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7/12/2020 9:45 PM
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On April 16, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI turned 93.


I was going to correct a terrible oversight on my part, which was my failure to post my translation of Marco Tosatti's blogpost following the noontime Angelus led by the pope in St. Peter's Square. A post today by Tosatti gives me the perfect opportunity to make up for my omission.

China and Venezuela:
Similar beneficiaries of
Pope Francis's aphasia

Translated from

July 12, 2020

Dearest friemds amd enemies of Stilum Curiae,
You will recall that last Sunday, we reported the sudden cancellatiom from the pope’s post-Angelus statement of a paragraph dedicated to the situation in HongKong. The words he chose not to say were words of conciliation, of an exhortation to dialog and respect for human rights, and the rejection of any kind of violence.

But to the surprise of all the journalists [who had been provided one hour earlier with a copy of the entire prepared remarks tahtthe pope would deliver after the Angelus prayers], the paragraph on HongKong was not delivered. As I explained in last Sunday’s post, the prepared statement came with an embargo that it was not to be published until it had been delivered. So since the Hongkong statement was not delivered at all, it was as if it had not been written at all.

[My personal note on this embargo business: Usually an embargo is placed on extraordinarily important documents – such as Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address – whose premature divulgation could trigger undue controversy before the embargoed document becomes valid by virtue of being actually delivered, as written. I am not aware that in Benedict XVI’s time, a post-Angelus address had ever been placed under embargo, but it appears from what Tosatti discloses here, that a similar episode had occurred two years ago when this pope was supposed to have addressed the terrible plight of political prisoners under Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro.]

It is not the first time this has happened. Two years ago, an appeal that the pope was supposed to have made about the human rights of Venezuelans detained by Maduro – an appeal contained in the prepared bulletin on the post-Regina caeli papal remarks – was similarly omitted.

But at the time, only Marynellis Tremamunno of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana took note of the Bergoglian omission, for doing which she received warnings and threats. I thank her for reminding us of that episode. I repost herewith that article in Bussola, along with the Vatican video of the pope’s Angelus that day. From minute 9:00 of the video, one will note that the pope looks up and stops reading from the paper he iwas reading from.

The appeal for Venezuela contained in the Vatican press bulletin for the Regina caeli today (5/20/18) surprised Vatican journalists today. [Unlike the July 5, 2020 statement, the 2018 statement was not embargoed in any way. Obviously, the Vatican was apprehensive of possible Communist Chinese readction than it was in 2018 about any possible reaction from Maduro, whom the pope has, after all, always treated with kid gloves.]

But for the first time, Pope Francis would have launched an appeal urging respect for the lives of those illegally detained by Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. The words he was supposed to say after the Regina caeli prayers included these:´”I would like once again to dedicate a thought for beloved Venezuela. With the help of the Holy Spirit, may everyone strive to find the right, efficacious and peaceful solutions to the grave humanitarian, political, economic and social crises which are stremando the Venezuelans people, avoiding the temptation to resort to any type of violence. I encourage the authorities of that country to insure respect for the life and integrity of every person, especially those, who like the detainees, are under their direct responsibility”.

Instead Pentecost Sunday turned out to be April Fools’ Day for Venezuelans. After the Regina caeli prayers, the pope raised his head to look at the 30,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to say words quite different from the prepared text from the Secretariat of State, saying instead: “I wish to dedicate a particular thought for beloved Venezuela. I ask that the Holy Spirit give all the Venezuelan people – everyone, governing authorities as well as the population – the wisdom to find the way of peace and unity. I also pray for the detainees who died yesterday”, clearly not reading from the prepared statement.

It was a strange way to remember his ‘beloved Venezuela’ for the pope to censor out any message that might be misconstrued to be against the socialist dictator Maduro. Just look at the prepared statement which adverts to the violation of human rights in its final sentence, with the words the pope actually said ,to understand how difficult it is for the Argentine pope to state a clearcut position against Hugh Chavez’s dauphin, Nicolas Maduro.

In the case of Venezuela, it was not the first time that Bergoglio sought to ‘soften’ his words about Maduro’s government, but never as obviously as yesterday. But what is happening to detainees in Maduro’s Venezuela? Why did the Secretariat of State think it important enough to be included in the prepared statement for the pope?

The bishops of Venezuela had just issued an alarm over the situation of Maudro’s political prisoners. In a communique published on May 17, 2018, the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference made an appeal “to the State, to its responsibility for the life and integrity of all detainees. To guarantee human rights is a fundamental and non-transferable obligation of governments."

The same day, the prisoners of El Helicoide had an uprising to demand justice and freedom. But they were not ordinary prisoners, but a group of 58 political prisoners including politicians, students and activists. According to the NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, dedicated to the defense of victims of political persecution, 35% had previously been released on bail but continued to be illegally detained by the political police, namely, the Venezuelan intelligence service SEBIN. Besides the prisoners at El Helicoide, more than 330 other ‘political dissidents’ were arrested by the regime and under detention.

But El Helicoide is not a prison – it is a center of torture, according to the Alfredo Romero, president of the Foro Penal, whose organization has been receiving the denunciation by the detainees of the tortures they have to undergo. “Our telephones do not stop ringing with persons testifying to the physical and psychological violences taking place in El Helicoide. It is terrible – we hear of persons hanging from the ceiling, naked, and receiving blows and buckets of ice water, not to mention sexual violence”.

“No one can be deprived of dignity”, is the title of the communique from the bishops (using a phrase from Pope Francis) referring to El Helicoide “where citizens have been detained for reasons that are political in nature”.

The bishops call on Venezuelan authorities “to respect the lives of those who are under their responsibility” since they “are held in institutions of the Venezuelan state”. They demand “respect for the human rights of everyone and a peaceful solution to the problem”. Precisely the words in the statement prepared for the Pope by the Secretariat of State, but which he preferred not to deliver.
- Marynellis Tremamunno

Here is Tosatti's July 5 post on the pope and China:

Is Beijing muzzling the pope?

Bergoglio chose not to deliver prepared words about the situation in Hongkong after Angelus prayers today;
statement had been embargoed by the Vatican to be published only if delivered, but it was not

Translated from

July 5, 2020

Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae,
This morning, the pope was supposed to make a statement about the crisis in HongKong after the noonday Angelus prayers. The statement, distributed to the media shortly after 11 a.m., said:

In the past several days. I followed with particular attention, and not without concern, the complex developing situation in HongKOng, and I wish first of all to express my heartfelt nearnedss to all the inhabitants of that territory.

In the current context, the issues involved are doubtless very sensitive, touching on the lives of all [residents of HongKong] – that is why it is understandable that there should be marked sensitivity in this regard. I hope, nonetheless, that all persons involved will face the various problems in a spirit of forward-looking wisdom and authentic dialog. This requires courage, humility, non-violence, and respect for the diognity and rights of everyone.

I therefore formulate the proposition that social life, especially religious, can be expressed in full and true freedom, as provided for in various international documents [about HongKong]. I accompany with my constant prayer the emtire Catholic community and persons of goodwill in HongKong, so that together they may construct a prosperous and harmonious society.

Instead, shortly before the pope was to appear at the window of the A[postolic Palace for the noonday Angelus, the media was informed that he would not be pronouncing the above statements about HongKong.

Why? There was no official answer to this question. Theoretically, since the statement was under embargo until it was actually said by the pope, which he never did, officially, it is as if the statement had never been written. But they were written out beforehand, as every Vatican reporter knew.

What we do not know is what pressures Beijing might have exerted so that the pope would not bring up the tragedy of the former British colony in his Mondovisione appearance for the Angelus, even if the statement was phrased in the most sensitive [read tactful] and peaceful way possible.

This episode casts one more light – worse than ever, if possible – on the infamous secret agreement signed by the Holy See and Beijing in Sept 2018. The consequences of that secret accord have since weighed heavily on the life of the Catholics in China, especially considering that the Vatican has chosen to ignore the increasing and increasingly open anti-Catholic persecutions in China.

The agreement bids to be one of the most conspicuous errors of Vatican diplomacy and of the pop,e who desired and fully endorsed the agreement, with provisions [regarding the nomination of Chinese bishops] that his predecessors had opposed.

The inevitable question remains: What means did Beijing employ to muzzle the pope today?

Many other blogs subsequently reposted and commented on Tosatti's post.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/12/2020 9:49 PM]
7/14/2020 5:52 AM
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Amid all the verbiage about Vatican-II, present as well as over the past 55 years, Aldo Maria Valli has written perhaps the most perceptive diagnosis of its
fundamental and 'fatal' error - without needing any arguments pro or con, he cuts to the chase and nails his conclusion. In 6 words, it explains everything
that went wrong about Vatican II and its unfortunate consequences... The post is a transcript of his latest weekly broadcast for Radio Roma Libera.

Vatican II and its fatal error:
The desire to please the world

Translated from

July 12, 2020

The subject of Vatican II is like an underground river. Even if for some time, it does not emerge onto the surface, we know it is there, profoundly affecting our membership in the Church. So whenever it resurfaces, as it has recently with the debate ignited by Mons. Carlo Maria Viganò, then immediately, the subject provokes passions and divides Catholics. Because one cannot just circumvent the subject.

For many of my generation (I was born in 1958), Vatican II for decades was not a problem – it was simply a fact. Born and raised in the post-Vatican II church, I saw in the Council something ineluctable: that it was necessary for the Church to make some choices at a certain point.

Afterwards, when I started to study the pre-Conciliar Church and realized the confrontations and wounds which marked the Vatican II sessions, I oscillated between two tendencies. On the one hand, a kind of regret for not having lived through a period that must have been difficult but also exciting; on the other hand, the desire to better understand the viewpoint of those who, against the ‘spirit of the times’, warned against the outcome of Vatican II and the use that would be made of it in the future.

Now that I am approaching old age and I feel the need to get to the essence of my faith, I think I can say, in all humility, and as a simple baptized person, that Vatican II was impelled by a fatal error – the desire to please the world.

I realice that my statement may seem hasty, and I apologize to the scholars of this topic, but the more I study the years of the Council, the more I am convinced that on the part of wide sectors of the Church, starting with Pope John XXIII, there was a kind of inferiority complex with respect to ‘the world’, a world that at that time was already in ferment and appeared so vital. Thus, the desire that the Church not appear behind the times and to show a sympathetic face to the world, in the literal sense: sympathetic, meaning to suffer together, to participate in the world’s joys and sorrows, avoiding any show of superiority or of being judgmental.

I remember that, whenever I conversed with the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, when he was Archbishop of Milan [Valli wrote a biography of Martini in 2013], he often said that the Conciliar Church was a Church of intercession. To intercede, the cardinal said, means 'to walk in the midst of’, which is what John XXIII wanted: to walk amidst the rest of the world, not above or ahead, but certainly not behind.

Martini recounted that for him, Vatican II was like opening the Windows and allowing fresh air into a Church which had the smell of closedness and mold. Those were his exact words, and I imagined those men of faith who, inspired by so many intellectual stimuli, became enthusiastic about theological and moral questions in order to allow the word of the Gospel to show itself again in all its beauty and in all its novelty, rid of any ornaments and encrustations. But the fundamental problem remained – as I mentioned earlier – namely, the desire to please the world.

Now, I certainly do not intend to psychoanalyze the Council, but it is really difficult to get rid of the impression that, at bottom, the need to please the world was there all along. Papa Roncalli’s optimism was that of someone who, tired of a Church that seemed to be losing ground to ‘the world’ and was regarded as some sort of grim unpleasant old aunt, wished now to show herself as a loving and sweet mother, trustworthy and welcoming.

An understandable desire. Except that from the moment that the Church, more or less consciously, wishes to please the world, then it fatally begins to betray herself and her mission. Because Jesus never wished to please the world, nor did he make any compromises of any kind just to appear sympathetic and ready for dialog.

Certainly, the Council opened windows and allowed fresh air in. But along with the pleasant sensation of freshness, the ideas of the world, marked by sin, also came in, and contaminated the Church.

What do I mean when I say ‘marked by sin’? It means simply, marked by the will to put man in place of God, because this is what sin means, today, as yesterday, as at any time.

Of course, not all this started with Vatican II, because some underground streams had been running for some time. But Vatican II was when the desire to please the world – namely, to put man in God’s place – emerged with clarity.

Yet the true tragedy of Vatican II was something else. The Church began the operation of ‘re-styling’ and ‘renewal’ necessarily behind the rest of the world. Because that’s the way it is: whenever the Church has tried to emulate the world, it is always behind the times. Because the world, moving along the pathway of sin – namely, putting man in God’s place – moves fast and keeps inventing something new. The Church, no matter how she tries, can only try to follow.

And so, even as Vatican II proceeded to catch up to the world, the world was already realizing, even if in confused ways, that man’s desire to be autonomous of God cannot lead to anything but enormous disasters in any area – from social and political to cultural and moral. [Yet it has not given up its deification of man and individual conscience, in particular, as the only norm.]

Within the Church, there were only a few who realized that Operation Sympathy was marked by evident theological contradictions but also by a strategic error. The prevailing narrative [in the world] was already going in another direction, against the narrative imposed with great intensity on the Council (by some, out of good faith and authentic enthusiasm, by some in bad faith and out of calculation), and there was little that the Council could do about this, as we continue to see today.

[Yet during the Council years and ever afterwards, the media of the world onesidedly reported the Council yielding to the world since what they reported of the Council was the progressivists’ versión of the Council – what Benedict XVI called ‘the Council of the media’ - completely ignoring the views of the ‘conservative’ Council Fathers who were by far the numerical majority. Unfortunately, in agreeing on compromise language to reach a consensus with the progressivists on issues like religious freedom, ecumenism and relations with non-Christian religions, they were as much responsible as the progressivists for all the anti-Catholic, even anti-Christian, consequences of Vatican II.]

In conclusion, I would say: Let the debates come [and continue], even inflammatory ones, about Vatican II. Anyone who wishes to take part, on whatever side, would help the Church to look within and ask herself healthy questions. [What ‘Church’ though? Certainly not the Bergoglian church which is already the outspokenly secular 'religious' counterpart of the United Nations. More UN than the UN, in fact. The Church that Benedict XVI described as "the same today, as it was yesterday, and as it is for always" has no organized leadership, and no cardinal has thought it worth while to lead in reclaiming the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church from those who have institutionalized the ersatz church constructed according to the infernally insufflated 'spirit of Vatican II'.] It is time for the Church to do this, in all honesty. But it is important not to continue with the method of reciprocal ‘excommunication’ and invective.

It is curious that Vatican II, which expressly set out not to be dogmatic, has itself become a dogma. If we could look at it as an event of many faces, with the hopes it gave rise to, but also with all its intrinsic limitations and the errors of perspective that marked it, then we would do great service to the Church and to the quality of our faith.
7/14/2020 1:08 PM
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Another 'clamorous' case of Bergoglian aphasia...

Pope spares 8 words
for Hagia Sophia
reverting to a mosque

by Jules Gomes

July 13, 2020

VATICAN CITY ( - Pope Francis broke his silence on Hagia Sophia at the end of his Angelus address Sunday to deliver a six-word non-condemnation of Islam's takeover of the world's greatest Byzantine basilica.

"I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened," is how Vatican News translated Francis's statement from the Italian: "Penso a Santa Sofia, e sono molto addolorato."

Francis began his post-Angelus address offering greetings for International Sea Day and after addressing seafarers for a few minutes, said: "And the sea takes me a little far with my thoughts: in Istanbul."

The Holy Father then dropped in six words — not counting a single letter preposition and conjunction — almost in parenthesis, on the historic crisis facing Hagia Sophia.

Francis added further greetings and ended his address wishing the audience "a good lunch."

Speaking to Church Militant, distinguished Islamic historian Robert Spencer blasted Francis's equivocation.

"The pope's tardy statement manifests a studied ambiguity," Spencer said. "What exactly is he saddened about? He doesn't say."

"Is he saddened because what was the foremost church in the Christian world for nearly a millennium, and the center of Eastern Christianity, has been made a mosque?" Spencer asked.

Or is he saddened because this act harms the dialogue he has so ardently pursued with the Islamic world — even at the price of silence over the Muslim persecution of Christians — and demonstrates that his dialogue partners are not remotely as interested in tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence as he likes to pretend that they are?

The author of the bestselling The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS continued: "Has he made this unclear statement because he doesn't wish to say anything clearly in support of maintaining Hagia Sophia's status as a museum, for fear of offending those Muslim dialogue partners?"

"The conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque should be the occasion of some introspection on the pope's part, leading him to reconsider the value of a Muslim-Christian dialogue that has not prevented this expression of Islamic triumphalism and supremacism. But it almost certainly will not be," Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, concluded.

Church Militant has repeatedly called out Pope Francis for his silence on Hagia Sophia, pointing out the failure of the pontiff's controversial "Human Fraternity" pact with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb signed in February 2019.

The Islamic 'takeover' of Hagia Sophia violates the Abu Dhabi declaration, which calls for "the protection of places of worship — synagogues, churches and mosques" as "a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements."

Greece described Islam's occupation of Hagia Sophia as a "provocation to the civilized world" with culture minister Lina Mendoni pointing out that "the nationalism shown by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan takes his country back six centuries."

Francis, an unrelenting critic of Western nationalism, has never rebuked Erdoğan for his rabid Islamic nationalism.

Instead, in February 2018, the pope invited Erdoğan to the Vatican and gifted him with a symbol of peace at a time when Turkish forces were continuing their military offensive against Kurds in Syria.

The pontiff presented Erdoğan with a bronze medallion portraying an angel embracing the world while battling a dragon.

"For the first time since his election, I actually pity Francis," Catholic academic John Zmirak told Church Militant. "This timid squeak of distress about the profanation of one of Christendom's holiest places ... it might even come from the heart."

"Francis recalls to me one of the lost souls in C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, who may leave Hell if they wish. But they've built inextricable traps of pride, sloth, wrath, or other vices," the author of the The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism lamented.

"Francis has trapped himself in the Woke ideology of the post-Christian left. He cannot condemn abuses unless they're the fault of Designated Villains. That is, white, straight, orthodox Christian males," Dr. Zmirak explained.

"When Islamist Turks, or Chinese Communists, or secular abortion activists victimize the weak, Francis' mouth is stuffed. His Manichaean hatred of the West and its past renders him a moral idiot," Zmirak excoriated.

Earlier on Friday, the Orthodox Times ran a scorching editorial on the Vatican's failure to speak out: "The unjustified silence of the Holy See and personally of Pope Francis on the burning issue of the conversion of the emblematic church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque causes concern and sadness in the Christian world."

"At a time when the whole world, both religiously and politically and academically, has taken a clear stand against Turkey's intention to once again defile the temple of the Wisdom of God, the loquacious and ever-sensitive bishop of Rome is … silent," it remonstrated.

This "is the second time in the history of Hagia Sophia that a global appeal has been made for its protection, and unfortunately Rome prefers not to get involved," the editorial observed, recalling Constantinople's conquest by Muslim invaders in 1453.

"Today, 560 years later, unfortunately, history repeats itself," the Orthodox journal lamented.

On June 18, Turkey's Catholic bishops expressed reluctance to speak out on the Muslim takeover of the museum.

"We are a Church that lacks legal status, so we cannot give advice on the internal affairs of this country," the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Turkey said.

"Although we would like the Hagia Sophia to maintain its character as a museum, we are not in position to intervene or even express our opinion on a decision that concerns exclusively the Turkish Republic," the bishops added.

Global religious and secular leaders condemned the verdict of Turkey's highest administrative court which paved the way for Hagia Sophia to return to its conquered status as a mosque.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew earlier warned if Hagia Sophia was made a mosque it would "push millions of Christians around the world against Islam" and "cause a break between the two worlds" of East and West.

"The concern of millions of Christians was not listened to," lamented Moscow Patriarchate's spokesman Vladimir Legoida.

Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church called it "a blow to world orthodoxy," while Archpriest Nikolai Balashov said the event "could have serious consequences for the entire human civilization."

Even the liberal World Council of Churches (WCC) denounced Turkey's decision, conveying "the grief and dismay" of its 350 member churches.

"By deciding to convert the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque you have reversed that positive sign of Turkey's openness and changed it to a sign of exclusion and division," a WCC statement said.

Pope Francis reticence on Hagia Sophia has been matched only by the silence of Anglican archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, a close ecumenical partner of the pontiff. On a visit to Istanbul in 2014, Welby categorically stated: "It [Hagia Sophia] should not become a mosque." But Welby, who hosted Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb at Lambeth Palace in 2018, has been tight-lipped on the Islamization of the basilica.

"Both Pope Francis and Abp. Welby claim to have established terrific relations with the world's most important Sunni Muslim leader. President Erdoğan is a Sunni Muslim. Why, then, have neither of them used their interfaith partnership with Al-Tayyeb to bring pressure on Erdoğan?" Church Militant asked a Shariah scholar.

"Because Islam, following the teaching of its prophet Muhammad, doesn't believe in honoring treaties with infidels," the scholar responded.

On Friday, the Council of State, Turkey's top court, annulled the 1934 decision of president Kemal Atatürk's cabinet to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum as part of his secularist reforms.

Immediately afterwards, President Erdoğan announced the resumption of Muslim prayers in Hagia Sophia from July 24.

Emperor Justinian the Great dedicated the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople to the Wisdom of God in 537. Sultan Mohammed II conquered Constantinople and converted the basilica into a mosque in 1453.

Museum to mosque:
Why Hagia Sophia matters

by Ines A. Murzaku

July 13, 2020

Canceling history has become popular these days. It started in America but has spread to Italy, Spain, England, Belgium, and most recently Turkey. Some of the main techniques involve toppling and desecrating monuments and statues that function as outdoor museums, which tell the history of the people who have made history. You can start to know the history of a city by exploring the statues and monuments in city parks and common areas.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan just joined the others by declaring his intention to convert the majestic Christian Basilica, Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) – currently a national museum and one of the most visited sites of Turkey – into a mosque. And the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative body, has decided he may do so.

What is the history behind Hagia Sophia?

[It] is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and none deficient; being more magnificent than ordinary buildings, and much more elegant than those which are not of so just a proportion. The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church.

Procopius of Caesarea (circa 500-565 A.D.), a prominent Byzantine historian, described Hagia Sophia of Constantinople (now Istanbul) thus in his book De Aedificiis (On Buildings), written around 554. He also credited the Emperor Justinian for promoting this magnificent work, among others.

Justinian’s church became an icon of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The emperor was so pleased with the result that during its dedication ceremony in December 537, he exclaimed: “O Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” comparing the church to the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

For 900 years, Hagia Sophia was the center of the Byzantine Empire: the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; the place where ecumenical councils were convened and emperors were crowned, and night vigils and majestic processions were held until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans on May 29, 1453.

Sultan Mehmet II, walking through the streets of the conquered city, “dismounted at the door of the church and bent down to take a handful of earth, which he then sprinkled over his turban as an act of humility before God.”

The sultan converted the Church of Hagia Sophia to the Great Mosque of Aya Sofya, which it remained until 1934, when a decree by the Turkish Republic’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, turned the building into a museum.

In 1985, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – declared it a World Heritage Site.

Why does keeping the museum status of Hagia Sophia matter?

It matters to history and it matters to people, both Christians and Muslims. It is important to preserve memory, and museums and statues are proven to be preservers of culture and religion – of what deserves to be kept, remembered, treasured, and transmitted to future generations.

As a remembrance of both the Church of Hagia Sophia and the Mosque of Aya Sofya, the museum has had a proven legitimacy. The museum has not only served as a record of centuries-old history but also as a transmitter of knowledge from the Byzantine-Roman and Ottoman Empires to the Turkish Republic of Atatürk. This magnificent, once-religious object is a visible and tangible reminder of empires and religions of the Mediterranean world, beautifully synthesized on this site.

Since early in his political career, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regretted Atatürk’s conversion of the Mosque of Aya Sofya into a museum. Instead, he prefers to cancel more than 900 years of Christian history, to the great consternation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the Russian Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Francis.

For Bartholomew I, Hagia Sophia is a holy site in which East and West have embraced, and the cancellation of this memory will cause a sharp break between these two worlds. By keeping its status as a museum, the site would continue to serve as an example of solidarity and mutual understanding between Christianity and Islam.

Patriarch Kirill of Russia considers the conversion of the Hagia Sophia museum to a mosque to be a threat to Christianity. In a recent interview with Interfax, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, expressed disappointment with Erdogan’s cancel-history attitude, saying: “Hagia Sophia is a world heritage site. It is not without reason that the talks about changing its status have shaken the whole world, and especially the Christian world. The church is devoted to Christ, Sophia the Wisdom of God is one of the names of Christ.”

Just this weekend, Pope Francis, who has gone out of his way to cultivate relations with Muslims, spoke out with uncharacteristic frankness [???]: “My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed.”

History cannot be destroyed, canceled, or changed. Even some Turks have objected to their president’s efforts to make it into a single, false story.

For Catholics, history bears a transcendent meaning, a message to convey and a lesson to be learned – and the historian is called to discern the roots of that meaning. History is not linear or ideological – or, far worse, to be used for political purposes – but continually calls for new reflection and fresh analysis, so that the past is revisited and mistakes are not repeated.

The great Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote in De Oratore, Historia magistra vitae est (“History is life’s teacher”). History, its monuments and museums, should not be destroyed or canceled, especially in an effort to dominate the present. They have a right to speak to us – and be heard.

As for Hagia Sophia, time will tell how the cancel-history fashion will play out in Turkey. For now, it appears that Muslim prayers will once again be heard on July 27 in the most magnificent structure of the Eastern Church.

Some of the great mosaics of Hagia Sophia:

The Imperial Gate mosaic: Leo VI bows before Christ Pantocrator (the Almighty). The insets are Mary and the Archangel Gabriel.

The Southwest Entrance mosaic: Justinian I, left, offers a model of Hagia Sophia, and onstantine I, right, offers a model of the city to the Theotokos (Mother of God).

Top left, The Empress Zoe mosaic: Constantine IX Monomachos, left, and his Empress, Zoe, offer a money purse and a parchment of donation to the Pantocrator; bottom left, The Comnenos mosaic: Similar to the Empress Zoe mosaic, but this time, it is John II Comnenos and his Empress, Irene, making their offerings to the Theotokos; right, the great Theotokos mosaic in the apse over the main altar.
One may better appreciate the scale of the mosaics if one considers the dimensions of Hagia Sophia: 269 ft long by 240 ft wide by 180 ft high (27 stories by 24 stories by 18 stories). Mosaics are the epitome of Byzantine church art and can best be appreciated outside what used to be Byzantium, in the Cathedral of Monreale outside Palermo, Sicily, and in the churches of Ravenna - all replete with breathtaking mosaics.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/14/2020 2:34 PM]
7/14/2020 2:30 PM
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Early on, the ravening unrelenting blood lust of BLMania homed in on tearing down statues of 'white Jesus' which speaks of the appalling ignorance, real as well as feigned, that the BLManiacs all seem to share. If
those who screamed their heads off were even aware that Jesus was born a hunded percent Jewish, one could even accuse them of anti-Semitism, which is, of course, not as bad as being actually anti-Christ because
anti-religion in general.

A Jesus who looks like each of us
If we tear down white Jesus, then, by extension,
we have to tear down all images of Jesus

by David Bonagura Jr.

July 13, 2020

“Tear them down.” So ranted a liberal activist recently about “the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus.” Depicting Jesus in this way, he continued, is “a form of white supremacy.” The Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that “white Jesus” should be reconsidered. [Justin Welby is a spineless ninny and will never be anything but.]

Are they right? Are we wrong to depict Jesus as white, or as any race other than Judean or Syrian?

No. The reason lies in the mystery of the Incarnation, and, ironically, is confirmed by the tenets of identity politics that liberal activists espouse.

In the Incarnation ,the eternal Word entered history, whereby he willingly subjected himself to the limits of space and time. Like all other men, Jesus of Nazareth was of a particular ethnicity and genetic make-up.

With only one human parent, he must have born a striking resemblance to his virgin mother, of whom no portrait exists. Of Jesus himself, two mystical images survive: the one imprinted on Veronica’s veil, and the other on the burial shroud of Turin, though the latter’s presence remained undetected until the negative photographs in the 19th-century exposed the face of a Middle Eastern bearded man.

Neither cloth captures Jesus’s face as a modern photograph would; we have only indirect, glancing impressions, and they were not widely circulated for the first 1800 years of Christianity. After the apostles and first disciples died, Jesus’s appearance became a feast for the imagination.

From the beginning, Jesus’s appearance in sacred art and icons depended on who painted him and where.

In St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, the oldest icon of Jesus, painted in the 6th century, portrays a light-skinned Egyptian man.

Left, oldest known icon of Christ; top right, earliest depiction of Jesus in the Roman catacomb of St. Priscilla; bottom right., St. Catherine's monastery at the foot of Mt. Horeb in the Sinai Peninsula, 2 km south of the Biblical Mt Sinai, houses over 160 icons from the 5th and 6th
centuries, as the monastery was untouched during the great Byzantine iconoclasm.

In Rome’s catacombs, we find the earliest depiction of Jesus as a Roman without a beard, especially in the famous Good Shepherd mosaic.

In Egypt, the Coptic Museum of Cairo houses an icon of Jesus flanked by his apostles; Jesus and the disciples to his right are black men, while the five to His left are brown.

As the gospel spread over time, we can find Jesus depicted differently in every land, from Chinese, as is found in the art of the Xishiku Cathedral in Beijing, to, yes, a white European. And this illustration itself is not monolithic: Jesus can be drawn as a western European or a Slavic European, depending on who is doing the painting.

What unites these varying depictions of Jesus across cultures and centuries is not a hatred of every race except one’s own. Quite the opposite. In desiring ourselves to become more like him, we unwittingly imagine him like us — as our brother, which includes his physical resemblance to us.

Gaudium et Spes teaches that “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (no. 22).

n addition to revealing our supernatural destiny, Christ enables us to know ourselves better and to realize, by divine grace, our human potential in and through him. This includes accepting the vocation he has given us, as well as accepting our natural gifts and shortcomings. Our physical make-up — size, shape, health, heritage, and ethnicity — forms part of who we are and how we encounter Christ. With grace, we integrate all the aspects of ourselves into our singular personality, which is vivified by knowing that God has made us his own.

Race is an important part of our being. Polling data suggests that people are more apt to respond to advertisements and films if those portrayed are of the same race as the spectators. In other words, the motivation for modern cinematic casting and for depicting Jesus as a member of one’s own race is the same.

As our creator, God knows this better than we do. So, to name just one example, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, a member of the Nahua people in Mexico, she spoke his Nahuatl language and appeared with brown skin, as she miraculously appears on his tilma that survives to this day.

Depicting Jesus as a member of one’s own race, then, is natural, not racist. Racism requires us to denigrate other races willingly in the false belief that they are inferior. Sadly, in history a few have convinced themselves that Jesus’S race was like their own, because he could not have been, they asserted, some “lesser” race. The reality of the Incarnation, again, immediately refutes such a facile and, frankly, stupid claim that need never be taken seriously.

On the other hand, today’s identity politics movement, in transforming race from part of a person’s life to the constitutive factor of one’s being, has chosen to perceive race only in terms of power; differing races, in this view, are perpetually at war with each other as oppressor and victim. With a mindset of perpetual warfare, such advocates can insinuate racial conflict where there is none. And there is none when one projects Jesus, in longing to imitate him, as an image of oneself, be he European, African, Asian, or of any other ancestry.

If we tear down white Jesus, then, by extension, we have to tear down all images of Jesus, because to do so would be to impale faith and deny the Incarnation. This would also inhibit our natural longing for God that is stamped into our human nature. In our limited horizons, we picture God as we are.

But God became man not so we could make him more like us, but so that we could become like him — ”conformed to the image of his Son,” as Paul puts it, “in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29) — who is perfectly just, perfectly mercifully, and loves all men and woman indiscriminately as his own.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/14/2020 2:32 PM]
7/15/2020 1:29 AM
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In the past year, Antonio Socci has written more about his concerns for Italy's political situation - in particular, the apparent tendency
for its leaders to surrender Italian sovereignty to the European Union in general and to Germany in particular, because of Italy's
increasingly dire economy - than with his concerns about the Church. His columns the past two Sundays have been very instructive
about what is happening in Italy, but the lessons he draws and the questions he raises are true for most Western democracies
at this time.

The Covid-19 'state of exception’ and Italy
as the crucible for a new totalitarianism

July 12, 2020

Just as Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was announcing a prolongation of the state of national emergency, philosopher Giorgio Agamben published his latest book, “A che punto siamo?” [At what point are we?](pub by Quodlibet), where he collected all of his interventions – always very controversial – written against the Coronavirus lockdown during the past few months, and in which he correctly foretold that the ‘state of exception’ would be prolonged.

Agamben is one of the most esteemed and translated of contemporary Italian philosophers. In fact, he has been interviewed by various foreign newspapers (culturally ‘left’, to be sure) during this time, but has been totally ignored by our media which cannot support views that do not confirm with the dominant thought.

What Agamben would like us to see is ‘the transformation which we have been witnessing’ in Italy’s social and political life, which was carried out “through the introduction of pure and simple health terrorism and a kind of religion of health”.

Agamben denounces "the transformation of the state of exception to a praxis which is becoming more and more ‘the normal’, which will end with liquidating Italy’s parliamentary democracy as we had known it, into something else which is still to be defined”.

Of course, one might object that the situation resulting from Covid-19 was alarming in February and March. But according to Agamben’s critics [and prevailing thought], the government could not have done other than what it did, and Agamben seems to forgot the grave danger that we were all facing. But Agamben’s reply to this deserves reflection: First of all, he points out, the first human right was seriously limited – ‘the right to truth’. Instead, Italy experienced ‘a gigantic operation in falsifying the truth’.

One might object that perhaps it was more a case of superficiality and dilettantism rather than falsification. Or at least, one hopes so. But when Agamben observes that “Data about the epidemic was provided [to the public] generically, without any accompanying scientific criterion”, and that “To cite mortality figures from Covid-19 without comparing them to mortality rates [for other diseases] in the same period, specifying the actual cause of death of reported Covid-19 victims, is meaningless”, then one must admit he raises a real problem.

He explains: “It was never made clear that death by other causes such as cardiac infarct or other conditions was counted as a Covid-19 death if the patient happened to have tested positive for Covid-19” (and the annual death rate from causes of death that are among the pre-existing pathologies that increase the risk of dying from Covid-19, and which are much higher than those from Covid-19 alone, were never provided).

One must also add
1) the lack of truth on the origin of the virus and the time for its diffusion (because Communist China lied about it for weeks);
2) the confusing and conflicting instructions given to the public by authorities (for example, on the use of facial masks); and finally, 3) major questions on possible therapies and medications.
4) Not to mention the role of health budget cuts over the past several years.

Agamben says, in effect, that to decide on such a drastic suspension of fundamental rights, the government could and should have first explained clearly, with extreme precision and accuracy, all the aspects of the problem to the Italian people and its representatives, because certain measures of protection could be taken only by evaluating the authentic reality of facts, in a time and manner that is democratically deliberated and checked (for instance, by daily updates on the efficacy of therapeutic measures undertaken in the hospitals).

But it was not done that way. Yet it cannot be said there was not enough time, because the government decreed a state of emergency at the end of January, but for more than a month, practically nothing was done, then suddenly passing from a substantial undervaluation of the emergency to apocalyptic alarm.

The generic alarm produced a collective panic which made everything possible. Agamben notes: “The spread of health terrorism needed the help of a media apparatus that was in total agreement and failsafe”.

One could therefore confirm that fear of death “makes men disposed to accept limitations of freedom they would never have thought they could possibly tolerate, not even during the two world wars or under totalitarian dictatorship”.

The state of exception declared by the Italian government due to Covid-19, says Agamben, “will be remembered as the longest suspension of legality in the country’s history, which was actuated without giving the citizens nor, above all, their elected representatives, any opportunity to object”.

Agamben harshly judges what has happened – “To future historians, this period will appear as one of the most shameful episodes in Italian history” – and he is even more harsh with “those who led and governed like irresponsible persons devoid of any ethical scruple”. One could think that there may have been improvisation and a lack of democratic sensibility and of common sense among the authorities, but regardless, posterity will take the arduous consequences.

However, the most important point in Agamben’s reflections is something else. He says that, “After China, Italy has been for the West the laboratory in which the new technique of governing has been experimented in its most extreme form”.

The very fact that a totalitarian regime like China’s was the model is emblematic, Agamben says: “If the powers that govern the world decided to take the pretext of a pandemic – and at this point, it does not matter if it was totally authentic or on some ways simulated – in order to transform from top to bottom the paradigms for governing men and nations, it means that in their eyes, those paradigms were already in progressive inexorable decline and were no longer adequate to new demands”.

We can dissent, but it is clear for years that liberalism was no longer synonymous to liberal democracy, that marketism and the great financial powers that dominate states today have devastated national economies, the productive industrial fabric of the West and the bourgeoisie, the middle class that was always an important pillar of democracy.

And it has been clear for years that marketism (greatly propagandized by the media in all its forms, not the least that of Maastrichtian Europe [the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht created the European Union and the euro] has always hated the democracies, parliaments, popular sovereignty and nation-states which represent such obstacles to its unopposed dominion. [Marketism is unregulated free-market fundamentalism.]

In Italy, it has been glaringly obvious for years that Parliament and voters have counted less and less, and that there have been increasing attempts for Italy to be placed under receivership [i.e., under custodial responsibility of an outside person or entity- what the Bergoglio pontificate has done with religious orders, including the Sovereign Order of Malta, that it wants to bring to heel], which would be to govern us through an intermediary who will end up governing us totally from Berlin or Brussels (or from the stock markets). This is what Italians have to reflect on.

Finally, Agamben leaves us with two thoughts.
First, “Biosecurity has shown itself capable of absolutely halting every political activity, making some form of social relationship as the maximum form of civic participation. We have therefore witnessed the paradox of leftist organizations, who traditionally claim all sorts of rights and denounce violations of the Constitution, now accepting without reservations every limitation of freedom decided by ministerial decrees devoid of any legality and which not even fascism would have dreamt of imposing”.

We have to ask: What would have happened if it had been a center-right government which had imposed these restrictions?

Agamben’s second point: “The pandemic has demonstrated without doubt that the citizen can be reduced to his bare biological existence, in which he resembles the refugee more and more, almost to be confounded with him”.

The philosopher was asked is he was embarrassed that the most critical of the lockdown a la China have been ‘rightist’ leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro.

His answer: “Even in this case, one can measure the degree of confusion to which the state of emergency has thrown off the minds of those who ought to remain lucid, as well as to what point the opposition between right and left has been completely emptied of every real political content. Truth is truth whether it is said by the left or by the right.”

The hate machine unleashed on those not aligned
to the (new) Communism 'with a humanitarian face',
while spreading the old Communism (China)

Translated from

July 5, 2020

In an eloquent document by Benedict XVI, we read:

“At times, one has the impression that our society needs at least one group towards whom no tolerance at all is allowed, against whom anyone may unleash hate with all tranquillity. And if anyone dares to be associated with that group… he, too, loses the right to tolerance and even he can then be treated with hate, without fear or reservation”.

The political debate, media reports and the social networks daily confirm that there are persons against which, it is now tranquilly admitted, anyone can express contempt and hatred – indeed, it has become obligatory to do so.

Let us look at the treatment reserved for Matteo Salvini [recent Interior Minister, who stopped the mass entry of undocumented foreigners into Italy, and leader of the conservative Lega party and Giorgia Meloni [born 1977, Italian journalist and current member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, leader of the Brothers of Italy, a national conservative party] - this, of course, scandalizes no one.

Or beyond our borders, at Donald Trump, who is submerged in hatred and contempt by his opponents in a way heretofore unprecedented for any US President, the more obvious when one compares this to the attitude of ‘regard’ for known tyrants, like Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But beyond individuals, there are entire categories targeted for contempt by the dominant ideology, the media, and a system that unites all those who have power of some kind, from street demonstrators and rioters to governments and multinationals.

Let us take the most recent case. The peaceful protests against the terrible killing of George Floyd by a white policeman [while his 3 colleagues, 2 of them of Asian ancestry, looked on and did nothing to stop the killing] were completely right, and those responsible for his death must be brought to justice. But there soon followed violent manifestations by elements who took the case as a pretext to accuse white Western people as such [for supposed ‘systemic racism’] and to subject them to expiatory rites such as genuflection to them and the destruction of statues in what amounts to an attempt to cancel the white man’s history [at least in the USA].

Things reached a point where ‘white’ itself was considered a synonym for evil, to the absurd extent of denouncing the game of chess ‘because White makes the first move’. And, the Oreal cosmetics group forthwith cancelled the word ‘white’ or ‘whitening’ from the description of their products.

This terrible tendency began in American universities in the 1980s, when Marxism, having been discredited with the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Euroean Communism, became recycled into ‘political correctness’, and multi-culturalists gained hegemony by questioning the cultural canons of the West, made up for the most part, they claimed, by “dead white Europeans” and advocating “an adequate representation of all possible minorities – ethnic, religious, and obviously, gender minorities”.

The great literary critic Harold Bloom rebelled against this ideology, and wrote his great masterwork “The Western Canon” precisely to defend the likes of Shakespeare, Dante, Homer and all the pillars of Western civilization. He wrote with desolation: “Today I find myself surrounded by professors of hip-hop, by clones of the Gallico-German theory, of gender ideologies and various sexual creeds, by numberless multi-culturalists, and I have come to realize that the balkanization of literary studies is irreversible”.

With this also came the balkanization of politics and the media, widely disseminated through the Internet and social networks. Therefore, today, contempt is ‘authorized’ against males, whites, heterosexuals, which in Europe, is worse if one if also Italian.

And in Italy, one is looked down upon if one has ideas that are considered center-right or right, if one is against the European Union and the euro, and if one opposes uncontrolled immigration. In which case, one cannot even be considered part of the civil consortium.

If, further, one expresses any sympathy for Trump and critizes the celebratory choir in praise of Greta, then one is considered nothing less than an enemy of humanity.

Finally, if one also happens to be an orthodox, non-progressivist -Catholic, then the dominant thought believes you should be muzzled or re-educated. This is the thinking of the advocates of the proposed law on homophobia pending in Parliament [About which, not a word so far from the pope.]

In a recent dialog with Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Senator Gaetano Quagliarello said: “Its advocates do not have the courage to admit what that bill contains. It is not about punishing violence, even if only verbal violence. That bill provides for a crime of opinion, in which certain opinions can be punished criminally. In this respect, some of its provisions could have been made within the Rocco Code [the Italian Penal Code promulgated by the Mussolini regime in 1930, and still in force], which is itself an expression of an authoritarian if not totalitarian regime, thoroughly X-rayed for political correctness. But the proposed law would create crimes of opinion.”

The senator, after having described his indignation, concluded: “What is truly grave is that whoever expresses an opinion [that is considered offensive to LGBT], even without using violence, becomes incriminated, and at least, in theory, be liable for several years in prison”.

Cardinal Ruini noted: “This is a typical example of the dictatorship of relativism - when, in the name of certain ideas, the right is claimed not just to express those ideas, but to criminalize ideas that are different. It is a relativism that actually becomes an absolutism. And in this, we must defend freedom of expression, and woe to us if we yield on this!”

Ruini also added a criticism of ‘Catholic periodicals’ like Avvenire [daily general newspaper published by the Italian bishops’ conference] “who continue to be deliberately ambiguous… choosing not to say that if we concede this possibility of juridically, penally censuring not offenses, not instigations to violence, but simply of anthropological and moral opinions, then freedom is truly in danger… It is ridiculous that the intrinsic difference between man and woman is ultimately criminalized”.

In effect, under the proposed law, that a human being is born male or female, that he is born of the union of a man and a woman, and that every child needs a mother and a father, are becoming prohibited truths! But this is what happens when one discards common sense [and what the majority of Italians believe].

Benedict XVI recently wrote that “the true danger – even for the Church – “lies in the global dictatorship of apparently humanitarian ideologies, opposition to which signifies exclusion from the fundamental consensus” [i.e., the ONE THOUGHT].

Not too long ago, he continued, “everyone would have thought it absurd to speak of homosexual ‘marriage’. But today, whoever opposes it becomes socially excommunicated. The same thing goes for abortion and the production of human beings in the laboratory. Modern society has formulated an anti-Christ creed, in which opponents are punished with social excommunication”.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2020 7:36 PM]
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The political significance of
Erdogan's move on Hagia Sophia

by Hugh Fitzgerald

July 12, 2020

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees himself as the natural leader of the Muslim world.

[Since 2014, Erdogan has been proclaiming a “grand design to recreate the Ottoman caliphate with the help of the Sunni jihadist army.” A universal caliphate - the whole world under Islam - has been the dream of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and all Muslim extremists. Erdogan is emboldened by the fact that the Ottoman Caliphate (1517-1924) led by the Turks was the largest, most powerful and longest-lasting caliphate that had yet been established. It began with the conquest of Byzantium and ended when Taturk proclaimed a secular Turkish state in 1924.]

Last year saw published in his mouthpiece, the newspaper Yeni Safak, his plan for a pan-Islamic army that, with its huge collective armory of planes and tanks, and more than a million men under arms, would be able to attack and destroy the Jewish state.

He was surprised when his plan was not applauded by other Muslims, but instead was greeted with a telling silence. Erdogan had overlooked – or more likely refused to recognize — the resentments still felt by many Muslim Arabs at their mistreatment by the Ottoman Turks.

His latest attempt to claim leadership of the Umma [the collective community of Muslims] against Israel are seen in statements this past June by Turkish officials warning Israel against any attempt at “annexing” Jerusalem. From the report in the Jerusalem Post:

Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas vowed over the weekend that “our struggle will continue until Jerusalem is completely free.”

The powerful religious scholar and voice in Turkey who is close to the country’s leadership and leading party, was speaking to an online forum of Palestinian scholars. The comments were reported in Turkish on T24 media.

He said that Jerusalem is a universal value [sic] and that “Islamic civilization has a memory of historical knowledge and values, and that it is never possible for Muslims to give up on the blessed city.”

His views echo those of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who told a recent June 10 executive committee meeting that Turkey was putting its full support behind Palestinians against Israel’s annexation.

“The ummah [Islamic community] will never give up on a sovereign Palestinian state with Quds al-Sharif as its capital.”

Apparently not all the states in the Umma agree with this maximalist position by Turkey.
- Several Arab states – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE – have been grateful for Israeli intelligence cooperation against a common enemy, Iran, and against the Muslim Brotherhood as well.
- The ambassadors of three Arab countries, the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman, attended the White House roll-out of Trump’s peace plan, which has been interpreted as a clear sign of approval.
- The Saudi Crown Prince has even been quoted as telling Mahmoud Abbas to stop his tantrums and accept whatever deal he can from the Americans and Israelis.

The Turkish Minister of Religious Affairs fails to recognize that the Temple Mount’s status will not change under the Trump Plan. It will remain part of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (a religious trust) under Jordanian custodianship, while Israeli security control will also continue.

Erbas, who is also a professor, has as his Twitter background a photo of Jerusalem, not Mecca, which shows how Turkey’s government is trying to adopt the Palestinian cause and make Jerusalem an “Islamic” cause to rally the Middle East against Israel.

It is part of an increasing Islamist rhetoric coming out of Turkey, where military campaigns have been compared to “jihad” and where Turkish-backed fighters call their enemies “atheists” and “infidels.” The rising rhetoric also began to suggest turning Hagia Sophia, the ancient church in Istanbul, into a mosque again.

The re-islamization of Turkey by Erdogan has been demonstrated by several developments.
- Most important has been his promotion of the Imam Hatip schools, which began as vocational schools but now have been infused with a heavy dose of religious training. These public schools are now attended by 1.5 million students; they are lavishly funded by the state, provided with at least double the support of regular public schools. And Erdogan sees them as key to his re-islamization efforts, to create a de-kemalized “pious generation.”
- He has also built nearly 20,000 new mosques in Turkey so far during his tenure, adding to the 75,000 that already exist.
- Under Erdogan, Turkey has been building thousands of mosques overseas, as well, from Accra, Ghana (the largest mosque in West Africa) to Maryland (an Islamic complex said to be the largest of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere), to Bishkek, Kyrgystan (the largest mosque in Central Asia).
- In all of these mosques abroad, the sermons are supplied by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, and are identical to those heard, at the same time, in every Turkish neighborhood, village, and city.

Another example of re-Islamization is the attempt to turn back into mosques the two great edifices, richly decorated with Byzantine paintings and frescoes, that had originally been built as churches and then, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, became mosques, only to be turned, after Ataturk’s secular reforms, into museums.

Turkey’s Supreme Court ruled in December 2019 that any structure that had once been a mosque must remain a mosque. The government has applied this ruling to the Church of St. Savior at Chora, which became a mosque – the Kariye Djami – after the Muslim conquest in 1453, but having ceased to be used as a mosque in 1948, became a museum in 1958. Now it has again become a mosque.

On July 10, Erdogan announced that the Hagia Sophia, for nearly a millennium the grandest church and largest building in Christendom, had also “reverted” to its status as a mosque.

Erbas wrote on June 10 that “conquest expresses a great ideal and moral value in Islamic thought; it is a blessed struggle.” The word “struggle” here to bless the conquest of Istanbul appears to be used in the same religious context as the vow to “struggle” for Jerusalem.

The secular Turkish government had once eschewed these religious goals, but the current leaders of Turkey see their cause as increasingly religious. Turkey has met with Iran and Malaysia and other countries to discuss an Islamic currency and Islamic television station over the last year.

As so often with Erdogan’s grand schemes, nothing has come of the “common Islamic currency” idea, nor is an “Islamic television station” in the offing. But it must have been fun to discuss such dreams, the same way that Muslims cheer themselves up by predicting that “Europe will be taken over by Islam by 2030.” [Neither impossible nor improbable the way things are today.]

The comments by Turkey’s top religious official is an indication of how Turkey wants to oppose Israel’s plans for annexation. Erbas says that “those who occupy Jerusalem find courage because they see Islamic societies as scattered and weak.” This language is a reference to Israel and appears to hearken back to the period of Saladin, the Islamic leader who rallied the community against the Crusades.

Jerusalem has been a Jewish city, inhabited uninterruptedly by Jews, for more than 3,000 years. They are not “those who occupy Jerusalem,” but those who live, rather, in the city that has been identified with Jews and Judaism since 1000 B.C., when King David conquered the city and made it the capital of the Jewish kingdom.

But why should Erbas care about anything that happened in the pre-Islamic period - the Jahiliyya or Time of Ignorance, to people who, the Qur’an tells him, are as Infidels “the most vile of created beings”?

Erbas’s reference to the Jews finding courage from seeing Islamic communities as “scattered and weak” again brings to mind Erdogan’s earlier plan to remedy that, with a pan-Islamic army to be led by – who else? – Turkey.

The Turkish official appeared to channel the antisemitic comments that Malaysia’s leader Mahathir Mohamed is known for, accusing Israel of leading “the world to war and turmoil.” Mahathir had said in 2003 to the Organization of the Islamic Conference that “the Jews rule this world by proxy… not only are our governments divided, the Muslim ummah is also divided.”

The Turkish leadership now calls for Palestinian issues to be emphasized in education in Turkey and to strengthen the country’s connection to Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem. “Our president [Erdogan] advocates the loudest for the case of Jerusalem. Turkey will always be with all Muslims from East Turkestan [Xinjiang province in China] to Palestine.”

The speech didn’t appear to mention Israel, suggesting that Turkey’s officials are increasingly spreading a message denying that Israel exists, similar to the messaging that Tehran’s regime uses.

Turkey “will be with all Muslims”?
- Turkey is certainly not “with” the nearly 40 million Muslim Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Iran and, especially, in Turkey itself, who desire an independent Kurdistan, as was once promised the Kurds after World War I.
- Nor is Turkey “with” the Muslim Syrians fighting in the civil war on the side of Bashar Assad; the Turks have been steadily attacking them in Idlib Province.
- Nor has Erdogan, who likes to present himself as the defender of oppressed Muslims everywhere, “been with” the ten million Muslim Uighurs of China.

He was long silent about their mistreatment: “Turkey under Erdoğan has consistently stood with the Chinese oppressors,” says Salih Hudayar, the founder and president of East Turkistan National Awakening Movement.

Then, after more than a year of silence, not Erdogan, but a low-level official in February 2019 chastised China: In a statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the reintroduction of internment camps and the systematic assimilation of Uighur Turks represent “a great shame for humanity. It is no longer a secret that more than 1 million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing.” And that was it. Turkey said no more about any mistreatment.

Worse still, when Erdogan was on a visit to China in July 2019, he said that “Turkey firmly supports the One China policy, and it’s a fact that residents of all ethnicities in China’s Xinjiang are living happily amid China’s development and prosperity.”

Of course, he’s not been alone in his moral pusillanimity; other Muslim nations have also refused to complain about China’s re-education camps for Uighurs, choosing not to antagonize the Chinese whose investments they seek. But given his pose as Defender of the Faith, more had been expected of Erdogan.

How Hagia Sophia figures
in Erdogan's caliphate scheme

by Kamel Abderrahmani

Paris, July 14, 2020 (AsiaNews) - The Hagia Sophia (some ironically call it Lalla Safia) [Lalla is a female honorific used by Berbers, Safia was the 11th wife of the prophet Mohammed] and has a historical path marked by war and peace, hatred and cohabitation.

From basilica, testimony of the Christianity of Constantinople, to mosque in Muslim domination; then as a museum during the establishment of secularism in Turkey, before returning to being a mosque in the era of Erdogan, self-proclaimed Emir of believers, the Caliph, Al Qaradawi, as the Islamist guru and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood calls him.

During Kamal Mustapha Atatürk's rule, Hagia Sophia enjoyed the status of museum, a place where different cultures and religions encountered each other; a highly popular historic site visited by people from all over the planet and from different religions.

In other words, before 11 July 2020 - another date that marks the history of this temple - Hagia Sophia was a place where the possibility of coexistence between religions, as well as the tolerance of Islam was manifest – an Islam separate from politics.

As Ioan Sauca, a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church, wrote to Erdogan: "It was a good test of Turkey's attachment to secularism and its desire to leave past conflicts behind," and I would add: to establish the universality of human values.

The move to turn Hagia Sophia back into a mosque has an internal and external political dimension.
- Internal: Having lost Istanbul - which passed to the opposition in the last municipal elections - and having in mind the 2023 elections, Erdogan, this 21st century Caliph, is securing the support of a religious and fundamentalist electorate, nostalgic of the Ottoman era.
- External: The Hagia Sophia affair is a new clear message from political Islam to the West: to dominate and subjugate, always and at all times!
In other words, Erdogan wants to test how far he can go to provoke and push the envelop! Silence in the face of his maneuvers would be seen as a form of abdication, "to say in front of everyone that he, Erdogan,is free to do what he likes and when he likes".

The Western world does not seem to grasp the fundamentals of this decision. The newspaper Le Monde [widely reputed to be France's most sophisticated journal on international affairs] naively commented: "... a reconversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will not prevent tourists of all religions from visiting it - there are many who visit the nearby Blue Mosque every day!" As if Hagia Sofia was in history only a simple museum, and as if Erdogan's fundamentalism stopped there!

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that the "Sultan" asked the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Presidency of Religious Affairs to prepare the basilica for the first prayer which will take place on Friday 24 July.

In the parts of the mosque dedicated to prayer, a system of lights will be placed on the ground to hide the Christian mosaics and frescoes. On the agenda there is also a project for mosaics and frescoes to be covered with a curtain mechanism during the hours of prayer.

Erdogan’s move highlights the dangerous aspect of the exploitation of religion which, in one way or another, creates tensions and prepares the ground for new clashes of cultures that could be avoided. If political Islam dominates, peace disappears, and with it fraternity and respect for other religions.

Ibrahim Negm, of the Council of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, considers the Turkish president's decision "a dangerous political game". Furthermore, this measure gives a bad image of Islam and Muslims - already quite degraded - and [confirms that] every time Islamism comes to power in a democratic and secular state, it declares war on civilizations, cultures and other religions.

Taking his time, with pauses for silence between one word and another, Pope Francis told those gathered for the Angelus of July 12 that "My thought goes to Istanbul, I think of Hagia Sophia and I am very saddened". French newspapers have translated "saddened" to "afflicted" (AFP); "struck" (IMedia); "marked by pain" (Le Parisien); "upset" (France24).

All these translations appear euphemistic. But they are part of the lexical field of "pain, sadness, sorrow” found in the Italian word addolorato. [My first translation for the pope’s words would simply be, “I am pained”.] It is a sentiment that I share in all sincerity: in the perfidious game of religious conflict, Erdogan’s move on Hagia Sophia does nothing to promote peace among believers of different religions.

Hagia Sophia embodies old Istanbul –
a world at risk of disappearing

by David Abulafia

July 10, 2020

One of the most eloquent chapters in Edward Gibbons's vast book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire comes as the book is drawing to an end, when Gibbon describes the fall of Constantinople to the Turks.

Centuries before, this had been the greatest city in Europe and the Mediterranean, but now it was a collection of shrunken and decaying villages whose emperor’s writ barely extended beyond its still impressive walls.

On May 29, 1453 Sultan Mehmet II made his triumphant entry into a defeated city now given over to the plunder of its treasures and the captivity of its inhabitants. Arriving at the great cathedral of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, the new master of what remained of the Eastern Roman Empire entered its cavernous interior and at once decreed its conversion into a mosque.

Then or on the following Friday a muezzin ascended to the roof of the church and called the faithful to prayer, and Mehmet performed his prostrations to Allah in front of what had been the high altar of Hagia Sophia.

Not so many hours had passed since this had been the scene of the final prayers for deliverance of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI; and not long before that the emperor had accepted the bait that had been dangled in front of his predecessors for 399 years, the re-union of the Orthodox Church to Rome and acceptance of the primacy of the See of St Peter.

The division could be traced back at least as far as the dramatic moment in 1054 when the pope’s bad-temp¬ered emissary Cardinal Humbert slammed a bull of excommunication on the high altar of this same cathedral, aimed at the patriarch but enveloping the emperor and by extension, the entire Greek Orthodox communion.

Today, Hagia Sophia is full of reminders of its Christian as well as its Muslim past. The Turks whitewashed or destroyed its mosaics, though sections have been uncovered; meanwhile the floor contains minbars (Muslim pulpits), while its four slender minarets make Aya Sofya, as it is now known, visible from miles away. Its massive dome became the model for mosques all over the Turkish empire, notably the Blue Mosque nearby.

Among the hordes of visitors who come to Aya Sofya today, you will find coachloads of Orthodox pilgrims from Greece, led by their bishops and priests, and you will also find Turkish women in their hijabs. Last time I was in the gift shop the music being played in the background sounded like the romances that used to be sung in Ladino, or Judaeo-Spanish, by the once numerous Jews of Istanbul, welcomed to the city by the sultans after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

So I think of Aya Sofya as a place where the character of old Istanbul still has resonance: a city of Turkish Muslims, Greek Orthodox, Sephardic Jews (not to forget the Armenians and other comm¬unities), a world that has largely vanished, and is now at risk of entirely disappearing.

Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, combined intense nationalism and an insistence on the lay, westernised identity of the new republic. Life did not stay comfortable for the Greeks and most other minorities as Turkey emphasised its Turkic identity.

But this emphasis on the lay nature of the state was reflected in the conversion of Aya Sofya into a museum commemorating its Christian as well as its Muslim past. Now that President Erdoğan has moved decisively away from Ataturk’s position, and has emphasised again and again the Islamic nature of modern Turkey, the identity of Hagia Sophia is once again in the balance, with its conversionplans to convert it back into a mosque.

This would mark the end of a particular conception of the Turkish state that had been bringing the country respect and influence. It would speak for the “new Ottoman imperialism” that Erdoğan espouses in his attempt to gain primacy in the region.

Possessiveness about sacred places is all too common in the Middle East.
- The Temple Mount in Jerusalem arouses fierce antagonisms.
- So does the inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with its many Christian sects marking out every inch.
- Claims are pressed for Muslim worship within the vast Great Mosque (now cathedral) of Córdoba.

The enormous virtue of the now superseded arrangements in Hagia Sophia was that, as a museum of the past, it was beyond the grasp of sects and factions.

David Abulafia won the UK's Wolfson History Prize 2020 for his book The Boundless Sea: a Human History of the Oceans.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/16/2020 12:01 AM]
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Standard views of HongKong such as these are taken from atop Victoria Peak on HongKong island, looking across to Kowloon, which is the larger part of the teryitory that was once a British Crown Colony, on the mainland.

What the new security law means for HongKong
The Bruce Lee slogan 'Be water' (adapt quickly)
used by civil resistance activists in the past
now means 'flee for your lives'

By Anonymous

July 15, 2020

Editor's Note: The author writes anonymously to protect loved ones from China’s government. This byline marks individuals who are granted anonymity in cases where publishing an article on The Federalist would credibly threaten close personal relationships, their safety, or their jobs. We verify the identities of those who publish anonymously with The Federalist.

Dear Hong Kong residents: the city you love, the place you call home — where you ran successful businesses, raised families, shared laughter with friends, enjoyed unbelievably delicious food, cheered for freedom, and mourned for students who perished in Tiananmen Square — has changed beyond recognition.

Darkness descended on to the city on midnight of June 30, 2020, as the new National Security Law went into effect. Drafted by Beijing in May, the NSL was rubber-stamped by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee by June. The 7.5 million Hong Kongers had no say in the matter.

Hong Kongers, and the rest of the world, didn’t even know what the law entails until the Hong Kong government posted it on its website. Tellingly, the details were posted in Chinese only, even though both Chinese and English are official languages of the city. Three days later, when the government published the English version, the text of the law sent shockwaves through Hong Kong and the rest of the world.

NSL criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements, with a maximum penalty of life in prison. The definition of each supposed “crime” and even what constitutes “national security” has been so vaguely defined, however, that a tweet that supports Hong Kong protests could land someone in jail.

Alan Wong, a Hong Kong-based lawyer, said the law was “badly written with the drafters taking a flippant attitude.” Wong also noticed many discrepancies between the law’s Chinese and English versions. Authorities simply responded that when discrepancies surface, the Chinese version of the law prevails.

The most draconian aspect of NSL is Article 38, through which the Chinese Communist Party assumes unprecedented extraterritorial power to punish any person anywhere in the world, for advocating democracy in Hong Kong, calling for foreign government intervention, or criticizing the Hong Kong government, Beijing, or the CCP on any topic such as Beijing’s inhumane treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Wang Minyao, a U.S.-based lawyer, explained that Article 38 “literally applies to every single person on the planet. … If I appear at a congressional committee in D.C. and say something critical, that literally would be a violation of this law.” Incredibly, Beijing believes it has judicial power to regulate the speech and actions of all 7.8 billion people on Earth.

If you ever tweeted #StandwithHK or have worn a T-shirt imprinted with a popular Hong Kong protest slogan, you are no longer safe to set foot in Hong Kong or anywhere else in China. Bing Ling, a law professor at the University of Sydney, concluded that Article 38 “is in effect a gross interference with the rights and freedoms and domestic legal order of other countries.”

Of course, Hong Kongers bear the brunt of the NSL. Beijing quickly set up a new security agency with broad power to enforce the NSL, including taking over some cases from Hong Kong police. This agency is exempt from complying with Hong Kong’s Basic Law, a de facto constitution, and any people it arrests will be tried in the mainland, meaning the accused won’t have due process, adequate legal representation or a fair trial.

The NSL also grants Hong Kong police unprecedented power, including “the ability to conduct warrantless searches, seize property, investigate suspects, intercept communications, freeze assets, and prevent people from leaving.” Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Hong Kong, called NSL a “sword of Damocles hanging over the head of a small group of criminals.”

NSL’s chilling effect in the city has been obvious:
- Political organizations have disbanded.
- Activists have fled to undisclosed locations.
- Local businesses rushed to remove posters that support protests and the pro-democracy movement.
_ Hong Kongers have been busy scrubbing their digital footprints, deleting past social media posts supporting pro-democracy protests and installing virtual private networks.
- Encrypted messaging app Signal has become the most downloaded app on the Google Play Store in Hong Kong since July 1.

Even though fear and uncertainty have dominated for the last two weeks in particular, some courageous Hong Kongers still took to the streets to protest the NSL on July 1. Police arrested more than 370 protestors, including ten under the precepts of the NSL.
One was a 15-year-old girl who waved a flag with the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Police insisted such a slogan calling for Hong Kong’s independence is an offense under the new law.

Every day, the news out of Hong Kong is more depressing than the day before. Books written by pro-democracy activists such as Joshua Wong and Tanya Chan have been removed from public libraries in the city. Wong tweeted, “More than just punitive measures, the national security law also imposes a mainland-style censorship regime upon this international financial city.”

A new Hong Kong government proposal, which the government said was necessary to comply with the NSL, requires all Hong Kong civil servants employed from July 1 as well as those who are recommended for promotion to swear allegiance to the city and uphold its mini-constitution in writing. The leader of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party said, if implemented, such a requirement would create a “white terror.”

As the NSL applies to all who have an office in Hong Kong, businesses and civil organizations will be penalized if Beijing deems one of their employees has committed an offense under NSL, even if that person resides outside Hong Kong. For example, if an American tweeted #StandwithHK and his employer has an office in Hong Kong, city authorities could accuse the employer of breaching the NSL.

Foreign firms could also be charged under the NSL if they carry out any sanctions their home countries have imposed on China or Chinese officials. If, for example, an American bank in Hong Kong closes its banking relationship with a Chinese official who is on Washington’s sanction list, Chinese authorities could charge the bank with a violation.

Ultimately, it’s a pointless exercise to decipher what’s permissible under the NSL. For the CCP, the law is whatever it says.

The content of the NSL and the way it was created — with Beijing bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature — has generated much international condemnation. Some countries have taken swift action.
- Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, announced on July 1 that the U.K. would grant the up to 3 million Hong Kong British Overseas Nationals and their dependents the right to remain in the U.K. with a path to citizenship. The U.K. government is also re-evaluating its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended Canada’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong and vowed not to export sensitive military equipment to the city. Canada is looking into additional immigration-related proposals for Hong Kongers.
- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared his country would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and give 10,000 Hong Kongers on student and temporary visas a pathway to permanent residency in Australia. Australian immigration Minister Alan Tudge added, “There is so much talent in Hong Kong. There are great businesses in Hong Kong. And we know that many individuals now might be looking elsewhere, because they do want to be in a freer country.”
- New Zealand government said it’s also “reviewing settings of its relationship with Hong Kong, which would include extradition arrangements, controls on exports of strategic goods and travel advice.”
- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States will impose visa restrictions on “current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, as guaranteed in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, or undermining human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.”
- The U.S. Congress also passed legislation to penalize banks for doing business with any Chinese officials who implement the NSL in Hong Kong. Many U.S. tech giants, including Facebook and Google, announced they won’t process any requests for user data from those in the city, at least for now.

These are all welcome developments, but tragically too late to rescue Hong Kong from the CCP’s iron fist. The CCP will do anything to maintain control and power, even at the expense of economic pain and international isolation.

Hong Kongers, remember in last year’s protest that you adopted Bruce Lee’s famous saying, “Be water”? To you, it meant “adapting quickly to circumstances, cutting losses, being mobile and agile, and creatively coming up with different forms of public civil resistance.” It’s time to apply that strategy again.

You have built a great city, one of the freest and most prosperous in the world. You have put up a good fight to preserve your right to self-determination. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is lost. It was murdered at midnight on June 30, 2020.

Don’t give the CCP and its thugs any more satisfaction by harming you or holding your family hostage. It’s time to leave the city to protect yourself and your family. You’re creative, educated, determined, and industrious. Any country would be so lucky to have you. Preserve and grow your strength, live to fight for another day. “Be water,” my friends.

As a Filipino, I feel deep pain and sorrow for what has happened to HongKong, and cannot quite believe that it may be irreversible (at least, as long as the Communist Party rules China.

Some 130,000 Filipinos live in HongKong, by far the largest ethnic minority there, most of them as domestic helpers, many as nurses and doctors. The money they send home to their families is significant. I pray their livelihood may not be adversely affected by the new laws.

Moreover, for decades, middle- and upper-class Filipinos have found HongKong a convenient and fairly cheap nearby place to visit for a few days, now and then, even as a weekend indulgence on an impulse, to enjoy its food and the fantastic shopping one can indulge in (especially for clothing and accessories, jewelry and electronics) for modest sums. One did not need a visa for a visit less than 14 days long, and the flight from Manila to Hongkong is only 2 hours. Many Filipinos, especially businessmen and journalists, kept second homes in HongKong. It has always been one of the most modern metropolises on earth, and there is never any lack of places to visit. A pleasant ferry ride away is Macau, and since the Chinese took back HongKong in 1997, nearby Shenzhen city, China's Silicon Valley, industrial center and shoppers' paradise that burgeoned overnight in 1979 when the Communists chose to join the global market economy).

I suppose until we can get a better fix on the actual situation in HongKong, we Filipinos can look to Taipei (one hour north of Manila) or Singapore (3 hours southwest of Manila) as alternatives for both great shopping and great food whenever one can afford it. Of course, neither city has the special mystique of Hongkong, but they are just as modern, and great places to visit. Taipei is rich with all the Chinese art and artifacts that the Nationalists were able to take out of the mainland before the Communist takeover, and the island of Taiwan is beautiful. Singapore is probably the world's one true garden city (creacted so by government fiat starting in the 1960s), and one can cross the causeway into neighboring Malaysia.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/16/2020 4:39 AM]
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So, even if there is considerable difference between their respective positions on Vatican II - they both basically agree that its texts have been instrumentalized by those who
believe the Council did establish a 'new church' - not a few of the 'conservative' Catholic names I usually turn to for informative, if not insightful, commentary on the Church,
have been joined by several more to sign an open letter in support of both Mons. Vigano and Mons. Schneider for, in effect, opening up the discussion on
Vatican II afresh
, even if, like them and everyone else who abominates the perversion of Vatican II and its consequences for the Church, neither Vigano nor Schneider can
propose any concrete way for anyone to do anything about it
, given that the perversions have taken hold of what was once the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church'
up to and including its elected nominal head.

Open Letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
and Bishop Athanasius Schneider

July 9, 2020

Your Excellencies:

We the undersigned wish to express our sincere gratitude for your fortitude and care for souls during the ongoing crisis of Faith in the Catholic Church. Your public statements calling for an honest and open discussion of the Second Vatican Council and the dramatic changes in Catholic belief and practice that followed it have been a source of hope and consolation to many faithful Catholics.

The event of the Second Vatican Council appears now more than fifty years after its completion to be unique in the history of the Church. Never before our time has an ecumenical council been followed by such a prolonged period of confusion, corruption, loss of faith, and humiliation for the Church of Christ.

Catholicism has distinguished itself from some false religions by its insistence that Man is a rational creature and that religious belief encourages rather than suppresses critical reflection by Catholics.

Many, including the current Holy Father, appear to place the Second Vatican Council — and its texts, acts, and implementation — beyond the reach of critical analysis and debate. To concerns and objections raised by Catholics of good will, the Council has been held up by some as a “super-council,” (1) the invocation of which ends rather than fosters debate.

Your call to trace the current crisis in the Church to its roots and to call for action to correct any turn taken at Vatican II that is now seen to have been a mistake exemplify the fulfillment of the episcopal office to hand on the Faith as the Church has received it.

We are grateful for your calls for an open and honest debate about the truth of what happened at Vatican II and whether the Council and its implementation contain errors or aspects that favor errors or harm the Faith.

Such a debate cannot start from a conclusion that the Second Vatican Council as a whole and in its parts is per se in continuity with Tradition. Such a pre-condition to a debate prevents critical analysis and argument and only permits the presentation of evidence that supports the conclusion already announced.

Whether or not Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition is the question to be debated, not a posited premise blindly to be followed even if it turns out to be contrary to reason. The continuity of Vatican II with Tradition is a hypothesis to be tested and debated, not an incontrovertible fact. For too many decades the Church has seen too few shepherds permit, let alone encourage, such a debate.

Eleven years ago, Msgr. Brunero Gherardini had already made a filial request to Pope Benedict XVI: “The idea (which I dare now to submit to Your Holiness) has been in my mind for a long time. It is that a grandiose and if possible final clarification of the last council be given concerning each of its aspects and contents. Indeed, it would seem logical, and it seems urgent to me, that these aspects and contents be studied in themselves and in the context of all the others, with a close examination of all the sources, and from the specific viewpoint of continuity with the preceding Church’s Magisterium, both solemn and ordinary. On the basis of a scientific and critical work—as vast and irreproachable as possible—in comparison with the traditional Magisterium of the Church, it will then be possible to draw matter for a sure and objective evaluation of Vatican II.” (2)

We also are grateful for your initiative in identifying some of the most important doctrinal topics that must be addressed in such a critical examination and for providing a model for frank, yet courteous, debate that can involve disagreement. We have collected from your recent interventions some examples of the topics you have indicated must be addressed and, if found lacking, corrected.

This collection we hope will serve as a basis for further detailed discussion and debate. We do not claim this list to be exclusive, perfect, or complete. We also do not all necessarily agree with the precise nature of each of the critiques quoted below nor on the answer to the questions you raise, yet we are united in the belief that your questions deserve honest answers and not mere dismissals with ad hominem claims of disobedience or breaking with communion. If what each of you claims is untrue, let interlocutors prove it; if not, the hierarchy should give credence to your claims.

Religious Liberty for All Religions
as a Natural Right Willed by God

Bishop Schneider:

1) “Examples include certain expressions of the Council on the topic of religious freedom (understood as a natural right, and therefore positively willed by God, to practice and spread a false religion, which may also include idolatry or even worse)....” (3)

2) “Unfortunately, just a few sentences later, the Council [in Dignitatis Humanae] undermines this truth by setting forth a theory never before taught by the constant Magisterium of the Church, i.e., that man has the right founded in his own nature, ‘not to be prevented from acting in religious matters according to his own conscience, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits’ (ut in re religiosa neque impediatur, quominus iuxta suam conscientiam agat privatim et publice, vel solus vel aliis consociatus, intra debitos limites, n. 2). According to this statement, man would have the right, based on nature itself (and therefore positively willed by God) not to be prevented from choosing, practicing and spreading, also collectively, the worship of an idol, and even the worship of Satan, since there are religions that worship Satan, for instance, the ‘church of Satan.’ Indeed, in some countries, the ‘church of Satan’ is recognized with the same legal value as all other religions.” (4)

The Identity of the Church of Christ
with the Catholic Church and the New Ecumenism

Bishop Schneider:

1) “[Its [the Council’s] distinction between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church (the problem of “subsistit in” gives the impression that two realities exist: the one side, the Church of Christ, and on the other, the Catholic Church); and its stance towards non-Christian religions and the contemporary world.” (5)

2) “To state that Muslims adore together with us the one God (“nobiscum Deum adorant”), as the II Vatican Council did in Lumen Gentium n. 16, is theologically a highly ambiguous affirmation. That we Catholics adore with the Muslims the one God is not true. We do not adore with them. In the act of adoration, we always adore the Holy Trinity, we do not simply adore “the one God” but, rather, the Holy Trinity consciously — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Islam rejects the Holy Trinity. When the Muslims adore, they do not adore on the supernatural level of faith. Even our act of adoration is radically different. It is essentially different. Precisely because we turn to God and adore Him as children who are constituted within the ineffable dignity of divine filial adoption, and we do this with supernatural faith. However, the Muslims do not have supernatural faith.” (6)

Archbishop Viganò:

“We know well that, invoking the saying in Scripture Littera enim occidit, spiritus autem vivificat [The letter brings death, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)], the progressives and modernists astutely knew how to hide equivocal expressions in the conciliar texts, which at the time appeared harmless to most but that today are revealed in their subversive value.

It is the method employed in the use of the phrase subsistit in: saying a half-truth not so much as not to offend the interlocutor (assuming that it is licit to silence the truth of God out of respect for His creature), but with the intention of being able to use the half-error that would be instantly dispelled if the entire truth were proclaimed. Thus, “Ecclesia Christi subsistit in Ecclesia Catholica” does not specify the identity of the two, but the subsistence of one in the other and, for consistency, also in other churches: here is the opening to interconfessional celebrations, ecumenical prayers, and the inevitable end of any need for the Church in the order of salvation, in her unicity, and in her missionary nature.” (7)

Papal Primacy and the New Collegiality
Bishop Schneider:

“For example, the very fact that a ‘nota explicativa praevia’ to the document Lumen Gentium was needed shows that the text of Lumen Gentium, in n. 22, is ambiguous with regard to the topic of the relationship between papal primacy and episcopal collegiality. Documents clarifying the Magisterium in post-conciliar times, such as the encyclicals Mysterium Fidei, Humanae Vitae, and Pope Paul VI’s Creed of the People of God, were of great value and help, but they did not clarify the aforementioned ambiguous statements of the Second Vatican Council.” (8)

The Council and Its Texts are the Cause
of Many Current Scandals and Errors

Archbishop Viganò:

1) “If the pachamama could be adored in a church, we owe it to Dignitatis Humanae. If we have a liturgy that is Protestantized and at times even paganized, we owe it to the revolutionary action of Msgr. Annibale Bugnini and to the post-conciliar reforms. If the Abu Dhabi Declaration was signed, we owe it to Nostra Aetate. If we have come to the point of delegating decisions to the Bishops’ Conferences – even in grave violation of the Concordat, as happened in Italy – we owe it to collegiality, and to its updated version, synodality.

Thanks to synodality, we found ourselves with Amoris Laetitia having to look for a way to prevent what was obvious to everyone from appearing: that this document, prepared by an impressive organizational machine, intended to legitimize Communion for the divorced and cohabiting, just as Querida Amazonia will be used to legitimize women priests (as in the recent case of an ‘episcopal vicaress’ in Freiburg) and the abolition of Sacred Celibacy.” (9)

2) “But if at the time it could be difficult to think that a religious liberty condemned by Pius XI (Mortalium Animos) could be affirmed by Dignitatis Humanae, or that the Roman Pontiff could see his authority usurped by a phantom episcopal college, today we understand that what was cleverly concealed in Vatican II is today affirmed ore rotundo in papal documents precisely in the name of the coherent application of the Council.” (10)

3) “We can thus affirm that the spirit of the Council is the Council itself, that the errors of the post-conciliar period were contained in nuce in the Conciliar Acts, just as it is rightly said that the Novus Ordo is the Mass of the Council, even if in the presence of the Council Fathers the Mass was celebrated that the progressives significantly call pre-conciliar.” (11)

Bishop Schneider:

“For anyone who is intellectually honest, and is not seeking to square the circle, it is clear that the assertion made in Dignitatis Humanae, according to which every man has the right based on his own nature (and therefore positively willed by God) to practice and spread a religion according to his own conscience, does not differ substantially from the statement in the Abu Dhabi Declaration, which says: ‘The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives.’” (12)

We have taken note of the differences you have highlighted between the solutions each of you has proposed for responding to the crisis precipitated at and following the Second Vatican Council.

For example, Archbishop Viganò has argued it would be better to altogether “forget” the Council, while Bishop Schneider, disagreeing with him on this specific point, proposes officially to correct only those parts of the Council documents that contain errors or that are ambiguous. Your courteous and respectful exchange of opinions should serve as a model for the more robust debate that you and we desire.

Too often these past fifty years disagreements about Vatican II have
been challenged by mere ad hominem attacks rather than calm argumentation. We urge all who will join this debate to follow your example.

We pray that Our Blessed Mother, St. Peter the Prince of the Apostles, St. Athanasius, and St. Thomas Aquinas protect and preserve your Excellencies. May they reward you for your faithfulness to the Church and confirm you in your defense of the Faith and of the Church.

In Christo Rege, (signed)

Donna F. Bethell, J.D.
Prof. Dr Brian McCall
Paul A. Byrne, M.D.
Edgardo J. Cruz-Ramos, President Una Voce Puerto Rico
Dr Massimo de Leonardis, Professor (ret.) of History of International Relations
Prof. Roberto de Mattei, President of the Lepanto Foundation
Fr Jerome W. Fasano
Mauro Faverzani, journalist
Timothy S. Flanders, author and founder of a lay apostolate
Matt Gaspers, Managing Editor, Catholic Family News
Corrado Gnerre, leader of the Italian movement “Il Cammino dei Tre Sentieri”
M. Virginia O. de Gristelli, Director of C. F. S.Bernardo de Claraval, Argentina
Jorge Esteban Gristelli, editor, Argentina
Dr Maria Guarini STB, editor of the website Chiesa e postconcilio
Kennedy Hall, book author
Prof. Dr em. Robert D. Hickson
Prof. Dr.rer.nat. Dr.rer.pol. Rudolf Hilfer, Stuttgart, Germany
Rev. John Hunwicke, Senior Research Fellow Emeritus, Pusey House, Oxford
Prof. Dr Peter Kwasniewski
Leila M. Lawler, writer
Pedro L. Llera Vázquez, school headmaster and author at InfoCatólica
James P. Lucier PhD
Massimo Magliaro, journalist, Editor of "Nova Historica"
Antonio Marcantonio, MA
Dr Taylor Marshall, author of Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within
The Reverend Deacon, Eugene G. McGuirk
Fr Michael McMahon Prior St. Dennis Calgary
Fr Cor Mennen
Fr Michael Menner
Dr Stéphane Mercier, Ph.D., S.T.B.
Hon. Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News; Visiting Professor of Law, Hofstra University
Fr Dave Nix, Diocesan Hermit
Prof. Paolo Pasqualucci
Fr Dean Perri
Dr Carlo Regazzoni, Philosopher of Culture, Therwill, Switzerland
Fr Luis Eduardo Rodríguez Rodríguez
Don Tullio Rotondo
John F. Salza, Esq., Catholic Attorney and Apologist
Wolfram Schrems, Wien, Mag. theol., Mag. Phil., catechist
Henry Sire, historian and book author
Robert Siscoe, author
Jeanne Smits, journalist
Dr. sc. Zlatko Šram, Croatian Center for Applied Social Research
Fr Glen Tattersall, Parish Priest, Parish of St John Henry Newman (Melbourne, Australia)
Marco Tosatti, journalist
Giovanni Turco, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy of Public Law at the University of Udine (Italy)
Jose Antonio Ureta
Aldo Maria Valli, journalist
Dr Thomas Ward, President of the National Association of Catholic Families
John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor-in-chief
Willy Wimmer, Secretary of State, Ministry of Defense (ret.)

With all due respect, I am not aware that any opinions about Vatican II published or pronounced by any of the signatories to the letter were ever suppressed or not allowed to be made public.

Books have been written against Vatican II, in toto or the erroneous parts of it, and were never suppressed or censored. In fact, free discussion of Vatican II has been taking place all along since the Council ended, except that the objectors have almost always failed to keep up their campaign other than intermittent spurts of 'activism' such as that we are currently experiencing.

It is disingenuous, if not dishonest, for all these earnest good-faith-in-every-sense Catholics to now claim as they do in their open letter that "Too often these past fifty years disagreements about Vatican II have been challenged by mere ad hominem attacks rather than calm argumentation. We urge all who will join this debate to follow your example."

What they fail to point out is that in addition to any ad hominem attacks that may have been made in response to expressed criticism, anti-'spirit of Vatican II' books and articles have been largely ignored by the other side rather than answered - the very modus operandi of the arch maximum exponent of Vatican-II perversions, Jorge Bergoglio, in ignoring the DUBIA altogether and the miscellaneous open letters and petitions addressed to him online (and by snail mail, as well, I am sure) and signed by most of the signatories of this new letter, to mend his anti-Church, even anti-Christian ways and start being truly Catholic, instead.

The second statement I respectully wish to dispute in the open letter is what it says about "the solutions each of you has proposed for responding to the crisis precipitated at and following the Second Vatican Council." Excuse me? What solutions, exactly? Viganò's proposal to simply 'forget' the Council is obviously impossible because it has already left a tsunami of Church wreckage in its wake, else no one would even bother debating the Council at all! And Schneider's stabs at 'corrections' are clearly impracticable, else many good men in the Church would have undertaken them already.

And what is it, if any, that signatories of the letter and preceding petitions against the heresies of Bergoglianism - like De Mattei (who has written a whole book and countless articles in the past two decades against Vatican II, which he does with some regularity, unlike all the others, including Schneider, and certainly unlike Carlo-come-lately-to-the-debate, who admits that until recently, he was like most Catholics who simply swallowed Vatican II hook, line and sinker) - have managed to propose as solutions?

Really nothing, unless to agree tacitly that there is currently no entity, individual or group of individuals in any position to actually do something to correct Vatican-II errors! If the elected nominal head of 'the church' sees nothing but good-better-best in the effects of the Vatican II perversions on 'the church'- and probably the majority of bishops and priests today are with him on this - what use could there be for whatever an 'imperfect council', such as advocated by some of the Vigano-Schneider supporters, could declare? Perhaps the reason no one has even begun to recruit participants for such a council is the very idea that it would be nothing more than token and 'for the record only', so why bother? Quixote battling windmills long after they had wrought their havoc!

The only thing that sincere denouncers of the Vatican II perversions can do is to work, brick by brick as Fr Z likes to say, so that as many cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, and laymen who feel strongly about it, do their part - unrelentingly, prayerfully and with God's guidance - to obey and carry out, uphold and promote what the Church has always taught.

If this strategy/tactic has worked with Summorum Pontificum, why not with the rest of the Vatican II errors, one by one?
At least, until another pope and/or ecumenical Council formally (by canon law) correct the most glaring and anti-Catholic of its specific errors?

I give the current spurt of anti-Vatican II animus a shelf life of another 4 weeks at the most, if that. Then we will have another hiatus until the next spurt.

The Open Letter gambit has sort of elbowed Sandro Magister out of the current Vatican-II brouhaha, since he was the single voice who disputed Viganò's tract, going so far as to say his tract placed him 'on the verge of schism'. In a blogpost the day 2 days before the new Open Letter was published, he also had Mons. Schneider in his sights. Unfortunately, he misuses the overworked phrase 'fake news' to describe some of the questionable premises and/or downright erroneous historical data ('fake premises' and 'fake history' are perhaps more accurate to say) that Vigano and Schneider use in their statements about Vatican II.

Cardinal Brandmueller corrects historical 'facts'
presented by Mons. Schneider about past councils

by Sandro Magiter

July 13, 2020

On the serious case of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò the Holy See is keeping quiet. Not a word from the congregation appointed to watch over the "doctrine of the faith.” Not a word from Pope Francis, whose original mandate, as the successor of Peter, is to strengthen his brothers in the faith.

The calculation underlying this silence is plausibly that of letting Viganò go adrift, alone or nearly so.

In effect, since he has lashed out against Vatican II as a hotbed of heresies, maintaining that it would be best to "drop it 'in toto' and forget it,” the buffer of support around the former apostolic nuncio to the United States has been shrinking. [I think Viganò lost much more sympathy because of his Open Letter to President Trump - being an overt politically partisan move - than he did with his tract on Vatican II.]

Viganò reached the apogee of his media success on June 6 with his open letter to Donald Trump, "son of light" against the power of darkness, and with the enthusiastic response of the American president in a tweet that went viral.

But back then the themes were different, more political than doctrinal. They were the ones presented in the previous appeal launched by Viganò on May 8 against - according to him - the "New World Order" of Masonic stamp pursued by those "nameless and faceless" powers that are bending to their own interests even the coronavirus pandemic.

After that of Viganò, three cardinals and eight bishops added their signatures to that appeal. But if today he were to launch another appeal for banning the whole of Vatican Council II, perhaps even among those eleven no one would be found willing to sign it. [Well, others did line up in support of Vigano's contribution to the nth 're-opening' of the Vatican-II wars.]

Among the members of the Church hierarchy the one closest to Viganò’s positions appears to be Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan.

In fact, it was one of Schneider's own writings, published on June 6, that gave Viganò his opening to lash out from that point on against Vatican Council II.

With the difference that while Schneider was asking that the individual errors of doctrine contained in conciliar documents be "corrected,” particularly in the declarations "Dignitatis Humanae" on religious freedom and "Nostra Aetate" on the relationship with non-Christian religions, Viganò, in a text published on June 9 and then in all of his subsequent texts, goes on to claim that it is the whole of Vatican II that must be scrapped.

To be precise, this is the formulation that Viganò has given to his thesis, in one of his latest statements, dated July 4, in response to questions from the editor of "LifeSite News,” John H. Westen:

“Anyone with common sense can see that it is an absurdity to want to interpret a Council, since it is and ought to be a clear and unequivocal norm of Faith and Morals. Secondarily, if a magisterial act raises serious and reasoned arguments that it may be lacking in doctrinal coherence with magisterial acts that have preceded it, it is evident that the condemnation of a single heterodox point in any case discredits the entire document.

If we add to this the fact that the errors formulated or left obliquely to be understood between the lines are not limited to one or two cases, and that the errors affirmed correspond conversely to an enormous mass of truths that are not confirmed, we can ask ourselves whether it may be right to expunge the last assembly from the catalog of canonical Councils. The sentence will be issued by history and by the ‘sensus fidei’ of the Christian people even before it is given by an official document.”

If this rejection by Viganò of the whole of Vatican Council II is not a schismatic act, it is undoubtedly on the brink. But who among the bishops and cardinals will want to follow him? Probably no one.

Getting back to Bishop Schneider, it must be said that even some of his arguments appear fragile to those who have a passing familiarity with doctrine and the history of dogma.

His thesis is that already at other times in history the Church has corrected doctrinal errors, some them serious, committed in previous ecumenical councils, without thereby "undermining the foundations of the Catholic faith.” And therefore it should do the same today with the heterodox statements of Vatican II.

In a statement on June 24 Schneider offered two examples of doctrinal errors that were corrected later.
The first attributed to the Council of Constance:

“With a Bull in 1425, Martin V approved the decrees of the Council of Constance and even the decree ‘Frequens’ — from the 39th session of the Council (in 1417). This decree affirmed the error of conciliarism, i.e., the error that a Council is superior to a Pope. However, in 1446, his successor, Pope Eugene IV, declared that he accepted the decrees of the Ecumenical Council of Constance, except those (of sessions 3 - 5 and 39) which ‘prejudice the rights and primacy of the Apostolic See’ (absque tamen praeiudicio iuris, dignitatis et praeeminentiae Sedis Apostolicae). Vatican I’s dogma on papal primacy then definitively rejected the conciliarist error of the Ecumenical Council of Constance.”

2he second attributed to the Council of Florence:

“An opinion different from what the Council of Florence taught on the matter of the Sacrament of Orders, i.e. the ‘traditio instrumentorum’, was allowed in the centuries following this Council, and led to Pope Pius XII’s pronouncement in the 1947 Apostolic Constitution ‘Sacramentum Ordinis’, whereby he corrected the non-infallible teaching of the Council of Florence, by stating that the only matter strictly necessary for the validity of the Sacrament of Orders is the imposition of hands by the bishop.

By this act, Pius XII did not implement a hermeneutic of continuity but, indeed, a correction, because the Council of Florence’s doctrine in this matter did not reflect the constant liturgical doctrine and practice of the universal Church. Already in the year 1914, Cardinal W.M. van Rossum wrote concerning the Council of Florence’s affirmation on the matter of the Sacrament of Orders, that this doctrine of the Council is reformable and must even be abandoned (cf. ‘De essentia sacramenti ordinis’, Freiburg 1914, p. 186). And so, there was no room for a hermeneutic of continuity in this concrete case.”

It is not surprising that when reading these lines a distinguished historian of the Church such as Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, president from 1998 to 2009 of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, should have been taken aback by the errors contained therein and evident to him.

He therefore sent Schneider a quick summary of the inaccuracies. Which he then put in writing in this note received by Settimo Cielo:

[Mons. Schneider writes: “The Council of Constance (1415-1418) put an end to the schism that had divided the Church for forty years. In that context, it has often been stated - and recently repeated - that this council, with the decrees 'Haec sancta' and 'Frequens’, defined conciliarism, the superiority of the council over the pope."

But this is not true at all. The assembly that issued those decrees was by no means an ecumenical council authorized to define the doctrine of the faith. It was instead an assembly of none but the followers of John XXIII (Baldassarre Cossa), one of the three 'popes' who were contending at that time over the leadership of the Church. That assembly had no authority.

The schism lasted until the assembly of Constance was joined by the other two parties as well, meaning the followers of Gregory XII (Angelo Correr) and the 'natio hispanica' of Benedict XIII (Pedro Martinez de Luna), which happened in the autumn of 1417. Only from that moment on did the 'council' of Constance become a true ecumenical council, albeit still without the pope who was eventually elected.

So all the proceedings of that first 'incomplete' phase of the council and its documents did not have the slightest canonical value, although they were effective at the political level in those circumstances. After the end of the council the new and only legitimate pope, Martin V, confirmed the documents issued by the 'incomplete' pre-conciliar assembly, except for 'Haec sancta’, 'Frequens’, and 'Quilibet tyrannus'.

'Frequens’, valid because it had been issued by the three former factions in concert, did not require confirmation. But it does not teach conciliarism at all, nor is it a doctrinal document, but simply regulates the frequency of the convening of councils.

As for the Council of Florence (1439-1445), it is true that in the decree 'Pro Armenis' it affirmed that in order for priestly ordination to be valid this required the 'porrectio instrumentorum’, meaning the conferral of the instruments of his office upon the one ordained.

And it is true that Pius XII in the apostolic constitution 'Sacramentum Ordinis' established that for the future this would no longer be necessary, and declared as the matter of the sacrament the 'manus impositio' and as its form the 'verba applicationem huius materiae determinantia'.

But the Council of Florence, regarding priestly ordination, did not deal with doctrine at all. It only regulated the liturgical rite. And it must be remembered that it is always the Church that orders the ritual form of the sacraments.”

That does it for Cardinal Brandmüller's memo on the “fake news” in Mons. Schneider's contestation of Vatican II.

It is striking that, at 91, Brandmüller should be the only cardinal who is raising an articulate critical voice against the latest ipisode of anti-Vatican II denunciations.

Likewise striking is the silence on the Viganò case of another cardinal who is habitually very combative and vocal, Gerhard L. Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and therefore expected to be quite sensitive to such questions.

Unfortunately, however, Müller is also one of the three cardinals who signed Viganò's political manifesto of May 8 against the "New World Order.” [The third is HonKong's Emeritus Cardinal Zen.] Is it perhaps because of this careless antecedent that he now feels obligated to keep quiet?

Full text of the May 8 'manifesto' - formally designated an 'appeal' - and its original 80 signatories:

For some reason, I practically ignored the aforementioned May 8 'manifesto' by Mons. Viganò, posting only on the minor row occasioned afterwards by Cardinal Sarah's unfortunate change of mind about signing the petition and then withdrawing his signature because he thought he shouldn't have signed, being a member of the Roman Curia (even if he tweeted, after being reproved by Viganò for withdrawing his signature, that "I fully accept my choice").

The appeal argues that the unprecedented quasi-totalitarian infringement of personal liberties with Covid-9 pandemic as the pretext was the prelude to 'the realization of a new world government behyond any control". In the process, it also argues against the complete validity or truth of the supposedly scientific and health-protective reasons given for the forced regimentation of the global lockdown.

Many of the signatories to Vigano's May 9 appeal are also signatories of the Open Letter in support of him and Schneider.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/16/2020 10:00 AM]
7/16/2020 5:24 AM
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While the Vatican still has to release its report of Theodore McCarrick two years since it promised to do so, here is another harrowing account of Uncle Ted's pedo-/ephebophile modus operandi.

Francis M., who was abused by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, at a church near his home.

McCarrick to a victim:
‘Pray for your poor uncle'

By Elizabeth Bruenig

July 15, 2020

Rain fell in New York City four days before Christmas of 2018. Francis M. had planned to be in the city that day for business, but he had dutifully put aside time when asked to answer questions at the Archdiocese of New York offices about his experiences with “Uncle Ted” — former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

A tall, broad-shouldered man nearing 60 at the time, with blue eyes and steely gray hair, Francis had been in enough depositions in his career as an attorney to know how these question-and-answer sessions went. He assumed he would relate the story of his interactions with Mr. McCarrick, which began when he was 11, and then he would return to his usual routine.

Mr. McCarrick’s downfall had been as dizzying as his rise. Once the archbishop of Washington D.C., and a cardinal who boasted of his close ties to Pope Francis, Mr. McCarrick had established himself as a gifted fund-raiser, helping to found the Papal Foundation, a charity with a $200 million endowment.

But in 2018, his reputation collapsed in a rush of accusations that he had sexually abused adult seminarians and a teenage boy. More accusations followed, and in 2019 Mr. McCarrick was defrocked — the first time an American cardinal had been removed from the priesthood.

Francis — who asked me to refer to him and his family members only by their middle names and last initials, to protect their privacy — was not surprised, but neither did he feel that the news had much to do with him. He wasn’t a victim, he thought. He had never felt like one. He had explanations for all the times Mr. McCarrick had insisted that Francis share a bed with him as a boy and for the ways the man had touched him when he did. Mr. McCarrick was lonely, Francis had told himself; plenty of clergymen were. And Francis had turned out well: A father of four with a happy marriage and lucrative work, he had little reason to meditate on the former cardinal.

But as Mr. McCarrick’s case gained national attention, Francis began discussing it with his brothers and male cousins. He told me that in October 2018, one of his brothers reached out to the Archdiocese of New York, and by December, five members of Francis’s family, all men, had agreed to testify in the inquiry the Vatican had ordered it to undertake. An attorney representing Mr. McCarrick repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations made in this article. As of 2019, Mr. McCarrick still maintained his innocence.

“I had anticipated that reciting long-ago facts wouldn’t be upsetting,” Francis told me when we first met in January of last year, at his vacation home in the frozen Catskills.

“But the more I went over in my mind the experiences I had and what they really constituted — with the perspective of an older man — I really understood for the first time as an adult the premeditation and cunning that Ted brought to his predatory activities, right under the eyes of my parents and aunts and uncles.”

Francis said that he was one of five members of his family who testified against Mr. McCarrick in the church’s inquiry.

The experience left him shaken. There were all of the usual questions victims ask themselves:
- How had his parents missed what Mr. McCarrick was doing, and why had he allowed younger family members to wander into the cardinal’s grasp?
- How had it changed him, and could he recover?
And then there were more fundamental questions:
- Could a religion whose earthly stewards sinned so cruelly really be true?
- Supposing it wasn’t, how could he leave the only church he had ever known?
- Supposing it was, how could he stay?

Established in 1927 in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx, the church of St. Frances de Chantal came into its full glory in 1970, when its severe brick exterior was finally erected beneath a tall, spartan cross. In October of that year, Cardinal Terence Cooke visited the parish to celebrate a Mass of Dedication. Francis recalled that Cardinal Cooke brought with him a delegation of clergymen from the Archdiocese of New York, including an up-and-coming monsignor by the name of Theodore McCarrick.

A parish priest introduced the affable Mr. McCarrick to the nine members of the M. family, Francis, who was then 11, told me. Mr. McCarrick was 40, a slightly built man with an almost elfin look. He was just back from a four-year stint as the president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and had recently been made assistant secretary for education in the archdiocese. In 1971, Cardinal Cooke would make him his personal priest -ecretary.

Mr. McCarrick soon became a regular visitor at the M. household, where his status in the church made him something of a celebrity. Francis recalled that “Ted” always wore his clerical garb, unlike the more casual clergymen around town. “When Ted came to dinner, he was like the candy man,” Francis told me. He would bring souvenirs: “Rosary beads from Fátima, a medal blessed by the pope, a necklace from the Philippines.”

Mr. McCarrick’s adventures were of special interest to the M. boys, Francis said, because the priest had a custom of taking boys along with him, from their extended family and from other families like theirs: working class, devoutly Catholic, Irish.

Francis’s father had immigrated from Ireland and worked as a bus driver, while Francis’ mother stayed home with the children. “Our biggest treat was to go to Howard Johnson’s for Easter dinner,” Francis said, so Mr. McCarrick “was this window to a whole new world.”

Francis recalled that Mr. McCarrick told him that boys could begin traveling with him at age 13. But when Francis was 12, a rare family trip to Ireland happened to coincide with one of Mr. McCarrick’s visits to the old country. During that trip, Francis said, Mr. McCarrick took him and his brother to an estate owned by a wealthy Irish-American, where they spent the night together.

After that, Francis said, traveling with Mr. McCarrick became a fairly regular occurrence. According to Francis, the eagerly avuncular priest took him fishing in upstate New York, dined with him at the Tonga Room in San Francisco, treated him to a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and even took him to Walker’s Cay, a privately owned island in the Bahamas.

McCarrick introduced the boys as “nephews,” Francis recalled, and they called him Uncle Ted. “Ted told us that these wealthy people were generous to him,” he explained, but they wouldn’t “be generous to some random group of unrelated boys.” They had to “stick to the script or he wouldn’t be able to bring us along.”

Perhaps enlisting the boys in that ruse was a kind of overture for what would follow, habituating them to a climate of silence and fear. Mr. McCarrick routinely booked single hotel rooms, Francis said, and at night Mr. McCarrick “would peel out of his clothes to T-shirt and underwear, and energetically jump onto a bed, where he would arrange himself in a cross-legged position, usually next to one of the ‘nephews.’”

The familiarity made Francis uncomfortable: “We came from these typical Irish Catholic, working-class households. You still shook hands with your dad.” After Mr. McCarrick’s “exuberant” displays in the evenings, Francis remembered, he would recruit one of his traveling companions to sleep in bed with him.

It was hard for Francis to describe what happened when it was his turn to sleep in Mr. McCarrick’s bed, which he estimated happened a dozen or more times, starting when he was 12 and trailing into his early adulthood.

Francis looked down and spoke quietly when he said that Mr. McCarrick would usually offer to scratch his back and that he would sometimes press his body against Francis and slip his hands under the boy’s shirt or slide his fingers underneath the waistband of Francis’s underwear.

While Mr. McCarrick was touching him, Francis said, he would murmur little entreaties: “You have to pray for your poor uncle,” Francis recalled his saying, as though it were Francis’s responsibility to reconcile the priest to God, even as he lay helpless and confused against him.

Brendan L., one of Francis’s cousins, shared a similar account. “Ted would say, when you’re old enough, you can come travel with me,” Brendan remembered, and that became a highly anticipated privilege. Brendan said he traveled with Mr. McCarrick up and down the East Coast and occasionally overseas.

But when night came, he recalled, the anxiety set in. “It was an accepted norm, nobody talked about it, you just kind of did it. You would think, ‘Ah, [expletive], it’s my turn tonight.’ I was always very anxious.”

In bed, Brendan said, Mr. McCarrick would “be in his underwear, he would snuggle up to you, put his legs over your hips,” Brendan recalled uneasily. “A couple of times, he slipped his hand under the back of my underwear and I kind of slapped his hand away.”

Sometimes, Brendan said, he would climb out of bed and sleep on the floor; on those occasions, he told me, Mr. McCarrick would become angry. He estimated he had slept in bed with Mr. McCarrick more than two dozen times, beginning when he was around 12.

Another relative of Francis’s who did not want to be named told me that Mr. McCarrick performed the same back rub routine on him, but went further, occasionally sliding his hands beneath the back of his underwear. He recalled that at least once, Mr. McCarrick placed his hands between his legs but did not touch his genitals.

Francis’s cousin, who believes he was roughly 18 or 19 when he began traveling with Mr. McCarrick, said he was always deeply disturbed by what happened, thinking: “‘I can’t believe I have to do this’ and ‘Why do we have to do this?’” When it was over, he said, “it would be like such a relief. And I would say to myself: ‘All right. I’ve probably got another month before he calls me to come over and do something again.’”

He told me he didn’t want his name used because he has never told his elderly mother about what transpired between him and Mr. McCarrick. She is very devout, he told me, and in fact introduced him to Mr. McCarrick when her son was drifting from the faith as a teenager. “For my mother, it was, ‘Oh, he’s with the bishop and this is terrific, and oh,’” he said, and paused for a moment, lost in thought. “I mean, she was in her glory about it.”

By the mid 1980s, Francis had grown up and apart from Mr. McCarrick, but Mr. McCarrick “had interwoven himself so much into the family, that if you really wanted to completely cut him out, you’d have to cut yourself out of the family,” Francis said. “If you went to somebody’s christening or somebody’s wedding, he was there.”

Francis married a Catholic woman who had grown up three streets away from his house in the Bronx. Marie, an outgoing and independent nurse, never liked Mr. McCarrick: “I would call him Ted the pedophile, even before we were married,” she said. She and Francis agreed that Mr. McCarrick would not officiate their wedding, despite the objections of Francis’s family. Instead, the two of them chose a priest they respected.

Nevertheless, Mr. McCarrick sent a papal blessing to their priest to be read aloud during the ceremony, with Mr. McCarrick’s name included. Marie was incensed. “It was like, ‘You didn’t want me to be a part of this wedding, but I am still a part of it,’” she said. It arrived like an assertion of control, with a sinister message: You can’t get rid of me.

Francis remained a faithful Catholic, but disillusionment threatened his peace, especially as his children grew older. One Sunday in the early 2000s, when the sex abuse crisis was first coming to light, his pastor mentioned that some parishioners had threatened to withhold their donations.

Francis said that the priest urged parishioners not to make their contributions a referendum on the church’s handling of the crisis, because those donations supported local charity work. Francis accepted that; it made sense.

But a year later, he said, the same pastor was “railing about how the media has sort of blown the whole thing out of proportion. And he said, ‘And we know that you didn’t fall for it. You know how we know? Because your donations never fell off.’” Francis seethed.

During the summer of 2018, news broke that the Archdiocese of New York had found credible the allegation that Mr. McCarrick had sexually abused a minor in the early 1970s. A month later, another man came forward to claim that he had been abused by Mr. McCarrick as a minor. In late July, Mr. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals.

In August, an archbishop released an incendiary letter accusing Pope Francis of having failed to take action against Mr. McCarrick, despite the pope’s being warned that he was a “serial predator.” (The pope later denied this.)

I was a writer at the Washington Post at the time, and I began working on the Mr. McCarrick story. I knocked on the door of the archdiocesan house he had retreated to, and I requested interviews through his legal team but received no answer from him. I was frustrated by the church’s reticence regarding Mr. McCarrick’s career of abuse and disturbed by my increasing difficulty producing an answer when asked by friends why I was still Catholic.

As Francis watched the story unfold in the news, he sank into similar spiritual unease. He began to realize that he had failed to appreciate how extensive Mr. McCarrick’s abuses really were. “He was expert in taking boys like me, who felt like they got lost in big families, and making them feel special,” Francis said. He mentioned reading about a blog post written by a former priest secretary of Mr. McCarrick’s, K. Bartholomew Smith, which labeled the disgraced cardinal “a devourer of souls.” It rang true to Francis.

Christmas of 2018, after his testimony, was hard for Francis. Dreams about Mr. McCarrick began to stir his subconscious. In one nightmare, he confronted the priest, only to find him glib and evasive, offering a tray of sweets. No one involved in the church’s investigation reached out to him with updates or offers of support. He stopped going to Mass.

“The couple of times that I went, even in the context of funerals or weddings, it was hard for me to sit through it and look at the priests on the altar and not question — was he, this person, also an abuser?”

Those thoughts distracted Francis as he searched for the solace and meaning he had always found in sacred liturgy. He would go during off hours to the Church of Our Savior in Manhattan and sit alone in the golden glory of its vast sanctuary, listening to Gregorian chants through earbuds. “That was odd to do that,” Francis said. “But I felt like I needed to have some connection, until I could find my way back in.”

In the spring of 2019, Francis said that he, along with the four relatives who had testified in the Vatican’s inquiry, submitted claims to the Archdiocese of New York’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. Though their prior testimonies had been given at the archdiocesan offices, their statements had been strictly confidential, for use only in the Vatican’s proceedings. By submitting claims directly to the compensation program, Francis told me, he and his family meant to provide the archdiocese with testimony for use in its own review of Mr. McCarrick’s history.

In June 2019, according to Francis, the archdiocese offered him a six-figure settlement to relinquish his claim against the church regarding Mr. McCarrick. Francis was conflicted; he had agreed to share his story with the Vatican and the archdiocese in solidarity with the other victims in his family and in hopes of bringing the truth to light. He had never intended to litigate his case further or to reap any monetary award.

Ultimately, Francis chose to accept the settlement, parceling it out for his children and some home repairs. If he had been affected by Mr. McCarrick’s manipulation and abuse, then so too had his family been, he reasoned.

Francis’s younger daughter told me over lunch in February of this year that she hadn’t touched her portion of the proceeds yet and isn’t sure that she ever will.

None of Francis’s four adult children describe themselves as practicing Catholics, in large part because of their father’s experience with Mr. McCarrick and the sex abuse crisis. Francis had been open — though not necessarily explicit — with them about Mr. McCarrick’s behavior; he never wanted to foster the climate of oppressive secrecy that had shrouded his childhood.

“Christianity is supposed to be about loving your fellow people and doing good and believing there’s good,” Francis’s older daughter told me. “None of that rings true in any of this.”

“I believe it’s important to be spiritual and believe in something,” the younger daughter said, “but I don’t know if I can call myself Catholic anymore … and that’s really sad.”

A note of longing haunts all faith, especially faith that has been wounded. Francis wears that weary hope in his eyes now. In February, I met with him and his wife on a cool morning in New York in the vestibule of Our Savior, the church he had spent hours in searching a way back into the heart of the faith that sustains him.

Francis greeted me warmly and we sat together in the pew — two lost souls seeking answers from a God we can’t stop loving. The Corinthian columns of the apse rose before us, and between them, flanked by angels, was the image of Christ, wreathed in a golden halo. His face was wan and beautiful, with hollow cheeks and dark, pleading eyes. I was transfixed by him; I always am.

We sang and offered our open palms, and I thought of the words of Saint Augustine. “Why do you mean so much to me,” he asked the Lord, “help me to find words to explain. Why do I mean so much to you, that you should command me to love you?”

Love drew Francis back to Mass on Christmas last year. He started attending, not necessarily every Sunday, he said, but something like every other Sunday, in a steady, if cautious, rhythm.

“Faith is really hard to do solo,” Francis explained as we sat together after Mass, in an empty reception hall with watery light streaming in through tall windows. “I missed the community feeling of being in church.”

He needed some sign of eternity here in the broken present: The certainty of rituals shared with others, whose trust in the goodness of God and the presence of a transcendent love nurtures the faith of those around them. His parish 30 miles outside New York City has a new pastor, a fresh face sharing no history with the M. family. Francis is still involved in charitable work in the church, applying his skills as an attorney to help aging nuns and monks manage their communities’ properties.

Francis told me he thinks it’s possible to distinguish the Church from the people who have for decades debased it. How dearly I wanted to hear that; how crucial it was for me to believe it. Francis went on in his gentle, searching tone. “All throughout the church, and the Church’s history, you can see times where there were people who were really living testaments to their faith,” he said. “And you can see people who took advantage of the power that they had. And that God allows that is just kind of, part of the mystery we’re all going to have to figure out, when we go to ask him. Right?”

7/16/2020 7:48 PM
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Left, Altar of Peter's Chair in St. Peter's Basilica; right,13th-century bronze statue of St. Peter attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, venerated in St. Peter's Basilica.

The once and future papacy
by Robert Royal

July 16, 2020

So far as we know, Pope Francis is in reasonably good health and will remain head of the Church for some time to come. A bad case of the flu earlier this year – which some feared was COVID-19, quite dangerous for an elderly man with only 1½ lungs – seems just to have marginally slowed him down.

But three books have recently appeared that – if only to get us off our obsessions with viruses, race, riots, toppling statues, and politics – deserve some attention: Russell Shaw’s Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity; Edward Pentin’s The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates; and George Weigel’s The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission.

The great virtue of each of them is not to offer simple solutions or predictions. They seek more to understand the current situation and the role that the Church is going to have to play in a world that has, even more than usual, gone mad.

In a concise but rich treatment, Shaw reviews virtually the whole of twentieth-century papal history from St. Pius X through St. John Paul II. The “crisis of modernity” in his title continues into post-modernity:

“In the manner typical of this era of bloodshed and turmoil, modernity did not go quietly, but unquestionably it went. Now we live in a time of transition called ‘postmodern’ – a nondescript word that fills a gap pending the emergence of a term to capture the special character of this new age, whatever that may turn out to be.”

Eight popes – and one might add Leo XIII’s earlier Thomist revival and inauguration of modern Catholic social thought – tried various ways to deal with the crisis, indeed multiple crises, not only in the world but the Church as well.

The results were mixed, to say the least; even popes with a clear grasp of the situation, and the courage and will to address it, have been unable to much alter the course of things: JPII’s role in the fall of Communism being the great exception. But Marxism has not gone away, even in the nations that defeated the Soviets, which reflects the deeper battles about the nature of the world and human life that still remain to be fought.

Shaw brings a calm and careful voice to the papal history – and the reader who wants easy solutions to what ails the Church and the world will not find it here. But there’s something more valuable: a reliable record of where several popes, in various ways, succeeded – and failed. Given the large historical questions we now face in postmodernity, that approach is more useful than what may seem more direct and reassuring.

Shaw quotes British historian Lord Macauley in an afterword:

“[The Catholic Church] saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all.”

Doubtless true, particularly for a Catholic who believes that the gates of Hell shall not prevail, even if our current renewal may take a long time.

By contrast, Edward Pentin’s The Next Pope focuses on the immediate future. He offers nineteen substantial portraits of what could be called the more plausible candidates. And this is of no little value not only to lay Catholics and others interested in the papacy, but to the whole college of cardinals.

Usually, the cardinals of the world get to know one another at various events in the Vatican, particularly consistories when new cardinals are made. Pope Francis has chosen not to summon the cardinals as a body since early 2014 – some say because of fears that they might combine to oppose him.

In any event, Pentin is a clear and useful guide. Some of the figures are on almost any list: Cardinals Tagle, Parolin, Bagnasco, and Ouellet; others are strong but unlikely – Burke, Mueller, Sarah; still others seem far-fetched – O’Malley, Ravasi, Turkson, and Zuppi.

Pentin draws on long experience in Rome and provides insights into the history and character of each person. But it’s always good to remember the old Roman saying that he who enters the conclave papabile (“pope-able”) exits a cardinal.

George Weigel is ambitious in his own relatively brief description of what will be needed in the next pope. There’s not the slightest hint of who might fulfill these requirements, which makes the analysis more rather than less relevant. whoever the next pope might turn out to be.

[First and foremost for the next pope is personal holiness and the ability to show the world that its salvation and hope lie only in Jesus – the full Jesus, not only the “nice” Jesus that people, even some in the Church, have been emphasizing since the Enlightenment.

Weigel also argues that the next pope will have to make it a central part of his papacy that the “form” of the Church is to be in perpetual “mission.”
This involves a renewed and redirected engagement by a pope who understands the Petrine ministry with bishops, priests, and laypeople, and who will reinvigorate the New Evangelization, Christian humanism, and the Church’s moral witness in world affairs.

In the last category, Weigel rightly counsels the Vatican not to speak out on so many political issues, on which it has little expertise, a habit that diminishes its impact when there’s a public question on which the Church does have moral competence.

It’s good to have all spelled out, of course. The failure of the New Evangelization – mostly an attempt to re-evangelize formerly Christian nations – suggests, however, that a world where materialism and scientism dominate needs some radical and fundamental education effort, often within the Church itself now, in basic spiritual and moral truths before the big ideas will even get a hearing. Not an easy task given the nature of educational establishments.

But God matters, and He acts. Our long spiritual decline is preparing something in part unpredictable, but an inevitable rebirth that will be the mission not only of the next pope but several of his successors as well.

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Vatican II and the Calvary of the Church

July 16, 2020

Dear friends of Duc in altum, in the debate that is taking place about the Second Vatican Council, Father Serafino Maria Lanzetta has offered an authoritative contribution, which he sent to me and I am happy to offer to you.

Recently, the debate about the correct interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has been rekindled. It is true that every council has interpretative problems and very often opens new ones rather than resolving the ones that preceded it. Mystery always carries with it a tension between what is said and what is unspeakable.

It is enough to recall that the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father that was declared against Arius by the Council of Nicea (325) was only firmly established sixty years later with the Council of Constantinople (381), when the divinity of the Holy Spirit was also defined.

In our own time, about sixty years after the Second Vatican Council, we have not seen the clarification of a doctrine of the faith but a further obscuring of it. The Abu Dhabi Declaration (4 February 2019) pretends to establish with total certainty that God wills the plurality of religions just as he wills the diversity of colors, sexes, races, and languages.

In the words of Pope Francis on the return flight after the signing of the document: “From the Catholic point of view the document did not go one millimeter beyond the Second Vatican Council.” It is certainly more a “symbolic” link with the “spirit of the Council” that echoes in the text of the “Declaration on Human Fraternity.”

And yet, a link is there, and it is certainly not the only one between Vatican II and the church of today. This is a sign that there is a difference between the Council of Nicea and Vatican II that needs to be taken into consideration.

The hermeneutic of continuity and reform gave us the hope of being able to read the new teaching of Vatican II in continuity with the preceding magisterium, in the name of the principle which maintains that any council, if celebrated following the necessary canonical requirements, is assisted by the Holy Spirit. Thus if orthodoxy is not readily apparent, one looks for it. In the meantime, however, already here there is a problem that is by no means secondary.

Relying on hermeneutics to solve the problem of continuity is already a problem in itself. In claris non fit interpretatio [roughly, 'clarity does not need interpretation'], says a well-known adage. If continuity did not need to be demonstrated with interpretation, there would be no need for a hermeneutic as such.

As it is, the continuity [of Vatican II with the Tradition] is not readily apparent but must be demonstrated or rather interpreted. From the moment that one has recourse to a hermeneutic, we enter an ever-growing process of interpretation in continuity, a process that, once begun, does not stop. As long as there are interpretations, there will be an unending interpretative process, and thus there will be the possibility that any interpretation can be confirmed or denied because it is either adequate or prejudicial in the eyes of the next interpreter.

The hermeneutic is a process; it is the process of modernity that
posits man as existing and captures him within the radius of being here and now. An echo of this is the problem of the Council that tries to dialogue with modernity, which in turn is itself an existential process not easily solved in hermeneutic circles.

If we rely only on hermeneutics to resolve the problem of continuity, we run the risk of enveloping ourselves in a system that posits continuity as existing (or, on the other hand, rupture) but in fact does not reach it. And it does not seem that we have reached it at all today, almost sixty years since Vatican II.

There is a need not for a hermeneutic that gives us the guarantee of continuity, but of a first principle that tells us whether the hermeneutic utilized is valid or not: this principle is the faith of the Church.

It is no wonder that at such a distance from Vatican II we are still arguing about the hermeneutic of continuity of a council with respect to preceding councils and with respect to the Faith of the Church, when the Faith itself has left us for many years now and shows no sign of returning.

Ever since it was proposed, the hermeneutic of continuity ['in renewal', one must add] seemed to have some cracks in it; more recently it seems that even Joseph Ratzinger has somewhat distanced himself from it.

In his notes relating to the roots of sexual abuse in the Church (published exclusively for Italy in Corriere della sera, on 11 April 2019), the Second Vatican Council is repeatedly called into question. With more theological freedom and no longer in an official capacity, Benedict XVI points to a sort of Biblicism that originated in Dei Verbum as the main doctrinal root of the moral crisis in the Church.

In the struggle engaged in at the Council, an attempt was made to be liberated from the natural foundation of the moral law in order to base morality exclusively on the Bible.

The impact of the Constitution on Divine Revelation – which did not want to mention the role of the Traditio constitutiva, even though Paul VI oversaw its writing – is reflected in the wording of Optatam Totius16 [The Decree on Priestly Formation], which in fact was later rejected out of suspicion that its morality was too “pre-conciliar,” scornfully identified as “manualistic” because it was based in the natural law. The negative effects of such “repositioning” did not delay in making themselves felt and are still under our astonished eyes.

In the same notes of Ratzinger we also read a denunciation of so-called “conciliarity” which had become the litmus test of what was truly acceptable and able to be proposed, even to the point of leading some bishops to refute the Catholic Tradition. In the various post-conciliar documents that sought to correct this trajectory, providing correct interpretation of doctrine, serious consideration has never been given to the problem of fundamental theology that was inaugurated by the principle of “conciliarity.”

In fact, “conciliarity” is the door that opens up to all the other problems, becoming a free spirit that always dances around and juts out with respect to the text and above all with respect to the Church. It was spoken of during the 1985 Synod of Bishops, but this discussion never crystallized into a clear statement that refuted it.

The hermeneutical problem of Vatican II will never end if we do not face a central and radical point on which depends the clear comprehension of doctrines and their magisterial evaluation. Vatican II presented itself as a council with an exquisitely pastoral purpose. But of course, all of the preceding councils were pastoral in the measure in which they affirmed the truth of the faith and fought against errors.

Vatican II chose a new method for a pastoral purpose: the “pastoral method” that became a true program of action. By declaring it several times but never giving a definition of what is meant by “pastoral,” Vatican II presented itself in a new way with respect to other councils.

It is the “pastoral council” that more than any other council proposed new doctrines, but chose neither to define new dogmas nor to reiterate any dogma in a definitive way (perhaps the sacramental nature of the episcopate, but on this there was not unanimity).

“Pastorality” foresaw an absence of condemnations and a non-definition of the faith, instead offering a “new way” of teaching it for the present time: a “new way” that influenced the formation of 'new doctrines' and vice-versa. This problem is still felt with all its virulence today when there is a preference for “leaving doctrine aside” for pastoral motives, but this cannot be done without in fact teaching another – different – doctrine.

The “pastoral method” (and it really was a method) played a role of the first order in the Council. [In other words, it was used as a conscious strategy as well as tactic.]
- It directed the conciliar agenda.
- It established what was to be discussed and directed the reformulation of several central schemas because they were said to be “unpastoral.”
- It led to the neglect of common doctrines because they were still disputed (such as for example, limbo and the material insufficiency of the Scriptures, reiterated by the ordinary magisterium of the catechisms) and to the embrace of teaching “new doctrines” that had not been theologically debated in any way (such as for example, episcopal collegiality and the restoration of the married permanent diaconate).

Indeed the “pastoral” rose to the rank of a constitution with Gaudium et Spes (we were accustomed to a constitution being such only in relation to faith), a document so shabby that it even made Karl Rahner’s hair stand on end, who advised Cardinal Döpfner to declare the imperfection of the text from the very beginning, mainly due to the fact that the created order did not appear to have God for its end. And yet Rahner was the promoter of “transcendental” pastoral care.

[One must point out that perhaps the greatest difference in the attitudes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI towards Vatican-II was that the latter never ceased to criticize what he saw to be the major weaknesses of Gaudium et Spes, whereas John Paul II, who, as Karol Wojtyla had been among the framers of that Constitution, considered it a bedrock of Vatican II.]

Thus the Council posed a problem of interpretation in and of itself, and this did not begin with a false reception [after the Council] but right from the discussions in the conciliar aula. Understanding the degree of theological qualification of the conciliar doctrines was not easy even for the Council Fathers themselves, who repeatedly asked for clarification from the Secretariat of the Council. [I believe this was always acknowledged by everyone who took part in the Council, and this was used to explain the use of compromise language in what were - and continue - to be its most controversial texts. This was a given from the get-go that could not be circumvented.]

“Pastorality” then also entered into the drafting of the new schema on the Church. For many Council Fathers, the mystery of the Church (in its invisible aspect) was broader than its historical and hierarchical manifestation (its visible aspect), even to the point of maintaining the non-co-extensiveness of the Mystical Body of Christ with the Roman Catholic Church.
- Were there two juxtaposed Churches?
- A “Church of Christ” on one side and “the Catholic Church” on the other? This risk arose not from the verbal change with “subsistit in” but fundamentally from having renounced the doctrine of the members of the Church (there was a shift from de membris to de populo) in order not to offend Protestants as imperfect members.

Today it seems that more or less everyone belongs to the Church. If we were to ask a question – “Did the Council Fathers maintain that the Mystical Body of Christ is the Catholic Church?” – how would many people respond? Many Council Fathers said no, and this is why we are where we are.

The “spirit of the Council” was thus born in the Council itself. [Of course it was! It animated all the progressivists responsible for 'why we are where we are' today, and it always struck me as significant that the progressivists exalted 'the spirit of the Council' while almost completely ignoring the Holy Spirit who should be the only Spirit animating the Church and everything it does. At least, they were honest in not attributing or equating their 'spirit' to the Holy Spirit.]
- It hovers through Vatican II and its texts.
- It is often a reflection of a “pastoral spirit” that is not clearly identifiable,
- that builds or demolishes in the name of “conciliarity,” which often simply meant the theological sentiment of the moment that had more hold because the voice of the one who was speaking was stronger, not only in the media but also in the council aula and in the doctrinal Commission.

A hermeneutic that does not understand this fundamental issue ends up being overtaken by a problem that is still unresolved today: Vatican II is treated as an “absolute” of the faith, as if it is the very identity of the Christian, as the passe-partout in the “post-conciliar” Church. [This is the view of the 'spiritists' including Bergoglio, but was never the view of the 'conservatives' in the Church, or those who, like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, advocated the middle way of interpreting the Council as 'a renewal in continuity with Tradition'. One scholar of the Council called this middle way - which was what Benedict XVI advocated in his 2005 address on the hermeneutic of continuity - 'reformist'. In the case of the latter two popes, they were dutybound as popes to uphold the Council itself as a valid ecumenical council which did not mean endorsing the controversial interpretation (and execution) of its most problematic texts.]

'The Church is divided because it depends on the Council and not vice-versa. [I disagree vehemently with those who keep calling the 'church' as it is today 'the Church'. It is not - the Bergoglian church, small c, is not the Church of Christ, it is not the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" - it is a travesty of it, a degeneration into a protestantized church that, under Bergoglio, has taken major steps towards a syncretic 'one world church' parallel to an intended 'one world government'.] This in turn generates another problem.

First, the Council as an absolute of faith and then the Pope as an absolute of the Church are in fact two sides of the same coin, the same problem of absolutizing first one and then the other, while forgetting that the Church comes first, then the pope with his pontifical magisterium and then the council with its conciliar magisterium.

The current problem of a pope seen as an absolute ruler arises as an echo of the idea of the council as absolutus and this is due to the fact that the “spirit of the council,” the spirit of an “event” that was superior to the texts and above all to the context, has been emphasized as the key criterion of measurement. Is it a coincidence that those who seek to impose the magisterium of Francis make continual appeal to Vatican II, portraying anyone who criticizes Francis as rejecting Vatican II?

The fact is that the link between Francis and Vatican II is entirely symbolic and almost never textual. The popes of the Council and of the post-council are saints (or shortly will be) [Is he assuming Bergoglio will shortly be a saint? I will not presume he means to include Benedict XVI] while the Church languishes, plunged into a silent desert. Doesn’t this tell us something?

As for the latest positions that have been expressed, paradoxically, it does not seem to me that the reasoning of His Excellency Archbishop Viganò and Cardinal Brandmüller are terribly far apart. - Viganò prefers to forget Vatican II; he does not think that correcting its ambiguous doctrines is a solution, because as he sees it there is an embryonic problem in Vatican II, a modernist coup right from the beginning that compromised not its validity but its catholicity.
- Brandmüller instead prefers to adopt the method of the historical reading of the documents of the Council, especially for those doctrines most difficult to read in line with the Tradition. This permits him to affirm that documents like Nostra Aetate, to which should also be added Unitatis Redintegratio and Dignitatis Humanae, are now only of historical interest, because the correct interpretation of their theological value has been given by the subsequent magisterium, especially by Dominus Iesus.

[As I remarked in an earlier commentary on Vigano's critique, there have been significant corrections formally carried out in an attempt to right the errors of Vatican II, at least for the record. First, the 1991 Catechism of the Catholic Church, and then Dominus Iesus, a CDF declaration issued in 2000 to mark the start of Christianity's third millennial. To which I would add Summorum Pontificum, which corrected the summary abrogration of the traditional Mass by Paul VI. Of course, Bergoglio has unilaterally changed the Catechism on the subject of the death penalty, and who is to say he won't change to say whatever he pleases.

But all those who keep crying out to 'correct' Vatican II seem to forget that such corrections mean something only when they are 'followed' throughout 'the Church', while we know that the Bergoglian church and whatever Vatican-II 'churches' may succeed it will simply ignore any 'corrections' that contest their body of faith. If John Paul II and Benedict XVI were unable to counteract the global hold that the 'spiritists' managed to establish throughout what they insist on calling 'the Catholic Church', then who can? Which is why, one can only think of the brick-by-brick approach that all Catholics intent on saving the faith and the Church must do, each in his own way.]

If Viganò prefers to forget the Council and Brandmüller suggests overcoming it by historicizing it without directly striking it, thereby avoiding an ad hoc magisterial correction and without having to abandon the hermeneutic of continuity, it seems that the difference between the two positions is only in their respective modalities.

However, it could be argued that it will be difficult in a future Enchiridion of Councils, updated by this recent historical-theological discussion, to make Vatican II appear only as a council of historical interest by means of a “historicizing hermeneutic” [such as Brandmüller proposes].

And nothing will prevent an “Abu Dhabi 2.0” from explicitly referring to Nostra Aetate, ignoring Dominus Iesus once again, or for Amoris Laetitia to invoke Gaudium et Spes while bypassing Humanae Vitae.

It should not be forgotten that the Bologna School [to which Bergoglio's designated dauphin, Luis Tagle, belongs] tried to do something of this nature with the Council of Trent, maintaining that it is now only a “general Council” and no longer an ecumenical council, of an inferior rank from a theological point of view. Vatican II certainly is not Trent, but this is only from the theological point of view, not the historical one.

We must also be aware of the fact that the historical hermeneutic, which leaves the text in its context and to the ideas of its editor, is well adapted to Vatican II as a pastoral council fully immersed in its time. The same hermeneutic however does not work with the Council of Trent, for example.

If in fact we would try to historicize the doctrine and canons on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we would find ourselves doing the same work as Luther with respect to the doctrinal tradition, and we would favor the work of the neo-Protestants who see the Mass as nothing more than a meal.

Between these two positions is that of Bishop Schneider, which seems more feasible: to correct the ambiguous expressions and doctrines present in the conciliar texts that have given occasion to countless errors accumulated over the course of time since the Council, [YES, BUT HOW? NO ONE HAS YET SAID HOW, other than hypothesizing the convening of an 'imperfect Council' which no one seems to know how to initiate so it will always remain hypothetical] while not ignoring the many virtuous and prophetic teachings, such as the holiness of the laity and the priesthood of all believers. [But the problems about Vatican II and their consequences never had anything to do with what was actually good and non-controversial about its teachings, all of which are incorporated in the 1991 Catechism, along with the older traditional sources for Catholicism's articles of faith.] Bishop Schneider calls “squaring the circle” the effort to see everything in continuity in the name of a right hermeneutic. [These are all word games and lead to nothing practical or practicable!]

We should begin with a sincere act of humility, as Archbishop Viganò proposed, recognizing that we have been fooled by the presumption of resolving all the problems in the name of authority, whether in good faith or bad. Authority either rests on truth or it does not stand. - It is not a question of repudiating or cancelling Vatican II, which remains a council of the Holy Church, but rather of correcting all of the distortions, whether in excess or defect.
- Nor is it a question of declaring victory for the traditionalists but rather of simply recognizing the truth. [I think we can all agree that everyone who opposes the perversions of Vatican II have long recognized the truth about it. That has never been the discussion.]

When Vatican II is finally freed from all of the politics that still surround it, then we will be on a right path.
[That is a facile but meaningless conclusion. Any discussion of Vatican II, and any correction, will necessarily be construed as political, i.e., progressivist, reformist, traditionalist, conservative. The right path begins with constant unrelenting prayer to the Holy Spirit to show us the way, along with constant unrelenting work by each of us who share the Catholic faith as it was before the perversions of Vatican II, to uphold, protect and conserve it, in whatever way we can, starting with how we live and think.]
- Fr. Serafino Lanzetta

Through all these discussions, which promise to be 'interminable' for the time being, let us not forget Mr. Valli's great insight that the problem underlying all of Vatican II - and therefore, its contortions and perversions- was the desire to please the world.

One of Marco Tosatti's admirable contributors to his Stilum Curiae blog proposes going back to the 18th-century French philosopher Auguste Comte to show how, even without Vatican II, those who would destroy the Church, would still have managed to do so, given the right opportunity... I entrust myself to Pezzo Grosso's scholarship in the historical data he cites.

To understand Vatican II
and its epitome in Bergoglio,
let us go back to Auguste Comte

July 16, 2020

Dear habitues of Stilum curiae, Pezzo Grosso requested permission, in a comment on a blogpost a few days ago, to take part in the current debate on Vatican II – which of course I gladly give him. PG is always interesting, but the article he contributes here is truly something special. Enjoy reading.

Dear Tosatti, I thank you for having authorized me to take part in the dispute over Vatican II though I am neither a Church historian nor a theologian. [Neither is Mons. Viganò! One simply needs to be fairly informed on the subject and to keep an open mind if that is possible.] I will attempt a provocative reflection which could accompany, but certainly not contradict, the hypotheses presented by Mons. Vigano or Cardinal Brandmueller, nor of Prof De Mattei.

I only wish to propose that even if there had been no Vatican II, we would still have had the ‘Bergoglian revolution’ effected, before him or after him) by others in their own ways and styles. But rather, and not by chance, thanks to different circumstances and under different conditions.

To explain the premise for what I propose for reflection, I invite some reflection on how the secular world looked at the Church before Vatican II , taken from an article from La Stampa on Nov. 10, 2012. It deserves reflection, word for word, namely:

“Before Vatican II, Mass was in Latin and no one understood it well. The priest turned his back on the congregation. No one knew to read the Bible. Catholics looked suspiciously on non-Catholics, and above all, regarded Jews with hostility and suspicion. Women were excluded [from Church affairs, presumably]. The Third World was ignored. The poor were not the center of attention….Etc”.

Unbelievable! But that is how the urgency for a seond Vatican Council was explained. Reading those lines, Mons. Lefebvre himself would have asked whether the writer was speaking of the same Council for which he suffered and the texts which he fought to the point of being excommunicated.

But do you think the secular world was interested at all in the Latin Mass? Or how the priest celebrated Mass? Come now! Obviously not. The interest was to try once more (let us say, after the Enlightenment), to destroy the Church by exploiting the circumstances at the time.

The hypothesis for a Vatican II was already there with Pius XI [[who indefinitely suspended Vatican I in 1870 after less han a year in session, when the Risorgimento forces of newly unified Italy conquered and occupied Rome; Vatican I was only formally adjourned in 1960], then intensified with Pius XII who was accused of being too intransigent, too closed to the modern world, and too hostile to Communism [NB!]

His successor, John XXIII, had the illusion that the Christian message would be better received in the world if the Church tried to appear less anti-Communist [to the point that Communism was never even mentioned at Vatican II though it took place at the height of the Cold War] and more open to modernity. [Perhaps I am searching wrongly, but all these years, I have not found an account in which Joseph Ratzinger explains the deliberate premeditated decision to omit any mention of Communism in all of Vatican II.]

And so he convoked Vatican II in 1962 – in the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and a nuclear threat which was invoked as a justification for his decision [not to raise the issue of Communism at all during the Council]. I would say that this decision, taken by the right persons at the right time, should be considered well. Without indicting their intentions. [???? Is PG justifying the flagrant omission? In 2012, Edward Pentin wrote a reportage on on this omission - and after reading it, one feels even more nauseatingly dismayed than ever.]

But the theological premises for a council like Vatican II had already been ready for centuries, ready to be adopted at the right moment. For example, the blueprint for Karl Rahner’s ‘new church’ – as Prof Stefano Fontana has masterfully defined and explained – had already been ready for some time, long before Vatican II. It had been modelled on the thinking of Heidegger, Kant and Descartes.

That those who wanted to impose the Rahnerian church (along with Teilhard de Chardin’s metaphysics) proactively took possession of Vatican II is historical fact. But it seems unthinkable that those who had been preparing the Rahnerian church had no other plans to realize it if Vatican II had not been convoked. They could not afford to lose what they had at stake nor to leave it to chance.

In the 20th century, their plans for toppling down the Church were all written down – for anyone who wishes and knows how to read them, - in all the documents heralding the New World Order initiated by the likes of Henry Kissinger and carried forward into the Obama regime (as Mons. Vigano implies). Documents that explain with extreme clarity why it is thought the Roman Catholic and apostolic Church should shut down – or change its politics and its head.

Nopw, however, I wish to provoke an uncommon reflection. What it takes for an anti-Catholic campaign to succeed was conceived and pushed by Auguste Comte (1798-1857), French atheist, philosopher and scientist, founder of positivism and the academic discipline of sociology, who has been called the 'pontiff of positive of religion', whose goal was to restructure the Catholic faith and Church.

Unlike Marx who wanted to abolish religion, Comte wished to create one which celebrates and venerates man, which would replace the the cult of saints with that of laymen, scientists and others considered meritorious in the formation of the social order. Not unlike what is happening today in Italy with the cult of Scalfari, Panella, Bonino, Napolitano, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Erlich, Yunus… [in short, a roll call of contemporary newsmakers who are admired, lauded and lionized by Bergoglio himself as living contemporary saints to be emulated].

Comte wished to ‘re-humanize’ Catholicism. [The reflex reaction to this is: But he was an atheist – why bother himself about the Church at all? Because since the so-called Enlightenment – and Comte was one of its most prominent sons – prominent atheists seem to choose to earn their creds by seeking to demolish not religion in general but the Catholic Church specifically, to the exclusion of all other religions. Name a prominent atheist who has attacked Islam or Judaism (Jews yes, they attack, but not Judaism), or Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism with their proliferating pantheons!]

I now give you a curious bit of information which explains a favorite book citation of Papa Bergoglio: It was Comte’s thought that inspired R. H. Benson’s ‘Lord of the World’, which is so exalted by the reigning pope. But it is equally interesting to reflect on Comte’s major project, which was to create the religion of Humanity, based on a socially useful ethic, in alliance with the Jesuits, whom he considered the religious order destined to become the spiritual leader of Catholicism.

He even wrote ‘an appeal to Ignatians’, asking the Jesuit superior-general to self-proclaim himself as the spiritual leader of all Catholics, pope and prince of Rome. (Obviously the Jesuits in his time ignored the invitation.)

Let us be clear: What I have written here is not intended to justify or explain the unfortunate consequences of Vatican II. I only wish to propose a reasoning which can lead us to be sure that even without Vatican II, the forces in play would have operated to produce the same results, by any other means.

Rather it is the 37-year parenthesis in which we were given a pope saint and a gifted pope restorer that we should seek to understand. And to do this, perhaps we should be able to understand Benedict XVI’s renunciation.

But I don’t think we will get there. Perhaps Our Lady of Fatima could explain it all to us.

But not necessary in order for us to understand the sense of the present time in the Church.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/18/2020 3:33 AM]
7/27/2020 11:24 PM
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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/28/2020 1:44 AM]
7/28/2020 1:40 AM
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GUEST POST from a priest:
'The Holy See has become a dumpster fire,
and the boldness of the Gospel is wanting'

July 25, 2020

I am grateful that your ministry serves as a voice for many faithful and Traditional Catholics. I have come a long way from hostility to the usus antiquor to being convinced that Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum has given believers an enclave of sound doctrine and authentic worship.

By now, I am sure you have read the Pontifical Academy for Life’s Humana communis on how we ought to respond to the Wuham pneumonia. But it’s exactly what’s deliberately left unsaid that is so distressing.

There is not a single mention of God or of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All hopes, instead, are placed in a vaccination to eradicate the virus and new “human community” that will supposedly emerge from this pandemic.

The language of “mindfulness” caught my attention, too, as if it is offered as a substitute for prayer and recollection. No room is left for grace to do its work, and there are no summons to turn to the Lord and ask Him for healing, as if 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the elephant in the room that has been poached simply to remove the inconvenience of repentance and conversion of life.

If the United Nations had a “secretary for culture,” this document looks like it could’ve been written by them rather than the legates of Christ.

Are the dicasteries of the Holy See more interested in looking “respectable” the secular age? (Cf 1 Cor 1:18-2:16)

When I look back on the Church’s history, plagues were often met with public penitential liturgies and processions of repentance. I will never forget when I saw this image back in high school – before I became a Catholic – which suggested to me the very spiritual vigour that defined the Catholic Church.

Modernism denies the immanence of the supernatural; is it a latent or residual Modernism that causes our prelates to dismiss the possibility that God is chastising us?

The very fact that the Church is not engaging in an examination of conscience suggests to me a certain hardness of heart.

The Church’s Tradition – relayed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 675 – speaks of a general apostasy at the twilight of history; though I’m sure the idea crossed the minds of Sts Thomas More and John Fisher in Henrician England, or Cardinal von Galen during the Third Reich, it would still be worthwhile to ask ourselves again, at least in the spirit of preparation and at most in the spirit of vigilance, whether those long-dreaded days are upon us. And, if not, how will we fare when that Day does come?

I’ll come right out and say it: The Holy See has become a dumpster fire, and the boldness of the Gospel is wanting.

As a priest, I know the power of Holy Mass, of prayer, of preaching, and of the indwelling Holy Spirit which makes the bombing of Hiroshima look like a firecracker; I simply wanted to vent to my brother-priest and to give voice to the many, many lay people who, with greater frequency, look to the Patriarchate of Moscow rather than the Bishop of Rome for boldness in the witness to Jesus Christ.

What we often read in the Lives of the Desert Fathers, I say to you: “Abba, give us a word.”

Meanwhile, now’s probably a good time for me to read St Augustine’s The City of God.

Fr. Z responds:

Here’s my word: Euge! Bravo!

You have put your finger on several sore spots, including one of the sorest of all: Modernism.

I very much like your image of the dumpster fire juxtaposed to the Mass as atom bomb v. firecracker of the next paragraph.

As priests we must follow in the High Priest’s path: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)

Since my Je m’accuse post, I’ve paid greater attention to traditional preparation prayers before Mass, including…

Ure igne Sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviámus, et mundo corde placeamus. … Enkindle, O Lord, our hearts and minds with the fire of the Holy Spirit: that we may serve you with a chaste body and please you with a clean heart.

Brother, I have another word for you.


It’s time we get religion.

You were moved by that image from the “Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry” of Pope St. Gregory in procession against the plague, when St. Michael appeared over the tomb of Hadrian, now Castel Sant’Angelo. Gregory and the plague afflicted inhabitants of Rome got Religion. They both got it and they got it, if you get my drift. They understood and they acquired it.

I mean, of course, the virtue of Religion.

We have to get really serious about the virtue of Religion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion in the glossary toward the back of the newer English edition, “Religion: a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion. (Cf. also CCC 2084 and 2135)

The Angelic Doctor says that Religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God (STh, 2-2a, 81, 1) as the creator and supreme ruler of all things, and to acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (e.g. by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (e.g., external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.). The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, blasphemy, etc.”

The virtue of Religion can be sinned against also by omission, neglect. NB: The Dumpster Fire Holy See’s omission of reference to God in their document.

At the top you mentioned your growing appreciation of the traditional forms of our liturgical worship. I respond that that Summorum Pontificum was the most important thing that Benedict XVI gave to the Church in his too short pontificate. It will have the longest and most profound consequences.

Why? Because of the knock-on effect created when priests learn to say the Traditional Mass. It changes the priest and how he sees himself and understands his role at the altar and in the Church. It kindles a fire that spreads from him to those who in the congregation.

Why? Because lay people begin to experience our sacred liturgical worship on a new, deeper level. There’s more “fuel” more “sustenance”. This has its own knock on effect in their sphere of life.

Why? Because WE ARE OUR RITES!

We are facing huge changes in the Church. We had to face them anyway, but COVID-1984 has accelerated the process. A demographic sink hole is going to open up under the Church in these USA and swathes of “Catholics” will disappear. Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith.

There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need. The result, I predict, will be amazing.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the key to the future. It must become widespread and frequent and beautifully executed. Only after a significant period of stability with the traditional forms will the real “mutual enrichment”, as Benedict XVI called it (or “gravitational pull” as I have called it), manifest its effects.

Until then, avoiding any impatient tinkering, we must have an increase in celebrations of our traditional worship, which means more than just Holy Mass.

We need all the traditional devotions and other rites as well.


Our rites shape us from the outside in and the inside out. They inform us and give us our identity. In order to have an impact on the world, which is our Christian duty, we have to know who we are. Hence, we need solid CULT, CODE and CREED. Worship, Catechism, and Law.

Every good initiative we have as a Church must begin in and return to sacred liturgical worship. This is clear because of the necessity of the virtue of Religion, which must order our lives, orient us.

No initiative we undertake in the Church can succeed without it being rooted in our sacred liturgical worship.

However, our collective sacred liturgical worship is presently in a state of cataclysmic disorder. Therefore, our collective observance of the virtue of Religion is not well fulfilled by the Church.

I believe with all my heart and mind that we, collectively, cannot in this present state fulfill properly our obligation to God according to the virtue of Religion, that virtue which directs us to give to God what is His due. Hence, according to the hierarchy of goods which we all must embrace, we are, collectively, disordered.

Nothing we can do as a Church will succeed in this state of affairs. We have to see to our worship of God.

The use of the TLM will help us to correct our downward trajectory.

The knock-on effect that learning the TLM has on priests is remarkable. That knock-on effect spreads like fire outward, beyond the sanctuary to congregations.

We are making progress, and that progress will speed up even as the eucatastrophe striking the Church is speeding up. You will recall Tolkien’s term. There are disaster which, like the felix culpa, result in some unexpected, hardly to be predicted good that result, some unexpected blessing.

So much more has to be done. An alarmed Enemy is fighting back and fighting hard.

The revitalization for the Church through a restoration of our Catholic identity will require nearly heroic courage from priests.

Priests will need to work hard to acquire tools that they were systematically cheated out of in their formation. They will be intimidated. They will fear that they can’t do it.

They can do it, but it will take hard work and support from others.

Graces will be given in this undertaking, because the connection of the priest and the altar is fundamental to the Church’s life.

No other thing that the priest does is more important.

Priests must also be willing to suffer attacks from libs, many of whom are not malicious but who are blinkered and nearly brainwashed.

Next, it is going to require nearly heroic courage and spirit of sacrifice from lay people who must support their priests and encourage them in projects that they will be reluctant to undertake. Lay people must also be ready to engage in their parishes on a new level.

Remember, friends, that we are our rites. As the Church prays, so do we believe and live.

Everything that we are and do as a Church flows from and returns to sacred liturgical worship.

We are our rites.

A propos many unfortunate things happening in 'the Church' today, meaning Bergoglio's church - CATHOLIC THING published an excellent 'tidbit' from St John Henry Newman:

The religion of the world
St. John Henry Newman

In every age of Christianity, since it was first preached, there has been what may be called a religion of the world, which so far imitates the one true religion, as to deceive the unstable and unwary.

The world does not oppose religion as such. I may say, it never has opposed it. In particular, it has, in all ages, acknowledged in one sense or other the Gospel of Christ, fastened on one or other of its characteristics, and professed to embody this in its practice; while by neglecting the other parts of the holy doctrine, it has, in fact, distorted and corrupted even that portion of it which it has exclusively put forward, and so has contrived to explain away the whole; for he who cultivates only one precept of the Gospel to the exclusion of the rest, in reality attends to no part at all.

Our duties balance each other; and though we are too sinful to perform them all perfectly, yet we may in some measure be performing them all, and preserving the balance on the whole; whereas, to give ourselves only to this or that commandment, is to incline our minds in a wrong direction, and at length to pull them down to the earth, which is the aim of our adversary, the Devil.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/1/2020 8:52 PM]
8/3/2020 10:50 PM
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