret it, helps frame the debates roiling the church in the age of Pope Francis. One theory is that the evidence of the last 50 years suggests that modern culture is inherently anti-religious or anti-Catholic in some abiding way, which means the attempt to adopt its cultural forms and “accompany” its denizens will inevitably end in dissolution for the church itself.

Thus the only plausible approach for Catholicism is to offer itself, not as a chaplaincy within modern liberalism, but as a full alternative culture in its own right — one that reclaims the inheritance on display at the Met, glories in its own weirdness and supernaturalism, and spurns both accommodations and entangling alliances (including the ones that conservative Catholics have forged with libertarian-inflected right-wing political movements).

The other view is that in fact inculturation has not gone far enough, that the church may have changed its liturgy and costumes, but it’s still held back by its abstract dogmas and arid legalisms, and that one final great leap into modernity, a renewed commitment to accompaniment and understanding and adaptation, is necessary for the church to gain what it sought when it began its great demystification project 50 years ago.

As pontiff, Francis has been on both sides of these debates. The radicalism of his economic and ecological vision, often portrayed as simply liberal, actually represents a kind of left-leaning pessimism that arguably points backward to the strenuous critiques of modernity issued by 19th-century popes. [Whoa!!!! Really???]

And at times this radicalism has been matched by his willingness to join conservative members of his flock in culture war — as recently in the Alfie Evans case in England, where the pope ended up in a public conflict with the more culturally accommodating sort of Catholic over whether to defer to medical professionals and deprive a brain-damaged toddler of oxygen because his life was judged no longer worth sustaining. [I thought Bergoglio's belated me-too-ism on the Alfie Evans case was, in many ways, an attempt to make up for his, in effect, couldn't-care-less attitude in the Charlie Gard story. Maybe the next time we have a similar story, I propose he immediately declare the ailing baby and its parents Vatican citizens, board a special papal flight to wherever the ailing baby is, visit him at the hospital, then walk out back to his car with the baby in his arms and the parents following, and on to the papal plane back to Rome! Do you think that will earn him the Nobel Peace Prize from the anonymous Oslo judges, or would such a counter-cultural attack earn him their lasting disapproval and forever bar him from Nobel consideration? ]

But only at times; on many other fronts, the Francis era has been a springtime for accommodation and inculturation, and especially for the secularizing and Protestantizing German Catholicism that helped forge the original revolution of the 1960s, and whose leaders believe that only further modernization can refill their empty churches.

Under German influence, but with the pope’s implicit blessing, Catholic rules on divorce and now perhaps intercommunion may be joining the Latin Mass and meatless Fridays on the altar of sacrifices to the culture of the modern world.

Meanwhile in the case of the opulent style of Catholic fashion on display at the Met Gala, it is very clear where Francis stands. As Tara Isabella Burton points out in an astute piece for Vox, it’s the pope’s traditionalist adversaries who are more likely to don the sort of “heavenly” garb being feted and imitated at the Met — while from his own simple choice of dress to his constant digs at overdressed clerics and fancy traditionalists, the pope believes that baroque Catholicism belongs in a museum or at a costume gala, and that the church’s future lies in the simple, the casual, the austere and the plain.

For this, as for his doctrine-shaking innovations, Francis has won admiring press. But as with the last wave of Catholic revolution, there is little evidence that the modernizing project makes moderns into Catholics. (The latest Gallup data, for instance, shows American Mass attendance declining faster in the Francis era.)

Instead, the quest for accommodation seems to encourage moderns to divide their sense of what Catholicism represents in two — into an Old Church that’s frightening and fascinating in equal measure, and a New Church that’s a little more liked but much more easily ignored.

Francis and other would-be modernizers are right, and have always been right, that Catholic Christianity should not trade on fear. But a religion that claims to be divinely established cannot persuade without a lot of fascination, and far too much of that has been given up, consigned to the museum, as Western Catholicism has traced its slow decline.

Here the Met Gala should offer the faith from which it took its theme a little bit of inspiration. The path forward for the Catholic Church in the modern world is extraordinarily uncertain. But there is no plausible path that does not involve more of what was displayed and appropriated and blasphemed against in New York City Monday night, more of what once made Catholicism both great and weird, and could yet make it both again.

Mattthew Schmitz gives us a further idea of the Vatican pieces on loan to the Met for this exhibit - but I doubt that any of the pertinent facts he brings up about
each of the popes represented by the artifacts would be familiar even to most Catholic museum-goers!

A few hours before the Met Gala began, Cardinal Dolan stood opposite the Temple of Dendur and proclaimed Christ. He was there for the press preview of the new exhibit “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” He had neither planned the exhibit nor authorized it. Men in Rome had done that, sending the sacred relics of several holy popes for display in the midst of Vanity Fair. Already there were competing attractions. Cameramen mobbed Donatella Versace and Anna Wintour, while Fr. James Martin, SJ, and a woman in a black moiré biretta each attracted small crowds.

When the press conference ended, the fashionistas spilled into the galleries. Men in Thom Browne suits and women with Chanel handbags admired a bondage mask draped in rosaries and gawked at mannequins dressed in papal drag, before going to view the sacred clothes worn by the successors of St. Peter.

According to the organizers, this display of papal vestments and various tasteless, indecent, and blasphemous fashion items is meant to illustrate “the Catholic imagination.” Whenever someone uses the phrase — or its close cousin, “the sacramental imagination” — I know that I am about to hear a tedious disquisition on Flannery O’Connor, or an account of Catholic belief that muddles error and truth. In this regard, the exhibition does not disappoint.

At the press conference, a curator read from a book by Andrew Greeley: “Catholics live in an enchanted world: a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures.” And what faith do all these things express? According to Greeley, a kind of bourgie pantheism: “These Catholic paraphernalia are merely hints of a deeper and more pervasive religious sensibility that inclines Catholics to see the Holy lurking in creation.”

In the exhibition catalogue, David Tracy dilates on this idea. “It has become increasingly difficult for persons outside or even inside Catholicism to describe, much less define, what distinguishes Catholic Christianity.” Unwilling to refer to traditional ecclesiological and dogmatic claims, Tracy decides that Catholics are united by a set of clichés. They “believe (like Albert Camus) that there is more to admire in human beings than to despise.” They believe that “humanity is on the whole trustworthy.” [Well, at least, those are some benevolent cliches!]

This is a way of talking around the actual content of the faith.[Does one really expect a secular mind to talk about 'the actual content of the faith'? What would he know about it that is authentic, to begin with?]

What the sacramental imagination should mean, first of all, is actual belief in the sacraments: Marriage is indissoluble and ordained by God; Christ is present in the Eucharist and must be revered. My Catholic grandparents, who feared for my soul because I was not baptized as a child, were better exemplars of the sacramental imagination than every ex-Catholic designer combined.

The Catholic imagination only really exists where it expresses, affirms, conforms to sacramental reality and dogmatic truth. My favorite authentic expression of it appears in a letter Pope Innocent IV wrote in 1245 to Guyuk Khan, whose men had been ravaging the Catholic lands of Poland and Hungary. The pope rebuked the khan for disrupting the harmony God had established in nature:

Not only men, but also unreasoning beasts, nay even the material elements of the earth that go into the building of the universe, are as if through a natural bond united with one another, and bound together, after the example of heavenly spirits: for all these traces the Creator of the world has exhibited in all things, so that a lasting and irrefragable bond of peace surrounds all the different orders of being.

This is a beautiful vision, but as its invocation in a diplomatic document should indicate, it had profound religious and political implications. Visitors to the Met exhibit would be foolish to overlook them.

Begin with the jewel-studded clasp worn by Benedict XIII, whose sacramental imagination led him in 1725 to rule that no confession could be sacramentally effective without the intention to sin no more.

Then look at the white silk tafetta mantle that belonged to Benedict XIV, who in 1743 rebuked the Polish bishops for allowing the dissolution of marriages without due cause.

And here is a diamond-studded ring, which the Bourbon princess Marie Adélaïde Clotilede gave to Pius VI in 1775. Pius’s resistance to the French Revolution stemmed from his Catholic imagination, which saw society as a matter of carefully ordered hierarchy. He believed that social order “is like harmony, which derives from the agreement of many sounds.”

Now on to a fiddleback chasuble with flashing gold tinsel worn by Pius VII, whose Catholic imagination led him in 1821 to condemn those who “hold in contempt the Sacraments of the Church … and treat with derision the Mysteries of the Catholic Religion.”

There is a dazzling diamond clasp given to Leo XIII by Maria Cristina, queen regent of Spain. Leo’s Catholic imagination led him not only to challenge the inhumanity of the Industrial Revolution but also to condemn in 1880 “the baneful heresy obtaining among Protestants touching divorce and separation.”

Here is the aquamarine pectoral cross that Leo XIII gave to Giuseppe Sarto, who became Pius X. In 1907 Pius issued the encyclical Pascendi, which warned that “For the Modernists the Sacraments are mere symbols or signs.”

Or here is a cope of Benedict XV, that great lover of peace, whose understanding of the sacramental priesthood compelled him to rule in 1916 that “images of the Blessed Virgin Mary wearing priestly vestments are not approved.”

And here is a gold chasuble of Pius XI, stitched with scenes of crusade. His sacramental imagination obliged him in 1930 to issue Casti Connubii, which condemned “those wicked parents who seek to remain childless, and failing in this, are not ashamed to put their offspring to death.”

Catch the glint of a ring worn by Pius XII, who asked the nations to “follow our peaceful King who taught us to love not only those who are of a different nation or race, but even our enemies.”

And look at the red shoes of John Paul II, who in 1993 issued Veritatis Splendor, which affirmed “objective norms of morality valid for all people of the present and the future, as for those of the past.”

We should attend to the real Catholic imagination and not its sentimental counterfeit. The same faith that gave rise to these beautiful baubles proposed views on sexuality and social order that are contrary to the spirit of the age.

It is foolish to suppose that either the Church’s teaching or its relics are mere artefacts that now have lost their power. These beautiful copes, stoles, clasps, and rings still move men — still have the power Leo XIII acknowledged in Testem Benevolentiae when he advised priests in America to spread the faith “by the pomp and splendor of ceremonies” as well as “by setting forth that sound form of doctrine.” In the Met's carnival atmosphere, their splendor seems all the more radiant.

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Jonathan Pryce, a dead ringer for the pope, plays Bergoglio in the Netflix.

Bad PS about that Netflix movie that a Daily Mail story said would be about how Benedict XVI was elected pope and why he resigned.
It turns out the film may really be about the relationship between him and his successor. Ugghhh! I hate it already.
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If I could, I would repeat this post, which I first made on the previous page, as many times as I can to call attention to Cardinal Eijk's courageous words to
describe what is happening in the church of Bergoglio - which in effect, is what he has caused to happen to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church that
he was elected to lead. The Dutch cardinal's words, unfortunately, have so far has met with far less interest than the Four Cardinals' DUBIA when these were first
made known. The silence so far from the Bergoglio camp is ominous - who knows what the totalitarian tyrant in Casa Santa Marta has in mind for Cardinal Eijk? -
but the silence from the Catholic commentators who must share the cardinal's views is very disheartening.

Nevertheless, read Cardinal Eijk again and again - and weep for the Church and what Bergoglio has done to her. But take heart, too, that there is still someone
in the Church like Cardinal Eijk who sees and says things for what they are. And pray that many more like him will break their unholy silence to speak out
and denounce every chance they can the various apostasies from truth that are taking place in this pontificate and led by the pope himself.

Felicitations to Cardinal Eijk for this most unexpected intervention, in which he goes straight to the point and does not bother with pro forma courtesies
towards the pope when enunciating what he sees as a clear error on the part of the reigning pope. He gets my vote for the first badge of courage - for being as
straightforward as he is orthodox - earned by a cardinal since the start of this pontificate. He does not frame his conclusion as a DUBIUM, but as a clear
assertion that Bergoglio's shirking from making a decision on inter-communion is a form of 'apostasy' (the term I myself have always favored over 'heresy'
to characterize Bergoglio's anti-Catholic words and actions)... Will there be more like him? And what retribution might he expect from Casa Santa Marta for
his laudable parrhesia?

Pope ought to have given
clarity on inter-communion

Failure to give German bishops proper directives based on the clear doctrine
and practice of the Church, points to a drift from the truth towards apostasy

by Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk
Archbishop of Utrecht
The Netherlands
May 7, 2018

The German bishops’ conference voted by a large majority in favor of directives which entail that a Protestant married to a Catholic may receive the Eucharist after meeting a number of conditions:
- he must have carried out an examination of conscience with a priest or with another person with pastoral responsibilities;
- he must have affirmed the faith of the Catholic Church, as well as having wished to put an end to “serious spiritual distress” and to have a “desire to satisfy a longing for the Eucharist.”

Seven members of the German bishops’ conference voted against these directives and sought the opinion of some dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The consequence was that a delegation from the German bishops’ conference spoke in Rome with a delegation from the Roman Curia, including the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The response of the Holy Father, given through the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the delegation of the German Conference, that the Conference should discuss the drafts again and try to achieve a unanimous result, if possible, is completely incomprehensible. The Church’s doctrine and practice regarding the administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Protestants is perfectly clear. The Code of Canon Law says about this:

“If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.” C.I.C./1983, can. 844 § 4 (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) no. 1400).

This therefore applies only to emergencies, especially where there is a risk of death.

Inter-communion is, in principle, only possible with Orthodox Christians, because the Eastern Churches, although not in full communion with the Catholic Church, have true sacraments and above all, by virtue of their apostolic succession, a valid priesthood and a valid Eucharist (CCC no 1400, C.I.C./1983 can. 844, § 3). Their faith in the priesthood, in the Eucharist, and also in the Sacrament of Penance is equal to that of the Catholic Church.

However, Protestants do not share faith in the priesthood and the Eucharist. Most German Protestants are Lutheran. Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which implies the conviction that, in addition to the Body or Blood of Christ, bread and wine are also present when someone receives them. If someone receives the bread and wine without believing this, the Body and Blood of Christ are not really present. Outside this moment of receiving them, there remains only the bread and wine, and the body and blood of Christ are not present.

Obviously, the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation differs essentially from the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which implies the faith that what is received under the figures of bread and wine, even if administered to someone who does not believe in transubstantiation and even outside the moment of administration, remains the Body or Blood of Christ and that it is no longer the substances of bread and wine.

Because of these essential differences, communion should not be administered to a Protestant, even if married to a Catholic, because the Protestant does not live in full communion with the Catholic Church and, therefore, does not explicitly share faith in her Eucharist.

The differences between faith in consubstantiation and that of transubstantiation are so great that one must really demand that someone who wishes to receive Communion explicitly and formally enters into full communion with the Catholic Church (except in case of danger of death) and in this way explicitly confirms his acceptance of the faith of the Catholic Church, including the Eucharist.

A private examination of conscience with a priest or with another person with pastoral responsibilities does not give sufficient guarantees that the person involved really accepts the faith of the Church. By accepting it [the Eucharist], the person can, however, do only one thing: enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The draft directives of the German bishops' conference suggest there are only a few cases of Protestants, married to Catholics, who would like to receive Communion by making use of these directives. However, experience shows that in practice these numbers will generally increase. Protestants who are married to Catholics and see other Protestants married to Catholics receiving Communion will think they can do the same. And in the end even Protestants unmarried to Catholics will want to receive it. The general experience with this type of adjustment is that the criteria are quickly extended.

Now the Holy Father has informed the delegation of the German episcopal conference that it must discuss again the draft proposals for a pastoral document on, among other things, administering Communion, and try to find unanimity. Unanimity about what?

Assuming that all members of the German bishops’ conference, after having discussed them again, unanimously decide that Communion can be administered to Protestants married to a Catholic (something that will not happen), will this — while being contrary to what the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church say in this regard — become the new practice in the Catholic Church in Germany?

The practice of the Catholic Church, based on her faith, is not determined and does not change statistically when a majority of an episcopal conference votes in favor of it, not even if unanimously.

What the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church say should have been the response of the Holy Father, who is, as the Successor of Saint Peter “the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful”
(Lumen Gentium no. 23).

- The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church.
- He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable - instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience.

By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered.

This is also the case with cardinals who publicly propose to bless homosexual relationships, something which is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of the Church, founded on Sacred Scripture, that marriage, according to the order of creation, exists only between a man and a woman.

Observing that the German bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter, fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church’s ultimate trial
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.

+Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk
Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands
Utrecht, 5 May 2018

Not surprisingly, Aldo Maria Valli is one of the few who have reacted strongly to Cardinal Eijk's statement:

Words to shake you up
Translated from
May 10, 2018

Observing that the German bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter, fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church’s ultimate trial
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.

It’s useless to ignore or hide the fact. The words of Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, should shake up any faithful Catholic. His Eminence speaks openly of apostasy and not on the basis of vague considerations but of a concrete fact. The problem has to do with intercommunion between Protestants and Catholics in Germany.

[Valli goes on to quote substantially from the cardinal's statement.]

His conclusion is dramatic: [Valli goes on to repeat the paragraph with which he opened this commentary.]

The question of intercommunion may seem very technical, reserved only for specialists and far from questions that actually touch the faith. But that is not so. Because it is the Eucharist that is in question – which is the very heart of the faith. And if a cardinal ends up using such strong words, speaking openly of the risk of apostasy, it means that the situation is truly grave.

Indeed, the cardinal asks – and asks it of the entire Church - whether we are not now witnessing the great apostasy which, with persecution, the Catholic faithful must face “on earth... the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth". That any Catholic should ask this is one thing, but if the doubt is publicly expressed by a cardinal, then it assumes the magnitude that it has.

As Cardinal Eijk reminds us, already in November 2015, while visiting the Lutheran Church in Rome, the pope was unable to give a clear answer to a Lutheran woman’s question on inter-communion, using extremely confused and confusing statements which in the end meant “maybe yes, maybe no, but do what you think best”. [Which is the best definition of Bergoglian equivocation, the everything-is-OK indifference of someone totally subject to the dictatorship of relativism.]

There are so many ways to speak of apostasy at the top of the Church hierarchy, such as that of Bruno Cornacciola, the seer of the Tre Fontane visions in Rome (“The entire Church will undergo a tremendous trial in order to cleanse the carname that has infiltrated her priests… Priests and faithful will be at a dangerous turning point in the world of the damned which will use any means in its assault – false ideologies and theologies”) and that of LaSallette (“The Church will undergo a terrible crisis. She will be eclipsed. Rome will lose the faith to the point of becoming the seat of the Anti-Christ”).

Already, the day after AL was published, Cardinal Eijk denounced it in these words: “People are confused, and this is not right. The apostolic exhortation has generated doubts that need to be clarified… (because) on the matter of the possibility of access to the Eucharist by remarried divorcees, what is true in one place cannot be wrong in another”. Yet that’s what has been happening.

What has been called “the practical weakening’ of the sacraments by this pope, “carried out for pastoral reasons of ‘mercy’ and ‘welcoming’ (see Roberto Pertici’s essay on Sandro Magister’s blog [link]) is very much in progress.

But what will this lead to? What else is needed to complete "religious deception that offers men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth”?

Once again, I am truly grateful to Cardinal Eijk and all others who like me have been using the word 'apostasy' rather than 'heresy' to describe what Bergoglio is committing!
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Church alarm is full blast - but
this pope lets it sound in vain

[But can we really consider the reaction from two cardinals and a few bishops a 'full blast alarm'?
That has been the problem all along - too few in the Church hierarchy have been willing to speak out
against Bergoglio's increasingly anti-Catholic initiatives!]

May 11, 2018

ACHTUNG! The conflict that has exploded in Germany for and against communion for Protestant spouses has exceeded the threshold of alarm about the unity of the universal Church, to judge by the warnings issued in recent days by several cardinals [two, actually, not several!] to the pope. Warnings of a severity without precedent in the five years of the Bergoglio pontificate [that started out being hailed as that of the most popular, if not the greatest, pope there ever was! A worse rush to judgment than the Nobel Peace Prize going to Obama when he was not even six months in office.]

The backstory can be found in this post from Settimo Cielo of May 2, just before the encounter between the opposing parties when they were called to Rome by the pope:
> One Cardinal, Seven Bishops, and Four New "Dubia." This Time on Intercommunion

The meeting between the German cardinals and bishops and the Vatican authorities took place on May 3 in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But it concluded without any sort of decision. In the evening, a laconic statement simply revealed that “Pope Francis values the ecumenical efforts of the German bishops and asks them to find, in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a unanimous result if possible.” [A hands-off non-decision to rank among Bergoglio's worst evasions of duty, most definitely unworthy of a pope, and of someone who was elected to lead the Church - and therefore, be its symbol as well as primary agent of unity, not its main agent of disunity.]

And it is precisely this deflection - backed by the pope [???? Not just backed by the pope but 'decided' by him, insofar as a non-decision is also a decision not to decide, to begin with!] of the issue back to the German bishops to be resolved by a unanimous vote that provoked a a strong reaction from two prominent European cardinals who insist rightly that questions of faith cannot be resolved by vote and without the universal Church being involved. [As in an ecumenical council where all the bishops of the world are convoked under the de facto presidency of the reigning pope. And where supposedly 'democratic' votes are taken, which this pope early on decided to simply ignore and override when he wants to. Which is the story of the two family synods and how, despite the abundant public record of their deliberations and votes, Bergoglio simply - and autocratically - overrode the votes and statements that he disagrees with (never was the sobriquet 'the dictator pope' more appropriate!) to come up with the bastard and ultimately evil document I will henceforth simply refer to as AL, because it can not be the source of either love or joy that it invokes in its presumptuous title.]

The first of these is Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht. "The response of the Holy Father is completely incomprehensible," he wrote in no uncertain terms in a commentary published in the United States on the National Catholic Register and in Italy on La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana:

"The Holy Father has informed the delegation of the German episcopal conference that it must discuss again, and try to find unanimity. Unanimity about what? The practice of the Catholic Church, based on her faith, is not determined and does not change statistically when a majority of an episcopal conference votes in favor of it, not even if unanimously...

"The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church. He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience. By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered."

Eijk is referring here to the tortuous response - yes, no, I don’t know, you figure it out [and do what you think best] - that Francis gave to that Protestant woman and that can be viewed in this video from Centro Televisivo Vaticano, in the original language with an English translation:
> "La domanda sul condividere la cena del Signore…"

And here is the dramatic conclusion that the Dutch cardinal reaches, citing an unsettling passage from the catechism:

Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 'Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth'.”

The other cardinal who reacted immediately was Gerhard L. Müller, former CDF prefect. Commenting for the NCRegister on the outcome of the May 3 summit, Müller lamented the absence of a clear response on a question that is a “pillar of our faith, the Eucharist.” A response that it was right to expect from the pope, whose task is precisely to “affirm the faith” and to “give a very clear orientation," not "through personal opinion but according to the revealed faith."

It is not admissible - Müller continued - that an episcopal conference should vote against a doctrine that is a “basic element” of the Church. It is not possible to be “in sacramental communion without ecclesial communion," because if this principle is destroyed then too "the Catholic Church is destroyed."

"We must resist this," Müller went on to say. "I hope more bishops will raise their voices and do their duty. Every cardinal has a duty to explain, defend, promote the Catholic faith, not according to personal feelings, or the swings of public opinion, but by reading the Gospel, the Bible, Holy Scripture, the Church fathers and to know them. Also the Councils, to study the great theologians of the past, and be able to explain and defend the Catholic faith, not with sophistic arguments to please all sides, to be everyone’s darling."

Müller expressed his hope that the CDF may carry out its task as “guide of the magisterium of the pope”: a CDF task, of course, that this pope has not wished to avail of, neither under Mueller nor under his successor, the Spanish Jesuit Luis Ladaria Ferrer. [Both Bergoglio and his onetime one-man brain trust Mons. Fernandez have said informally on more than one occasion that the pope - and the Church, in general - could do very well even without the CDF. Understandably, because neither Bergoglio nor Fernandez believe in many of the essential articles of the Catholic faith, so why would they need anyone to defend and uphold it as he CDF is dutybound to do? So is the pope for that matter - to whom the CDF ought to be the instrument with which he upholds and defends Catholic orthodoxy. But Bergoglio has already made too many choices that make it clear he will change 'Church teaching' when and as he pleases. Except that such altered 'teachings' can never be considered the teaching of the Catholic Church, but of Bergoglio's own church of Bergoglio which he is fashioning in his image and likeness.]

"More clarity and courage must be encouraged," Cardinal Mueller concluded.

Then the NCRegister's excellent Vaticanista Edward Pentin, reported the comments of a source close to the two German bishops who at the Vatican summit on May 3 represented those who had appealed to the Holy See against the concession of communion for Protestant spouses: Cardinal Archbishop Rainer Woelki of Cologne and Regensburg bishop Rudolf Voderholzer.

"Official answer is that there is no answer," the source lamented in commenting on the result of the May 3 summit. “The CDF was left to act as a postman,” meaning as a mere transmitter of the non-response from Francis. Who in his turn “failed to fulfill his obligation as pope regarding a question of dogma which his office must decide" and "affirm the faith."

In the coming months, the source continued - when [AND IF!] the discussion continues in the German bishops' conference of Germany, as the pope wishes, “our job now is to strengthen" and expand the ranks of the bishops who oppose communion for Protestant spouses. "It’ll be a long fight and we’ll be dedicating ourselves to it.”

What is taking shape, in fact, is an 'ecclesiological revolution'. The real problem is not the issue itself, but the refusal of the Pope to carry out his obligation as Peter, and this could have heavy consequences. Peter is no longer the rock he is supposed to be, and as the Supreme Shepherd, he is saying to his sheep instead: "Go yourselves and look for something to eat".

And the pope? It is easy to foresee that as usual he will not react to the warnings from these cardinals. He has not responded to the five DUBIA concerning AL and communion for the divorced and remarried. He has not responded to the four DUBIA concerning communion for Protestant spouses. In the first case he has remained silent [because in his mind he believes it is closed], in the second he has said that the discussion should continue.

He has given hints of his thinking, and in both cases he is in favor of the innovation. But what matters to him is not yanking out the result right away. It is enough for him that the “process” of change be set in motion. A growing number of cardinals and bishops see in this the risk that the unity of the Church may be shattered, and on questions central to the Catholic faith. But for him, the Church must be made precisely like this: “polyhedral,” with many sides. [But he is doing away with the glue that holds those sides together - a common doctrine and a common belief - and without that, all he has are disparate pieces. And as usual, I have a problem with Bergoglio's very imperfect metaphors (which I'm sure he thinks are very clever and original) of which 'field hospital' is the worst so far. 'Polyhedron' is another - has he ever taken time to imagine what an unwieldy thing that would be? Does he see the Church as a polyhedron having more than 5000 facets to represent each diocese, and will the facets all be of equal size - whether it's the sparsely populated Amazonia or the mega-dioceses of Milan and Munich? And I don't know that such an unequal giant mega-faceted polyhedron would even be stable and able to 'stand' on its own!]

Meanwhile, in Germany, the further discussion that Pope Francis wants is already underway, on positions that are still opposed to each other:
> German Bishop: Pope Francis Has Effectively Approved of the Intercommunion Handout

[If Paul VI was the Hamlet pope for his indecisions, then Bergoglio is the Pilate pope for washing his hands off major decisions!]

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How many people actually watch crap like this? It appears to be a YouTube video clip produced by Mons. Vigano's Secretariat for Communications, apparently
one in a daily series of video clips to document and disseminate anything and everything Bergoglio says and does... The blogging English couple at TORCH OF
THE FAITH comment on the video:

In newsvid-clip, Bergoglio targets 'rigid' Catholic youth
and misrepresents St Paul in his pre-Damascus days

May 11, 2018

A slick propaganda video [Having had to produce a few 'propaganda videos' in my time, I see nothing slick about this. Indeed, it is very amateurish in that it tries to make do with any video to illustrate the propaganda line - and alas, all the illustrations chosen are pedestrian scenes that could well have been rummaged from any out-take file, and totally inadequate and inappropriate to illustrate what they are supposed to illustrate!] has been released onto the internet, which features Francis returning again to criticisms of one of his favourite groups of, some might say, straw men; those 'rigid youths' who are supposedly blighting the Church in our day.

And so, in a week during which God has been given grave offence - real Catholics the world over have been utterly scandalized and non-Catholics bemused and even shocked, by the heaping up of sacrilegious and impure travesties at the heathenish Met Gala - Francis suggests that the most pressing need of the hour is to again target the remnant of young people who still take the Faith so seriously as to appear 'rigid' in his - might we say? - jaundiced view. ['Perverted' is the adjective I would use for Bergoglio constantly inventing all his strawmen bugaboos who are always so implausible it's a wonder he does not realize it in the process of making them up. As if lying and deception were not sinful - especially if done so blatantly and in public.]

To be perfectly honest, I sometimes think that Francis's repeated returns to this theme leave him looking a bit like those cartoon villains who, when captured at the end of each episode of Scooby Doo!, used to bemoan the fact that they would have got away with their dastardly plans if it had not been for those pesky kids!

I've mentioned before how my own experiences at Ushaw seminary, coupled with conversations with priests, seminarians and ex-seminarians from places as diverse as America, England, Germany, Holland and Ireland, as well as reading Michael S. Rose's classic book, Good Bye, Good Men - How Liberals Brought Corruption into the Catholic Church, enabled me to discern that the application of the term 'rigid' was part of a sophisticated, supranational and concerted effort, made by un-Catholic [worse, they are anti-Catholic!] subversives within the Church, to label, persecute, sideline and ultimately destroy orthodox religious vocations.

I've also discussed how Francis has used 'rigid' a number of times in order to further depict traditional Catholic youths as not only being rigidly uptight, but also suffering from insecurity, neuroses, psychological instability, hypocrisy and, perhaps more ominously, 'even something else' [What could that be? Insanity?].

It seems that, in his paradigm of thought, the remnant of upright Catholic youths in the Church today appear as so many strait-jacketed Jansenists; or else as having all the harshness of a Mr. Brocklehurst or the uptightness of a Sinjin Rivers, like those two Calvinistic throwbacks in Charlotte Bronte's, Jane Eyre.

I mustsay that, out here at the peripheries, I'm not finding these 'rigid'' types at all in young Catholic circles.

In the whole Novus-Ordo culture, so far as one finds any young people these days, one more typically encounters youths who, though often sincere, have been denied decent catechetical formation, liturgical experience or solid moral teaching. In their social justice t-shirts and colourful WWJD friendship-bands, one could not justly accuse them of ridigity, but more readily feels sadness that they have been denied better fare than they are so often given.

On the other hand, in more traditionalist areas, one frequently meets pockets of young adults whose search for beauty, goodness, truth, reverence and commitment, has led them on a journey into the lush-green and life-giving pastures of traditional Catholic orthodoxy. With some exceptions, the majority of these young people do not strike me as 'rigid' either. Reverent, yes; but not rigid.

Actually, they are often just mighty glad to have discovered the wonder of truth. And there is a certain joy and humility in all of that; a certain peace, even.

We have also met young people whose growth into Catholic orthodoxy has moved them to offer themselves in active service; through things like altar-serving, singing in a Gregorian chant choir, training as care-workers for the sick, feeding the homeless and taking part in pro-life activism. None of this comes across as particularly 'rigid'.

Neither does any of it appear in Francis's latest hit-piece... excuse me... video. Perhaps the kids in his neck of the woods just aren't so cool?

His little film begins with the title, No to Rigid Hypocrisy. It features, amongst clips of actors portraying 'rigid' young types - (to be honest they don't even look that young), programmatic music and footage of Francis preaching against "rigid Christians, who live a double life. They present themselves as good and honest, but when no-one is looking they do terrible things... I think when I say this about many young persons who have fallen into the temptation to be rigid in the Church today. Some are honest and good; but we must pray that the Lord help them to grow in meekness.''

Even if, by a stretch of charitable thinking, one allows this as being somehow a well-meant pastoral warning - after all spiritual pride is a sin to which traditional Catholics are often prone - his next comment remains particularly jarring to the Catholic mind.

Let us ask Saul in a special way to help the rigid youth in the Church, since he was once rigid and honest, full of zeal, and yet mistaken. Let us also pray for rigid hypocrites who live a double life. Those to whom Jesus said, do what they say, but not what they do.

Leaving aside the fact that today most Catholics would need to avoid both what Francis and his key modernistic prelates say and do in order to follow Christ truly, one finds one's jaw simply hanging open at this request to ask Saul to intervene with the 'rigid' youth.

Saul, mind you! As the video fades to a clip of a field of daisies, this line about Saul hangs in the air like a thundery rain cloud on a summer's day.

Saul was not just an honest but rigid man, full of zeal and yet mistaken. He was a Jew, who persecuted the Church.

On the road to Damascus, and in the dramatic grace-filled events which followed, Saul was knocked from his horse by God and became Paul, St. Paul to you and me: a Catholic; an Apostle in fact; a foundational pillar of the Church; no less zealous for the Kingdom; but this time his zeal was made peaceful because it was for Christ. Paul was zealous for and by grace; and he had zeal to spread the offer of salvation to all souls who would respond.

When one thinks of all of these things discussed here today, and then reads of Cardinal Timothy Dolan sending out from the sacrilegious, $30,000 per head Met Gala for sneaked-in hot dogs, later topped off with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, one can only reflect with sorrow on Our Lord's words in Acts 9:4: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" [Surely one would not consider Dolan's self-indulgent hot dogs at a $30,000-a-plate dinner an act that persecutes Christ! It was his jovial presence and actual patronage of the atrocious anti-Catholic gala that was!]

Dear young people, and all who kindly come on here to read this blog. Please, do not become discouraged by these events or painful words emanating from Rome and the highest levels of the Church.

Whilst being aware of it, do not look for too long, or too deeply into the void. It is an absence of the good, of charity, of peace, of Jesus Christ.

Remain instead in the peace of Christ through silent prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary, Confession and Holy Mass.

Do not be discouraged either by your own weakness or sinfulness. God loves you and, provided you remain repentant and humble, devotedly receiving grace in the sacraments, with eyes always fixed on Him, you will be alright.

He has the message of eternal life. These difficult times are passing.

Keep close to Our Lady and Keep the Faith!
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If you wish to understand Salvini’s Lega,
read Benedict XVI’s latest book

Full of wisdom and political reflections, the emeritus pope’s
thoughts underlie most of Salvini’s major positions

Translated from
May 12, 2018

A couple of years ago, Matteo Salvini [leader of the Lega political party which was one of the three major winners in Italy’s last elections] proudly wore a T-shirt that read ‘IL MIO PAPA E BENEDETTO XVI’ which he did as an implicit objection to Bergoglio’s migrationism.


At a political rally, Salvini recalled the teachings of Papa Ratzinger and John Paul II who said that before the right to emigrate, the right not to emigrate ought to be asserted first. And that the identity of peoples (with distinct cultures) must be defended.

But far vaster than this particular issue is the super-imposition of the Lega’s political battles with the teachings of Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

This is very apparent from the Emeritus Pope’s recently published new book, Liberare la libertà. Fede e politica nel terzo millennio (Cantagalli). One need not say that the book is very rich in reflections and food for thought that remind us of the fascination and vastness of Ratzinger’s thinking.

Thinking that becomes even more impressive if compared with the relative poverty and conformist superficiality of the limping Bergoglian foreword to the book which does not go beyond politically correct slogans dear to those who patronize hot air.

I will not even try to summarize the many marvelous pages of Benedict XVI that go from Kant to Solzhenitzyn, from the primacy of conscience to Sakharov, from Sartre to Popper, from meditating on Bach’s Passion music to write about "The Good Friday of the 20th century”, to the concept of the state by the early Christians, from Gruenewald’s Crucifix (in the famous Isenheim Altar) to Marx and Lenin.

Everyone can delight in these Ratzingerian pages which are luminous and vast like a beautiful valley in the Tuscan countryside.

Instead, I would like here to consider this book as if it were a true and proper intervention on politics today, especially in Italy, and to single out the themes and thoughts that – although they represent powerful suggestions to every reader – constitute for Matteo Salvini and his Lega an authoritative contribution to some of their major causes.

Above all, the Muslim question. This volume does not include the legendary Regensburg lecture (it is found in another volume of the series), but Benedict XVI has a precious dialog with Marcello Pera in which he defines human rights as “a force recognized by universal reason in all the world against dictatorships of any kind”. If in the 20th century, this statement referred only to the atheist totalitarian systems of the past century, today, the pope says, the issue concerns above all “the states founded on the basis of a religious justification, such as we find most of all in the Islamic world”.

This entire volume of some of Benedict XVI’s collected writings on faith and politics – like the Regensburg lecture – is an apologia for reason and for authentic secularity born out of Christianity (in opposition to the divinization of imperial power in the ancient world).

Another theme that enriches the political persperctive of Salvini and his party is Benedict XVI’s continuous opposition to the European Union whose technocracy has been seeking to impose a positivist ‘one thought’ on the continent, and he sees in this the suicide of Europe.

Because, the pope recalls, “the cultural patrimony of Europe” is much vaster, and because, historically, it was precisely “on the basis of Christian conviction about a Creator God that the ideas of human rights, the equality of all men before the law, acknowledgment of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person, and awareness of man’s self-responsibility for his own actions, developed. These acknowledgements of reason constitute our cultural memory. To ignore them or to consider them as mere things of the past would be to amputate our culture… The culture of Europe was born from the encounter between Jerusalem, Athens and Rome – the encounter between Israel’s faith in God, the philosophical reasoning of the Greeks and the juridical thought of Rome. This threefold encounter make up the innermost identity of Europe”.

This gives rise to our responsibility to fight “for the inviolable dignity of man”. The threefold encounter “established the criteria for the law, and in this historical moment, it is our task to defend it”.

But beyond countering the ideological myth of a relativist Europe according to the Treaty of Maastricht [the 1992 Treaty on European Union signed in Maastrcht to further the integration of Europe. Along with the 1957 Treaty of Rome (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), it forms the constitutional basis of the European Union], Benedict XVI also demolishes the other great divinity of our time: the markets. A divinity that has been hossanized and adored, to which States and peoples have been sacrificed.

Against the religion of global marketing, the book re-proposes Benedict’s World Day of Peace message on January 1, 2013, in which, with the growing rampancy of the global economic crisis, he proposes ‘a new economic model’ in which ‘the maximization of profits’ gives way to the primacy of the common good.

He therefore asks of States to take back the initiative in the economic sector with “policies of industrial and agricultural development”(thereby harking back to Keynes, but Keynesian economics has been made impossible because of the single European currency). [I really do not understand what that means, without having to look up Keynesian economics!], and calls for the “fundamental and indispensable ethical structuring of monetary, financial and commercial ethics in ways that will not cause damage to the poorest people”.

Which means that States and people must reassert their primacy over the markets. Which is today a revolutionary thought. But Benedict XVI is so anti-conformist and therefore indigestible to the global powers-that-be that in his last interview book “Last Conversations” with Peter Seewald, he allowed himself an elegant putdown of Obama and a significant appreciation for Putin:

“With Putin, our conversation was in German, which he speaks perfectly. We did not talk about profound matters, but I believe that he – as a man of power – has realized the need for faith.He is a realist. He sees that Russia suffers from the destruction of morals. As a patriot, and as someone who wants to bring Russia back to a role of great power, he understands that the destruction of Christianity would threaten Russia’s own destruction. He realizes that man needs God, and he certainly seems to have been intimately touched by this. Even recently, when he presented Pope Francis with an icon, he first made the sign of the Cross and kissed it”.


One can say that, together with the Italian Constitution and the Gospel, at his next political rally, Salvini can well hold up Benedict XVI’s book to shore up his positions. A book of great political reflection.

And here is one of the lectures given at the formal presentation of the book last Friday in Rome. I must, however, precede my translation with a disclaimer:

I have this very bad habit of proceeding to translate a piece which I believe worth sharing after only cursory reading of it and then realizing as I go forward that it is not what I thought it was supposed to be. This is the unfortunate case with this essay -that I hastened to start translating because it was the first and only material I could find about the May 11 presentation of the new book on Benedict XVI’s writings on faith and politics.

It was with shock and disillusion that I realized the major fault with this essay by Mons. Crepaldi who, as director of the Cardinal Van Thuanh International Observatory on the Social Doctrine of the Church, has made many significant contributions to a discussion of that doctrine. He has written this essay on a patently false and obviously forced premise – that the book represents a convergence of three popes. The cursory foreword ‘signed’ by Pope Francis, with its generic and commonplace statements, probably not even read by him, does not in any way make him a participant in the content of the book.

And while I originally thought that the extravagant but unwarranted idea of convergence that Crepaldi mentions in his opening paragraph was merely a courteous grace note toward the reigning pope (although in striking contrast, he only makes one reference to John Paul II in the essay and does not then attribute anything else in the book to him), he then aggravates his pandering with the rather preposterous claim towards the end that Bergoglio, like Ratzinger and Wontyla, has been a passionate admirer of St. Augustine and Cardinal Newman! I find this to be a statement that is not just unnecessarily pandering to Bergoglio but plain and simply unnecessary in any context because it is not true. Nothing in the past five years or in Bergoglio’s previous life has ever indicated his love and admiration for Augustine or Newman! Why a serious and intelligent man like Mons. Crepaldi found it necessary to make such a statement is beyond me!

He could have omitted any of the statements about Bergoglio in the following essay without detracting in any way from what he has to say about politics, morality and faith. But he had to bring up Bergoglio's name whenever he could because of his ridiculous premise of considering the book as a 'convergence of three popes'.

'Freedom itself needs to be set free'
A presentation of a new book with
the political writings of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI

by Mons. Giampaolo Crepaldi
Archbishop of Trieste
Rome, May 11 2018
Translated from
The official site of the Diocese of Trieste

In the book that I have the honor to present today, three popes come together which makes it truly singular and of great interest. It contains some selected tests of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, along with some his teachings during his Pontificate. There is a Preface by Pope Francis. And there are the frequent references to St. John Paul II.

Indeed, the book title 'Liberare la liberta’ comes from Pragrapgh 86 of Veritatis splendor and expresses the sense and the intentions of that entire encyclical on morality. This ‘convergence’ is, as I said, of great interest because it indicates continuity at the same time as it does novelty – a novelty in continuity, one might say – in the teachings of the Church on the relationship between faith and politics.

Politics, morality and faith – these are the three terms that frame the contents of the book and which, one must recognize, are also the framework for the entire social doctrine of the Church.

Politics needs morality. It is not directly morality because it has its own legitimate autonomy in its criteria and methods. But it cannot do without morality, as ordinary citizens demonstrate, who are often very rigorous in judging politics precisely from the ethical point of view, and as politicians themselves demonstrate, who always feel compelled to justify the choices they make according to the criteria of goodness and justice.

There is no politician who does not present as ‘good’ and ‘just’ any action which he means to undertake or has undertaken. Even to achieve goals that are material in order – for example, of an economic or productive character – politicians always invoke a justification based on the common good. Of course, they have different views about the common good, but this does not keep politicians, above all, from invoking it as justification for their choices. Which demonstrates that politics, although autonomous, is not self-established. It seeks its ultimate legitimacy not in the results it achieves, nor from electoral mandate, but in the common good, that, is the good of all and of everyone, which politicians are called on to realize.

Today we live in a context of ethical pluralism. But we all acknowledge some basic moral principles that are also present in the Constitution of the Italian Republic. It is an ‘uneasy’ pluralism, which, on the one hand, demands freedom, but at the same time, feels an attraction for the truth. It is not accidental that political discussion often touches on issues with great ethical significance, not just for individual morality but for public morality. Is this not a sign of ‘uneasy’ pluralism? A pluralism that demonstrates, despite the conflict of interpretations and assessments, that politics is never sufficient by itself and that politicians are in position for something other than politics. It is this – the fact of being of service to others – that ultimately gives politics its dignity.

It is at this point that faith comes into play, because it opens to politics as well as to morality windows that the latter would be unable to open by themselves. In human life, everyone needs to be rescued from inherent involution. If politics absolutizes itself, it becomes transformed into technology or ideology. If morality absolutizes itself, it becomes a series of legalistic prohibitions. But the breath of Christian faith can help one and the other – not by appropriating them, but, leaving each in its legitimate autonomy, it offers an ultimate goal, impelling an awareness of higher and vaster things, echoing a call from beyond and towards the beyond. Whereby no damage is done to politics or to morality, which are not negated but confirmed, and we might say, made to breathe better.

I have dwelt on these three aspects – politics, morality and the Chrisitna faith - because their relationship of reciprocal purification represents one of the most interesting points in the teachings of Benedict XVI that we find in this book and confirmed by Pope Francis. Indeed, it is not only faith that purifies politics and morality, but also vice-versa.

In his famous 2004 debate with German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, Cardinal Ratzinger noted that political nihilism needs the purification of faith just as terrorist fundamentalism needs the purification of reason. There is a circularity in faith and reason. The political life of the people’s representatives, the choices made by legislators elected by popular will to represent them, does not exempt them from problems of conscience because indeed these become even more central.

In the work we are presenting today, we also find St. Augustine and Cardinal Newman, authors much loved by all three of the popes involved in this publication. The two great thinkers, as we know, studied the human conscience profoundly, offering significant and hard-to-match food for thought even for politicians.

Conscience is the last tribunal for our actions but not the only one. Benedict XVI has taught us that conscience needs an authority that activates its anamnesis – the most profound recovery of an iondividual’s own history and his motivations. The ultimate authority is needed because it induces the process of continuous self-verification by conscience. That is why the Church has an ecclesiastical authority, and why politics and society have a higher authority which is the truth.

Benedict XVI explains that when conscience, even that of the politician, looks into itself and allows anamnesis, then it finds the truth which resides within each human being, the truth that unifies where mere opinion divides. Politics is activity and sometimes activism, but at the same time, it needs this interior examination of conscience because truth is recognized by the intellect as well as by the heart.

Pope Francis, in his foreword, cites many of these truths which even for politicians should remain truths: respect for life, safeguarding the family, searching justice for all. Individual conscience is able to see these, and even when, in political action, it is subject to jolts and tugs, the politician must realize that he is acting not just with his intellect but with his heart.

In his foreword, the pope insists on the importance of an outlook of love. In the end, one has to recognize the dignity of the human person, the value of family, of human life, the education of the young according to what is good, are acts of love, love for the truth that precedes Parliaments and Constitutions.

There is something that precedes politics, as I have said before, and if a politician takes this into account it does not mean it diminishes him; rather, it acknowledges his own personal honor and his true dignity. In his famous speech to the German Bundestag in 2011, Benedict XVI said that the best virtue for a politician is that which Solomon asked of God: the wisdom of knowing how to lead men for good, because politics is not the administration of things but the governance of men.

The book we are presenting also contains a previously unpublished text by Benedict XVI on the subject of human rights and their foundation, warning of the danger that the proliferation of human ‘rights’ carries in itself the destruction of the concept of law – a process which I believe is very evident in our day. Human rights belong to man as a subject of the law, but their legitimacy presupposes duties that derive from the natural order of things. But in many cases, new ‘rights’ are being absolutized and therefore infinitely multiplied and multipliable. Why does this happen?

The main answer given by Benedict XVI in his new essay is that the natural order cannot maintain itself as such and thereby achieve its natural ends, without a supernatural order. Without refernce to the Creator, the natural order is weakened and little by little becomes lost to view. It is something Pope Francis confirms in his foreword.

Benedict XVI establishes the public role of the Catholic faith which completely honors the natural exigencies of individuals and society since it is a ‘religion with a human face’, and he calls on politicians to acknowledge this role. It is really a demand – an exigent one – for religious freedom.

The book we are presenting is dense in content and must be read as such, but it is also a harbinger of hope and must be appreciated as such. In our present difficulties,[ which are probably not different from those in other times [???? Really???Does this tell us Crepaldi is a witness compromised to the Bergoglian regime?], but more present and vivid to us, politics can still be a source of hope.

It may seem temerary to say so, but faith is able to instill ‘Christian realism’ even in political life. It consists in not closing our eyes to reality, even in its rawest forms, and not to neglect pursing all the means that are concretely in our possession to resolve problems and find just solutions. But it also consists in never ceasing to trust in the help of God who is the lord of history.

Christianity is a religion of hope, as Benedict XVI illustrated very well in his encyclical Spe salvi. Hope is a theological virtue, but that does not mean it cannot extend to circles we may consider profane or secular. Political life needs prerequisites it cannot give itself. One of this is hope, which has helped so many brave politicians to make decisions against their own personal interests and compelled to make important sacrifices in order to be faithful to the good of the country and its people. And this is true not just for politicians who are believers but even for some who choose expressly not to express any religious faith (even if only the Lord knows what is in their hearts).

Hope is a Christian value and a human value. A human value that Christ elevated into a divine virtue. Religious faith gives social life many aids – and one of this is hope. The book we are presenting contains a comforting and encouraging message of hope for everyone. For this, we thank Benedict XVI.
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We American Catholics are now in the post-Easter Season of the Bollixed Holy Days.

One of them is the feast of Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven, which, according to the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles, took place after He had spent “forty days” with His disciples following His resurrection from the dead, “being seen … and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

In longstanding Christian tradition, those forty days have meant, in both the Eastern and Western Christian churches, that the Feast of the Ascension is to be celebrated on the Thursday of the sixth week after Easter. So it has been in the Christian world since at least the late fourth century. Hence “Ascension Thursday,” the unofficial name for the day in English-speaking countries. And in the worldwide Latin church, Ascension Thursday is a “holy day of obligation,” meaning that Catholics must attend Mass on the day or risk grave sin.

Except that, well, they don’t really have to anymore in most Catholic dioceses in America. In 1991, the U.S. Catholic bishops, following the lead of Catholic bishops in other Protestant-majority countries where the holy days have little if any official government recognition, voted to release American Catholics from having to observe virtually any holy days of obligation whatsoever. (There are six such days in the U.S. Catholic Church, all representing major Catholic and universal Christian feast days.)

The idea was that, since Mass attendance on those days was already relatively poor among America’s fast-secularizing Catholics, it might be best to kind of forget about obliging Mass attendance at all. As a Los Angeles Times report at the time put it, “Church officials in favor of a change contend that pressures of modern life have made it increasingly hard for people to keep up with religious obligations during the week.” Ah, the pressures of modern life.

So out of the six existing holy days of obligation, the bishops made weekday Mass attendance absolutely mandatory on only two: Christmas (whew!) and December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (since Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the official Catholic saint-patroness of the United States). As for most of the rest of the holy days, if they happen to fall on a Saturday or a Monday, Mass attendance would be no longer be required, because, after all, it would be too cruel to force people to go to Mass two days in a row.

And as for Ascension Thursday, local bishops would have the option of turning it into “Ascension Thursday Sunday,” so to speak, by moving it to the Sunday immediately following the date of its traditional observance. That would presumably serve the purpose of at least getting a few more Catholics into church for this ancient festal celebration, since they’re required to attend Mass on Sunday anyway. And most U.S. bishops went for the change. Only in a handful of U.S. dioceses, mostly in the Northeast, does Ascension Day still fall on its proper Thursday.

The American bishops — as well as others, mostly in the English-speaking world — had a precedent for this. Starting in the late 1960s, the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the Magi’s visit to the infant Jesus—traditionally January 6, “Twelfth Night,” in the Western church—was moved to the Sunday immediately following New Year’s Day. This has meant that the season of Christmastide itself, which traditionally speaking isn’t supposed to end until the eleven pipers pipe and the twelve drummers drum, has regularly been terminated in parish churches as early as January 2.

Further gumming up the works is the fact that many Spanish-speaking Catholics in the United States haven’t bought into the bishops’ switch to Sunday and continue to celebrate El Día de los Tres Reyes—a much more important feast for them than for Anglophones—on whatever day of the week January 6 happens to fall.

Postponing Ascension Day — giving Jesus three extra days on earth before being “taken up” until a “cloud received Him” — means compressing the time between the Ascension and Pentecost (the ancient Jewish Feast of Weeks marking the seventh sabbath after Passover and always celebrated by Christians on a Sunday) from ten days to a mere seven. You might say that God now has to send down the Holy Spirit to the Church (the event that the Christian feast of Pentecost commemorates) by express instead of standard delivery.

Not only does this change maul the Scriptures (the Acts of the Apostles is very clear about the time period between Ascension Day and Pentecost), but the once-widespread Catholic custom of a nine-day novena between the two feast days — with the Easter candle in the sanctuary extinguished on the intervening Sunday as a symbol of Christ’s absence — is now just a memory in most U.S. dioceses. [I am happy to report that at Holy Innocents in Manhattan, the Novena to the Holy Spirit is alive and flourishing, and prayed after Mass with the priest leading.]

And in a further flattening of the post-Easter liturgical calendar, the American bishops (along with bishops in many other Western countries) moved the uniquely Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, which since the Middle Ages has been celebrated on the Thursday ten days after Pentecost. Again, the bishops decided that going to Mass or viewing a procession on a weekday was too much to ask of American Catholics, so Corpus Christi was shuffled off to Sunday as well.

So now we’re left with a blurry procession of late-spring Sundays: Ascension Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, Trinity Sunday (a week after Pentecost), and Corpus Christi Sunday. Many Catholics probably have trouble figuring out which one is which.

As for the bishops’ goal of encouraging Mass attendance on major feasts by moving around their days of observance, quite the opposite has happened instead. Fewer Catholics than ever go to church on Sundays these days, even though such convenient scheduling arrangements as evening and vigil Masses have made it easier than ever in history for them to fulfill their weekly worship obligations.

A Gallup poll released in April 2018 showed that Sunday Mass attendance, which had stabilized at around 45 percent about a decade ago, has recently resumed a precipitous post-Vatican II decline, down to 39 percent in 2017 from its height of 75 percent during the 1950s.

And as the rules about holy-day worship have relaxed, the complaints from Catholics obliged to abide by the few restrictions left have grown. In December 2017, when Christmas fell on a Monday, many Catholics were disappointed to learn that the bishops wouldn’t let them pull a “two-fer” via a Mass on Sunday, December 24, that would cover both days.

It has finally dawned on some people that when you ease up on practices that cement a distinctive Catholic identity, such as celebrating religious feasts on weekdays, people forget that they have any Catholic identity at all. Or that faiths that make demands upon their adherents are more successful in attracting and retaining adherents than those that don’t. (See mainline Protestantism for a textbook example.)

In September 2017, the bishops of England and Wales, who had, like the U.S. bishops, transferred Ascension Day and Epiphany to adjacent Sundays, voted to move them back to their original days. (Corpus Christi will remain on a Sunday in England, at least for the time being.) Perhaps the U.S. bishops will similarly realize that Catholics might cope better with the pressures of modern life if their church stood more distinctly and powerfully for something that transcends modern life.

Can you imagine Islam ever 'relaxing' the rule of praying five times a day, wherever you are - kneeling on a prayer rug and facing Mecca, nor the rules of fasting during the month of Ramadan, these being two of the basic impositions of Islam on its faithful? If the Muslims can be so disciplined in their observance of their basic religious duties, what makes Christians think our religious duties ought to be adjusted for our convenience?

Nor do I think that many Muslims miss out going to Friday mosque prayers when they are supposed to, if only because of peer pressure in a community where everyone knows what its members are doing.

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Corriere della Sera published the text of Mons. Gaenswein's intervention at the book presentation last Friday.]

The pope emeritus and his outlook
on the West and on Europe

by Archbishop Georg Gaenswein
Translated from
May 12, 2018

Before he became Pope, Joseph Ratzinger thought of himself as a German, but perhaps even more, as a Bavarian. Yet because of his family origins, as a child, he always looked towards Salzburg in Austria, having before his eyes the culture of the House of Hapsburg, especially because his maternal grandmother came from the South Tyrol (which is now part of Italy).

Crossing frontiers has characterized his life, with the constnat background of Catholicity’s infinite horizon. Therefore, from childhood, his political homeland was represented not by frontiers but by the West in its entirety, even in the days when the furies unleashed by totalitarianism risked precipitating our continent into the abyss.

So it was not surprising that early on, Europe became the political passion of the young scholar Joseph Ratzinger. Nor that the young Ratzinger was fascinated by Konrad Adenauer and by the poltiical resolve with which Germany’s first postwar Chancellor resisted all the flatteries and promises offered by the Soviet Union after the ‘break in civilization’ that German experienced under National Socialism, to anchor the new Federal Republic of Germany to the system of values inherent in Judaeo-Christian history and that of the Latin West.

Uniquely in this this history – as Joseph Ratzinger recognized early on – the God of Jacob was recognized not as a God who rages but above all, a God who loves his creatures, who does not force man to do as he should but to win him over. Only in such a cultural space could the unmatchable ‘Cbristian freedom’ have been discovered, developed and defended - a freedom spoken about 1500 years ago by St Columban who was inspired in his missionary work by the knowledge that «Si tollis libertatem, tollis dignitatem» - If you take away freedom, you take away dignity. Words that adorn the Chapel of St. Columban in the subterranean space of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the motto that guided that great 6th century Irish missionary.

In the Vatican grottoes under the papal altar, the Confessio that Bernini built over the tomb of the Prince of Apostles, the words of Columban have come to be an integral part of the foundations of the papacy itself.

It was the spirit in which the pilgrim Irish monks of the 6th century Christianized Western Europe, almost re-founding it in the midst of much internal migrations. A spirit that was persuasive to the young Joseph Ratzinger. And that is why the beautiful title of the book we are presenting today could almost be considered as a cantus firmus [a fixed song] in the life of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

The pope who came from Germany matured as a man, thinker and professor in the postwar ‘Catholic epoch: a time when Erich Przywara, mentor of Josef Pieper, conceived his book "The idea of Europe” and when Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman and Alcide de Gasperi took the risk of undertaking to re-found Europe from its ruins, recovering the legacy of the Carolingian West. It was at this time that the young homo historicus Joseph Ratzinger, who was extremely educated and cultured early on, became a homo politicus.

His most political idea even then coincided with the theological concept that was most important to the young priest: the truth, which much later he would use in the motto for his archbishop’s coat of arms, expressing his desire to win over co-workers for the truth.

“If we detach ourselves from the concept of truth, we detach ourselves from the foundation”, he told Pere Seewald in February 2000 while they were staying in Montecassino, mother house of the Benedictine monasteries. He continued:

“One of the most significant sayings of Jesus was about fire and peace ["I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!... Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Lk 12:49,51); In Matthew, his words are “I have come to bring not peace but the sword”] and it shows us today the conflict inherent in authentic peace – when truth is worth suffering and even conflict. It shows that one cannot accept lies for the sake of ‘living in peace’. No one has the courage these days to say that what the faith tells us is the truth”.

To seek the truth and fight for it thus became the thread running through the life of Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI. Because, of this he is convinced: it is a truth we cannot ‘have or possess’ but merely approach. Indeed, for the faith of Christians and according to their understanding of the truth, Truth is a person – in Jesus Christ, in whom God has shown us his face.

Because of this conviction, Ratzinger the theologian became an interlocutor particularly respected by Jurgen Habermas, the great German philosopher who has declared himself ‘devoid of religious ears’, but who agreed with Ratzinger that the Judaeo-Christian model of man created in the image and likeness of God determined the essential nucleus of Europe. From this ‘theologically founded secularity’ which Josef Piper said characterized the Western world, later the constitutionalist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde drew the conclusion that «The secularized liberal state lives on assumptions that it is unable to guarantee”.

Believer and non-believer can come together ‘in doubt’ that each one has, in his own way, Ratzinger wrote 50 years ago in his Introduction to Christianity. Yet in the cultural space of Europe, believer and non-believer can come together not just in doubt but also in truth, as the Habermas-Ratzinger dialog contained in this book demonstrates.

Because of this, Pope Benedict XVI wished to highlight the frontier of this unique cultural space with respect to all other
cultures as he did intrepidly on September 12, 2006, in his famous Regensburg Lecture. He showed how the decisive affirmation in the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologue‘s argument against conversion by force was that which, arising precisely from the Christian concept of God, “not to act according to reason, not to act with Logos, is contrary to the nature of God”. And he concluded by saying that “It is to this great logos, to this vastness of reason, that we invite our interlocutors to a dialog of cultures”.

When, in his Preface to this book, Pope Francis underscores that these texts, together with his predecessor’s Opera omnia, “can help us to understand our present and to find a solid orientation for the future”, what came almost spontaneously to my mind were the incisive words Benedict XVI said in defense of natural law when he addressed the Parliament of the German Federal Republic on September 22, 2011 at the Reichstag in Berlin. Words with which I wish to conclude my brief intervention today:

‘Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?’, as Saint Augustine once said”, Benedict XVI told the German legislators, speaking as as the teacher and professor he always has been.

Benedict VI We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre. We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right – a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss.

To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right?

Even now, Solomon’s request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today.

The request of the wise King Solomon to the God of Jacob – “Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil” (1 Kings 3,9) – remains operative for the tasks and the challenges that politicians are called on today to confront, because that ‘historic moment’ that the emeritus pope spoke about in Berlin six years ago, is running its course and not yet concluded.

I thank you for your attention.

Andrea Gagliarducci focuses on the hitherto unpublished letter of the Emeritus Pope that is a highlight of the new book, in which he commented on a 2014 book by his friend and onetime co-author Marcello Pera, the mathematician-philosopher who became President of the Italian Senate and is now senator-for-life, perhaps the most famous of Benedict XVI's 'devout atheist' admirers, Italian intellectuals who recognized in the German theologian a superior intellect that was recognized by many at the time as arguably the best and brightest mind in public life in our time (and remains so, for no new light has emerged to match him, much less, to eclipse him).

Benedict XVI’s hitherto unpublished essay:
God is key to understanding human rights

The final question, for Benedict XVI, is always God.
Can a state be built without God? And how much
can the state involve itself in the lives of its citizens?

by Andrea Gagliarducci

Vatican City, May 14, 2018 (CNA) - The Ratiznger Schuelerkreis, the circle of Joseph Ratzinger's former doctoral students who have met annually since 1977, will gather this year to discuss the theme “Church and State, Church and Society.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI selected the topic, as he does for the group every year.

This topic is intimately connected to the content of a recently published book, and above all to a letter – previously unpublished – contained in that book.

The book is Liberare la libertà. Fede e Politica nel Terzo Millennio (Liberating freedom: Faith and politics in the Third Millennium), curated by professors Pierluca Azzaro and Carlos Granados, as the second of a series of 7 books of Joseph Ratzinger’s selected texts addressing the main themes of the pontificate. (An English-language edition of the book will be published later this year by Ignatius Press.)

Including excerpts from the second book of his JESUS OF NAZARETH TRILOGY, a dialogue Benedict XVI had with the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas in 2004, his address to the UK's political and intellectual elite in 2010, and his address to the German Bundestag in September 2011, the book provides a wide overview of Joseph Ratzinger’s political thought.

The final question, for Benedict XVI, is always God. Can a state be built without God? And how much can the state involve itself in the lives of its citizens?

The text, rather than being philosophical, is quite pragmatic. It deals with universal rights like the right to freedom of conscience, along with more general reflections on the idea of personal freedom.

The unpublished letter from Benedict XVI contained in the book provides a response to those questions, since it reaffirms “the centrality of the question of God.”

The letter was a response to a 2014 book by Italian philosopher and politician Marcello Pera, entitled Diritti umani e cristianesimo. La Chiesa alla prova della modernità (Human Rights and Christianity: The Church put to the test by modernity”).

Benedict XVI’s letter makes immediately clear its point: despite the fact that Pope St. John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris was significant for the use of human rights language in magisterial texts, “the issue of human rights has practically acquired a place of great importance in the post-conciliar Magisterium and theology only with John Paul II”,]] Benedict XVI writes.

He notes that John Paul II’s emphasis on human rights was “the consequence of practical existence,” because “in the idea of human rights is the concrete weapon capable of limiting the totalitarian character of the state,” offering room “for the freedom necessary not only for thinking of the individual person, but also, and above all, for the faith of Christian and for the rights of the Church.”

In John Paul II's view, human rights constituted “the rational force” that could countervail “the all-encompassing presumption, ideological and practical, of the state founded on Marxism” , and that an understanding of human rights could limit any absolutist claim by the state, even those founded on the basis of a religious justification (as most of the Islamic states are). Benedict wrote that this understanding was part of the contribution of John Paul II.

Christians have always demanded freedom of faith, in its early centuries, from a state – the Roman state – that “knew religious tolerance, but that affirmed an ultimate identification between state and divine authority to which Christians could not consent,” the pope emeritus wrote.

This is how the question of God erupts into history. Christian faith, Benedict XVI noted, “necessarily included a fundamental limitation to the authority of the state, because of the rights and duties of the individual conscience”.

Although the idea of human rights “was not formulated this way,” it is not unjustified to Benedict XVI “to define the duty of man’s obedience to God as a right, with respect to the state,” and so it is logical that St. John Paul II’s “should see human rights as preceding any state authority.”

Benedict XVI further said that man, made in the image of God, is a subject and not only an object of rights. Both of these statements are consistent with the philosopher Immanuel Kant description of man as an end and not as a means.

Kant is not invoked by chance, since he is the philosopher who inspired ideas central to the Enlightenment. Most of contemporary secular thought is rooted in Kant’s thought, but Benedict XVI’s letter showed that even Kant is to some extent in debt to Christian philosophy. [I have always been in awe of Joseph Ratzinger's ample command of the history of ideas, and the clear linearity with which he presents it all - of which the encyclical Spe salvi is perhaps the prime example.]

From a historical perspective, the notion of human rights was born out of Christianity, Benedict argued.

The discovery of America led to a question: As the people of the New World were not baptized, did they have rights or not? Ultimately, that they were made in image of God was understood as the basis from which they derived rights. It became clear that as children of God, unbaptized people “were already subjects of rights and therefore could claim respect for their humanity,” Benedict XVI noted.

Speaking of that conclusion, Benedict wrote that: “It seems to me that ‘human rights’ have been recognized here, which precede the acceptance of the Christian faith and of any state power whatsoever.”

In addition, Benedict XVI explained, the first Christians had a particular attitude toward the Roman state. Because they were the first to believe in a universal religion, unbounded by national or ethnic identity, Christianity "redefined the essence of religion".

Christ's great commission "Go and make disciples of all nations", Benedict writes, “does not mean immediately demanding a change in the structure of individual societies,” but it rather demands “that all societies be given the possibility to welcome his message and live in accordance with it.”

Benedict XVI wrote that religion is not a “ritual and observance that ultimately guarantees the identity of the state,” but it is instead and precisely "recognition of the truth,” since the spirit of man “has been created for the truth.”

The pope emeritus underscored that “this connection between religion and truth includes a right to freedom that can licitly be considered as being in profound continuity with the authentic core of the doctrine of human rights, as John Paul II evidently did.”

Benedict XVI also warned of the danger in any vision that sees the “natural order” of society as “a complete totality in itself and does not need the Gospel.”

For all of those reasons, Benedict XVI said that “everything rests on the concept of God,” because “someone who speaks to his creatures and shows human beings what he wants of them."

Hence, Benedict's conclusion that “the idea of ​​human rights ultimately retains its solidity only if it is anchored to faith in God the creator, from whom it receives the definition of its limitation and at the same time its justification.”

“The concept of God,” Benedict XVI noted “includes the fundamental concept of man as a subject of law, and thereby justifies and at the same time establishes the limits of the conception of human rights.”

In the end, the question of God is strictly connected with the issue of truth.

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household and Benedict XVI’s personal secretary, noted May 11 that Benedict XVI’s political approach “coincides with the most important theological notion to him already as young priest: the truth.”

“Seeking truth, and struggling for it, has been the red thread in the life of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. He is convinced of this: that truth cannot be possessed; one can only approach truth, since, according to the faith of Christians and in accordance with our understanding of truth, the truth has become a person in Jesus Christ, in which God has shown his face.”

God becomes, therefore, central to every political question, even when God is denied.

In the book’s foreword, Pope Francis wrote that a state would be “false and anti-Christian” if it understood itself to be “the ‘whole’ of human hopes and possibilities.” Such a totalitarian and tyrannic lie, he wrote becomes “demonic and tyrannic.”

Pope Francis elaborated: “On this basis, along side St. John Paul II, Ratzinger elaborates and propose a Christian vision of human rights able to question, on both practical and theoretical levels, the totalitarian claim of the Marxist state and of the atheistic theology on which it was founded.”

In the end, there cannot be any state without God, because no institution can hold without truth: this is the lesson of Benedict XVI’s political vision.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/05/2018 02.30]
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Utente Gold
The hearse carrying little Alfie to the cemetery was decorated with flowers reading OUR HERO; right, a poignant photo of a spent dad dozing next to his angel son. What I have found most touching through all of this is how, in all the photos we have seen,
despite the fact that he was being killed deliberately, in effect, the little boy's face never lost its expression of sweet innocence. An account here by the young reporter that Bussola sent to cover the story from Alfie's bedside, as it were...

Alfie, goodbye, but with a promise:
We shall not let your light go dim

Emotional last rites for Alfie at Liverpool cathedral
His mourners hail him as a national hero, and
hundreds line the streets to the cemetery

by Benedetta Frigerio
Translated from

LIVERPOOL, May 15, 2018 – It is dark and circular, with lights in neon colors. Outside, there is splendid sunshine. Not a cloud in the sky, which is rare in Liverpool according to those who live there. But Christ the King Cathedral was built in such a way that not a ray of sun enters it, and artificial light is preferred.

One chapel, however, has a window with yellow and white glass, which, inundated with light from the outside, makes the surrounding darkness appear darker, even as it sparks hope in the hearts of those present.

It was in this chapel that the funeral Mas was held for Alfie James Evans, celebrated by a canon of the cathedral in the presence of 130 invited guests, most in tears but witnesses of great dignity, among them, the Italian consul to Liverpool.

Alfie’s father, Thomas, who carried the tiny coffin with other men of the family, was in tears, biting his lips to keep from weeping. His father beside him, as he has been at every difficult moment in the ordeal of the past many months, kept a comforting hand on his son’s shoulder.

Sorrow assails those present, evil appears to have triumphed, as it seems that so many efforts and prayers failed to defeat the monster of all those democratic semblances that serve to wrest life away from those whom Jesus favored – the innocents.

In the Gospel reading that was chosen, the Lord says “let the little children come to me because theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”. A kingdom that Alfie has brought down to a place where darkness has reigned for years under the tranquil appearance of of efficiency and progress which has shown itself to be no less pitiless as the Nazi extermination programs.

That monster brings on great fear since Alfie’s light has shown it to us in its most terrifying features. I have seen it face to face and it is truly fearsome. But the light will stay even if everyone has tried to suffocate it in the name of self-preservation. Alfie’s Mom and Dad know it, drawn even closer together in profound sorrow. They know this and say that Alfie’s mission has just begun and they know that they, too, have a mission now.

That is why despite the immense blow from the injustices they have suffered from a State that kills its most needful children with arrogant ferocity, Alfie’s family is not in despair. Numerous and united, they remain solidly compact. And they are able to smile, to hug and to talk as they have done these many months to all those who fought the good fight alongside little Alfie.

It is a fight that continues. That they wish to carry on, to the point that despite the silence (and pro forma words of condolence) of the Church in England that took the side of the powers-that-be in this case, Alfie’s family read out letters written to them by common citizens who followed Alfie’s ordeal, one of them saying, “Alfie, you have united us in our support of you – you are a national hero”.

At the reception that followed the funeral, the centerpiece was Alfie’s name in lights, with his photograph and dozens of blue, white and purple balloons that were the symbols of Alfie’s Army. The atmosphere was one of sorrow ready to accept love. And therefore, fertile.

Along the route that led to the cemetery where little Alfie was buried, hundreds lined up, many leaving flowers, as if to say: We shall not be going away, because after many years of lethargy, Alfie has just awakened so many consciences who do not intend to go back to sleep.

So that now it would be a crime to extinguish Alfie’s light, to deceive ourselves that the darknes is really not all that dark. We shall follow Alfie’s cause going forward.

And here is Frigerio's account of the last days of Alfie and all the suspicious happenings at the infamous Alder Hey Hospital:

This is how they killed Alfie
We do not know how long Alfie would have lived if he had been treated and taken care of properly.
We do not know if additional tests would have resulted in a diagnosis and led to a cure... What is certain,
however, is that we cannot say the child died only because his life support was removed.

by Benedetta Frigerio
Translated from

LIVERPOOL, May 1, 2018 - Without doubt, the greatest scandal, taking into account everything that happened to little Alfie Evans during his confinement at Alder Hey hospital, is that he was intubated and ventilated for 15 months and was denied a tracheostomy, because only one month from his admission (December 2016), the doctors decided that he should die without even attempting to reach a diagnosis. In fact, even if the newspapers wrote that Alfie was suffering from a mitochondrial disease, there is not a shred of medical evidence to prove it.

It is certainly disconcerting that Alfie's ventilation tubes were first replaced over 5 months after they were first ustalled, and that therefore they were found full of mold, as his father demonstrated with a pile of photos (some published by the Bussola) proving the numerous negligences at the hospital in Liverpool. [Standard of care in the use of breathing tubes is that they are replaced at least every day because otherwise, they are a perfect incubator for germs and other organisms!]

Mariella Enoc, president of Bambin Gesù, who was prevented from entering Alfie's room in the English hospital, was deeply affected when she saw them. But even so, Alfie is dead not just because of this.

Alfie was subjected to terrible treatment after his ventilation was removed. As his lungs were used to being dilated mechanically, the doctors ought to have 'weaned him off gradually so as not to provoke his immediate death. But this did not happen, and he contracted a lung infection soon after the life support machine was switched off.

This is why, as Thomas was told by an Italian doctor he was in touch with, Alfie would have needed immediate antibiotic therapy, but he was denied such treatment. Incredibly, despite this, he breathed unaided for hours, even if the doctors even denied him an oxygen mask necessary to aid his now autonomous breathing.

Therefore, on the evening of Monday 23 April, after ventilation was removed at 21:15 GMT, Thomas launched an appeal asking for someone to bring oxygen to the hospital, but the police barrier at the entrance prevented any possible help from the outside. At that point, after receiving a desperate phone call from Thomas, one of the family lawyers, Pavel Stroilov, rushed to Alder Hey Hospital.

As Stroilov entered, six other people tried to follow him, and the one holding the oxygen mask in her hand was prevented from entering. She reacted with the brilliant idea of throwing the mask over the line of policemen's heads to the lawyer now on the other side, allowing him to take it up to Alfie's parents.

At that point the child, who had already been fighting like a lion, thereby proving the hospital lawyer Michael Mylonas wrong, (during the hearings he had assured Judge Hayden that Alfie's death would be immediate after the ventilator was removed), was at last helped to breathe.

But, once again, the doctors tried to deprive the child of the mask, with the excuse that it was not Alder Hey hospital equipment. Twice they gave orders to detach it, until Thomas pointed out that the death protocol approved by Judge Hayden spoke neither of oxygen deprivation nor of suspending nutrition. On the same grounds,Thomas forced them to feed his young son deprived of nutrition for a good 36 hours.

Yes, Alfie was left unfed for 36 hours, a very long time for such a small child, whose heart had already sustained a huge strain after his ventilation was violently removed without weaning.

Moreover, when the nutrition was at last supplied, it was kept at minimal levels. Still Alfie continued to live four more days defended by his parents from the doctors' threats, opening his eyes from time to time and reacting.

Then, in exchange for press silence, the hospital promised Thomas more oxygen and more life support. Two hours before the child died, his oxygen saturation was about 98 and Alfie's heartbeats approximately 160 - stable to the point that Thomas was convinced he would be allowed to take his son home soon (as the hospital administration had told him on Friday afternoon).

At that point, while Thomas had left the room for a moment, leaving mamma Kate drowsing and another family member in the room, a nurse entered and explained that she was going to give Alfie four drugs (no one knows what drugs) to treat him. No more than 30 minutes later, his oxygen saturation level dropped to 15. Two hours later, Alfie was dead.

We do not know how long Alfie would have lived if he had been treated and taken care of properly, we do not know if additional tests would have resulted in a diagnosis and led to a cure, we do not even know if Alfie was reduced to this state during his confinement in a hospital whose past reputation is nothing short of monstrous, and where many reports make the hypothesis at least plausible if not proven. What is certain, however, is that we cannot say that the child died only because his life support was removed.

The well-known geneticist and scientific director of the Bambin Gesù Hospital, Bruno Dalla Dallapiccola, had earlier said, "Little Alfie will not be able to last long without being fed by Intravenous Drip. Without nutrition, in fact, survival can vary from a few hours to a few days. Of course, the duration of survival depends on the patient's initial condition", although in the case of Alfie "we can not say with certainty". In any case, Dallapiccola concluded, "regardless of whether the baby continues to breathe independently, the lack of nutrition intake will represent an emergency".

Angelo Selicorni, another Italian geneticist physician said two days after the ventilation was removed, observed that "Detached from the machines the child has resisted for hours without any intention of dying... (which) raises some doubts about how 'terminal' his state really was".

Alfie, already weakened and subjected to violent treatment, was deprived of the antibiotics needed to treat his lung infection and then of food and oxygen for too many hours. Those who want to avoid taking a stand find shelter behind the mantra of a "too complicated case" whose boundaries would be too difficult to establish.

But perhaps what is lacking is the courage to face the facts and say clearly that this is a case of blatant euthanasia? It is clear that since the doctors considered Alfie's life was "futile", then they believed that the effort and cost involved in keeping him alive were not worth bearing, so that automatically, their medical approach could only be to eliminate him.

As Selicorni wrote: "If I consider Alfie's changing fortunes as worthless, that his is a useless, meaningless human life, I cannot help but think that the sooner I put an end to it, the better it is".

Sounds like fantasy? In 2012, controversy arose due to complaints filed by patients involved in the Liverpool Care Pathway LCP), the end-of-life treatment program then in force in Britain.

A nurse from Alder Hey, Bernadette Loyd, exasperated by seeing similar cases, had written to the Minister of Health denouncing the ways in which children and babies die.

"Dying of thirst is terrible, and it is inconceivable that children should die like that. Their parents stand at a crossroads and feel almost forced to choose this path because the doctors say their children have only a few days to live. But it is very difficult to predict death, and I have also seen a few children come back to life after the LCP had been started and then stopped... I have also seen children die terribly of thirst because hydration is suspended until they die. I saw a 14-year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to his palate when the doctors refused to hydrate him. His death was experienced with anguish by him and us nurses. This is euthanasia being introduced through the front door."

The National Health System responded to Loyd without addressing the matter: "Care for the end of life must meet the highest professional criteria and we must know how to stand next to the child's parents during the decision-making process".[Thus, they offer noble-sounding platitudes intended to cover up their implacable murderous resolve!]

[The Liverpool Care Pathway - which meant fluids and treatment could be withdrawn, and sedation given to the dying - was officially phased out last year, by government order. It followed concern that under the protocols, thirsty patients had been denied water and left desperately sucking at sponges. But a leading UK doctor claims that the new NHS guidelines on “end of life” care are worse than the LCP and could push more patients to an early grave. Dr Philip Pullicino warns that the new guidelines would encourage hospital staff to guess who was dying, in the absence of any clear evidence, and to take steps which could hasten patients’ death.]

This is what Alfie's martyrdom has achieved, apart from converting many hearts: it has forced us to unite against a monster, to look at the brutality of a eugenics system disguised as democracy. A system with unlimited power over the person is considered a civil religion by English politics and by the judiciary. It is a power that crushes so many fragile lives and spreads a utilitarian mentality that we must start to fight against if we don't want to end up in the same way.

But who knows, maybe Alfie's story will reveal much more than this, because many of us still have an unanswered question: what could justify the hospital's furious determination and fear at the idea of this child being transferred elsewhere? What was Alder Hey Hospital so terrified of?

[Elsewhere, earlier stories had come out about euthanasic practices that have apparently been common at that hospital. Hitler must be so proud in hell that his evil has resurfaced and become commonplace in the nation that led the victorious Allied coalition that brought down his Thousand-Year Reich after only 12 years.]


Hundreds of tearful supporters line
the streets to say goodbye to Alfie

by Steven Ertelt
[IMG] [/IMG]

Hundreds of tearful supporters of Alfie Evans and his family lined the streets of Liverpool today to say goodbye and pay their respects before his funeral.. They are supporting the little boy and his parents who battled with British courts and doctors to protect his life, although Alder Hey Children’s Hospital eventually won its legal battle to be able to revoke his life support without their permission.

Amazingly, despite all of the international hoopla, attention, and controversy surrounding Alfie’s death, there will be no investigation it appears. No autopsy was done.

Hundreds of devastated supporters of the little boy and his family brought toys, cards, and flowers and left them outside a local park to pay tribute to Alfie and his legacy. They tied large purple and blue bows to the gates of the funeral home where Alfie would be laid to rest.

Local residents clapped and cheered as the cars carrying Alfie’s body and his family drove by on their way to the funeral Park.

Here is more from a local British media report: [[quotwe]
Mourners who gathered outside Goodison Park for his funeral procession brought with them purple and blue ribbons and balloons – representing the colours adopted by Alfie’s Army, the nearly million-strong group formed to support Alfie’s family in their battle to save his life.

Tearful supporters, many of whom waited nearly two hours for the cortege, threw flowers and applauded as Alfie’s hearse passed the home of his father’s favourite football club after a private funeral.

Some clutched single roses dyed blue and purple, each with a handwritten message attached, and wore t-shirts proclaiming Alfie had “brought the world together”.

Many were familiar faces from their long vigil outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital , where they had called for Alfie’s life support to continue before his death on April 28. But some said they had simply followed Alfie’s story and wanted to show their support for his parents Kate and Tom. Others, too, had more personal reasons for attending.

One woman from Anfield , who asked not to be named, told how she had experienced the loss of two children and felt she needed to pay her respects.

She said: “I know what it’s like to lose a child. I lost two, it was in a house fire. One of my children was 23 months old and one was six. Alfie fought and fought. I followed it on Facebook and we all went through that journey of supporting the family. I know how much it will mean to his family to see people here today.”

The funeral comes after news that the British government appears to be investigating the Christian organization that helped them — in what could be a political retribution for helping Alfie’s parents protect their son.

As LifeNews reported previously, Justice Hayden came under fire for comments he made about a Christian legal group whose attorneys helped represent Alfie’s family. In the courtroom he slammed the group calling one law student who was assisting the family “deluded and fanatical.”

The group responded, saying “We reject the prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by Mr Justice Hayden.”

Meanwhile, as LifeNews reported, British prime minister Theresa May defended the hospital. She argued that medical experts ought to be the ones to make decisions in such cases as opposed to parents and family.

But Terri Schiavo’s brother Bobby Schindler disagrees and told LifeNews that courts should never have prevented Afie’s parents from caring for their son, who ultimately died on Saturday less than a week after doctors yanked his life support without their consent.

The head of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network told LifeNews: “Like Tom and Kate Evans, I know how terrible it is to be powerless to care for a loved one, but I cannot imagine the unique tragedy of being prevented from caring for a child in the way that the United Kingdom and European Courts barred them from exercising what so many recognize as their basic parental rights to provide care.”

“We will honor Alfie’s memory,” concluded Schindler, “and we will do whatever we can to affirm the value of every life, regardless of condition and the right of every parent to care for their children in a life-affirming way.”

Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews that people need to be very clear about what happened with Alfie. She says he was “sentenced to death” by courts and doctors. She says what happened to Alfie and his parents needs to never happen to get to any other child or patient.

The pro-life leader placed the blame for his death squarely on judges and hospital officials who claimed Alfie was too far gone to save.

“Let’s be clear: Alfie Evans was sentenced to death by Britain’s National Health System and the High Court. Their intransigent commitment to the country’s faulty single-payer health system led them to conclude it was better for Alfie to die than leave the country and receive potentially life-saving treatment elsewhere,” Tobias said.

Alfie Evans ended up dying very early on a Saturday morning after the children’s hospital that was supposed to provide him with appropriate medical care and treatment disconnected his life support without his parents’ permission.

That action came after a long and extensive legal battle between Alfie’s parents and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, with the British court system agreeing with doctors by saying that Alfie was supposedly too far gone for additional care and treatment or experimental medical treatment to possibly help his neurological condition.

Alfie supposedly suffered from a degenerative neurological condition and administrators at Alder Hey, which is a National Health System Foundation Trust, sought, and received, approval from the High Court to discontinue treatment in direct opposition to the wishes of Alfie’s parents. The High Court’s decision was met with outcry around the world, and was condemned by world leaders including European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Polish president Andrezej Duda, and Pope Francis.

Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome offered to treat Alfie and he was granted Italian citizenship to expedite his transport to Italy. However, the High Court prohibited Evans and James from removing their son from Alder Hey.

Alfie’s father Tom Evans spent the last 10 minutes of the 23-month-old little boys life desperately trying to revive him with mouth to mouth.

Meanwhile, Alfie’s mother Kate has posted a poem remembering Alfie that has already been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

In posts on Facebook, Alfie’s mother and father confirmed his passing.

“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” she wrote.

“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken,” the boy’s father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook.

Family friend Laura McKenzie said: “Tom and Kate really appreciate everyone coming and showing their love.

“The whole world showed how much Alfie was loved and we’ll never, ever, ever forget him or his name. No one will.”

After his death, family and supporters of Alfie Evans celebrated his life in pictures and hundreds of tearful supporters of Alfie Evans and his family gathered at a park near Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to release balloons to honor the little boy after his death. And Pope Francis expressed the kind of sentiments that people around the world are expressing. He talked about his sadness and he talked about Alfie being embraced by the Lord in heaven.

“I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace,” the pope tweeted on Saturday.

The legal battle sparked anger nationwide in England but also internationally as people stood up for Alfie’s parents and strongly opposed courts and hospitals making life and death decisions for patients over their families objections.

There is concern that the hospital contributed to his death.

As LifeNews reported, after removing his life support without permission, officials at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital waited 28 hours before finally feeding the 23-month old boy, who was fighting a rare neurological condition. Alfie’s Father Tom Evans confirmed at the time that his son was finally being fed but he condemned hospital officials for waiting so long to finally get him the nutrition he needs.

“They only started feeding him at one ‘o’clock yesterday. It’s disgusting how he’s being treated,” Evans said. “Not even an animal would be treated like this. He’s proving them wrong. It’s time to give him some grace and dignity and let him go home or to Italy.”

The other day, Alfie’s parents changed course and decided to end their battle.

Alfie Evans’ father Tom Evans called for supporters of Alfie and his family to “stand down” so they can begin “building a bridge” with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and its staff. The statement from Alfie’s father was surprising given the animosity that had developed between the Evans family and the hospital. Hospital officials have spent months in court preventing Alfie’s family from taking him to a hospital in Italy or even taking him home.

Hospital officials even went as far as misleading courts by saying that they never said Alfie would die quickly after his life support was removed — even though they initially said Alfie would die within minutes after yanking his life support over his parents’ objections.

But perhaps seeing that there was little opportunity left to fight for Alfie’s rights and their right to take him abroad or take him home or sensing a need to appease the hospital to bring him home, Tom Evans struck a conciliatory tone.

Alfie’s parents had hoped to take the little boy to Italy in order to potentially get experimental treatment that could help his rare degenerative neurological condition but courts repeatedly denied that. Justice Hayden ruled that Alfie’s family would not be able to fly him to Italy for treatment and appeared to say that this was the final decision related to his case. He said flying Alfie to Italy could harm his health because, as court testimony indicated, the flight could trigger possible “continuous seizures due to stimulations” of the flight.

A British doctors group, The Medical Ethics Alliance, expressed its horror over the treatment of Alfie Evans that it called a “medical tyranny.”

And Italy’s Healthcare Chief has slammed the decisions by UK courts to treat Alfie the way that they had. The President of the Italian National Institute of Health lambasted the UK High Court’s decision yesterday on Alfie Evans’ that resulted it the children’s hospital being allowed to remove life support over Alfie’s parents’ objections.

Members of Parliament are leading a new campaign for a law to prevent the tragic situation happening to Alfie Evans and his parents from happening to any other family. The new campaign calls on MPs to debate the matter in the House of Commons – with potential plans for “Alfie’s Law.”

Alfie Evans is not the first little boy to be held hostage by the court system and the healthcare system. There have been many other cases where courts and doctors have made the life or death decisions for a patient over the objections of their family.

One of those cases involved a little boy named Charlie Gard. In essentially the exact same circumstance, the British courts decided that his parents did not have the right to make the decision whether his life support was disconnected and a hospital yanked his life support without their consent. Charlie ultimately died not long after that happened. Chris Gard and Connie Yates’ little boy passed away just before 1st birthday in July 2017.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/05/2018 11.46]
19/05/2018 10.52
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Utente Gold

Fr. Scalese has written a comprehensive assessment of the Bergoglio pontificate after five years, with some speculation about the future of the Church, given
Bergoglio’s relentless wreckovation. This article was first published in the French magazine Catholica (No. 139, Spring 2018, pp 39-48), edited by Bernard Dumont
( Fr. Scalese has now published the Italian original on his blog post.

A reckoning of the past five years
and possible future scenarios

Translated from
May 17, 2018

March 13, 2018 marked the fifth anniversary of the election of Jorge Mariio Bergoglio as pope. Perhaps the time has come to draw up the balance sheet for his first five years as pope and try to predict, on the basis of the present situation, possible future scenarios for the Church.

This pontificate opened under the banner of a rupture with the past. The very choice of the papal name Francis (never used by the popes but widely fancied by some sectors of the Church; his refusal of traditional papal emblems [such as the ceremonial mozzetta and stole symbolizing the pope’s authority, and of course, of the red ‘shoes of the fisherman’], his almost exclusive use of the title Bishop of Rome to describe himself – everything indicated this would be a pontificate different from any that had gone before.

One had the impression that the cardinal electors, shaken by the sudden and virtually unprecedented end of Benedict XVI’s pontificate and desirous of launching a new image of a church that had been seriously compromised by scandals [I am surprised and greatly disappointed that Fr Scalese parrots this line, which is simply untrue! What major scandals ‘seriously compromised’ the Church during Benedict’s Pontificate? Certainly not one of its own making, because the biggest opprobrium sought to be imposed on Benedict by his all-powerful enemies of in the media and in global politics was a rehash of the clerical sex abuse scandals - as if, since 2002, Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger had not almost singlehandedly carried forward the Church’s formal battle to end the scourge. Besides, all the major sex abuse scandals that emerged in 2009-2010 (including those involving German Jesuit schools, Benedictine monasteries and the Regensburg Boys Choir) all dated back to the 20th century, i.e., none of them `from after 2002 when the CDF was given the authority to deal with clerical sex abuses that the local bishops had failed to act upon.] and that by electing Bergoglio, they wished to give a signal that something was changing in the Church. [Yes, but changing in what sense? Just change for the sake of change? For the better or for the worse? The feckless shortsightedness of the cardinal electors is quite breathtaking in its stupidity.]

In the cardinals’ minds there was surely the perceived urgency to reform the Roman Curia, and they probably gave this mandate to the new pope [who has acknowledged it himself on more than one occasion! But how is it that the cardinals – many of whom represent ‘the best and the brightest’ not just in the Church but among their secular peers in their respective generations – could have been so hoodwinked by the tendentiously false over-reporting on Vatileaks as to have the media predispose them to overlook the crisis of faith as the Church’s main problem in favor of a bureaucratic concern that normally preoccupies ordinary political leaders?]

And therefore, within a month of his election, the new pope, “acting on a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregatiosn that preceded the Concalve of 2013, named a group of cardinals to advise him on governance of the universal Church and to study how to change the Apostolic Constitution by John Paul II, Pastor bonus, on the function and regulation of the Roman Curia. (1)

The new Council of Cardinals (initially, the C8 because it had eight members, it became the C9 after Bergoglio also named his new Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to be part of the Council), has met dozens of times in the past five years. With what results?

According to the council’s coordinator, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, back in 2013, the full reform was to be ready by 2015. It is now 2018 but we have seen very few changes. The economic offices at the Vatican have multiplied – even if, everything seems to have remained as it was before this ‘reform’ (2) – and some mega-dicasteries were formed (for communications; for the laity, family and life; and for integral human development). Which is, of course, not what one had expected.

How then are we to explain the reform flop? Especially when one keeps in mind this pope’s statements that structural reforms would not be made the priority. In the interview he gave to Fr. Antonio Spadaro early in his pontifiicate, Bergoglio said: “Organizational and structural reforms are secondary… The first reform should be in attitude”. (3)

To such lack of conviction, one must add the pope’s own character inadequacy, as he himself was the first to admit quite matter-of-factly: “The reform of the Curia is something that was asked by almost all the cardianls at the congregations before the conclave. Even I did. But I cannot carry out such reform – it is a question of management – I am very disorganized, and I have never been good at this [management]. But the cardinals in the council will carry it through”.(4)

So it seems that the pope put his trust above all in his advisers. But it is legitimate to question the competence of those he chose - lacking first of all not just any experience in the Roman Curia, but also the most elementary common sense [just think of Cardinal Maradiaga’s proposal to consolidate the three Vatican tribunals (the Major Penitentiary [having to do with confession], the Rota [having to do mostly with the annulment of marriages]; and the Apostolic Segnatura [the Church’s Supreme Court for adjudicating all questions on canon law].

Seeing the lack of commitment and the disappointing results of the Curial reform efforts, one suspects that the principal objective of the group that had pro-actively promoted Bergoglio’s candidacy was to finally advance their old progressivist agenda which had not been taken up by Vatican-II nor by the Church after Vatican II, especially on certain key points: decentralization from Rome and more powers for episcopal conferences, questioning priestly celibacy, a female diaconate (and eventually priesthood), contraception, etc. (5)

Many of the decisions thathave been taken during this pontificate go towards that agenda:
- The apostolic constitution Magnum principium for liturgical decentralization
- The special synod on the Amazonia region which will take up the question of consecrating viri probati as priests
- The formation of a commission to study the eventual conferment of the diaconate on women
- A study group reviewing Humanae vitae (with a view to relaxing the Church ban on artificial means of birth control)
- And particularly significant in this context, the anomalous and contrived procedures followed in order to relax sacramental discipline for remarried divorcees: Extraordinary consistory of cardinals (February 2014), Extraordinary Synodal Assembly (October 2014), the issuance of two motu proprio to expedite and simplify the process of marriage nullification (August 2015), Ordinary Synodal Assembly to complete the work of the 2014 synodal assembly (October 20215), and the publication of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia ( March 2016).

‘Paradigm shift’
The above interventions wre presented in general as an expression of the ‘pastoral conversiom’ desired by this pope in his programmatic exhortation Evangelii gaudium. (6) By itself, simple ‘pastoral conversion’ ought not to undermine doctrine (and there has been no lack of reassurances that this is the case) but is only concerned about getting closer to the faithful). Cardinal Kasper, however, [point man for Bergoglio on the question of sacramental leniency] has spoken on several occasions of a true and proper ‘paradigm shift’ (7):

“A paradigm shift does not change doctrine but places it in a wider context. Thus AL does not change an iota of Church doctrine; and yet it changes everything. The paradigm shift consists in this, that AL marks the passage from a ‘morality of law’ to Thomas Aquinas’s ‘morality of virtue’”.

Cardinal Kasper thus seems to delimit the weight of the paradigm shift. But n truth, as I noted elsewhere (8), it represents a true and proper revolution. “Whereas till now, in order to orient the behavior of the faithful, the Church has limited herself to presenting abstract doctrine (moral law), according to which each individual ought to apply his own conscience to the application of such general moral norms to a concrete situation - now the Church will no longer leave men alone to decide but will accompany, discern and integrate such undertaking… And while earlier, it was doctrine that guided moral life, now this task becomes entrusted to ‘discernment’… It serves nothing to state that the doctrine is not changed, when it no longer serves to guide our actions. The ‘paradignm shift’ simply makes it totally irrelevant”. (9)

Doctrinal development
At a certain point, however, it became obvious that it was not possible to keep saying that doctrine was not being changed, so it was amended to say that it is man’s attitude that should change. But it is not possible to separate theory and praxis: in the Church, pastoral practice has always been an expression of her doctrine – there is a reciprocal correspondence between the two – if one changes, it inevitably ends up changing the other.

That is the reason why for some time now, there has been talk in this pontificate of ‘re-reading’ traditional doctrine in the light of more recent developments. Indeed, the pope indicated this himself in his September 2013 interview with La Civilta Cattolica. Taking off from St. Vincent of Lerins’s famous statement on the development of doctrine (10), the pope concluded:

“St Vincent of Lerins compares man’s biological development and the transmission of the deposit of faith from one generation to another, in which [the deposit] grows and consolidates with the passage of time. Because man’s understanding changes with time, and so, his own conscience becomes more profound. Consider that in the past, slavery or the death penalty, for instance, were allowed without question. [But these are matters of civil law, not of individual conscience, which may or may not disapprove of such practices.] Therefore, one also grows in his understanding of the truth… The Church has some secondary norms and precepts which were effective in the past but have now lost value or significance… The idea of doctrine as a monolith to be defended absolutely [without admitting nuances] is wrong”. (11)

But above all, one noted this pope’s great insistence on the need to ‘actualize’ doctrine, in his address on the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (12). I wrote at the time of a true and proper ‘turning point’ in this pontificate.(13) In that address, the pope, taking his cue from the apostolic constitution Fidei depositum with which Pope John Paul II approved the new Catechism in 1992, said this: “it is not enough… to find a new language with which to express the faith we have always had. It is necessary and urgent that, in the face of new challenges and perspectives opening up for mankind, the Church may be able to express the newness of the Gospel of Christ, that found in the Word of God but which have not yet come to light”.

Therefore, it is not just about language (as John XXIII said in his address to open Vatican II), but of making explicit the contents contained within the Gospel but which have not yet emerged fully. In his address, the pope dwelt further on the death penalty that he had touched upon in his Civilta interview, to show that there can be an evolution of doctrine that one ought to take into account even in an eventual – and apparently intended – revision of the Catechism. As I said in an earlier commentary, the reference to the death penalty seems to be an obvious pretext to hide the intention to ‘update’ the Catechism on other controversial issues (like contraception, homosexuality, etc).

Reaction to the reform
In contrast to Benedict XVI’s pontificate, this one has enjoyed the approval of the media from its very beginning. But besides the media attitude, which remains ‘relative’ whether it is positive or negative, there are obviously many within the Church, among priests and bishops, as among the faithful, who support this pope’s reforms to a greater or lesser degree. But there has been no lack of opposition.

It seems that in the Roman Curia itself, there is much dissent, even if these appear to be provoked more by this pope’s unscrupulous style of governing rather than for reasons of doctrine or how the ‘reforms’ are going.

The 'resistance'
More open is the resistance to this pope’s agenda by the rest of the Church, which, beyond merely protesting Bergoglio’s autocratic style, arise mainly from the doctrinal novelties he has introduced in the past five years. There has always been dissidence in the Church, of course. To keep only to recent examples, one can think of the open opposition, even by entire bishops’ conferences, to Paul VI, especially after the publication of Humanae vitae; of the opposition to John Paul II, far more dissembled and subdued because of his popularity; not to mention the brazenly prejudiced opposition to anything Benedict XVI write or did, an opposition that seemed to be an orchestrated media conspiracy against him.

At present, the dissidence appears more spontaneous, expressed mostly on the Internet, and coming principally from laymen. It is clear that the clergy – especially the bishops for obvious reasons - are not going out of their way to rock the ecclesial boat. I think the most striking protest there has been in these years is the Theological Criticism of AL sent in July 2016 by 45 theologians to the cardinals (14), and the Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, addressed directly to the Pontiff in August 2015. (15)

Pope Francis is perfectly aware of this resistance to his magisterium. In his meeting with fellow Jesuits in Santiago, Chile, on January 16, 2018, he said in this regard:

“When I take note that there is true resistance, of course I do not like it… And I dislike it even more when people engage in a campaign of resistance. I cannot deny the existence of such resistances. I see them and I acknowledge them. There are the doctrinal resistances that you know better than me. For my mental health, I do not read the Internet sites of this so-called ‘resistance’. I know who they are, I know their groups [??? Is he saying that the ‘Resistance fighters’ are organized in any way? Other than the core groups that initiated both the Theological Criticism and the Correctio filialis who necessarily had to get together for the specific purpose of framing their protest formally. But it is not as if they have followed through on their formal protest with the activities of an organized movement. In the same way, the most active and outspoken anti-Bergoglio bloggers, for instance, have certainly not organized themselves in any way, and the merit of their protests is that they all arise individually, from different persons, but they converge in their conclusions about what is objectionable in this pontificate, and above all, in the magisterium of Bergoglio.] But I do not read them, simply to keep my mental health. If there is something out there that is very serious, I am informed about it so at least I know… It is no pleasure a t all, but we have to move forward… Whenever I perceive resistance, I seek to dialog if dialog is possible [You certainly have not made it possible for the DUBIA cardinals, of whom now there are only two left for you to dialog with, if you really wished to. But what’s to dialog about when on the specific dubia, there will never be a meeting of minds, and because you are in estoppel from answering them: if you answer the dubia truthfully, the entire AL house of cards just falls down, and you would certainly ‘lose face’ in a major way... But if you answer them honestly – according to how you have tendentiously pointed all your arguments about sacramental leniency for remarried divorcees (and eventually, other categories of people living in chronic mortal sin) – then you would be writing your own charge sheet for being in material heresy, and surely you do not want that. Nor can you afford such a damning admission which would expose your deception and lies in this whole matter!] But some resistances come from persons who believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse me of being heretical. If I do not find any spiritual goodness in such persons for what they say and write about me, I simply pray for them. I do not like it, but I do not dwell on my dislikes for my own mental hygiene”. (16)

The divisions
The situation that has been created has provoked profound divisions within the Church, between those who defend the Bergoglian novelties with swords drawn, and those who prefer a more moderate approach that does not radically part with Tradition.

The most concerning divisions are among the bishops, and these were manifested right after the publication of AL: some bishops’ conferences, national or regional, have chosen to interpret AL in the most open-ended way possible where others choose a more restricted interpretation. Obviously, such divisions create confusion among both the clergy and the faithful. People have begun to talk of schism.

And Bergoglio seems fully aware of the risk of fracturing the Church. The Vatican correspondent of Der Spiegel reported in 2016 a confidence that the pope had made to some of his collaborators: “I do not rule out that I will pass into history as he who divided the Catholic Church”.(17) [
!] (17)

The irreversibility of the Bergoglian reforms

Mons. Víctor Manuel Fernández spoke about this in an interview with Corriere della Sera in 2012 (18):

“The pope...knows that there are some who hope that with the next pope, everything will go back to how it was… You should know that he is aiming for irreversible reforms… There can be no turning back… The majority of the People of God… will not easily accept turning back on certain things”.

That this has been Bergoglio’s intention all along was later confirmed by Enzo Bianchi in a lecture he gave in Cagliari in May 2017 (19):

One day, the pope was asked privately,”But Holiness, are you going to carry out all the reforms you are announcing?” His answer: “I do not pretend: I want processes to be started, and that there will be no turning back whatever part of the way we walk along together”.

More recently, Edward Pentin revealed that members of the German episcopate had been pressuring the pope to accelerate his reforms, telling him “they are concerned that his reforms should not revoked by a future pope, and therefore, they wish that as much as possible, these reforms should be ‘set in stone’, perhaps through an apostolic constitution”. (20).

It is surprising that those who have always theorized on the fluidity of reality and looked suspiciously upon doctrine for being firm as a rock, are now requesting that the reforms they favor be ‘set in stone’. But this is an attitude typical of any revolution: once it has subverted and replaced the old structures, it will no longer allow any further transformations. (21)

At this point, we can pose some questions about the future:
- Will the intention to make the Bergoglian reforms ‘irreversible’ succeed?
- Will his successors continue along the path he has taken or will they prefer to go back to ‘the pathways of old’ (Jer 6,16)?
- If they choose the latter, will they be able to carry it out without problems?
- Would not the present reforms constitute an obstacle to realizing their intentions?
It is not easy to answer these questions, not just because not one of us is a prophet, but because it is difficult to predict how thing swill develop.

First of all, we need to see how long this pontificate will last. I know that it is not considered good taste to ask this question while a pope is still alive; but since Bergoglio himself has spoken of it on more than one occasion, I feel authorized to bring it up.

He has expressed his ‘feeling’ that his pontificate would be short (3-4 years). But five years have passed, and nothing indicates an imminent end to his pontificate. So we must ask – will he succeed in carrying out all the reforms he has in the works? Also hard to tell. But it is a fact that whatever changes he has made so far are certainly not minor, much less secondary in importance.

And who will succeed him? I don’t mean an individual identity, but that successor’s orientation. Will he be a Bergoglian who will proceed with his agenda, or a Bergoglio opponent who will seek to abrogate his [most anti-Catholic] reforms? But this too is hard to answer.

It is true that every pope, through the cardinals he names, seeks to form the electoral body who will choose his successor. But the result is never certain (Look what happened at the last Conclave!) [That is true! No one has ever taken the initiative to confront and analyze the fact that most of the cardinals named by Benedict XVI obviously ended up voting for his antithesis Bergoglio for some perverse reason I cannot fathom and could not in any way justify!]

If the next conclave should elect an anti-Bergoglio, would it be possible for him to abrogate Bergoglio’s reforms? Theoretically, yes, because no one can delimit his authority to do that. But in fact he will have his hands tied, and in any case, he would pay a heavy price for any attempt at ‘counter-reform’, even if only in terms of popularity.

Let us take an example: If Bergoglio succeeds at the decentralization he announced in Evangelii gaudium (No. 16) in favor of the national and regional bishops’ conferences, it will be very difficult to proceed to a re-centralization which would inevitably end up alienating the bishops’ conferences.

In any case, I think that adopting worldly logic and practice such as the spoils system in an alternation between ‘progrssivist’ and ‘conservative’ popes constitutes a grave vulnus to the Church. The Church lives through continuity, not through internal ideological division, and in the Church, ‘to reform’ does not mean introducing ephemeral and reversible novelties but to bring her back to her primitive splendor. [Clearly not the view of no-turning-back-ever Bergoglio!]

Finally, one must consider the evolution of the world in which the Church finds herself. Because not just the Church is in crisis, but perhaps in an even worse crisis is the world that surrounds her. The time we are living today has such an air of ‘the end of empire’ – and a collapse of Western civilization cannot be ruled out. It is clear that in such a prospect, a Church that is completely conformed to the world, as this pontificate has been seeking to do, will be destined to succumb along with the world.

And that is why it is important for a ‘remnant’ to remain loyal to the Tradition of the Church and to conserve Catholic doctrine intact, a remnant ready to intervene when the collapse occurs to play the role that the Church played when the Roman empire crumbled: which is to ‘ferry’ mankind towards from the world towards a new order.

The Church was the seed of medieval civilization, and this was possible thanks to the patrimony she had accumulated in the first centuries of her existence. It seems to me that St. Augustibne;s figure is emblematic here: he witnessed the disintegration of the Roman world of which he was a part, and he died with the Vandals at the gates of his city. What would he have felt witnessing that world which was crumbling? Yet his thought and his works constituted the basis for its rebirth.

I think that the same thing could happen in our time: The doctrinal patrimony that the Church has acquired over the centuries (even in recent years – think of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the teachings of Vatican II, and the magisterium of the most recent popes [before Bergoglio]) must not be lost because it would be the basis for reconstruction. That patrimony constitutes the ‘seed’ which now, in the tsunami that threatens it, we are called on to rescue, because once the river goes back to its original channel, that seed can be sown and made fruitful again.

1. Communique of the Scretariat of State, April 30, 2013
2. See the recent note by Sandro Magister: “Storie di curia. La rivincita del cardinale segretario di Stato” (Curial stories: the comeback of the Cardinal Secretary of State): Settimo Cielo, Jan 14, 2018.
3. La Civiltà Cattolica, 164 (2013), III (n. 3918, Sept 19, 2013), p. 462.
4. The account of the meeting, which was private, was published by the site Reflexion y liberacion, provoking an immediate reaction from the president of the CLAR (Central Leadership of American Religious). An Italian translation of the account was published on the Una Vox site.
5. In this regard, see the third 'dream' of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in his interevention atthe Synodal Assembly on Europe , Oct. 7, 1999).
6. Above all, read the first chapter: 'The missionary transformation of the Church" (Nos. 19-49).
7. He did this in his lecture to the Extraordinary Consistory on the family on February 14, 2014, and subsequently, in an article on AL for
Stimmen der Zeit, n. 11/2016, pp. 723-732. The term was recently reprised by Cardinl Pietro Parolin in an interview with Vatican News on Jan. 11, 2018 and by Cardinal Balse Cupichin the lecture he gave on Feb. 9, 2018 at the Von Hügel Institute of Saint Edmund College in Cambridge.
8. “The pastoral revolution": Antiquo robore, Mar 28, 2016; "The paradigm shift": loc. cit., Nov. 29, 2016.
9. Ibid. The revolutionary importance of the 'paradigm shift' is now confirmed by Cardinal Cupich: "The principal objective of the [Bergpglio] doctrine on matrimony is accompaniment, not the pursuit of an abstract ideal that is isolated from reality. This represents an important change in our pastoral approach, a change that is, to say the least, revolutionary".
10. "Even the dogma of the Christian religion must follow these laws. To progress and consolidate through the years, developing in time, becoming mor profound with age" (Commonitorium primum, c. 23).
11. La Civiltà Cattolica, cit., pp. 475-476.
12. Oct. 11, 2017.
13. “Phase B?”: Antiquo robore, Oct. 31, 2017. 1 ottobre 2017.
14. "It cannot be ruled out that it was precisely this critique that led to the five DUBIA which Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner addressed to the pope on Sept. 19, 2016.
15. Here.
16. La Civiltà Cattolica, 109 (2018), I (n. 4024, Feb 17, 2018), pp. 315-316.
17. Der Spiegel, Dec 23, 2016.
18. Corriere della sera, May 10, 2015. See my comment: Antiquo robore, Sept 22, 2017.
19. Lecture on the apostolix exhortation Amoris laetitia, Caglari, May 23, 2017. And my comment: Antiquo robore, May 29 , 2017.
20. National Catholic Register, Sept 19, 2017.
21. The concern to stabilize his reforms could also explain the recent motu proprio Imparare a congedarsi (learn to leave when you should) on Feb 12, 2018, which marked, in my opinion, a most disturbing return to a style of governance characterized no longer by the certainty of law but by [the pope's] discretion.
20/05/2018 04.35
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Utente Gold
Fr Hunwicke usually weighs in with his criticisms of the reigning pope with a touch of humor or at least irony. It is rare for him to be as harshly condemnatory as he is in this column. Yet he expresses most excellently how much Jorge Bergoglio has utterly banalized his teaching ministry by pontificating ex cathedra on matters that are not within his competence nor his grasp. Not that he does not already do that with the teachings that are within his competence but alas, not always within his grasp, or grasped erroneously. The new Vatican document referred to is not signed by him, but who can doubt that it was produced at his prodding and with his well-known prejudices in mind, necessarily tempered, it is true, by an objectivity the pope himself is unable to have on this subject.

A very personal problem
Dealing with this pope's misuse
of his teaching ministry

May 18, 2018

The Vatican has just put out a teaching document on economic matters. For me, personally, and I can speak for nobody else, this moment precisely epitomises the problem created by PF's misuse of the munus given him by God.

At any time before 2013, I would have simply received such a document with docility. In a case like this present one, because it deals with matters in which I am not personally academically competent, I would have done my best to understand it, quite simply because (although not ex cathedra) it came to me with authority. I would have done my best to put myself into the position of being able to explain and commend it on this blog and to members of Christ's faithful people to whom I might find myself speaking or who, out of a misguided esteem for myself, asked me about it.

But that is not how things can be now. For five years, PF has, arguably, played irresponsible games with the authority placed in his hands. He has - daily - pursued policies which are difficult to reconcile with a faithful following of our Most Holy Redeemer.

In particular, he appears to have set himself to undermine the careful teaching of his predecessors, notably the last two, on the evils of moral relativism, and has publicly ignored appeals to bring clarity to these appearances.

Unbelievably, the Successor of St Peter is seen by both admirers and critics as one who encourages souls for whom Christ died, to be comfortable in a life of habitual adultery. He has impudently justified his conduct by talking about a God of Surprises. Hagan lios: he has had the temerity to go so far as to create 'a mess' in the Lord's Vineyard; and then to invite others to follow him.

It was necessary, 1300 years ago, to say in sad condemnation of an earlier pope, that 'he has permitted the purity of the Church to be polluted'; that 'he has fostered heresy'. Because this has happened, we know that it can happen.

If ... may God grant it ... from this very moment onwards, PF's pontificate were to be a model of humble repentance and of chastened discipleship ... then, indeed, laus Deo; but it would inevitably still take a time for it to become apparent Urbi et Orbi that this sea-change had taken place.

Whether under this pontiff or another, it may be years before one can again receive teaching emerging from the Vatican in the old simple, childlike, obedient trust; with open and willing ears. There will long be the nagging, destabilising, anxiety that, in such very extraordinary times, the chill bonds of conscience and of duty might require one dokimazein ta pneumata (to test the spirits).

This is the measure of the catastrophic damage which Jorge Bergoglio has done to his great Office whose duty is to maintain the Depositum Fidei by being a remora against the assaults of Novelty. In Blessed John Henry Newman's language, we feel less securely under our feet the rock of the soliditas cathedrae Petri (the solidness of Peter's Chair) . It may take decades, at the least, for the good God to heal this insecurity.

The document referred to by Fr H is one with a pretentious high-falutin' Latin title on the subject of finance and economics that Samuel Gregg critiques as follows:

On finance, the Vatican can still do better
'Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones' outlines sound general principles,
but also reflects the Church’s present struggle to comprehend modern finance.

by Samuel Gregg
May 17, 2018

Over the past decade, various Vatican offices have produced several documents addressing the vexed topic of finance and banking. Given the turmoil and scandals characterizing the world’s financial sectors over the past two decades, such interventions are to be expected, even welcomed.

But while these texts often set out useful principles for approaching this topic, they’ve tended to reflect a selective and, at times, questionable grasp of the subject-matter. This pattern is, alas, replicated in the Church’s latest official statement about the financial sector, this time jointly issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Entitled “Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones [Economic and Monetary Questions]: Considerations for an ethical discernment on certain aspects of the current economic-financial system”], this text is divided into four parts. The first, second, and fourth sections contain what I think is a sound set of criteria for analyzing the morality of finance and financial markets. These are the parts in which the CDF’s imprint upon this document is very obvious.

In the third section, however, the document offers what it calls “Some Clarifications in Today’s Context.” But clarity isn’t the strong point of this section. It muddles some helpful observations with questionable claims about the present state of financial markets, incomplete analyses of particular questions, and truncated discussions of some of the financial sector’s biggest problems.

Money isn’t evil
The first substantive point to note about the document is that it’s free of populist hyperbole like “this economy kills!” There’s no demonization of capital. Indeed, the document states that money “is a good instrument . . . a means to order one’s freedom and to expand one’s possibilities” (15).

The financial sector likewise is presented as “something positive” insofar as it engages in circulating capital (15). More could have been said about the ways in which financial markets realize this goal by managing risk, engaging in the formation of prices, putting capital to work in efficient ways, correcting misallocations of resources within and between economies, and, above all, establishing links between the economic present and economic futures of individuals and communities. Absent these capacities, all of us would be living materially poorer — and considerably shorter — lives.

This positive approach provides a basis for the document to articulate a number of reference-points useful for anyone in finance who wants to live a morally good life. These go beyond stating that money is an instrument and not an end in itself (15).

They include recognizing that good relationships, including financial relationships, are built upon people’s good use of their freedom (8) and that while economic logic has its place, it can’t capture the full meaning of human choice and action. Put another way, without the right understanding of the human person (9), you can’t establish a sound ethics. Without sound ethics, the economy won’t be an arena for human flourishing. If you get human anthropology wrong, everything else will go wrong — including finance.

For many Catholics and others, this is all a given. But in a world in which many people have never had this connection explained to them, it’s a point which bears repeating.

The document’s positive emphasis also leads it to affirm that finance has a “primary vocation” inasmuch as “it is called to create value with morally licit means, and to favor a dispersion of capital for the purpose of producing a principled circulation of wealth” (16). That’s not the sort of language we’re used to hearing from religious leaders in economic discussions. The use of the word “vocation” is especially important. It indicates that working in finance can be a calling instead of being dismissed as a necessary but disreputable occupation.

Equally noteworthy is the document's statement that “all the endowments and means that the markets employ in order to strengthen their distributive capacity are morally permissible, provided they do not turn against the dignity of the person and are not indifferent to the common good” (13). That’s a warning against being instinctively suspicious of financial markets. Provided that a financial instrument doesn’t in itself involve some fundamental violation of the moral law (e.g., don’t steal, don’t lie etc.), it should be judged on its capacity to help financial markets grow wealth and spread capital.

An absence of clarity
These and other points contained in the document's first, second, and fourth sections are helpful in identifying core principles which should be central to any sound reflection upon morality and finance. The third section, however, is a different story.

Here we find a mishmash of, among other things, commonsense observations (“the market needs anthropological and ethical prerequisites that it is neither capable of giving for itself, nor producing on its own”), extensive use of outmoded business school jargon (“virtuous circularity”), smatterings of different theories of the firm, and some very debatable historical claims.

The overall impression is one of an author or authors wandering between offering all-encompassing macro-explanations for the way things are, while regularly descending into some of the micro-weeds of very specific questions. At this point, a ruthless wielding of Occam’s razor would have greatly enhanced the text’s readability and, more importantly, its coherence.

It’s not that the third section completely lacks merit. I’m very glad that it discusses, for instance, the problems associated with large public debt (32), though what those have to do with offshore tax-havens escapes me. That’s just one example of how the third section proceeds in fits and starts through a bewildering range of subjects in which the connections are not always clear. As a result, some very serious problems facing the financial sector aren’t given anywhere near as much attention as they need.

At one point, for instance, the document mentions that “there are often economic losses created by private persons and unloaded on the shoulders of the public system” (32). That could have led to a through-going discussion of one of the biggest challenges facing the financial sector: the situation of people being insulated from the possible negative effects of their choices, which incentivizes them to take risks they wouldn’t otherwise take. This is known as “moral hazard.”

Moral hazard played a major role in the 2008 financial crisis insofar as some large financial institutions over-leveraged themselves on the premise that, if a big investment went south, governments would have no choice but to bail them out. Instead, however, of underscoring the wrongness of expecting other people to pay for your mistakes or pointing out that allowing banks to fail would radically diminish this problem, the document lurches into a discussion of the morality of everyday shopping-choices.

But what’s especially missing in the document’s third section is any consideration of the way that excessive regulation distorts the workings of the financial sector. In multiple places, the document insists that the financial sector requires more regulations and regulators.

The difficulty is that the financial sector, especially in developed economies, is already heavily regulated. Even before 2008, America’s financial sector was subject to manifold levels of regulation. Thousands more pages of regulations were added to the statute-books following the 2008 financial crisis. Exhibit A is the 2,223 page Dodd-Frank Act signed into law in 2010.

Under-regulation just isn’t the primary problem facing today’s financial markets. In the United States, for example, there are no less than eleven federal agencies with financial regulatory responsibilities, ranging from the Federal Reserve to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. All these agencies administer and interpret thousands of regulations. Their jurisdictions also overlap in ways that truly merit the word “Byzantine.” That doesn’t even count the hundreds of regulatory bodies which function at the level of the states. If anything, the situation in Western Europe is even worse.

So what are some of the negative effects of all this regulation? First, excessive regulation can encourage people to think that as long as they comply with the endless legal requirements, they are fulfilling their moral obligations. That facilitates a legalistic approach to morality, something that’s already pervasive in what sadly passes for “business ethics” in many business schools.

Second, excessive regulation diminishes access to capital by less well-off segments of society. The costs associated with meeting the demands of regulatory compliance can be absorbed with greater ease by, say, Goldman Sachs than your average credit union. Excessive regulation consequently makes it harder for smaller banks to compete. That puts capital out of reach for many people.

Excessive financial regulation also works against start-up businesses. Unlike large companies, first-time entrepreneurs usually don’t have the resources to hire armies of accountants and lawyers to help them navigate convoluted regulatory environments as they seek to acquire capital. If a start-up can’t obtain capital, the enterprise probably won’t begin in the first place. The wealth and employment which could have been created thus never sees the light of day.

Third, over-regulation can actually contribute to further separating the financial sector from the real economy. The bigger and more extensive the regulatory environment, the greater the incentives for banks to hire very smart people to work out how to game the regulations to their advantage. Banks subsequently get distracted from their primary purpose of creating and efficiently directing capital to the economy’s productive sectors. Regulators typically react by closing loopholes. But the same very smart people will then work out how to game the new arrangements.

None of this is an argument against regulation per se. Nor does it excuse banks from losing sight of their primary function. But the new Vatican document seems blissfully unaware of excessive regulation’s many counterproductive effects upon the financial sector.

A missed opportunity
What, however, most struck me about this document is what it could have been, but isn’t. You wouldn’t know it from reading the document, but the Catholic Church possesses a vast repository of knowledge on the topics of money, finance, and banking.

Medieval and early modern Catholic theologians wrote at length and sympathetically, for instance, about the capital-intensive economies that first emerged in medieval Catholic Europe. Their thought played a major role in sparking the Financial Revolution which helped launch Europe on the path to an economic prosperity that rapidly dwarfed other civilizations’ poverty-alleviating capacities.

It’s a matter of record that most of the tools and methods associated with modern finance attained their mature form in this overwhelmingly Catholic world. In her 2002 book Medieval Economic Thought, the historian Diana Wood concluded that the intellectual explorations of the nature and use of money by medieval theologians “sanctioned many of the monetary considerations that underlie modern economies.”

Before he found himself embroiled in theological debates with Martin Luther as Catholicism’s leading apologist during the early Reformation, Father Johannes Eck spent most of his time penning lengthy treatises on money-lending and identified several instances in which it didn’t amount to usury.

Turning to more contemporary sources, mid-twentieth century Jesuits such as Bernard W. Dempsey and Thomas F. Divine extensively studied subjects ranging from the functions of interest-rates to the nature of capital, public finance, currency-exchanges, and the benefits and risks of debt. Moreover, they did so from perspectives informed by Scripture, church doctrine, and natural law reasoning but also a deep grasp of modern economic insights into — and modern economic debates about — these topics. Areas like monetary policy were no great mystery to them.

There is, in short, a veritable treasure of intellectual resources upon which this new document could have drawn to produce a tightly-integrated analysis of the great good produced through finance as well as its real and potential challenges and weaknesses. You won’t find these resources referenced in business schools or in the world’s financial houses. But they contain many uplifting and challenging truths about morality, economics and finance that the world’s bourses need to hear.

Finance is unquestionably a sphere of life in which people are subject to specific temptations — just as politics and the priesthood are callings with their own potential pitfalls. 'Oeconomicae pecuniariae et quaestiones' goes some way towards helping people make good choices in an industry upon which every single one of us is in some way reliant for our economic well-being.

Unfortunately, it’s also a reminder that the Church has much more work to do if it’s going to make constructive contributions to the reform of a segment of modern economies that, ten years after the financial crisis, is still in desperate need of substantive change.
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Be guided by Blessed Newman:
Catholics can ‘resist’ an erring pope

by Pete Baklinski

ROME, May 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-family leader and respected Catholic commentator marshaled the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman on conscience to outline at a conference in Rome how Catholics must respond to the commands of an erring pope.

Voice of the Family’s Matthew McCusker outlined the “relationship between conscience and obedience towards ecclesiastical authority” at the 2018 Rome Life Forum at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum).

“‘If the pope prescribes lying or revenge,’ or any immoral act,” said McCusker quoting Newman, “his command would simply go for nothing, as if he had not issued it, because he has no power over the moral law.”

Quoting Newman, he said: “The Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.” [Fr. H's favorite definition of the action of the Holy Spirit on the popes.]

The annual Rome Life Forum comes at a time in the Church when, under Pope Francis’s watch, the teachings of heretics have been allowed to go unchecked. [Quite a mis-statement there, unless Baklinski is referring to Bergoglio's seemingly total endorsement of Martin Luther! What we are all really confronting are the reigning pope's anti-Catholic teachings - whether you characterize them as heretical, near-heretical, heterodox, apostate, or simply wrong, the best description for them is really 'anti-Catholic'.]

Pope Francis himself has refused to answer questions about ambiguities in his own teachings. Last year group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world issued a formal “filial correction” of the pope, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments. Earlier this month, Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk raised the question that Pope Francis may be part of the Church’s “final trial” before the second coming of Christ.

McCusker said that papal infallibility is a “safeguard which ensures the transmission, through the ages, of the ‘faith delivered once to the saints’”, but noted that such infallibility has limits. [To begin with, it is limited to matters of faith and morals, and only if what the pope asserts is in consonance with what the Church has always taught, which is a sensible limitation.]

“The primary purpose of the papacy is to transmit, whole and entire, the deposit of faith. The pope is offered by God the graces and assistance necessary to fulfil his state of life in the most perfect manner. He, like all other Catholics, is free to cooperate with, or reject, those same graces,” he said.

“It should not be assumed however that the pope is acting under any special guidance in any given act, or that, beyond the certain limited cases, he is preserved from error. To act towards the pope, as if his every thought, opinion, or action, or decision can be taken as representing the will of God for the Church, is not compatible either with the Church’s teaching or her past actions,” he added.

The pro-family leader quoted Newman’s forceful assertion on the “real” limitations placed on the pope’s teaching authority.

“It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church.”

McCusker said that the pope, without infallibility outside of certain narrowly defined conditions, can “fall into error both in his doctrine and judgements.”

“The pope, never possessing impeccability, can both commit and command sin. It is therefore possible for individual conscience to find itself in conflict with the pope,” he added.

He quoted examples from Newman where “resistance to papal commands might prove permissible” if such commands “are directly opposed to the doctrine of the faith.”

“Cardinal Turrecremata says, ‘Although it clearly follows from the circumstance that the Pope can err at times, and command things which must not be done, that we are not to be simply obedient to him in all things, that does not show that he must not be obeyed by all when his commands are good. To know in what cases he is to be obeyed and in what not … it is said in the Acts of the Apostles, “One ought to obey God rather than man”: therefore, were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands is to be passed over.’

“[St Robert] Bellarmine, speaking of resisting the Pope, says, ‘In order to resist and defend oneself no authority is required … Therefore, as it is lawful to resist the Pope, if he assaulted a man’s person, so it is lawful to resist him, if he assaulted souls, or troubled the state, and much more if he strove to destroy the Church. It is lawful, I say, to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and hindering the execution of his will.’”

McCusker said that Newman makes it clear that faithful Catholics must avoid two idolatries when it comes to conscience and the pope.

“First an idolatry of conscience, which raises man’s subjective judgement above that divine law to which all judgements of conscience must conform. And secondly an idolatry of the papacy, which treats the pope as the master, not the servant of divine truth.”

LifeSiteNews is pleased to provide McCusker’s talk below in full at
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Only one of the bishops defied the Bergoglian dress-down-for-the-Vatican dictum for visiting bishops and clergy and is seen wearing a cassock!

I thought to myself I was unduly cynical when my first reaction to the report that the bishops of Chile had resigned en masse was that we are getting an
orchestrated dog-and-pony show in which Bergoglio gets to be the hero showing 'zero tolerance' for episcopal inaction or cover-up on clerical sex
abuse, while the bishops he chastises accept their guilt and are shamed into resigning.
Though of course, the pope cannot possibly dismiss them all.
Difficult enough to fill one episcopal vacancy, let alone replace all the bishops of one country in one swoop! But Edward Pentin ends his initially 'laudatory' report
below by citing insider views that reflect my cynicism, so there...

Chilean bishops resign en masse: What happens next?
Will the Pope accept some or all of the bishops’ resignations?
And will other hierarchies in Latin America and beyond face the same treatment?

May 18, 2018

The decision of Chile’s 34 bishops to submit their resignations was inevitable after Pope Francis’s 10-page letter highly critical of the Church leadership in Chile was leaked this morning.

Francis issued a devastating critique of the Church’s handling of abuse cases. Not only did the letter include the notorious case of serial abuser Father Fernando Karadima, which also implicated four bishops in an alleged cover-up, but also other cases were cited involving religious orders including the Salesians, Franciscans and the Marist Brothers.

The mishandling included Church authorities referring to “not a few cases” of grave offenses as improbable; other cases led to delayed investigations or none at all. Still others were characterized by “very serious negligence.” Criminal acts were blamed on simple weakness, with some abusers transferred to other positions where they had “daily and direct contact with minors.”

The Pope said he was “perplexed and ashamed” by statements saying the Church officials responsible for investigating abuse allegations had been pressured, or that documents were destroyed.

He blamed in part a fractured seminary process, including the allowance of men with history of active homosexuality, but also stressed the need to recognize the underlying causes. He denounced himself but also held the entire Chilean episcopate responsible, too, saying no one could be exempted.

The Pope noted a “loss of prophetic strength,” called on the Chilean Church to again put Christ at the center, not itself, and warned against an “elite psychology,” clericalism and “messianism.” Prayer and sincere recognition of failings is necessary for grace to work, he added.

Showing clearly he expected resignations, he said removing people from office “must be done.” He called for the “roots and structures” of the Church to be tackled so such failures never happen again. And he warned the bishops against the temptation of wanting to “save their skin” and their reputations, but rather to “have seriousness and co-responsibility” to take on the problems as symptoms of an ecclesial whole.

[All of that sounds hollow, of course, considering that he, Bergoglio, spent the better part of three years defending and protecting Bishop Barros against all comers - publicly calling the faithful of Osorno 'dumb' for listening to 'leftist propaganda' against Barros, and calling victims of Barros's mentor, the notorious Fr Karadima, calumnious for protesting Barros's nomination. Now, all of a sudden, he's playing holier-than-thou? (Even if he did tell the Chilean bishops that he, too, was part of the problem - nice little addition to his litany of 'humble acts' - in the pontificating quoted above, the blame is all on them.)

But let us not forget that, as the AP revealed on the eve of Bergoglio's trip to Chile last January,

In his Jan. 31, 2015, letter, written in response to Chilean church leaders’ complaints about the Barros appointment, Francis revealed for the first time that he knew that the issue was controversial and that his ambassador in Chile had tried to find a way to contain the damage well before the case made headlines.

“Thank you for having openly demonstrated the concern that you have about the appointment of Monsignor Juan Barros,” Francis wrote in the letter, addressed to the executive committee of the Chilean bishops’ conference. “I understand what you’re telling me and I’m aware that the situation of the church in Chile is difficult due to the trials you’ve had to undergo.”

i.e., the Chilean bishops were concerned over the fallout from Barros's appointment that they protested it - and Bergoglio went ahead anyway and appointed him. But no indication of that whatsoever in the dressing-down he gave the bishops this week - at least, not in what we have been told about it. But Bergoglio knows what makes for good PR to boost his stock - and he hit on just the right stunt to do it.]

Will the Pope accept some or all of the bishops’ resignations? Certainly, the four bishops accused of covering up the Karadima abuse — Juan Barros, Andrés Arteaga, Tomislav Koljatic and Horacio Valenzuela — are likely to be accepted.

The Pope had initially defended Bishop Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop’s guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. But on receiving the results of an investigation he later ordered, led by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Francis apologized, held the May 15-17 meeting with the bishops in Rome, and met three of the most prominent abuse victims.

So what to make of today’s significant events? Some observers close to the Vatican strongly suspect the en masse resignation was orchestrated by the bishops, working with the Secretariat of State and the Pope himself. [There we are!]

They believe it highly likely that most of the bishops will have been assured that their positions are safe and will retain their positions, despite offering their resignations, except for the four bishops, and possibly a few others.

“It’s very sad and really unfortunate,” said a senior Church figure speaking to the Register on condition of anonymity.

He said the Chilean bishops “should have properly exercised their responsibilities,” but cautioned that the events of today could pose serious problems for episcopacies worldwide if whole bishops’ conference were similarly “told to pack their bags and go.”

It sets a “bit of a risky precedent,” he said, and wondered why the Pope didn’t order a commission to investigate which bishops should be held accountable.

Some are already wondering whether other hierarchies in Latin America and beyond will face the same treatment.

Structural problems and failures in handling of abuse cases are known to exist elsewhere, including Argentina. But one particular case in the news lately relates to Honduras and in particular the auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, Juan José Pineda.

Despite allegations of sexual abuse made against him beginning at least a decade ago, and a papal investigation last year, he remains in place and in charge of the archdiocese during the frequent absences of his close ally, the archbishop, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.
[And where is Bergoglio's vaunted 'zero tolerance' in the Honduran situation? He got the report on the financial and sexual issues involving his 'vice pope' months ago from his own special emissary, an Argentine bishop, but has chosen to sit on it, hoping perhaps it will go away.]
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Right, Cardinal Castrillon with Cardinal Pell at the 2014 Via Crucis in the Colosseum led by Cardinal Pell.

A video produced by the Fraternal Society of St Peter (FSSP) featuring Cardinal Castrillon speaking on the traditional Latin Mass.

Rather belated, but I cannot possibly omit paying tribute to this man, and make mine Father Zuhlsdorf's words about him:

All those who love the Roman Church’s Tradition might pray for His Eminence today and in the days to come, especially with the Rosary and at Holy Mass, that He will, if not already, be swiftly brought into the bliss of the Beatific Vision. He was a solid leader of the PCED and did a great deal to solidify the gains that we have made over the last couple of decades.

Surprisingly, even the UK's ultra-liberal Tablet had this beautiful obituary for him. As you can see, he was one of those Princes of the Church who truly represented 'the best and the brightest' in Catholicism... If I may be allowed to say so, it is a biography that is easily superior to that of the man who is pope today.

Catholics mourn death of
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos

by Christopher Lamb
May 18, 2018

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a Vatican official who led attempts to reconcile traditionalists Catholics to Rome, died in Rome last night at the age of 88.

The Colombian prelate served as Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy and President of the Pontifical Ecclesial Commission, Ecclesia Dei, the body which led negotiations with the Society of Saint Pius X.

Under Benedict XVI, Cardinal Castrillon played an influential role in the retired Pope’s 2009 decision to lift the excommunications on four of the society’s bishops, who had been ordained in 1988 without Holy See approval.

That decision, however, caused uproar when it turned out that one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, was a holocaust denier. Neither the cardinal, nor the Pope, was aware of Williamson’s views. The decision to lift the excommunications came soon after a 2007 papal ruling to lift restrictions on the celebration of the Old Rite of the Mass.

Both these moves were designed to heal the rift with the society, the only fracture to Church unity that occurred following the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council. The traditionalist group – founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre – remain in a legal limbo despite repeated attempts by every Pope since the council to re-instate them.

Born on 4 July 1929 in Medellin, Colombia, the future cardinal was a towering figure in the Latin American church, a multi-lingual polyglot who had a doctorate in Canon Law and studied sociology, economics and politics.

He was renowned as an energetic and fearless pastor, who as Bishop of Pereira would walk the streets at midnight to distribute food to children he found there. He also stood up to drug traffickers and on one occasion disguised himself as a milkman in order to gain access to the home of drug lord, Pablo Escobar. When Escobar asked who had sent him, Castrillon replied: “The one who will judge you.”

During the meeting the bishop managed to hear the confession of Escobar, and tried to persuade him to give up his drugs and fortune if the government allowed him to stay in Colombia. In the end the government refused but later, as Archbishop of Bucaramanga, Castrillon Hoyos developed a reputation as a mediator between the guerrillas and the government.

According to a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the cardinal collected six rifle cartridges from both sides that he had collected, had them mounted and named them: “Bullets of peace”.

While he had a passion for social justice, the cardinal was an opponent of liberation theology which was spreading across Latin America in the 1970s and 80s. The Vatican also viewed this with suspicion, and saw an ally in Cardinal Castrillon.

This, in part, saw his promotion up the church hierarchy and in 1996, John Paul II called him to Rome to lead the Congregation for Clergy, naming him a cardinal two years later. When the abuse scandal broke Cardinal Castrillon once again found himself at the centre of controversy when in it was revealed in 2001 that he praised a French bishop for not handing an abusive priest over to police. The cardinal later claimed to have been acting with John Paul II’s blessing.

While in Rome, the cardinal became convinced that the traditionalists should be brought back into the Church after being impressed by the piety on display of a group on a pilgrimage to Rome which he witnessed from his office overlooking St Peter's Square.

He later presided over high profile celebrations of Mass in the Old Rite including in 2008 in Westminster Cathedral where he processed into the cathedral wearing the Cappa Magna, a long train of red watered silk. He was the first cardinal to celebrate a Mass in the pre-Vatican II extraordinary from in 40 years, and at a press conference beforehand announced that the old rite liturgy should be introduced into every parish in England and Wales.

In a telegram following the news of the cardinal’s death, the Pope praised him for his “generous service” to the Church and in particular his collaboration with the Holy See.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, who was appointed by Pope Francis as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in November 2014, paid tribute on Twitter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. "I pray for the repose of the soul of a great, good and faithful servant of the church, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who returned to the Father last night in Rome," Cardinal Sarah tweeted this morning.

Rorate caeli has done an excellent job of collating several key articles that illustrate Cardinal Castrillon's commitment - in behalf of Benedict XVI - to make the Traditional Latin Mass available to every Catholic parish:

In memoriam:
Dario Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

May 18, 2018

Dario Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos passed away on the 18th of May, 2018, according to the Colombian Bishops' Conference. He was 88. We ask all of our readers to pray and have Masses said for the repose of his soul.

Before going to Rome to head the Congregation for the Clergy, he was a bishop in his native Colombia for 25 years. The impact that he made can be seen in the glowing tribute (Cardinal who humbled a drugs baron) written for him in 1999 by his notoriously Leftist compatriot Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It includes the legendary story of his confrontation with Pablo Escobar.

It is far more likely though that he will long be remembered for his many words and deeds on behalf of the cause of what he himself called the "Gregorian Rite", and for the faithful attached to it. He served as President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" from 2000 to 2009, and arguably was its most effective President ever. At the very least he was the one most oustpoken in defending the rights of Traditionalists in the Church, and the Gregorian Rite itself. It may very well be said that he was the man behind the eventual promulgation of Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. [Not 'behind', because the restoration of full liturgical rights to the Traditional Mass was always a goal Cardinal Ratzinger kept in view, but certainly, one of the few stalwarts who supported Benedict XVI all the way in his decision to promulgate Summorum Pontificum.]

He celebrated more Pontifical Masses according to the 1962 Missal than his predecessors as PCED President, including the Solemn Pontifical Mass that he celebrated in Santa Maria Maggiore on May 24, 2003, in the presence of 5 other Cardinals, an Archbishop, 2 Bishops and 3,000 faithful. It was the first Solemn Pontifical Mass according to the 1962 Missal to be celebrated in any of the Major Basilicas since the liturgical reforms of Paul VI.

To mark the coming into effect of Summorum Pontificum he celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Lower Church at the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto on September 14, 2007. As late as 2013 and 2016 he celebrated Pontifical Masses for the annual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome.

His cordial attitude towards the Society of St. Pius X was indispensable to forming the necessary atmosphere for the resumption of the dialogue between them and the Vatican. Again and again he underlined that the SSPX is neither schismatic nor heretical, and his PCED Secretary (Msgr. Camille Perl) declared that it was permissible to attend Mass at SSPX chapels, and that this satisfied the Sunday obligation.

His Presidency of the PCED saw the regularization of the Traditionalist clergy of Campos, Brazil and their establishment as the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Vianney (2001-2002), and the canonical regularization of the Oasis of Jesus (2007) and the former Transalpine Redemptorists (2008), now the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.

In 2008 he affirmed at a press conference in London that it was Pope Benedict's desire that the Traditional Latin Mass be said in every parish. The original Catholic News Service article reporting this is now hard to find, but has been preserved by the blog Sancte Pater:

Pope would like Tridentine Mass
in each parish, Vatican official says

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service
LONDON, June 14, 2008 (CNS) - Pope Benedict XVI would like every Catholic parish in the world to celebrate a regular Tridentine-rite Mass, a Vatican cardinal has said.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos also told a June 14 press conference in London that the Vatican was writing to all seminaries to ask that candidates to the priesthood are trained to celebrate Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, also known as the Tridentine Mass, restricted from the 1970s until July 2007 when Pope Benedict lifted some of those limits.

The cardinal, who was visiting London at the invitation of the Latin Mass Society, a British Catholic group committed to promoting Mass in the Tridentine rite of the 1962 Roman Missal, said it was "absolute ignorance" to think that the pope was trying to reverse the reforms of the Second Vatican Council by encouraging use of the rite.

"The Holy Father, who is a theologian and who was (involved) in the preparation for the council, is acting exactly in the way of the council, offering with freedom the different kinds of celebration," he said.

"The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new rite," the cardinal added.

When asked by a journalist if the pope wanted to see "many ordinary parishes" making provision for the Tridentine Mass, Cardinal Castrillon, a Colombian, said: "All the parishes. Not many, all the parishes, because this is a gift of God. He (Pope Benedict) offers these riches, and it is very important for new generations to know the past of the church."

Cardinal Castrillon is president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which works to help separated traditionalist Catholics return to the church. "This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful," he said. "The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church."

He also said his commission, which also is responsible for overseeing the application of "Summorum Pontificum," the 2007 papal decree authorizing the universal use of the Tridentine rite, was in the process of writing to seminaries not only to equip seminarians to celebrate Mass in Latin but to understand the theology, the philosophy and the language of such Masses.

The cardinal said parishes could use catechism classes to prepare Catholics to celebrate such Masses every Sunday so they could "appreciate the power of the silence, the power of the sacred way in front of God, the deep theology, to discover how and why the priest represents the person of Christ and to pray with the priest."

In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict indicated that Tridentine Masses should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it and where a priest has been trained to celebrate it. He also said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form.

The document did not require all parishes to automatically establish a Tridentine Mass schedule, but it said that where "a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably," the pastor should "willingly accede" to their request to make the Mass available.

Cardinal Castrillon told the press conference, however, that a stable group could mean just three or four people who were not necessarily drawn from the same parish.

Later in the day, Cardinal Castrillon celebrated the first pontifical high Mass in the Tridentine rite in London's Westminster Cathedral in 39 years. The event drew a congregation of more than 1,500 people, including young families. None of the English or Welsh bishops attended.

Damian Thompson's article on this press conference is still online:

Thompson's full transcript of the Cardinal's press conference in London, and his various responses regarding Summorum Pontificum, can be found here: Traditional Mass for 'all the parishes'.

This echoed his earlier statement on the need to make the TLM a normal part of parish life:

The cardinal said that parishes and priests should make available the Extraordinary Form so that “everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church.” He also stressed that, “even if it is not specifically asked for, or requested” it should be provided. Interestingly, he added that the Pope wants this Mass to become normal in parishes, so that “young communities can also become familiar with this rite.”

Going though his old interviews, homilies and speeches touching on the Traditional Latin Mass is an exercise in reviewing how far the movement for the Traditional Latin Mass has come since the pre-Summorum days, and how far it still has to go. Below is a selection of his statements:
Homily of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Basilica of St Mary Major, 24 May 2003
Interview With Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos (L'Osservatore Romano, March 28, 2008)
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos on the Traditional Latin Mass (sometime in 2008, video)
Interview following FSSP Ordinations - 30 May 2008
1) Address to the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and 2) Homily during the Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral, June 14, 2008.
Homily of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos on the 20th anniversary of the FSSP, October 18, 2008
Homily at Mass for the FIUV XXth General Assembly, November 5, 2011
Cardinal Castrillon: The Lefebvrians never made a complete schism, March 29, 2017 (video)

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Utente Gold
Photo does not include Cardinal Pell, but there are 9 men with the pope - the man to his left in the photo is Mons. Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano (Italy), who acts as the Council secretary.From left,
counterclockwise: Cardinals Errazuriz, Gracias, Maradiaga, Mons.Semeraro, the Pope, Cardinals Parolin (I think), Marx, O'Malley, Pasinya and Bertello.

Perhaps there is no better indicator of the state of the church of Bergoglio and alas, de facto, the state of the Catholic Church, than the current disarray in
the pope's handpicked council of 9 cardinals to assist him in the governance of the universal Church (never mind that only one of them had had any Curial experience
at all - Cardinal Bertello, whom Benedict XVI named Governor of Vatican City State in 2011)... Imagine how the media would be happily crucifying Benedict XVI and
raking him over the coals right now if just one of the issues besetting at least 4 out of the nine cardinals had plagued any important appointee of his!

Bergoglio's 'Crown Council' of advisers
is 'falling to pieces':

One is facing trial in Australia and two
Latin American cardinals are tainted by scandal

[Magister does not include a fourth, Cardinal Marx, who is effectively
leading the German Church in a schism from the universal Church,
a matter of a different magnitude than financial or sexual scandals]

May 20, 2018

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio set it up six months after his election as pope, it seemed like the beginning of a revolution: a council made up of eight cardinals from five continents, with the task of helping the pope in the reform of the curia and above all in the “governance of the universal Church.”

But after five years and twenty-four summits with Francis, the Curia is more derelict than ever, the universal Church is in a state of confusion, and this council of cardinals is in pieces. An unflinching photograph of the current pontificate, which deserves an enlargement.

Earlier, the eight had quickly become nine, with the inclusion of Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who initially was the designated victim of the presumed curial reform [not he personally, but the all-powerful Secretariat of State, which was to be devolved of its powers, particularly administrative and fiscal powers over other Vatican agencies], whereas now he has more influence than all the others put together [as his Secretariat successfully recovered the powers initially taken from it and was allowed by the pope to acquire new powers. One step forward, three steps back - the story of the curial reform under Bergoglio so far].

But acting as coordinator of the C9, as the media has taken to call the pope's advisory council, is still Honduran Cardinal Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, whom Francis stubbornly keeps in the saddle in spite of the fact that his reputation is in tatters, even among his colleagues on the C9. [Is that right? Does Cardinal Errazuriz of Chile, for instance, think less of Maradiaga now? Cardinal Pell, like Errazuriz and Maradiaga tarred with the same sex abuse brush, has been out of the Vatican for months now, so he's probably completely out of internecine rivalries, of which he already was victim enough.]

L'Espresso was the first and has gone on to report repeatedly on the charges against Maradiaga, which have been on the pope’s desk for a year, compiled in the ponderous report of the apostolic visitor, Argentine bishop Alcides Casaretto, sent by the pope to Honduras to investigate the scandal.

But even more serious accusations continue to rain down on Maradiaga's close friend, Tegucigalpa's Auxiliary Bishop José Pineda Fasquelle [i.e., Maradiaga's own vicar in the diocese], painting a dismal picture of financial mismanagement and continuous sexual transgressions, at the diocesan seminary but not only there.

Then there is a second cardinal of the “C9” who is in trouble for misdeeds having to do with deliberately ignoring sex abuse complaints against some of his bishops: the Chilean Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago.

He is charged with having covered up for one of his colleagues, Osorno bishop Juan Barros, who in turn was the disciple and accomplice of a charismatic and once highly honored priest, Fernando Karadima, the spiritual guide and at the same time serial predator of countless young men and teen boys, found guilty and sentenced by Vatican authorities in 2011.

It was Errázuriz, in 2014, who advised Pope Francis not to name Juan Carlos Cruz, the main victim and accuser of Barros, to the newly created Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. And Francis readily agreed, being completely convinced himself of the innocence of Barros and the falsehood of what he called “calumnies.”

On the pope’s recent trip to Chile all of this exploded like a bomb, above all against him, to the point that after returning to Rome Francis found himself constrained to send to that country an inquisitor experienced in these matters, Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna. Whose report finally persuaded the pope to acknowledge that he had been wrong and to blame those who had given him “untruthful information,” in primis, Cardinal Errázuriz.

At the end of April Francis received some of the victims, and in mid-May he called all the bishops of Chile to report to Rome. After which not only Barros but also Errázuriz could come to the end of the line.

Because Australian cardinal George Pell is also on trial in his country for sex-abuse accusations dating back half a century, he has been out of Rome for many months now and has therefore not taken part in any C9 meeting since he left Rome.

But at the Vatican his fate had already been precipitated before this and for other reasons, from the time when he was deprived, as Prefect of the brand-new Secretariat for the Economy, of the powers of supervision over all the administrative and financial offices of the Holy See, which went back to acting on their own account just as before the putative Bergoglian reform, and with the Secretariat of State more untouchable than ever.

The Secretariat for the Economy is now an empty shell, without a prefect, without a secretary, without an auditor general, after the first and only one so far, Libero Milone, was unceremoniously dismissed last June, apparently for investigating where he should not have.

It will come as no surprise therefore if the grand council of nine cardinals will further be whittled down by scandal or papal whim.

[I do not understand why Magister does not count Cardinal Marx as among the falling pieces in the Crown Council. His recent doctrinal/pastoral initiatives (on allowing Communion for remarried divorcees and for non-Catholic spouses) - though obviously in line with the pope's own wishes and intentions - have nonetheless put the German church in a state of virtual schism with the universal Church on those two paramount issues regarding the Eucharist.That is surely a destabilizing offense on a higher order of magnitude and gravity than involvement in sex abuse cover-ups and/or financial anomalies.]

Here is the index of all previous related commentaries in Settimo Cielo:
On the case of Cardinal Maradiaga, in more detail:
> Il cardinale da 35 mila euro al mese: in Vaticano scoppia un nuovo scandalo (21.12.2017)
> El lado oscuro de Maradiaga (5.2.2018)
> Former Seminarians Allege Grave Sexual Misconduct by Honduran Bishop Pineda (4.3.2018)
> Still No Action Taken Against Honduran Bishop Accused of Sexual Abuse (27.4.2018)

On the case of Cardinal Errázuriz:
> In Chile Francis Is Duplicating Himself. And Nobody Knowns Which Is the Real One (16.1.2018)
> Why Francis Married Two Unknowns, But Refuses To Listen To Inconvenient Witnesses (22.1.2018)
> Letter sent by the Holy Father toi the Bishops of Chile (8.4.2018)
> The Doctrine of Tribulation (3.5.2018 – "La Civiltà Cattolica")
> Abuse Victims Accuse Chilean Member of Pope Francis’ C9 Council (4.5.2018)
> Comunicato della sala stampa della Santa Sede (12.05.2018)
> Texto completo de la carta de Papa Francisco entregada a los obispos chilenos el martes 15 de mayo en el Vaticano
> Dichiarazione del direttore della sala stampa e lettera del Santo Padre (17.5.2018)
> Dichiarazione dei vescovi della conferenza episcopale del Cile, a Roma (18.5.2018)

On the case of Cardinal Pell:
> The Pope's Armed Guard, According To the Former Vatican Auditor (24.9.2017)
> Vatican Without Peace. Money, Sex, and an LGBT Crèche (28.12.2017)
> Curia Stories. The Comeback of the Cardinal Secretary of State (14.1.2018)
> Cardinal Pell to stand trial on sex abuse, but several charges dismissed (1.5.2018)

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Utente Gold
Any Catholic with common sense who follows Church news does not have to be warned that Bergoglio has much more anti-Catholic intentions to further banalize and ultimately degrade the Sacrament of the Eucharist than merely allowing access to adulterous couples with no intention of curbing their adultery or to non-Catholic spouses who see the Eucharist as nothing more than a social event (a shared meal). It was clear his eucharistic ‘leniency’ would extend - or extends already, even if not formally just yet - to common-law couples and to practicing homosexuals, ‘married’ or not. An anonymous priest has published his analysis of what the next step will be in Bergoglio’s deliberate misuse and abuse of the Sacrament of Communion.

‘God protect the youth of the world
from the Bergoglian exhortation
that will follow the ‘youth synod’ of 2018!’

May 14, 2018

The article below is very important. Homosexual acts (not the orientation as such) have been, and will forever be, understood as so very serious because these depraved acts are sins that the the Church classifies among those evil acts taken directly against God, “against the Creator and Lawgiver” because these acts go against His created order.

The following article therefore attaches great importance to understanding how erroneous the supposed teaching in the document known as Amoris Laetitia really is. It was written by a priest who asked that it be published anonymously over concern of being disciplined for raising concerns about a papal document.

A priest explains how AL was really
written to ‘normalize’ homosexuality

May 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – I said it right from the beginning, when Amoris Laetitia was first published, with its infamous Chapter 8 that allows individual conscience to trump objective moral law and thus effectively eliminate the notion of intrinsic moral evil: The real issue is not Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. After all, Pope Francis had already streamlined the annulment process, to allow declarations of nullity which were generally easy to obtain, to be even easier and quicker.

The real issue is all about sodomy, and normalizing — even blessing — this behavior called by the Catechism “intrinsically disordered.” In what follows, I’ll try to “connect the dots” in order to clarify the bigger picture.

Recall that No. 50 of the first draft of the document for the first synod on the family in October, 2014 stated that, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community,” and then asked if our communities are “capable of . . . accepting and valuing their sexual orientation” – implying those who practice homosexual behaviors have special “gifts and qualities” over and above everyone else, and that their same-sex attraction — called by the Catechism “objectively disordered” — should be “accepted and valued.” (1)

Although this language never appeared in AL, the fact that it was inserted into a preliminary working document with Pope Francis’s approval and was then read to the assembled bishops in his presence, is most telling. This language provides a key to understand how Chapter 8 of AL has been interpreted, so as to allow not only those in second civil marriages (thereby committing adultery) to be admitted to Holy Communion, but also those in same same-sex unions (and engaging in sodomy) – as long as they are “accompanied” by a priest, engage in “discernment,” and follow their “conscience.” (2)\

[Do Bergoglio and company really think that the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah was not meant to illustrate God's wrath over unnatural acts and practices, such that in the two cities emblematic of utter depravity, he found no one worthy to be saved from his wrath other than Lot and his family?]

This homosexualist agenda continued to be pushed forward by those who participated in a “secret synod” held in May 2015 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the purpose of which was to persuade those participating in the then-upcoming second synod on the family to accept same-sex unions, dispense with the term ‘intrinsically evil,’ and introduce a controversial “theology of love.” (3)

As National Catholic Register correspondent Edward Pentin reported regarding this assembly:

“Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, at the invitation of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, Switzerland and France – Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Markus Büchel and Archbishop Georges Pontier. One of the key topics discussed at the closed-door meeting was how the Church could better welcome those in stable same-sex unions, and reportedly ‘no one’ opposed the idea that such unions be recognized as valid by the Church.” (4)

This agenda was given voice during the second synod on the family in October, 2015 by Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who had been hand-picked by Pope Francis to be a papal delegate at the synod [after the USCCB failed to vote for him as one of its three official delegates to the synod].

When asked by Vatican City reporters about Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, Cupich said this was possible if they had “come to a decision in good conscience,” and stressed that “conscience was inviolable” and “we have to respect that when making decisions.”

Cupich was then asked about “accompanying” homosexual couples in receiving Holy Communion, to which he responded, “Gay people are human beings, too; they have a conscience, and my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church.” But he went on to say that “at the same time,” his role as a pastor is to help them “through a period of discernment, to understand what God is calling them to at that point, so it’s for everybody... We have to be sure we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they’re not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.” (5) [But there is a known set of rules for sinners of whatever kind, let alone those wholive in a state of chronic mortal sin!]

In other words, if those living in adulterous relationships are able with the help of their pastors to discern, according to their conscience, that they should receive Holy Communion, well then, the same can be done for same-sex couples who engage in sodomy. There is no need to truly repent and firmly resolve to amend one’s life, to “go and sin no more”; one can continue in one’s gravely sinful behavior and still receive the Eucharist. (6) Hence, conscience reigns supreme, and the objective moral order is no more.

Worthy of note is that after having made these statements, which were widely quoted by the news media around the world, Pope Francis raised Blase Cupich to the College of Cardinals. [That was perhaps always in the cards, anyway, whether Cupich made those statements on conscience or not.]

High-level prelates support new Bergoglian paradigm
This same interpretation of Chapter 8 of AL has been confirmed by a host of other high-level prelates – some of whom are cardinals very close to Pope Francis – in the months and years that followed publication of AL. Here are some noteworthy examples:

Recall that it was German Cardinal Walter Kasper, at a consistory of cardinals called by Pope Francis back in February of 2014, who initially proposed allowing the divorced and civilly remarried to receive Holy Communion (the “Kasper proposal”).

Soon after the release of AL, Kasper went on record saying that it “seems clear . . . that there can be situations of divorced and remarried where on the way of inclusion, absolution and communion becomes possible”; and that the exhortation “overcomes a rigid casuistic approach and gives room for Christian freedom of conscience.” (7)

Ah, yes, and the appeal to individual conscience as the final arbiter of one’s conduct can likewise apply to those in same-sex relationships, to allow them to be admitted to the Eucharist. Kasper says as much in a new booklet he authored, The Message of Amoris Laetitia: A Fraternal Discussion:

[/dim=10pt]“The pope does not leave room for doubt over the fact that civil marriages, de facto unions, new marriages following a divorce (Amoris Laetitia 291) and unions between homosexual persons (Amoris Laetitia 250s.) do not correspond to the Christian conception of marriage”; however, says Kasper, the Pope insists that “some of these partners can realize in a partial and analogous way some elements in Christian marriage (Amoris Laetitia 292).” (8)

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, whom Pope Francis has called an “authoritative interpreter” of AL, sees it as allowing Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. (9) In an interview during the 2015 Synod on the Family, he called for the recognition of “positive elements” of homosexual unions, saying: “We can and we must respect the decision to form a union with a person of the same sex, [and] to seek means under civil law to protect their living together with laws to ensure such protection.” Schoenborn went on to criticize “intransigent moralists” among his fellow bishops, whom he accused of having an “obsession with intrinsece malum [intrinsic evils].” (10)
Back in 2006, Schoenborn’s cathedral in Vienna offered a blessing for unmarried couples on Valentine’s Day that included homosexual partners; and in 2016, the bulletin in Schoenborn’s cathedral featured a photograph of two men and an adopted child, presenting them as “family” and a “married couple.” (11)

In an interview back in 2016, German Cardinal Reinhardt Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference and one of Pope Francis’s nine cardinal advisers, said that one cannot say same-sex relationships have no “worth”; that the Church should support “regulating” such relationships and that “[w]e as church cannot be against it.” (12)

And in another interview in January of 2018, Marx said that the Church in her teaching on sexual morality cannot apply a “blind rigorism”; that it is “difficult to say from the outside whether someone is in the state of mortal sin” – a principle which he said applies not only to men and women in “irregular situations,” but also to those in homosexual relationships, because there has to be a “respect for a decision made in freedom” and in light of one’s “conscience.” (13)

In an interview on January 10 of this year, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, Vice-President of the German Bishops’ Conference, made world news when he called for a blessing of homosexual couples: “We have to reflect upon the question of how to assess, in a differentiated manner, a relationship between two homosexual persons . . . . Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?” (14)

And just a few weeks later, news reports throughout the world quoted Cardinal Marx supporting his fellow Bishop Bode in calling for blessings for same-sex couples, saying that the decision should made by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care,” (15) and that such blessing could be performed publicly in a “liturgical” form. (16) [A new liturgical rite for sodomite couples?????]

So, members of the Church hierarchy, while acknowledging that homosexual unions are not the “ideal,” have now gone from considering the “positive” elements of such relationships to “blessing” them, and (as it appears) will go on to compose a new liturgical rite which (at least for now) recognizes that while this is not “marriage” in the technical sense, it is a legitimate, alternative form of a relationship which we must “value.”

What is lost here is that by blessing same-sex unions, one in reality is blessing the gravely sinful and “intrinsically disordered” behavior that accompanies it, a sin that, according to revealed word of God and the constant teaching of the Church throughout the ages, “cries out to Heaven for vengeance.”

As Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia wisely noted in response to this proposal for a blessing:

“Any such ‘blessing rite’ would cooperate in a morally forbidden act”; moreover, to bless such a relationship would actually be uncharitable because it would encourage people to continue living in a state of grave sin which harms them spiritually... There is no love – no charity – without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth.” (18)]

Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, former Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has recognized these attempts to redefine the Church’s perennial moral teachings by claiming that they represent a “development of doctrine” and a “paradigm shift,” for what they really are: the heresy of modernism.(19) N.Y. Timescolumnist Ross Douthat has concluded pretty much the same, noting that with Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis and others want Church’s moral teaching to adapt to modern cultural norms. (20)

The real goal of Amoris Laetitia
Call it modernism, call it corruption of doctrine, call it by whatever name one sees fit. I submit that winning moral approval for homosexual behavior is the real goal of Amoris Laetitia, and that this is precisely why it is important for this pontificate to cast aside the teaching of Humanae Vitae and Natural Law, which is that by God’s design, there exists an inseparable link between the unitive and procreative meanings of the marital act, and that the unitive meaning is subordinated to the primary end: procreation.

As Couple-to-Couple League founder John Kippley has argued, if the procreative meaning can be eliminated from the marital act, then one is effectively left with no argument against sodomy. And those who promote the sodomite agenda know this.

They know that they must also discard the notion of physical and emotional complementarity of the sexes, (21) as well as the concept of intrinsic moral evil – which in effect means they must overturn the entire moral order.

This explains why they are now calling for removing language in the Catechism which states that the same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered,” (22) and that homosexual acts “are acts of grave depravity” which are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” precisely because they “close the sexual act to the gift of life” and “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.” (23)

This also explains why for over a year now we’ve heard talk of “re-examining” the teaching of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical. Those who desire to cast Humanae Vitae into the trash bin are now showing their hand. Witness Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Life.

Although St. John Paul II in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (no. 80) specifically includes contraception in a list of acts that are “intrinsically evil,” Fr. Chiodi, in a Dec. 14, 2017 lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, “Humanae Vitae in light of AL,” argued just the opposite: that based on the language of AL regarding conscience, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.” To support his argument, Chiodi says that Amoris Laetitia makes no “explicit reference” to contraception as
“intrinsically evil,” adding that “it would have been very easy to do so, given Veritatis Splendor.” (24)

Chiodi has been followed by Cardinal Kasper, who in his new booklet, The Message of Amoris Laetitia: A Fraternal Discussion, implies that AL opens the door for the use of contraception. Kasper says that in his exhortation the Pope only “encourages the use of the method of observing the cycles of natural fertility,” and “does not say anything about other methods of family planning and avoids all casuistic definitions.” (25)

More arguments to permit the exclusion of the procreative end of sexual activity are sure to come from those who seek approval of homosexual behavior, because they know that they cannot succeed as long as the teachings of Humanae Vitae and the Natural Law stand.

In this writer’s humble opinion, the fact that cardinals and bishops of the Church are arguing that not only the divorced and civilly remarried, but those in homosexual unions, should be admitted Holy Communion, and that the teaching of Humanae Vitae should be cast aside, reveals that they have lost the theological virtue of faith.

The words of the Epistle to the Hebrews aptly describe their sad state:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have both tasted the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit, . . . and then have fallen away, to be renewed again to repentance; since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and make him a mockery.

For the earth that drinks in the rain that often falls upon it, and produces vegetation that is of use to those by whom it is tilled, receives a blessing from God; but that which brings forth thorns and thistles is worthless, and is nigh unto a curse, and its end is to be burnt” (Heb. 6:4-8).

How should the faithful – bishops, priests, religious and laity – respond to these wicked assaults on God and His beautiful plan for the authentic expression of love, the transmission of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the family?

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, and thus offers a golden opportunity to celebrate and make better known the teaching in Bl. Paul VI’s 1968 landmark encyclical. We have the magisterium of St. John Paul II to draw upon as well – not only Veritatis Splendor, but his “Theology of the Body.”

This year, let us, assisted by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Lady, valiantly proclaim the splendor of the truth of this teaching, and thereby mount a strong and unshakeable defense against any and all who attack it.

1 (Oct. 16, 2014).
2 See AL nos. 300-305, and footnote 351.
3 (Jan. 8, 2017).
4 (May 26, 2015).
5 (Oct. 16, 2016). In his Feb. 9, 2018 address at St. Edmund’s College in Cambridge, England, “Pope Francis’ Revolution of Mercy: Amoris Laetitia as a New Paradigm of Catholicity,” Cardinal Cupich insisted that “the voice of conscience . . . could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal” – an understanding of conscience which can be applied equally to the divorced and civilly remarried engaged in adulterous conduct, and to those in same-sex unions engaged in sodomy.
6 As a priest and confessor, if a penitent tells me he is sexually active in an invalid marriage or in a same-sex relationship, but insists that he plans to continue his sinful acts, I am obliged to try to bring him to a realization that his subjective opinion regarding his conduct cannot overrule the objective moral law and the clear teaching of Christ; and that I have to follow my conscience and withhold absolution if he is unwilling to firmly resolve to amend his life. If the penitent persists in saying he does not believe he is committing a sin, I would have to tell him: “Then I have nothing to absolve you from”; and then ask him: “Why are you here in the confessional asking to be absolved from a course of conduct you do not believe is sinful?”
7 (April 18, 2016).
8 (March 14, 2018). In the booklet, Kasper compares such irregular unions with the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian groups, whom Vatican II says contain “elements of sanctification and truth” of the Church. Kasper insists that “Just as outside the Catholic Church there are elements of the true Church, in the above-mentioned unions there can be elements present of Christian marriage, although they do not completely fulfill, or do not yet completely fulfill, the ideal.” N.B.: Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn made this same argument at the 2014 Synod on the Family – see footnote 10 below.
9 (April 6, 2016).

This position is not new for Schoenborn. At the International Retreat for Priests held in Ars, France in 2009 held during the Year of Priests proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schoenborn delivered most of the daily meditations, which were, on the whole, very inspiring. But as the retreat drew to a close, the Cardinal announced that he would use his last retreat talk to address topics of concern, and invited priests to submit questions. During his final talk, Schoenborn addressed the issue of Communion for those divorced and civilly remarried. To the surprise and shock of the 1200 priests present, he proceeded to tell them that it was his practice to allow such couples to receive the Eucharist if they remained faithful and committed to each other for many years.
10 (Sept. 14, 2015). This article notes that at the 2015 Synod, Schoenborn “proposed an interpretative key” to revolutionize the Church’s approach to family life and sexual ethics by looking at Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which states: “Although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity [LG 8].”

Schoenborn argues that “Because marriage is a Church in miniature,” and just as the Church seeks to find elements of truth in different religions, it follows that “who are we to judge and say that there are no elements of truth and sanctification in them [non-marital sexual lifestyles]?” [St Thomas Aquinas must be so appalled that a fellow Dominican should be arguing as though he were among the most expert of Jesuit casuists!]
11 (Oct. 6, 2016).
12 (Jan. 28, 2016).
13 (Jan. 19, 2018). This interview appeared in the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz, and the German Bishops’ official website immediately reported on Marx’s statement.
14 Ibid.
15 (Feb. 4, 2018).
16 (Feb. 4, 2018).
17 Cf. Gen. 18:20; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1867.
18 (Feb. 8, 2018).
19 20, 2018).
20 See Douthat’s new book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
21 CCC 2333.
22 CCC 2368.
23 CCC 2357.
24 (Jan. 8, 2017). As Diane Montagna relates in this article, “Fr. Chiodi’s talk was introduced by one of the chief organizers of the conference series, Argentine Jesuit Father Humberto Miguel Yanez. Fr. Yanez is the Director of the Department of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University. Yanez is known to be close to Pope Francis, and in fact Bergoglio was Yanez’s religious superior as a young Jesuit. In May 2015, Father Yanez participated in the ‘secret synod’ at the Gregorian” (as discussed herein above).
25 (March 14, 2018).

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Utente Gold

With the mass resignation of 34 Chilean bishops, we have reached the decisive moment of the Francis pontificate. How Pope Francis responds to this unprecedented gesture will determine how history judges him. Obviously, these dramatic resignations test the pontiff’s commitment to resolving the sex-abuse crisis. But there is even more at stake.

The resignations switch the focus of public attention from the Chilean hierarchy — which had clearly failed in its duties — to the pope. The Chilean bishops explained that they had decided to put their future “in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely” which prelates should step down. Now, which bishops will the pope dismiss, and which (if any) will he allow to remain in office?

Presumably some of the Chilean bishops are innocent of the “grave negligence” uncovered by the pope’s belated investigation. For now, they share in the general humiliation. Will they be exonerated? And will those who have been guilty of outright dishonesty (the pope cited the “destruction of compromising documents”) be identified and denounced? Or will the pope merely accept some resignations, and decline others, without public explanation?

When Francis was elected, the Catholic world was clamoring for accountability in the handling of sex-abuse complaints. The pope signed orders creating a tribunal to judge bishops accused of neglect — but then, after months of inaction, dissolved that body, explaining that existing mechanisms already allowed for disciplinary action against bishops. Yet in the Chilean case, those mechanisms were not used; instead the pope took action unilaterally. So there still is no indication that the Vatican has a working system for holding bishops accountable.

A bishop’s resignation, quietly accepted, does not establish his guilt or innocence. On the contrary, to allow the Chilean bishops to step down without comment would cast an unfavorable light on those unfortunate prelates who have a perfectly valid reason — such as ill health — for an early resignation.

The mass resignations in Chile also leave unresolved the status of one powerful prelate at the center of the scandal. Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, who had already resigned from his post as archbishop of Santiago (having passed the normative retirement age of 75), remains a member of the Council of Cardinals, the body that advises the pontiff.

Cardinal Errazuriz did not take part in last week’s discussions in Rome, nor did he join in the mass resignation. Yet he has been accused of seeking systematically to suppress information about sexual abuse, and to discourage Vatican officials from listening to victims. How long can he remain among the pope’s closest advisers, while other Chilean bishops bear the brunt of the scandal?

Taken by themselves, then, the dramatic resignations resolve nothing. Marie Collins, who last year resigned in frustration from the pope’s special commission on sexual abuse, responded to the Friday resignations with a weary tweet: “Chile: No resignation from Cardinal Errazuriz? No removal from the C9? No bishop removed — all allowed to resign. Really nothing changes.”

Along with accountability, concerned Catholics wanted transparency in the Vatican’s handling of abuse cases. So far, there is no transparency in this case. The Vatican released a short, mild letter from the pope to the Chilean bishops, holding back a longer and more candid message, in which the pope provides a more detailed indictment of the bishops’ behavior. (The latter message quickly leaked to the media, but leaks — as Vatican officials should know — are not a means of encouraging transparency.) We don’t even know whether Pope Francis demanded resignations, or whether the Chilean bishops decided to resign en masse as a way of tossing their problems back onto the pontiff’s desk.Were they pushed, or did they jump?

In his longer letter the pope indicates that some bishops should be removed, and adds, “I insist, it’s not enough.” It seems unlikely that every member of a nation’s episcopal conference would agree to resign without prompting.

And it is evident that Pope Francis was angry about the “lack of truthful and balanced information” he had previously received from Chile. But it was not only the Chilean bishops who bore responsibility for creating the crisis. As the pope has acknowledged, he himself was “part of the problem,” and he too was, and is, on trial in the court of public opinion.

Like so many other sex-abuse complaints, the scandal in Chile can be traced back for decades: to 1985, when bishops heard the first complaints about Fr. Fernando Karadima. Those complaints were suppressed until 2010, when reluctant bishops finally took action against the popular priest, and in 2011 Karadima was condemned by a Vatican tribunal.

It was after that verdict — after Karadima had been sentenced to a life of prayer and repentance — that Pope Francis promoted one of Karadima’s close associates, Bishop Juan Barros, to a diocesan see. When that promotion drew protests in Chile, and Barros offered to step aside, the pope doubled down, saying that the complaints against the bishop were “unfounded allegations of leftists.”

More recently, on his visit to Chile in January, the pontiff went still farther, characterizing the charges against Bishop Barros as “calumny” and claiming that he had never received solid evidence of wrongdoing. Soon it emerged that the pope had received a detailed complaint against Barros, hand-delivered to him by Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Apparently he had not taken it seriously.

Without question, Pope Francis was given inaccurate information by the Chilean bishops; he had ample reason to be angry with them. In his unpublished letter to the bishops, he revealed that his investigators had found evidence of dishonesty, of covering up abuse, of transferring guilty priests from one diocese to another.

But can the pontiff have been unprepared for this sort of episcopal dishonesty? Was this not the same pattern that had emerged fifteen years earlier, when the scandal erupted in the United States? Throughout his pontificate, Francis has regularly acted as if he had not been fully briefed on the sex-abuse problem.

Pope Francis has been consistent in his calls for a decentralized, synodal approach to Church governance. But this solution to the Chilean crisis — the resignation of an entire episcopal conference, apparently at the pope’s bidding — looks anything but collegial.

The CEO of a multinational corporation might ask for resignations from all his vice-presidents, but for the pope to take such an action suggests an understanding of papal authority quite removed from the role of the “first among equals,” the bishop who strengthens the brethren in faith.

Management style aside, we have reason to be uneasy about the pastoral focus of a pontiff who, in the public version of his letter, urged the Chilean bishops to continue working for a “prophetic Church, capable of putting at the center what’s important: the service to her Lord in the hungry, the imprisoned, the migrant, the abused.”

Surely that service to the needy is an intrinsic part of the Church’s mission. But the prophetic service of the Church must also be mindful of the Lord’s reminder that man does not live on bread alone.

Sandro Magister gives details that reveal what amounts to a less than fullhearted commitment by this pope to fairly and equitably resolve the ecclesial crisis in Chile in general, and specifically, the tolerance for and cover-up of clerical sex abuses that some, if not most, of Chile's bishops have been guilty of - going by what the official Vatican media have chosen to report, and more importantly, not to report about the issue. Just as this pope has chosen not to directly address the latest misdeeds of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose totalitarian excesses Bergoglio appears to tolerate.

Vatican mysteries:
The pope censors himself on Venezuela,
and a mutiny by the bishops of Chile

May 22, 2018

The glitches, the silences, the inconsistencies of the Vatican communications media often reveal serious divisions at the highest levels of the hierarchy. This is what has happened in recent days, in at least two pressing cases.

One of these concerns Venezuela. Against the background of the disaster into which the country has plunged and in the run-up to the false elections for reconfirming in power the heir of Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro, there erupted last week a revolt - which was harshly repressed - in the El Helicoide prison in Caracas, a place of detention and torture for political prisoners whose crime is that of having opposed the regime.

At the news of the revolt, the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, and then the Venezuelan episcopal conference, appealed “to the state, to its responsibility for the life and well-being of all persons imprisoned.” And at the Vatican, the Secretariat of State judged it opportune for Pope Francis to speak out as well, at the end of the Regina Caeli on May 20, the Sunday of Pentecost.

In fact, here is the text of the appeal provided to journalists accredited to the Holy See one hour before the pope spoke - under embargo until the moment when the text was spoken, to be compared with what the pope would actually say.

“I would like to dedicate once again a special consideration to beloved Venezuela. With the help of the Holy Spirit, may all work to find just, effective, and peaceful solutions for the grave humanitarian, political, economic, and social crisis that is exhausting the population, and avoid the temptation of resorting to any kind of violence. I encourage the authorities of the country to guarantee respect for the life and well-being of every person, especially those who, like the imprisoned, are under their responsibility.”

But then, when he addressed the crowd present in Saint Peter’s Square, Francis did not read the text he was holding in his hands. He looked up and improvised these words:

“I would like to dedicate a special consideration to beloved Venezuela. I ask that the Holy Spirit give the whole Venezuelan people - all, leaders, people - the wisdom to find the path of peace and unity. I also pray for the prisoners who died yesterday.”

Very disappointing words for Venezuelans, precisely because once again, the words are so indulgent - like other times in the past - toward the regime of Maduro, for which the pope avoided any direct call to responsibility, which instead was explicit in the severe words that the Secretariat of State provided and that he set aside.

The other case concerns Chile and the convocation in Rome of the 34 bishops of that country to answer before the pope for the sexual abuse committed for years by dozens of consecrated ministers against numerous victims, with the complicity of not a few bishops who in turn were publicly defended by other bishops, cardinals, and, until a few months ago, by Francis himself, before his U-turn and an in-depth investigation he ordered carried out in Chile, the 2400 pages of the accusatory report that came out of that investigation, his personal meeting in Rome to listen to three of the main victims, and, in short, his aligning himself with the “santo pueblo fiel de Dios” (holy faithful People of God) against the sins of the ecclesiastical apparatus.

The hearing in Rome, although it was carried out behind closed doors, was followed with dogged determination by the media all over the world and had its key moments in the 10-page “J’accuse” that Francis delivered to the Chilean bishops on May 15, and in the final decision of almost all of them to place their mandates back in the hands of the pope so that he could decide whether to confirm or remove each one.

There were 34 bishops in all, 3 of them emeritus, and 29 of them submitted a letter of resignation to the pope. Two of them thought they should not take part in the mass resignation: one because of his special ties to the armed forces of Chile - the military ordinary and president of the episcopal conference Santiago Silva; and the other, Luigi Infanti della Mora, bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Aysen, which is directly under Propaganda Fide [the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith which oversees all dioceses in places considered mission territory].

Among the three emeritus bishops, only one of them, Juan Luis Ysern, wrote a letter of resignation, saying it was for the sake of solidarity with his confreres, while the other two did not, including Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, who is on the Pope's advisory council of nine cardinals.

What is striking is that not only did L'Osservatore Romano not publish the 10-page letter that Francis delivered to the Chilean bishops, nor the statement with which these virtually resigned, but it did not even report on either statement.

In the seven days from May 12 to 19, the Vatican press office only issued three meager bulletins on the meetings between the pope and the Chilean bishops.

The first and third were reproduced - in shortened form - by the OR. Not, however, the second, a very brief bulletin dated May 15, and the only one that mentioned “a text with a few issues on which to meditate” that Francis delivered to the bishops, without saying anything about the contents of that text.

As for the final statement with which the Chilean bishops surrendered their mandates to Francis, this was not covered by the press office, at all, much less by the OR.

Almost all of the worldwide media judged the “resignation” of the Chilean bishops as an act of pained but docile submission to the pope.

One exception to this, however, was a very special observer, Luis Badilla, a Chilean journalist who worked for years at Vatican Radio, has an excellent rapport with Fr. Federico Lombardi, and today is the director of a news and commentary website, “Il Sismografo,” which still gravitates in the Vatican orbit, acting as a para-official Vatican news site during this pontificate.

After publishing the pope's 10-page “J’accuse” on May 18, three days after he gave it to the Chilean bishops, Badilla commented in no uncertain terms:

“This document blew apart a sort of nonsensical showdown that part of the Chilean episcopate, under the leadership of Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz and the Opus Dei bishop of San Bernardo, Juan Ignacio González were hoping for with an arrogant and aggressive attitude, as was seen in the various statements by the two prelates to the international media while they were in Rome.

“The majority of Chilean bishops arrived at the Vatican just as they had been behaving in Chile for a number of years: divided and organized into cliques, arrogant and puffed up with sentiments of superiority, convinced that they were more clever than everybody else, and above all convinced that they would get the better of the pope, whom they treated in public with great deference and respect but in private called an exaggerated and melodramatic person, like someone who is using this situation to blow it out of proportion and cover up other crises of his pontificate.”

On the other hand, the brief letter - made public by official Vatican sources - with which Francis took his leave of the Chilean bishops at the end of the encounter, was judged by Badilla as resolute on the whole, but also “apparently” too “cautious and meek” and “according to some, not up to the gravity of the question,” referring to “all the changes” that the pope himself says would have to be brought to completion “in the short, medium, and long term.”

Badilla's comments and the silences of OR on the subject lead one to think that Pope Francis was deeply dissatisfied with how the Chilean bishops concluded their stay in Rome, foisting onto him the burden of deciding about each one of them, in a sort of “mutiny.”

It is the word that only the Vaticanista Franca Giansoldati used in her report for the newspaper Il Messaggero:

In a surprise move - for the first time in the history of the Church - an entire episcopate has announced its intention to resign en bloc, from the first bishop to the last, placing their mandates in the hands of the pontiff.

It was in a certain way a slap in the face for Francis, almost as if it were a response to the unusual methods that he has used […] by convoking all of them in Rome, in a sort of lineup that risks delegitimizing, reflexively, the entire body of bishops, as if all 34 of them were conspirators, whitewashers, and liars...

In the face of this the Chilean bishops stood up for themselves. Responsibilities are individual, not collective. So all of them gave up their positions ‘so that the pope may decide freely for each one.’... Certainly many Chilean bishops do not want to be taken to be among those who have covered up grave crimes.”

On the evening of Tuesday, May 22, the Vatican press office announced that Pope Francis will meet in Rome from June 1 to 3 with a new group of victims of sexual abuse in Chile, without ruling out other “similar initiatives in the future.”

In the 10-page accusatory letter handed by the pope on May 15 to the Chilean bishops, two passages stand out.

The first is the one in which the pope states that he has set to work a “special commission” of investigation and analysis on the crisis of the Chilean Church:

“In this area, hearing the opinions of various persons and after noting the persistence of the wound, I have created a special commission so that, with freedom of spirit, in a juridical and technical way, it may offer a diagnosis as independent as possible, as well as a clear view on past events but above all on the state of the current situation.”

The second is in the 25th of the 27 notes that accompany the ten pages of the text. In it, Francis cites three accusations from the final report of the “misión especial” - made up of Maltese archbishop Charles Scicluna and Vatican official Jordi Bertomeu - that he sent to Chile in February to interview the victims of sexual abuse committed by consecrated ministers with the complicity and coverup of bishops and cardinals.

Here is the complete text of the note:

“Once again, in this sense, I would like to dwell on three situations that emerge from the report of the ‘Special Mission’:

“1. The investigation demonstrates that there are grave defects in the way of managing the cases of ‘delicta graviora’ that corroborate some disturbing information that began to become known in some Roman dicasteries. Above all in the way of receiving the complaints or ‘notitiae criminis,’ because in many cases they have been superficially classified as implausible, but were instead serious indications of an actual crime.

In the course of the visit it was also noted that there were presumed crimes that had been investigated late or not at all, with the resulting scandal for the complainants and for all those who knew the presumed victims - families, friends, parish communities.

In other cases, it was noted that there had been very grave negligence in the protection of vulnerable boys and girls, on the part of bishops and religious superiors, who have a special responsibility in the task of protecting the people of God.

“2. Other similar circumstances that caused perplexity and embarrassment for me was reading statements that attest to the pressure exerted on those who were supposed to carry out the evidentiary portion of the criminal proceeding, or the destruction of compromising documents by persons entrusted with the ecclesiastical archives, demonstrating in this way an absolute lack of respect for canonical procedure as well as the existence of reprehensible practices that should be avoided in the future.

“3. In the same direction and as confirmation that the problem does not belong to only one group of persons, in the case of many abusers it has been shown that there were already serious problems in the phase of their formation at the seminary or in the novitiate. In fact, the proceedings of the ‘Special Mission’ record serious accusations against some bishops or superiors who are believed to have entrusted these educational institutions to priests suspected of active homosexuality.”

Even more revealing however is the account from Corrispondenza Romana
of how 'coldly' the pope dealt with the Chilean bishops during their three days in Rome.

It is an account, however, that discounts the possibility that the mass resignation was something orchestrated by the Vatican for show, as I had surmised rashly. It appears to have been a genuine reaction by the bishops in response to the blanket accusations levelled against all of them.

Their first meeting with the pope - at which he handed them his 10-page letter - only lasted half an hour. The next two meetings he spent listening to each bishop 'react' to his letter, but not privately - each bishop had to speak in the presence of the other bishops. The pope did not meet with any of the bishops privately. And apart from paying 2,000 euros towards each bishop's air fare to and from Chile, the Vatican left the bishops to fend for themselves in Rome (except for allowing four of the oldest bishops to stay at a residence inside the Vatican). Clearly he was castigating all the bishops as if everyone were equally guilty of the misdeeds reported in Mons. Scicluna's report.

But the report does not explain why even the pope could not prevail on Cardinal Errazuriz to attend the meetings when he, of all people, was greatly responsible for the crisis when, as Archbishop of Santiago and Primate of Chile, he set the example of covering up for erring priests and discounting victims' complaints against them. Why is the pope apparently shielding Errazuriz from public blame and accountability?

And throughout all this, no one has reported on what Mons. Barros and the three other bishops who, like him, were proteges of the infamous Fr. Karadima, had to say for themselves - considering that in January 2015, all four had been expected to go on sabbatical to help ease tensions caused by the much-protested appointment of Barros to the Diocese of Osorno. A decision Bergoglio revoked on the improbable pretext that Barros had prematurely informed the other three bishops of the plan proposed by Bergoglio's Nuncio in Santiago to defuse the situation at the time.

Some Vaticanista ought to compare this episode with Benedict XVI's handling of the sex abuse crisis in Ireland back in 2010-2011 when at least 3 Irish government investigations into clerical sex abuses in that country (dating back to the 1930s in the case of many Irish schools run by religious orders where physical and psychological abuse was rampant) focused media attention on the Irish Church. He, too, convoked the Irish bishops at the Vatican to confront the issue, then followed it through with a historic letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March 2011, in which he addressed everyone concerned - bishops and priests, abusers and victims,their families and all Irish Catholics - asking them not just to make sure that any such abuses end and that victims be assisted fully but also to make Church-wide spiritual reparation for all the misdeeds that had been committed.

Yet Benedict XVI was denounced in the Irish Parliament by no less than the Irish Prime Minister at the time for failing to act on clerical sex abuse in Ireland (never mind that the government reports were about abuses committed before 2002 when the CDF was first authorized to look into clerical sex abuse cases that were not handled properly or at all by the local bishops).

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Utente Gold
Pope's ‘Gay doesn’t matter’ remark
continues his ‘shadow magisterium’

It would be better if comments reportedly made by the Pope in private
remained private, not splashed around the world by news media.

[A most unrealistic expectation, in a world where
'the pope says...' still packs a lot of clout for most Catholics]

by Father Raymond J. de Souza, SJ
May 21, 2018

Pope Francis has pioneered a new form of papal teaching, massively influential but officially nonexistent. It is something of a shadow magisterium, but on occasion it shines a brighter light than the official magisterium.

The latest example regards the nature of homosexuality. Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the Chilean sexual-abuse victims who spent several days with Pope Francis in April, related the following from his conversations with the Holy Father about being gay.

“Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter,” he said Francis told him. “God made you like this and loves you like this, and it doesn’t matter to me. The Pope loves you like this; you have to be happy with who you are.”

We do not know, of course, what Pope Francis actually said, much less what he meant by it. The Holy See Press Office, as it customarily does when private conversations with Pope Francis are reported by his interlocutors, neither confirms nor denies what was said and reiterates that private conversations have no magisterial standing.

While they have no standing, such statements fly around the world instantly. That the Holy Father endorsed the view that a homosexual orientation is a positive good, desired and approved by God is what was reported, broadcast, posted and tweeted around the world.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes three points about homosexuality: i) homosexual persons are created and loved by God and should be fully respected in their human dignity, ii) a same-sex orientation or attraction is “disordered” and therefore cannot be a positive good desired by God, and iii) homosexual acts, like all sexual acts outside of marriage, are sinful.

Does Pope Francis disagree with that? That’s unlikely, as he has repeatedly said in regard to homosexuality that he follows the Catechism.

But it is a possibility, at least until it is demonstrated that Juan Cruz is mistaken in his recollection, or that the Holy Father himself clarifies his meaning. But clarifications are not offered in such situations. Meanwhile, officially nonexistent teaching becomes legitimate news, as it seems that the Supreme Pontiff is changing Catholic doctrine.

There have been at least five occasions in which Pope Francis has exercised this shadow magisterium to the effect of eclipsing Catholic teaching.
- In April 2014, a woman in Argentina claimed that Pope Francis telephoned her and told her that, despite being in an invalid marriage, she should disregard the instructions of her pastor and receive Holy Communion in another parish.
- In January 2015, Pope Francis telephoned a transgender man and reportedly told him something similar to what Cruz reported: “God loves all his children, however they are; you are a son of God, who accepts you exactly as you are. Of course you are a son of the Church!” Pope Francis invited the man and his fiancé to visit him in Rome.
- Pope Francis has given several interviews to journalist Eugenio Scalfari, which are neither recorded nor transcribed. The Holy See Press Office insists that Scalfari’s subsequent reporting cannot reliably be taken as the Holy Father’s words. Nevertheless, earlier this year, headlines around the world trumpeted the latest from the shadow magisterium — that hell no longer exists.

On two occasions, the Holy Father gave public answers that were ambiguous and seemed at odds with Catholic teaching.
- In November 2015, addressing the Lutheran community in Rome, Pope Francis was asked by a Protestant woman if she could receive Holy Communion together with her Catholic husband. Absent extraordinary circumstances, that is not permitted. Pope Francis replied in a partly affirmative and partly negative way, advising the woman to “ask the Lord” and then proceed. It was widely reported that Pope Francis had given approval to intercommunion, which he had not. [Sandro Magister summed up Bergoglio's equivocation on that occasion as "No...yes...I don't decide for yourself".]
- Earlier this year, Pope Francis was asked by a tearful boy whether his late father was in heaven, despite being an atheist. Pope Francis did not answer a clear yes or no, but left the grieving boy with the impression that his father had been saved without faith. That, too, was widely reported.

In all of the above cases, the Holy Father is addressing an individual case, yet his words are reported as proposing a general norm. Absent any clarification of the norm, it is reasonably assumed by many that the norm has been changed.

It is a common enough pastoral reality. Any good pastor has offered comforting words of an ambiguous nature to a suffering individual. A grieving daughter is told by her pastor that her recently deceased father, who abandoned her mother for another woman, really did love his children. The pastor is not proposing that the father was right to do as he did, or that he will not face judgment for that. The pastor is, in the moment, choosing to emphasize part of the truth of the situation, rather than the whole.

That is why pastors are careful that such words are not proposed as formal teaching. It can be difficult enough in a parish, where the pastor is asked whether what he reportedly is to have said to so-and-so has changed the Church’s teaching or practice. That moment allows for a clarification. In the case of the Holy Father, there are no such moments; the whole world hears at the same time.

Indeed, those preparing the Holy Father’s visits should not have allowed the grieving child to ask the Pope about whether atheists are in heaven. [But not only did they allow it. It was obviously a set-up situation, so the boy could ask the question. I suppose Mons. Vigano - he was still the official grand panjandrum of communications at the time - thought it would constitute a Bergoglian outreach to atheists!] It would have been awkward and out of place to examine what exactly is required for salvation.

No one would find it easy to answer when the crying boy needed comforting, which the Holy Father immediately offered. He was not intending in such a moment to exercise his magisterium at all, shadow or otherwise.

It is commendable that the Holy Father has private conversations in which he offers pastoral care to those he meets. It would be better if those receiving such care would also respect the private nature of those conversations, not putting the Holy Father — and all who listen to him — in a difficult position.

It would even be better if Jorge Bergoglio realized, once and for all, that as pope, he cannot allow his individual persona to overshadow and even take over his institutional function. By definition, a pope cannot express private opinions that conflict with the teaching of the Church, otherwise he is in open dereliction of his primary duty to uphold and defend the faith.

A great commentary in THE CATHOLIC THING:

Good news:
God didn’t make our human mess

by Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek
May 23, 2018

Pope Francis is reported to have told a homosexual, “God made you that way and loves you.” In the last six months, I have responded to the miscarriage of a three-month-old baby, the sudden death of a hospice nurse due to an aneurism, and the terminal diagnosis of a middle-aged husband and father. In these situations, I have continually insisted on God’s love and providence. I have never said God made it happen.

One of the most astonishing features of the Biblical creation account is that the entire cosmos is declared “very good.” This flies in the face of human experience. In fact, the creation myths of many cultures hold that good and evil are inherent elements of human nature and the world order. It is the way things are made.

Genesis corrects this error by revealing that evil is not rooted in creation, but in humanity’s abusive decision to turn away from God, one another, and God’s created order through sin. At the same time, the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve unfolds in the context of God’s continual love and providential care in the face of sin and the evils unleashed by it.

The Scriptures tell the story of God opening a path to salvation that frees us from the effects of personal sin and the evils that befall us so that we might fully share His divine life through nuptial union with Christ. In Jesus, we discover that God foretold this saving union when He created the human race as sexually differentiated persons united in indissoluble marriage. (Mt. 19:56, Gen. 2:24, Is. 62:5, Eph. 5:31-32)

Despite the fallen nature of the human race and the cosmos, therefore, we can still affirm that God created us and loves us. But we cannot simply say, “God made me this way.” If “this way” refers to the image and likeness of the Trinity and the calling to be a member of the body and bride of Christ, then the statement is true. If “this way” refers to the ill-effects of the messed-up world or of our personal sin, then the statement is false.

God loves sinners, the handicapped, the sick, the mentally ill, the imprisoned, the enslaved, the abused, the starving, the doubting, the grieving, the dying, etc. In some cases, these people contributed to their situation, in others they did not. God loves them all, but He has not made them that way.

It can be said truly that God tolerates these situations since, evidently, He chooses not to enter into history to prevent these particular wrongs from happening. The nature of this toleration, however, warrants our careful attention. It is not indifference, acceptance, or welcoming. It is a “bearing with” (Latin: toleratio) or a “suffering with” (Latin: compassio).

The full revelation of God’s compassionate toleration of sin and the effects of evil is found in the passion, death, and glorification of Jesus. Precisely because Jesus loved us with the Father’s love, He carried in his humanity the burden of all the ill that we do and that we bear. In doing so, He made our innocent and culpable sufferings a place of encountering God and his love, that is, a place of conversion, healing, and communion.

God brings about our salvation, our “well-being” (Latin: salus), not by preventing, denying, or eradicating evil at each moment, but by fundamentally altering our relation to it through our union with Christ. He thereby enables us to carry and suffer every form of evil that afflicts us and others without entering into further sin.

This is the Good News we have been sent to live and to proclaim: “God did not make us the way we are and He loves us. That is why He carried the burden of the sins and evils that distort our lives and invites us to carry that burden with him. He wishes to espouse us to himself so that we might share his divine life now and forever. And I love you enough to tell you this.”

Experiencing same-sex attraction, being divorced by a spouse, feeling a compulsion to abuse others, having an addiction, and the myriad of other troubles of body, psyche, and soul that we face as members of the fallen human race are not made better by being declared the handiwork of God. Nor, of course, are they helped by being treated as sins if we have not deliberately willed them or if we have repented of the sin that gave rise to them.

What is helpful, indeed the only thing ultimately able to sustain us, is the truth about our fallen, sometimes sinful, condition and the union that God offers us in Christ. That union requires, as Jesus said, that we take up the Cross daily. We do so by acknowledging our sins, our distorted inclinations, the burden of evil in our lives and the lives of those we love, and by carrying those with Christ who first carried them for us. Because of this union, we can carry these burdens without yielding to sin.

That is the Gospel. It is not something to hide or to evade. We are called to announce it unambiguously to the world. Consequently, when our witness to Jesus is misunderstood we are obliged to take reasonable steps to offer a correction.

Were a priest to be misquoted about the Gospel in the local paper or by a parishioner publicly recounting a private meeting, the priest would need to remedy the error. I have myself faced this situation.

The solution is simple and involves no accusation of deception or violation of confidence. A priest need only say, “The position attributed to me is mistaken. It mischaracterizes (or contradicts) the Gospel of Christ that I profess. I regret any misunderstanding and am happy to clarify the matter.” [Not that anyone expects Bergoglio to say that!]

To do less would harm those misled by the report. Besides, my brother, a priest, would charitably but firmly insist on it.

And then there's this quite realistic view of the situation:

Pope Francis's cunning long game
by Damon Linker
May 23, 2018

Pope Francis'S stealth reform of the Roman Catholic Church shows no sign of slowing down — and may even be accelerating.

Stealth is key here. If the pope had declared earlier this month that henceforth the Roman Catholic Church would authoritatively teach that homosexuals should be happy being gay, that God made them homosexual, and that God himself (along with the pope) loves them just the way they are, it would have been a massive story in the history of Catholicism — and one that quite likely would have precipitated a major schism, with conservative bishops and priests (mainly in North America and Africa) formally breaking from Rome.

But because word of the pope saying these things comes to us second hand, in a report of a private conversation between Francis and a gay man named Juan Carlos Cruz who is also a victim of the clerical sex abuse crisis in Chile, the utterance will go down as just the latest example of the pope making unorthodox statements in settings in which he has plausible deniability and in which he can claim he was speaking as a pastor rather than as an expositor of the church's official dogmas and doctrines.

Most popes view themselves as caretakers of the church's authoritative teachings on faith and morals. When it comes to homosexuality, they would therefore be inclined to reaffirm the position laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which clearly states that homosexual desires are "intrinsically disordered" because they are not oriented to the end of procreation. (The same is true of masturbation and other non-procreative sex acts.)

If Pope Francis were a straightforward reformer, he would seek to change church doctrine regardless of the potentially dire consequences for church unity. But Francis is well aware of the limits of his power and the danger of pushing too far too fast. So he has set out on a different, and distinctive, path.

We first saw it early in his pontificate when the pope spoke to reporters about his views on homosexuality. In contrast to Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), who declared in a 1986 letter to the bishops of the church that same-sex desires aim toward an "intrinsic moral evil," Francis told the press that "if someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

It continued in September 2014 with a marriage ceremony over which Francis presided at St Peter's. Some of the 20 couples involved had been previously married, while others had given birth to children out of wedlock or lived with their fiancées before marriage. That prior behavior placed them firmly out of step with the requirements of Catholic doctrine, and yet the pope participated and blessed the marriages.

And on it has gone, through the notorious footnote in the apostolic exhortation that was published at the conclusion of the 2015 Synod on the Family, seeming to give priests the pastoral leeway to offer the sacrament of communion to parishioners who have been divorced and remarried without receiving an annulment of their first marriages. It has made headlines most recently when an elderly Italian journalist asserted that in an interview with Francis the pope had denied the dogma of hell.

And now there is Francis'S apparent elaboration of his latitudinarian beliefs about homosexuality.

What unites all of these examples is a distinctive approach to church dogma and doctrine. Instead of acting as an expositor of these core teachings of the church, the pope selectively diverges from them in his actions and statements without deigning to change the teachings themselves. The implicit message is the same in every case: The pope himself thinks it's possible to be a member of the church in good standing while failing to abide by all of the institution's rules.

This is significantly different than the pope acknowledging that everyone is a sinner and will therefore break the rules from time to time. That standard view presumes that the divergence from the rule is a failing that requires repentance and reconciliation (the sacrament of confession), along with the intention on the part of the sinner to do better next time.

Francis'S position is different — implying that the lack of conformity to church teaching is acceptable, requiring no change or improvement in behavior.

Juan Carlos Cruz is gay, that's how God made him, and there's nothing wrong with that. But of course Church teaching contradicts this. Which puts Pope Francis in the position of effectively promulgating two truths — implicitly affirming the official, harsher doctrine while subtly undermining it with a less stringent pastoral teaching.

Instead of seeking to change the underlying rules, which would risk divisiveness and even schism, he shows that it's perfectly alright for a priest or layperson to diverge from or ignore the rule in the name of welcoming as many people as possible to Christ's church.

Conservative Catholics like Ross Douthat (the author of a new book on this very topic) worry that Franciss' fudging of doctrinal truth will have bad consequences for the church because it simply defers a necessary debate about what the church actually believes. Better to have the argument sooner rather than later.

But I think the pope's strategy for a longer game displays greater psychological acuity — and Machiavellian cunning.
- Francis may be betting that once the church stops preaching those doctrines that conflict most severely with modern moral norms, the number of people who uphold and revere them will decline rapidly (within a generation or two).
- Once that has happened, officially changing the doctrine will be much easier and much less likely to provoke a schism (or at least a major one) than it is in the present.

[Dear Lord, spare us from further scheming by Jorge Mario Macchiaveglio!!!!]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/05/2018 02.36]
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