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Belatedly, here is that Tosatti post on Luther that was 'locked up' when my computer switch malfunctioned... It carries
a 10/31/17 headline round-up which I used as the take-off for the article on Luther.

10/31/2017 headlines

On Luther (1):
What is there to celebrate?

Translated from

October 31, 2017

Today marks 500 years since the official start of what would go down in history as the Protestant ‘Reformation’ – which caused some of the major wounds in the body of Christianity. And this blog would like to ‘remember’ this moment in two ways.

The first is the review of a new book that examines the political, historical and religious universe of Martin Luder (it appears Luther was a pseudonym, the vulgar form of Eleutherius, meaning ‘free’). The book makes it evident to a dispassionate reader that it is not for us, as Catholics and as Christians, to celebrate this event.

The second is an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit of a leading Lutheran pastor from Germany who claims to know Pope Francis well enough for him to get early morning telephone calls from Casa Santa Marta from time to time. [The article title is in itself a story, so I will anticipate Tosatti a bit here, if only graphically:]

Now for the book review:

Martin Lutero: Il canto del gallo della Modernità
[Martin Luther: The cock’s crow (dawn) of modernity]

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published his 95 theses against indulgences. His gesture began a global movement that has passed into history as the ‘Reformation’. Stilum Curiae wants to mark this date briefly with a review of a small but very lucid and important book by Danilo Castellano, emeritus president of the Faculty of Jurisprudence at the University of Udine (northeastern Italy), a corresponding member of the Academia Real de Sciencias Morales y Politicas of Spain, and an honorary member of the same country’s Academia Real de Jurisprudencia y Legislacion.

His book considers Martin Luther to have heralded the dawn of the modern era. He deliberately ignores the major religious questions pondered by the former Augustinian monk, although some religious aspects are necessarily treated more or less in depth. But the focus of his study is the nature of the Reformationas primarily philosophical and political, since it cannot be ignored that the Reformation – which as Cardinal Mueller recently said, a view Castellano takes, was not mere reform but a true and proper revolution – was, from the very beginning, closely tied to the politics of the era (especially in the German states).

Castellano says that, for example, “Kierkegaard, who was Lutheran, faulted Luther for his strong embroilment in worldiness which led him to degeneracy.” [Hmm, we could apply that, too, to ‘Luther’s true heir’, couldn’t we?]

Castellano reiterates that the Reformation was not a reform “but a revolt against the Church: It was the creation of a ‘new’ church on the basis of a ‘new’ doctrine that remained open to ‘new’ perspectives”. [Is this how future historians might describe Bergoglio’s pontificate?] I find this a very important emphasis, now that part of the Catholic Church - those elements which are hardly lucid or rational - is living through the inebriation of an emotional ‘global group hug’.

And he calls Luther’s revolution ‘a virtually integral gnostic revolution’. But on the basis of this revolution, Castellano asks, is it at all possible to ‘rehabilitate’ Luther who would then conceivably become the inspiration for eventual reforms to the spiritual life as well as to the governance of the Catholic Church?

Some cardinals – Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, for example – have actually said so. And even in the Church in Italy, there are those who say that the Holy Spirit had inspired Luther! Castellano’s answer is NO, as well as to other circumstances that appear propelled more by eager and ill-considered bonhomie rathr than mature reflection.

In the course of her long history, the Church has lived through numerous reforms, from within. And the so-called Counter-Reformation “was not a mere sterile opposition to the Protestant Reformation, but rather a program and an ongoing work of intense Church renewal in doctrinal faithfulness to the deposit of faith received from Christ, safeguarded and transmitted onwards by the Church, even on the educational level”.

Castellano drastically affirms that “To confuse the Lutheran reforms with the always necessary continuing self-reform of the Church is an error - the fruit of ignorance and/or bad faith”. Which is a consequence of being blind to ‘the gnostic character of the Reformation’.

Another important point he makes is on freedom and the law, in which it would seem that laws are seen as an obstacle to freedom [How Bergoglian! Or perhaps since Bergoglio is a Jorge-come-lately half a century after Luther, I should learn to remark henceforth when the pope comes up with one of his trademark heterodoxies/near-heresies, ‘How Lutheran!’]: “Evangelical freedom would destroy all laws, including human laws”.

But this reading of Lutheran thinking seems to be balanced on the other hand by the fact that “the question of law is central in Lutheran doctrine… Luther assignes to the law an omnipotent power which centuries later would be proclaimed unequivocally during the Enlightenment.” [How conditioned we are to names that were given self-importantly by the dominant thinkers of the day to the ‘Reformation’ and to the ‘Enlightenment’ when they were anything but!]

According to Castellano, Luther and his new doctrine represented the cock’s crow (dawn) of modernity because in his theoretical elaboration of Lutheranism, he sows the seeds for the social and political development on the centuries to come, culminating in Marxism and Nazism.

And among these seeds, there is the pluri-significant use of the word ‘people’. [Aha! Bergoglio’s idea of ‘pueblo’ as a mythical reality, as self-contradictory as that term might be – but by which he wants to elevate the idea of ‘the masses’ as a powerful force in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.] “It is a profoundly revolutionary concept of ‘people’ because its roots are gnostic. But which ‘people’ is meant? Principally, that which found a formal elaboration at the time of the French Revolution, which in itself was one of the consequences - and perhaps the principal one – of the Reformation on the political level”.

In religion, the population of believers make up a church – but “for Luther, they are an association, not a foundation. And as in any association, its nature and its purpose, even its very constitution, depend on what the members decide, on their values. It is obvious how remote this idea is from the Catholic concept of the Church as the mystical Body of Christ. And yet, for Luther, ‘the universal church’ “would be nothing more than an association of associations [a federation] along with their base communities”. [And the church of Bergoglio is precisely aiming for this with its ‘decentralization’ of papal powers (including those that are not decentralizable) and the autonomy it is giving to bishops’ conferences. Which would make his church obviously no longer ‘catholic’, but a federation of autonomous ecclesial fiefdoms, each determining their own doctrine, pastoral practices and diocesan or national laws. How could any rational Catholic even think of doing this? I suppose the answer is that Bergoglio is not necessarily rational nor Catholic.]

Also interesting is how Castellano underscores Luther’s principle that “whatever is common to everyone cannot be usurped by any individual until he takes responsibility for the community”, which is fraught with consequences, especially political ones. This principle gave rise to Hegel’s statement that ‘What is real is rational’ – which is a way of saying that “Whoever is stronger is right”, because it is the strong and powerful who can most affect ‘reality’.

Luther himself in his writings affirmed that all of history ought to be sacred because “it is God himself who hangs or punishes, he beheads, strangles and makes war”. Indeed, in the Peasants' War [a widespread popular revolt in the German-speaking areas of Central Europe from 1524 to 1525. It failed because of the intense opposition by the aristocracy, who slaughtered up to 100,000 of the 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers], Luther was on the side of the winners, even while acknowledging that the peasants’ demands were right. How much this predominance of the community’s motivations influenced the history that followed is evident.

I will stop here, but I fervently advice you to read this agile history in order to consciously confront the avalanche of rhetoric that being dumped on us on the 500th anniversary of the start of Luther’s revolution.
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Quite a few groups have been advocating married priests for sometime, but one gets no idea of their membership numbers from their websites.
Wikipedia tells us that a so-called International Federation of Married Catholic Priests, date of founding not stated, was dissolved in 2008 and
changed to a more common reform-based group with a new name and with members other than priests. An organisation with that name currently
exists [under CORPUS, one of the groups featured in the banner whose goals include women's ordination, allowing priests to marry, and
increased lay participation in church affairs].

Note the banner component in German - I got to it inadvertently through a link provided by a New York Times article about how women can find
priests to marry (as unlikely as the subject may be), and the link was Clicking on it brought me to what is shown above.
The banner reads 'Priests for a bigger penis -', and features an article entitled, 'Get a bigger cock with pills'. Can anyone
really take the site seriously?

Today, Marco Tosatti writes about the seemingly imminent prospect of married priests, with 'viri probati' as quite probably, the wedge whereby
the church of Bergoglio can then move on to making priestly celibacy optional rather than mandatory.

Married priests?
No longer just a hypothesis

By Marco Tosatti
Translated from

November 4, 2017

Is the long march of [Brazilian] Cardinal Hummes to arrive at the ordination of viri probati [married men of proven Christian virtue] finally about to end? In recent days there has been an intensification of news, signals, rumors and calculated ‘indiscretions’ to indicate that the question will be on the agenda of a Special Synodal Assembly on the Amazon region to take place in Rome in 2019.

This synodal assembly has been spoken about in recent months – the impression given all this time, however, is that the viri probati idea in itself would be realized this year [at least ‘experimentally’] in some part of Brazil’s vast Amazonia province.

Since there has never been an official statement, we cannot tell if having it on the agenda of the 2019 synodal assembly is a form of postponement, just as it is not possible to say whether the choice of Rome as a venue for the assembly is out of a desire for more control of the synod, or give a more ‘noble’ setting to what is after all, a ‘regional’ assembly. [But aren’t all synodal assemblies held in Rome, if only because the pope, whoever he is, is the ex officio presiding officer of each such assembly? The previous regional assemblies - on the Netherlands (1980), on Europe (1991), on Africa (1994), on Lebanon (1995), on the Americas (1996), on Asia (1998) [all under John Paul II], on Africa (2009) and on the Middle East (2010), under Benedict XVI – were all held in Rome. I expected better from Tosatti.]

For many years, Cardinal Hummes, who was Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy from 2006-2010 under Benedict XVI, and a Grand Elector in the Conclave that elected Bergoglio pope, has been pushing for the ordination of 'mature married men of solid faith' in the zones and communities which, due to their farflung locations and the shortage of priests, have virtually no access to sacramental life. He has been visiting many of the dioceses in Brazil’s Amazon region to convince the bishops to write the pope in order to consider the employment of viri probati. But some health problems have made him unable to do this except for about 10 dioceses.

Recently, however, sources at the Brazilian bishops’ conference made it known that they were ‘sure’ a permission would be arriving from the Vatican by Christmas to ordain such viri probati experimentally to help relieve the priest shortage in the Amazonia.

[I’ve raised these practical questions before. Surely, it’s not as simple as drawing up a list of candidates who are willing to leave their families and become priests in the jungle, and then ordaining them on the spot, as it were. Don’t they have to undergo the requisite seminary training of at least four years before they can be ordained priests? Or does the Hummes project simply envision a brief cursillo, say 6 months, and an apprenticeship of another 6 months in an actual parish – to ‘train’ the candidates simply to say Mass and preside at the sacraments, without having to undergo the theological, ecclesial and philosophical training that seminarians get?

In which case, why not do that for younger men everywhere who feel the calling to become priests, or those of them anyway who think that a one-year cursillo-cum-apprenticeship such as one might do for vocations like plumbing, tailoring, what-have-you, is all they will need to become priests! Because short of an abbreviated training-apprenticeship period, Cardinal Hummes and the Amazonia would have to wait four years (i.e., till 2022 if the ad experimentum phase is approved this year, or till 2025, if it takes the 2019 regional assembly to propose the viri probati so the pope can decree it) to get their first viri probati priests in place! Assuming they can attract enough candidates, that is.]

A Spanish-language site published a very interesting article a few days ago reporting on the work of the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy. As you know,its prefect – who was named by Bergoglio soon after his election, having dismissed Cardinal Mauro Piacenza from that office without cause – is Cardinal Beniamino Stella, a career diplomat and said to be one of the grey eminences beind Bergoglio.

The blogger “Germinans Germinabit” wrote:

The Congregation for the Clergy has made a report on the questions discussed at its ordinary reuninon-assembly On May 30-June 1, 2017. Among the many questions, the principal ones appear to have been that about deacons who have been widowed and could then be admitted to the priesthood, as well as that about viri probati who could similarly be admitted to the priesthood “but keeping their right to go on living more uxorio [i.e., conjugally] with their own wives”.

[Now that’s a new twist which has never before been discussed about viri probati: the expectation was they would be willing to leave behind their old lives in order to become priests because they no longer had any family responsibilities to provide for. If this is the thrust of the viri probati move now being pushed by this pontificate, that certainly would be another indication that it is preparing the way for making priestly celibacy, in general, optional rather than mandatory.]


“As a complement to the various aspects of [priest] formation discussed with regard to the Ratio [priestspeak for the document 'Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis', entitled in the English version as 'Spiritual Formation in Seminaries', prescribed in 1980 by the Congregation for Catholic Education], one must also underscore the situation of ‘traditionalist’ seminarians who create not a few problems – first for their ‘formators’, and then after ordination, for the diocesan bishops.

One issue that must be the object of careful discernment is that ‘rigidity’ which the Holy Father often speaks about, indicated by attachment to an image of the Church in the past, their appearance and external presentation [how they are seen in public] but especially visible in the liturgy. Not rarely, such indications can reveal narcissistic and vain personalities who would tend to escape from the implications of pastoral realities and find refuge in the forms of the past which they themselves have never experienced and which does not pertain to their life”.

[How can you describe just how scornful and dismissive the Congregation for the Clergy is of aspiring seminarians who do not fit the Bergoglian mold???]

This passage, if it is authentic as I think it is, seems to be a photograph of the actual situation which hass been confirmed by many to be the [anti-tradition] perception in many places. It seems that authorities in the ‘Church’ today, do not welcome vocations from persons who show no sign of progressivism or of lack of interest in Church tradition. Obviously, they find themselves with declining vocations, and are seeking to fill in the growing void by proposing other solutions. [And do they think that proposals like enlisting viri probati and the implied brief training-apprenticeship to become a priest are any solution at all?]

Not by chance, a few days ago, the Movimento Internazionale dei Sacerdoti Lavoratori Sposati (international movement of married working priests) criticized a statement by the Archbishop of Milan, Mons. Delpini, as reported by Il Giornale.

"[We must] encourage men who consider themselves qualified to become permanent deacons," he wrote in a letter to his diocese, “which means adults who have already defined their state of life in matrimony or in the choice of a celibate life, but who in their manner of being husbands or celibates, show the signs of vocation for a specific service to the Church if they become part of the clergy”. [They would still require formation to be deacons, won't they? I can see the celibates-by-choice probably open to that, but how many married men who have to support a family and have no independent means will take three years off to train to be a permanent deacon? The Church or some sponsoring organization would have to grant them scholarships to cover not just the cost of seminary training but also to support their families!]

In fact, however, that movement seems to already be counting its chickens early in how it reports on its website about the 2019 synodal assembly.

“That’s a classic proposal that will not resolve the priest shortage crisis which is global,” the movement commented. “The remedy? Welcome back married priests into the church.

[Tens of thousands of priests left the Church in the late 1990s-early 2000s in order to get married. It's not as if all of them, or even a significant number of them, would choose to go back to being a priest and hope to raise a family on what a priest earns!]

It is well known that many bishops – especially in Germany, and probably in Belgium and the Netherlands, too – are in favor of the viri probati ‘solution’ and certainly do not welcome vocations form those who would be ‘attached’ to Church tradition in any way.

We do not know what this pontiff will decide. According to Bishop Krautler – a German bishop who has served in the Amazon region for decades and one of the leading exponents of the Hummes proposal – the pope told him a year ago that he did not want to decide on this question by himself. [Yeah, right! So he made a big show of calling two synodal assemblies back to back no less which he thought would support him in his bid to overturn John Paul II’s reaffirmation of the sanctity of the Eucharist in Familiaris consortio, and when they did not, he went ahead anyway and promulgated that exhortation from hell called Amoris Laetitia.] So the synodal assembly on the Amazon region would be the ideal venue to deal with it. 2019 however is two years away [synodal assemblies are generally held in October] – not soon enough for those who want the viri probati proposal implemented now.

Certainly, we cannot rule out an ‘unexpected’ acceleration of the process via an imperial act of the pope.

On the priest shortage (from Wikipedia, duly sourced):

Worldwide, the number of priests in 1970 was 419,728.[2] In 2012, there were a total of 414,313 priests.

While the total number of priests worldwide has therefore remained about the same since 1970, the Catholic population has nearly doubled, growing from 653.6 million in 1970 to 1.229 billion in 2012. In 2012 the global number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first decline in recent years.

The number of parishes with no resident priest pastor has grown from 39,431 in 1970 to 49,153 in 2012. The number of parishes without a priest does not include the thousands of parishes that have closed or merged for lack of priests.

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Cardinal Biffi, along with Cardinals Meisner and Caffarra, are among the recently deceased cardinals who were most ‘in tune’ with Joseph
Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, theologically, intellectually and pastorally, and and I am very glad that Aldo Maria Valli shares with us this preview
of a new book from him…

Not surprisingly, Valli mines a most relevant and precious reflection that he focuses on – Biffi’s denunciation of ambiguity in the Church and of
the widespread misuse of the word ‘pastoral’, even if Biffi wrote this in 1975… Trust Valli to get in his digs at Bergoglianism, even if indirectly…

When Giacomo Biffi, in his parish assignments after
years of teaching theology, fought for the Truth

Translated from

October 31, 2017

“I had never been to Legnano, not even incidentally”. Thus wrote don Giacomo Biffi, 32, in 1960, at the start of a new experience that would change his life. No longer professor of theology at the seminary of Venegono, but a parish priest in Legnano, at the parish of Santi Martiri (Holy Martyrs), where he would serve till 1969. [Legnano is a small town at the northwestern extreme of the metropolitan area of Milan.]

Just looking at the dates makes clear the times we are referring to: Vatican-II, the youth protests everywhere, 1968 and its overnight cultural revolution, tensions within the Church herself, the birth of a strategy for just such tension, and the massacre in Piazza Fontana. [Terrorist attack on Dec. 12, 1969, when a bomb exploded at the headquarters of Italy’s national farmers’ bank in Milan, killing 17 people and wounding 88. The same afternoon, three more bombs were detonated in Rome and Milan, and another was found unexploded. An Italian neo-fascist group was eventually found responsible for these incidents, which took place the year before the leftwing paramilitary Red Brigades began a string of numerous violent incidents in Italy, including assassinations, kidnapping and robberies that would last through the 1970s.]

For a priest, who had not before thought of himself as a pastor of souls but as a teacher, it meant getting into the eye of the tempest. But he never lost his spirit, and, along with other undeniable problems, he managed to see the positive aspects of the situation, from the viewpoint of the simple faith embodied by the people he served.

In 1969, he was transferred to central Milan itself, to the parish of Sant’Andrea, where he would serve till 1975. From a little town to the heart of the metropolis, from a peripheral parish to a historic Ambrosian parish whose church had been consecrated by the great Cardinal Ferrari [Archbishop of Milan from 1894 to 1921].

Even in this case, look at the dates to understand the context in which don Giacomo had to lead his flock. He referred to that time as ‘the uneasy years’. And they were, far beyond what was expected. As he describes it:

"The ideological, moral, ecclesiastical, and social upheaval of those years - unprecedented in the history of Milan and Italy - came unexpected, at least for me. I think it was also unexpected for those who belonged to the ‘reassuring’ school of John XXIII, and were of the same mind even after the Council, who had become ‘specialized’ in reading with nonchalance the so-called ‘signs of the times’.”

Yes, everything seemed to be changing in those years, and the disorientation was great, even in the Church. The dominant word was ‘protest’. Protest against the priest, against the bishop, against the pope (Paul VI, who was Archbishop of Milan when he was elected pope). Protest too against traditional theology.

The other dominant word was ‘crisis’. It was a time when there were no longer any certainties, when there no longer seemed to be any secure foundations.

Don Giacomo, who never lost his indulgence for irony, fought to fight all that without coarseness. When a young man, “who was particularly inflamced and intemperate”, ferociously attacked Archbishop Giovanni Colombo, Biffi said to him: “Instead of deploring and getting indignant over the fact that there are bishops who you think are asses, why don’t you praise the Lord and rejoice that there are no asses who are bishops? God is great and involves all of us in his plan for salvation”.

But don Giacomo was deeply concerned, and using wit in the face of the devastation in the Church, does little. He himself acknowledged that pungent expressions and ironic phrases served nothing while everything seemed to be collapsing around you.

It meant one had to go out into the open in defense of the bishop, of the pope, of the unity of the Church. And he did so every day, as a combatant who does not accept the dominant demagogy nor acritical adherence to the dominant thinking.

With Jacques Maritain, he recognized that the modernism that was a threat to the Church at the start of the 20th century was nothing but the common cold compared to the contagious fever that became widespread in the Church of the 1970s and 1980s.

Then, another turning-point for Biffi. In 1975, Paul VI named him auxiliary bishop of Milan. A new experience began, a new life that lasted nine years until in 1984, John Paul II made him Archbishop of Bologna, and in 1985, a cardinal.

The don Giacomo I have been describing is, of course, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, who died in Bologna in 2015, at the age of 87, and the bits and pieces I have described come from a beautiful new book, Cose nuove e cose antiche. Scritti 1967-1975 (New things and old things: Writings from 1967-1975) on the less-known years of his human experience, spiritual and pastoral, those that he lived in Legnano and Milan as a parish priest.

The book, published by Cantagalli, and edited by Samuele Pinna and Davide Riserbato, carries an introduction by Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò (prefect of the new Dicastery for Communications) and is in every way a historical text. History seen from below, from the perspective of daily life. And it is valuable for understanding how the Church was before Vatican-II, how it was 'changed' by Vatican-II, and the upheavals it went through.

Biffi, who wrote best-sellers like «Contro Maestro Ciliegia», «Peppone, Pinocchio, l’Anticristo e altre divagazioni», «Il quinto evangelo» and «Memorie e digressioni di un italiano cardinale», writes very well, with unfailing clarity.

There are so many points for reflection offered by his memoirs as a parish priest, but I will concentrate on a word to which the cardinal dedicates particular attention. It is a word that at present is a major adjective in Church language: ‘pastoral’.

In a chapter entitled «Meditazione sull’aggettivo ‘pastorale’», Biffi starts out from a premise whose actuality struck me very much. He wrote: “We live in an ecclesial era profoundly marked by ambiguity. The terms ‘church’, ‘faith’, ‘love’, ’prayer’, ‘priesthood’, ‘the world’, ‘dialog’, etc are not used by all Christians in the same sense”.

He wrote this in 1974, towards the end of his experience as a parish priest in Milan. Shaken violently by the diverse inerpretations of Vatican-II and by the social and political tensions that inevitably involved her, the Church was more than ever divided, and the future bishop and cardinal calls attention rightly to the language in use, which was both the instrument and the outcome of that division.

Always inclined to see what is good even in situations that appear most desperate, Biffi asks whether ambiguity is the price one must pay – a form of evangelical charity – in order to continue saying we are all members of the same Church, without coming to any dramatic separations.

Nonetheless, noting that ambiguity can be found not just within the ecclesial organism that is the Church but “in a person’s very behavior, his writings, his discourse”, he denounces what he calls “a widespread horror of certainties” to the point that it has now become obligatory to present oneself to the world not with answers, but rather ‘shrouded in problems and accompanied by more questions”.

More than 40 years have passed, during which ambiguity has now penetrated into the highest circles of Church leadership - facilely cultivated every time persons in authority, acting according to political and not evangelical criteria, seek to please the world, detaching mercy and charity from their essential and necessary link with truth.

“I believe,” Biffi wrote, “ambiguity is not a value, that charity should always arise from the truth and be constantly fed by it”.

And one of the words most prone to ambiguous use is, precisely, ‘pastoral’ [the apparent be-all and end-all justification for anything in the church of Bergoglio, so over-used at every turn that it has lost meaning, or rather, it can mean anything the user wants it to mean], and Biffi is surgically sharp in his critical look at the image of a pastor.

It is an image, he says, that in Scriptures and in the life of the Church, undergoes progressive slippage. The pastor, or shepherd, is certainly God, and then Jesus, and then the Twelve Apostles, and later, priests. The pastoral task therefore widens according to co-responsibility, which means that no one can consider himself pastor by himself, but that all those who are called pastors simpy reflect the pastorality of Christ and the Father.

The point is that pastoral ministry “absolutely does not come from the flock, but that it constitutionally comes from above. Its legitimacy does not originate from below [i.e., those for whom a pastor is responsible] but from authority, and therefore from the truth of which such an authority is a repository and guardian. It follows that whoever exercises pastoral authority should verify daily his conformity not with his base, not with the people, but with the Chief Pastor.

Here, Biffi introduces another reflection that overturns all dominant stereotypes. It is often said that the Church lacks pastors, but “among the serious problems of Christianity today, there is not just a shortage of pastors, but ther is also – and this, more dramatically - a lack of persons who recognize themselves as sheep in the evangelical sense”.

Pastoral action has one goal only: not consolation, not giving comfort, but eternal salvation. Pastoral action is pastoral only when its point of reference is Jesus. And Jesus proposes a decisive move that no one can bypass to obtain salvation: that is metanoia, or conversion. If it is true that no human problem can be alien to pastoral attention, it is just as true that the answer to human problems is conversion to the way of life preached by Christ.

There are so many passages that need to be cited. I will limit myself now to Biffi’s conclusion in his chapter on what is ‘pastoral’: “This reflection of ours has led us to identify some principles which seem to me irrenuncible. Of course, the difficulty starts when one truly wishes to incarnate these principles on an operative level. But in these times, it would be a great thing already if we could all agree with each other about these principles”.

How true! The times being what they are.
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Correctio Filialis: It's not going away

November 4, 2017
Dr. Shaw is also the official spokesman of

The traddies on the march: the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage in Rome marking the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. This is just the vanguard. (Photo and caption by Joseph Shaw)

Hard on the heels of the distinguished theologian Fr Thomas Weinandy publishing a letter to Pope Francis strongly criticising his government of the Church, Dr. Gregory Popcak published a remarkable article on the Patheos site, calling for critics of those who say they are 'confused' by Amoris laetitia Ch 8 need to 'repent' of grossly patronising clericalism.

Not all readers may understand the significance of this, so allow me to fill in the background. Dr Popcak, as he explains in the article, is not only a 'pastoral counsellor', but is head of a major centre of pastoral counselling, and trains pastoral counsellors. The Church in the United States has the resources (and of course the needs) to maintain an entire industry of pastoral counselling. Maybe I'm too English, or too traditional (I'd rather talk to a priest), but this kind of thing isn't really my kind of thing. But that's just the point.

This industry of pastoral counselling going on over the pond has got absolutely nothing to do with an interest in the Traditional Mass, which some people are now trying to suggest is the common factor in opposition to liberal interpretations of Amoris laetitia. Well, they couldn't be more wrong. This guy is from the centre of the 'conservative', Pope St John Paul II-focused, mainstream, establishment Catholic world, and the Patheos platform, which has hosted a good many attacks on traditional Catholics over the years, is this world's in-house magazine.

Charles Collins, writing in Crux, wanted to play down the significance of the Filial Correction, observing (with some justice) that its language and signatories lean towards the traditionalist end of the spectrum of opinion. He continues: “Instead of presenting a unified front to the pope, the filial correction has highlighted the differences among conservatives in the Church under Francis. Not just between the Weinandys and the Shaws, but also the numerous conservative Catholics who are confident Amoris Laetitia should be read in a way that doesn’t change the Church’s practice on sexual ethics and position on communion for the divorce-and-remarried.”

But this is where he is wrong. The purpose of the Filial Correction wasn't to garner support for the Filial Correction. The purpose was to raise the level of debate about Amoris laetitia and to encourage those with misgivings about the liberal interpretation of Amoris to come forward. In this it has been staggeringly successful.

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the 'Overton Window' [the window of discourse, i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse] of criticisms of the policies and (apparent) personal attitudes of a reigning Pope seems to me to have shifted more in a couple of months than it had in the previous century and a half. Whereas on the eve of the publication of the Correctio I was wondering if the signatories would be able to show their faces in public afterwards, I now find myself in the company of a roll-call of distinguished figures. Something important has changed.

The number of academic theologians (and philosophers etc.) who'll sign up to any 25-page theological commentary on any subject is limited, because academics spend their lives using their own words to express their own nuanced positions and teasing open differences of opinion. But the differences between those who signed the Correction and those who've put their reputations on the line to criticise the liberal interpretation of Amoris, using their own words, is hardly a source of comfort for the proponents of that interpretation, because it demonstrates precisely the breadth of the coalition ranged against them.

I have explained before on this blog that it is far easier to assemble a coalition against something than for something, and this explains why progressives often appear more united than conservatives. Well, in this case the boot is on the other foot. The progressives are trying to defend something, admittedly something rather unclear, and the criticisms of it are coming from a wider and wider range of places. Listen to Dr Popcak. He writes with a calm fury:

Deacon Bill, I have no doubt you are a good and faithful man. I am also quite sure you mean well, but I call you to repent of the incipient clericalism that infects your position that the only possible explanation for asking Pope Francis for clarification of chapter 8 of AL is childish obstinacy. I challenge you, and others like you, to repent of the idea that the voices of the thousands of people gracefully striving to live the gospel in their difficult marital circumstances should be discounted. I challenge you to respond with a more authentic approach to both pastoral ministry and evangelization; namely, one that listens to the lived experience of those who are faithfully striving to live the teachings of the Church instead of one that patronizes the laity with the soft clericalism of low expectations.

Why is this happening? People like Fr Weinandy and Dr Popcak have built careers, reputations, even livelihoods, on a positive relationship with the ecclesiastical establishment. For the past 150 years people in that position have not openly criticised the Pope. Now they are. What has brought about this change? [More correctly, who has brought about this change?]

The progressives have no idea what forces they have unleashed. What they have done is pushed good people into a corner towards their non-negotiable principles. To give up on the indissolubility of marriage, the consequences of mortal sin on the life of grace, and all the other things now being thrown into the air by progressives would be worse than losing their careers, reputations, and livelihoods.

This reality can be expressed either in terms of human psychology, or in terms of supernatural Faith, but whether you prefer to think of it as being about their entire self-understanding as Catholics, or what their Faith just will not allow them to do, they have reached the end of the rope.

And you know what? There are lots more people like that out there. Not as many as would be nice, to be sure: there are many time-servers in the Church, and it was ever thus. But there are lots of good people, whose intelligence and integrity will not allow them to - as they see it - acquiesce in apostasy. And this, my friends, may be what the indefectibility of the Church looks like in the 21st century.

This is going to run and run.

Here is the Popcak blog Dr. Shaw refers to. I don't generally look at Patheos unless someoe calls my attention to someting I find worth looking up..

‘Lay people suck!’ – Is this
the teaching of the ‘Church’ now?

By Greg Popcak
Executive Director
Pastoral Solutions Institute

November 2, 2017

I’ve grown more than a little weary of the progressive trope that any confusion caused by chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia is simply a matter of conflict between people who want an “adult church…a mature people of God” versus those who are childish, rigid, and “afraid of the unknown.”

Let me just lay my cards on the table. I’m sure there are at least a few people in the church who spend more time in the trenches actually thinking about what it means to actually “be pastoral” than I do, but I think it would be fair to say that it’s a fairly small club.

Since 1999, I have directed a pastoral counseling agency that conducts over 12,000 of pastoral counseling per year. That means that, over the last 18 years, I have either personally conducted, or been directly responsible for, over 216,000 hours of pastoral counseling, which is all about asking how one can apply the teachings of our Catholic faith to some of the most complex situations one could encounter in life. Our agency’s services are delivered in English and Spanish to Catholic couples, families, and individuals across North and South America, Europe, Asia (primarily Hong Kong and India), Australia, and Africa, which has given me a uniquely multi-cultural lens through which to view this question of pastoral practice.

I am a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and I serve as the Chair of the Education Committee for the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, which is responsible for the professional development of the next generation of pastoral psychotherapists. I also direct a graduate program in pastoral studies which is forming the next generation of pastoral ministers. I have written over 20 books and programs on a host of serious, practical, faith-based topics that have been translated into at least 7 languages.

I know. None of that means anything. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m right about anything. And it definitely doesn’t mean that anyone needs to agree with me…about anything. I mean that. But I don’t think I’m out of line for suggesting that my experience at least means that I have thought enough about the question of what “being pastoral” means that I ought to be considered an adult Christian who is not afraid of complexity of human suffering and – maybe, just maybe – has one or two valid things to contribute to the conversation.

That is, unless you are among the spiritually exalted ranks of good folks like, Deacon Bill Ditewig, PH.D., who is, “Professor of Theology, and former Executive Director, USCCB Secretariat for the Diaconate and Interim Executive Director, USCCB Secretariat for Evangelization.” No, apparently Deacon Bill thinks that lay people, like me, who are genuinely confused as to how some of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia squares with the previous teaching of the Church are not worth considering. We wouldn’t know pastoral practice if it hit us in the face because, apparently, we are just children who have never put out into the deep, who cower in our cave of rules and rigorism.

He argues that people who claim to be “confused” about what Pope Francis’s writings mean and how they square with the historical teaching of the Church are really pretending to be confused when they simply just disagree. Now, it is absolutely true that “I’m confused” is often a cover for “I disagree.” After all, progressives have practiced this dodge in all the years since Humanae Vitae and especially through all the years of St. John Paul’s pontificate.

Indeed, as we saw in the Synod for Families, progressives can barely be bothered to read the Theology of the Body much less claim to understand the practical significance of it. But when there is a specific question being asked and ignored – namely, how these recent teachings exhibit continuity with previous teaching (and no, simply ignoring the question or responding, ” ‘Cause he said so” isn’t an explanation) – it is harder to accept that this claim of confusion is just a conservative dodge.

For those like Deacon Bill who like to profess confusion about all this confusion, I propose four simple questions.
1) How, exactly, do the recommendations in chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia square with the historical teaching of the church, particularly that of St. John Paul in Veritatis Splendor? And if it is a development, how does this development square with Newman’s rules (so to speak) for the development of doctrine?
2) Who is right? Those bishops in Malta and Germany who are giving communion to those who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, or those bishops, almost everywhere else in the world who aren’t? Why?
3) What would you say about the client who, after AL was first published, came to me and asked, “Are you a JPII Catholic or a Pope Francis Catholic?” Was he confused? Why or why not?
4) And, finally, if you agree with Pope Francis’s approach to handling this crisis, where among the Spiritual Works of Mercy do we find that we can simply “Ignore the annoying?”

Oh, and one more bonus question of a slightly more personal nature. What do you call it – if not “confusion” or even “chaos” – when the USCCB’s Interim Director of the Secretariat for Evangelization turns to the internet to publicly take to task the former Chief of Staff (Fr. Weinandy) of the USCCB’s Bishop’s Committee on Doctrine?

While you’re chewing on that, let me suggest a different dichotomy than the “Grown Up Progressive” vs. “Infantile Rigorist Conservative” trope folks like Deacon Bill proclaim.

I would propose that this debate is really between those who believe in the Universal Call to Holiness and those who believe that “heroism is not for the average Christian” (as Cardinal Kasper proclaimed in an interview with Commonweal explaining his support for a new approach to communion for those who are remarried without the benefit of an annulment).

The idea that the laity are doomed to be spiritual also-rans strikes me as a particularly pernicious failure of pastoral practice. I am, frankly, appalled that what appears to be driving the progressive advocacy of an interpretation of Chapter 8 of AL that supports communion for Catholics who are remarried without the benefit of annulment, is that lay people are just too weak to live holy lives. It seems to me that some 50 years after Vatican II, lay people deserve a little better than “we think we have to lower the bar because, well, you suck.”

When it comes right down to it, progressives, like Deacon Bill, appear to have drunk the Kool-Aid of clericalism that says that lay people just can’t cut it. Moreover, he appears to believe that we don’t even deserve the benefit of an explanation as to why Pope John Paul II, whose entire pontificate was about defining the practical ramifications of the universal call to holiness, believed that lay people could be faithful intentional disciples and saints – even in the face of real hardship and sacrifice – but so many who support a liberal interpretation of AL chapter 8 seem to think that all lay people are good for is being patted on the head while their spiritual betters do the heavy lifting.

What progressives fail to acknowledge is that any proposed changes to the doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and how it relates to the marriage supper of the Lamb (i.e., Communion) is a de facto denial of the universal call to holiness and the dignity that marriage holds in the divine plan.

That is a question that deserves to be addressed, not for the sake of some ivory tower rigorist navel-gazing, but because I happen to work with an awful lot of people who have been heroically bearing the cross of living faithfully in their irregular marriages for years and who are a testament both to the fact that the current teaching bears real personal and relational fruit AND the fact that heroism is for the average Christian (thank you very much).

On their behalf, I can only say, “How dare you.” to anyone, who out of their misguided approach to pastoral practice would seek to demean the witness of such faithful, courageous, godly, and yes, heroic people.

Deacon Bill, I have no doubt you are a good and faithful man. I am also quite sure you mean well, but I call you to repent of the incipient clericalism that infects your position that the only possible explanation for asking Pope Francis for clarification of chapter 8 of AL is childish obstinacy.

I challenge you, and others like you, to repent of the idea that the voices of the thousands of people gracefully striving to live the gospel in their difficult marital circumstances should be discounted. I challenge you to respond with a more authentic approach to both pastoral ministry and evangelization; namely, one that listens to the lived experience of those who are faithfully striving to live the teachings of the Church instead of one that patronizes the laity with the soft clericalism of low expectations.

Finally, I respectfully challenge you, and others like you, to reject your advocacy of a Church that believes that heroism is not for the average Christian and instead, to proclaim the message of Christ, who invites all who are willing to both take up the cross and to experience the resurrection that attends the faithful embrace of the same.

05/11/2017 03.23
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Hilary White weighs in on the Weinandy story, but it's the second part of her article that strikes me - in which I find a rare ally in my anti-Mueller protests!

Yet again, the pope of mercy and dialog ignores
a critic's initiative for dialog on AL

by Hilary White

November 3,, 2017

The Catholic Twitterverse is alive today with criticism of the USCCB’s decision to sack Fr. Thomas Weinandy, the former head of their doctrinal office. It took a matter of hours for the brave defenders of the status quo to leap into action against the mild Franciscan friar’s polite plea to Pope Francis to defend the Catholic Faith and faithful. Or at least to stop attacking them.

In a letter made public November 1st, Fr. Weinandy, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission [appointed to the ITC in 2014 by this pope himself], warned Pope Francis that he has caused “chronic confusion” among the faithful and bishops.

He wrote to the pope, “To teach with such an intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.” He added that Catholics are “disconcerted” by the appointment of bishops “who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief, but who support and even defend them.”

In an interview yesterday with John Allen’s Crux, he added, more prophetically than he had perhaps intended, “I don’t think anyone can, or should, associate my letter with the USCCB or the American bishops. Neither was involved in my writing the letter, and its publication will be news to them.”

“Bishops are quick learners,” he wrote in his letter, “and what many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it,” claiming that many bishops don’t speak out publicly for fear they will be “marginalized or worse.”

And sure enough, within hours of making his letter public, we learned that Fr. Weinandy had been given the boot. Of course, the Twitterverse is busy commenting on the irony: how a man expressing grave concerns that there is an atmosphere of fear of being punished for expressing grave concerns, was immediately fired.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this little incident is just how completely blind the US bishops are – as is nearly all the episcopate – to what political analysts call the “optics”. Political consultants often ask: how does it look? And it looks extremely bad.

As though the fog of irony weren’t thick enough, in response to the outrage from Catholics, the USCCB has done what all the other members of Pope Francis’s cabal have done and started blocking critics from its Twitter account. Which, it must be said, only proves Fr. Weinandy’s point once again.

Some of the criticism has been unusually sharp. Fr. Hunwicke wrote this afternoon, “This cheap and vulgar ritual humiliation exemplifies the extent to which PF is presiding over a bully-boy Church in which midget bishops and minicardinals compete to defeat each other in the sycophancy stakes. Just as Tom Weinandy has, in effect, just said.”

As I write this, the outrage is doing the opposite of dying down, and is surely a sign of how fed up Catholics – even those who would never identify themselves as Traditionalists – have become with this pope and his cadre of episcopal bullies. In his letter, Fr. Weinandy made a point of stating that he is not signatory to the Filial Correction or any other public declaration against Pope Francis’ agenda.

In fact, a former student of his wrote to me today saying,

“I see that Fr. Thomas Weinandy has been squashed. He was one of my professors in Patristics at Oxford and he was one of the most mild-mannered, least confrontational, kindest academics one could have hoped to meet. To me, the fact that he has chosen to write to express his concern about the crisis in the church and the papacy is very significant.

"He is neither a traditionalist, nor a controversialist, but a humble and straightforward Friar who is clear-thinking and entirely loyal to the Church and Her teaching. I would be surprised now if we were not see more of this sort of letter/exercise of conscience. I imagine that it’s going to become harder and harder for men of conscience and position to sit on the fence.”

When I posted it, this assessment was backed up by Joseph Shaw, the head of the UK’s Latin Mass Society and the spokesman for the Filial Correction, who wrote, “This is absolutely right. Not a man to seek out confrontation.”

The Crux piece offered a succinct bullet point list of Fr. Weinandy’s concerns. He said the pope is…
• Fostering “chronic confusion.”
• “Demeaning” the importance of doctrine.
• Appointing bishops who “scandalize” believers with dubious “teaching and pastoral practice.”
• Giving prelates who object the impression they’ll be “marginalized or worse” if they speak out.
• Causing faithful Catholics to “lose confidence in their supreme shepherd.”

Our friend Edward Pentin has reproduced the full text of the letter at the National Catholic Register which is definitely worth a read. Fr. Weinandy sent the letter to the pope on July 31, the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Like the Dubia cardinals, he said he made it public only after the pope had ignored it for months.

Notable in his critique is its distinct pastoral flavour, his concern on the effect the situation is having on ordinary people. The pope, he said, seems “to censor and even mock” critics of Amoris Laetitia for their desire to interpret it in keeping with Catholic teaching, and in doing so is committing a “kind of calumny…alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry.”

In an interview with Crux, Weinandy said he is not afraid of reprisals but “more concerned about the good that my letter might do.” The letter “expresses the concerns of many more people than just me, ordinary people who’ve come to me with their questions and apprehensions. I wanted them to know that I listened.”

“I have done what I believe God wanted me to do,” he said.

In fact, Fr. Weinandy has bolstered my own “Great Clarifier” theory, saying that this pontificate, and the lack of response to it from priests and bishops, is being allowed by God in order to reveal “just how weak is the faith of many within the Church.” He added that Francis has revealed that many in the Church “hold harmful theological and pastoral views.”

Which inevitably brings to mind other responses that have not been quite so clear, nor so pastoral.

When Cardinal Muller was removed abruptly from his position as head of the CDF, the conservative Catholic world wailed that it was another case of a “good” prelate being got rid of. And it seems clear from the way it was done, and the way Francis treated Muller in general, that he was indeed got rid of.

But his depiction by conservative writers as a beleaguered champion of Catholic orthodoxy persecuted by the regime for his faithfulness betrays a somewhat selective memory and short attention span. Ed Pentin has a long file of interviews and articles about Muller that clearly show his complete inability to make up his mind whose side he’s on.

A quick examination of Muller’s interviews and statements reveal the irresolute and ultimately calculating mind of a man who is – so I am told by sources close to him – motivated mainly by a puerile desire to be approved of by the “cool kids” in the Vatican, on the one hand, and an unshakeable conviction of his own theological brilliance on the other.

Most recently, on October 30th, Crux quoted him under the headline, “Cardinal Muller backs Pope Francis against critics of ‘Amoris Laetitia’” in which the former head of the CDF has at last climbed on board the Kasperian train on giving Communion to unrepentant adulterers.

Signaling furiously with the trendy FrancisChurch buzzwords and even trendier blithering incoherence, Muller writes that “mitigating factors in guilt,” can lead, couples in “an uncertain marital situation” through a “path of repentance” – always “accompanied” by an exquisitely sensitive confessor – to a point where the reception of Communion is no longer sinful. Presumably because adultery itself is no longer sinful. Or sacrilege either, I guess. Or something.

Somehow the “new evangelization” is involved in this, though it’s unclear how exactly it makes adultery and sacrilege OK. Also, it’s very important to fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation, and as everyone knows, one can’t possibly go to Mass on a Sunday without receiving Communion. [One of the worst and not-often-enough-denounced consequences of the New Mass is this mass sacrilege committed in churches around the world when the entire congregation goes to receive communion - at a time when fewer and fewer Catholics go to confession - as if receiving communion, whether one is in a state of grace or not, were nothing but an act of social conformity.]

We hear again, as we did incessantly from the Kasperians at the Synods, about the hard case of the poor, poor woman who has been abandoned by the first husband, and who “finds no other way out than to entrust oneself to a kind-hearted person,” … with whom, I guess, she has also no choice but to have sexual relations. Because of kind-heartedness.

Anyway, the result of this is a “marriage-like relationship” about which confessors have to be very careful not to say mean things. Or be too “extreme”. It’s very important for him to avoid a “cheap adaptation to the relativistic Zeitgeist,” on one side, and a “cold application of the dogmatic commandments and the canonical rules,” on the other. Because that could be too polarizing. And mean.

And anyway, sins of the flesh aren’t the worst things ever. There are, like, “different levels” of gravity, you know? And, like, it depends on the type of sin, right? “Spirit’s sins” like spiritual pride and avarice and stuff, are worse than “sins of the flesh,” you know? Which are, like, only a result of “human weakness,” right?

Apparently the real problem with this whole thing has been that the Kasperian kerfuffle has totally been blown way, way, WAY out of proportion, and the “polarization” it has caused has been “regrettable”. The question of Communion for divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics, he said, has been “falsely elevated to the rank of a decisive question of Catholicism and a measure of ideological comparison in order to decide whether one is conservative or liberal, in favor or against the pope.”

For years under Pope Benedict, Muller was engaged in an open war with the German episcopate who insisted that they were going to allow Communion for the divorced and remarried, no matter what Rome said, even threatening to go into schism if they didn’t get their way.

Muller, with little backing from Pope Benedict – who appeared content to allow his CDF prefect and the Germans to shout out their differences – and with outright opposition from Francis, did indeed strive to hold the line. The fact that Francis orchestrated the Synods to undermine him was certainly not his fault. And it is difficult to imagine anyone being in a worse position than he was at the time.

But since then, Muller has demonstrated very little of his former grit, instead attempting from one day to the next to appease both sides. Reportedly removed from CDF – and of course lionized by “conservatives” – for his mild but equivocating opposition to Amoris Laetitia, Muller has gone back and forth in what can easily be seen as a desperate attempt to find friends in both camps. With this in mind one could be forgiven for not taking his October 30th essay too seriously. [Hilary is much too kind to Mueller, whom I always mistrusted from the start, never mind that Benedict XVI appeared to have so much faith in him (he also did in Bertone)! And now his true color (muddy, as opposed to black or white) is showing.]

Perhaps one of the good effects to come from Fr. Weinandy’s persecution will be to demonstrate how a pastor of the Catholic Church is supposed to act. As my friend said, maybe “it’s going to become harder and harder for men of conscience and position to sit on the fence,” assuming there are any left. [Not that it will ever knock off Mueller from his chosen vocation of fence-straddling, as damaging as that can be to his b...s.]
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 05/11/2017 03.39]
05/11/2017 14.41
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Utente Gold
November 4, 2012 headlines


This is the article from where the above 'headline' was lifted. Normally, I would not be posting it because I find quite a few sweepingly
rash statements in it that I would fisk, but since I am using it to illustrate the problem about false headlines, let me just point out one:
its original title is "Why Christianity is better than Islam", as if there were any question of it at all!

By its fruits you shall know Islam
By Alan Fimister

Nov. 2, 2017

One of the most important, really the only, consideration in whether a religion is any good or not is whether it’s true. After all, the first requirement of the moral law is to worship God in the manner He has appointed. Worshipping God in a manner unacceptable to Him is a pretty pointless, indeed seriously counter-productive, exercise.

There is, however, plenty of material out there on whether or not Islam is true. I recommend Book 1, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4 of St Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles. Nevertheless, Jesus advises us, vis-à-vis putative prophets that “by their fruits you shall know them”, so I reckon it’s a legitimate exercise to flick through the pages of history to see how Mohammedanism measures up. And, to tell the truth, it’s not a straightforward story.

Islam is the basis of a great world civilization with much to admire. But, just as Cortez and his conquistadors stared in wonder at Mexico City for the first time, admiration does not necessarily imply approval.

The followers of Mohammed had an advantage over Medieval Christendom when they descended upon the Roman Empire and swept half of it away in the space of a few decades. The Romans were utterly exhausted from almost thirty years of life-or-death struggle with the Persians. They collapsed so fast in the face of this unexpected eruption from Arabia that the damage the Muslims needed to inflict on southern and eastern Mediterranean culture to conquer it was not so extensive. They took over the ancient Near East with little trouble. The Germanic barbarians who conquered the West got the poorer bit of the Empire and then spent centuries fighting the Romans and each other to keep it. By the time the monks began to put the pieces back together there wasn’t much to work with.

But then that is what makes the achievement of medieval civilization so remarkable. When you show people a picture of some great Byzantine Church they often say “it looks like a mosque” but it’s really the other way around. The mosques are copied off the Byzantine churches and they are a metaphor for much of the rest of Islamic civilisation. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Muslims had spent their inherited cultural capital and were living on borrowed time. Show someone a Gothic Cathedral, on the other hand, and it looks like nothing else on earth.

The monks patiently put back together the inheritance of the ancient world and then went a lot further. The self-confidence and brilliance of the century that produced Notre Dame de Paris, the Summa Theologiae, the English Parliament and the Divine Comedy is breathtaking.

What was Christendom’s secret? It understood God, so far as this is given to human reason and faith. God is one, God is reasonable and God is free. God consequently doesn’t like people being forced to worship Him, He can’t and won’t make 2+2=5, He has bestowed a single set of laws upon nature, He doesn’t like tyranny and if you want to find out what those laws are you will just have to do some experiments.

God is also Three so plurality is not an unfortunate side-effect of being a creature that can be stamped out if we just have a big enough government. All the genius of Western philosophy, politics, science and art flows from the Trinity. The ancient world provided the elements but the synthesis is all the work of the Middle Ages. If you want to look at what the elements without the Triune God produce just look at Islam.

But again, one must be fair: the capricious monotheism of Mohammed may provide the religious basis for forced conversion, brutality, anti-intellectualism, dictatorship and technological stagnation. But it does represent a sustainable civilizational model compared to the cultural cringe of the ‘Renaissance’ and the cultural suicide of the ‘Enlightenment’ and its fascist, communist and liberal successors.

This is the West’s problem: in itself Christendom, armed with truth and right and freedom, has more than enough resources to resist and overcome any rival civilization. But the ‘Renaissance’ injected into western man an absurd inferiority complex in regard to pagan antiquity and then the ‘Enlightenment’ insisted on eliminating from public policy and public law the very Christian revelation which defined and ennobled western man.

The ‘Enlightenment’ is a parasite, it will not survive the death of its host [i.e., the West?]. But it is strong enough to weaken the West to the point where its traditional external enemy, the Islamic Ummah, can strike the killer blow. Deep down the liberals know this is the case, as they contracept and abort and legislate our civilisation into extinction, but in the end they don’t care. Their ultimate motive was always less the love of ‘liberty’ and more the hatred of Christ.

Dr. Alan Fimister is assistant professor at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary.
06/11/2017 01.42
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Utente Gold

Of course, James Martin, S.J., is playing to ‘his’ orthodox Catholic crowd as fast and furiously as he can – on any topic, he knows
he can bait the orthodox Catholics to react to his statements immediately, thereby helping to disseminate them.
I am thankful
I was on my forced respite from the Forum during most of the hullaballoo that followed the publication of his book, a virtual manifesto
for sexual deviants to just be allowed to do their thing while the rest of the world should not only tolerate them (which the rest of the world
really does, for the most part) but also welcome them and accompany them, etc - you know, the full Bergoglian mercy shtick. Martin got
the ‘full treatment’ – and scads of it – from every orthodox Catholic able to express his opinions online or in the media. He probably
got more comment in the ‘conservative’ blogosphere’ than did the Correctio Filialis. And he’s not about to let his 15 minutes of worldwide
‘celebrity-hood’ as the world’s second most talked-about Jesuit stay at 15 minutes, so now we hear from him about Fr. Weinandy… And Carl
Olson,for one, immediately comes to the charge – most soldierly and most conscientiously. Except that one wonders how does one strike
a sensible balance between replying to the narcissistic sanctimony of an anti-Catholic like Martin, but at the same time, avoid giving him
a ‘forum’, as it were, on your own platform (in Olson’s case, the Catholic World Report)? Anyway, Mr. Olson does Martin – and probably most
of his readers – a favor by clarifying what ‘dissent’ really is… Oh, to answer Olson's question in the title: Probably because Martin thinks
as the pope does - that he really knows better than anyone, and so is unaware of his own ignorance where he is really ignorant.

Why does Fr. Martin persist in embarrassing, sleight-of-substance tactics?
The well-known Jesuit priest and author insists that Fr. Weinandy is a ‘dissenter’-
That would be funny if it weren’t so stupid.

By Carl E. Olson

November 3, 2017

When I posted my first article on Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis, along with the story behind the letter, I expected it would get attention. I didn’t expect, however, that it would go viral, with a constant stream of comments, tweets, and Facebook posts, many of them from sites and sources not usually associated with Catholic World Report. As Fr. Weinandy told me earlier today, he has received hundreds of positive e-mails, from many different countries and many of them from laity who welcomed his letter as giving voice to their own concerns.

But, of course, the response has not been positive in all corners. Fr. James Martin, S.J., who has openly admitted that he is not a theologian and has blithely argued that the Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality should be changed, decided to trot out the “d” word:
“Dissent, Now & Then: Thomas Weinandy and the meaning of Jesuit discernment”
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) November 3, 2017

Fr. Martin has obvious skills in promotion and marketing (and I speak as someone who spent several years in marketing). In reading his America article on the matter, I wondered if he was also considering a career as a comedian. For instance, he writes: “Father Weinandy made public a stinging letter to the Holy Father in which he dissented from Pope Francis’s teachings.” Oh? And what teachings, exactly, would those be? As Fr. Weinandy wrote in his letter to His Holiness:

First there is the disputed Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia.” I need not share my own concerns about its content. Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that. The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching. In “Amoris Laetitia,” your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.

Now, in order to dissent — using that word in a general and non-technical, non-canonical way — one needs to know what he is dissenting from. Fr. Weinandy rightly notes that the ambiguity which has plagued this pontificate from the start, is notable in parts of Amoris Laetitia but hardly confined to it; such ambiguity makes actual dissent impossible.

After all, if Fr. Weinandy were to say that AL teaches that the divorced-and-civilly-remarried can now receive Holy Communion under certain situations, he would be agreeing with the bishops of Malta, Germany, and a few other countries; if he held that AL teaches that Holy Communion cannot, in fact, be received by the same except under guidelines already given by Pope John Paul II, he would be agreeing with any number of other bishops (Archbishops Chaput and Sample, among many others) as well as with perennial Church teaching.

Put another way, in the matter of AL, it’s impossible to dissent because it’s not clear what is being taught or not taught! Which, of course, is why Fr. Weinandy remarks on “the manner” of Pope Francis’s teaching. Now, can one dissent from the pope’s manner of teaching? I think even the most theologically naive among us might be able to figure that one out.

But Fr. Martin, with his loose and slippery style, isn’t altogether interested in clarity or details. Another example demonstrates this fact: It has to do with Fr. Weinandy’s criticism — when working for the USCCB as head of the Committee on Doctrine — of the theological method of Terrence Tilley as it applies to Christology. Fr. Martin states: “About Professor Tilley, he [Weinandy] had written, ‘Those who argue in a manner similar to Tilley with regard to what is to be the content of faith also often espouse contraception, abortion, fornication.” In other words, because Professor Tilley happens to argue in a particular way, he also supports abortion — a breathtaking leap of logic. .”

But here is what Fr. Weinandy actually wrote:

However, his [Tilley’s] own criteria [which involves assessing doctrinal models and formulations on the basis of what is taken to be their “fruits”] undercut his whole theological proposal. Those who argue in a manner similar to Tilley with regard to what is to be the content of faith also often espouse contraception, abortion, fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage, masturbation, homosexual activity, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, etc.

Tilley himself states in a footnote: “Laity seem to have been disaffected by the bishops’ preaching about sexual morality that is increasingly incredible.” While Tilley is not specific, one can presume that he would include at least some of the above list. However, the above enumeration is hardly the fruits of a holy life founded upon the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Note, contrary to what Fr. Martin asserts — that Fr. Weinandy claims Tilley actually supports abortion — Fr. Weinandy makes no such claim. He challenges the legitimacy of Tilley’s method by noting how others who argue in a similar way — that is, who employ a similar theological method to ascertain sound theological models — also espouse such things as contraception, abortion, and so forth. The closest Fr. Weinandy comes to doing what Fr. Martin claims is Fr. Weinandy’s quote from Tilley in which he refers to what he regards as the laity’s seeming disaffection from the bishops’ teaching about sexual morality, which Tilley characterizes as “increasingly incredible” and Weinandy says that “one can presume that he would include at least some of the above list.”

Thus, again, Fr. Martin concludes from this statement that “because Professor Tilley happens to argue in a particular way, he also supports abortion—a breathtaking leap of logic.” There is indeed a breathtaking leap of logic here — but it is on Fr. Martin’s part. But perhaps I am being unkind to logic, which probably has no interest in being associated with such obvious feats of mediocre, clumsy sophistry.

One more from Fr. Martin: “Father Weinandy’s letter reveals once again the double standard often employed by many of Pope Francis’s critics. Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, no dissent was tolerated. Now some of the same people who were charged with enforcing rules against dissent are themselves dissenting.”

If by “dissent” Fr. Martin means openly contesting, questioning, or denying Church teaching about, say, the ordination of women, sexual morality, contraception, the nature of the Eucharist, and so forth, then let’s queue the laugh track. In fact, the pontificate of John Paul II [and of Benedict XVI] witnessed countless theologians and professors dissenting — and rarely if ever getting called on the carpet. [The CDF disciplined a handful of theologians for writing stuff that was contrary to Catholic doctrine, but the worst punishment inflicted was to prohibit them from teaching Catholic theology in Catholic schools. But dissent, no matter how virulent, that did not get to the level of being published or taught as Catholic theology, however vicious and however widely disseminated, always had free rein.] Fr. Martin’s remark is not funny, but it is very misleading, even deceptive. Could it be that magic, not comedy, is Fr. Martin’s focus?

But, again, the big question here is: what is “dissent”? One can rightly question and criticize the way or timing of Fr. Weinandy — and I say that as someone who thinks his letter is entirely accurate and on point on every point. [And what exactly was wrong with his timing? I think he waited a full 3 months after he sent his letter to the pope before going public with it, as did the DUBIA cardinals with their letter back in September 2016.] But one cannot, with any sort of intellectual integrity, make the case that Fr. Weinandy has dissented from Church doctrine or dogma. (Those interested in a brief if rather technical piece on dissent should read “Authority and Dissent in the Catholic Church” by the late Dr. William E. May.)

On the contrary, as so many have already noted, Fr. Weinandy’s concern is that the authentic, clear, and consistent teaching of the Church is being obscured, undermined, or dismissed by the current pontiff, who certainly does have a low and even antagonistic view of theology and doctrine.

As I remarked in an editorial back in May, pondering some comments by Pope Francis:

… how does doctrine become an ideology? The problem, in part, is that Francis’s use of the term ideology is something like a shotgun blast: it sounds powerful and gets attention, but the exact target can be hard to locate. But it is clear, in keeping with the first point, that Francis sees ideology as being closed to the Holy Spirit. However, can true doctrine be ideological? It’s an interesting question.

On one hand, it’s true that claiming a doctrinal statement captures the entirety of the mystery of Faith is incorrect, even dangerous; it is true that saying a particular school of theology perfectly and completely expresses the Faith has an ideological character; it is unsound and unwise. But adherence to true doctrine, it seems to me, cannot be ideological simply by holding fast to true doctrine. (There is, after all, a reason the Creed is recited every Sunday, to give just one example.) On the contrary, to defend and hold to doctrine is not only not ideological, it is part and parcel of being a Christian. So, for instance, if someone claimed that holding to the Church’s teaching that God is One (in nature) and Triune (in Persons) needs to be open to other views, would it be ideological to hold fast to the Church’s basic doctrine? Of course not.

A dissenter does not seek to uphold Church teaching, does not protect doctrine from misrepresentation, does not stand up for the perennial teachings of the Church, does not suggest the Church hold fast in the face of fanciful fads and popular passions. No, a dissenter likely tends to talk constantly of “dialogue” without any clear or firm purpose for such dialogue, probably hurries to assure his disciples that the Church will soon “update” and “change”, possibly argues that the Catechism needs to be rewritten to mean something opposite of what it once said, and perhaps even encourages actions that are directly contrary to the Church’s teachings and practices.

Fr. Weinandy protests on behalf of Church teaching. Fr. Martin apparently protests out of frustration with Church teaching; he would do well to discern the log in his own eye before blindly seeking the non-existent splinter in someone else’s eye.
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Two items related to the emerging liturgy of the church of Bergoglio appear positive. I must say the statements by Cardinal Woelki surprised me because 1) I cannot recall a single orthodox statement he has made during this pontificate, and b) he is thereby opposing the majority of his colleagues in the German episcopacy who cannot wait to protestantize Catholicism as thoroughly and as soon as they can..

An ‘ecumenical Mass’ is impossible,
says the cardinal-archbishop of Cologne

‘Catholics and Protestants do not agree on the central issues around the Eucharist”

by Nick Hallett

November 3, 2017

Catholics and Protestants do not have enough in common to celebrate a so-called ‘ecumenical Mass’, a German cardinal has said.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said there is “no basis” for such a service because the denominations “do not agree on the central issues” around the Eucharist.

The cardinal explained in the Kölner Express that for Catholics, the Eucharist is not just a common meal; it is the true Body and Blood of Christ in the transubstantiated gifts of bread and wine. Protestants do not have this understanding.

The Real Presence is an “incontrovertible certainty” for Catholics, he said. As long as these differences exist, there can be no “common supper”.

[Not that this very fundamental difference seems to bother Jorge Bergoglio at all, who has spoken out in favor of interfaith communion, at least with Lutherans, and is thought to have commissioned an ecumenical mass (the way Paul VI commissioned the Novus Ordo) – though why anyone, let alone the pope himself, should push for an ‘ecumenical mass’ flies in the face of common sense.

Catholics have enough problems as it is keeping their Sunday Mass obligation, and if they do, are they going to Mass merely out of a sense of duty and to keep up appearances, or do they feel, like the 4th century Christian martyrs of Abitene (Tunisia) Christians did, that ‘sine domenico, non possumus’? i.e., “we cannot live without joining together in Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist, for we would lack the strength to face our daily problems”, as Benedict XVI explained in his first pastoral visit as pope in May 2005 to the Eucharistic Congress in Bari, where the theme was that phrase “Without Sunday, we cannot live”. Sunday, he said then, is “the weekly Easter, an expression of the identity of the Christian community and the centre of its life and mission”.]

Cardinal Woelki’s comments come as rumours circulate in the media that Vatican officials are secretly preparing an ‘ecumenical Mass’ that Catholics and Protestants can jointly celebrate.

The Australian notes that the Vatican has failed to deny the story, although one unnamed source said they did not believe the rumours, and added that it would be impossible for Catholics to receive Communion at such a service.

The Mass would supposedly include prayers, readings from scripture and a common Communion, but the Catholic and Protestant clergy would pray the words of consecration silently, the paper said.

In an article for First Things, Marco Tosatti raised the prospect of such a Mass. “Though never officially announced, a committee reporting directly to Pope Francis has been working on this liturgy for some time,” he claimed.

“Certainly this topic is within the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Divine Worship, but Cardinal Sarah (the head of the Congregation) has not officially been informed of the committee’s existence.

“According to good sources, Sarah’s secretary, Arthur Roche — who holds positions opposite to those of Benedict XVI and Sarah — is involved, as is Piero Marini.”

The second story concerns Pope Francis himself, and initially, I thought it might be a rash misreading by the reporter of some words he said at a recent Mass for deceased cardinals. It isn’t until the last sentence of the story that the reporter tells us that back in 2007, Bergoglio did approve the ‘for many’ translation of the ‘pro multis’ in the words of the Consecration, in the Argentine version of the Missal. (Gosh, what a pleasant surprise!)

Pope Francis sides with Benedict
by saying Christ shed his blood ‘for many’

4 Nov 2017

Pope Francis has appeared to wade into one of the most contentious rows over liturgical translations, and agreed with Benedict XVI that Christ shed His blood “for many” rather than “for all”.

During a Mass for cardinals who have died in the past year, the Pope said: “The ‘many’ who will rise for eternal life are to be understood as the ‘many’ for whom the blood of Christ was shed.” Crux says that the Vatican used the quotation around “many” when distributing the text. [Why they used quote marks on ‘many’ instead of underscoring it is a stylistic ambiguity. Generally, quote marks, when not used for a direct quotation, indicate some doubt or skepticism about the word they enclose.]

Francis added that “for many” better expresses the idea that people have a choice to make in this life – whether to be for God or against Him.

“Awakening from death isn’t, in itself, a return to life,” Pope Francis added. “Some in fact will awake to eternal life, others to eternal shame.”

[Which confuses me all the more now about Bergoglio’s idea of the Four Last Things. Judging from what he has supposedly been telling Eugenio Scalfari, as reported by Scalfari and never denied by the Vatican, he does not believe there is a hell, and he thinks that the souls of those who die unrepentant in a state of mortal sin will simply be annihilated, i.e., not all souls are immortal. If unrepentant souls are not immortal, then what 'eternal shame' do they face?]

Since the Mass was translated into the vernacular, liturgists have debated how best to translate the words “pro multis” in the prayer of Consecration. The words literally translate as “for many”, but many liturgists translated it into their own languages as “for all”.

In 2006, the Holy See gave an instruction that all new vernacular editions of the Roman Missal from that point on should translate the words as “for many”, pointing out that it is also the most literal translation of the original Greek “περὶ πολλῶν” in Matthew 26:28.

The change met with opposition from some countries, most notably in Germany, prompting Pope Benedict XVI to write a personal letter in 2012 explaining why the bishops should adopt the new translation.

A new German version of the Mass [with the right translation] was published but never officially adopted.
When Pope Francis published Magnum Principium earlier this year, devolving greater powers over translations to local bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Reinhard Marx indicated the German bishops would abandon the newer version.

This may put him at odds with the Pope. In 2007, the Argentinian bishops’ conference approved a new translation while the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was its president. That translation had “for many” rather than “for all”. [Well, great, and Deo gratias! Let us hope he stands by it. Question: When he says his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta, one assumes he uses the Italian translation of the Mass. I wonder if the current translation reads ‘per molti’ and not ‘per tutti’.]
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Marco Tosatti uses the word bestiary here not in its literal sense as a compendium on beasts or animals, but in its literary sense as a collection
of moralizing tales…

New tales in the Clerical Bestiary
Translated from

November 5, 2017

Here is another installment of my Clerical Bestiary. So many things have happened in recent days, so here is a bouquet of news and opinions.

I cannot begin this Bestiary without first mentioning the group of courageous young people who went to pray the rosary in the cathedral of Brussels, while Cardinal De Kesel, the pupil of that 'image of the Church' which is Cardinal Danneels, friend, adviser and Grand Elector of Pope Francis, celebrated the 500th anniversary of Luther’s schism with the Protestants. Never mind that this event was one of the gravest and bloodiest of wounds ever inflicted on the Church.

As we know, the Rosary ‘annoys’ [as it did even the pope, it seems, who said not a word about the great ‘Rosary at the borders’ initiative carried out by hundreds of thousands of Poles to mark the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, commemorating the great Christian victory of Lepanto against the Turkish Muslims, resumably because one of the reasons was to pray against the Islamization of Europe. And you still think this pope is not anti-
… and in Brussels, they called in the police to take away the Rosary-praying group from the church.
If you have not yet seen it, here is the video:

A tale of two Jesuits. The first is probably one of the greatest Christian experts on Islam, the other is pope. When the latter said that the Koran and the Gospel both inherently contain the idea of conquest [in order to spread their respective faiths], the first one corrected him and said: “No. That is an inexact interpretation. The difference is this, in short: the Gospel proposes, Islam imposes with force – and that is not a small difference”.

He added: “To give false information is not Christian. Some statements are made by those who obviously have not understood the Gospel or do not know the Koran well, or do not have good advisers. To speak about Islam, one must be serious and have special competence. And an interview is not the place to speak about it”.

Well, now, the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome has told Fr. Samir that his services are no longer needed. He has returned to his native Cairo. In a few months, he will turn 80. His CV is impressive:
- In Beirut, he gave life to the research institute known as CEDRAC (Centre de Documentation et de Recherches Arabes Chrétiennes) (Center for Arab-Christian Documentation and Research) to assemble the Arab-Christian literary heritage of the Near East.
- He has taught at the Centre Sevres, a Jesuit faculty of theology and philosophy in Paris, and at the Maqasid Institute of Beirut.
- He taught for 12 years at the PISAI (Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies) in Rome, for 5 years at the Istituto Ecumenico of Bari, for 3 years at the Universita Cattolica of Milan, as well as the University of Turin,, and in various other Italian universities as visiting professor.

But when he proposed the course program for the coming academic year at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, he was told someone had already done it, making it clear that, for whatever reason, they no longer had any use for him. So he has decided to dedicate himself to projects he has been planning for some time but which he always had to postpone because of more urgent matters.

Perhaps his clarity and realism about Islam ‘annoyed’ some in the Church? Perhaps. Let us not forget that the Pontifical Oriental Institute is run by Jesuits, and that the new dispensation – among the Jesuits and in the Church – does not tolerate positions other than the official dominant one.

Fr Samir’s first great commitment, in his ‘retirement’, is to assemble the results of his decades of specialist work – 64 books and more than 2000 articles, written in various languages. [His primary languages are French, Arabic, Italian and English.] He wishes to put together and classify all this mass of material on Christianity in the Near East and on Islam in a series of volumes, as well as to translate them into what will be the common language of their publication.

Originally, Fr. Samir thought he would go back to Beirut, where CEDRAC has its seat in the University of St. Joseph. [The Center now possesses 35,000 volumes regarding its fields of interest.] But there have been problems in Beirut, and so, Fr. Samir, with the agreement of the Egyptian Jesuits, has chosen to make Cairo the center of his activity at this time as a scholar and a protagonist in the life of the Church.

The other area to which Fr. Samir wishes to dedicate his energies in his new life is ecumenism. Egypt has nine million Coptic Christians who have always borne witness with blood, if necessary, to their faith in Christ. Fr. Samir wishes to create a Center for Ecumenical Research, involving not just the Coptic Orthodox Church, but also the Evangelical Faculty in Cairo, and other Christian and Catholic presences in Egypt. A project which could certainly prove valuable in a new and difficult stage of inter-religious relations with an Islam that is often aggressive and intolerant.

On a lighter note, here is a reflection on love by Enzo Bianchi, the lay Prior of the Bose Community: “When you experience love, do not make mephitic distinctions between philia (affection), eros (love), and agape (preference, or dilection. True love is always a raging fire”. But why mephitic? Which means foul-smelling or poisonous???

In so many years of following Church affairs and that of other religions, this came as a surprise to me. The Bishop of Modena, Erio Castelluci, has published an invitation – in black and white - to his parishes, that sounds like a pre-emptive censure of ideas that do not conform to what is now politically correct in the Church. Truth will set you free, but perhaps not in Modena. In his weekly diocesan newspaper, he wrote an editorial calling on his priests not to invite to their parishes certain categories of persons: “Visionaries, charismatics, journalists and intellectuals who manifest dissent, subtle or open, to the official Church and above all, to Pope Francis”.

Now I understand that visionaries, because of their claims to supernatural contacts, could fall under a bishop’s oversight responsibility; and for the same reason, but stretching it, he could include charismatics in his ban.

But to ban journalists and intellectuals ‘dissenting’ from the Bergoglian line seems to me quite a fine advertisement for that much-touted dialog within the Church! If you wish to read more, here is a link to his editorial:

Many readers and friends have been asking me exactly what Cardinal Mueller thought he was doing by writing the Foreword to a book-length collection of articles by Rocco Buttiglione seeking to justify Amoris Laetitia on the points most protested by its critics. Obviously, I do not know for sure, but I can make some hypotheses and imagine some scenarios.

First, let us try to understand what kind of person the cardnal is. He is a scholar, and I think that he is very mild and accommodating in character. He tolerated repeated humiliations without protest, or without making decisive moves that others would have done - being interrupted at Mass by a peremptory telephone call from Pope Francis; that his role, and that of his congregation, was simply ignored or dissed in this pontificate; that his loyal and competent assistants would be fired by the pope without cause, and nonetheless, he himself did not feel called upon, as others might have, to protest such injustice by submitting his resignation. So finally, he endured the final affront of being dismissed by the pope, giving contradictory explanations for his dismissal (‘no cause’, and again, ‘because the pope wants to stick to the five-year tenure for Curial officials’) [that was the most stupid reason Mueller could have thought of since other Curial officials are on their second and even third 5-year terms even without benefit of formal reappointment – a reason so patently untrue that saves neither his face nor the pope’s.] In short, he’s no lion. Though he certainly has a very strong sense of hierarchical loyalty.

The hypotheses: It is quite evident that his Foreword for Buttiglione is contrary to the statements that Mueller had made before this on the specific issue of Communion for unqualified remarried divorcees. I was told by an authoritative source, long before the DUBIA were made public, that Mueller had been informed of the initiative, and that he was in favor of it, maybe more than that. But shortly after he was dismissed, he then proposed himself as a mediator between those who agree with the DUBIA cardinals and the defenders of AL. Nobody took him up on that. They say he may still be working at it, and that therefore, his foreword to Buttiglione is in the nature of a sop in the direction of the parties involved.

But there are those who say that he is not resigned to no longer having any role nor that he will gradually be completely shelved. And those who look a bit farther see his current stance as a move towards the center [you can’t be more central than straddling the fence as he has been doing – in his way, being as equivocal and ambiguous as Bergoglio habitually is] that some like Secretary of State Parolin, for example, have been doing to position themselves for the next Conclave.

On October 24, IL SISMOGRAFO, a para-Vatican site directed by Luis Badilla, who is ailing and whom he wish a fast recovery, (his site is currently ‘in suspension’) [What, it’s a one-man effort???] published an item entitled:
“Papa Francesco ‘superman’ in vendita (per opera di carità). Qualcosa di molto importante non quadra in quest’operazione” [Pope Francis ‘superman’ on sale (for charitable works). Something important does not fit in this operation]. The operation being the sale of T-shirts illustrated with the ‘SuperPope’ image created by a street artist who specializes in ‘murals’.

The item begins:

In practice, there is not a day when Pope Francis does not remind Christians, the people of God, of the pitfalls from ‘the god, money’, his snares and their consequences. More than once, he has referred to the hypocrisy of wishing to accumulate money using the pretext that it is for ’good works’.
But these days, authoritative sources have reported that a T-shirt illustrating Francis as ‘Pope Superman’ will be sold (or is already being sold) in order to generate funds for charitable works. We have been waiting some time for the report to be denied but in vain. Instead, more people are not just confirming but also supporting and justifying the operation, even if the pope himself, some time ago, had harshly criticized the ‘mythology’ of a superman. It must be recalled that besides the T-shirt sale, there has been news in the past few weeks, also corroborated by inside sources, that other artistic-cutural operations are in the works with the same questionable purpose.

Now, since it is almost for certain that the new Secretariat for Communications, with its Prefect, Mons. Dario Vigano, would be involved in this (these) operati0n(s), one must ask whether the Sismografo item was a form of protest against the new communications management in the Holy See. [I think we shall be seeing more rentals of the Sistine Chapel to rich multinationals (and even individuals) for vanity events, and has the Vatican now widened the jurisdiction of ‘Communications’ to include ‘Marketing’ as well? How secular, truly, has the Bergoglio Vatican become! But, of course, it only reflects the primarily and mainly secular focus of this pope and the faith (Bergoglianism) he is busy building and promoting on the back of Catholicism.]

“In the face of the great challenges of climate change, of the problems of eomployment and the migratory influxes, the perspective of the Church is not that of ‘populist currents turning backwards”, Cardinal Reinhard Marx said, in presenting to the Vatican ‘foreign minister’ Paul Richard Gallagher the program for “(Re)Thinking Europe”, a two-day meeting at the Vatican between politicians and bishops from all over the European Union to ‘re-think’ Europe at a time of crisis. So: climate change, unemployment problems, migratory influxes? An absolutely spiritual agenda for the succesors of the Apostles today!

There are those who could say, and who do say, that perhaps the problem of Europe is that it is merrily reverting to paganism, or becoming other things [becoming Muslim, surely!] – but are the bishops worried about this at all? We have seen that the secretary for Religious Affairs of Italy’s Partita Democrata (read CEI), Mons. Nunzio Galantino (a Bergoglio surrogate), launched another endorsement for ‘ius soli’ [Italians are considering to change their citizenship law from ius sanguinis (based on blood) to ius soli (based on where you are born) such that children born to foreign parents in Italy would automatically be Italian citizens, and extending the concept farther to ius culturae, in which foreign children can become citiens after five years of schooling in Italy. This is all, of course, for the benefit of the migrants who have been flooding Italy in recent years, and if this becomes law, native Italian citizens may soon find themselves outnumbered in their own land], and that the pontiff [who is in favor of ius soli] has returned to speaking about migrants. [Has he ever stopped? He mentions them far more than he ever mentions persecuted Christians!] But are any of them really thinking about Europe itself, Italy, and the faithful therein (though increasingly less)?

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (London), said to the BBC: “There is no doubt there are tensions in the Catholic Church, but one of her great strengths is that we have a pope who can say Yes or No, and then, give you a hug”. Hug? Maybe he meant a bear’s hug!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 14/11/2017 20.35]
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November 5, 2017 headlines

New book says the 'mystery' has been solved
over Papa Luciani's death after only 33 days as Pope

On the night he died, he suffered a strong chest pain
but he did not want his doctor to be told

by Andrea Tornielli

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2017 - For the first time, thanks to a documented investigation, as compelling as a police investigation and as accurate as historical research, the circumstances of the death of John Paul I, whose pontificate lasted only 33 days in 1978, have been brought to light: Just before dining the night he died, the Pope had a sudden but fleeting chest pain that was under-estimated by all.

On Tuesday November 7th, a book based on unpublished documents and testimonies, will be out in stores which will hopefully put an end to the "mystery" on the death of the Pontiff from Veneto. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin wrote the preface of "Pope Luciani. Chronicle of a Death" (Piemme, pp. 252,17 euro).

Journalist Stefania Falasca, vice-postulator of Papa Luciani's beatification cause, and author of the booshas questioned witnesses never heard before, and had acces to the secret files of the Holy See as well as Luciani’s medical records.

In her account, Sister Margherita Marin, now 76 years old, but at the time, the youngest of the Venetian religious at the service of the Pope, says she entered the bedroom of John Paul I at dawn on 29 September 1978, immediately after Sister Vincenza Taffarel, the elderly religious who had been assisting Luciani for over twenty years.

But it was Marin who had witnessed what happened in the hours prior to the sudden death of the Pope. She denies that he was fatigued, much less 'crushed', by the burden of his new responsibilities: "I always saw him calm, serene, full of trust, confident".

She attests that he did not follow any particular diets and that he ate what everyone else ate in the papal apartment. She describes how John Paul I spent what would be his last afternoon alive: "I was ironing in the wardrobe with the door open and I saw him walking back and forth. He was walking in the apartment holding some papers he was reading.... I remember him seeing me ironing and saying, "Sister, I make you work a lot... don’t bother ironing the shirt so well because it's hot, I sweat and need to change them often... just iron the collar and wrists, that the rest is not seen, you know…".

From other testimonies, among which is that of papal valet Angelo Gugel, we learn of the on the sudden but apparently fleeting illness that afflicted Luciani that evening, just before dinner, while praying in the chapel with his Irish private secretary, John Magee. It is all described in a secret document drawn up in the days after his death written by Renato Buzzonetti, the first doctor to be called to the bedside of the dead Pope, wrote it.

In the detailed report addressed to the Secretariat of State on 9 October 1978, he described an "episode of pain localized at the third superior of the sternal region [i.e., chest pain] suffered by the Holy Father around 7:30 pm. on the day of death. The episode lasted for more than five minutes, occurred while the Pope was seated and reciting a prayer with Father Magee. But the pain regressed without any treatment."

The testimony is significant because this was learned soon after the death. Other details: Nobody saw the need to call the Vatican Pharmacy; nobody told Sister Vincenza, who was a nurse and spoke on the phone on that same evening to the Pope's doctor, Antonio Da Ros, resident in Vittorio Veneto, and of course, did not mention what she did not then know.

Luciani was not given any medication, nor was a doctor called to check him out make any checks, despite the fact that chest pain was severe and most likely, a symptom of the coronary artery problem that probably stopped his heart later when he was in bed. Father Magee in his testimony recounted that it was the Pope himself who did not want to warn his doctor. Buzzonetti was only told about it the next day, when he came to the dead pope's bedside.

Falasca‘s book brings out some contradictions in the stories of the two special secretaries of the Pontiff. Don Diego Lorenzi, the Orionian priest who had followed Luciani from Venice, was not present when the Pope had the chest pain. That night, Sept. 28, he immediately left the papal apartment after dinner.

On the morning of 29 September, it was not the secretaries who found the body of the Pope, but Sister Vincenza and Sister Margherita. The Pope had not touched the coffee that had been left for him in the sacristy at 5:15 a. m., and so Sister Vincenza after knocking several times, entered the room and said, "Holiness, you shouldn't joke with me!" The older nun, in fact, had a weak heart herself. religious woman in fact wa weak of heart. "Then she called me, coming out shocked," Sist er Margherita recounts, "I immediately went in and saw him too... I touched his hands, they were cold, I saw, and I was struck by my his slightly dark fingernails".

Among the unpublished documents in the appendix to the book are Papa Luciani's medical records which show that, already in 1975, during a hospitalisation, a minor cardiovascular pathology was reported, treated with anticoagulants and considered resolved.

There is also the note that the cardinals, before the conclave to elect Luciani's successor, addressed in complete secrecy to the doctors who had embalmed the body. Through the Secretariat of State, the Cardinals asked if "the examination of the body" allowed to "exclude traumatic lesions of any kind"; if the diagnosis of "sudden death" was ascertained; and if "Sudden death is always natural”. The the cardinals did not exclude a priori the hypothesis that the death could have been 'caused', which the doctors denied.

On Tuesday 7 November, on the same day as the release of Falasca's book, an ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood will be held in the Vatican,during which they will be called to pronounce on Albino Luciani's "heroic virtues". That same day, or the day after, the Vatican will be announcing that the pope has signed the corresponding decree

In the meantime, two hearings are underway on two claimed miracles attributed to the intercession of the Venetian Pontiff. Confirmation of one miracle by panels of doctors and theologians would lead to his beatification.

To me, the real mystery is why the Vatican did not just release all this information as soon as it was seemly to do so. Why did it allow decades of speculation that he could have been murdered? Books were written to advance this hypothesis. I do not see anything in the information as reported by Tornielli from Falasca's book that could not have been officially announced then.

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From left, Fr Stangl, B16, Fr Schweiger, and Manfred Hartl.

Once again, thanks to Beatrice....

A visit to Benedict XVI
As a 90th birthday treat, a Bavarian parish sends
its former pastor to visit his colleague from
the Munich archdioceses’s ‘class of 1951’ ordinands

Translated and adapted from

November 6, 2017

Ruhpolding – As we reported in October on his 90th birthday, the parish’s spiritual adviser, Fr. Bernhard Schweiger, received many good wishes. But as a special gift, his parish came up with something truly memorable: they enabled him to travel to Rome to visit Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

Schweiger was among the 41 men who were ordained priests along with Joseph Ratzinger in 1951. During the almost quarter century that the latter was Prefect of the CDF, his classmates often travelled to Rome to visit him, and Schweiger was among those visited most often. As pope and even after his retirement, Benedict XVI continued to receive his classmates in private. But the circle of survivors from the class of 1951 has steadily declined until only Schweiger came to visit him last year. [The other well-known survivors of that class are, of course, Georg Ratzinger, and the Ratzinger brothers’ good friend, Rupert Berger.] And when he came back to Ruhpolding at the time, he told himself, “This is the last time – it is a very strenuous trip for me now”. [He looks very well and fit in the photo, though.]

But on his 90th birthday, it was thought the parish should make it possible for him to return to Rome. Thus, current parish priest Otto Stangl and the chairman of the parish council Manfred Hartl travelled with Schweiger to Rome, having earlier received an invitation to Mass and breakfast at Mater Ecclesiae.

Fr Stangl said, »It was a beautiful journey, with wonderful autumn weather, pleasant experiences, where we were in a neighborhood very close to St. Peter's Square«.

The day after they arrived was the day for their visit to Mater Ecclesiae. Fathers Schweiger and Stangl were able to concelebrate Mass with Benedict XVI, after which, they had breakfast together.

"It was a special experience for me to see how happy they were together, Fr. Schweiger and Pope Benedict,” Fr.Stangl said. Before they left, the emeritus Pope asked them to extend his greetings and blessing for everyone in Ruhpolding.

Any Bennadict who has tried to collect as many photographs as one could of Joseph Ratzinger especially in his early years would immediately have recognized the place name Ruhpolding, which is a mountainous municipality in the Traunstein district of southeastern Bavaria. Traunstein was, of course, Joseph Ratzinger’s favorite childhood home, because it is also where the Ratzinger lived the longest, from when Joseph was just a schoolboy to when he was ordained a priest.

A few photos from 1952 show the fairly new priest Ratzinger visiting Ruhpolding to say an outdoor Mass on a mountaintop with the village folk.

Today, Ruhpolding remains a tiny town of 6,400 people, but since 1948, it has been a famous spa and tourist resort, especially for winter sports.

I thought I would put in this other 'early Ratzinger' photos I came across while rummaging online for the Ruhpolding photos:

It's the 20-year-old still seminarian Joseph Ratzinger who was invited by his friend and former seminary mentor Alfred Laepple (center in right photo) to be his master of ceremonies at the latter's first Mass in his hometown of Partenkirchen, an even more famous winter resort than Ruhpolding, as it was once the site of a pre-war Winter Olympics. (It boggles the mind that at that time, he had already translated Thomas Aquinas's treatise on love from Latin to German, as one of the assignments Laepple had given him in the seminary. It was also Laepple who introduced Ratzinger to the work of John Henry Newman.)

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I am very thankful to Fr H who manages somehow, almost every day in every way, to hammer away at what a pope can do and cannot do...
not that it will be read, much less heeded at all, by the man who ought to profit most from such lessons, but still a wider public will
become more aware of the limitations to papal power and not be bamboozled by Bergoglio's artifices..

A Pope and the liturgy:
'Non potest' - You can't!

Nov. 6, 2017

Following on from my post about possible dangers to sound Liturgy arising from PF's own personal liturgical fads and his dirigiste instincts, I want to draw to the attention of readers two loci of Magisterial status.

(I presume that readers are already familiar with what the then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy, when he criticised the hyperpapalism which, after Vatican II, played on an erroneous assumption that the pope can do anything. This, of course, could be argued to be non-Magisterial.)

The two places that I wish, very briefly, to draw to your attention are full exercises of a Papal Magisterium.
(1) In the Letter to the Bishops which accompanied Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI wrote "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Notice the expression 'cannot'. The learned pontiff says, not "should not be"; he says "cannot be".

(2) I suspect Ratzinger of being responsible for drafting paragraph 1125 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although, of course, it was promulgated with the force of an Apostolic Constitution in 1992 by Pope St John Paul II.

The second sentence of this paragraph begins with the phrase "Ipsa auctoritas Ecclesiae suprema [Even the supreme authority of the Church itself]". This is a phrase commonly used, especially at Vatican II, of the Pope himself (although surely it would also apply to an Ecumenical Council). Next comes "non potest [is not able]". I ask you to notice that we do not have "non licet" ["he is not permitted"], nor do we have a jussive subjunctive ["he shouldn't do it"]. What is being excluded is being excluded as an impossibility. Just as S John Paul II excluded the sacerdotal ordination of women as an impossibility (nullam facultatem habere)(never to have that faculty).

The sentence in the Catechism continues: " (non potest) liturgiam ad placitum commutare suum (cannot change the Liturgy in accordance with his own fad) sed solummodo in oboedientia fidei et in religiosa mysterii liturgiae observantia (but only in the obedience of the Faith and in the religious observance of the mystery of the Liturgy)."

In other words, if a pope were to attempt to change the Liturgy in accordance with his personal fads, he would be acting ultra vires. And so his attempt would be null.

I suspect we would have to go back to the principled and glorious teaching of Vatican I (Pastor aeternus) to find as clear and forthright a Magisterial statement of what a pope is not competent to do!

[Unfortunately, all these arguments are moot because, like the Muslim Allah, Bergoglio's will is bound to be arbitrary, i.e., as it pleases him for the moment, but nonetheless he expects it to be binding on everyone and recognized by everyone. And his will, in general, is: "Ignore, discard or destroy anything about the Roman Catholic Church that is not in the spirit of Vatican-II, which I happen to embody and express par excellence!"]

Finally, Vatican issues a denial:
‘Ecumenical Mass’ rumours are ‘utterly false’

Mons Roche of CDW and Vatican spokesman Greg Burke have both denied it

by Nick Hallett

Monday, 6 Nov 2017

The Vatican has denied rumours that a secret commission is creating an ‘ecumenical Mass’ that would allow joint Communion between Catholics and Protestants.

Greg Burke, director of the Holy See press office, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, the second highest-ranking official in the Congregation for Divine Worship, both strongly denied the reports after days of speculation.

Archbishop Roche told journalist Christopher Lamb that the rumours were “utterly false”, while Mr Burke said they were “simply not true”.

The denials came after a report by Marco Tosatti in First Things quoted anonymous sources who said a commission was looking at creating an “ecumenical Mass”. Tosatti added that Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, had not been informed of the plans.

Last week, [ITthe Australian asked the Vatican about the rumours but did not receive a response. The paper added that the Mass would supposedly include prayers, readings from scripture and a common Communion, but the Catholic and Protestant clergy would pray the words of consecration silently.

The rumours also prompted German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to say such a Mass would be theologically impossible. An ecumenical Mass would have “no basis”, he said, because Catholics and Protestants “do not agree on the central issues”.

On Friday, Andrea Grillo, who had been named as one of the people on the commission, denied any involvement. He told the Catholic Herald: “Regarding the ‘rumours’, I wish to insist that I am not part of any Vatican commission. I teach, study and publish: these are my only activities.”

I wish I could sincerely say 'Deo gratias!" for this newsbit, but these days, I do not trust a Vatican denial.

November 6, 2017 headlines

Today, Fr. H starts a new series on the double standards that are among the hallmarks of this ueber-ypocritical pontificate:

Double Standards (1):
Pope Francis answers Dubium!!!

7 November 2017

Pope Francis has replied to a plea for an answer to a question, and did so within SIX WEEKS!!

A well-known theologian has commented with immense joy, pointing out how wonderful it is

"that Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears";
"that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the secretary of state";
"that he clearly read the appeal most attentively";
"that he is highly appreciative".

Who is the theologian? Hans Kueng. What was his appeal? That PF would allow free discussion concerning the doctrine of papal infallibility, which Kueng has spent a lot of his life attacking.

Kueng wrote to PF on March 9 2016; his ecstatic press statement describing PF's reply was released to The Tablet on April 27, 2016.
[Maybe it was reported at the time but I do not recall reading anything about it - or maybe, I just tend to roll my eyes and look elsewhere when Kueng's name is brought up.]

Papal Infallibility is a dogma solemnly defined by an Ecumenical Council, Vatican I, in 1870. Its teaching included anathemas against those who denied the doctrine.

Kueng says that PF "set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom ..." etc. etc..

This gripping news broke some weeks before the recent spate of Internet papers by court theologians arguing that documents like Amoris laetitia require a more obsequious acceptance from the theological community than they have in some quarters received.

So ... assuming that Kueng has not been telling naughty porkies ... on the one hand, obsequious submission is required; on the other, the whole fundamental substructure of the Petrine Ministry is up for grabs!!

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Double standards (2), (3), and (4) are due to follow.
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Respect for the Eucharist begins
with how it is 'handled'

Mishandling the Host appears to be the gravest problem in the New Mass

By New Catholic

November 5, 2017

[Inspired by recent debates on the matter, we repost this item from Sept. 28, 2011.

Translation problems? Mass celebrated towards the people? Altar girls? Postures?

No, the greatest and gravest problem of the liturgy of the Latin Church - that is, of the "Ordinary form", or Mass of Paul VI - is one that transcends all this, even it is related to all of them: it is the way the Body of Christ is treated.

That must be the very first issued tackled by an eventual true "reform of the reform", one that is set not by fleeting example, but by hard law.

(1) Any human being who has ever had any experience with any edible object based on a milled product knows that crumbling is a natural part of the process of consuming it: loaves, wafers, cookies, biscuits, crackers, tortillas, nachos - it does not matter, fragmentation takes place.

(2) Catholics believe that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ are truly present in each of the Consecrated Species, and completely in every single and minute fragment of it.

Because of (1) and (2), the Church was traditionally extremely careful regarding the distribution of Holy Communion. That meant reducing to the minimal imaginable level the possibility that any Fragment of the Body of Christ, even the smallest one, might be profaned or lost - which meant only the celebrant himself touched the Body of Christ, that all Fragments could be held under control on the Altar, and that all gestures in the distribution of Holy Communion by the Priest (or Deacon) to the servers and faithful would mean that no Fragment could ever go unaccounted. (And that same process also took place with the distribution under both Species in the East, in a slightly different evolution, but with the same end result: consecrated hands distributing Holy Communion in such a way to make any loss or spillage unlikely and under strict control.)

What the liturgical innovations following the Council did was to inculcate Catholics with the notion that the Fragments of the Body of Christ do not matter - and it would be absurd to limit that only to the abhorrent practice of Communion in the hand; no, it is not just a matter of respect, but of Belief that God Himself is entirely present in each single Fragment of the Consecrated species; and Communion in the hand is only one aspect of this.

In fact, all that permission for distribution by people other than those with consecrated hands that are not purified before and after the Distribution of Holy Communion, the use of all kinds of "vessels", and all related matters - happening thousands upon thousands of times every single day around the world - also necessarily lead to abuse. Or, rather, they ARE the abuse.

All other problems with the New Mass are intimately related with this gravest of problems. If the Sacred Liturgy is the "summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed" (SC, 10), the handling of the Body of Christ by the non-ordained is the pit from which all and every single liturgical abuse ontologically flow. Because if God present in the Most Holy Sacrament is treated as "crumbs" and "dust", then reality vanishes and all that remains, in appearance, are empty and ridiculous symbolisms - and no wonder people do not respect these, change them at will, and expect them to adapt to one's own preferences.

Serendipitously, on the same day, Aldo Maria Valli chose to write about a little-publicized Eucharistic miracle in our day.S ince I first read about this Eucharistic miracle shortly after Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope, I had always wondered why 1) he appeared never to have publicly spoken about it while he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires but more, 2) why he has never referred to it since he became pope.

The facts seem to me quite convincing enough – and I was impressed that Bergoglio himself had been instrumental in the final efforts to obtain definitive and corroborated scientific confirmation that the piece of ‘living flesh’ into which a discarded host had once again demonstrated the Trans-substantiation we Catholics believe takes place everytime Bread and Wine are consecrated at Mass, in the way other Eucharistic miracles through the centuries. Though spotty in places, Valli's summary presents the known facts about the Eucharistic miracle of Buenos Aires.

That Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires
Translated from

November 5, 2017

While there is increasingly insistent talk about an ‘ecumenical Mass’ said to be under study by a Vatican commission [the Vatican denied this yesterday from two fronts], and while there are Catholics who now maintain that the center of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is not the Consecration of the bread and wine but listening to the Word of God, I wish to call attention to a Eucharistic miracle that Pope Francis knows well because it took place in Buenos Aires just before and during his episcopate in the Argentine capital.

Even if [inexplicably to me!] the Church of Buenos Aires has never seemed to desire publicizing it, the story is rather clear.

In the Santa Maria parish, which is in central Buenos Aires, at #286 Avenida La Plata, in the neighborhood called Almagro, on Friday, May 1, 1992 (in the very month and year when Bergoglio was named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires), two fragments from consecrated hosts were found on the corporal of the tabernacle [The corporal is the white linen cloth on which are placed the vessels containing the bread and wine during Mass]. Following SOP in such cases, the parish priest ordered that the fragments be placed in a vessel with water where they would dissolve, and to put this vessel in the tabernacle.

But one week later, the pieces had not dissolved. Rather they now had a blood-red color. Two days later, during Sunday Mass, the priest noted some drops of blood on the paten [the saucer-like vessel that holds the bread to be consecrated]. [One assumes the vessel containing the host fragments meant to be dissolved continued to be kept within the tabernacle.]

Two years later, on Sunday, July 24, 1994, when the priest celebrating Mass (it was for children that Sunday) took out the ciborium from the tabernacle before giving Communion, he noted a drop of blood on one of the interior walls of the tabernacle.

Fast forward to August 15, 1996, Feast of the Assumption. At 7 pm., after Mass, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was approached by one of his parishioners who brought him a host he had found on the floor in a corner of the Church, obviously profaned.

Again, the priest placed the particle in a vessel filled with water so it could dissolve and kept the vessel in the tabernacle. A few days later, on August 26, he found that the host had transformed itself into a solid piece that resembled a fragment of bloody meat.

The priest informed Archbishop Antonio Quarracino, who passed it on to his auxiliary Bergoglio. A professional photographer was called to photograph everything, and a report was made and sent to Rome.

Already in 1992, some hematologists had established that the blood in the earlier episode was human blood. This time, Bergoglio himself authorized an even more thorough investigation from a laboratory in Buenos Aires whose technicians were not informed about the source of the ‘specimens’ sent to them for analysis. Their conclusion:the tissue, along with the red and white blood corpuscles, was from a human heart and was still alive with the cells active.

In 1999, Bergoglio requested a new analysis and asked a Bolivian hematologist, Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gomez, to take a tiny fragment of what seemed to be human flesh (still kept in the tabernacle) and to send it to a forensic genetics laboratory in San Francisco, which reported in 2000 that the sample did contain human DNA.

A similar sampling was sent to Prof. John Walker of the Unviersity of Sydney in Australia, who said that the sample he analyzed were human muscle cells and blood cells that were all intact. Moreover, as Walker would write Castanon, the tissue was inflamed as from someone who had undergone trauma.

Samples were also sent to a heart disease specialist in New York, Dr. Frederic Zugive of Columbia University, who wrote in his report on March 26, 2005:

“The material analyzed is a fragment of heart muscle from the left ventricular wall near the valves. This muscle is responsible for heart contractions. As you know, the left ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The cardiac muscle examined was inflamed and contained a large number of white blood cells. It means that it came from a living heart, since white blood cells die outside the body. Morever, these white corpuscles had penetrated the tissue which indicates that the heart was under great stress, as if its owner had been struck hard through the chest.”

The origin of the samples was not made known to any of the investigators. Zugibe was stunned when told later that the material had been kept in distilled water for many years. And even more so when Dr. Castanon revealed to him that the ‘heart muscle’ had originated from a consecrated host.

“How and why a consecrated host could become the body and blood of a living person,” said the scientist, who has also done studies on the Holy Shroud of Turin, “is an inexplicable mystery for science, something that is not within its competence”.

The Buenos Aires ‘samples’ were further compared in a blind study with those from the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano [In the 8th century, an Italian monk who had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist found, when he said the words of consecration at Mass, the bread change into living flesh and the wine change into blood which coagulated into five globules. The specimens from the miracle are kept in a silver ostensorium venerated at the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano, northern Italy, where they are treated as relics and visited by pilgrims.vThe Catholic Church officially claims the miracle as authentic.] The analysts, not knowing the origin of the samples being compared, concluded that they all belonged to the same person, with type AB blood, and whose DNA was identical to that found on the Shroud of Turin as well as the Sudarium of Oviedo. [This is a piece of linen cloth, 34 by 21 inches, thought to have been used to cover the head of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion (See John 20:7). It has been kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo, northern Spain, since 1113. Modern overlay techniques show that the Sudarium conforms exactly to the image of the face of Jesus in the Shroud of Turin, and of course, that the blood type in both is AB. A full and fascinating account of theSudarium of Oviedo may be read here:]

It must be noted that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, both as auxiliary bishop and then as archbishop, followed the procedures required by the document “Norms for proceeding to discern presumed apparitions and revelations” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1978. It is also known that he went several times to the church of Santa Maria, including for Eucharistic Adoration. [Did he kneel at Eucharistic Adoration?]

In the church of Santa Maria, the faithful are periodically reminded of the facts we have narrated, and the parishioners say “We pray that in the entire community of the Church, the Eucharistic significance of our faith may grow”.

[I do not get the impression that the miraculous ‘fragment’ has ever been put on public display, and if I were one of the church parishioners, of course, I too would like to see this evidence of Trans-substantiation made concretely real.

But the fact that it even happened at all in our time is miracle enough for me. Something that cannot be equaled by even a thousand Medjugorges sprouting everywhere with the claim that Our Lady appears every day with messages sounding like endlessly recycled bad homilies!

So my big question is why the Church – in Rome as well as in Buenos Aires – has never ‘publicized’ the Eucharistic Miracle of Almagro as I like to think of it. Perhaps because the institutional Church has always preferred to ‘go slow’ about pronouncing herself on apparitions and other private revelations, but if she can rely on expert physicians and expert theologians to decide on a miracle of healing through the intercession of a candidate saint, should not the theologians pronounce on the many independent scientific analyses already made about the Eucharistic miracle in Almagro?

My other question is whether we are to read anything in the coincidence of the first Almagro miracle taking place at around the same time Bergoglio was named a bishop. Was it a sign that he was destined for greater things? (My first thought, of course, is: what was Joseph Ratzinger doing on May 1, 1992, other than celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker?) Why has Bergoglio been subsequently ‘reticent’ – uncharacteristically – about this whole subject? I don’t believe he has mentioned it once as pope.

Could it be he himself does not believe in Trans-substantiation, taking the cue from Luther et al, and does not like the implications of the Almagro miracle at all? That’s, of course, an extreme view from someone who truly believes Bergoglio is really anti-Catholic.

However, I do need a quick google course on the Eucharistic miracles before Almagro to get a better fix on the subject.]

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The message from John Paul II reads:

"We shall rise in protest when the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness and reduced to a temporal and conditional agreement which can be easily rescinded; and we shall proclaim the indissolubility of the marriage bond"

Remembering Cardinal Carlo Caffarra
through the streets of Rome

An advertising van that also features St John Paul II’s words
in defense of the family will be doing a weeklong run

Translated from

November 6, 2017

An advertising van will be going through the streets of Rome for a week till next Saturday to remind onlookers with a three-meter-square poster [on both sides of what is essentially a giant sandwich board mounted astride the van] of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who died three months ago, and of the message on the family from John Paul II who had chosen Caffarra back in 1981 to set up and establish the now-‘replaced’ John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

The initiative is promoted by three non profit pro-life organizations – ‘Vita e’ (It is life), Fede e Cultura, and Pro-Vita Onlus – which issued the ff statement: "Today we wish to remember, two months after his death, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna. Faithful servant of Christ and the Church, he was a close collaborator with John Paul II and Benedict XVI with whom he shared their concern for the family, as the image of the Holy Trinity, which God wishes to endure for the good of men.

May 13, 1981, during the celebration of Our Lady’s first apparition in Fatima in 1917, when John Paul II was almost killed by a gunman, also marked the birth of the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, to which the pope named Caffarra as its first president.

Years later, always courageously committed to the defense of life and the family against abortion, test-tube babies, ‘uterus for rent’ and other similar aberrations, Caffarra would refer to a letter written to him at the time by Sor Lucia of Fatima, who wrote: “The decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be fought over marriage and the family”.

In the last phase of his life, Caffarra fought, with his wisdom, humility and gentle firmness, for that ‘healthy doctrine’ of with the Apostle Paul wrote: a healthy doctrine that, along with genuine charity, could put an end to the profound division towards which the Catholic world is headed today. Because, as the Cardinal said in one of his last interviews, “Only a blind could deny that the Church today is in great confusion”. Thanks, Cardinal!”

And today, we have a not unsurprising sequela to the initiative…

Police interrogate one of the promoters
of the Wojtyla-Caffarra 'publicity run' through Rome

After detaining the 'publicity van yesterday at St. Peter’s Square

Translated from

November 7, 2017

After that extraordinary two-hour block imposed by the Roman police near St. Peter’s Square yesterday, a publicity van carrying ‘subversive’ words attributable to a Polish saint and with the portrait of a cleric – some call him a cardinal – from Italy’s Emilia region, one of the persons responsible for this initiative, apparently considered harmful to public security, was interrogated by the Italian state police.

The ‘interview’ at the Borgo commissariat on Piazza Cavour, was conducted in a civil and cordial manner, and lasted about 45 minutes. Present were the station commander and 4 or 5 of his men. Toni Brandi, the man they roped in, says he was first asked if he had the proper authorization for a publicity van. He immediately called one of the organizers of the initiative, whom the police asked to provide them with a copy of that authorization.

Next, the questions centered on the reasons for the publicity ‘run’: Who organized it? Who is really behind this initiative? Why was it decided to do it? Were the Vatican authorities notified about it?

Brandi responded by providing them information about the organizers, saying there was no one else behind the three associations, and that he did not think the Vatican authorities had been informed nor did he see any reason why they should have been informed.

“They asked me if I have contacts in the Vatican and I said I know Mons. Paglia and Cardinals Antonelli and Ruini. Then I reminded them that John Paul II had founded the Pontifical Aadaemy for Life and the institute in his name whose presidency he entrusted to Cardinal Caffarra – that therefore, those of us who have been fighting in defense of life, marriage and the family wished to bring together these two great personalities in commemorating the anniversary of Cardinal Caffarra’s death”.

So he was asked: Was this a campaign to ‘raise awareness’? To protest, perhaps? Or simply a commemoration? Brandi said it was not a protest at all but simply a commemoration of a great cardinal who died two months ago, and a subject dear to him and to the sainted Polish pope – to remind Romans of these two great Catholics.

“But the cardinal was from Bologna!”, they protested. “Yes, but Rome is the seat of Christianity!’, Brandi answered. The commandant said, “But the Church is not talking very much about life these days”. Brandi: “Maybe not now but the Church has always spoken vigorously in defense of life!”

“Then they asked questions about me, what do I do, how am I employed, and they made copies of all my personal documents, including business cards I use when I visit Prague They wanted the names of all my contacts, etc…. Until finally, the commandant seemed satisfied about our ‘motivations’. Still he warned me that if we were ever to post about this on our site, we should pay very careful attention to the captions and to whatever else we wrote.”

I spoke to Toni Brandi, even if yesterday, he happened to be mourning a great loss in his family, and I had to apologize for calling him. He insisted that the police functionaries were very kind, and that it was his impression (mine too) that they were forced to interrogate him as they did…

In Rome, Italy, in 2017! Who could possibly be bothered about a mobile manifesto on John Paul II and a cardinal? What joke of a country do we live in now? [Are the Italians really to blame for this kerfuffle? Or were the police just trying to do Bergoglio 'a favor'?]
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 08/11/2017 14.13]
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November 7, 2017 headlines
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 08/11/2017 16.02]
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As pre-announced by Andrea Tornielli when he wrote a few days ago about the new book clearing up the 'mystery' of the death of the 263rd
Successor of Peter...

Pope John Paul I closer to sainthood after
unanimous vote to recognise his ‘heroic virtues’

Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has unanimously voted in favour of the 'heroic virtues' of Pope John Paul I, meaning that Pope Francis will now shortly sign a decree declaring him “Venerable”.

Next, the dicastery must to approve a miracle attributed to his intercession before declaring him “Blessed”, and a second miracle before canonising him as a saint.

Born Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I reigned for just 33 days before dying suddenly of a heart attack. Before his election, he served as Patriarch of Venice for nine years, and was created a cardinal in 1973.
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by Maike Hickson

November 7, 2017

I don't think you will find a clearer, more logical and more definitive rebuttal of all the false claims in defense of AL than Prof. Seifert
does here, as he re-affirms the fundamental truths that AL defies and answers specific points in the defense of AL by perhaps its most
intellectually competent defender so far... Many thanks to Maike Hickson for this invaluable interview...

As Professor Claudio Pierantoni recently stated, there is an ongoing debate between himself and Professor Josef Seifert on one side and Professor Rocco Buttiglione on the other over the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Buttiglione, who is known as an early defender of the exhortation, has also publicly criticized the recent Filial Correction of Pope Francis.

All three philosophers — each a man of standing in his own right — have known each other for years. Seifert and Buttiglione worked together for two decades at the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) in Liechtenstein. For his part, Professor Pierantoni was a student at the IAP’s Chile campus (IAP-IFES, 2004-2012) and was a student of Professor Seifert.

The following interview is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the theological and philosophical discourse between these three men. This time, it is Professor Seifert who explains his position.

How would you generally describe the line of disagreement concerning Amoris Laetitia between you and Prof. Pierantoni on the one hand and Prof. Buttiglione on the other?
I do not think there exists any disagreement between Prof. Pierantoni and me. And I believe that, until he should protest, in what I am going to state as my position, I will also speak for him, but I do not dare to attribute my answers explicitly to Pierantoni, since I do not know whether he will agree with all of them.

Instead, I will speak of the disagreement that arose between myself and Prof. Buttiglione, my very close friend. (Buttiglione translated and introduced, most generously, my largest philosophical book, which soon will be published in English and Spanish, Essere e Persona, Being and Person, into Italian, and worked for almost two decades with me as Professor and Prorector of the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein, of which I am the Founding Rector. [You will recall the irony that Seifert was recently dismissed by the Archbishop of Granada from his professorial chair at the Granada affiliate of the Academy for expressing views 'critical' of Pope Francis!]

I have also worked with Buttiglione for years on the defense of Humanae Vitae and the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II on the family and human life, and we have agreed for two and a half decades on almost everything, except on Machiavelli, whom I consider, with Jacques Maritain, the “Doctor of the Damned,” while he defends him in a book we want to publish jointly but of which he has lost the original of his part. But since the publication of AL, a deep rift between our views has risen.

From many writings and a personal letter Buttiglione has recently written me, I conclude that our disagreement on Amoris Laetitia is to a large extent dependent on two contradictory basic assumptions that underlie our disagreement.

(1) Buttiglione holds that as Catholics, we have to believe to be true whatever the Pope says in the exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, while I agree that, yes, we have an obligation to look first for the truth contained in a magisterial document and to try to interpret it in the light of the truth expressed in the tradition, but we do not have any absolute obligation whatsoever to believe that every part of a pronouncement of the ordinary papal magisterium is true or compatible with the perennial teaching of the Church.

Moreover, we have an obligation NOT to believe it to be true if we see that it clearly contradicts a) perennial Church teaching or b) evident moral truth accessible to human reason, or c) both.

(Incidentally, Buttiglione and I also disagree as to whether what the Pope says in Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, which Buttiglione holds to be unquestionable, while I will explain four reasons why I do not believe so). But even if we were to agree that AL is an exercise of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, I think it is clear that statements made in it (let alone only in a footnote) are not infallible, and therefore are not subject to an obligation to consent to them.

Pope Francis himself confirmed this in even allowing the SSPX to dissent from significant documents of the Second Vatican Council, and, unlike the two preceding Popes, not making their consent to them a condition for their reintegration in the Catholic Church.

On this I agree entirely with Pope Francis, who said (very well, I believe) that one cannot oblige any Catholic to consent to non-dogmatic documents of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, even when the magisterium is exercised in Council documents approved by the Pope, which certainly have a much higher magisterial rank and authority than mere footnotes in a post-synodal exhortation.

The mere fact that AL would be founded on a majority consensus of bishops (which is disputed by a Cardinal who was present at the synods and remarked that a consensus with the novelties of AL did not actually exist in the two synods on the family) is not enough to make its acceptance obligatory.

Even if a clear exercise of the Papal Magisterium is present in given documents, their content, as long as it is not pronounced as a dogma, can be false. This was clearly the case with Pope John XXII who himself revoked his own heresy in a bull he wrote on the day before his death (and his teaching was also declared heretical by his successor), and with Pope Honorius I, all of whose works were condemned posthumously by a Council as heretical and have been burnt.

Thus I am certain that on this first “disagreement of principle” I am right, and Buttiglione is wrong: We do NOT have to believe whatever a Pope writes in the exercise of his “ordinary Magisterium.”

(2) The second fundamental disagreement of principle between us concerns the respective role of “unity with the Pope” and of truth, in the hierarchy of values we have to respect. Buttiglione insisted repeatedly that for him the most important goal is “unity with the Pope,” while I think that the question of truth has an absolute priority.

Therefore if, as I propose as a question to the Pope in my latest article on A [1], pure logic shows that from one affirmation of AL, cited below, one can deduce the negation of intrinsically evil acts and this affirmation contradicts natural law and the entire Catholic Moral Teaching, especially Veritatis Splendor, then this affirmation is evidently false and this must be stated clearly and the affirmation ought to be retracted. To agree with the Pope, have unity with the Pope, on an error is of no value whatsoever.

On the contrary: as Saint Thomas and the Acts of the Apostles stated clearly, in such a case the subordinate has an obligation to criticize his superior, even publicly, as St. Paul criticized St. Peter.

Against my insistence on the absolute priority of truth over unity, Buttiglione wrote me that I am wrong in my short second article on AL even if I were right — meaning by this puzzling assertion either that “unity with the Pope” is more important than truth, or that we must not say the truth if truth endangers our unity with the Pope — a position with which I absolutely disagree, or that the statement from which devastating consequences logically follow could be truly false, as I suggest, while the main content of AL would not be touched by this error, because this error would refer only to a reason for the teaching of Al, not to that teaching itself (I will return to this second point).

More specifically, what is the disagreement with Prof. Buttiglione with regard to the question of the magisterial weight of Amoris Laetitia?
Buttiglione and I disagree as to whether what the Pope says in Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, which Buttiglione holds to be unquestionable, while I doubt it seriously for four (in my opinion decisive) reasons:
- Because the decisive new points of AL are chiefly found in mere footnotes that cannot reverse the sacramental discipline of the Church of 2000 years, solemnly reconfirmed by the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio of Saint Pope John Paul II. Such footnotes cannot be considered an Exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium, as also Cardinals Brandmüller and Burke as well as the other dubia Cardinals and many others noted.
- Moreover, the Pope explicitly says in Ch. III of Amoris Laetitia that he does not want to settle the decisive novelty in AL through his magisterium, but leaves it open to decide by the various national and culturally different and decentralized bishops’ conferences.

He confirmed this position by approving both the decision of the Polish Episcopate to follow FC entirely and not to admit any divorced and civilly remarried or active homosexuals who do not want to change their lives, to the sacraments, and by confirming and praising at the same time also the opposite position: the pronouncement of the Argentinian Bishops of the Buenos Aires area, which coincides with that of many other bishops, including the archbishop of Granada. These bishops adopted the exactly opposite interpretation.

The Pope even praised the far more radical pronouncement of the Bishops of Malta on AL, who proposed a completely situation-ethical interpretation of AL. Thus, Pope Francis follows the idea he proposes of a “decentralized magisterium” or different “magisteria” in the Church — all of which he approves — an idea which I heard Karl Rahner express in Munich half a century ago.

Now, pure logic tells us that the position of the Bishops of Buenos Aires or Malta and that of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, which is diametrically and contradictorily opposed to that of the bishops of Buenos Aires (defended by Buttiglione), and both of which are admitted and approved by the Pope in his new “magisterial pluralism”, cannot both correspond to the “ordinary Magisterium of the Pope”. Hence the novel teachings of AL (, i.e., the Buenos Aires reading) cannot be the “Magisterium of the Pope”.

- The novelties of AL are not primarily doctrinal but pastoral and thus more subject to categories of prudence or imprudence than of truth and falsity; for example, if Popes in the past have asked in the Exercise of their ordinary Magisterium in papal bulls or encyclicals that heretics, magicians, and witches should be burnt at the stake, or when they excommunicated in bulls entire cities because their prince led a war against the Vatican, I am certainly not obliged to believe that this was a prudent pastoral decision.

Buttiglione himself, somewhat contradictorily, says that the new teaching of AL is a purely pastoral one and he also stated, at least in letters to me, that we are not bound to agree with the wisdom of a pastoral decision of a Pope that is not per se true or false, but can be prudent or imprudent. But in that case I am not at all obliged to agree with AL (according to logic being applied to Buttiglione’s admission), nor to agree that its new Pastoral guideline is wise.

(I differ regarding this in another respect with Buttiglione: in that I hold that the novel teaching of AL is not only pastoral but also doctrinal.)

Inasmuch as it is pastoral, however (and therefore not true or false, but prudent or imprudent), Buttiglione and I differ, at least so it seems, in that Buttiglione does not criticize the new Pastoral Guideline of AL and tries to explain its compatibility with the opposite Pastoral Guideline of FC, stated to be rooted in the Gospel itself by Pope John Paul II.

I, however, even prescinding from any doctrinal question, find the new pastoral guideline of AL not only imprudent, but entirely inapplicable.

In my first article on AL,[2] I gave, I believe, cogent arguments for the practical impossibility of “discerning” between adulterers who may and others who may not receive the sacraments without changing their lives. My argument coincides wholly with an argument given by the Polish Episcopate for their decision to abide by FC: it is impossible for a priest in 5 minutes’ conversation in the confessional to determine that an unrepentant sinner is invincibly ignorant and in the state of grace, even though he intends to keep committing what are, objectively speaking, grave sins.

From this practical impossibility of applying discernment which can hardly fail to end in a general opening of Confession and the Eucharist to unrepentant adulterous and homosexual couples, the imprudence of the decision of admitting the “irregular couples” to the sacraments immediately follows.

Could you explain to us here the question of the infallible extraordinary magisterium and the infallible universal ordinary magisterium?
I think that the infallible Extraordinary Magisterium only applies to such central matters of doctrine and faith that either the Pope defines “ex cathedra” (which has happened only two or three times in the history of the Church) or which a Council, in union with the Pope, defined as being a dogma and de fide in such a way that anyone who contradicted it was declared “anathema”.

The infallible Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is present only in teachings of the ordinary magisterium that coincide with what the Church has taught always and everywhere, not with entirely novel teachings.

Neither one of these criteria of infallibility applies to the novelties of AL.

Is Amoris Laetitia of such magisterial weight that one may not disagree with its teaching without falling into the category of being disobedient, heretical, or schismatic, at least in spirit?
Absolutely not, for the reasons given. Therefore, to treat Catholics who dissent from AL as heretics, schismatics in fact or in spirit, or disobedient to the Pope, is a grave injustice.

In this context, is it more important that we follow the pope and his new teaching for the sake of obedience (which is in itself a great good) or that we preserve the traditional teaching of the Church?
I think that as soon as we find that a new teaching is false, we are obliged, not to obey it. And as soon as we find a new pastoral decision of the Pope inapplicable in good conscience, such as giving the sacraments to unrepentant sinners on the basis of an (impossible for us) “discernment” of whether their sin is compatible with their being in the state of grace for subjective reasons, we are likewise morally obliged NOT to obey it under the principle St. Peter formulated and Robert Spaemann recently called to mind: that we have to obey God more than men.

This applies even more when we are convinced that giving absolution and the holy Eucharist to public sinners (even if they were in the state of grace) is, notwithstanding their personal innocence, wrong, as is implied in Familiaris Consortio 84.

FC speaks of an objective disharmony of adulterous relations with the law of Christ and with the meaning of matrimony — and of the deep analogous and symbolic signification of marriage in relation to the relationship between Christ and the Church as a reason why a couple who lives in discord with the divine commandments should not receive the sacraments. This objective discrepancy is enough to support the judgment of the Church that they must not be given access to the sacraments. (On this point, I made some incorrect concessions to Buttiglione in letters and my previous writings on AL). FC and Church tradition do not require that sinners who gravely deviate from divine law have to live “subjectively in mortal sin” (which God alone knows) for being denied access to the sacraments. If this were otherwise, we would also have to admit abortionists, first degree murderers, etc. to the sacraments because we can never know with certainty that they have lost sanctifying grace.

You yourself, in your own polite criticism of Amoris Laetitia, pointed especially to Paragraph 303* of this papal document, highlighting the potential danger of making irrelevant any absolute moral norms. How did you and Prof. Buttiglione discuss this aspect of the debate?
*Paragraph 303 of Amoris Laetitia reads, as follows:

“Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”

Prof. Buttiglione said about my second article, "Does Pure Logic Threaten to Destroy the Entire Moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?", that “I am wrong even if I am right” for the reasons that (1) there is an obligation of consenting to anything the Ordinary Papal Magisterium is telling us (to which I have responded), (2) that a reason offered by the Pope for a teaching may be erroneous while the teaching itself is correct.

In other words, Buttiglione believes that the assertion “that we can know in our conscience that God himself wants us to consider continuing to live in adultery the best and most generous response we can give him in our situation” is not a teaching of Pope Francis that we have to believe (according to Buttiglione). [So even Buttiglione cherrypicks what is to be believed about AL! In other words, the document is so flawed that even its most intellectually reputable defender must make exceptions to its statements.] Rather, we would only have to believe the real teaching of AL, namely, that after proper discernment, unrepentant adulterous and homosexual couples may be admitted to the sacraments.

I think, on the contrary, that what No. 303* says (and many other parts of AL imply) is the most significant doctrinal content and the main reason for the pastoral teaching of AL, which (for the reasons explained in my answer No. 1, 2 and 3, to your second Question), cannot be regarded as a “magisterial teaching” at all.

In this context of some sinner who might be pleasing to God even though he still remains in his sin: is it Catholic to maintain a position that God might be pleased with us, perhaps because we mended some sin in our lives, while however still remaining in another grave sin? That is to say, could it be sufficient in God’s eyes to return to the state of Sanctifying Grace by making a sign of good will while yet still maintaining, for example, a sinful relationship?
I think that God could of course be pleased by us, after a divorce from our sacramental wife, for stopping to beat up and to calumniate our civilly married second wife or our children, even if we continue in a sinful relationship. But he cannot ever will or be pleased with the fact that we continue to live in adultery, for example.

It is certainly possible that invincible ignorance or weakness of will does not make a person lose the state of sanctifying grace, even if that person lives objectively in grave sin. But I think that a) this is very rare, especially if the priest in confession discharges himself his obligation to tell the sinner the truth, and 2) that nobody can be sure of that, and 3) that to live in the state of grace is not enough to receive worthily the sacraments while living objectively in grave sin, as I have explained.

Would God ask of any sinner at some point in his life to remain in his sin? How would you comment on this claim in light of the Council of Trent?
I think that this clearly impossible and declared dogmatically as a heresy by the Council of Trent.

Where does Prof. Buttiglione, in your eyes, leave the solid foundation of Catholic moral teaching, perhaps in order to maintain loyalty toward Pope Francis?
(1) With respect to his “two principles” that separate us, they do not correspond to sound Catholic teaching because it is Catholic teaching (and the basis for all condemnation of heresies in the history of the Church) that a) truth has priority over unity and b) that no Catholic has an absolute duty to accept everything a Pope or Council are saying if it is not dogmatic and de fide, and if he has good reason to believe that it is contrary to natural or revealed truth or to both (to claim otherwise would be papolatry). Besides,
(2) I believe that Professor Buttiglione’s concrete and brilliant [??? Can something inherently flawed be brilliant at all?] but unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the novelties of Amoris Laetitia with Familiaris Consortio, Veritatis Splendor, Evangelium Vitae, Humanae Vitae, and the Tradition of the Church all fail and put him at the risk of using overcomplicated and sophistical reasons and of contradicting dogmas of the Church such as
(a) that God never commands things which we cannot obey, with the help of grace (a Lutheran heresy denied this and was condemned in the Council of Trent), or
(b) that extramoral evils (such that the partner of a second “marriage” will leave me) can never be greater evils than a sin and the intention to prevent them can never justify committing a sin (VS and Trent affirmed this and condemned its negation as heretical), or
(c) that weighing good versus bad effects of any action can never justify committing one of the many intrinsically evil acts (Veritatis Splendor made this very solemnly clear).

Could you comment on the following words as expressed by Buttiglione himself? “The Pope does not say that God is happy with the fact that divorced-and-remarried continue to have sexual intercourse with each other. The conscience recognizes that it is not in conformity with the law. However, the conscience also knows that it has begun a journey of conversion. One still sleeps with a woman who is not his wife but has stopped taking drugs and going with prostitutes, has found a job and takes care of his children. He has the right to think that God is happy with him, at least in part.”]
Certainly God can be happy that a man “stopped taking drugs and going with prostitutes, has found a job and takes care of his children,” but He can never be happy with him “still sleeping with a woman who is not his wife” or agree that continuing committing what Christ himself calls adultery is the “most generous response” an adulterer can give to God in his situation.

To claim this this would a) either deny the dogma that God does not command anything impossible to fulfill, or b) deny the dogma that God never wants us to sin, or both.

Did not Martin Luther, too, teach that man sometimes has to sin? Would you discuss this matter in light of Buttiglione’s own words?
Yes, I believe that in Buttiglione’s defense of AL there is a great danger of falling into the Lutheran heresy of the simul iustus et peccator in the sense that grace alone justifies us and that we can remain in sanctifying grace while committing mortal sins.

And the recent celebration of the Luther-fest in the Vatican, the statement of high-ranking prelates that “Luther was right” and was a “gift of the Holy Spirit” to the Catholic Church, the rumor that a Catholic-Lutheran joint “mass” is being discussed, the placing of Luther’s statue in the Vatican, etc. are alarming signs that it is not only Buttiglione who starts flirting with some of Luther’s errors.

This heresy is closely related to Luther’s teaching that grace is not a principle that truly transforms us morally, and allows us to “become perfect like our father in heaven is perfect” which Christ and Holy Scripture tell us is God’s will.

This error is linked also to Luther’s rejection of the veneration, canonization, and invocation of Saints to intercede for us in prayers and in the liturgy, masses in their honor, etc.

I do not claim of course that my friend Rocco holds these errors, but some of his remarks, for example, interpreting the story of Nero’s Christian prostitute as having been in a situation in which she was not free to refuse to have sex with Nero, and that her consent to have sexual relations with Nero allowed her to save many Christians (Buttiglione even called her a Saint for his reason), give at least the impression that Buttiglione flirts with some of Luther’s views on freedom and grace. Or that he even accepts them. The same holds true for his description of situations in which nobody can expect that adulterers can decide either to live together in abstinence, or to separate, and thus “have to sin”.

Could you also present to us that part of the debate with Buttiglione where you deal with the question as to whether divorced and “remarried” couples, in light of the prescribed process of discernment, would still be less culpable because they might have a defectively formed subjective conscience?
A person who suffers from invincible ignorance or an innocently deformed conscience, believing or “feeling” that his adultery is OK, of course may be less guilty than one who acts directly against the voice of his conscience.

But we must never forget that the wrongness of adultery is part of the natural law written into every man`s heart, as the Apostle Paul says, such that it is extremely improbable that somebody has no knowledge whatsoever of the sin of adultery or homosexual activity. The pagan Cicero calls the person who denies that adultery is always and everywhere a grave sin “a madman”.

But above all, we must understand that ethical value blindness is, more often than not, itself sinful or the consequence of sin, because we have become dull to the voice of conscience because of repeated sin, or because we make a foul compromise between our pride and concupiscence, on the one hand, and our limited will to do the good on the other hand, such that we do not see clearly the sinfulness of actions as soon as the moral law does not allow us to live out our passions or inclinations.

Dietrich von Hildebrand has analyzed these and many other forms of “guilty forms of moral value blindness” and deformation of conscience in an admirable book unfortunately not yet published in English but announced for immediate publication by the newly founded Dietrich von Hildebrand Press as Morality and Ethical Value Knowledge.

A general attitude of being prone to give in to the attractions of what satisfies us subjectively, while still not wanting to sin consciously and openly, will easily obscure our moral judgment, either in partial moral value blindness or in blindness of subsumption, i.e., of not subsuming our behavior under the category of “adultery”.

In these and many other cases of moral value blindness we are fully responsible for the deformation of our conscience and thus the absence of consciousness that we commit a mortal sin does not make us innocent because we are guilty for our blindness itself.

How, thus, could there be any “mitigating factors” that would render a relationship of a divorced and “remarried” couple sinless?
Even if there could be mitigating factors that would make a relationship of divorced and remarried couples completely sinless, we must note:

(1) As soon as an adulterous couple speaks with a priest who should “discern”, this priest has a duty of telling them that their relation is objectively sinful; in that moment, however, they cease to commit adultery “completely innocently”;
(2) As long as they continue to do what is objectively gravely sinful, it does not seem possible for them or for any priest to judge that their relation is “sinless”, which would presuppose an ability to look into the depth of a soul, which we never have with respect to ourselves and even less with other persons;
(3) It is unreasonable to expect that a priest is able to judge this after a few minutes talking in the confessional;

(4) It is intolerable and would create private and public scandal if priests started to create two groups of sinners: those adulterers and homosexuals who are innocent and can receive the sacraments and those who know better and must be excluded;
(5) In praxis, the failing attempt to separate these “good” and “bad” grave sinners will inevitably lead to admitting every adulterer and homosexual to the sacraments, and many sacrileges will be committed;
(6) As Familiaris Consortio teaches, receiving worthily the sacrament of Confession or the Eucharist has objective and not merely subjective conditions. It requires that a couple does not live objectively in adulterous relations, and not only that the sinner “does not feel that this is sinful” or even not only that the sinner is not personally “losing sanctifying grace” (because God, who sees his heart, knows that he is not sinning mortally).

Should this whole debate be held only among experts and not in public?
Since the question of the worthy reception and dispensation of the sacraments is of crucial importance for each priest and faithful – their eternal salvation may depend on this – the claim that this matter should not be discussed publicly is absurd. Moreover, Amoris Laetitia is published, and its very different and contradictory interpretations have been published. Thus the debate should be conducted publicly.

Should we all be silent in this situation for the sake of keeping peace and unity in the Catholic Church?
I think I have answered this question already, but I wish to re-emphasize that truth has not only priority over unity and peace, but is the condition of authentic unity and peace.

I might here quote Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher whom Pope Francis apparently wants to beatify, and who expressed this in his marvelous French language that translates a bit less beautifully into English thus:

“It is as much a crime to disturb the peace when truth prevails as it is to keep the peace when truth is violated. There is therefore a time in which peace is justified and another time when it is not justifiable. For it is written that there is a time for peace and a time for war and it is the law of truth that distinguishes the two.

But at no time is there a time for truth and a time for error, for it is written that God’s truth shall abide forever. That is why Christ has said that He has come to bring peace and at the same time that He has come to bring the sword. But He does not say that He has come to bring both the truth and falsehood.” — (Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662)

What would you say to people who now claim that those who oppose Pope Francis with regard to some of his public statements (even if they are not explicitly magisterial, but still have an influence on Catholic faithful) have the intention to break up the Catholic Church?
It is of course possible that some critics of the Church have such an intention, but it is certainly absolutely false and would be calumny if it were said of the four dubia Cardinals, of Father Weinandy, of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, of Prof. Claudio Pierantoni, Prof. Carlos Casanova, and of many other persons who raised their critical voices or signed the Correctio filialis.

(It would also, even if my archbishop of Granada thought, said, or wrote so, be untrue of myself, I might add, who would be willing to die for “the unity of the Church in the truth” and has absolutely no intention to break up the unity of the Church).

John-Henry Westen (editor of LifeSiteNews) recently pointed out in an excellent speech in Rome, on Oct. 28, in a Conference on Humanae Vitae sponsored by the “Voice for the Family,” that
(1) the pope himself exhorted us to criticize him freely and not to be concerned with what the “pope would think” and
(2) that the true friends of the pope and of the Church are those who are vigilant and do not praise the pope by flatteries and adulation, of which the successor of St. Peter, destined to be The Rock, has no need whatsoever.

To hold the contrary, that anyone who criticizes a word spoken by the Pope “has an intention to break up the Catholic Church” or just does break up the unity of the Church, would be to judge that the Apostle Paul had the intention to disrupt the unity of the Catholic Church when he criticized the first Pope, instituted by Christ Himself, openly and sharply during the first Council of the Apostles.

What do you think about Cardinal Müller’s Foreword to Rocco Buttiglione’s new book, "Friendly Replies to the Critics of Amoris Laetitia"?
I cannot answer this question thoroughly before having seen the full text of the new book and of Cardinal Müller’s Foreword, of which I have only read a few fragments that left me pretty much perplexed.

His praise of Buttiglione’s new book on Amoris Laetitia has astonished me very much:
(1) first of all, because Cardinal Müller recently published a book in Spanish, in which he affirmed that no Pope or Council could change the sacramental discipline of the Church, which is, as FC 84 says, founded on Sacred Scripture itself.

For writing this, the archbishop of Madrid called Cardinal Müller’s book anti-Pope and forbade him to present it in the Catholic University and Seminary San Dámaso in Madrid.

The Cardinal presented it at another Catholic University in Madrid, saying that AL did not change or intend to change anything of the teaching and sacramental discipline expressed in FC 84, which is, Müller said, inseparable from perennial Church teaching.

Don Livio Melina, a former student of mine in the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and until recently President of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome, gave the same interpretation.

Our archbishop of Granada, Don Francisco Javier Martínez, sent the statement of Melina to all the clergy of Granada, obviously in agreement with it (but he later changed and espoused the Buenos Aires Interpretation of AL and first suspended me from teaching his seminarians, and then fired – forcefully retired – me from my chair of the IAP-IFES, when I published my second article on AL).

I thought from the beginning that Cardinal Müller’s judgment was quite correct as far as perennial Church Teaching is concerned, but incorrect as an interpretation of AL. On this merely hermeneutical question I agreed with Buttiglione who saw from the beginning that AL says something very different than FC, but tried to explain this as purely pastoral and “complementary”: Pope John Paul II would have just spoken on the “objective side” of adultery being gravely disordered, while AL Laetitia takes into account the classical subjective conditions of mortal sin and imputability. Thus both Popes are right although they propose opposite pastoral decisions of the Church.

Saint John Paul II forbids divorced and remarried Catholics (outside the Church) access to the sacraments except if they live in complete abstinence, because he just speaks of the objective sinfulness of adultery; Pope Francis allows their receiving sacramental absolution and Eucharist even if they have no intention to change their life, because he asks to discern and recognize the possible state of grace in such “good adulterers and homosexuals”.

Now, I gather from the published fragments of his Preface accessible to me that Cardinal Müller:
(1) completely switched to the Buttiglione-Buenos Aires interpretation of the text of AL being “hermeneutically correct” (on this I agree now with both; they interpret AL textually correctly).
(2) That he now also thanks Buttiglione and defends AL wholesale like Buttiglione, by not only accepting access to the sacraments of couples of whom he said a few months back that no council or pope can authorize them to receive the sacraments because the prohibition taught by FC belongs to, or is the logical consequence of, perennial Church teaching.

Thus, Cardinal Müller seems now to contradict likewise his previous strong doctrinal assertion that the sacramental discipline affirmed by Pope John Paul II — namely, that nobody who lives in objective contradiction to the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage can be admitted to the sacraments is a part and perpetual logical consequence of the teachings on Christ and of the Church.

(3) Thirdly, Cardinal Müller seems to deny now as well that in AL there is any trace of teleological ethics and situation ethics. Thus he answers my question: “Does pure Logic threaten to destroy the entire moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?“[3] in the negative.

Hence Cardinal Müller seems to deny that the affirmation, “conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal” [namely to continue to live in adultery or homosexual relations] logically implies that God can approve of us committing an intrinsically evil act such as adultery in some situations, and consequently there are no more any intrinsically wrong acts in any situation.

In contrast to Cardinal Müller’s view that AL does not deny intrinsically evil acts nor claim that continuing an objectively gravely sinful act can correspond to God’s will for us, Father Spadaro, friend and authorized interpreter of AL, recently attributed to Pope Francis and AL the view that Francis negates “any general rule that would make a class of human actions morally wrong” (which means denying that any human action, as a class, is intrinsically wrong, regardless of circumstances and consequences).[/b

Thus at this point, in view of this switch of Cardinal Müller’s position, the second and third points of which I consider false, I can only confess my complete perplexity about Cardinal Müller’s statements
and keep hoping that reading the full text will shed some light on the puzzle of his joining his authority to Buttiglione.

[OK, now I feel very reassured that it is not just my lingering initial distrust of Mueller that has led to my harsh denunciations of his shifting positions on AL, even if to anyone with common sense, it is apparent that he has been switching back and forth in his public statements on AL (or to use my metaphor for him, leaning over as he pleases to whichever side of the fence he thinks he is straddling).]

[1] “Does pure Logic threaten to destroy the entire moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?“ Aemaet, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, Bd. 6 (2017), 2-9.
[2] “Amoris Laetitia. Joy, Sadness and Hopes”. Aemaet Bd. 5, Nr. 2 (2016) 160-249, urn:nbn:de:0288-2015080654.
[3] Aemaet, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, Bd. 6 (2017), 2-9.

In stark contrast to the clarity and linear logic of Prof. Seifert, try to read - if you can survive the first few paragraphs - Andrea Tornielli's labored and tortuous attack against the critics of AL:

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/11/2017 05.00]
09/11/2017 02.55
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I waited a day to see if I could raise Messori’s original article online but the September-October edition of Il Timone where it was published
is not online, nor do I find it yet in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, which is the daily journal that is a daughter of the monthly Il Timone.
So, for now, I will do with the account of it published Sunday in Il Giornale, which also published Page 1 of the article as shown above, but not the whole article

Messori criticizes the Pope, saying
he has immersed the Church in today's 'liquid society’

by Francesco Boezi
Translated from
November 5, 2017

Vittorio Messori [by way of his international book sales over the last four decades] is thought to be the most widely read contemporary Catholic author in the world today.

From his ground-breaking booklength interview with Cardinal Ratzinger in 1984 to his booklength interview with John Paul II on the 15th anniversary of his pontificate in 1993 [and several of his own books about the Catholic faith and Biblical research)], the voice of the man from Sassuolo (province of Modena, northcentral Italy), has had particular weight in public opinion.

A Vaticanista who has voluntarily kept away from the ongoing war between critics of Pope Francis and the guardians of the latter’s ‘revolution’ in the Church, he nonetheless recently expressed criticism on the state of the Church’s health, words that the website Liberta e Persona has called Messori’s ‘dubia’ over Bergoglio.

In his regular column 'Il Vivaio' (The nursery) in the September-October 2017 issue of the magazine Il Timone, after discussing the present actuality of the theory of the ‘liquid society’ originated by the recently deceased Polish sociologist-philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, he includes the Catholic Church today as among the institutions immersed in such a sociological-existential involution. Of Jewish descent, Bauman saw how the collapse of communism opened the doors even wider to unreined individualism.

Messori writes:

“…The believer is disconcerted by the fact that even the Church – which had been the bimillenary example of institutional stability - now seems to want to ‘become liquid herself’. In a most disturbing interview, the new Superior-eGneral of the Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, has ‘liquefied’ the Gospel itself, since, he says, the words of Jesus were not recorded on tape , and so we do not really know what he said...

But another Jesuit, also South American, who is no less than the pope himself, in one of the many interviews he has been saying to all and sundry, in any and all circumstances – in flight, in St. Peter’s Square, on the street, what have you – that which is one of the hinges of his strategy of governance and teaching: “The Catholic temptation that must be overcome is that of the uniformity of her rules, of their rigidity, whereas it cought to judge and act case by case. [i.e., according to circumstances, which is, of course, a definition of situational ethics which is an enemy of Truth, as JPII makes clear in Veritatis splendor]’

In short, Messori appears to include the pope among those responsible for the fact that, under Bergoglio, even the Church now finds it acceptable that, in Bauman’s words, ‘change is the only permanent thing’ and ‘incertainty has become the only certainty’ [no better definition of philosophical and moral relativism].

Messori underscores:

“The term that this pope uses most often [after mercy, of course] is ‘discernment’ – an old tradition with the Jesuits which, however, has not until now come to mean ‘liberally interpreting even dogma, according to the situation’.”

Such an interpretation, Messori says, has been seen to be ‘erroneous’ and ‘damaging’ to the Catholic Church.

Il Timone has a long history, during which its contributors have included Cardinals Ratzinger, Caffarra and Mueller. Now it delivers this broadside at the workings of the Bergoglio Pontificate.

I paraphrase freely from Beatrice about the ff background and context for this rare intervention by Messori:
You may recall that around Christmas in 2014, Messori wrote a short article for Corriere della Sera which Antonio Socci described as “a very moderate commentary, compared to the usual eulogies to the Argentine pope, in which with a great deal of respect, he wrote about his ‘perplexities’ about some of the pope’s actions and statements”. But it started a firestorm of violent denunciations on the part of the Bergoglians, including Messori’s onetime friend, Andrea Tornielli (with whom he had co-authored a book during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, when even Tornielli was an unabashed Ratzingerian and defender of Benedict XVI against the attacks he got from his dissenters).

Since when, Messori has not written or spoken directly about this pontificate, except perhaps if we read between the lines of his wonderful account of the one and only visit he has made so far to the Emeritus Pope in Sept, 2015. And in December 2016, interviewed by Bruno Volpe for the website 'La Fede Quotidiana' about the ambiguities of Amoris Laetitia, he said this:

“I think there is ambiguity, and that it was intended. It is typical of Jesuits to say and not say. So many things leave me perplexed at this time, and for this reason, and out of a sense of responsibility, I have kept quiet. I am certainly alarmed and uneasy as a Catholic, but I have chosen not to be like my other colleagues and journalists who speak authoritatively. After all, who am I to judge the pope? But I am convinced, and I say so again, that Francis has little interest in doctrine”.

I certainly agree with Beatrice who comments: "I understand and I respect Mr. Messori’s reasons, even if personally, I wish he would speak out more. But again, who am I to judge Messori?”

09/11/2017 04.42
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Aldo Maria Valli has another series of vignettes this time making fun of recent developments in the church of Bergoglio…in which whatever
seems to be wacky is indeed wacky and frighteningly so.

It seems that…
Translated from

It seems that the Vatican Post Office has a problem. Dysfunctions have arisen after the Vatican’s philatelic office issued a stamp showing Luther and his main theologian Melancthon at the foot of the Cross with the city of Wittemberg as the background. As the presentation for the stamp reads, Luther holds a Bible, 'source and goal of his doctrine', while Melancthon, one of the major protagonists of the ‘Reformation’, “holds the Confessio Augustana, the first official exposition of the principles of Protestantism compiled by him”.

Quickly an object for stamp collectors, the stamp however appears not to be holding up to its function – it will not stick on to envelops. After some inquiries, it was found that the envelops at the Vatican Post Office, incurably Catholic, refuse to accommodate the Luther stamps, because ‘Con noi, non si attacca’ – No one attaches anything to us [a reference to Luther nailing his schismatic theses on the door of the Wittemberg cathedral].

It seems that a hitherto unknown tribe has been discovered in the Amazonia. Curiously, the discovery was made the day after the pope announced a special synodal assembly for the pan-Amazon region to take place in 2019. As you know, the assembly will also discuss the priest shortage afflicting that vast region, and therefore, the possibility to ordain married men as priests.

An eventuality that some sectors in the Church immediately greeted with approval, especially by someone like Mons. Erwin Krautler, German-born bishop of the territorial prelature of Xingu in the Amazon, who favors immediate ordination of married men, proceeding next to the ordination of female deacons.

And what are the characteristics of the newly-discovered tribe? It would seem that they are all celibate priests who chose to isolate themselves from the world. Who, upon learning of the synodal assembly for the Amazon and the possibility of ordaining married priests, quickly fled into the depths of the jungle without leaving a trace.
It seems that Fr. Thomas Weinandy, Fr. Samir Khalil Samir and Prof. Josef Seifert are planning to write a book together. As we know, all three recently underwent analogous experiences: Fr. Weinandy, theologian, was dismissed by the USCCB as a theological consultant; Fr. Samir, Islamologist, was dismissed from his teaching post at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and has retired to Cairo; and Prof. Seifert, philosopher, was fired from his professorial chair in the Spanish affiliate of the International Philosophical Academy he had founded.

The reason? All three, in different ways, had publicly expressed questions and criticisms of some aspects of the current papal magisterium. The title of the book? The working hypothesis is “Toccati dalla misericordia" (Touched by mercy).
It seems that the European Parliament wishes to grant the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to the Bishop of Modena, who as we know, wrote in his diocesan weekly calling on all his parish priests not to invite or host some categories of individuals to any meetings or conferences. Those to be excluded being “visionaries and charismatics”, but also “journalists and intellectuals who manifest subtle or open dissent with the official Church and above all, with Pope Francis”.

The citation for the prelate apparently says, among other things: “For his tireless action in defense of human rights, first of all freedom of word and thought, in line with the social doctrine of the Church, and for his willingness to engage in an open and sincere confrontation, exempt from any form of prevention or prejudice.”
It seems that a rapid training course in discernment has been organized on the international level.

Among the first to be called to take the course are some Belgian young people who, while Cardinal De Kesel was celebrating the fifth centenary of Luther’s schism with the protestants, decided to recite the Rosary in the Cathedral of Brussels. As will the hundreds of thousands of Poles who recited the Rosary along their country’s borders with seven nations on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in repentance and reparation for sins as Our Lady of Fatima enjoined us 100 years ago. The discernment course is entitled “Towards the path to liberation: No to walls, yes to bridges” and will be held in former Communist re-education camps .
It seems that the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences will stop holding conferences on climate change at the Vatican. And also that said academy will no longer invite leading exponents of the abortionist culture and diehard neo-Malthusians to their conferences….

But wait, it seems that the above has been promptly denied by the Vatican.
It seems that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, after having banned from its Facebook page all ‘friends’ who were sending messages to protest the dismissal of Fr. Weinandy, have decided to publish a document entitled “How to dialog in the Church: The importance of listening”.
It seems that the reasons given by the Italian police for justifying their two-hour blockage last Sunday of a publicity van commemorating the death of Cardinal Caffarra two months ago and reminding onlookers of John Paul II’s words on the indissolubility of marriage, were not as earlier reported. The policemen actually said, “Cardinal Caffarra was not in line with Pope Francis”. [Marco Tosatti actually had an intermediate report in which Toni Brandi, the organizer questioned by the police, said that when first asked on the phone by the police what was the reason for the publicity run, he was told precisely that: “What is all this about, considering that Cardinal Caffarra was not in line with Pope Francis” – as if Caffarra’s dissent from the pope justified any police action at all!But Valli puts a good spin to it:] It seems that as to their own motives, the policemen chose to give precedence to the truth.

09/11/2017 05.57
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When evil triumphed:
The 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution

The centenary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 should be
an occasion for understanding Marxism’s amoral and pseudo-religious nature.

by Samuel Gregg

November 8, 2017

One hundred years ago on October 25 (Old Style Calendar) (Nov. 8 in the current calendar), a Marxist political movement led by an intellectual political activist named Vladimir Lenin mounted a successful coup d’état against Russia’s ailing Provisional Government.

Most believed the Bolsheviks would themselves be overthrown quickly. Scarcely anyone recognized that it marked the beginning of one of the world’s most diabolical regimes, one which lasted until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

The implications of what came to be known as the October Revolution weren’t really grasped at the time. That’s partly because, as the historian Richard Pipes wrote in his epic The Russian Revolution (1990), “the West considered Russia to lie on the periphery of the civilized world,” one which was “in the midst of a World War of unprecedented destructiveness.” Yet it didn’t take long for Russia’s new Communist masters to show just how far they would go to maintain and extend their rule as they sought to realize the Marxist dream.

The toppling of Russia’s Provisional Government by Lenin and the Bolsheviks turned out to be an exercise in pushing down a house of cards. Contrary to later Communist myths, the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was never stormed. After token resistance, it was overrun by mobs of looters. Moscow was a different matter. Fierce house-to-house fighting lasted until November 2.

In his account of the Bolshevik coup, Pipes points out that most of the population paid little attention to what was happening. This owed something to Lenin and his colleague, Leon Trotsky, successfully portraying the Bolshevik coup as a takeover by the Soviets of workers and soldiers: organizations which had functioned as a type of parallel government in the months leading up to the coup.

That was hardly the first lie propagated by the Bolsheviks. From the beginning, Communism has held, and Marxists have believed, that the ends always justifies the means. By this, they mean they don’t recognize any moral constraints whatsoever when it comes to seizing and using power to realize their goals. [How tempting to compare this to the situation in the Church today!]

Lenin himself exemplified this. The effects of Lenin’s willingness to lie, sanction mass theft, and authorize the execution of those deemed a threat to the Bolshevik Revolution only differed from Stalin in terms of scale. Like Stalin, Lenin was, to use Pipes’s expression, “A stranger to moral qualms”.

But from where did this essential amorality arise? Lenin himself was no sadist. He wasn’t the type of functionary which you find in all totalitarian systems: those who take pleasure in torturing or killing people or supervising such goings-on. Lenin was, Pipes maintains, simply apathetic about the suffering of others; his unconcern with their pain reflected his Communist beliefs.

This is one reason why I’ve always regarded claims that “Juanita is a sincere Communist, but she’s a good person” to be as naïve, ignorant, and dangerous as suggesting that “Hans is a sincere Nazi, but he’s a nice chap.” For to be a Communist is to embrace views of humanity just as reprehensible as those of a convinced Nazi. The phrase “Marxist humanism” (which you still hear today in the faculty-lounges of Western Europe and California or on parts of the political left) is as self-contradictory as “Nazi humanism.”

Sympathetic and hostile biographers of Lenin agree that his embrace of Marxism involved whole-hearted acceptance of Marxism’s combination of philosophical materialism and a deterministic view of history. This mixture of ideas leads to clear and disturbing conclusions.

First, the true philosophical materialist doesn’t think there’s anything special about human beings. Expressions like “dignity,” “rights,” “responsibilities,” etc., are empty constructs in a materialist’s world. Instead people are just “material.” Thus like any other material object, they can be shaped — and disposed of — as others will. And the only way to determine who gets to do the molding and terminating in this world is whoever possesses the power to do so and who is least squeamish about using it.

The parallel here between the implications of Communism’s philosophical materialism and Nazism’s nihilistic glorification of the Nietzschean will to power is clear.

So where does the Marxist view of history fit into this? Orthodox Communist thinking holds that history is driven by changes in the means of production and its ownership. At some point, we will arrive at the end of history: the Communist utopia which will emerge after the proletariat inevitably achieves dominance and abolishes private property, money, class-differentials, and the state (and, yes, there is an anarchist dimension to Communism). [In this, China's Communism post-Deng Xiao Ping in the late 80s, who saw China had to adopt and adapt capitalism (and the concept of private property) in order to compete in today's world, is utterly unorthodox.]

The misery experienced by people as part of this process is precisely that: merely part of a process. Humans are just the material through which history works.

This is why Lenin was unmoved, for example, by the suffering of peasants affected by a famine which broke out in the 1890s in the Volga region where his family lived. Lenin opposed helping starving peasants because he thought such assistance would impede their movement to the city in search of food and work. Anything that speeded up their absorption into the urban proletariat which would be the engine of inevitable revolution was to be welcomed — even a famine. All Lenin added to this was the conviction that a vanguard led by people like himself could accelerate the inevitable if the right set of conditions emerged.

It’s in this sense that subsequent developments under Communist regimes — Lenin’s Red Terror; Stalin’s purges and gulags; the millions slaughtered during Mao’s Cultural Revolution; the genocide engineered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; Castro’s concentration camps and the firing squads presided over by the Argentine-born contemporary leftist-icon Che Guevara, etc., — were not aberrations. They flowed logically from Communism’s integration of philosophical materialism, its view of history, and Lenin’s conviction that the party could hasten the inevitable. It's just that Lenin was more at ease with this trajectory than some Marxists were, and are, willing to admit themselves to be.

In its rejection of morality and its willingness to do evil - lots and lots of evil — to achieve desired goals, Marxism’s criminal and terroristic character is laid bare. Lenin himself would have been familiar with Karl Marx’s own lack of inhibitions in this area. As Marx wrote in Neue Rheinische Zeitung in May 1849, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”

Yet for all its essential materialism, the Marxism espoused by Lenin and the other Bolshevik leaders who took over Russia was always more than that. It also amounted to a type of religion: indeed, a deeply intolerant faith which brooked no dissent.

This insight is well-explained in Benedict XVI’s second encyclical, Spe Salvi. This was published in November 2007, almost 90 years to the day that the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. The timing, I suspect, was not coincidental. [YES! Thank God for Samuel Gregg and the blessed few who unfailingly continue to underscore the relevance of Joseph Ratzinger's thought to almost any subject under discussion. And one of the most breathtaking aspects of Spe Salvi is that it is also a brilliant history of ideas such as one does not expect to find in a papal document.]

As the encyclical’s title suggests, it focuses on the meaning of Christian hope. At one level, this involves distinguishing the Christian understanding of hope from the way it is understood by others.

According to Benedict, Marx effectively took the ultimate horizon of hope offered by the prospect of eternal life with God, and turned it into a very this-worldly salvation theory of history, politics, and economics. Marx then applied himself, in Benedict’s words, “to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation.”

There is, Benedict writes, a straight line between the development of this secular religion and October 1917. “Real revolution followed,” observed the pope, “in the most radical way in Russia.”

To this, we can add other areas in which Marxism apes Christianity. Communist regimes had sacred books such as Das Kapital, and prophets like Marx and Engels. They possessed their own ecclesial organization (the Communist Party) with its own hierarchical clergy (party-members, the Central Committee, the Politburo, the General Secretary), theologians (Marxist theoreticians), saints (Che), and its own doctrines from which party-members could not stray without compromising their orthodoxy. Communist systems even had their own version of the end-times: the New Jerusalem of Communism. The more you look, the more obvious the parallels with Christianity.

But there were, Benedict comments, two fatal flaws in all this.
- The first was Marx’s vagueness about how to transition from what was supposed to be an intermediate state — the dictatorship of the proletariat — to Communism. “Lenin,” Benedict states, “must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed” (SS 21). That opened the door to the intermediate becoming permanent: i.e., systematic and lasting terrorism and criminality. [The ultimate failure of Communism was that none of the Communist societies ever even came close to any 'dictatorship of the proletariat' as theorized by Marx, for the simple reason that the Communist masters who constituted a determinedly entrenched self-preserving hierarchy would never have relinquished the oligarchic dictatorship they exercised to anyone, much less 'the proletariat' who remained hopelessly nothing more than grist for the communist mill.]

- More fundamentally, Benedict states that Marxism’s Achilles heel turned out to be its core beliefs. For if you are a true philosophical materialist, you cannot believe in free will or free choice. Why? Because these are distinctly non-material features of human beings. You can’t touch free will. Yet we know that it exists whenever we make a free choice for one thing rather than another.

Hence, thanks to his philosophical materialism, Marx — and all his followers, past and present — lost sight of something. “He forgot man,” Benedict wrote, “and he forgot man’s freedom.” Hence, Marx also “forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil” (SS 21).

Benedict’s point is that the possibility of error and human sinfulness is part of the price-tag that goes along with the liberty to choose between good and evil. This not only means that there are no heavens-on-earth. It also means that striving to create the earthly utopia promised by Marxism and its fellow travelers always leads to destruction.

Death and devastation didn’t take long to follow Lenin’s seizure of power in 1917. The Bolsheviks were not the originators of state terrorism. But the depth and extent of the terror implemented by Lenin and his followers far exceeded that of France’s Jacobin dictatorship, which murdered thousands of “enemies of the Revolution” between 1793 and 1794.

The Red Terror wasn’t solely a result of the Civil War which engulfed Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. Terrorism was a matter of state policy for the Bolsheviks. As Trotsky (himself an advocate of mass terror who proclaimed that “our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine”) later related, Lenin opposed and successfully reversed the death penalty’s abolition. His reasoning was simple: “How can you make a revolution without executions?”

The same cold-bloodedness was on full display during a Cabinet meeting in February 1918. During a discussion about how to deal with “counter-revolutionaries,” Lenin turned to Isaac Steinberg, the non-Bolshevik Social Revolutionary Commissar for Justice, and asked: “Do you really believe that we can be victorious without the cruelest revolutionary terror?” [Sometimes I think the Bergoglio pontificate is applying Lenin's take-no-prisoners principle symbolically!]

As the debate continued, Steinberg’s anger about Lenin’s proposals to replace due process of law with “revolutionary conscience” grew. Eventually Steinberg exploded and exclaimed, “Then why do we bother with a Commissariat of Justice? Let’s call it frankly the Commissariat for Social Extermination and be done with it!” Lenin’s response was telling: “Well put . . . that’s exactly how it should be . . . but we can’t say that.”

Herein we come face-to-face with the true nature of the evil of Marxism which was unleashed by the Bolshevik Revolution. Communism authorizes and even celebrates the suspension and suppression of moral norms that absolutely prohibit certain actions like lying — or theft or killing or being envious.

It’s one thing to be, for instance, dishonest but acknowledge you are doing evil. It’s altogether different to say that no such moral absolutes exist: that morality is in effect a fiction, a mere set of customs to be dispensed with, whenever convenient. [And why does that insistently call to mind this pontificate as well? It's that deadly AL relativist fallout.]

A century ago, people who believed such things took over an empire which was on its knees. That event marked the beginning of choices that, according to the Black Book of Communism (1997), resulted in the deaths of anywhere between 85 and 100 million people in the 20th century. The amorality that lead to such oceans of blood, and the real character of the Marxism from which this amorality flowed, are what we should be remembering on this centennial of the October Revolution.

Sometimes, it turns out, evil does win. [In the short run, yes, even if the Soviet Empire outlasted the 12 years of Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich by 62 years. Meanwhile, China's hybrid capitalist Communism is now going on three decades, without signs of abandoning the market economy, and we can really discount Cuba and North Korea since they are too small to count other than for nuisance value (yes, including Kim's nuclear threats).]
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