Benedetto XVI Forum


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1/24/2013 4:51 AM
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See preceding page for earlier entries on 1/23/13.

Forgive the time lag for these posts. My attention was called to the first one by a commentary about it in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, so of course, I had to look up the article itself. Which turns out to be eminently fiskable - and outrageous = in a way that progressivist views usually are to hidebound conservatives like me. And I am glad I have the chance to point out even more egregious objections than those employed in the Bussola article...

A proposal against the wars of religion:
On the family and ‘non-negotiable’ values

by Pierluigi Battista
Translated from

January 18, 2012

“Ethically sensitive” questions are held prisoner by the long-standing wars of religion. [What exactly does Battista mean by this term? That religion - Catholicism, in Italy - has been waging symbolic wars on various fronts in behalf of its beliefs? And why not? And in what way are these issues kept hostage by the Church, when it is the Church that constantly brings up these issues in public?]

That is why no one has been able to reach a politically pragmatic conclusion, a law, a reasonable settlement among various cultural and moral options. [No, the reason no 'settlement' has been reached is that some issues raised under the Prodi government - that of legalizing civil unions, heterosexual as well as homosexual - failed to get a parliamentary majority.]

Instead, one must clear the playing field of mines. Without ‘silencing’ or humiliating anyone. But discarding the logic of reciprocal vetos. Politics, even on such sensitive issues, should be able to negotiate and find useful compromises. [Yada, yada... Easy to say, but try it!]

But if the logic of ‘non-negotiable values’ and of ideological extremism is perpetuated, one will get nowhere. Or one gets bogged down infinitely in nonsense. [Since when are ‘non-negotiable values’ unacceptable, and how can sticking to basic principles be considered ‘ideological extremism’?Or 'nonsense' for that matter? Otherwise, the temptation to shortcuts or tests of strength will prevail.

To clear out the mines, one can proceed – in this electoral campaign in which rightly, the citizens wish to know what their representatives will do – along two lines: the ‘unpacking’, so to speak, of ‘ethically sensitive’ issues, and the parliamentarization of the debate on such issues, which would require the government, any government, to have the support of a majority which, in an election where ‘conscience’ votes prevail, will not necessarily coincide with the majority needed to support an executive (a prime minister).

One can rescue a nucleus of themes that are truly non-negotiable from those for which compromise is possible and acceptable. In the matter of life, for instance, Catholics believe their position on this is not negotiable, and it would be unjust, and even arrogant, to ask someone who believes that human life begins from the moment of conception and that the embryo is already a person, to renounce such a fundamental belief. [Gee, such condescension! As if both premises were not also scientific. But secularists are notorious for ignoring science that does not fit into their mindset. Remember the global warming extremists and how they had to fake data to fit their far-from-proven hypothesis? How can any reasonable person say that the original zygote, the first stage of the organism – a full human being – that results from the union of a female egg with a sperm cell at the moment of conception, or the fetus into which it develops during its months in the womb, are any less ‘valuable’ than a baby who is born and the adult into which it will grow? It is one and the same individual, all the time, only at different life stages. There would be no adult if there had been no baby that was born, no baby if there had been no fetus that developed in the womb, no fetus if there had been no primordial zygote resulting from the fertilization of an egg by sperm at conception. The human life is a continuum from conception onwards - that is scientific fact, and secularists cannot arbitrarily reject its earliest stages..]

Catholics who oppose abortion on principle, norms in assisted reproduction that allow massive destruction of ‘unused’ embryos, the use of embryonic stem cells for research, have every right not only to vote against laws that oppose their beliefs, but also to wage a cultural and political battle against politicians who, in their judgment, violate the sacredness of life.

But what is non-negotiable about a blind and extreme war against the recognition of civil unions, whether heterosexual but especially homosexual? [The fact that it is not ‘blind and extreme’, but a logical expression of natural law. The entire biological universe would not exist if God (or Nature, if you will) had not built in the complementarity of sexes – male and female – to perpetuate each species. The demographic decline of the West is alarming enough without aggravating it, to whatever degree, by encouraging sterile same-sex unions who must resort to adoption to simulate a family, but that is just what they are doing – it’s like adults ‘playing house’. They cannot be serious, no matter that they think they are. Not all mothers and fathers are perfect, but does that mean that ‘two mothers’ or ‘two fathers’ instead of father-and-mother would be better for children? Besides, the record in the USA for couples who rushed into SSM the moment they could do it anywhere legally has shown that most of them have tended to be short-lived, i.e., they’re no better than heterosexuals at faithful monogamy.]

A reasonable law, that safeguards the fundamental rights of homosexuals, that gives juridical recognition to unions between persons of the same sex, is in a sphere outside that of non-negotiable values. Does same-sex ‘marriage’ provoke fear? [It is not fear, Mr. Battista, that the idea provokes – it’s disgust, at the very idea of legalizing anything that is so obviously contrary to Nature and to natural law.]

Granted that it provokes fear – even if the British Conservatives under David Cameron no longer fear it, nor even Republicans in the United States who would not even oppose adoption by same-sex couples [Where did Battista get this bizarre idea about the Republicans?], and the moderate French left, is it possible that In Italy there could not be a similar law to that accepted in Germany even by the Christian Democrats, who are such an important part of the European Popular Party?

And why not detach as well from ‘non-negotiable’ values a non-authoritative law [What exactly is a non-authoritative law"; if it is law, it ought to be authoritative! I think he means a law that does not require but allows the options he goes on to mention] on ‘the end of life” or on a ‘biological will’ which even, while rejecting euthanasia, will allow citizens to declare voluntarily and in full awareness their right to die when medicine has shown it can do no more?

['Corrierone is a pejorative term for the Corriere della Sera.]

The 'Corrierone' and
the Catholic frog

by Mario Palmaro
Translated from

January 21, 2013

There are articles that reveal a world. The one written by Pierluigi Battista in Corriere della Sera on January 18 must be read and meditated upon in bishops’ palaces, in the local curias, in parishes and in Catholic homes. Because in his article, Battista summarizes in exemplary mode the recipe by which the world is 'cooking' Catholics under a slow fire.

It is a small masterpiece, very lucid, that anticipates how we Catholics will end (and end up). [I think Mr. Palmaro very much overrates Battista's very impugnable piece!]

An end that is very much like the parable of the frog in boiling water: If you toss the proverbial frog into a kettle of boiling water, he will simply jump out right away, but if you put him into the kettle and only then put it over a slow flame, then the frog will get to be boiled without a problem.

The enemies of the Church – let us not forget that the Church has her enemies in the world – have understood by now that firing squads, guillotines, nooses, torture, genocides, lagers and gulags, massacres of nuns and priests, after their initial and undeniable uses – end up producing martyrs which only serve to reinvigorate the faith that they so hate.

So they must change tactics. They must boil the Catholic frogs under a slow fire. And this task must be entrusted to democratic and liberal institutions, to reputable organizations who work for peace, European unity and utopia, to technico-political leaders who go to Mass on Sundays, who say “values, values “ every five minutes and must therefore be “good persons” who have not the least idea where Freemasonry lodges are located.

In short, the Catholic frog will not be aware that the temperature in the kettle is slowly rising, and will ultimately find himself boiled without as much as a groan. Let us say of Battista’s article that it is a true masterpiece of this tactic.

Battista says in effect: Non-negotiable principles are a colossal annoyance because they hinder the modernization and Europeanization of an over-aged Italy which has been Catholic and Papist too long. Whereas all this time, strong para-Masonic powers wish to make of the Bel Paese (beautiful country) a glacial and inhuman land similar to the efficient and very clean Lutheran nations of northern Europe, where the trains run on time, the hospitals function, everyone pays taxes, people get drunk on Friday but by turns (so someone can drive the car home) – and suicides are increasing visibly, out of desperation in a life that is bereft of any sense of the transcendent.

Battista writes: “Poiitics, even on such sensitive issues, must be able to negotiate and find useful compromises. But if the logic of ‘non-negotiable values’ and of ideological extremism is perpetuated, one will get nowhere. Or one gets bogged down infinitely in nonsense”. Therefore, whoever speaks of these principles – say, Benedict VXI – is spouting nonsense!

His solution: Two moves. The first – to ‘unpack’ non-negotiable issues, by separating those that are “truly non-negotiable” from those for which compromise is possible and acceptable. The second – To parliamentarize the debate on ethically sensitive issues. [That was done by the Prodi government back in 2008 - they couldn't get the votes to legalize SSM along with heterosexual de facto unions.] So in the kettle prepared for the Catholic frog, the temperature is slowly rising.

And how should this 'unpacking’ be done? Here, Battista’s reasoning gets perfidiously subtle. Corriere’s editorialist distinguishes from issues “that have to do with life” – such as abortion and artificial reproduction – from the burning issue of same-sex ‘marriage’. On the first, Battista writes benevolently that Catholics “have every right not only to vote against laws that oppose their beliefs, but also to wage a cultural and political battle against politicians who, in their judgment, violate the sacredness of life”.

But after the carrot comes the big stick. And his tone suddenly becomes harsh and menacing. “But what is non-negotiable about a blind and extreme war against the recognition of civil unions, whether heterosexual but especially homosexual? A reasonable law, that safeguards the fundamental rights of homosexuals, that gives juridical recognition to unions between persons of the same sex, is in a sphere outside that of non-negotiable values. Does same-sex ‘marriage’ provoke fear? "

In the kettle, the Catholic frog is getting to feel the heat. The scheme outlined by Battista is subtle and banal at the same time – namely, to appear conciliatory on arguments (abortion and test tube babies) that Catholics have already lost and about which unjust laws have been inexorably consolidated, while asking for an attitude of compromise and surrender on an issue – same-sex marriage – in which the defeat has not yet been consummated. Ingenious, And diabolical.

The tone of the article also indicates that the secular world attributes a fundamental importance to this legal and symbolic official sanction to homosexuality. And that any attempt to block this plan will be swept aside ruthlessly.

Catholics have been warned: If they insist on thinking and saying that there are natural relationships as well as unnatural ones, which contradict nature, the reaction from the Europist and internationalist establishment will be terrible. And woe to whoever is thinking of promising voters that, if he ever governs, he will oppose this ‘gay’ trend in the law: he will be struck down by plague!

Obviously, in Battista’s thinking, Catholic non-negotiable principles are on the level of the most irrational beliefs of an animist tribe in black Africa. Two thousand years of philosophical tradition, of well-reasoned moral and political doctrine, of the natural law invoked by Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More and Charles of Hapsburg, have all been tossed into the secular-progressivist incinerator.

For Battista and his ilk, to be against abortion, or even worse, against same-sex ‘marriage’, is the outcome of irrational impulses that can, for now, survive but only within the religious sphere. However, in public life, where the sun of enlightened revolutionary reason shines, every person of good sense ‘should’ know that SSM is a most reasonable proposal. And that if Catholics cannot get that, let them be re-educated through the mass media, and if it helps, even through democratic courts.

And so the fate of the Catholic frog seems sealed. Battista and laymen who think like him are not the only ones bringing the kettle to a slow boil. This is also favored by the obvious doctrinal disorder within the Catholic camp.

In Italy, not a single pastoral council, or parish, or catechists’ group, has made it clear – much less, made accepted - to everyone what are these non-negotiable principles and what exactly they are about. Usually, the ‘Catholic' candidate who comes from a parish environment discards Catholic doctrine from his speeches within five minutes, mostly out of ignorance. [If this is so, can it be that Cardinal Bagnasco and the CEI are completely oblivious to this failure of basic instruction at the parish level? If they are, it is shamefully unacceptable and a disservice to the Pope who is Primate of Italy.]
Humanly speaking, the plan of the Corrierone, the European Union, and of revolutionary progressivists and conservatives (From Hollande to Cameron) appears to be a done deal, and the Catholic frog is almost cooked.

Fortunately, there is that something that seems nothing, and is ignored by Battista and not a few ‘adult’ Catholics, which we call Providence.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 7:09 PM]
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1/24/2013 8:46 AM
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??? Rebuke of Battista's article
I understand the main point of the rebuke... but as a citizen of one of the northern, glacier nations I wonder:

Battista says in effect: Non-negotiable principles are a colossal annoyance because they hinder the modernization and Europeanization of an over-aged Italy which has been Catholic and Papist too long. Whereas all this time, strong para-Masonic powers wish to make of the Bel Paese (beautiful country) a glacial and inhuman land similar to the efficient and very clean Lutheran nations of northern Europe, where the trains run on time, the hospitals function, everyone pays taxes, people get drunk on Friday but by turns (so someone can drive the car home) – and suicides are increasing visibly, out of desperation in a life that is bereft of any sense of the transcendent.

For example: There is a place called Bavaria which is the generates a huge economical output and is quite well off financially.
It's organised, clean, efficient, hardly infected by corruption, filled with lots of rational tax paying workaholics.
But!! It is traditional, warm, open minded but firm; confident and filled with a special sense of humor and joy!

Success and Catholicism combined is possible!
It is clear that people are not living their lives with the catechism under their pillows, but the erosion of morals hasn't been as successful here as elsewhere.
The Bavarian state government is the most conservative one in all of Germany.

Granting questionable 'rights' has nothing to do with the advancement of a nation!
It's structure, discipline and political stability which will help!
Sometimes a touch of rationality helps as well.
Since when do Lutherans have the monopoly on that!?

It's very easy blaming the stagnation of your nation on 'fundamentalist religious values'.
It's easy, polemic and, if repeated often enough, will be accepted by the masses as true.
History always repeats itself!

But! Dividing Europe into a glacier north and happy go lucky south is extremely simplistic!

Thank you for your passionate but very rational and helpful presentation, and especially, for bringing up the Bavarian model of Catholicism/conservatism-cum-success. It is something that needs to be pointed out to Both Battista and Palmaro, and other Italians who abide by these North-South cliches which they tend to use like a crutch.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/24/2013 12:14 PM]
1/24/2013 2:09 PM
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The following article illustrates very clearly how even the most well-regarded Catholic intellectuals appear to miss the point about why people become saints, especially, about why Popes become saints. The qualities of sainthood have nothing to do with how a person may have carried out his job as long he was not an outright derelict. Popes do not become saints because they have done an excellent job as Pope, but because their personal life was saintly, and that whatever shortcomings and errors in their Pontificate were the result not of malice or evil intention on their part, but of administrative incompetence or wrong judgment. (Persons of writer Verrecchio's mindset might as well argue that John Paul I ought not to be considered for sainthood because in his 33 days as Pope, he did not have a chance to have any 'achievements' - never mind-that he was perceived by all those who knew him as a saintly man.)

Verrecchio also nakedly and opportunistically uses statements made by Joseph Ratzinger in 1969-70 to set up an attack on Paul VI, which is really what this article is about. But the effect is to say, "If Joseph Ratzinger saw a crisis in the Church after Vatican-II, that crisis was all due to Paul VI's incompetence. Then why did Joseph Ratzinger, as Benedict XVI, proclaim his heroic virtues?" QED, about the self-imposed tunnel vision of those who want to see only their point of view.

Fr. Ratzinger’s vision and
the Pontificate of Paul VI

By Louie Verrecchio

January 24, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI (more accurately, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger) is often quoted as saying that he envisions a day when there will be a “smaller, more faithful Church.”

Though not precisely verbatim, the quote is derived from a series of radio addresses given by the future Holy Father in 1969-1970, a print version of which is available in the book, Faith and the Future (Ignatius Press).

According to Ignatius Press, Fr. Ratzinger said that the church “will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes … she will lose many of her social privileges. …As a small society, (the Church) will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”

On that day, the 42-year-old priest-theologian predicted, ours “will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate… It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek …”

Ignatius Press describes Fr. Ratzinger’s commentary as “surprisingly prophetic,” but if his vision for the future belongs in the category of prophecy at all, one would perhaps do well to add the qualifier “self-inflicted.”

Let’s be honest, the current crisis in the Church, wherein priest shortages, empty pews, parish closings and bankrupt dioceses are commonplace, was all but guaranteed as Fr. Ratzinger wrote for a number of internal reasons, including, but certainly not limited to, the following: [But all this is old hat - nothing new here by way of insight or information!]

• The Second Vatican Council had five years hence ['Hence'???? I think Verrechio means 'earlier]' adopted a church-state policy modeled after the U.S. Constitution’s pluralistic approach to religious freedom, thereby setting in motion an Apostolic ceasefire wherein the Church relinquished any positive claim to its unique rights and privileges, effectively transforming the body Apostolic into a corps diplomatic. [Entirely Verrecchio's opinion and interpretation of facts about a gray area that does not necessarily resolve into the black-and-white dichotomy he sets up.]

•In 1964, a faction among the Fathers of this very same ecumenical council had surreptitiously declared mutiny through a contrived notion of “collegiality” so deliberately ambiguous that the Pope had to take the unprecedented step of inserting in Lumen Gentium an explanatory note; though it ultimately did little to stem the rebellious tide going forward.

•The 1967 Land-O-Lakes Statement [by heads of the leading US Catholic educators in the USA], after meeting with little meaningful resistance from the Holy See, quickly became a manifesto for so-called Catholic institutions of higher learning that were determined to assert “freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind;” read, freedom from the Pope and whatever sanctions he may, or may not, impose. [Apparently, this continues to trump John Paul II's 1990 Ex Corde Ecclesiae which laid down what must remain unequivocally Catholic in Catholic universities.]

•The Novus Ordo Missae had just been pressed upon the faithful of the Latin Rite, in spite of the strident objections of honorable churchmen like Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani who warned of the ill effects it was likely to have on the children of the Church.

What do all of these unfortunate episodes in the life of the Church, each of which played a part in practically inviting the firestorm of which Fr. Ratzinger forewarned, have in common?

They happened on the watch of Pope Paul VI, who, in no small twist of irony, was recently recognized for a life of “heroic virtue” by Pope Benedict XVI (making him a Venerable) on December 20, 2012.

News of Paul VI being “raised to the altar” sparked mixed reactions, about which the inimitable Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (better known simply as Fr. Z) posted some useful very insights on his excellent blog "What Does the Prayer Really Say."

For instance, he points out that “heroic virtue” and “doing heroic things” are not exactly the same thing, and yet, “some people… are saying things such as ‘Paul issued Humanae vitae! That sure was heroic! I’d canonize him for that!’”

While many Catholics simply accept the proposition that Humanae Vitae is a great achievement on the part of Paul VI, a more sober assessment is that the circumstances surrounding its promulgation is far more a “black eye” on his pontificate than it is a crowning glory.

There are several modes, or organs, of infallibility; e.g., ex cathedra statements given by the Pope, de fide teachings issued by an ecumenical council, and the universal ordinary magisterium of the Church. This latter mode refers to those doctrines that have been taught constantly and definitively over a period of many centuries by the bishops of the world, in union with the Roman pontiffs.

As an example of the latter, consider:
When a Dubium was sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994, asking whether or not the teaching given by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, concerning the restriction of the priesthood to males only, is infallible, Cardinal Ratzinger replied in the affirmative by virtue of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.

According to numerous theologians, not the least of whom is the eminent moral theologian Dr. Germain Grisez, who also happens to have been a member of the commission appointed by Pope Paul VI to study the so-called “question of contraception,” the doctrine at hand had long since belonged in that very same category.

Furthermore, the Second Vatican Council, in the document Gaudium et Spes, stated in 1965, two years before Humanae Vitae: "Sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law. All should be persuaded that human life and the task of transmitting it are not realities bound up with this world alone. Hence they cannot be measured or perceived only in terms of it, but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny of men (GS 51).

This being the case, it would seem that in giving Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wasn’t so much pressing the limits of Christian fortitude as simply reiterating that which was already infallibly taught, a doctrine ever moored to Tradition as evidenced by the Universal Ordinary Magisterium. [I don't think anyone who was following the news at the time had any doubt of that! The news was not that he stood up for the traditional teaching of the Church, because that was his duty as Pope, but that he did so against the recommendation of an advisory council he had appointed. Why he called an advisory council to begin with, other than to show that he was open to listening to other viewpoints, is another issue.]

As such, I cannot help but ask an important question that few, to my knowledge, seem to be asking: What exactly moved the Holy Father to appoint a commission to study a doctrine that was already part of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium?

When one considers how much the simple fact of the commission’s creation contributed to the atmosphere of anticipation that existed before Humanae Vitae, and therefore also contributed in no small measure to the havoc that ensued in its aftermath (to say nothing of the Holy Father’s handling of the rebellion), the answer to this question would seem highly relevant.

Fr. Z states, “Some will scratch their heads saying, ‘But Father! Maybe Paul was personally holy, and he prayed and was sincere, but can he have lived a life of heroic virtue if he wasn’t a very good Pope?’”

“In trying to make sense of this, in connection with Paul VI and what seems to many to be a lack of positive accomplishments according to his state in life, perhaps we have to take more and more seriously the circumstances in which he was Bishop of Rome,” he continued. “I don’t have an answer to this difficulty right now.”

I don’t have an answer either, but as I sit here today, it certainly seems to me that a sober assessment of the pontificate of Paul VI gives the children of the Church far more to lament than to celebrate..

[The cause for Paul VI's sainthood has nothing to do with whether we celebrate his Pontificate or not, or whether he had a sterling record as Pope. Believing as I do that a Pope's saintliness does not depend on his 'work record' as Pope, I don't celebrate his Pontificate unequivocally, because i reproach him for what I consider an appalling surrender to the progressivists on his liturgical commission, but I do not question his personal holiness, nor do I think that he was less holy because he had bad judgment. To impugn the cause for his sainthood because of his judgment lapses as Pope is on the order of the objections expressed about John Paul II's cause because of what appears to be a major judgment lapse about Marcial Maciel.

If John Paul II publicly honored Maciel as late as 1994, does anyone think he would have done so if he really had known without a doubt that all the accusations raging against Maciel since the 1950s were founded? Even granted that he had enough information in 1994 but simply refused to accept the truth, does that judgment lapse detract from his personal holiness? Do we really think he never once prayed for guidance about this but somehow chose to ignore the Holy Spirit?

Popes are more vulnerable than other candidates for sainthood because their 'work record', so to speak, is more public than most, and everyone feels free to scour that record for any and all blots. If Humanae Vitae is the biggest blot Verrecchio can find against Paul VI, then how is that incompatible with saintliness? Advisory council or not, he upheld and presented Church teaching on this particular issue in a very forceful way, and in contemporary terms. Remember, it was occasioned chiefly by the new and universal over-the-counter availability of birth-control pills.]

As for Humanae Vitae specifically, rather than viewing it as an achievement of Paul VI, it is perhaps more appropriate to recognize it as solid evidence of the protection of the Holy Ghost who would allow no other outcome.

[That's really very petty of Verrecchio, who obviously sees nothing good at all about Paul VI... In some way, all this carping about the Popes being considered for sainthood also constitutes barely-veiled criticism of Benedict XVI who has approved the 'heroic virtues' of John Paul II, Pius XII and Paul VI, in that order. The Pope's approval simply means he confirms what diocesan commissions and systematic inquiries by the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood have previously established - it's not his personal opinion, even if he personally may share the conclusions - up to and including any miracles certified that would lead to beatification and eventually, canonization... Do Verrecchio et al then believe that Benedict XVI is putting his stamp dishonestly and self-servingly on the 'heroic virtues' of Paul VI? And what makes them think they are more qualified to judge Paul VI on his saintly virtues than all the witnesses and testimonials from people who have known him all his life and do not judge him only on what he did or failed to do as Pope?

Petty-minded critics may even say, "Of course, Benedict XVI would exalt Paul VI who made him an archbishop and cardinal!" Which is precisely the same appalling level of pettiness with which Verrecchio et al quibble about the circumstances surrounding Humanae Vitae as reason enough not to consider Paul VI saintly in any way!]

P.S. One thing that the adherents of the mythical 'spirit of Vatican-II' (and critics of Paul VI who otherwise acknowledge the teachings of Vatican II as universal Magisterium) fail to appreciate is that Paul VI did preside over three-fourths of the Council, saw it to its conclusion, and had the great challenge of having to implement its teachings as best he could. at the very time when Western culture - and with it, the Catholic Churcn - underwent its greatest upheaval since the Industrial Revolution. As imperfectly as he undertook the initial implementations, his role in Vatican-II was not inferior, IMHO, to the divinely-inspired injtiative of John XXIII in calling the Council to begin with.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/24/2013 8:30 PM]
1/24/2013 4:45 PM
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Tuesday, January 24, Third Week in Ordinary Time

Third illustration from left, St. Francis de Sales with St. Frances de Chantal; extreme right, the statue of St. Francis in St. Peter's Basilica.
ST. FRANCOIS [Francis] DE SALES (France 1567-1622), Bishop, Writer, Doctor of the Church
Born to a noble family in Savoy, Francis had the best education possible in his time, with degrees from the universities of Paris and Padua. He chose to become a priest over the civil career his family expected him to pursue. Because of their connections, he was appointed Provost of Geneva by its bishop. Geneva was the center of the Calvinist movement, and Francis dedicated himself to converting Calvinists, writing catechetical pamphlets for that purpose. He was a spellbinding preacher, a gentle pastor, and ascetic in his own life. At age 35, he became Bishop of Geneva but continued to preach, hear confessions and catechize children. He wrote two books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, along with many pamphlets and a vast correspondence. His writings, characterized by his gentleness, are addressed to lay people, to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. With St. Frances de Chantal, he founded the Sisters of the Visitation whose members can choose to do community work or a contemplative life. He was canonized in 1661, not long after his death, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1877, In 1963, he was named the patron saint of writers and journalists. He inspired St. John Bosco who named the religious order he founded Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB).
Readings for today's Mass:


No events announced for the Holy Father today.

As usual, on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of communications,
the Vatican released the Holy Father's message for this year's
World Day of Social Communications to be observed on May 10:
"Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization".

The Vatican also released the text of the Pope's telegram of condolence, written in Polish, to the Archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Kasimierz Nycz, for the death of his predecessor, Cardinal Josef Glemp, who had been Archbishop of Warsaw and Primate of Poland. Glemp was 83. News reports said he died of lung cancer. (My English translation is from the Italian translation provided by the Vatican Press Office).

Left paneL top photo: Cardinal Glemp with Benedict XVI (date not given); bottom photo: With John Paul II, Lech Walesa and his wife, in 1981. Glemp was one of Walesa's earliest supporters.

To our Venerated Brother
Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz
Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw

I have learned with sorrow about the death of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, emeritus Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw and Primate of Poland.

I join you, dear Brother, your priests and the faithful of the Church in Poland, in prayers of gratitude for the life and pastoral commitment of this meritorious minister of the Gospel.

Caritati in iustitia – through charity in justice. This episcopal motto accompanied him all his life and oriented his way of thinking, of evaluating, of making choices and decisions, and of proposing the pastoral line of action.

He was a 'just' man, in the spirit of St. Joseph, his patron saint, and those who, in the Biblical tradition, listened to the call of God addressed not only to them personally, but also to the communities to which they were sent.

Such justice, enriched with humble adherence to the will of God, was the basis of his profound love for God and man, which was his light, inspiration and strength in the difficult ministry of leading a Church at a time when significant social and political transformations were taking place in Poland and Europe.

Love of God and the Church, and concern for the life and dignity of every man, made him an apostle of unity against division, of concord in the face of confrontation, of the common effort to construct a happy future on the basis of the past experiences, joyful as well as sorrowful, of the Church and her people.

Continuing the work of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, in constant communion and bonding with Pope John Paul II, with great prudence, he resolved so many questions and problems in the political, social and religious life of the Polish people.

Trusting in Divine Providence, he looked optimistically forward to the Third Millennium, to which he was granted the privilege of introducing the community of believers in Poland.

In the final stage of his life, he was tried by great suffering that he bore with serenity. Even in this trial, he bore witness to his trust in the goodness and love of Almighty God.

Personally, I always appreciated his sincere goodness, his simpiicity, openness and heartfelt dedication to the cause of the Church in Poland and in the world. He will remain that way in my memory and my prayers. May the Lord welcome him to his glory!

To you, Venerated Brother, to the family of the deceased, to all who will take part in the funeral services, and to all Poles, I impart from the heart by blessing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

From the Vatican
January 24, 2013


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/25/2013 2:48 AM]
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When I posted my translation of the Holy Father's address to the participants in the plenary assembly of Cor Unum last Saturday (See first post on the preceding page), I noted: "Perhaps the MSM news agencies took Saturday off, but I have seen no reaction, report or commentary so far in the Anglophone MSM about this last statement! Wait till they realize the Pope put it in there along with his warning that Catholic charities must watch out whose help they are accepting and the questionable ulterior motives behind such aid". That statement was this:

The Church reaffirms its great Yes to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of the faithful and fruitful alliance between man and woman, and its No to philosophies, such as that of gender, is motivated by the fact that the reciprocity between men and women is an expression of natural beauty of the Creator”.

But of course, the address to Cor Unum was much more than just that, if one reads the full text. Certainly not a routine address to a Curial body on its annual meeting. Strangely - or is it, given the arbitrariness of how MSM and even Catholic media, treat papal news - no one has picked that up since then, enough to comment about the entire address, except someone whose herd-mentality take on Benedict XVI and Vatileaks I recently had occasion to question. Robert Moynihan. Not that he is the only Anglophone Vatican correspondent who can translate Italian to English, but the only one apparently who bothered to do so. Did the CNA/CNS correspondents in Rome feel that the speech being delivered on a Saturday gave them a pass to even report on it, let alone translating it?... If there is one thing I have learned about Benedict XVI, it is never to take any statement he makes for granted.

Benedict on the ramparts
by Dr. Robert Moynihan

January 22, 2013

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts.” —Habakkuk 2:1

I don’t quite know how to say this, so I’ll just be blunt: Pope Benedict is saying incredible things, yet no one seems to be listening. [Gosh, not that no one else has ever said that, and more than once, about this Pope!] He did it again on Saturday, two days ago.

Benedict is “standing watch on the ramparts” of our once-Christian society, and raising an alarm about terrible dangers he sees for humanity, but he is being, for the most part, ignored.

His words, in an age filled with noise, are uttered with passion and eloquence, but fall, echo-less, into the cracks of silence between the major tv networks, which never give space on their programs to his words. He should not be ignored. He is saying things worth taking very seriously indeed.

There are two main points he made in the past two days:

(1) On Saturday he spoke about the new philosophy of “gender” which views being a man or a woman as a totally changeable, individual choice; and he said that this very “politically correct” theory, supported by so many in positions of power and influence today, presents a grave danger to humanity;

(2) On Friday and on Sunday (yesterday, at his noon Angelus address), he said that Christians must be more unified, that their divisions are a cause of scandal [he says this all the time, even before he became Pope].

In a sense, these are the pre-eminent themes of this phase of Benedict’s pontificate: the reductionist new theory of gender as a choice, and the need for greater unity among Christians.

Why is Benedict hammering away at the issue of gender? To put it bluntly: because he is frightened by the consequences for the human race that he sees on the horizon if this theory is not re-thought. Ideas have consequences, and he believes strongly that the consequences of these “gender” ideas will be disastrous for mankind.

Like a watchman on the city walls, he is looking out, and he is seeing disaster approaching. What disaster, precisely, does he see?

Benedict first refers to ideologies from past centuries which have brought much misery to man, referring to nationalism, National Socialism, Communism and also “unbridled capitalism”: ”In recent centuries, the ideologies which celebrated the cult of the nation, race, social class proved to be true idolatry, and the same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, with the resulting crisis, inequality and poverty,” he said.

But then he turned to a new “ideology,” the new theory of human “gender” as something not given, but chosen. The danger, he says, includes that of a “technological prometheanism.”

Now, what does Benedict mean by this phrase? What he means is that modern science, with its great and increasing technological power, together with a “Promethean” attitude toward all limits, may lead us to terrible problems. It is a dense, unusual phrase for a Pope, a phrase with no basis in Scripture (because Prometheus, of course, is not a character in Scripture, but a character of Greek myth). [But not the first time Benedict XVI has cited or alluded to classical philosophy and mythology. In a lecture to one of the Pontifical universities once, he used the myth of Icarus as a take-off point. And he has not shied away from quoting Plato, Aristotle or Socrates when the occasion arises.]

Nevertheless, despite its newness and difficulty of interpretation [to persons who do not know about Prometheus], this may come to be seen as a “signature phrase” for this Pope, and for his diagnosis of our present predicament. So what does Benedict mean when he warns of “technological prometheanism”?

The Greek mythological character Prometheus stole fire from heaven to give to mankind and then was punished for his theft by Zeus and bound forever to a mountaintop in the Caucasus by unbreakable chains. He has become a figure who represents human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge. Over time, and especially in the Romantic era, Prometheus was seen as the archetype of the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence also could result in tragedy. This is why British novelist Mary Shelley chose as the subtitle for her novel Frankenstein (1818) “The Modern Prometheus” — because there is a certain equivalence here between Prometheus and Dr. Frankenstein.

The “modern Prometheus” is, in this sense, Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, who tries to go beyond the bounds of nature to create a creature different from any ever created by God — and ends up creating a monster: Frankenstein’s monster.

In the 1700s and 1800s, Prometheus came to be seen as the rebel who resisted all forms of institutional tyranny, epitomized by the pagan High God, Zeus — the Church, the monarch, patriarchal society. Indeed, the Romantics drew comparisons between the Greek Prometheus and the spirit of the French Revolution… and between Prometheus and the Satan of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Yes, in this, restricted analogy, Prometheus, to be Promethean, was to be Satanic, Luciferian. In short, Prometheus was the one who, rebelling against God, went beyond all the bounds set by God, seeking limitless freedom.

It is striking, however, that many of us (perhaps all of us?), have a certain sympathy for Prometheus. As the person who desires to surpass all limits in a search for total freedom, he seems, somehow, admirable. Because most humans, perhaps all humans, wish to be as free as possible; freedom is something desirable, something good; its antithesis, slavery, something abhorrent, something evil.

But, as Christ said, “the truth shall set you free”. The difficulty is to grasp, to comprehend, the truth. For humans, our wonderful intellects darkened by passion and sin, to seek, to find, to grasp, to embrace the truth is often a difficult task, filled with pitfalls. We often do not know our own truth. And this can mean that, in a desire to be free, we embrace false paths, untrue paths, that lead us to sorrow.

And that is precisely what Benedict warned on Saturday.

The danger is that we have an untrue anthropology [as 'view of man', not knowledge of man], and so an untrue understanding of what it means to be human, and so also of… what it means to be free.

“From the union between a materialistic view of man and the great development of technology an anthropology that is essentially atheist has emerged,” Benedict said. “It presupposes that man is reduced to autonomous functions, the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization.” Here Benedict is warning about reductionism (“the man is reduced…”). Reductionism is always in some sense “untrue” because it “reduces” the complexity of phenomena in order to “simplify” and so “comprehend” the phenomena.

It may seem as if the mind may be reduced to the brain, to the cells, to the electronic pulses of cells, it may seem that we can trace one emotion to the front of the brain and another to the back, but will the dissection of every single brain cell — Benedict is asking — ever finally locate “me”?

There is something in personhood which trascends, which cannot be reduced to, the material. But, our modern “science” (which is reductionist) denies that it cannot find “the person.” It says we simply haven’t yet the tools to go into every cell, to discover those cells where “the person” is hidden. Our “science” (and the Pope in a moment will call this science “Promethean”) mock a man as a stubborn know-nothing if he claims he in his essence is somehow not material; that, science says, is to be excluded, for all things are material…This is what it means to live in an age when the dominant ideology is materialism.

The Pope goes on: “In the perspective of a man deprived of his soul and therefore a personal relationship with the Creator, what is technically possible becomes licit, each experiment is acceptable, any population policy permitted, any manipulation legitimized. The most dangerous pitfall of this line of thinking is in fact the absolute good of man: man wants to be ab-solutus, freed from every bond and every natural constitution.”

These words are stunningly powerful. [But once again, it is not as if this is the first time the Pope has articulated these reflections and in similarly powerful ways.]

Benedict is saying that it is when man wishes to be “absolute” (without God, without anyone telling him anything at all) that he finds himself at a total dead end and faces loneliness and…despair. This, he said, “is a radical negation of man’s created and filial being, which results in a dramatic solitude.”

And Benedict warned “we must never close our eyes to these serious ideologies… It is in fact a negative pitfall for man, even if disguised by good sentiment in the name of an alleged progress, or alleged rights, or an alleged humanism.”

These are just a few reflections, offered as a possible help to readers of the Pope’s words. His words are so dense and rich that they deserve many more pages of reflection. But here is what the Pope said. I will let his words speak for themselves. [Moynihan posts his translation of the Pope's Cor Unum address.]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/24/2013 6:15 PM]
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Here is the English text of the Holy Father's message for this year's World Day for Social Communications:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves.

I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family.

The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how.

The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values.

Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value.

Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner.

The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process.

Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes.

Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important.

The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all.

In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love.

Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate “choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day).

A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts.

Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment.

Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice” (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “kindly light” of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers.

The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith.

Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith.

In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

From the Vatican
24 January 2013
Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

The message certainly feels like a direct rebuke to me for my skeptical comments yesterday about the current value of social networks! The message, of course, takes the optimal image of the social networks and what they can do - as opposed to what they actually are (i.e., vehicles of narcissism and triviality) in general.

I hope the responsible persons at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who seem to be all focused on the digital media, and especially, the social networks, are doing, will be doing, or have access to reliable surveys that show in general, how much positive general information (news or knowledge) is being transmitted (and re-transmitted) across these networks, and in particular, how much of such positive information is about religion and Christianity.

Potential does not necessarily translate to reality. And it seems to me that the draft message they passed on to the Pope for him to amend/improve/approve largely ignored the overwhelmingly negative aspects of the social networks phenomenon to focus on a rose-colored vision (or mirage) of the digital world.

It still takes individual discernment to choose what material to seek out on the Internet, and we must pray that more browsers choose to trawl for good instructive fare rather than scour the sewers of cyberspace.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/24/2013 8:15 PM]
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It's three days too late, but I thought I would share this unexpected serendipity on the 220th anniversary last January 21 of the execution of France's King Louis XVI. Normally, it's a subject I would not post on this thread, but this time, I will, because of the larger interpretation given to it by Albert Camus (1913-1960) from his book L'Homme Revolte, better known in English as 'The Rebel', which, to my shame, I have never read (It's a book-length essay in which he traces the development of rebellion and revolution throughout history, with the ultimate aim of denouncing Communism, which he opposed, along with all other totalitarianisms and nihilism - and in this, he differed diametrically from the other major French intellectuals of his and succeeding generations)...

But his commentary on the death of Louis XVI (which I am posting here in my translation, since I can't find the official English translation online) is not to be seen as a defense of Christianity, although he is correct about the French Revolution's attempt to extirpate Christianity from French society, but as a protest against the excesses that can result from mass revolutionary politics. Indeed, probably because he was a fan of St. Augustine and his writings, he promoted the idea that the absence of religious belief can simultaneously be accompanied by a longing for 'salvation and meaning'.

The death of Louis XVI
by Albert Camus
Excerpt from L'Homme Revolte

On January 21, 1793, the murder of the King-Priest consummated what has been significantly called the Passion of Louis XVI. It is certainly a repugnant scandal to have presented the public assassination of a weak but goodhearted man as a great moment in our history.

The scaffold was not a peak – not at all. But by the expectations it raised and its actual consequences, the condemnation of the king was a watershed in our contemporary history. It symbolizes the secularization (desacralization) of this history and the disincarnation of the Christian God.

Up to that time, God had intervened in [European] history through the kings. But now his representative in history had been murdered – there no longer was a king. There only remained a semblance of God who had been relegated to the heaven of his principles.

The revolutionaries could cite the Gospels all they wanted. But what they did was to deal Christianity a terrible blow from which it has not yet recovered. Indeed, it truly seems that the execution of the King – followed, we know, by scenes of hysteria, suicides and madness – was carried out in the full awareness of those who were responsible for it.

Louis XVI may have had doubts, sometimes, about his divine right, but he systematically rejected any legislative proposal that threatened his faith.

But from the time he suspected or knew what his fate would be, he seemed to identify himself – and his language showed it - with his divine mission. It could well be said that the attempt against his person was aimed at Christ the King, the incarnation of God, and not against the craven flesh of a mere man.

The book at his bedside in the Temple prison was The Imitation of Jesus Christ. The serenity and the perfection which this man of rather average sensibilities brought to his final moments, the remarks that showed indifference to everything in the external world, and finally, his momentary weakening as he faced the scaffold alone – in the face of a terrible drumroll that drowned out his voice from being heard by the people he hoped to reach – all this allow us to think that it was not Citizen Louis Capet who was about to die, but Louis who had been king by divine right, and with him, in a way, temporal Christianity.

To better affirm this sacred bond, his confessor was there to hold him up during his final moments, by reminding him that he was suffering like the God of Sorrows. Upon which he recovered, and used the language of his God. “I will drink the cup to the dregs,”, he said.

And trembling, he delivered himself into the ignoble hands of his executioner.

Well, Monsieur Camus, wherever you are, you must see that the Western world - not just the Communists now -is more than ever committed to killing the very idea of God, though, the only emblematic figure they have today as God's surrogate is, in fact, his Vicar on earth.

Just for historical background:

The Execution of Louis XVI, 1793

Louis XVI, king of France, arrived in the wrong historical place at the wrong time and soon found himself overwhelmed by events beyond his control. Ascending the throne in 1774, Louis inherited a realm driven nearly bankrupt through the opulence of his predecessors Louis XIV and XV.

After donning the crown, things only got worse. The economy spiraled downward (unemployment in Paris in 1788 is estimated at 50%), crops failed, the price of bread and other food soared. The people were not happy. To top it off, Louis had the misfortune to marry a foreigner, the Austrian Marie Antoinette. The anger of the French people, fueled by xenophobia, targeted Marie as a prime source of their problems.

In 1788, Louis was forced to reinstate France's National Assembly (the Estates-General) which quickly curtailed the king's powers. In July of the following year, the mobs of Paris stormed the hated prison at the Bastille.

Feeling that power was shifting to their side, the mob forced the imprisonment of Louis and his family. Louis attempted escape in 1791 but was captured and returned to Paris. In 1792, the newly elected National Convention declared France a republic and brought Louis to trial for crimes against the people.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution.

Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event and we join his narrative as he and the fated King enter the carriage to begin their journey:

The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near.

The procession lasted almost two hours; the streets were lined with citizens, all armed, some with pikes and some with guns, and the carriage was surrounded by a body of troops, formed of the most desperate people of Paris. As another precaution, they had placed before the horses a number of drums, intended to drown any noise or murmur in favour of the King; but how could they be heard? Nobody appeared either at the doors or windows, and in the street nothing was to be seen, but armed citizens - citizens, all rushing towards the commission of a crime, which perhaps they detested in their hearts.

The carriage proceeded thus in silence to the Place de Louis XV, and stopped in the middle of a large space that had been left round the scaffold: this space was surrounded with cannon, and beyond, an armed multitude extended as far as the eye could reach. As soon as the King perceived that the carriage stopped, he turned and whispered to me, 'We have arrived, if I am not mistaken”. My silence answered that we were.

One of the guards came to open the carriage door, and the gendarmes would have jumped out, but the King stopped them, and leaning his arm on my knee, 'Gentlemen,' said he, with the tone of majesty, 'I recommend to you this good man; take care that after my death no insult be offered to him - I charge you to prevent it.'…

As soon as the King had left the carriage, three guards surrounded him, and would have taken off his clothes, but he repulsed them with haughtiness- he undressed himself, untied his neckcloth, opened his shirt, and arranged it himself. The guards, whom the determined countenance of the King had for a moment disconcerted, seemed to recover their audacity.

They surrounded him again, and would have seized his hands. 'What are you attempting?' said the King, drawing back his hands. 'To bind you,' answered the wretches. 'To bind me,' said the King, with an indignant air. 'No! I shall never consent to that: do what you have been ordered, but you shall never bind me. . .'

The path leading to the scaffold was extremely rough and difficult to pass; the King was obliged to lean on my arm, and from the slowness with which he proceeded, I feared for a moment that his courage might fail; but what was my astonishment, when arrived at the last step, I felt that he suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold..

In a voice so loud, that it must have been heard it the Pont Tournant, I heard him pronounce distinctly these memorable words: 'I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.'

He was proceeding, when a man on horseback, in the national uniform, and with a ferocious cry, ordered the drums to beat. Many voices were at the same time heard encouraging the executioners. They seemed reanimated themselves, in seizing with violence the most virtuous of Kings.

They dragged him under the blade of the guillotine, which with one stroke severed his head from his body. All this passed in a moment. The youngest of the guards, who seemed about eighteen, immediately seized the head, and showed it to the people as he walked round the scaffold; he accompanied this monstrous ceremony with the most atrocious and indecent gestures.

At first an awful silence prevailed; at length some cries of 'Vive la Republique!' were heard. By degrees the voices multiplied and in less than ten minutes this cry, a thousand times repeated became the universal shout of the multitude, and every hat was in the air.,,

Cronin, Vincent, Louis and Antoinette (1975); Edgeworth, Henry in Thompson, J.M., English Witnesses of the French Revolution (1938, first published in 1812)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/25/2013 12:22 AM]
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In six months it will be WYD in Rio, and I have posted very little about it so far...I have not visited the official WYD site in months... But meanwhile, here's a nice little sidebar related to the event...

A “bioethics survival kit” for
World Youth Day pilgrims

By Michael J. Miller

January 22, 2013

The young people from all five continents who gather in Rio in July 2013 for World Youth Day will find in their backpacks a “bioethics survival kit”: a special WYD edition of A Student’s Guide to Bioethics, produced by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation at the request of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

The manual, nicknamed BIOBOOK, will be available in French, Portuguese, English and Spanish editions. In early spring two million copies will be printed in Chile for the registered pilgrims expected at the event.

Originally published in French in 2006 as the Manuel Bioéthique des jeunes, this educational resource was an initiative of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation in response to a qualifying examination in science that was marred by ideological bias. [In the United States, it is no longer surprising to hear another news report about ideologically slanted textbooks and test questions! - which reflects how a whole army of liberal ideologues have taken over academia.]

The objective of A Student’s Guide to Bioethics is “to go beyond the cosmetic rhetoric and to focus again on the reality of the biological facts and their ethical implications”. The French edition has been a great success: more than 300,000 copies have been distributed free of charge to students, parents and schools that have requested it.

The Student’s Guide is simply and clearly organized in eight chapters on the topics: “The story of a little human being”, “Abortion”, “Prenatal diagnosis”, “Medically assisted procreation”, “Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis”, “Embryo research”, “Euthanasia”, and “Organ donation”. A special dossier that was recently added to the updated edition deals with “gender theory”. [SMART AND PROMPT ACTION!]

In each chapter the reader finds definitions, descriptions of medical procedures, an explanation of current French law on the topic, a Q&A section, ethical reflections and one or more personal testimonies. The book is attractively formatted and illustrated with full-color photographs, charts and whimsical drawings.

The Student’s Guide to Bioethics is designed to put questions of bioethics on a scientific basis so as to allow the readers to reflect on them objectively and to make free, well-informed value judgments. This rigorous yet accessible approach to bioethical subjects makes it a valuable educational tool, not just for young people but also for adults.

For the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio, a special edition of A Student’s Guide to Bioethics was produced that includes passages from Scripture and Magisterial documents at the end of each chapter. Thus it goes beyond ethical reflection based on reason and the natural law and draws from the wealth of Catholic moral teaching. Among the Church documents cited are the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Instruction Dignitas personae, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and papal addresses by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The special WYD edition of A Student’s Guide to Bioethics will help the participants to discover the Gospel of Life and to understand that it is compatible with science and reason.

The theme of the 2013 World Youth Day is: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). With the BIOBOOK, the young pilgrims will have the adequate training and tools to be promoters of a culture of life. \
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You'd think could come up with a better banner than the above!

Pope on social networking:
'The virtual is real'


VATICAN CITY, January 24 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI put Church leaders on notice Thursday, saying social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter aren't a virtual world they can ignore, but rather a very real world they must engage if they want to spread the faith to the next generation.

The 85-year-old Benedict, who tweets in nine languages, used his annual message on social communications to stress the potential of social media for the Church as it struggles to keep followers and attract new ones amid religious apathy, competition from other churches and scandals that have driven the faithful away.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican's communications office, cited a 2012 study commissioned by U.S. bishops that found that 53 percent of Americans were unaware of any significant presence of the Catholic Church online. [If they aren't, they're just not looking. And if they're not looking, it's probably because they're not interested. Every diocese in the USA has a website, and hundreds of parishes do. And from any of them, you can link to other Catholic sites (including the Vatican and the USCCB), and so on, as you widen your universe of Catholic sites.

Other studies, Celli said, made clear that the "millennial generation" of people born after 1982 use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube far more than their parents as primary sources of information, entertainment and sharing political views and community issues.

"The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young," Benedict said in his message. "Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: A considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there."

Benedict himself still writes longhand, but he is a superstar online, with 2.5 million Twitter followers, nearly 11,000 of them following his Latin tweets alone. And under his pontificate, the Holy See has greatly increased its presence online, with YouTube channels, papal apps and an online news portal that gathers all Vatican information in one place. [At this point in time, the development would have taken place regardless of who was Pope. It's hard to imagine anyone younger than Benedict XVI who would not have approved the Church's engagement in the new media.]

But the digital exposure hasn't come without risk or criticism: In the days after the Vatican announced that Benedict would respond to questions about faith on his first tweets from his @Pontifex handle last month, the Vatican was bombarded with threats of "Twitter bombs" from critics trying to scare the Pope away from the online social forum.

"Leaving would've been a mistake," said Monsignor Paul Tighe, the No. 2 in the Vatican's social communications office. "It wouldn't have been fair to abandon all the people who joyfully welcomed the Pope's message." [As if anyone could have seriously considered giving up the much-hyped project because of scare tactics and other dirty tricks which were to be expected!]

Celli acknowledged that much of the Pope's message this year repeated exhortations from previous years about the need for respectful dialogue online, for users to present themselves authentically and to listen, not just preach.

"At first look it could look like reheated soup," Celli conceded. But he said that sometimes messages need repeating, particularly in the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church. "I don't want to make any particular revelations here, but don't believe that everything that is said is absorbed at the ecclesial level." ['Sometimes messages need repeating"??? Dear Mons. Celli, hasn't that been the point of all Christian preaching from the beginning? The message of Christ must be repeated as often as necessary till it is assimilated and becomes second nature to those who are capable of such genuine conversion, and repeated endlessly anyway because there is always a heart out there that is open to conversion.]

Celli noted, for example, that at a recent Vatican meeting of the world's bishops on spreading the faith, the recommendations submitted for the Church's social communications strategy "could have been written 30 years ago."

"That means that he who is intervening doesn't have the perception of what is happening today, in the sphere of social networking," Celli said. "That's a problem for us."

[But don't be so quick to brush off 'strategies' that have nothing to do with social networking! Perhaps their suggestions were meant to improve intra-Church communications using the more traditional means, like writing, radio and TV, in which, one must say, the Vatican itself has not been setting a sterling example and has lots of room for improvement. Except that now, whatever errors are committed at the level of a primary outlet - OR, RV, Press Office - also become instantaneously amplified by their instant dissemination through all the other new media outlets, apps and gewgaws! Garbage in, garbage out! (Not that all the Vatican output is garbage, but that, other than the Pope's texts, much of it leaves a lot to be desired!) Doesn't Mons. Celli realize that the content of all these various Internet outlets must still be based on that most basic and traditional communications tool - language (written, verbal, or visual) and how it is used?

Go forth and Tweet!
Pope sees web networks
as 'portals of truth'

VATICAN CITY, Januaey 24 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict urged Catholics on Thursday to use social networks like Twitter and Facebook to win converts, as he launched his Pontiff said in his 2013 World Communications Day message.

"Unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people," the 85-year old Pope said in a message published on the Vatican's website.

The Holy See has become an increasingly prolific user of social media since it launched its 'new evangelisation' of the developed world, where some congregations have fallen in the wake of growing secularisation and damage to the Church's reputation from a series of sex abuse scandals.

The Pope himself reaches around 2.5 million followers through eight Twitter accounts, including one in Latin.

Belying his traditionalist reputation, the Pope praised connections made online which he said could blossom into true friendships. Online life was not a purely virtual world but "increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society," he said.

Social networks were also a practical tool that Catholics could use to organize prayer events, the Pope suggested. But he called for reasoned debate and respectful dialogue with those with different beliefs, and cautioned against a tendency towards "heated and divisive voices" and "sensationalism".

The websites were creating a new agora, he added, referring to the gathering spaces that were the centers of public life in ancient Greek cities.

The speech coincided with the launch of 'The Pope App', a downloadable program that streams live footage of the Pontiff's speaking events and Vatican news onto smartphones.

Pope Benedict's embrace of new media responds to the Church's concern that it is invisible on the internet.

The Vatican commissioned a study of internet use and religion prior to the Pope's Twitter debut, which found the majority of U.S. Catholics surveyed were unaware of any significant Church presence online.

[It's going to be some time before we know how this all turns out, but it would have been foolish of the Vatican to ignore the reality [of the digital world. While the Internet facilitates generating virtual reality, up to and including virtual relationships which may be fictional as well as virtual, those who are generating all that cyber-activity are real people, and therefore, potential targets to whom the Word of God cna be announced...

I've reviewed all the papal tweets so far, and I don't know if the specifically Christian messages would say anything to me if I were not Christian to begin with. Of course, the assumption is that most people who would 'follow' the Tweets are Catholic, including perhaps some lapsed ones. Is there a way some papal Tweets, maybe posted daily, could constitute some sort of running catechesis, perhaps drawing from Joseph Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity, which is structured as a presentation of the articles of faith we profess in the Credo. Not easy, obviously, to reduce those university lecturesto 140 characters per serving, perhaps those responsible for preparing the papal tweets could use the catcheses he has just begun on the Credo in a more systematic, elss random presentation... Note what they chose to tweet from the catechesis on Wednesday:
"Many false idols are held up today. For Christians to be faithful, they can’t be afraid to go against the current." Not exactly a brilliant synthesis, though it is sound generic advice. But it says nothing about the Credo! Could they not have derived a second tweet from the catechesis on the first article of faith, "I believe in God"?

Let us all pray for the intercession of St. Francis de Sales in behalf of the Vatican communications offices, their personnel and their various efforts!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/25/2013 1:57 PM]
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What Christians don't know
but need to know about Islam

Interview by Jamie Glazov

January 23, 2013

William Kilpatrick is the author of several books, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong. But he also has a special interest in Islam, about which he has written for FrontPage Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Catholic World Report, and other publications.

His most recent book, Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West, explores the threat that Islam poses to Christianity and Western civilization. The book also examines the role played by militant secularists in facilitating the expansion of Islam. He talks about the book in this interview.

Let’s begin with you telling us what inspired you to write this book.
In a way, it’s a continuation of Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong. That book looked at the ways in which moral relativism impaired Johnny’s ability to tell right from wrong. Part of the new book looks at the ways in which cultural relativism, or multiculturalism, impairs his ability to tell friend from foe.

One of the chapters is titled “Why Johnny Can’t Read the Writing on the Wall.” One of the main reasons Western citizens can’t see the obvious about Islam is that they have been subjected to an educational system that insists on the moral equivalency of all cultures and religions, just as it had previously insisted on the equivalency of all value systems.

So, the initial impulse for writing the book was my realization that the same people who introduced moral chaos into schools and society were now bent on normalizing an alien ideology. Or, to paraphrase Mark Steyn, the people who brought you Heather Has Two Mommies are about to bring you “Heather has four mommies and a great big bearded daddy.”

Can you explain the title?
I use the word “atheism” in the title as shorthand for both atheists and militant secularists, most of whom tend to be on the left. Many Christians have awakened to the fact that they are in a cultural struggle with secular leftists, but far fewer have come to the realization that they are also in a civilizational struggle with Islam. Fewer, still, are aware that the left has formed a tacit alliance with radical Islam against the West.

Of course, Christians aren’t the only ones who are threatened by Islamic expansion. All non-Muslims are. But in the West, Christianity has traditionally been the focal point of resistance to Islamization.

Unfortunately, Christianity in the West has been weakened both by secular attacks and by self-inflicted wounds. As a result, Christians in the West are failing to stand up for their cultural heritage. In fact, many fail to realize that their culture is under attack.

But without Christianity you are left mainly with philosophies of relativism, skepticism and materialism — philosophies that have proved themselves incapable of resisting Islamization and, in fact, serve to enable its spread. You can see this most clearly in Europe where the decline of Christianity has been accompanied not only by the rise of secularism but also by the rise of Islam.

With the loss of faith has come a loss of meaning and the loss of a sense among Europeans that they have anything worth defending. The loss of faith is also one of the main factors accounting for Europe’s population loss. In other words, the decline of Christian faith in Europe created a spiritual vacuum and a population vacuum, both of which Islam was quick to fill.

While Muslim leaders and radical secularists are fully engaged in the struggle for the soul of the West, many Christians seem unaware that they are under attack from two sides. They need to wake up before it’s too late.

In one of your chapters, you spoke of “Christian enablers of Islam.” Can you elaborate on that?
Many Christian leaders unwittingly act as enablers of Islam’s totalitarian agenda by focusing on the surface similarities between Christianity and Islam rather than on the profound and irreconcilable differences.

A prime example is the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which includes a short statement of the Church’s relation to Muslims [and other non-Christian religions]. Essentially, it says that Muslims adore the one God, revere Jesus, honor Mary, and value the moral life. Reading it one could easily jump to the conclusion that the Christian faith and the Islamic faith are very much alike. One might also conclude that Islam is indeed a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a handful of terrorists who misunderstand their own religion.

However, before jumping to that conclusion one needs to realize that Nostra Aetate was never intended to be the last word on Islam. Rather, the stated purpose of the declaration was to consider “what men have in common.”

Moreover, it was written at a time — the 1960s — when the Muslim world was far more moderate than it is now, a time when inter-religious dialogue seemed to hold great promise.

Recently Pope Benedict noted that with the passage of time “a weakness” of Nostra Aetate has become apparent: “it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion.” I think it safe to say that he’s referring here to Islam or, at least, to some forms of Islam.

This is a hopeful sign of a new realism about Islam. [Mr. Fiztpatrick, are you forgetting the Regensburg lecture of 2006? That was the first time that any leader of consequence anywhere confronted the ugly reality of Muslim fundamentalism and the violence it engenders! Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has never had blinders about Islam (or anything else, for that matter)!]

For too long, Catholic and Protestant leaders, alike, have been content to fall back on what I call the “common ground thesis” — the comforting belief that the Christian faith and the Islamic faith share much in common. As a result, a lot of Christians have been lulled into complacency about the threat from Islam. [That's the complacency that had settled into the Vatican about Islam during the previous Pontificate, which Benedict XVI almost immediately sought to shake up when one of his first organizational moves was to temporarily place the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog (CIRD) with the Pontifical Council for Culture, which allowed him to re-assign the former longtime head of CIRD, Mons. Michael Fitzgerald, as Nuncio to Cairo and Vatican observer in the Arab League instead. It was speculated at the time that despite his sterling qualifications and experience as a scholar and missionary who had worked in the Muslim world, Fitzgerald had become too complacent about Islam, which was far from Benedict XVI's more vigilant attitude. To his credit, Mons. Fitzgerald - as far as I know - never contested the Pope's decision in public, and in fact, performed his tasks in Cairo very well even in the difficult months immediately following Hosni Mubarak's overthrow, until he retired recently at age 75. At the time of the Regensburg lecture, the Pavlov-dog reaction by Fitzgerald's supporters like John Allen and Thomas Reese (who were among those outraged by Fitzgerald's 'demotion') said it - what they considered the Pope's monumental 'gaffe' on Islam - "would never have happened if Fitzgerald had still been at the Vatican". People make up their own narratives to fit their biases. But who would still say today that Regensburg was a 'gaffe'? It marked, among other historic firsts for the occasion, the first time that someone with the global consequence of the Pope dared to speak the truth about the 'pathologies' inherent in Islam (as well as in Christianity, really, and where the West had gone wrong, which was the focus of the lecture, not Islam.]

If they want to avoid the fate of Christians in North Africa, the Middle East, and various other Muslim regions they need to get a better grasp on what Islam really teaches.

What do Christians need to understand about the differences between Islam and Christianity?
Islam is built on a rejection of the main tenets of Christianity. It rejects the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There is a Jesus in the Koran but he seems to be there mainly for the purpose of denying the claims of Jesus of Nazareth.

Muhammad seemed to have realized that if the Christian claim about Jesus was true, then there would be no need for a new prophet and a new revelation. Consequently, in order to buttress his own claim to prophethood it was necessary for him to cut Jesus down to size. Thus the Koran tells us that “he was but a mortal” and only one in a long line of prophets culminating in Muhammad.

John the Baptist said of Jesus that “He must increase but I must decrease.” Muhammad preferred it the other way around. For him to increase it was necessary for Jesus to decrease.

Christians need to realize that Jesus is in the Koran, not because Muhammad thought highly of him but because Muhammad saw him as a rival who needed to be put in his place. The problem is that in using Jesus for his own purposes, Muhammad neglected to give him any personality. The Jesus of the Koran is more like a stick figure than a person.

Whether or not one accepts the claims of the Jesus of the Gospels, he is, at least, a recognizable human being who goes fishing with his disciples, attends wedding feasts and gathers children about him. By contrast, the Jesus of the Koran seems to exist neither in time nor space. The Koranic account of him is completely lacking in historical or geographical detail. There is no indication of when he lived, or where he conducted his ministry, or the names of his disciples or his antagonists such as Herod and Pilate.

In other words, he seems to be nothing more than an invention of Muhammad’s—and not a very convincing invention at that. In this regard it’s instructive to note that the Koran rails constantly against those who claim that “he [Muhammad] invented it himself.”

In sum, Christians who think that Muslims revere the same Jesus as they do need to better acquaint themselves with the Koran.

Why do you think there is so much ignorance in the West about Islam?
Much of the ignorance can be explained in terms of multicultural dogma combined with self-censorship. In the West the multicultural ideology has attained the status of a religion. Christians believe that Jesus saves, but multiculturalists believe that diversity saves. And to question the dogmas of diversity is tantamount to heresy.

Nowadays heretics aren’t burnt at the stake, but they are threatened with loss of reputation and loss of employment, and sometimes, as in the cases of Geert Wilders and Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, they are hauled before courts.

As a result, people learn to engage in self-censorship or what Orwell called “crimestop.” They won’t allow themselves to think certain thoughts or to explore certain avenues of inquiry. This is particularly true in regard to Islam. By now, just about everyone understands which thoughts about Islam are permissible and which are not.

As Andrew McCarthy points out, this results in a kind of “willful blindness” toward Islam. Like the people in The Emperor’s New Clothes we deny the evidence of our own eyes when it conflicts with the official narrative. In short, we prefer to remain ignorant.

In addition, elites in government, media, and education actively cover up for Islam. The media doesn’t report even a hundredth of the negative stories about Islam and it does its best to deny any linkage between Islam and terrorism. At the same time the media does everything it can to normalize Islam and make it seem as American as apple pie. For example, a recent Huffington Post article likens Muhammad to George Washington.

The schools are engaged in a similar kind of whitewashing. High school and college textbooks routinely define jihad as an “interior spiritual struggle” and describe Muslim conquests in the 7th and 8th centuries simply as “Muslim expansion.” Moreover, many of these texts have a distinct bias against the West and in favor of Islam.

For example, while the Atlantic slave trade is described at length and in gruesome detail, the Arab slave trade which lasted longer and resulted in more deaths is rarely mentioned. So, insofar as our children are learning anything about Islam, they are learning a Disneyfied version of it.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/25/2013 3:22 PM]
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Friday, January 25, Second Week in Ordinary Time

"On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad". and I said, 'Who are you, sir?' And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up now, and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen (of me) and what you will be shown. I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me." (Acts 25,12-21)
Readings for today's Mass:


The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (weekly meeting)

- H.E. Nikolay Sadchikov, Ambassador from the Russian Federation, on farewell visit

- Participants at the meeting of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialog between
the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. Address in English.

In the afternoon, the Holy Father was to preside at Vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls
to commemorate the Feast of the Apostle to the Gentiles, which concludes the annual Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity. Homily.

The Vatican released the texts (in Latin and Italian only) for two Apostolic Letters motu proprio
by Benedict XVI providing for:
- The transfer of competence over seminaries from the Congregation for Catholic Education to
the Congregation for the Clergy
- The transfer of competence for catechesis from the Congregation of the Clergy to the Pontifical
Council for New Evangelization.

@Pontifex 1/25/13

An unexpected 'shout-out' from the Holy Father to the annual MARCH FOR LIFE in the United States
on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in demand anywhere in the country...
I must check the French Twitter account if the Vatican thought to do the same thing for the 'MANIF A TOUS' in France...
P.S. Well, no, they didn't - I should have known, because there would have been a tweet in English and the other languages as well.
Too bad Mons. Celli's people didn't think of it then (even if, to my surprise, the French account only has only 61,393 followers at this moment).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/25/2013 7:13 PM]
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As the Pope upholds traditional marriage with zeal,
the US Supreme Court takes on two cases that may
well decide the immediate future of this issue

By Russell Shaw

January 24, 2013

Defenders of traditional marriage may not believe it, but the Supreme Court's apparent intention to decide two important same-sex marriage cases by midyear may be a stroke of good fortune for their side.

This timing means the Supreme Court's first head-on tangle with this issue almost certainly will come before President Obama gets an opportunity to nominate another justice for the court and thereby probably tip its balance in favor of gay marriage.

True, it would be foolish to predict what the court as presently constituted will do with the two cases now before it--one of them focused on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the other on California's Proposition 8 barring same-sex marriage in that state. As so often before, Justice Anthony Kennedy appears to be the swing vote, and how Justice Kennedy will swing on DOMA and Proposition 8 is anybody's guess.

Still, it's at least a possibility that the court will opt for a local option solution, leaving it to states to decide this question for themselves. Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the senior liberal among the justices, has said she thinks the Supreme Court erred back in 1973 in abruptly imposing abortion on the entire nation instead of allowing a consensus to jell. Ginsburg and others might well say the same thing of gay marriage today.

The court will hear oral arguments in the two cases in just a few weeks. Its decision, as noted, is expected around the time its term ends in late June. Legal and constitutional considerations will naturally predominate in its deliberations. But important as these are, even larger issues are at stake.

Just how large was suggested by Pope Benedict XVI in his annual pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia. The Pope obviously wasn't thinking only about the U.S. (same-sex marriage is a red-hot issue in France just now), but what he said does apply here as much as in France or anywhere else. The central question in this dispute, he insisted, is whether the fundamental nature of gender, personhood, and marriage is forever fixed or forever in flux.

In making his argument, Benedict turned to remarks by the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, an opponent of gay marriage. Rabbi Bernheim quoted an aphorism by Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), the French proto-feminist who was the mistress of existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: "One is not born a woman, one becomes so" (On ne nait pas femme, on le devient). [Great slogan, but inherently and ultimately senseless. No mother in human history has not known whether her newborn child is a boy or a girl! (With the very rare exceptions of babies with ambiguous genitalia)]

As a feminist battle cry opposing social conventions of her day, this makes sense of a sort. But as a statement of timeless fact, it's the deconstructing of gender and gender-based relationships. Here, as Pope Benedict observed, is the foundation for "a new philosophy of sexuality."

Its central premise is that sexual identity is not "a given element of nature" but a role people decide for themselves. Formerly, the role was imposed by society, but today, de Beauvoir would have it, individuals do it on their own, and the words of Genesis, "male and female he created them," are irrelevant. "From now on," Pope Benedict said, "there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be."

But if gender is something individuals choose for themselves, variations on the theme of marriage and family must include whatever preferences and whims suit particular individuals, with same-sex unions one. In an earlier, more clear-thinking time and place, this was what people called playing God. Does the Supreme Court really wish to join that game?

Russell Shaw was secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference from 1969 to 1987. He is the author of 20 books.

This started out being a brief comment on how Benedict XVI has found himself the first paladin and de facto general of the armies in the secular war on marriage and the family, but it inevitably took on a wider perspective and sort of wrote itself while I was watching EWTN's coverage of the March for Life in Washington (always a moving experience). But I am glad to get these thoughts off my chest, but not off my mind...

Some thoughts on
the burdens of Benedict XVI

It's been said often enough as to make it almost seem meaningless that Benedict XVI and the Church are facing 'a completely new world' compared to what it was for John Paul II. But it is never pointed out that the difference is not just the inevitable incremental changes brought on by the decades that separate 1978 when John Paul II became Pope, and 2005 when it was Benedict XVI's turn.

The changes brought on by leapfrogging technological progress and the growing influence of media, new and old, to shape public thinking and mores, have produced a quantum mutation in the natural evolution of society such that the last three decades of the 20th century now seem utterly retrograde and quaint compared to the present.

The challenges faced by Benedict XVI and the Church today are not just generational - as, say, Marxism and Communism were globally, and the priesthood crisis was in the Church, in the final half of the 20th century - but 'civilizational', to use an analogous term.

Islam is openly challenging Christianity not just as the world's dominant religion but in ways intended to subjugate it and the whole world under a universal caliphate. Not that Marxism-Communism did not aim for the same thing (only, the global village would have been one giant gulag-commune, rather than a caliphate) nor that atheist materialism was any less fanatic and life-engulfing a 'religion' as Islam. But Marxism-Communism did not have the centuries-old durability of the latter - it still had to stand the test of time, so to speak, and as it happens, failed it spectacularly after less than a century.

At the same time, the forces of secularism against civilization-as- we-have-always-known-it, have marched on relentlessly and, it seems, with giant strides, in their determined assault on the basic institutions of marriage and the family. Concepts of nature and natural law that have never been questioned before in the cultures of the world are now under threat of being overturned, or have already been overturned in some European countries and in some states of the USA. The shame is that this is happening in countries that were once proudly Christian (Europe and Latin America) or still mostly Christian (the USA).

Benedict XVI, who cannot be voted out of office but who is mortal and will soon be 86, remains the only world leader capable of leading the defense of civilization and its traditional institutions and values. During which he must also restore the primacy of God and a sense of ethics to Western societies, while seeking to rebuild and renew the Church that has been so eroded in the past five decades. In all this, he has led constantly, consistently, unequivocally. With no arms but the truth and his power of expression, but with the authority of the Vicar of Christ, and the grace and protection of the Lord himself.

But media, starting with the Vaticanistas, fail to see the vastness of the panorama that Benedict must deal with, in their preoccupation with the mundane and meaningless trivia of cheap thrills like Vatileaks or perverted priests as being the 'crisis' or 'the main problem' besetting Benedict. Such tunnel vision is appalling and inexcusable.

It is as if they are subconsciously resisting the idea that Benedict XVI actually has to deal with far greater challenges than anything John Paul VI had to face in 26 years. As if they cannot accept the reality that this octogenarian, who is so mild-mannered and very modest (despite all his obvious great gifts and already considerable achievements as Pope), everyone's grand-daddy, could be capable of leaving his mark on history - one that will be, at a minimum, no less consequential than his great predecessor did.

In short, there seems to be a deliberate shunning of the idea that the adjective 'great' could ever be used for Benedict XVI the way it was evoked so much for John Paul II even before he died. An obvious bias from the beginning that I could never understand, considering that Joseph Ratzinger had the most distinguished CV of any cardinal in the past two centuries before becoming Pope.

Against all such media perversities, on top of all the global adversities already weighing down the Cross he must bear daily, God grant our Holy Father many more fruitful years to carry on, and may new capable leaders emerge to back him up.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 12:11 AM]
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Pope reaches out to Mideast Christians
through Oriental Orthodox theologians

January 25, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI met members of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialog between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Apostolic Palace's Hall of Popes Friday morning as the commission marks the tenth anniversary of its first session.

[This commission is different from the larger Joint International Commission for Theological Dialog between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches (all the autonomous Orthodox Churches including those in Europe, not just in the Middle East).]

Through them, he expressed his spiritual closeness to the Christians of the Middle East and his continuing prayer for justice and peace in their lands. Here is the full text of his address, which was delivered in English:

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers in Christ,

It is with joy in the Lord that I welcome you, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through you I extend fraternal greetings to the heads of all the Oriental Orthodox Churches. In a particular way I greet His Eminence Anba Bishoy, Co-President of the Commission, and I thank him for his kind words.

Before all else I would like to recall with appreciation the memory of His Holiness Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, who died recently.

I also remember with gratitude His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, who last year hosted the Ninth Meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I was saddened, too, to learn of the death of the Most Reverend Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Titular Archbishop of Takrit and Procurator of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Rome and a member of your Commission. I join you in prayer for the eternal rest of these dedicated servants of the Lord.

Our meeting today affords us an opportunity to reflect together with gratitude on the work of the International Joint Commission, which began ten years ago, in January 2003, as an initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In the past decade the Commission has examined from a historical perspective the various ways in which the Churches expressed their communion in the early centuries. During this week devoted to prayer for the unity of all Christ’s followers, you have met to explore more fully the communion and communication which existed between the Churches in the first five centuries of Christian history.

In acknowledging the progress which has been made, I express my hope that relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation, particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.

Many of you come from areas where Christians, as individuals and communities, face painful trials and difficulties which are a source of deep concern to us all. Through you, I would like to assure all the faithful of the Middle East of my spiritual closeness and my prayer that this land, so important in God’s plan of salvation, may be led, through constructive dialogue and cooperation, to a future of justice and lasting peace.

All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in serving the cause of peace and justice in fidelity to the Lord’s will. May the example and intercession of the countless martyrs and saints who down the ages have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen all of us in meeting the challenges of the present with confidence and hope in the future which the Lord is opening before us.

Upon you, and upon all those associated with the work of the Commission, I cordially invoke a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace. Thank you for your attention.

Not to beat up on the OR more than I have to, but I must, about this story, which it plays up on the back page of tomorrow's issue (1/26/13), with the headline
'Christian unity will facilitate peace in the Middle East'-
a statement repeated in the lead paragraph which reads: "Full unity among Christians in the Middle East could provide the impetus for peace in the whole region, the Supreme Pontiff said today...."

Two problems with the above:
1) The Pope never says that anywhere in his remarks; and
2) He would never have said it because it makes no sense:
If full Christian unity, as all sides always say, will come when the Holy Spirit wills it, and not through human effort alone, then the Pope would effectively be saying that peace in the Middle East is even more unattainable than Christian unity, if it is the latter that will provide an impetus for it!

Many of you probably tuned out long ago on my occasional going-on about media, especially the Vatican media, and may think that I am simply quibbling about minor slips, or raising technical questions which do not interest the regular reader at all. My double rationale for my self-assigned vigilance has always been: 1) If only out of respect for the Holy Father and the Church institutions they report upon, Vatican media have a duty to follow professional standards - I do not see why they should feel themselves exempted; and 2) the old truism that if you cannot be careful about the small and simple things, how can you be trusted to do the important things right?

In the above example, to attribute words to the Holy Father that he never said - which are, moreover, senseless words - and make a headline of it, is very wrong. It is also the height of absurdity and editorial irresponsibility. What makes it more frightening is that such obvious errors are allowed - as if no one exercised editorial or supervisory duties at all.

Wouldn't it be nice to say, if we could, that unlike the MSM, Vatican media are very professional, honest and reliable with facts in a way that they should serve as a model for the rest of the field? Alas, we can't.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 10:16 AM]
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Libretto Cover: Michelangelo, Conversion of St. Paul (detail), 1584, Fresco, Cappella Paolina, Vatican Apostolic Palace.

Pope points to decreasing presence of
Christian message in contemporary life

Adapted from

January 25, 2013

Left, foreground: Cardinal James Harvey in his first public appearance as Arch-Priest of St. Paul outside the Walls.

Pope Benedict XVI presided over an ecumenical Vespers service on Friday evening in the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls. The liturgy marked the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Christian churches have observed this week annually in prayer, dialog and actions aimed at bringing about their reunification since 1908 at the initiative of Fr. Paul Wattson, a Catholic convert and priest who founded the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.

In his homily, the Holy Father pointed out that “In today's society, it seems that the Christian message is less and less a presence in personal and community life, and this is a challenge for all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities.”

He said Christian unity was almost a prerequisite for a more efficacious evangelization, whether with those who have never heard the Good News, or those who have lost touch with its healing and saving power.

He continued: "The scandal of division that undermines missionary activity was the impulse that began the ecumenical movement that we know today. The full and visible communion among Christians is to be understood, in fact, as a fundamental characteristic of ever clearer witness" in order to pass on the faith in the contemporary world and for a stronger presence in contemporary culture.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily:

Dear brothers and sisters{

It is always a joy and a special grace to find ourselves together at the tomb of the Apostle Paul to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

I affectionately greet all the cardinals present, starting with Cardinal Harvey, Arch-Priest of this Basilica, and with him, the abbot and community of [Benedictine] monks who are our hosts.

I greet Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and all those who work in his dicastery.

I address my heartfelt and fraternal greetings to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch; the Reverend Canon Richardson, personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury; and to all the representatives of the various Churches and ecclesial communities who are gathered here this evening.

Moreover, I am particularly pleased to greet the members of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialog between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, for whom I wish fruitful work during the plenary session that is taking place these days in Rome' as well as the students of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey who are visiting Rome to deepen their knowledge about the Catholic Church; and the young Oriental Orthodox men and women who are students in Rome.

Finally, I greet every one present who are here to pray for unity among all the disciples of Christ.

This celebration takes place during the Year of Faith, which began last October 11, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Communion in the same faith is the basis for ecumenism. Indeed, unity is given by God as something inseparable from the faith. St. Paul expresses it very well: "One body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph 4,4-6).

The profession of faith at baptism in God, Father and Creator, who revealed himself in his Son Jesus Christ, and pouring out the Spirit who vivifies and sanctifies, already unifies Christians.

Without faith - which is primarily a gift of God, but also man's response to that gift - the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to some sort of 'contract' to which all must adhere for the common interest.

The Second Vatican Council reminds us that "the more effort they make to live holier lives according to the Gospel, the better will they further Christian unity and put it into practice. For the closer their union with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love"
(Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 7).

The doctrinal questions that still divide us should not be ignored or minimized. Rather they must be faced with courage, in a spirit of brotherhood and reciprocal respect.

Dialog, when it reflects the priority of the faith, allows us to open ourselves to the action of God with the first trust that by ourselves, we cannot construct unity, but that it is the Holy Spirit who will lead us to full communion and allow us to avail of the spiritual richness present in the various churches and ecclesial communities.

In the present society, it seems that the Christian message has a progressively decreasing effect on personal and community life, and this represents a challenge for all the Churches and ecclesial communities.

Unity itself is a preferential means - almost a prerequisite - for announcing the faith in an increasingly credible way to those who do not yet know about the Savior, or who, despite having nreceived the Gospel announcement, have almost forgotten this precious gift.

The scandal of division that undermined missionary activity was the impulse that started the ecumenical movement as we know it now. Full and visible unity among Christians must be understood, indeed, as a fundamental characteristic for a clearer witness to Christ.

While we are still on the road to full unity, it is therefore necessary to pursue concrete collaboration among all the disciples of Christ ion order to transmit the faith to the contemporary world.

Today there is great need for reconciliation, dialog and reciprocal understanding, in a non-moralistic perspective, but in the name of Christian authenticity, in order to have a more incisive presence in the reality of our time. Thus, true faith in God is inseparable from personal holiness, as it also is in the search for justice.

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that ends today, the theme that was offered for our meditation was "What does the Lord require of us?", inspired by the words of the prophet Micah (cfr 6,6-8). This was proposed by the Student Christian Movement of Indian, along with the All-India Catholic University Federation and the National Council of Churches in India, who also prepared the aids for reflection and prayer.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all who worked together on this, and with great affection, I assure them of my prayers for all the Christians of India who have often been called on to bear witness to their faith in difficult conditions.

"To walk humbly with God" (cfr Mi 6,8) means above all to walk in the radicality of faith, like Abraham, trusting in God, placing in him our hope and aspiration, but it also means going beyond barriers, beyond hatred, racism, and social and religious discrimination which divides and damages all of society.

As St. Paul says, Christians should be the first to offer a luminous example in the search for reconciliation and communion in Christ that can overcome every kind of division. In the Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle of the Gentiles says: "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (3,2-28).

Finally, our quest for unity in truth and in love must never lose sight of the perception that Christian unity is the work and gift of the Holy Spirit, one that goes well beyond our efforts. That is why spiritual ecumenism, especially prayer, is the heart of the ecumenical effort (cfr Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 8).

Nonetheless, ecumenism will not bear lasting fruit is it is not accompanied by concrete gestures of conversion that move consciences and promote the healing of memories and of relationships.

As the Vatican II decree on ecumenism says, "There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart" [conversion] (No. 7). An authentic conversion, such as the prophet Micah suggested, and of whom the Apostle Paul is a significant example, will bring us closer to God, who is the center of our life, in order to bring us closer as well to each other.

This is a fundamental element of our ecumenical commitment. The renewal of the interior life in our hearts and minds, which must be reflected in our daily life, is crucial for every dialog and path of reconciliation, thus making ecumenism a reciprocal commitment of understanding, respect and love, "so that the world may believe" (Jn 17,21).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, unparalleled model of evangelization, so that the Church, "sign and instrument of intimate union with God and the unity of all mankind" (Lumen gentium, 1)., may announce Christ the Savior with directness, even in our time. Amen.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 10:32 PM]
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Indicative of the way the MSM have all but ignored the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, is that after waiting, it seemed interminably, for any news agency report on the March - having watched the March and its preps on EWTN (impossible to watch the March and listen to the participants without being moved to tears again and again) - the first report that came out was this one from Al-Jazeera, which I found quite objective, so I have decided to lead off this post with it...

Anti-abortion march
held in US capital

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 25 - Tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators have converged on the US Supreme Court to protest its landmark decision 40 years ago this week that legalised abortion in America.

Organisers of the annual "March for Life" on the National Mall in Washington said a record crowd surpassed last year's turnout of 400,000, even with Friday’s sub-freezing temperatures.

Cheering them on from the Vatican was Pope Benedict XVI, who sent his best wishes via Twitter.

"I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," he tweeted on his @Pontifex account.

Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision, in which the highest court in the US ruled that abortion was a strictly private matter between a woman and her doctor.

The 1973 decision is seen by the pro-abortion camp as a breakthrough for women, but the anti-abortion movement - with support from the Roman Catholic and conservative Evangelical churches - sees itself as rapidly gaining ground.

"Being pro-life is the new normal," Jeanne Monahan, the new president of March for Life after the August 2012 death of its founder Nellie Gray, said on MSNBC a few hours before the demonstration.

She cited a recent Gallup poll in which 50 percent of respondents identified themselves as being against abortion - in contrast to 41 percent who believed in a woman's right to choose on the issue, down from 56 percent in 1995.

Abortion, she said, "is the human rights abuse of today”.

The March for Life usually takes place on the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, but it was pushed back three days this year to accommodate Monday's second term swearing-in ceremony for President Barack Obama.

Snow began to fall as the crowd - which included a remarkably large number of young women - reached the Supreme Court after winding its way around the Capitol from the National Mall.

Protesters from as far afield as Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma waved placards reading "Defend life", "Abortion: murder by appointment" and "Save the baby humans".

"I just think abortion is wrong," high school student Lacy Craig, 17, of Wellington, Kansas, told AFP news agency. "One of my friends is pregnant and I cannot imagine her not having her baby."

"I totally understand why people [terminate a pregnancy]," Craig added, "but I just don't think it's the right choice. It's not. It doesn't help."

Lutheran pastor Paul Herter, 58, from Adrian, Michigan, said there have been "some big pro-life advances" in recent years - a reference to legislation at the state level that critics say discourage women from having abortions.

"But by and large Roe versus Wade remains the big stumbling block," he said.

"Why we are here is to try to persuade and to educate, so that people understand that life begins at conception and that we should try to treasure human life from conception to natural death and all stages in between."

An unstructured and random montage of available photos from the March yesterday - I have not seen a single photograph that shows the size of the march as one could appreciate it from the live TV coverage yesterday:

March for Life uses social media
to counter lack of news coverage

By Alex Murashko

January 26, 2013

Participants in this year's March for Life, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, seemed less bothered by the mainstream media's lack of coverage of the estimated half-million people descending on Washington, D.C. to demonstrate against abortion on Friday. That's because they relied heavily on social media to help shine the spotlight on the movement.

Outside the march, supporters of the pro-life movement were not deterred either. Pope Benedict XVI gave a shout-out on Twitter in nine languages.

"I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," Benedict tweeted. The Pope has 2.5 million followers on Twitter in just six-week time since he began using the social media heavyweight.

"We have the biggest social media movement online for the pro-life movement educating almost a million people a week with the truth about human life and abortion," Lila Rose of Action Network, a pro-life investigative journalism group, told Fox News.

"Our Facebook at over 430,000 is bigger than Planned Parenthood's Facebook and they're a billion dollar abortion chain."

While TV reports on the march were scarce, a quick Google search Friday evening showed minimal mainstream online media coverage as well. The news of Burt Reynold's bout with the flu that landed him in the hospital took the top-center slot at, while the March for Life story was nowhere to be found on its homepage.

Apparently, even the intense chatter from pro-life supporters on Twitter wasn't enough to convince most newsrooms of the newsworthiness simply because of the large number of protesters alone.

"@ABC @NBCNews @CNN @FoxNews @msnbc Hot News Tip: Quick there are 500,000 people Marching on the Nations Capitol #MarchforLife #RealNews," tweeted @CatholicMomHunt (DH) on Friday.

Conservative columnist Katie Pavlich tweeted, "Hi @NBC, there are thousands of people marching for life today in 15 degree weather. Where are you?"

There was plenty of analysis from conservative writers trying to answer the question as to why the media continues to put the pro-life movement on the back burner.

"It doesn't get analyzed, or portrayed as part of any broader social trend. The press doesn't ask what causes it to remain so strong, even after forty years of being sternly lectured that it's fighting for a lost cause," writes John Hayward in a column published in Human Events.

Pro-lifers give cheerful interviews to news anchors who would feel more comfortable sitting down with the dictators of North Korea or Iran; they wave happily into cameras held by quivering hands.

Media organizations that swoon when leftist organizations quote dubious statistics in some 'noble' cause – climate change, gun control – scowl at the simple observation by pro-lifers that America is missing 55 million people due to the post-Roe abortion regime."

Rich Noyes, in a Media Research Center story published early Friday, wrote that the abortion issue has divided Americans for the past four decades and journalists have consistently come down on the pro-abortion side of this debate.

Noyes quoted Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner as saying to the Los Angeles Times in 1990: "I think that when abortion opponents complain about a bias in newsrooms against their cause, they're absolutely right. Opposing abortion, in the eyes of most not a legitimate, civilized position in our society."

Journalists have "routinely characterized the pro-life stance as retrograde or anti-woman," Noyes points out. During last year's presidential campaign, "Team Obama took advantage of the media's pro-abortion bias to construct a phony 'war on women' attack on conservatives," he states.

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin's human-powered Twitter aggregator, Twitchy Media, published several prominent posts under its "Social media fills the role the MSM won't as hundreds of thousands #MarchForLife in DC" headline.

Perhaps best summing up much of the tone for the day was "future priest" @Sacerdotus on Twitter:

"If @cnn @msnbc and other media outlets air complete coverage of the #marchforlife then that means this cold weather shows hell froze over."

Youth rally and prayer vigil at the Verizon Center in DC on the eve of the March gives an idea of the youth participation...

March for Life leaders see
growing youth participation

By Michael Gryboski

January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON – At the annual March for Life event at the National Mall, individuals long involved with the observance have spoken of an increasingly young audience for their message.

Tom Hogan, a board member with the March for Life Education Defense Fund, had been involved "on and off since the beginning," with military service abroad preventing his participation every year. Hogan, who is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, told The Christian Post that in the past few years the crowd has been getting younger.

"We noticed in the last few years a lot of younger people are coming," said Hogan, who noted that about 22,000 mostly young people would be coming in from a mass held at the Verizon Center. "We look positively at the young people that are pro-life that are coming here and that's the wave of the future."

Fr. Frank A. Pavone, national director for Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, had been attending the annual March for Life since he was a teenager. Pavone told CP that the cold weather and the re-election of a notably pro-choice President Barack Obama have not hindered the March's efforts.

"This has been a testimony to the strength of this movement that not only have the people persevered but the numbers have grown and they've grown younger," said Pavone. "Despite any kind of bad weather, despite any other obstacles… they come, they come in strength; you see a great spirit of joy and optimism here as well."

Pavone said that the March for Life "works on the same dynamic" as the Civil Rights Movement, as it rallies people "to stand up for the fundamental right to life."

"People have to look at what abortion is," said Pavone, who talked about a recently-created Priests for Life website called, which provides quotes about the abortion issue.

"Everyone can advance the cause this year by coming face-to-face with what abortion is and spreading some of these quotes which will at least help people understand what we are talking about if it won't convert them altogether."

As with previous years, the March for Life featured many prominent public figures as guest speakers, including elected officials like Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. "I have a question for those who don't respect and won't protect life: Can a nation long endure that does not respect the sanctity of life?" asked Paul.

"Can a nation conceived in liberty carry its head high if it denies protection to the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens? Can a country founded on God-given rights continue to thrive without understanding that life is a precious gift from our Creator?"

Sen. Paul called for those gathered to be part of a great "revival" for the country centered on justice and compassion, seeing the present state of the nation as being in moral peril.

"I believe that great nations and great civilizations spring from a people who have a moral compass," said Paul. "Our nation is adrift; adrift in a wilderness".

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 9:13 PM]
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Saturday, January 26, Second Week in Ordinary Time

SAINTS TIMOTHY AND TITUS (1st century AD), Disciples of St. Paul, Bishops
Timothy and Titus are both mentioned by St. Paul several times in his letters, especially Timothy, and in fact, two letters to Timothy
and one to Titus are part of the New Testament. Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis on December 13, 2006, to them, following
his catecheses on the Twelve Apostles and Paul himself. Both were Greek-born (though Timothy's mother was Jewish), met up with Paul
during his missionary travels, and travelled with him or were sent on missions by him. Paul's affection and confidence in his two
disciples are evident in his letters. Indeed, Timothy went on to be Bishop of Ephesus, and Titus, Bishop of Crete. Legend says that
St. John first came to stay with Timothy in Ephesus before he was exiled to Patmos (in which case, Timothy would also have hosted Mary
who had been 'in John's care' since the Crucifixion). The Orthodox Church also venerates Timothy as a martyr, because it is said he was
stoned to death (around 80 AD) by pagans who protested a Christian procession led by him. Titus apparently lived peacefully to age 95
(around 107 AD).
Readings for today's Mass:


The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)

- Mons. Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota

- Members of the College of Prelate-Auditors, Tribunal of the Roman Rota. Address in Italian.

One year ago...

The world first heard the opening salvo in what would come to be known as the Vatileaks affair, after
journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi hosted a TV broadcast the night before in which he disclosed letters written to
Pope Benedict XVI and to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in mid-2011 by frustrated cardinal wannabe Mons.
Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the USA since November 2011. In the letters, Vigano 1) protested
his reassignment from the Vatican where he had expected to be named Governor of Vatican City-State, and
therefore, in sure line for a cardinal's hat, after serving as its Secretary since 2009; 2) beat his
breast about what he claimed to be his achievements in cleaning
up the Governatorate, and 3) accused
a cast of minor characters orbiting the Vatican, whom he claimed to be proteges of Cardinal Bertone,
of personal financial misdeeds, in letters that can only be described as scurrilous in tone and content,
and certainly unworthy of an aspiring cardinal. See Page 282 of this thread
for an idea of the initial disclosures, as well as commentary by Andrea Tornielli and Sandro Magister..

- Also the first anniversary of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's letter to Barack Obama on behalf of the USCCB
denouncing the assault on religious freedom by the Obamacare legislation requiring Catholic institutions
to provide contraceptive services in all health insurance plans for their employees.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/27/2013 10:09 PM]
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Father Z, of course, has taken to call the NCReporter, the Fishwrap.

Kansas City bishop says
National Catholic Reporter
undermines Church teaching

Kansas City, MISSOURI, Jan 25, 2013 (CNA) - Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-Saint Joseph announced his discouragement that the National Catholic Reporter has failed to live up to the “Catholic” portion of its name.

“In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name 'Catholic,'” he wrote in his Jan. 25 column for his diocesan paper, “The Catholic Key”.

His comments on the National Catholic Reporter came in the context of World Communications Day, held on Jan. 24. He noted that the day is celebrated then as it is the the feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists and the Catholic press.

Bishop Finn reflected on the role bishops play in fostering Catholic media, and their responsibility over local media for the promotion and protection of the faith.

The bishop noted that he is well-pleased with The Catholic Key and its staff, who “use the paper to teach Catholic doctrine, to provide trustworthy reflections on issues that take place in our culture, and to provide stories of apostolic life and work – particularly from our local diocese – that inspire us to live our Catholic faith more fully.”

Bishop Finn said he is similarly happy with the Catholic radio station located in the diocese, KEXS 1090, for helping Catholics to “know and live their faith.”

In contrast to these positive, faithful Catholic media outlets located in the Kansas City-Saint Joseph diocese, Bishop Finn examined the National Catholic Reporter.

“I have received letters and other complaints about NCR from the beginning of my time here,” said Bishop Finn, who was consecrated the diocese's coadjutor in May, 2004.

He continued, “In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.

He noted that the problem of the National Catholic Reporter did not start under his time as bishop.

“Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name 'Catholic' from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.”

He noted that early on in his time as bishop he asked that the Reporter “submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law.”

“They declined to participate,” he wrote, “indicating that they considered themselves an 'independent newspaper which commented on 'things Catholic.'' At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.”

Bishop Finn wrote that “While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level.”

Noting Bishop Finn's column, Edward Peters, professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, posited that National Catholic Reporter's use of “Catholic” in their title is canonically illicit.

There is simply zero question about this assertion, for they 'claim the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.' {And in fact, rebuked on more than one occasion by the competent ecclesiastical authority"!] Second, once one is shown to be acting illegally under canon law, a number of canonical responses to illicit activity come into play including precepts, the invocation of penal law, and certain sacramental consequences for organizational leadership,” Peters wrote Jan. 25 at “In the Light of the Law.”

Bishop Finn's column concluded as it began, with an appeal to St. Francis de Sales.

Realizing that by natural means he has been unable to bring the Reporter to fidelity to the Church, he wrote: “For this we pray: St. Francis De Sales, intercede for us.”

What the report does not mention is some basic info about the NCReporter that one can pick up from Wikipedia (whose information, unless openly challenged and corrected, is generally reliable, especially when they cite their primary sources). It was founded in 1964 as an independent newspaper focusing on the Catholic Church but without any connection to the Church.

Its founder, Robert Hoyt, said he wanted to bring the professional standards of secular news reporting to the Catholic press, maintaining that "if the mayor of a city owned its only newspaper, its citizens will not learn what they need and deserve to know about its affairs". (What the newspaper thinks the faithful 'need and deserve to know' about the affairs' of the Church, is lamentably nothing but relentless criticism of many Church teachings and of her hierarchy. Besides, it has gone far beyond simply reporting and commenting on Church affairs but on actively espousing causes in direct opposition to Rome.

It has consistently promoted a progressive position, presenting itself "as one of the few, if not the only truly independent, journalistic outlet for Catholics and others who struggle with the complex moral and societal issues of the day."

The intention was very admirable - to bring universal journalistic standards to the Catholic media (assuming they did not already have it) and to present other viewpoints besides what may call the 'establishment' view. In this case, however, that 'establishment view' happens to be the Church Magisterium, which the newspaper and its writers openly and regularly contest on a number of points.

But it was very clever to use the name National Catholic Reporter from the start - at which time, I don't think anyone would have objected, because even if we were in mid-Vatican-II, few suspected how progressivists would seek to hijack the adjective 'Catholic' from the Church itself. Although, as we learned above, the bishop of the diocese, as early as 1968, already condemned the publication for precisely the same reasons Bishop Finn does today.

Although the newspaper claims that it reaches 97 countries today, its audited circulation is only 33,000. But of course, it has an Internet presence which amounts to a HuffingtonPost salon for the Catholic left.

While one might understand John Allen's loyalty to the employer that enabled his own personal career trajectory, one also wonders why, with the credentials he has now notched personally, he has not thought of taking some other job (surely, there must be great offers out there worth taking), rather than continue working for a publication that so continually demeans the adjective 'Catholic' that it persists to use about itself. (It could change its name to 'Progressive Catholic Reporter' and be more honest - and since it goes to 97 countries, it is no longer just 'national', right?)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/26/2013 8:16 PM]
1/27/2013 5:55 AM
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The Roman Rota is the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, and is, with respect to judicial trials conducted in the Catholic Church, the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See. The Catholic Church has a complete legal system, which is the oldest still in use today. The court is named Rota (wheel) because the judges, called auditors, originally met in a round room to hear cases. The Rota was established in the 13th century.

The Pope's remarks to the Rota today are a bit less difficult to translate than last year's remarks. The difficulty comes from hie necessary employment of juridical terms and definitions that would make sense to anyone familiar with the grounds for obtaining canonical annulment of a marriage. But not to me - and I am not sure that my cursory reading about the causes for annulment
has helped me give a proper translation of the part where he talks about 'simulated consent'... So, until the Vatican posts an official translation, here is a provisional account...

Pope addresses Tribunal of the Roman Rota
at start of Vatican's Judicial year:
Some considerations on faith and marriage

Translated from

After a private audience with the recently appointed Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Mons. Pio Vito Pinto, the Holy Father received the other officials, prelate-auditors and advocates of the Tribunal at the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace to inaugurate the judicial year at the Vatican.

Here is a translation of his address to them:

Dear Members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota:

It is an occasion of joy to be with you on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year. I thank your Dean, Mons. Pio Vito Pinto, for the sentiments he expressed in your name and which I reciprocate with all my heart.

This encounter gives me the opportunity to reaffirm my esteem and consideration for the high service that you are rendering to the Successor of Peter and to the whole Church, as well as to urge you to an even greater commitment in what is certainly a difficult task but one that is valuable for the salvation of souls.

The principle that salus animarum, the salvation of souls, is the supreme law in the Church (cfr CIC, can. 1752) should be kept in mind at all times and must find, in your daily work, its due and rigorous respect.

1. In the context of the Year of Faith, I wish to dwell especially on some aspects of the relationship between faith and matrimony, observing that the present crisis of faith in various parts of the world also bears with it a crisis in conjugal society, with all the weight of suffering and disquiet that this means even for the children.

We can start off from the common linguistic root that the terms fides and foedus have in Latin - the latter term used in the Code of Canon Law designates the natural reality of matrimony as an irrevocable pact between a man and a woman (cfr can. 1055 § 1). Indeed, reciprocal trust is the irrenunciable basis of any pact or alliance.

On the theological plane, the relationship between faith and matrimony assumes an even more profound significance. Indeed, the spousal bond, although it is a natural reality, was elevated by Christ, for those who have been baptized, to the dignity of a sacrament (cfr ibidem).

The indissoluble alliance between a man and a woman in marriage does not require, for purposes of sacramentality, the personal faith of the spouses. What it requires, as the minimum necessary condition, is the intention to do what the Church does.

But although it is important not to confuse the question of intention with that of the faith of the contracting parties, it is nonetheless not possible to separate them totally. As the International Theological Commission noted in a 1977 document, "in case there is no trace of faith as such (in the sense of a disposition to believe), nor any desire for grace or salvation, then the problem is whether the intention to marry is truly sacramental as earlier mentioned, whether that intention is present or not, and if the marriage has been validly contracted or not" (La dottrina cattolica sul sacramento del matrimonio [1977], 2.3: Documenti 1969-2004, vol. 13, Bologna 2006, p. 145).

Blessed John Paul II, addressing this Tribunal ten years ago, nonetheless pointed out that "an attitude by the persons getting married that does not consider the supernatural dimension of marriage can render it invalid only if it undermines the validity on the natural plane upon which the sacramental sign is imposed" ibidem). [Original Italian of the clause I highlighted: "solo se ne intacca la validità sul piano naturale nel quale è posto lo stesso segno sacramental" - I believe I have translated it as best I can, but I do not understand what is meant by 'validity on the natural plane'.]

This problem, especially in the present context, requires further reflections.

2. Contemporary culture, which is characterized by marked ethical and religious subjectivism and relativism, poses urgent challenges to the individual and to the family.

In the first place, there is the question of the capacity of the human being to bind himself to someone else, and if a bond that lasts for life is truly possible and corresponds to human nature, or whether it is not instead opposed to man's freedom and his self-realization.

It is, in fact, part of a widespread mentality, to think that a person becomes himself by remaining 'autonomous', coming in contact with others only through relationships that can be interrupted at any time (cfr Allocution to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2012).

No one can miss the fact that a person's basic perspective influences his choice of whether to enter into a bond that will last all his life, depending on whether that perspective is anchored to a merely human plan, or is opened up by the light of faith in the Lord.

In fact, only by opening oneself to the truth of God is it possible to understand and to realize - even in the concreteness of one's conjugal and family life - the truth of man as a child of God, regenerated at Baptism.

"Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." (Jn 15,5). This is what Jesus taught his disciples, reminding them of the human being's substantial incapacity to fulfill by himself what is necessary to achieve true good.

Rejection of the divine proposal, in effect, leads to a profound disequilibrium in all human relationships (Cfr Address tothe International Theological Commission, December 2012), including the marital, and facilitates a mistaken understanding of freedom and self-realization, which, along with seeking to escape from suffering, condemns man to enclose himself within his egoism and egocentrism.

On the contrary, acceptance of faith makes man capable of self-giving, in which alone "does man find himself... Only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity" (Address to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2012).

Faith in God, sustained by divine grace, is therefore a very important element in order to live in mutual dedication and conjugal faithfulness (Catechesis, General Audience, June 8, 2011).

This must not be taken to mean that faithfulness, along with other characteristics, is not possible in natural marriage that takes place between those who are not baptized. In fact, such marriages are not devoid of good things that "come from God the Creator" and which are found in the spousal love that unites Christ and the Church" (International Theological Commission, Catholic Doctrine on the sacrament of matrimony [19], 3-4).

But certainly, being closed to God or rejection of the sacred dimension in the conjugal union and of its value in terms of grace, renders difficult the concrete incarnation of that most elevated model of matrimony conceived by the Church according to God's design, and can even undermine the validity itself of the alliance, whenever - as the consolidated jurisprudence of this Tribunal says - it translates into a rejection of the conjugal obligation of faithfulness or of other elements and properties essential to matrimony.

Tertullian, in his famous Letter to the Wife, speaking of conjugal life marked by faith, writes that Christian spouses are "truly two in one flesh only, and where there is one flesh, there is one spirit. Together they pray, together they prostrate themselves, together they fast; one teaches the other, one honors the other, one sustains the other" (Ad uxorem libri duo, II, IX: PL 1, 1415B-1417A).

St. Clement of Alexandria expressed himself in similar terms: "If in fact, for both spouses, there is only one God, then for both, there is only one Pedagogue - Christ; and one Church, one wisdom, one humility. We est in common, matrimony unites us... And if our life is common to both of us, then also common to both of us is grace, salvation, virtue, morality" (Pædagogus, I, IV, 10.1: PG 8, 259B).

The saints who experienced matrimonial union and family life in the Christian perspective, succeeded in overcoming even the most adverse situations, even gaining the sanctification of their spouses and children through a love that was always strengthened by solid trust in God, by sincere religious piety, and by an intense sacramental life.

Their experiences, distinguished by faith, help us understand why even today, there is value to the sacrifice offered by the abandoned spouse or someone who underwent divorce, if - recognizing the indissolubility of a valid matrimonial bond - the spouse does not allow himself/herself to "be involved in a new union... Because in such cases, the example of faithfulness and Christian consistency assumes a special value of witness to the world and to the Church" (John Paul II, Apost. Exh. Familiaris consortio [22 novembre 1981], 83: AAS 74 [1982], p. 184).

3. Finally, I wish to dwell briefly on the bonum conjugium ['the good of the marriage', more commonly translated as 'the good of the spouses' in all canon law discussions of marriage]. Faith is important in the realization of authentic conjugal good, which consists in wanting, always and under all circumstances. what is good for the other, as a function of a true and indissoluble consortium vitae (life in common).

Indeed, the goal of Christian spouses to live a true communio conugalis contains a dynamism that comes from the faith, in which one's confessio or personal response to the salvific announcement of Christ involves the believer in God's plan of love.

Confessio and caritas are "the two forms by which God involves us, makes us act with him, in him, and for mankind, for his creature... Confessio is not an abstraction, it is caritas, it is love. Only thus is it a reflection of divine truth, which as truth, is inseparable from love" (Meditation, First General Congregation of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Bishops' Synod, Oct. 9, 2012)

Only through the flame of charity is the presence of the Gospel no longer just words, but lived reality. In other words, if it is true that "faith without charity does not bear fruit, and charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt", one must conclude that "faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path" (Apost Ltr Porta Fidei, October 11, 2012).

4. If this is valid in the wide context of community life, it must be even more valid in the matrimonial union, in which faith makes the love of the spouses grow and fructify, making room for the presence of the Trinity, and making conjugal life, thus lived, 'happy news' in the eyes of the world.

I recognize the difficulties, from a juridical and practical viewpoint, of enucleating the essential element of the bonum coniugum that has been understood till now prevalently in relation to the hypothesis of incapacity (cfr CIC, can. 1095).

The bonum coniugum assumes relevance even in the case of simulated consent. Certainly, in the cases subject to your judgment, factual inquiry will seek to ascertain the ultimate validity of this cause for nullification, prevalent or coexistent with one other cause related to the three Augustinian benefits of marriage - procreativity, exclusivity and perpetuity.

One must therefore not disregard cases in which, precisely because of the absence of faith, the benefits of marriage to the spouses become compromised or excluded from their consent itself. For example, in a hypothesis of subversion by one of the spouses, because of a mistaken idea of the marriage bond or the principle of parity, or rejection of the [physical] union that characterizes the matrimonial bond, related to the possible coexistent exclusion of faithfulness and the use of copula adempiuta humano modo. ['Copulation carried out in the human way'? I think the sense of the highlighted clause, in a list of examples of how the marriage bond can be subverted, is that additional aggravating circumstances may be unfaithfulness or copulation in unnatural ways.]

With these considerations, I certainly do not intend to suggest any facile automatic equivalence between lack of faith and invalidity of the matrimonial union, but rather to point out how such lack of faith may, though not necessarily, damage even the benefits of matrimony, since the natural order intended by God is inherent to the conjugal pact (cfr Gen 2,24).

Dear Brothers, I invoke the help of God for you and all those in the Church who do their best to safeguard truth and justice with regard to the sacred bond of matrimony and therefore of the Christian family.

I entrust you to the protection of the Most Blessed Mary, Mother of Christ, and of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Family of Nazareth, silent and obedient executor of the divine plan of salvation, as I gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and those dear to you.

P.S. Andrea Tornielli has a commentary on this address which, for some reason, he interprets as yet another signal from Benedict XVI that the question of divorced Catholics who remarry remains 'open'. But the Pope limits his comments here to marriages that may or may not be annulled on the basis alone of 'lack of faith' by the contracting parties - and he cites examples of such lack of faith.

This is completely tangential to the problem of divorced Catholics who remarry
, because one assumes - in the absence if any figures ever being cited when these stories come up - that 1) very few of the cases that reach the Roman Rota involve divorcees seeking to have their first marriages canonically annulled (if only because, in general, the incidence of annulable marriages is quite insignificant); and 2) among those who could conceivably seek canonical annulment of their first marriage, how many could cite 'lack of faith' as described by the Pope as grounds for seeking the annulment? They can try, anyway.

Actually, a practical first advice to all Catholic divorcees who remarry and then complain that they 'suffer' because they are denied communion, might be to try and have their first marriage annulled if they have a viable case for it, because once they get an annulment, they will no longer be 'excommunicated'. Their alternative is to commit themselves to a chaste relationship with their present spouse, and I doubt they are willing to do that unless they are a;ready in their 80s, or something...

[Look, folks, you went through divorce and remarriage with open eyes and great determination, knowing full well the consequences in terms of not being allowed to receive Communion. It's unsportsmanlike to now behave as though you were being discriminated against by the Church. Actions have consequences: Man up and live with the consequences of your actions. Or do something to remedy it if it;s possible. It's not for the Church to enact what amounts to class legislation in your behalf!]

I will nonetheless translate Tornielli's commentary because he assembles statements that Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has made over the years about the problem of remarried divorcees. {About whom one must conclude they think of themselves as a special class or interest group who must be exempt from the Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, in much the same way as LGBTs think they deserve special 'rights' because they are different from the overwhelming majority of society.)... And as I always intuited or gathered from what he has said, I don't think he will ever impose a one-rule-fits-all for these cases, but let the local bishop decide individual cases following guidelines given by the Vatican.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/27/2013 1:57 PM]
1/27/2013 6:59 AM
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International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on the anniversary of the day US troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, revealing to the world for the first time the enormous incomprehensible reality of the Final Solution that was intended to exterminate all the Jews of Europe.

Holocaust Memorial Day:
It is a duty to remember

Translated from the Italian service of

January 26, 20143

"The duty of memory" is the title of a Page 1 article above the fold in the January 27, 2013 issue of L'Osservatore Romano by Carmelite sister and theologian Cristiana Dobner.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, the Vatican newspaper also has an article by Anna Foa entitled "Let it not become an empty shell" and one by Gaetano Vallini on the persecution of Jewish children by the Nazis and Fascists.

Theologian Dobner underscores that "today the Catholic Church and the Jewish people are experiencing a rapprochement and understanding that was unthinkable a few decades ago".

She adds: "It is not a transient fashion: It is an awareness based on the lives that were snuffed out in the heart of the 20th century, but which is borne along a memory that will link generations like a chain with a hope that traverses the centuries".

Anna Foa points out that Holocaust Memorial Day, instituted in 2000 to commemorate the victims of the Shoah, has become a phenomenon of great importance, which in various ways involves educational institutions of every kind and level, institutions, and media", but that "in this enormous development of the initiative, there is no reference to the international significance of such a day, and in the common perception of Italians, it seems to be simply the result of laws passed by the Italian Parliament".

But Foa, the first Jewish woman asked to contribute regularly to the Vatican newspaper, says that "In all the countries of the world, the risk is great for the fossilization of memory, of its separation from the need to deepen knowledge of the historical aspects of the Shoah, of its transformation into a vague symbol filled only with good intentions. But the alternative, which no one wants, is oblivion, though coming gradually, when everyone would prefer to fill the existing framework with content that is not banal rather than to raise new discussions about it, especially in the presence today in many parts of Europe of anti-Semitic and negationist attacks on the reality of the Shoah itself and its memory, attacks that denigrate the observance of Holocaust Memorial Day and are aiming to suppress it".

Vallini reconstructs the fate of Jewish children in the Hotel Meina on Lago Maggiore, which was the theater for the first massacres of Jews in Italy.

In this connection, Einaudi publishing house recently published the book La Shoah dei bambini. La persecuzione dell'infanzia ebraica in Italia 1938-1945,, by historian Bruno Maida.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/27/2013 7:02 AM]
1/27/2013 9:54 PM
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I like the point this English blogger makes here, mainly because I do not seem to see a fresh new generation taking up the soiled, threadbare and bedraggled mantle of the 'faux-spirit of Vatican II' progressivists...

There are old Catholics and
there are bold Catholics...
but there are no old, bold Catholics

by Richard Collins

I'm sorry to snaffle the old aviation joke but it rings true for the state of the Catholic laity today.

A phenomonen occurred in the wake of Vatican II: seemingly orthodox and conservative Catholics became, within ten years, rabid left wing liberals.

They embraced the new religion much as, in Reformation times, the population embraced Protestantism.

The mantra went up a la Animal Farm, 'New good, old bad' and that has now become so embedded in the liberal psyche that many modern Catholics will challenge the Holy Father and Church Doctrine on all matters that, fifty years ago, would have been obediently accepted.

Two comments that I have heard in the past couple of years from liberal Catholics: "I don't like the Pope" and, "The Pope's an idiot"

Both are unacceptable and the latter is most certainly untrue. But what is it that provokes such antipathy?

We could now debate the decline in moral values and increase of relativism but that is not really my point. The fact is that those who stand up for the Faith today are not the children of the sixties but the new generation; children of the 80s and 90s.

Look at the increase in home schooling and then look at the average home schooling family; young, traditional and loyal to the magisterium.

Look at the 70 and 80 year old liberals and you see bitterness, regret, paranoia and the sins of Adam and Eve reflected in their faces; pride, envy and jealousy of God. All are gateways to disobedience.

And, most poignant of all, it is those who follow the liberal theology who are now classed as old fashioned and outdated.

Dancing on the sanctuary, standing to receive in the hand, obliteration of the Sacrament of Confession, chattering in Church,
extraordinary ministers - all look as topical as flared trousers and men's ponytails.

Reverence, humility, obedience and the old rite of Mass are all cutting edge.

Sorry... I thought I had posted this last night before going to bed, but it turns out I did not punch the Reply button, so it was sitting in the post box all night and most of the day today, when I am making a very late start at the Forum....

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/27/2013 9:59 PM]
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