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00Saturday, February 3, 2018 3:28 AM

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


Sandro Magister continues his HV watch, as if somehow, reporting on its probable fate on its 50th anniversary may ward it off...Bergoglio has already shown how he can trample
on Familiaris consortio and Veritatis splendor as much as he wants. Let's not even get into how often and habitually he misrepresents or edits Jesus's words!

'Humanae Vitae' under siege:
Does it really matter to Bergoglio what John Paul II
and Cardinal Caffarra said about it?

February 2, 2018

Fifty years after its publication, Paul VI’s encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' against artificial contraception is now solidly in the overhaul shop, as Settimo Cielo documented in the previous post.

And it is evident that Pope Francis’s intention is to bring about its reversal - which means in practice to legitimize contraceptives - in the most 'soothing' manner, as if this were a matter of a natural and proper evolution, devoid of rupture, in perfect continuity with the preceding magisterium of the Church and with the “true” profound dynamic of the encyclical itself.

But if one looks just a bit behind it, this artifice does not by any means appear easy to realize. [Are you kidding? If he can edit Jesus, how much easier it is to just run roughshod over his predecessors' magisterium or ignore them completely!] There are words of Francis’s predecessors that rise up like mountains against a change in the doctrine of HV. [They may seem like mountains to you - to Bergoglio, they're his happy stomping grounds!]

They are words that the proponents of change take care not to cite. But there they are, irremovable. [Just as Bergoglio hopes his words will be 'irremovable' once he has consigned offending and incompatible documents to the bowels of hell!]

There is in particular an address by John Paul II of November 12, 1988 that should suffice on its own to block the way. [Whence comes this naivete, Mr. Magister? Any words you cite will go the way of Veritatis splendor with Bergoglio - ignored and overridden by pristine Bergoglio doctrine unmediated by common sense and logic, much less by Christian truth!]

Twenty years had gone by since the publication of “Humanae Vitae,” and Pope Karol Wojtyla took the opportunity to defend it as the be-all and end-all, carving into stone words like the following:

“This is not a matter of a doctrine invented by man: it has been inscribed by the creating hand of God within the very nature of the human person, and has been confirmed by him in revelation. Bringing it into question, therefore, is equivalent to refusing God himself the obedience of our intelligence. It is equivalent to preferring the light of our reason to the light of divine wisdom, thus falling into the darkness of error and ultimately undermining other fundamental mainstays of Christian doctrine.

In front of him were bishops and theologians from all over the world, meeting in Rome for a major congress on none other than “Humanae Vitae.”

And John Paul II wanted precisely to identify and refute the reasons that had led so many theologians and pastors to reject what Paul VI taught in that encyclical.

The first of these reasons - he said - concerns a mistaken understanding of the role of conscience:

“During these years, following the contestation of ‘Humanae Vitae,’ the Christian doctrine of moral conscience has itself been brought into question, accepting the idea of conscience as creator the the moral norm. In this way has been radically broken that bond of obedience to the holy will of the Creator in which man’s very dignity consists.

Conscience, in fact, is the ‘place’ in which man is illuminated by a light that does not stem from his created and always fallible reason, but from the very wisdom of the Word, in which all has been created. ‘Conscience,’ as Vatican II wonderfully writes, ‘is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths’ (Gaudium et Spes, 16). [In stark contradiction to Bergoglio's dictum that every individual alone can decide what is good or bad subjectively, with no recourse to objective norms, even as post-AL, he has seemed to conflate 'conscience' and 'discernment' as synonyms - both individually subjective, of course.]

From this - he continued - follows a bad understanding of the Church’s magisterium:

“Since the Magisterium of the Church has been instituted by Christ the Lord to illuminate the conscience, […] one cannot, therefore, say that a believer has undertaken a diligent search for the truth if he does not take into account what the Magisterium teaches: if, equating it to any other source of knowledge, he sets himself up as its judge; if, in doubt, he follows instead his own opinion or that of theologians, preferring it to the certain teaching of the Magisterium...”

“Paul VI, qualifying the contraceptive act as intrinsically illicit, intended to teach that the moral norm is such as not to admit exceptions: no personal or social circumstance has ever been able to, can, or will be able to render such an act ordered in itself. The existence of particular norms in reference to the intra-worldly activity of man, endowed with such obligatory force as to exclude always and in any case the possibility of exceptions, is a constant teaching of the Magisterium of the Church that cannot be brought into question by the Catholic theologian.”

The error is so grave - John Paul II continued - that it brings into doubt the holiness of God:

“Here one touches upon a central point of the Christian doctrine concerning God and man. On close inspection what is brought into question in rejecting that teaching is the very idea of the holiness of God. In predestining us to be holy and immaculate in his sight, he has created us ‘in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2:10): those moral norms are simply the demand, from which no historical circumstance can dispense, of the holiness of God who participates in the concrete, and indeed not in the abstract, in the individual human person...

“Not only that, but this negation renders vain the cross of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:17). In becoming flesh, the Word entered fully into our everyday existence, which is articulated in concrete human acts; in dying for our sins, he re-created us in the original holiness that must express itself in our everyday intra-worldly activity...”

“And again: that negation implies, as a logical consequence, that there is no truth about man that is exempt from the flux of historical becoming. The nullification of the mystery of God, as always, ends up in the nullification of the mystery of man, and the non-recognition of the rights of God, as always, ends up in the negation of the dignity of man.”

In closing this address, John Paul II urged the professors of moral theology in the seminaries to transmit with absolute fidelity the message of “Humanae Vitae.” And in particular he entrusted this task to the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, which he founded in Rome a few years earlier and which in that very year, 1988, had created its first foreign branch, in Washington.

The head of the institute at that time was a theologian named Carlo Caffarra, who was also a consultant for the congregation for the doctrine of the faith headed at the time by Joseph Ratzinger, as well as being one of Papa Wojtyla’s closest coworkers in matters concerning life and family. And Caffarra’s mind and pen are easily recognizable in the text of the address cited above.

Caffarra was archbishop of Bologna from 2003 to 2015, and was one of the four cardinals who in 2016 submitted to Pope Francis five “dubia” on the correct interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia,” the postsynodal exhortation that is being used today as the source of a paradigm shift in the interpretation of “Humanae Vitae”.

Francis has never responded to the “dubia,” nor to the request to give an audience to the proponent cardinals, sent to him in a letter from Caffarra in the spring of 2017.

Caffarra died Last September 6, and even since then the pope has refrained from any gesture of understanding and esteem for him, even on October 1 when he went on a visit to Bologna.

As for the pontifical institute that still bears the name of John Paul II, Pope Francis refounded it last year with a new name: “For Marriage and Family Sciences,” and above all with a new grand chancellor in the person of Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, engrossed in “rethinking” the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” and therefore in legitimizing contraceptives, because - he says - “the norms are there to enliven human beings, not to operate robots.”

The address cited above is in any case not the only one in which John Paul II reproposed and defended the teaching of “Humanae Vitae.” Another can be recalled from June 5, 1987, addressed to participants in a study meeting on the natural regulation of fertility. And even more important are the references to “Humanae Vitae” that he included in the exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” of 1981 and in the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” of 1993).

00Saturday, February 3, 2018 9:15 PM

The tears of Cardinal Zen and Mons. Zhuang -
the tears of the faithful Church in China

A priest of the official Church, pays tribute to the 88-year-old bishop asked by
the Vatican to step down in favor of an illegitimate bishop, to please the regime.

by Padre Pietro

Beijing, February 1, 2018 (AsiaNews) - Editor's Note: The Vatican's decision to replace Msgr. Pietro Zhuang Jianjian with another
bishop (currently excommunicated) to please the Chinese government, is provoking pain and confusion in China. A priest of the
'official' Church, Fr. Peter, expresses sorrow at the way this underground Church bishop is being treated. (It was he who requested
Cardinal Zen last month to bring the pope a letter explaining his position.)

Fr. Peter also recalls Cardinal Zen's report of meeting with the pope the day after he delivered Zhuang's letter at the end of a
Wednesday General audience
[at which he says the pope told him "I told them not to make this into another Mindszenty case", which gave the cardinal
some hope that the pope did not know that two faithful bishops had already been asked to step aside in favor of Communist Party-appointed 'bishops'. Only to be
publicly rebuffed by the Vatican which said the pope follows the China negotiations closely and knows and approves every move made by his diplomats.

Why could Bergoglio not have been honest with Cardinal Zen about the two bishops, in particular about Mons. Zhuang who had sent him the letter? How uncharitable
it is to give the 80-year-old Zen some false hope, even if - to give Cardinal Zen credit - he also concluded that the Vatican was, in fact, selling out the
underground Church in China, judging on everything that has been going on since the Bergoglio Vatican started negotiating to normalize diplomatic relations
with Communist China (with the immediate objective of getting an invitation that would make Bergoglio the first pope ever to visit China).]

Unlike certain images released by some media, the attempt by Card. Zen and the tears of Msgr. Zhuang are viewed as "impotent"
and "sad". Greater suffering for priests and more problems of conscience for the faithful in China.

I have no direct impression of the bishop of the diocese of Shantou Msgr. Pietro Zhuang Jianjian. I only know that when I was a seminarian, I liked to listen to Radio Veritas Asia and I heard from Radio Veritas Asia the news of the priestly ordination of Zhuang Jianjian in Shanghai - it was the first time I learned about the priest Zhuang Jianjian of the diocese of Shantou.

Radio Veritas Asia was not the only one to spread the news of his ordination: the magazine "Catholic Church of China" also published an article that said: "Father Zhuang Jianjian, was born in Jiexi county of the diocese of Shantou, in the province of Guangdong. In his youth he attended the seminaries of Meixian (in Guangdong) and Shanghai. He never changed his mind despite a 10-year interruption during the Cultural Revolution and went on to enter the Seminary of Sheshan (Shanghai) in 1985. Once he had completed his studies, on December 21, 1986, he received priestly ordination in the Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan, where he also celebrated his first Mass as a priest".

According to the circumstances of the time, I think that the ordination of Fr. Zhuang Jianjian was celebrated by Msgr. Jin Luxian, even if Radio Veritas Asia did not reveal who the bishop who presided over the ceremony was. But I'm certain in affirming that Fr. Zhuang Jianjian had always been a pastor of the official Church. That is until 2006, when Fr. Zhuang Jianjian was nominated by the Pope as bishop of Shantou and received episcopal ordination in secret, when his name became known to all.

In recent decades, every Pope has hoped to improve relations with mainland China, in particular Pope Francis. From the beginning of his pontificate, he has ardently desired that an agreement be reached with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops.

In October 2017, the Holy See representative Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli, twice requested the resignation of Msgr. Zhuang Jianjian. At a meeting in Beijing, a Vatican delegation asked Msgr. Zhuang to step aside to make way for Msgr. Huang Bingzhang, who is an excommunicated bishop. The 88-year-old Msgr. Zhuang, on hearing the request, burst into tears, refused and said he preferred to "carry the Cross for disobedience".

According to normal ecclesiastical practice, a bishop should resign to the Pope at the age of 75, but given the special circumstances of the Chinese Church, many bishops were ordained at the age of 75, and some are still responsible for diocesan affairs at the age of over 80. This is due to the fact that, from 1960 to 1980, the Chinese Church never had the opportunity to make priestly and episcopal ordinations.

It is not that Msgr. Zhuang wants to cling to the post of bishop, the point is that he cannot accept leaving the sacred chair to an illegitimate bishop. It is a matter of faith and conscience: it should not be considered a mere question of obedience or disobedience.

For this he hoped that Card. Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, would be able to express his concern to the Pope. On 10 January 2018, Card. Zen placed an envelope containing Msgr. Zhuang’s letter and another letter on his behalf in the Pope’s hands, on the occasion of the baciamano at the end of the Wednesday general audience.

Card. Zen’s courage in attempting to address the uncomfortable is admirable. His figure is precisely the figure of the faithful Church in China. Also that of Msgr. Zhuang Jianjian: his tears are the tears of faithful priests in China, tears full of mortification and sacrifice.

In an interview published January 31, 2018 in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the Vatican Secretary of State Card. Pietro Parolin spoke of the recent confusion caused by the behaviour of the Holy See, explaining that "the negotiations in progress are moving exactly along this line: constructive openness to dialogue and fidelity to the genuine tradition of the Church". He added hopefully that "the time will come, when the Lord wants, when we will no longer speak of 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate', 'clandestine' and 'official' bishops in the Church in China, but of an encounter between brothers, learning again the language of collaboration and communion ".

Regarding the concern of the faithful that the sufferings inflicted in the past and the present are erased, Card. Parolin – apparently in an attempt to offer some consolation to the people who are living through these sufferings - and said that "the Church will never forget the past and present trials and sufferings of Chinese Catholics. All this is a great treasure for the universal Church ".

I hope that Card. Parolin’s words are sincere and come from the heart. But the important question remains how can the ecclesial authority dry the tears of the faithful and allow their conscience to experience genuine and true peace and consolation?

Fr. Peter
Thursday, February 1, 2018

00Saturday, February 3, 2018 9:40 PM
Sending Mons. Scicluna to Chile raises
more questions than it answers

Is this an ad hoc response to bad press, or a real pursuit of justice?

by Christopher R. Altieri

February 2, 2018

Even judging only by its perceptible consequences, the crisis in the Catholic Church over the sexual abuse of minors at the hands of clerics is the worst to face the Church since the time of the Protestant Reformation.

This is why the announcement of Pope Francis’s decision to send Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna to Osorno to hear evidence against Bishop Juan Barros — coming as it does on the heels of unprecedented public criticism of the pope's statements on the case — is too little, too late.

Pope Francis has publicly expressed his doubts about the accusations of several victims of the disgraced Father Fernando Karadima, who accuse Bishop Barros of covering for their abuser — accusations that have been public since at least 2012, several years before the Holy Father appointed Barros to the See of Osorno.

On Tuesday, the Press Office of the Holy See announced:

Following recently received information regarding the case of H.E. Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno (Chile), the Holy Father Francis has arranged for H.E. Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and President of the College for the examination of appeals (in matters of delicta graviora) at the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to go to Santiago de Chile to hear those who have expressed their willingness to submit elements in their possession.

The announcement of Archbishop Scicluna’s mission raises more questions than it answers. Some of them are:
- Precisely what information was recently received by the Holy See?
- How recently, exactly, did this information arrive?
- With what powers is Scicluna going? (Power to discover? To compel?)
- Will Scicluna interview Barros (and if so, with what powers, and in what capacity)?

Catholic World Report put those questions to the director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Greg Burke, who declined to answer them.

The choice of Archbishop Scicluna for the mission is in itself entirely unexceptionable, even praiseworthy. Before he became archbishop of Malta, Scicluna had a long career as Promotor of Justice — i.e., prosecutor — with experience as an investigator in difficult cases, including that of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Scicluna also investigated the allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien in Edinburgh, who eventually admitted to inappropriate behavior with seminarians and retired to a life of seclusion, keeping his red hat even though he lost all his privileges.

Scicluna also had a significant role in the legislative reform under Benedict XVI, which streamlined and facilitated the processes involved in investigating, prosecuting, and removing abusive priests.

Nevertheless, the nature and scope of Archbishop Scicluna’s mission in Chile remains unclear.

What we do know is that the decision to send Archbishop Scicluna came in the wake of public criticism without precedent in this pontificate, both for its intensity and for the high place and closeness of the quarters from which it came.

After Francis leveled charges of “calumny” against Father Karadima’s victims, Cardinal Sean O’Malley stated that the Pope’s words caused victims “great pain.” Father Thomas J. Reese, SJ, said Francis “just doesn’t get it when it comes to victims of abuse.” America’s editor-at-large, Father James Martin, SJ, described himself as “disappointed” and “mystified” by the Pope’s remarks. The editors of the National Catholic Reporter declared: “Francis’ commitment to abuse survivors in question.”

The plain fact of the matter is this: Pope Francis’s public record since assuming office speaks for itself.

He created a toothless advisory body, making a show of accepting its one major recommendation — a special section within the criminal court at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to be tasked with trying cases of episcopal negligence in handling abuse —before scrapping the project in favor of paper guarantees and setting the bureaucracy back to business as usual.

He acquiesced to the underhanded dismissal (under the guise of a “leave of absence”) of the more stridently outspoken of two abuse survivor-members of the toothless commission, Mr. Peter Saunders. Saunders had criticized the Holy Father’s appointment of Bishop Barros to Osorno and of Cardinal George Pell to the Secretariat for the Economy (Pell responded to Saunders’s criticism with a statement that included a threat of legal action).

Francis restored the disgraced Cardinal Godfried Danneels to honorable service at the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2015, years after audio recordings emerged in which Danneels is heard urging an abuse victim not to name his abuser (the victim’s own uncle, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe).

He named the archbishop-emeritus of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony — who notoriously mishandled abuse cases when at the helm in LA — as his personal representative at celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, which is still reeling from the abuse crisis and was as recently as 2016 the subject of a statewide criminal investigation.

He reduced the sentences imposed by his own court against two clerics guilty of molesting children, restoring them to the clerical state, only to dismiss one of them — Mauro Inzoli — after “new” evidence of wrongdoing emerged and an Italian criminal court convicted him of abusing five children aged 12-16.

He sat on information he had directly from deaf victims at the Antonio Provolo Institute in Verona, allowing their abuser — by then transferred to another school in the Pope’s native Argentina — to continue abusing children, waiting years before passing responsibility for any eventual investigation to the Italian Bishops’ Conference.

He scoffed at the clergy and faithful of Osorno, saying their suffering over his decision to entrust their diocese to Bishop Barros was “foolishness” and the result of their letting themselves be led by the nose by “leftists.”

He repeatedly accused the three abuse victims at the center of the Osorno controversy of calumny, even though a CDF tribunal had found them to be credible witnesses in the Karadima case [of which the Osorno case is an auxiliary accusation].

Archbishop Scicluna is a highly experienced investigator and a skilled lawyer, who is genuinely dedicated to the pursuit of justice and the service of the Church. He is not perfect — no one is — but there is no doubt he will do his best, and no doubt he deserves the full support of the whole Church as he carries out his work. [But as Fr. Lucie-Smith at the Herald pointed out earlier, there is also the Scicluna, Bishop of Malta, who has said apropos AL, that the faithful should only listen to what Pope Francis teaches, not to what his predecessors did. Such 'sycophancy' is unprecedented even in this pontificate!]

At the end of the day, though, this is not about Archbishop Scicluna. This is not even about Bishop Barros, who in any case has rights and deserves justice, whether he is guilty or innocent, as do his accusers.

This is about the Catholic faithful, who expect and deserve better — much better — than an ad hoc response to a bad couple of weeks in the press, followed by a return to amministrazione normale.

Ultimately, this is about the credibility of the Church as carrier of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. High-sounding words and grand gestures cannot repair the damage Pope Francis has wrought. We are way past that now.

00Sunday, February 4, 2018 3:16 PM

Cardinal Marx amenable to blessing homosexual unions
if local pastors so decide for 'concrete' cases

by Maike Hickson

February 3, 2018

Cardinal Reinhard Marx , president of the German Bishops’ Conference, has suggested he is open to the idea of a blessing to homosexual couples from the German Catholic Church.

In an interview with the Bavarian radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk BR, today, Cardinal Marx refers to Pope Francis’s call to accompany people more closely in their individual lives, in calling for more pastoral care for homosexuals.

Asked about the question of a blessing for homosexual couples that has been proposed by a German bishop, Marx answered “that we be pastorally closer to those [such as homosexuals] who are also in need of that pastoral care and who desire it.”

We also have to give encouragement for priests and pastoral caretakers to encourage people in concrete situations. I really do not see any problem with that. The question is how to do this publicly, in a liturgical form, i.e., where one has to be reticent and also act in a good way. [If the idea is all that good and commendable, why be 'reticent' about it? Don't you have the courage to act it out without pretense or subterfuge?

When asked whether he could imagine such a blessing for homosexual couples [but isn't that the specific concrete situation he has been discussing?], Cardinal Marx answered: “There are no general solutions; I do not consider it [a general solution] to be right, because it is about the pastoral care for individuals... (when there are cases) where we do not have a rule”.

This I really have to leave up to the local pastor 'accompanying' an individual. One can think about this through dialogue — and right now, there is taking place such a discussion [raised by the Vice President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode] — about how we could deal with this matter. But I would say I would leave this strongly in the hands of the local pastor, in every concrete situation, and not to demand rules in this matter. There are things that cannot be regulated.

With these still somewhat vague words (which seems to characterize Marx’s speech) favoring a decentralized approach, the cardinal appears to be open to the idea of priests blessing homosexual couples according to their discretion.

Such a blessing was proposed last month Mons. Bode, who said: “We have to reflect upon the question as to how to assess in a differentiated manner a relationship between two homosexual persons... Is there not so much positive and good and right [about their situation] so that we have to be more just?”

Moreover, Cardinal Marx had recently claimed that it is hard to determine whether someone is living in the state of mortal sin, applying this to the question of homosexual couples, and calling for “a respect for their decision made in freedom” and according to “conscience.”

Mathias von Gersdorff, German pro-life activist and author, commented on the cardinal's opening to homosexual couples: "That is nothing but a fig leaf. When it is acceptable to bless homosexual couples in individual cases, then that means that homosexual practices are no longer considered sinful".

Meanwhile, a German diocese now proposes even more concrete steps to establish an official liturgical blessing for homosexual couples. With the explicit encouragement of the Bishop of the Diocese of Limburg, a high-ranking priest, canon, and Dean of the City of Frankfurt, Johannes zu Eltz, responsible for around 150,000 souls, has now made publicly proposed a “theologically justified blessing” for those couples who are homosexual, remarried, or who for other reasons do not feel 'sufficiently worthy' of the sacrament of matrimony. [It’s not about how they feel – they are objectively unworthy of the sacraments if they persist in living a life of chronic sin! Of course, this is all about pushing the overall permissiveness of AL - I call it enabling sin, to the absurd point of even blessing it - in matters that the Church has always considered sinful.]

Zu Eltz now proposes a “liturgical celebration” that “omits the exchange of rings or the utterance of a marital vow.” Rather, one could, “with respect for a reliable partnership,” ask for God’s blessing “for a successful future of something that already exists.”

Apropos, Fr Hunwicke offers this generalization about the situation brought about by rampant Bergoglianism:

The current crisis about orthodoxy:
What does it all amount to?
- Part 1

February 4, 2018

During the Arian Crisis, one word was the flag, the symbol, of Orthodoxy: HOMOOUSIOS. The Son is Consubstantial, or of one Substance, with the Father. Now ... imagine somebody during that crisis putting forward a Creed or Profession of Faith which sounded perfectly OK ... indeed, if it had been put forward fifty years previously, everybody would have received it joyfully.

But, after the Church had defined the Dogma of the Co-equal Divinity of the Son by the word Homoousios, if somebody then put forward a new Creed which deliberately omitted this one word, he was seen to be a heretic. All the more so, if he put out a version of the 'Nicene' Creed with Homoousios eliminated from the text, he condemned himself as a heretic.

In our present crisis, the gravest since the Reformation if not since the Arian Crisis, the phrase, the Battle Standard around which the conflict is raging, is INTRINSECE MALUM, "intrinsically evil". This means that there are acts, so described, which are of themselves evil. Always; in all circumstances. Under no circumstances can they be right. Not even if ...

This doctrine has been under fire since the 1960s or earlier, when various dodges were dreamed up to get round it. The implication of all these dodges was that the rules of Catholic morality were generally good guides, but there were unusual circumstances in which it might be OK to break them.

I remember a popular book of Moral Theology which actually, laughably, but with a straight face, gave the following example.
Fornication is wrong. But suppose one is a spy working for the West, and one knows that a certain spy working for SMERSH, i.e. the Evil (Russian) Empire, possesses a crucial secret ... the Plan, let us say, for a new ICBM warhead or an ultrasuperhypermarvellous submarine or spacecraft ... then (if fornication would extract the all-important Plan from the enemy agent who, in those carefee days, was always of the opposite sex) the greater Good of the Survival of Civilisation As We Know It, would justify the fornication.

Yes; a 'serious' theologian could be so influenced by the light-hearted 1960s adolescent sexual fantasies concerning Commander James Bond, R.N., M.A. Cantab., that he did propound such risible codswallop.

(To be continued)

00Monday, February 5, 2018 4:09 AM

In the traditional liturgy, today was Sexagesima Sunday, a pre-Lent observance to remind us that we are some 60 days away from Easter. But at the Church of the Holy Innocents
today, the Feast of the Dedication of the church in 1901 took precedence. I have not found an appropriate reflection on Sexagesima Sunday to post, but Rorate caeli posted two
excellent reflections on Candlemas which we celebrated last Friday. The first is a homily by Fr Cipolla in which he focuses on the figure of Simeon who is rewarded by holding and
beholding the Savior he had been waiting for all his life. Simeon's song, the 'Nunc dimittis', thanking the Lord for the fulfillment of his promise to him, is probably just as
famous as Mary's own 'Magnificat'...

Sermon for Candlemas:
‘And then there was silence’

by Fr. Richard Cipolla

February 3, 2018

The Song of Simeon
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

- Luke 2,29-30

He waited in the gathering darkness as he had every day for so long now. He tried to think back how long he had been doing this, but his mind seemed not to work well in thinking about the past. He remembered the fasting, giving to the poor, how no one was ever rejected who came to his house, he remembered saying the prayers, keeping the faith.

What else did he remember? He remembered the longing and the dread. The longing for an end to this waiting, he remembered the words of the prophet Malachi: the Lord will suddenly come into his temple. Into his temple - those words, those words which he had taken as a sign that he was meant to wait, and to wait here, not sure what he was waiting for, but he knew that his life was to wait against that dread that would envelop him especially at night when he could not sleep, that dread, almost a vision of a future of blackness and death.

In these hours he feared for his children and his children’s children, what would they know when faith was gone, what would they know when the obligations of love were denied, feeling a hovering over a birth season of darkness.

He stood in the inner court and could see in the distance the flame of the lamp which burned, always burned, burned to remind him and all of the presence of God in this place, the shekinah, the dwelling of God with his people in this special place, where sacrifice was offered, this special place of presence.

And the light burned. It burned and cut through the gloom. And suddenly there was a burst of light from the flame as if a strong wind had entered the court of the temple. The flame bent and danced and he could see the shadows moving around, and then it stopped. It just burned.

He did not notice them coming in, so wrapped up had he been in this own thoughts and this strange burst from the flame. He did not notice them, but when he turned there they were, a nondescript man and woman, she carrying a young baby, he carrying two pigeons in a cage. They walked slowly, she clutching the child to her breast as if she were guarding him against something or someone, the man following, the pigeons cooing. They were walking towards where the priest would be at that hour.

As they approached, he saw the child. He saw the child - and he knew, he knew what he could not have possibly known. The waiting was over, his life was over, and this knowledge prevented him from speaking, so all he could do was to hold out his arms, to hold out his arms to the mother carrying the child. No word was exchanged, but she knew as well what she must do and she held out the child to him and he took him into his arms.

He took the child into his arms and he sang. He sang a song he did not know, but it was the song to be sung at this time, this time of end of waiting, this time when death was approaching, he sang from depths he did not know existed with that longing which was his life and the life of his people. And as he sang the flame in the sanctuary lamp danced and gave a light that was impossible for a flame to give. It was as if the presence of God had suddenly expanded and exploded in that place.

Nunc dimittis
…Now, O Lord - came the song - I can die, because you have been true to your word, for I see your Word, for I hold Him in my arms, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word in my arms, I have seen what I now know what I have been waiting for, for my salvation, for our salvation, that light, not the light of the lamp which points to God’s presence but this Light which is that presence that I hold and feel and touch, the promise and the glory of what we all have hoped for and seen from afar.

He handed the child back to his mother, and as he did so, he saw in the dim light a sword that pierced her breast. He paused, holding out the child, and waited until the sword retreated into the woman’s breast to place the Child in her arms, and he saw in her eyes that knowledge of pain and suffering, that martyrdom which, unlike the child’s, would be bloodless but yet martyrdom. And the light in the temple once again flickered and then was silent.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

(From T.S Eliot, “Song for Simeon”)

Reflections on obedience
for the Feast of Candlemas

By Veronica A. Arntz

February 3, 2018

The feast of Candlemas is a rich tradition in the Church; it is a day that we celebrate many events, including the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, and the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon.

In reflecting on this beautiful feast day, one common theme that we find present is obedience. Obedience is the proper response of an individual to God’s invitation and call; it is the fitting response to God’s commandments and law. We too should strive in obedience to follow the commandments of God, just as we find in the Holy Family and the aged Simeon.

The first example of obedience is Mary who, even though she was conceived without original sin, went to be purified in the Temple in accordance with the Mosaic Law. As we read, “And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’)” (Luke 2:22-23, RSV-CE).

I shall return to the Presentation of Christ later. For now, the reference to purification comes from Leviticus 12:2-8, which gives the laws for purification after a woman has given birth to a child. As St. Paul explains to the Galatians, we know that these laws were given to Israel because of the nation’s sinfulness: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19).

In other words, God gave the Israelites the laws about food, purification, and sacrifice because of their sinful behavior; in an attempt to bring them back into His covenant, He gave them more ritual laws to follow, to separate them from the other nations.

What is remarkable is the Blessed Mother’s obedience: in a certain way, she was not bound by these laws because of her lack of sin. Nevertheless, because she, like the individual in Psalm 1, who “meditates upon the law day and night” (Psalm 1:2), is faithful to God’s laws, submits herself to them out of obedience, and comes to the Temple for her purification. What a sublime example for those of us who live in the age of grace: we, who are fettered by the chains of sin, should strive to be obedient to God’s commands and to repent for our sins as we attempt, through His grace, to remain ever more faithful to His laws.

Furthermore, we find obedience in the Holy Family in bringing Christ to be presented in the Temple. This presentation is also rooted in the Old Covenant; as cited above, Luke quotes from Exodus 13:2, which states, “Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” Further, we read, “You shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb” (Exodus 13:12).

Thus, we see that the Holy Family is following the prescriptions of the Old Law: Jesus Christ, as Mary’s first-born Son (Luke 2:7), is brought to the Temple to be consecrated to the Lord.

This should strike us as somewhat odd and ironic. Jesus is the Lord; He is God. Should that not exempt Him from the laws, which He Himself established? How can the Lord be presented to the Lord?

First, we should note the Holy Family’s obedience to the Torah: Mary and Joseph are righteous Jews (Matthew 1:19), and so they desire to obey all the precepts of the Law. Even though one might think that they, above all people, should be exempt from bringing Jesus to be presented (since he is the Son of God), they still follow the precepts of the Law and bring him to the Temple.

Moreover, this presentation is a further sign of Jesus’s divinity. As we read in Psalm 110:2, “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’” This verse is often interpreted to reveal the divinity of Christ: Christ the Lord is the only one who can speak to His Lord.

Similarly, only the Lord can be offered to His Lord in the Temple. Christ’s whole life was an act of obedience to the Father. As He prays in His high priestly prayer, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him….I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made” (John 17:1-2, 4-5). Christ accomplished the will of the Father on earth; he glorified the Father through His work, and now He asks to be glorified through His death, which is also an act of obedience.

Finally, on this feast day, we celebrate the obedience of the aged Simeon, who is described as a “righteous and devout” man, “looking for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Furthermore, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26).

Simeon comes to the Temple by the prompting of the Holy Spirit when Mary and Joseph bring Christ to be presented, and upon seeing them, he proclaims his beautiful and profound Nunc Dimittis prayer: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon is finally rewarded for his obedience to God, in remaining devout and faithful, trusting in his promises. He has seen his salvation, and he can now pass into the next life peacefully. The Nunc Dimittis has traditionally become the Church’s prayer during Compline: we too are called to be like Simeon, obediently waiting for our Lord and anticipating our salvation.

Holy Mother Church gives us the opportunity to reflect on these holy individuals as examples of obedience to God. Indeed, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, is revealed as an example of obedience to His Father in Heaven. We too, who are living in the New Covenant, are called to give our obedience to God through obeying His commands, following the teachings of the Church, and frequenting His sacraments.

These are the means given to us to receive His grace; just as Mary and Joseph were righteous before God through following the Old Covenant, which Christ had come to fulfill, so too are we justified before God through His grace by being obedient to the means of salvation He has given to us in His Church.

Let us then pause on this beautiful feast day, especially as we approach the season of Lent, and ask for the grace to increase our obedience to the Father, through the “obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26).
00Wednesday, February 7, 2018 5:28 AM

Cardinal Zen fights back:
'The Vatican Secretary of State is wrong'

February 6, 2018

The following is a complete translation from the Chinese of the statement published February 5 on his blog by Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

Zen responds here to the Vatican reactions to this previous statement of his regarding his January 11 meeting with Pope Francis.
Which was indeed followed promptly by a Vatican Press Office statement clearly dashing the little hope he gleaned from the pope's reference to the Cardinal Mindzenty case and accusing him, without naming him, of sowing confusion and controversy in the Church and from the director of the Vatican press office, an interview with cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin, who appeared to confirm all of Cardinal Zen's worst fears about the Vatican-China rapprochement, and intimations in the news of an imminent accord between the Holy See and China.

by Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun

A few persons who care about me have advised me to pray more and not to talk too much. Of course it is right to pray more, because the Lord is our hope and we have confidence in the intercession of Our Lady, the Mother of God.

They have probably advised me in this way out of the fear that if I talk too much, I will be more easily attacked. But I am not afraid of this, because my words are correct and helpful. At my age I don’t care whether I gain or lose.

I want to keep talking because I have the impression that in a little while I will not be able to talk anymore. For this I ask your pardon.

1. In the reading at Mass this Sunday, Job has to endure the long night of suffering, in which he laments that he no longer sees happiness with his eyes. But Psalm 146 invites us to praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

In recent days, the brothers and sisters living on the Chinese mainland have learned that the Vatican is ready to surrender to the Chinese communist party, and therefore they feel uneasy. Seeing that the illegitimate and excommunicated bishops will be legitimized, and the legitimate ones will be forced to retire, it is logical that the legitimate and clandestine bishops should be concerned about their fate.

How many nights of suffering will the priests and laity endure, to think that they will have to bow down to and obey those bishops who are now illegitimate and excommunicated, but tomorrow will be legitimized by the Holy See, supported by the government. All the more so in that a disaster has already begun, without waiting for tomorrow.

As of February 1, new government rules on religious activity have gone into effect. The clandestine priests of Shanghai have asked the faithful not to go to their Masses anymore, because those who persist in doing so will be arrested! But do not be afraid, because the Lord heals the brokenhearted.

2. The Holy See Secretary of State has said that “we know the sufferings endured yesterday and today by the Chinese brothers and sisters.” But does this man of little faith know what true suffering is? The brothers and sisters of the Chinese mainland are not afraid of being reduced to poverty, of being put in prison, of shedding their blood: their greatest suffering is to see themselves betrayed by “family.”

Parolin’s interview is full of wrong opinions (hoping that his speech is in keeping with his thoughts). But it is not worthy of a high official of the Holy See to manipulate the letter [to Chinese Catholics] of a pope, even if he is already retired, citing passage (4.7): “The solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities,” concealing the fact that the letter immediately continues by saying that “at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church.”

During World Youth Day in Korea, the pope told the Asian bishops that “the prerequisite of dialogue is consistency with one’s own identity.” Well-informed persons un the upper ranks of the Holy See are now saying with regret that “we are like birds in a cage, but the cage can become larger, we are asking for all the room possible.” But the real problem is not whether the cage is small or large, but who is in this cage.

The clandestine believers are not in it. But now they want to force them as well to enter it, in such a way that they too may be “reconciled” with those who are already inside! Of course, in the cage are persons who find themselves trapped there, but also servile and overbearing persons who find themselves inside quite willingly. (I was the first to say that in China there is only one Church and that all believers, both of the official Church and of the clandestine, love the pope; but now I no longer dare to say this).

Since I have decided to let truth and justice prevail (everything I say starts from the principle of preserving the pope’s reputation and setting the Church’s doctrine in clear light), I have no difficulty in saying that I reported these opinions of mine on “dialogue” to Pope Francis when he received me in private audience three years ago.

The pope listened to me attentively for forty minutes, without interrupting me. When I told him that, objectively speaking, the official Church of the Chinese mainland is schismatic (in that it has an autonomous administration independent of the Holy See and dependent on the government), the pope replied: “Of course!”

3. Yesterday not a few persons came to see me or telephoned me to give me some comfort, following the accusation made against me by the spokesman of the Vatican. But they misunderstood, because I do not need to be comforted. It would have been better for them to have gone to comfort that spokesman. He is the one who is a bird in a cage, forced to carry out such an embarrassing function (and he was certainly reading what had been written by others). One may recall that more than a year ago, before the 9th Congress of Representatives of the Chinese Catholic Church, he was the one who said that “the Holy See will make a judgment based on proven facts.” A year later, they are still waiting to come up with judgments.

4. Also deserving of pity is that commentator of the South China Morning Post who finds something every day to criticize and lampoon: he must be an expert who knows everything and could have his say on all the programs “de omnibus et aliquibus aliis.”

This person has written that I love politics more than religion. I want to wake him up a bit: “Where angels fear to tread, the fools rush in.” Does he know what religion is, what faith is? He has said that I have decided to make the believers of the Chinese mainland suffer. But does he understand what the real suffering is for persons of faith? Nonetheless, the last thing he said was right: “The Vatican has to readjust its worldly diplomacy, whatever its spiritual preferences.” But they are not only preferences, they are non-negotiable principles!

And a final nail on the coffin:

Beijing paper praises pope's
'wisdom’ on Chinese bishops

February 6, 2018

BEIJING - The state-run Global Times said the Pope had made 'substantive concessions' to China'

The Vatican and Beijing will re-establish diplomatic ties “sooner or later” thanks to the “wisdom” of Pope Francis, a Chinese government-run newspaper has said.

The Global Times said in an editorial that the Pope had made “substantive concessions” to the Chinese government. Relations are therefore taking a “clearer shape” despite the opposition of “Western media and certain radical religious groups opposed to enhanced Sino-Vatican ties”.

The column comes after an unnamed senior Vatican source told Reuters that the Holy See and China were close to signing a deal on the appointment of bishops.

Catholics in the country are currently split between those in the ‘underground’ Church who are loyal to Rome, and those in the government-backed Patriotic Catholic Association, which appoints bishops without Vatican approval.

The deal will likely involve Rome lifting excommunications on several government-appointed bishops in exchange for having a say in future episcopal appointments in the country. [I think that 'having a say' here means simply saying YES to any episcopal appointments made by the Chinese!]

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Bishop of Hong Kong, accused the Vatican of “selling out” loyal Catholics after it emerged that a Holy See delegation asked two ‘underground’ bishops to move aside in favour of excommunicated Communist-backed prelates.

The Global Times editorial is the first sign from Beijing that a deal is close. “We believe Beijing’s diplomats can manage the negotiations well, taking account of the national interest and the religious beliefs of Catholics,” it says.

The paper also hinted that the Vatican may drop diplomatic relations with Taiwan as part of the deal. The island is the last remaining territory under the governance of the Republic of China, which was ousted from the mainland by the Communists in 1950.

“Pope Francis has a positive image with the Chinese public,” the editorial concludes. “It is expected he will push China-Vatican ties forward and solve related problems with his wisdom.”

The bewildering state of the Chinese episcopacy:
illegitimate, 'official', clandestine,
recognized by Rome but not Beijing, or vice-versa, etc

But guess who Bergoglio is rewarding...

February 5, 2018

To judge from what is happening in China, from the sortie of Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, from the Vatican’s reply, from the interview with Cardinal Pietro Parolin and from the words of Pope Francis to Zen, an accord between the Holy See and the authorities of Beijing on the appointment of the bishops would seem to be in the home stretch:
> China and the Vatican are close to a groundbreaking agreement

The two dioceses, in fact, in which the controversy was ignited, those of Shantou and Xiapu-Mindong, have remained the only ones in which there are two competing bishops: one that is legitimate in the eyes of Rome and another who is illegitimate, if not downright excommunicated; or viceversa, one officially appointed and recognized by the Chinese government and another who was not and is treated as clandestine.

To clear the field of this anomaly on the brink of schism - a serious obstacle to an agreement - the Vatican authorities have decided, for both dioceses, to “ask a sacrifice” of the two legitimate bishops, to step aside and recognize as the only titular bishop of the diocese the one appointed by the government, legitimizing him and absolving him if he was excommunicated.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that this decision of the Vatican authorities has wounded not only the two bishops who have been urged to abandon their office, but also a large part of the Catholic community in China, to which Cardinal Zen has given voice.

Nor does it come as a surprise that Pope Francis should have told Zen that he had instructed the Vatican diplomats involved in the negotiation to “not create another Mindszenty case,” alluding to the heroic cardinal primate of Hungary who in 1971 was obliged by the Holy See to leave his country, in 1973 was removed from his position, and in 1976 was replaced with a new primate agreeable to the communist regime.

Zen interpreted these words of Pope Francis as “a consolation and an encouragement,” in addition to an expression of dissent from the pope with respect to the stance of “concession” of the Vatican diplomats.

But it is much more likely that Francis wanted to say something else. Cardinal József Mindszenty never agreed to resign voluntarily from the position of primate, it was Paul VI himself who was constrained to remove him from authority. And it is to this point that Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not want to come. He has told his associates to do all they can to convince those two bishops to resign of their own spontaneous will. In exchange, the Chinese authorities would officially bestow upon the older of them the title of "bishop emeritus" and on the younger that of "auxiliary bishop."

For his part, cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin has defended the justice of the course taken by Vatican diplomacy, the framework of which continues to be traced back to the letter of Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics in 2007.

But a key element of that letter has certainly been dropped: where it defines as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine” the membership of bishops and clergy in the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the main organism through which the authorities of Beijing exercise their full control over the Church. Today this membership is de facto allowed by the Holy See.

Moreover, it is astonishing that the Vatican diplomats are not demanding as a preliminary condition for an accord at least the restoration to freedom of the bishops still under arrest.

One of these, Peter Shao Zhumin, bishop of Wenzhou, was able to go back to his diocese a few days ago, on January 27, after eight months of abduction and unfruitful attempts to force him to join the Patriotic Association. A public appeal for his liberation had been made in June by the German ambassador in Beijing.

But Augustine Cui Tai, coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua, still remains in confinement. And the same is true of Thaddeus Ma Daqin, bishop of Shanghai, whose case is even more spectacular.

On July 7, 2012, when he was ordained bishop with the approval of both Rome and Beijing, Ma Daqin withdrew in obedience to the pope his membership in the Patriotic Association. He was arrested for this and is still impeded from governing the diocese, in spite of the fact that he retracted his dissociation in 2015, made a public profession of submission, and stooped to concelebrating a Mass with a bishop who is illegitimate but in the good graces of the regime, precisely the one who is supposed to become the sole titulary of the diocese of Xiapu-Mindong.

Incredible but true, La Civiltà Cattolica judges the fate of Ma Daqin not as an example of “surrender” but of “reawakening” to reality, an exemplary model of “reconciliation between the Church in China and the Chinese government,” which the Holy See should “support and give a chance.” See, in this regard, the just-published book “In the soul of China,” edited by the Jesuit Anthony Spadaro, editor of Civilta printed with the “placet” of the [p[ePope Francis, on page 217.

But what is the up-to-date picture of the bishops in China, which will be affected by the accord given as imminent between the Holy See and Beijing?

Here is a classification for them by category and name, with their respective ages and dioceses, taken from the book by Gianni Cardinale “Vescovi nella terra di Confucio,” published last summer by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

With one advisory: that all those born before 1943, meaning over the age of 75, are required to present their resignation to the pope, who reserves the right to accept it or not.

The bishops appointed by the Chinese authorities and not recognized as legitimate by the Holy See at present number seven, three of whom are also under public excommunication.

Two of them work in the two dioceses in which are present also the two legitimate bishops who have been urged by the Vatican to step aside:
Vincent Zhan Silu, b. 1961, Xiapu-Mindong
Joseph Huang Bingzhang, b. 1967, Shantou, excommunicated

The other five are in dioceses that for the Vatican figure as vacant:
Joseph Liu Xinhong, b. 1964, Anhui
Paul Lei Shiyin, b. 1963, Leshan, excommunicated
Joseph Ma Yinglin, b. 1965, Kunming
Joseph Guo Jincai, b. 1968, Chengde
Joseph Yue Fusheng, b. 1964, Harbin-Heilongjiang, excommunicated

It turns out that all seven sent to Rome the request to be reconciled with the Church. And this is what will happen, in the framework of the agreement that is given as imminent.

Joseph Li Shan, b. 1965, Beijing
Francis An Shuxin, b. 1949, Baoding
Peter Feng Xinmao, b. 1963, Jingxian
Joseph Liu Liangui, b. 1964, Xianxian-Cangzhou
Joseph Sun Jigen, b. 1967, Yongnian-Handan
Peter Fang Jianping, b. 1962, Yongping-Tangshan
Methodius Qu Ailin, b. 1961, Changsha
Joseph Tang Yuange, b. 1963, Chengdu
Joseph Chen Gong’ao, b. 1964, Nanchong
Paul He Zeqing, b. 1968, Wanxian-Wanzhou
John Lei Jiaipei, b. 1970, Xichang
Peter Luo Xuegang, b. 1964, Yibin
Joseph Cai Bingrui, b. 1966, Xiamen
Joseph Gan Junqiu, b. 1964, Guangzhou
Paul Su Yongda, b. 1958, Beihai-Zhanjiang
Paul Liang Jiansen, b. 1964, Jiangmen
Joseph Liao Hongqing, b. 1965, Meixian-Meizhou
Paul Xiao Zejiang, b. 1967, Guiyang-Guizhou
Matthew Cao Xiangde, b. 1927, Hangzhou
Anthony Xu Jiwei, b. 1935, Linhai-Taizhou
Paul Meng Qinglu, b. 1962, Hohhot
Joseph Li Jing, b. 1968, Yinchuan-Ningxia
Matthias Du Jiang, b. 1963, Bameng
Joseph Zhang Xianwang, b. 1965, Jinan
John Fang Xingyao, b. 1953, Linyi
Joseph Li Mingshu, b. 1924, Qingdao
Joseph Zhao Fengchang, b. 1934, Yanggu-Liaocheng
John Lu Peisan, b. 1966, Yanzhou
Joseph Yang Yongqiang, b. 1970, Zhoucun
Joseph Zhang Yinlin, b. 1971, Jixian-Anyang
Joseph Han Zhihai, b. 1966, Lanzhou
Nicholas Han Jide, b. 1940, Pingliang
John Battista Li Sugong, b. 1964, Nanchang-Jiangxi
Francis Xavier Lu Xinping, b. 1963, Nanjing
Joseph Shen Bin, b. 1970, Haimen
Joseph Xu Honggen, b. 1962, Suzhou
John Wang Renlei, b. 1970, Xuzhou
John Battista Tan Yanquan, b. 1962, Nanning-Guanxi
Paul Pei Junmin, b. 1969, Shenyang-Liaoning
Paul Meng Ningyu, b. 1963, Taiyuan
Peter Ding Lingbin, b. 1962, Changzhi
John Huo Cheng, b. 1926, Fenyang
Paul Ma Cunguo, b. 1971, Shuoxian-Shouzhou
Anthony Dan Mingyan, b. 1967, Xi’an
Peter Li Huiyuan, b. 1965, Fengxiang
Louis Yu Runshen, b. 1930, Hanzhong
Joseph Han Yingjin, b. 1958, Sanyuan
John Battista Yang Xiaoting, b. 1964, Yan’an-Yulin
Joseph Martin Wu Qinjing, b. 1968, Zhouzhi
John Battista Ye Ronghua, b. 1931, Ankang
John Battista Wang Xiaoxun, b. 1966, coadjutor Ankang
Joseph Tong Changping, b. 1968, Tongzhou-Weinan
Peter Wu Junwei, b. 1963, Xinjiang-Yuncheng
To whom must be added:
Thaddeus Ma Daqin, b. 1968, Shanghai, impeded

Two of them work in dioceses in which they are supposed to surrender their titles to their illegitimate competitors:
Vincent Guo Xijin, b. 1958, Xiapu-Mindong
Peter Zhuang Jianjian, b. 1931, Shantou

The others are the following:
Stephen Li Side, b. 1927, Tianjin
Thomas Zhao Kexun, b. 1924, Xuanhua
Augustine Cui Tai, b. 1950, Xuanhua, coadjutor, under arrest
Julius Jia Zhiguo, b. 1935, Zhengding
Joseph Hou Guoyang, b. 1922, Chongqing
John Baptist Wang Ruohan, b. 1950, Kangding
Peter Lin Jiashan, b. 1934, Fuzhou
Peter Shao Zhumin, b. 1963, Yongjia-Wenzhou
Joseph Gao Hongxiao, b. 1945, Kaifeng
Peter Jin Lugang, b. 1955, Nanyang
John Wang Ruowang, b. 1961, Tianshui
John Pei Weizhao, b. 1966, Yujiang
Andrew Han Jingtao, b. 1921, Siping-Jilin
Joseph Wej Jingyi, b. 1958, Qiqihar-Heilongjiang
Joseph Zhang Weizhu, b. 1958, Xinxiang

Stephen Yang Xiangtai, b. 1922, emeritus Yongnian,
Joseph Zhu Baoyu, b. 1921, emeritus Nanyang
Andrew Jin Daoyuan, b. 1929, emeritus Changzhi,
Peter Zhang Zhiyong, b. 1932, emeritus Fengxiang
Joseph Zhong Huaide, b. 1922, emeritus Sanyuan

Melchior Shi Hongzhen, b. 1929, coadjutor emeritus Tianjin,
Joseph Shi Shuang-xi, b. 1967, auxiliary emeritus Yongnian,
Joseph Ma Zhongmu, b. 1919, emeritus Yinchuan-Ningxia,
Placidus Pei Ronggui, b. 1933, emeritus Luoyang
Peter Mao Qingfu, b. 1963, retired, Luoyang
Joseph Xing Wenzhi, b. 1963, auxiliary emeritus Shanghai,
Matthias Gu Zeng, b. 1937, emeritus Xining
John Zhang Qingtian, b. 1956, auxiliary emeritus Yixian
John Chen Cangbao, b. 1959, retired, Yixian

James Su Zhimin, b. 1932, Baoding, disappeared since 1996
Cosma Shi Enxiang, b. 1922, Yixian, disappeared since 2001

There is also the case of a bishop who is illegitimate for both Rome and Beijing: Paul Wang Huiyao, b. 1959, Zhouzhi [he declared himself a bishop, apparently, with impunity, so far.]

The dioceses enumerated above with their respective bishops amount to 74. While the dioceses and apostolic prefectures in China number 137 in the partition adopted by the Vatican, and 97 in that of the Chinese authorities, not recognized by Rome. Therefore with numerous vacant dioceses, in both partitions.

But it is also important to note which bishops the Chinese authorities wanted at the head of the Patriotic Association and of the Council of Bishops, whose terms were renewed at the end of 2016.

The president of the Patriotic Association is John Fang Xingyao, bishop of Linyi, recognized by both the Vatican and the Chinese government.

While the vice-presidents are the illegitimate and excommunicated bishops Lei Shiyin of Leshan, Huang Bingzhang of Shantou, and Yue Fusheng of Harbin-Heilongjiang, the illegitimate Ma Yinglin of Kunming, plus the legitimate and “official” Shen Bin of Haimen and Meng Qinglu of Hohhot.

The president of the Council of Bishops is Ma Yinglin, illegitimate bishop of Kunming.

While the vice-presidents are the illegitimate bishops Guo Jincai of Chengde, who is also secretary general, and Zhan Silu di Xiapu-Mindong, plus the legitimate and “official” Fang Xingyao of Linyi, Shen Bin of Haimen, Fang Jianping of Tangshan, Pei Junmin of Liaoning, Li Shan of Beijing, Yang Xiaoting of Yulin, He Zeqing of Wanzhou, Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun.

The Council of Bishops is an imitation episcopal conference under the strict control of the regime, from which are excluded all bishops who are recognized by Rome but not by the Chinese authorities.

And in the accord that is given as imminent, it would be up to precisely this Council to select and propose to Rome the names of future bishops.
[I reiterate my first reaction to the Beijing mouthpiece Global Times statement as follows:

The deal will likely involve Rome lifting excommunications on several government-appointed bishops in exchange for having a say in future episcopal appointments in the country. [I think that 'having a say' here means simply saying YES to any episcopal appointments made by the Chinese!]

00Thursday, February 8, 2018 5:53 AM

I hope this is not just wishful thinking. But 1P5 puts together just the most recent 'burning' issues engulfing the seemingly scandal-a-day Bergoglio Pontificate and it makes for a formidable indictment of this pope's increasingly shameless anti-Catholicism...

A breaking point in this papacy?
by Maike Hickson

February 6, 2018

At the beginning of 2018, Steve Skojec predicted that this year would [or could?] mark “the beginning of the end” of Pope Francis’s power. It is now becoming increasingly clear that this pontificate might be facing several distinct points of fracture. Francis’s international standing is being undermined.

There are at least five areas where the pope has become vulnerable: the Cardinal Marx scandal; the Bishop Barros abuse case; the Chinese crisis; the controversy concerning the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Ireland; and the growing resistance to Amoris Laetitia.

Cardinal Marx and Homosexual Unions
Let us first consider Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s welcoming comments concerning the idea to bless homosexual couples in the Catholic Church. While inviting such steps only for individual parishes, he made it clear that for him, homosexual acts are no longer to be considered sinful. This new “Marxian move” has caused much indignation among faithful Catholics in Germany, among them Mathias von Gersdorff.

But Dr. Markus Büning – Catholic theologian and book author – has also lost his patience after the recent German push on the homosexual front. (Büning had, not long ago, and after an initial support of the four cardinals’ DUBIA, turned around and signed the recent Pro-Pope Francis initiative.)

Now, Büning has called upon Pope Francis to rectify the chaos caused by Marx. He is astonished that “one of the highest-ranking collaborators in the Church’s senate – Munich’s Archbishop, Cardinal Marx – can proclaim in front of the world a grave moral heresy” while merely proposing such a “liturgical affirmation” on the local level.

Büning comments:

It is rather funny that this kind of Catholic “case-by-case logic” would not also apply to those Catholics who now, after these scandalous demands of a bishop, seriously, for sure, consider leaving the Church of the “Church Tax” “Kirchensteuer”-Kirche]."

While he does not propose to exit the Catholic Church, Büning makes it clear that this contradiction shows the “mercilessness of these shepherds.” The German theologian then proceeds to call out to Pope Francis to correct Cardinal Marx:

In my view, it is now clearly up to him who holds the highest teaching office in the Universal Church – the pope. If he is silent with regard to such a demand – supposing that he knows of this bold demand of the C9 – Cardinal Marx [member of the pope’s council of cardinals] – one necessarily has to conclude that he approves of it. Then the pope has a problem himself!...

If the pope does [approve of this Marxian approach], he would not fulfill his office and mission to preserve the unity of the Universal Church in questions of Faith and Morals in a credible manner.

[Well, DUH!, Herr Büning! He has lost that credibility in so many different ways in the past five years, and AL - which fanatic Bergoglians now treat as their Gospel and reference text for all doctrinal questions - set the seal of Satan on Bergoglio's conscious and deliberate efforts to polarize the Church to the point of a split. "I know I may go down in history as the man who split the Church" - how's that for a rare moment of self-honesty for Bergoglio?]

The Bishop Barros scandal
Some similar tones of concern come to us from Guido Horst – Rome Correspondent of the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost – who is also known for his usually conciliatory attitude toward Pope Francis. In the wake of the papal trip to Chile, Horst entitled an article with the words: “The Papacy at a Turning Point?”

In it, he wrote about the papal visit to Chile and pointed out how this visit seems to have become a pivotal moment for Francis, inasmuch as he has earned much criticism for his demeaning remarks about those victims of sexual abuse who criticized him for protecting Bishop Juan Barros, accused of actively witnessing said abuse and doing nothing about it.

Francis, says Horst, appointed Barros, “even though the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, as well as the Chilean Nuncio, both had already come to the conclusion to ask Barros to resign.” The rumors against Barros as a man who covered up the misdeeds of his spiritual leader, Father Fernando Karadima, never stopped. According to Horst, Barros himself even offered his resignation, but the pope would not accept it [which Bergoglio himself revealed to the media two years after the fact].

After the papal remarks in the airplane, where Francis demeaned the victims of abuse, Cardinal Seán O’Malley – the pope’s own top adviser on clergy sexual abuse – criticized the remarks, calling them “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.” As Horst comments:

For the first time, it happened that one of the closest collaborators of the pope distanced himself from Francis; and that the pope himself backed off. Many had done the same earlier – the cardinals Joachim Meisner, Carlo Caffarra, Raymond Leo Burke, Walter Brandmüller, Robert Sarah, Gerhard Müller, or Janis Pujats of Riga. Francis ignored them all, but not the Capuchin O’Malley.

In Horst’s eyes, the pope seemed to have “lost the favor of the media and of the public” in Chile.

These critical words of Horst have been followed now by a much more stunning report from the secular press, namely that, already in 2015, Pope Francis had – against his own claims – received a piercing description of Barros’s involvement in the sexual abuse cases.

The American Catholic journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty writes today at the National Review that no matter how one looks at the way the letter was handled, it signals a serious problem in papal leadership. And further: “The leaks about the hand-delivery of this letter to the pontiff may be evidence itself that senior churchmen are losing confidence in his pontificate. The barque of Peter sails into choppy waters.”

The China-Vatican compromise
Additionally, Pope Francis is coming more and more under pressure for giving a friendly hand to the Communist-appointed bishops in China, and then even asking some faithful and suffering true bishops to resign. La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana‘s Riccardo Cascioli entitled one of his recent articles: “The Vatican’s ‘Long March’ Towards Surrender to China.”

Scholar Steven Mosher, a Catholic author and expert on Chinese Communism, just effectively repeated this sentiment in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, saying that the Vatican’s negotiations with China are nothing more than “simply negotiating the surrender of the underground Church” to the false church created by the Communists.

Ireland and LGBT
On top of all of these troubling developments, the pope is now being pushed into making a decision about where he stands with regard to the LGBT issue. At the beginning of February, the story broke that Mary McAleese, the former President of Ireland, had been barred by Cardinal Kevin Farrell – the head of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life – from speaking at a conference on women that was to take place on Vatican grounds. [Frankly, I am surprised at Farrell's action. He has been overly permissive on everything else.]

This act on the part of Cardinal Farrell has now provoked the indignation of the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who claims not to have been consulted prior to this decision.

McAleese is a prominent promoter of homosexual “marriage” and other progressivist agendas such as the ordination of women. Archbishop Martin himself is now concerned that his message of “inclusion” for the upcoming August 2018 World Meeting of Families – see our story on the homosexual imagery and themes in the program for this event here – would be negatively affected by this recent act of “exclusion” on the part of the Vatican. He insisted that this event – which Pope Francis has also been expected to attend – “will be an inclusive event, open to all families and family members.”

In Ireland itself, pro-LGBT groups are so indignant about the recent decision by Cardinal Farrell that they now even advocate a removal of support for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’s planned upcoming visit to Ireland.

This seems to put Pope Francis at odds with both Ireland as a state, as well as with Archbishop Martin as the organizer of the upcoming Catholic event. On the other side, if he were to make a gesture toward them, he would have to make a signal of approving of the LGBT agenda. Only time will show how Pope Francis will resolve this conflict, a conflict where he will have to show where he truly stands in this matter.

The ongoing resistance to AL
Last but not least: Amoris Laetitia does not stop causing serious disruptions in the Catholic Church, even as more bishops have publicly come out to support the initiative of Bishop Athanasius Schneider – and two of his fellow bishops from Kazakhstan – to reject the idea of giving Holy Communion to adulterers.

Just yesterday, Bishop emeritus Elmar Fischer, of Austria, added his name to the list of signatories; the other signatories are Bishop emeritus Andreas Laun (Austria), Auxiliary Bishop Marian Eleganti (Switzerland), Cardinal Janis Pujats (Latvia), the former Apostolic Nuntio Carlo Maria Viganò (Italy), Archbishop Luigi Negri (Italy), Bishop emeritus René Gracida (U.S.). Thus, the number of signatories has now increased to ten, with possibly more to come, according to our sources. [A pitiably insignificant number if we consider there are more than 5000 active diocesan bishops throughout the world today,and conceivably even just 1000 retired bishops who could 'afford' to speak out since they no longer have anything to fear or lose by opposing Bergoglio on allowing communion to unrepentant adulterers!]

It appears that these potential cracks in the pontificate of Francis could lead to a breaking point; one that could potentially stop — or at least weaken — the papal agenda of adapting the Church to the modern world in such a way that the fullness of the Catholic Faith is no longer recognizable. If so, it might bring needed relief to the many souls at stake.
00Saturday, February 10, 2018 11:40 PM

Forgive me, but missing even one day of updating this thread can make it very difficult to catch up, especially these days when the pluperfect pontificate of the
pluperfect pope appears to be unravelling day by day to show its (and his) true colors. One of the most significant news reports to me in the past week was the AP
item opening wide the Barros story and mentioning those extreme accusations against Barros that I had always wondered why they have been suppressed in most
reports about the case so far. Even after the AP story, accounts of it shy away from mentioning those accusations - as if seeking to 'protect' Bergoglio from further
embarrassment, or perhaps in sheer disbelief that a pope could read such accusations against a man he was considering to name a diocesan bishop and still go
ahead and name him anyway, against unprecedented opposition from the faithful of the diocese and half of the Chilean Parliament who signed a letter asking the pope
to desist from nominating Barros. So before anything else, let me go on record with the AP story.

AP Exclusive:
2015 letter about abuse cover-up belies
pope's claim of 'ignorance' about Barros


VATICAN CITY, February 5, 2018 (AP) — Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.

The fact that Francis received the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has “zero tolerance” for sex abuse and cover-ups. It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of his five-year papacy.

The scandal exploded last month when Francis’s trip to South America was marred by protests over his vigorous defense of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima. During the trip, Francis callously dismissed accusations against Barros as “slander,” seemingly unaware that victims had placed Barros at the scene of Karadima’s crimes.

On the plane home, confronted by an AP reporter, the pope said: “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”

But members of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors say that in April 2015, they sent a delegation to Rome specifically to hand-deliver a letter to the pope about Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Karadima’s hands, which he said Barros and others saw but did nothing to stop.

Four members of the commission met with Francis’s top abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, explained their concerns about Francis’ recent appointment of Barros as a bishop in southern Chile, and gave him the letter to deliver to Francis.

“When we gave him (O’Malley) the letter for the pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and speak of the concerns,” then-commission member Marie Collins told the AP. “And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.”

Cruz, who now lives and works in Philadelphia, heard the same later that year.

“Cardinal O’Malley called me after the pope’s visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the pope — in his hands,” he said in an interview at his home Sunday.

Neither the Vatican nor O’Malley responded to multiple requests for comment. [Paint the Vatican bright red for the deep embarrassment this must have caused Bergoglio and the guardians of his image! And Cardinal O'Malley caught in the crossfire!]

While the 2015 summit of Francis’s commission was known and publicized at the time, the contents of Cruz’s letter — and a photograph of Collins handing it to O’Malley — were not disclosed by members. Cruz provided the letter, and Collins provided the photo, after reading an AP story that reported Francis had claimed to have never heard from any Karadima victims about Barros’ behavior.

The revelation could be costly for Francis, whose track record on the abuse crisis was already shaky after a botched Italian abuse case he intervened in became public, More recently, he let the abuse commission lapse at the end of last year. Vatican analysts now openly question whether he “gets it,” and some of his own advisers privately acknowledge that maybe he doesn’t.

[Well, see, Ms Winfield and all you out there at AP - and the rest of the MSM as well - the problem is that you all always portrayed Bergoglio as one who walks on water without floundering as Peter did. And now that he is caught out in A BIG LIE, you are trying your best to save face for your own obvious miscalculations and misreading of this man.

What's not to 'get' about the filth in the Church constituted by clerical sex abuse and covering up for it? If Bergoglio didn't 'get it', would he even have tried all the pro-forma statements and actions he has taken to 'show the world' that he, Bergoglio, is 'more serious than anyone else has been in the Church' about cleaning out this filth? And you all dutifully reported everything a-critically and with great praise!

What a contrast to AP's modus operandi during Benedict XVI's pontificate, when every story about him, whether it had to with the subject or not, had a boilerplate paragraph criticizing him for not doing enough about the clerical sex abuse scandal - as if he had not been the man who almost singlehandedly confronted it with concrete measures and his own personal involvement in reading through all the cases of sex abuse forwarded to the CDF when he was its Prefect.

It all came to a head in 2010 when the AP, along with teamed up with the New York Times and Germany's power Der Spiegel group to try and uncover any shred of evidence that Joseph Ratzinger was directly or indirectly involved in a sex abuse scandal or its cover-up, and thereby force him to resign!]

The Barros affair first caused shockwaves in January 2015 when Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno, Chile, over the objections of the leadership of Chile’s bishops’ conference and many local priests and laity. They accepted as credible the testimony against Karadima, a prominent Chilean cleric who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for abusing minors. Barros was a Karadima protege, and according to Cruz and other victims, he witnessed the abuse and did nothing.

“Holy Father, I write you this letter because I’m tired of fighting, of crying and suffering,” Cruz wrote in Francis’s native Spanish. “Our story is well known and there’s no need to repeat it, except to tell you of the horror of having lived this abuse and how I wanted to kill myself.”

Cruz and other survivors had for years denounced the cover-up of Karadima’s crimes, but were dismissed by some in the Chilean church hierarchy and the Vatican’s own ambassador in Santiago, who refused their repeated requests to meet before and after Barros was appointed.

After Francis’s comments backing Barros caused such an outcry in Chile, he was forced last week to do an about-face: The Vatican announced it was sending in its most respected sex-crimes investigator to take testimony from Cruz and others about Barros.

In the letter to the pope, Cruz begs for Francis to listen to him and make good on his pledge of “zero tolerance.”

“Holy Father, it’s bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the terrible mistreatment we received from our pastors is almost worse,” he wrote.

Cruz goes on to detail in explicit terms the homo-eroticized nature of the circle of priests and young boys around Karadima, the charismatic preacher whose El Bosque community in the well-to-do Santiago neighborhood of Providencia produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops, including Barros.

He described how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the same with younger priests and teens, and how young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Karadima at the table to receive his affections.

“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”

“Juan Barros covered up everything that I have told you,” he added.

Barros has repeatedly denied witnessing any abuse or covering it up. “I never knew anything about, nor ever imagined, the serious abuses which that priest committed against the victims,” he told the AP recently. “I have never approved of nor participated in such serious, dishonest acts, and I have never been convicted by any tribunal of such things.”

For the Osorno faithful who have opposed Barros as their bishop, the issue isn’t so much a legal matter requiring proof or evidence, as Barros was a young priest at the time and not in a position of authority over Karadima. It’s more that if Barros didn’t “see” what was happening around him and recognize it was problematic for a priest to kiss and fondle young boys, he shouldn’t be in charge of a diocese where he is responsible for detecting inappropriate sexual behavior, reporting it to police and protecting children from pedophiles like his mentor.

Cruz had arrived at Karadima’s community in 1980 as a vulnerable teenager, distraught after the recent death of his father. He has said Karadima told him he would be like a spiritual father to him, but instead sexually abused him.

Based on testimony from Cruz and other former members of the parish, the Vatican in 2011 removed Karadima from ministry and sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes. Now 87, he lives in a home for elderly priests in Santiago; he hasn’t commented on the scandal, and the home has declined to accept calls or visits from the news media.

The victims also testified to Chilean prosecutors, who opened an investigation into Karadima after they went public with their accusations in 2010. Chilean prosecutors had to drop charges because too much time had passed, but the judge running the case stressed that it wasn’t for lack of proof.

While the victims’ testimony was deemed credible by both Vatican and Chilean prosecutors, some in the local church hierarchy clearly didn’t believe them, which might have influenced Francis’s view. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz has acknowledged he didn’t believe the victims initially and shelved an investigation. He was forced to reopen it when the victims went public, and has since apologized. He is now one of the Argentine pope’s key cardinal advisers.

By the time he finally got his letter into the pope’s hands in 2015, Cruz had already sent versions to many other people, and had tried for months to get an appointment with the Vatican ambassador to relay concerns about Barros’s suitability for diocesan work. The embassy’s Dec. 15, 2014, email to Cruz — a month before Barros was appointed — was short and to the point: “The apostolic nunciature has received the message you emailed Dec. 7 to the apostolic nuncio, and at the same time communicates that your request has been met with an unfavorable response.”

One could argue that Francis didn’t pay attention to Cruz’s letter, since he receives thousands of letters every day from faithful around the world. He can’t possibly read them all, much less remember the contents years later. He might have been tired and confused after a weeklong trip to South America when he told an airborne press conference that victims never came forward to accuse Barros of cover-up.

But this was not an ordinary letter, nor were the circumstances under which it arrived in the Vatican.

Francis had named O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, to head his Commission for the Protection of Minors based on his credibility in having helped clean up the mess in Boston after the U.S. sex abuse scandal exploded there in 2002. The commission gathered outside experts to advise the church on protecting children from pedophiles and educating church personnel about preventing abuse and cover-ups.

The four commission members who were on a special subcommittee dedicated to survivors had flown to Rome specifically to speak with O’Malley about the Barros appointment and to deliver Cruz’s letter. A press release issued after the April 12, 2015, meeting read: “Cardinal O’Malley agreed to present the concerns of the subcommittee to the Holy Father.”

Commission member Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist who took the photo of Collins handing the letter to O’Malley at Casa Santa Marta, said the commission members had decided to descend on Rome specifically when O’Malley and other members of the pope’s group of nine cardinal advisers were meeting, so that O’Malley could put it directly into the pope’s hands.

“Cardinal O’Malley promised us when Marie gave to him the letter of Juan Carlos that he will give to Pope Francis,” she said.

O’Malley’s spokesman in Boston referred requests for comment to the Vatican. Neither the Vatican press office, nor officials at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, responded to calls and emails seeking comment.

But O’Malley’s remarkable response to Francis’s defense of Barros and to his dismissal of the victims while he was in Chile, is perhaps now better understood.

In a rare rebuke of a pope by a cardinal, O’Malley issued a statement Jan. 20 in which he said the pope’s words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse,” and that such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”

A day later, Francis apologized for having demanded “proof” of wrongdoing by Barros, saying he meant merely that he wanted to see “evidence.” But he continued to describe the accusations against Barros as “calumny” and insisted he had never heard from any victims.

Even when told in his airborne press conference Jan. 21 that Karadima’s victims had indeed placed Barros at the scene of Karadima’s abuse, Francis said: “No one has come forward. They haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague. It’s something that can’t be accepted.”

He stood by Barros, saying: “I’m certain he’s innocent,” even while saying that he considered the testimony of victims to be “evidence” in a cover-up investigation.

“If anyone can give me evidence, I’ll be the first to listen,” he said.

Cruz said he felt like he had been slapped when he heard those words.

“I was upset,” he said, “and at the same time I couldn’t believe that someone so high up like the pope himself could lie about this.” [Unfortunately, the man elected to lead the Roman Catholic Church has shown himself to be a habitual liar and deceiver (on so many issues in which his lies and deception are documented and chronicled) - but as I always remark, if the man can dare edit Jesus's words from the Gospel and omit statements by the Lord that he, Bergoglio, does not agree with, what would he NOT dare do?]

Winfield then supplements her story with a timeline of the Barros case:

Bishop Barros – the story so far
by Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY, February 6, 2018 (AP) - Here's what you need to know about the Bishop Barros affair:

Pope Francis’s appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to head the small diocese of Osorno, Chile encountered opposition when it was announced three years ago and has contributed to a credibility crisis for the Chilean Catholic Church in the time since.

Bishop Barros was a protege of Fr Fernando Karadima, a charismatic priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors. Some of the victims allege that Barros witnessed the abuse, placing him at the scene when Fr Karadima kissed and fondled minors. Bishop Barros has denied knowing of the abuse or covering up for Fr Karadima.

Pope Francis created an uproar while visiting Chile in January, when he called the accusations against Bishop Barros “slander.” The Pope further insisted he never knew that any of Fr Karadima’s victims had come forward. The Associated Press reported Monday that Pope Francis received an eight-page letter in April 2015 that laid out in detail why abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz thought Bishop Barros was unfit to lead a diocese.

Some key dates in the Barros affair:

January 10, 2015
Pope names Bishop Barros, then Chile’s military bishop, as Bishop of Osorno, over the objections of some members of the Chilean bishops’ conference. They were concerned about the fallout from the Fr Karadima affair.

January 31, 2015
Pope Francis acknowledged the bishops’ concerns in a letter, which the AP obtained last month. The letter revealed a plan to have Bishop Barros and two other Fr Karadima-trained bishops resign and take yearlong sabbaticals, but Pope Francis wrote that it fell apart because the nuncio revealed it. The Pope later acknowledged that he had blocked the plan himself because there was no “evidence” Bishop Barros was guilty of any cover-up. [Yet AP at the time did not even question why, if the pope had agreed earlier to the planned sabbatical for the bishops who were Karadima proteges, suddenly he revokes any action at all against (nothing more has been hear about the two other bishops) and goes ahead and nominates Barros away - having declined, the pope himself reveals, Barros's offer to resign. He didn't have to accept the resignation, of course - he simply ought to have suspended the nomination until a formal investigation into the matter. Which he never ordered.]

February 2015
Fifty Chilean lawmakers and priests, deacons and more than 1,000 laity in the Osorno diocese sign petitions protesting Bishop Barros’s appointment and urging Pope Francis revoke it.

February 3, 2015
Juan Carlos Cruz writes an eight-page letter to the Vatican’s ambassador in Santiago, Monsignor Ivo Scapolo, accusing Bishop Barros of watching the sex abuse he experienced and doing nothing to stop it. The letter, which Cruz said should be considered a formal complaint, would form the basis of a subsequent letter to the Pope.

March 21, 2015
The Mass installing Barros as bishop of Osorno is marred by violent protests. Black-clad demonstrators storm the church with signs that read, “No to Karadima’s accomplice.” Ten days later, the Vatican publicly defends Bishop Barros, saying it “carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.”

April 12, 2015
Four members of the Pope’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors fly to Rome to meet with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Pope Francis’s top adviser, to raise concerns about Barros’ suitability to run a diocese. The commissioners cite the victim testimony that Barros witnessed and ignored abuse. Member Marie Collins hands Cruz’s letter to Cardinal O’Malley, who would go on to tell Collins and Cruz he delivered it to the Pope and relayed their concerns

May 15, 2015
Pope Francis is filmed in St Peter’s Square telling the spokesman for the Chilean bishops’ conference that the Chilean Church had become too politicised and the opposition to Bishop Barros was coming from “leftists.” Pope Francis says: “Osorno suffers, yes, from foolishness, because they don’t open their heart to what God says and they let themselves guided by the nonsense all those people say.” [And people say this is a 'merciful' pope?]

January 15, 2018
Pope Francis arrives in Chile to protests that are unprecedented for a papal visit. During his first public remarks, he apologises for the “irreparable damage” suffered by all victims of sexual abuse. He meets with two survivors and weeps with them. [Oh, the melodrama of it all!]

January 18, 2018
While visiting the northern city of Iquique, Pope Francis is asked by a Chilean journalist about Bishop Barros and says: “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak. There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?” [Bergoglio in a most peremptory display of know-it-all arrogance!]

January 20, 2018
Cardinal O’Malley publicly rebukes the Pope, saying his words in Iquique “were a source of great pain” for abuse survivors. “Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile,” Cardinal O’Malley said.

January 21, 2018
Pope Francis partially apologises, saying he shouldn’t have used the word “proof” but rather “evidence.” During an in-flight news conference, he repeats that accusations against Bishop Barros are “slander” and denies any victims had come forward accusing Bishop Barros of covering up for Fr Karadima. “I’m convinced he’s innocent.”

February 5, 2018AP reports the contents of Cruz’s letter, which contradict the Pope’s claim about no victims coming forward. Cruz wrote: “Holy Father, it’s bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the terrible mistreatment we received from our pastors is almost worse.”

In the following article, Christopher Altieri - who worked for years at the English service of Vatican Radio, including during the first years of the Bergoglio pontificate, reviews the possibilities of whatever happened to the Juan Carlos Cruz letter given to the pope back in April 2015, in an analysis he would never have written for Vatican Radio:

The Bishop Barros crisis:
how bad is it?

by Christopher Altieri

Saturday, 10 Feb 2018

“How bad is it?” That was the question a friend put to me, à propos the leadership crisis in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis precipitated the crisis by levelling repeated accusations of calumny against survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by a prominent Chilean cleric, Fernando Karadima, who was convicted of his crimes by a Vatican court in 2011.

Karadima’s victims claim one of their abuser’s protégés, Juan Barros – ordained bishop in 1995 and appointed by Pope Francis to head the diocese of Osorno, Chile, in 2015 – witnessed the abuse they suffered at Karadima’s hands, covered for his mentor and enabled his abusive behaviour. Put just like that, it is bad enough.

It gets worse.

Pope Francis first accused the victims of calumny in a heat-of-the-moment exchange with a reporter in a press gaggle at the gate of the Iquique venue where he was heading to say Mass on the last day of his recent visit to Chile. News of the Pope’s “hot takes” overshadowed the final, Peruvian leg of his South American tour.

The Pope then used his in-flight press conference – days later – on the return trip to Rome, to double down on his accusations of calumny, saying he has not received any evidence of Barros’ alleged wrongdoing, and that the victims had never brought their case to him. “You [reporters], in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward,” Pope Francis said.

Even at the time Pope Francis made it – again, during the in-flight presser en route to Rome from Peru, days after his impromptu response had garnered the attention of the press – the assertion was, to say the very least, problematic.

The accusations against Barros have been before the public since at least 2012. Victims have given testimony to Chilean prosecutors regarding the matter. It appears, therefore, that the Pope’s assertion can save itself only if it rests on a hyper-technicality: that he had no direct, personal acquaintance with the accusations.

Upon hearing the Pope’s claim, however, the abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Marie Collins, made it known that she had delivered an 8-page letter to the Pope from one of Karadima's victims, describing life in the Chilean institute where their abuse took place and detailing Barros’s alleged role in their abuse.

The letter, Collins explained to AP, was from Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima and Barros’s most outspoken accuser. Collins claims she delivered the letter in 2015, through the Pope’s own chief adviser on sexual abuse matters (and president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors), Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston.

About the letter and its delivery, Marie Collins told the Catholic Herald: “It was at the time a private letter [written in Spanish] from Juan Carlos Cruz to the Holy Father.” Collins went on to explain: “As well as I can recollect it was sealed when given to Cardinal O’Malley. It was in a simple plain envelope. I did have a general idea of its content as [Mr Cruz] had also sent a detailed explanation of events in English.”

Asked specifically about Cardinal O’Malley’s confirmation of delivery, Collins told the Herald: “He said he had given the letter directly to the Holy Father and that at the same time he had discussed our concerns about Bishop Barros with him.”

At this point, there are four possibilities:
- Collins and Cruz are both lying about the letter;
- Cardinal O’Malley gravely misrepresented the diligence with which he discharged his promise to deliver it directly to Pope Francis (though Collins has expressed full confidence in him on several occasions);
- Pope Francis received the letter and did not read it;
- Pope Francis received it and read it, only to forget about it.

If O’Malley did not deliver the letter directly into the hands of the Pope, he needs to say so. If Pope Francis did receive the letter, only to put it aside without reading it, he needs to say so, and explain why he did not read it.

If the Pope did receive it, and read it, then the only way to save him from an accusation of deliberate untruthfulness is to admit he is relying on another hyper-technicality: that he received nothing submitted specifically and explicitly as evidence in an open judicial process, or that he received no new evidence – i.e. evidence about which he had no prior knowledge of any kind in any capacity – or that he received no evidence of Barros’s wrongdoing as a bishop, such as would warrant investigation and possibly trial under pertinent law.

As Fr Robert Gahl, who teaches ethics at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, told Catholic News Agency in a story that ran earlier this week, “[Barros’s] alleged failure to report did not constitute episcopal negligence and yet his being somehow an accessory, at least insofar as he is accused of not having stopped a crime from taking place, would constitute the negligence of someone who is now a bishop.”

The accusations against Barros arguably come to more than failure to report abuse. In any case, the point is that Pope Francis appointed Barros to the See of Osorno in 2015, years after the accusations against Barros were public knowledge.

The appointment of Barros was also over and against the objections of the bishops of Chile, who wrote to Pope Francis about the matter. The Holy Father responded to the Chilean bishops with his own letter, in which he explained that he had in fact asked Barros to resign the post in which he found himself at the time (when Barros was appointed to Osorno he was bishop of the Chilean forces). The Pope also asked Barros to take a year’s sabbatical, before being considered for any other post.

The AP story detailing the exchanges reports that the Apostolic Nuncio to Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, who acted as go-between, also told Barros that two other bishops who came up under Karadima were being given similar requests, and reportedly also told Barros to keep the news to himself. Barros, however, decided to give the names of the two other bishops in a letter he wrote announcing his renunciation of the military see. At that point, instead of sending Barros into retirement as damaged goods, or rejecting him as insubordinate, Pope Francis decided to make Barros the head of the Church in Osorno.

Quite apart from the legal cavils, the question is: what was Pope Francis thinking?

In various public and private conversations about the crisis, a few people have suggested that Pope Francis may have read and then forgotten about the letter. The details of the published excerpts alone make that highly unlikely.

An AP story published last Sunday contains lurid particulars. “[W]e were in Karadima’s room,” the story quotes Cruz’s letter, “and Juan Barros – if he wasn’t kissing Karadima – would watch when Karadima would touch us – the minors – and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue.”
- If Pope Francis could read those sentences and forget he had, then there is reason to suspect that he is not in full possession of his faculties.

- If the letter was intercepted after Cardinal O’Malley delivered it, and before Pope Francis had a chance to read it, then the Holy Father is a victim of a grave and likely criminal disservice that has damaged his credibility.
- If he is a victim of such a disservice, he must nevertheless own his dismissal of the general public claims registered in the letter, and account for his part in the creation of a working environment in which such miscarriage was possible.
- He must also apologise to the persons whose names and reputations he has injured.

Even if the outstanding questions regarding Pope Francis’s handling of the Barros affair are clarified – as they must be – the crisis of leadership in the Church will nevertheless remain.

The known facts of this case and others constitutive of Pope Francis’s record in these regards bespeak a style of governance in which the man at the top is more inclined
- to listen to fellow clerics, than to victims;
- to believe bishops – ones with skin in the game, to boot – over laity who bring credible allegations of clerical misbehaviour;
- to trust his own “gut instinct” even when it is informed by the opinion of interested parties, and to compound this imprudence with the self-delusion of self-reliance in these regards;
- to believe he can manage the crisis of clerical sexual abuse by way of gimmicks like the powerless Commission for the Protection of Minors he set up between 2014 and 2015 before ignoring it and allowing it to expire;
- to blame underlings and hide behind cavils of law, rather than face the filth in the Church squarely and fight it without ruth or stint.

How bad is it? It is very bad indeed. If the manner in which the crisis as it has heretofore unfolded in the worldwide Church, and especially in the US and Ireland, is any lesson, then a candid mind would not be incapable of concluding that Pope Francis is not only part of the problem, but that he is the problem.

It is very telling that neither official Vatican media nor the usual prompter-than-a-sneeze defenders/apologists for Bergoglio have so far not said a word about this development in the Barros case. Oh, I know, they will say: The pope already sent Mons. Scicluna to look into this case - why don't we wait for his report? So be it! Though Fr. Lucie-Smith, also at Catholic Herald, promptly issued a caveat about Scicluna, whose absolute adherence to Bergoglio on allowing communion for unqualified remarried divorcees - and saying that it is this pope's magisterium we should listen to, not that of previous popes - does raise doubts about his impartiality.
00Sunday, February 11, 2018 4:30 AM

Hilary White has written a special report in her usual exhaustive way to highlight the implications of Bergoglio's tangled web of deception about the Barros case. And I am glad she gets
into the matter of Bergoglio's lies and deception, which is one of his most troubling characteristics, as I have always tried to underscore, but which is a point that the MSM and most
commentators, even the 'conservative' ones, appear to ignore. It has been most troubling to me because not only does he keep breaking the Eighth Commandment against 'bearing
false witness', i.e., lying, but worse for the supposed 'vicar of Christ on earth', he keeps taking the name of the Lord in vain - which is whenever he edits or misquotes
Jesus's words to serve his own personal agenda.

However, I disagree with White about the extent of the 'loss of trust' in this pope. The Catholic world is too big, and the number of persons who follow Church news closely insignificant
in that context,to make generalized statements about how the world's 1.2 billion-plus Catholics regard this pope. I don't think I would be wrong to say that the great majority of
the world's Catholics are completely unaware and/or uninformed of the anti-Catholic atrocities this pope has been perpetrating for the past five years. And by the
time it filters down to them in practices sanctioned and ordered by their local bishops and priests, they will just nod and accept whatever because 'the pope
says...', much as they accepted the Novus Ordo overnight,unquestioningly, 47 years ago.

Pope Francis and the Barros case:
Caught up in his own lies

by Hilary White

February 9, 2018

No more ‘humble pope’
Hey, remember five minutes ago when Pope Francis shouted at a reporter in Chile that there was “no evidence” supporting complaints against his good friend Bishop Juan Barros? And, just for good measure he accused the people accusing him – victims of sexual abuse by Barros’s mentor, the convicted sex-predator Karadima – of committing “calumny”?[1]

And remember when Cardinal O’Malley told the pope off in public over the “pain” these accusations had caused the victims of sexual abuse? And then remember how the pope had apologised-except-not-really because the accusations are, after all, still lies, and that there’s still “no evidence” against Barros…?

The press, secular as well as Catholic, is full this week of the story that the pope did indeed see evidence of Barros’ complicity in Karadima’s sexual abuse – not only that Barros had helped to cover it up but that he had been present and a direct witness at the time and therefore a passive participant. Nicole Winfield and the Associated Press dropped the bomb that the information came directly from the victims, whom Francis had dismissed and refused to meet with on his trip, and delivered through his own Commission on sexual abuse:

Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex-abuse commission have told The Associated Press.

The fact that Francis received the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has “zero tolerance” for
sex abuse and cover-ups. It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of
his five-year papacy.

Now it appears that Francis had also overruled a 2015 warning from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Barros should not be made a bishop. The Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana reports that not only did the pope see a letter from victims, but that the CDF, under Muller, “had already conducted an preliminary investigation into Barros and the other bishops close to Karadima which had led to the decision to relieve them of their duties…But with a letter signed by the Pope in January 2015 and sent to the Chilean bishops, the request for exemption is blocked and shortly thereafter Barros is promoted to…Osorno.”

The article points out that while Karadima was convicted by a Vatican tribunal on the testimony of the victims, it is the same testimony of the same victim-witnesses that Francis now dismisses in the accusations against Barros. The accusations that stood against Karadima come from the same sources as those against Barros, who the victims said was in the room watching at the time.

While the specifics are still not known, readers may be reminded by this of a peculiar incident about a year later in which Pope Francis summarily ordered the dismissal of three priests of the CDF, whose remit was investigations of clerics accused of sexual abuse. The website One Peter Five reports, via Marco Tosatti, that the pope ordered their removal without offering any explanation to then-cardinal prefect Gerhard Muller. When, after several attempts and three months later[2], Muller was able to get an audience with the pope to ask the reason, he received the response, “I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.”

Marco Tosatti reports the CDF incident, but it follows an odd story of a meeting of curial officials to discuss certain bishop appointments. Without naming name, (or, frustratingly, giving dates, [3]) Tosatti relates:

“It was some time ago in the naming of a new bishop (not in Italy). The nuncio to that particular country had prepared his terna (list of three candidates deemed suitable and qualified to be made bishop)]. When the Congregation for Bishops met in ordinary assembly to discuss new episcopal nominations, a cardinal, perhaps the head of the dicastery, took the floor to say: ‘The first candidate indicated is excellent, the second is good. But I would like to warn of the third, whom I know well, since he was a seminarian, and who presents problems both on the level of doctrine and morality. He hardly meets the necessary criteria”. But the third candidate was a friend of another cardinal, of the circle currently in power, who lashed out against his colleague, accusing him of impropriety. The meeting ended without further decisions.”

Whatever the details of these strange incidents, what is clear in Chile is that no amount of eyewitness testimony was going to make the slightest difference. Bergoglio wanted Barros as a bishop and that was that. Even while “apologising” the pope had doubled down when questioned about it by journalists, saying, “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward… In the case of Barros it’s been observed, it’s been studied; there’s no evidence. The best thing to do if someone believes it’s the case is to come forward quickly with evidence.”

The AP report, however, says exactly the opposite; that members of his own (now defunct [4]) abuse Commission had approached Cardinal O’Malley, the pope’s “top abuse advisor,” with the letter to deliver to the pope.

Marie Collins, the Irish abuse survivor and Commission member who resigned, citing the Vatican’s refusal to take meaningful action, told AP, “When we gave him [O’Malley] the letter for the pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and speak of the concerns. And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, the Karadima victim whose membership on the Commission the Vatican had blocked, told AP, “Cardinal O’Malley called me after the pope’s visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the pope – in his hands.”

On the face of it, there are only a few logical possibilities here. In fact, unless Cardinal O’Malley – who has, as of this writing, remained silent – comes forward and says that he didn’t hand the letter over pope, there is really only one; that the pope lied. And this is what is now being said quite openly by a vast array of voices, secular and Catholic, left and right. As Winfield writes,

“The revelation could be costly for Francis, whose track record on the abuse crisis was already shaky after a botched Italian abuse case he intervened in became public[5]. More recently, he let the abuse commission lapse at the end of last year. Vatican analysts now openly question whether he ‘gets it,’ and some of his own advisers privately acknowledge that maybe he doesn’t.”

Lie big, lie often, and
when caught, keep lying

One of the many things these secular reporters seem not to be paying attention to is that “no evidence” is in fact a well-rehearsed, stock response for Bergoglio. He said almost exactly the same in 2013 when confronted about another predatory homosexual he was sheltering. The hoopla surrounding the “Who am I to judge” comment tends to obscure the context of the comment.

It was made in response to a question by a journalist about Monsignore Battista Ricca – a prelate whose promiscuous homosexuality is so well known it was reported by L’Espresso in Italy as early as 1999. Ilze Scamparini asked the pope about Ricca, saying, “What you intend to do about this? How are you confronting this issue and how does Your Holiness intend to confront the whole question of the gay lobby?”

What reply did Bergoglio give? His standard one: “No evidence.” About Monsignor Ricca: “I did what canon law calls for, that is a preliminary investigation. And from this investigation, there was nothing of what had been alleged. We did not find anything of that. This is the response… In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything.” [If the journalists on the papal flight were doing their job properly, someone should have said, “Did you even check what’s in his dossier at the Secretariat of State?” – unless his dossier was preemptively whitewashed – because surely, there ought to have been an official record of Ricca’s many lifestyle-related vicissitudes starting with bringing his live-in Swiss lover to the embassy in Uruguay and getting him employed there by the Vatican.]

But Ricca’s activities, for which the pope claimed there was no evidence, were notorious. They include being caught in flagrante in an elevator with a teenaged male prostitute, and his sexual relationship with a captain in the Swiss army. So flagrant was Ricca’s behaviour that it took intervention by Uruguay’s nuncio to have him removed. It was reported in 1999 and 2000 by L’Espresso, who said the information was confirmed by “numerous bishops, priests, religious and laity” in Uruguay[6]. [Obviously, among the sources for the articles by Sandro Magister, Vaticanista for L’Espresso, protesting Ricca’s appointment to be the spiritual adviser of the IOR. The wonder is that no one in MSM bothered to pick up Magister’s account at all in 2013, except strangely, the UK Telegraph which is by no means Catholic-friendly and therefore was only too happy to use the Ricca story as a scandal to throw in the face of the Church.]

In fact, the evidence shows that Ricca is completely in line with Bergoglio’s normal procedures. As “Marcantonio Colonna” wrote in The Dictator Pope, “In fact his patronage of Monsignor Ricca fits the pattern which was well established when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, whereby he surrounds himself with morally weak people so as to have them under his thumb.”

It was at this early “no evidence” comment on the plane home from Rio that some of those paying attention started to understand that Bergoglio’s policy is in line with that of the practice that if a politician was going to lie, he should lie big and lie brazenly – and keep on lying after you’re caught.

The pattern of silence and, when pressed, flat-out denial, has been Bergoglio’s policy since long before he came on the international scene. He has a long record in Argentina of shaving close to scandals and vociferously denying involvement, and relying heavily on the broad good will of Catholics towards bishops to pull it off.

Perhaps his biggest error with Barros was failing to understand just how little of that capital of trust there is left in the Catholic world as a whole. Indeed, on the subject of priests sexually abusing young people, it could only be measured in the negative numbers.

Bergoglio’s record in Argentina
Though the website Bishop Accountability is blatantly anti-clerical, their data is unassailable since most of it comes from information that is already public. On their Argentina page is a long list of accusations that Bergoglio/Francis simply isn’t interested in hearing from victims.

“In Pope Francis’s 21 years as bishop and archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Wall Street Journal reports, including the years when he headed the Argentine bishops’ conference, he declined to meet with victims of sexual abuse… All of them tried to contact the cardinal archbishop in 2002 and later… In addition to Bergoglio’s failure to respond to victims, the public record contains no evidence that he released any information about abusers.”

In fact, he went so far as to flatly deny there had been any instances of abuse in his archdiocese. Weeks after his election to the papacy, he was quoted by his close friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, “In my diocese it never happened to me, but a bishop called me once by phone to ask me what to do in a situation like this.” Francis added that he agreed with the “zero tolerance” attitude of the Irish episcopate and admired Pope Benedict’s reforms – most of which he was later to quietly reverse.

It was at exactly this time, however, that victims from Argentina were attempting to get the new pope’s attention. One, known to the press only as “Gabriel,” wanted to talk to Francis about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Julio César Grassi, accused of molesting at least five boys, “who has been avoiding the sentences of the justice of Morón and the Court of Cassation. So far, judges and prosecutors at all instances found him guilty.”

In case anyone thinks the Grassi-Gabriel case was not serious enough for the pope’s attention, Bishop Accountability summarises, “A year after Gabriel had filed criminal charges [2003] but before the start of Grassi’s trial, three men ransacked the survivor’s apartment and beat him.” These men threatened to kill him if he did not retract his testimony and quit the case.

Ten years [after Gabriel filed criminal charges], in May 2013, with Grassi still free despite his conviction in 2009, “Gabriel and his attorney, Juan Pablo Gallego, brought a two-page letter addressed to Pope Francis to the office of the papal nuncio in Buenos Aires. An employee refused to accept the letter after learning of its topic and threatened to call security if Gabriel and Gallego did not leave the premises.”

The group surmises that it was Bergoglio’s direct intervention with judges in the case that prevented a conviction against Grassi for so long and delayed his sentencing through multiple appeals. In 2006, then-Archbishop Bergoglio complained of a “media campaign” and claimed that the Grassi case was “different” from other accusations. During his criminal trial Grassi said Bergoglio “never let go” of his hand. In 2009, Grassi was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault and corruption in the case of “Gabriel,” who was aged 13 at the time of the abuse, but the appeals dragged on until he was finally sent to prison in September 2013.

For the strong-of-stomach, several more similar cases, all of whom were rebuffed in their attempts to meet with Bergoglio, are detailed here:
[Again, the wonder of it all is that no journalist, MSM or Catholic, has even bothered to look at Bergoglio's Buenos Aires record on clerical sex abuse. Or maybe they did but held off because it does not square with their narrative of the pluperfect pope. John Allen ostentatiously travelled to Buenos Aires for two weeks shortly after the March 2013 Conclave to do first-hand research on Bergoglio, but I don't recall seeing a single line in his accounts about Bergoglio's record on clerical sex abuse. Nor do I recall it being cited in any reviews of the dozens of Bergoglio biographers so far. If it had been a sterling record, would they have deliberately ignored it? - especially on an issue that obviously titillates their journalistic sensibilities.]

A virtuoso performance-liar
Looking back and carefully examining his record, Jorge Bergoglio’s mastery of using the weaknesses of morally compromised men is becoming evident. It is arguable that even the members of the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia” who apparently conspired to put him on Peter’s throne were used by him. But he is also a master of judging an audience and telling them what they expect to hear; a key skill for all grifters and confidence tricksters.

Looking carefully at the infamous “Who am I to judge” comment, this was clear early on. The first part of that interview is a blatant and enormous lie, and it was from there that the pope moved on to his apology for homosexuality in general. Recall that this was the very first airplane interview, on the trip back to Rome from World Youth Day in Rio, a matter of weeks after his election. At the time, the papal apologists sprang instantly into action and we heard all about how the pope was talking strictly within the boundaries of Catholic doctrine.

But perhaps in hindsight, we are ready to examine the full implications of his little speech, one that was clearly well-rehearsed. (Don’t forget, no question is asked in a papal interview without being thoroughly vetted ahead of time. Journalists must submit their questions well in advance.) This was the pope laying out his policy regarding homosexuality, a policy for which he was duly rewarded by being lauded on the cover of the homosexualist lobby’s US trade magazine. Read his full answer carefully:

I see that many times in the Church, over and above this case, but including this case, people search for “sins from youth”, for example, and then publish them. They are not crimes, right? Crimes are something different: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, sins.

But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we confess our sins and we truly say, “I have sinned in this”, the Lord forgets, and so we have no right not to forget, because otherwise we would run the risk of the Lord not forgetting our sins. That is a danger.

This is important: a theology of sin. Many times I think of Saint Peter. He committed one of the worst sins, that is he denied Christ, and even with this sin they made him Pope. [I missed this line back in 2013! ‘They made him pope’? Who is ‘they? Only Jesus did – and he didn’t make him ‘pope’. He commissioned Peter to be the Rock upon which he would build his Church. ‘Pope’ was an office retroactively attributed to Peter by the Church when it institutionalized his Christ-given mission in the papacy. See, when some can be as slipshod as Bergoglio is on fundamental things, he can be as slipshod on everything else, which he generally is, especially in his speech. And isn’t Bergoglio constantly denying Christ in his own way by habitually editing his words to be self-serving for his agenda???]

But, returning to your question more concretely. In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything. This is the first question. Then, you spoke about the gay lobby. So much is written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone with an identity card in the Vatican with “gay” on it. They say there are some there.

I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good.

If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying ... wait a moment, how does it say it ... it says: “no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society”.

[Except, of course, that is not exactly how the Catechism puts it:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. ]u]They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and u]sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

In fact, Bergoglio egregiously avoids to say that homosexual acts are sinful:

[2357… Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.]

Paging Cardinal Schoenborn! As chairman of the committee that drafted the Catechism from 1985-1992, have you been named yet to head the committee that will revise this Catechism and make it Bergoglian rather than Christian? Remember how, starting around 2010, you started saying that under some specific circumstances, homosexual unions are not only OK but also praiseworthy?]

The problem is not having this tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem. Thank you so much for asking this question. Many thanks.

One of the pope’s favourite rhetorical techniques is a combination of begging the question and conspiracy. He starts by assuming, without any effort at defence or explanation, a point that concedes the whole issue. This was the first time a pope had ever used the political term “gay”. Not “homosexual,” not “same-sex attracted,” but “gay,” meaning that he started by adopting the entirety of the homosexualist movement’s linguistic manipulations. Language counts in politics, and a pope using that term means he is by implication starting the discussion – and his pontificate – by aligning himself with the basic tenets of a movement that is violently opposed to Catholic moral teaching, and in direct opposition to his immediate, and still living, predecessor.

In this case too, he was addressing a planeload of journalists who were either secular themselves, or for the most part are the kind of Catholic who believes it is fine to “disagree” with Catholic teaching on sexuality. There are very few “conservative” Catholics in the Vatican journalist pool. This means that his use of this language was a conspiratorial wink and nod to his immediate audience, a sly message to say, “People talk all the time about a gay lobby, but you and I both know this is mostly nonsense, propaganda from those people… those conservatives…We cool and hip people don’t hate gays, do we?”

This astonishing departure follows an implied but very clear assertion that Ricca has repented and given up his activity, an assertion that has absolutely no evidence to back it up. We are simply asked to take the pope’s word for it, but given that it follows his astoundingly brazen lie that there was no evidence for Ricca’s homosexual activity in the first place, we can take the assurance for what it seems to be worth. [Let me stick to my charitable assumption that Ricca confessed formally to the pope, who absolved him, and therefore, as far as Bergoglio is concerned Ricca was starting anew with a clean slate, then Bergoglio’s ‘breach’ becomes more tolerable! ]

Next, after another little inside nudge-nudge-wink-wink joke about the “gay lobby” – implying (but of course never outright saying) that the whole thing is hysterical nonsense – we hear a direct contradiction to Catholic teaching from no less a source than his predecessor, Pope Benedict.

[n]“The problem is not having this tendency.” Well, actually, your holiness, yes it is, particularly in the case of priests. The “tendency” is called in the same catechism you quote “intrinsically disordered” and Ratzinger was very clear that this “tendency” is a sign of a serious emotional dysfunction that “must” preclude a man from being ordained.

Squandering the capital of trust
A few months ago in a piece for this newspaper, I wrote about why the Church (and nearly all human societies) regard lying as a sin:

A mistake many make about lying is to understand it only in terms of morality. But St Thomas makes the point that it is first a matter of metaphysics. Lying is an act at variance in its essence with the nature of reality.

Thomistic theology teaches that it is by lying that we become most like the devil, and most unlike God, because we are trying to change the nature of reality to suit our own purposes. Habitual lying in effect changes you into a different kind of being, one that is by nature b]an opponent of Truth, ordered against Truth. This of course means that a person whose “orientation,” as we might say, is towards falsehood, even when he is at any given moment saying something true, is still servicing his lies. He tells the truth only to continue to control and manipulate reality. It was not by violence, but by lying and manipulation, by issuing half-truths and pretending to be the kind of man he was not, that Shakespeare’s character Iago earned the title of most evil character in English literature.

Human beings are naturally ordered towards the truth, and we have to work at assuming a lie. This is why confidence tricksters can be successful, why lying works for getting what you want; people don’t see it coming. The first natural assumption is trust, at least at the basic level of expecting truth most of the time. We therefore instinctively see lying as a betrayal of trust.

Considering how much trust the Catholic faithful had in the papacy until about 1965, how much un-earned trust Francis started with just by being elected, this pontificate should be remembered as one of the great confidence scams in history. Believing Catholics have watched aghast as this pope has habitually trampled on every aspect of Catholic teaching. Sandro Magister recently published a piece on his website that listed in dizzying detail the many times, in only the last few months, that this pope has falsified with obvious intention, the words of Christ in Scripture and the teaching of the Church.

Of course this is of little interest to secular journalists, who have paid no mind to his habit of rewriting Catholicism, but the sex abuse crisis is something secular journalists are very interested in, a fact Bergoglio seems not to have understood. It is now irrefutable that Pope Bergoglio is a habitual liar – that in fact truth, like reality, seems to mean nothing to him except as a tool.

Sociologists talk about the concept of the “high trust society,” one in which citizens believe what they are told by the elites and trust them to govern and protect them adequately. They warn that the general loss of trust in institutions leads to a general state of chaos, in which laws on the books matter little as citizens turn to their last resort of protecting themselves and their own families. This is the way societies disintegrate. It has been said many times that the sex abuse crisis has created a massive loss of trust in prelates among the Catholic faithful, and this is true.

With a professional confidence trickster on the papal throne, blatantly using lies and manipulation to maintain power and ram through an agenda at radical variance with Catholic doctrine,
- how long before that predictable disintegration occurs?
- Are we seeing it already? Are we seeing it in the declarations of this or that episcopate on Amoris Laetitia and Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics?
- With Cardinal Marx and others promoting “blessings” for “same-sex unions” are we going to be seeing an escalation of it?

I have seen a veritable chorus of Catholics on social media declaring that if Paul VI is canonised, their loss of faith in the Church as an institution will be complete.

I am told from contacts inside the Vatican that after the trip to Chile Bergoglio’s support has completely dried up. He has no more resources of trust even among the people he has chosen to surround himself with and, after the reports of Cardinal Sandri going toe-to-toe with him in a shouting match, it seems that perhaps even his legendary vicious temper tantrums are failing to have the desired effect of terrorising his subordinates into submission. [Don’t give in to wishful thinking, Hilary! Being pope, Bergoglio still has almost infinite resources at his fingertips to cow or bludgeon everyone willing into submission.]

Marie Collins, by no stretch even a “conservative” Catholic, echoed this concern, saying the Barros affair has “definitely undermined credibility, trust, and hope” in Francis.

“All I can say is that people who had a lot of hope in this particular pope, and I am talking about just ordinary Catholics that I know in my own parish, would find it very difficult now…and cannot understand and cannot believe that this particular pope has said the things he has said in the last few weeks,” she told the National Catholic Reporter.

It may seem like a moment to enjoy, seeing the apparently unbreachable shell of papal teflon finally cracking, but in reality this situation is potentially very harmful for souls in the long run. There is a multitude of problems this pontificate has created or made worse that we will be dealing with for a long time after Bergoglio is gone, but perhaps one of the bigger ones will be the destruction of trust. Already fractured since the collapse of all Catholic institutions after Vatican II and the horrors of the sex abuse crisis, how much will there be to repair of the once-steadfast trust Catholics instinctively had in the Church after this?

[1] “Not one victim has come forward in Chile; show me the proof. This is slander and calumny. Is that clear?”
[2] The book “The Dictator Pope” relates that regular meetings between the pope and dicastery heads have been abolished and even high-ranking curia prefects are often unable to see the pope, whose appointments are now completely controlled by the Secretariat of State. It is certainly clear that no one sees the pope unless Cardinal Parolin approves, which may be the reason Cardinal Zen, in his efforts to warn Francis of the dangers of a Vatican deal with the communist Chinese government had to wait in the rain at a Wednesday general audience.
[3] This is common in Italian journalism that has somewhat different standards from that of the Anglo world… and drives the rest of us spare. Italians care about getting a general picture of what’s going on, where Anglo-Saxons are considered weirdly obsessed with trivial details.
[4] Though she never blamed the pope, Marie Collins complained that Vatican officialdom had simply not implemented the Commission’s recommendations. The time limit of the Commission’s members was allowed to lapse without renewal and though it was not dissolved formally the Commission has ceased to function with no word of any plan to revive it.
[5] Probably a reference to the Inzoli case in which Francis overturned a previous sentence of a Vatican tribunal after the priest – now laicised – approached some of the pope’s close advisors for help, including Cardinal Coccopalmerio.
[6] Not that anyone in Rome was trying very hard. Sandro Magister reported after the “Who am I to judge” comment, “Before the appointment, Francis had been shown, as is customary, the personal file on Ricca, in which he had not found anything unseemly. He had also heard from various personalities of the curia, and none of them had raised objections.”

00Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:01 AM

The other big Vatican news this week was an all-but-formally-official confirmation of a Vatican-China deal in which Bergoglio apparently deludes himself that the Chinese will
'give him a say' in naming bishops to a 'Catholic Church' that the regime has 'sinicized' i.e., made independent of any foreign control (unless, that is, the Chinese now consider
the Vatican their vassal state and therefore not 'foreign' - but who are we kidding?)...

Compounding the 'state of insanity' that is the Vatican under Bergoglio was a Bergoglio favorite coming back from China
claiming that it is really only Communist China that is practising the social doctrine of the Church, and with other
encomiums for the Chinese regime to rival American reporter Lincoln Steffens's words "I have seen the future, and it works"
(falsely attributed to another reporter, John Reed) after witnessing the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917.

Unreality and incoherence
reign at the Vatican


February 8, 2017

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, it was fashionable for progressive and left-wing intellectuals to travel to the Soviet Union to find out what was “really” going on in the world’s first great experiment in communism. “The entire British intelligentsia,” the editor of the left-leaning New Statesman Kingsley Martin breathlessly exclaimed in 1932, “has been to Russia.”

The vast majority came back wide-eyed and deeply impressed by what they had seen. Following his visit to Russia in 1919, for example, the American progressive journalist Lincoln Steffens famously wrote, “I have seen the future, and it works.”

There were, however, realities about Soviet communism which few such individuals ever got around to mentioning. They rarely referred to, for instance,
- the Bolsheviks’ destruction of freedom;
- the cults of personality surrounding Lenin and then Stalin;
- the regime’s use of systematic terrorism against real but mostly imaginary opponents;
- the dynamiting of churches;
- the herding of peasants into collective farms;
- the murder of thousands of Orthodox and other Christian clergy; -
the Great Famine that killed millions in the Ukraine;
- the show-trials, purges and executions;
- the labor camps; and
- the relentless propaganda which assured everyone that everything was fine and that any problems were the work of saboteurs, kulaks, class-traitors, Czarist reactionaries, evil Western capitalists, and British Intelligence.

I was reminded of all this recently when reading a strange interview of Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. He is the Argentine-born and Vatican-based longtime Chancellor of what are called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Having recently visited China, the bishop described the one-party communist state as “extraordinary.”

Why extraordinary, you might ask? Well, according to Bishop Sanchez, China has “no shantytowns” and “young people don’t take drugs.” Moreover, he said, China takes climate change so much more seriously than most other nations. That’s hard to square with China’s relentless emphasis on economic growth. [Although the government reports it has cut down industrial emissions in Beijing enough to meet international benchmarks for the first time, and will seek to tackle vehicle pollution next in the Chinese capital.]

But, above all, the bishop exclaimed, “those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

At this point, I started to wonder how the Argentine bishop reconciled some well-known facts about the Chinese communist regime with Catholic social teaching:
- its policy of forced-abortions in the name of population-control;
- its use of mass labor camps;
- its ongoing problems with rampant corruption;
- the growing cult of personality surrounding President Xi Jinping; - its absence of democracy;
- its bellicose and militaristic stance in the South China Sea;
- the surveillance and censoring of anyone deemed a threat to the Communist Party’s monopoly of power by the Ministry of State Security;
- its appalling treatment of the Nobel Peace Prize activist, the late Liu Xiaobo;
- its oppression of the people of Tibet and other ethnic minorities; - its demolition of Evangelical and Catholic churches; and
- its relentless harassment of Catholic clergy and laypeople who won’t support regime-puppets like the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association — with Catholic social teaching.

Incidentally, there are plenty of shanty-towns in mainland China, including in Beijing. And if Bishop Sanchez seriously believes that no young people use drugs in China, I can only (very charitably) conclude that he was given a very sheltered tour of China — perhaps something akin to Catherine the Great’s expeditions to the provinces in Russia during which her advisors made sure that she saw only what came to be called “Potemkin villages”: temporary edifices designed to shelter the sovereign’s eyes from unpleasant truths.

A disconnectedness from reality, however, seems to have become the norm throughout parts of the Holy See lately — or at least a tendency to view the world through a distinctly leftist lens.

Back in 2016, for example, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences of which Sanchez is Chancellor, held a conference to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus. This document reflected an openness to the market economy on the part of Catholic social teaching which had been absent during the heady days of the 1960s and the decade of decadence otherwise known as the 1970s.

This made it all the stranger that the two heads of state in attendance — Bolivia’s President Evo Morales and Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa — were left-wing Latin American populists: i.e., politicians deeply hostile to much of Centesimus Annus’ messages.

Apart from significantly undermining freedom in their own nations in the name of “el pueblo,” both men have strongly and consistently supported Venezuela’s Cuban-backed left-populist authoritarian regime: the same government which, apart from having destroyed the Venezuelan economy, recently threatened to deploy “hate-crime” laws to try and silence one of President Nicolas Maduro’s strongest critics, the Catholic bishops of Venezuela.

One wonders if any mildly non-left wing relatively market-friendly head of state or government even made it onto Bishop Sanchez’s invitation list. Indeed, the event’s left-leaning character was confirmed by the presence of no less than Senator Bernie Sanders, America’s own embodiment of left-wing populism who was then running for President. The only surprise was that Comrade Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t at the meeting.

I could go on about the unending parade of leftist notables though the Pontifical academies since 2013. Perhaps the most notorious has been Paul R. Ehrlich: the now-aged exponent of the “population bomb” whose Malthusian prophecies of mass starvation and death as a result of population-growth somehow never materialized. The scientific debunking of Ehrlich’s predictions was, it seems, no obstacle to his attendance at a conference primarily for scientists.

It’s also worth noting that all of this goes hand-in-hand with some bizarre and badly uninformed views of the United States. In China, Bishop Sanchez stated in his recent interview, “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.” China, the bishop insisted, was focused laser-like on promoting the “common good” — an idea that has been destroyed elsewhere, Sanchez claimed, by what he called “liberal thought.”

By “liberal,” we can safely assume that Sanchez means “neoliberalism:” one of the perennial bogeymen in the conspiracy-theory laden world of Latin American populists (especially of the Peronist variety), alongside the “multinational oil companies” who, Sanchez claimed, manipulate and control President Trump.

Once again, however, Bishop Sanchez’s claims are difficult to reconcile with facts. Anyone remotely familiar with recent Chinese history knows that, since Deng Xiaoping’s time, China’s leaders have concentrated on accelerating economic development: so much so that this has long been, in addition to its self-preservation, the regime’s priority. That’s one reason why Beijing and so many other Chinese cities are regularly consumed by industrial-generated smog. So much for China’s overriding commitment to the climate.

As for the triumph of “liberal thought,” it’s hard to know what the bishop had in mind. In the United States, for example, overall economic freedom actually declined between 2006 and 2016. This suggests that “liberal thought” of the free market variety has been exerting considerably less influence throughout America. Indeed, President Trump has been a strong critic of free trade agreements.

Furthermore, far from being dominated by economic concerns, American politics has steadily drifted in the direction of a mixture of phenomena such as identity politics, debates between nationalists and globalists, and persistent arguments about social issues, ranging from abortion to gender ideology.

Bishop Sanchez’s peculiar ruminations about world affairs are, however, emblematic of how concern for precision and facts seems to have disappeared throughout much of the Vatican over the past five years. One need only recall the notorious 2017 Civiltà Cattolica article penned by Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J. and Rev. Marcelo Figueroa: a piece which even some of its defenders conceded contained substantive errors about the history of religion in the United States and the role played by Evangelicals and conservative Catholics in American politics.

It doesn’t help the Holy See’s reputation to have some Vatican officials parading their fact-free, strikingly incoherent views of the world on the public stage. Bishop Sanchez’s claim that China is somehow one of the world’s leading exponents of Catholic social doctrine is frankly outrageous. It is also insulting to those Catholics and other Christians who have suffered so much for their faith under what is, after all, a regime that remains ideologically committed to atheistic materialism.

In any organization that took reality and its own credibility seriously, such remarks would likely result in such a person being formally, if not publicly rebuked by more senior officials and perhaps even removed from office.

The fact, however, that people like Bishop Sanchez apparently feel free to speak and act this way speaks volumes about prevailing atmospherics at the Vatican these days. And in the Catholic Church, the ultimate responsibility for that state of affairs falls squarely into one man’s in-box.

Whether he actually chooses to do anything about it is, at best, uncertain.

Sorondo's outlandish conclusions are hardly the sort of information the Bergoglio Vatican wants upfront while it is trying its best to justify its all-but-formal surrender to Beijing.

AsiaNews, the official news agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, is apparently not [yet] caught in the dragnet of Mons. Vigano's Secretariat for Communications, and its editor has words to say about Sorondo...

Mons. Sanchez Sorondo in Wonderland
The President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences exalts China as the best implementor of the Church's social doctrine.
Seems oblivious to the shantytowns of Beijing and Shanghai, the expulsion of migrants, oppression of religious freedom.
Praises China's cooperation with the Paris Climate Agreement, but silent on the links between wealth, corruption and pollution.
An ideological approach that makes a laughing stock of the Church.

by Fr. Bernardo Cervellera

Rome, February 8, 2018 (AsiaNews) - When my friends tell me they are going to China, I always advise them not to stop at the shopping centers, the ultra-luxury hotels and the skyscrapers, but also to go to out to the peripheries to get a better picture of real China. Since the economic disaster into which it had sunk after Mao's death, the country has certainly made great strides, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, modernizing industries, and becoming an economic superpower that now overshadows the United States.

But from here to presenting China as the "Land of Wonders" is a bit too far. In his interview following his recent trip to Beijing, Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo describes a China that does not exist or that vigilant Chinese escorts did not show him.

"There are no shantytowns", proclaims Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo. Did our bishop try to go to the south of the capital, where for months the city government has been destroying buildings and houses and driving away tens of thousands of migrant workers? Not to mention the suburbs of Shanghai or other Chinese mega-cities, where a "cleansing" is underway and a ban on the "low-end" and defenceless population?

The bishop, who is President of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, even states that the Chinese are "the best implementers of the Churches’ social doctrine". But perhaps he is not referring to these mass expulsions, which would constitute an extreme example of the 'throwaway culture' constantly criticized by Pope Francis.

"No drugs", says the bishop: but did he go to Chinese prisons, filled with drug dealers and drug addicts, many facing the death sentence? And to Shenzhen, which is also the drug hub for Hong Kong?

Not to mention religious freedom in China. Religious freedom should be a pillar of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. We should perhaps propose the bishop read the daily news tracking violence, arrests of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, abuses on domestic churches, checks on official churches.

Maybe someone should tell Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo that since February 1, since the implementation of the new regulations,
- all the unofficial churches have been closed and at least 6 million Catholics have no meeting places:
- the penalties imposed by the regime that "best implements the Church’s social doctrine" include arrest, stratospheric fines and expropriation of the buildings where the faithful gather.
- Furthermore, local authorities will henceforth prohibit "minors under the age of 18" from entering churches, even official ones. As one priest said, "China has transformed the church into a night club, for adults only ".

Let’s not mention the naivety with which Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo speaks of the Middle Kingdom as the place where one looks at the "common good", where the economy does not dominate politics. What we need to mention, instead, is that in China the economy and politics are the same thing; that the billionaires sit in the Chinese parliament and determine politics according to their interests, which are not those of the rest of the population. According to scholars, at least one third of the Chinese population does not directly benefit from China’s economic development: farmers and migrants are not guaranteed land ownership (promised in the days of Mao and never kept); social rights and sometimes even pay are withheld, as shown by the monthly reports of the China Labor Bulletin.

Of course, and the bishop rightly states that China - unlike Trump and the United States - has decided to remain in the Paris Agreement on climate. But for now "it has promised" to work to stop pollution, and well it should, for the country has the most destroyed and poisonous environment in the world. This is undoubtedly the fault of many Western investors who exploit the sluggish Chinese legislation, but it is also the fault of the greed and corruption of Party members who prefer, just like many in the world, an immediate profit at the expense of their own population.

We can understand that in the enthusiasm of wanting an agreement between China and the Vatican, Chinese culture, Chinese people and Chinese mentality are exaggerated and exalted - as Pope Francis does - but presenting China as a model????

We should listen to the African bishops, who see the economy of their countries destroyed by the invasion of Chinese investment and labor and who watch as their resources are stolen from them, just as it once happened with the western colonizers.

It is true that in the world everyone is pressed to choose between the United States and China, between liberal capitalism and state capitalism, but the idolization of China is an ideological affirmation that makes a laughing stock of the Church and harms the world.

Cardinal Zen's opposition to Vatican-China
deal gains online support from HongKong youth

Hong Kong, February 9, 2018 (UCANews) - Young Catholics in Hong Kong are taking to Facebook to support Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, days after the city's sixth bishop blasted the Vatican for preparing to "surrender" to the Chinese Communist Party amid speculation of an agreement between the two sides on clerical appointments.

Legions of social media users in the semi-autonomous region are now changing their profile pictures to show their support for the retired cardinal.

The framed image was created by a Hong Kong designer with the Christian name Dominic. It features a yellow wave at the bottom with five Chinese characters superimposed on it. Facebook users can then add any other image on top of this, for example a photo of Cardinal Zen, a cartoon anime — or as is proving most popular, their own face.

"Seeing so many Catholics support 'grandpa' spontaneously, I decided to make this Facebook profile picture frame for them to use," the 38-year-old told, using an affectionate local moniker for the cardinal, who was named cardinal in 2006 and his term ended in 2009.

The five Chinese letters spell out the phrase "We support Cardinal Zen." The second character from the left implicitly identifies him as a martyr by showing Jesus on a crucifix through its use of red-and-white coloring.

This image "represents all of the clergymen who are suffering on the Chinese mainland," Dominic said.

The yellow wave evokes both the Vatican flag and blog posts by Cardinal Zen in which he refers to the church's troubles in China as a storm to be weathered. "We are unafraid of the storm because we believe in God," he wrote.

Christianity has made inroads in China since the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century but missionaries were expelled when the communists rose to power in 1949.

In recent decades the two have formed something of an uneasy truce despite Beijing demolishing churches and dictating which pro-government clergymen should be appointed and ordained.

The new Facebook meme was co-designed by another Hong Konger, a 29-year-old who gave his name as Peter. When asked if he was accidentally helping to ignite a 'cult of personality,' he said, "If anyone chooses to interpret it that way, it's their business. I certainly never saw it that way."

Another local person, who declined to be named, said that if a cult were being formed then posters of the pope and bishops of local dioceses would be strung up at religious venues across the city, which is not the case.

Hong Kong's youth have shown in recent years they are not prepared to be bullied or silenced by Beijing's encroaching control of the city after the 1997 handover back to China from the UK.

Only this week a senior appellate court threw out trumped-up charges against Joshua Wong and two other activists who were instrumental in leading the 2014 "umbrella" protest movement in the territory.

"Young people are not that quiet but I cannot stop them," Cardinal Zen was quoted as saying. He implied he would not try to stop them voicing their opinions against either China or the Vatican.

The retired cardinal pointed out that many older Hong Kongers also disagree with some of the gestures by the Holy See.

"I went to Mass at a cathedral [recently] and afterwards many sisters passed by and said quietly, 'I support you! I support you!'"

The retired cardinal added: "I don't like to make noise because there has already been too much noise."

Another Hong Kong local, a 36-year-old who gave her name as Giana, said she adopted the cardinal's meme on her Facebook page because she admired his courage and outspoken attitude.

"The Holy See does not understand our Hong Kong Catholics and the situation of the church in China. Now even the pope wants to compromise with the Chinese government," she said.

"Cardinal Zen is the only one sticking to his convictions with a conscience and telling the truth."

Another local Catholic, 30-year-old Michael Law, said he uploaded the meme to "express my love for him amid all the flak he has taken in recent days."

"We need the voice of a prophet even more now. Cardinal Zen is more than a shepherd — he is a living testimony to true religious freedom, and an example for young people to [follow]," he said.

He said the Catholic Church has built a strong reputation as a defender of human rights and personal freedom, even organizing non-violent protests in the past to resist former autocratic regimes in the likes of Poland, South Korea and the Philippines.

"I'm concerned that this Sino-Vatican agreement will further weaken the moral prestige of the church and narrow the rich mission of evangelization since the advent of Vatican II," he said.

George Weigel offers a historical context for the insanity of the apparent Bergoglio deal with Beijing...

On the Vatican’s reported
capitulation to Beijing

by George Weigel

February 5, 2018

Negotiating with the Devil has never been the long suit of Vatican diplomacy. The 'examination of conscience' is an important part of Catholic spirituality, which always precedes confession but is ideally practiced at the end of each day: a review of what one got wrong, and what right, as preparation for an act of contrition and a prayer of thanksgiving for graces received.

And while there are obvious and important differences between individual Catholics examining their conscience and Vatican diplomats reviewing the Church’s successes and failures in the thorny, dense thickets of world politics, one might have thought that this spiritual discipline would have some bearing on the diplomacy of the Holy See, if only as a reality check.

But if you thought that, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence for it in the history of Vatican diplomacy’s dealing with totalitarian regimes. As an integral part of the 1929 Lateran Accords (which also created an independent Vatican City State while recognizing the Holy See as a sovereign actor in world politics), Pope Pius XI made a concordat with Mussolini’s Italy — a treaty that was thought to guarantee the Catholic Church’s freedom of action in the fascist state.

Two years later, with blackshirt thugs beating up Catholic youth groups and the state media conducting a viciously anticlerical propaganda campaign, Pius XI denounced Mussolini’s policies with the blistering 1931 encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno, in which he condemned fascism’s “pagan worship of the State.”

In 1933, as Hitler was consolidating Nazi power, Vatican diplomacy negotiated the Reich Concordat in another attempt to protect the Catholic Church from the totalitarian state through a web of legal guarantees. The strategy worked as poorly in Germany as it had in Italy, and in 1937, after many attacks on churchmen and Catholic organizations, Pius XI condemned Hitler’s race-ideology in another thunderbolt encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge, which had to be smuggled into Germany to be read from Catholic pulpits.

Then came the Ostpolitik of the late 1960s and 1970s. Faced with what he once described as the “frozen swamp” of Communist repression behind the iron curtain, Pope Paul VI’s chief diplomatic agent, Archbishop Agostino Casaroli, began to negotiate a series of agreements with Communist governments. Those agreements were intended to provide for the sacramental life of the Church by facilitating the appointment of bishops, who could ordain priests, who could celebrate Mass and hear confessions, thereby preserving some minimal form of Catholic survival until Communism “changed.” And another disaster ensued.
- The Catholic hierarchy in Hungary became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hungarian Communist Party.
- In what was then Czechoslovakia, regime-friendly Catholics became prominent in the Church while the underground Czechoslovak Church of faithful Catholics struggled to survive under conditions exacerbated by what its leaders regarded as misguided Roman appeasement of a bloody-minded regime.
- In Poland, Holy See envoys tried to work around, rather than through, the heroic Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, in a vain attempt to regularize diplomatic relations with the Polish People’s Republic. -
And while all that was going on, the Vatican itself was being deeply penetrated by the KGB, the Polish SB, the East German Stasi, and other East Bloc intelligence services, as I documented from first-hand Communist secret-police sources in the second volume of my John Paul II biography, The End and the Beginning.

In light of this dismal track record, prudence and caution would seem to be the order of the day in Vatican negotiations with the totalitarians in charge in Beijing, at whose most recent party congress religion was once again declared an enemy of Communism.

But there has been no discernible examination of conscience at the higher altitudes of Vatican diplomacy. And now it seems likely that an agreement between Rome and Beijing will be announced, in which the Chinese Communist government will be conceded a role in the nomination of bishops — another step toward what various older but still-key figures in the Vatican diplomatic service have long sought, namely, full diplomatic exchange between the Holy See and the PRC at the ambassadorial level.

One such figure, speaking off the record, tried to justify the impending deal by saying that it was best to get at least some agreement now, because no one knows what the situation would be in ten or 20 years. This is obtuse in the extreme.

If the situation gets worse — if, through increasing repression, Xi Jinping manages to hold together a Maoist political system despite a rising middle class — then
- what reason is there to have any confidence that the Chinese Communist regime would not tighten the screws on Catholics who challenged the state on human-rights grounds?
- What reason is there to believe that the Chinese Communists would break the pattern set by Italian fascists, German Nazis, and Eastern and Central European Communists by honoring treaty obligations?
- Has nothing been learned from the past about the rather elastic view of legality taken by all totalitarian regimes of whatever ideological stripe?

In light of this dismal track record, prudence and caution would seem to be the order of the day in Vatican negotiations with the totalitarians in charge in Beijing.

If, on the other hand, things get better in a liberalizing China, with more and more social space being created for civil-society associations and organizations,
- why should those Chinese interested in exploring the possibility of religious faith be interested in a Catholicism that had kowtowed to the Communist regime?
- Why wouldn’t Evangelical Protestants who had defied the regime in the heroic house-church movement be the more attractive option?

Vatican diplomacy prides itself on its realism. But on any realistic assessment of China’s future — the bad news or the good news — the Catholic Church comes out the loser if it caves to Communist demands that the regime have a significant role in the appointment of Catholic bishops now.

As described in press reports, the new deal between the Holy See and China also violates the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the embodiment of that teaching in the Church’s own canon law.

For well over a century, Vatican diplomacy worked hard, and in this case effectively, to disentangle the Church from state interference in the appointment of Catholic bishops. That achievement was recognized by Vatican II in its decree Christus Dominus, “On the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church.”

There, the Council fathers said this about the imperative that the Church be free to choose its own ordained leaders: “In order to safeguard the liberty of the Church and more effectively to promote the good of the faithful, it is the desire of the sacred Council that for the future no rights or privileges be conceded to the civil authorities in regard to the election, nomination, or presentation to bishoprics.”

That conciliar desire was then given legislative effect in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, where canon 377.5 flatly states that “for the future, no rights or privileges of election, appointment, presentation, or designation of Bishops are conceded to civil authorities.”

In theory, of course, Pope Francis, as the Church’s supreme legislator, could suspend or even abrogate canon 377.5 in the case of the People’s Republic of China. But to do so would not only make something of a mockery of Church law (a temptation too often indulged by some in recent years, in a campaign against “legalism”). It would also be to deny the truth that Vatican II taught: The libertas ecclesiae, the freedom of the Church to conduct its evangelical and charitable mission by its own criteria and thereby remain true to its Lord, is not easily squared with state involvement in episcopal appointments.

Vatican diplomats, primarily Italians, have been obsessed with achieving full diplomatic exchange with the PRC for decades. It is argued, by these men and their defenders in the media, that China is the rising world power and that for the Holy See to be a player on the world stage requires that it be in formal diplomatic contact with Beijing. But this is a fantasy indulged by Italian papal diplomats for whom “the Vatican” is still the Papal States, a third-tier European power that craves recognition of its status by superior powers. That world ended, however, at the Congress of Vienna.

The truth of the matter is that, today, the only power the Holy See wields is moral power, the slow accretion of moral authority that has come to Catholicism, as embodied by the pope, through the Church’s sometimes sacrificial defense of the human rights of all.

How playing Let’s Make a Deal with totalitarians in Beijing who at this very moment are imprisoning and torturing Christians adds to the sum total of Catholicism’s moral authority, or the papacy’s, is, to put it gently, unclear.

The same might be said for the de facto betrayal of Rome-loyal bishops in China who are now, it seems, being asked to step aside so that they can be replaced by bishops essentially chosen by the Chinese Communist Party apparatus. This is far less realism than a species of cynicism that ill befits a diplomacy presumably based on the premise that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).

According to a (sometimes dubious) source, Pope Pius XI once said that he would deal with the Devil himself if doing so would accomplish something good and help the Church in its mission. I imagine that if he did say that, it was during one of that crusty pontiff’s crustier moments, and an expression of his own willingness to face down the powers of Hell if necessary.

But as strategy in the gray twilight zone of world politics, dealing with the Devil — at least as Vatican diplomacy has done in dealing with totalitarianisms — has never worked out.

Consorting with the Devil’s agents is a ticklish business; assuming their willingness to abide by agreements (much less their goodwill) is folly; and carrying the sulfurous odor of too much contact with the Devil’s legions does absolutely nothing to advance the evangelical mission of the Church. In fact, it does just the opposite.
[But 'consorting with the devil's agents is the most natural thing to do when those who are consorting are themselves devil's agents to begin with! However, ueber-normalist Mr Weigel, who at the start of this pontificate, smugly proclaimed that the new pope was going to carry out the 'evangelical Catholicism' Weigel advocated in his new book at the time, has found to little to praise and much to criticize about this pontificate lately, but is still unable to place the blame squarely on the man who is pulling all the strings!]

Christopher Ferrara has more to say about Weigel's curious if quite 'normalist' continuing equivocation about the reigning pope...

George Weigel gets it half right -
and that's the problem

by Christopher A. Ferrara

February 9, 2018

The alarm among Catholics over this pontificate is spreading so deeply into the conservative “mainstream” that even the rather neoconservative (once decidedly paleoconservative) National Review (NR) has joined the ranks of the disaffected. Not because Pope Francis is anti-capitalist, which is the ground on which one would expect NR to take issue with him, but because, with Amoris Laetitia (AL), he is manifestly undermining the Church’s constant teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the related Eucharistic discipline concerning the divorced and pretend “remarried.”

A piece in NR entitled “Francis Gets His Mess” rightly scorns the claim by Cardinal Pietro Parolin — the same Parolin who is engineering the sellout of Chinese Catholics to the evil Beijing regime — that AL represents “a paradigm change” in the Church. Quoth NR:

“Paradigm shifts imply a rupture. Critics of [AL] — they include several cardinals and bishops — say that Pope Francis has called into question the indissolubility of marriage. That would certainly be a paradigm shift for the Catholic Church, given the words of Jesus about divorce in the Bible. The problem for the proponents of this ‘shift,’ as George Weigel has explained, is that the Church ‘doesn’t do paradigm shifts’; if it did, it would cease to be the Catholic Church. It would become more like the Anglican Church, no stranger to rupture and new ways of thinking.

“The new resemblance to Anglicanism is not the old division of High and Low Church in regard to the liturgy, although that is certainly part of the contemporary Catholic experience; you never quite know these days whether the priest will just celebrate the Mass or attempt a late-night comedy routine. The really acute division, which is why it is so serious, is over the interpretation of basic doctrine. In Malta, for example, the rules allowing or limiting Holy Communion for a couple one of whose members was divorced and remarried while the previous spouse was still living would be quite different for the same couple if they were in Portland, Ore. ‘Something is broken in the Catholic Church today,’ says Weigel.”

Speaking of Weigel, it seems that even this resolute apologist for the post-Vatican II status quo of ruinous novelty is waking up to the peril of our situation, although he is not yet willing to identify the ultimate source of the problem.

In the article in First Things cited by NR, Weigel rightly observes that “The Catholic Church doesn’t do rupture: that was tried 500 years ago, with catastrophic results for Christian unity and the cause of Christ. So it was unfortunate that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, recently described Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, as a ‘paradigm shift.’”

Weigel laments that, indeed, a “paradigm shift” in the sense of a rupture with constant Church teaching and discipline “is underway… in Malta, Germany, and San Diego,” where public adulterers are being admitted to Holy Communion on the sole authority of AL, whereas it “is quite different than what has been mandated in Poland, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Portsmouth, England, and Edmonton, Alberta” — namely, the constant teaching and discipline of the Church forbidding Holy Communion to people living in adultery who intend to continue their adulterous relations.

“Because of that,” Weigel laments — quite correctly — “the Catholic Church is beginning to resemble the Anglican Communion (itself the product of a traumatic ‘paradigm shift’ that cost John Fisher and Thomas More their heads). For in the Anglican Communion, what is believed and celebrated and practiced in England is quite different from what is believed, celebrated, and practiced in Nigeria or Uganda.”

Just so. Sad to say, however, Weigel still seems to be encumbered by an ideological commitment, emblematic of “conservative” (versus “traditionalist”) Catholicism, to ignoring the role of the papacy in the current ecclesial crisis. According to him, “the Pope himself has insisted that Amoris Laetitia does not propose a rupture with the Church’s settled doctrines on the indissolubility of marriage and worthiness to receive Holy Communion.”

George, George, George.
- How can the man continue to maintain that Pope Francis denies precisely what he has openly advocated for the past five years: the admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion?
- How can he continue to ignore Francis’s explicit approval of the AL guidelines of the bishops of Buenos Aires, which call for the admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion whenever it is “not feasible” for them to practice continence?
- How can he pretend not to know that Francis has approved those guidelines as the only correct interpretation of AL in a document wherein none other than Parolin, by Francis’ authority, declares that interpretation to be “authentic Magisterium” — a blatant attempt to defraud the Church?

Weigel goes on to observe the symptoms while missing the diagnosis:

“This fragmentation is not Catholic. Catholicism means one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and unity is one of the four distinctive marks of the Church. That unity means that the Church embodies the principle of non-contradiction, such that a grave sin on the Polish side of the Oder River can’t be a source of grace on the German side of the border. Something is broken in Catholicism today and it isn’t going to be healed by appeals to paradigm shifts.”

Something is broken indeed. And I believe Weigel knows that what is broken is the exercise of the Petrine office by its current holder. It would behoove him to state publicly what he must know to be true and what Catholics the world over have already publicly protested.

Being half right in this case is of no help to his reader, for that half-truth hides the whole truth about “this disastrous papacy,” much like a doctor who gives his patient an accurate assessment of symptoms while refusing to tell him that their origin is a brain tumor. In such circumstances, being half right is worse than saying nothing at all.
00Sunday, February 11, 2018 8:32 AM

On February 5, approaching the 5th anniversary of his historic renunciation of the Papacy, Benedict XVI wrote a letter to editorialist Massimo Franco at Corriere
della Sera to thank all who continue to think of him and wish him well...

I am very touched that so many readers of your newspaper wish to know how I am doing in this last period of my life. I can only say in this regard that, with the slow decline of my physical strength, interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards Home. It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, in this last stretch of the road which is sometimes quite trying, by love and goodness such as I had not imagined. In this sense, I consider even the questions from your readers as an accompaniment along the way. For this, I cannot do other than to give thanks, while assuring you all of my prayers.

Benedict XI and his letter to Corriere:
‘I am in pilgrimage towards Home’
The emeritus Pope responds to so many readers who ask how he is doing
in a letter delivered by hand to the Rome office of our newspaper

By Massimo Franco
Translated from
February 6, 2018

The letter, URGENT BY HAND DELIVERY, arrived yesterday at the Rome office of Corriere della Sera from the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, V-120, Vatican City, the ‘hermitage’ within the Sacred Walls where the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, has lived since he renounced the papacy five years ago.

But it seemed to have come from another world, much farther than the few kilometers that mark the physical distance between the two places. The envelop contained a folded parchment enclosing another sealed envelop that contained a message of nine lines. A message with strong words, true, and not formal: a gesture of exquisite attention to those who have been asking ‘How is Papa Benedetto doing?” – in short, how he is living what he himself calls in the letter “this last period of my life”.

A few days earlier, through a private channel, we had asked him for a message, confident we would get a response. After five years in which he has practically disappeared from the public horizon, meeting a few friends and other privileged guests from all walks of life, cutting down on his walks through the Vatican Gardens, now moving with the aid of a wheeled walker, he may have thought he has been forgotten.

Probably unaware that his figure remains very present, in the epochal ‘first’ of ‘two popes’ co-existing within the Vatican walls. However, his days without media coverage, with rare photographs and even rarer appearances at some Vatican ceremony to which he has been invited by Pope Francis, have both sharpened and magnified his profile.

Benedict XVI is around, ‘hovering’ somehow without wishing to. Perhaps he is rooted in public memory precisely because he has sought to dissolve himself in an existential limbo to leave the stage entirely to his successor – that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of who he once said “whose handwriting is even tinier mine”.

But his signature to the letter is minuscule – as if it has been shrinking along with his physical energies, even showing perhaps that it has become difficult for him to write. [Perhaps that explains why Franco chose not to include the signature in the reproduction of the letter.]

They say that, in private, he notes this with some sadness – that he can no longer dedicate himself to writing those texts of great theological refinement which for decades had traced the course of the Catholic Church. Yet he accepts his physical weakness. In his words, which are said in gratitude but at the same time, almost seem like a farewell, one grasps more than one message.

His reference to “the slow decline of his physical strength”, the confession of being “interiorly in pilgrimage towards Home” (with a capital H); and his ‘thank you’ to ‘the so many readers’ of Corriere who continue to ask after him: a few well-chosen words which convey great depth. Perhaps, in the admiration and in the nostalgia for Benedict XVI which now and then is expressed in some sectors of the Catholic world, one senses that the ‘trauma’ of his renunciation onFebruary 11, 2013 – a truly historic and in many ways unprecedented departure - has not been completely assimilated.

But there is also an acknowledgment of an exemplary relationship with his successor in these five years. [Franco is imagining this.] A coexistence that does not follow any rules, but depends only on the character of two completely different persons, despite the official insistence of continuity between their two pontificates.

It was not taken for granted that ‘two popes’ in the Vatican would succeed in coexisting without ‘overlapping’, or worse, sending a message of division. If there are any differences between them, it remains a ‘secret’ between them – as if they each know that the important thing is to maintain unity in a Church that is beset by a thousand and one tensions.

It is a sign of his spiritual strength and humility that he sublimates in addressing those who express an interest in him in a tone of near familiarity: “I can do no other but to give thanks”.

Benedict XVI:
On his way Home, in silence

by 'Gregorio'
Translated from

February 8, 2018

Benedict XVI’s letter to Massimo Franco last week has stirred up much emotion. The journalist had asked him, on behalf of his readers, how he was doing, and the emeritus Pope replied with nine lines which may seem little but really say everything.

Joseph Ratzinger lives in retirement and in silence, after having been in the spotlights of global media and the reference point for more than a billion persons. Yet, after all the hubbub, he chose a monastic life. A lesson, perhaps the most important one from his life, that leads back to the essence of the Christian experience. Catholicism, in particular, is an encounter with the silence of eternity, abandonment of the noise of the world. Only in silence does one encounter God and repair that bond with him that the world has been seeking to cut off.

Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence, helps us to understand Benedict’s choice. Jesus himself lived 30 years in the silence of his privacy, and during his public ministry, often went off to pray by himself. Aware of his example, hermits and cloistered religious live in prayer and contemplation. And so, Pope Benedict chose the ‘Benedict option’, the way of life prescribed by the saint of 'the Rule'.

Indeed, unbridled activism it is not necessary to be Christian. Rather, Cardinal Sarah points out, continual activism – that which never ceases not even to say a prayer or to give thanks – is itself a true and proper heresy.

Many who are otherwise sympathetic to the emeritus pope still write us that he abandoned us to our fate – and given the current situation, that reproach may be valid. But the incessant prayers of a silent monk are more powerful and do much more than a great deal of farcical activity. We must always remember that and pray more, seeking the recollection and contemplation of silence.

To mark the anniversary today, RAI-TV is re-broadcasting a one-hour documentary produced as a tribute to Benedict XVI when he turned 90 last year.

The program may be watched here:

Scenron's LA VIGNA DEL SIGNORE continues its annual observance of a day of prayer for and with Benedict XVI on the February 11th anniversary:

00Sunday, February 11, 2018 10:22 AM

A spirit of resistance
out of love for the Church

by Roberto de Mattei
Translated for Rorate caeli by 'Francesca Romana' from

February 7, 2018

As the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election draws near, we hear repeatedly that we are facing a dramatic and absolutely unprecedented ‘page’ in the history of the Church. This is only partly true. The Church has always experienced tragic times which have seen the laceration of the Mystical Body since its very beginnings on Calvary right up to the present day.

The younger generations don’t know and the older generations have forgotten how terrible the years that followed the Second Vatican Council were, of which the present age is the result.

Forty years ago while the 1968 revolt was erupting, a group of cardinals and bishops, who were protagonists at the Council, sought to impose a radical change on the Catholic doctrine of marriage. The attempt was frustrated by way of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae of July 25, 1968, which reaffirmed the prohibition of artificial contraception, restoring strength and hope to a disorientated flock.

However, the Paul VI of Humanae Vitae, was also the one who caused a deep rupture with Catholic Tradition in 1969 by imposing the new rite of the Mass which is at the origin of all contemporary liturgical devastations.

On November 18, 1973, the same Pope promoted Ostpolitik, by assumimg the grave responsibility of removing Cardinal József Mindszenty (1892-1975) from his office as Archbishop of Esztergom, Primate of Hungary – and champion of Catholic opposition to Communism. Papa Montini had hoped for the attainment of a historical compromise in Italy, based in the agreement between the Secretary of the Christian Democrats, Aldo Moro, and the Secretary of the Communist Party, Enrico Berlinguer. The operation was abruptly interrupted by the kidnapping and killing of Moro in 1978, after which Pope Montini himself died the following August 6th. The 40th anniversary of his death also falls this year. [During which he will most likely be canonized. It saddens me that according to the manmade rules having to do with the 'making of saints', Paul VI is being raised to the honor of the altar where his own mentor, Pius XII, whom people other than the Jews) regarded as a living saint during his papal years, is still a 'Venerable'. ]

During those years of betrayal and blood, courageous voices spoke out which we of necessity recall, not only for the record, but because they help us to orient ourselves in the darkness of the present time. We remember two, prior to the explosion of the so-called “Lefebvre Case”, the French Archbishop whom Monsignor Athanasius Schneider highlighted in a recent interview for his “prophetic mission during an extraordinary dark time of general crisis in the Church.”

The first voice belongs to a French Dominican priest, Father Roger Calmel, who right from the very beginning in 1969 had rejected Paul VI’s Novus Ordo and in June 1971 wrote in the magazine Itinéraires:

“Our Christian resistance of priests and laity [is] very painful as it forces us to say No to the Pope himself about the modernist manifestation of the Catholic Mass. Our respectful but unshakable resistance is dictated by the principle of total fidelity to the living Church of all time - in other words, the principle of living fidelity to the development of the Church. Never did we think of holding back, much less impeding, what some ambiguously call 'progress' in the Church. Rather, we think in terms of homogeneous growth in doctrinal and liturgical matters, in continuation with Tradition, in sight of the consummatio sanctorum...

As Our Lord has revealed to us in parables, and as St. Paul teaches us in his Epistles, we believe that the Church, over the course of the centuries, grows and develops in harmony through a thousand adversities, until the glorious return of Jesus Himself, Her Spouse and Our Lord. Since we are convinced that over the course of centuries, growth of the Church is occurring, and since we are resolute in becoming part of this mysterious and uninterrupted movement as honestly as possible, as far as it is up to us - we reject this supposed progress which refers to Vatican II and which in reality is mortal deviation.

Going back to St. Vincent of Lerin’s classical distinction, the more we desire good growth – a splendid “profectus” - even more do we reject, uncompromisingly, a ruinous “pennutatio”, and any radical and shameful alteration whatsoever. Radical, since it comes from modernism and denies every faith; shameful, since the denial of the modernist sort is shifty and hidden.”

The second voice is that of a Brazilian thinker and man of action, Plinio Correa de Oliveira, author of a leaflet of resistance to the Vatican Ostpolitik, published on April 10, 1974, from his organization 'Tradition, Family and Property' (TFP), entitled "Vatican Politics of Distension towards Communist Governments: not to intervene or resist?"

Corrêa de Oliveira explained: “To resist means that we would advise Catholics to continue fighting against the Communist doctrine through all legitimate means, in defense of Country and Christian civilization under threat...

The lines of this declaration would not be sufficient to contain the list of all the Fathers of the Church, Doctors, moralists and canon lawyers – many of whom have been beatified or canonized – who sustain the legitimacy of resistance.

A resistance which is not separation, nor revolt, nor acrimony, nor irreverence. On the contrary it is fidelity, union, love and submission. “Resistance” is the word we have chosen on purpose, as it has been used by St. Paul himself to describe his stance.

Since St. Peter had taken disciplinary measures to retain practices in the Catholic Faith which survived the ancient Synagogue, St. Paul saw in this a grave risk of doctrinal confusion and harm for the faithful. So he rose up and “resisted” St. Peter “to his face” - yet the latter did not see an act of rebellion in this energetic and inspired action by the Apostle to the Gentiles, but [an act] of union and fraternal love. Furthermore, knowing well where he was infallible and where he wasn’t, he yielded to St Paul’s arguments.

The saints are model Catholics. In the sense that St. Paul resisted, our position is resistance. In this, our conscience finds peace”.

“Resistance” is not a purely verbal declaration of faith but an act of love towards the Church, which leads to practical consequences. Those who resist are separated from the one who has caused the division in the Church, they criticize him openly, they correct him. In 2017, along these lines they expressed themselves with the Correctio filialis to Pope Francis and the leaflet of the pro-life movement appeared with the title: “Faithful to true doctrine, not to pastors who are in error.”

Today, Cardinal Zen’s stance of no compromise in regard to Pope Francis’s new Ostpolitik towards Communist China follows such a line of resistance. To those who defend the Vatican policy, saying it is necessary “to try to find common ground to bridge the decades-old division between the Vatican and China”, Cardinal Zen replies: “But can there ever be anything in “common” with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or accept persecution, but remain faithful to yourself (can you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and Herod?)”.

To those who ask him whether he is convinced that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China, he says: “Decidedly, yes. If they are going in the direction that is obvious in everything they have done in recent months and years.”

On April 7th a conference has been called in Rome to discuss the present crisis in the Church. The participation of some cardinals and bishops, and above all Cardinal Zen, would give maximum importance to this conference. [I believe this is the meeting first proposed by the late Cardinal Caffarra not long before his untimely death last year.]

We must pray that from the meeting voices will be raised, full of love for the Church and firm resistance to all the theological, moral and liturgical deviations of the present pontificate, without being under the illusion that the solution has anything to do with insinuating the invalidity of Benedict XVI’s abdication or Pope Francis’s election. Taking refuge in this canonical problem, means avoiding debate of the doctrinal problem which is at the root of the crisis we are experiencing.

Blink and you might have missed it. I nearly did - but here's yet another example of blatant lying from the Bergoglio Vatican:

There is a papal commission
re-examining Humanae Vitae -
earlier denied by the Vatican

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

February 6, 2018 ( – An official of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has admitted in an interview that a papal commission exists to carry out an historical review of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, according to Kathpress, the official news agency of the Catholic bishops of Austria.

Kathpress reports that it received confirmation of the existence of the papal commission from Msgr. Alejandro Cifres, who has long overseen the archives of the CDF and is currently the dicastery’s Chief of Office.

“It is not certain whether or not a reinterpretation of the ‘pill encyclical’ (Humanae Vitae) is coming soon from the Vatican,” stated Kathpress last week. “The fact that a commission on behalf of the Pope is investigating the genesis of ‘Humanae vitae’ was recently confirmed to the news agency Kathpress by the head of the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Alejandro Cifres.”

Humanae Vitae, an encyclical published in 1968 by Pope Paul VI, famously upheld the Catholic Church’s perennial condemnation of artificial birth control.

However, the writings of Pope Francis are leading some of the Vatican’s theologians to contradict the encyclical, and Francis himself appeared to deny the encyclical’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception in an in-flight press conference in 2016.

When the Italian journalist Marco Tosatti broke the story of the commission’s existence in May of last year, followed by articles confirming it by Maike Hickson and Roberto de Mattei, the Vatican said nothing about the matter for a month, and then responded by denying the commission’s existence.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa y Omega that, “There isn’t any commission. That has been completely invented.”

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Paglia repeated his denial in a more qualified way, claiming that “there is no pontifical commission called to re-read or to reinterpret Humanae vitae” but added that “we should look positively on all those initiatives, such as that of Professor Marengo of the John Paul II Institute, which aim at studying and deepening this document in view of the 50th anniversary of its publication.”

Fr. Gilfredo Marengo, who was identified as the head of the commission by Roberto de Mattei, also issued a denial, claiming that the story of a commission to revise Humanae Vitae is “an imaginative report.”

Marengo told Catholic News Service that the scholars were members of a “study group” whose aim was to carry out “a work of historical-critical investigation without any aim other than reconstructing as well as possible the whole process of composing the encyclical.”

“Historical-critical” methods seek to understand texts by means of the processes that produced them as well as the social and cultural contexts in which they were written. With regard to the Bible, they have been used in doctrinally orthodox ways but have also been used to justify revisionist forms of interpretation that deny traditional understandings of Scriptural texts.

Additionally, Marengo has admitted that his “study group” has been given unprecedented access to the Vatican Secret Archives for the period of the composition of Humanae Vitae, that is, the mid-late 1960s. The archives from that period are strictly closed to scholars, and are not scheduled to be opened to them for many years.

Marengo has sought to dispel concerns that he is seeking to reconcile Humanae Vitae with Pope Francis’s confused apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, but that is exactly what his recent scholarship appears to do.

Last year, Marengo wrote an article for Vatican Insider called “Humanae Vitae and Amoris Laetitia,” in which he belittles the Church’s condemnation of birth control, asking if “the polemical game – 'the pill yes, the pill no', like today's 'Communion to the divorced, yes or no' - only appears to indicate 'discomfort and strain', [when it is much more decisive in the fabric of ecclesial life.”

In the same article, Marengo parrots the reasoning of AL that seeks to lower Catholic moral dogma to an often unattainable and purely abstract ideal. “Every time the Christian community falls into error and proposes models of life derived from too abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals, it conceives its pastoral action as the schematic application of a doctrinal paradigm,” Marengo wrote, citing AL to assert that “We have presented a too abstract theological ideal on marriage, almost artificially constructed, far from the concrete situation and the effective possibilities of families as they really are. This excessive idealization, above all when we have reawakened trust in grace, has not made marriage more attractive and desirable, but quite the opposite.”

Paglia’s and Marengo’s denials of the existence of a papal commission to revise Humanae Vitae led the Bergoglian site CRUX to mock concerns raised by orthodox Catholic blogs about the commission’s existence, publishing an article headlined “No, Virginia, there’s no ‘secret commission’ on Humanae Vitae.”

“Perhaps the moral of the story is this: If conspiracy theorists would devote the same energy to real reporting as they do to mental gymnastics and connect-the-dots exercises, they might actually know what’s going on once in a while,” wrote Crux's Inés San Martín. [One doubts if San Martin actually sought to find out the truth about the commission - looks like she merely took the word of Paglia and Marengo for it!]
00Tuesday, February 13, 2018 3:13 AM

As the writer of the ff article fails to mention Benedict XVI at all, I thought it best to supplement the article by posting a few
items displayed on Page 1 of the results from a Google search for "Benedict XVI and the loss of a sense of sin".

'The greatest sin is losing the sense of sin'
One wonders if Pope Francis and his pet Cardinals Cupich and Coccopalmerio
comprehend the impact of sin upon human nature — and hence upon human reason

by Eduardo Echeverria

February 11, 2018

In an October 1946 Radio Message to the Participants in the National Catechetical Congress of the United States in Boston, Pope Pius XII spoke a prophetic word: “Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin.”

Early in his pontificate, on January 1, 2014, Pope Francis echoed Pius in a homily. One wonders, however, whether Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, and Cardinal Francis Coccopalmerio are as adept as Pius in comprehending the impact of sin upon human nature —and hence upon human reason — as it savagely wounds and seriously disturbs our nature’s proper functioning, particularly in explaining the dynamics of marriage and family life in contemporary culture?

In his recent address at the Von Hügel Institute, St. Edmund College, in Cambridge, England, Cardinal Cupich claimed:

Pope Francis offers in Amoris Laetitia a new way of relating to the lives of families today by introducing a set of hermeneutical principles. These principles are deeply rooted in Scripture and Tradition and yet are profoundly attentive to the dynamics of marriage and family life in the contemporary world.

Francis’s first principle is, according to the cardinal, that “if we accept that families are a privileged place of God’s self-revelation and activity, then no family should be considered deprived of God’s grace.”

Putting aside the questionable claim that the family is the privileged site of God’s self-revelation (where is the Church in this view when, according to Catholic ecclesiology, it is the Catholic Church that has the fullness of the means of salvation?), this principle excludes attending to the sinful dynamics of marriage and family life in contemporary culture. There is much talk about grace, but no attention is given to sin. [A hallmark of Bergoglianism, the religion of ueber-Nice, in which one must never ever talk about anything unpleasant - and though Bergoglio has in many ways 'abolished sin', as Eugenio Scalfari rightly concludes, he and his followers, find the very idea of sin unpleasant in the extreme indeed, because of some residue of Christian teaching still in their brain cells.]

Thus, while he focuses at the start of his speech on Gaudium et Spes, Cardinal Cupich presents an anthropology that actually overlooks the teaching of Gaudium et Spes §13 — and hence of Christian revelation — namely, that there is a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness in human life, and hence within our culture:

Examining his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil too, and is engulfed by manifold ills which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things. Therefore, man is split within himself.

As a result, all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as though he is bound by chains.

But the Lord Himself came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out that “prince of this world” (John 12:31) who held him in the bondage of sin. For sin has diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment. The call to grandeur and the depths of misery, both of which are a part of human experience, find their ultimate and simultaneous explanation in the light of this revelation. (GS,§13)

St. John Paul II, in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus §25, echoes Gaudium et Spes §13 but also quotes §16 when he wrote that “man, who was created for freedom, bears within himself the wound of original sin, which constantly draws him towards evil and puts him in need of redemption. Not only is this doctrine an integral part of Christian revelation; it also has great hermeneutical value insofar as it helps one to understand human reality. Man tends towards good, but he is also capable of evil.” [I have remarked here a couple of times that I don't think Bergoglio believes in Original Sin at all - that he feels it was a huge mistake for God to have been so 'merciless' in punishing Adam and Eve and through them, the whole human race. Because Bergoglio does not believe in punishing anyone - and so he preaches this myth of an all-merciful God whose mercy is not tempered in any way by justice nor genuine charity towards the sinner.

When he repeats his mantra, "God accepts you just as you are", he implies somehow that sinners do not have to do anything to change themselves to correct their situation - that 'amend my life' we promise in the Act of Contrition and when we go to confession. And so, for Bergoglio, remarried divorcees living in chronic adultery don't even have to abstain from conjugal relations (pending a regularization of their marital status in the Church, e.g., by annulment of a Catholic marriage previously biding one or both of the civilly remarried couple) but can go ahead and receive communion if they 'discern' they are worthy of communion!]

It is precisely this integral part of Christian revelation, which is central to Christian anthropology, that is missing in Amoris Laetitia. And it is also missing in Cardinal Cupich’s recent address as well as in Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s 2016 Commentary on Chapter Eight of Amoris Laetitia.

In Chapter 6 of his brief study, Coccopalmerio concludes with the claim that Pope Francis’s “hermeneutics of the person” — in short, the pontiff’s 'Christian' anthropology — affirms that “the person has value in itself” and “is therefore important and lovable.”

“the person, and therefore every person in whatever condition they find themselves, has value in and of themselves, despite the elements of moral negativity.”

[No one disputes that, but it is the duty of the Church and her ministers who are directly responsible for the care of souls, to make sure that each individual overcome these 'elements of moral negativity', which is a fancy phrase to say 'sin'.]

Put differently, using traditional theological distinctions, Coccopalmerio is distinguishing the order of creation and the order of fall into sin — except he doesn’t say anything about the order of the fall into sin and the latter’s impact upon human nature.

However, John Paul II affirms this distinction in orders (see Part I of his magnum opus, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body), as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its teaching on a theology of sin and also on marriage (§§385-421, 1601-1620).

But, in a lopsided manner, Coccopalmerio's 'hermeneutics of the person' does not reflectathe integral hermeneutics of creation, fall into sin, and redemption. In particular, unlike Gaudium et Spes and John Paul II, he — as well as Cardinal Cupich — pays no attention to the “great hermeneutical value [of sin] insofar as it helps one to understand human reality.”

Now, Amoris Laetitia affirms that mitigating factors and complex situations make it impossible for us to say that the divorced and civilly remarried, or, for that matter, by implication, a cohabiting couple (whether homosexual or heterosexual) “are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace” (§301). One of the reasons given for this claim is that a couple “may know full well the [moral] rule [namely, that sexual intercourse of a man and a woman outside of marriage is morally wrong], yet have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent value’” (§301; see also §298). Is this reason sufficient in specific cases to claim that individuals are not culpable for living in a state of mortal sin or deprived of sanctifying grace, as Francis and Coccopalmerio claim?

Significantly, Cupich simply abandons all discussion of culpability — crucial for the moral logic of pastoral reason in Amoris Laetitia in discerning whether “all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace” (AL §301). He merely makes the unqualified assertion that no family whatsoever (“not restricted to those [families] who meet the Church’s marital ideals,” according to Cupich) should be considered deprived of God’s grace because they are the privileged site of God’s self-revelation.

Regarding the claim of diminished culpability that follows from having great difficulty in understanding the inherent truth or good regarding limiting pre-marital sex to marriage, it is clear that rejecting this precept does not as such diminish culpability because an individual may “‘take little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when [his] conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin’ [Gaudium et Spes §16]. In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits(Catechism of the Catholic Church §1791).

This, too, is Aquinas’s view when he speaks about how understanding a moral precept may be distorted “by passion, or evil habit, or an evil disposition.” None of these factors figures centrally in Al’s account, nor in the accounts of Coccopalmerio and Cupich, regarding civil marriage or cohabitation (Amoris Laetitia §294).

Pope Pius XII, in comparison, has a sense of sin’s hermeneutical value in explaining human reality, particular through natural reason. In his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis he refers to the concrete situation in which we exist as fallen human beings and the noetic effects of original sin, which leaves the proper ordering of our intellectual powers to the truth in a precarious, confused, and disordered state (see §2).

In this, Pius echoed Thomas Aquinas, who argued that the knowing powers of human reason suffer the wound of ignorance and are deprived of direction toward truth; additionally, that the disordered state of our intellectual powers also affects “man’s desire to know the truth about creatures,” for he may wrongly desire to know the truth by not “referring his knowledge to its due end, namely, the knowledge of God.”

Furthermore, according to Aquinas, a man may fail to know that something is true because human reason may be perverted. Indeed, he identified five ways in which that may be the case: passion, evil habit, and evil disposition of nature, vicious custom, and evil persuasion. J. Budziszewski, in Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, succinctly explains Aquinas’s view:

Corruption of reason by passion: Momentarily blinded by grief and rage, I unjustly strike the bearer of the news that my wife is deep in adultery with another man.
Corruption of reason by evil habit: little by little I get into the habit of using pornography or cutting corners on my taxes. At first my conscience bothers me, but eventually I can see nothing wrong with my behavior. . . . although I am still capable of restraint, it is more difficult for me than it might be for someone else.
Corruption of reason by evil disposition of nature: a defect in one of my chromosomes predisposes me to violence, abuse of alcohol or homosexual acts. although I am still capable of restraint, it is more difficult for me than it might be for someone else.
Corruption of reason by vicious custom: I have grown up among people who do not regard bribery as wrong, and so I take it for granted.
Corruption of reason by evil persuasion: I use electronic tricks to make free long-distance telephone calls, justifying my behavior by the theory that I am merely exploiting the exploiters.

Thus, wounded human nature does not merely suffer the loss of a supernatural addition to our natural human reason. Aquinas, for one, makes clear that original sin, which wounded human nature, involves the dissolution of a natural harmony pertaining to human nature, which he also calls a “sickness of nature.”

As he stated: “original justice was taken away by the sin of the first parents. as a result all the powers of the soul are in a sense lacking the order proper to them, their natural order to virtue, and the deprivation is called the ‘wounding of nature’. . . . in so far as reason is deprived of its direction toward truth, we have the ‘wound of ignorance’.” Thus reason is, as Etienne Gilson put it, “stripped of its disposition for truth.”

It isn’t that wounded natural reason as such is unable to grasp certain truths about God, man, and the world after the fall; rather, the necessity of divine revelation is justified by the “weakness of human reason which, left to itself, would inevitably become entangled in the grossest errors.”

In conclusion, since the fall had an effect on the whole of human nature, including natural reason, human reason has been “wounded and weakened by sin” (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio §51). Hence, any account of human reality that ignores the great hermeneutical value of sin in that account cannot be said to be deeply rooted in Scripture and Tradition, contrary to the claims of Cardinals Cupich and Coccopalmerio.

I find the choice of papal photo to illustrate the poster emblematic of how the powers-that-be at St. Edmund's appear to consider Bergoglio as a pop icon above all else!

I had been wondering why Cupich was invited to deliver the annual Von Hügel Lecture at St. Edmund's College in Cambridge - and I have not yet come across an
explanation. St Edmund's College is one of the 31 constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge - it only accept students reading for either masters
or doctorate degrees, or undergraduate degrees if they are aged 21 or older. The Von Hügel Institute is one of the college's 2 research institutes; it was founded
in 1987 to carry out research on Catholic Social Teaching. Considering the topic Cupich spoke about, one must conclude that, God help us all!, the Institute
considers AL a significant 'development' in Catholic social teaching. Especially since the man they chose to give this lecture in 2017 was Cardinal Luis
'mini-Bergoglio' Tagle...

BTW, I looked up Cupich's academic credentials - he earned his bachelor's degree in theology from the Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1974, then
his Master's in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1975, and a doctorate in Sacramental Theology (!) from Catholic University of America in 1987.
Curiously, although he finished seminary in 1971, he was not ordained a priest till 1975. Obviously, he is far from unlettered, but his entire formation was
post-Vatican II, and a review of his church career shows a series of ultra-liberal post-V2 positions. No wonder Bergoglio found him his perfect prototype cardinal
for the Church in the USA. (Wikipedia tells us that the cardinal's last name is pronounced SOO-pitch. He has Croatian ancestry.)

Fr Hunwicke, an Oxonian to the marrow, has had two short comments so far on Cupich in Cambridge ('the other university' for Fr H):

Cupich the Super Slippery (1)

February 10, 2018

Lecturing yesterday at the other university, Cardinal Cupich gave a superb example of cunning slipperiness. In its skill, it is positively beautiful. In its scope, breathtaking.

"Their [married couples' and families'] decisions of conscience represent God's personal guidance for the particularities of their lives. In other words, the voice of conscience ... (is) the voice of God ... or if I may be permitted to quote an Oxford man here at Cambridge, what Newman called 'the aboriginal vicar of Christ' ... could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal, while nevertheless calling a person 'to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realised' (AL 303)"

(1) Again, we have the very corruption I tried to nail down in a recent post, the idea that the Law of God (neatly here packaged and neutered as 'the Church's understanding of the ideal') can be trumped, set aside, by some other factor: here, 'Conscience'. Observe also how cleverly 'Sin', in this case Adultery, is replaced by the exquisite circumlocution 'living at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal'. [So, in the Confessional, I suppose we shall be hearing "And, Father, I have lived at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal seventy three times." It will make those pre-Easter sessions in the box even more lengthy.]

(2) But also, yet more brilliantly, notice the masterly way in which Newman is parenthetically invoked to sanctify a proposition which Super Slippery could (if taken to task) deny he actually attributes to Newman. He does not actually say that his formulation is what Newman wrote, said, or thought. But by waving the name of Newman over his words and citing a single phrase ...

Wow!! What a man!

Cupich (2)

February 12, 2018

I have to rely upon second-hand accounts of how things went in the Q&A session which followed the Cambridge lecture. But I gather that His Eminence launched into lengthy and impassioned assertions of the the authority of the Magisterium. The answer offered to one questioner was the further question (asked in deeply shocked tones) as to whether those expressing doubts or concerns about Amoris laetitia perhaps failed to believe that the Pope was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in writing it.

Thus the Magisterium was invoked not only in all its panoply, but in that crude form which, in the heyday of the old Catholic Evidence Guild, that Guild's speakers justly dismissed as being a misinformed Protestant or rationalist notion of what Infallibility means in Catholic theology.

More, later, on Cupich, Deo volente.

Cupich (3)

February 13, 2018

In the text of Cupich's Cambridge lecture, he acknowledges a widely felt problem: "While admitting that different cultural realities call for different pastoral conclusions, this is not to suggest that the existence of widely varying teachings among regions (or dioceses) is a positive element in Church life. There is still a dilemma that needs further attention and and study lest we end up with opposing magisterial directives even within regions which share a similar culture and realities in family life".

Indeed. It has often been pointed out that you already get a different magisterial answer by taking that single perilous footstep which carries you from Poland into Germany. [And I seem to remember that PF sanctioned the reaction of the Polish bishops to AL as being proper for their country ... does anyone know a reference for that?] It would certainly be highly amusing if one had in this country a different AL hermeneutic in, say, Shrewsbury and Liverpool.

Cupich goes on to sunder this particularly Gordian knot.

"In this regard, PF has now offered a pathway forward* with the publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedes [sic] of his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires and their Pastoral which confirms that their interpretation of Amoris authentically reflects his mind as being official Church teaching. It will now be up to all in the Church, particularly the hierarchy, to respond in a spirit of affective and effective collegiality with the Successor of Peter ...".

So, although Cupich only a minute or two earlier referred to PF's own stress upon "the importance of local variation in our global Church", when the whatsit hits the thingummy there is only one valid understanding of AL. And guess which one that is ...

In an earlier age, one might have wondered how well mannered it was for a foreign bishop to visit our shores so as to lecture our bishops ("it will now be up to ... the hierarchy ...") on how they should understand their duty. But we must understand that Blase Cupich is riding high, wearing that red hat which by tradition would have gone to the occupant of a different American See, and is intoxicated with the sweet wine of pontifical favour.

His words constitute one of the most aggressive ... and totally unacceptable ... assertions so far of an extremist and absurdly simplistic misunderstanding of the role within the Church Militant of the Roman Bishop.

When Catholic professional ecumenists discuss the Roman Primacy with non-Catholics, do they, I wonder, make clear that (once unity has been established) all discussion about a particular point at issue must instantly come to an end as soon as something is published in AAS? If not, perhaps they should start being honest enough to make it clear. Or else to disown this novel superstition.

*Notice a fine piece of weaselspeak: Cupich means that, in his view, PF has authoritatively imposed something. In weaselspeak, this becomes "has offered a pathway forward". Observe also the equivalence apparently made: 'his [PF's] mind' = 'official Church teaching". Things get better and better!

I do not have the inclination nor the time - nor, more importantly, the grit - to read Cupich's full lecture, as I dread the very thought of encountering more Bergoglianism than I need to, but if you are interested, guess who published the full text of the lecture: none other than the pre-eminent media site for Bergoglianism, VATICAN INSIDER:

00Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:56 AM

Cardinal Zen renders the traditional 'baciamano' after falling in line to meet the pope after the GA on January 10, 2018.

Thanks to Fr. de Souza for this long-overdue tribute...

In praise of China’s outspoken cardinal
Cardinal Zen has history on his side, and he knows China
better than any in the Vatican diplomatic corps

by Fr Raymond de Souza

February 11, 2018

Joseph Cardinal Zen, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, will not go away quietly. Which makes it difficult for the Vatican diplomats to go quietly and cut a deal with Chinese regime. What is playing out now, as the Holy See reportedly nears a deal with China on normalising relations, revisits a centuries-long debate about how the Church should deal with hostile, persecuting powers.

More specifically, the very public denunciation of Vatican diplomacy by Cardinal Zen revisits the Ostpolitik practised by the Holy See during the 1960s and 70s. The “eastern politics” of Vatican diplomacy sought to achieve breathing room for the Church under communism by ratcheting down the anti-communist rhetoric and reining in the underground Churches faithful to Rome. The Ostpolitik was the attempt by Blessed Paul VI to try a different path than that of Venerable Pius XII, who shut down all official contacts with the Soviet empire and its satellites.

In practice, Ostpolitik was bitterly opposed by the much of Catholic leadership who had suffered persecution behind the Iron Curtain. To do a deal with the Devil was to betray the witness of the martyrs. Or, as Cardinal Zen puts it with characteristic frankness, it is like St Joseph negotiating with King Herod after the massacre of the innocents.

Blessed Paul VI’s Ostpolitik was a cause of suffering for him; while he believed it was right, he took no pleasure in either dealing with the Devil or opposing the heroic pastors who daily bore the brunt of the battle. It was not, he conceded, a “policy of glory”. It was employed on the grounds that it was, according to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, the best way to salvare il salvabile – to save what could be saved.

The policy did not save much. It did not strengthen the Church behind the Iron Curtain, though it did secure the release from prison – at the cost of permanent exile – of several bishops.

The one local Church that remained steadfast and strong under communism was in Poland, and there the primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, insisted that he, and he alone, would deal with the Polish communists. Such was his towering stature that he kept Vatican diplomats at bay for some 30 years, blocking the ne plus ultra of Vatican diplomacy, a full-status nunciature and exchange of ambassadors. He judged the price of that to be too high.

Cardinal Zen has rather the same view. The difference today is that we are able to hear the disagreements openly.

“In the Church there is a full right to disagree and to tell one’s own criticisms, and that the Holy See has a moral duty to listen to them and to evaluate them carefully,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said in defending his China policy. “It is legitimate to have different views over the most appropriate responses to the problems of the past and present. That is entirely reasonable.”

Cardinal Parolin may well think that a “far eastern politics” will succeed where Ostpolitik failed. But he acknowledges that his view is not the only one, and that those who have suffered most are in disagreement with him.

Whereas under the original Ostpolitik the Vatican’s diplomats could do their work in secret, and the underground Church had little recourse, today Cardinal Zen ensures that the betrayal of the Church in China – as he sees it – will have to be accomplished in the open.

After Cardinal Parolin’s defence of the Holy See’s China policy, a senior official – perhaps the cardinal himself, but certainly someone authorised by him – gave a lengthy interview to America magazine in which he laid out the path ahead with the Chinese regime.

“It is a suffered accord; it is not a good one, it is not the one we would like, but it is the best that we can get at this moment,” anonymous source said. The best that we can get. Salvare il salvabile.

Cardinal Zen argues that no accord is better than a bad accord. Don’t save what the communists will let you save, he argues. That is an illusion offered by fraudsters. The better way is to save your integrity and the fidelity of Catholic witness.

I am inclined to side with Cardinal Zen. He has history on his side, and he knows China better than any in the Vatican diplomatic corps. But I also am inclined take his side because he is man who speaks clearly and has evident courage.

In 2013 I hosted Cardinal Zen in Kingston [in Ontario, Canada, where Fr. de Souza is a diocesan priest] for our annual dinner in support of our mission on campus, the St John Fisher Dinner. I invited him – without having any relationship with him – because I admired him greatly. Yet I was shocked when he accepted. For a retired octogenarian, the trip from Hong Kong was long and tiring. Why did he accept?*

He explained at the dinner that it was foolish for him to travel so far at his age; and, after all, he had to re-arrange the classes he was now teaching to seminarians. But he “had to come” when he saw the invitation. Anything to honour St John Fisher, he said, meant that he had to accept. Cardinal Zen came to Kingston in 2013 because the Church needs more men like St John Fisher in the face of persecuting regimes. And that’s why he went to Rome last month to press his case again.

*Which is why my blood boils when I read criticisms of Benedict XVI's resignation as pope at age 88! With some mocking him for saying he did not think he could make any more travels such as the one to Mexico and Cuba. Would anyone of those critics insist that their own father continue working even an ordinary day job at 88? Would they themselves do so if they were 88? Let alone to go on functioning as pope at peak performance, which is the way Joseph Ratzinger has always carried out his tasks!

Don't they see from photos and accounts over the past 5 years how greatly Benedict XVI's physical condition has deteriorated? And to blame him because he 'made it possible' for Bergoglio to become the pope ('man proposes, but God disposes') is like asking God why do you make things like Auschwitz possible or why do innocent children get cancer!

00Tuesday, February 13, 2018 5:21 AM

And many thanks to Andrea Gagliarducci for a most refreshing out-of-the-box lookback at the final days of Benedict XVI's Pontificate - in terms of his rich Magisterium...

Benedict XVI’s final magisterium

February 12, 2018

The fifth anniversary of the historic renunciation of Benedict XVI was anticipated by a letter written by the now Pope emeritus to an Italian newspaper. The Pope emeritus described himself as “in a pilgrimage to Home”, a wonderful metaphor to describe the last path of his earthly life.

Five years after, it is worth looking back at the Final Magisterium of Benedict XVI, that is, to his words and speeches in those last two weeks that preceded the sede vacante. It was a series of last public words that, in fact, best epitomize the situation of the current Church.

All of those words were overshadowed by the emotion and the lack of clarity of that time: it was a historical moment, lived with the Pope and on the Pope’s side. Rather than listening, we were looking for answers to questions, and those questions were left unanswered. Or, in the end, they got a response, but it was no accepted. Because, as the principle of the Ockham’s razor say, the simpler response is the most correct one. But, as human nature has it, the correct response is never fully accepted.

Benedict XVI thinks that the history of the Church meets eschatological requirements: everything has a sense, including the Church itself. To Benedict XVI, the Church is a living body, as it was to Romano Guardini, one of his favorite theologians.

Feb. 13, two days after the announcement of the renunciation. General Audience. Benedict XVI reads at the beginning a statement to reiterate that he had taken his decision to renounce to the Petrine Ministry out of his free will and with no constraints. Then, he starts the catechesis, focused on the Gospel of the following Sunday, especially on the passage of the temptations of Jesus in the desert.

“Reflecting on the temptations to which Jesus was subjected in the wilderness invites each one of us to answer a fundamental question: What really counts in my life?”, says the Pope. He then speaks about the temptations and finally he summarizes:

“What is the essence of the three temptations to which Jesus is subjected? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use him for one’s own interests, for one’s own glory and for one’s own success. And therefore, essentially to put oneself in God’s place, removing him from one’s own existence and making him seem superfluous”.

For this reason, Benedict XVI asks to “overcome the temptation to subject God to oneself and one’s own interests, or to put him in a corner, and be converted to the correct order of priorities, giving God first place”, as this is “a journey that each and every Christian must make over and over again”.

Converting – the Pope adds – “means letting God transform us, in order to stop thinking that we are the only ones to build our existence. It means recognizing that we are creatures, that we depend on God, on his love, and that only by 'losing' our life in him can we gain it”.

To sum it up, it is not possible to be a Christian as a mere consequence of living in a society with Christian roots. Christian life must be renewed every day, confronting “the temptations that a secularized culture constantly suggests and in the face of the critical opinion of many contemporaries”.

“It is far from easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in daily life, to make room for prayer and inner silence. It is far from easy to oppose publicly the decisions that many take for granted, such as abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, and embryo selection in order to prevent hereditary diseases (as) the temptation to set faith aside is always present, and conversion becomes a response to God that must be strengthened several times in life.

February 13, evening, Ash Wednesday Mass. 15 days to the end of the Pontificate. Pope Benedict’s homily seems to be the consequence of the morning catechesis.

“To ‘return to God with all your heart' on this Lenten journey means embracing the cross, following Christ along the path which leads to Calvary, unto complete self-giving. It is a journey which teaches us each day to abandon our selfishness and self-absorption in order to make room for God, who opens and transforms our hearts...

Our witness, then, will always be more effective the less we seek our own glory and the more we realize that the reward of the just is God himself: being one with him here below on the journey of faith, and, at life’s end, in the luminous peace of seeing him face to face for ever.”

February 23, end of the Curia Lenten Spiritual exercises. Benedict XVI delivers his next-to-the-last address to the Curia. He reminds them Curia that, after he retires, “there will not be a visible and exterior communion” between him and them, but there will be “a spiritual closeness, a profound communion in prayer. With this certainty, let us go on, certain of the victory of God, certain of the truth of beauty and love.”

February 24, the last Angelus. Benedict XVI’s words deal with a central issue of his pontificate: scandals are not the problem, the problem is faith. The Gospel of the Day presents the Transfiguration, and Jesus is described as climbing up the mountain.

“I hear this word of God as addressed to me in particular at this moment of my life. Thank you! The Lord is calling me 'to scale the mountain', to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church; indeed, if God asks me this it is precisely so that I may continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suited to my age and strength.”

February 27, last general audience, Pope Benedict speaks of the Church, recounts that he received letters from the most important people on earth, but also from normal people. These people

”write to me as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters, with a sense of a very affectionate family bond. (And from this) one can sense palpably what the Church is – not an organization, an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, which makes us all one. To experience the Church in this way and to be able as it were to put one’s finger on the strength of her truth and her love, is a cause for joy at a time when so many people are speaking of her decline. But we see how the Church is alive today!”

February 28, meeting with the Cardinals before the departure to Castel Gandolfo. Benedict XVI underscores to them once more that the Church

“is not something devised by planners, but a living reality... The Church lives, grows up, is reawakened in souls that, like the Virgin Mary, welcome the Word of God and conceive it through the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh, and in their poverty and humility they become able to generate Christ today in the world. Through the Church, the mystery of incarnation stays present forever. Christ keeps on walking through all the times and all the places.”

All of these words are part of the final magisterium of Benedict XVI. He provides the notion of a Church as an alive community, focused on faith. This is the legacy we tend to forget, more than anything else. We focused very much on his speech to the clergy of Rome, that identified the real Council and the Council of the media, and we commented a lot his governing decisions.

And yet, his final magisterium is a hymn to the joy of the Gospel and of relying on God. This is what is really missing in all the 'debates' about his resignation.
00Thursday, February 15, 2018 3:39 AM

One could already judge from the excerpts initially cited in the initial reactions to the Cupich lecture in Cambridge last week how appalling the entire
thing must be - which I do not intend to read as persons far more qualified than I to demolish it have done that and already crushing Cupich's tract on AL
for its overall typically Bergoglian mendacity - but should we expect otherwise from someone who could not possibly be more Bergoglian? Two unflinching
critiques here...

Does Cardinal Cupich think 'Humanae Vitae' has been replaced?
The cardinal's much-discussed lecture contained numerous errors

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith
February 14, 2018

Cardinal Cupich’s lecture in Cambridge last week has generated some commentary, and having read it myself, one feels the need to add to it. The lecture is diffuse and hard to summarise, though this magazine tries its best, as one can read here. The whole thing can be read here.

It would take far too long to do a point by point refutation of everything the Cardinal says, so I am not going to try to do so. Instead, I will just pick out two or three points that strike me as extremely misleading, sticking, if you like, to the low hanging fruit.

First, an error of fact. The Cardinal says: “The bishops gathered at the synods on the family were united in this regard, in the end voting for all the proposals by over a 2/3 vote and in most cases nearly unanimously.” [In which Cupich simply repeats a lie Bergoglio has said publicly more than once, as if to cover up - I don't know why he thinks he has to - that AL, which was supposed to convey the thinking of the two 'family synods' he convened in order to facilitate his general laissez-faire on the sacraments of matrimony, penance and the Eucharist, simply rode roughshod over the synodal consensus against such a laissez-faire to be an exposition of Bergoglianism as the Religion of Nice and forget-what-Jesus-said-I(Bergoglio)-am-here-and now].

Actually, at the first synod the proposals to admit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion were not passed by a 2/3 majority. As the ever valuable Wikipedia reminds us:

Of the three paragraphs that failed to get a two-thirds majority but were included in the final report, two deal with the question of whether in some circumstances to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to be admitted to the Eucharist, and the third discusses pastoral care for gay Catholics. Paragraph 52 won the least support (104 in favor, 74 against) and described the disagreement among the participants on “the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The paragraph gave no indication of the proportion between those who favored the idea and those who rejected it, but said further study was needed. Paragraph 53 had very similar content and presentation got a slightly better reception: 112 votes in favor, and 64 against.

Paragraph 55 was the third paragraph that failed to get a two-thirds majority and was headed: “Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.” … It came close to a two-thirds majority, getting 118 votes for and 62 against. Odd that the Cardinal should have overlooked this. But let it not be forgotten that the Synod did not endorse communion for the divorced and remarried.

Secondly, in his opening paragraphs, the Cardinal talks of a holistic approach, using that word holistic numerous times. What does it mean? Usually, it is taken to mean the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. That is not a bad principle in itself.

However, parts are important too, and there is no whole without parts. In moral theology, no whole can ever justify an action that it is intrinsically evil. That is the thrust of the teaching of Saint John Paul II, particularly in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor. But that was not an innovation on the part of the Saint. Blessed Paul VI also has something to say about the holistic approach, except back then it was called “The principle of totality”.

In Humanae Vitae, the Pope asked:

Moreover, if one were to apply here the so called principle of totality, could it not be accepted that the intention to have a less prolific but more rationally planned family might transform an action which renders natural processes infertile into a licit and provident control of birth? Could it not be admitted, in other words, that procreative finality applies to the totality of married life rather than to each single act? (HV3)

He answered his question thus:

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these.

Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it — in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.

Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. (HV14)

It is inconceivable that Cardinal Cupich is not aware of these passages, which must lead one to the inevitable conclusion that he thinks, for no reason I can fathom, that the “paradigm” of Amoris Laetitia, as he interprets it, somehow replaces the thinking behind Humanae Vitae. [Oh no, Father – nothing to fathom here! Cupich thinks that, because like the most fanatic Bergoglians, he has effectively been Bergogliobotomized and brainwashed to the point that Bergoglio has replaced Jesus as their Lord and Master and Amoris laetitia has replaced the Gospel as the 'word of the lord' in the parallel universe that is the church of Bergoglio. One however that superimposes itself on the one true Church of Christ by the simple fact that Bergoglio was elected to be the leader of that Church, however much he has tried since Day 1 to convert it to his likeness and image.]

Please note – the thinking behind Humanae Vitae, as opposed to the practical application of that thinking. For the thinking behind Humanae Vitae is the thinking of the Catholic Church as it has been for centuries. [And the thinking behind Amoris laetitia is what the secular world has wanted to impose on the Church since the Enlightenment in order to trigger its destruction.]

Is this what Cardinal Cupich wishes to sweep away? If so, let him tell us clearly. Are Aquinas and Augustine and Alphonsus Liguori all wrong? Or is there another possibility? Is it possible that the person who is wrong is Cardinal Cupich himself?

There are several other startling shortcomings in the Cardinal’s lecture which I will address in further articles.

The 'clarity' of Cardinal Cupich
CRISIS Magazine
February 14, 2018

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is all for clarity. It has been a consistent theme:
- In September of 2017 he issued a decree banning guns in all parishes, schools and other facilities across the archdiocese “so there would be absolute clarity on our position.” His official statement put “clarity” in italics.
- When he was bishop of Rapid City, he called for “civility and clarity” in discussing legislation that would limit abortion, but he was somewhat unclear in explaining that the law “must recognize both the suffering of the unborn children in abortion and the suffering of the pregnant women in dire circumstances.” The bill was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent.
- As bishop of Spokane, he spoke clearly in prohibiting the use of the traditional Latin liturgical books in the Paschal Triduum.
- He made very clear his disapproval of seminarians and priests demonstrating against Planned Parenthood: “Decisions about abortion are not usually made in front of clinics.”
- In 2012, his pastoral letter on a state referendum to legalize same-sex “marriage” said: “I also want to be very clear that in stating our position the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

Clarity requires effort because it requires honesty, which can be a costly commodity. So George Orwell said: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Clear expression issues from clear thinking, which in turn requires conforming thought to reality. [Which is why Bergoglio's words are so often muddled – his mind is muddled, and instead of conforming his thought to reality, he conforms it to what he thinks reality ought to be, by his standards.]

This was a primary concern of the Master in his holy agony, for he prayed to the Father that his Church never fudge the truth: “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). [When the pope, Bergoglio, demonstrably lies so often and in public for self-serving purposes, what 'truth' can we expect from him?]

The Superior of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, seems wary about the unclear tenor of Christ’s teaching about marriage (Mt 19: 3-9), because “no one had a recorder to take down his words.” Consequently, what Christ said must be “contextualized,” because human reality “is much more nuanced” and “never black and white.” Jesus did say, without the benefit of recorders other than the Evangelists: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35). There is nothing nuanced about that, but Jesus was not a member of the Society of Jesus.

In an interview the day before he lectured on the exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia at the Von Hugel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry in Cambridge England, on February 9, Cardinal Cupich hoped that his words “might bring some clarity for people who have raised questions, and then also to raise a challenge for them to also take a second look at the document.”

In the lecture itself the cardinal quoted Amoris Laetitia, n. 38: “Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals.”

A year earlier, on February 14, 2017, Cardinal Cupich said that “the pope’s exhortation “expresses with absolute clarity marriage doctrine in full fidelity to traditional Church teaching.”

One supposes that Cardinal Cupich’s lecture in Cambridge was intended to explain why the Exhortation’s clarity was unclear to so many around the world, even though they have the benefit of recording machines and all the social media, which Jesus lacked, although his voice could be heard by thousands on hilltops and seashores.

In the Von Hugel lecture, which was recorded and thus cannot be nuanced, Cardinal Cupich said by way of apophasis that “It goes without saying…” and then went on to say that “Amoris Laetitia will also mean rejecting “an authoritarian or paternalistic way of dealing with people that lays down the law, that pretends to have all the answers, or easy answers to complex problems, that suggests that general rules will seamlessly bring immediate clarity.” There is Cupich's 'clarity' again, in all its frustrating opaqueness.

And after rejecting authoritarianism and paternalism, the cardinal invoked Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 25, to declare that “an innovative interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by the bishops of Buenos Aires, which, by virtue of “the publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedes [sic]” of the papal letter commending it, qualifies as an official Church teaching “which all are obliged to abide by and be in conformity with.”

It should be, and I think it is, clear as night and day, that Jesus would not have been crucified had he been more nuanced. There are those who have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to make clear by subtlety, with their own frail command of classical letters, that the official Latinity of Amoris Laetitia proves that it is faithful to authentic doctrine, and is not as flawed as its critics claim. This is on a par with Edgar Nye’s opinion that Wagner’s music is better than it sounds. Excuses like that are defeated by Pope Francis himself who told those Argentinian bishops that their eisegesis “explains precisely the meaning of Chapter VIII.”

Cardinal Cupich called Amoris Laetitia a “radical change” and Cardinal Parolin said “It’s a paradigm shift and the text itself insists on this, that’s what is asked of us — this new spirit, this new approach!” The exclamation point conveys His Eminence’s enthusiasm. Cardinal Cupich asks for a more “holistic” application of the Gospel, in fact using the term ten times without a clear definition of what it means.

There have indeed been paradigm shifters in Christology, but there have been no Doctors of the Church among them, and none has been salubrious in the annals of grace. To skim the surface, they have included Arius, Nestorius, Priscillian, Montanus, Mohammed, Waldo, Luther, Calvin, Jansen, Joseph Smith and Phineas Quimby who coached Mrs. Eddy. [A Hall of Infamy to which Jorge Bergoglio would be a most worthy addition. Mrs. Eddy is Mary Baker Eddy, 1821-1910, who founded the 'Christian Science' religion and its church, the Church of Christ, Scientist]

Those who have studied the early Modernist period, might assume that the Von Hugel Institute has as its eponym the Baron Friedrich von Hugel, mentor of the Modernists Alfred Loisy and George Tyrrell. Actually, it was named for his brother, Anatole, who was a distinguished naturalist. The baron himself managed to keep his balance, while using the active if neurasthenic minds of younger theologians like guinea pigs, watching them degraded while maintaining his own claims to fidelity.

The tedious von Hugel (even his English writings are cadenced as impenetrably German) visited John Henry Newman at least three times, and on each of these occasions he found Newman melancholy, concluding that Newman could not be a saint since saints must be joyful. “I used to wonder how one so good, and one who had made so many sacrifices to God, could be so depressing.”

One biographer remarked with astuteness beyond the reach of the humorless baron, that the only evidence we have of Newman being demonstrably depressed was when he was visited by von Hugel.

This writer writes these words hastily, and knowingly exposes himself to imputations of illogic, irascibility and uncharity. Of only the last I vitally excuse myself, for I mean no irreverence or ill intent as a parish priest commenting on superiors. In the fullness of charity, I suppose that Cardinal Cupich is so occupied with the essential works of mercy incumbent upon a spiritual leader of many, that he may have availed himself of the advice of others inadequate to the task of preparing his attempts at clarification.

The one complaint I invoke, albeit a strong one since much of my life’s studies have been nurtured by an intuitive friendship with John Henry Newman, who in an unworthy simile is to me as Philip Neri was to him, is that Cardinal Cupich has cited Newman on conscience to represent the very opposite of what Newman lived and exhausted himself to declare: that [dim]=12pt]conscience must be informed by the Holy Ghost and not left to wander about like a ghost of the subjective human ego, validating uninformed impulses.

In his famous Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman distinguished between the operation of conscience and the exercise of private judgment. Such distinctions may be too delicate for hasty doctors of theology, but they are matters for which men were made martyrs. Errors must not be the template for the formation of consciences innocent and malleable.

Chesterton warned: “The more doubtful we are about whether we have any truth, the more certain we are (apparently) that we can teach it to children. The smaller our faith in doctrine, the larger is our faith in doctors.”

In his revision of his book The Arians of the Fourth Century, Newman explained in more detail what he meant by consulting the faithful on doctrine, and it is far different from soliciting the views of confused people who think truths are ideals beyond their reach. As a beacon of clarity, Newman knew that Christ is a Saviour and not an Idealist.

The word “consult” is, in its Latin root, to consult with or to take counsel in the sense of submission to a truth, as one consults a barometer or takes one’s pulse. Newman said this himself. Conscience is not a license for invention or epistemological fabrication, and consultation of the faithful is not a survey to warrant a “paradigm shift.”

Ronald Knox prefaced his translation of the Bible: “The teaching office of the Holy Spirit does not consist in imparting to the Church the knowledge of hitherto unknown doctrines, in addition to the deposit of faith, but in making our knowledge of doctrines already revealed fuller and more precise.”

Cardinal Cupich likes the term “cherry picking” as a reproach. On February 1 in Holy Name Cathedral, as he had done in 2004 in Rapid City, he faulted Pro-Lifers for “cherry-picking” instead of accepting the entire “seamless garment” theory. In 2017, he spoke against “cherry picking” in immigration issues. But Amoris Laetitia cherry-picks in citing only one part of the Summa Theologica II-II, q. 140, in a way that posits the exact opposite of what Aquinas meant, just as Cupich cherry-picks Newman on the “aboriginal vicar of Christ.” [And just as Bergoglio flagrantly cherry-picks when he quotes Jesus!]

Cupich cites Gaudium et Spes, no. 16 which calls conscience “the most secret core and sanctuary of a man … (where) he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.” As Newman was one of the greatest masters of English prose, that kind of lame poesie would have appalled him. It also is sourced from a document parts of which Pope Benedict once called downright Pelagian.

The clarification of doctrine is a risky business. In his novel Loss and Gain, Newman invented a “little, prim, smirking” character, a preacher in Oxford University named the Reverend Dr. Brownside: “As a divine he seemed never to have had any difficulty in any subject; he was so clear or so shallow that he saw to the bottom of all his thoughts: or, since Dr. Johnson tells us that 'all shallows are clear', we may perhaps distinguish him by both epithets.”

Let us be perfectly clear: Dr. Brownside existed only as a sketch on paper, unlike the Bridegroom of the Church who, even without the corroboration of a recording machine, is believed to have “taught as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

00Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:24 AM

Poster from Mali saying "Stop illegal immigration" and the ironic catchline "My Eldorado is Mali" seeks to instruct intending emigrants on how to do things right.

The pope's obsessive concern with migrants
By Marco Tosatti
Translated from
February 14, 2018

Holiness, give us some respite! You have bewailed what you called an 'obsessive concern' on issues regarding life, implicitly criticizing your precedessors and saints of the caliber of Mother Teresa who constantly fought against abortion [and other, for them, non-negotiable issues about the sanctity of human life and the family[]but you have instead made us Catholics and other citizens of this unfortunate nation endure your obsessive 'pastoral' concern for migrants [who are overwhelmingly non-Christian, so it beggars belief why he should be 'pastoral' about them while failing the flock he was elected to lead!].

And excuse me, but even the lies claiming the Church does not 'do' politics cannot stand up. Of course, 'the church', such as she is today, does politics. As the Genoan shipowner in the joke commented upon learning of a colleague's suicide, "It must have been convenient!", we can well imagine that the Church in Italy finds some convenience in this business involving millions and millions of euros having to do with 'welcoming' undocumented migrants.

But you are the pope – and even if you do not care a whit about this devastated country, even if you only read one Italian newspaper (which also happens to be the most leftist, the most Sorosian and the most pro-Partita Democrata there is), even if your advisers are who they are and they only tell you things in a certain way – given all of that, don’t you think that the frequency with which you speak about this issue is truly obsessive? [As usual with Bergoglio, he can never see the log of prejudice in his eye while he points out the motes in others' eyes!]

Yesterday, we read your Twitter feed that seemed prompted only so as not to run the risk that we would be deprived a single day without being reminded of it: "With the spirit of mercy let us welcome the victims of human trafficking and those who are fleeing from war and hunger".

Yet just two days before that, we also read that you said, "So many times, migrants are besmirched by unkind comments", to young people meeting to discuss the problem of human trafficking. "A few months ago, I saw a newspaper headline about a small city [in Italy]: 'the city where the most rapes were committed this year, and 40% of the rapists were migrants'. That's one way of smearing them. And who were the other 60 percent? Italians! It's a way of presenting things which twists the truth". [Dear Lord, this man has a real talent for 'twisting the truth', because it is he who habitually does that! Remember when he likened jihadist terrorist crimes with domestic violence crimes in Italy? Considering that migrants now constitute less than 10 percent of the Italian population, it means, roughly, that 10 percent in a given community are responsible for 40% of rapes. Yet even just one rapist among them would be reprehensible enough and unacceptable!]

Then you told them: "Don't be afraid of meeting the migrants. Open up your hearts and let them come in" because "you can encounter Christ in these people who have left their homes and remain trapped in the net of slavery". And you told the story of a girl who was 'deceived by a very Catholic lady' – she arrived in Italy and was "then enchained in prostitution". And when she was rescued from that life and brought to an institution headed by a sister, "she did not wish to enter because it had been a very Catholic lady who had deceived her and made her a slave".

He couldn't resist that jab against 'the very Catholic lady' since we know that many Catholics are not at all to this pope's liking. But it would be useful to read what the current statistics show about crime in Italy.

Comparing the percentage of foreigners in Italy against the percentage of foreigners responsible for major crimes.

Keep in mind that non-Italians make up only 8 percent of the country's population. Regardless, we don't really need to increase our native criminal fauna by importing more of them!

A Brussels [i.e, EU] agency that tracks these things tells us that in January 2018, 4,800 undocumented migrants arrived in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean – a number double that in December 2017. Rightly, Bergoglio speaks of those victims of human trafficking, namely, those who gladly pay the traffickers to facilitate their departure from their homeland for Europe.

But is not the constant drumroll of calls by the pope and his representatives in the Italian Church to welcome any and all migrants partly responsible for 'stimulating' the phenomenon? That's not exactly combating a phenomenon expressly denounced by the bishops and government leaders in the migrants' countries of origin (mostly Africa). If I know that I will be welcomed with open arms [and the blessing of the pope, no less], then of course, I would risk leaving home. Otherwise, why should I set forth on a hopeless venture [and pay a fortune to do so]?
00Saturday, February 17, 2018 2:59 AM

Pope Francis is playacting Realpolitik
The Vatican’s diplomacy with China and other authoritarian governments,
is based on a century-old fantasy of its worldly power


February 15, 2018

In recent weeks, many observers have been puzzled, and some deeply disturbed, by what appears to be an impending deal between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China. The agreement would concede a significant role to the Chinese Communist regime in the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops in China, as a step on the path to full diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Holy See. More than a few questions have been raised about such an arrangement. ['A significant role' is a delusion of Bergoglio and his diplomats - synonymous to Cardinal Parolin's saying 'The Vatican will have a say' in the appointment of Chinese bishops. As I've said before, yeah, right! – that 'say' is going to consist entirely of saying YES to any bishops nominated by the Communist regime, which will probably never even bother to ask the Vatican if it has any nominees at all to a vacant diocese. It's the Chinese sop to help save face for the Vatican and make it seem like it is getting something for its abject total surrender to the Chinese, and all for what? To establish diplomatic relations in order to facilitate an invitation for Bergoglio to visit Beijing?

How, in conscience, can the Bergoglio Vatican be so delusional about the ruthless Godless nature of a Communist regime that has now outlasted by more than quarter century the parent Soviet regime? And what exactly does Bergoglio thinks his diplomats will do for the Church in China except to be Beijing's errand boys in suppressing the anti-regime underground church, so as to leave the playing field free for the official 'Catholic Church' of China, which being no longer subject to the Vatican or to the pope, will no longer be a catholic (small c) church at all, but a true and proper independent 'national church' that is a travesty of the Church – neither holy nor Catholic nor apostolic nor Roman. Beijing may choose call it ‘the Catholic Church in China’ for purposes of its ‘dialog’ with the Vatican, but it really is only the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association taking over the entire infrastructure and institutions of what was the Catholic Church in China (much as the church of Bergoglio has taken over the infrastructure and institutions of the one true Church of Christ).
We have here the spectacle of a bogus universal Catholic Church, really the church of Bergoglio, cooperating with an atheistic regime to actualize a bogus ‘national Catholic church’ in China which is in every way a contradiction of everything that a particular Church within the universal Church ought to be.]

Why would the Vatican trust any agreement cosigned by a totalitarian power, given its previous unhappy experiences with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Third Reich, both of which systematically violated concordats they concluded with the Holy See?

Why have the Vatican’s diplomats (and perhaps even Pope Francis himself) dismissed warnings from within China, and from the retired bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, about the negative impact of such a deal on those Chinese Catholics who have remained loyal to Rome rather than to the regime-sponsored Patriotic Catholic Association?

Why would the Church violate its own canon law (according to which “no rights or privileges of election, appointment, presentation, or designation of bishops are conceded to civil authorities”) as a step toward full diplomatic exchange with a regime that routinely violates human rights, often with great cruelty?

What has motivated the dogged pursuit by Vatican diplomats of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China over the past four decades?

Answering these questions requires three steps back: first to 1870, then to 1929, and finally to 1962.

In 1870, when the forces of the Italian Risorgimento captured Rome and made it the capital of a unified Italy, the last vestiges of the old Papal States (which once encompassed all of central Italy) disappeared, and Pope Pius IX retired behind the Leonine Wall, styling himself the “Prisoner of the Vatican.”

The Holy See, which international law and customary diplomatic practice have long recognized as the juridical embodiment of the pope’s role as universal pastor of the Catholic Church, continued to send and receive ambassadors even as it lacked any territory over which it exercised internationally recognized sovereignty. But Pius’s four successors tried nonetheless to reach an agreement with the new Italian state that would guarantee the pope’s independence from all earthly powers.

That goal was finally achieved by Pius XI in the 1929 Lateran Accords, which created the independent Vatican City State on a 108-acre tract surrounding St. Peter’s Basilica.

But while the Lateran Accords assured the pope’s freedom to conduct his global ministry without interference from another sovereign, the reduction of the pope’s sovereign territory to the Vatican City microstate underscored that, in the future, Holy See diplomacy would have to reply on the exercise of papal moral authority, not the usual tangible instruments of state power.

The largely Italian Vatican diplomatic service never quite grasped this implication of the Lateran Accords, though. Rather, it seems these foreign-policy professionals continued to think that the new Holy See/Vatican City was something like the old Holy See/Papal States: a third-tier European power. And as Italy itself became a less serious actor in world politics, it was natural for Italian papal diplomats to seek some significant role for “Rome” on the global stage, working the system as other third-tier powers did.

Then came October 1962. It has been insufficiently remarked that the opening of the Second Vatican Council — the four-year meeting of all the world’s Catholic bishops that became the most important event in Catholic history since the Reformation and set the foundations for Catholicism’s current role as a major institutional promoter and defender of human rights [??? That’s a puzzling statement in the light of what Weigel affirms in the next paragraph. How did Ostpolitik help champion human rights at all when it was cooperating with the tramplers of human rights for little crumbs that amounted to a whole lot of nothing for the Catholics it meant to help and protect?] coincided precisely with the Cuban missile crisis.

Pope John XXIII and the Vatican diplomatic corps were sufficiently shaken by the possibility of a nuclear war that might have ended Vatican II before it got underway that they devised a profound redirection of Vatican diplomacy toward the European communist world
. This became known as Vatican Ostpolitik, and its principal agent was the career Vatican diplomat Archbishop Agostino Casaroli.

[One most lamentable early consequence of this was that Communism as such- and in the early 1960s, it cut a formidable and fearful swathe from Mongolia, China and South Korea in the Far East, across the continent of Asia from the Soviet Union's easternmost outpost in Vladivostok to its satellite republics in Central and southwest Asia, across the Urals and the Caucasus to the eastern half of Europe - was never even mentioned at all in the four sessions of Vatican II nor in any of its documents. That is a blatant and reprehensible historical omission which I don't believe even Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI - nor for that matter, Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II - ever discussed about Vatican II.]

Casaroli’s Ostpolitik, which unfolded during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), aimed at finding a modus non moriendi, a “way of not dying” (as Casaroli frequently put it), for the Catholic Church behind the Iron Curtain.

In order to appoint bishops, who could ordain priests and thus maintain the Church’s sacramental or spiritual life under atheist regimes, [so they thought, anyway!]
- the Vatican ended the anti-communist rhetoric that had characterized its public diplomacy in the 1950s,
- removed senior churchmen who refused to concede anything to communist governments (like Hungary’s Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty and Czechoslovakia’s Cardinal Joseph Beran),
- discouraged any public role for exiled Catholic leaders like Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj,
- urged underground Catholic clergy and laity to cease their resistance to their local communist regimes, and
- diligently sought various forms of agreements with communist governments.

One premise informing this remarkable volte-face was that the Vatican’s once-harsh anti-communist rhetoric had been at least partially to blame for communist regimes’ persecution of the Church; the theory was that if the Vatican showed itself more accommodating (the buzzword was “dialogue”), such mellowness would be reciprocated. It wasn’t. And by any objective measure, Casaroli’s Ostpolitik was a failure — and in some instances a disaster. [How many modern crimes of appalling magnitude have taken place in our time in the name of fruitless futile 'dialog'! It is a ploy for so-called leaders to make believe they are doing something that I have come to think of - and forgive the simile - as nothing but self-indulgent mental masturbation.]

In Rome, it led to the deep penetration of the Vatican by East bloc intelligence services, a counterintelligence debacle (now fully documented from original sources) that put the Church’s diplomats in an even weaker position in negotiations with their communist counterparts, who frequently knew the Vatican game plan thanks to the work of well-placed moles and informers inside the Roman Curia.

In the countries that were to be the putative beneficiaries of Ostpolitik, there were no improvements of consequence as a result of Casaroli’s shuttle diplomacy, and in fact more damage was done.
- The Hungarian Catholic hierarchy became what amounted to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hungarian state, which of course meant the Hungarian communist party.
- Repression increased in what was then Czechoslovakia, with regime-friendly faux-Catholic organizations achieving public prominence while underground bishops and priests worked as janitors, window-washers, and elevator repairmen, conducting clandestine ministries at night.
- Ostpolitik did nothing to improve the situation of Catholics in the Soviet Union: The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church remained the world’s largest illegal religious community, and Lithuanian Catholic resistance leaders found themselves doing hard time in gulag labor camps.

Ostpolitik had no serious effect in Poland, however, where the wily primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and the charismatic archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, nodded politely to visiting Vatican diplomats but continued to confront the Polish communist authorities with vigorous public protests when they thought that necessary to preserve the Church’s tenaciously held free space in a communist state. That strategy, in turn, strengthened the most vigorous national Catholic community in the Soviet sphere, even as the Vatican Ostpolitik was weakening local Churches in other Warsaw Pact countries.

When Wojtyla was elected pope in 1978, taking the name John Paul II, the Casaroli Ostpolitik was quietly buried — although the shrewd John Paul appointed Casaroli his secretary of state, thus creating something of a good cop-bad cop strategy. Casaroli would continue his shuttle diplomacy in east-central Europe. But that, John Paul understood, would provide him useful cover as he, using the megaphone of the papacy, boldly challenged communist human rights violations in his pilgrimages all over the world, most notably on his first papal visit to Poland in June 1979, and then in October of that year from the rostrum of the General Assembly of the United Nations. That two-track strategy was instrumental in igniting the revolution of conscience that shaped the Revolutions of 1989 and the self-liberation of east-central Europe from communism.

Yet the lessons that ought to have been learned from all this — that Ostpolitik was a failure because the appeasement of communist and other authoritarian regimes never works, and that the only real authority the Holy See and the pope have in world politics today is moral authority — were not learned by the heirs of Agostino Casaroli, many of whom are influential figures in Vatican diplomacy today.

At Rome’s Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Ostpolitik is still presented to future Vatican diplomats as a model of success, and at no level of the Vatican Secretariat of State has there been an intellectual reckoning with the evidence demonstrating the failures of Casaroli’s diplomacy.

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis in March 2013 has not changed the “Casarolian” cast of mind dominating Vatican diplomacy; quite the opposite, in fact. Bergoglio brought to the papacy a record of resistance to the authoritarian Kirchner regime in his native Argentina, with which he had tangled on several issues. But he had no experience of world politics, and from the outset of his pontificate, Francis made it clear that he believed that “dialogue,” perhaps his favorite word when speaking of international affairs, is possible with the likes of Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Nicolás Maduro, and Raúl Castro. [In fact, Bergoglio has probably made more headline-generating Communist/Marxist/socialist statements than any of these Communist/Marxist/socialist leaders themselves.]

[Thus under Francis, the accommodating Casaroli approach to Vatican diplomacy has made a great comeback, while the world-changing achievements of John Paul II, the result of charismatic moral leadership, seem to be virtually ignored by the Church’s senior diplomats. And one result of that comeback is the new démarche with China, which the senior Italians among the Vatican’s diplomats regard as a rising world power with whom they must be a “player.”

John Paul and his successor, Benedict XVI, could have had the deal now being proposed by Beijing, or something very similar to it. Both declined, because they knew it was not a step toward greater freedom for the Catholic Church in China but a step toward greater Catholic subservience to the Chinese Communist regime, a betrayal of persecuted Catholics throughout the People’s Republic of China, and an impediment to future evangelism in China.

Both may also have weighed the fact that any formal Vatican diplomatic exchange with Beijing would necessitate ending diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the first Chinese democracy in history — and that would be a bad signal to the rest of the world about the Vatican’s commitment to Catholicism’s own social doctrine.

Vatican diplomacy today rests on shaky and insecure foundations — and on Italianate fantasies that the 21st-century Holy See can act internationally as if this were 1815, when Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Pope Pius VII’s chief diplomat, was a significant actor at the Congress of Vienna. Those shaky foundations and that fantasy are not a prescription for diplomatic success. They are, rather, a prescription for both diplomatic and ecclesiastical failure, which is the likely result of the deal now being bruited between the Vatican and China.

Bergoglio has this delusion that he can do anything he sets his mind to do, but while I do not doubt that he is dead set on establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing, he probably thinks that by doing so, he may ‘soften’ or even ‘overcome’ the inherent Godlessness of China's Communist leaders and their ideology. But perhaps I’m giving him too much credit – perhaps he really does not mind the scandalous Godlessness of his friends like Evo Morales, Raul Castro and Nicolas Maduro, provided they continue to proclaim they are doing everything to improve the lot of their people even if obviously they are not. But Bergoglio does not seem to care – has he even said a word, for instance, in behalf of the Venezuelan people crushed by the corruption, political arrogance and overall impotence of Maduro’s regime?)]

The title of this op-ed piece in the New York Times is very appropriate, but the writer errs on the side of extreme naivete by postulating that the negotiations revolve around finalizing 'a joint vetting venture' for episcopal nominations in China. It's the fig leaf to hide the shameful abjectness of the Vatican surrender to Beijing. The writer is a commentator on Hong Kong and Asian affairs, and professor of economics at a university in Japan.

Why the pope is genuflecting to China

by Yi-Zheng Lian

February 9, 2018

On Feb. 1, the same day that new repressive regulations of religion went into force in China, the Vatican took a deep bow before Beijing. After long resisting, it finally agreed to recognize several hack bishops designated by the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), even sidelining two of its own long-serving appointees for the occasion.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the outspoken, blogging, 86-year-old retired archbishop of Hong Kong, had recently flown to Vatican City to personally plead the case of the two bishops to the pope himself. How nettlesome. He was shoved off, and has since been called an “obstacle” to a deal between the Vatican and Beijing.

The reasons the Holy See is caving to the (atheist) Communist government are not entirely transparent, but it appears to be hoping for a historic thaw. Diplomatic ties were severed in 1951, not long after the Communists came to power in China, and relations have since been testy at best.

Catholics in China are thought to number between 9 million and 12 million today, with about half of them adhering to underground congregations loyal to the pope in Rome and refusing to recognize a state-sanctioned version of the Church called the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association or, more informally, the “patriotic church.”

One major conflict between the two governments has been the method for appointing bishops: Traditionally a prerogative of the papacy, Beijing has steadily tried to usurp it in China. The deal that the Vatican currently seems to be seeking would likely formalize some joint vetting procedure.

The Vatican justifies its conciliatory stance toward Beijing as an attempt to overcome the schism that has divided the Catholic community in China for nearly seven decades — as “a balm of mercy,” it has said, for the pain caused by the barriers that have prevented Chinese Catholics “from living in communion with each other and with the Pope.”

Rapprochement could also give the pope, nominally at least, ultimate authority over all the Catholics in China — a standing, however symbolic, that may well matter to a Vatican that is losing ground to other Christian denominations among Chinese converts. [That's a real howler! If he can't even get to name bishops, what ultimate authority, in real terms, could he possibly hope to have over ‘all the Catholics in China’? Moreover, this writer seems to ignore Beijing’s Sinicization policy, whereby no formal or direct influence outside the Communist regime could possibly be allowed into any area of Chinese life. In whatever form the Bergoglio-Beijing concordat may come, whatever language it uses, there is no way it will imply in any way that the Vatican or the pope will have any say at all about what the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association chooses to do in, with and about its ‘national independent church’!]

The total population of Christians in China has grown considerably, from about 4 million in 1949 to perhaps as many as 100 million today. In relative terms, however, Catholics are falling behind. By some estimates, whereas Catholics in China outnumbered Protestants by 3 to 1 in 1949, today Protestants outnumber Catholics by 5 to 1.

A major explanation for the increasing differential is that the Roman Catholic Church wields not only religious and moral authority, but also political and diplomatic power. The Catholic Church has a relatively unified command structure, a well-defined ideology and a disciplined organizational backbone. It has global reach and mass appeal, commands great loyalty and has long demonstrated the ability to survive and expand, all on the merits of peaceful soft power. In each of these ways, it rivals, perhaps even bests, the C.C.P.

And so, naturally, the C.C.P. sees Chinese Catholics’ allegiance to the pope as a direct challenge to their allegiance to the party. Vatican City is also, still, among the 20 states, all small, that recognize Taiwan diplomatically.

Many Protestant churches, although deemed suspect as well, are on better terms with the C.C.P. After a visit to Beijing in 1983, the archbishop of Canterbury gushed about liberalization in China and reportedly praised the emergence of “a church with Chinese characteristics.” [There speaks the pitiable pastor of a community that is hopelessly fractured since it first started kowtowing to the modern world in the early 20th century!]

Like his predecessor, the current Anglican archbishop overseeing Hong Kong and Macau is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a body including luminaries that supposedly advises the C.C.P. but often promotes the party’s interests informally or clandestinely. Both men have tended to support Beijing’s restrictive reading of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and opposed the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement of 2014.

Representatives of other faiths have gone further. A vice president of the Buddhist Association of China called President Xi Jinping’s speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Congress last fall, “the Buddhist sutra of the current age.”
Buddhists in China — who are variously said to number between more than 100 million to more than 240 million — have been treated with a relatively light hand by the party, at least if they are not of the Tibetan kind.

Yet even if brown-nosing seems to pay off, the Vatican’s appeasement of the Chinese government would have great downsides, for itself and for the rest of the world. [ Oooohhh, ‘brown-nosing’ is even more descriptive and appropriate than ‘genuflecting’ to describe what Bergoglio and his diplomats have been doing vis a vis Beijing!]
- By recognizing China’s so-called patriotic church, the Vatican could harm the wholesomeness of Catholic teachings in the country. Sermons given in government-sanctioned churches already have been known to exclude passages of the Bible deemed politically subversive (like the story of Daniel) or to include Communist Party propaganda. [ [Is that any different from Bergoglio’s own blasphemously selective and self-servingly tendentious preaching of the Gospel?]
- Millions of faithful Catholics in China might also soon feel abandoned, perhaps even betrayed, after having suffered decades of oppression. Worse, the government, emboldened by the deal, could well come down even harder on them. In fact, the religious regulations that recently came into effect include much stiffer fines on underground churches and penalties for public-school teachers who give Sunday-school lessons on their own time.
- And then, rapprochement might augur the Vatican’s readiness to eventually stop recognizing Taipei and instead recognize Beijing as truly representing China. Such a shift would alter the delicate balance of power across the Taiwan Strait, as well as harm Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.
- It would also confer legitimacy — and with the pope’s imprimatur! — on authoritarian regimes throughout the world that crack down on churches and sects.

The Catholic Church already has a checkered record dealing with fascist or totalitarian states.
- Pope Pius XII was criticized for betraying the Jews of Europe during World War II: Hewing to what he described as a position of neutrality between the Nazis and the Allies, he never denounced Hitler’s Final Solution.
- After Soviet forces violently repressed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the Vatican sidelined the outspoken anticommunist Archbishop József Mindszenty in favor of a deal with the new puppet regime.

The Vatican’s eagerness to play catch-up in China today may do it no favors either. Beijing doesn’t have much of a reputation for honoring commitments. Just look at its application of the “one country, two systems” arrangement it promised HongKong, which was supposed to guarantee the city a large degree of autonomy until

Even under the deal the Vatican seems to want, the Chinese government could eventually come to control the Catholic Church in China [ [There is no ‘could about it’. It will come to control the entire Church in China the moment it seals any deal with Bergoglio, who foolishly thinks he will outdo the ‘Nixon in China’ stunt which made for great headlines but so what? And what does it say of a pastor who will close the deal with the devil by mercilessly sacrificing the underground Church for his own ‘honor and glory’?] - by, say, simply delaying nominating anyone for bishop or repeatedly rejecting candidates presented by the Vatican until all the bishops previously selected by the pope have retired or died out. [This writer seems to be under the impression that any ‘deal’ about naming bishops is possible and for real!]

Bishops ordain priests, and so without bishops, in time there could be no priests, or very few, and Catholicism in China would have died a silent death. [It is already dying! When the Vatican forces two legitimate bishops to resign their positions to give way to illegitimate bishops of the ‘patriotic Church’ (one of whom had been formally excommunicated by Pope Benedict), and the Vatican’s top diplomat says it is a ‘necessary sacrifice’, then the Vatican itself is aiding and abetting in killing off the authentic Catholic Church in China.]

Four decades ago, when a destitute China was emerging from deep Maoism, Western companies got tipsy at the mere notion of selling deodorant to two billion Chinese armpits. Now that average Chinese have much more disposable income, major international corporations are willing to hand over proprietary technology, stoically endure violent xenophobic outbursts and take on members of the Chinese Communist Party as senior managers rather than risk losing out on the business prospects.

No one, it seems, can resist the lure of the great market of China, for deodorants, cars — or congregants. Not even the Vatican. [But the Bergoglio Vatican is not catering to China to get more congregants! On the contrary, it is helping to stamp out an underground Church whose numbers are not insignificant. Besides, the immediate objective of all this diabolical dealing with Beijing is to get Bergoglio invited to China as the first pope ever to visit the world’s most populous nation. That’s the only history Bergoglio and his diplomats care about. As for the members of the underground Church, Bergoglio is probably thinking: “But I am really giving them the chance to be martyrs! They can fend for themselves as they have done these past 70 years! What does not kill them can only make them stronger, and what kills them will make them martyrs!”
00Thursday, February 22, 2018 3:40 AM

The fallout from Cardinal Cupich's disastrous Cambridge lecture has been as constant and lethal as that from Chernobyl back in the 1980s. And while I have yet
to come across a single article or blogpost that takes up the cudgels for the hapless Cupich - who has brown-nosed blatantly in his assiduous sycophancy of
Bergoglio (not that I seek out anyone who would defend Cupich!) - everyday since that lecture has brought reactions galore from orthodox Catholics appalled at
Cupich's Bergoglian chutzpah!

If Cupich is the best that the Bergoglians can come up with to defend AL, I cannot help feeling Schadenfreude over the lack of an intellectual 'bench', so to speak,
in the Bergoglio entourage. Which does not stop them, alas, from blasphemously invoking the Holy Spirit as the source of Bergoglio's self-made unholy 'lio'! (Who
would ever have thought that the 'Holy Spirit' would spout the kind of self-indulgent blather that keeps springing forth from the Bergoglians!

I shall start with Fr H who manages to capture the absurdity of it all in a few short paragraphs - and point us to someone worth listening to because he has the mind
and the Catholic mindset so sadly absent in the Bergoglio camp. (I am collapsing together his last 3 posts on the subject - remember he had 3 memorable first-
reaction posts to the Cupich lecture.

Aidan Nichols, Amoris laetitia, and Tucho

February 20, 2018

Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic world. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. The Catholic Herald gave a report on 18 August 2017, which is still there, only a google away. I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Sts Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty laundry in front of non-Catholics?

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; the man who insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and iterated fluency can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But, as you will forgive me for reminding you, I have often tried to explain on this blog that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which can make any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. Such a papacy is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to consider. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis. Nor should they accept it, because it is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]".

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, since Amoris laetitia, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the noisy bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to show that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often loudly called.

In his lecture on the current crisis in the Roman Magisterium, the full text of which, sadly, is not available, Fr Nichols justly observed that the moral 'teaching' of Amoris laetitia, if not corrected, will "increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion. And that will do more damage than can easily be repaired".

In fact, the currently dominant Tendenz has made no secret that this is precisely the plan: a plot to poison the very wells of magisterial teaching. As Archbishop Fernandez has publicly put it, "There's no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he has already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anybody can repeat those things without being sanctioned".

There have been heretical popes in the past, but I doubt if there has often been a pope who (according to one of his closest collaborators and admirers) has cunningly plotted to enable heterodox teaching to erupt and flourish under his successor(s); and thus to undermine in advance the teaching of future popes. Strangling renascent orthodoxy before it has the chance to be born, if you will forgive my descent into rhetoric.

Did even Pope Honorius I dare to attempt that?

Since, mysteriously, the full text of Fr Aidan Nichols's lecture will not be made available, we must make the most of the passages which the Catholic Herald published. [UPDATE: See my post of earlier today.]

By the way: that lecture is highly important, and not only because of Dr Nichols's considerable theological prestige. It addressed the points that some of us did our best to articulate in our Correctio. I do beg you to read and reread it, and to pass its teaching on to as many people as you can. [As the Bergoglian pressure-machine cranks up into top gear, pressing for a final Result, interventions such as Fr Aidan's ought to be as widely known as possible.]

Today, I give you Fr Aidan's words on whether popes can teach error.

"It is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly ... this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better."

[I wonder if poor Cupich is aware of this.]

"Doctrinal howlers". Gerhard Cardinal Mueller reminded us ... aptly ... of the abrupt observation of St Robert Bellarmine to the pope of his own day: "Holy Father, you know nothing about that."

And here's a a tongue-in-cheek take on the Cupich calamity by an anonymous wit who appears to be a devotee of Erasmus, St Thomas More, and the latter's
satirical novel Utopia...The writer purports to be a native of Utopia, of which Amaurote is the capital city, where he is a Philarch (a chieftain of sorts in More's
Utopia) of the Academia Moriae (Academy of Folly), obviously inspired by Erasmus's great work, Encomium Moriae (In praise of Folly), which he dedicated
to his good friend Thomas More.

[Editor's Note: Having recently returned to Utopia from a scholarly visit to Cambridge (England), Basilides Melchischyros, Philarch of the Faculty of Arts and
Humanities of the Academia Moriae in Amaurote, offers these tentative thoughts as a reflective accompaniment to the cardinal archbishop of Chicago’s recent
elucidation of Amoris Laetitia, which he was privileged to hear at the Von Hügel Institute.

He argues that, widespread criticism notwithstanding, the cardinal’s pronouncements are, when properly interpreted, not only consistent with traditional Catholic
teachings but a ringing endorsement of them. Of course he submits all that he proposes here to the judgment of Holy Mother Church.

In a recent lecture on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia [not to be confused with the rather older treatise by the Doctor Consolatorius, De coitus gaudio (The joy of coitus)], His Eminence Cardinal Blase Cupich explained the document as an endeavor to help families face up to the problems posed by the realities of life in the modern world.

In the lecture, which would perhaps have been more timely had it been given on February 14, he analyzed this papal initiative in terms of six hermeneutical principles for the “decipherment” of the experiences of the faithful in contemporary family life, principles which together constitute a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s pastoral ministry.

Now in some ways, the cardinal’s use of the term “paradigm shift” might be thought problematic. Its primary sense, according to the online Cambridge English Dictionary, is “when the usual or accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely.” The Oxford English Dictionary, more laconically, regards it as a “major change in technology, outlook, etc.”

The scholar who coined the phrase, Thomas Kuhn, used it to explain “scientific revolutions” such as the Copernican, the Newtonian, or the Einsteinian, and interpreted it as the rejection of one paradigm in favor of another.[1]

It is not surprising, then, if some of the audience (as became apparent in the questions) balked at the suggestion that the Catholic Church had been led by the pope into some process of radical doctrinal change. Fortunately, the cardinal was swift to correct this misapprehension: "I reject the idea that a paradigm shift is a rupture and is not part of organic development. . . . The premise that “paradigm shift” means a break from the past is unfounded."

With these words, of course, he implicitly proclaimed his intellectual affiliation with that Victorian pioneer of the “linguistic turn,” the eminent Oxonian Dr. H. D’Umpty.[2] Armed with this realization, the astute reader is in a much better position to interpret the cardinal’s words, and indeed those of the pope as well.

For the pope’s achievement in Amoris Laetitia (not to be confused with “Plaisir d’amour,” the well-known French song)[3] was to pursue doctrinal development only by way of “retrieving a way of thinking” which had “deep roots in tradition.” [This is the sort of obscurantism in thought and speech at which Bergoglio and his minions excel!"]

One of the major thrusts of the lecture was to emphasize that Catholics should not advocate or impose an unrealistic ideal of the family. This was indicated by the first hermeneutical principle of the pope’s new paradigm, that “the family is a privileged site of God’s self-revelation.” This stood, the cardinal explained, in helpful contrast to an “abstract and idealized presentation of marriage.”

It would of course be a travesty to infer that the pope intended thereby to dismiss or dilute the concept of Christian marriage as a sacramental institution ordained by God as the origin and basis of human society, for the mutual support of spouses and the upbringing of children. For, knowing as we do that the papal teaching has “deep roots in tradition,” it goes without saying (and in the lecture did go without saying) that, as the Council of Trent put it, the Church has not erred in teaching that marriage cannot be dissolved even by adultery, that not even the innocent party in such a situation can validly contract another marriage during the lifetime of their first spouse, and that those taking second wives or husbands in that situation are committing adultery.

At the heart of the new paradigm, the cardinal explained, lies conscience, that “secret core and sanctuary,” as Vatican II described it, where the human person “is alone with God.” By “fully embracing the understanding of conscience” set forth in Gaudium et Spes, he emphasized, the pope had established both the possibility and the necessity of the kind of pastoral “accompaniment” commended to us in Amoris Laetitia.

In drawing attention to Gaudium et Spes, the cardinal thus encourages the laity also to take its teaching fully into account, as no doubt the pope himself intends. For it affirms that the human person finds “in the depth of conscience a law which they do not give unto themselves, but to which obedience is owed,” and that “the more right conscience prevails, the more persons and communities shun blind choice and seek conformity with objective norms of morality” (Gaudium et Spes, ch. 15).

Evidently, then, the intention of the pope and the bishops, in conformity with the clearly stated teaching of the universal Church, is that the married laity should carry out what Vatican II describes as their paramount task, namely to manifest in their lives the holy and indissoluble nature of the marital union (Apostolicam actuositatem, ch. 11). The task of accompaniment imposed upon pastors by the apostolic exhortation can hardly be anything less or other than to assist them in fulfilling the obligation enjoined upon them by the Second Vatican Council.

The cardinal was equally insistent on aligning this doctrine of conscience with that of the great Victorian cardinal, John Henry Newman, and his insistence is again useful in saving the judicious reader from slipping into the kind of casual misunderstanding that might arise from a lazy exegesis of the cardinal’s words.

The pope’s analysis of conscience, he observed, was prospective as well as retrospective: "Rather than limiting the function of conscience to knowing moral truth about actions in the past and objective truth in the present, conscience also discerns the future, asking “What is God asking of me now?” [All of which is blatant sophistry, the rhetoric of choice for Bergoglio and Bergoglianism.]

By means of the hermeneutic that the cardinal mandates, we can accompany him and the pope on the path to answering this question. For Newman taught that the Christian conscience — unlike the human conscience in the state of nature — was guided and formed by revelation:

Revelation consists in the manifestation of the Invisible Divine Power, or in the substitution of the voice of a Lawgiver for the voice of conscience.

Through the mystery of revelation, communicated to Christians by the Church, the human person is thus able to identify what God requires at any moment by means of conscience, which “acts as a messenger from above, and says that there is a right and a wrong, and that the right must be followed.”

Aware that the preaching of the gospel is among the principal duties of bishops, Cardinal Cupich reminded us, in one of his few quotations from the gospels that evening, that Jesus said, “I came not to teach you things, I came to give you life.” The diligent research assistants here at the Academia Moriae have not thus far been able to trace the precise source for this text, which he quoted in reply to a question, although they may seek further advice on this matter from the experts of the Jesus Seminar.

The cardinal perhaps had in mind not Rev. 22:18 but John 10:10, “I came so that they might have life, and have it in abundance.” For someone who apparently did not come to teach, of course, Jesus did quite a lot of teaching, around the synagogues of Galilee, in the Temple at Jerusalem, and elsewhere, and was regarded by some of his hearers as teaching with an unusual manner of authority.

On one occasion, he even seems to have introduced a note of humor, though this has sadly been missed in some exegetical traditions. His observation that “whoever divorces his wife, except on account of her fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries her that is divorced commits adultery” (Mt 5:32 and 19:9) has been misinterpreted outside the Catholic Church as permitting divorce on account of adultery. But Our Lord’s ironic exception evidently applies not to the prohibition on divorce, but to the responsibility of the man (in this case) for the woman’s sin.

In the wake of Vatican II’s evocation of the apostolate of the laity, it was particularly heartening to hear the cardinal emphasize the need for the clergy, in the modern world, to listen to the voices of the laity. He was certainly given plenty of opportunity to do this during the questions that followed his lecture.[5]

Several questioners were plainly exercised about some of the perceived implications of Amoris Laetitia, and about the reported convolutions of Vatican politics surrounding its composition and adoption. Critics of the pope and of his document, the cardinal replied, should ask themselves some questions “in conscience”: “Do you really believe that the Holy Spirit was not present at the synods? That the Holy Father is not inspired by the Holy Spirit in writing this document?”[6]

Once more, it is important to forewarn the reader against a hasty misinterpretation. Comments such as these might very easily be mistaken for the sort of simplistic misrepresentation that used to be flung at the Church by those ill-informed polemicists who somehow mistook the doctrine of ecclesiastical and papal infallibility for the childish claim that popes and bishops are directly inspired by the Holy Spirit in their thoughts, speech, and writings.

But of course, as Lumen Gentium stated very clearly, the specific and active assistance of the Holy Spirit is assured only when the pope, or the pope together with the bishops in an ecumenical council, exercise supreme teaching authority in a formal definition regarding faith or morals — such as those of the Council of Trent on the subject of marriage.

Of course one may affirm the general assistance of the Holy Spirit to the pope and bishops in their teaching ministry, but the cardinal cannot have intended anyone to confuse such “inspiration” with infallibility, still less with what the Council repudiated as the notion of some “new public revelation” (Lumen Gentium, ch. 25).

It was now “up to all in the Church,” the cardinal suggested, to “respond in a spirit of affective and effective collegiality” to the papal initiative. This invitation to the laity to participate collegially with the bishops in the process of doctrinal and pastoral discernment was perhaps the most important point he made. For the laity, as well as the clergy, participate in the tradition of the Church and have their part to play in the preservation and transmission of revealed truth.

It is indeed the case, as he observed, that “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral, or pastoral issues need to be settled by the interventions of the magisterium” [Is that not a direct lift from AL?] — particularly not when they have long been settled in times past. This is all of a piece with the cardinal’s further elaboration in response to a question from the floor: "Because the pope has now said this is official Church teaching, as crafted by the bishops of Buenos Aires,[7] there is a demand for all of us to embrace with mind and will, as Lumen Gentium says, what that official Church teaching is.[8]"

As this rightly indicates, we are “all of us” obliged to embrace “official Church teaching.” It is for us all to “hold onto the teachings” which have been handed down to us (2 Thess. 2:15), to guard that deposit of the faith embodied and developed in the teachings of the Fathers and the decrees of the Councils across twenty centuries. And it is for us all, in appropriately paternal, fraternal, or filial spirit, to play our part in encouraging others to do likewise.

In the words of the pope’s third hermeneutical principle, as expounded by the cardinal, “The consciences of the faithful are essential in the task of discernment.”

[1] Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd enl. edn. Chicago, 1970), pp. 66 and 77.
[2] For more on the ill-fated though celebrated Dr. D’Umpty, see the early study by L. Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (London: Macmillan, 1872): “When I use a word . . . it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” References here from the critical edition by Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice (London: A. Blond, 1960), pp. 261-76, esp. p. 269.
[3] ‘Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment. . ’.
[4] J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (London: James Toovey, 1845), pp. 124 and 348.
[5] In Dr. D’Umpty’s words, “I told them once, I told them twice: They would not listen to advice.” The Annotated Alice, p. 274.
[6] “I sent to them again to say ‘It will be better to obey.’” The Annotated Alice, p. 274.
[7] For nothing could ever be ultra vires if done by the bishops of Buenos Aires. Note that, as the poet says, the “pronunciation varies: some people call it Bu-enos Airés.” And I myself observe that there’s a school that makes it “Bwenos Airs.”
[8] As Dr. D’Umpty put it, “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you.” The Annotated Alice, p. 269.

Fr. Murray at THE CATHOLIC THING offers his usual sensible canonist's view on Cupich's 'propter magnam gloriam tuam' encomium for Bergoglio and AL:

Cardinal Cupich’s 'revolutionary conscience'
by Fr. Gerald E. Murray


The Church has always taught that marriage is intrinsically indissoluble by the express will of God. That the unbreakable unity of marriage is not an ideal, in the sense of an as yet unattained goal towards which married couples strive, but rather is the very reality, the very nature of marriage. The Church teaches that fidelity to marriage vows is not merely something that you should strive for in seeking to arrive at the ideal of marriage, but rather is a serious obligation inherent in the nature of marriage.

Thus infidelity is not an excusable failure to live up to an ideal that is difficult, perhaps even impossible to achieve. Infidelity is rather a positive rejection of a solemnly promised vow to live in accordance with the divinely willed nature of marriage.

In short, the Church teaches that God joins a man and a woman in an indissoluble bond and offers them the grace to be faithful for life to the obligations inherent in this state of life. Any infidelity to these obligations does not cause that marriage to die or disappear. And marriage is not subject to dissolution by the retroactive withdrawal of consent at any point after the exchange of vows.

Ever since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, doubts have been cast upon the necessity of adhering to this understanding of marriage. Chicago’s Cardinal Blasé Cupich recently spoke on Amoris Laetitia at St. Edmund’s College in Cambridge, England. His line of argument undermines the Church’s teaching on marriage, and everything else, by treating one’s lived experience as some sort of divine revelation. This means that what one does becomes the standard of what one should believe.

Cardinal Cupich speaks about a synodal church in which:

there is no hierarchical distinction between those with knowledge and those without. As such, the most important consequence of this call to accompaniment ought to be greater attention to the voices of the laity, especially on matters of marriage and family life, for they live this reality day to day.

Laymen are often better instructed in Catholic doctrine than their pastors. The shepherds should rejoice when they find their flock to be knowledgeable and faithful believers. But what if they reject Church teaching? Is that rejection to be embraced as a sign of God’s action in their lives?

Cardinal Cupich argues: “It goes without saying that this will also mean rejecting an authoritarian or paternalistic way of dealing with people that lays down the law, that pretends to have all the answers, or easy answers to complex problems, that suggests that general rules will seamlessly bring immediate clarity or that the teachings of our tradition can preemptively be applied to the particular challenges confronting couples and families. In its place a new direction will be required, one that envisions ministry as accompaniment, an accompaniment, which we will see, is marked by a deep respect for the conscience of the faithful.”

It is deeply demoralizing to hear a Catholic bishop describe the task of teaching the faithful the truths of the Gospel as being an exercise of authoritarianism or paternalism that “pretends” to answer the difficult questions or problems people have.

When he claims that it is wrong to think that “the teachings of our tradition” can “preemptively” meet “particular challenges confronting couples and families,” he is reducing Church teaching to an inadequate set of possibly useful suggestions.

The voice of the Lord speaking through the doctrine of his Church is no longer reliable or universally applicable. Instead, we must listen to the conscience of married couples, which is even seen as a new source of divine teaching.

Cardinal Cupich claims: “Accompaniment also is an act of forming Church teaching. There is a continuum of accompaniment which undergirds this entire range of actions by the Church. And thus . . . the core goal of formal teaching on marriage is accompaniment, not the pursuit of an abstract, isolated set of truths. This represents a major shift in our ministerial approach that is nothing short of revolutionary.”

What does this revolution involve? Cardinal Cupich says:

When taken seriously, this definition demands a profound respect for the discernment of married couples and families. Their decisions of conscience represent God’s personal guidance for the particularities of their lives. In other words, the voice of conscience – the voice of God – or if I may be permitted to quote an Oxford man here at Cambridge, what Newman called “the aboriginal vicar of Christ” – could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal, while nevertheless calling a person “to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized” (AL 303).

[The folly! The folly!... The horror! The horror!]

Thus a decision of conscience, for instance, to leave one’s wife and civilly “remarry,” is labeled “God’s personal guidance” that would grant divine approval to one’s blameless embrace of the “necessity” of what is euphemistically called “living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal.” Cardinal Cupich is telling us that God will inspire someone to serenely decide in his conscience that it is necessary for him to commit adulterous acts, and that this is therefore God’s will for him. [How ironic that whereas Bergoglio would edit the Lord's Prayer because, he claims, God would never lead anyone to temptation, he has been affirming all along that God does something even more radical - and not God-like at all - which is, to condone sin as in adulterous relationships! How can anyone have any respect for 'teaching' that is not only prima facie erroneous but also self-contradictory?]

Is there any possible way that this opinion is reconcilable with Catholic teaching on the nature and proper formation of conscience, the necessity to avoid mortal sin at all times, and the impossibility of God approving of what He condemns, i.e., adultery?

What is revolutionary here is not any change in the Church’s teaching on marriage (which is impossible), but rather the attempt to impugn that teaching by claiming that since some people decide that they would rather not be faithful to their marriage vows, they may in good conscience claim that God does not require them to be faithful; rather they should calmly recognize the “necessity” of embracing what has always been taught by the Church to be a gravely immoral lifestyle. [It does seem that Erasmus's title could well be used for Cupich's Cambridge lecture, i.e., Encomium Moriae - In Praise of Folly.]

00Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:33 AM

First photo of B16 I've seen this year, thanks to Beatrice, whose site unearthed it from the Brazilian website Fratres in unum, of a traditionalist community.
It is featured as the site's 'Photo of the Week' and is captioned: "Vatican, February 16, 2018: A friend and great collaborator of FratresInUnum. com, Felipe Menegat, Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, at right, met with Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI."

I have chosen not to post anything so far on a minor brouhaha in the past week in which a German regional newspaper in Bavaria quotes Mons. Georg Ratzinger as saying that his brother is afflicted with a neurologic condition that is worsening and could end his life at any time sooner or later. The Vatican Press Office took it upon itself to issue a denial. It has not been determined whether the pope's brother did make the statements at all.

Benedict XVI needs our prayers, and I do not doubt that those who love and admire him do not fail to pray for him everyday. I must admit I did not think that his physical condition would deteriorate so rapidly in the past 5 years - and God forbid he should be suffering from a degenerative neurological condition!

However, those who have been mocking him because they thought his renunciation of the Papacy in 2013 was nothing but self-indulgent 'fleeing from the wolves' ought to have second thoughts now. It's hard to think charitably of them for being so uncharitable to someone who does not at all deserve to be an object of mockery, least of all from persons who collectively would not amount to anything significant compared to what Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has been in his almost 91 years of life so far!

00Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:54 AM

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


First photo of B16 I've seen this year, thanks to Beatrice, whose site unearthed it from the Brazilian website Fratres in unum, of a traditionalist community.
It is featured as the site's 'Photo of the Week' and is captioned: "Vatican, February 16, 2018: A friend and great collaborator of FratresInUnum. com, Felipe
Menegat, Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, at right, met with Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI."

I have chosen not to post anything so far on a minor brouhaha in the past week in which a German regional newspaper in Bavaria quotes Mons. Georg Ratzinger as saying that his brother is afflicted with a neurologic condition that is worsening and could end his life at any time sooner or later. The Vatican Press Office took it upon itself to issue a denial. It has not been determined whether the pope's brother did make the statements at all.

Benedict XVI needs our prayers, and I do not doubt that those who love and admire him do not fail to pray for him everyday. I must admit I did not think that his physical condition would deteriorate so rapidly in the past 5 years - and God forbid he should be suffering from a degenerative neurological condition!

However, those who have been mocking him because they thought his renunciation of the Papacy in 2013 was nothing but self-indulgent 'fleeing from the wolves' ought to have second thoughts now. It's hard to think charitably of them for being so uncharitable to someone who does not at all deserve to be an object of mockery, least of all from persons who collectively would not amount to anything significant compared to what Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has been in his almost 91 years of life so far!

Benedict XVI’s 'final pilgrimage Home'

February 21, 2018

Every so often we’re witness to a splurge of commentary about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as if the general populace is suddenly reminded that the man who resigned the Chair of Peter is in fact still alive. Most recently, reactions to a letter he sent to Massimo Franco of Corriere della Serra, in which the 90-year-old’s phrase, “with the slow decline of my physical strength, interiorly I am on a pilgrimage Home,” were cause for great concern and consternation with little attempt to understand the real meaning.

Such language is nothing new from Benedict XVI, now five years after his announcement to vacate active ministry of the Petrine office genuinely stunned everybody. There is nothing quite like the abdication of the See of Rome. And because Benedict has kept his promise of withdrawing to a life of prayer and silence, his rare public words draw much attention.

On his 85th birthday in 2012 — the last birthday he would celebrate as Bishop of Rome — Benedict XVI said, “I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me.” This was overlooked at the time, but it is a tone not unlike that of “I am on a pilgrimage home.” [He used similar language in his last-ever public address as Pope, from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace in Castle Gandolfo about two hours before his Pontificate officially came to an end.]

Benedict had long been on his pilgrimage home. He has long focused his attention on something the secular world has trouble fathoming—life after death, and what Catholicism refers to as the “four last things”: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven. Benedict’s mere enduring presence as a de facto monk speaking such rhetoric as “a pilgrimage home” and “the last chapter of life” rather laconically and matter-of-factly jolts our ears.

Each day is closer to the end, no matter how irascible that is to transhumanists and radical life extensionists. Benedict XVI’s interests are elsewhere, in fact they are otherworldly. He is now an old man comfortable with approaching death. In this way, his words resemble the late letters of Michelangelo, constantly referring to himself as an old man, feeble and often confused.

Il Divino’s final artistic obsession, the construction of new St. Peter’s, would become the site where Benedict XVI would celebrate his final public Mass 449 years later, having to be wheeled out on a mobile platform as he blessed the faithful on Ash Wednesday 2013. Ash Wednesday’s dictum during the imposition of ashes starkly echoes the Church’s reminder that all death is certain: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

It was the art and beauty of Michelangelo and others that Benedict XVI never tired of celebrating. It is those remarks often unnoticed when the fleeting talk of Benedict arises — the resignation and the state of the Church he left is almost always the focus — that can provide a meeting point for believer and nonbeliever alike, for both lapsed and practicing. How can admirers of the great works of Western culture, non-churchgoing they may be, ably discuss the magnitude of, say, Caravaggio’s “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” without speaking with some reverence to the themes and symbols of the image?

Benedict stated it better time and again as pope, whether in Rome or around the world. In no less than Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, perhaps the par excellence in the convergence of the secular and the holy, at the church’s dedication Mass in 2010, Benedict uttered, “[Antoni Gaudí] accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty.”

The Catholic belief of God becoming man in Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of beauty to the believer — and to Benedict XVI. The via pulchritudinis, the “way of beauty” Benedict XVI often spoke about, achieved through prayer, work, art, and human relationships, not only is designed to lead one to the divine, but are in fact expressions of the way of Jesus Christ, the very way of beauty itself.

En route to Spain, Benedict was asked about faith and art. “An art that lost the root of transcendence would not be oriented to God,” he explained. “It would be a halved-art.” Benedict XVI was certainly not interested in halved-art any more than halved-truth or halved-reason. The great logical thinker who extolled the relationship between faith and reason in his landmark Regensburg speech was also privy to the logical result of art and beauty: where one’s soul is uplifted, there the transcendent awaits, to transform the point of convergence to the new realm of conversion.

We likely will never experience another Benedict XVI again, certainly not one who turned over the keys of influence for a life of obscurity. And yet even in his seclusion he reminds us our earthly existence is both short and only part of the journey. Yet still there is time for renewal, for a new understanding of our place in the world.

“I am at the eleventh hour,” Michelangelo once panted, “and not a thought arises in me that does not have death carved within it; but God grant that I keep him waiting in suspense for a few years yet.”

“He started dying at about 40 and did it for 50 years,” art historian Howard Hibbard remarked about Michelangelo. The same could be said about Benedict XVI. He has been on a pilgrimage home his whole life. [As we all are, or ought to be!]

00Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:57 AM
I am posting the following without comments for now:

How Bergoglio is rewriting his life:
The years of the 'great desolation'

February 21, 2018

In the closed-door meeting that he held at the beginning of Lent, on February 15, with the priests of the Rome diocese of which he is bishop, Francis sketched out in an unexpected way the trajectory of his life, describing it as a series of “passages,” some of them bright, others dark.

Let’s review word by word this autobiography of his, very instructive on the personality of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in the official transcription that has been released and that respects the disorder of his speech in Italian.

The first phase is one of rapid and dazzling ascent toward what further on he would call “omnipotence”:

“Right after I was ordained, I was appointed superior the next year, novice master, then provincial, rector of the faculty… A stage of responsibility that began with a certain humility, because the Lord has been good, but then, with time, you feel more sure of yourself: ‘I got this, I got this…’ is the word that comes most. One knows how to get around, how to do things, how to manage….”

In effect, the young Jesuit Bergoglio celebrated his first Mass in 1969, in 1970 became novice master, and in 1973, at the age of just 37, was appointed superior of the Argentine province of the Society of Jesus. He held this position until 1979, when his successor was a Jesuit close to him, Andrés Swinnen, and then until 1985 was rector of the Colegio Máximo di San Miguel.

It must be noted, however, that already in this phase of success there emerged within him an inner disquietude, which he tried to resolve in 1978 by going “for six months, once a week” to a Jewish psychoanalyst, “who helped me greatly, when I was 42 years old,” as he himself revealed last summer in the book-length interview with the French sociologist Dominique Wolton.

But here is the second “passage” of his autobiography, no longer of ascent but of precipitous decline, which pope recounted to the priests of Rome:

“And all of this ended, so many years of leadership… And there began a process of ‘but now I don’t know what to do.’ Yes, be a confessor, finish the doctoral thesis - which was there, and which I never defended. And then starting over and rethinking things. The time of a great desolation, for me. I experienced this time with great desolation, a dark time. I believed that it was already the end of life, yes, I served as a confessor, but with a spirit of defeat.

Why? Because I believed that the fullness of my vocation - but without saying so, now that I think of it - was in doing things, these things. But no, there is something else! I did not quit prayer, this helped me a lot. I prayed a lot, in this period, but I was ‘as dry as a log.’ I was helped so much by prayer there, in front of the tabernacle… But the last periods of this time - of years, I don’t remember if it was from 1980… from 1983 to ’92, almost ten years, nine full years - in the last period prayer was very much in peace, it was with great peace, and I said to myself: ‘What will happen now?” because I felt different, with great peace. I was a confessor and spiritual director, in that period: it was my work. But I experienced it in a very dark way, very dark and suffering, and also with the infidelity of not finding the path, and compensation, compensating for [the loss] of this world made of ‘omnipotence,’ seeking worldly compensations.”

Desolation, dark time, dryness, spirit of defeat… In effect, beginning from 1986, when his bitter enemy Víctor Zorzín became the new provincial of the Argentine Jesuits, Bergoglio was rapidly pushed aside, sent against his will to study in Germany and finally forced into a sort of exile in the city of Córdoba, between 1990 and 1992, without any role anymore.

He sustained himself with prayer. But even as he recounts it today, Bergoglio experienced those years with great suffering, in never-resolved tension between the sense of defeat and the will to make a comeback.

And among those who held the power at the time in the Society of Jesus, both in Argentina and at its general curia in Rome, all the way up to superior general Peter Hans Kolvenbach, this lack of psychological balance of his and therefore his unreliability had become the shared judgment.

It was perhaps in order to offer a belated remedy for this quarrel that Pope Francis, last January 20 in Perù, speaking off the cuff to the priests and religious, wanted to recall that “I cared a lot” about Kolvenbach, “a Dutch Jesuit who died last year,” in part because “it was said that he had such a sense of humor that he was able to laugh at everything that happened, at himself and even at his own shadow.”

But getting back to the account of his own life that Francis presented to the priests of Rome, here is the third and last series of “passages,” all of them once again on the rise, starting with that “telephone call from the nuncio” that - he says - “put me on another path,” that of the episcopate.

It was the spring of 1992, and the Vatican nuncio in Argentina at the time, Ubaldo Calabresi, telephoned him to tell him that he would be consecrated bishop at the behest of the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, who wanted him as his auxiliary.

What came afterward was an unstoppable rise: to coadjutor bishop with right of succession, to archbishop of Buenos Aires, to cardinal…

“And then the last passage, from 2013. I didn’t realize what had happened there: I continued to act like a bishop, saying: ‘You take care of it, since You put me here.’”

The miraculous turning point that in 1992 plucked him out of the exile in which his confreres of the Society of Jesus had confined him was “prepared [for him] by the Lord - he was careful to emphasize - precisely in that “dark, not easy” period.

But in any case that period did not resolve - to the contrary - his psychological qualms, as proven by two of the public “confessions” he has made as pope, one at the beginning of the pontificate and another a few weeks ago.

He told the first to students of Jesuit schools on June 7, 2013, in regard to his decision to live at Santa Marta instead of at the Apostolic Palace:

"For me it is a question of personality: that is what it is. I need to live with people, and were I to live alone, perhaps a little isolated, it wouldn’t be good for me. I was asked this question by a teacher: 'But why don’t you go and live there?'. I replied: 'Please listen, professor, it is for psychological reasons'. It is my personality. I cannot live alone, do you understand?" [A big fat lie, of course, because all of his biographers make it a point to highlight his choice of living by himself in a two-room apartment in Buenos Aires instead of at the Bishops's Palace or in a Jesuit community which he could have done! In fact, one gets the impression that the dour, funeral-faced Archbishop of Buenos Aires lived with little joy in his life until he was elected pope, when he discovered the joy of immense popularity and being the object of total unqualified praise, as well as revelling in the immense authority that comes with being pope, sovereign of the church as well as of Vatican City State.]

He told the second last January 16 to his fellow Jesuits from Chile in the closed-door conversation that was afterward transcribed and published with his permission in La Civiltà Cattolica on February 17, and it concerns the reason why he does not want to read the writings of his opponents.

The reason - he said - is that of safeguarding his 'mental health', or his 'mental hygiene',” terms that he hammered away at three times in just one minute of conversation, and that presuppose an apodictic judgment of “insanity” on those who criticize him, without room for a rational engagement:

"For my own good [mental health] I do not read the content of internet sites of this so-called 'resistance.' I know who they are, I know the groups, but I do not read them for my own mental health. If there is something very serious, they tell me about it so that I know. You know them… It is displeasing, but you have to go on. Historians tell us that it takes a century for a Council to put down its roots. We are halfway there.

"Sometimes we ask: but that man, that woman, have they read the Council? And there are people who have not read the Council. And if they have read it, they have not understood it. Fifty years on! We studied philosophy before the Council, but we had the advantage of studying theology after it. We lived through the change of perspective, and the Council documents were already there.

"When I perceive resistance, I seek dialogue whenever it is possible; but some resistance comes from people who believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse you of being a heretic. When I cannot see spiritual goodness in what these people say or write, I simply pray for them. I find it sad, but I won’t settle on this sentiment for the sake of my own mental well-being [mental hygiene].”

Reactions to this last interview and what he thinks of those who write against him ought to be the subject of a subsequent post here. Meanwhile, there's a new development on the Bergoglio scandal-a-day front:

Leaked documents raise question of pope’s
personal role in new Vatican financial scandal

by John-Henry Westen

ROME, February 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked documents obtained by LifeSiteNews connect the Pope himself to a new Vatican financial scandal and raise serious questions about his global reputation as the “pope for the poor.”

LifeSiteNews has obtained internal documents of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, a charity with a stellar history of assisting the world’s poor, showing that last summer the Pope personally requested, and obtained in part, a $25 million grant to a corruption-plagued, Church-owned dermatological hospital in Rome accused of money laundering. Records from the financial police indicate the hospital has liabilities over one billion USD – an amount larger than the national debt of some 20 nations.

The grant has lay members of the Papal Foundation up in arms, and some tendering resignations. Responding to questions from LifeSiteNews, the Papal Foundation staff sent a statement saying that it is not their practice to comment on individual requests.

Speaking of grants in general, the Papal Foundation said their mission has not changed. “The grants to help those in need around the world and of significance to the Holy Father are reviewed and approved through well-accepted philanthropic processes by the Board and its committees,” it said.

Lay membership or becoming a “steward” in the Papal Foundation involves the pledge “to give $1 million over the course of no more than ten years with a minimum donation of $100,000 per year.” Those monies are invested in order to make a perpetual fund to assist the Church.

However, the majority of the board is composed of U.S. bishops, including every U.S. Cardinal living in America. The foundation customarily gives grants of $200,000 or less to organizations in the developing world via the Holy See.

According to the internal documents, the Pope made the request for the massive grant, which is 100 times larger than its normal grants, through Papal Foundation board chairman Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the summer of 2017.

Despite opposition from the lay “stewards,” the bishops on the board voted in December to send an $8 million payment to the Holy See. In January, the documents reveal, lay members raised alarm about what they consider a gross misuse of their funds, but despite their protests another $5 million was sent with Cardinal Wuerl brooking no dissent.

Along with this report, LifeSite is publishing three leaked documents.

On January 6, the steward who until then served as chairman of the Foundation’s audit committee, submitted his resignation along with a report of the committee’s grave objections to the grant. In his resignation letter accompanying the report, he wrote:

“As head of the Audit Committee and a Trustee of the Foundation, I found this grant to be negligent in character, flawed in its diligence, and contrary to the spirit of the Foundation. Instead of helping the poor in a third-world country, the Board approved an unprecedented huge grant to a hospital that has a history of mismanagement, criminal indictments, and bankruptcy.

“Had we allowed such recklessness in our personal careers we would never have met the requirements to join The Papal Foundation in the first place.”

The audit committee chairman’s report noted that the Foundation’s “initial $8 million was sent without any supporting documentation.”

He said the board eventually received a “2-1/2 inch thick binder of information (mostly in Italian)” but it lacked essential details. The report notes:

There was no Balance Sheet. There was no clear explanation as to how the $25 million would be used. Normal grant requests are fairly specific about how our money will be used. Buried in the thick binder was only a one-page financial projection labelled “Draft for Discussion” showing:
2017 1.6 million Euro PROFIT
2018 2.4 million Euro PROFIT
2019 4.4 million Euro PROFIT

And on this data, our Board of Directors voted to grant this failing hospital $25 million of our hard-earned dollars. To put this in perspective, rarely have we given above $200,000 to a grant request. I pointed out that there was NO PROFESSIONAL DUE DILIGENCE, just a lot of fluff. If the numbers presented were accurate, then this commercial enterprise should go to a bank. They don’t need our money. If the numbers were not accurate, then a decision could not be made.

The lay members of the board have good reason to be concerned about the supposed recipient of their generosity. Pope Francis asked for the funds to be directed to the Istituto Dermopatico dell'Immacolata (IDI), a dermatological hospital in Rome that has been plagued with corruption and financial scandal for years.

On May 15, 2013, ANSA, the leading news wire in Italy, reported “police confiscated over six million euros worth of property and bank accounts as part of investigations into alleged corruption at the Italian hospital group Istituto Dermopatico dell'Immacolata (IDI).”

The news of Vatican financial corruption connected to the IDI hit international headlines in 2015 with a June 20 Reuters article showing the Italian magistrates suspected Vatican Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi diverted 30 million euros destined for a Church-owned children’s hospital to the Church-owned IDI.

Another ANSA piece from 2016 reported, “Finance police discovered IDI was 845 million euros in the red and 450 million euros in tax evasion while 82 million euros had been diverted and six million euros in public funds embezzled.”

In May 2017, La Repubblica – the only newspaper Pope Francis says he reads – reported on court rulings revolving around the IDI detailing twenty-four indictments, leading to a dozen convictions, some of which carried over three years in prison. The court recognized the evidence from the financial police including “about 845 million euros in balance sheet liabilities and over 82 million in diverted funds, plus the undue use of another 6 million public funds.”

On January 19, after numerous calls and emails among lay members supporting the audit committee’s position, the Foundation’s executive committee sent a letter trying to placate the donating members.

That document, sent by Foundation President Bishop Michael Bransfield, and signed by Cardinal Wuerl, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as well as several Stewards on the executive, highlights that the request for the donation came directly from Pope Francis. They wrote:

Many of us believe that, had it been us, we would have told the Holy Father that the Papal Foundation would not be able to help on this project – but we weren’t in the room with him. We can surmise what we would have done, had it been one of us, but we really don’t know. In fact, we have been explicit throughout our history that this is the Papal Foundation. We have worked in conjunction with the pope from the very beginning. We don’t approve every request he makes, but he is the Pope, and we listen to him, and we listen intently.

The executive’s letter regrets “the significant degree of discontent” but admonishes: “If we do not have love in our hearts toward one another, we are like clanging gongs or clashing cymbals.”

“We do not believe it is in the best interest of Christ or his Church to presume bad faith or ill will…,” it adds, but allows it is “legitimate to have disagreements over prudential decisions.”

“The Papal Foundation has bylaws that put the ultimate control of the organization in the hands of the US-domiciled Cardinals,” says the letter.

The executive concedes that when a grant is “over one hundred times the size of many of our other grants, there should be near unanimity in the vote, and that is not what happened.”

The letter also notes that while half of the $25 million was already transferred to the Vatican – for the IDI – Cardinal Wuerl “has written to the Secretary of State to request, given the circumstances surrounding this grant, that the Holy See decline to accept any further monies pursuant to the grant that was approved in December.”

Moreover the executive proposes a “new grant policy wherein any grant of more than $1 million must be approved by a majority of both lay and clerical Trustees on the Board.”

A first attempt to quell the stewards was sent on January 8 suggesting that the massive request of funds for the corrupt hospital was actually a part of Pope Francis’s effort to fight financial corruption. Accompanied by a letter and reflection from Cardinal Wuerl, a “PF Stewards Report” explained that the $25 million request of the Pope for the IDI was made, “in the larger context of the Holy Father’s commitment to confront and eliminate corruption and financial mismanagement both within the Vatican itself and in outside projects with which it was involved or sponsored.” [By helping an institution known to be very corrupt and mismanaged???]

A highly trusted source inside the Vatican informed LifeSiteNews that much financial corruption continues unabated under Pope Francis even though the Pope is kept informed. [Remember Archbishop Farrell and John Allen swear Bergoglio knows everything that is said and done at the Vatican! Boy, is that ever a boomerang statement!]

The Papal Foundation has a stellar record of assisting the Popes to support the poor, largely in developing nations. Since their first gift to Pope St. John Paul II in 1990, the Foundation’s fund has grown to over $215 million, and has given a total of $121 million in grants and scholarships.

From a look at their recent grants it is evident that the use of funds heretofore has been above reproach. The wealthy American Catholic families funded the building of churches, monasteries, schools and seminaries in impoverished nations. AIDS hospices, facilities for care of youth with physical and mental disabilities, and the like have also benefited from their generosity.

It seems this scandal is the first in the 30-year history of the organization. The executive letter states: “It is true that over the last fifteen years, if not longer, most of our donations have gone to the poor, and most of those poor have been in the poorer countries of the world.” It acknowledges that throughout the organization’s history, “almost all of the decisions of the organization were made with near unanimity of the Board.”
00Saturday, February 24, 2018 5:33 AM
A rough week for the Holy See
By Phil Lawler

Feb 22, 2018

Today is an unusually good day to pray for Pope Francis and for the Holy See. Not only because it’s the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, but also because it’s been an unusually rough week at the Vatican. [But does anyone recall when was the last time there was a good week at the Bergoglio Vatican?]

o It’s very unusual — well, you might say that usually it’s unusual — for one cardinal to criticize another in public. But Cardinal Müller has scolded Cardinal Parolin for suggesting a “paradigm shift” in Catholic teaching on marriage, just after Cardinal Zen ripped into him for selling out the “underground” Church in China. Since Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the object of these two attacks, is the Secretary of State — second in influence only to the Holy Father himself — these public rebukes are unmistakable signs of turmoil.

o Archbishop Charles Scicluna, sent to Chile to check into complaints against the embattled Bishop Juan Barros, instead was forced to check into a Chilean hospital for urgent gallbladder surgery. The investigation will continue, led temporarily by a Spanish cleric who was Archbishop Scicluna’s deputy on the mission. But with the complaints about Bishop Barros (and about the Pope who supported him) reaching a crescendo, any delay is unfortunate. Doubly unfortunate, since no other Vatican official has the enviable credibility that Archbishop Scicluna brought to the task.

o More than five years after he was appointed to head the Ahiara diocese in Nigeria, Bishop Peter Okpaleke resigned, having never been able to gain acceptance among the clergy and faithful of the diocese. Pope Francis had put his authority on the line, insisting that the priests of Ahiara must accept their bishop, demanding that they repent their resistance, threatening to suspend them. Yet in the end he backed down. The bishop is gone; the rebellious priests remain. John Allen of Crux commented:

Arguably, Francis has made life more difficult not only for himself, if he chooses to issue similar threats again, but for any future pope, since the precedent seemingly has now been set that if you just complain loudly enough and hold out long enough, the pope will eventually throw in the towel.

[I still do not understand why Bergoglio was so invested in Mons. Okpaleke! As with the Barros case, it seems as if the very fact that his will is being opposed on something turns him obdurately adamantine in insisting on what is opposed, regardless of merit or lack thereof!]

o Father Anthony Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit known as the “Pope’s mouthpiece,” cited with approval a Twitter comment by an ally who suggested that the Vatican should impose an interdict on EWTN unless the television network dismissed its popular host Raymond Arroyo. The Tweet suggested that Arroyo was conducting a “war on [the] papacy” by inviting guests to criticize the written works of —not the Pope but of Spadaro. Since an interdict is a very serious canonical penalty — comparable to excommunication, applied to an institution — this extreme reaction suggests a dangerous level of paranoia among the Pope’s closest aides.

o The LifeSite News service exposed unprecedented controversy within the Papal Foundation, a charitable group of wealthy donors who support the charitable works of the Holy See. Ordinarily the Papal Foundation subsidizes projects in impoverished countries, with grants of about $200,000 at a time. But this year the Foundation was asked to supply an extraordinary sum — $25 million — for a hospital in Rome, the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI). Some members of the charitable group questioned the proposal, but the grant was pushed through, at the explicit request of Pope Francis himself. To complicate matters, the IDI has — in the words of a Foundation board member, who resigned in protest — “a history of mismanagement, criminal indictments, and bankruptcy.”

o A senior judge of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Pietro Amenta, was sentenced on child-pornography charges. Msgr. Amenta resigned from the Vatican tribunal after entering a guilty plea to the criminal charges — raising the question of why he was not fired, especially when it came to light that he had been accused of molestation on three previous occasions. He is only the latest in a serious of Vatican officials who have recently faced charges for sexual misconduct, none of them involving women. [The so-called 'gay lobby' has obviously found 'home sweet home' in the very heart of the Bergoglio Vatican (the Casa Santa Marta, that is). Poor St. Martha! - even if she is a saint, I cannot help think 'Poor St. Martha!' everytime I see or hear any reference to the Vatican hotel which our dearly beloved pope has chosen to make his residence. Clearly not the most felicitous of associations for the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany! The hotel, by the way, is still under the general management of the pope's beloved protege Mons Ricca - he with the luridly colorful past of living the full homo-lifestyle, call boys and all, while serving in the Vatican's diplomatic service which he somehow conned into employing his live-in Swiss lover!]

The above will have to serve as a stopgap until I am able to catch up properly on this Forum, hopefully by tomorrow...

00Saturday, February 24, 2018 10:17 PM

The proper way to receive the Eucharist. Whoever first proposed and/or approved the Novus Ordo way simply considered the consecrated Host a mere wafer given out as a token of the Eucharist and not the Eucharist itself.

Cardinal Sarah: 'Widespread Communion in the hand
is part of Satan’s attack on the Eucharist'

ROME, February 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Vatican department overseeing liturgy is summoning the Catholic faithful to return to receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling.

In the preface to a new book on the subject, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, writes:

The most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, by sowing errors and fostering an unsuitable way of receiving it. Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the hearts of the faithful. Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host.

The new book, by Don Federico Bortoli, is entitled La distribuzione della comunione sulla mano. Profili storici, giuridici e pastorali (The distribution of Communion on the hand: A historical, juridical and pastoral survey).

Recalling the centenary of the Fatima apparitions, Sarah writes that the Angel of Peace who appeared to the three shepherd children in advance of the Blessed Virgin’s visit “shows us how we should receive the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.” His Eminence then identifies the outrages by which Jesus is offended today in the Holy Eucharist, including “so-called ‘intercommunion.’”

Sarah goes on to consider how faith in the Real Presence “can influence the way we receive Communion, and vice versa,” and he proposes Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa as two modern saints whom God has given us to imitate in their reverence and reception of the Holy Eucharist.

“Why do we insist on receiving Communion standing and on the hand?,” the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship asks. The manner in which the Holy Eucharist is distributed and received, he writes, “is an important question on which the Church today must reflect.”

Here below, with the kind permission of La Nuova Bussola where the preface was first published, we offer our readers a LifeSiteNews translation of several key extracts from Cardinal Sarah’s text.

Providence, which disposes all thing wisely and sweetly, has offered us book The Distribution of Communion on the hand, by Federico Bortoli, just after having celebrated the centenary of the Fatima apparitions.

Before the apparition of the Virgin Mary, in the Spring of 1916, the Angel of Peace appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, and said to them: “Do not be afraid, I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.” ... In the Spring of 1916, at the third apparition of the Angel, the children realized that the Angel, who was always the same one, held in his left hand a chalice over which a host was suspended... He gave the holy Host to Lucia, and the Blood of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco, who remained on their knees, saying: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” The Angel prostrated himself again on the ground, repeating the same prayer three times with Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

The Angel of Peace therefore shows us how we should receive the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ. The prayer of reparation dictated by the Angel, unfortunately, is anything but obsolete. But what are the outrages that Jesus receives in the holy Host, for which we need to make reparation?

o In the first place, there are the outrages against the Sacrament itself: the horrible profanations, of which some ex-Satanist converts have reported and offer gruesome descriptions.
- Sacrilegious Communions, not received in the state of God’s grace, or not professing the Catholic faith (I refer to certain forms of the so-called “intercommunion”), are also outrages.

o Secondly, all that could prevent the fruitfulness of the Sacrament, especially the errors sown in the minds of the faithful so that they no longer believe in the Eucharist, is an outrage to Our Lord.
- The terrible profanations that take place in the so-called ‘black masses’ do not directly wound the One who in the Host is wronged, ending only in the accidents of bread and wine.

Of course, Jesus suffers for the souls of those who profane Him, and for whom He shed the Blood which they so miserably and cruelly despise. But Jesus suffers more when the extraordinary gift of his divine-human Eucharistic Presence cannot bring its potential effects into the souls of believers.

And so we can understand that the most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, by sowing errors and fostering an unsuitable way of receiving it. Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the hearts of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host.

This robbery attempt follows two tracks: the first is the reduction of the concept of ‘real presence.’ Many theologians persist in mocking or snubbing the term ‘transubstantiation’ despite the constant references of the Magisterium (…)

Let us now look at how faith in the real presence can influence the way we receive Communion, and vice versa.
o Receiving Communion on the hand undoubtedly involves a great scattering of fragments.
- On the contrary, attention to the smallest crumbs, care in purifying the sacred vessels, not touching the Host with sweaty hands, all become professions of faith in the real presence of Jesus, even in the smallest parts of the consecrated species: if Jesus is the substance of the Eucharistic Bread, and if the dimensions of the fragments are accidents only of the bread, it is of little importance how big or small a piece of the Host is! The substance is the same! It is Him!

Inattention to the fragments makes us lose sight of the dogma. Little by little the thought may gradually prevail: “If even the parish priest does not pay attention to the fragments, if he administers Communion in such a way that the fragments can be scattered, then it means that Jesus is not in them, or that He is only ‘up to a certain point’.”

o The second track on which the attack against the Eucharist runs is the attempt to remove the sense of the sacred from the hearts of the faithful. (...) While the term ‘transubstantiation’ points us to the reality of presence, the sense of the sacred enables us to glimpse its absolute uniqueness and holiness. What a misfortune it would be to lose the sense of the sacred precisely in what is most sacred! And how is it possible? By receiving special food in the same way as ordinary food. (…)

The liturgy is made up of many small rituals and gestures — each of them is capable of expressing these attitudes filled with love, filial respect and adoration toward God. That is precisely why it is appropriate to promote the beauty, fittingness and pastoral value of a practice which developed during the long life and tradition of the Church, that is, the act of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling. The greatness and nobility of man, as well as the highest expression of his love for his Creator, consists in kneeling before God. Jesus himself prayed on his knees in the presence of the Father. (…)

In this regard I would like to propose the example of two great saints of our time: St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta.
o Karol Wojtyła’s entire life was marked by a profound respect for the Holy Eucharist... Despite being exhausted and without strength... he always knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. He was unable to kneel and stand up alone. He needed others to bend his knees and to get up. Until his last days, he wanted to offer us a great witness of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

Why are we so proud and insensitive to the signs that God himself offers us for our spiritual growth and our intimate relationship with Him? Why do not we kneel down to receive Holy Communion after the example of the saints? Is it really so humiliating to bow down and remain kneeling before the Lord Jesus Christ? And yet, “He, though being in the form of God, ...humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2: 6-8).

o St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, an exceptional religious who no one would dare regard as a traditionalist, fundamentalist or extremist, whose faith, holiness and total gift of self to God and the poor are known to all, had a respect and absolute worship of the divine Body of Jesus Christ. Certainly, she daily touched the “flesh” of Christ in the deteriorated and suffering bodies of the poorest of the poor. And yet, filled with wonder and respectful veneration, Mother Teresa refrained from touching the transubstantiated Body of Christ.

Instead, she adored him and contemplated him silently, she remained at length on her knees and prostrated herself before Jesus in the Eucharist. Moreover, she received Holy Communion in her mouth, like a little child who has humbly allowed herself to be fed by her God.

The saint was saddened and pained when she saw Christians receiving Holy Communion in their hands. In addition, she said that as far as she knew, all of her sisters received Communion only on the tongue. Is this not the exhortation that God himself addresses to us: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it”? (Ps 81:10).

Why do we insist on receiving Communion standing and on the hand? Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God? May no priest dare to impose his authority in this matter by refusing or mistreating those who wish to receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Let us come as children and humbly receive the Body of Christ on our knees and on our tongue. The saints give us the example. They are the models to be imitated that God offers us!

But how could the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the hand become so common? The answer is given to us — and is supported by never-before-published documentation that is extraordinary in its quality and volume — by Don Bortoli. It was a process that was anything but clear, a transition from what the instruction Memoriale Domini granted, to what is such a widespread practice today...

Unfortunately, as with the Latin language, so also with a liturgical reform that should have been homogeneous with the previous rites, a special concession has become the picklock to force and empty the safe of the Church’s liturgical treasures. The Lord leads the just along ‘straight paths’ (cf. Wis. 10:10), not by subterfuge. Therefore, in addition to the theological motivations shown above, also the way in which the practice of Communion on the hand has spread appears to have been imposed not according to the ways of God.

May this book encourage those priests and faithful who, moved also by the example of Benedict XVI — who in the last years of his pontificate wanted to distribute the Eucharist in the mouth and kneeling — wish to administer or receive the Eucharist in this latter manner, which is far more suited to the Sacrament itself.

I hope there can be a rediscovery and promotion of the beauty and pastoral value of this method. In my opinion and judgment, this is an important question on which the Church today must reflect. This is a further act of adoration and love that each of us can offer to Jesus Christ. I am very pleased to see so many young people who choose to receive our Lord so reverently on their knees and on their tongues.

May Fr. Bortoli’s work foster a general rethinking on the way Holy Communion is distributed. As I said at the beginning of this preface, we have just celebrated the centenary of Fatima and we are encouraged in waiting for the sure triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that, in the end, the truth about the liturgy will also triumph.

Ed Peters obviously wrote the ff piece unaware of Cardinal Sarah's essay. Of course, a canonist, his focus is on the general canonical indiscipline towards the Body and Blood of the Lord.

An important week for Eucharistic discipline – or lack thereof
On Bishop Paprocki, the German bishops, and Holy Communion

by Edward N. Peters

February 23, 2018

Three items on the discipline of holy Communion round out the week. Two are simple but diametrically opposed, a third is licit but ill-advised.

1. This is simply right. Bp. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield IL, no stranger to my readers, has reiterated that Catholic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, one of the Bloody 14 [14 Catholic senators who, with 37 other senators, voted against putting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to a Senate vote, in effect, killing any action for now on a law to ban late-term abortions] may not, in view of Durbin’s longstanding support for abortionism as seen in the light of Canon 915, be given holy Communion.

Paprocki’s statement is clear and, besides being canonically correct, is pastorally sensitive to the spiritual dangers into which Durbin has placed himself. May Paprocki’s prayers for Durbin’s return to his earlier respect for innocent human life bear fruit. As for Paprocki himself, no worries there — an accomplished amateur hockey player and goalie, he is used to taking hard shots while defending what is important.

2. This is simply wrong. The German bishops as a whole (and not just an executive committee thereof) have approved the administration of holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics under the malleable conditions typical of these times. Think Malta. The only mildly remarkable thing here is that this latest degradation of sacramental discipline has caused so few ripples in Catholic media. [Shows you how much so-called Catholic media is really in thrall to the world and its anti-Catholic animus (which is why they are also among the most fanatic of Bergoglidolators!]

But I suppose that no one really expected the German hierarchy to act other than to authorize disobedience to an inconvenient canon law, regardless of how unanimous the tradition behind that canon might be.

3. This one is licit, strictly speaking, but such a bad idea that the canon allowing it probably needs to reformed. Once again, the German bishops are acting, but the law was convenient so it was respected.

Canon 844 §4 allows baptized non-Catholics to receive holy Communion if “grave necessity urges” the local bishop or (here) the conference of bishops to allow such reception, provided further only that those seeking holy Communion claim (as most can) to satisfy some practical and minimal credal criteria. Effectively, then, the canon expects the “grave necessity” requirement to keep the Communion rite at Mass from turning into a free samples line.

The problem, obviously, is about when (besides, one might concede, at the time of death, an option already allowed under a different part of the canon) is it ever gravely necessary for non-Catholics to receive holy Communion? Not, when might it be helpful or decorous or embarrassment-squelching to receive holy Communion, but when is it necessary for them to receive, and gravely necessary to boot? I suggest, Never. Even Catholics are required to receive holy Communion only once a year (c. 920) 920).

But, unless the canon is establishing a criterion that can never be satisfied, what does the clause “grave necessity” mean? Apparently, pretty much whatever a bishop or (here) conference of bishops decides it means, including, as the Germans have decided, non-Catholic spouses who assert “serious spiritual distress” and a “longing to satisfy hunger for the Eucharist” — albeit, exactly the kind of healthy spiritual ferment that has occasioned countless baptized persons over the centuries to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. So much for that motivation.

Nevertheless this ruling falls narrowly within the law, I think, suggesting that maybe the law’s desire to legislate on an admittedly “hard case” has resulted in a bad law. As hard cases usually do. Other “hard cases” will doubtless follow. Just watch.

A last thought. How the Germans ruling on non-Catholic spouses receiving holy Communion will combine with their recent provisions for divorced-and-remarried Catholics receiving holy Communion — well, it makes the head spin.

Earlier, there was this summary report on Fr Dwight Lonegenecker's reaction to the misdeed of the Bloody 14 ...

Priest calls for excommunication of
14 Catholic senators who voted against
a bill to ban late-term abortion


A Catholic priest is calling on bishops to excommunicate the 14 Catholic-identifying U.S. senators who voted two weeks ago against banning late-term abortions. He is also calling on priests to deny the Catholic pro-abortion senators Holy Communion.

“Today is the day for their bishops to issue a formal statement acknowledging that these men and women have publicly denied their Catholic faith, and if not formally, then have informally excommunicated themselves,” Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote in a recent blog post.

Many bishops often refuse to publicly correct pro-abortion politicians who say they are Catholic. Of these, a small number prefer to be more “pastoral,” handling the matter in private.

But Fr. Longenecker wasted no time on this premise, pointing out the reality of the infraction committed by public figures identifying themselves as Catholic when they publicly support abortion.
“Since their offense is public, it should be acknowledged publicly and their pastors should publicly rebuke them and deny them access to the sacraments,” he said, adding that if Church hierarchy does not do so, then Catholics should make their concerns known via the most effective channel — the collection basket.

“If the bishops and priests do not do this,” Fr. Longenecker added, “the faithful in their parishes and dioceses should rise up and blizzard them with letters, emails, and the one thing that will really make them sit up and take notice: withholding their contributions.”

Longenecker, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenville, S.C., wrote about the fact that 46 of 97 members of the U.S. Senate voted January 29 against ending debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and the result of that was the Senate not being allowed to vote on the bill, and the senators in effect voting against the ban.

The bill’s premise is based upon the scientifically established fact an unborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks.

One of two proposed bills up for a possible vote to coincide with the annual March for Life, it was not perfect, allowing exceptions for babies conceived in rape or incest. It was regarded by some as feel-good legislation timed for the annual March when pro-life advocates and media would be paying attention. Despite its shortcomings, the bill would have banned most late-term abortions, a brutal and inhumane practice.

“So fourteen Catholic senators voted for this barbaric, inhumane practice to still be legal in the United States and thereby assured its continuation,” Fr. Longenecker stated. He called on
Catholic media to publish their names and to “publish the horror that they have enabled by their vote.”

He also stated that “every Catholic college, university, institute of learning, newspaper, and website should publish the names of the Catholic senators who voted for late-term abortion, and circulate their names as widely as possible.”

He included links to the official vote roll call and public record of the senators’ identifying as Catholic, as well as a chart containing their district, diocese, and bishop.

Fr. Longenecker remained vocal on social media throughout the week about his call to name the 14 Catholic pro-abortion voting senators, making numerous posts.

“USCCB website acknowledged Monday’s Senate vote in favor of late-term abortion was ‘appalling’,” he tweeted Thursday, February 1, “but fails to name and condemn Catholic senators who voted for dismemberment of unborn babies. That article now gone from website. Essentially — silence from the USCCB.”

The USCCB responded that its statement was still available on the conference website, but did not address the substance of Longenecker’s tweet.

“CRUX, National Catholic Reporter, and America Mag — leading Catholic online journals still all silent about Monday’s Senate vote and no comment on the Catholic senators who voted for late-term abortions,” he tweeted that same day. “Does silence indicate consent?”

“I expect the bishops of ‘The Fourteen’ will say, ‘It is better that I have a quiet word with them in private about this matter’,” Longenecker tweeted as well. “No. Their vote was a formal, public action in favor of late term abortion. Public crime demands a public condemnation.”

He used the #namethefourteen hashtag in all his posts related to the defense of human life.

“Neonatologist says, ‘Babies at 20 weeks gestation do feel pain’,” he quoted with a link to an article from The Federalist.
Longenecker also shared the Catholic World Report column on the matter by canon lawyer Ed Peters, wherein Peters termed the senators The Bloody 14.

One of his posts showed that North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — who is among the Catholic pro-abort 14 — also high-fived New York Democrat Chuck Schumer upon the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’s defeat.

Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, N.D., took heat in October 2012 after a letter to the diocese’s parishes regarding the forthcoming election was leaked. The letter had discussed the non-negotiable issues of life and marriage, and asked Catholics to consider the Church’s teaching on those issues when voting. Some regarded the letter as telling people not to vote for Heitkamp, who was running for the Senate.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., had previously upheld the decision of one of his priests to deny Holy Communion to Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the Catholic pro-abortion 14.

Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas Tobin was critical of Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine during the 2016 election because of Kaine’s support for abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, and women’s ordination. Tobin also publicly rebuked Democrat Cong. Patrick Kennedy for Kennedy’s support for abortion.

The names of the 14 Catholic senators who voted against the 20-week abortion ban are: Maria Cantwell — Washington; Susan Collins — Maine; Dick Durbin — Illinois; Kirsten Gillibrand — New York; Heidi Heitkamp — North Dakota; Tim Kaine — Virginia; Patrick Leahy — Vermont; Ed Markey — Massachusetts; Catherine Cortez Masto — Nevada; Claire McCaskill — Missouri; Bob Menendez — New Jersey; Lisa Murkowski — Alaska; Patty Murray — Washington; Jack Reed — Rhode Island.
00Saturday, February 24, 2018 11:26 PM

The death of an Evangelical titan
When I started my own evangelical ministry some 20 years ago,
I drew some very practical inspiration from Billy Graham

by Bishop Robert Barron

February 22, 2018

The Rev. Billy Graham, famed preacher who was best known for his televised evangelism broadcasts, died Feb. 21 at his home in North Carolina at age 99.

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Graham preach about twenty years ago in Cincinnati. At the time, Dr. Graham was around eighty years old and clearly in frail health. He came to the podium and commenced to speak, but the crowd of young people, stirred up by the Christian rock bands who had performed earlier, was restive and inattentive. Graham paused, folded his hands, and quietly said, “Let us pray.” With that, a stadium of fifty thousand people fell silent. Once a spirit of reverence held sway, the preacher resumed. I remember thinking, “What an old pro!”

That old pro, arguably the greatest Christian evangelist of the past hundred years, died this week at ninety-nine, and it’s difficult to overstate his impact and importance. It is said that he directly addressed 215 million people in 185 countries in the course of his ministry. No other preacher, in the entire history of Christianity, has had such a range.

At the height of his powers, he filled arenas and stadiums, for weeks at at time, in some of the most jaded, materialistic, and skeptical cities in the world. And when preachers and other religious celebrities all around him were falling into scandal and corruption, Billy Graham stood tall, a man of integrity.

His moral heroism was on particularly clear display in the early years of the civil rights movement. Especially in his native South, it was the unquestioned practice to seat black people in segregated sections of churches and arenas. Though it cost him quite a few of his traditional supporters, Graham insisted that his crusades should be racially integrated. Impressed by this show of courage, Martin Luther King Jr. became a friend and appeared with Graham at a crusade in 1957.

What was it about his preaching that was so compelling? I suppose in his early years, he demonstrated a fair amount of “flash,” prowling the stage, waving his arms, and moving dramatically from whispering to shouting. But as he matured, a fair amount of that theatricality faded away. What remained was a gentle sense of humor (usually self-deprecating), an obvious sincerity, a keen intelligence, and above all, a clarity in regard to the essentials of the Gospel.

Practically every Billy Graham sermon had the same basic structure: you have sought happiness in wealth, pleasure, material things, fame, etc., and you’ve never been satisfied; I want to tell you about what will make you happy. At this point, he would speak of Christ crucified and risen from the dead.

Now please don’t get me wrong — and don’t write me letters! As a Catholic, I affirm that there is more to salvation than accepting Jesus Christ in faith; there is the full integration into the life of Christ that happens through the instrumentality of the Church and her sacraments. Nevertheless, Catholics and Protestants come together in asserting — as Billy Graham consistently did — that we are sinners who stand in need of Christ’s saving grace. In point of fact, a generous ecumenism was one of the marks of Billy Graham’s approach. It didn’t bother him in the least if someone whose religious journey commenced at one of his crusades continued and came to fulfillment in the Catholic Church.

Much has been made of his relationship with presidents, monarchs, and prime ministers. He did indeed minister personally to twelve US presidents, and the wonderful Netflix series The Crown shows something of the impact he had on Queen Elizabeth II. But I’ve never been particularly taken with this dimension of Graham’s life, which seemed, to me anyway, more sizzle than steak.

In fact, one of the low points of his career had to have been his meek acquiescence to Richard Nixon’s anti-Semitic musings, captured on White House tapes. To his credit, Dr. Graham repeatedly apologized for that lapse. He was far more powerful and spiritually efficacious when he prayed over the thousands of ordinary people who had responded to an altar call at the close of a crusade.

When I started my own evangelical ministry, Word on Fire, some twenty years ago, I drew some very practical inspiration from Billy Graham. In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Graham stated that, as he was getting his ministry underway, he told his colleagues that three things tend to undermine an evangelist’s work: trouble with sex, trouble with alcohol, or trouble with money. They were all to endeavor, he said, to avoid these three traps. When I met with the Word on Fire board for the first time, I relayed this story, and I commented, “I’ll take care of the sex and the alcohol, you take care of the money!”

I love the story of Billy Graham’s first encounter with my evangelical hero, Fulton J. Sheen. These two titans of preaching were on the same train from Washington to New York. Sheen found out about Graham’s presence, and he knocked on the door of the Protestant’s berth and said, “Billy, I wonder whether we might have a chat and a prayer?” Though he was preparing for bed, Billy Graham acquiesced and the two of them spent several hours in spiritual conversation — the beginning of a friendship that endured until Sheen’s death. I’ve always taken great pleasure in that image of brotherhood across denominational lines.

I believe that anyone who reverences the Christian Gospel owes Billy Graham a debt of gratitude. Requiescat in pace.
00Sunday, February 25, 2018 1:44 AM
23 February 2018
Can black really be white?
[And is 2+2 equal to 5 or whatever number you choose just because?]

February 23, 2018

Are you up to date on Bulverism ... google it if you don't know about it. I suppose we could coin a cognate verb and say that PF was Bulverising when he waxed eloquent last year on the deep and dark psychological maladies of all those ghastly young people who have Incorrect and Unbergoglian Tastes in liturgical matters.

It seems to me a term with possibilities. One could say "Don't you Bulverise me, you ..." in a very hostile tone of voice.

[Bulverism, coined by C.S. Lewis from a character he created in one of his novels to illustrate what it is, is a logical fallacy employing circular reasoning by assuming your opponent is wrong, and then proceeding to explain his error, thereby avoiding the basic question or evading the issues raised, focusing instead on asserting that an argument is flawed or false because of the arguer’s subjective motives or his identity. Which is exactly the position taken by Bergoglio and all his defenders against opponents of Bergoglianism. Unable to answer the main criticisms of Bergoglio’s teachings in a way that makes sense, they resort instead to ad hominem attacks.]

A thing I do not quite understand is PF's purpose in quoting before Christmas from the Commonitorium of St Vincent of Lerins.

The passage he alluded to also includes, though PF did not quote it, the phrase eodem sensu eademque sententia. Derived by S Vincent of Lerins from the text of S Paul, it was used by B Pius IX, incorporated in the decree on the papal ministry at Vatican I, and contained in the anti-modernist oath.

Very significantly, it was used by St John XXIII in the programmatic speech he gave at the start of the Council ... What the Council taught, so he laid down, was to be in the same sense, the same meaning, as the teaching of the preceding Magisterium.

St John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor made clear that it applied to questions of morality as much as to those of dogma. Benedict XVI used this same sanctified phrase in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia about the Hermeneutic of Continuity.

I have recently repeated a series of mine on this phrase which you could find via the search engine on this blog.

Eodem sensu eademque sententia - the same sense, the same meaning - because the teaching of the Church cannot and does not change.

If this phrase means anything at all, it must mean that the teaching of Familiaris consortio (1981; paragraph 84) and of Caritatis sacramentum (2007; paragraph 29), that divorced people who, having gone through a civil form of marriage, are in an unrepented sexual relationship with a new "spouse", should not approach the Sacraments, cannot already ... in less than a decade! ... have metamorphosed or "developed" into its exact and polar opposite.

Even Jesuits, even the Austrian aristocracy, whether or not adorned with umlauts [The reference here is to Cardinal Schoenborn, an Austrian count, with his umlauted surname], cannot really expect to get away with black being white, with non-X and X being identical. Come off it, chaps ... Magnum Principium stat non contradicendi.

It just so happens, Fr. Rutler has written an essay on Fr. Spadaro's infamous line that in theology, it is possible for 2+2 to equal 5, or some such pseudo-intellectual audacity... How telling it is that it is persons like Spadaro or Sorondo or Paglia - who probably all fancy themselves to be great intellectuals (and they would be, if sophistry and casuistry and constant violation of the non-contradiction principle were the hallmarks of a genuine intellectual) - who are Bergoglio's chief attorneys!

The mathematical innovations
of Father Antonio Spadaro


February 23, 2018

Nearly fifty years ago, my parish secretary, who was elderly even then, kept the parish accounts using an abacus. I gave her the latest kind of electric adding machine, which she used dutifully, but I noticed that she then checked the results with her abacus, an instrument that has been reliable since long before the invention of Hindu-Arabic written numerals. Until then, ten human fingers provided a decimal system.

If we don’t get numbers right, we will not get much else right. This is a point Lewis Carroll made in his Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. An apocryphal story claims that Queen Victoria, having enjoyed the Alice tales, requested a first edition of Carroll’s next book, and was perplexed when it arrived: An Elementary Treatise on Determinants.

There is a convincing thesis that Carroll, as an Oxford mathematician, wrote Alice’s Wonderland adventures to satirize new non-Euclidean theories. For instance, when Alice expands to nine feet and shrinks to three inches, she tells the Caterpillar, “Being so many different sizes in a single day is very confusing.” The Caterpillar enjoys the confusion, which is Carroll’s way of saying that Euclidean and hyperbolic geometry, rooted as they are in different axioms, cannot both be true at the same time.

The guests at the Mad Hatter’s tea party are very likely symbolic commentaries on the discovery of quaternions by the Irish mathematician William Rowans Hamilton, in 1843.

The abstract algebra, which Carroll thought ridiculous, was the background of Hamilton’s theory of “pure time,” which he seems to have inferred from Kant’s concept of a Platonic ideal of time distinct from chronological time. But this does not deny the existence of time as we know it; and Kant himself was almost neurotically compulsive about timing every action of his day by his clock.

One wonders what Carroll would have thought of Einstein’s Relativity, or Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. But Einstein did not expect that his theory in physics should provide any moral structure, and Heisenberg would not apply a principle of quantum mechanics to theological systems. Since then, many have made such mistakes, the first being the early Modernists and now an increasing number of people even in the heart of Rome, who muddle sciences and hold certainty suspect.

Father Antonio Spadaro, a close associate of Pope Francis, raised eyebrows in July 2017 when he described religious life in the United States, with such confidence that can come only from a profound knowledge of a subject or a total lack of it. Father Spadaro advises the Holy Father, who had never visited the United States before becoming pope.

In an essay in Civilta Cattolica called “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism,” Father Spadaro spoke with disdain of a cabal formed by Evangelicals and Catholics motivated by a “triumphalist, arrogant, and vindictive ethnicism” which is creating an “apocalyptic geopolitics.” Religious fundamentalists behind this plot have included Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Trump who is a Manichaean.

The co-author of this imaginative literary exercise was a Protestant minister, Marcelo Figueroa who is editor-in-chief of the new Argentinian edition of L’Osservatore Romano to which office he brings the rich systematic theology of Argentinian Presbyterianism. The two authors were rhetorically florid in denouncing Yankee racism, obscurantism, and fascism, so unlike the temperate history of Spadaro’s own peninsula and Figueroa’s Argentinian utopia. If they want to condescend to the USA, they need a loftier platform.

Then in October 2017 Father Spadaro said in Boston, “It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all.” The suggestion is that a mathematical principle of uncertainty also applies to theology where all is in flux and subjective.

Later, in a well publicized comment on “Twitter” which operates according to stable and constant principles of applied engineering, Father Spadaro typed: “In theology 2 + 2 can equal 5. Because it has to do with God and the real life of people…”

To put a charitable gloss on that, he may have simply meant theology applied to pastoral situations where routine answers of manualists may be inadequate. But he has made his arithmetic a guide to dogma, as when he said in his Boston speech that couples living in “irregular” family situations “can be living in God’s grace, can love and also grow in a life of grace.” Yet, despite his concern for freedom of thought and expression, Father Spadaro has recently expressed sympathy for calls to censor Catholic television commentators who insist that 2+2 = 4.

There are two things to consider here. First, some clergy of Father Spadaro’s vintage grew up in a theological atmosphere of “Transcendental Thomism.” Aquinas begins the Summa Theologica asserting in the very first Question, four times, that theology has a greater certitude than any other science. While it gives rise to rhymes and song, it is solid science, indeed the Queen of Sciences.

Transcendental Thomism was Karl Rahner’s attempt to wed Thomistic realism with Kantian idealism. Father Stanley Jaki, theologian and physicist, called this stillborn hybrid “Aquikantianism.” But if stillborn, its ghosts roam corridors of ecclesiastical influence. This really is not theology but theosophy, as romantic as Teilhard de Chardin, as esoteric as a Rosicrucian, and as soporific as the séances of Madame Blavatsky.

The second point is that not all cultures have an instinct for pellucid expression. The Italian language is so beguiling that it can create an illusion that its rotundity is profundity, and that its neologisms are significant. When it is used to calling you a Cattolico integralista or a restauratore, the cadences almost sound like a compliment. Even our Holy Father, who often finds relief from his unenviable burdens by using startling expressions, said on June 19, 2016: “We have a very creative vocabulary for insulting others.” [At which he happens to be a grandmaster.]

In saying that 2+2=5, Father Spadaro preserves a familiar if deluded intuition, and trailing behind him is a long line of children who in countless schoolrooms have been made to stand in corners for having made that mistake. A famous use of it was in George Orwell’s Ninety Eighty-Four speaking of its dystopia: “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later; the logic of their position demanded it … the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”

Malleable arithmetic has its consequences in the solid world. There is Stalin’s consoling wisdom for apparatchiks: “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”

Unlike Orwell’s dystopia, the Third Reich was a fact, and in it, any science that was not ideological was bourgeois. In 1934, the senior German mathematician David Hilbert was asked by the Nazi minister of education, Bernhard Rust, “How is mathematics at Göttingen, now that it is free from the Jewish influence?” Hilbert answered, “There is no mathematics in Göttingen anymore.”

Imagine mathematics free from Catholic influence. To name but a few devout Catholics who transformed mathematics while confident that 2+2 = 4 instead of 5, even in theology, Father Spadaro notwithstanding, there are: Fibonacci, Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Bacon, Lully Bradwardine, Oresme, Brunellescchi, Nicholas of Cusa, Regiomantanus, Widmann, Copernicus, Tartaglia, Cardano, Ferrari, Descartes, Pascal, Formati, Saccheri, Cauchy, and Bolzano. My favorites are Pope Sylvester II who revived the decimal numeral system a thousand years ago, and the pioneer woman in mathematics, Maria Agnesi (d. 1799) who refined differential and integral calculus.

The Incarnate Christ subjected himself to his own laws of nature, including solid arithmetic. He kept count. He insisted that the Twelve not be eleven or thirteen. If 2+2 were 5 for him, he might have said: “When 2 ½ or 3 ¾ are gathered together, I am in the midst of them.” When he multiplied the loaves, he might have fed 5000 instead of 4000 with 8 ¾ baskets leftover, and after 6250 were fed instead of 5000, there might have been 15 baskets left over. And we would have a longer workweek, because God rested on the 8.75th day.

The late Vietnamese cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan said that in a certain sense, Jesus actually was a bad mathematician: “A shepherd had 100 sheep; one of them strayed. Without thinking, the shepherd went in search of it, leaving the other 99 sheep. When he found the lost sheep he put it on his shoulders (Luke 15: 4-5). For Jesus, 1 equals 99, perhaps even more…”

The cardinal could say that without distorting reality because he spent thirteen years in a Communist prison, nine of them in solitary confinement. Those are the real numbers of real years not spent in Wonderland.
00Sunday, February 25, 2018 3:49 AM
Fr. Weinandy strikes again! As Sandro Magister puts it:

Everyone remembers Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy for the open letter he sent to Pope Francis last summer, and which he himself made public on November 1 on Settimo Cielo:
> A Theologian Writes To the Pope: There Is Chaos in the Church, and You Are a Cause

Today, Saturday February 24, he returns to the fray with a lecture he gave this morning (Feb. 24) at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia, on the general theme of "The Church in the 21st Century".

In it, Fr. Weinandy describes and denounces the attack of unprecedented gravity that some of the “pastoral” theories and practices encouraged by Pope Francis are carrying out against the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic” Church and in particular against the Eucharist that is “source and summit” of the Church’s very life.

Thanks to Catholic World Report for making the entire lecture available online.

The four marks of the Church and
the contemporary crisis in ecclesiology

We need to mount a robust defense and clear advocacy of the Church’s four marks, for without such an apologia,
the Church’s identity – what she truly is – becomes disordered, enfeebling her ability to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

by Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM

February 23, 2018

The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD) professes that we believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Each mark, in its fullness, must be properly conceived and articulated, and yet only together, in their perichoretic relationship, do they form the theological foundation of the Church’s authentic self-understanding.

Without them the Church’s own self-identity would become opaque, possessing no discernable defining character, and so would be exposed to any and every imposed guise – either by herself or from without. Moreover, these four ecclesial marks are most fully expressed and most abundantly nurtured within the Eucharist liturgy.

In this talk I will argue for the above in the following way.
- First, I will examine, at some length, St. Ignatius of Antioch’s seven letters.
- Second, I will examine, more briefly, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Each text perceives the Church’s revealed identity within these four defining marks.
- Lastly, with the aid of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, I will contend that these four defining ecclesial marks are presently at risk.

This threat comes not only from within the Catholic theological community, but even and regrettably from within Church leadership. Because of this danger I will conclude by advocating the need to mount a robust defense and clear advocacy of the Church’s four marks.

Without such an apology, the Church’s identity – what she truly is – will become disordered, and so will enfeeble her ability to live and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This enfeeblement, then, will also be most visibly enacted within the Eucharistic liturgy which will not only cause scandal but also, and more importantly, demean the Eucharistic liturgy as the supreme enactment of the Church being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

St. Ignatius of Antioch:
The Eucharistic oneness of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

You may be wondering why I have chosen Ignatius of Antioch as my starting point since he lived almost two millennia before the Second Vatican Council and John Paul II. I have done so because I consider Ignatius to be one of the most prophetically advanced theologians within the Church’s long theological tradition.

Actually, as an Apostolic Father (d. 107) who was acquainted with much of the written New Testament, Ignatius helped to initiate what would become the Church’s theological tradition. (1) Importantly, for our topic, Ignatius is the first to bear witness to the distinctive hierarchical structure of the Church – the existence of bishops, priests, deacons and laity. He did not argue for this ecclesial arrangement, but presumed that it had faithfully and naturally developed from within the earliest apostolic churches – the nascent Christian communities of which he was himself a participating bishop member.

What Ignatius did do within his seven letters was develop an ecclesiology that embodied the four ecclesial marks, though he would not have thought to employ that theological designation. As we will see, in so doing, Ignatius was prophetically anticipating Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, as well as John Paul II’s encyclical concerning the foundational supporting and nourishing inter-relationship between the Church and the Eucharist.

Unity, for Ignatius, is the Church’s supreme present expression as well as her definitive goal. Ignatius exhorts Bishop Polycarp: “Give thought especially to unity, for there is nothing more important than this” (Ad Poly. 1). (2)

To the Magnesians Ignatius writes: “I pray for their [all of the churches] corporate as well as their spiritual unity – both of these are the gifts of Jesus Christ, our never-failing Life” (Ad Mag. 1). He closes his letter with this final appeal: “Farewell. See that there is a godly unity among you, and a spirit that is above all divisions; for this is Jesus Christ” (Ad Mag. 15).

Ignatius assures the Philadelphians that he did his “part as one dedicated to the cause of unity; for where disunion and bad blood exist, God can never be dwelling” (Ad Phil. 8). The Smyrnaeans, since they live in Christ and in communion with the Holy Spirit, participate “in the Divine Unity” (Ad Smy. 12). Unity is Jesus’s utmost gift for it is the gift of himself in whom the Church is assumed into the divine intimacy of the Trinity.

If unity is the Church’s aim, faith, for Ignatius, is the justifying source of that oneness. He exalts in the Smyrnaeans: “Glory be Jesus Christ, the Divine One, who has gifted you with such wisdom. I have seen how immovably settled in faith you are; nailed body and soul, as it were, to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rooted and grounded in love by His blood. You hold the firmest convictions about our Lord” (Ad Smy. 1).

In particular it is the faith of the Apostles that establishes the Church’s oneness. Ignatius tells the Ephesians that “Christians who are in the power of Jesus Christ have ever been of the self-same mind as the Apostles” (Ad Eph. 11; cf. Ad Phil. 4).

Moreover, Jesus Christ, as already seen in the above quotes, is the sole source of this ecclesial unity for through faith in him all are united to him and to one another, and together, in communion with the Holy Spirit, are united to the one God and Father of all.

Echoing Paul, Ignatius professes that Christians are one new man in Christ since they are “united in faith” and so become one in him (Ad Eph. 20; cf. Ad Smy. 4; Ad Mag. 12). The ultimate and greatest effect of faith is that all “be one with Jesus and the Father” (Ad Mag. 1).

This ecclesial oneness through the unity of faith in Jesus Christ is witnessed in the faithful being united to their bishop in whom this unity of ecclesial faith is personified.

For Ignatius, there is a hierarchal unifying sequence. To honor the bishop is not so much to respect him as to esteem “the Father of him who is the Bishop of us all, Jesus Christ” (Ad Mag. 3). As one would obey the supreme bishop, Christ, so one is to obey him who is a bishop of the Bishop, Christ himself (cf. Ad Mag. 3, 6-7; Ad Tral. 2; Ad Phil. 3; Ad Smy. 8-9).

Ignatius tells the Ephesians how privileged they are: “If I myself reached such an intimacy with your bishop in a brief space of time – an intimacy that was less of this world than of the Spirit – how much more fortunate must I count you, who are as inseparably one with him as the Church is with Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ with the Father; so constituting one single harmonious unity throughout” (Ad Eph. 5).

Here we perceive again a logical sequence of causal unity. To be united to the bishop is to be in unity with the Church and to be united to the Church is to be in unity with Jesus and to be united to Jesus is to be in unity with his Father. And this oneness is founded, as Ignatius states above, upon the intimacy of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, Ignatius encourages the Magnesians:

Do your utmost to stand firm in the precepts of the Lord and the Apostles, so that everything you do, worldly or spiritual, may go prosperously from beginning to end in faith and love, in the Son and the Father and the Spirit, together with your most reverend bishop and that beautifully-woven spiritual chaplet, your clergy and godly minded deacons. Be as submissive to the bishop and to one another as Jesus Christ was to his Father, and as the Apostles were to Christ and the Father; so that there may be complete unity, in the flesh as well as in the spirit (Ad Mag. 13). (3)

For Ignatius, then, the bishop is the cornerstone of this ecclesial and apostolic unity for “where the bishop is to be seen, there let all of his people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ is present, we have the world-wide [catholic] Church” (Ad Smy. 8).(4)

Moreover, “we can have no life apart from Jesus Christ; and as he represents the mind of the Father, so our bishops, even those in the remotest parts of the world, represent the mind of Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 3).

Ignatius employs the analogy of an orchestral symphony and choir. Priests are to be attuned to their bishop “like strings on a harp” that results in praise of Jesus for their “minds are in unison” and their affections are “in harmony.” Therefore, the laity are to “come and join this choir, every one of you; let there be a whole symphony of minds in concert; take the tone all together from God, and sing aloud to the Father with one voice through Jesus Christ, so that he may hear you and know by your good works that you are indeed members of his Son’s Body. A completely united front will help to keep you in constant communion with God” (Ad Eph. 4).

This ecclesial oneness in Christ and in his Church, in turn, empowers Christians to perform the deeds of holiness, for only holy Christians within the holy Church are able to accomplish holy acts of love. Ignatius assures the Ephesians:

Men who are carnal are no more capable of acting spiritually, nor spiritual men of acting carnally, than deeds of unbelief are possible for the faithful, or deeds of faith to the unbelieving. But with you, even what you do in the flesh is spiritual, for your actions are all done in Jesus Christ (Ad Eph. 8).
Given a thorough-going faith and love for Jesus Christ, there is nothing in all this that will not be obvious to you; for life begins and ends with those two qualities. Faith is the beginning, and love is the end; and the union of the two together is God. All that makes for a soul’s perfection follows in their train, for nobody who professes faith will commit sin, and nobody who possesses love can feel hatred. As the tree is known by its fruits, so they who claim to belong to Christ are known by their actions; for this work of ours does not consist in just professions, but in a faith that is both practical and lasting (Ad Eph. 14).

The Church is the fount of all holiness for its source is Jesus, who as the Christ, pours out his Holy Spirit upon all who believe in him. In this Spirit all of the faithful enact the holy deeds of love.

What we perceive in all of the above is Ignatius’s clear perception that as the Trinity of persons constitutes the one holy God, so within the economy of salvation the Father through his Son, Jesus, and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, establishes the one, holy, catholic Church. This Church comprises all who believe in Christ. Being one in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Christians thus become children of the Father.

This oneness finds its ecclesial apostolic expression in the faithful being united to their bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and with the priests and deacons, for to be in communion with the Bishop and his apostolic council is to be united to Jesus in the Spirit and so born into the life of the Father – the fount and consummation of all oneness.

This ecclesial oneness of apostolic faith, for Ignatius, is supremely expressed and enacted within the Eucharist, for here all the faithful are united around their one bishop to celebrate one sacred liturgy whereby all become most fully one in Christ Jesus and so made holy in communion with his Eucharistic presence. Though he did not articulate it explicitly, Ignatius grasps that the Eucharist supremely embodies and so most fully makes actual all four marks of the Church.

Because those who espouse erroneous doctrines cast themselves outside of the Church and her Eucharistic assembly, Ignatius urges the Philadelphians:

Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice – even as also there is but one Bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow-servitors the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God (Ad Phil. 4).

Ignatius warns the Ephesians that no one should “be under any illusion; a man who excludes himself from the sanctuary is depriving himself of the bread of God, for if the prayer of one or two has such efficacy, how much more powerful is that of the bishop together with his whole church. Anyone who absents himself from the congregation convicts himself at once of arrogance and becomes self-excommunicate” (Ad Eph. 5; cf. Ad Smy. 8).

Only those who are “in a state of grace” and are “united in faith” and so one “in Christ Jesus” are ready “to share in the one common breaking of bread – the medicine of immortality, and the sovereign remedy by which we escape death and live in Jesus Christ for evermore” (Ad Eph. 20; cf. ibid. 13).

Significantly, Ignatius does not extol the ecclesial importance of the Eucharist without simultaneously speaking of those who are incapable of joining in the Eucharistic assembly. By its very nature the Eucharist is a living enactment of Church’s oneness, a unity founded upon the one universal apostolic faith though which the faithful are united to their bishop, and so in communion with Jesus Christ, the head of his body the Church.

Only those, therefore, who are in a state of grace, and so conjoined to the Church, are able to participate in this supreme sacrament of faith. Heretics, those who reject the apostolic faith of the one, holy, catholic Church of Christ, literally ex-communicate themselves from being in communion with the Church, and so render themselves incapable of receiving Jesus in communion. Only those in communion with the Church are able “to go to communion” within the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Gnostics bear witness to this for “they even absent themselves from the Eucharist and the public prayers, because they will not admit that the Eucharist is the self-same body of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father in his goodness afterwards raised up again” (Ad Smy. 7).

Heresy, for Ignatius, is thus fundamentally destructive: it destroys the oneness of the Church by denying the universal apostolic faith, the very universal apostolic faith that constitutes the oneness of the Church. Thus, Ignatius is adamant:

“No man who is responsible for defiling a household can expect to share in the kingdom of God…; how much more when a man’s subversive doctrines defile the God-given faith for which Jesus Christ was crucified. Such a wretch in his uncleanness is bound for the unquenchable fire, and so is anyone else who gives him a hearing” (Ad Eph. 16).

Ignatius constantly warns the faithful to guard themselves “carefully against such men of that sort” and especially to “close your ears, then, if anyone [the Gnostics] preaches to you without speaking of Jesus Christ” who was truly born in the flesh, truly suffered and died in the flesh and is truly risen in the flesh (Ad Tral. 7 & 9).

“Flee for your very life from these men; they are poisonous growth with a deadly fruit, and one taste of it is speedily fatal. They are not of the Father’s planting” for they deny the passion, cross and death of Jesus and so deny that he is the head of his body, “for the promise that we have from God is the promise of unity, which is the essence of himself” (Ad Tral. 11).

For Ignatius, heresy is absolutely detestable precisely because it abolishes the unity of the Church, and it does so by denying the Church’s one, catholic and apostolic faith.

In concluding our study of Ignatius of Antioch, I want to make two final points. First, Ignatius wrote to six churches, five of which had compassionately sent their bishop and representatives to visit him while he made his martyr’s journey to Rome. He likewise wrote a letter ahead of himself to the church of Rome. He did so for the sole purpose of discouraging that church from meddling in and so obstructing his imminent martyrdom. He wrote his seventh letter to his good friend, Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna.

While all of these were individual local churches with their own presiding bishop, Ignatius clearly presumed that they all believed the same apostolic doctrine; that they all participated in the same sacramental practice; and that they all taught and upheld the same moral precepts. Thus, these individual churches were in universal communion with one another.

Not only did each bear witness to their being one, holy, catholic and apostolic, but together they also bore communal witness to these same ecclesial marks. No one church possessed a distinctive doctrinal or ethical defining difference from the others. They all enjoyed the same identifying ecclesial characteristics that were evident to all – both within and outside the Christian faith.

This ecclesial communion among the individual local churches, along with what makes them one in themselves and among themselves, will be important when we examine the present ecclesial crises surrounding the four marks of the Church. (5)

Secondly, Ignatius was acutely aware of the destructiveness of heretical teaching, for such erroneous teaching eliminated the very ecclesial marks that defined the Church. He, nonetheless, appears to be naïve in that he strongly gives the impression throughout his letters that bishops, by the very nature of their office, could never be heretics themselves. We see this in his constant emphasis and adamant demand that the faithful unwaveringly be obedient and loyal to their respective bishops.

What is to be made of such seeming naiveté? Ignatius may have been in the enviable position of never having encountered a heretical bishop, but if he ever did chance upon one, he would have had a ready response at hand. He would clearly have argued in the same manner that we have observed in our above study.

For a bishop to espouse heretical teaching, whether concerning doctrine, morals, or pastoral and sacramental practice which bears upon doctrine and morals, Ignatius would have contended that
- such a bishop no longer was in union with the catholic ecclesial community for he no longer professed the one apostolic faith of the Church and thus rendered himself incapable of exercising fully his office as bishop.
- He could no longer teach and govern as an authentic successor of the Apostles, nor could he preside over the Eucharistic liturgy in a manner that bore witness to and enriched the oneness of the holy catholic Church.

Simply put, such a heretical bishop would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the church would be absent within his specious ministry. Such, I believe, would be Ignatius’s rejoinder to a heretical bishop. And an argument I will similarly employ in face of our contemporary ecclesial crisis.

Vatican-II: The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
(Lumen Gentium) and the four marks of the Church

Now we will examine the Church’s four marks within the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church – Lumen Gentium. Before we do, however, we need to remember that concern for the Church’s oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity did not jump from Ignatius to Vatican II. Such attention was always present, and markedly came to the fore with Pius XII’s encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi.

For him, the one Body of Christ is founded upon the harmony of her apostolic faith and the universality of her calling to make all humankind holy. Pius’s encyclical, then, was the direct prelude to Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. What may seem surprising, then, is that Lumen Gentium does not allocate a specific treatment to the marks of the Church, but rather speaks of them within various ecclesial topics. Nonetheless, their importance is evident throughout, and, not unexpectedly, in accord with the thought of Ignatius of Antioch.

From the very onset, the Constitution, like Ignatius, emphasizes the foundational mark of oneness. For the Council, Christ is the light of the world and his light visibly shines forth in the Church. Therefore, “the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and the unity among men” (LG. 1). (6) While contemporary humankind is drawn together ever more closely, “it still remains for them to achieve full unity in Christ” (ibid.). Having established the foundational ecclesial theme of unity, the Constitution allots a paragraph to each of the persons of the Trinity, and in so doing brings to the fore the other defining marks of the Church.

First, the Father determined, from the time of Adam, and specifically in his making a covenant with Abraham, “to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ” (ibid. 2). This summons will find its completion at the end of time when all the elect “will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church” (ibid.).

Second, concerning the Son, the Father sent the Son into the world precisely to restore all things in him (cf. Eph. 1:4-5). Therefore, all “are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, towards whom our whole life is directed” (ibid. 3). In the Eucharist, then, “the unity of believers is both expressed and brought about” (ibid.).

Third, concerning the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the incarnate Son, having completed his salvific work sent for the Holy Spirit “that he might continually sanctify the Church, and that, consequently, those who believe might have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father” (ibid. 4). Through the “hierarchic and charismatic gifts,” the Spirit constantly renews the Church and leads her “to perfect union with her Spouse” (ibid.). Having summarized the work of each person of the Trinity, the council concludes: “Hence the universal Church is seen to be ‘a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’” (ibid.). (7)

The Council, in these three paragraphs, has articulated the four marks of the Church, and in so doing has echoed Ignatius. The source and end of the Church’s oneness is founded upon the unity of the Trinity. Within the economy of salvation this unity is achieved in the Father uniting all believers in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, as the Body of Christ, the Church embodies and fosters this communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. Thus, the mark of perfect oneness also resides in the marital relationship of the Church being the Spouse of Christ. As the Constitution progresses, it not only re-affirms what it articulated concerning the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit but also expands its teaching.

As the Head of his Body, Jesus, as the Christ, bestows the mark of holiness upon his Church, for the Holy Spirit “functions as the principle of life, the soul” (ibid. 7) and, thus imbues the Church with a life of holiness. As the Savior and Lord of all, Jesus also confers upon his Church the mark of universality for “all men are called to this catholic unity which prefigures and promotes universal peace” (ibid. 13).

The Council further states: “For by communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation” (ibid. 7). Likewise, through the hierarchic and charismatic gifts, Jesus, through the Spirit, gives to the Church an ecclesial structure that bears the mark of apostolicity, a mark that ensures that all of the Spirit’s gifts and graces flourish for the up-building of his Body (cf. ibid.).

The Constitution emphasizes that the “foundation of the Church is built by the apostles (cf. I Cor. 3:11) and from it the Church receives solidarity and unity” (ibid. 6). Specifically, “the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of bishops and of the whole company of faithful” (ibid. 23).

Moreover, “in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided he [Jesus] put Peter at the head of the apostles, and in him he set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and communion” (ibid. 18; cf. 19 and 20). This unity among the episcopate is principally exercised within counsels and synods (cf. ibid. 23 and 25).

Moreover, episcopal conferences also contribute to “safeguarding the unity of the faith and the unique divine structure of the universal Church,” “for all bishops have the obligation of fostering and safeguarding the unity of faith and of upholding the discipline which is common to the whole Church…” (ibid. 23).

This ecclesial unity of doctrine and morals, which manifests the four marks of the Church, are expressed and nurtured within the sacraments, especially within the Eucharist. In this sacrament Jesus most fully unites himself to his earthly Church, his Body, and confers upon her his universal and apostolic holiness (cf. ibid. 7). (8)

The Council also accentuates, in the light of some erroneous Reformation views, that the holy Church of Christ is both visible and invisible and not two separate realities; as if the visible is of human origin and the invisible is of divine origin. This truth pertains to the Church’s sacramentality, for in and through her visible structure and sacramental acts, the grace of Christ is endowed upon the faithful and the world.

Thus, as in the Incarnation where the visible humanity is one with and so manifests the divinity of the Son, so the visible Church is one with and so manifests all of her invisible graces. The Constitution accentuates that the one visible and invisible Church “is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic…” (ibid. 8).

Moreover, it deems that “this Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” (ibid.).

The four marks of the Church are, then, most spiritually present and most visibly manifested within the Catholic Church for in her they fully subsist. These ecclesial subsisting four marks of the universal Church are realized and manifested not only within the Church as a whole but also within each of the individual local churches. In communion with the local apostolic bishop, especially within the celebration of the Eucharist, “these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is constituted” (ibid. 26). In this light the Council clearly designates and defines those who are fully members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Fully incorporated into the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all of the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who – by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesial government, and communion – are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but “in body” and not “in heart” (ibid. 14). (9)

To be a full member of the Church demands that one share the faith of the visible Church, participate in the visible sacraments of the Church and be in communion with and be governed by the visible structure of the Church, for only in so doing does one live within the one, universal, and apostolic Church of Christ in which the full means of the Spirit’s holiness resides.

Significantly, the Council notes that, if one does not persevere in charity because of sinning gravely, one is still a member of the Church, but one no longer partakes of the Church’s life; for one no longer shares in her oneness, holiness, universality and apostolicity – for these are the means, the bond, and the fruit of ecclesial love. (10)

Having examined the four marks of the Church within the teaching of Ignatius of Antioch and Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, I now want to address the crisis that I perceive presently exists within the Church – a crisis in which the four marks of the Church are under subtle, but well-defined, attack.

I will do so in reference not only to Ignatius and Lumen Gentium, but also to John Paul II’s encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, for here he already identifies some of the assaults on the four marks of the Church and clearly responds to them.

The contemporary challenge to the four marks
of the Church and its Eucharistic impact

Prior to and following upon Vatican II, St. Pope John XXIII and Blessed Paul VI, in their respective encyclicals, Mater et Magistra and Ecclesiam Suam, stressed the importance of the Church’s teaching office – a ministry that fostered and upheld the apostolic faith so as to assure the one, universal, holiness of God’s people.

John Paul II, then, not only follows upon Ignatius and Vatican II, but places himself squarely within the immediate preceding papacies. Thus, John Paul steadfastly holds that oneness is the fundamental and indispensable mark of the Church. He writes in Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

The Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985 saw in the concept of an “ecclesiology of communion” the central and foundational idea of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The Church is called during her earthly pilgrimage to maintain and promote communion with the Triune God and communion among the faithful. For this purpose she possesses the word and the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, by which she “constantly lives and grows” and in which she expresses her very nature. It is not by chance that the term communion has become one of the names given to this sublime sacrament (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 34). (11)

Granted the post-Vatican II Church was rife with divisions – disputes over doctrine, morals and the liturgy. These disagreements continue still. However, at no time during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI was there ever any doubt as to what the Church teaches concerning her doctrine, morals, and liturgical practice.

Both recognized that what truly made the Church one is her unalterable apostolic and universal faith, and her sacraments, especially the Eucharist, as fount and means of her holiness. They, therefore, faithfully taught, clearly developed, and ardently promoted the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching, and her authentic sacramental practice – all for the sake of guaranteeing and fostering her ecclesial communion. Such is not the case, in many significant ways, within the present pontificate of Pope Francis.

Challenge to the Church’s oneness
Much of Pope Francis’s pontificate is admirable and praiseworthy. One only needs to observe, to note a few, his defense of the sanctity of life, his concern for the poor and the marginalized, and his encouragement to the young.

At times, nonetheless, it would appear that Pope Francis identifies himself not as the promoter of unity but as the agent of division. His practical philosophy, if it is an intentional philosophy, seems to consist in the belief that a greater unifying good will emerge from the present bedlam of divergent opinions and the turmoil of the resulting divisions.

My concern here is that such approach, even if unintentional, strikes at very essence of the Petrine ministry as intended by Jesus and as continuously understood by the Church. The successor of St. Peter, by the very nature of the office, is to be, literally, the personal embodiment and thus the consummate sign of the Church’s ecclesial communion, and so the principle defender and promoter of the Church’s ecclesial communion.

Thus, a manner of proceeding that allows and even encourages doctrinal and moral divergences undermines the whole of Vatican II’s teaching on ecclesial communion, as well as that of the entire magisterial and theological tradition going back to Ignatius. By seeming to encourage doctrinal division and moral discord within the Church the present pontificate has transgressed the foundational mark of the Church – her oneness. How, nonetheless, does this offense against the Church’s unity manifest itself? It does so by destabilizing the other three marks of the Church.

Challenge to the Church’s apostolicity
Firstly, the apostolic nature of the Church is being undermined. As has often been noted by theologians and bishops, and most frequently by the laity (those who possess the sensus fidelium), the teaching of the present pontiff is not noted for its clarity. (12)

As the one most responsible for the unity of the Church, the pope is the one who is most responsible for ensuring the bond of faith. To be in full ecclesial communion with the apostolic Church, whether it is the pope or the newest convert, it is necessary to believe what the Apostles handed on and what the apostolic Church has consistently taught.

For Pope Francis, then, as seen in Amoris Laetitia, to re-conceive and newly express the previously clear apostolic faith and magisterial tradition in a seemingly ambiguous manner, so as to leave confusion and puzzlement within the ecclesial community, is to contradict his own duties as the successor of Peter and to transgress the trust of his fellow bishops, as well as that of priests and the entire faithful. Ignatius would be dismayed at such a situation.

If, for him, heretical teaching espoused by those who are only loosely associated with the Church is destructive to the Church’s unity, how much more devastating is ambiguous teaching when authored by a bishop who is divinely charged to ensure ecclesial unity. At least heresy is a clear denial of the apostolic faith and so can be clearly identified and as such properly addressed. Ambiguous teaching, precisely because of its murkiness, cannot be clearly identified, and so is even more troublesome for it fosters uncertainty as to how it is to be understood and thus how it is to be clarified.

Moreover, for Pope Francis to then take sides in the ensuing debate, a debate for which he himself is responsible, concerning the proper interpretation of the uncertain teaching is disingenuous. He has now allowed others to be the arbiter of what is true, when it is precisely the apostolic mandate of the pope to be the one who confirms the brethren, both episcopal and laity, in the truth.

Furthermore, to appear to sanction an interpretation of doctrine or morals that contravenes what has been the received apostolic teaching and magisterial tradition of the Church – as dogmatically defined by Councils and doctrinally taught by previous popes and the bishops in communion with him, as well as accepted and believed by the faithful - cannot then be proposed as magisterial teaching. The magisterium simply cannot fundamentally contradict itself concerning matters of faith and morals.

While such teaching and confirmation may be enacted by a member of the magisterium, such as the Pope, such teaching and confirmation is not magisterial precisely because it is not in accord with previous magisterial teaching.
- To act in such a manner, the pontiff, or a bishop for that manner, is acting in a manner that places himself outside the magisterial communion of previous pontiffs and bishops, and so is not a magisterial act.
- To act in a magisterial manner one has to be, including the pope, in communion with the entire ever-living magisterial tradition.

In the matter of faith and morals the teaching of no living pope takes apostolic and magisterial precedence over the magisterial teaching of previous pontiffs or the established magisterial doctrinal tradition. The magisterial and apostolic import of a present pontiff’s teaching lies precisely in its being in conformity with and so in living-communion with the abiding historical magisterial and apostolic tradition.

That Pope Francis’s ambiguous teaching at times appears to fall outside the magisterial teaching of the historic apostolic ecclesial community thus gives cause for concern, for it fosters division and disharmony rather than unity and peace within the one apostolic Church. There appears to be, as a consequence, no assurance of faith.

Challenge to the Church’s catholicity
Secondly, as we saw in examining the ecclesiology of Ignatius and especially Vatican II, all of the bishops throughout the world, who are in communion with the pope, are together responsible for the apostolic oneness of the Church. The universality of the Church is visibly manifested in that all of the particular churches are bound together, through the college of bishops in communion with the pope, by professing the same apostolic faith and by preaching the one universal Gospel to all of humankind. We saw this clearly expressed in Ignatius's letters.

Traditionally, this catholic oneness is most clearly exercised within universal councils and extraordinary synods. Moreover, as Lumen Gentium acknowledges, national bishops’ conferences, while attending to pastoral issues that pertain to their own culture and locale, also exercise this catholicity by safeguarding and promoting the universal doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church as well as insuring that the universal sacramental and liturgical disciplines of the Church are properly observed.

Thus, as exemplified in Ignatius and Vatican II, the entire visible hierarchical governance of the universal Church is structured precisely to maintain and promote ecclesial communion – a communion that embodies the one apostolic faith. This mark of catholic oneness is also presently challenged.

Pope Francis’s espousal of synodality has been much touted – the allowance of local geographical churches more self-determinative freedom. On one level this decentralization is welcomed for it encourages national bishops’ conferences and local ordinaries to take more governing responsibility.

As envisioned, however, by Pope Francis and advocated by others, this notion of synodality, instead of ensuring the universal oneness of the Catholic Church, an ecclesial communion composed of multiple particular churches, is now employed to undermine and so sanction divisions within the Church. This rupture is not simply on matters of local and national significance, but on issues that bear upon the doctrinal and moral integrity of the one Church of Christ.

We are presently witnessing the disintegration of the Church’s catholicity, for local churches, both on the diocesan and national level, are often interpreting doctrinal norms and moral precepts in various conflicting and contradictory ways. Thus, what the faithful are instructed to believe and practice in one diocese or country is not in conformity with what the faithful are instructed to believe and practice in another diocese or country.

The Church’s mark of oneness, a unity that the pope is divinely mandated to protect and engender, is losing its integrity because her marks of catholicity and apostolicity have fallen into doctrinal and moral disarray, a theological anarchy that the pope himself, maybe unwittingly, has initiated by advocating a flawed conception of synodality. To put this erroneous notion into practice, then, is to violate the catholicity of the Church herself.

Challenge to the Church’s holiness
This brings us to the fourth mark of the Church – her holiness. This mark is equally under siege, most especially, but not surprisingly, in relationship to the Eucharist.

For John Paul, Eucharistic communion “confirms the Church in her unity as the body of Christ” (ibid. 23; cf. 24). Because “the Eucharist builds the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist, it follows that there is a profound relationship between the two, so much so that we can apply to the Eucharistic mystery the very words with which, in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, we profess the Church to be ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic’” (ibid. 26). Of all the sacraments, therefore, it is “the Most Holy Sacrament” (ibid.). Likewise, it is apostolic for Jesus entrusted it to the Apostles and to their successors (cf. ibid. 27).

“The Eucharist thus appears as the culmination of all the sacraments in perfecting our communion with God the Father by identification with his only-begotten Son through the working of the Holy Spirit” (ibid. 34). Since the Eucharist conveys and nurtures most fully the four marks of the Church, John Paul insists:

The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.

The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church’s hierarchical order. The profound relationship between the invisible and visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as a sacrament of salvation (ibid. 35). (13)

In this proclamation, John Paul confirms, as seen above, the teaching of Vatican II, and echoes, inadvertently, Ignatius’s Eucharistic ecclesiology. To participate fully in the Church’s Eucharist, a liturgy that embodies and cultivates the four marks of the Church, one must also embody the four marks of the Church, for only in so doing is one in full communion with the Church so as to receive communion – the risen body and blood of Jesus, the source and culmination of one’s union with the Father in the Holy Spirit.
Quoting from a document promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, John Paul insists:

“In fact, the community, in receiving the Eucharistic presence of the Lord, receives the entire gift of salvation and shows, even in its lasting visible form, that is the image and true presence of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” (ibid. 39).14

In the light of this, John Paul proceeds to address those issues that contravene this doctrinal understanding of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion.

The first issue John Paul addresses, and the one that concerns us here, pertains specifically to holiness.(15) While one must profess the Church’s one apostolic faith, faith itself is insufficient for receiving Christ in the Eucharist. Referencing Vatican II, John Paul states that “we must persevere in sanctifying grace and love, remaining within the Church ‘bodily’ as well as ‘in our heart’” (ibid. 36). (16)

At the beginning of the Second Century, Ignatius, as we saw, made this same point – that one can only receive communion “in a state of grace” (Ad. Eph. 20). Thus, in accordance with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Council of Trent, John Paul confirms:

“I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, ‘one must first confess one’s sins, when one is aware of mortal sin’” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 36). (17)

In accordance with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, John Paul, therefore, insists that the sacrament of Penance is “necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice” when mortal sin is present (ibid. 37).

While he acknowledges that only the person can judge his or her state of grace, he asserts that “in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved” (ibid.).

John Paul intensifies his admonition by quoting Canon Law. Where there is “a manifest lack of proper moral disposition,” that is, according to Canon Law, when persons “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin,” they are “not to be permitted to Eucharistic communion” (ibid.) (18)

Here we perceive the present challenge to the Church’s holiness and specifically the holiness of the Eucharist. The question of whether divorced and remarried Catholic couples, who engage in marital acts, can receive communion revolves around the very issue of “outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm,” and, therefore, whether they possess “a manifest lack of proper moral disposition” for receiving communion.

Pope Francis rightly insists that such couples should be accompanied and so helped to form properly their consciences. Granted that there are extraordinary marital cases where it can be rightfully discerned that a previous marriage was sacramentally invalid, even though evidence for an annulment is unobtainable, thus allowing a couple to receive communion. Nonetheless, the ambiguous manner in which Pope Francis proposes this pastoral accompaniment permits a pastoral situation to evolve whereby the common practice will swiftly ensue that almost every divorced and remarried couple will judge themselves free to receive Holy Communion.

This pastoral situation will develop because moral negative commands, such as, “one shall not commit adultery,” are no longer recognized as absolute moral norms that can never be trespassed, but as moral ideals – goals that may be achieved over a period of time, or may never be realized in one’s lifetime. (19) In this indefinite interim people can continue, with the Church’s blessing, to strive, as best as they are able, to live “holy” lives, and so receive communion. Such pastoral practice has multiple detrimental doctrinal and moral consequences.

First, to allow those who are objectively in manifest grave sin to receive communion is an overt public attack on the holiness of what John Paul terms “the Most Holy Sacrament.” Grave sin, by its very nature, as Ignatius, Vatican II and John Paul attest, deprives one of holiness, for the Holy Spirit no longer abides within such a person, thus making the person unfit to receive holy communion.

For one to receive communion in such a, literally, disgraced state enacts a lie, for in receiving the sacrament one is asserting that one is in communion with Christ, when in actuality one is not.

Similarly, such a practice is also an offense against the holiness of the Church. Yes, the Church is composed of saints and sinners, yet, those who do sin, which is everyone, must be repentant-sinners, specifically of grave sin, if they are to participate fully in the Eucharistic liturgy and so receive the most-holy risen body and blood of Jesus.

A person who is in grave sin may still be a member of the Church, but as a grave-sinner such a person no longer participates in the holiness of the Church as one of the holy faithful. To receive communion in such an unholy state is, again, to enact a lie for in such a reception one is publicly attempting to testify that one is a graced and living member of the ecclesial community when one is not.

Second, and maybe more importantly, to allow those who persist in manifest grave sin to receive communion, seemingly as an act of mercy, is both to belittle the condemnatory evil of grave sin and to malign the magnitude and power of the Holy Spirit.

Such a pastoral practice is implicitly acknowledging that sin continues to govern humankind despite Jesus’s redeeming work and his anointing of the Holy Spirit upon all who believe and are baptized. Jesus is actually not Savior and Lord, but rather Satan continues to reign.

Moreover, to sanction persons in grave sin is in no manner a benevolent or loving act, for one is endorsing a state wherein they could be eternally condemned, thus jeopardizing their salvation.

Likewise, in turn, one is also insulting such grave-sinners, for one is subtly telling them that they are so sinful that not even the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to help them change their sinful ways and make them holy. They are inherently un-savable. Actually, though, what is ultimately being tendered is the admission that the Church of Jesus Christ is not really holy and so is incapable of truly sanctifying her members.

Lastly, scandal is the public pastoral consequence of allowing persons in unrepentant manifest grave sin to receive Holy Communion. It is not simply that the faithful members of the Eucharistic community will be dismayed and likely disgruntled, but, more importantly, they will be tempted to think that they too can sin gravely and continue in good standing with the Church. Why attempt to live a holy life, even a heroic virtuous life, when the Church herself appears to demand neither such a life, or even to encourage such a life?

Here the Church becomes a mockery of herself and such a charade breeds nothing but scorn and disdain in the world, and derision and cynicism among the faithful, or at best, a hope against hope among the little ones.

My conclusion will be brief. Much of what I have said, as you may have gathered, has been stated by others. Some will dismiss it as excessive or even mean-spirited. But that is not my intent or spirit at all.

As stated earlier there is much in the character of Pope Francis to admire, and we owe him our daily prayers for strength in facing the burdens of his ministry. However, that cannot excuse us from speaking the truth in love. Anyone experienced in religious life – or for that matter, in a marriage – will understand that sometimes the truth must be spoken bluntly – not out of bitterness, but out of fidelity to the persons involved and to safeguard the purpose they share.

What I have attempted to do, and I hope has been helpful, is place the contemporary crisis within the Church in its proper theological and doctrinal setting, that is, within the Church’s four defining marks. Only when we grasp that the Church’s very oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity are at stake, what makes the Church truly herself, can we fully appreciate the degree and the consequence of the present crisis.

The Church’s very identity, our ecclesial communion, is being assailed, and because she is the Church of Christ, Jesus himself is being dishonored along with his saving work. What is presently being offered in its place is an anemic Church, a Church where the Holy Spirit is enfeebled, and so a Church that is incapable of giving full glory to God the Father. [But the only sensible way to look at it is that this anemic, enfeebled, incapable 'Church' is not the one true Church of Christ - which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic - but rather the ersatz 'church of Bergoglio'. The one true Church of Christ subsists for those Catholics who continue to live by the intact deposit of faith and see in Bergoglianism the open attempt to co-opt and subsume the one true Church to its ends.]

By attempting to manifest the perilous nature of the crisis, my goal was not simply to make this misfortune known, but to encourage all of us, bishops, priests and laity alike, to embark on an adequate response.

Such a response cannot be merely negative, a rebuttal of all the erroneous views and ambiguous arguments, though such is necessary,
but rather it must also be a response that is robustly positive.

From the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the time of the Second Vatican Council and St. John Paul II, the Church has continually proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ and so the good news of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, a Church he conceived through his death and resurrection and to which he gave birth to in his sending forth the Holy Spirit. This constructive proclamation is what will renew the Church and so restore the fallen world to life in Christ.

Moreover, we must defend and promote a proper knowledge of and love for the Eucharist, for here, as we saw, the four marks of the Church are most fully expressed and abundantly nourished.

In the Eucharist above all the Church’s identity is most clearly enacted and made visible. For in the Eucharist we are made one with Christ and one with one another as together we profess and joyfully acclaim our one apostolic and universal faith, a faith that is imbued with the holiness of the Spirit, and so as one ecclesial community we worship and glorify God the Father – the source and end of all. Within the Eucharist, then, the Church’s four marks most beautifully shine.

1. Within his seven letters, for example, Ignatius so argued against those who denied that the Son of God existed as an actual fleshly man but only appeared (docens) or seemed to do so, that is, the Docetists, so as to anticipate the doctrinal teaching of the Council of Chalcedon over three hundred years later (451 AD). For Ignatius, Jesus is the one and the same person of Son of God who existed from all eternity as God and who came to exist truly as man in time. Because of this incarnational reality all that pertains to the divine Son’s humanity – such as birth, suffering, and death, could rightly and properly be predicated of that one divine Son.
See T.G. Weinandy, “The Apostolic Christology of Ignatius of Antioch: The Road to Chacedon,” in Jesus: Essays in Christology (Sapientia Press: Ave Maria University, 2014), pp. 59-74. This essay was first published in Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, ed. A. Gregory and C. Tuckett (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 71-84.
2. All quotations from Ignatius’s letters are taken from Early Christian Writers, trans. M. Staniforth, (Penguin Books: Baltimore, 1968).
3. For Ignatius, bishops, priests and deacons form an “Apostolic circle” or “council” and so only those who possess “these three orders” can rightly be named a “church” (Ad Tral. 3). The Trallians must always be in unity “with Jesus Christ and your bishop and the Apostolic institutions” (ibid. 7). Bishops, priests and deacons are ultimately “appointed” by Jesus Christ and “confirmed and ratified, according to his will, by his Holy Spirit” (Ad Phil, greeting).
4. Ignatius is the first to employ the term “catholic.” Here it refers to the universality of the Church. Only around 200 AD did it become a title – “the Catholic Church,” which designated it as the universal Church and so distinct from localized heretical sects.
5. Not without significance Ignatius makes reference to the other churches within his letters to the individual churches, especially at the conclusion of each of his letters. This referencing of the other churches testifies to their being in communion with one another and so to their individually and communally possessing the defining ecclesial characteristics – that of being one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Cf. Ad Eph. 21; Ad Mag. 15; Ad Tral. 12-13; Ad Rom. 9-10; Ad Phi. 10-11; Ad Smyrn. 11-13; Ad Poly. 7-8.
6. All quotations are taken from Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, (Scholarly Resources Inc.: Wilmington, 1975).
7. The Constitution footnotes St. Cyprian, De Orat. Dom. 23; St. Augustine, Serm. 71, 20, 33; and St. John Damascene, Adv. Iconocl. 12. In the above paragraph I have placed in italics those words and phrases that speak of the four marks of the Church, though not designating them as such.
8. The Council does articulate an important aspect of the four marks of the Church that, while hidden in Ignatius’s theology, is never openly expressed, that is, the eschatological nature of these four ecclesial marks (cf. Ibid. 5). The Church fully becomes the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church only when Christ returns in glory. Then, his Body, the universal and apostolic Church, will be fully one with him in the Holy Spirit, thus sharing fully in his holiness. Again, as the Council later states: “While she slowly grows and matures, the Church longs for the completed kingdom and, with all her strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with her king” (ibid. 5).
9. The Constitution footnotes St. Augustine, Bap. C. Donat. V. 28, 39: “Certe manifestum est, id quod dicitur, in Ecclesia intus et foris, non in corpore cogitandum.
10. For a more concise teaching on the four marks of the Church, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 811-835.
11. John Paul quotes Lumen Gentium, 26.
12. Pope Francis consistently uses the term “doctrine” in a negative manner – as being bookish and lifeless, far removed from the pastoral concerns of daily ecclesial life. This pitting doctrine and pastoral practice against one another is a false and dangerous dichotomy. The truths of doctrine are the guides and guardians of wise pastoral practice. Without doctrine, pastoral practice has no objective authentic anchor, and so is subject to sentimentality, pop-psychology, and the prejudices of contemporary culture.
13 At times one gets the impression that Pope Francis, as with the notion of doctrine, perceives the visible Church in a negative light. For the pope, the visible Church appears to assume the character of an impersonal governmental bureaucratic institution – created to make rigid rules and harsh regulations that often, again, have little bearing on the daily pastoral life of the Church – where the real Church exists in all its human tangled complexity. This view also comprises a false dichotomy. Yes, as with any big organization, there can be ecclesial bureaucratic red tape that is far from being constructive and helpful, and even pastoral, but the visible Church is, nonetheless, the sacramental sign and effective means by which, in which, and through which Jesus, through Holy Spirit, works his salvific wonders as Lord and Savior to the glory of God the Father. For this, love of the visible Church is not simply obligatory but a cause for rejoicing.
14. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion, Communionis Notio (May 28, 1992).
15. He later addresses the issues of inter-communion with Protestant denominations, as well as the norms governing communion in relationship to the Eastern Orthodox Churches (cf. 43-46).
16. John Paul is quoting Lumen Gentium, 14.
17. John Paul is referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385 and the Council of Trent, DS 1647 and 1661.
18. John Paul is quoting Canon 915.
19. This understanding that negative moral norms are no longer absolute but goals to be achieved can be applied not only to those who commit adultery, but also to those who commit any other grave sin – fornication, homosexual acts, contraception, the molestation of children, stealing, etc. – and even murder. As long as they are attempting to do their very best, they can obtain the Church’s blessing and receive Holy Communion. Obviously such a pastoral practice is morally absurd.

00Sunday, February 25, 2018 4:12 AM
I'm happy to be able to pair off Fr. Weinandy's specific criticisms of Bergoglianism with a poignant if generic lament for the state of 'the Church' today under Bergoglio:

'Every man for himself':
Has 'the Church' arrived at her Dunkirk?

by Raymond Kowalski

February 15, 2018

I recently saw the movie Darkest Hour. It is the story of Winston Churchill’s first days as Britain’s prime minister, just nine months into the Second World War.

It is late May, 1940, and the Nazis have pushed into France, where the British, French, and Belgian forces have been trapped against the English Channel at Dunkirk. Churchill orders a garrison of British troops at a small nearby fort to fight a delaying action in order to allow as much time as possible for an evacuation of the hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers from the beach. When they have done all they could, the garrison is given the command “every man for himself,” freeing the soldiers from the necessity of obeying orders and allowing each man to survive as best as he can.

That’s where I am with my beloved Catholic Church. At age 72, I am in that small garrison that knows that the end is near. For us, there is no time to see how the mess that now engulfs the Catholic Church turns out. For Churchill and Great Britain, it all turned out well…five years later. But the soldiers in the sacrificial garrison never saw a sunrise in June. There was no help coming for them from Mother England.

I think of myself and people like me as “Bishop Sheen Catholics.” Over time, we have become the outpost. We know our faith. We know its doctrines, its dogmas, its morality, and its requirements. We are loyal. We are good soldiers. We follow orders. But we know when something is amiss. We know a contradiction when we see one. We hear the general giving ruinous orders and his lieutenants responding, “As you were.” Yet the general is not deterred.

For me, it started with Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge?” remark in 2013. I remember thinking, Wait a minute. When Christ created His first bishops and gave them the power to forgive sins, didn’t He say, “whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained?” Doesn’t this imply, or even require, making a judgment? How can a pope be asking such a question?

Since then, there have been so many actions, pronouncements, appointments, dismissals, attacks, defenses, exposés, and ambiguities that the Bishop Sheen Catholics have reached what Steve Skojec calls “outrage fatigue.” Each new affront to our faith sets off waves of profound commentary by extraordinarily well educated and experienced experts. They give us careful analysis, all based on well grounded scholarship, arguments, and opinions. It is exhausting to keep up.

As an attorney, I persuade and am persuaded by evidence, logic, and argument. But it was two powerful and scandalous images from this papacy that pushed me to my Dunkirk. The first was the postage stamp that the Vatican issued on October 31, 2017 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the riforma protestante.

This stamp depicts the Crucifixion. At the foot of the cross is Martin Luther, holding a Bible, and his theologian friend, Philipp Melanchthon, holding the Augsburg Confession. The image is a copy of the scene found on the tympanum above the doors of All Saints Lutheran Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

That the Vatican should even wish to commemorate this event raises questions enough, but to replace the traditional figures of the Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the cross is outrageous. The unspoken message could not have been clearer.

The second image was the 2017 Nativity scene erected by the Vatican in St. Peter’s Square. Augmenting and overwhelming the figures of the Holy Family were figures that ostensibly represented the seven corporal works of mercy. Among those figures, one stood out: a robust young man with hipster stubble who had obviously spent considerable time in the weight room. He represented “clothing the naked.” But this figure was no pitiable wretch. Quite clearly, he wanted to be naked, and he darn near was.

Even if you didn’t know the actual sodomitical connections within this travesty, you knew in your gut that Christmas had been hijacked with the Vatican’s approval. The unspoken message could not have been more clear.

So go ahead, you theologians, canon lawyers, and bloggers: keep up the commentary. But this Bishop Sheen Catholic does not have the time to wait for a resolution of the current mess, for consensus as to how the faithful should respond, or for help that will not come in my lifetime. For us, it’s every man for himself.

I used to have a condescending view of Protestants, with their 50,000 different denominations and their personally tailored relationship with God. We Catholics, on the other hand, had the “fullness of truth,” a single, coherent theology, and an unerring pope. To be truly Catholic, it was necessary to accept all of it without reservation.

Comes now this papacy, bringing with it a Catholicism that Fulton Sheen would not recognize. If I reject this new Catholicism and cling to what I know to be the authentic Church founded by Jesus Christ, am I no better than one of those Protestants, who also reject Catholicism and adhere to a belief system more to their liking?

Of course I pray for the pope. But I cannot bring myself to pray for this pope’s intentions. Not that I know the man’s mind. But I have seen enough of the fruits of this tree to be wary of it. No more plenary indulgences for me, I guess.

Someday in the future, people will look back at the reign of Francis and understand what was going on. For those of us living in the here and now, however, especially those of us nearing the end of the journey, we must decide how to conduct ourselves based on the best available information. We must process this information using our own education; experience; and, yes, conscience, and act accordingly.

How do we continue to follow the general’s orders?

Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini (Our help is in the Name of the Lord).
00Thursday, March 1, 2018 2:22 AM


This image alone brings back the tremendous burden of poignancy one carries forever in the heart since our beloved Benedict announced his renunciation on February 11, 2013 - a poignancy made infinitely worse today because he could not have known the appalling magnitude of the unintended consequences brought on by his stepping down.

May God grant him the consolation that He alone can bring - and, though we are unaware what the Lord has in store for His Church at this moment in time, may that consolation redound to the good of the Church through these trying years without a shepherd worthy of the name and office.

00Thursday, March 1, 2018 2:53 AM

Why we should now consider
Germany as 'mission territory'

Senior German churchmen have made clear that they believe something
different than what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

by George Weigel

February 28, 2018

In his June 1908 apostolic constitution, Sapienti Consilio, Pope Pius X decreed that, as of November 3 that year, the Catholic Church in the United States would no longer be supervised by the Vatican’s missionary agency, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide). American Catholicism had grown up. The U.S. Church would now be a mission-sending Church, not “mission territory.”

This pattern has long characterized the organization of the world Church. Young local Churches begin as “mission territory” and their bishops are chosen in consultation with what’s now called the “Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples” (but which everyone in Rome still refers to by its old name, “Propaganda,” or simply “Prop”).

After these young Churches demonstrate that they can stand on their own spiritually, organizationally, and financially, they cease being “mission territory” and relate to the Roman Curia like the older local Churches; the bishops of these newly “graduated” local Churches are thus chosen in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops.

The rapid de-Christianization of Europe, however, prompts a thought-experiment:
- What should the Church do when this process of ecclesial maturation slips into reverse?
- Where do venerable but collapsing local Churches “fit” in their relationship to the Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church?
- If there can be a (sometimes lengthy) period of ecclesiastical apprenticeship during which a young, growing local Church is supervised by Propaganda Fide, might there be a parallel arrangement for decaying older local Churches, in which they’re taken into a form of ecclesiastical trusteeship aimed at rebuilding their evangelical, catechetical, and pastoral strength?
- And if we can imagine that (admittedly bold) move, which Roman agency should be the trustee?

For purposes of this thought-experiment, my nominee would be the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It seems the logical place. John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, the Magna Carta of the New Evangelization, called for urgent evangelism among Christians who had fallen away from the practice of the faith, or who had been poorly catechized, or who had, more likely, suffered both maladies, the latter contributing to the former.

That seems to describe most of the Church in western Europe. So perhaps the Church’s central administration should stop relating to dying European local Churches as if they weren’t dying, and recognize that they are, in fact, mission territory. But rather than putting such local Churches back under the supervision of “Prop,” put them into trusteeship under the supervision of a reconstituted and re-staffed Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization – just like a failed company that goes into Chapter 11 bankruptcy is supervised by a trustee until such time as the company can stand on its own feet again.

What would happen under this “trusteeship”? Again, let’s think outside the box. [It's an intriguing set of propositions but whether they're even doable at all under the present papal dispensation is highly questionable.]
- The trustee agency would recommend to the Pope replacements for failed bishops and nominees for empty sees, drawing candidates from around the world who had demonstrated success in enlivening a sclerotic or corrupt local Church. [How would one define a 'failed bishop' in this case, and would the pope, who alone can appoint bishops, agree with such a definition? Since all but a literal handful (you can count them on the fingers of one hand) of bishops in Germany promote and thrive on their apostate and heretical positions on Catholic doctrine and practice, then the latter must all be considered failed bishops, starting with Cardinal Marx who currently heads the German bishops' conference and is among the pope's advisers. How do you replace some 200 bishops in one fell swoop? And shouldn't they be the first objects of New Evangelization?]
- Pastoral life in the moribund local Church and the structures of its national bureaucracy would be examined by Catholics who are expert in making organization serve evangelization; those consulters would then make recommendations to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization for mandated reforms.
- There would be apostolic visitations of seminaries and houses of religious formation, led by seminary rectors and religious men and women from living and growing communities, who would recommend needed changes; the trustee agency would then mandate their implementation.

Where might this form of trusteeship be tested? How about Germany? The practice of the faith is dying there. Senior German churchmen have made clear that they believe something different than what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whether the issue is the nature of marriage, the ethics of human love, the character of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood, the authority of revelation, or the enduring effects of baptism.

And what could be more appropriate on the quincentenary of the Reformation than to call German Catholicism to a thoroughgoing Catholic reform?

Perhaps this thought-experiment – putting the German Church into ecclesiastical trusteeship – isn’t the answer to the Church’s German problem. But recognizing that Germany is mission territory is the beginning of any serious analysis of a grave situation, and any serious thinking about how it might be addressed.

Meanwhile, the intrepid Cardinal Sarah denounces the lack of faith on evident display by many bishops exemplified by those in Germany...

Cardinal Sarah:
'I denounce the lack of faith
in a betraying clergy'

by Marco Tosatti

February 27, 2018

In recent days, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was in Belgium for a presentation of his book, God or Nothing. He responded to certain tendencies to modify Catholic morality, in particular in regard to marriage and the family, as well as the Church's teaching on life issues.

Could some of his words be read as a response to the recent remarks of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, of the Vice-President of the German Bishops’ Conference Franz Josef Bode, and of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna?

It seems the answer is yes. Speaking to a church full of people, including the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal De Kesel, Mayor Woluwé-Saint Pierre, and Abbot Philippe Mawet, in charge of French-speaking pastoral ministry, who had criticized Sarah’s book a few days earlier in an article in the left-leaning daily Libre Belgique, the cardinal called out the ideologies and pressure groups that “with powerful financial means and ties to the media, attack the natural purpose of marriage and commit themselves to destroying the family unit.”

But the cardinal from Guinea, speaking in one of the most devastated local Churches of all of Europe, was not afraid to include tough words directed towards his brothers in the episcopate. “Some high-ranking prelates, above all those coming from opulent nations, are working to cause modifications to Christian morality with regard to the absolute respect for life from conception until natural death, the question of the divorced and civilly remarried, and other problematic family situations. These ‘guardians of the faith’ however ought not to lose sight of the fact that the problem posed by the fragmentation of the ends of marriage is a problem of natural morality...

These major drifts become manifest when some prelates or Catholic intellectuals begin to say or write about ‘a green light for abortion,’ ‘a green light for euthanasia.’ From the moment that Catholics abandon the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium of the Church, they contribute to the destruction of the natural institution of marriage as well as the family and it is now the entire human family which finds itself fractured by this new betrayal on the part of priests."

In this year in which the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae is being celebrated, the cardinal spoke without making any effort water down his words:

“The Church needs to turn to the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI as well as to the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on these vital questions for the human race. Pope Francis himself remains in the same line with his predecessors when he emphasizes the union between the Gospel of love and the Gospel of peace.

The Church needs to affirm with strength and without ambiguity the Magisterial weight of all of this teaching, display clearly its continuity [with Tradition] and protect this treasure from the predators of this world without God."[/dim

In an interview given to Cathobel, Cardinal Sarah underscored that the Church today ought to face up to the great questions concerning “her fidelity to Jesus, to his Gospel, to the teaching which she has always received from the first popes, from the councils… none of which is evident when the Church is made to adapt herself to the cultural context, to modern culture.”

And then on faith: “Faith has become lacking, not only on the level of the people of God but also among those responsible for the Church, sometimes we can ask ourselves if we really have faith.”
Cardinal Sarah recalled the episode of the priest in Turin who omitted praying the Creed at Christmas Mass, saying, “I think that today there may be a great crisis of faith and also a great crisis of our personal relationship with God.”

And on Europe?

“Not only is the West losing its soul, but it is committing suicide, because a tree without roots is condemned to death. I think that the West cannot renounce its roots, which created its culture and its values...

There are chilling things happening in the West. I think that a parliament which authorizes the death of an innocent baby, without defense, is committing a grave act of violence against the human person. When abortion is imposed, especially on nations in the developing world, saying that if they do not accept it they will no longer receive aid, it is an act of violence. And it is no surprise. When God is abandoned, man is also abandoned; there is no longer a clear vision of who man is. This is a great anthropological crisis in the West. And it leads to people being treated like objects.”

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