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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

Ultimo Aggiornamento: 18/08/2017 05.57
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ALWAYS AND EVER OUR MOST BELOVED BENEDICTUS XVI

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See preceding page for earlier entries on 8/15/17. I was not aware there had been a page change.
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The headline says "Day 1 without migrants: For the first time, no boat arrives on our shores. Funds to the military to block the traffickers"

Antonio Socci shared the above with his readers with this comment:

Did they not say it is impossible to stop migration, that it would be like trying to stop the wind with one's hand?
Instead, all it took was a cry for help from Minniti.


And not having really kept abreast of how the immigration crisis has been developing in Italy, I had to look up who or what 'Minniti' was.
With great help from the New York Times, which ran a profile on him last August 4.


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Note the NYT's related stories on the right, which appear to be a snapshot of the crisis as it is, even seen by the NYT, and not, as the pope
deceptively passes it off, a humanitarian crisis for which, he says, 'the world is to blame' and all hands must be on deck to pluck
the intending migrants from the Mediterranean and bring them into Italy as welcome guests.


Anyway, here is how the NYT story on Minniti begins:

ROME — During a visit to Moscow in 1980, Marco Minniti, a bald and bold young functionary in the Italian Communist Party, mortified his comrades by asking a Red Army general why the Soviets had occupied Afghanistan. The general pointed south on a map and explained that the faraway land mattered for his country’s national security.

Now, decades later, it is Mr. Minniti, Italy’s powerful interior minister and the hard-nosed veteran of its intelligence apparatus, who is looking south — but to Africa, which he calls the “mirror of Europe.”

A mass migration streaming up Africa, through Libya and across the Mediterranean — enabled by human traffickers and exploited by political populists — poses an existential challenge to his center-left government, not to mention his country and continent. [But Bergoglio resolutely plays blind to this!]

To stem the flow of migrants — and the potential infiltration of terrorists — Mr. Minniti, a 61-year-old former communist, is calling on his vast government experience, Calabrian brio and the sub-rosa relationships he developed as Italy’s “Lord of the Spies.”

“I know, let’s say, many things,” Mr. Minniti said with a sly smile in an interview this week in his office in Rome, surrounded by bookcases filled with tomes about espionage and religious fanaticism.

According to Nicola Latorre, an Italian senator and ally of the minister, Mr. Minniti was the “protagonist of the breakthrough” last week, when Prime Minister Fayez Serraj of Libya requested the support of Italian naval ships to counter human trafficking.

It is a risky endeavor that Italy has nevertheless sought for years, desperate to cut the migrant flow. Its success or failure now falls to Mr. Minniti, who polls show to be a popular member of a government with uncertain chances in the next election…


This, then, is the context in which Riccardo Cascioli wrote the ff commentary recently on the perverse statements and actions of the Church hierarchy in Italy which takes its cues directly from the pope:

Immigrants and NGOs, and all the lies
surrounding the campaign of 'indiscriminate welcome'

by Riccardo Cascioli
Translated from
LA NUOVA BUSSOLA QUOTIDIANA
08-08-2017

The NGOs that operate in the Mediterranean "must not only be defended but must be praised" because today, the first priority is to save lives in the Mediterranean Sea and that is what they are doing. Moreover, "it is wrong to link the NGOs to the activity of the scafisti" [those who operate the tiny unsafe boats (scafi) on which most immigrants are transported from North Africa towards Europe].

This was the position expressed in an interview published in La Repubblica yesterday, August 7, by Mons. Giancarlo Perego, Archbishop of Ferrara and former director of the CEI's Fondazione Migrantes. And the same Perego also justifies the NGOs' rebellion against having the Italian military present on their 'rescue ships' at the request of the Italian government.

His statements are certainly consistent with the line of welcoming all immigrants at all costs that the Italian bishops' conference (CEI) has had from the start on this issue, but they defy reality and contradict the condemnation of human trafficking against which the pope has been railing!

This is an ideological position, and like every ideological position, it feeds on confusion and wrong data to justify itself.

Meanwhile, confusion! Mons, Perego, like the CEI leadership [and the pope and his Vatican], does not see a difference between regular and irregular immigration, as if there were no standards of international law which govern and protect those who have a right to immigrate and those who have the right to be given refugee status.

The Social Doctrine of the Church tells us that the right to emigrate from one's own country is not an absolute right in that it does not automatically give you the right to enter another country. Because individual governments also have the right and the duty to regulate immigration.

The other confusion is between the migrant who is genuinely a refugee fleeing persecution and those who are migrating for economic reasons. Refugees must be welcomed, but the second category do not have such an entitlement. It is obvious that the CEI and some Catholic NGOs would like to nullify this distinction and advocate welcoming all immigrants without ifs or buts, even if this is a position that not only is not justified by the social doctrine of the Church, but it is also goes against all reason.

It has been estimated that potentially, 100 million persons from sub-Saharan Africa could move to Europe in the next ten years 'for economic reasons'. Who, with a grain of sense in his brain, could think that it is reasonable to incentivize such a movement?

Besides, to start making and enforcing these distinctions is already a first step towards resolving the problem. For years, for instance, we have been proposing that 'free zones' be established in Libya under the UN Commission for Refugees, in which it can first be established who among the boat people deserve to immigrate and therefore ought to be protected during their travel, and who should be sent back to their home countries.

Now finally, this is being discussed, even if quietly for now. To consider that all immigrants are 'equal' is to encourage migration to the point of prejudicing the case of those persons who are genuinely fleeing war or persecution have the right to be welcomed.

Increasing the confusion are wrong data. Mons. Perego claims that "most of the migrants who are corssing the Meidterranean are doing so to escape from Libyan imprisonment, from violences, from increasingly terrible rapes" and that therefore, they must be brought to safety in Italy. Of course, even getting to the Libyan coast is no excursion, because most of these migrants do not come from Libya. They come from farther inland than North Africa.

If we look at the nationality of those who landed in Italy so far in 2017, from data provided by the UN, the most numerous are the Nig erians (14.8%), followed by those from Guinea (9.6%), the Ivory Coast (9%), and Bangladesh (8.6%). These origins clearly indicate that the reason for the migration, in almost the totality of cases, is economic. Syria, the only country of origin about which one can speak of genuine refugees, accounts for only 6.5% of the arrivals in 2017.

Mons. Perego also claims that the activity of the NGOs in the Mediterranean has allowed saving more lives. Sorry for the bishop, but the reality contradicts him. According to the UN, in 2016, a record 5,022 attempting migrants were documented to have drowned in the Mediterranean. In the first seven months of 2017, the number is already 2,398. These numbers do not reflect the lack of boats to save them [the Italian Navy has mobilized its ships over the past three years to look after these] but rather the politics of 'welcome all immigrants' that is incentivizing the migrant flow which has increased this year.

We have already pointed out many times: The more Italian ships are deployed near the Libyan coast, the more the human traffickers step up sending people over, generally in unsafe vessels that are not meant to stay out at sea for days, thus multiplying the risks for these boat people.

One cannot therefore understand why Mons. Perego claims that the presence of the Italian military on board the rescue ships of the NGOs makes it more difficult to save lives! Unless, their rescue efforts involve actions that violate the law. And so we come to the accusations of complicity between the NGOs and the scafisti (in short, human traffickers).

That there have been heavy suspicions of direct contacts between at least some of the NGOs and the scafisti has been in the news, since there are inquiries under way and already abundant documentation. But even if ultimately, no direct responsibility is established, there is no doubt that the activities of the NGOs who have been incentivizing migrant departures from the Libyan coast have contributed definitively to the illicit activities of the scafisti and those who manipulate them.

And it is in this, perhaps, that is the most imocmprehensible about the attitude of so many Italian Church authorities like Mons. Perego. Direction of the migrant traffic is clearly in the hands of organized international crime which encourages the deparrture of migrants from their countries of origin and then manage and control their 'passage' towards Italy, pocketing thousands of euros for every clandestine they transport.

But how is it possible then to thunder – as do some Church leaders, rightly – against human trafficking, while also doing everything to encourage it?

Next, therefore, I had to find out who are these NGOs – which a Reuters story identifies, although its point of view is that of the NGOs…

More NGOs follow MSF in suspending
Mediterranean migrant rescues

By Gavin Jones

ROME, August 13, 2014 (Reuters) - Two more aid groups have suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, joining Doctors Without Borders, because they felt threatened by the Libyan coastguard.

Save the Children and Germany's Sea Eye said on Sunday their crews could no longer work safely because of the hostile stance of the Libyan authorities. Doctors Without Borders - or Medecins sans Frontieres - cited the same concern when it said on Saturday it would halt Mediterranean operations.

"We leave a deadly gap in the Mediterranean," Sea Eye's founder Michael Busch Heuer warned on Facebook, adding that Libya had issued an "explicit threat" against non-government organisations operating in the area around its coast.

Libyan coastguard boats have repeatedly clashed with NGO vessels on the edge of Libyan waters, sometimes opening fire. The coastguard has defended such actions, saying the shooting was to assert control over rescue operations.

"In general, we do not reject (NGO) presence, but we demand from them more cooperation with the state of Libya ... they should show more respect to the Libyan sovereignty," coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters on Sunday.

Tension has also been growing for weeks between aid groups and the Italian government, which has suggested some NGOs are facilitating people smuggling, while Italy is trying to enhance the role of the Libyan coastguard in blocking migrant departures.

This month, Italy began a naval mission in Libyan waters to provide technical and operational support to its coastguard, despite opposition from factions in eastern Libya that oppose the U.N.-backed government based in Tripoli.

Immigration is dominating Italy's political agenda before elections early next year, with public opinion increasingly hostile to migrants. Almost 600,000 migrants have arrived in Italy over the past four years.

Most sailed from lawless Libya in flimsy vessels operated by people smugglers. More than 13,000 migrants have died trying to make the crossing.


Ships manned by charities have played a growing role in rescues, picking up more than a third of all migrants brought ashore so far this year, compared with less than one percent in 2014.

Aid groups and some Italian politicians warn that migrants intercepted by the Libyan coast guard are taken back to inhuman conditions in detention camps on the Libyan mainland.

However, prosecutors in Sicily have opened investigations against some NGOs, which they suspect of collaborating with people smugglers, and Rome has proposed a Code of Conduct setting stricter rules on how the groups can operate.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a newspaper interview on Sunday that Libya's growing role in controlling its waters was curbing people trafficking and producing a welcome "readjustment" in the Mediterranean.

Libya was trying to increase the range of the waters its ships controlled from 12 nautical miles around its coast to 70 nautical miles, the humanitarian organisation said.

All of the above, in turn, give the proper context to the following posts by Marco Tosatti on his blog in the past two days:

Reader 'Pezzo Grosso' aims high:
He asks CEI president Bassetti
for the head of Galantino over
the latter's statement on immigration'

Translated from
[IMG]http://u.cubeupload.com/MARITER_7/BLOGTOSATTI.png[/IMG]
August 13, 2017

I thought that Pezzo Grosso [Italian for 'Big Shot'] was on vacation enjoying a merited rest. Instead, he sent us an e-mail on the Ferragosto weekend. [Ferragosto is the Italian term for the mid-August holiday usually centered around the Feast of the Assumption.] Prompted, as you will see, by the words of great wisdom that we heard from the Italian episcopate in recent months on the thorny issue of clandestines or 'immigrants' - however you prefer to call them - and the human trafficking directed towards Italian coasts, a source of economic profits for some quarters we know of, and which does not exclude ecclesial circles (on the contrary!)… But here is the letter from Pezzo Grosso:

Pezzo Grosso to Tosatti, asking him to publish an open letter to [Cardinal Gualtiero] Bassetti [appointed president of the Italian bishops' conference earlier this year by Pope Francis].

So it seems Mons. Bassetti read my commenys on Stilum Curiae and shares my analysis and suggestions. Well, bravo, Your Eminence! But that's not enough. In order that your statement about these migrants does not just seem like a power play between you and your secretary, Mons. Galantino, you should do more. And you must do so, otherwise we will all harbor the suspicion - already insinuated – that in order to placate everyone, the Church will continue to use the strategy of 'NI NI, SO SO', rather than the 'SI is SI' (YES is YES) and 'NO is NO' advised by the Founder of Christianity.

Instead the 'NI NI, SO SO' strategy appears to have been adoptred by this pontificate on every occasion. Contradictory or ambivalent messages are the fashion in this pontificate, where even 'corrections' are confusing. And this takes place at the level of the universal Church, in which Parolin 'corrects' Bergoglio, or at the Italian level, where Bassetti 'corrects' Galantino.

But the Secretary of State cannot dismiss the pope, whereas the president of the CEI can – and should – dismiss his secretary. [Not really! Being that Galantino was appointed by Bergoglio to the CEI as his in-house agent, three years before Bassetti, a trusted Bergoglian, was appointed to succeed Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, a suspect Ratzingerian, does Bassetti really have any say over Galantino???] Otherwise, dear Cardinal Bassetti, you too would give the impression of wanting to please everybody but only disappointing all!

One cannot just make contradictory and opposing statements to give the appearance of 'pluralism' when in fact, they are simply contradictory over what is good and what is bad, what is correct and what is wrong. If you really wish to do good for migrants, for the poorest and most vulnerable of Italian citizens, and for the Church herself, you should now dismiss Galantino.

With effects that you yourself will not believe: The CEI will regain its prestige, and the church tax revenue from the government will increase that the bishops may use for evangelization not for 'social' purposes.


Cardinal Bassetti had spoken correctly of the ethics of responsibility. We would like to ask how many lives – of those intending migrants who perished at sea – would have been saved if, instead of encouraging with words and gestures the indiscriminate landing of undocumented aliens in Italy, our government – and the bishops along with the Primate of Italy, namely, the pope – had instead counseled following immigration laws which all countries in the world have, and which most of them enforce?

Is there no responsibility among them for all that is happening, or do so-called good intentions (well-watered by financial gain) suffice to placate their conscience? [I still have to find out who in Italy is gaining from human trafficking and how!] If I were one of the preachers advocating unbridled unconditional immigration, I would feel a small worm of doubt wriggling in my conscience, maybe even a big rat, or at least a hamster.

Migrants and the responsibility
of the Church and the bishops

Translated from
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August 14, 2017

I asked myself if perhaps I was too harsh in my commentary yesterday on Pezzo Grosso's letter. But today, I see that the former president of the Chamber of Deputies Luciano Violante (one regrets he no longer is!) [the current president, Laura Boldroni, is a most pro-active advocate of unconditional immigration] says that the Italian left has "lost its contact with the people" and "has confused the politically correct for the politically practical, politics with aesthetics" in dealing with the immigration issue. He cites one of the comments to my post yesterday, which I quote here in full: [The comment was from someone who turns out to be the blogger responsible for the blogsite 'Ecclesia afflicta'.]

“Bassetti said to Avvenire: "You should know that there is not one woman among the migrants welcomed to Italy who has not been raped! And do you know that all of these migrants are continually threatened with drowning if they do not give in to the true and proper mafias who manage this traffic of immigrants?"

So now the CEI is discovering that the traffic in humans that has been protected and promoted till now [Galantino's campaign of "Free to leave and free to stay"] involves an insane price in human lives? What about the pope who day by day ideologically promotes mass migration even against the opinion of the bishops in the countries from where the migrants come? Who and what has really been feeding the desperate course of thousands of intending migrants of whom hundreds have died at sea just this year in trying to reach Italy?

The ones principally responsible for this chaos are the Pope and his proconsuls like Galantino. Bassetti has simply sniffed the air and is now realizing that Italians are tired of the ideological silliness propagated by the Vatican and the Italian bishops. Silliness inflicted on the skins of Africans and Italians.

This papacy is a disaster: Pope Francis does not even seem to be aware of the damages he is causing. He is too full of himself ( the Holy See has just authorized the sale of T-shirts showing 'Bergoglio Super-Pope to generate more funds for Peter's Pence), the Petrine ministry has become a farce, but a tragic farce. We are seeing the cost of the ideological vacuity of this old Jesuit deficient in culture and bloated with arrogant ideology, but the author of the tragedy will never accept he is responsible for it.

[Wow! Harsh words worthy of Mundabor!]

One must ask nonetheless why the Church, at the central level, and in Italy, has not listened to the negative comments of the bishops from the African countries, and from the government leaders of those countries who have warned us that it is 'the dregs' of their society who are seeking to reach Europe. So all that talk of synodality and of decentralization do not count at all in this case?

Was it – and is it - difficult to see the network of interests, from the criminal to the geopolitical to the simple economic or ambiguous, of those who are responsible for pulling the strings in this puppet show, taking advantage of the political and cultural weaknesses of this nation which aspears to have been devastated in terms of brains and common sense, above everything else?

The Church, at its central level, if properly warned by local bishops, should be able to see who and what are really behind the 'man at sea' scenario. And be most vigilant, if only she employs the wisdom and prudence she has had for centuries. Unless…
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15/08/2017 21.59
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Detail from THE ASSUMPTION, Guido Reni, 1617.

Holy Virgin, Holy Mother,
assumed into Heaven, pray for us”

Homily by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
Church of the Holy Innocents
August 15, 2017

Permit me to begin by acknowledging the most welcome presence as our deacon this evening Br. Leo Camurati of the St. Joseph Province of Dominicans – one of the few mainstream religious communities that has maintained its Catholic identity and has a fine future, with a glut of vocations, so much so that the Dominican House of Studies in Washington had to engage in a major capital campaign for expansion.

I should also note that it was that institution where I studied for my licentiate in theology and where I learned genuine Catholic theology (since my seminary had not provided that). I should also mention that some years back, I intended to attend Christmas morning Mass at St. Agnes when the pastor asked me to preach, completely out of the blue, and then, likewise completely unexpected, importuned me to be the celebrant of the Mass.

I had never celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (except as boy, “playing priest”) and the then-Paul Camurati was the master of ceremonies who gently and effectively guided me through a Mass, which was both valid and licit. Thanks, Br. Leo.


Today the Church Universal – in all her rites – and all the Orthodox Churches and even Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate the bodily assumption of Our Lady. For the sake of clarity, let us make sure we understand precisely what we are celebrating.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and Venerable Pope Pius XII’s dogmatic definition Munificentissimus Deus, informs us:

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians(n. 966).


As you undoubtedly know, the definition of the Assumption occurred on All Saints Day in 1950. That fact leads some people to assert that this dogma was a modern invention of the Catholic Church. However, such an assertion fails to reflect either history or the proper notion of doctrinal development.

The first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was under the title of her Dormition or Assumption – already in the fourth century. Obviously, something believed in the fourth century cannot be an invention of the twentieth century.

More to the point: When the Church defines a dogma, she is acknowledging a doctrine which has been believed all along and throughout the Church. That having been said, it must also be noted that dogmatic definition rarely occurs unless a doctrine is contested, which was never the case with the Assumption – unlike the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which had a rather checkered history, with some of the greatest theological luminaries (including St. Thomas Aquinas) having serious questions about it.

On the contrary, even every so-called reformer of the Protestant movement of the sixteenth century accepted and taught the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.

So, what inspired Pius XII to define an uncontested doctrine? Clearly, it was the Holy Spirit. But why? Christians had always believed that the Assumption was a privilege accorded to Mary in view of both her Immaculate Conception and her divine maternity.

I think there were two phenomena on the horizon, perhaps yet unknown to Pope Pius, which moved him to teach this truth of faith infallibly. The Assumption would be able to underscore the dignity of the human body and the dignity of women, concepts to be assaulted not long after in the dominant culture, especially brought on by the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

From the very beginning of Christianity, we find movements that depreciated the human body. The epistles of St. John take aim at the Gnostics, probably the earliest Christian heretics. According to their theories, the entire physical universe was evil, created by an evil god; only the spiritual had meaning and value. If that were true, then the Incarnation would not be salvific, nor the means of our own future resurrected bodies.

The Gnostics have had numerous descendants in history: the Manichees, who attracted the young Augustine to their number; the Cathars of the Middle Ages, whom St. Dominic fought with every fiber of his being; the Jansenists, who despised the body to such a degree that Parisians quipped that the nuns of Port Royale were “as pure as angels and as proud as devils.”

When disdain of the body takes full control, ironically enough, it usually ends up in total depravity. The “logic” goes something like this: If the body has no inherent dignity, then do with it whatever you wish. On the contrary, if the body is what St. Paul says it is, namely, a temple of the Holy Spirit, then it must be reverenced. Our age, whether it knows it or not, has revived the Manicheeism of old, with the result that “anything goes.” Manichees glory in orgies. And why not?

This lack of appreciation for the body has crept into the consciousness even of practicing Catholics. How many believers tend to think of the afterlife as a gathering of disembodied souls, perhaps flitting around on two cute wings?

But, no, Christian doctrine holds that after the General Judgment, our souls will be reunited to our bodies; the disembodied soul is a temporary, incomplete state of human existence. Jesus, right now, reigning gloriously in Heaven has a body; Mary, right now, at her Son’s right hand, has a body. And since bodies need a space, Heaven has a zip code! That realization caused St. Thomas Aquinas – good Aristotelian philosopher that he was – to declare: “Thomas is his body.”

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to take care of the body given to us at our conception: what we put into it and what we do with it. After all, a temple is sacred. That said, we must avoid the opposite contemporary error – worshiping the body. The cult of the body mistakes the creature for the Creator.

I am always perversely amused by some of my neighbors, who are out running bright and early every morning but can’t get into their car to go to church on Sunday. Some days I feel like telling them that if they don’t get their priorities straight, on the last day they will find their trim, sculpted, beautiful bodies burning in Hell!

Now, let’s get back to something a bit more pleasant. The Risen Christ in His male body and the Assumed Virgin in her female body – the New Adam and the New Eve – represent the fullness of humanity – male and female. They anticipate the general resurrection and stand ready to welcome all Christ’s brethren and Mary’s children. Yes, a woman is essential to the complete picture.

If you pay attention to the conventional wisdom (and you shouldn’t) you will hear a non-stop drumbeat: The Catholic Church is anti-woman. Really? Let’s do a little fact-check on that assertion. First of all, those usually making that accusation, somehow or other, never seem to lob that charge at Orthodox Judaism or Islam, where the status of women really could use some attention.

If we start with the central mystery of the Christian faith – the Incarnation – we see that the greatest event in human history takes place with no male involvement whatsoever, just a young woman cooperating with her God.

The veneration of Mary the Virgin brought in its wake veneration of all women. For the first time in history, women had a dignity proper to them; in the Christian scheme of things, they were no longer valued for the pleasure they gave men in bed or the sons they bore them. The esteem for virginity actually fostered the creation of the order of virgins in the Church, which eventually evolved into female religious life. In the Middle Ages, women were queens, scholars, foundresses of religious orders, abbesses and ecclesiastical reformers.

Interestingly, one of the criticisms leveled against the Catholic Church by the Protestants of the sixteenth century was that the Church gave too high a place to women – a sure sign of a corrupt Church!

In our own country, if you told someone in the 1940s or 50s or 60s that your school principal or college president or hospital administrator was a woman, that person would know that you were referring to a nun. Secular society had not yet caught up with the Church. But then came the women’s liberation movement with its radical feminism. “Isms” are usually dangerous, and the radical feminism of the 60s and 70s was devastating.

There is, however, a good feminism, which the Church always practiced – even without having a name for it. That good feminism was given form in a particular way by Pope John Paul II in his homilies, addresses, and actions.

I am thinking especially of his apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, promulgated during the Marian Year of 1988, on the Solemnity of the Assumption. I heartily recommend a careful reading or re-reading of that insightful document.

The Holy Father astutely observes that equality is not sameness; rather, the correct relationship between the sexes is that of complementarity. In reality, John Paul was following a trajectory of reflection on what he dubbed “the feminine genius” that began with the Pope Pius XII and was continued by Blessed Pope Paul VI. Waxing poetic – as he was wont to do – the Pope proclaims:

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine “genius” which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness. (n. 31).


The Pope does not shy away from tackling the feminist argument, while warning us about the perils of a derailed feminism:

In our times the question of “women’s rights” has taken on new significance in the broad context of the rights of the human person. The biblical and evangelical message sheds light on this cause, which is the object of much attention today, by safeguarding the truth about the “unity” of the “two”, that is to say the truth about that dignity and vocation that result from the specific diversity and personal originality of man and woman.

Consequently, even the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women. In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness. It is indeed an enormous richness... (n. 10)

“The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity; they are merely different” (n. 10)"...

Thus, by considering the reality “Woman – Mother of God,” we enter in a very appropriate way into this Marian Year meditation. This reality also determines the essential horizon of reflection on the dignity and the vocation of women. In anything we think, say or do concerning the dignity and the vocation of women, our thoughts, hearts and actions must not become detached from this horizon.

The dignity of every human being and the vocation corresponding to that dignity find their definitive measure in union with God. Mary, the woman of the Bible, is the most complete expression of this dignity and vocation. For no human being, male or female, created in the image and likeness of God, can in any way attain fulfilment apart from this image and likeness. (n. 5)


Our Lady had two roles in life: as a virgin and as a mother. Sad to say, both roles have fallen on hard times in the past few decades. The witness of Mary needs to be highlighted for the benefit of all women and for the good of all society. In her dual identity as virgin and mother, she gives a face to the dignity of woman. Her glorious assumption also gives hope.

From the glory of Heaven, Mary does not merely offer a holy and hopeful example; she actively intercedes for her children still on their earthly pilgrimage home. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in their Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, bring that document to a conclusion with a stirring Marian reflection:

This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth. . . until they are led into the happiness of their true home. (n. 62)


Early on in this homily, I said that the Blessed Virgin has her place at her Son’s right hand. Where does that idea come from? In ancient Israel, the most powerful woman in the kingdom was the queen mother. And so, we read that when Bathsheba entered the royal chamber, King Solomon stood and bowed to his mother as she assumed a throne next to his. Indeed, to this day, in traditional Judaism, petitioners approach a man’s mother with a request in the assurance that her plea will find a favorable hearing with her son. That conviction is likewise an intensely Catholic conviction as well.

Hans Urs von Balthasar comments poignantly that Mary is “Queen of the Apostles without any pretensions to apostolic powers: she has other and greater powers.” I would suggest that it was consideration of those “other and greater powers” that inspired Pius XII to define the dogma we celebrate today.

The humble Virgin of Nazareth, under divine inspiration, exclaimed in her Magnificat, which the Church sings every day : “Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes” (“For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”).

Today we are proud to say that we have a Mother who provides us with her holy example and her powerful intercession. We are equally proud to take our place in that long line of believers who have fulfilled her prophecy in calling her “blessed.”

Sancta Virgo, Sancta Mater, Assumpta in caelum, ora pro nobis.
Holy Virgin, Holy Mother, assumed into Heaven, pray for us.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************
Once again, Pope Francis
does not offer Assumption Mass


In 2013, Bergoglio's first year as pope, I wondered whether he would honor a tradition established by the popes since the second half of the 20th century and the first 12 years of the 21st, of celebrating the Mass of the Assumption in Castel Gandolfo where they usually spent the hot summer months.

But since the Argentine pope disdains 'vacations', claims he has never really taken a vacation, and indicated early enough that he thought the idea of spending any time in the apostolic residence in Castel Gandolfo was contrary to his 'humble simple way of life', I thought that papal tradition on the Feast of the Assunta was about to be discarded by him as he did the tradition that popes lived in the papal apartment of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

Surprisingly, however, he did bother to go to Castel Gandolfo on August 15, 2013, and celebrated the Mass of the Assumption, as his predecessors did before him, at the parish church of St. Tommasso Villanova, a short walk from the Apostolic Palace there. It was the second and last time he has gone to CG so far (the first time having been to meet with Benedict XVI on March 21, 2013).

In the past three years, he has chosen to hold the annual Lenten retreat of the pope and the Curia at the Pauline Center in Ariccia - like Castel Gandolfo, another city in the Alban Hills north of Rome, not far from Castel Gandolfo, when he could very well use Castel Gandolfo for this purpose without any sanctimonious sillies 'accusing' him of indulging in luxury! (I suppose he wants to help the Pauline Fathers financially with the sum paid by the Vatican for the weeklong board and lodging of the pope and some 30 officers of the Curia. In which case, why not spread the largesse around and choose another order's center every year?)

Anyway, I didn't have to hold my breath for what he would do at Assumption Day in 2014, because he was in Seoul, South Korea at that time.

Ah, but what about 2015? Not only did he not go to Castel Gandolfo, he also did not celebrate a public Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption, limiting himself to the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square. Ditto this year.

For someone who made a big deal out of announcing his great devotion to Mary in his early days as pope, what's with underplaying the Solemnity of the Assumption? Especially because, in the months of July and August, he takes a breather from his daily Masses in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta [his idea of vacation?], one would think he might consider offering the Assumption Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, or in Santa Maria Maggiore, or any of the many Marian shrines that abound in Rome.

Oh, I know, the Vatican will say that in August, all the Romans are in the mountains or by the seaside taking their Ferragosto holiday, and the only tourists in Rome are those who can bear the excruciating summer heat of the Eternal City, ergo, who would the pope say Mass for? In Castel Gandolfo, they might point out, the other popes said Assumption Mass because the parish church there only holds about 250 people.

But don't you think the Romans who stay in Rome in August and the tourists who brave the city's summer would welcome the treat of a papal Mass they could attend on the Solemnity of the Assumption?Surely there are enough non-vacationing priests in the Vatican to fill up the necessary roles of assisting at a papal Mass, or even enough visiting priests who would jump at the chance to assist at a papal Mass!)

It's Bergoglio's opportunity to establish an alternative Assumption 'tradition' for the popes. It could even be an added August attraction for tourist agencies to guarantee a seat in St. Peter's for the pope's Assumption Mass.

But 'snubbing' the Assumption as he does???? Sometimes his ideas of PR amaze me.




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About that 'formal correction'
of the pope - and apostasy in the Church


In the preceding page, I remarked that Louie Verrecchio wrote about how Cardinal Burke says nothing of the 'act of formal correction' he had indicated earlier this year would be proposed after Easter - presumably by him and the other DUBIA cardinals (now minus one with the death of Cardinal Meisner) - in the address he gave in St. Louis last July 22.

At which time I said, "The point is well-taken but there may be plausible explanations for that, chief among them being that there seems to be no precedent in modern times (or ever?) for such a formal act of correction, how it would be done, and whether it means anything at all, let alone have any formal validity, other than as a stronger expression of the DUBIA as objective statements borne out by Amoris laetitia which the pope refuses to refute.

So I was pleased to find out that on the same day, August 14, The Remnant published Part 2 (I cannot find the link to Part 1) of a lengthy interview with Cardinal Burke in which he does talk about the correction, in the process answering the questions I raised:

Setting aside the question of timing, please explain how the process for the execution of a “formal correction” would proceed should a response to the five dubia not be forthcoming? How is a formal correction officially submitted, how is it addressed within the Church’s hierarchal structure, etc.?
The process has not been frequently invoked in the Church, and not now for several centuries. There has been the correction of past Holy Fathers on significant points, but not in a doctrinal way.

It seems to me that the essence of the correction is quite simple. On the one hand, one sets forth the clear teaching of the Church; on the other hand, what is actually being taught by the Roman Pontiff is stated. If there is a contradiction, the Roman Pontiff is called to conform his own teaching in obedience to Christ and the Magisterium of the Church.

The question is asked, “How would this be done?” It is done very simply by a formal declaration to which the Holy Father would be obliged to respond. Cardinals Brandmüller, Caffarra, Meisner, and I used an ancient institution in the Church of proposing dubia to the Pope.

This was done in a very respectful way and not in any way to be aggressive, in order to give him the occasion to set forth the Church’s unchanging teaching. Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the five dubia, so it is now necessary simply to state what the Church teaches about marriage, the family, acts that are intrinsically evil, and so forth. These are the points that are not clear in the current teachings of the Roman Pontiff; therefore, this situation must be corrected. The correction would then direct itself principally to those doctrinal points.

There have been cases, as I mentioned, of the correction of past Roman Pontiffs on non-doctrinal points where cardinals have gone to the Holy Father on one thing or the other such as, for example, matters dealing with administration of the Church.

Another question can also be raised. The Pope is the principle of unity of the bishops and all the faithful. However, the Church is being torn asunder right now by confusion and division. The Holy Father must be called on to exercise his office to put an end to this.


So then, the next step would be a formal declaration stating the clear teachings of the Church as set forth in the dubia. Furthermore, it would be stated that these truths of the Faith are not being clearly set forth by the Roman Pontiff. In other words, instead of asking the questions as was done in the dubia, the formal correction would be stating the answers as clearly taught by the Church.


But immediately preceding the above, the cardinal gave an answer that warmed the cockles of my heart, because another Eminence confirms my choice for some time now to use the word apostasy as a more appropriate and less disputable term than heresy to describe the many Bergoglian heterodoxies.

People talk about a de facto schism. I am absolutely in opposition to any kind of formal schism — a schism can never be correct. [Not to mention that the orthodox Catholics would not declare schism at all, formal or not, because they do uphold the one true Church - and why would they allow the Bergoglian apostates to appropriate it for their false church?]

People can, however, be living in a schismatic situation if the teaching of Christ has been abandoned. The more appropriate word would be the one Our Lady used in her Message of Fatima: apostasy. There can be apostasy within the Church and this, in fact, is what is going on. In connection with the apostasy, Our Lady also referred to the failure of pastors to bring the Church to unity.


The cardinal refers to the mention of apostasy in the Message of Fatima - which is not, of course, in the text of the Third Message that the Vatican released in 2000, while there are plausible accounts that it is the mention of apostasy at the highest levels of the Church that has caused the popes to edit that out of the message that has been made public. Our Lady appears to have been just as prophetic about this Great Apostasy in the Church as she was about the two World Wars and Communism.

I just saw for the first time today a quotation from Paul VI cited in Corriere della Sera of October 22, 1977, in which he said:

The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.

This was a far stronger assertion than the much-quoted 'smoke of Satan' line from his homily on the ninth anniversary of his coronation as Pope, in which he said he had the sensation that "from some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God".

I went back to look up the original homily but unfortunately, the Vatican site only carries an extended paraphrased account of it in Italian. What follows the 'smoke of Satan' quotation, which is enclosed in direct quotation marks, is paraphrase, as follows (my translation):

There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. No one trusts the Church anymore. We trust in the first profane prophet that comes along from the media or from some social organization and run to him to ask him if he has the formula for true life.

Doubt has entered our consciousness and has come in through windows that should instead be open to the light. From science, which we have devised to find objective truths that are not detached from God but which would make us seek him even more and celebrate him with greater intensity, has come instead criticism and doubt. It is the scientists who exert themselves most thoughtfully and even painfully [in search of truths] who end up telling us, "I don't know, we don't know, we cannot know".

Schools end being arenas of confusion and often absurd contradictions. Progress is celebrated in order to be able to demolish it later with the strangest and most radical revolutions, to cancel out what was previously won, to turn back to primitiveness after having so exalted the progress of the modern world.

Even in the Church, this uncertainty reigns. It was thought that the [Second Vatican] Council would be followed by a sunny day in the history of the Church. Instead we have had clouds, tempest, darkness, uncertainty. We preach ecumenism yet we detach ourselves ever more from others. We seek to excavate abysses instead of filling them up...

These are the words of a man clearly disillusioned by what followed Vatican-II, signs and symptoms which have reached their peak today in the era of Bergoglio.

Sorry, got into the apostasy thing so much I forgot to provide the link to the Burke interview:
http://thewandererpress.com/catholic/news/frontpage/interview-with-cardinal-burke-discriminating-mercy-defending-christ-and-his-church-with-true-love-2/#more-19405




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August 15, 2017

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The clear-eyed realism of Joseph Ratzinger is very much in evidence in this fragment of a reflection on the Papacy that he wrote 14 years before he became Pope at a time when no one, least of all he himself, could have imagined he would one day be Pope...

Papal primacy:
The power of God over weakness

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from CALLED TO COMMUNION (1991)


…In order to understand the way in which Peter is a rock, a quality he does not have of himself, it is useful to keep in mind how Matthew continues the narrative.

It was not by “flesh and blood” but by the revelation of the Father that he had confessed Christ in the name of the Twelve. When Jesus subsequently explains the figure and destiny of the Christ in this world, prophesying death and resurrection, it is flesh and blood that respond: Peter “scolds the Lord”: “By no means shall this ever be” (16:22).

To which Jesus replies: “Be gone, behind me, Satan; you are a stumbling block (skandalon) for me” (16:23). Left to his own resources, the one who by God’s grace is permitted to be the bedrock is a stone on the path that makes the foot stumble.

The tension between the gift coming from the Lord and man’s own capacity is rousingly portrayed in this scene, which is some sense anticipates the entire drama of papal history. In this history we repeatedly encounter two situations.

On the one hand, the papacy remains the foundation of the Church in virtue of a power that does not derive from herself.

At the same time, individual popes have again and again become a scandal because of what they themselves are as men, because they want to precede, not follow, Christ, because they believe that they must determine by their own logic the path that only Christ himself can decide: “You do not think God’s thoughts, but man’s (Mt 16:23)

…The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church.

But the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure…It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock. In the very disproportion between man’s capacity and God’s sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite.

The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of the God’s power…

When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is.

Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it…


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The clear-eyed realism of Joseph Ratzinger is very much in evidence in this fragment of a reflection on the Papacy that he wrote 14 years before he became Pope at a time when no one, least of all he himself, could have imagined he would one day be Pope...

Papal primacy:
The power of God over weakness

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from CALLED TO COMMUNION (1991)


…In order to understand the way in which Peter is a rock, a quality he does not have of himself, it is useful to keep in mind how Matthew continues the narrative.

It was not by “flesh and blood” but by the revelation of the Father that he had confessed Christ in the name of the Twelve. When Jesus subsequently explains the figure and destiny of the Christ in this world, prophesying death and resurrection, it is flesh and blood that respond: Peter “scolds the Lord”: “By no means shall this ever be” (16:22).

To which Jesus replies: “Be gone, behind me, Satan; you are a stumbling block (skandalon) for me” (16:23). Left to his own resources, the one who by God’s grace is permitted to be the bedrock is a stone on the path that makes the foot stumble.

The tension between the gift coming from the Lord and man’s own capacity is rousingly portrayed in this scene, which is some sense anticipates the entire drama of papal history. In this history we repeatedly encounter two situations.

On the one hand, the papacy remains the foundation of the Church in virtue of a power that does not derive from herself.

At the same time, individual popes have again and again become a scandal because of what they themselves are as men, because they want to precede, not follow, Christ, because they believe that they must determine by their own logic the path that only Christ himself can decide: “You do not think God’s thoughts, but man’s (Mt 16:23)

…The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church.

But the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure…It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock. In the very disproportion between man’s capacity and God’s sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite.

The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of the God’s power…

When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is.

Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it…


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The clear-eyed realism of Joseph Ratzinger is very much in evidence in this fragment of a reflection on the Papacy that he wrote 14 years before he became Pope at a time when no one, least of all he himself, could have imagined he would one day be Pope...

Papal primacy:
The power of God over weakness

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from CALLED TO COMMUNION (1991)


…In order to understand the way in which Peter is a rock, a quality he does not have of himself, it is useful to keep in mind how Matthew continues the narrative.

It was not by “flesh and blood” but by the revelation of the Father that he had confessed Christ in the name of the Twelve. When Jesus subsequently explains the figure and destiny of the Christ in this world, prophesying death and resurrection, it is flesh and blood that respond: Peter “scolds the Lord”: “By no means shall this ever be” (16:22).

To which Jesus replies: “Be gone, behind me, Satan; you are a stumbling block (skandalon) for me” (16:23). Left to his own resources, the one who by God’s grace is permitted to be the bedrock is a stone on the path that makes the foot stumble.

The tension between the gift coming from the Lord and man’s own capacity is rousingly portrayed in this scene, which is some sense anticipates the entire drama of papal history. In this history we repeatedly encounter two situations.

On the one hand, the papacy remains the foundation of the Church in virtue of a power that does not derive from herself.

At the same time, individual popes have again and again become a scandal because of what they themselves are as men, because they want to precede, not follow, Christ, because they believe that they must determine by their own logic the path that only Christ himself can decide: “You do not think God’s thoughts, but man’s (Mt 16:23)

…The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church.

But the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure…It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock. In the very disproportion between man’s capacity and God’s sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite.

The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of the God’s power…

When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is.

Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it…


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'Dialog' has become one of those facile catchwords of the liberals that has become repellent to me - I shiver whenever it is said in their usual context. Especially with the advent of Bergoglio, who advocates perpetual dialog that never resolves anything because every reconciliation or synthesis between thesis and antithesis simply gives rise to a new thesis to be countered with another anti-thesis, etc, ad infinitum ad nauseam... Valli brings us a great reflection on this topic...

Dialog? No, thanks.
Dispute is better!

Translated from
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August 11, 2017

Today I wish to discuss "the inflation of dialog – when we are enjoined to 'open a dialog' with everyone, and if possible with all. When the subject we wish to 'dialog' about is not important as much as the relationship that we develop through dialog. The process itself is the goal".

This criticism of ecumenical dialog as an end in itself, and cultivated as a good in itself, beyond the question of which parties are in dialog, does not come from a representative of conservative Catholicism. Nor is he even Catholic. He is Jürgen Moltmann (Hamburg, 1926), the evangelical theologian who taught in Tuebingen and author of the famous B]Theologie der Hoffnung(Theology of hope), published in 1964.

His reflections on dialog are found in the article «La Riforma incompiuta. Problemi irrisolti, risposte ecumeniche» (The unfinished reform: Unresolved problems and ecumenical responses), published in Concilium (n.2, 2017, p.142), which is made even more interesting by the fact that Moltmann makes a distinction between 'dialog' and 'dispute'.

He writes: "Dialog in our day does not function for the truth" but rather for 'communion', and thus undergoes a kind of sugarcoating. The effort to avoid sharp differences leads to a flattening out, and theology suffers for it.

"In the past," writes the 91-year-old Moltmann, from long experience, " people lamented the litigiousness of some theologians (rabies theologicorum), but now theology has become so innocuous that it barely merits public consideration".

In search of 'communion', all asperities have been planed down as to virtually disappear - and what remains is often merely an expression of mutual tolerance devoid of content, in which emotion has been substituted for the truth.

On the other hand, Moltmann is explicit in praise of 'dispute':

"We must learn once again to say NO. A controversy can bring truth to light much more than 'tolerant' dialog. We need a theological culture of dispute, conducted with resolve and respect, out of love for the truth. Without a profession of faith, theology is devoid of value, and theological dialog degenerates into a mere exchange of opinions".


The veteran theologian cannot be clearer, and it is significant that his revaluation of dispute – as against the inflation of dialog – comes in the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, which is taking place amidst multiple hymns to dialog and apparently little attention to the question of truth. "Do communion and truth no longer go hand in hand?," Moltmann asks.

"There is even proof," comments Suilvio Brachetta in Vita nuova, the Catholic weekly of the Diocese of Trieste, "that the middle way has disappeared: discussions today are either dialog or polemics. There is hardly ever any constructive debate in order to demonstrate something. We attend relaxed meetings, with little scientific content, and participants oscillate between considering arguments serenely or the contentious impulses of those who seek to assert themselves with fire and fury. In general, people prefer monologues, because it does not have to be 'proven' at all costs – the speaker does not need to marshal counter arguments, but simply 'opposes' himself with his own monologue."

Observations we can all share, to which, however, Stefano Fontana, also in Vita nuova, adds a further reflection: "Silvio Brachetta is right to say that any dialog without truth is a dead one and to praise the Protestant theologian Moltmann for saying so. But it must not be forgotten that the absolutization of dialog in the Church comes precisely from the penetration of the Protestant mindset into the Catholic Church".

"The question of Catholic abuse of dialog," writes Fontana, "is an old one. Already the pre-Vatican-II works of Karl Rahner laid down the foundations of dialog without content. The conciliarism that followed Vatican II applied and developed the concept, misusing the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam of Paul VI. It is true, that today 'dialog happens without its participants knowing what to dialog about', and yet, precisely with respect for the truth, we must not forget that this vice is owed to the penetration of Protestantism into the Catholic mind".

It is equally significant that the concern about dialog as an end in itself should be manifested today by a Protestant like Moltmann.

Fontana proceeds to a necessary analysis:

"Catholcic theology has always taught that faith has two aspects: fides qua, or one's personal act of faith, and fides quae, which is the revealed truth Catholics believe based on the authority of God who has revealed it. Luther separates the two aspects – or rather, he eliminates the second, since he believes that faith is nothing but a subjective relationship of the individual conscience with God.

It is a 'fiducial' faith, a blind faith, in which one places oneself in the hands of the Other without any substantial reason. Indeed, Protestant faith is a faith without dogmas, in which the Church is merely spiritual, made up of all those who entrust themselves in this fiducial manner to Christ. That is why, there is no Protestant unity based on a common confession of the same contents of faith, as the Church has always taught, starting from the Confessors of the faith, but unity is assumed from the coming together of single subjectivities in one act of faith. This subjective 'coming together' [con-venire] replaces the reasons themselves for agreeing [convenire].

The emphasis is displaced towards the action rather than on the contents of the action. That is why today, even in the Catholic Church, pastoral work 'as ecclesial action' precedes doctrine, of which it is independent, and indeed, reformulates doctrine. That is why at every ecclesial convention, there is an insistence on the beauty of 'coming together', even if the meeting actually hosts people who hold a thousand diverse dogmatic heresies. That is why they speak of a 'plural' or 'open' Church, in the terminology of Karl Rahner – who was Catholic in form but Protestant in substance – a church in which everyone, including heretics and atheists could be part. Fides quae is lost from sight, or at any rate, considered of secondary importance. Heresy becomes de-rubricized as simply a difference of opinion."


Fontana's reasoning is crystalline and does not need further explanations, but it is Fontana himself who actualizes everything he wrote by referring to an episode that has caused so much pain:

"In recent days, we witnessed the tragedy of little Charlie Gard. The men of the Church came on the scene too late, sputtered diverse opinions, the newspaper Avvenire diverted attention from the real issues and argued the exact opposite of what it said in 2009 for Eluana Englaro [Italian lady whose father succeeded in getting the hospice to cut off her life support because she had been 'nothing but a vegetable' for some time]

We are no longer even able to profess together the elementary principles of the natural moral law, let alone the Ten Commandments. On too many things, we allow the individual conscience to 'discern'. The Church of 'coming together' increasingly does not know what or Who it is that we should come together about – whether it is on the Christ of faith or the Logos who reveals the truth because he is the Truth, no longer seems to matter."


Fontana refers in his article to Paul VI's Ecclesia Suam (1964) which can be effectively considered the origin of the 'dialogic turning point' in theology. Yet Papa Montini does not say in it that dialog is valuable in itself, but that we must dialog in order to convert others, and although Romano Amerio in Iota Unum spoke of the inconsistent and impossible equation "between the duty incumbent on the Church to evangelize the world and its duty to dialog with it", we must remember that Paul VI advocated a 'dialog of sincerity', and with regard to ecumenism, he said: "We are ready to study how to accommodate the legitimate wishes of our Christian brothers who are separated from us" because "nothing could be more desired by us than to embrace them in a perfect union of faith and charity" but "we must also say that it is not in our power to transgress on the integrity of faith and on the demands of charity".

Nor does Paul VI hesitate to warn against relativism, and yet his encyclical has been used abundantly in a relativistic sense. By eliminating all the points in which Montini stigmatizes "ambiguous compromise' as well as irenism and syncretism ("Our dialog cannot be carried out in weakness with respect to our commitment to our faith… Only whoever is fully faithful to the doctrine of Christ can be an fefective apostle"), Ecclesiam Suam has been reduced to the manifesto of a superficial and indistinct friendship between the Church and the world, and as Brachetta rightly reminds us, we had to wait for Cardinal Ratzinger, with DOMINUS IESUS of 2000, to denounce that 'ideology of dialog' which, having penetrated into the Catholic Church, "would replace mission and the urgency of calling to conversion".

In short, despite the concerns of Paul VI, relativism did enter the Church and has used the idea of dialog in an exploitative way. That is why whoever has the truth at heart should take on Moltmann's proposition and re-value dispute, the lively exchange of opinions and controversy that calls for all arguments to be on the table.

But in order to dispute, one must be able to reason, and today, that is precisely the problem. Because our crisis of faith is perhaps, first of all, a crisis of reason. [And of common sense – because where reason implies a systematic marshaling of arguments to justify a position, common sense is an instinctive grasp of what is right.]


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Detail from THE ASSUMPTION, by Guido Reni (1617).

'Holy Virgin, Holy Mother,
assumed into Heaven, pray for us'

Homily by
Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
Church of the Holy Innocents
August 15, 2017

Permit me to begin this evening by acknowledging the most welcome presence as our deacon this evening Br. Leo Camurati of the St. Joseph Province of Dominicans – one of the few mainstream religious communities that has maintained its Catholic identity and has a fine future, with a glut of vocations, so much so that the Dominican House of Studies in Washington had to engage in a major capital campaign for expansion.

I should also note that it was that institution where I studied for my licentiate in theology and where I learned genuine Catholic theology (since my seminary had not provided that).

I should also mention that some years back, I intended to attend Christmas morning Mass at St. Agnes when the pastor asked me to preach, completely out of the blue, and then, likewise completely unexpected, importuned me to be the celebrant of the Mass. I had never celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (except as boy, “playing priest”) and the then-Paul Camurati was the master of ceremonies who gently and effectively guided me through a Mass, which was both valid and licit. Thanks, Br. Leo.


Today the Church Universal – in all her rites – and all the Orthodox Churches and even Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate the bodily assumption of Our Lady. For the sake of clarity, let us make sure we understand precisely what we are celebrating.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and Venerable Pope Pius XII’s dogmatic definition Munificentissimus Deus, informs us:

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians” (n. 966).


As you undoubtedly know, the definition of the Assumption occurred on All Saints Day in 1950. That fact leads some people to assert that this dogma was a modern invention of the Catholic Church. However, such an assertion fails to reflect either history or the proper notion of doctrinal development.

The first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was under the title of her Dormition or Assumption – already in the fourth century. Obviously, something believed in the fourth century cannot be an invention of the twentieth century.

More to the point: When the Church defines a dogma, she is acknowledging a doctrine which has been believed all along and throughout the Church.

That having been said, it must also be noted that dogmatic definition rarely occurs unless a doctrine is contested, which was never the case with the Assumption – unlike the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which had a rather checkered history, with some of the greatest theological luminaries (including St. Thomas Aquinas) having serious questions about it. On the contrary, even every so-called reformer of the Protestant movement of the sixteenth century accepted and taught the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.

So, what inspired Pius XII to define an uncontested doctrine? Clearly, it was the Holy Spirit. But why? Christians had always believed that the Assumption was a privilege accorded to Mary in view of both her Immaculate Conception and her divine maternity.

I think there were two phenomena on the horizon, perhaps yet unknown to Pope Pius, which moved him to teach this truth of faith infallibly. The Assumption would be able to underscore the dignity of the human body and the dignity of women, concepts to be assaulted not long after in the dominant culture, especially brought on by the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

From the very beginning of Christianity, we find movements that depreciated the human body. The epistles of St. John take aim at the Gnostics, probably the earliest Christian heretics. According to their theories, the entire physical universe was evil, created by an evil god; only the spiritual had meaning and value. If that were true, then the Incarnation would not be salvific, nor the means of our own future resurrected bodies.

The Gnostics have had numerous descendants in history: the Manichees, who attracted the young Augustine to their number; the Cathars of the Middle Ages, whom St. Dominic fought with every fiber of his being; the Jansenists, who despised the body to such a degree that Parisians quipped that the nuns of Port Royale were “as pure as angels and as proud as devils.”

When disdain of the body takes full control, ironically enough, it usually ends up in total depravity. The “logic” goes something like this: If the body has no inherent dignity, then do with it whatever you wish. On the contrary, if the body is what St. Paul says it is, namely, a temple of the Holy Spirit, then it must be reverenced.

Our age, whether it knows it or not, has revived the Manicheeism of old, with the result that “anything goes.” Manichees glory in orgies. And why not?

This lack of appreciation for the body has crept into the consciousness even of practicing Catholics. How many believers tend to think of the afterlife as a gathering of disembodied souls, perhaps flitting around on two cute wings? But, no, Christian doctrine holds that after the General Judgment, our souls will be reunited to our bodies; the disembodied soul is a temporary, incomplete state of human existence.

Jesus, right now, reigning gloriously in Heaven has a body; Mary, right now, at her Son’s right hand, has a body. And since bodies need a space, Heaven has a zip code! That realization caused St. Thomas Aquinas – good Aristotelian philosopher that he was – to declare: “Thomas is his body.”

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to take care of the body given to us at our conception: what we put into it and what we do with it. After all, a temple is sacred. That said, we must avoid the opposite contemporary error – worshiping the body. The cult of the body mistakes the creature for the Creator.

I am always perversely amused by some of my neighbors, who are out running bright and early every morning but can’t get into their car to go to church on Sunday. Some days I feel like telling them that if they don’t get their priorities straight, on the last day they will find their trim, sculpted, beautiful bodies burning in Hell!

Now, let’s get back to something a bit more pleasant. The Risen Christ in His male body and the Assumed Virgin in her female body – the New Adam and the New Eve – represent the fullness of humanity – male and female. They anticipate the general resurrection and stand ready to welcome all Christ’s brethren and Mary’s children. Yes, a woman is essential to the complete picture.

If you pay attention to the conventional wisdom (and you shouldn’t) you will hear a non-stop drumbeat: The Catholic Church is anti-woman. Really? Let’s do a little fact-check on that assertion.

First of all, those usually making that accusation, somehow or other, never seem to lob that charge at Orthodox Judaism or Islam, where the status of women really could use some attention.

If we start with the central mystery of the Christian faith – the Incarnation – we see that the greatest event in human history takes place with no male involvement whatsoever, just a young woman cooperating with her God.

The veneration of Mary the Virgin brought in its wake veneration of all women. For the first time in history, women had a dignity proper to them; in the Christian scheme of things, they were no longer valued for the pleasure they gave men in bed or the sons they bore them. The esteem for virginity actually fostered the creation of the order of virgins in the Church, which eventually evolved into female religious life.

In the Middle Ages, women were queens, scholars, foundresses of religious orders, abbesses and ecclesiastical reformers. Interestingly, one of the criticisms leveled against the Catholic Church by the Protestants of the sixteenth century was that the Church gave too high a place to women – a sure sign of a corrupt Church!

In our own country, if you told someone in the 1940s or 50s or 60s that your school principal or college president or hospital administrator was a woman, that person would know that you were referring to a nun. Secular society had not yet caught up with the Church. But then came the women’s liberation movement with its radical feminism. “Isms” are usually dangerous, and the radical feminism of the 60s and 70s was devastating.

There is, however, a good feminism, which the Church always practiced – even without having a name for it. That good feminism was given form in a particular way by Pope John Paul II in his homilies, addresses, and actions. I am thinking especially of his apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, promulgated during the Marian Year of 1988, on the Solemnity of the Assumption. I heartily recommend a careful reading or re-reading of that insightful document.

The Holy Father astutely observes that equality is not sameness; rather, the correct relationship between the sexes is that of complementarity. In reality, John Paul was following a trajectory of reflection on what he dubbed “the feminine genius” that began with the Pope Pius XII and was continued by Blessed Pope Paul VI. Waxing poetic – as he was wont to do – the Pope proclaims:

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine “genius” which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness. (n. 31)

The Pope does not shy away from tackling the feminist argument, while warning us about the perils of a derailed feminism:
In our times the question of “women’s rights” has taken on new significance in the broad context of the rights of the human person.

The biblical and evangelical message sheds light on this cause, which is the object of much attention today, by safeguarding the truth about the “unity” of the “two”, that is to say the truth about that dignity and vocation that result from the specific diversity and personal originality of man and woman.

Consequently, even the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women.

In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness. It is indeed an enormous richness. (n. 10)

He sums it all up thus:
“The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity; they are merely different” (n. 10)...
Thus, by considering the reality “Woman – Mother of God,” we enter in a very appropriate way into this Marian Year meditation. This reality also determines the essential horizon of reflection on the dignity and the vocation of women.

In anything we think, say or do concerning the dignity and the vocation of women, our thoughts, hearts and actions must not become detached from this horizon. The dignity of every human being and the vocation corresponding to that dignity find their definitive measure in union with God.

Mary, the woman of the Bible, is the most complete expression of this dignity and vocation. For no human being, male or female, created in the image and likeness of God, can in any way attain fulfilment apart from this image and likeness. (n. 5)


Our Lady had two roles in life: as a virgin and as a mother. Sad to say, both roles have fallen on hard times in the past few decades. The witness of Mary needs to be highlighted for the benefit of all women and for the good of all society. In her dual identity as virgin and mother, she gives a face to the dignity of woman. Her glorious assumption also gives hope.

From the glory of Heaven, Mary does not merely offer a holy and hopeful example; she actively intercedes for her children still on their earthly pilgrimage home. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in their Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, bring that document to a conclusion with a stirring Marian reflection:

This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth. . . until they are led into the happiness of their true home. (n. 62)


Early on in this homily, I said that the Blessed Virgin has her place at her Son’s right hand. Where does that idea come from?

In ancient Israel, the most powerful woman in the kingdom was the queen mother. And so, we read that when Bathsheba entered the royal chamber, King Solomon stood and bowed to his mother as she assumed a throne next to his. Indeed, to this day, in traditional Judaism, petitioners approach a man’s mother with a request in the assurance that her plea will find a favorable hearing with her son. That conviction is likewise an intensely Catholic conviction as well.

Hans Urs von Balthasar comments poignantly that Mary is “Queen of the Apostles without any pretensions to apostolic powers: she has other and greater powers.” I would suggest that it was consideration of those “other and greater powers” that inspired Pius XII to define the dogma we celebrate today.

The humble Virgin of Nazareth, under divine inspiration, exclaimed in her Magnificat, which the Church sings every day: “Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes” (For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.)

Today we are proud to say that we have a Mother who provides us with her holy example and her powerful intercession. We are equally proud to take our place in that long line of believers who have fulfilled her prophecy in calling her “blessed.”

Sancta Virgo, Sancta Mater, Assumpta in caelum, ora pro nobis.
Holy Virgin, Holy Mother, assumed into Heaven, pray for us.


***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************

I wrote a brief account of how Pope Francis has sort of snubbed the Solemnity of the Assumption in the past two years by failing to celebrate a public Mass on this day. I shall post it as soon as I have reconstructed it.



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I thought I would share these words from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the Papacy, from 1991 , at least 14 years before he was elected pope, and at which time no one, least of all himself, ever thought he would one day become Pope. Much of what he says rings very actual today...

PAPAL PRIMACY:
The power of God over human weakness

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from CALLED TO COMMUNION (1991)

…In order to understand the way in which Peter is a rock, a quality he does not have of himself, it is useful to keep in mind how Matthew continues the narrative. It was not by “flesh and blood” but by the revelation of the Father that he had confessed Christ in the name of the Twelve.

When Jesus subsequently explains the figure and destiny of the Christ in this world, prophesying death and resurrection, it is flesh and blood that respond: Peter “scolds the Lord”: “By no means shall this ever be” (16:22). To which Jesus replies: “Be gone, behind me, Satan; you are a stumbling block (skandalon) for me” (16:23).

Left to his own resources, the one who by God’s grace is permitted to be the bedrock is a stone on the path that makes the foot stumble.

the tension between the gift coming from the Lord and man’s own capacity is rousingly portrayed in this scene, which is some sense anticipates the entire drama of papal history. In this history we repeatedly encounter two situations.
- On the one hand, the papacy remains the foundation of the Church in virtue of a power that does not derive from herself.
- At the same time, individual popes have again and again become a scandal because of what they themselves are as men, because they want to precede, not follow, Christ, because they believe that they must determine by their own logic the path that only Christ himself can decide: “You do not think God’s thoughts, but man’s (Mt 16:23)

…The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church...

the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure…It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock; in the very disproportion between man’s capacity and God’s sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite.

The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of the God’s power…

When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness.

Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood.

To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is. Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it…

An assertion of Jesus that we must keep in mind even if the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter today appears to be the greatest skandalon for the faith.

The context for the above excerpt will be better appreciated in this interview with an American theologian on the book CALLED TO COMMUNION when Ignatius Books, which first published the English edition in 1996, re-issued it in 2005 after its author became Pope…

CALLED TO COMMUNION:
Joseph Ratzinger's
primer on ecclesiology

Interview with Fr. Matthew Lamb
Ave Maria University

NAPLES, Florida, JUNE 24, 2005 (Zenit) - When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger released his book "Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today," he called it a primer of Catholic ecclesiology.

In it, the future Benedict XVI outlined the origin and essence of the Church, the role of the papacy and the primacy of Peter, and the Body of Christ's unity and communio.

Fr. Matthew Lamb, director of the graduate school of theology and professor of theology at Ave Maria University, shared with us an overview of some of those themes as they appear in Cardinal Ratzinger's book.

What is Cardinal Ratzinger's understanding of the origin and essence of the Church, as outlined in his book?
Reading the book is a feast for mind and heart. At the time of its release, Cardinal Ratzinger called it a "primer of Catholic ecclesiology." As with his other theological writings, this book beautifully recovers for our time the great Catholic tradition of wisdom, of attunement to the "whole" of the Triune God's creative and redemptive presence.

"Catholic" also means living out the "whole" of this divine presence. Such a sapiential approach shows how the New Covenant draws upon and fulfills the covenant with Israel. Israel was chosen and led out of Egypt in order to worship the true and only God and thus witness him to all the nations.

In his preaching, teaching and actions, Jesus Christ fulfilled the messianic promises. At the Last Supper Our Lord initiated the New Covenant in his most sacred Body and Blood. Ratzinger wrote: "Jesus announces the collapse of the old ritual and ... promises a new, higher worship whose center will be his own glorified body."

Jesus announces the eternal Kingdom of God as "the present action of God" in his own divine person incarnate. As the Father sends Jesus Christ, so Jesus in turn sends his apostles and disciples.

The origin of the Church is Jesus Christ who sends the Church forth as the Father sent him. The Apostles and disciples, with their successors down the ages, form the Church as the ecclesia, the gathering of the "people of God."


Drawing upon his own doctoral dissertation on the Church in the theology of St. Augustine, Ratzinger shows that the people of God are what St. Paul calls the "body of Christ."

The essence of the Church is the people of God as the Body of Christ, head and members united by the Holy Spirit in visible communion with the successors of the Apostles, united with the Pope as successor to Peter. The Church continues down the ages the visible and invisible missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit through preaching and teaching, the sanctifying sacraments and the unifying governance of her communion with the successor of Peter.

In "Called to Communion," what were his thoughts on the role of the Pope in the Church?
"You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven."In Matthew 16:17-19, these true words of the Lord Jesus transcend confessional polemics. From them Ratzinger brings out the role of the Pope.

Reflecting on the commission given to Peter he sees that he is commissioned to forgive sins. He writes that it is a commission to dispense "the grace of forgiveness. It constitutes the Church. The Church is founded upon forgiveness. Peter himself is the personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys after having stumbled, confessed and received the grace of pardon."

What did Cardinal Ratzinger note about the primacy of Peter and the unity of the Church?
He first shows the mission of Peter in the whole of the New Testament tradition. The essence of apostleship is witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus. Ratzinger shows the primacy of Peter in this role, as attested by St. Paul who, even when confronting St. Peter, acknowledges him in First Corinthians 15:5 as "Cephas" -- the Aramaic word for "rock" -- in his witness to the risen Lord.

As such he is the guarantor of the one common Gospel. All the synoptic Gospels agree in giving Peter the primacy in their lists of apostles. The mission of Peter is above all to embody the unity of the apostles in their witness to the risen Lord and the mission he entrusted to them.


As Ratzinger points out, the sees or bishoprics identified with the apostles later become pre-eminent and, as Irenaeus testifies in the second century, these sees are to acknowledge the decisive criterion exercised by "the Church of Rome, where Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom. It was with this Church that every community had to agree; Rome was the standard of the authentic apostolic tradition as a whole."

How does the papacy facilitate communion or communio in the Church?
The papacy facilitates communio precisely by witnessing to the transcendent reality of the risen Lord. This was evident in the first successors to Peter. Like him, they witnessed to the commission Peter received -- many early popes were martyred.

The keys of the Kingdom are the words of forgiveness only God can truly empower. The papacy promotes communion by fidelity to the truth of the gospel and the redemptive sacramental mission of forgiveness. [I bet Bergoglio has never thought about his notion of 'mercy' in terms of the Petrine ministry as Cardinal Ratzinger points out here. On the other hand, he may say he is only following the Lord's words to Peter that "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven", in his, Bergoglio's arbitrary dicta that some sins the Church always considered sins can - like divorce and adultery which Jesus himself branded sins - with this Successor of Peter, no longer be considered sin.]

Ratzinger writes: "By his death Jesus has rolled the stone over the mouth of death, which is the power of hell, so that from his death the power of forgiveness flows without cease."

Later Ratzinger returns to this theme of the need of the apostles and their successors for forgiveness as they are given a mission only the Triune God could fulfill.

His words find an echo after he was elected Benedict XVI: "The men in question" -- the apostles -- "are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function" -- of being rock solid in their faith and practice -- "that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them."

Only through such forgiveness in total fidelity to Jesus Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will full communion in the Body of Christ come about. Ratzinger's Eucharistic ecclesiology follows the Fathers of Church in uniting the vertical dimension of the risen body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist with the horizontal dimension of the gathering of the followers of Christ.

"The Fathers summed up these two aspects -- Eucharist and gathering -- in the word communion, which is once more returning to favor today," Ratzinger wrote.

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Cardinal Burke gets ragged on
for that 'act of correction' on AL

Did he promise it, and if he did, then what now?


Because it is the news item that has been drawing reactions, I will reconstruct first my August 16 post on Cardinal Burke and what he said most recently about an act of correction addressed to the pope about the unanswered DUBIA on Amoris laetitia.

On August 14, in the previous page, I had remarked on Louie Verrecchio's remark that such an act of correction may, in fact, never happen - because he and other 'traditional' bloggers like Mundabor have repeatedly mocked Cardinal Burke and his fellow DUBIA cardinals for being all bark and no bite vis-a-vis a pope they consider heretical. Verrecchio's remark was due to the fact that in a much though belatedly publicized address on July 22 in St. Louis, Missouri. Burke made no mention of the 'act of correction' that he had indicated earlier this year would be proposed after Easter - presumably by him and the other DUBIA cardinals (now minus one with the death of Cardinal Meisner).

I thought then that Verrecchio had a point
"but there may be plausible explanations for that, chief among them being that there seems to be no precedent in modern times (or ever?) for such a formal act of correction, how it would be done, and whether it means anything at all, let alone have any formal validity, other than as a stronger expression of the DUBIA as objective statements borne out by Amoris laetitia which the pope refuses to refute."

On the same day I made the comment, I did not realize that The Wanderer had published the second part of a lengthy interview with Cardinal Burke
http://thewandererpress.com/catholic/news/frontpage/interview-with-cardinal-burke-discriminating-mercy-defending-christ-and-his-church-with-true-love-2/#more-19405
in which he is asked about the 'act of correction', and his reply appeared to answer the questions I raised:

Setting aside the question of timing, please explain how the process for the execution of a “formal correction” would proceed should a response to the five dubia not be forthcoming? How is a formal correction officially submitted, how is it addressed within the Church’s hierarchal structure, etc.?
The process has not been frequently invoked in the Church, and not now for several centuries. There has been the correction of past Holy Fathers on significant points, but not in a doctrinal way.

It seems to me that the essence of the correction is quite simple. On the one hand, one sets forth the clear teaching of the Church; on the other hand, what is actually being taught by the Roman Pontiff is stated. If there is a contradiction, the Roman Pontiff is called to conform his own teaching in obedience to Christ and the Magisterium of the Church.

The question is asked, “How would this be done?” It is done very simply by a formal declaration to which the Holy Father would be obliged to respond. Cardinals Brandmüller, Caffarra, Meisner, and I used an ancient institution in the Church of proposing dubia to the Pope. This was done in a very respectful way and not in any way to be aggressive, in order to give him the occasion to set forth the Church’s unchanging teaching.

Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the five dubia, so it is now necessary simply to state what the Church teaches about marriage, the family, acts that are intrinsically evil, and so forth. These are the points that are not clear in the current teachings of the Roman Pontiff; therefore, this situation must be corrected. The correction would then direct itself principally to those doctrinal points.

There have been cases, as I mentioned, of the correction of past Roman Pontiffs on non-doctrinal points where cardinals have gone to the Holy Father on one thing or the other such as, for example, matters dealing with administration of the Church.

Another question can also be raised. The Pope is the principle of unity of the bishops and all the faithful. However, the Church is being torn asunder right now by confusion and division. The Holy Father must be called on to exercise his office to put an end to this.
So then, the next step would be a formal declaration stating the clear teachings of the Church as set forth in the dubia.


Furthermore, it would be stated that these truths of the Faith are not being clearly set forth by the Roman Pontiff. In other words, instead of asking the questions as was done in the dubia, the formal correction would be stating the answers as clearly taught by the Church.


August 16, 2017
Even Father Z gets into fisking the above paragraphs to make the point that Burke never says he will do something about the act of correction, or that the act of correction will be done somehow, but that his verbs are always in the subjunctive, 'would...', not 'will...'

Does this indicate that for Burke and the two other remaining DUBIA cardinals, the 'act of correction' is nothing but a principle and a process that exist only as a potential for now, and may never be exercised? After all, he did not object or comment on the questioner's proviso about 'setting aside the matter of time'.

It was always easy to imagine that such an act of correction would affirmatively re-state the Church teachings that are referred to interrogatively in the DUBIA, i.e., as declarative statements without the question marks. To be accompanied by some respectful injunction to the effect that the Holy Father is bound by his duty to 'confirm his brothers in the faith' and 'to be the visible symbol of unity of the Church' to promulgate these corrections as a necessary supplement-clarification to Amoris laetitia.

But how would the cardinals formulate their statement of what would be the consequence for the pope himself, for the Church and for the faithful if the pope refused to do this? Beyond, that is, the already dire and tragic consequences that have already followed?

More importantly, however, what Cardinal Burke fails to state - and what his interviewer failed to ask him - is the exact mechanism whereby this act of correction would take place. Especially since a doctrinal act of correction directed at the pope hasn't been done for centuries.

Will it be enough for the DUBIA cardinals to issue an act of correction with the signatures of as many prelates, priests and faithful as they can get? I cannot imagine it done by physically convening the opponents of AL's anti-Catholic propositions, since it is doubtful they could even get the signature now of all the 13 cardinals who signed that October 2015 letter of protest to the pope against the manipulation of the family synods.


Apostasy in the Church -
and did Our Lady explicitly predict it?


Anyway, the subsequent backlash to Cardinal Burke's statement in THE WANDERER has sidetracked me from the second part of my original August 16 post (I have expanded on it in this post) about something Cardinal Burke said which, IMHO, is just as important if not more essentially so than a putative act of correction. Namely, the paragraph that preceded the above discussion of the 'act of correction, in which the cardinal said:

People talk about a de facto schism. I am absolutely in opposition to any kind of formal schism — a schism can never be correct. People can, however, be living in a schismatic situation if the teaching of Christ has been abandoned.

[But formal schism means a formal breaking away from the authority of the Church of Rome - and even Mons. Lefebvre and the FSSPX did not do that. Besides, my usual caveat has been: In the de facto schism with Bergoglio over his anti-Catholic teachings, neither the orthodox Catholics nor the Bergoglians would declare schism at all - the first, because the one true Church of
Christ is our Church, and why should we leave it?; the second, because the church of Bergoglio depends on the institutions and infrastructure of the one true Church, otherwise it would be nothing, so the Bergoglians certainly never will 'break away'!

Although Mons. Lefebvre openly disobeyed John Paul II's instruction not to proceed with consecrating the four bishops that he did [and for which he and the bishops were forthwith excommunicated], the FSSPX was never formally in schism, because it never formally 'un-recognized' John Paul II as pope and has continued to recognize his successors as pope - i.e., the FSSPX was never even sedevacantist, despite their major difference with the Vatican over whether they should be required to profess at least 'nominal acceptance of the documents of Vatican II'.]


The more appropriate word would be the one Our Lady used in her Message of Fatima: apostasy. There can be apostasy within the Church and this, in fact, is what is going on. In connection with the apostasy, Our Lady also referred to the failure of pastors to bring the Church to unity.

So Cardinal Burke confirms me in my own personal choice to call Bergoglio's anti-Catholicity as apostasy, rather than heresy.

But the more remarkable thing about his statement is that he refers to apostasy as a term used by Our Lady in her message at Fatima. However, the word never appears in the officially published texts of the so-called 'Three Secrets of Fatima', but according to some rather plausible accounts, it occurs in the part of the Third Secret that some people believe the Vatican has chosen not to publish.

One such account is from Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi (1909-1996), who was the personal papal theologian to Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, and who revealed in a private letter to Prof. Baumgardner of Salzburg, who has been investigating the 'Third Secret': "In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top."

Earlier, in March 1990 Cardinal Silvio Oddi (1910-2001), who was a personal friend of Pope John XXIII and who had spoken to him regarding the Secret, gave the following testimony to Italian journalist Lucio Brunelli in the journal Il Sabato: "It [the Third Secret] has nothing to do with Gorbachev. The Blessed Virgin was alerting us against apostasy in the Church." The Cardinal went on to say that "I would not be surprised if the Third Secret alluded to dark times for the Church: grave confusions and troubling apostasies within Catholicism itself...."

An interview given by then Cardinal Ratzinger to Vittorio Messori in 1984 for the magazine Jesus is often cited to show that there is more to the Third Secret than was made public in 2000, and in view of the known testimony about 'the great apostasy' supposedly spoken of in the 'Third Secret', his words are also cited as 'proof' that indeed the message of Fatima contained explicit words about such apostasy:

Cardinal Ratzinger, have you read what is called the Third Secret of Fatima: i.e., the one that Sister Lucia had sent to Pope John XXIII and which the latter did not wish to make known and consigned to the Vatican archives?[/B]
Yes, I have read it.

Why has it not been revealed?
Because, according to the judgement of the Popes, it adds nothing to what a Christian must know concerning what derives from Revelation: i.e., a radical call for conversion; the absolute importance of history; the dangers threatening the faith and the life of the Christian, and therefore of the world. And then the importance of the ‘novissimi’[the 'four last things' - death, judgment, heaven, hell - last stages of the soul in life and the afterlife].

If it is not made public — at least for the time being — it is in order to prevent religious prophecy from being mistaken for sensationalism. But the things contained in this ‘Third Secret’ correspond to what has been announced in Scripture and has been said again and again in many other Marian apparitions, first of all that of Fatima, in what is already known of what its message contains: Conversion and penitence are the essential conditions for salvation.

In which his words about 'the dangers threatening the faith and the life of the Church' are said to refer to 'the great apostasy' supposedly mentioned in the 'unpublished' part of the Third Secret.We don't know.

'Any 'great apostasy' certainly threatens the faith and life of the Church' but to claim that Cardinal Ratzinger must have rather than 'could have' referred to that, is something only Benedict XVI - or the full definitive revelation of the Secrets of Fatima - can tell us.

The published words of the Third Secret are all the words of Sor Lucia who was describing in a 1942 letter what she had seen in the second vision of May 2017. Of the Three Secrets, the first is a description by of the vision of Hell shown to the three shepherd children by the Virgin. Only the Second Secret purports to be about the words said by the Virgin - in which she speaks about the coming end of World War I, predicts another great war, and refers to Russia and the need for its conversion if the world is to avoid wars and persecutions. Sor Lucia's account of it concludes with the words, "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."

Proponents of 'the great apostasy' theory point to the fact that in her so-called Fourth Memoir written in 1941, Sor Lucia writes the ff sentence immediately after the last sentence of the Second Secret: "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc", as though it were a continuation of the words she quoted earlier.

Much is made of the 'etc', which is really unlikely in any spiritual memoir, let alone about a Marian experience, but the same persons who uphold 'the great apostasy' theory also claim Our Lady's words come in the unpublished part of the Third Secret. Does not their own account make it seem it ought to have been part of the Second Secret?

Whatever the 'full message' of Fatima may have been, why are the 'Fourth Secret' advocates not jumping on Cardinal Burke's statement referring to apostasy as having been part of the message of Fatima? Does it not imply that 'the great apostasy' theory may be more real than we think? They could well add him to their anthology of 'testimony' about the 'Fourth Secret'.
www.tldm.org/News10/ThirdSecretGreatApostasy.htm

In any case, we do not need a prophecy to tell us that what has been happening in the Church and to the Church especially with the advent of Bergoglio amounts indeed to 'a great apostasy'.


P.S. I now have the link to Part 1 of the interview with Cardinal Burke, published by THE WANDERER on August 7:
http://thewandererpress.com/catholic/news/frontpage/interview-with-cardinal-burke-discriminating-mercy-defending-christ-and-his-church-with-true-love/

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For some reason, the posts I made after the last one above have disappeared - the last one was a translation of Aldo Maria Valli's very pertinent reflection on the inflation and abuse of 'dialog' as the panacea advocated for every problem....I had posts on the Assumption (Fr. Stravinskas's homily at Holy Innocents yesterday, and an account of how the Pope has chosen in 2016 and again this year, not to celebrate a Mass on Assumption Day; on the 8/15 PewSitter and Canon212 headlines; on some very pertinent reflections on the Papacy by Cardinal Ratzinger back in 2001; and Cardinal Burke on the formal correction that will follow the DUBIA and on apostasy in the Church... They were still there this morning when I entered a slight correction to my introduction to Valli's article, and I could not have accidentally deleted Valli's article by doing so because I certainly did not hit the Delete button, and in any case, one always get a confirmation alert before any post can be deleted. then how did the earlier 3 posts get deleted? It is so frustrating to deal with the unpredictable deus ex machina that cyberspace has become.. I am therefore leaving space to reconstruct those posts (which means having to translate Valli's article all over!)

8/17/17
Another losing battle with the Forum server today. I did manage to re-post the Assumption and Cardinal Burke items with only 'minor' inconveniences such as slooooow registration of words 10-15 seconds after they are typed. But I had to do the Cardinal Ratzinger/Papacy item three times over because the Forum server froze on me so I could not save what I had already posted, then Google Chrome shut up on its own (it's doing that a lot these days) with the same loss, and finally, I lost the Word document on which I was trying to compose the whole post first... In which time I could have re-translated the Valli article on dialog, which, believe me, is a must-read... So I am still behind in that....
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August 16, 2017

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Cardinal Sarah:
The new revolutionaries are trying
to destroy the Christian family

People once again need to rise up like the Vendée Catholics in the 18th century

by Nick Hallett
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Wednesday, 16 Aug 2017

Modern Western advocates of abortion and population control in Africa are like the French revolutionaries who massacred the people of Vendée, Cardinal Robert Sarah has said.

In a homily honouring the Vendée martyrs, published online by Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Sarah praised the region and its inhabitants for resisting atheistic republicanism during the Revolution, but said that the Church and the traditional family still faced persecution.

“Who will rise today for God?” the cardinal asked. “Who will dare to confront the modern persecutors of the Church? Who will have the courage to rise up without any weapons other than the rosary and the Sacred Heart, to face the columns of death of our time?”

These modern “columns of death”, the cardinal explained, were “relativism, indifferentism and contempt for God”.

“Who will say to this world that the only freedom worth dying for is the freedom to believe?”


The War in the Vendée, which lasted from March to December 1793, was a popular uprising against France’s revolutionary republican government. It was led by the self-styled Catholic and Royal Army, which was largely composed of peasants.

In the aftermath of the rebellion, tens of thousands of civilians were massacred by the so-called “Infernal Columns” of republican general Louis Marie Turreau. Many of those who died have been beatified by the Church.

The Guinean cardinal said that those who advocate sterilisation, abortion and population control, especially for Africa, are the modern equivalent of those Infernal Columns.

“Once again today, more than ever, revolutionary ideologists want to annihilate the natural place of self-giving, joyful generosity and of love. I want to talk about the family! Gender ideology, and contempt for fertility and fidelity are the many slogans of this revolution.”

The cardinal added that, just as in the Vendée, modern revolutionaries want to exterminate families.

“These new revolutionaries are worried by the generosity of large families. They ridicule Christian families, for they embody all that they hate. They are ready to launch new Infernal Columns on Africa to put pressure on families and impose sterilisation, abortion and contraception. Africa, like the Vendée, will resist! Christian families everywhere must be the joyful spearheads of a revolt against this new dictatorship of selfishness!”

Cardinal Sarah called on the French people to live up to the reputation of their Vendean ancestors and stand up for traditional Christianity amid a new onslaught.

“Today in the East, Pakistan and Africa, our Christian brothers die for their faith, crushed by the pillars of persecuting Islamism. And you, people of France, you, people of Vendée, when will you rise with the peaceful weapons of prayer and charity to defend your faith?

“My friends, the blood of martyrs flows in your veins, be faithful to it! We are all spiritually sons of la Vendée martyre!”
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