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00Friday, March 1, 2019 12:23 AM


Please see preceding page for earlier posts today, 2/28/19.


And many thanks for the labor of love by Scenron at La Vigna del Signore on the anniversary banners above, and by Fr Z for the photos below:

And at 8:00 p.m., Rome time, on February 28, 2013, the doors of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo close to mark the end of Benedict XVI's pontificate.

00Friday, March 1, 2019 1:48 AM

Cardinal Pell with lawyer Richter.

If someone like Austin Ivereigh can tweet the following, you have to believe
Cardinal Pell is innocent of what he has been convicted for doing:

Comments on the Pell verdict:
Is it justice being served or anti-Catholic Australia
seeking to further discredit the Church?

By the CWR staff

February 27, 2019

Today the Vatican Press Office stated that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be conducting an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell, allegations of which Pell was found guilty by an Australian jury in December 2018. That verdict, which found Pell guilty of five counts of sexually abusing minors [one minor] in 1996, was only made public this week, after prosecutors dropped additional allegations against Pell dating back to the 1970s.

This statement was issued by the interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti:

After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm. The results of that investigation will determine what disciplinary actions, if any, the Vatican will take against Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and of Sydney who, until three days ago, was prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

On Tuesday the Vatican confirmed that “precautionary measures” have been imposed on Cardinal Pell — he is “prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors” —during the course of his sentencing by the Australian court and the expected appeal process. Pell, who has maintained his innocence, was taken into police custody today to await sentencing on March 13.

Some observers have drawn contrasts between how the Vatican is handling the Pell case and how it handled the case of the former archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Once the accusations against McCarrick were made public, his removal from the College of Cardinals, his banishment to a life of “prayer and penance,” and his eventual removal from the clerical state, took place in a number of months.

John Allen, writing in Crux, explains the difference between the McCarrick and Pell cases: “It’s actually fairly simple: Early on, senior officials were convinced of McCarrick’s guilt. With Pell, they still aren’t.”

Over the last couple of days, Crux has spoken with some of the Catholic Church’s leading reformers on clerical sexual abuse, inside the Vatican and out. To be clear, these are not people automatically inclined to give accused clergy the benefit of the doubt, and several are figures who actually dislike some of Pell’s political and theological stances as well as what’s often see as his fairly bruising personality. Nonetheless, they’ve expressed skepticism that Pell is actually guilty of the crimes with which he was charged and convicted.

The irony is that the people in the Vatican most inclined to welcome Pell’s conviction aren’t really reformers on sexual abuse, but those lukewarm about house-cleaning on the financial front who resented Pell’s challenge to the status quo during his brief tenure as the Vatican’s financial czar.[/dim

Allen details the problematic elements of the prosecution’s case, also outlined by George Weigel at National Review under the headline “Why the case against Cardinal George Pell doesn’t stand up”. Weigel writes:

Before the trial, one of the complainants died, having told his mother that he had never been assaulted. During the trial, there was no corroboration of the surviving complainant’s charges. Other choirboys (now, of course, grown), as well as the choir director and his assistant, the adult members of the choir, the master of ceremonies, and the sacristan all testified, and from their testimony we learn the following: that no one recalled any choirboys bolting from the procession after Mass; that none of those in the immediate vicinity of the alleged abuse noticed anything; that indeed nothing could have happened in a secured space without someone noticing; and that there was neither gossip nor rumor about any such dramatic and vile incident afterward.

Notwithstanding this evidence of Cardinal Pell’s innocence (an innocence affirmed by ten of the twelve members of the first trial jury), the second trial jury returned a verdict of 12–0 for conviction. Observers at the trial told me that the trial judge seemed surprised on hearing the verdict. The verdict and the finding of the first, hung jury suggest that, in the media circus surrounding Pell, a fair jury trial was virtually impossible. That point was recently conceded by the attorney general of the State of Victoria, who suggested that the law might be amended to permit bench trials by a judge alone in such cases — an option not afforded George Pell.

In an essay for First Things, titled “The Pell Affair: Australia Is Now on Trial”, Weigel further argues:

No one doubts that the Catholic Church in Australia was terribly negligent in dealing with clerical sexual abuse for decades. No one who actually knows the history of Catholic reform in Australia can doubt that the man who turned that pattern of denial and cover-up around was George Pell —who also had the honesty and courage to apply the stringent standards he imposed on others accused of abuse to himself.

If Pell is made the scapegoat for the very failures he worked hard to correct, the gravest question must be raised about Australian public opinion’s capacity for reason and elementary fairness — and about the blood lust of an aggressively secular media, determined to settle political and ecclesiastical scores with one of the country’s most internationally prominent citizens, who dared to challenge “progressive” shibboleths on everything ranging from the interpretation of Vatican II to abortion, climate change, and the war against jihadism.

A report by Catholic News Agency — which published details of the Pell verdict in December, despite the Australian court’s gag order —illustrates why senior Vatican officials, including those who are otherwise disinclined to favor Cardinal Pell, may well be wary of his “guilty” verdict:
- CNA reported after Pell was convicted that the evidence advanced by prosecution relied entirely on a single accuser, one of the alleged victims.
- The second alleged victim did not give evidence in court. The court did hear evidence that the man told his mother at least twice that he had not been a victim of sexual abuse, before he died of a drug overdose in 2014.
- The other former choir member, who did testify in court, reportedly told the deceased man’s mother only after the man died that both had been abused by Pell.
- According to the prosecution, Pell and the choir members “went missing” from a recessional procession at the end of a Mass celebrated by the archbishop in 1996. Pell is alleged to have abused the choristers somewhere within the cathedral sacristy immediately following that Mass.
- The defense’s legal team produced records that showed that during the period between August and December 1996, when the abuse was alleged to have taken place, Pell only celebrated the cathedral’s 10:30 Sunday Mass twice.
- The court also heard witness testimony that Pell had been with guests immediately following Mass on one of the two Sundays.
- According to evidence given at the pre-trial hearings in March 2018, on both of the Sundays at which Pell said the 10:30 Mass, the choir held practices for the taping of a Christmas performance immediately following Mass, when the absence of two choristers would have been immediately noticed.
- Evidence was also presented which showed that the layout of the cathedral did not match the narrative of the prosecution.
-The court had previous heard evidence from a pastoral associate at the cathedral, Rodney Dearing, who testified that Pell required help to remove his vestments after every Mass, and it would have been nearly impossible for the archbishop to expose his genitals while fully vested, or to commit other sexual acts in the vestments.
- Dearing also told Victoria police that the layout of the cathedral did not align with the accusations.
“I can’t understand, knowing the layout [of the cathedral] and how things worked, how it could have occurred,” Dearing told police, according to Australian media reports filed before a gag order on the trial was instituted.

How then to understand the 12-0 “guilty” verdict, reached after the jury in the first trial against Pell had been deadlocked 10-2, with the majority in the cardinal’s favor? Frank Brennan, a Jesuit priest who was present for the Pell proceedings, writes that he was “devastated by the verdict”:

My only conclusion is that the jury must have disregarded many of the criticisms so tellingly made by [Pell’s defense lawyer] Richter of the complainant’s evidence and that, despite the complainant being confused about all manner of things, the jury must nevertheless have thought — as the recent royal commission discussed — that children who are sexually violated do not always remember details of time, place, dress and posture. Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him. The jurors must have judged the complainant to be honest and reliable even though many of the details he gave were improbable if not impossible.

Pell has been in the public spotlight for a very long time. There are some who would convict him of all manner of things in the court of public opinion no matter what the evidence. There are others who would never convict him of anything, holding him in the highest regard. The criminal justice system is intended to withstand these preconceptions. The system is under serious strain, however, when it comes to Cardinal Pell.

The events of the Victorian parliamentary inquiry, the federal royal commission, the publication of Louise Milligan’s book Cardinal and Tim Minchin’s song "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)" were followed, just two weeks before the trial commenced, by the parliamentary apology to the victims of child sexual abuse. … Such things tend to shift not the legal, but the reputational, burden upon an accused person to prove innocence rather than the prosecution to prove guilt.

Was the verdict unreasonable? Can it be supported having regard to the evidence? Those are questions for the appeal court. I can only hope and pray that the complainant can find some peace, able to get on with his life, whichever way the appeal goes. Should the appeal fail, I hope and pray that Cardinal Pell, heading for prison, is not the unwitting victim of a wounded nation in search of a scapegoat.

A piece in today’s edition of The Age has several quotes from close friends and acquaintances of Pell:

Anne McFarlane said the cardinal had been staying with her family during legal proceedings this year and last year.

“Living with Cardinal Pell for so much of the past eight months, driving him to and from court, and sitting in support of him on many occasions, I have come to know him on a day-to-day level… his needs are very simple, he is completely humble and undemanding and he is very grateful for any kindness or help at all,” she wrote. “I don’t even recognise the George Pell who is portrayed in the media.”[dim]

She said Pell offered the family support when her daughter gave birth to a baby who was very sick and while her 51-year-old sister was terminally ill. “Over the years of our friendship I have been well aware of the portrayal of Cardinal Pell in the media and it is a far cry from my experience of him,” she said.

Others who submitted character references to the court included Sue Buckingham, the founder of religious group David’s Place, which helps people who are homeless and disabled; Ellie Heiss, the former coordinator of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry; and a former colleague at the Archdiocese of Sydney, Daniel Casey. [None in the Vatican, or any of Australia's active prelates, could or would offer such a character reference for Pell? They could have done so, if they wished, making clear that they were speaking on their own behalf and not in the name of the Vatican or the Cburch.]

Finally, regarding media coverage of the trail, Reuters reports:

Dozens of Australian reporters and editors may face jail sentences for their coverage of George Pell’s child sex abuse trial after being issued with legal notices asking why they should not be charged with contempt of court. … The maximum penalties for contempt of court in Victoria state are five years jail and a fine of more than A$96,000 ($69,000), while a company can face a fine of nearly A$500,000.

Victoria’s The Age newspaper on Tuesday said that the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had issued 32 show cause notices to its journalists and other mastheads owned by parent Nine Entertainment Co asking them to explain why they should not be charged. [What exactly did they do? One had the impression that Australian media did not dare break the court’s embargo against reporting the verdict in December.]

I think a significant pendant to the Pell story is one that few in the MSM have touched upon, which was the subject of Mark Lambert’s blogpost yesterday:

Archbishop who gave closing homily at
sex abuse summit under investigation

By Mark Lambert

February 27, 2019

Yesterday Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, spoke out about Cardinal Pell:

The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia.

The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system. The same legal system that delivered the verdict will consider the appeal that the Cardinal’s legal team has lodged. Our hope, at all times, is that through this process, justice will be served.

In the meantime, we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable.

Coleridge delivered the homily at February 24 Mass closing the Meeting on “The Protection of Minors in the Church” pledging to make the Church a safe place for everyone. In that homily, Archbishop Coleridge spoke of the concealment of abuse and said that when this happens, the powerful show themselves not men of heaven, but men of earth.

Today it emerged that Archbishop Coleridge is being investigated by his former archdiocese over his alleged handling of information on child sex abuse. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn said an independent investigation was being conducted after the church was made aware of the allegations a few months ago.

So here we have an Archbishop who knew he was under investigation, yet nonetheless, thought it entirely appropriate that he attend the Vatican summit on child sexual abuse. [And deliver the closing homily, no less, and asked to do so by the pope who, we will be told, I am sure, was not aware at all of any investigation of Coleridge for mishandling of a sex abuse case].

Coleridge has been at the heart of controversy on a few occasions. Back in October he tweeted he doesn’t ‘want or have’ Jesus as King.

Twitter obviously deprives its users of common sense, as when papal pet Cardinal Tobin tweeted 'Nighty-night, sweetie!" or something. How could Coleridge think his blasphemous tweet would go unnoticed?

He also demonstrated his credentials as a Francis "groupie" by publicly mocking Archbishop Viganò and Cardinal Zen. He also allowed a semi-nude, sexually charged fashion show to take place in one of his archdiocese's churches.

I think we know this man's quality.

Today, in a post entitled “I stand with Cardinal Pell”, Lambert also provided this video link
with this commentary:

Watching the The Bolt Report on Pell, it struck me how much of a Christ like figure he cuts; a sorrowful servant, having given himself for the Church, often standing up and facing the secular narrative straight-on and now walking his own Via Dolorosa while abuse is hurled at him. The report gives some details about the situation, and some idea of the febrile atmosphere in Australia which makes a fair trial for Pell impossible.

I will stand with Cardinal Pell and my heart breaks for him, alone, hated and in prison. I pray the Lord sends His angels to comfort him, and I implore you to pray for him.

March 1, 2018
P.S. I am posting a great piece of satire by the redoubtable Eccles that hits the mark on just about everything wrong with Cardinal Pell's 'kangaroo trial'...

The case against Cardinal Pell

March 1, 2019

We are delighted to include an exclusive interview with Billy Bong, one of the jury who recently convicted Cardinal Pell of sex offences.

Now, Billy, how did you get to be on the jury?
Well, I answered an advert, which said "Jury members wanted for high-profile trial. The successful candidates will have an IQ of 80 or less, be virulently anti-Catholic (if possible, freemasons), and to have had their consciences surgically removed." Unfortunately, I had already missed out on an earlier advert.

What was the earlier advert?
"Story-writing competition. Make up a tale involving Cardinal Pell committing sex abuse. 200 dollars paid for the best fantasy."

I see. Now, the original trial resulted in a hung verdict, 10-2 in favour of Pell. Why did things swing round so far for the second trial?
Well, we knew he must have done something, even if we weren't sure of the details. Think how many comedians use "Catholic = child abuse" as a very very funny joke, even better than the old racial jokes about aboriginals and sheep that we used to love. So what could we do but find him guilty?

What about the evidence that he was actually outside the cathedral chatting to the congregation at the time he was supposed to be in the sacristy?
Look, Catholics believe in miracles, don't they? So it must have been possible.

And exposing himself while wearing alb, stole, chasuble, etc. over his trousers?
This was the prosecution's point entirely. Under his clothes he was completely naked!

And the witness not being cross-examined?
They didn't want to upset him by pointing out that he was either a liar or a lunatic. (They'd had so much trouble with the other witness, a junkie who kept changing his mind.) Inspector Plod of the anti-Catholic Task Force ("Flying Plod of the Yard") went to great trouble to write his testimony in green ink, and he didn't want to rewrite it.

How about "Thou shalt not bear false witness"?
Oh yes, oh yes. They warned us that Catholics would try to confuse things by digging up out-of-date theological arguments... Aaaarggh!!! Can we stop now??? My brain is giving off steam!!!

Mr Bong, thank you very much.

00Friday, March 1, 2019 5:41 PM
In this lengthy article, Robert Royal does a yeoman's job of assessing the Bergoglio pontificate through the lens of major English-language books that have been written about him so far. Only two of the six books he reviews are pro-Bergoglio. (No pope - in the age of mass publishing - has ever had so many negative books written about him in just the first six years of his papacy. We should not forget that many negative books about Bergoglio have been published in Italian and Spanish - some far harsher than the English ones. Aldo Maria Valli and Marco Tosatti alone have each already written four critical books about Bergoglio thus far, against one defensive book by Andrea Tornielli, for example). Even if I do have criticisms and reservations about some of Royal's statements (and oversights), I fervently agree with him that this pope himself described what he is doing best, with the words 'Hagan lio!' (Make a mess)... The whole course of this pontificate so far has made the familiar question of Royal's title for this article a genuinely concerning one instead of the flippant rhetorical paradox it had always been.

Is the pope Catholic?
By Robert Royal

Winter 2018/19

Books discussed in this essay:
o The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, by Austen Ivereigh. Henry Holt and Co., 464 pt], $30 (cloth), $16 (paper)
o The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy, by Marcantonio Colonna. Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $26.99
o The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, by George Neumayr. Center Street, 288 pages, $27
o The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church, by John Gehring. Rowman & Littlefield, 286 pages, $34 (cloth), $26 (paper)
o Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis Is Misleading His Flock, by Philip F. Lawler. Gateway Editions, 256 pages, $26.99
o To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, by Ross Douthat. Simon & Schuster, 256 pages, $26

Even when, as at present, the Catholic Church exercises very little direct political or social power, its continued witness to the world after two millennia retains a compelling grandeur. Empires rise and fall, revolutions come and go, but the Church — miraculously — endures, despite great internal troubles, a great pre-modern bulwark [pre-Bergoglio, that is] in the modern day against shallow rationalism and moral relativism.

And so when the Catholic Church seems to have become unsure, or divided, about its own meaning — as it has been since Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in March 2013 — the world notices.

In one of the early, defining moments of his papacy, Francis told the 3 million young people assembled in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013, “hagan lío,” a phrase from his native Argentina that means “raise a ruckus” or, more literally, “make a mess.” He presumably wanted them to bring fresh energy into the daily life of the Church and the world. The prudence of asking young people to do what they are already inclined to do anyway — knowing little, as they do, of the Church or the world — is debatable.

But there’s no question that in his various efforts to stir things up, Pope Francis has in many ways, figuratively and literally, made a mess of the stewardship entrusted to him.

[In fact, Royal calls attention here to what not a few commentators at the time remarked with some outrage. Uttered about five months since he became pope, the two words best describe what he himself was setting out to do - and has done a remarkable job of it six years into his pontificate. 'Hagan lio"- make a mess was the real Bergoglian buzzword and take-home message from Rio - not "Who am I to judge?" said a few days later, which instantly drove out "Hagan lio!' to near oblivion. A phrase recalled every so often only by commentators like Fathers Zuhlsdorf and Hunwicke whenever they contemplate the latest Bergoglio-generated lio and/or the overall mess that his pontificate has made of the Church he was elected to lead.]

Several recent books help us to understand that mess and its broadening repercussions.

The British journalist Austen Ivereigh published the earliest [not] and, despite the flood of books since, still the most important[???] biography in English of the new pope, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (2014). [For some reason, in this omnibus review, Royal overlooked Pope Francis: Untying the Knots published in September 2013, months before Ivereigh's book, by another British author Paul Vallely, with a far greater reputation as a journalist and author than Ivereigh ever had. The book was very well-received at the time, and one reviewer said that it "stands, in terms of seriousness of purpose and depth of understanding, head and shoulders above other recent rushed biographies of the new pope'. Royal's omission of the Vallely book is even more surprising in that two years later, Vallely wrote a much expanded version in which, as the Amazon blurb says, he "reexamines the complex past of Jorge Mario Bertoglio and adds nine new chapters, revealing many untold, behind-the-scenes stories from his first years in office that explain this Pope of paradoxes".]

Francis is the first pope from Latin America, and Ivereigh has an advantage over other commenters because he wrote his doctoral thesis at Oxford on Argentine history, a notoriously treacherous subject, which was later published as Catholicism and Politics in Argentina, 1810–1960 (1995).

He also worked for the late Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster and one of several bishops who, as Ivereigh himself admits in the book, collaborated to elevate Bergoglio to the papacy, unsuccessfully in 2005 when John Paul II died and then in 2013 when Benedict XVI stepped down.

Ivereigh did serious research on Bergoglio for his book and conducted numerous interviews with people who knew the future pope in his earlier life. [By all accounts, so did Vallely, but he did it earlier.] All this enabled the author to situate a basically unknown figure at the time of his election within the various social, political, and religious currents of his native environment.

The great disadvantage of Ivereigh’s work, however, is already clear from the title. It would be wrong to say that the book is pure hagiography; it admits Bergoglio made mistakes. But even the most admiring biographer cannot make much of a case that the future pope was highly successful — as a reformer or in anything else — in Argentina.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope. When he became the provincial superior of the Jesuits in Argentina during the 1970s, he was so divisive a leader that his tenure ended after only six years. He then held various positions and pursued studies intermittently, in and out of Argentina, but remained so controversial that in 1992 he was asked not to reside in Jesuit houses any longer.

Through friendship with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino of Buenos Aires, he was recalled from a kind of internal exile, made an auxiliary bishop in the capital, and later succeeded his patron as archbishop. There certainly wasn’t much evidence of his carrying out reform, great or otherwise. Vocations were few and Church initiatives modest, though he did start sending more priests into poor areas to minister to the marginalized. [Someone recently recalled how a wheelchair-bound Quarracino travelled to the Vatican specifically at that time to beg John Paul II to make Bergoglio his auxiliary bishop - against the now well-known objections of the then Jesuit Superior General Hans von Kolvenbach. It hasn't been explained why Quarracino was so taken by Bergoglio.]

When the Vatican was considering making Bergoglio a cardinal in 2001, then Jesuit Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach wrote a letter to John Paul II advising against it because of the controversies Bergoglio had provoked over many years and, it is said, because of psychological instability. (The letter, it is also said, has disappeared from the archives.) The basic facts here are not in dispute.

Francis has admitted that he saw a psychiatrist during a troubled period in his life, and he did not really repair his relationship with his religious order— which remained broken for 37 years—until he became pope. What Bergoglio became famous for — and Ivereigh does a good job in highlighting, while remaining silent about the lack of achievements — was his presentation of himself as a man who lived simply and, quite conspicuously, did not embrace the usual perquisites of a prince of the Catholic Church. [I believe Royal is the first commentator to make this observation about the lack of achievements and to state it quite so so bluntly.]

People all over the world have learned of how he took the subway and not a limousine (often not even a car) to meetings, lived in a modest corner of the episcopal palace in Buenos Aires, and gave personal attention to ordinary people he encountered. He is the first successor of Saint Peter to take the name Francis — after Il Poverello, the little poor man, as Francis of Assisi is affectionately known in Italy. [In short, the epitome of style over substance - or perhaps, all style (albeit faux humble) and no substance.]

Although amplified to mythic proportions by an enthralled media, the new pope’s emphasis on simplicity and humility is genuine [This may be so, but name any of his predecessors going back at least to Pius IX in the 19th century, who was not simple and humble. In other words, he is not the first pope who is simple and humble, but certainly the first one who all but trumpets it from the rooftops, as is his warm affection when interacting with the homeless, disfigured, or otherwise marginalized [and wasn’t the affection shown un similar circumstances i=by John XXIII, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI just as warm – there are videos and photos galore to show this – so why single out Bergoglio for this trait? I do not include Paul VI because from what I recall of the videos and photos I saw of him, he rarely allowed any ‘warmth’ to break through his habitual reserve] - and both traits go a long way toward explaining the enthusiasm that greeted the first days of his pontificate.

[I don’t think it was those ‘traits’ per se, as much as the hyper-hype the media made of them, instantly exalting everything he said or did as ‘the first time a pope ever said or did such and such’. It reached a point where they actually made it appear he was the first pope who ever smiled! The hype was so much that everyone instantly seemed to have forgotten the great and genuine originality of John Paul II, whom the media immediately displaced with Bergoglio as ‘the most popular pope ever’ within days of the latter’s election. And I am surprised a man of Robert Royal’s sophistication appears to have bought the media hype.

I still think the most genuine comment made about the new pope at the time came from the man Bergoglio named to succeed him as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, who remarked a few days later on his surprise at finding that the person he had always found ‘funeral faced’ (his term) in Buenos Aires was suddenly this beaming pope basking in previously unexperienced popularity. I have yet to see a picture of Bergoglio in the midst of an admiring crowd from his Argentina days. Maybe none exists, or we would have seen it endlessly reproduced online, like those couple of pictures taken of him during one subway ride in Buenos Aires, when none of those around him seemed particularly interested that he was there.]

Whatever his track record in Argentina, Francis was elected to be a reformer, yet in the six years since he became pope, the rot in the Church has only become worse.
- Vatican finances, despite promises and early steps to make them more transparent, are still a murky—sometimes criminal—mess.
- The Roman curia (the Vatican offices charged with running a church of 1.2 billion people all over the globe) tell any visitor willing to listen these days that they are confused about their mission.
- The pope has shown himself quite willing to blur several Catholic teachings in order to meet [more than] halfway some of the worst developments in modern culture — a popular move with liberals and non-Catholics, but a betrayal for serious Catholics.
- And in several countries as well as the Vatican itself, the Church has been engulfed (again) by a lurid scandal of largely homosexual predation and cover-up, which — judging from the unhurried bureaucratic responses ranging from clumsy P.R. spin to stony silence — shows little sign of being seriously dealt with in Rome.

This latest disgrace has damaged Catholicism’s moral credibility, touched high cardinals and Church officials (former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick most notably), including some of the pope’s closest confidantes, and even shaken public confidence in Francis himself — so much so that Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Vatican nuncio (ambassador) to the United States, has called on him to resign.

At the center is the rather enigmatic figure of Jorge Bergoglio, who seems to inspire intense dislike and equally intense admiration at each point in his life, forcing those around him to form factions for or against him.
- He came of age while Juan Perón dominated Argentine politics.
- Later, after the military coup in 1976, he had to try to protect his people while the generals who had taken control of the government conducted their guerra sucia (dirty war), sending death squads to silence political dissidents.
- Bergoglio learned to speak ambivalently in public. Like Perón, he boldly tells different groups what they want to hear, even if he often contradicts himself.
- This characteristic lack of precision and consistency can be found, for example, in Francis’s recent rewording of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which now makes it appear as though sacred Scripture and the entire history of Christianity can be waived aside when it comes to the permissibility of capital punishment. [I cannot believe Royal could downplay the gravity of Bergoglio’s unilateral and singlehanded amendment of the Catechism to a mere ‘rewording’.]

For many people inside and outside the Catholic Church this has raised the question: Are other moral teachings also now up for grabs, or just the ones liberals don’t like? Perhaps nowhere is his studied ambiguity more evident than in the notorious 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), which among its 261 pages (it is the longest single document ever produced by a pope) buries in a footnote deliberately vague language in order to give the impression that adultery no longer bars one from receiving Holy Communion.

Bishops, priests, and laypeople throughout the Church issued open letters, begging the pope to bring much needed clarity to the matter, without success. In politics a certain amount of studied ambiguity can be a useful tool. But in religion — especially when it comes to some of the most burning current issues — ambiguity can look like confusion, or even surrender.

The most critical assessment of Pope Francis, and in some ways the most insightful (though perhaps not entirely accurate) is The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy by Marcantonio Colonna. The author’s name is a grand Renaissance pseudonym; the original Marcantonio Colonna served as one of the victorious admirals at the 1571 naval battle of Lepanto against the Ottoman Turks, a turning point in repelling the Muslim threat to Christian Europe. Before the book was revised for print, after first appearing in an online version, the author was revealed to be Henry Sire, an Oxford-trained historian who had been living for years in Rome.

Sire makes a damning case that — notwithstanding Francis’s public image as a humble and holy man — the pope is a kind of peronista, high-handed in his methods and cunning in employing the kind of populist manipulation he learned by watching Juan Perón.
- Francis himself has admitted that as a young Jesuit superior he was overly authoritarian, and the three synods he has called in the past four years, which are meant to be episcopal assemblies for assisting and advising the pope, certainly had the appearance of having been stage-managed to predetermined outcomes.
- Francis also indulges a fiery Latin temper in private — and, often enough, in public. His many colorful insults (“fomentor of coprophagia,” “museum mummy,” “creed-reciting, parrot Christian,” “sourpuss,” etc.) — so many, in fact, that a “Pope Francis Little Book of Insults” has been compiled online — are amusing in a way, if you aren’t Catholic or don’t think they ill befit the vicar of Christ.
- But they also contradict the much celebrated softer, gentler side of the pope: he frequently preaches that to insult a person violates his or her dignity [and he does so in the very act of insulting those Catholics he dislikes, the only category of people he insults. Non-Catholics get a blanket pass from him.] His authoritarian characteristics get little notice, however, by media who think they’ve found an ally.

A good portion of Sire’s animus stems from Francis’s rough handling of the Knights of Malta in 2016, an episode he sees as emblematic of much of the Vatican’s activities under this pope.
- It had been discovered that a high official of the Order, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager, had allowed contraceptives to be distributed by one of its charitable agencies, a violation of Catholic moral teaching. He was swiftly removed from his position.
- In the power struggle that ensued, Francis ignored the Order’s sovereign independence [Royal shows remarkable understatement in his assessments of this pope - what Bergoglio did to the Order of Malta was clear and open violation of the sovereignty of an entity which has the same sovereign status in international law as the Vatican itself, but of course, the UN and its judicial agencies, for whom Bergoglio has been acting as chief advocate and agent to the planet at large, would never call him out on this or anything else] - and roughly took personal control, reinstating von Boeselager and improperly requiring the Grand Master of the Order to step down.
- The pope even injected his personal representative into the mix, sidelining Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Order’s officially designated “patron” (who already under Francis had been removed as the head of the Vatican’s highest court and shifted to this largely ceremonial position).
- After The Dictator Pope was published, Sire himself was first suspended and eventually expelled from the Order.

The episode with the Order of Malta is consistent with several trends within the Francis papacy, from his appointment of dubious prelates around the world to his inner circle (three of whom resigned under a cloud of scandal at the end of 2018), to his restructuring of the former John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, appointing officials at best indifferent, if not openly hostile, to what the Church teaches on conjugal love.

At the same time, Francis has been seeking to decentralize decision-making from Rome to the various regional episcopal conferences within the Church (not to mention the accord he signed with Communist China that gives the government a role in the appointment of bishops). ['Decentralize decision-making' sounds like a joke after he strangled the US bishops' attempt to sort out their problems with their erring members by flatly ordering them to shelve it for the summit he was holding in Rome three months later! He claimed in Evangelii gaudium that he wanted the bishops and episcopal conferences to have autonomy even in doctrinal matters which would lead to just what resulted after Amoris laetitia, in which neighboring dioceses ended up having opposite pastoral practices depending on whether they considered AL in the light of two millennia of Church tradition, or by Bergoglio's 'light' as he institutionalized it in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.]

Sire’s observations largely agree with George Neumayr’s relentlessly ideological reading in The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives (2017). A contributing editor (and former executive editor) of the American Spectator, Neumayr views Pope Francis mainly as a Marxist, which is not entirely mistaken but too systematic for such a freewheeling figure.
- We know that in Argentina Bergoglio opposed Jesuits who had embraced Marxist forms of liberation theology, alienating that wing of the Order.
- He believed God’s people wanted justice and relief from poverty and oppression, not class struggle. [Excuse me, Mr. Royal. How can that be when his ’social justice’ rhetoric relentlessly foments the class struggle by depicting ‘the rich’ as totally evil simply by being rich, and ‘the poor’ as absolutely sinless simply by being poor?]
- At the same time, he absorbed i.e., [internalized and made his own] some of the Marxist tropes common for decades in Latin America — and often a proxy for anti-Americanism.

It’s important to realize the unique history of Argentina, even within Latin America, as a powerful influence on the pope. The Peruvian novelist and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa is said to have written: “There are countries that are rich and countries that are poor. And there are poor countries that are growing rich. And then there is Argentina.”

There is almost no parallel to such a country, which once had one of the world’s largest economies, becoming — by mismanagement and corruption — an ongoing story of decline. [A pattern Bergoglio has brought to Rome in order to destroy the Catholic Church – though he appears convinced that he is really ‘changing’ the Church instituted by Christ because he knows better what a church ought to be.] At present, Argentina is going through another round of runaway inflation, after several years when its GDP actually shrank. It’s no surprise that other Latin Americans often speak of Argentinians as both arrogant and resentful.
- From the very beginning, Francis spoke about globalized capitalism as an “economy that kills” — not noticing [more accurately, 'ignoring' it because the facts do not fit his ideas] that it has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.
- With his first full encyclical, Laudato Si’ (subtitled “On care for our common home”), he made extreme, unrealistic environmentalism a kind of touchstone of his papacy.
- And he has pushed immigration — essentially open borders — in ways that, combined with his insistence that Islam is a religion of peace, have cost him respect in Europe.
- And not only in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Brexit Britain, but even in Italy, where 50% youth unemployment has made utopian schemes for resettling large numbers of mostly poor Middle Eastern and African immigrants deeply unpopular.

Francis’s positions are unfailingly couched in terms of “mercy” — a slippery word often invoked in this pontificate that has taken on ideological as well as traditional meanings. Perhaps the most egregious example of this kind of politics was the 2016 conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus.
- Modern Catholic social teaching dates from 1891, when Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, the first attempt by a pope to respond to the Industrial Revolution and modern societies’ changed economic conditions.
- Leo rejected socialism as incompatible with human nature and good social order, but accepted modern capitalism and industry insofar as they acted responsibly and in harmony with moral principles.
- Instead of the revolutionary class struggle, he called for cooperation between business owners and workers, even allowing a proper role for labor unions — long thought in Europe to be socialist tools — partly inspired by American models.

Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year”) celebrated the anniversary of Leo’s great encyclical, but also the annus mirabilis, the miracle year 1991, when Communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites finally fell. You might have expected that the Vatican would invite figures central to that struggle like Lech Walesa to its conference — Catholics who had fought for the rights of workers and all citizens under Communist oppression. Instead, the main speakers included
- Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, both essentially Latin-flavored Communist presidents;
- Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia and a United Nations stalwart [and foremost advocate of drastic population control by mass abortion]; and,
- in an American election year, socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The Vatican under Francis has a very poor working knowledge of the United States, and a largely jaundiced view of it. In the first edition of The Dictator Pope, Sire claimed, without corroboration, that the Vatican — to compensate for the welcome given Sanders — had given Hillary Clinton’s campaign $100,000 taken from Peter’s Pence, the annual collection from the faithful in support of the Holy See’s charitable work.

Many people, myself included, expressed doubts at the time that the Vatican would do anything so reckless and nakedly partisan. In the new hardback edition, Sire contents himself with saying that the claim has been “repeatedly rumored from reliable sources” and argues that one reason the Vatican summarily fired Libero Milone, a layman who was auditor general of finances, was that he was getting too close to this and other potential scandals.

A great enthusiasm drives John Gehring’s The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church (2015), which focuses on what he regards as a strong spirit of renewal that the pontiff has injected into the Church and society in general.
- He quotes a Boston pastor: “I’m telling you, brother, if you focus on the numbers, you’re missing the story…. There’s an energy, a feeling, a spirit here. It’s like a healing balm.”
- The emphasis here has to be on the spirit of renewal because the expected bump in the number of people participating in Church, the sacraments, and religious activities of all kinds has not happened.
- in fact, the numbers continue to worsen.

Part of the “Francis effect” is to have exacerbated existing divisions and tensions within the Church, sometimes producing strong opposition to the Holy Father among Catholics themselves.

Attendance at the pope’s Wednesday audiences in Saint Peter’s Square and visitors to the Vatican more generally are at record lows compared to his two predecessors [after record-setting highs in the first eight months of the pontificate.]

Perhaps it’s worth noting that Gehring works at Faith in Public Life, one of the many liberal Catholic organizations that have benefitted from the largesse of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. As the world learned, thanks to Wikileaks and Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails, Soros, through well-known Democratic operatives like John Podesta, supported a whole network created precisely to infiltrate the Church in America, in other countries, and in Rome itself.

Faith in Public Life is a spinoff of Podesta’s Center for American Progress. There’s no law, of course, against people financially supporting causes in which they believe. Using non-Catholic funds in an attempt to undermine the Church’s teaching, however, is a twist that deserves serious scrutiny. Still, it’s unlikely that even Francis shares all the leftist goals of Faith in Public Life. For instance, he called the movement to normalize the recent “transgender” craze a form of “ideological colonization.” [His current tune, until he gets around to normalizing LGBTQXYZ.]

Gehring writes with conviction and verve, and anyone looking for a blueprint on how a pope might be used to construct a radically political Catholicism could do worse than to start with him.
- He deplores the way the Church allegedly became part of the “culture war” in America under John Paul II and Benedict XVI — the “Republican Party at Prayer,” he acidly calls it, repurposing the old quip about Episcopalians.
- He prefers the progressive strain within the Church that has taken liberal stances on welfare, poverty, immigration, war and peace, and much else.

The history here is relatively well told, but it reads Catholicism almost exclusively through partisan political lenses, describing the pope’s appointment of bishops, for example, as “Francis Builds His American Base.” In a funny way the arch-progressive Gehring and the arch-conservative Neumayr agree on at least one thing: the Church under Francis has become much more focused on progressive political coalitions and community organizing.

Philip Lawler’s Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis Is Misleading His Flock is the best brief study for anyone who wants to understand the specifically religious — that is, the theological and ethical — aberrations of this papacy.

A longtime distinguished Catholic journalist, Lawler was an early enthusiast for the new pope, but had a conversion experience when he noticed one day that the pope was inverting the meaning of the day’s Gospel, not just being unclear (as he often is when speaking off the cuff), but actually contradicting what Jesus was saying and what had been the Catholic Church’s teaching for two millennia: that no man may put asunder what God has joined together in marriage, and that to do so and remarry is adultery. And this was not just a passing blip.

The pope has pushed about as strongly as he can, without provoking an open schism, the idea that divorce and remarriage are not obstacles for a Catholic to receive Communion. This may seem a trivial question to non-Catholics or something that should have been superseded long ago, but Catholics take seriously Jesus’s prohibition of divorce recorded in the Scriptures. It so shocked his listeners that even his own disciples responded: “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

Lawler makes clear that this is not the only way in which the pope has been confusing people.
- Contrary to what many people, even many Catholics, now believe, the Church does not teach that a pope is simply infallible in his every action or utterance. ]
- He’s an infallible authority on faith and morals when he teaches what he and the rest of the Church have received from Christ and the Apostles.
- He cannot merely make things up as he wishes.
- What’s more, Pope Francis was elected specifically as a reformer —of the curia, the abuse crisis, Vatican finances — not a modernizer or innovator.

Nonetheless, he sent out early warning signs that he wasn’t much interested in fighting “the culture war,” for example, when he denounced “rigid” Catholics for “insisting” and “obsessing” on questions like abortion and homosexuality. As Lawler notes, “it hardly seemed necessary to complain about an ‘obsession’ with issues that are rarely even mentioned in a typical parish.”
- To many people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who have sacrificed time and treasure over decades to defend family, marriage, and unborn human life, the remark was taken as a gratuitous insult.
- It did not help when, on a flight back from Brazil, Francis pronounced one of the most repeated lines of his papacy. Queried by a reporter about homosexuals, specifically the rumored escapades of one of his closest collaborators, the pope responded, “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?”
- He did not say that homosexual behavior was okay, as many do when they use the phrase. In fact, he’s often said quite the opposite. But the world heard what it wanted to hear — a perhaps deliberate ambiguity that made him “Person of the Year” on the cover of the Advocate magazine. [But now that the milestones have been identified in Bergoglio’s resolute march towards ‘normalizing’ homosexuality, the world did hear him right the first time! Why is Royal finessing this aspect for Bergoglio?]

There are probably only two people in the world who ought to watch every word they say: the American president, who can inadvertently start a war, and the Roman pontiff, who may weaken the whole moral structure of society.

Soon after his election, Francis remarked, “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” Sure, these are problems, especially in the developed world, but even there can they be the “most serious of the evils”?

Here Lawler puts his finger on a continuing problem with this pope: his inability to speak, and even think, clearly [on things that really matter for the faith and the faithful – because he is very clear, and even rather colorful, in his denunciation and contempt of all who do not agree with him or are simply not his type of Catholics].
- Even on relatively non-controversial subjects like these, he sends out strange messages.
- On other occasions, he seemed to deny the reality of Hell or mused about changing the wording of the Lord’s Prayer. [He did not just muse on it. He actually coerced the Italian bishops into immediately implementing his translation of ‘ne nos inducas in tentationem’.]
- And no one has been able to persuade him not to speak so recklessly. [Because he thinks he knows everything and better than anybody, than Jesus himself – and so he had the audacity to assert that ‘everything I say is magisterium’.]
- The Vatican press office has frequently had to issue retractions, qualifications, or even denials.

So what does all this mean for the Catholic Church and the world in the 21st century? Ross Douthat initially believed the pope was only presenting a more welcoming face of Catholicism, while quietly remaining traditional. In To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, the New York Times columnist argues that this papacy raises questions not only about the direction of the Church, but about our civilization:

People in France and Britain and the United States fear Western Christianity’s eclipse, they fear the collapse of community outside the posh mega-cities and the disappearance of the natural family everywhere, they fear what global capitalism, elite secularism, and Islamic self-assertion will mean for what remains of Christian civilization in Europe.

These fears are not irrational, and recent trends have sharpened them, which is part of why Western politics has moved in a more populist and nationalist direction. But under Francis Rome has moved the other way, so that instead of a fully Catholic alternative to right-wing nationalism the Vatican seems to be offering conservative Catholics only judgment on their shortcomings, their chauvinism, their anxieties and lack of charity toward all.

Douthat puts his argument in the context of a much more balanced, less partisan reading of recent Catholic history than Gehring’s, focusing especially on the divisive watershed of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its aftermath. Francis, it is worth noting, is the first pope to have been ordained a priest after the council.

In Douthat’s reading, the Council gave rise to three main currents in the Catholic Church (with parallels in Western culture more generally).
- The first, rooted in the actual conciliar documents, was moderately conservative, opening up to modern democracy (there had already been a substantial history of Christian Democrat parties in Europe) with a greater emphasis on human liberty, but in continuity with the Church’s pre-modern and natural law principles concerning human nature and society.
- That moderation was mostly swamped by the radical cultural currents of the 1960s, even within the Church.
- Priests and nuns abandoned their religious vocations in droves (membership in Francis’s own Jesuits is now only about a third of what it was in 1960.)
- Ancient liturgies, Church architecture and ornament, and devotional practices were swept away by an alleged “spirit” of Vatican II.
- The radical current in Catholicism subsided somewhat, as did the radical shifts in all of Western culture, and settled into what Douthat sees as a moderately liberal faction.

There was a partial recovery of a more confident, faithful Catholicism under the long pontificate of John Paul II — by any measure one of the great moral figures of the last quarter of the 20th century. He not only reined in the centrifugal forces in the Church, but in a large corpus of encyclicals and books over a papacy that lasted 28 years, he set a different tone — both morally and intellectually — for the Church as a whole.

He was followed by the mild, scholarly Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), a former member of the Academie Français [Not 'former member' - academicians are elected for life] and at 91 still perhaps the greatest living Catholic mind. [Rather short shrift for B16, as if all he can be remembered for is his mind, not what he did it with it to uphold and defend the faith.]

Until quite recently, a fair observer would have said that the Catholic Church is a basically conservative institution with a substantial liberal segment among active Catholics, all living within what Douthat sees as a kind of cultural truce. But the instability of that arrangement quickly appeared after Pope Benedict resigned in 2013, claiming that he was too old to deal with the massive reforms needed in Rome. [No, he said he was too weak in his advanced age to carry out the tasks of a pope in our day. But such tasks are not limited to 'massive reforms', by which Royal here means administrative reforms - as if what he did to open up Vatican finances to the scrutiny of the world, never done before in the history of the Church, was not the most radical administrative move ever done by any pope since the Gregorian reforms.]
- This almost unprecedented move — the last pope to resign was Celestine V in 1300 — sent shockwaves through the Church.
- The cardinals who met to elect the next pope were seeking a bold reformer to clean up the sexual and financial scandals in which the Church found itself mired. [Once again, the language implies that Benedict XVI did nothing about either sexual or financial 'scandals' when, as with financial reform, it was he who first - and almost singlehandedly at the start - confronted the 'filth' in the Church in a systematic way.]
- What they got instead, observes Douthat, is someone who wishes not to renew but to change the Church — vaguely but radically — in several respects. [Not vaguely at all, oh no! His agenda is crystal-clear to him, as it is to concerned Catholics who have kept track of his heterodoxies – if not outright heresies and apostasy – and connected all the dots spelling out ‘church of Bergoglio’ instead of ‘the Church of Christ’.]

The “change” that Francis is pursuing necessarily involves dismantling the work of his two great predecessors, especially their efforts to restore an emphasis on truth and natural-law thinking.

Douthat believes that conservatives were too optimistic to think that the 35 years of the John Paul and Benedict papacies had permanently tamed the cultural radicals.
- The Church has long been the most significant alternative to modernity’s emphasis on personal feelings and situational ethics.
- Under Francis, it has not exactly abandoned the old truths [not all, so far, but some very fundamental ones, yes], but they’ve been hedged in with a studied uncertainty that threatens to make them virtually ineffective.
- As clear affirmations of truth and justice recede, “dialogue” and “openness” become ends in themselves.

The central battle in the past two years has been over — what else— sex. Catholicism presents a very clear, cogent view on all forms of sexual activity.
- True love expresses itself as a total, faithful, fruitful, lifelong union, modeled on Christ’s love for his Bride, the Church.
- That means no sex outside of marriage, and marriage between a man and woman, for life.
- Jesus's own words on marriage as an indissoluble covenant between one man and one woman were the undisputed standard of all Christian communities for centuries.
- This established doctrine clashes with essentially everything that has emerged from the sexual revolution: artificial contraception, easy divorce and remarriage, cohabitation, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism.

These may seem secondary matters compared with the essential truths of the faith; but as Douthat carefully shows, the debate here is not only over moral principles but also over two fundamentally opposed views of what it is to be human.

The first pages of the Hebrew Scriptures say human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. And right after, “male and female He created them”. Douthat says that if Jews and Christians got that wrong from the start, you could argue — and many have —that they’ve gotten everything else wrong since.
- Foundational notions about the human person and the family that have fostered our civilization are put in jeopardy.
- The most radical shifts on sex lead to today’s toxic identity politics.

For Douthat, this would have been an ideal moment to raise the church’s banner, to offer a distinctively Catholic sort of synthesis:
- one that would speak to the right’s fear that the West’s civilizational roots are crumbling and to the left’s disappointment with the rule of neoliberalism;
- one that would offer a Christian alternative to the aridity of secularism, the theocratic zeal of Islamism, and the identity politics of right and left.

Francis has done none of that: instead he has riven the only institution that might have elaborated such an alternative. As the books reviewed here make clear, Pope Francis seems more a product of the crisis of confidence that pervades the West than someone who can alleviate it.

Douthat’s conclusion in particular is harsh but warranted: “Hagan lío! Francis likes to say. ‘Make a mess!’ In that much he has succeeded.”

Robert Royal is president of the Faith & Reason Institute and author, most recently, of A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century (Ignatius Press). He is also the editor and lead writer of the website THE CATHOLIC THING.

Meanwhile, know-all-know-best Bergoglio - who thinks he can improve on God - has gone another step farther in affirming his personal rejection of the death penalty under any circumstances whatsoever, as being the only right view about it - never mind that all over the Old Testament, God affirms its rightness when needed. Now Bergoglio would have the faithful believe that his word is above Revelation itself - exactly as one of his spokesman, the monstrously dishonest lifelong plagiarizer Thomas Rosica, came down one day from the Sinai of Casa Santa Marta to let the world know... It was a blasphemy the Vatican has never rejected, so we must assume Bergoglio approves of it. The hubris of this self-trumpeting humble man truly knows no bounds...

Pope Francis attempts to overrule God
by Chris Ferrara

February 28, 2019

In a video message to something called the Seventh World Congress Against the Death Penalty, Francis once again attempts to impose his will on a matter of divine revelation, replacing what God has revealed with what he thinks on the matter.

It is God who declares “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made He man” (Gen 9:6). And it is God Who, as we read in the 20th chapter of Leviticus, dictated to Moses the death penalty for human sacrifice and other grave offenses against the divine and natural law.

Accordingly, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches, capital punishment, “far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this commandment which prohibits murder.

What God has revealed and even directly prescribed is not pleasing to Pope Francis, however. In the cited address he has the supreme audacity to contradict God’s explicit sanction of capital punishment and 2,000 years of Church teaching defending it, declaring once again (after having already had the John Paul II Catechism amended to reflect his opinion) that because “man has been created in the image and likeness of God… capital punishment presupposes, therefore, a grave violation of the right to life every person has.”

So, whereas God cites man’s creation in His image and likeness as the moral foundation of capital punishment, Francis cites the divine image and likeness as the basis for declaring it immoral!

In support of this outrageous attempt to impose his personal opinion on the Church in defiance of what God Himself has revealed, Francis offers nothing more than the gratuitous assertion that “The Church has always defended life, and her vision of the death penalty has matured." Matured, that is, only after Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s arrival from Buenos Aires and his election as Pope.

This nonsense would be laughable were it not for Francis’s occupancy of the Chair of St. Peter, which he has been abusing with ever greater recklessness.

Francis concludes his diatribe with an exhortation to world leaders to “take the necessary steps toward the total abolition of the death penalty.” But never, absolutely never, has he exhorted world leaders to take the necessary steps toward the total abolition of abortion, which really is a radical violation of the right to life and can never be justified under any circumstances.

What is to account for this telling disparity? The answer, as Ed Faust has so trenchantly observed, is that Francis is not so much a Pope as he is a Leftist ideologue. Thus, as Faust explains:

“We have the Pope telling us now that the holy season of Lent offers us an opportunity to liberate the plants and animals from the bondage imposed upon them by our sins.

The Pope does this because the Pope is a Leftist. He serves the globalist agenda…. We can be certain that so long as Francis has the papal bully pulpit, he will use it to subordinate the Faith to the rising power of globalist rule. Heaven help us, because Rome won’t.”

And Heaven will help us. That divine intervention, whenever it comes, will sweep aside the ecclesial novelties of Francis, along with those of the past half-century, as if they never were. They have no part of Tradition, and with the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, they will disappear like the cockle that “is gathered up, and burnt with fire.” (Matt 13:40).

Pope Francis moves closer to calling
the death penalty 'intrinsically evil'

As if God never had spoken about it in Scripture
and the Church has taught error for 2000 years

by Diana Montagna

ROME, March 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has moved closer to calling the death penalty intrinsically evil but stopped short of doing so explicitly.

In a video-message delivered this week to the VII World Congress Against the Death Penalty, taking place at the European Parliament in Brussels from February 27 - March 1, Pope Francis hardened further his opposition to the death penalty, once more seeming to imply that this is always and everywhere wrong, contrary to Catholic teaching prior to his pontificate.

Sponsored by ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty), in collaboration with the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, the conference is part of an organized effort to universally abolish the death penalty through public campaigns and government lobbying at both national and international levels.

Addressing conference organizers and participants on Wednesday, the Pope argued that the death penalty is “a serious violation of the right to life that every person has.”

“Human life is a gift we have received, the most important and primary, source of all other gifts and all other rights. And as such it needs to be protected,” he told conference participants.

“Moreover, for the believer the human being has been created in the image and likeness of God. But for believers and non-believers alike, every life is a good and its dignity must be guarded without exception...

"The Church has always defended life, and her vision of the death penalty has matured. For this reason, I wanted this point to be modified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For a long time the death penalty was taken into account as an adequate response to the gravity of some crimes and also to safeguard the common good. However, the dignity of the person is not lost even if he has committed the worst of crimes. No one can be killed and deprived of the opportunity to embrace again the community he wounded and made suffer."

He therefore called the goal of abolishing the death penalty worldwide a “courageous affirmation of the principle of the dignity of the human person” and of “the conviction that humankind can face crime, as well as reject evil, by offering the condemned person the possibility and time to repair the damage done, think about his action and thus be able to change his life, at least inwardly.”

Renowned Catholic philosopher Edward Feser, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California, is one of the foremost contemporary writers in the Thomistic tradition, and a leading expert on the Church’s teaching on the death penalty.

He is the author of such works as The Last Superstition, Scholastic Metaphysics, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed (with Joseph Bessette) and the forthcoming Aristotle’s Revenge.

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed is a study and defense of the perennial Catholic teaching on the death penalty as legitimate in principle and often advisable in practice even in contemporary social conditions.

In comments to LifeSite, Feser said: “For the most part, Pope Francis’s latest statement on capital punishment just repeats things he has said before, but there is one element that is not only new but possibly even more problematic than his previous remarks...The pope says that the death penalty is ‘a serious violation of the right to life that every person has,’ “That obviously gives the impression that capital punishment is a species of murder, and thus always and intrinsically evil rather than wrong only under modern circumstances.

“And that claim would flatly contradict scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and every pope who has spoken on this subject prior to Pope Francis...

To take just one example, Pope Pius XII explicitly said that a murderer “has deprived himself of the right to live,” so that the state does no wrong in executing him. Francis seems to be directly contradicting Pius XII, as well as, again, other popes such as St. Innocent I, Innocent III, St. Pius V, St. Pius X, and even St. John Paul II, who acknowledged that capital punishment can at least in rare cases be legitimate...

The First Vatican Council solemnly taught that popes have no authority to invent new doctrines, even when speaking infallibly, and the Second Vatican Council solemnly taught that the Church is the servant of scripture and not its master. Yet the Pope’s remark appears to be a new doctrine and one that contradicts scripture.

Popes sometimes make such doctrinally problematic statements when not speaking infallibly, though it is extremely rare. The best known cases are Pope Honorius I and Pope John XXII. John XXII recanted his erroneous teaching on his deathbed, whereas Honorius was condemned by his successors.

An anonymous Dominican to whom LifeSite spoke worried about the consequences for all doctrine and the Church’s teaching authority in light of the approach Pope Francis is taking to the death penalty.

“By saying that the Church’s ‘vision’ of capital punishment has ‘matured’, Pope Francis is apparently attempting to conceal the fact that his personal opinion about capital punishment, which he is attempting to impose upon Catholics, is contrary to what the Church has always taught and believed.

Countering the Pope’s claim that the death penalty is an intrinsic offense against human dignity, the Dominican theologian argued:

“Capital punishment does not ignore what remains of human dignity in the criminal, nor does it deprive him of his opportunity to repent. It takes his dignity seriously by inviting him to recognize the gravity of his crime...It arguably makes repentance more likely by concentrating his mind on the thought of his imminent death,”

Readers will recall that, last August, two weeks after Pope Francis ordered that the teaching on capital punishment in the Catechism of the Catholic Church be revised, a group of 75 clergy, lay scholars and prominent public intellectuals took the unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the College of Cardinals, urging them to tell Pope Francis to teach the authentic Catholic doctrine on the death penalty.

Titled An Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, the letter was published in First Things. Its 75 signatories include Fr. George Rutler and Fr. Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of New York, respected theologian and writer, Fr. Brian Harrison, and Fr. Andrew Pinsent, a physicist and member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University.

Also numbered among the signatories are professors of philosophy, theology, law, and history from Catholic institutions across the globe, including Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette, noted authors of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of the Death Penalty (Ignatius Press, 2017).

Recalling the scholars’ appeal last August, the theologian said in comments to LifeSite: “It is urgently necessary that the cardinals respond to the appeal that was made to them last year to advise the Pope that he must put an end to this scandal and teach the word of God, not his personal opinions.” [Yeah, but none of those wusses would dare say anything to him - I don't know what circle of Hell Dante would assign them to. It's been month since the pope singlehandedly and unilaterally changed the Catechism - did we hear from any of them? NO. And I doubt any of them bothered to answer that petition specifically addressed to the cardinals of the Church. In fact, how many of the world's priests even made it the subject of ahomily to uphold God's Word in the face of this pope's hubristic opposition and defiance?]

A British Catholic historian based in the United States has also questioned the defensibility of the Pope’s latest statement on the death penalty. Dr. Alan Fimister is an Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and Director of the Dialogos Institute, which encourages debate on legitimately disputed theological questions among Catholics.

In comments to LifeSite, Dr. Fimister suggested that, taken in a certain in way, Pope Francis’s judgement may not be contrary to Catholic teaching, but noted the judgment is not his to make.

“In order to employ the death penalty two conditions must be fulfilled: the criminal’s offense must be sufficiently grave to deserve death, and the application of the death penalty must be necessary to defend human life...

“The infliction of grave and irreparable harm on a victim of crime always undermines the rule of law and thus public safety, because the temporal power cannot adequately redress the harm with non-lethal measures. It is in these circumstances that the two aforementioned conditions are usually fulfilled. The Roman Catechism mentions murder and rape in this regard...

“The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to the commandment which prohibits murder... The end of the commandment is the preservation and security of human life (and) the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage [i.e. rape] and violence.,,

It is because both these conditions are required that society historically has not executed all criminals guilty of capital offences... Clearly Pope Francis does not consider the second of the conditions (i.e. that the application of the death penalty is necessary to defend life) to be fulfilled at this time.

As an individual he is obviously entitled to make that judgement, but it is the laity — who properly wield the temporal power — to whom that judgement belongs in an official capacity. To seek to take that judgment from them is a form of (no doubt inadvertent) clericalism...

[What is more] “theologically problematic is the denial that the death penalty is legitimate in principle, for to make this assertion would be contrary to the unbroken teaching of the Church from Scripture all the way down to Benedict XVI.

“Insofar as Pope Francis’s words are open to this interpretation that is unfortunate... When people, even clerics, feel strongly about political questions of great moment they often omit to distinguish clearly between matters of principle and prudential (but very important) considerations."

[A brief abstract about 'prudential judgment' defines it as the application of moral principles to a particular case in order to do good and avoid evil, since achieving pure goodness is not always possible. A USCCB pamphlet on 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship' notes that “The Church fosters well-formed consciences not only by teaching moral truth but also by encouraging its members to develop the virtue of prudence, which St. Ambrose described as ‘the charioteer of the virtues.’" In any case, to exercise it, the individual is advised to "put aside any personal motives, including partisan preference or individual gain that might cloud his judgment". I think it is one of those matters of conscience that one does not really get to think about until and unless one is faced with a specific case, e.g., the death penalty.]
00Sunday, March 3, 2019 7:56 AM

The United Nations and its various agencies, of which Jorge Bergoglio is the world's leading agent today, has been actively working for the global normalization not just of homosexuality
and transgenderism but also of pedophilia

Fr. Z cited the following article recently to raise yet another alarm on the 'smallstep' strategy by Jorge Bergoglio to subvert Catholic doctrine a
nd therefore, the faith itself, which, as pope, he is dutybound to uphold and defend. I do have major reservations about a couple of Mr. White's premises.

The stakes are being raised
An open attempt to normalize
homosexuality in the clergy

by Stephen P. White

February 28, 2019

- Last week’s summit in Rome did not address the problem of clergy harassing and abusing adults.
- It did not address the issue, which Pope Francis has acknowledged, of gay subcultures among the clergy.
- It did not say much about the virtue of chastity.

What the summit in Rome did focus on was protecting minors from sexual abuse by members of the clergy: the most glaring and widely acknowledged facet of the current crisis and the primary source of the Church’s loss of credibility with the faithful.

[NO! That was always the media narrative which Mr. White seems to buy into. And it is wrong. Since 2002 when the clerical sex abuse scandal first erupted into the arena of public discourse, the term 'pedophilia' has been commonly and conveniently - very loosely and most erroneously - used to describe the sex offenses committed by the clergy, even if study after study since the 2004 John Jay College study on the incidence of clerical sex abuse by US priests has consistently shown that at least 80 percent of such abuses are committed on post-pubertal boys and young male adults. The resulting widespread but very wrong impression in the public mind that 'pedophilia' is the root problem enabled and facilitated the Vatican to frame this summit in terms of 'the protection of minors'. And Mr White seems to be OK with that because he concludes:
Which is to say, the Rome summit was a start.

There is, of course, very good reason to distinguish, both morally and legally, between the abuse of a minor and the abuse of an adult. And the fact is that the Church in the United States is (hard though it may be to believe) ahead of the global curve when it comes to treating the sexual abuse of children as the grave matter it is.

But it is also the case – and the last eight months should have made this perfectly clear – that when the Church says it has “zero tolerance” for the abuse of minors without the stomach for rooting out or addressing the abuse of those who just happen to be past the age of majority, the result is a credibility gap.

When Theodore McCarrick was accused last summer of having abused a seventeen-year-old boy – the first accusation against him involving a minor – the Church acted swiftly. But of course, McCarrick had been accused for years of molesting “adult” seminarians – two dioceses paid out settlements – and the repercussions for McCarrick were mild and ineffectual. He was even for a while allowed to live in a seminary.

Which brings us to another cause of the credibility gap: The Church’s reluctance to address the fact that the vast majority of those abused, at least in the United States, have been male. After 2002 the “gay priests question” became an ecclesiastical third rail. Surely no bishop wants to be accused of conducting a witch-hunt. And by many accounts, there are a significant number of Catholic priests today – and presumably at least some bishops – who experience same-sex attraction.

Meanwhile, Catholics who express concern about a “gay lobby” in the Church are often dismissed as homophobic ideologues for suggesting that clerical sexual abuse might have something to do with disordered sexual desires among clergy. A 2011 John Jay report, which concluded there was no causal relationship between homosexuality and the abuse of minors, seemed to put a lid on things.** For a time.

Then came McCarrick, and the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and a summer of disturbing stories of abuse and homosexual subcultures in seminaries in Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, and Lincoln. The matter is suddenly not so settled anymore. But now, it’s not just the usual “conservative” voices calling for the Church to look more closely at the connection between homosexual clergy and the abuse crisis.

Last July, the Catholic journalist Robert Mickens wrote in The Washington Post, “There is no denying that homosexuality is a key component to the clergy sex abuse (and now sexual harassment) crisis. With such a high percentage of priests with a homosexual orientation, this should not be surprising.” [Because 80 percent of priestly sex abuses in the USA were committed on male victims does not mean 80% of priests have 'a homosexual inclination', as Mickens puts it, even if Frederic Martel claims anecdotally in his book that 80% of priests and prelates working in the Vatican are homosexual. And we will never know the true percentage of priests and prelates with a 'homosexual orientation' because many of them (perhaps most of them) have mastered and sublimated such orientation and not advertised themselves to all and sundry by objectionable and unpriestly conduct as their overtly homosexual colleagues do.]

Mickens wasn’t defending the Church’s prohibition on admitting men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to the priesthood. Mickens was arguing the opposite: that the Church has aggravated the abuse crisis by driving priests and seminarians deeper into the closet.

More recently, a Dutch group called the “Working Group of Catholic Gay Pastors” published an open letter to Pope Francis in which they wrote,“We believe that the current major crisis with respect to [the sexual abuse of children and minors] is primarily the result of the disapproval, suppression, denial and the poor integration of sexuality, and especially homosexuality, on the part of many individual priests and within our Church as a whole.”

Earlier this month, The New York Times ran a lengthy piece under the heading: “‘It Is Not a Closet. It Is a Cage.’ Gay Catholic Priests Speak Out.” Like Mickens and the Dutch priests’ letter, the Times piece insists there is no causal connection between homosexual tendencies and the abuse of children. But like the others, the Times piece also concedes that there are many homosexual priests, that this has in some way contributed to the current crisis, and that the solution is not to keep gay men out of the priesthood or in the closet, but to allow them to live their lives “freely, openly, and honestly.”

[T]hey find ways to encourage one another. They share books like Father James Martin’s groundbreaking “Building a Bridge,” on the relationship between the Catholic and L.G.B.T. communities. Some have signed petitions against church-sponsored conversion therapy programs, or have met on private retreats, after figuring out how to conceal them on their church calendars. Occasionally, a priest may even take off his collar and offer to unofficially bless a gay couple’s marriage. Some may call this rebellion. But “it is not a cabal,” one priest said. “It is a support group.”

These three pieces represent a shift away from denying a connection between homosexuality and the abuse crisis and toward an open attempt to normalize homosexuality among clergy. The stakes, in other words, have been raised.

Pope Francis, for his part, has reiterated (more than once) the Church’s prohibition on admitting men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to seminaries. He reportedly told the Italian bishops, “If you have even the slightest doubt, it is better not to let them in.” He has upset activists by saying of homosexual priests and religious, “It would be better if they left the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life.” [I am surprised White takes Bergoglio at his word on this.]*

Last week’s summit in Rome focused on protecting minors from sexual abuse. It was a start. But it was, in many ways, very far from the end.

[Can you consider a start a start if it is a false start, as this one was? It was a 'show start' that did not address what it ought to have addressed, and therefore false and meaningless in every way.]

*Which brings me to the Bergoglio statements White cites as though they necessarily mean this pope means what he says. His record of doublespeak and doublethink has become all too familiar in the past six years. Indeed, no one is a better textbook illustration of George Orwell's concept in his novel 1984 of 'doublethink' and its consequent corollary, 'doublespeak'. Here is what Orwell wrote about doublethink, a key element of the totalitarian regime he writes about in 1984:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

In 1984, Orwell's definition of 'political speech' is what came to be known as 'doublespeak' later:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible … Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness … the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Where 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..."/dim]

Thus, in a book, Beyond Hypocrisy, social critic Edward Herman (1925-2017), a collaborator of Noah Chomsky, wrote:

What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or program.

[So to be taken in by Bergogliospeak is to succumb to his doublethink and doublespeak.]

** I was unable to post this item until I could do some basic research: The 2011 John Jay college report for the USCCB was entitled The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 and caused far less attention than the 2004 report entitled The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002.

The inherent flaw in both studies was that they were focused on the sexual abuse of minors as their titles indicate, which is a reflection of the predominant mindset at the time - and still today, despite McCarrick - in both the Church hierarchy and in the public mind that pedophilia was the major crime committed in these abuses. I don't believe anyone ever questioned this premise until McCarrick's misconduct with seminarians and young priests was exposed.

A secular psychologist who reviewed it at the time said that the 2011 report was the most comprehensive study on child sexual abuse of any major organization ever conducted.

In summary, the report states that
- Clergy sexual abuse of minors in the American Catholic Church is a historical problem with the vast majority of cases occurring from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s.
- 94% of all cases occurred before 1990 and that 70% of clergy offenders were ordained as priests before 1970.
- They conclude that these numbers, as well as the style and type of abuse is fairly consistent with other large organizations (think public schools, boy scouts, and so forth) with men who had unsupervised and unlimited access to minors during the last half century (and most especially during the 1960s and 1970s).

The report concludes that the vast majority of clergy sex offenders are not pedophiles at all but were situational generalists violating whoever they had access to.
- Pedophiles, by definition, seek sexual gratification from pre-pubescent children of one gender and target this age and gender group (especially while under stress).
- Clergy sexual offenders in the Church were more likely to be targeting whoever was around them (and they had unsupervised access to) regardless of age and gender.

What most news reports and commentary did emphasize in 2011 was that "the researchers conclude that

there is no causative relationship between either celibacy or homosexuality and the sexual victimization of children in the Church.Therefore, being celibate or being gay did not increase the risk of violating children. So, blaming the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on gay men or celibacy is unfounded."

I looked through the 2011 report and its chapter summarizing its conclusions, where it says, among other things:

The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.

But looking into the section where the investigators describe the source of their data, it turns out that the 'clinical data' they refer to represented 75% of priests who were referred to 3 treatment centers for their proclivities. (pp 51-55). One summary of such cases listed a total of 2,512 priests, yet the conclusions drawn by the report from this sample was extrapolated to their conclusions on 'Clinical and Individual Factors' they attribute to all priest-abusers in general(Page 119 of the report). Not all of the 2,512 priests sent to treatment were among the 4,392 priest-abusers identified in the 2004 report, against whom allegations had been made by 6,700 individuals in the period 1950-2002. [That number represents about 4% of some 110,000 priests, deacons and religious who were active in the USA during the study period. This low incidence is nonetheless not negligible at all, if only because the abusers are priests.

But on the other hand, it is hardly to ever mentioned, even by most responsible Catholic commentators, counter the widespread and growing impression that the great majority of Catholic priests are sex offenders, or worst, rapists. Because the one other finding of the John Jay reports that iss hardly mentioned is that only 34% of the 11,000-plus victim allegations of sexual abuse reported by the dioceses consisted of oral sex or sexual penetration - the majority of acts reported ranged from sexual talk and touching under the victim's clothes, to hugging/kissing and masturbation.]

The 2011 report was based on an analysis of the 4,392 still-living priest-abusers identified in the 2004 report on the following criteria:
1) age of onset (first sexual offense as a priest) - Specialists (i.e., pedophiles) were significantly older than generalists, and pedophiles were significantly older than those who victimized older victims.
2) number of victims - Generalists had significantly more victims than specialists and also had more male victims.
3) duration of abuse - Generalists had a significantly longer duration of abuse than specialists.
4) socialization - Generalists were significantly more likely to socialize with the families of their victims than specialists.

The major limitation of the John Jay studies is that they were necessarily based on reports made by the dioceses, of which only seven out of 202 failed to submit the reports requested by the investigators. (Interestingly, only 60% of 221 religious orders for males in the USA chose to answer the surveys.) For all that, the data provided to the John Jay investigators, which they did look into and verify, is the best quantitative approximation that can be had of the nature and scope of the problem.

As someone who has had to justify and defend conclusions based on statistical significance for papers submitted for publication to scientific journals in the USA, I might point out that failing to show statistical significance for a cause-and-effect relationship between two conditions does not rule out the 'strong association' between those two conditions, whose statistical predominance leads in the first place to determining whether a definite cause-and-effect relationship can be postulated. (Statistical significance sets a higher bar than mere association - it means that the mathematical probability of the correlation between two variables in a situation, e.g., homosexuality and sexual abuse of male victims, is so high that the association cannot be by chance alone.)

00Sunday, March 3, 2019 9:00 AM

Left: Dolan leading a St Patrick's day parade dominated by 'Gay Pride' participants; right: with Gov. Andrew Cuomo at one of these parades.

As someone who started out greatly admiring Cardinal Dolan when he was appointed Archbishop of New York - and therefore my bishop - I share all the objections expressed in this article to what he has turned out to be...

The tragic tale of Cardinal Dolan
by Jesse Russell

In his justly famous Poetics, Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a character who commits an “error in judgment” springing from his hamartia or tragic flaw, a trait which causes the character’s success for the rising action of the play, but, finally and ironically, causes the character’s downfall.

In our weary, anxious, and melancholy age, which due to its farcical character has now been dubbed “pseudo-modern” by British literary theorist Alan Kirby, it is indeed difficult to find an Oedipus, Orestes, Achilles, or any other figure who could justly be called a hero.

Nevertheless, in our absurd era in which the attainment of a heroic ideal is as rare as “a snowbird in hell,” it is still possible to find tragic heroes, that is, men and women whose admirable qualities propel them to success but ultimately cause an “error in judgement” —usually due to the cardinal sin of pride — and bring about the tragic hero’s downfall.

During the 21st century, in the “conservative” (i.e., less liberal) wing of the American Catholic Church, there have been many who have fallen from the heights of power and grace.

Catholic figures who headlined the EWTN evening lineup in the 1990s such as Fr. John Corapi, Fr. Francis Mary Stone, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel, as well as more recent figures like Opus Dei priest Fr. C. John McCloskey, have crashed and burned as the charm and passion which propelled them to the heights of popularity during the “JPII era” eventually caused their Luciferean fall from grace.

These photogenic and engaging clerics represented the “conservative” proponents of Vatican II who promised to bring about “authentic renewal” and aggiornamento (“updating”) through ressourcement—in other words, a fanciful return to the Church’s “authentic primitive character” that supposedly had been corrupted by the harsh reactionary thinking of the Medieval and “Tridentine” periods.

However, even as they peddle a new relaxed and open Church decorated in smells-and-bells Catholic piety, these priests ended their careers in disgrace and shame —frequently due to sexual and/or financial misconduct — precisely because their passionate, “personalist,” and “Christian humanist” approach taught them not to be so serious or fearful of man’s fallen nature.

In the contemporary Catholic hierarchy, which, since the election of Pope Francis, has once again hoisted Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s flag of “Seamless Garment” liberalism and abandoned the moderate Novus Ordo conservatism of the John Paul II and Benedict XVI eras, there remains a powerful hold-out of conservative-leaning Christian humanism who, through his attempts to ingratiate himself to the world and play nice, has caused tremendous shame and scandal for the Church.

That man is Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the tenth Archbishop of New York, and one of the most visible Catholics in America.

In late January, Cardinal Dolan made headlines for his refusal to publicly excommunicate (or even reprimand) New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a practicing Catholic, who, on the 46th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, signed into law the “Reproductive Health Act”, which grants a pregnant woman “the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.” [The controversy over Dolan failing to excommunicate Cuomo was a false controversy because as canonist Ed Peters has repeatedly pointed out, his offense technically - and unfortunately - does not come under the list of excommunicable offenses in canon law. Yes, he may be - and ought to be - denied communion, but the opportunity does not arise in Cuomo's case because apparently he has stopped presenting himself for communion since he started living with a woman he still has not married after his divorce several years ago from a daughter of Robert Kennedy.]

This law, in effect, allows fully developed babies to be grotesquely murdered in their mother’s womb and, as some have argued, provides a springboard for legal persecution of pro-lifers who try to prevent a mother from killing her offspring in utero.

Rather than fiercely condemning Governor Cuomo and preparing the way for ecclesiastical punishment, Cardinal Dolan took a more “pastoral” approach, arguing through his spokesman that “excommunication should not be used as a weapon.” His Eminence even seemed to condescendingly dismiss those who were encouraging him to more direct and visible action against Governor Cuomo, stating, “those who call for someone's excommunication do so out of anger or frustration.”

[Both the cardinal and writer Russell could look at this statement by Ed Peter: "The only reason not to excommunicate Cuomo is that no canon law seems to authorize an excommunication against him on the facts as they stand today." Peters had earlier dismissed suggestions that Cuomo be excommunicated for heresy because canon law requirements to prove heresy are extremely specific and not met in Cuomo's case. Nor in Bergoglio's case, for that matter, and in his case, chiefly because as legitimate pope, he is the Church's supreme lawmaker and judge (even if he has flippantly said, "Who am I to judge?") and can overrule anyone and everyone. Which is why no one has yet come up with any answer to how to deal with a reigning heretical pope assuming his heresy(ies) is/are canonically established.]

Cardinal Dolan then took to social media to send out a barrage of pro-life sentiments and express his displeasure about the law. While such sentiments are seemingly noble, without action, they are ultimately hollow.

Moreover, as evidenced by the reactions to Cardinal Dolan’s weak-kneed platitudes on social media as well as in the Catholic press, a large segment of rank-and-file Catholics firmly believe that His Eminence will do nothing of substance to Governor Cuomo. As we have seen from almost 60 years of bad leadership in the Catholic episcopacy, once again, immoral American Catholic politicians will get away with furthering the moral ruin of our great nation.

Indeed, we have seen this before: pro-abortion “Catholic” (the two are mutually exclusive) politicians have for generations, now, received Holy Communion from liberal Catholic priests and bishops schooled in the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin era of the American Catholic Church.

What is so tragic about Cardinal Dolan, though, is that so many well-intentioned Catholics had placed their hope in him as a marked change of pace from the Bernardin era of Roger Mahoney, John Dearden, and Rembert Weakland.

Appointed as Archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002 to clean up the mess made by the disgraced Archbishop Rembert Weakland and later handed the reigns of the New York Archdiocese in 2009, Dolan was in many ways the quintessential post-Vatican II “conservative” (again, less extreme liberal) Catholic prelate.

Like the globetrotting, charismatic John Paul II — himself inspired by John XXIII, the “smiling Pope” — Timothy Dolan, the “smiling Cardinal” seemed ready-made for the limelight, cracking tasteful jokes and extending a welcoming hand and grin to friend and foe alike. While off-putting to some, Dolan’s goofy and perpetually grinning personality were chalked up by many as simply the sanguine eccentricities of Irish American bonhomie.

As he ascended through the ranks of power under the conservative-leaning but fundamentally flawed pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Dolan larded his resume with laudable words and actions that gave him a conservative pedigree and signaled to the Vatican that he could be trusted to be faithful to the Church’s traditional moral teaching.

Cardinal Dolan’s notable books, Priests for The Third Millennium (2000), Called to Be Holy (2005) and To Whom Shall We Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter (2008), are saturated with humorous and charming personal anecdotes and attempt to present a moderately conservative vision of a Church with a human face while embracing Vatican II’s call to “modernize” (i.e., capitulate to the forces of Modernism condemned by the pre-conciliar Popes).

However, since reaching his peak of power as Cardinal Archbishop of New York [he was president of the USCCB in 2010-2013], Dolan has lost the respect and confidence of many Catholics through a series of muddled public statements that seemed to at least give the impression of contradicting Catholic teaching.

While many of His Eminence’s defenders have argued that Cardinal Dolan's statements were made in charity and reflected his sanguine Celtic temperament, these defenders, in fact, reveal Cardinal Dolan’s tragic flaw: he, like so many other tragic figures in the conservative wing of the Church, has swallowed the poison of Christian humanism, aggiornamento, and “personalism” and genuinely seems to believe that by being nice and watering down the Church’s teaching, he can make peace with the world.

In a March 2014 interview for Meet the Press, a little more than a year before the notorious Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Cardinal Dolan praised NFL player Michael Sam for coming out as a homosexual, stating on national television: “Good for him! I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don't think, look, the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us, well, about the virtue of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So, I would say, ‘Bravo!’”

Certainly, Cardinal Dolan does admit that one should follow the teachings of the “Bible,” but the overwhelming majority of the Cardinal’s audience only heard the cheerful “Bravo” and “God bless ya,” which seem to smooth over (and perhaps even eclipse) His Eminence’s haphazardly inserted Biblical admonition.

Cardinal Dolan was further brought down in the eyes of many Catholics when in 2016 he marched in the world-famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade along with the pro-“LGBT” Lavender and Green Alliance. He only added fuel to the fire of Catholic indignation when he told New York’s CBS 2 that there was a “great sense of unity and friendship” at the parade — words echoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments that allowing openly homosexual groups to march in the parade helped to overcome “division.”

As a final coup de grace, in May of last year, Cardinal Dolan, along with Fr. James Martin, S.J., attended the grand opening of the Met Gala’s “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This gala featured near-nude celebrities sacrilegiously dressed in clerical garb, and the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit itself featured so-called art work mocking the Catholic Faith, including a “bondage mask” draped with a rosary.

Although marketed by some Catholics as an opportunity to sit among the sinners and evangelize, Cardinal Dolan’s appearance at the Met Gala was a tremendous scandal to the Catholic faithful, many of whom protested the event.

In an interview with Crux, His Eminence stated that the gala was an “upbeat and inspirational evening…and a boost for the Church.” Enamored by the “movers and shakers” who were in attendance, Dolan attempted to deflect his critics who objected to his presence at (and seeming endorsement of) the exhibit, insisting that, while some of the material was “edgy” none of it was “intended…to be offensive.”

Moreover, Dolan further assumed that whatever lapsed Catholics attended the event would be “reminded of positive memories of the Church and of devotions, prayers, traditions, and liturgies,” inspiring them to take a fresh look at their childhood faith.

It is difficult to see how celebrities (barely and sacrilegiously) clad in clerical vestments and participating in sinful displays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will help inspire lapsed Catholics to renew their faith.

Nonetheless, at the Met Gala we once again saw the tragic fault of the smiling Cardinal’s Christian humanist formula: well-meaning platitudes that seem to endorse immoral and/or sacrilegious acts coupled with pooh-poohing his critics as delusional fuddy duddies.

The Cardinal Archbishop of New York, one of the most powerful positions in the American Church, is a richly symbolic position as much as it is one of real power. Both Catholics and those outside the Church pay more attention to the outward significance of Cardinal Dolan’s actions and soundbites more than they do to his motives or the greater context or His Eminence’s end goal (whatever that might be).

By his more wearisome-than-witty words and never-ending parade of photo ops with immoral celebrities, as well as his glad-handing of non-Catholic mega-donors and power brokers, Cardinal Dolan has caused tremendous discouragement and scandal among American Catholics.

His fall is not a cause for celebration, mockery, or the typical “Rad Trad” riposte about bad bishops. On the contrary, it is a real tragedy and a sobering betrayal.

There is a lingering bitterness surrounding the tragic fall of Cardinal Dolan precisely because American Catholics had placed their trust and confidence in Dolan as one of the new “JPII bishops” who, many had hoped, would repair much of the damage done by the Bernardin-era bishops to the Church’s liturgy, theology, morals and overall morale.

The key error and tragic fault of Cardinal Dolan is, on one level, a moral error. As Professor Romano Amerio noted in his invaluable Iota Unum, one of the great corruptions in 20th-century Catholicism was the replacement of the traditional “stoic” and sober personality of the Christian—and the priest, in particular—with the cartoonish “nice guy” façade of so many post-Vatican II clerics.

However, this Mickey Mouse-type personality ultimately flows from an intellectual corruption: the embrace of the lax aggiornamento approach of John XXIII in which so many Catholics were encouraged to make friends with the world and soon found themselves also making friends with both the flesh and the devil.

00Sunday, March 3, 2019 10:09 AM

The Australian mob's 'CRUCIFY HIM!' and Cardinal Pell's 2019 Lent which has begun with a VIA CRUCIS...

Former Australian Prime Minister wrote
a glowing character reference for Cardinal Pell
and says the verdict hasn't changed his opinion

February 28, 2019

Former Prime Minister John Howard’s character reference for Cardinal George Pell details how he is a person of high intelligence and exemplary character.

Mr Howard submitted a character reference to the court yesterday after Pell was found guilty of child sex offences.

Pell was found guilty in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.

The news of Pell’s crimes sent shockwaves across the globe on Tuesday, and on Wednesday he faced a County Court pre-sentence hearing.

His lawyer Robert Richter QC submitted a binder of documents to the court in Pell’s defence, including 10 character references.

Mr Howard became PM in 1996, the same year Pell [is alleged to have] committed his crimes but he said he had known the Cardinal for some 30 years.

His full reference stated:

“This character reference is provided in the context of charges being dealt with in relation to Cardinal Pell.

I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.

I have known Cardinal Pell for approximately 30 years. We first became acquainted when he was, I think, an Assistant Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Inevitably we became better known to each other after he became Archbishop of Melbourne and, later still, Archbishop of Sydney.

Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.

Cardinal Pell is a lively conversationalist who maintains a deep and objective interest in contemporary social and political issues.

It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church.”

[Why couldn't any of Pell's former vicars in Australia have sent a character reference too, or any of his colleagues at the Vatican - who could all have stipulated they were doing so as friends of Pell and not as representatives of the Catholic Church, in which capacity they would be in estoppel because none of them can risk being slapped back by being told they were thereby condoning sex crimes.]

Mr Richter said the people who provided the statements — TK Tobin, QC, Sue Buckingham, Anne McFarlane, Chris Meney, Greg Craven, Elsie Heiss, Katrina Potter, Daniel Casey and Michael Casey — love Pell.

“None of them believe he is capable of these offences,” he told the court.

Professor Greg Craven in his statement said he had known Pell for 25 years but knew him best when he was Vice Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2008.

“Cardinal Pell’s public presentation does not necessarily match his private persona,” he said. “He is a deeply sensitive person: thoughtful, considerate and notably charitable in respect of the failings of both friends and enemies, though not himself.”

Professor Craven said how a substantial proportion of Pell’s inheritance from his mother was understood to have gone to a university fund for lectureships and scholarships amounting to some $1.2 million, showing his devotion to charitable causes.

The revelations of support came amid tense scenes in the court, with Pell’s lawyer saying the crimes were at the lower end of offending because it “lasted less than six minutes”. Mr Richter described the matter as “no more than plain, vanilla, sexual acts with a child who is not consenting”.

He said Australia’s most senior Catholic was “not a repeat wrongdoer” despite the guilty verdict. “There are no physical injuries. There is no ejaculation. There is no recording of the offences for later. No prior history. No breach of trust in the traditional sense. No pre- planning. No use of any implement.” [Dear Lord, Richter's unhinged behavior was even worse than we had thought with his 'vanilla flavor' remarks. What possessed the man to make such arguments - as though he were conceding that his client had committed the acts he was convicted for and merely presenting 'mitigating circumstances'! There ought to be a separate appeal to the appellate court alleging incompetent defense as another reason to dismiss the verdict. And it gets worse:]

In court today, Mr Richter said those who provided references for Pell remarked that he had a great sense of humour and his offending was spur of the moment, but Chief Judge Peter Kidd hit back, saying, “He engaged in some shocking conduct toward two boys. And he did it in such brazen circumstances. He obviously felt some level of impunity.At t he moment, I see this as callous, brazen, offending. Blatant.” [Wasn't this a jury verdict? Is it proper for a judge to declare himself in such a partisan manner? Couldn't he have said instead, "Unfortunately, the jury didn't think so, and I must sentence your client based on their verdict?"]

Mr Richter said he was in a difficult position as Pell’s lawyer, as his client maintained his innocence. “The cardinal’s position is that he is innocent. I’m not in a position to say why he did something he says he didn’t do,” he said.

The Guardian has an article that answers many of the questions raised about the trial, including why Pell's lawyer made the statements he made ("Richter is required to argue for a sentence based on the jury verdict, not based on Pell’s not guilty plea and maintenance of innocence. The case has been decided, so arguing Pell is innocent is useless in convincing the judge his client should get the lowest sentence possible. Richter had to accept the verdict in making his arguments.")[Which is helpful to know but does not make his words any more acceptable. Surely Richter could have chosen his words better.

Then there's this story whose content is not as innocuous as the title makes it sound, but does contain an account of a most unusual non-topical interview the writer had years before with Cardinal Pell about which the writer has some comments that need to be fisked.

In La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana the other day, this testimony in English written for editor Riccardo Cascioli by Dr. Anna Silvas, an Australian professor who has taken part in many Rome conferences organized by orthodox Catholic intellectuals in the past six years and was the only female signatory of the petition on Amoris Laetitia sent by 45 intellectuals to Pope Francis in 2016. She is a senior research fellow at the School of Humanities in the University of New England in New South Wales (formerly a college of the Unviersity of Sydney but an independent unversity since 1954). Dr Silvas's research interests include Classical and Semitic Linguistics, Patristics, Ascetical and Mystical Theology, and Church History with particular interest in the late Fourth century AD and Cappadocian Fathers. She has published many books and translations from Greek and Syriac of the works of St. Basil the Great and st. Gregory of Nyssa.

Cardinal Pell is innocent
«I don’t believe that justice was served in this jury trial. It has all the smell of a ritual sacrifice for an ugly agenda»... In 1996 Pell refused communion to a gay crowd that disrupted a Mass. The homosexualist agenda in Church and Society has been gunning for him ever since... Also within the Australian Church, there is a large party of hostility to Pell. Many of these are aging clergy of the Spirit of the Seventies...'
by Anna Silvas

March 1, 2019

Dear Riccardo,

At your invitation, I pen a letter to you and your readers on the case of Cardinal Pell’s conviction and on the Church in Australia.

To begin with: I don’t believe that justice was served in this jury trial. It has all the smell of a ritual sacrifice for an ugly agenda, to me.

I have often attended Mass in that right transept under the organ loft of the Cathedral in Melbourne (the most beautiful Cathedral in Australia, with the most noble Gothic spire in the world, I would say). I have often been a few metres from that door that leads down a short passage into the area of the sacristies, and often seen the altar servers, choir and priests processing in and out of there. I just cannot see that there could be a place for the perpetration of the vices of which Pell has now been convicted in a jury trial, least of all in the circumstances of High Mass on Sunday.

I have had the privilege of listening at length, more than once, to Monsignor Charles Portelli, who was Pell’s Master of Ceremonies in the five years Pell was Archbishop of Melbourne. Portelli is a man of fine intelligence, probity and culture. He captained the Archbishop in all that concerned the Sunday Liturgy, and all its preparatory and subsequent circumstances. All Pell’s deeds were witnessed and accompanied by Portelli.

George Pell too is a man of great probity, intelligence and culture, exceptionally so, I would say, among Australian bishops. That already puts him offside, in the Tall Poppy Syndrome, quite a cultural characteristic in Australian society.

I have no doubt that Cardinal Pell, like me, is a sinner, and in his inner journey of chastity before the Lord, he has had his struggles, for virtue untested is not virtue. But the arena for this was internal, in the privacy of his soul.

It is unthinkable that after [in 1996] thirty years or more of committed and proven intellectual, moral, priestly and episcopal life, that he, just having been appointed a Metropolitan, should on the first occasion of a Sunday Mass stoop to so crass and crude and sordid an exercise of pedophilia of which he has been legally convicted. No, it requires a certain preparatory moral degradation to resort to such casual stunts.

Now for a little of what I can see of the wider context of the Australian Church and society.

First I mention a news item of 1996 which I clearly remember. Very early on, a ‘gay’ crowd staged a public ‘rainbow’ protest in a Sunday Mass. When they fronted up to received Holy Communion, Pell refused them. The homosexualist agenda in Church and Society has been gunning for him ever since.

[As Pell explained in that long-ago interview with Joe Hildebrand that I linked to earlier,he normally has no idea whether the person presenting for communion is worthy of the sacrament or not, but when this group presented for communion under their 'gay' banner, he believed he had to refuse them. I suppose that if a known person like Andrew Cuomo - publicly cohabiting for years with a woman who is not his wife - especially after he celebrated his new infanticide law, presented for communion, Pell would refuse him outright.]

One of the most vicious attacks on him lately has been that of David Marr. He is a ‘public intellectual’ of left wing Australia, a long ‘outed’ homosexual and advocate of the ‘gay’ cause, and virulently anti-Catholic. The passionate moral indignation of such a figure who would wag his finger against the Catholic Church, tells us that something is going on much deeper than the to and fro of legal and political debate.

For decades Australian politics (including the erstwhile ‘centre-right’ Liberal Party), the mainstream media, and the cultural elites have been drifting steadily Leftward into the totalitarian and conformist world of Political Correctness. Part of that shift involves a less and less disguised hostility to the Western tradition and its Judaeo-Christian underpinnings in general, and to the Catholic Church in particular.

Alas, within the Australian Church herself, there is a large party of hostility to Pell. Many of these will be aging clergy of the Spirit of the Seventies. For Pell was always an intentionally orthodox Catholic priest, his stance towards the Second Vatican Council in the spirit of Pope Benedict’s Hermeneutic of Continuity. Never subscribed to the rebellion against Humanae Vitae.

Thus you find the strange paradox that Catholic ‘progressives’ who are in favour of changing the Church’s sexual ethic, who are soft on divorce and remarriage, abortion, homosexuality, and are predictable sponsors of the latest faddish political enthusiasms, themselves exploit the incidence of sexual abuse within the Church to perversely promote their cause. They have the spirit of David Marr in them.

Alas, as a retired bishop said to me recently, we have given a lot of ammunition to those who would attack us from without — or subvert us from within. There has been a disturbing number of priests in the Melbourne Archdiocese implicated in sexual scandals over the last three or four decades, as has emerged in public enquiries in recent years.

Without a doubt, the Church, whether in Australia or worldwide is semper purificanda. We are long overdue for a severe chastisement, if you ask me, and I think things are set to become much worse for us. Just consider soberly the state of our higher leadership right now.

In the midst of the exposure of the moral and spiritual weakness of the Church in Australia, we also have another tragic fallout: the accusation of innocent priests and others.
- It is hard to be caught between the victims of clerical sexual predation crying out for vindication against a culture of cover-up, and the clerical victims of predatory false accusation and slander.
- I have heard tell that these days any priest who is accused is likely to be treated as a ‘hot potato’ by his bishop: he is basically dropped. They seem a cowardly lot, bishops. Or perhaps they will style it ‘prudent’.

I do not know whether the legal appeal against Pell’s conviction will succeed or not. Let us consider the worst-case scenario, that it will not. In that case, my reading of Pell’s situation would go something like this.

Jesus Christ his Lord loves him too much to leave him at the pinnacle of ecclesiastical advancement. Pell joins the ranks of the innocent sufferers, from Abel even to our Lord. Perhaps he is called to carry a burden of vicarious suffering for fellow-priests and believers who are not so innocent, and for a Church in great need of repentance.

Perhaps in another way Cardinal Pell is winning the greatest ecclesiastical ‘advancement’ of all, to approach something of the original condition of the Apostles in the earliest years of the Church:

"For it seems to me that God has displayed us apostles at the end of the procession, like prisoners appointed for death. We have become a spectacle to the whole world, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored.
(1 Cor 4:9-10)

Pray for Cardinal Pell, and pray for …
Anna the Sinner

I'd like to add 2 more relevant verses (12,13) from 1 Corinthians 4:

"...When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment."

Two days ago, I started translating a Marco Tosatti blogpost that featured a commentary from one of his regular contributors, Super-Ex, on the Pell verdict. But I decided against posting it because I felt that to subscribe in any way to what Super-Ex was proposing would be just as absurd as the convicting jury believing the implausible account of Pell's self-declared victim.

Super-Ex and Tosatti certainly had a headline-bait title,
"The cannons are Australian but the cannon balls are made in the Vatican" - which, for example, promptly picked up to make its banner headline for the day (it's been up for both March 2 and March 3).

The argument, in brief, is that Pell's numerous enemies at the Vatican - those whose toes, egos and bank accounts he stepped on, presumably, in his attempt to clean up the remaining financial and fiscal mess in Vatican agencies - must have had a hand in getting the Australian courts (and media) to demolish Pell. Which I find absurd for these reasons:
1. The justice system of the state of Victoria needed no pressure because it had been persecuting Pell on its own before he was even named the Vatican's first Prefect of the Economy.
- Remember they created a police task force to investigate Pell back in 2013, before any complaints against him had been presented at all.
- They had to advertise to ask for complainants to step forward, and even so, they didn't get any prospects till after a year of advertising.
- And the case they felt confident enough to bring to trial involved a complainant who never said anything about the alleged abuse for 17 years, and who said the first incident happened to him and another boy, though the second person never joined the complaint, insisted he had never been the victim of sexual abuse, and unfortunately died of heroin overdose in 2014.
2. How could Pell's enemies in the Vatican have helped bring this about? We would have to assume that by 2014, after Pell had been named to Prefect of the Economy,
- they learned of the Australian task force and its advertisement,
- committed their time and resources somehow and from the Vatican or perhaps from a Quisling they have in Australia, orchestrate an operation to dig up anyone who could come forward to answer the ad, any complainant(s) who could be tied somehow to Pell's past in Australia (Aha, choir boys in Melbourne!)
- primed someone with a fabricated story that put Pell in a specific time and place to commit the alleged crime (someone must try to follow the money trail in all this),
- failed somehow to convince the other supposed victim to play their game,
- but managed to serve up the one complainant to the Victoria police with bells and whistles. From which time on, the global circus featuring Pell as the KingKong of sex abusers was under way. (And subsequent complaints - far more tenuous than the first one - were reported).

If any of that sounds plausible, then one would have to agree with the hypothesis of Super-Ex who, as an ex-Vaticanista, ought to have been able to prop up his hypothesis with plausible detail instead of merely trusting that everyone would buy his story. Having vented my objections beforehand, here is the whole post, which does offer other points for reflection:

The cannons are Australian but
the cannonballs are made in the Vatican

Translated from

March 1, 2019

Dear friends, Super Ex is back as he fortunately returns from time to time, and this time it is to comment on the Cardinal Pell case, of his own recollectons of the cardinal at the Vatican and his enemies there, clergy and laity. They are very interesting reflections which agree with what I gathered at the Vatican a few years ago when Pell was considered a black beast by the barons of finance at the Holy See, and the Holy Father had authorized him to lock horns with these interests, only to leave him shortly without support to do battle singlehandedly [and worse, acting to reinforce these interests and thereby scuttle his own initial intentions for financial reforms at the Vatican].

Some hypotheses on the Pell case without being presumptuous. So many have already noted that something is very wrong about it and that the accusations for which he was tried and convicted were ridden with holes. One must add that in almost all these cases of sexual accusations made after decades, much of it is a matter of opinion: after so many years, usually without corroborating witnesses, without proof whatsoever, but with so much prejudice…

But I wish to bring up here a line I often heard starting from the end of 2016 from Vatican prelates who mattered, saying “The cannons are in Australia, but the cannonballs are made in the Vatican”. Those who said this or something similar, at a time when Mons Dario Vigano was still firmly in the communications saddle, spoke of forceful showdowns between Cardinal Pell and Bergoglio’s circle of associates. Pell was obviously not part of that magic circle.

Remember that during the family synods of 2014 and 2015, he joined other cardinals who actively opposed the attempts by Mons. Bruno Forte and his colleagues in the Synod Secretariat to manipulate the discussions among the synod participants and turn them all into Kasperites. [He was one of the 13 cardinals who wrote to the pope at the start of the 2015 synod to protest the manipulations evident at the first synod.]

Pell is someone who pulls no punches when he is angered, Bergoglio or no Bergoglio. When he is convinced that something is right, he follows it through like a bulldozer. It is known, of course, that the Argentine pope is always aggressive against those who are weak but can be intimidated by the few who can oppose him to his face.

In short, Pell was considered an armored tank and much feared. My hypothesis is this: Supposing Pell was caught between two fires – ‘friendly fire’ from his colleagues in the Curia who felt threatened by his authority on financial matters, and openly inimical fire from secular and masonic elements who considered him a conservative and traditionalist who must be eliminated?

There are many indications about this, but the fact is Pell’s appointment as Prefect of the Secretriat for the Economy came at a particular time. When the statement I cited was first made to me, the Vatican gay lobby was in full flourish, and Pell represented one man who could be sacrificed [For what end? Because of his anti-gay record in Australia? And/or to stop his financial reforms dead in the water?]

But the verdict against him arrived after the lobby had begun to face its own crisis, losing many pieces [Who? What? They were busy meanwhile feeding Frederic Martel with all sorts of crap. Has anyone reported what Martel writes of Pell in his infamous book?], and ending up in the center of the maelstrom, thanks to McCarrick, the Chilean fiasco, the Vigano dossier, the ignominious conduct of the ultra-Bergoglian Cardinal Wuerl, and now the Zanchetta case..

So therefore what? Therefore Operation ‘Demolish Pell’ with Vatican help could turn out to be a boomerang, because for the public which knows nothing of what’s taking place behind the scenes, Pell is only the nth Bergoglian who has become a subject of scandal (even if, in fact, among those who have been touched with scandal, he is the only one one who is not a ‘Bergoglio man’).

Therefore, at the Vatican, they must be telling each other: “What great news, if only it didn’t come at this time. It should have come two years ago, because now, we certainly don’t need this!”

But if my hypothesis is true, then poor Pell! He must take up his cross. As Padre Pio did at the start of this long night for the Church, when he was persecuted by that very ‘Papa buono’ who was so innovative and so leftist, very much like the ‘pope of mercy’ who is just as leftist and far more innovative.
[If one of the reproaches against St John Paul II was his blindness about Maciel [he believed an evil man to be holy and a great asset to the Church], then John XXIII can be faulted with a reverse blindness about Padre Pio [he believed a living saint to be a tool of the devil and punished him all over for something his predecessors had already found him wrongly persecuted]. In 1960, he ordered a thorough re-investigation of the Capuchin, who had already been the subject of such investigations in the 1920s after it became known that he had received Christ’s stigmata; he was ordered to stop saying Mass in public because it was claimed the stigmata were a hoax. The ban was lifted by Pius XI in 1933 but re-instituted by John XXIII. This ban was in turn lifted by Paul VI.

So, what is to be done? While some men of the Church are doing all they can to destroy her, other men, like Padre Pio in the past, to Caffarra, Meisner, Burke, Fr Manelli (founder of the FFI), have tried to hold her up through their white martyrdom.

If Pell is innocent, if he is the man of faith I have always thought he was, then he is now carrying the Cross of Christ, condemned like he was by the Sanhedrin of today.

For what it's worth, VATICAN INSIDER/LA STAMPA (minus Andrea Tornielli since January) has a surprising enterprise story that is sympathetic to Pell. I do not know how the Italian MSM nor L'Osservatore Romano and Avvenire - have been reporting the latest developments, though I would think OR and the Italian bishops' newspaper would adopt the Vatican line of distancing themselves from Pell and peddling sanctimonious claptrap about letting Australian 'justice' take its course, and offering prayers and sympathy for the victims of abuse, but not the least token show of sympathy, let alone mercy, for someone the pope dropped like dangerously burning lump of coal back in September.

Instead, the CDF is opening an investigation of the same case just tried in Melbourne without even waiting for the outcome of Pell's appeal. I've remarked before and do so again:
- What kind of investigation will this be?
- Will they simply import all the material presented by both prosecution and defense during the two trials in Australia?
- And stamp their approval on the second verdict so they have a basis to defrock Pell?
- Or recreate the wheel by doing their own investigation? Or assuming the Super-Ex hypothesis is somehow right, by dredging up material from the successful complainant whom Vatican agents may have 'found' first in 2014 and coached as to how exactly he should accuse Pell?
- In both cases, the object would be to try to boost Bergoglio's falling credibility on clerical sex abuse by defrocking Pell as they did McCarrick, thus leaving Bergoglio with the scalps of two cardinals adorning his papal sash.
- But maybe this is an exercise in doing the right thing, and the CDF will try to show with its canonical and administrative proceedings that Pell is the victim of a monumental set-up. Then Deo gratias.

Pell’s scandal swamps Australia, but some
defend him, saying he’s just a scapegoat

The media celebrate the verdict as right punishment
for the Church but some Australians see it differently

by Salvatore Cernuzio

February 28, 2019

VATICAN CITY - The verdict against Cardinal George Pell, now the ex-Minister for the Economy of the Vatican, who ended up behind bars for paedophilia, [First, he is behind bars right now because he is awaiting sentencing - he has not been sentenced yet; and 2) by the current DSM definition of pedophilia, the pedophile must be at least 16 years old abusing someone at least 5 years younger than he is (i.e., 11 years old if the abuser is 16, 10 if he is 15, 9 if he were 14) - and both alleged victims of Pell were 13 years old at the time the complainant claims he and a fellow choirboy were abused by Pell] is the epilogue of about fifteen years of non-stop accusations.

It adds more fuel to the fire started two years ago by the Royal Commission report which, after a four-year investigation, reported that about 7% of the Australian clergy are serial sex abusers. And that since the 1950s to the time of the report, 4,400 children have been victims of sexual violence.

These disturbing figures have weakened the flow of vocations after a boom in 2010 [what caused the boom?], reduced the number of parishes and created an atmosphere of resentment if not hatred on the part of the people towards the Catholic Church, which has 5.4 million faithful in Australia (23% of the population). The Church was forced to adhere last year to the national plan of reparation for victims of sex abuse with compensation up to $150,000 Australian dollars per victim.

In the past, some Australian dioceses had already emptied their coffers to reimburse complainants, particularly Melbourne where the highest number of abuses was recorded and where, from 1996 to 2001, George Pell himself was Archbishop. During that time, he established the so-called "Melbourne response", a compensation scheme with a very low rate of compensation that also blocked, however, any recourse to civil and criminal justice by complainants who accepted compensation.

In short, the "Land of Kangaroos" anticipated by years the situation created in 2018 in the United States, where the Church is trying to recover from the body blows dealt by the Pennsylvania report and the McCarrick scandal.

Many observers see a parallelism between the former archbishop of Washington and the Australian cardinal, for whom they invoke the same ecclesiastical penalty: resignation as cardinal and "defrocking".

The Australian media are celebrating Pell’s conviction as a just punishment for a Church tainted with crimes and cover-ups. The front pages feature headlines like "Justice at last", "The evil of the Church has been uncovered", "A paedophile is taken down - the Church is no longer untouchable".

But the perception of the trial and verdict - which could land Pell with a 50-year jail sentence if his appeal fails - is very different
among Catholics who attend Sunday Mass or those who have had the opportunity to get to know Pell. They say they are 'suffering a lot' from what they consider 'a farce trial' and 'a pre-packaged verdict'.

But even those who do not generally deal with nor worry about ecclesial affairs are said to be "disconcerted" by the epilogue of a story that has been going on for fifteen years.
- Like Sarah, a Brisbane teacher, who, contacted by La Stampa-Vatican Insider, reports her feelings and those of her agnostic colleagues: "It's an absurdity, all very strange".
- "People are shocked," says a couple from Melbourne. "It's clear there's a campaign against the Church behind all this”.
- Even more trenchant is the judgment of Anthony, a missionary in Australia for decades, who speaks of 'media massacre': "It was not possible that the jury was not influenced by the general climate. Cardinal Pell is a scapegoat, and therefore he 'must' be guilty, 'must' go to prison".

"A scapegoat." The same expression used by the well-known Australian Jesuit Frank Brennan, a lawyer and human rights activist, who closely followed the trial and also attended the sessions in the courtroom and who, in an editorial published in The Tablet (UK), questions the reasonableness of the verdict: "Should the appeal (presented by Pell's lawyers) fail, I hope and pray that Cardinal Pell, heading for prison, is not the unwitting victim of a wounded nation in search of a scapegoat. Should the appeal succeed, the Victoria Police should review the adequacy of the police investigation of these serious criminal charges”.

Father John, priest of Perth, is also on the same line:

"It is important that those who have been abused be treated with respect and be heard... but the truth must also prevail, otherwise there will be no hope for anyone, neither victims nor perpetrators. I'm afraid it won't be like that for Pell. It's sad to see so many people reaching to a conclusion without really knowing the facts”.

In short, two factions. It was already clear last Monday, when outside the tribunal, amid groups of people screaming "Guilty!", (someone even inside the courtroom), and waving posters with the words "burn in hell", there was also a woman leaning against a railing who grabbed the cardinal's hand and kissed him on the cheek.

One must be grateful that VATICAN INSIDER chose to show with these few examples that not 'everyone in Australia' is consumed with anti-Catholic animus, which one can assume, of course. But one wonders what an honest un-predisposed survey would show - perhaps those who are sympathetic to Pell only constitute a small minority. I would love to be surprised!

Which brings me to an appalling oversight on my part. I failed to post George Weigel's first reaction to his longtime friend George Pell's conviction for sexual abuse of minors, of all things. In which Weigel brought up a point no one else has mentioned: He did not have to go to Australia to face trial. He could have claimed diplomatic immunity and stayed in the Vatican. [Except, of course, that the Vatican would have quickly moved to revoke that immunity - perhaps even his Vatican citizenship - in a great show of holier-than-thou and that absolutely no one is above the law.] And also the little-mentioned fact that as Archbishop of Sydney, he had voluntarily stepped aside from office when the first charge of sexual abuse was made against him, until a judicial inquiry cleared him completely. This time, armed with his innocence about the new charges being prepared against him in Melbourne, he manfully took a leave of absence in order to face his prosecutors on their turf.

Has it occurred to anyone else debating the perverse verdict rendered against Cardinal George Pell, which convicted him of “historic sexual abuse,” that the cardinal did not have to return to his native Australia to face trial?

As a member of the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church and a Vatican official, Pell holds a Vatican diplomatic passport and citizenship of Vatican City State. Were he guilty, he could have stayed put in the extraterritorial safety of the Vatican enclave, untouchable by the Australian authorities.

But because Cardinal Pell knows he is innocent, he was determined to go home to defend his honor — and, in a broader sense, to defend his decades of work rebuilding the Catholic Church in Australia, the living parts of which owe a great deal to his leadership and courage.

Cardinal Pell and I have been friends for over fifty years, and in the past two and a half decades of that friendship I have been appalled at the calumnies to which he has been subjected, in both the hyper-secularist Australian media and in Church circles determined to hang on to their dreams of post–Vatican II revolution.

One memorable attack on him came shortly after I had stayed at his Melbourne home in late 2000: The author claimed that then-Archbishop Pell was enamored of liturgical finery and that his house was filled with richly brocaded vestments and other expensive ecclesiastical bric-a-brac. I was pleased to be able to respond in print that, having just spent a few days in the house, I could report seeing nary a single vestment, brocaded or otherwise — but that I had seen books everywhere, as well as the most recent issues of every opinion journal of consequence in the Anglosphere, left, right, and center.

Some time after that, the first charge of sexual abuse was made against Cardinal Pell, who had by this point been appointed archbishop of Sydney by Pope St. John Paul II. Following the procedures he had first established in Melbourne and then brought to the capital of New South Wales, Pell voluntarily stepped aside from office until a judicial inquiry, led by a former Australian Supreme Court justice, cleared him completely.

When the charge was first aired, Pell was urged by an overwrought, senior Vatican official to go on offense and publicly destroy his accuser. He declined that advice, wryly remarking to me at the time that he had informed the Curialist that, among those of his Irish Catholic tribe Down Under, “We take our religion from Rome and our politics from home.”

George Pell’s faith in Australian justice was vindicated on that occasion. But now that faith — and the Australian justice system —are being tried again, and sorely tried at that. For it is not George Pell who is on trial now, as his conviction is appealed and the cardinal, with the serenity and equanimity with which he has faced this latest assault on his character, spends time in a Melbourne jail: “on retreat,” as he’s put it to friends.

As I have shown here, the case against Pell has been fraught with implausibility and worse from the outset. The Victoria police went on a fishing expedition against Pell, a year before any complaint had been received from an alleged victim.

The committal hearing, which dismissed many of the charges the police brought, ought to have dismissed all of them; but amidst a public atmosphere that bears comparison to Salem, Massachusetts, during the witchcraft hysteria of the seventeenth century, a criminal trial was decreed.

At that trial, and after Pell’s defense demonstrated that it was physically impossible for the crimes with which he was charged to have occurred, a jury voted 10-2 to acquit him; but that meant a hung jury (several of whose members wept as their verdict was read), and the Crown decided to proceed with a re-trial.

At the re-trial, Pell’s defense team demonstrated that
- ten implausible and improbable things would have had to have happened simultaneously for him to be guilty of the charges;
- there was no corroboration of the complainant’s charges;
- there was ample refutation of the very possibility of the vile acts with which Pell was charged to have done, by others present that day;
- the police were shown to have been grossly negligent in investigating the alleged crime scene...
And yet the second jury voted 12-0 for conviction, after what can reasonably be supposed to have been their refusal to take seriously the trial judge’s instructions on how evidence was to be construed.

And when the media-suppression order that had banned Australian press coverage of these trials was lifted and the second verdict was revealed earlier this week, a Niagara of calumnies was poured over Cardinal Pell from both political and media circles, despite the fact that a few brave Australian journalists and Fr. Frank Brennan (a prominent Australian Jesuit on the other end of the ecclesiastical spectrum from Pell) pointed out the gross injustice of his conviction.

Something is very, very wrong here.
- No one doubts that the Catholic Church in Australia was terribly negligent in dealing with clerical sexual abuse for decades.
- No one who actually knows the history of Catholic reform in Australia can doubt that the man who turned that pattern of denial and cover-up around was George Pell — who also had the honesty and courage to apply the stringent standards he imposed on others accused of abuse to himself.

If Pell is made the scapegoat for the very failures he worked hard to correct, the gravest question must be raised about Australian public opinion’s capacity for reason and elementary fairness — and about the blood lust of an aggressively secular media, determined to settle political and ecclesiastical scores with one of the country’s most internationally prominent citizens, who dared to challenge “progressive” shibboleths on everything ranging from the interpretation of Vatican II to abortion, climate change, and the war against jihadism.

As the facts finally come out, reasonable people around the world are now coming to see that at virtually every point in this tawdry process, the justice system has failed Cardinal Pell, who freely returned home to defend himself. That system has also failed Australia.

The cardinal’s attorneys will now appeal; the appellate panel of judges can, and should, agree with the appeal’s claim that the second jury could not have rationally reached a guilty verdict, given the complete refutation of the prosecution’s case by the defense. This was, in the technical terminology of Australian law, an “unsafe verdict.” But the verdict was not “unsafe” for Cardinal George Pell alone.

If it is not reversed on appeal, that false verdict will constitute a new indictment: the indictment of a legal system that could not bring itself to render justice in the face of public hysteria, political vendetta, and media aggression.

Which means that Australia — or at least the State of Victoria, where this travesty has played out — is a place where no one is safe, citizen or visitor.

And here's a most informative - almost heartbreaking - piece about Australia's justice system, where different states have different practices in place. Cardinal Pell had the added initial misfortune of being tried in Victoria state which does not allow trial-by-judge alone. The writer, who holds the honorific and office of Queen's Counsel (QC) (given to eminent lawyers appointed by the monarch a s'one of Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law') compares Pell's case with that of a West Australian man accused of serial killing...

The Victoria judicial system did not
give George Pell a fair trial

by Tom Percy, QC

March 1, 2019

In my view, the judicial system in Victoria didn’t really give George Pell a chance at a fair trial.

Why? Well think about what’s recently dominated the headlines in WA (West Australia).

Anyone who has been in WA over the past fortnight and experienced the tsunami of media coverage about the Bradley Edwards Claremont serial killer case would have to admit that, were it not for him being able to have a trial by judge alone, he would effectively be untriable.

Leaving aside the 20 years of notoriety of the events in question, the impending trial has generated an unprecedented level of publicity — mostly negative — that would have made a trial by jury all but impossible.

Had it not been for the capacity of the system in WA to provide a judge-alone trial, Bradley Edwards might well have been successful in arguing for a permanent stay of the proceedings on the basis that he couldn’t get a fair trial.

But perhaps I use the word “unprecedented” too loosely.

On the other side of the nation this week with the Cardinal Pell case we were finally made privy to the outcome of the trial that has probably been responsible for at least as much press, and again largely negative, as that in the Claremont serial killer case.

The only difference is that in Victoria the system doesn’t allow for trial by judge alone. Pell had to take his chances with a jury selected at random from a community that had been subjected to several years of vitriolic media — not just about his case but the potential guilt of any number of Catholic clerics around the country and around the world.

Pell didn’t seek a permanent stay of the proceedings. He was probably forced into that position by having insisted from the outset that he wanted his day in court with a view to clearing his name. A permanent stay of the proceedings would never have achieved that.

Applications to stay serious criminal proceedings permanently are rarely granted, the theory being that no matter how prejudicial the publicity about any given case, it can all be cured by a judge telling the jury to put it out of their minds.

Just how effective that is however, I have always had my doubts.

I didn’t sit through Pell’s trial and I am not about to express any view on the evidence that supported or detracted from the conviction.But the history of the case does leave some concern as to the confidence that an objective outsider might have in the ultimate conviction.

First, a number of similar complaints against Pell were dismissed out of hand by the magistrate at the committal proceedings.

Those allegations could have been resurrected by the prosecution by way of a direct presentment, that would have seen those allegations go to trial in the higher court despite having been dismissed by the magistrate. But, in Pell’s case, the prosecutors declined to resurrect them.

Similarly another trial that was scheduled to go ahead this week involving a separate set of allegations by other complainants was discontinued by the prosecution on the basis that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

Then we have the fact that the initial jury couldn’t agree. And, on top of that, the present convictions were only arrived at after three days deliberation at a second trial.

I’ve always thought that the essence of a reasonable doubt is where 12 people — after a relatively short trial — can’t resolve a fairly simple question (in this case: “Did it happen or not?”) within a reasonable time. My own view is that Pell was probably untriable by a jury in much the same way as Bradley Edwards is.

Whatever the outcome of Mr Edwards’s case, he, his defence team and the public will know the reasons for his conviction or acquittal.

Justice Stephen Hall will explain his reasoning, but this is a luxury Pell will never have. He just heard the word “guilty”. And everyone will also know that the verdict, whichever way it goes, was never the product of the deluge of publicity which preceded it.

That’s also something that neither Pell nor the public will ever know about his case.
00Monday, March 4, 2019 2:02 AM

And so, we head to Lent...

I thought it would be helpful to show the Proper for Quinquagesima Sunday today in the Traditional Mass in order to better appreciate Father Hunwicke's comments on it...


March 3, 3019

[NB: EF stands for Extraordinary Form, BCP for Book of Common Prayer]

...If you look carefully at Quinquagesima's EF/BCPEpistle and Gospel (Luke 18:31-43), you may notice that the link between them is the idea of being made able to See.

Then, if you turn to the Homily by St Gregory which provides an extract for the third nocturn in the Old Breviary, you will discover that this is exactly what the saint leads us to expect. (As on the preceding two Sundays, the manuscripts tell us that this was preached to the people in the Stational Church - St Peter in Vaticano - on the Sunday we are examining...) [The stational churches for Septuagesima and Sexagesima were St Lawrence and St Paul outside the Walls.]

"Now look (Ecce enim): who the Blind Man was according to History, we just don't know. But, y'know what he signifies through a mystery, we do know. Y'see, the Human Race is Blind, and it was chucked out in its First Parent from the joys of Paradise and it is ignorant of the brightness of heavenly light and it suffers the darkness of its own damnation. But, y'know it's given a great dose of light through the presence of its Redeemer ...".

St Gregory goes on to argue that, as the Blind Man asked for mercy, we have to keep doing that because memories of our sins keep returning, and their phantasmata are hardly overcome by the laments of penitence.

He insists that we recall our sins and consider what a terrible Judge is coming to punish; and, the Sunday before the start of Lent, he advises us that our life should have a temporary patch of being made nasty and bitter through penitence so that it doesn't have to endure everlasting bitterness in punishment (vita nostra ad tempus amarescat in paenitentia ne aeternam amaritudinem sentiat in vindicta). He adds "Per fletus, ad aeterna gaudia ducimur" (Through tears, we respond to joy).

On Quinquagesima Sunday we reach, as we read Genesis in the Breviary, what St Gregory called a couple of Sundays ago the 'Sixth Hour': the period from Abra(ha)m onwards. Abram has arrived in Egypt; it turns out that his wife Sarai (the Old Testament has a liking for such stories about the weakness Gentile males have for Hebrew beauties) is exactly the sort of product that the Egyptian consumer warmly appreciates - and Pharaoh discovers that he can just about find room for her in his house.

So, of course, YHWH flagellavit Pharaoh plagis maximis (God punished Pharaoh with the plague) together with - it goes without saying - his entire household. As the Old Testament, and the natural disasters of our own age, endlessly remind us, suffering is to a large degree a corporate matter.

Hence, in this Age of the Individual, so much bewilderment about the way the world works; leading to the sort of questions about God's Way with Man by which so many fewer people in previous eras seem to have been worried (but see Luke 13 and read Jonah). I hope by now I have made clear my own approach to those tedious questions about Theodicy (why a good God allows the manifestation of evil) which so worry Modern Man and so tax the ingenuity of those Modern Clergy who feel obliged to answer Modern Man's questions without querying Modern Man's assumptions.

Fr H's first paragraph in his blogpost today had to do with the Epistle today - St. Paul's so-called 'hymn to love', which Fr H notes, many an engaged couple wish to be read during their nuptial Mass. Except, he points out:
"Read, however, in the context of the blistering attack St Paul is making on the failings of the Corinthian Christians, its cutting irony, verging on sarcasm, is rather fun. Whenever St Paul says "Love is not X", he is mightily suggesting that the Corinthians are X..."

March 4, 2019
P.S. I must add to this post Father Z's brief but very illustrative description of how a thoughtful homilist can link up the major elements of the Mass readings, in this case from Quinquagesima:

...For my part, for Quinquagesima Sunday, I connected the image in 1 Corinthians 13 of seeing “darkly” and, in the Gospel, the Apostles inability to see what the Lord was talking about in predicting his Passion, and the giving of sight to the blind man at Jericho.

At the same time, I connected the journey Paul described of moving from being a child and doing childish things to being a man and doing mature things, with the ascent Jesus and the disciples will make “up to Jerusalem”, making a connection also with John’s vision of the “new Jerusalem coming down” in Revelations, that recapitulates the ascent of Moses and the elders to the top of Mt Sinai when they have the sight of God in heaven and the shining floor like lapis lazuli.

Then I placed that in the context of the sequence of pre-Lent Sundays, which in ancient times prepared prospective catechumens to move from a less clear notion of what they were getting into to a clearer notion, through the texts of Sunday Masses, till they, on this Sunday, ascended the Vatican Hill to old St. Peter’s…. and the same readings we had today.

I reminded everyone that Fathers of the Church would refer to Lent as a “sacramentum” (Gk. mysterion). Outward signs help us out of blindness to “see” interior realities. This is how we prepare for Lent, which is also an ascent to Jerusalem, sacramentally made present to us, and us to it, in the liturgical action, in anticipation of our ascent to the new Jerusalem when all things are resolved.

00Monday, March 4, 2019 5:37 AM

Edward Pentin tweeted the day before that the Kazakh bishops, including Mons. Athanasius Schneider, had seen Pope Francis... Obviously, an ad limina visit to Rome excused Mons. Schneider from the travel ban imposed on him before Christmas by the pope.

The bishops are not identified in the photo (Mons. Schneider whose Vetus Ordo Mass at Holy Innocents Aqua and I were privileged to attend two years ago is standing third from right) but the following is the list from the Vatican Press Bulletin of those who met with Pope Francis on their ad limina visit the day before:
Mons. Thomash Bernard Peta, Archbishop of Maria Santissima Diocese in Astana, with
Mons. Athanasius Schneider, O.R.C., his auxiliary bishop.
Mons. Adelio Dell’Oro, Bishop of Karaganda.
Mons. José Luis Mumbiela Sierra, Bishop of Santissima Trinità diocese in Almaty;
Rev. Fr. Dariusz Buras, Apostolic Administrator of Atyrau.
Rev. Fr. Anthony James Corcoran, S.J., Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan.
Rev. Fr. Ramiro López, Word Incarnate Institute, superior of the Mission sui iuris in Tadjikistan.
Mons. Jerzy Maculewicz, O.F.M. Conv., Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan;
Rev. Fr. Andrzej Madej, O.M.I., superiore of the Mission sui iuris in Turkmenistan;
and Ref Fr. Vasyl Hovera, Delegate of the Congregation for Oriental Churches to the Greek Catholics of Central Asia.

[NB: Although the Vatican bulletin lists the above names in the papal audience bulletin as "Prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan", they include the heads of the Catholic missions or dioceses in other former Soviet republics of central Asia. Besides Kazakhstan - the churches in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan appears to have the largest Catholic presence, since it has four dioceses (Astana, Karaganda, Almaty (Alma Ata), and Atyrau)]

A few days earlier, Andrea Gagliarducci reported this on ACISTAMPA:

Benedict XVI receives Major Archbishop
Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Church

by Andrea Gagliarducci

VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2019 (ACIStampa) - "A very lucid Emeritus Pope, well informed on the situation in the Ukraine and most interested in ecumenical developments" is how His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, described Benedict XVI after meeting with him on February 26 at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where the Emeritus Pope resides.

His Beatitude told us: "Benedict XVI showed himself to be very informed on the situation in the Ukraine and asked me many questions. He assured of his daily prayers for us. He sdai, 'I pray everyday for peace in the Ukraine'."

They met for about 35 minutes in the early afternoon. Shevchuk, Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said they spoke of many subjects. The Emeritus Pope had a special recollection for Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the Patriarch whom Shevchuk succeeded in 2011 after the cardinal retired for reasons of age. He died in May 2017. He would have been 86 on the day of this meeting.

'He spoke of Patriarch Husar with affection," he said, " and remembered him as a man of great intelligence". The two men are linked by the fact that both resigned their office for life because of advanced age.

The Greek Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest of the 3 sui juris Oriental Churches who are part of the Roman Catholic Church but are autonomous within their respective jurisdictions. Each is led by a Major Archbishop who is elected by the church's synod and then confirmed by the Pope. Shevchuk was only 41 when he was elected Patriarch of his church.

In 2009, Benedict XVI had named Shevchuk a bishop and appointed him auxiliary bishop of the eparchy of St Mary in Buenos Aires, where he came to know then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

This visit marked the decennial of that appointment, and Shevchuk thanked Benedict for having supported him in his first steps as a bishop, and later at the start of his ministry as Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Benedict XVI asked about the ecumenical situation in the Ukraine whih was in the spotlight in recent weeks because of the creation of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of the Ukraine, which ruptured relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Orthodox seat of Constantinople, in which however, the Holy See has chosen to remain neutral.

Shevchuk gave Benedict XVI a copy of the book Dimmi la verita (Tell me the truth), which documents conversations between Shevchuk and Fr Paolo Asolan, president of the Pontifical Institute Pastorale Redemptor Hominis at the Pontifical Lateran University. It is a discussion of the life and vocation of the Ukrainian Patriarch in the context of the realities of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, its existence in diaspora, how it survived its persecution during the Soviet regime, and how it remains alive and vital during the various political, military and religious upheavals in the Ukraine in recent years.
00Monday, March 4, 2019 6:09 AM

John Allen continues his recent tack (tactic) of seeming to criticize the reigning pope while trying to rationalize the actions (or inaction) he seems to criticize.
C'mon, be a man - take a stand one way or the other. Get off the fence you are straddling - it's not a healthy habit at all. Not good for your nether parts...

On ‘gay lobby’ debate,
Pope again offers critics
the sound of silence

by John L. Allen Jr.

March 3, 2019

ROME - Whenever there’s a big Vatican shindig, it’s never just one experience. It’s almost always a tale of multiple events, depending on one’s angle.

To offer just a partial list, there’s the event as it’s experienced by those actually taking part; the public face that the Vatican’s PR machinery tries to apply; the way the event is covered by the media; and the circus that unfolds around the event in protests, parallel meetings, news conferences, snarky tweets, polemical essays, and so on.

Analyzing how these differing perspectives coincide, and where they diverge, usually reveals a good deal about where things stand in terms of the politics of the Catholic Church at any given moment.

Such was again the case with the Feb. 21-24 summit on clerical sexual abuse convened by Pope Francis, and perhaps nowhere is that clearer than discussions of homosexuality, gay clergy, and whether a supposed “gay lobby” within the Church’s power structure has anything to do with the abuse scandals.

Beginning with the statistical fact that a 2004 John Jay report in the United States found that 81 percent of abuse cases involved interaction between priests and minor males, there’s long been an active discussion as to whether homosexuality has anything to do with the crisis. (John Jay’s own 2011 follow-up report, on the “causes and context” of the scandals, rejected the assertion that gay priests are to blame.)

As for a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, something of the sort was acknowledged by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who in 2016 claimed to have “dismantled” it, and jokingly by Francis, who once quipped he’s never seen the membership badges.

That debate revived ahead of the recent summit, as Cardinals Raymond Burke of the U.S. and Walter Brandmüller of Germany sent an open letter to participants urging them to “break the silence” on a climate of moral corruption.

“A decisive act now is urgent and necessary,” the cardinals wrote, calling for an end to the “plague of the homosexual agenda” in the Church, organized networks of protection, and a “climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.”

Burke and Brandmüller are the two surviving members of the group of four cardinals who submitted a set of critical questions, or dubia, to Francis in the wake of his controversial 2016 document Amoris Laetitia that opened a cautious door to reception of communion by Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the Church.

Their call was buoyed by German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, formerly the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, who said in an interview, “One cannot escape this reality” that “the vast majority of abuses committed by priests are homosexual acts.” There was also an online petition demanding that the presidents of bishops’ conferences who met in Rome take steps to root homosexuals out of the priesthood that was eventually signed by several thousand people.

Yet within the summit itself, that ferment had relatively little echo. Homosexuality was never mentioned in any of the major addresses, most of which were delivered by key Francis allies such as Cardinals Blase Cupich of the United States, Reinhard Marx of Germany and Oswald Gracias of India. Most participants reported that it also didn’t surface much in the small group discussions.

Notably, it also wasn’t mentioned in either of the talks Francis himself delivered opening and closing the summit. [Has anyone heard him use the H word? He has said 'gay' quite often, but never 'homosexual'. Perhaps he should pray to his favorite Marian manifestation, Our Lady Untier of Knots, to loosen his tongue on this.]

It did come up at the daily news conferences held by the Vatican, in one of which veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister asked Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a former Vatican prosecutor on abuse cases and widely considered a leading reformer, why homosexuality hadn’t been examined.

In response, Scicluna said that both homosexuality and heterosexuality are “human conditions that we recognize, and that exist, but they aren’t something that really predisposes to sin.”

In another, Delia Gallagher of CNN asked if the talk about a “gay lobby” might be a smoke screen for not solving the abuse crisis, to which Cupich, somewhat cryptically, replied that it’s a “theory.”

To some extent, such reluctance to talk about the issue may be influenced by the fact that from the beginning, discussion of a “gay lobby” has been heavily conditioned by ideology. Some voices on the Catholic right blame the abuse crisis on homosexuality, while the left tends to fault clericalism, celibacy and the exclusion of women from the priesthood.

Perceptions of an ideological agenda haven’t been helped by the fact that the voices raising the homosexuality question most loudly tend to be Francis foes tout court, and that an alleged gay mafia featured prominently in the letter from Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former papal envoy in the U.S., accusing Francis of complicity in a cover-up regarding ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick.

Understandably, reformers often try to steer clear of such political thickets and keep their eyes on the prize - i.e., fostering tools for prevention, detection and accountability for abuse, which in principle aren’t ideological but common-sense.

Yet there also could appear to be a strategic dimension to the discretion, because this is how Francis tends to engage his critics - by not engaging them.

Famously, he has never answered the dubia on Amoris, in effect refusing to legitimize the criticism. (The pope’s supporters have offered detailed rebuttals, but that’s not the same as a formal papal declaration.) Much the same thing appears to be unfolding with regard to the drumbeat on the gay lobby.

One could view this approach in different ways. It could be seen as sound management, refusing to get bogged down in conversations regarded as a distraction. As Charles de Gaulle famously said, “to govern is to choose,” and Francis may be choosing not to spend time and energy on what he sees as irrelevancies at best, thinly disguised prejudice at worst. [Always that hubristic narcissism - "I will say only what I want when I want to, so there! What are you going to do about it?]

For critics, the pope’s silence is often derided as rank hypocrisy, the double standard of a leader who extols open discussion but sometimes isn’t seen as practicing it.

Whatever one makes of it, the take-away from the summit vis-à-vis an alleged gay network underneath the abuse crisis would seem to be that if there’s going to be a debate, it’s not going to happen in official Vatican venues. In that arena, dissidents appear destined to hear only the sound of silence.
[After the cream of the pope's magic circle have already blabbed to their heart's content to Frederic Martel!]

00Monday, March 4, 2019 4:40 PM

The immediacy of Mark's Gospel
in a new English translation

By Brad Miner

March 4, 2019

In 1981, an older publishing colleague took me to the Playhouse Theater in Manhattan to see the English actor Alec McCowen in a revival of his one-man show, St. Mark’s Gospel: McCowen on stage, no props or scenery save a table upon which he placed a paperback copy of the Gospel (saying with a wink, “Just in case . . .”), and in about an hour and forty-five riveting minutes recited all 11,304 words.

McCowen described Mark’s writing as moving “with wonderful speed from event to event,” and of Mark (as author) that he “constructed his Gospel with the skill of a great dramatist.”

Michael Pakaluk, a regular contributor to The Catholic Thing and a professor at the Catholic University of America, does something similar in his new book, The Memoirs of St. Peter: A New Translation of the Gospel According to Mark. Professor Pakaluk provides not only a thrilling new rendering of the ancient Greek text but also provides lively scholarship in the commentary that follows his translation of Mark’s sixteen chapters.

Prior translators of the Bible have tended to level out koine[/] Greek verb forms as a way, by their lights, of making Scripture more understandable. [[I']Koine' refers to the common-usage Greek spoken from the close of the classical period to the Byzantine era.] Since everything recorded in the Bible happened in the past, nearly everything we read there should be stated in the past tense. The Bible as history.

But that’s not necessarily the way it was actually written. There is in Biblical Greek a grammatical tense, neither exactly past nor present, called the aorist for which there’s no exact equivalent in English, but which – as Pakaluk explains – may, if translated properly, give immediacy to the events described. In Greek one “sees” a present action taking place in the past that, if translated as past tense, can seem lifeless. [I think the English equivalent is what we call the 'historic present' (sometimes dramatic present or narrative present). It is a common literary form of narrating a past event, which comes naturally even when one is doing so orally.]

Pakaluk gives a humorous, non-Biblical example of the aorist in action: “So I left my driveway. And I turn the corner. And what do I see? I see a man with a pig. And I thought, that was strange. So I stopped and I asked him. . .” Someone speaking from memory in this way will change tenses to keep the hearer’s attention, but mainly because, as he is speaking “from memory,” he finds it easy to revert to the viewpoint of “what it was like to be there.”

The effect of this in his translation of Mark is electrifying, and two things came to mind as I read: St. Benedict’s admonition at the start of his Rule to “listen with the ear of your heart”; and a professor of Shakespeare I had in college who urged me to “see the plays in the theater of your mind” .

Yes, what Mark describes happened THEN, but in Pakaluk’s translation you feel it happening NOW. It reads almost like a novel, which is exactly right. There is that “suspension of disbelief” that in a novel is critical to the reader’s immersion and enjoyment, and which here means you are caught up in, again, that immediacy of action to which Pakaluk refers in the very first sentence of his introduction: “The immediacy of the Gospels, their closeness in time and place to the events they narrate, can be a shocking discovery.”

But after my talk of plays and novels, I hasten to make clear what Professor Pakaluk has not done: he has not invented anything. This IS Scripture, but presented as the story told to Mark, sometime after the events described – days, months, years after – by Peter, whose love and joy, pain and passion come through as vividly as ever they have in any translation of the Gospel.

Pakaluk follows an ancient tradition about Mark: the assurance we have from Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 340) via Papias of Hierapolis (d. 163) via “John the Presbyter” (d. 100, who may have been the Apostle John): “Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care: not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictional into the statements.”

Pakaluk accepts as given (and cites ample evidence to support it) that Mark was Peter’s amanuensis, which then makes the Gospel a kind of acceptable hearsay testimony: Mark reporting Peter’s remembrances. Not that Mark wasn’t a firsthand witness to some of the events he describes. For instance, Pakaluk’s translation of Mark 14:51-52 (the drama in Gethsemane) reads this way:

(A certain young man was one of his [Christ’s] followers. He had clothed himself with a fine linen garment, wrapped around his naked body. So they [the Temple guards] capture him. But he just left his garment behind and got away, naked!)

In his commentary on the passage, Pakaluk points out that the garment was a sidon, a kind of summertime robe, and that this humorous detail “if written by Mark [is] self-deprecating.” But it’s what comes next that’s truly wonderful and characteristic of the book:

Jesus likewise escaped “capture” by death, leaving his sidon behind in the tomb and “getting away” naked.

In my home library, I have seven Bibles: KJV, NKJV, RSV, NIV, JB, NAB, and ESV-CE. I confess I haven’t made an extensive, comparative analysis of all the versions of Mark vis-à-vis Pakaluk (although I did look closely at the RSV, chapter by chapter), but none of the others has the readability of The Memoirs of St. Peter. This is due to a union of scholarship and insight – to a knowledge of the nuances of koine Greek and an intuition about the intimacy of the conversations between Peter and Mark.

The beautiful cover illustration of Michael’s book is the painting (attributed to) Giuseppe Vermiglio, “St. Mark Writing Under the Dictation of St. Peter,” which suggests both that intimacy and the immediacy in one moment of a collaboration that now includes Michael Pakaluk and, thanks to him, all of us.

I cannot remember ever reading before of a new English translation of a Gospel (maybe because I do not usually look out for any such thing), but this one sounds genuinely exciting, especially in the context of Mark's Gospel being, in effect, the memoirs of St. Peter. I cannot wait to read it.

In the English-speaking world, the most familiar Biblical quotations cited in literature and in everyday life come from the King James Version (KJV) (published 1604-1611) which was a translation of the Bible for the Church of England, universally acknowledged for its elegant language and said to be the most widely printed book in history.

When I first started writing for the Papa Ratzinger Forum, and later this forum, I decided that for consistency, I would use the USCCB translation for all Biblical citations, since it is contemporary and does not contain archaic verb and pronoun forms as the KJV has. It makes for unhindered reading and 'simple' language, at the expense of elegant expression, but the online version which is very easy to access, book by book and chapter and chapter, also includes all the necessary annotations to explain certain terms or certain situations, and for context in general.

In other words, I do not do any translations at all of Biblical citations - I merely take chapter-and-verse citations in the original documents, including those from the Vatican, and pick up the referred verses online from the USCCB Bible. [It is officially called the New American Bible (NAB), first published in 1970, with its present edition, New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE), dating from 2011, which consists of the 1986 NAB revision of the New Testament and a completely revised Old Testament translation.]

00Tuesday, March 5, 2019 8:47 AM

Christ preaching to the Apostles. Duccio, 1608-1611.

On true knowledge and
apostolic intelligence

What we most need is not how we can conform to modernity, but how
it can conform to the truth of things as they are handed down to us.

by James V. Schall, S.J.

March 3, 2019

“Today, more and more, individuals are of the opinion that religion is a waste of time, that only social action can make a significant contribution to man’s well-being.”
Joseph Ratzinger, 1980 (1)

“Men need more than just grasping and holding; they need understanding, which gives power to their actions and their hands; they also need perception, hearing, reason that reaches to the bottom of the heart. And only when understanding remains open to reason, which is greater than it is, can it be genuinely rational and acquire true knowledge.”
Joseph Ratzinger, 1983 (2)

In Chapter 8 of Mark’s Gospel, the Pharisees and Herod were looking for some sign from Christ that would prove to their skeptical minds that He was who He said He was. Later on, Christ is quizzed by the Apostles about not having enough bread. Christ recalls for them an earlier multiplication of loaves. But, they tell Him that they only have a couple of loaves. This is not enough to go around.

With some prodding, the Apostles do remember the seven baskets of leftovers. Implicit in Christ’s logic is His expectation that the Apostles can grasp ordinary evidence. Christ tells them to relax. He will take care of the bread detail. They won’t go hungry.

The Apostles still do not see the point. They missed the analogy: If the crowd of several thousand did not go hungry for lack of bread, neither will the Twelve. Obviously, Christ expected them to grasp what He was driving at without having to drag it out of them. But they didn’t see what He was driving at.

Finally, in exasperation, Christ seems to throw up His hands: “Do you still not understand?” Apostles of whatever era are not, I take it, supposed to be slow in catching distinctions and following arguments.

Scenes like this are not uncommon in the Gospels. The Apostles keep being “astonished” by something they ought to be able to figure out by themselves. No doubt the implication being that, if Christ could do the things that they observed, then He really was — on evidence of the deeds performed before them — the looked-for Messiah.

This incident reminds me of Peter Kreeft’s insightful little book The Philosophy of Jesus. Kreeft goes through many events and words in Christ’s life that indicate His realism. He sees the lilies in the field and how they grow. He is not imposing some form in His mind onto an ongoing flux of practically nothing. If He changes water into wine, it is real water and real, good wine.

Christ would never call a man a “woman” just because that is what the man claimed he was. And He would think a culture or a state that enforced this sort of self-affirmation had gone a bit mad. “Male and female He created them ”— that remains the truth, whatever someone calls himself.

The topic of Catholicism and Intelligence remains a very pertinent one. In fact, Schall has a 2017 book with that very title, Catholicism & Intelligence, as well as an earlier one, The Mind That Is Catholic.

What is usually considered peculiar about the Catholic Church is its dogged affirmation of the truth of things, both revealed and figured out with careful reasoning. This affirmation does not mean that those who are slow to get the point cannot be good Catholics. But it does mean that within the Church, even to its highest levels, first-class minds are needed to grapple with the truth of what the Church claims of itself and, conversely, of the reality and nature of the many deviations from the truth that exist among men.

Many have the impression that, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its German connections, the present papacy is, with the possible exception of John Paul I and his delightful Illustrissimi, the weakest intellectually in modern times.

Great efforts have been made to re-center Catholicism on feelings and compassion, not reason. Subtle changes are made in practice that are later said to be dogmatically justified when they are already in place. (The recent 2016 lengthy instruction on the formation of priests did, however, emphasize the significance of their philosophical and theological studies.)

In this emphasis on feelings, compassion, and unlimited mercy*, certain intractable issues that are based on absolutes of reason or divine revelation can, seemingly, be mitigated or bypassed. Pastoral solutions become preferable to dogmatic ones.

*[Which is why it was surprising eto read Pope Francis being quoted from his homilette on February 28:

"We are not eternal, we cannot think of doing whatever we like, trusting in the infinite mercy of God... Don't say: 'God's compassion is great, he'll forgive me my many sins', and so I continue doing what I want... Don’t wait to convert yourself to the Lord, don’t postpone it from day to day because the anger of the Lord will suddenly burst forth..."

[Whoa, and hooray, nothing anti-Catholic there, not even Catholic-lite: Does this mean he has rethought his notion of 'infinite mercy'? Let's wait and see. He had also spoken of the 'wrath of God' ('anger of the Lord' is how he put it in is homilette) even if it was just in passing, in his closing homily to his abuse summit: “In people’s justified anger, the Church sees the reflection of the wrath of God.” Will he get around next to talking about Hell as one of the consequences of that wrath on Christians who persist in sin and die unshriven?]

When it comes to God, someone very close to the pope said, much to the surprise of all, that “two plus two can equal five.” Also, we hear that since we do not have the exact words of Christ, we can change the law in our time as Christ did in His time. Consistency with a deposit of revelation designed to abide over time is thereby by-passed.

Some still see the fundamental relation of doctrine and morals. The two belong together. Doctrine cannot live without practice; practice cannot exist without the truths of doctrine. This is the understanding that goes back to Aristotle and Aquinas. But this view is said to be rigid or pharisaical.

All the while, in the culture of our times, we see a logical, step-by-step deviation from the goods found in nature and revelation.
- This decline has now brought the culture to the brink of moral chaos.
- Our public morality is almost wholly voluntarist.
- Yelling has too often replaced reasoning.
- Our standards are almost wholly subjective. If I want it, that is enough to make it moral.
- We even make it a civil crime to find anything wrong with our self-elevation to the center of reality.

Late last year, Bishop Robert Barron had a chat with some 25 young Jesuit priests in Chicago. During the discussion one of the Jesuits frankly asked Barron about the criticism often heard of the modern Jesuits: “We Jesuits have been criticized a good deal in recent years. Do you think any of these critiques are justified?”

Barron thought for a bit. He noted the concern for the poor and justice that was often manifested in Jesuit schools and apostolates. Then he added that, in the 1970s, the 32d Congregation of the Society under Father Arrupe changed the emphasis of the works of the Society to “social justice” and away from more traditional works such as education, spiritual exercises, and the intellectual life.

Barron praised works of justice but pointed out that anyone can work for justice. One does not have to be religious to be just.
- While not denying the value of justice, Barron thought that its emphasis was a lowering of sights.
- The attention to things specifically Christian and Catholic was neglected.

- Not merely were the sacraments and questions of grace more needed, but an intellectual defense of them was lacking. These were the more necessary things today, things that no one else could or would do.

In his new book The Idol of Our Age, Daniel Mahoney argued that about half of the goals of the current papacy seem to have originated in the secular humanist tradition that has roots in Comte and Mill.
- Here, everything is attributed to man with no space left for even the slightest transcendent glimmering.
- This view is not based in the tradition of grace addressing human intelligence.
- It is rather a theory of human intelligence that has no other source or outlet but its own theoretic concoctions.
- They do not derive their force from the intelligibility found in nature, including the nature of man but (as Leo Strauss once put it) from a reason independent of any relation to an existing order, to a pure reason and a will following upon it, both unrelated to what is.
- It is in this way that reason claims the power to change men according to one’s imagination.
- The older notion of virtue as bringing man to full conformity with his already existing being is thus lost.

Joseph Ratzinger in 1983, in the passage cited at the beginning of this essay, stated that human reason is itself part of, or related to, a greater reason as is origin.
- The Catholic mind can only be what it is if it stands in conformity with that understanding, which is derived from both divine revelation and natural reason.
- We live not sola fides, nor sola ratio, but et fides et ratio.

The major task that immediately faces the Church is to retain the centrality of mind, the mind that is to be handed down from one generation to the next that preserves and calls forth what man is in his ultimate reality.
- What is most lacking in the Church and the world today is not justice.
- Nor is it a view of man that he makes up by himself presupposed to nothing but his imagination about what he thinks he wants to be.

What we most need, in other words, is not how we can conform to modernity but how it can conform to the truth of things as they are handed down to us.
- We need what John Paul II called in Redemptor hominis the full understanding of what man is — created, fallen, redeemed, and, if he chooses, saved.
- We seem not to hear explained to us this fuller understanding of what man is.
- It seems to many that this later, confident sense about what we are and about our passage to “eternal life” is lacking.
- Our brief sojourn in this world is given to us to find out how we choose our final lot.

This understanding is what people in both the Church and in the culture most need to hear — and they sense that they are not hearing much of it.
-The path to our re l transcendent future passes through a past that was handed down for us to keep and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
- Yet, it seems to many today that the gates are shaking.
- This concern is where we should concentrate our efforts. “Social action” is not enough.

Our full reason, in divine revelation, is addressed by the divine reason. Such is our dignity. “Do we now understand?”

1 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1992), 68.
2 Ibid, 54.

I must continue to be grateful to Fr. Schall for continuing to refer to Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger whenever he finds an opportunity. That Fr. Schall often uses his words for an epigraph is even more gratifying.

00Tuesday, March 5, 2019 7:12 PM

The big news from the Vatican yesterday that displaced the Pell verdict and the abuse summit fallout from worldwide media headlines was the
announcement that the Vatican will open the full archives of Pius XII's Pontificate to the public in March 2020.

I was shocked to find that all the stories showed this was an initiative by Pope Francis. Yes, it is, in the sense that the reigning pope has to
actually authorize opening any portion of the so-called Secret Archives of the Vatican. Yet even someone like Edward Pentin made no reference at all
to the fact that back in 2007, Benedict XVI directed the Vatican Archives to expedite the cataloguing of Pius XII's papers so they
could be open for research as soon as possible.

The archives were eventually going to be opened anyway, but in the case of the Pius XII files, covering a pontificate that lasted almost 20 years
(from March 1939 to October 1958), much of the documentation relating to what he did during World War II - which remains the
biggest posthumous [and entirely manufactured] controversy about this pope - had already been released by the Vatican
in the
Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (Acts and Documents of the Holy See related to the Second
World War), often abbreviated Actes or ADSS - a 12-volume collection of archival documents related to the papacy of Pope Pius XII during
World War II.

The volumes - commissioned by Pope Paul VI and compiled by four Jesuit priest-historians led by Pierre Blet of France (shown above - he died in
2009 at the age of 91) - were published between 1965-1981. Fr. Blet subsequently summarized their conclusions in a book published in English as
Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican. [It is said that whenever anyone asked John Paul II about
Pius XII and the Holocaust, his answer was, "Read Blet!"]

At the time, the entire issue of Pius VII's alleged 'silence' on the Holocaust had been re-ignited by the announcement in May 2007 that
the Congregation for Sainthood Causes had unanimously approved Pius XII's 'heroic virtues', the first step towards beatification, which raised
an outcry of protest from militant Jews worldwide.

Yet in 2008, the Vatican went all out to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pius's death, starting with a commemorative Mass during which
Benedict XVI praised his predecessor's work and stoutly defended his strong wartime record in behalf of Jews, not just in Italy. The commemoration
included new books
about Pius XII and the Holocaust, a big Vatican exhibition, and a major international conference about the subject.

Earlier, as Benedict himself recalls in his 2010 Light of the World interview book with Peter Seewald, he had "ordered an inspection of the
unpublished archival records, because I wanted to be absolutely sure...[and] the records confirm the positive things we know, but
not the negative things that are alleged

He ordered that review after delaying his approval of the recommendation from the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, but he eventually declared
Pius XII 'Venerable' in December 2009. Benedict XVI's delay was in deference to Jewish leaders who asked him not to do anything about Pius XII's
sainthood cause until the Vatican fully opened its archives to researchers.
- Therefore, in 2007, he ordered the Vatican secret archives up to 1939 and other sections up to 1947 to be opened right away, and ordered the rest
of the war years archives to be opened as quickly as possible.
- He quintupled the numbers of trained archival personnel to complete this tedious work, which would involve more than 31 million documents
needing to be sewn into books, numbered page by page, and summarized.
- In 2009, Bishop Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, said it would take five or six more years to organize the papers.
It is worthwhile to cite here an Italian news story about Pagano's statements.

'Holocaust pope' archives
to open in '5-6 years'

Rome, July 2, 2009 (ANSA) - Defenders of wartime pope Pius XII have ''nice surprises'' in store, the keeper of the Vatican's secret archives said Thursday.

The controversial pope, who has been criticised for not speaking out clearly against the Holocaust, ''even ran personal risks'' to save Jews, said Msgr Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Secret Archives.

''When the archives can be published there'll be some nice surprises,'' he said. ''I can't tell you any more,'' Pagano said, fending off eager reporters. "You'll have to wait five to six years, when the archives are scheduled to be ready for release".

Pagano's statement did not change the expected release date of 2014-2015 for the archives, which are currently being collated.

Pagano stressed that Pope Benedict XVI, a staunch defender of his precedessor, will have the final word on publication. Many Jews insist that a full verdict on the pope, who is up for sainthood, would only be possible when those archives are opened...

My first question upon reading yesterday's news was that in 2009, the archives were expected to be opened by 2015.
Why was that deadline not met, and why do we have to wait now till March 2020?
Also, it's difficult for me to understand how journalists today
can so totally miss relevant context - even fairly recent historical context - when reporting about anything. Imagine reporting this as if it were
a bolt from the blue! They should have been asking why the delay from 2015.

With that background, then, here, for the record, is Edward Pentin's account from yesterday:

Pope Francis orders archives of
Pius XII's entire pontificate to be opened

by Edward Pentin

March 4, 2019

Pope Francis has ordered the opening of the Vatican Secret Archives for the entire period of Venerable Pius XII’s pontificate, a move that will help shed light on the contentious dispute that the pontiff either heroically supported the Jews during World War Two, or did too little.

In a message today to officials working in the Vatican Secret Archives, the Holy Father said the archives would be opened from March 2, 2020 — exactly a year after the 80th anniversary of Pius’s election, which took place last Saturday.

The Pope said all the “archival documentation” from his election on March 2, 1939, until his death on Oct. 9, 1958, would be “open for consultation by researchers.”

This would therefore include the important years of World War Two, a time that became contentious in the postwar years, with critics calling Pius XII “Hitler’s Pope” (the title of a book by John Cornwell widely viewed as discredited) for seemingly not doing enough to help save the Jews from the Holocaust.

But his supporters, some prominent Jews among them, have long argued that he acted prudently and heroically, and helped to save tens of thousands of Jewish lives. They insist he was the victim of a ‘Black Legend’ — a smear campaign masterminded by Soviet secret intelligence.

Historians and commentators on both sides of the so-called “Pius Wars” debate have therefore long wished for the archives to be opened to know what really happened during those tumultuous years.

In his announcement today, the Pope said he took the decision after listening to the “opinion of my closest co-workers, with a serene and confident spirit, sure that serious and objective historical research will be able to evaluate in the right light, with appropriate criticism, moments of exaltation of that pontiff.” [He appears to be taking full credit for the initiative - without referring to the extraordinary measures Benedict XVI took relative to the archival work.]

But he also said that “without doubt” the archives would reveal “moments of serious difficulties, of tormented decisions, of human and Christian prudence, which to some could appear like reticence, and which instead were very hard-won, human attempts, to keep lit the flame of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy, of hope in possible good openings of hearts, in times of dense darkness and cruelty.” [I think he is hedging his bets here, but ....]


In 2009, in the POPES BEFORE JOHN PAUL II section of the PAPA RATZINGER FORUM, I recorded these reflections, which remain unchanged, because logic is immutable:

The French historian (Fr Blet) who was in charge of putting out the twelve volumes of preliminary material about Pius XII's wartime activities has already indicated that the major facts have been disclosed in those volumes.

It also stands to common sense that it is hardly likely that the archives that have not yet been open to the public would contain any 'smoking gun' directly showing Pius XII had ever expressed any anti-Semitic sentiments or ordered things done that could be construed as anti-Semitic. (And if no 'smoking gun' in the form of anything that could be construed as anti-and/or collusion with Hitler, militant Jews will most certainly cry 'Foul' and claim that the Vatican must have pre-purged the records. They're not looking for resolution or truth or justice - all they're looking for is for their worst biases to be confirmed and validated.]

On the other hand, there may well be more documentation about how Pius XII encouraged the Church and Catholic institutions to do what they could to help, if not rescue, Italians who were being persecuted or likely to be persecuted in those years.

The problem, however, is that Pius XII's critics prefer to completely ignore all the positive things documented in his favor - including the testimony of people like the chief Rabbi of Rome at the time [who ended up converting to catholicism], or of prominent Jews like Golda Meir and Albert Einstein, who spoke out unsolicited - during or soon after the war - in praise of Pius XII's conduct towards Jews during the war.

From the time the Pius XII controversy re-erupted during the life of this Forum, I always wondered from the start why his Jewish critics were ignoring in his case their famous saying that "Whoever saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole world." I believe this is the basis for their definition of who is 'righteous', particularly if the life saved was a Jew.

So I must admit I was rather taken aback by [English historian] Martin Gilbert's article for Haaretz [an Israeli newspaper], in which not only does he join the critics in their obsessive insistence on the archives, but also suggests that the Vatican should apply to Yad Vashem to have Pius XII declared 'Righteous'! He must be joking. He cannot possibly be serious in any way - and for an esteemed historian like him to be so cavalier about his proposition is definitely unworthy.

If the Yad Vashem people have already pre-judged Pius XII enough to put him in the Museum's Hall of Shame, what do you think they would do with an application by anyone to have Pius XII declared one of the 'Righteous'? They'd probably toss it into the wastebasket right away with delirious howls of scornful laughter, or just as bad, answer back and say, "Sure, we'll investigate his case. Show us the Archives now!" and turn the whole thing around as another propaganda ploy to denigrate the late Pope.

Besides, and more importantly, the Vatican does not need any committee of museum bureaucrats, fossilized in their prejudices, to decide whether a Pope was 'righteous' or not.

My question still stands: Why do his Jewish critics ignore all the lives Pius XII was instrumental in saving - completely ignoring their own age-old dictum about the virtue of saving even one life - to harp on what Pius XII did not say?

Let's not even get into the hateful but in many ways defensible thesis of some historians that the Jews of Eastern Europe were effectively complicit in their own destruction. [They were too complacent, they thought they could still buy their way out of difficulties, they never thought Hitler would go to the extremes he did, etc.]

What the Jewish naysayers also forget is that Pius XII had a duty to his own flock first of all, to minimize their exposure to retribution by the Nazis. If he was prudent about what he could openly say, his prudence concerned the Catholics of occupied Europe as well - who certainly far outnumbered the Jews of Germany and Poland.

I find the completely blind spot that the Jewish critics have about this aspect particularly troubling - as though Jews alone had any cause to fear the Nazis at the time. As though the whole world - at a time when each man was trying to keep his own skin intact - owed the Jews particular attention even if it be to the detriment of their own kind. Because that, in effect, is what they are retrospectively demanding Pius XII should have done!

And the experience of the Warsaw ghetto should tell them about the pros and cons of heroic resistance versus prudence. Is there any consolation in a moral victory when at the end, almost everyone who resisted was decimated? The heroes of the Warsaw ghetto were heroes for acting on behalf of themselves and their community - but they reaped the consequences, for which they had consciously taken personal responsibility.

And an imprudent statement or action by Pius XII and the Church at the time would have resulted - as it did in Holland - in retribution to both Jews and Catholics who would be made innocent victims for no direct actions of their own. I suppose that is why there is a saying like 'Discretion is the better part of valor'.

Things are never simply black or white - and in wartime, the grey zones present individuals with even more frightening dilemmas. If the Abraham Foxmans [Foxman was head of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League at the time] of the world ever had to face such dilemmas, would they play the hero and martyr without a second thought for possible consequences to others?

I should like to add a problem with search engines, in that no matter how specific I worded my search, e.g., "Benedict XVI's actions in 2007-2008 regarding Pius XII', all I got was pages and pages of the same thing, 'Pope Francis to open archives on Pius XII'. In the end I had to go back to my thread on POPES BEFORE JOHN PAUL II on the PAPA RATZINGER FORUM to get the data I collated above. That section contains most of the major stories at the time on Pius XII and the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, Catholic World Report has re-posted a feature it first ran in October 2018 in view of the news...

Pope Pius XII: 'His tiara turned
into a crown of thorns', says historian

Michael Hesemann argues that Eugenio Pacelli deserves beatification and eventual
canonization for what he did to save as many Jews as possible during world War II

by Deborah Castellano Lubov

March 4, 2019

Pius XII was never “Hitler’s Pope,” as some have argued, but was instead Hitler’s strongest enemy, says historian Michael Hesemann after 10 years of research in the Vatican Secret Archives.

Hesemann laments that the pope, born Eugenio Pacelli, “is not even beatified.” The results of Dr. Hesemann’s studies have been published in German in the book Der Papst und der Holocaust; an English edition is expected soon. Hesemann says his intention with the book is “to kill the black legend of Hitler’s Pope” and to further the cause for Pius XII’s beatification.

Catholic World Report recently spoke with Hesemann about his book and its subject.

Why you are so interested in Pius XII, and why did you decide to write a book about him?
This book is overdue, and so is the beatification of Pius XII. Most of his successors are already canonized; his “right hand,” Msgr. Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI, willbe canonized next Sunday [Oct 14 - the interview took place earlier].

I don’t question its legitimacy, not at all, but someone was missed; Pius XII, whose “heroic virtues” were promulgated by Benedict XVI in 2009, one of the greatest popes in Church history, is not even beatified yet.

Why is that, in your opinion?
His case is on ice, if you will, for political reasons, out of fear that Jewish groups might be upset and protest. This is absurd, since no pope in history did what Pius XII did to save as many Jews as possible during the darkest hours of human history, the Holocaust. And this is what I prove in my book The Pope and the Holocaust.

What were your sources?
It is based on 10 years of research in the Vatican Secret Archives. Already, three weeks after 'Kristallnacht” — the pogrom night of November 9, 1938 [when paramilitary nazis and civilians
systematically destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were either destroyed or damaged] - he initiated what, if successful, would have been the biggest rescue operation in history. He tried to get visas for 200,000 Jews when 230,000 were still living in Hitler’s Germany. Unfortunately, he did not succeed, due to a lack of cooperation from other Catholic nations, but over the next years, at least 40,000 Jews were smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Central Europe with visas obtained by the Vatican, [with] tickets paid for by the Pope and, often enough, false papers including forged baptism certificates. Pius XII did everything he could to save as many Jews as possible.

What distinguishes your book on Pius XII from others on the same subject?
It is not a biography of Pius XII but a study on how the Pope and the Vatican reacted [to] the Holocaust. It includes an overview [of] all the documents I discovered myself in the Vatican Archives, dealing with the pontificate of his predecessor Pius XI, when Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pius XII, was his Secretary of State, and an evaluation of the nearly 8,000 pages of documents already released and published by the Vatican on order of Paul VI in an 11-volume-edition which was completed in 1981 — and was, unfortunately, widely ignored by historians.

Besides, I show the important role Pius XII played in a conspiracy of German generals to overthrow Hitler, which eventually produced the “Valkyrie” coup d’etat of July 20, 1944, when Colonel von Stauffenberg tried to kill Hitler with a bomb placed underneath his desk.

What was the involvement of Pius XII in that operation?
The Pope blessed this plan and the conspirators, since it was the fastest way to end the slaughter of millions of innocent men, women, and children and the most brutal war in history.

How does your new book help clear up incorrect perceptions of Pius XII?
It kills the “black legend” of Hitler’s Pope, of the Pope who was silent when six million Jews were slaughtered. Pius XII was not silent at all. Before the Germans occupied Rome in September 1943, he protested three times against the deportations and killings of Jews - in August 1941, at Christmas 1942, and in June 1943. When he realized that public protest would not help anybody but only caused more brutal counter-reactions by the Nazis, he used diplomacy; we know of more than 40 diplomatic interventions trying to stop the deportations of the Jews not only in Germany, where his nuncio met with no success at all facing Hitler’s fanatic hate, but also in the vassal states of Nazi Germany, in Vichy-France, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria, where the representatives of the Pope had several successes, delaying or ending the transports of Jews to the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Majdanek.

Do we know how many Jews survived the Holocaust thanks to an intervention of Pope Pius XII?
Indeed. [in my book] I show how 443,000 Jews were saved by delays or halts of deportations, and that an additional 463,000 Jews were saved because Romania, Bulgaria, and Italy (until 1943) refused to hand over “their” Jews to the Nazis after a diplomatic intervention of the Holy See and its diplomats.

Then, exactly 75 years ago, Hitler ordered the deportation of all 8,000 Roman Jews, and on October 16, 1943 the first roundup and arrest of 1,259 persons, begun. When he learned about it in the early morning of that day, Pius XII immediately summoned the German Ambassador Von Weizsäcker to the Vatican, where his Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione, threatened [Von Weizsäcker] with an open papal protest. But the ambassador refused to report this to Berlin.

Then what happened?
Knowing about Hitler’s order to occupy the Vatican and arrest the pope, Pius XII had a “plan B.” He sent his nephew, Carlo Pacelli, to an Austrian bishop residing in Rome, Msgr. Hudal, who had contacts [with] the German occupiers of Rome. Hudal wrote to the Nazi Commander of Rome, Major General Stahel, pointed to the consequences of a papal protest, and convinced him to call Heinrich Himmler, requesting to stop the arrests. The SS Reichsfuehrer gave this order [to cease the arrests of Roman Jews], and 252 persons were released; “only” 1,007, instead of the 8,000 ordered by Hitler, were sent to Auschwitz.

For the survivors, the Pope opened more than 200 Roman monasteries, convents, and the Vatican State, hiding more than 4,300 people during the next seven months. Since nobody in the Vatican knew that the 1,007 Roman Jews were sent to a death camp —the original order said they were to be sent as “hostages to Mauthausen,” a labor camp in Austria — for the next several months, the Vatican tried to learn more about their whereabouts and to send food and warm clothes to them; [however] most of them were killed in the gas chambers the day they arrived in Auschwitz.

What else does your book demonstrate?
It proves that Pius XII was never 'Hitler’s Pope', but [was] indeed Hitler’s strongest antagonist, his most efficient enemy; that he was not silent at all, but decided not to give the Nazis further pretexts for more severe measures and repercussions by the Nazis. He realized that efficient help was more useful than public condemnations. His priority was to save as many Jews as possible.

Behind the scenes, he collaborated with conspiracies against the Nazis as…with the Allies to end the war as soon as possible. He even encouraged American Catholic soldiers to fight side by side with Stalin’s troops, saying that the war was not about their atheist communist ideology, but in defense of their Russian homeland occupied by the Nazis, and [was] therefore legitimate. His “nihil obstat” broke all American resistance against an alliance with Stalin to defeat Hitler and the Nazis.

What does your book show that hasn’t been published before?
A great part of the documents I quote in my book were either never before published — like the ones I discovered myself in the Vatican Archives — or come from the abovementioned collection of nearly 8,000 pages of documents, published by the Vatican on order of Pope Paul VI. This is a rather absurd fact: Although everybody blames the Vatican for “not opening the Archives,” it is widely ignored that the most important documents were already published.

However, the Vatican made a little mistake. Paul VI was a Francophile and had ordered Father Blet, a French Jesuit, to edit and [include commentary for] this collection, the Actes et documents du Saint Siege relatifs a la Seconde Guerre mondiale, in French. Unfortunately, the most eminent Holocaust historians are mostly English, American, or Israeli. For sure, they know some German, but certainly many of them don’t read French. The result was that a true treasure of historical documents was widely ignored.

I myself waited for 10 years to get access to the “closed section” of the archives. I work with an American Jewish organization, the Pave the Way Foundation, specializing in inter-religious dialogue, which greatly supported me during my research. For several times we met with the Secretaries of State of the Holy See, first Cardinal Bertone, then Cardinal Parolin, and were always assured that it was only a question of months until the archives would open. I waited and waited, but nothing happened. At the same time, those who know assured me that 90 percent of all relevant documents were already published in those eleven volumes.

I started to read and evaluate them and found out that they indeed deliver a coherent picture of what happened: We might not have all stones of the mosaic, but 90 percent are enough to create a clear picture. This is what I tried in my book. When one day the archives open [to the general public], I might add some details here and there — but the overall reconstruction of the events will still be valid.

Those documents show us a completely different Pius XII than the black legend which, as we know today, was created and promoted by the Soviet KGB to interfere into the papal elections, the conclave of 1963. Thank God, it did not influence the cardinals, but it darkened the image of Pius XII. Now we have all the facts together to clear his memory and to show Papa Pacelli as he really was: a man who scrupulously tried everything to save as many human lives as possible during the greatest humanitarian crisis in history…

That’s why I say clearly that the Church has nothing to fear. The lies about Pius XII disturb the reconciliation of Catholics and Jews. The truth about him can only bring them together.

Could this help with leading toward his canonization? Opening the archives?
I hope so. I had a long discussion with the Pope’s Jewish friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a wonderful man, but on one point we did not agree. He thinks that Pius XII should have protested more loudly, should have openly condemned Hitler — this, Skorka said, “was his prophetic duty.” “Even if that would have costed tens of thousands of human — of Jewish — lives?”,I objected. “Yes, it was his duty,” the rabbi insisted.

I can’t agree. The Jewish Talmud teaches us that he who saves one human life, saves an entire world. Pius XII saved nearly a million Jewish lives. A public gesture would have destroyed all possibilities to help them. To say it frankly: Pius XII did not want to buy the applause of the free world or future generations with the blood of innocent Jews or Catholics. For him, saving lives was his priority and highest moral duty.

Do you hope to see Pius XII beatified?
He deserves beatification and even canonization more than any pope of the 20th Century - his tiara had indeed turned into a crown of thorns. I hope that my book, that the facts I document, convince all skeptics to change their opinion.

Regarding the archives, the earlier they open, the better. It is already documented what Pope Pius XII did to save nearly a million Jews. And I am sure, not too many additional historians would even come and do research themselves, after they would find out that 90 percent of all-important documents are already published, and can be found on the Internet. But it is important as a symbolic act: To convince the world, including the Jewish community, that the Vatican indeed has nothing to hide. [But reason has never before prevailed over blind prejudice, and prejudiced Jews have become too bottled up in their odium against Pius XII that little is to be expected from them, if at all. And God alone knows how many "Aha! Gotcha!" moments to further persecute Pius XII will follow this symbolic act by the Vatican.]

Interested persons may go to the wesbite of Pave the Way Foundation with a web section dedicated entirely to investigating the papacy of Pius XII.
The site already contains a vast collection of archival documents about Pius XII in addition to books, speeches, news stories and commentaries on the subject.

John Allen articulates the case for the obvious:

Opening archives won’t settle the debate
over Pius XII and the Holocaust

John L. Allen Jr.

March 5, 2019

ROME -Whatever else Pope Francis’s decision Monday to open the archives from the pontificate of Pius XII in 2020 may mean, there’s one preliminary conclusion that seems take-it-to-the-bank, no-doubt-about-it, slam-dunk certain.

Opening the archives will not - indeed, by definition, cannot - settle the historical controversy about Pius XII and his alleged silence during the Holocaust.

That’s because the debate is counter-factual, pivoting not on what Pius did or didn’t do, but rather what he should have done.

- Should Pius XII have publicly denounced Hitler?
- Should he have threatened to excommunicate anyone involved in the mechanism of the Holocaust?
- Should he have pressured the Allies to liberate Nazi extermination camps earlier?
- Should he have offered himself in ransom for German prisoners in Rome after the 1943 occupation of the city, or come up with some other dramatic gesture to register disapproval?

Answers to those questions involve subjective judgments about what would have produced the best results in a complicated set of circumstances - whether fortune would have favored the bold, or discretion was the better part of valor - and, alas, there’s no “smoking gun” in anyone’s archives that will provide conclusive resolution one way or the other.

Moreover, the debate over Pius XII is also a moral one, and as anyone who’s ever taken moral philosophy or basic logic knows, one cannot deduce an “ought” from an “is.” You can pile up all the historical facts you like, but in themselves they won’t tell you what Pius or anyone else ought to have done.

By now, the basic data points about Pius XII and the Holocaust are wearily familiar to anyone who’s followed the back-and-forth since 1963, when Rolf Hochhuth published his play “The Deputy” and thereby launched the accusation that the pontiff was complicit, at least through his silence, in the mass extermination of Jews.
- Prior to that point, it’s well-established that Pius XII enjoyed broad admiration for his leadership during the war years, including within the Jewish community.
- In 1958, for instance, then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously wrote: “During the 10 years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims.”

After “The Deputy,” however, a more critical reading of Pius’s record began to take hold, which in turn sparked an increasingly polemical body of apologetics seeking to defend the pope. The exchange came to be known as “the Pius war,” and while it’s slowed in recent years, there’s little indication that the underlying sentiments on either side have altered.

Proof that fresh data won’t really change much comes from the irony that positions about Pius XII hardened at precisely the same time the Vatican was providing unprecedented access to its records.
- St. Paul VI ordered the archives from the war years made public, which happened in a series of 12 volumes published between 1964 and 1981.
- St. John Paul II authorized an additional release of records in 2004 concerning prisoners of war.

Given that all those records have already been made public and put under a scholarly microscope, most experts are skeptical that anything new will come to light in 2020 that will really alter the calculus. (Granted, critics suspected the Vatican had “sanitized” those materials, but who’s to say they won’t lodge the same complaint this time?)

“Lovers of scoops may be a little disappointed,” said French church historian Philippe Chenaux, who teaches at Rome’s Lateran University. “It’s not to be expected that [the material to be opened in 2020] will cause great changes in the interpretation of Pius XII and his attitude during the war".

That’s not to say that the new material won’t be of keen historical interest, but likely in other areas. As Chenaux pointed out, the late 1940s and 1950s have long been a bit of a “black hole” for researchers - there are abundant studies of the war years and of the run-up to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), but relatively little in between.

Those years produced some of Pius’s greatest teaching documents, such as 1947’s Mediator Dei, on the liturgy, and 1950’s Humani generis, which helped open Catholic thought to evolutionary theory and the biological sciences. The period also includes some of Pius’s most important administrative moves, such as his efforts in 1953/54 to rein in France’s “worker-priest” movement, which, in some ways, would anticipate later struggles over liberation theology.

Americans will be interested in whatever the archives may reveal about Pius’s relationship with the U.S. hierarchy of the day, perhaps especially his close ties with Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York. It would be fascinating, for instance, to know what Pius really thought when Spellman turned down the pontiff’s offer in 1944 to make him the first American Secretary of State - whether Pius regretted a missed opportunity, or, as he watched Spellman move in a progressively more hardline direction, felt he’d actually dodged a bullet.

Moreover, the opening of the archives also may help clear the path for Pius XII’s sainthood cause, if only by removing one of the usual objections as to why it was “premature.” (Notably, however, concerns about records still being confidential didn’t get in the way of sainthood for John XXIII, Paul VI or John Paul II, which suggests that assessments of personal sanctity have relatively little to do with the details of ecclesiastical governance.)

In any event, what opening the archives will not bring, at least in itself, is an end to the moral dispute over the legacy of Pius XII vis-à-vis the Holocaust. Resolving that argument would require an opening of minds and hearts, not just records, and the former are generally far more difficult to unseal.


Two fundamental questions which the holier-than-thou critics of Pius XII - many of them Christian and Catholic, not just Jewish - choose to ignore in all their condemnation of Pius XII's 'silence' over the fate of the European Jews under Nazism is:
1. What did the Allied leaders say and do - notably Roosevelt and Churchill - at the time (i.e., during World War II and, in the case of Roosevelt who became US president in 1933 around the same time Hitler came to power in Germany, during the pre-war years of Hitler's regime?
2. What did Jewish leaders themselves - those who were in a position to freely say and do what they could - say and do at the time?
Then, look at Pius XII's record - what is known of it so far is vast, even without looking further into the Vatican Archives - for an objective comparison.

Read what the US Holocoaust Memorial Museum writes about FDR:

In contrast, read about Winston Churchill's record:

It seems clear that while FDR - who spoke to Americans and the world in his famous fireside chats on radio (from March 1933 to June 1944) in which he explained his policies, quelled rumors, and instilled confidence in his people - hardly ever said anything in public about the Jewish problem, which was always on the backburner of the Allied agenda whose main objective was to defeat Hitler as the best way to stop his oppression of Germany and occupied Europe. So what little he actually did about the Jewish problem was, at best, token. But has anyone condemned him for his silence and worse, effective inaction, on the Jewish question? No - because he is one of the world's alltime secular heroes of the 20th century. Sheer cultural prejudice at work!

Martin Gilbert's compelling account for the BBC about Churchill and the Jews - which includes statements he publicly made with his incomparable eloquence each time he learned something major about the subject - ends with the following paragraphs:

From the first to the last day of the war, the fate of the Jews was something on which Churchill took immediate and positive action whenever he was asked to do so. In addition, in 1940 he refused to contemplate making peace with Hitler, and for the next four years used every fibre of his being to devise means of defeating Hitler. Even when the Gestapo system was in the ascendant over much of Europe, at the very time when most Jews were being murdered, Churchill had faith that it would one day be possible to defeat Nazism altogether. This faith communicated itself to the ghettos and was itself a potent factor for morale behind German lines.

Gilbert, a prolific author of ore than 80 books, wrote the final six volumes of the eight-volume biography of Churchill begun by his son Randolph, in addition to which he also wrote books on World War I and World War II, the Holocaust and Jewish life, the establishment of the State of Israel, as well as a three-volume history of the 20th century, in all of which he relied primarily on archival documents for his facts.

Little noted at the time except by those who have been faithfully following the saga of the Black legend against Pius XII was this story, as reported by Church Militant:

BBC retracts fake news report
claiming Church was silent
during Jewish Holocaust

VATICAN CITY, December 20, 2016 ( - The BBC is vindicating Pope Pius XII by stepping away from its fake news report indicting the Catholic Church under Pius XII of being "silent" in the face of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

On the occasion of the visit to Auschwitz by Pope Francis on July 29, the BBC reporting from the infamous concentration camp made the faulty claim: "Silence was the response of the Catholic Church when Nazi Germany demonized Jewish people and then attempted to eradicate Jews from Europe."

This false narrative smearing Pope Pius XII was challenged by Lord David Alton, Chairman of the Christian Heritage Center, and by Fr. Leo Chamberlain, historian and former headmaster of UK's Ampleforth College.

In response, on December 6 the BBC issued the following retraction: "In the judgement of the ECU [the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit], this did not give due weight to public statements by successive Popes or the efforts made on the instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence."

After the retraction, Fr. Chamberlain, who assisted Lord Alton in lodging the complaint, remarked,

In measured terms, the statement means that the BBC accept that this received view on Pius XII is not just a matter of controversy but plain wrong. In fact Pope Pius XII acted wherever he could to save Jewish lives; ... those working for him ... saved at least 700,000 Jews from the death camps. Jews were hidden in religious houses throughout Italy...

The rest of the article may be read here:

One of the immediate responses to the BBC retraction came from William Doino Jr., lead contributor to the 2004 book The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII (the other authors are David Dalin and Joseph Bottum). He wrote in the Catholic Herald:

When I read the BBC’s correction, I could not but help think of the impressive scholarship of men like Chadwick and Gilbert, who did so much to exonerate Pius XII, and whom I had the privilege of consulting before their respective deaths.

Both of them, I am sure, would have welcomed the BBC’s about-face, especially Gilbert, whose book, The Righteous, is a comprehensive study of Christians, including Pius XII, who rescued Jews during World War II – often at great risk to themselves.In 2003, the year Gilbert’s book was published, he granted me an extensive interview in which he methodically demolished the charges against Pius XII, emphasizing two things:
- Not only was the Catholic Church not “silent,” during the Holocaust, Vatican Radio, authorized and sustained by Pius XII, was among the first major voices to publicly condemn Nazi atrocities against Jews and Catholics in Poland, shortly after World War II began. Hence, said Gilbert, ‘To assert Pius XII was “silent” about Nazi mass murder is a serious error of historical fact.’

Sir Martin also told me that the Pope’s Christmas message of 1942, which condemned the extermination of people based upon their ‘race or descent’ was extremely important, because it ‘put the Pope squarely and publicly against the Holocaust.’ Indeed, the Nazis were so infuriated by it that they denounced Pius XII as a ‘mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.

- Asked if he agreed with the Vatican’s 1998 declaration on the Holocaust (‘We Remember’) that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Jews were rescued under Pius XII, Gilbert, who spent decades meticulously researching the Holocaust in archives around the world, told me that that statement was not a self-serving exaggeration, but historically accurate: ‘Yes, that is certainly correct. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, saved by the entire Catholic Church, under the leadership, and with the support of Pope Pius XII – would, to my mind, be absolutely correct.’

Gilbert has helped to inspire a generation of writers who have defended Pius XII with hard facts and serious research.

As for what Jewish leaders themselves said and did about Nazi persecutions at the time they were happening, read Yad Vashem Museum's FAQ about the Holocaust and its answer to the question,
Who are some of the best known Jewish leaders during the Holocaust, and what did they accomplish? (Page 20):
It's an honor roll of the leaders of European Jewry and their resistance against the Nazis - and most of them died soon because of it. Of course, there has never been a universal organization for Judaism, and the Jews did not acquire a sovereign political voice until modern Israel was established in 1948, so who would have spoken for them to the world during the war?

To the question, What did the Jews of American do to help European Jewry during the war? (Page 18), the answer reads in part:

American Jewry organized to send funds and supplies into occupied Europe through aid organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee... Rescue activities finally undertaken to a limited degree by the government, such as those implemented through the War Refugee Board in 1944, were largely funded by American Jewry. However, American Jewry was unable to overcome its internal differences and conflicts, which were both ideological and organizational. Thus, they rarely presented the government with a united front and united demands or requests, and the government did not display great resolve to rescue the Jews of Europe.

Yet, all the above are just some of the most salient facts ignored by the critics of Pius XII who have clothed themselves so sanctimoniously in moral righteousness and invincible prejudice. rom head to foot that they will always be blind to truth.

00Wednesday, March 6, 2019 4:25 PM

Unlearning ourselves in Lent
By Blessed John Henry Newman
from 'Parochial and Plain Sermons'
Vol. 6, No. 1

March 6, 2019

The season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. . . .We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this; in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

St. Paul gave up all things “to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is from God upon faith.” [Phil. iii. 9.] Then only are our righteousnesses acceptable when they are done, not in a legal way, but in Christ through faith. Vain were all the deeds of the Law, because they were not attended by the power of the Spirit. They were the mere attempts of unaided nature to fulfil what it ought indeed, but was not able to fulfil.

None but the blind and carnal, or those who were in utter ignorance, could find aught in them to rejoice in. What were all the righteousnesses of the Law, what its deeds, even when more than ordinary, its alms and fastings, its disfiguring of faces and afflicting of souls; what was all this but dust and dross, a pitiful earthly service, a miserable hopeless penance, so far as the grace and the presence of Christ were absent?

And this is singularly the case with Christians now, who endeavour to imitate Him; and it is well they should know it, for else they will be discouraged when they practise abstinences. It is commonly said, that fasting is intended to make us better Christians, to sober us, and to bring us more entirely at Christ’s feet in faith and humility. This is true, viewing matters on the whole. On the whole, and at last, this effect will be produced, but it is not at all certain that it will follow at once.

On the contrary, such mortifications have at the time very various effects on different persons, and are to be observed, not from their visible benefits, but from faith in the Word of God. Some men, indeed, are subdued by fasting and brought at once nearer to God; but others find it, however slight, scarcely more than an occasion of temptation. For instance, it is sometimes even made an objection to fasting, as if it were a reason for not practising it, that it makes a man irritable and ill-tempered. I confess it often may do this.

Or again, weakness of body often hinders him from fixing his mind on his prayers, instead of making him pray more fervently; or again, weakness of body is often attended with languor and listlessness, and strongly tempts a man to sloth.

Yet, I have not mentioned the most distressing of the effects which may follow from even the moderate exercise of this great Christian duty. It is undeniably a means of temptation, and I say so, lest persons should be surprised, and despond when they find it so. And the merciful Lord knows that so it is from experience; and that He has experienced and thus knows it, as Scripture records, is to us a thought full of comfort.

I do not mean to say, God forbid, that aught of sinful infirmity sullied His immaculate soul; but it is plain from the sacred history, that in His case, as in ours, fasting opened the way to temptation. And, perhaps, this is the truest view of such exercises, that in some wonderful unknown way they open the next world for good and evil upon us, and are an introduction to somewhat of an extraordinary conflict with the powers of evil.

Stories are afloat (whether themselves true or not matters not, they show what the voice of mankind thinks likely to be true), of hermits in deserts being assaulted by Satan in strange ways, yet resisting the evil one, and chasing him away, after our Lord’s pattern, and in His strength; and, I suppose, if we knew the secret history of men’s minds in any age, we should find this (at least, I think I am not theorizing), viz. a remarkable union in the case of those who by God’s grace have made advances in holy things (whatever be the case where men have not), a union on the one hand of temptations offered to the mind, and on the other, of the mind’s not being affected by them, not consenting to them, even in momentary acts of the will, but simply hating them, and receiving no harm from them.

Let it not then distress Christians, even if they find themselves exposed to thoughts from which they turn with abhorrence and terror. Rather let such a trial bring before their thoughts, with something of vividness and distinctness, the condescension of the Son of God. For if it be a trial to us creatures and sinners to have thoughts alien from our hearts presented to us, what must have been the suffering to the Eternal Word, God of God, and Light of Light, Holy and True, to have been so subjected to Satan, that he could inflict every misery on Him short of sinning?

This then is, perhaps, a truer view of the consequences of fasting, than is commonly taken. Of course, it is always, under God’s grace, a spiritual benefit to our hearts eventually, and improves them, through Him who worketh all in all; and it often is a sensible benefit to us at the time. Still it is often otherwise; often it but increases the excitability and susceptibility of our hearts; in all cases it is therefore to be viewed, chiefly as an approach to God – an approach to the powers of heaven – yes, and to the powers of hell.

And this is another point which calls for distinct notice in the history of our Saviour’s fasting and temptation, viz. the victory which attended it. He had three temptations, and thrice He conquered, at the last He said, “Get thee behind Me, Satan;” on which “the devil leaveth Him.” This conflict and victory in the world unseen, is intimated in other passages of Scripture.

The most remarkable of these is what our Lord says with reference to the demoniac, whom His Apostles could not cure. He had just descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, where, let it be observed, He seems to have gone up with His favoured Apostles to pass the night in prayer. He came down after that communion with the unseen world, and cast out the unclean spirit, and then He said, “This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting,” [Mark ix. 29.] which is nothing less than a plain declaration that such exercises give the soul power over the unseen world; nor can any sufficient reason be assigned for confining it to the first ages of the Gospel.

“He shall give His Angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all Thy ways;” [Ps. xci. 11.] and the devil knows of this promise, for he used it in that very hour of temptation. He knows full well what our power is, and what is his own weakness. So we have nothing to fear while we remain within the shadow of the throne of the Almighty.

“A thousand shall fall beside Thee, and ten thousand at Thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh Thee.” While we are found in Christ, we are partakers of His security. He has broken the power of Satan; He has gone “upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon hath He trod under His feet;” and henceforth evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are affrighted at every true Christian.

Therefore let us be, my brethren, “not ignorant of their devices;” and as knowing them, let us watch, fast, and pray, let us keep close under the wings of the Almighty, that He may be our shield and buckler. Let us pray Him to make known to us His will, to teach us our faults, to take from us whatever may offend Him, and to lead us in the way everlasting.

And during this sacred season, let us look upon ourselves as on the Mount with Him – within the veil – hid with Him – not out of Him, or apart from Him, in whose presence alone is life, but with and in Him – learning of His Law with Moses, of His attributes with Elijah, of His counsels with Daniel – learning to repent, learning to confess and to amend – learning His love and His fear – unlearning ourselves, and growing up unto Him who is our Head.

Still Life with Skull, Paul Cezanne, 1897.

00Wednesday, March 6, 2019 9:29 PM
Church groups are losing members:
Wherein Fr. Z rants

March 6, 2019

The fundamental reason why God gave us a Church which we could recognize by its marks is that we are sinners who are going to die. Through His Church, Christ provides the ordinary means of our salvation. We have the sacraments and we have authoritative teaching about the content of the Faith and morals.

By the virtue of religion we must give God what is His due. Hence, we must conform ourselves to the teaching and participate in the sacraments and offer God pleasing worship. Pleasing worship is the primary way by which we fulfill the virtue of religion. God has told us all through salvation history how to worship Him, from His mandates in the Old Covenant through the rubrics that His Church lays down now.

All our activities as Catholic Christians must flow from and return to proper liturgical worship of God, in His Church and as His Church provides by God’s own authority. Otherwise, we drift from being a people with a mind and heart for the transcendent, a transforming encounter with God in Mystery, and we wind up mired in immanentism, without a sense of something beyond, that which is unsettling and yet alluring.

Christian life moves in a dynamic cycle of worship, loving God with “all our strength”, as well as fulfilling specific commands from God such as “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Hence, without displacing sacred worship of God as our primary means of fulfilling the virtue of religion, we also rightly pursue corporal and spiritual works of mercy for our neighbor.

Keeping always in mind our priorities, it is the spiritual well being of our neighbor that is most important, and our help given to them on the temporal level aims finally at their spiritual good. The spiritual always has logical priority over the temporal, even it chronologically our efforts for the temporal and spiritual are simultaneous.

If we reverse that logical priority and make our efforts mostly or completely focused on the temporal, our works are no longer performed mainly in charity. They are still humane and good, but they are not as “Christian” as they might be. [It's why I often remark that Jorge Bergoglio is not just anti-Catholic but also anti-Christian in his priorities, and generally anti-Christ in his hubris.]

There are those who see the Church’s role, or want the Church’s role to be that of an NGO. St. Paul warns that we must not conform ourselves to the wisdom of this world. And yet so much of what we have done in the Church in the last 50+ years has been to turn its members into immanentists without a sense of the transcendent.

Today I saw a piece at the American Jewish The Tablet, not to be confused with the UK's 'Bitter Pill' (aka The Tablet) with an interesting title:
Data suggests that the more a religious movement is concerned with progressive causes, the more likely it is to rapidly lose members

Here is the concluding section. As the old phrase goes… in cauda venenum (The poison is in the tail). [Though in this case, it is a statement of fact that is 'poison' only for Jorge Bergoglio and his followers... Do they realize that even non-Catholics see them for the false 'religionists' that they are?]

... Catholicism, now under a reforming and politically progressive pope, faces a similar challenge. It is losing adherents, not only in North America and Europe, where his views are popular, but also his homeland of South America, where the church is steadily losing out to more conservative evangelical churches.

Until the 1960s, at least 90 percent of Latin America’s population was Catholic, but that number has fallen to under 70 percent. Today, roughly 1 in 4 Nicaraguans, 1 in 5 Brazilians and 1 in 7 Venezuelans are former Catholics. The one place where the church is growing most, Africa, is dominated by conservative bishops often at odds with Francis.

Anthony Lemus, an influential lay Catholic, believes the church’s future relies on remaining true to its principles while refashioning its message to serve its adherents’ worldly, as well as spiritual, needs. An astrophysicist brought up in a deeply Catholic East Los Angeles household, Lemus is working with a prominent Catholic theologian, Rev. Robert Spitzer, on rewriting of the Catholic Catechism to make the faith more accessible to the new generation. He also supports efforts to improve services from the church — day care, athletic clubs, camps — that might attract young families back to the faith.

“Today’s generation is more in tune with value-add products and services influencing their lives immediately, and the relevance of faith competes with these promotions,” he said. “A ‘sticky’ rebranding of the importance of faith formation’s value in everyday life is key to reposition its importance for living a holistic life.”

Ultimately, as Lemus suggested, religions, including Judaism, can only hope to thrive if they serve a purpose that is not met elsewhere in society. It is all well and good to perform good deeds, but if religions do not make themselves indispensable to families, their future could be bleak.

As we already see in Europe, churches and synagogues could become ever more like pagan temples, vestiges of the past and attractions for the curious, profoundly clueless about the passion and commitment that created them.

It’s the same problem that we find with nearly everything every bishop and other Church leader proposes when looking down the road at the problems we face. They simply don’t think to go there or they don’t dare to go there. Either way, their proposals cannot stand because they are not grounded in the right bedrock.

Not at all unrelated because it cites a specific recent anti-Catholic, anti-Christian initiative of the church of Bergoglio:

Another triumph of clericalism

March 6,2019

The Beeb [BBC] tells us that the Chinese Government has assured its Parliament that there will be "tighter control over Religion".

So that's all right, then. Coming immediately after Parolin's insistence on the [urgency of implementing the] Vatican/Peking Accord, it shows a reassuringly common mind between these two sets of benign and thoughtful apparatchiks.

Thank Goodness that Bergoglian Rome is so much more cunning than the Chinamen. Otherwise, wherever would we be?

Three cheers for the even-more-than-Ostpolitik.

The following essay is all of a piece with the earlier posts in this box because it focuses on the real problem in the Church today - it lacks the leader it ought to have in the Pope, because the man who was elected to be the Vicar of Christ on earth is significantly anti-Christ in many ways that are amply and profoundly documented.

But do not be daunted by the length of the essay. It presents its arguments in a linear manner which is very easy to follow, and whether you agree with thewriter or not, the points he brings up are worth reflecting on.

However, because of its length (the whole essay exceeds the 65000+ characters that are the maximum capacity of each box), I have had it to cut it in three, with the introductory part here, and the rest of it in the next 2 post boxes.

Detail from CHRIST HANDING THE KEYS TO ST PETER, Perugino, 1482. Sistine Chapel.

The Church’s one foundation is

Does the inflated view of the papacy in some quarters today
have roots in a prior inflation that requires correction?

by Douglas Farrow

March 4, 2019

Author’s Note to the reader: This essay belongs to a conversation that includes Roberto de Mattei’s Tu es Petrus: True Devotion to the Chair of Peter, my own The Conversion of the Papacy and the Present Church Crisis, and Professor de Mattei’s generous response, Defending ‘True Devotion to the Chair of Peter, for which I thank him and his translator. I will offer some rejoinders here, pari passu, while pursuing matters germane to the wider conversation in which we are both interested.
February 22, 2019
Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle

“Are they not doing the Holy See a grave disservice who will not let a zealous man defend it in his own way, but insist on his doing it in their way or not at all – or rather only at the price of being considered heterodox or disaffected if his opinions do not run in a groove?” —
- Blessed John Henry Newman

Of the Church we must always say with St. Paul that her one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.

Moreover, we must recall and acknowledge that her Lord promised to build his Church on the petra of Peter confessing Christ. Yet today we must also say, as the nineteenth-century Anglican hymnist, Samuel John Stone, said, that we “see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.”

Indeed, we must confess that once again, in the words of the fourth-century saint, Basil the Great, her “distresses are notorious,” that “their sound has gone out into all the world,” that “the apostolic traditions are set at naught [and] the devices of innovators are in vogue” (Ep. 90).

Doctrinally, liturgically, and morally much of the Catholic Church – to say nothing of the Orthodox churches or of Anglicanism and the ecclesial communities of the Protestant world – seems to be in the hands of innovators. The Bishop of Rome himself gives every appearance of belonging to their number; which forces us to ask difficult questions about the nature of his office, not merely his performance in it.

One such question, the one before us at the moment, is: Does the inflated view of the papacy that prevails in some quarters today have roots in a prior inflation that requires correction?

In criticizing what I called the idolatry of the person evident among some admirers and supporters of the Francis revolution, I also criticized the apparent idolatry of the office among some traditionalists and called for a more modest view of the papacy, a call that Roberto de Mattei rightly intuited as a turn away from papal monarchism (in the political rather than the numerical sense).

Professor de Mattei insists that the Church is a monarchy and holds that the pope, as vicar of the unseen Lord and King, Jesus Christ, is himself a monarch who “reigns and governs,” and that this belongs not merely to the historical form but to “the divine essence of the Papacy”. He does not think the office has suffered from any long-term inflation. He sees rather a recent deflation of the office, through a capitulation to modernism that has been going on since John XXIII. By way of remedy, he appeals to a tradition that runs from Unam sanctam through to Mystici corporis, a tradition about which – having pressed it back a little further into the Dictatus Papae program of the Gregorian era – I expressed concerns.

That tradition, I maintain, lacks historical consistency and theological integrity. It has had and continues to have deleterious effects on the Church and its witness to Jesus Christ. It has of course received some correction, not least in Mystici corporis and more fully in Lumen gentium – a document that builds on Mystici and received but five non placet votes, albeit at a council of which De Mattei is deeply suspicious.

Further correction is required, however. Not the false correction supplied by modernism, which at bottom (and sometimes explicitly) rejects the kingship even of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather the kind of correction that arises from careful consideration of Jesus as the Church’s one foundation. We need a further christological correction that builds in turn on Lumen gentium.

Searching, as De Mattei proposes, for “a point of equilibrium between papolatry and Gallicanism” will not do. It is procedurally unsound just because it is not christological but rather takes two different forms of error as its frame of reference.

This christological correction will also be an eschatological correction. Only as such can it eliminate that false inflation of the papal office that helped produce the problems we are presently facing. For runaway inflation always leads to a crippling deflation, whether the kind of deflation Professor Pertici alleges is actually intended by the architects of the Francis revolution or the kind that happens quite unintentionally.

At the same time it will require a new moral seriousness that properly distinguishes the city of God from the city of man through humility of life, a note Francis has tried to sound but, for reasons we cannot explore here, has produced badly off pitch.

That our immediate difficulties are as much moral as doctrinal and liturgical, and moral even before they are doctrinal or liturgical, is a claim I stand by, despite De Mattei’s unspecified objection; but my present interest is in the christological and eschatological dimensions of the problem, not in trying to demonstrate how lust for power has led round to the power of lust, and to a Vatican riddled with homosexuality.

[Continued in the next post]

NB: The essay makes many references to Unam sanctam, the papal bull issued in November 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII (full English translation here):
It laid down dogmatic propositions on the unity of the Catholic Church, the necessity of belonging to it for eternal salvation, the position of the Pope as supreme head of the Church, and the duty thence arising of submission to the Pope in order to belong to the Church and thus to attain salvation. The Pope further emphasizes the higher position of the spiritual in comparison with the secular order. Farrow disputes - as many have before him over the centuries - its proposition that submission to the Pope is necessary to attain salvation.

One needs to read the rest of the Wikipedia entry on Unam sanctam for its political, social and ecclesial context because it is much too complex to be reduced to a few lines, or even paragraphs.

The writer of the essay, Douglas Farrow,is Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at Canada's McGill University, and the author, most recently, of Theological Negotiations: Proposals in Soteriology and Anthropology(Baker Academic, 2018)...

BTW, I am glad Farrow takes on De Mattei on some of the latter's more questionable statements.
I cannot remember any 'conservative' or 'traditional' commentator ever having done so, even when
it is clear he needs to be taken down a notch or two. He's not infallible.

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:08 AM

Detail from CHRIST HANDING THE KEYS TO ST PETER, Perugino, 1482. Sistine Chapel.

The Church’s one foundation is Christ
Does the inflated view of the papacy in some quarters today
have roots in a prior inflation that requires correction?

by Douglas Farrow

March 4, 2019

[Continued from previous post]:

Permit me to clear away certain distracting, though not unimportant, matters arising from Professor de Mattei’s response.
First, I am not seeking a “third way” (as if there were such a thing) between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, as I look for safe passage between the Scylla of idolatry of the person and the Charybdis of idolatry of the office.

I am tempted here to turn this charge back against its author, since it is no more bold of me to challenge the adequacy or even correctness of particular papal or conciliar claims from long ago, than it is for him to challenge claims made in the twentieth or twenty-first century.

It is not as if what he calls modernism, which in my view is a complex alliance between gnosticism, Arianism, skepticism, and Erastianism, puts us in an altogether unprecedented situation that permits the kind of criticism of recent popes and the last council that must never be leveled against earlier popes and councils.
- There is no difference in principle between questioning some element of Vatican II and questioning some element of Vatican I or of any other council.
- There is no difference in principle between criticizing Francis and criticizing Boniface (as I shall here).
- Nor is it possible, with intellectual honesty and fidelity of faith, to maintain that everything we find in the deliverances of popes or councils, up to this or that point in time or after this or that point in time, is consistent with the faith.
The doctrine of infallibility does not extend so far as that, nor does the promise of Jesus that the Spirit will guide the Church into all truth.

Moreover, when it comes to talking about the papacy it should be admitted that there is very little that qualifies as infallible dogma.
- There are many claims about the papacy, not all of them consistent, and many habits and even laws regarding the papacy, but little dogma. - Canon 749 §1, for example, points to and contains such dogma, but there is not very much that meets the standard (itself vague) of §3. Which on the whole is a very good thing, since the Church is not here to witness to its own internal structures and in via arrangements.

Canon law itself, which governs those arrangements, is not an object of faith and neither are the papal traditions that, to a limited extent, it codifies – but rather to its Lord and Saviour, and to itself only as a work of the Holy Spirit, who moves in mysterious ways, for the sake of those who seek salvation.
- For their salvation the papacy is a means not an end, and a secondary means at that, serving the primary means of word and sacrament.
- Scripture lays a foundation for it but does not discuss it.
- It merits no mention in the creed that one confesses in joining the communion of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
- Vast volumes such as Augustine's City of God, containing extended treatments of both central and peripheral Church teaching and theological speculation, can be written with barely a glance at it.
- Large tracts of the episcopate and of the faithful, even in the Church’s most formative years, were little affected by what went on in Rome and viewed the papacy in a much more modest light than it is often viewed today.
- Eastern rite churches view it differently than Roman rite churches.

These facts do not prove the papacy unimportant; if they did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Note well, however, that no appeal to development of doctrine can justify attempts to make of the papacy anything that it was not already from the beginning, except in a prudential rather than a de fide fashion.
- Which is to say, the Petrine office can be better understood, and its function adjusted accordingly or to meet changing needs, but it cannot be declared to be more or less or other than it always was, and manifestly was.
- Either Simon Peter had this or that power and responsibility ex officio, or no pope has it ex officio but only by way of some custom or argument ex convenientia. A
- And whether that custom or argument has been codified, or at all events regularly rehearsed, has little bearing on the question of its permanent justification or its perpetual utility.

The Church is a human as well as divine institution. It is no surprise to find popes, often in competition with other bishops, building incrementally on the practices of their predecessors and seeking to consolidate their own power base.

Witness already Boniface I, who in Manes beatum demands humility from all other prelates and clergy, insisting that “one reaches God with the support of Peter, on whom … it is certain that the Church was founded.” Was this inspired insight or political posturing? Of the latter there are, at all events, many subsequent examples.

What popes do or declare in trying to extend their power is not necessarily de fide or even a fit topic for de fide consideration.
- The successor of Peter can have a wider reach than Peter had, can have many advantages and instruments and ambitions and responsibilities that Peter did not have, and many more elaborate laws, rules, and customs than Peter would have desired or deemed fruitful.
- He can, accordingly, experience new forms of living martyrdom and, conversely, far greater temptations to forget that our Lord’s command in Matthew 20, “It shall not be so among you,” includes him and him especially!
- But he cannot have, ecclesiologically speaking – canon law is another matter – any fundamental, unalterable, and indisputable rights, responsibilities, or powers that were not already Peter’s.
- Nor will it do simply to say that Peter did have them, unbeknownst to himself or to the Church. A doctrine of development that permits that, will permit anything; for it is, in the nature of the case, an incestuous doctrine certain to produce deformed offspring.
- What pope could not say, as Pius IX is reported to have said, “I am tradition”? And is that not also to say in effect, “Whatever powers I say I have are, ipso facto, powers Peter always had”?
- Those who worried, in his day, that to formulate a dogma about the formation or status of dogma (that is, about papal authority and infallibility) was to run the risk of infinite regress and of infinite expansion of power, worried about something, not about nothing.

The magisterial labour of the Church, in this matter as in others, must constantly be measured anew by the holy scriptures and examined afresh by way of the analogia fidei. For “we follow the lead of scripture, which is what makes us Christians” (Civ. 9.19).
- As Catholic Christians, we do this “according to the whole” and not apart from the whole. That means, among other things, that we do it in unity with Peter, no scripture being of private interpretation and no deliverance of the magisterium either.
- But it does not follow from that, and is not presupposed by that, that Peter is always right or even that Peter-in-council is always right in every respect.
- It is decidedly not the case that magisterial deliverances always come, as Peter’s original confession came, not from flesh and blood, but directly from the Father in heaven, or that they should be received in whole and in part, like the word of the apostles themselves, not merely as the word of man but also as the word of God.

To tear apart scripture and tradition is one thing; to confuse between the two quite another.

Any honest examination of the records reveals things belonging to tradition that subsequently have been heavily qualified or even reversed, as Fr Thomas Guarino has recently reminded us in The Disputed Teachings of Vatican II. (That is true of scripture also, of course, but in a quite different sense; all scripture, but not all tradition, as Jesus himself makes plain, falls under the rubric of infallibility.)

To admit this, and traditionalists cannot be critical of Vatican II without admitting it, is not to concede anything to the modernists, whose problem, at once moral and doctrinal, is rebellion against the regula fidei; that is, against the creed and against the word of God itself.

But here a word to those who would toss both Roberto de Mattei and myself (and who knows how many others) into the dustbin marked “heretics and schismatics” for the simple reason that we dare to question papal deliverances of this or that era, particularly our own.

We know that public criticism has, for good reasons or bad, been discouraged and even forbidden from time to time by those in authority; as, for example, at the Fifth Lateran Council, which (to put it kindly) proved highly inadequate to its time.

Neither past history nor the present moment, however, permits the luxury of refusing all such criticism. Criticism is required, for the sake of the Church and of the gospel. That has not changed since Paul confronted Peter.

The question is rather how it is done and in what spirit (Canon 212.3), which certainly does not mean that it is to be done only by way of private grumbling rather than publicly and, if possible, face to face.
- It is precisely the latter and not the former that Paul modeled for us.
- We must prefer the truth to the man, as Augustine observes in Civ. 10, except where the Man in question is himself “the way, the truth, and the life.”

De Mattei echoes this when he says that we ought not to be overly concerned about what either of us think, but only about our common search for the truth.
- Let those who would brand either or both of us as schismatics ask themselves whether they even care about the truth.
- Or do they suppose, like that mystical modernist Teilhard de Chardin, that “There is only one Evil = disunity”? This is but pagan pragmatism, in the last analysis; which is to say, it has compromise written all over it.

The truth sets free, and there is no such thing as genuine unity that is not unity in the truth.
- Now, no pope is or can be the way, the truth, and the life. That role is taken.
- What is more, no pope, whether in his own person or ex officio, is an oracle of him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
- Only those we may call the papacolae [pope worshippers] would say that trusting in Christ and the Spirit means trusting in Peter.
- Rather, the pope by virtue of his Petrine office is the chief – not the sole – steward of what scripture and tradition has to say about the One who is the way and the truth and the life, and of what it says about God and man in that light.
- To this stewardship he may or may not be faithful.

The papacolae suppose that when Pastor aeternus says that “this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error” its meaning is very broad and disallows any real criticism of the pope or his see. What nonsense! How then was it that the papal office was bought and sold on several occasions, or that simony and debauchery were so often tolerated? No, we are dealing here with a much narrower meaning, which permits honest recognition of unfaithfulness on every level, dogmatizing heresy excepted.

But is tradition itself always faithful?
- In the broader sense of the word, we must answer in the negative; for tradition includes many things that are inconsistent and eventually found wanting, perhaps mistaken or even reprehensible. (Certain attitudes towards and decisions about the Jews come to mind, as if Mark 7:13 applied only to the people of the old covenant and in no way to those of the new; and here we may be reminded that “eventually” sometimes means only after a very long time.)
- In the narrower sense, however, we must answer in the affirmative, for tradition does supply a solid and authoritative body of prayer and dogma and morals from which we cannot depart without departing the faith itself.

Development of doctrine does not mean turning the faith back against itself, or finding heterodoxy within orthodoxy and orthodoxy within heterodoxy.
- We may leave that to those (some of them still wearing red hats) who have plotted to “modernize” the Catholic Church from within, but who, despite their very considerable gains, will in the providence of God find that they have failed.

These things said, we turn again to the question before us, the question about the inflation of the papal office, a question we must discuss.
- Our concern at the moment is primarily theological rather than historical – under the rubric of Christ’s threefold office as it bears on the papacy, and in connection with the ascension of Christ, apart from which no papacy would have been necessary. [Christ instituted the Church so that He can be with mankind to the end of time, until he comes back at the Last Judgment.]
- We must discuss it also, then, as an eschatological problem, the problem of the already and the not yet, not merely as a problem of visible and invisible governance.
- For thinking about the ascension requires us to think eschatologically, as I have argued elsewhere regarding the Eucharist.

Jesus: Princeps, Pontifex, et Testis Fidelis
(Jesus: Leader, high priest and faithful witness)
- Is the Church a monarchy? Of course it is, for it has a king.
- Is the Church a priesthood? Of course it is, for it has a high priest, and is itself a royal priesthood.
- Is the Church a company of prophets? Of course it is, for it has, as its king and priest, the “prophet like Moses” and the spirit of that prophet has been given it with the Holy Spirit himself.

Its one foundation is Jesus Christ, “who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood and hath made us a kingdom, and priests to God and his Father” - qui est testis fidelis, primogenitus mortuorum, et princeps regum terrae qui dilexit nos et lavit nos a peccatis nostris in sanguine suo et fecit nostrum regnum sacerdotes Deo et Patri (Rev. 1:5f.). Therefore it is all these things.

But the pope, ex officio, is none of these things. He is neither monarch, nor high priest, nor prophet like Moses. He is the foundation of no kingdom, no priesthood, and no company of prophets.
- To suppose that he is, is quite fundamentally to misunderstand his role and his office, to which belongs rather the stewardship of the Church’s faithful confession that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is all these things, and the safeguarding of the sacramental life by which the Church shares in the benefits promised it by Jesus, and hence also the jurisdiction necessary to this stewardship and this safeguarding.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14). This we do not do by way of an analogous confession about Peter, as if we had a ruler and great high priest on earth to whom we can turn precisely because he has not passed through the heavens. Absurd! We would have to excise from the canon Hebrews, and much more than Hebrews, to think like that, and find new things, much later things, to put in their place.

In my previous essay I warned against careless use of the title “Holy Father.” Let me warn here against careless use of another papal honorific. Whatever Emperor Gratian intended by transferring his pagan imperial title, Pontifex Maximus, to Pope Damasus (if indeed he did do that) he transferred nothing of substance with it except a recognition that in matters religious the Church carried its own authority and did not derive it from the State.

To say more than that would be to say less than that; nay, to contradict it.
- It would be to say that the emperor mandated the pope to be a kind of emperor, and a pagan kind of emperor at that.
- It would have been better, however, had the recognition been acknowledged without the title being taken up, even in the informal fashion it was taken up.
- For though that title (which had already been applied to the pope satirically by Tertullian) never quite became de iure a papal title, it did eventually become one of the foremost de facto titles.
- It tempted its new holders to think of themselves as priest-kings in an ex officio and quasi-imperial way, to forget not only our Lord’s words but those of Peter as well, who did not style himself by such honorifics but rather as “fellow elder.”
- It is to popes and prelates, not merely to the humble presbyter, that Peter himself says, “Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:1–3).

We will come shortly to an example of that contrary, domineering spirit, but how should we think of popes, if we are thinking properly?
- They are said to be, and they are, vicars of Christ, though they are not, despite having sometimes claimed to be, vicars of God. (Those dull-witted folk who think that because of the homoousion there is no important distinction here have not grasped the significance of Chalcedon.)
- Which means that they have some part to play in the exercise of Christ’s authority and in the distribution of his gifts and graces. But what part?

Even today one hears from traditionalists of a certain stripe such dangerously inflated claims as these: “Clearly Our Lord intended Peter to be the very foundation of his Church… Peter, the rock, is the rock of salvation itself… Popes alone, like Peter, have the plenitudo potestatis – the fullness of power represented by the keys. Each pope is therefore not only a passive foundation, but an active constructor of the Church by virtue of his grace-giving power, assurance of faith and binding jurisdiction.”

Did I say “dangerously inflated”? Actually that is a dangerously deflated estimation.
- To make Peter the very foundation of his Church is to contradict Paul, who insists that “no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3).
- To speak of Peter as the very rock of salvation and of his grace-giving power borders on blasphemy, whatever qualifications are afterwards added.

Let us try, at least, to make better sense of scripture and of the Catholic faith than that, steering well clear of the romanticism that blissfully ignores every impediment, whether theological or historical, in its rush to papal fundamentalism.

Professor de Mattei, I hasten to add, is not of that stripe. He quotes approvingly the German bishops’ Collective Declaration of 1875, which affirms the pope’s supreme authority in the Church while marking it out as distinct in kind from that of civil authority and as subject to the divine laws established by Christ himself. Thus did those bishops (how things have changed!) defend Pastor aeternus from those who were already exaggerating its claims. [Pastor aeternus was Vatican-I's Dogmatic Constitution that defined four doctrines of the Catholic faith: the apostolic primacy conferred on Peter, the perpetuity of the Petrine Primacy in the Roman pontiffs, the meaning and power of the papal primacy, and Papal infallibility.]

That is an exercise in which I also mean to engage, conscious of no violation of its definitive declarations and of no transgression of its canons, yet not without criticism of its reasoning and its non-definitive claims, which sometimes lend themselves to exaggeration and are in any event exegetically or factually contestable. As for its definitive claims and canons, I think (with the soon-to-be-sainted Newman) a minimalist rather than a maximalist reading advisable.

The text with which all must deal, Matthew 16:13–20, is a text in which Jesus poses two questions: “Who do men say that I am?“ and “Who do you say that I am?” He does not pose the question, “Who, Simon Peter, are you?” And when Peter confesses Jesus, rightly identifying him as the One he truly is, Jesus does not say, “Right; go ahead and build my Church.” Nor does he say, “I will build my Church on you.”

He says rather that he will build his Church upon this rock. In other words, he identifies himself as its architect and builder; and he does not go on to identify Peter as fellow architect, much less as princeps or pontifex, though he does identify him as a faithful witness and promise him the keys. If we forget these things, we are likely to forget 1 Cor. 11:3 also. In which Paul says, after saying, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ"(v. 1): "But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ."]

That said, as architect, Jesus required a place to build, a plan for building, and materials with which to build. Whatever we make of Matthew 16, shall we not say in this connection, at least, that the Petrine office is in the plan as a foundation? Yes indeed. Again we must be careful, however, not to bring to the text what is not in the text.

De Mattei tells us that the Church “has two components, one visible and one invisible.” True enough, but it requires explanation and has doubtful bearing on our text unless expounded in terms of the contrast between “on earth” and “in heaven,” a contrast that cannot be reduced to the faculty of sight.

De Mattei adds, by way of both concession and correction: “And if Jesus Christ is the primary foundation of the Church, visible and invisible, the pope is, by Christ’s will, the secondary foundation, the ‘rock,’ on which the visible Church is founded.

Unfortunately, this way of putting the matter takes for granted the very thing in dispute. Does Matthew 16 really invite us to say that Peter is the rock on which the visible Church, the Church on earth, is founded?
- There cannot be any doubt that Pastor aeternus invites us to say exactly that, though we must not overlook the fact that this claim is ancillary to, rather than constitutive of, the point of the chapter in which it is found. (At bottom, PA 2 is simply saying what Irenaeus says in Haer. 3.3; viz., that all the churches should remain in agreement with the church in Rome.)

Both Pius IX and Pius XII, to whom De Mattei also appeals, citing at some length Mystici corporis 40, use “foundation” derivatively of Peter, and headship language in the same way. Here is a fuller extract:

But we must not think that He rules only in a hidden or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth.

You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the “little flock” Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head.

Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.

To what end, we may ask? To the end of reaffirming the papacy as “a principle of cohesion” (Leo’s expression in Satis cognitum) backed by a quite necessary jurisdictional authority.
- That is unexceptionable, and I can think of no more persuasive reason to be Catholic; but it is not infrequently misconstrued, even by popes, not to mention professors.
- As Mystici itself makes clear, it is misconstrued wherever Peter’s headship, his jurisdiction in the Church militant, is not properly subsumed under the headship of Christ.
- As Mystici fails to make clear, it is misconstrued also where there is either neglect of what Jesus actually says about the rock upon which he will build his Church or a failure to grasp the eschatological conditions under which he is building, the conditions produced by the ascension.

We will therefore consider each of these in turn, inserting between them a clarification of the call for modesty and the promised example of papal overreach.

Please note that Pius XII rules out, not any and all argumentation about Petrine headship, but only the kind of argument that protests that Peter cannot be a head, or for that matter a foundation, because that would make two rather than one – an argument I am not in fact making, even if Professor de Mattei supposes me to be making it, except against those who do not properly subsume the Petrine christologically, such that its relative and secondary nature is fully evident.

Which is not just a problem for Protestants or fractious Orthodox brethren. It is what all too easily happens among Catholics, too, when we don’t keep straight the things we are about to consider.

[Concluded in next post]

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:23 AM

Detail from CHRIST HANDING THE KEYS TO ST PETER, Perugino, 1482. Sistine Chapel.

The Church’s one foundation is Christ
Does the inflated view of the papacy in some quarters today
have roots in a prior inflation that requires correction?

by Douglas Farrow

March 4, 2019


Who or what is the ‘rock’?
To the very fine 1998 CDF document, “The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church,” just about the only objection I would raise, after querying its optimistic estimation of the clarity of doctrinal development in this sphere, concerns its identification of Peter as “the rock on which Christ will build his Church” (§3).
- It is no private interpretation to say that Matt. 16:18 does not make a direct equation between Peter and the rock on which the Church will be built, an equation too readily made in the shorthand of later tradition and sometimes employed in dubious ways by advocates of a particular view of the Petrine office, including advocates occupying that office.

The Greek text does not permit a direct equation: κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ [not Πέτρῳ] οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς. Even in Latin it cannot be justified: et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram [not Petrum] aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam. “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” – there is, quite obviously, a play on words here.

Peter, having been given that name at the choosing of the Twelve, now discovers why. He is so named precisely as and because he makes and will make the confession that is revealed to him from on high and confirmed by Jesus himself, the confession he and the other disciples are, for the moment, forbidden to make (16:20).

It is entirely fitting that Jesus should employ a play on words when solemnly founding his Church on the solid ledge or rock formation – that is what πέτρα means – of Peter’s act of confession. Not because it leaves his meaning obscure or open to dispute, but because it makes room for a rich understanding while providing a pithy formulation. (That in Aramaic, if he was speaking Aramaic, the formulation would have to be different, has no bearing on the matter, for it is in Greek that we have been given it.)

Jesus has already made clear that his own words are the solid rock, the petra, on which any house that hopes to stand must be built (Matt. 7:24ff.). Now he makes clear that the house he himself will build on them will be built by way of Peter’s confession, which will lie at its foundation.

Moreover, in preparation for the promise to Peter that he will bear on his shoulder the keys to this house, opening and shutting its doors – there is an allusion here to Isaiah 22 and the stewardship of Eliakim – Jesus’s play on words underscores the fact that Peter’s confession is not an abstract truth, however foundational in itself for the Church’s baptismal confession and for Christian doctrine. Rather, it is a truth that lives among us through a charism that enables the confession to be made and through a permanent pastoral office devoted to it, whose occupants are charged to make it again and again in unity with the first confessor, blessed Simon Bar-Jona, whom God has fastened “like a peg in a sure place” and whom Jesus has made “a throne of honor” in his Father’s house by calling him Πέτρος: a piece of rock - when properly dressed, a building block, the one laid down through the eliciting of his confession when the work of building is commenced.

Church tradition has always acknowledged this and we must acknowledge it too. We do the dominical words an injustice, however, when “on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” is so flattened out as to make Peter himself, rather than his confession of Jesus as “Son of the living God,” as “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36), the petra on which the whole house rests.

The Church is built on the words of Jesus, which are spirit and life (John 6:63), and also – yes, also! – on the response of Peter, whose confession of Jesus is joined to Jesus’s own testimony to the Father.
We cannot ignore this without violating the text.

Yet once we have said that, we must go on to say that Jesus himself is the rock, the cornerstone, the Church’s one foundation; for the words of Jesus are only spirit and life because Jesus himself is spirit and life. This is not the case with Peter. What then is the case?
- First, he is a living stone in the sense supplied at 1 Pet. 2:4–10 and Eph. 2:19ff., the sense in which every member of the Church is a living stone.
- Second, he is a stone laid by God alongside the cornerstone. Jesus makes this clear by calling him Petros, by giving him the keys, by making him a shepherd for his sheep (John 21:15–19).

So those Protestant or even Orthodox brethren who wish to abstract Peter’s confession from Peter himself are mistaken, as Pius insists at Mystici 41:

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

And that holds even if Pastor aeternus would have been better not to say of Peter, without careful qualification, et ecclesiae catholicae fundamentum (“and the foundation of the catholic church,” PA 2).

Before proceeding, permit me parenthetically to make one further exegetical point regarding Matthew 16, lest another bit of ecclesial shorthand somehow misdirect us, obscuring the larger context in which our pericope is placed by the Evangelist: To equate Hades with hell (a common mistake for which there is at least an excuse in the ambiguity of the Latin word inferi, among those who have not bothered themselves with the Greek) is to do violence to the dominical decree or promise that immediately follows in verse 18, the need for which is dramatically underscored in 16:21ff.
- The promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church is first of all a promise to the martyrs, to those who witness to Christ with their own blood, as Peter himself eventually did, though in that honour he was not the first.
- It is not a promise that no doctrinal or liturgical or moral device of the devil will ever shake the Church so long as it remains properly Petrine.
- Of course it is the forces of Satan, for whom hell has been prepared as a final destiny, that not only engineer such devices but also arrange the temporal fate of the martyrs. So it is perfectly fine to say that the gates of hell – meaning by metonymy those who are already being driven back towards its gates and in due course, when the great apostasy is finished and anti-Christ is defeated, will be driven through them by the host under St. Michael’s command – shall not prevail against the Church.

But once again, that is a secondary sense and a kind of theological shorthand, which must not be allowed to elide the primary sense containing the wonderful assurance that neither life nor death can separate us from the love of God and that the Church will not fail with its martyrs, be they ever so numerous. Rather their blood will be as seed, in Tertullian’s famous expression. This part of the text no more justifies focusing the life of the Church on Peter than does the earlier part.

The loosening peg
To recapitulate: Matthew 16 requires us to affirm that Peter’s act of confession is incorporated into that towering ledge of rock on which the glorious edifice of the Church comes down from heaven to rest.
- Like Mary’s fiat mihi, its incorporation belongs to the wonder of God’s grace, who (as Augustine observes) makes us without us but does not save without us.
- Read properly, it requires us to affirm that in the city of God – which, as the Apocalypse says, has twelves gates and a wall with “twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” – the Petrine gate is the central and foremost one.
- It does not require us to affirm that Peter himself is that ledge.
- It does not require us to affirm even that Peter is the first and foremost of the city’s living stones. That surely would be Mary, and there are doubtless others who, in their way, will prove more glorious than he.
- Yet it does require us to allow that Peter himself occupies a special place and a special office, since he is given the keys that work the gates and make the city accessible or inaccessible while it is being built.

This gift and this assignment are merely temporary and provisional, mind you.
- When the city is complete it will still rest upon the words and deeds and person of Jesus.
- It will still rest, mutatis mutandis, on Peter’s act of confession of Jesus, as indeed on every other act of confession.
- All will be conjoined as lesser “amens” to the great “Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation” (Rev. 3:14), just as the confessors themselves will be united with him in person in the perfection of his mystical body.
- When complete, however, the city to which they belong, which they indeed compose, will no longer require the Petrine ministry, for its gates will always be open and never be shut (Rev. 21:25).
- The keys that belong to the steward of the house of David will not be required.
- The master key, the key of David, will still be required; for our Lord Jesus Christ will remain forever our princeps and pontifex, our one mediator and monarch, if in such a way that God himself “may be everything to everyone” (cf. Luke 1:33, Rev. 3:7, and 1 Cor. 15:20–28).
- But not Peter’s keys, which will be redundant.

Peter’s keys are very much required at present, however, first and foremost for the orderly proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ and for provision or denial of forgiveness of sins.
- Those tasks are Peter’s first of all, though not Peter’s alone. The entire apostolic college shares in this along with him, per Matt. 18:18 and John 20:23 (cf. Lumen gentium 22).
- Neither does the juridical task, which is made necessary by the evangelical and the sacramental tasks, belong to Peter alone.
- Acts 15 provides the model for sharing all three tasks, though there are points where Peter’s particular judgment must be sought and deemed final. What those points are is not our concern here, for Matthew 16 tells us nothing about them.

Our concern here is to say what the text requires us to say, viz., that the evangelical must always have priority, the doxological and sacramental following from it and being closely united with it, per Matt. 28:18ff.

“Given its episcopal nature, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is first of all expressed in transmitting the Word of God; thus it includes a specific, particular responsibility for the mission of evangelization, since ecclesial communion is something essentially meant to be expanded” (CDF 'Primacy' 9).

To say this is not at all to suggest that his primacy lacks jurisdictional power, or that it reduces to “a primacy of honour and the shadowy right of giving advice and admonition.”
- For in all three capacities the Petrine ministry provides “a principle of cohesion” backed by a “power of commanding, forbidding, and judging which is properly called jurisdiction” (Satis 12).

Yet if Peter is not properly called the Church’s “visible foundation stone” except by synecdoche – that is, in connection with his confession
- we cannot put his jurisdictional tasks and powers in the first place.
- Nor should the latter be treated in terms of a plenitudo potestatis by which the heavenly authority of Christ is transferred wholesale to him, over against his fellow bishops.
- That is and has been a recipe for disaster, exacerbating rather than removing the threat of schism.
- What is more, it is and has been disastrous in generating burdens for Peter that he cannot possibly bear, whether like Innocent III or Boniface VIII he fervently wishes to bear them or like Benedict XVI (who as Cardinal Ratzinger was the primary author of “Primacy”) he finds them unbearable.

Since we have made much of Jesus’s allusion to Isaiah 22, let us not forget how that passage concludes: “They will hang on him the whole weight of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. In that day, says the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a sure place will give way; and it will be cut down and fall, and the burden that was upon it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”

In suggesting that the papacy has been dangerously inflated, and in calling for a more modest conception of it, I am not calling, as De Mattei imagines, for abandonment of juridical responsibility.

I am, however, expressing a very deep concern that we have hung far more on the papacy than it can or should bear, to the detriment of the juridical dimension not least, and that we are witnessing again – perhaps for the final time, though I do not profess to know – the loosening of the peg.

We have for a good while been misreading our own shorthand, from which we have invented a Peter who would hardly recognize himself:
- a Peter surrounded by bureaucrats, used and abused by bureaucrats; - a Peter surrounded indeed by unworthy episcopal colleagues who have engineered a moral and doctrinal and liturgical crisis on a massive scale.

In our haste to fill clerical posts at every level, and by reason of our centralized methods for doing so, we have turned Peter’s immediate jurisdiction into anything but “an expression of mutual interiority” (“Primacy” 6).

Worse, to borrow words from St. Basil (Ep. 190), we have become accustomed to indifference by long exposure to unsatisfactory men. Just how unsatisfactory we have come much too lately to discover, though at least in that discovery we are less indifferent that we were. Would that “Peter” were not now indifferent.

A fatal overreach
Pace Professor De Mattei, it is not just modernism that troubles us – we may save our arguments about what constitutes modernism for another time – but a certain mediaevalism too, the unhappy kind that hangs on the pope “the whole weight of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons.”

This unhappy kind shows itself in Unam sanctam, to which Pius appeals without the explicit qualifications that are needed, though some of them, thankfully, are implicit. It will serve present purposes to say a bit more about Unam sanctam, which violates an important principle articulated in the aforementioned CDF document when it insists that “the exercise of the Petrine ministry must be understood … on the basis of the gospel” (§7) and that it cannot be conceived as a political monarchy, much less as the tyranny that De Mattei himself rejects.

Cardinal Burke, in a very helpful article on Peter’s plenitudo potestatis “in service of the unity of the Church,” goes to some trouble to hedge that notion round with qualifications. There is no hint of a papal monarchy, political or otherwise, as far as I can tell, in his analysis. What immediately strikes the reader of Unam Sanctam, however, is Boniface’s monarchical mien. That, and the fact that qualifications of his potestas are refused a hearing.

There are times when only a simple yes or no will do. “He was, or he was not? What is fitting to say?” Such questions are rightly raised when the Church is confronted by heresies such as the Arian heresy, which can only be addressed by an answer that, though it lead to a thousand qualifications in other matters, itself admits of none. “He was, he always was!” But here, in the matter of the relation between the two swords? Here, where the question is a subtle and complex one, fraught with eschatological tension between arrangements appropriate to the city of God and those appropriate to the city of man?

The whole point of Boniface’s stormy bull, from the ominous rain of its opening allusion to Noah’s ark, through the mounting waves of its assault on the monster with two heads, to the thunderclap of its final line – Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus, dicimus, definimus, et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis! (Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff) – is to demand submission of one and all, inside the Church and out, without any qualification whatsoever, under pain of damnation. Just as everything is subject to Christ, whom God has made Lord of all, so every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff.

In the words of the Decretum Gratiani – words in their narrow legal sense true, but in any broader sense untrue – it is the pope’s duty to judge all men, and Boniface clearly means to do his duty. He rejoices at having subjects rather than being a subject (Civ. 14:11).

Let us recall a little more of the bull’s final paragraph, where he argues that “it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries,” and that “spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever.” It belongs, then, he says, “to spiritual power to establish terrestrial power and to pass judgement” on it.

“Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: Behold today I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms… If the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man… Therefore whoever resists this power … resists the ordinance of God, unless he invent like Manichaeus two beginnings… We declare, we say, we define and proclaim to every human creature that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is entirely necessary for salvation.”

The translation can be tweaked (as I have here) but the logic is plain. All power has been given to Christ. Christ’s power has been given to Peter. Therefore all who hope for salvation must be subject to Peter, as if to Christ, and all means all.

Plain, and plainly wrong – an innovation that falsifies whatever moment of truth it contains. The invisible Christ is manifest in the visible Pontiff; there is therefore no distinction between subjection to the one and subjection to the other.

In the name of Christ, let us happily confess, Peter could bind and loose from sins or cause the lame to walk. Paul could deliver over to Satan, or restore again to light and life. All the apostles could speak and act in his holy name. But no one supposed any such equation as this. Had he heard of it, perhaps Peter himself might have supplied some hint.

Perhaps Bishop Irenaeus, that greatest of the early theologians who himself spent much time in Rome, would have managed to say something more of Peter than that Christ “pronounced him blessed, because he acknowledged Him to be the Son of the living God” (Haer. 3.21.8), or of the Roman see that all the churches should be in harmony with it.

And let us not try to save the appearances by construing the sorry end of the universal reign of Boniface as a kind of martyrdom, as if he suffered what Peter suffered, or Irenaeus for that matter. That does the very idea of martyrdom a grave injustice. Rather by his fatal overreach he lurched, as it were, towards nothingness (cf. Civ. 14:13). According to Dante, though Dante had his own reasons for saying so, he likely found it. Why, then, do some still follow him, if only at a distance?

God forbid, however, that we should enter the lists on the side of Boniface’s similarly ambitious and arrogant opponent, Philip the Fair, or concede anything at all to those who afterwards presumed with Marsilius and Ockham to justify, against Boniface’s radical papalism, an equally radical royalism cum conciliarism.

The latter dared (as the O’Donovans remark in their political sourcebook, From Irenaeus to Grotius, p. 423) to present as an alternative “the novel face of secular political monism, the counterface of the dominant hierocratic monism of the papalists.”

We can and must reject both faces of this Janus-like Christendom, for both represent a serious distortion of Christian truth. What unites them is the old Eusebian error. Jesus has gone up to heaven, where he rules invisibly; his visible authority over all things is now vested in an earthly vicar.
- For the papalists that’s Peter, for the royalists Constantine.
- Both allow that there must be priestly as well as kingly representation, but the papalists argue that the priestly takes precedence over the kingly and the royalists that the kingly takes precedence over the priestly.
- Neither are thinking eschatologically and both are inventing earthly powers that have no basis in reality.

We ought to insist with Gelasius that the Church/State distinction is essential and that the spiritual sword is ultimately more significant to human weal than the temporal sword. Boniface was not wrong about that.
- We ought not, however, to obscure in any way the fact that no one but Jesus – Peter included – is fit to combine the kingly and the priestly offices in his own person or to occupy both.
- The royalists made their case by assigning the kingly office to Christ’s divinity and the priestly to his humanity, that they might elevate princes over prelates.

In his work on the consecration of bishops and kings, the Norman Anonymous offers an early (c. 1100) and already egregious distortion from the royalist side:

Each of them, therefore, is Christ and God in the Spirit; each, in fulfilling his office, has the role and image of Christ and God, the priest Christ’s priestly role and image, the king Christ’s kingly role and image; the priest Christ’s lower, human office and nature, the king Christ’s higher, divine office and nature. For Christ the God-man is truly and supremely king and priest.
- He is king by virtue of his eternal divinity: not made, not created, not inferior to or separate from the Father, but equal to and one with the Father.
- He is priest by virtue of his assumption of humanity, made so according to the order of Melchizedek, created, and so subordinate to the Father.
- As king he created all things, rules all things, governing and preserving men and angels alike.
- As priest he has redeemed mankind alone, that they may reign with him.

There was one all-inclusive reason for his becoming a priest and offering himself in sacrifice: that mankind might be his partner in his kingdom and royal power. The Kingdom of Heaven is promised to believers throughout Scripture, but we are never promised the Priesthood of Heaven. The conclusion is plain: Christ’s royalty is superior and of greater moment than his priestly power, just as his divinity is superior and of greater moment than his humanity (Irenaeus to Grotius, 255).

Not to be outdone, the papalists in effect assigned to the pope both offices. In Unam sanctam we have a retort to the royalists almost as egregious, in that it so unites Peter to Christ as to make submission to his rule necessary for the salvation of every creature.

Boniface, to be sure, is sometimes defended by appeal to Aquinas; specifically to the latter’s brief remark at Contra Errores Graecorum 2.38, which he likely has in view. For Thomas himself says that “to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation” or that it arises by necessity from our need of salvation (sit de necessitate salutis). Those on the ark, so to say, must heed the orders of its captain so that the ship will remain on an even keel. Thomas appeals here to Cyril’s Thesaurus and to a letter of Maximus.

But what does Cyril actually say? “Christ is followed thus: as his own sheep we should hear his voice, abiding in the Church of Peter and not being inflated by the wind of pride,” lest by quarreling we allow the devil to engineer once more our departure from paradise.

And what does Maximus say? Nothing, in fact, quite like what Thomas says he says: “The Church united and established upon the rock of Peter’s confession we call according to the decree of the Savior the universal Church, wherein we must remain for the salvation of our souls and wherein loyal to his faith and confession we must obey him” (coadunatam et fundatam super petram confessionis Petri dicimus universalem Ecclesiam secundum definitionem salvatoris, in qua necessario salutis animarum nostrum est manere, et ei est obedire, suam servantes fidem et confessionem).

But even in the words Thomas here puts in the mouth of Maximus, we have a Church “united and established upon the rock of Peter’s confession,” not on Peter the rock.
- This is the Church in which we must remain for salvation and to which we must be obedient, “preserving her faith and confession.”
- Neither of these patristic authorities, nor Thomas’s use of them, justifies the exaggerations of Unam Sanctam or its categorical imperative.

And what shall we say of Leo X, who at the Fifth Lateran Council rearms Unam sanctam as a weapon against the Pragmatic Sanction? “Since subjection to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation for all Christ’s faithful…, for the salvation of the souls of the same faithful … [we] renew and give approval to that constitution” (et cum de necessitate salutis existat omnes Christi fideles Romano Pontifici subesse … pro eorundem fidelium animarum salute … constitutionem ipsam … innovamus et approbamus). See Tanner, DEC 1: 643f).

Leo at least speaks of “all the Christian faithful” rather than “every human creature,” though he goes on to name virtually every human creature he can think of, at least in France. Notice, however, how he deploys Matthew 16, which no longer refers to a Church that rests on the rock of Peter’s confession, as Aquinas rightly has it, but rather to the authority of popes over the Church: “Moreover, when he was about to depart from the world to the Father, he established Peter and his successors as his own representatives on the firmness of a rock. It is necessary to obey them…, so that whoever does not obey, incurs death” (DEC 1: 640).

While the words in soliditate petrae Petrum eiusque successores vicarios suos insituit do not quite turn Peter or his office into the rock, they do turn our attention from Peter’s confession of Christ to our own confession of Peter, which is the very problem we are trying to address.
- Now, no Catholic can in good faith deny that the Petrine office is essential (hence fundamental) to the Church militant or that Peter is head of the apostolic college and as such head of the Church.
- No Christian or would-be Christian can safely ignore the fact that there are keys to the kingdom and that these keys belong first to Peter (δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας, not δώσω ὑμῖν) and then also to the rest of the college; that where respect for them is lacking, the presence or integrity of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is also in some degree lacking.
- No bishop should fail to acknowledge that without communion with Peter his episcopacy is compromised; or fail to recognize in Peter one who is authorized to pass judgment on matters of faith and morals in and with and for the college, and to pass judgment as necessary on particular people in any diocese.
- No person of any description can safely ignore the gospel that Peter is obligated and enabled to confess.
- No secular ruler can rightly overlook matters of fundamental justice that Peter brings to his attention, including the matter of first importance when it comes to justice, which is the obligation to give thanks to God.

All of this, however, can and should be maintained without making Peter into Boniface’s universal monarch or anything remotely like it, thus compromising the truth that Jesus Christ, who has passed through the heavens, is the Church’s one foundation and mankind’s only Supreme Pontiff.

The true head of the Church is not Christus et Petrus, as Boniface has it. That is not how we avoid the monstrosity of two heads. We avoid the monstrosity of two heads by confessing one true head, as Pius does. Petrus is a foundation and a head only in another, and very much secondary, sense.

But it is time now to say more about the problem of visibility and invisibility, through which this matter becomes confused, and about the eschatological frame of reference we need to liberate us from the twin errors of royalism and papalism, Gallicanism and papolatry, secularism and social kingship theory, modernism and fundamentalism, etc.

Before doing so I want only to underscore a point already made among the prolegomena. The answer I am giving to the question, Who or what is Peter?, is an answer that disturbs some for the same reason Vatican II disturbs them.

Roberto de Mattei is explicit about his own discomfort with the notion “of a ‘dynamic mission’ of Peter, interconnected with the concept of the Apostolic College,” a notion that is “the daughter of the Second Vatican Council more than of the Catholic Tradition.”

The council in question, he thinks, has daughters that do not belong to the Catholic tradition in any legitimate sense. That surely is true, but De Mattei appears to imply that these daughters are legitimate children of the council, which itself is somehow illegitimate because of its dalliance with modernism.

I do not agree, and I repeat that one who takes that view cannot refuse to others the right to find weaknesses and unsolved problems elsewhere in tradition. As for those who pretend that there are no such weaknesses, even in

Vatican II, they can have nothing to say at all. For they cannot deny that the Francis revolution is a deliberate attack on the putative weaknesses that its architects find in past tradition – those architects have made that perfectly clear – and they cannot deny either that the present pope is party to the revolution. So there would appear to be a weakness somewhere.

Thinking eschatologically
Lest I be misunderstood: I do not propose that our failure to think eschatologically is the only or even the main weakness on which we might put a finger. I do think it a weakness that must be rectified. It is present even in Mystici, where the visibility/invisibility category still dominates.

What is said there, and said well enough – “that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth” – is contextualized, as it must be, by reference to our Lord’s “glorious Ascension into Heaven,” at which he leaves behind in Peter this vicar or representative.

But Jesus’s ascension does not exactly invite us to think in terms of the visible and the invisible, at least not as our primary category. It invites us to think in terms of the biblical narrative of ascent and descent, including especially the ascent and descent of Moses during the exodus. Let us turn again to Hebrews in illustration.

At first glance Hebrews might seem to employ the very categories we are questioning: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (11:1–3).

But Hebrews is not speaking in a Hellenist or Platonic mode, as some imagine. It is speaking in Hebraic mode – in the Magnificat mode, we might say – the mode in which something is made from nothing, and what is thought to be something is brought to naught by what is thought to be nothing.
- In this mode the visible and the invisible have to do with what appears to man to be the case and with what, because of God, actually is the case; or with what is now and what is not yet, but will surely come to pass.

So, for example, we also read: “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (Heb. 2:8f.; cf. 2 Cor. 4:16ff.). In other words, we see things as they really are and as they will be, while unbelief sees only what is deceptively familiar.

Used thus, the visible/invisible contrast is indispensable, but the frame of reference is eschatological. The dualism of an invisible and eternal heaven and a visible earth, where the things of heaven are imitated or manifested by creaturely signs, is not on offer here. The whole account moves towards the new Sinai and the new Zion of chapter 12.
- Who could imagine the author of Hebrews turning from this account, or from his argument that what was once foreshadowed on earth in the priestly cultus of Israel is now being fulfilled by Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary (8:1ff.) and is eucharistically anticipated by those who wait for their Lord at the foot of the mountain (12:18ff.), to say what Boniface says?
- Who can imagine him saying, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control; so every creature that hopes to be saved must be subject to Peter”?
- Who can imagine him saying, ”Truth be told, we don’t actually see Jesus now, but it’s okay because we do see Peter”?
The very thought is fantasy. [BLASPHEMY?!?!]

The eschatological and eucharistic horizon within which the author of Hebrews is working – the same horizon controls the entire New Testament – is wiped away when the visible and the invisible are arranged vertically, so that what happens in heaven is triumphantly mirrored on earth rather than seen by the eyes of faith as still approaching earth.
- It is no denial of Peter as chief among the apostles to insist that there is no parallel to be drawn between an invisible princeps et pontifex and a visible one.
- Boniface’s whole argument is stitched together from inapposite texts in a fashion more worthy of the innovators criticized by Irenaeus and Basil than of a pope.
- By means of this stitching he promotes an image of Peter, not as one called to feed Christ’s sheep and to strengthen his brothers on the via crucis, which is the image both Matthew and John present, but rather as one who rules on earth with a plenitudo potestatis that makes of Psalm 110 a Petrine prophecy, and of Peter a kind of pro tempore messiah. “Christ sits there, at God’s right hand. Him you cannot see, but me you can see. Do you wish to obey him that you might be saved? Then obey me!”

Now perhaps I am being too harsh on Boniface. In any case, that is neither the message nor the tone of popes like Pius XII.
- Yet papalism of that sort, which requires at a minimum the correction it receives in Lumen gentium, is still operative in some minds today.
- Not only in the minds of traditionalists but also in the minds of modernists, who have taken advantage of it to effect the Francis revolution.
- It belongs to the kind of thinking that always has to say Christus et... before it has even said Christus.

Christus et Petrus, Christus et Maria, Christus et Ecclesia are good things to say, but they must be said in such a way that the wonder of this gracious et – of our Lord’s sharing the womb of Mary, of giving Mary permanently and Peter provisionally a special role in his own dominium, of making the Church his very own body and a royal priesthood to his God and Father – does not allow our gaze to be directed away from him and back somehow to ourselves, to our pet pieties or politics that we suppose the only really authentic ones.
- Those who long not so much for sight of the glory of the Lord returning like Moses from the mountain of God, as for sight of the sedia gestatoria, high and lifted up, and of a papal train that fills the temple, know only the false et.
-Likewise those who make of the pope the very font from which flows every clerical grace and power, as he wills and where he wills and when he wills; who attribute to him the visible crown of the triplex munus rather than the three stewardly responsibilities belonging to him, and to the whole college after him and with him, not through him.

A very able Catholic theologian once said to me, not altogether in jest, that he wished the papacy would revert to being the office of an old Italian man who spoke no foreign languages and whose primary task was to run his own diocese well. I am not proposing anything quite so modest as that, just as I am not accusing traditionalists such as my present interlocutor of anything like the papalism caricatured in the previous paragraph.

I am, however, by means of this caricature, pointing out the danger of fighting fire with fire; that is, of trying to meet the present crisis, which threatens the dissolution of doctrinal and moral and liturgical authority in the Church, by fanning the very flames the innovators are fanning.

In short, by pitting Vatican I against Vatican II rather than seeking in both councils, imperfectly refracted in each, the light of our one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He, we know, is coming to sit in judgment on us all, beginning perhaps with Peter as Moses began with Aaron (though Peter is not Aaron), yet certainly not ending there.

Therefore we pray, and this Lent let us pray the more urgently:

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.
(Hearken, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have sinned against thee)
To Thee, highest King, Redeemer of all,
do we lift up our eyes in weeping:
Hear, O Christ, the prayers of your servants.
Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.
Right hand of the Father, corner-stone,
way of salvation, gate of heaven,
wash away our stains of sin.
Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:58 AM

Appeals court says the remains
of Venerable Sheen should go to Peoria

New York City, March 5, 2019 (CNA) - A New York appeals court has unanimously ruled that the earthly remains of Venerable Fulton Sheen should be moved to Peoria, Illinois – a ruling that could pave the way for the archbishop’s beatification unless there is another appeal.

A statement from the Diocese of Peoria on Tuesday welcomed the decision and called on the Archdiocese of New York “to end their failed legal contestation, which has only resulted in three rulings against them".

“Further appeal is not only unprecedented but extremely costly to all the parties involved… is the time to end the legal tug-of-war and begin the final stages of the Cause of Beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen,” the Peoria statement said.

Joe Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral disagree with the court decision and are considering their next steps, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002 after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.

However, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended the beatification cause in September 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.

The Archdiocese of New York, however, has said that Vatican officials have said the Peoria diocese can pursue Sheen’s canonization regardless of whether his body is at rest there.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at the age of 24. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Joan Sheen Cunningham, Sheen’s niece and closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and she consented.

However, Cunningham has since said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria.

An initial court ruling had sided with Cunningham, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling, saying it had failed to give sufficient attention to a sworn statement from a colleague of Archbishop Sheen, Monsignor Hilary C. Franco, a witness for the New York archdiocese.

Msgr. Franco had said that Sheen told him he wanted to be buried in New York and that Cardinal Cooke had offered him a space in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The appeals court ordered “a full exploration” of the archbishop’s desires.

Last June, the Superior Court of New York ruled in favor of Cunningham’s request that Sheen’s body be moved to Peoria. The Archdiocese of New York then announced that the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral were appealing the decision.

Now, a New York appellate court has again sided with Cunningham, ruling 5-0 that Peoria may have the body. The court found that Sheen lived his life with heaven and sainthood as his ultimate goals, which should be considered in the present dispute.

The Diocese of Peoria voiced hope that the beatification efforts for Sheen may now move forward, with Sheen’s body in Peoria. In its statement, the diocese said that the courts have now had ample opportunity to consider the arguments raised by New York, but have ultimately found them unavailing.

Both the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York have repeatedly voiced prayers that the beatification cause may move forward in a timely manner.

Archbishop Sheen served as host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the television show “Life is Worth Living.” He authored many books, with proceeds supporting foreign missions. He headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith at one point in his life, and continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death.

Archbishop Sheen’s intercession is credited with the miraculous recovery of a pronounced stillborn American baby from the Peoria area. In June 2014, a panel of theologians that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that the baby’s recovery was miraculous – a key step necessary before someone is beatified.

The baby, later named James Fulton Engstrom, was born in September 2010 showing no signs of life. As medical professionals tried to revive him, his parents prayed for his recovery through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.

Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems

This is getting ridiculous. What is the Archdiocese of New York going after? That St Patrick's will get more visitors because Mons. Sheen's tomb is there?
St Patrick's already has as many visitors as it could hope to have. Tourists will visit there regardless...

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 2:39 PM

Two recent articles on the great St.Philip Neri...

Newman on St. Philip Neri
as a model of reform

The saint's example, as well as the eloquent and ritually potent lessons drawn from the saint’s life
by John Henry Newman, provide a model for Catholics today on how to work for deep and lasting ecclesial reform

by Fr. Charles Fox

February 27, 2019

“He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.”
— Matthew 12:19-20

In these troubled days of crisis and scandal, the Catholic Church is populated by many a “bruised reed” and many a “smoldering wick.” The wounded faithful are all around us.

At its root, the word “crisis” indicates a moment of decision, a moment of critical importance. All Catholics today face a life-shaping decision about how to respond to the seemingly endless stream of reports of sexual abuse and failed handling of sexual abuse cases by Church leaders that we have encountered these past several months.

The decision is a stark one, between hope and despair, persevering fidelity and betrayal, between remaining with Christ and abandoning him. But even among those who choose to remain with Christ, there is another decision to be made, between the pursuit of ecclesial revolution or reform.

Most Catholics have a visceral reaction against the word “revolution.” We know that revolutionary change is foreign to the Church’s constitution and lived tradition. And yet there is a kind of revolutionary spirit that can take hold of any zealous Catholic who faces highly destructive forms of evil such as we are currently witnessing. To seek to effect dramatic and immediate change is a natural instinct for those who wish to protect the Church they love. It is easy to cross the line between reform and revolution.

Keeping in mind the supreme priority of the salvation of souls — a priority articulated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, among other sources — those who seek to help the Church must give first consideration to what will help those people most threatened to avoid hell and go to heaven. This consideration means, among other things, that reed-breaking and wick-quenching must be avoided. While reform heals and edifies not only ecclesial structures, but also people, revolution tends to do a great deal of damage along with achieving some measure of good.

Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), the recent papal approval of whose second miracle has paved the way for his imminent canonization, expressed his own views regarding ecclesial reform in a pair of sermons given in 1850 at the Birmingham Oratory of St. Philip Neri. The sermons were entitled, “The Mission of St. Philip Neri.”

In them, Newman spoke to his fellow Oratorians about the life and ministry of their patron saint by comparing and contrasting the apostolic approach of St. Philip with that of another famous Florentine priest who lived a century earlier, the Dominican Giorolamo Savonarola (1452-1498).

Savonarola lived shortly before the Protestant Reformation, while St. Philip’s priestly ministry coincided more or less with the second half of the sixteenth century, in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation. Both of them principally faced, not the Reformation itself, but those evils within the Renaissance-era Church against which the Protestants reacted. Though nothing justifies breaking communion with Rome, it was nevertheless a time of widespread decadence, sin, and godlessness in the Church. And two godly men confronted these evils in very different ways.

Although it makes for a long quotation, Newman’s description of the situation of the Church at this time is too perfect to paraphrase. The haunting picture Newman draws for his hearers bore some poignancy for the English Catholics of his own time, but it is perhaps much more apt for describing the crisis of the Church today:

(St. Philip’s) times were such as the Church has never seen before nor since, and such as the world must last long for her to see again; nor peculiar only in themselves, but involving a singular and most severe trial of the faith and love of her children. It was a time of sifting and peril, and of “the fall and resurrection of many in Israel.”

Our gracious Lord, we well know, never will forsake her; He will sustain her in all dangers, and she will last while the world lasts; but, if ever there was a time when He seemed preparing to forsake her,
- it was not the time of persecution, when thousands upon thousands of her choicest were cut off, and her flock decimated;
- it was not in the Middle Age, when the ferocity of the soldier and subtlety of the sophist beleaguered her,
— but it was in that dreary time, at the close and in the fullness of which St. Philip entered upon his work. A great author, one of his own sons, Cardinal Baronius, has said of the dark age, that it was a time when our Lord seemed to be asleep in Peter’s boat; but there is another passage of the Gospel still more wonderful than the record of that sleep, and one which had a still more marvellous accomplishment in the period of which I have to speak.

There was a time when Satan took up bodily the King of Saints, and carried Him whither he would. Then was our most Holy Saviour and Lord clasped in the arms of ambition, avarice, and impurity — and in like manner His Church also after Him, though full of divine gifts, the Immaculate Spouse, the Oracle of Truth, the Voice of the Holy Ghost, infallible in matters of faith and morals, whether in the chair of her Supreme Pontiff, or in the unity of her Episcopate, nevertheless was at this time so environed, so implicated, with sin and lawlessness, as to appear in the eyes of the world to be what she was not.
- Never, as then, were her rulers, some in higher, some in lower deree, so near compromising what can never be compromised;
- never so near denying in private what they taught in public, and undoing by their lives what they professed with their mouths;
- never were they so mixed up with vanity, so tempted by pride, so haunted by concupiscence;
- never breathed they so tainted an atmosphere, or were kissed by such traitorous friends, or were subjected to such sights of shame, or were clad in such blood-stained garments, as in the centuries upon and in which St. Philip came into the world.

Alas, for us, my Brethren! the scandal of deeds done in Italy then is borne by us in England now. At a time when Satan’s power over so many people seemed overwhelming, it was imperative to manifest God’s power in order to oppose this threat. But how best to accomplish this?

The first approach Newman describes is that of Savonarola. The Dominican priest is not a villain for Newman. Nor was he a villain in the eyes of St. Philip Neri, who held “affection…for his memory,” according to Newman. Savonarola eventually fell into excesses of zeal and weakness, but at first he did much that was good and did it with upright motivations.

Students of Church history know that Savonarola’s approach in calling the people of Florence to repentance and conversion was characterized by loud, public denunciations of sin. Later, the Dominican added a call for the burning of problematic books and other possessions deemed morally objectionable. Newman gives a vivid account of Savonarola’s apostolic zeal:

A true son of St. Dominic, in energy, in severity of life, in contempt of merely secular learning, a forerunner of the Dominican St. Pius in boldness, in resoluteness, in zeal for the honour of the House of God, and for the restoration of holy discipline, Savonarola felt
'his spirit stirred up within him', like another Paul, when he came to that beautiful home of genius and philosophy; for he found Florence, like another Athens, '“wholly given to idolatry'.

He groaned within him, and was troubled, and refused consolation, when he beheld a Christian court and people priding itself on its material greatness, its intellectual gifts, and its social refinement, while it abandoned itself to luxury, to feast and song and revel, to fine shows and splendid apparel, to an impure poetry, to a depraved and sensual character of art, to heathen speculations, and to forbidden, superstitious practices.

His vehement spirit could not be restrained, and got the better of him, and unlike the Apostle Paul, whose prudence, gentleness, love of his kind, and human accomplishments are nowhere more happily shown than in his speech to the Athenians — he burst forth into a whirlwind of indignation and invective against all that he found in Florence, and condemned the whole established system, and all who took part of it, high and low, prince or prelate, ecclesiastic or layman, with a pitiless rigour — which for the moment certainly did a great deal more than St. Paul was able to do at the Areopagus; for St. Paul made only one or two converts there, and departed, whereas Savonarola had great immediate success, frightened and abashed the offenders, rallied round him the better disposed, and elicited and developed whatever there was of piety, whether in the multitude or in the upper class.

Savonarola’s 'bold language effected for the moment a revolution rather than a reform'. On the one hand, his approach yielded many genuine conversions, displays of increased devotion, reforms in people’s dress, artistic works, and in many penitential acts. On the other hand, these positive strides were not to last. The seeds of revolution were not deeply planted enough to stand the test of time, and eventually Savonarola himself took a spiritual turn for the worse.

“At length, his innocence, sincerity, and zeal were the ruin of his humility,” Newman says of Savonarola, who eventually came to oppose even the pope in his excess of zeal. According to Newman, “Reform is not wrought out by disobedience,” Newman adds.

Savonarola eventually lost his way and his spiritual authority, and was executed by hanging and burning in the same square where he had burned all the people’s belongings that he had judged to be “occasions of sin.”

Though both Savonarola and St. Philip Neri began their priestly labors as godly men, it is St. Philip whose ministry was carried out in a more godly way. While the Lord reveals himself to man as the God of power and might, he also shows himself to be a God of gentleness, kindness, and mercy. To cultivate and act out of these godly qualities brings about the deepest and most effective ecclesial reform. Newman writes:

It is not by the enthusiasm of the multitude, or by political violence,—it is not by powerful declamation, or by railing at authorities, that the foundations are laid of religious works.

It is not by sudden popularity, or by strong resolves, and demonstrations, or by romantic incidents, or by immediate successes, that undertakings commence which are to last.

I do not say, that to be roused, even for a moment, from the dream of sin, to repent and be absolved, even though a relapse follow it, is a slight gain; or that the brilliant, but brief, triumphs of Savonarola are to be despised. He did good in his day, though his day was a short one. Still, after all, his history brings to mind that passage in sacred history, where the Almighty displayed His presence to Elias on Mount Horeb. The Lord was not 'in the wind', nor 'in the earthquake', nor 'in the fire'; but after the fire came 'the whisper of a gentle air'.

Saint Philip Neri was the “whisper of a gentle air” that would produce good and lasting fruit in the city of Rome, where he served as a priest for sixty years, beginning at the age of twenty.

The late Dominican preacher exercised an important influence over the young Philip, having died fewer than twenty years before Philip was born. The memory of Savonarola was still fresh in the minds of the people of Florence. And Philip not only admired all that was good in Savonarola and in his priestly work, but he also spent much time and was highly influenced by the Dominican Monastery of St. Mark’s in Florence.

According to Newman, three saints chiefly influenced the young Philip Neri: St. Benedict, St. Dominic, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, Philip’s contemporary in Rome. The combination of influences produced a potent spirituality and apostolic methodology in Philip’s priesthood. He was, by temperament and decision, also a bit of an odd duck, taking an unconventional approach to ministry.

In fact, upon arriving in Rome, the saint did not launch out immediately into apostolic labors, but spent ten years praying in the Roman Catacombs. It was a most unusual monastic beginning to a priesthood that would be largely characterized by a vigorous, active apostolate.

In seeking reform, St. Philip “was to pursue Savonarola’s purposes, but not in Savonarola’s way.” He emphasized community life, characterized by mutual love and hard work. He engaged in regular preaching, but a kind of preaching that was more subdued and steady than Savonarola’s more fiery, intense style. The daily preaching of St. Philip, and later of his fellow oratorians, was based upon spiritual works, the lives of the saints, and Church history.

Saint Philip always possessed tremendous interior zeal. At one point, at about the age of forty, he thought of going East as a missionary, but, as Newman writes, “his Indies were to be in Rome, where God would make much use of him.”

Whereas Savonarola had primarily aimed at external reform among the people of Florence, St. Philip worked chiefly for internal reform, sure that the external would follow — and it often did. He insisted on interior conversion, and the disciplining of the faculty of reason. He encouraged frequent confession and Holy Communion, love and freedom of spirit, humility and even humiliation, and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

Saint Philip’s approach was slow and steady. “While he wished to do the very work which Savonarola intended, he set about it…in a different way,” Newman writes. He began by ministering to the poor, though he ended-up advising popes, nobles, philosophers, and artists. He was a heroic confessor, like St. John Vianney would later be. He was also heroically patient in a way that was not typical of Savonarola. Saint Philip wept for the sins of men, and took on severe penances on their behalf.

Saint Philip “allured men to the service of God so dexterously, and with such a holy, winning art, that those who saw it cried out, astonished.

"St. Philip draws souls as the magnet draws iron", Newman writes. And his work bore bountiful and lasting fruit in Rome and beyond. According to Newman, one pilgrim to Rome when St. Philip was about the age of fifty wrote, “Among all the wonderful things which I saw in Rome, I took the chief pleasure in beholding the multitude of devout and spiritual persons who frequented the Oratory. Amid the monuments of antiquity, the superb palaces and courts of so many illustrious lords, it appeared to me that the glory of this exemplar shone forth with surpassing light.”

The example of St. Philip Neri, as well as the eloquent and spiritually powerful lessons drawn from the saint’s life by Bl. John Henry Newman, provide a model for today’s Catholics of how to work for deep and lasting ecclesial reform.

Zeal is a great gift, but it must be tempered by Christ-like meekness and mercy. Mercy is not wimpiness or the abdication of one’s duty to justice. Meekness and kindness do not make one wishy-washy, but rather make a person like Christ, who brought salvation to the whole world by means of humility and self-sacrificial love.

In all things, the clergy and lay faithful alike are called to fight the evils of the day, within and outside of the Church, by becoming like Christ and sharing in his mission of salvation. Blessed John Henry Newman ended his second sermon on St. Philip Neri with a prayer that the Catholics of today would do well to offer for each other:

But I would beg for you this privilege, that the public world might never know you for praise or for blame, that you should do a good deal of hard work in your generation, and prosecute many useful labours, and effect a number of religious purposes, and send many souls to heaven, and take men by surprise, how much you were really doing, when they happened to come near enough to see it; but that by the world you should be overlooked, that you should not be known out of your place, that you should work for God alone with a pure heart and single eye, without the distractions of human applause, and should make Him your whole hope, and His eternal heaven your sole aim, and have your reward, not partly here, but fully and entirely hereafter.

'Don't lose the merit'
Keep your Lenten sacrifices secret and safe

by Hilary White

March 6, 2019

When I spent a lot of time hanging around the Toronto Oratory, lo! these ten years ago, I was always hearing from the good fathers about St. Philip Neri, his spiritual approach and his programme of the spiritual life. Five years of weekly spiritual direction later, and I can say that I at least remember a great deal of that Oratorian way of thinking.

At this time of year, all over the Internet, and especially on blogs and on Facebook, I see people talking about their intentions for Lent, and I recall the many times I was cautioned by an Oratorian, “Don’t lose the merit.”

This was one of the many little expressions that went to form a way of thinking about spirituality that I came to take for granted. It meant, simply, “Don’t talk about your interior life, or you will defeat the very purpose of your good works.” You will undo in your soul the work you are trying to accomplish. Keep your inner life — including your ascetical works — private. As private as the day-to-day intimacies of a marriage. As Gandalf said about the Ring of Power, “Keep it secret; keep it safe.”

In my time as an Oratory person I was immersed in it all. I was living in a house shared with other lay Oratory-adherents, working part time as the secretary of the Oratory’s north parish, St. Vincent de Paul, and all my friends were people who were also part of the Oratory crowd. It was like a little subculture, a place of refuge, really, from the painful, cacophonic and chaotic life of central Toronto.

So we were all used to hearing Oratorian Things constantly and many of us started consciously trying to mould our thinking to be more like St. Philip’s, as it was conveyed to us by the Fathers.

“Don’t lose the merit” was an expression of one of Philip’s main platform planks, usually expressed as “amare nescire” – “to love to be unknown.” The idea, simply put, is that one keeps one’s spiritual life private, and one’s ascetic practices, fasting, penance, private prayer and alms-giving, secret. To talk about it is to lose the merit – the value – of your practices.
It’s a simple idea really – once you have let the secret out, you have changed from uniting yourself interiorly with the suffering of Christ on the Cross to looking for plaudits from others.

Philip was well known for his desire to not be taken as a saint, even though he was well known during his life as a miracle worker and ecstatic visionary, curing illnesses and even raising the dead. But if he was asked about it, he would be as likely to make a joke out of it, or play a prank on you, or do his best to make himself look ridiculous. He was well known as for his sense of humor, and his reputation as a practical joker was as famous as his saintliness.

This is something I’ve always appreciated about St. Philip, and for which I felt great sympathy. As an English person, I can tell you there’s nothing more embarrassing, more excruciating and cringe-inducing for me than being asked to “share” my “faith” or my “prayer life”.

I have often been asked why I will not participate in the kind of lay-led, extemporaneous “group prayer” that is so popular in Catholic organisations. I would always hide when it was “prayer time” in the office. For someone like me, there is perhaps no situation more awful than being trapped on a long trip in a car full of enthusiastic Catholics who want to start praying. For me, it feels like being asked to discourse on my most intimate and private interior life, something that is, I imagine, like a married person being asked to talk about his sex life in public.

Of course, as a Catholic one is expected to live in the Catholic world along with all the other Catholics. One goes to Mass and attends the weekly devotions with the parish. At the Toronto Oratory these included not only regular Mass-going, but an ordered programme of both spiritual and cultural life. Weekly benediction and solemn Vespers, Family Days of Recollection, Evenings at the Oratory where we would have lectures and end with Compline in the church. There were lots of groups for this or that; you could volunteer at the food bank, or with the Legion of Mary, and there was a get-together every month with the Chesterton Society. And there was always lunch with the gang after Sunday Mass.

I enjoy all of these sorts of activities. Indeed, I recently moved to a town where I could attend public liturgical prayer up to eight times a day, (should the mood strike at four in the morning… which it hasn’t yet.) But there is a huge difference between formal, public liturgy – what one of the Oratorian Fathers called with a wink the “bowing and scraping” – and what goes on “cor ad cor”.

And that latter is not for anyone else to see.

As fulfilling as the public kind of devotional and religious cultural life is, I complained to my Oratorian teacher that it was not enough. There was something missing. And in the five years I was there, I gradually learned to begin to cultivate this inner, secret, private and intimate life. External devotional practices – particularly the Sacramental life – were fine and necessary, but they have to be backed up with an interior life or they are essentially empty.

To love to be unknown is something of a watchword among Oratory people. And (you will perhaps laugh at this) it has also become one of the fundamental principles of my own spiritual life, thank God (and thanks Fr. Dan!). However public one’s exterior life may be, whether one is a movie star or politician — or just a journalist — one’s real life, the interior life, remains one’s own. Private, and even secret.

Medieval spiritual writers described this as a “walled garden” where one meets — trysts — in prayer with the Beloved. And this is something that no one else needs to know anything about. In the end, as holiness grows (so I’m told), the exterior ascetical practices become suffused with joy and eagerness. Fasting and penance become a kind of conduit of love and turn into exterior acts – gestures of this growing intimacy that would be unthinkable to talk about.

We have become a culture of exhibitionists, endlessly broadcasting everything about ourselves both interiorly and exteriorly. Someone on a spy TV show I like recently quipped about Facebook and Twitter, “We used to have to spy on people. Now they save us the trouble.”

Something good for us to do for Lent might be to mortify this urge. To learn to interiorize Philip’s most memorable axiom and learn to keep it secret, and keep it safe.


On the other hand, there's this:

Celebrate Lent the Jesuit way!

March 7, 2019

- As compiled by some of our favourite Jesuits, including Superior General Arturo Sosa, Fr James Martin, and of course, Pope Francis.
- Soon to be plagiarized as "Celebrate Lent the Basilian way" by Fr Thomas Rosica.

1. Give up sin.
This novel idea seems to originate from the Canadian bishops. Giving up sin is probably not something that occurred to you before, but it's very easy: most things that we used to think of as "sin" turn out to be simply "alternative lifestyles".

Still, there may be some bad habits that you really ought to drop, at least for the 40 days of Lent - speaking Latin, pushing old ladies under buses, hard drugs such as Coccopalmerio, etc. Every time you are tempted to sin, write the sin down on a piece of paper, and save it for later. That way you can have a really Happy Easter when you let it all go!

2. Build bridges.
Are you doing enough for the LGBTQSJ community in Lent? It is not necessary for you to "come out" in Lent, and certainly God is not (yet) asking you to "change gender", but you should certainly try and build bridges with your LGBTQSJ neighbours.

Why not ask your parish priest if he is thinking of changing sex? This is guaranteed to put you in a good light, as a loving caring person. Tell him that whatever lifestyle he chooses to adopt, you are not going to judge him, and you think he is doing a fine job.

3. Take up Ignatian Yoga.
Fr Martin's classes start soon. Bring your rainbow leotard! This discipline is good for your bodily health, as well as your spiritual development. Originating with the Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, it has not been seen as a part of Catholic teaching until now.

However, it is now generally recognised that sitting around cross-legged and intoning the sacred words So Sa, Mah Teen, Beh Go Lee Oh and "letting it all hang out" is the best way to get on the path of enlightenment. There will soon be a new book out, "How to twist things," in which Fr Martin will explain how a flexible approach is always the best.

4. Spiritual reading.
Lent is a good time for avoiding the Bible, because, as General Sosa says, "It ain't necessarily so," since there were no tape-recorders available when it was written. Instead, go for the works of deep thinkers such as Leonardo Boff, Hans Küng, Tony Flannery, etc., or sit on a bus reading out passages from the the Tablet to your ecstatic neighbours.

5. Respect the environment.
This really follows from (4), as your spiritual reading should include Laudato Si'. Think of new ways of saving the planet! Old polythene bags can be sewn together to make wonderful vestments for your priest - don't worry if his chasuble bears the mysterious word "Tesco", for it is all part of celebrating God's creation. Plastic straws can be stuck in your hair, and these will add a little colour to your liturgical dancing.

6. Stop gossiping.
Pope Francis SJ has asked us to include this discipline in our list. Gossiping includes trying to find out what is going on in the Vatican, asking Dubia of the Pope, issuing filial corrections, and indeed any embarrassing Church news. In the words of Jesus, when He went into the wilderness: "Give us a break, guys!"

Remember that the Vatican is getting tough on abuse these days. We had a wonderful summit on the subject, in which we agreed that everything is more-or-less fine really, and we can't see what all the fuss is about. So woe on ye if ye say otherwise!

Have a fun Lent!

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 2:52 PM

French cardinal convicted
for failing to report a sex abuse crime
will appeal the surprise verdict

March 7, 2019

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report to authorities the alleged sexual abuse of a priest in his diocese. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

French tribunal president Brigitte Vernay declared Barbarin guilty on March 7 “of non-denunciation of ill-treatment” of a minor, according to AFP. Barbarin was not present in court for the verdict.

Five other archdiocesan officials on trial with Barbarin were acquitted. Barbarin was also expected to be acquitted after even the prosecutor of the case argued there was no proof of the cardinal’s legal wrongdoing and therefore no grounds for conviction, the Associated Press reports.

The cardinal will appeal the verdict, according to AP. Barbarin’s lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said Thursday about the conviction that “this is a decision that is not fair at the juridical level.” Implying hope in the success of an appeal, he stated: “We hope that at the next step, justice will be done.”

The trial against Barbarin began in January on charges he did not report facts of abuse to judicial authorities between July 2014 and June 2015, in a case involving Fr. Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of abusing dozens of minors in the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 2017, the cardinal told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but said that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

Allegations against Preynat became public in 2015. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year after an initial investigation, but a victims’ group with more than 80 members who say they were abused by Preynat led to a reopening of the case, the Guardian reports.

Preynat was banned from leading boy scout groups in the early 1990s, but remained in ministry until being removed by Cardinal Barbarin in 2015.

The priest has acknowledged abusing minors, according to the Guardian, and will face trial later this year.

Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was also ordered to testify in the case. In October, the Vatican invoked diplomatic immunity in refusing to deliver a French court summons to Ladaria, saying that as a minister of Vatican City State, he is protected under international law.

The court summons had involved a letter Ladaria sent to Barbarin, advising him to take disciplinary action against Preynat, “while avoiding public scandal.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted Ladaria to testify as to whether the direction to prevent scandal was intended as an injunction to avoid going to court, in which case they accuse the CDF prefect of being complicit in failing to report the allegedly abusive priest to authorities.

Barbarin’s trial comes as revelations of clerical sex abuse and cover up continue to send shock waves through the Catholic Church. The United States, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany are among the countries that have seen recent abuse scandals uncovered.

Cardinal Barbarin offers to resign
after conviction for covering up
by Aurelien Breeden
sexual abuse by one of his priests

March 7, 2019

PARIS — A Catholic cardinal offered his resignation on Thursday after being found guilty by a French court of covering up decades-old sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese, a surprise victory for the priest’s accusers, who had forced the case to trial after it was dropped by prosecutors.

[Typically, it appears this story was written by someone who knows little about the Church because it does not say whether Barbarin offered to resign as Archbishop of Lyon or from the College of Cardinals as well. The NYT desk editor also should have known enough to get a clarification.]

The conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, was the first in France against such a high-profile clergyman, adding to a long list of sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church just weeks after a landmark meeting at the Vatican ended without a concrete plan to tackle the issue.

Cardinal Barbarin, 68, was found guilty of failing to report child abuse by the Rev. Bernard Preynat to the authorities from 2014 to 2015, after parishioners accused the priest of sexually abusing dozens of Boy Scouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The court handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence to Cardinal Barbarin, who had faced up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, nearly $51,000. His lawyers said they would appeal.

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 3:31 PM

It's a bit confusing - the stats reported by the Vatican are always a year late (e.g., 2017 data, Jan 1- Dec 31, are published at the start of 2019 because it takes the Secretariat of State which
compiles the data a year to process their findings). On the other hand, the Pontifical Directory, Wikipedia tells us, "lists all the popes to date and all officials of the Holy See's departments. It also
has complete lists with contact information of the cardinals and Catholic bishops throughout the world, the dioceses (with statistics about each), the departments of the Roman Curia, the Holy See's
diplomatic missions abroad, the embassies accredited to the Holy See, the headquarters of religious institutes (again with statistics on each), certain academic institutions, and other similar
information. The index includes those of all priests who have been granted the title of Monsignor." It is presumed the directory is current as of December 31 of the preceding year.

Latest Vatican stats show
number of priests declined
for first time in a decade

Less seminarians, less male and female religious
but more bishops, deacons, lay missionaries and catechists

[The 'Francis effect'!]

by Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY, March 6, 2019 (CNS) — The percentage of Catholics in the world has remained steady, while the number of priests has decreased for the first time in almost a decade, according to Vatican statistics.

Meanwhile, the numbers of bishops, permanent deacons, lay missionaries and catechists have all increased, it said.

At the end of 2017, the worldwide Catholic population exceeded 1.3 billion, which continued to be about 17.7 percent of the world's population, said a statement published March 6 by the Vatican press office.

The statement reported a handful of the statistics in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2017. The press office also announced the publication of the 2019 "Annuario Pontificio," a volume containing information about every Vatican office, as well as every diocese and religious order in the world.

According to the statistical yearbook, the number of Catholics increased in every continent. But while that growth in Africa and the Americas kept pace with their respective region's population growth, Asia showed a 1.5 percent increase in the number of Catholics while the region's population grew less than 1 percent.

At the end of 2017, most of the world's Catholics (48.5 percent) were living in the Americas, followed by Europe with 21.8 percent, Africa with 17.8 percent, 11.1 percent in Asia and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

The yearbook showed the number of bishops in the world continued its steady increase over the past six years, going from 5,133 in 2012 to 5,389 in 2017.

For the first time in since 2010, the Vatican statement said, the total number of priests — diocesan and religious order — around the world decreased, going from 414,969 in 2016 to 414,582 in 2017. Ordinations of diocesan priests continued to decline slowly from 6,577 in 2012 to 5,815 in 2017.

The number of brothers in religious orders continued a steady increase only in Africa, as Asia continued a recent downturn that began in 2016. The number of religious brothers worldwide was down to 51,535 in 2017 from 52,625 in 2016.

The number of women in religious orders showed an ongoing downward trend of about a 1.6 percent decrease each year worldwide since 2013, the yearbook showed. The slight increases in Africa and Asia weren't enough to offset the reductions in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Catholic women's orders went from having more than 792,000 members in 2001 to just over 648,910 women at the end of 2017.

The number of candidates for the priesthood — both diocesan seminarians and members of religious orders — showed a continued slight decline worldwide, decreasing from 116,160 at the end of 2016 to 115,328 at the end of 2017.

The number of permanent deacons reported — 46,894 — was up 582 over the previous year. The vast majority — 97.3 percent — of the world's permanent deacons live in the Americas and in Europe.

The number of lay missionaries worldwide increased by over 1,000 people to 355,800 and catechists were up by 34,000 people to 3.12 million by the end of 2017.

There were more than 15.6 million baptisms around the world in 2017 and more than 2.3 million Catholic weddings.

Why the Vatican failed to meet
the projected 2015 opening
of the Pius XII archives

Meanwhile, the Prefect of the Vatican Archives, Mons. Sergio Pagano, wrote an article for L'Osservatore Romano on March 4, 2019 about the opening of the Pius XII archives, and explained why the 2014-2015 deadline to do so, set during Benedict XVI's pontificate, failed to be met.

Strangely, however, in reviewing the events that led up to this, he fails to mention at all the 12-volume (11 textual, one index) compilation of the most important documents relating to Pius XII's activity and statements during WorldWar II relative to the Jewish question, and published in 1961-1984 at the behest of Paul VI. The following is from a ZENIT translation of the OR article. The full translation may be seen here:

...Since December 2002, Pope Saint John Paul II, sensitive to the requests that came to him from various places to obtain the possibility to investigate the Holy See’s documents relating to the period between the two World Wars, decided to make accessible some funds of the Vatican Secret Archive, still belonging to the so-called “closed period,” in view of a future opening of Pius XII’s pontificate: Archive of the Apostolic Nunciature of Monaco of Bavaria (1922-1934); Archive of the Apostolic Nunciature of Berlin (1922-1930). Rendered consultable at the same time were the following Archives and Funds: Archive of the Secretariat of State, Section of Relations with States (then Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs), Bavaria (1922-1939) and Germany (1922-1939); Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, documents relating to the condemnation of Communism and of National Socialism.

On June 8, 2004, Pope John Paul II himself, always in view of anticipating progressive limited openings, homogeneous in filing and autonomous in themselves, made available to researchers the Vatican Archive’s ample fund of the Vatican Office of Information for prisoners of war (1939-1947). Made up of 2,349 archival units, subdivided in 556 envelops, 108 registers and [???1,685 boxes of documentation, with alphabetical filing, which amounts to close to two million 100,000 name records, regarding military and civilian prisoners, missing or interned, of whom news was sought. A fund [??? Probably fonte,meaning source, in the original] immediately investigated and still today greatly requested by private scholars and relatives of the deceased prisoners.

On June 30, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI decided to open the whole of Pius XI’s pontificate (1922-1939), which was carried out on September of that year, at the autumn opening of the Vatican Archive. On that occasion the Vatican Archive could be consulted, be it the great fund of the first Section of the Secretariat of State (General Affairs), be it the Second Section, Relations with States (then Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs). From 2011, this last archive has been given autonomous classification.

While Pius XI’s pontificate was being opened, there was already work in the Vatican Archive for the progressive preparation of Pius XII’s documentary material, which not a few scholars were requesting with ever greater insistence. The amount of work was certainly heavy and only in 2008 Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office said, in the pages of the “Corriere della Sera” of October 31, that thought could be given to a hypothetical opening of Pacelli’s pontificate ‘within 6-7 years,” or around 2014/2015.

It was too optimistic. The work of preparation of the enormous documentation, as well as the limited strength of the Vatican archivists, postponed until today, for objective reasons, the awaited opening....]

A curious bit of trivia which I am including in this grabbag post on the Vatican:

The monomanic Ann Barnhardt - who insists Benedict XVI remains Pope (even if she misses no opportunity to denigrate him) and that PF is an anti-Pope - posted this photo
on her blogsite as if in support of her hypothesis. As though by referring to B16 in the letter as 'His Holiness', the Secretariat of State were acknowledging he is still pope!

Which feeds from and into the objection in some Catholic quarters, including an eminence like Cardinal Brandmueller, to B16's decisions as to his dress and manner of
address after he stepped down as post.

1. 'His Holiness' is a title and honorific form of address used for dozens of prelates in the Eastern Churches, even after they retire (or after they die, for that matter),
so what's wrong with B16 doing the same thing?

2. The Vatican Secretariat of State clearly accepts the convention and so refers to him in the letter as "His Holiness Benedict XVI" - not "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI".
So what's the fuss about?

But I make a most striking deduction from the letter that all letters addressed to Benedict XVI, presumably by mail or in the Vatican diplomatic pouches, apparently
still go straight to the Secretariat of State and not to him; and that the Secretariat of State undertakes to answer such letters if they are generic
(and not about
any private matter involving the sender or the emeritus Pope). Administrative courtesy or a means of control?

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 11:19 PM


Please see preceding page for earlier posts today, 3/7/19.

From Summorum Pontificum, 7/7/2007:

"Art. 5. 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.
2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.
3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.
4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.
5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

In Cremona, the Latin Mass remains banned
Repeated violation by two bishops of the universal church law
promulgated by Benedict XVI in 'Summorum Pontificum

Translated from

March 7, 2019

There’s nothing to be done. In Cremona, the Latin Mass remains prohibited. [Despite Summorum Pontificum, obviously.]

Three times now, two bishops of the diocese have illegally rejected a petition by the faithful to have a traditional Mass said regularly in the diocese. [But why did they have to petition the bishops, considering that SP does not require it? They had the priests and the church to do it in - they didn't have to go through the bishop.]

In December 2009, the blogsitee Cremona Fildeissima launched a petition on the possibility of celebrating the Mass in the usus antiquior. 120 persons signed up right away, but the bishop at the time, Dante Lafranconi said, “NO”, he would have nothing to do with the traditional Mass.

In January 2016, Cremona had a new bishop, Antonio Napolioni, who was also sent a similar petition by a group of faithful who described themselves as ‘a stable group of faithful’ who wish “regular celebration of the Holy Mass according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal” as provided for by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. They explained:

What impels us, is neither sterile nostalgia for the past nor any form of diffidence against the celebration of the Ordinary Form which we have been attending, nor any desire for eccentricity or out-of-place ‘extravagance’, much less any attempt of causing divisiveness in the diocese. What impels us rather is the desire to be able to cultivate our liturgical sensibility in a shared manner and to be able to do this within our diocese.

They identified a church in Buzzolo, whose parish priest and vicar both said they were able and available to offer the traditional Mass. But both were suddenly reassigned to another parish, and in March 2017, the bishop finally answered his parishioners’ letter to say NO, giving a singular explanation.

Such a request had already been brought up to my predecessor, who opposed it saying that he did not think the diocese met the conditions for saying Yes to the request, especially in the light of the fact that, for more than 40 years, the application of the Vatican II liturgical reform promoted by Blessed Paul VI [he was yet to be canonized in March 2017] was serenely welcomed by the Diocese of Cremona ‘without resistance or exceptions, singular or collective’ from any of its components. Sharing the reasons given then, and not thinking that in the meantime there have emerged new reasons to sustain a different evaluation of the circumstances of liturgical life in the diocese, after careful consideration, I am convinced that, insofar as my competence goes, I have no reason to reply favorably to your request.

The objection to that reasoning is obvious: If the application of the Vatican II liturgical reform was ‘serenely’ accepted in the diocese, then why would the re-introduction of the Vetus Ordo be a problem? [This irrational opposition can only be explained by sheer hostile prejudice. NO ONE IS FORCING ANY NOVUS ORDO MASSGOER TO ATTEND A TRADITIONAL MASS, AND CHURCHES THAT OFFER IT ARE CAREFUL THAT ANY TLM CELEBRATION DOES NOT INTERFERE IN ANY WAY WITH REGULAR PARISH ROUTINE. These bishops who oppose SP all say Mass at cathedrals whose altars contain the relics of saints who, without exception, lived and died by the traditional Mass. Should they not then perhaps disinter those relics from their altars and replace them with a holy card with the image of Paul VI?]

After Napolioni’s letter, the group forwarded their request to Ecclesia Dei, which has since been completely absorbed into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as one of its offices. Mons. Guido Pozzo, then still secretary of Ecclesia Dei (the pope has now made him financial overseer of the Sistine Chapel Choir whose officials ares being investigated for a fund-raising scandal) promptly replied that Ecclesia Dei had contacted the bishop in their behalf.

A period of silence followed, until Napolioni finally informed the group that Ecclesia Dei had not agreed to their request. He never showed them a copy of any letter from Ecclesia Dei.

A few months later, a young priest started saying the TLM sine populo at the church of the Barnabite fathers in Cremona, doing so according to Article 2 of SP:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without a congregation, any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, and may do so on any day, with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such a celebration with either Missal, the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary.

‘Sine populo’ does not strictly mean the absence of any faithful at such Masses, as Art 4 of SP says:

Art. 4. The celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned above in Art. 2 may be attended also by members of the lay faithful who spontaneously request to do so, with respect for the requirements of law.

Which is precisely what happened in Cremona. The Barnabite priest’s Mass became known, and from just a few people at first, his daily Massgoers soon numbered around 60, most of them young people.

In the face of these developments (which became local news in the past few weeks), the bishop summoned the priest and his superior and ordered them to stop saying the traditional Mass.

Napolioni’s actions are totally in violation of SP as well as the Apostolic Letter of Instructions that came with it, which says in Art. 14: “It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum”, while Art. 8 of the Instructions says that the aim of SP was precisely that of

...offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;
b. effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;
c. promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

It is worth going on record with the position taken by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who told the local newspaper La Provincia that he was ‘stunned’ by the attitude of the Bishop of Cremona:

“I don’t understand his reasoning. The Tridentine Mass is now celebrated everywhere in the world where it is requested. I have no idea why this would not be so in Cremona. Many dioceses in Italy offer it. Anywhere else in the world, it is enough that there is a priest who is able and available to say the Mass on a fixed schedule. If I were in Cremona, I would look for any church that offered it”.

[But that’s just the problem! No church in Cremona is ‘allowed’ to offer it because no priest is ‘allowed’ to celebrate it.]

But for now, the Latin Mass remains banned in Cremona. The highhanded arrogance comes from abishop who prides himself in following ‘the line of Pope Francis’, the same pope who thunders against clericalism in the sense of abuse of priestly and episcopal powers.

But this lunatic and literally senseless hostility towards the Latin Mass is very much in line with a move initiated by some Italian bishops at the autumn conference of the Italian bishops'conference last year, when some bishops incredibly claimed SP ought to be repealed as "it was illegal, to begin with, since Benedict XVI claimed falsely that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated when in fact it was". A monumental act of chutzpah revisionism - i.e., TOTAL FALSEHOOD - in every word.

Make no mistake about it - all the Bergogliac bishops in Italy will soon be in mass violation of SP because, rightly or wrongly, they believe that is what Jorge Bergoglio really wants.

Cremona, BTW, to those who may not be familiar with the place name, is a city about 75 kms southeast of Milan, which became famous since the 16th century as a musical center and for producing the best violins and other stringed instruments in the world, from the Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families), so much so that in 2012, the "Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona" was declared an intangible world cultural heritage by UNESCO. Claudio Monteverdi was a native of Cremona, as was Pope Gregory XIV.

00Thursday, March 7, 2019 11:38 PM
I posted the first two items in the previous page but in view of an update, I have added the latest item and am re-posting the whole thing here.

French cardinal convicted
for failing to report a sex abuse crime
will appeal the surprise verdict

March 7, 2019

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report to authorities the alleged sexual abuse of a priest in his diocese. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

French tribunal president Brigitte Vernay declared Barbarin guilty on March 7 “of non-denunciation of ill-treatment” of a minor, according to AFP. Barbarin was not present in court for the verdict.

Five other archdiocesan officials on trial with Barbarin were acquitted. Barbarin was also expected to be acquitted after even the prosecutor of the case argued there was no proof of the cardinal’s legal wrongdoing and therefore no grounds for conviction, the Associated Press reports.

The cardinal will appeal the verdict, according to AP. Barbarin’s lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said Thursday about the conviction that “this is a decision that is not fair at the juridical level.” Implying hope in the success of an appeal, he stated: “We hope that at the next step, justice will be done.”

The trial against Barbarin began in January on charges he did not report facts of abuse to judicial authorities between July 2014 and June 2015, in a case involving Fr. Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of abusing dozens of minors in the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 2017, the cardinal told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but said that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

Allegations against Preynat became public in 2015. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year after an initial investigation, but a victims’ group with more than 80 members who say they were abused by Preynat led to a reopening of the case, the Guardian reports.

Preynat was banned from leading boy scout groups in the early 1990s, but remained in ministry until being removed by Cardinal Barbarin in 2015.

The priest has acknowledged abusing minors, according to the Guardian, and will face trial later this year.

Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was also ordered to testify in the case. In October, the Vatican invoked diplomatic immunity in refusing to deliver a French court summons to Ladaria, saying that as a minister of Vatican City State, he is protected under international law.

The court summons had involved a letter Ladaria sent to Barbarin, advising him to take disciplinary action against Preynat, “while avoiding public scandal.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted Ladaria to testify as to whether the direction to prevent scandal was intended as an injunction to avoid going to court, in which case they accuse the CDF prefect of being complicit in failing to report the allegedly abusive priest to authorities.

Barbarin’s trial comes as revelations of clerical sex abuse and cover up continue to send shock waves through the Catholic Church. The United States, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany are among the countries that have seen recent abuse scandals uncovered.

Cardinal Barbarin offers to resign
after conviction for covering up
by Aurelien Breeden
sexual abuse by one of his priests

March 7, 2019

PARIS — A Catholic cardinal offered his resignation on Thursday after being found guilty by a French court of covering up decades-old sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese, a surprise victory for the priest’s accusers, who had forced the case to trial after it was dropped by prosecutors.

[Typically, it appears this story was written by someone who knows little about the Church because it does not say whether Barbarin offered to resign as Archbishop of Lyon or from the College of Cardinals as well. The NYT desk editor also should have known enough to get a clarification.]

The conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, was the first in France against such a high-profile clergyman, adding to a long list of sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church just weeks after a landmark meeting at the Vatican ended without a concrete plan to tackle the issue.

Cardinal Barbarin, 68, was found guilty of failing to report child abuse by the Rev. Bernard Preynat to the authorities from 2014 to 2015, after parishioners accused the priest of sexually abusing dozens of Boy Scouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The court handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence to Cardinal Barbarin, who had faced up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, nearly $51,000. His lawyers said they would appeal.


Barbarin resigns after receiving
suspended prison sentence over
failure to report abuse allegation

By Luke Hurst & Alasdair Sandford
March 7, 2019

Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, has resigned after being handed a six-month suspended prison sentence for failing to act on sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic church. [Do we assume he resigned as Archbishop only, not as cardinal?]

A French court convicted him on Thursday of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts that took place in his diocese in the 1980s and early 1990s, by a priest who is due to go on trial later this year.

The cardinal – Archbishop of Lyon since 2002 – is the highest profile cleric to have been caught up in the sexual abuse scandal in the French Catholic church so far. He was once tipped as a possible future pope.

The Prosecutor's Office had originally said on Wednesday it would not seek a conviction because "the statute of limitations has expired."

The 68-year-old had always denied the allegations. “I never sought to hide, even less to cover up these horrible acts,” Cardinal Barbarin said at his trial.

He claimed in court that he only learned of assaults attributed to the priest in 2014, when a victim confided in him. However, in a 2016 interview in La Croix newspaper he said he had been made aware of the priest’s “behaviour” around 2007 or 2008 – but had not acted as there had been no complaint.

The alleged victims of Father Bernard Preynat, who has admitted sexual abuse of underage boys in the 1980s and 1990s, believe Church officials knew of the abuse as early as 1990 when Preynat was moved to a different parish.

Barbarin has been condemned for taking months in 2015 to follow a Vatican directive to remove Preynat from any duties which would put him in contact with children. He claimed his slowness to act was due to the Vatican asking him to avoid a public scandal.

The suspended jail sentence handed down to Barbarin came as a surprise to some observers: at the end of the trial in January the prosecutor had not sought punishment for the cardinal or the five other church officials accused alongside him. The court did not find them guilty.

However, the verdict in Barbarin’s case was incriminating. “Philippe Barbarin made the conscious choice, to preserve the institution to which he belonged, to not pass 0n (information) to the legal authorities,” AFP reported the judgment as saying.

The court found that “by wanting to avoid scandal”, the cardinal had risked preventing many other cases of abuse from being revealed, to the detriment of the victims.

A lawyer for one of the nine victims who were civil parties to the case described the cardinal’s conviction as “an extraordinary symbol”.

François Devaux, co-founder of the victims association “La Parole libérée”, hailed the verdict as “a great victory for child protection”.

Lawyers for Barbarin have said they intend to appeal against the conviction. “The court’s reasons do not convince me. We will therefore contest this decision,” said Jean-Félix Luciani, adding that the court had been under pressure as a result of documentaries and a film about the case.

The film “Graçe à Dieu” by François Ozon, currently on release in French cinemas, tells the story of how the Lyon victims came together to reveal the abuse they had suffered – and their battle for justice as the Catholic Church dragged its feet.

Cardinal Barbarin’s trial and conviction comes as another blow to the Catholic Church. It comes just weeks after the Vatican’s special summit on tackling child sexual abuse, and news of the conviction in Australia of another senior figure in the church, Cardinal George Pell.
00Friday, March 8, 2019 5:47 PM

Surely, PF must have realized that Mons. Schneider would be among the bishops of Kazakhstan and Central Asia that he would meet ad limina - and that it would mean
an exception to the travel ban he imposed on Schneider last year! Because everywhere Schneider went, he would give interviews and make statements as he does in
the following interview. Occupational hazard, Your Holiness! Get used to it. After all, it's been six years so far of unprecedented - nay, previously unthinkable -
non-stop, deliberate and probably gleeful 'Hagan lio!' wholesale provocation
[exacerbationis gaudium
(the joy of provocation)!] of Catholics by no less than you,
the pope! You have to be accountable for the mess you make.
... In the following interview, Schneider is as articulate and concrete as he always is. If only we had more
bishops - and cardinals! - as willing and able to come forward as he does, every occasion he gets.

Bishop Schneider wins clarification
on 'diversity of religions' from Pope Francis,
brands abuse summit a 'failure'

by Diane Montagna

ROME, March 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In their recent ad limina visit to Rome, the bishops of Kazakhstan and Central Asia raised a number of concerns which have been widely shared in the Church over the last several years, concerning perceived ambiguities in the magisterium of Pope Francis.

At the March 1 meeting, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan, also obtained from Pope Francis a clarification that God only permits but does not positively will a 'diversity of religions'.

In an exclusive interview with LifeSite, Bishop Schneider said the concerns raised during the two-hour meeting with the Holy Father included “Communion for divorced and civilly ‘remarried’ Catholics, the issue of Communion for Protestant spouses in mixed marriages, and the issue of the practical spread of homosexuality in the Church.”

[However, nowhere in this long interview does the bishop tell us what the pope said exactly about the above concerns, though he was quite specific about the one papal answer he gives us. I take it to mean the bishops did not get an answer, or more probably, they got the typical Bergoglian evasive non-answer which most people, especially cardinals and bishops face to face with this pope, are unable to pursue. Hence. Mons. Schnieder glosses over these major unanswered issues of Bergoglian 'magisterium'.

'Unanswered' is the wrong word, of course, because everything Bergoglio has said or done so far about these three issues tell us that Yes, in effect, 1) he condones adultery not just in unqualified remarried divorcees but also its form in cohabiting couples; 2) he has no problems with interfaith communion; and 3) he does not consider homosexuality a problem at all, whether in the clergy or in general.

The operative word is 'in effect' because he has been calculatedly equivocal and ambiguous about his direct statements on these issues, but not even the most fanatic Bergogliacs will deny that this is exactly where he stands on these three issues, because it is the position they have been touting in his behalf.]

In a direct exchange between Pope Francis and Bishop Schneider, the claim that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God” was also discussed. The expression, contained in a joint statement that Pope Francis signed last month with a Grand Imam in Abu Dhabi, has incited considerable controversy.

The Pope explicitly stated that Bishop Schneider could share the contents of their exchange on this point. “You can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God,” he told the assembled bishops, who come from predominantly Muslim regions.

The auxiliary of Astana in turn asked the Pope to officially clarify the statement in the Abu Dhabi document. [One can predict htat such an official clarification will never be made because the pope would have to consult his 'co-author', the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in order to do that. Otherwise, oh mortal offense! PF can well leave it as it is - “You can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religion means the permissive will of God,” - which is perfectly deniable by him if push comes to shove. "Oh, Mons Schneider is putting words in my mouth that I never said".]

LifeSite sat down with Bishop Schneider in Rome following the ad limina visit. In a wide-ranging interview, we discussed his meeting with Pope Francis, his views on the recent Vatican sex abuse summit, and the anticipated attacks on clerical celibacy at the forthcoming Amazonian Synod.

Schneider branded the sex abuse summit a “clerical show” and a “failure” for not addressing the “deep roots” of the crisis and issuing “very precise, compelling and incisive norms.” He expounds on what he believes are the four causes of the abuse crisis and proposes two concrete norms he believes should have come out of the summit.

Asked about Cardinal Blase Cupich’s denial of a causal relationship between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse, Schneider asked despairingly: “How can I speak with a man who denies reality?”

In the interview, Bishop Schneider also praises the open letter issued by Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller ahead of the Vatican abuse summit and suggests further action that cardinals and bishops might take to address the current crisis in the Church.

Here below is our exclusive interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Your Excellency, what can you tell us about your recent ad limina visit and meeting with Pope Francis?
It was for me a very spiritual experience — a pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, where we celebrated the Holy Mass. At the tomb of St Peter we sang for Pope Francis the antiphon “Oremus pro pontifice nostro” followed by the Creed. We also prayed for the intentions of the Pope to gain the plenary indulgence. We did the same at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls and at the Marian Basilica of St Mary Major.

Regarding our meeting with the Pope, he is the Vicar of Christ on earth in this time, and he was very fraternal and kind to us. It was a very kind atmosphere. Our meeting with him lasted two hours. I consider this an act of great generosity on the part of the Pope, to spend so much time with our group of 10 bishops and ordinaries of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. During the meeting, the Pope invited us to freely express our concerns and even our criticisms. He stressed that he likes a very free conversation.

Some bishops were able to raise concerns about the life of the Church in our days. For example, the issue of Communion for divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics; the issue of Communion for Protestant spouses in mixed marriages; and the issue of the practical spread of homosexuality in the Church. These points were discussed. [ Maybe Mons. Schneider refrained from saying anything more about these specific 'discussions' because the questions were raised by his colleagues, not just by him. In contrast, he does tell us how the pope answered his specific question.]

Then I also asked the Holy Father to clarify the statement in the Abu Dhabi document on the diversity of religions being “willed” by God.

The Pope was very benevolent in his response to our questions and sought to answer us from his own perspective on these problems. He answered in a more general way about principles of the Catholic Faith, but in the given circumstances we were not able to go into detail on the specific issues. [That nails it! That's the answer he gave to the bishops' three doctrinal questions - in other words, the typical Bergoglian evasive non-answer! As in "Look up what the Catechism says about homosexuality" to the journalists who asked about Mons. Ricca back in July 2013. When he could have easily said in as many words, "Homosexuality is a disordered condition and its practice is sinful". But no, why would he give anyone a chance to claim he actually said that about homosexuality, about which he is personally quite permissive? Instead, we got the ultimate copout from a pope directly confronted about a moral issue: "Who am I to judge?"] Even so, I am very thankful to the Holy Father that he gave us the possibility in a very serene atmosphere to raise several concerns and to speak with him. [after all, that is one of the purposes of an ad limina visit with the pope - which is mainly to discuss the situation in the local churches concerned and the bishops' problems in governance. And I have no doubt PF can be and is most charming and accommodating to his visitors on everything, except when he is challenged on his major 'Here I stand' controversies.]

Can you say more about how Pope Francis responded to your concern about the Abu Dhabi statement on the diversity of religions? The controversial passage reads: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”
On the topic of my concern about the phrase used in the Abu Dhabi document – that God “wills” the diversity of religions – the Pope’s answer was very clear: he said that the diversity of religions is only the permissive will of God. He stressed this and told us: you can say this, too, that the diversity of religions is the permissive will of God.

I tried to go more deeply into the question, at least by quoting the sentence as it reads in the document. The sentence says that as God wills the diversity of sexes, color, race and language, so God wills the diversity of religions. There is an evident comparison between the diversity of religions and the diversity of sexes.

I mentioned this point to the Holy Father, and he acknowledged that, with this direct comparison, the sentence can be understood erroneously. I stressed in my response to him that the diversity of sexes is not the permissive will of God but is positively willed by God. And the Holy Father acknowledged this and agreed with me that the diversity of the sexes is not a matter of God’s permissive will.

But when we mention both of these phrases in the same sentence, then the diversity of religions is interpreted as positively willed by God, like the diversity of sexes. The sentence therefore leads to doubt and erroneous interpretations, and so it was my desire, and my request that the Holy Father rectify this. But he said to us bishops: you can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God. [So no, there will not be a formal rectification at all.]

For readers who may not be familiar with the distinction between the permissive and positive will of God, can you give some examples of other things that God allows through his permissive will?
Yes, permissive will means that God allows certain things. God allowed or permitted Adam’s sin and all its consequences; and even when we personally sin, in some sense God permits this or tolerates this. But God does not positively will our sin. He permits it in view of the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, and because he does not want to destroy our freedom. This is the meaning of the permissive will of God.

Many people, including victims of sexual abuse who had come to Rome for the February 25-27 Vatican summit on the protection of minors in the Church, were disappointed with the meeting for what they considered its lack of concrete action. Your Excellency, what do you believe would be the most effective way to solve the problem of sexual abuse and cover-up in the Church?
When there is a huge problem — which the abuse of children, minors and adult subordinates by the clergy certainly is — we always have to go to the deepest root, as every good doctor and physician does.

We cannot resolve a sickness only by making a superficial diagnosis. A deep and integral diagnosis is needed. And in my opinion, this was not done at the summit, because one of the evident, observable and deepest roots of the sexual abuse of minors is homosexuality among the clergy. Of course, I will not say that all homosexuals are necessarily abusing children. This would be unjust and untrue.

But we are speaking about clerical abuse in the Church, and so we have to focus on this illness. It has been proven that more than 80 percent of victims were post-pubescent males. It is therefore evident that the nature of the majority of this abuse involved homosexual acts. We have to stress that this is one of the main roots.

The other main root of the abuse crisis is the relativism on moral teaching which began after the Second Vatican Council. Since then, we have been living in a deep crisis of doctrinal relativism, not only of dogmatics but also of morals — the moral law of God.
- Morals were not taught clearly in seminaries over the past 50 years;
- it was often not clearly taught in Seminaries and Theological faculties that a sin against the sixth commandment is a grave sin.

Subjectively there may be mitigating circumstances, but objectively it is a grave sin.
- Every sexual act outside a valid matrimony is against the will of God.
- It offends God and is a serious sin, a mortal sin. This teaching was so relativized. And this is one of the other deep roots. We have to stress this.
- In my opinion, this was not stressed at the summit: the relativism of moral teaching, specifically on the sixth commandment.

Another deep cause is the lack of a true, serious and authentic formation of seminarians.
- There has been a lack of asceticism in the life and formation of seminarians.
- It has been proven by two thousand years, and by human nature, that without physical asceticism like fasting, praying, and even other forms of corporal mortifications, it is impossible to live a constant life in virtue without mortal sin.
- Due to the deep wound of original sin and the concupiscence still at work in every human being, we need corporal mortification.

St. Paul says: “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:14)
- We can paraphrase these words, saying: do not nurture your flesh too much or concupiscence will dominate you.
- And this is exactly what often happened in seminaries. Seminarians and priests nurtured the flesh through a comfortable life without asceticism, without fasting and other bodily and spiritual mortifications.

But to me, the deepest cause of the clerical sex abuse crisis is the lack of a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- When a seminarian or a priest does not have a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, in constant fidelity to a life of prayer and really enjoying a personal love for Jesus, he is easy prey for the temptations of the flesh and other vices.
- Furthermore, when you have a deep and personal love of Christ, you cannot deliberately commit a horrendous sin. Occasionally, because of the weakness of human nature, a priest or seminarian could commit a mortal sin against purity. But in the same moment, he is deeply repentant and decides to avoid the next sin at any cost. This is a manifestation of a true love of Christ.

But it is for me completely excluded that a person who deeply loves Christ can sexually abuse minors. It is for me impossible. To my opinion, a deep love of Christ excludes this.

These are the main roots: homosexuality among the clergy, relativism of doctrine, a lack of ascesis and above all the absences of a deep and true love for Christ. And this was not stressed in the summit. Therefore, I consider the summit to be a failure, as a doctor fails to cure an illness when he fails to address its causes. This problem will break out again.

You mentioned the statistic that 80 percent of victims were post-pubescent males. How do you respond to Cardinal Blase Cupich and others who point to the John Jay report and other studies as evidence there is no causal relationship between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse?
It’s a denial of reality. How can I speak with a man who denies reality? This is only explainable as an ideological position.

What concrete measures do you believe the summit should have taken to offer real solutions to the problem of clerical sexual abuse?
The summit should have issued concrete canonical norms, but it didn’t, and therefore I think the summit was a failure.
- It was a beautiful clerical show, it was a show of clericalism — all the clerics with their titles came from all over the world. And many beautiful words — very emotional words — were spoken.
- But these deep roots were not addressed, and concrete and incisive norms were not given.

To my mind, very precise, compelling and incisive norms should be given. The first canonical norm I would propose is this: that people with homosexual inclinations should categorically not be accepted in seminaries. And if they are discovered, of course with respect and love, they must be dismissed from the seminary and helped to be healed and to live as a good Christian layman.
- Currently the norms only say that those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be admitted to seminary, but for me this is not sufficient. What does “deep-seated” mean? If an adult man comes to the seminary and feels homosexual attraction, even if it is not yet deep-seated, it is still a homosexual attraction. And in itself it is already a condition that, in some circumstances — such as in the exclusively male atmosphere of a seminary — could develop into a deeper or more aggressive tendency.

And when he becomes a priest, he will be with seminarians, with young altar boys and so on. And so while perhaps these tendencies were not deep-seated earlier, they can become deeper in certain circumstances.

It is for me in some way disingenuous. Let’s say that a young man is not an aggressive homosexual. He does not take pleasure in having homosexual tendencies, and they are not so deeply rooted.
- But when he acknowledges that he has these tendencies, or when it is proven by exterior acts or signs that he has homosexual tendencies, even if they are not deep-seated, he should be charitably sent away from the seminary.
- And this should be a canonical norm: that someone who acknowledges that he has homosexual tendencies, even not deep-seated, cannot be received into another seminary and cannot be ordained.

Homosexual tendencies are a kind of a personality disorder trait and a distorted perception of reality, since this signifies a desiring an object of pleasure against the natural order of the sexes. Magisterial documents call it an “objective” disorder. - How can you ordain a man with a disorder in his personality or in his psychosomatic makeup? Of course, there are other psychological disorders as well.
- We do not ordain men with certain psychological disorders, even when they are not so deep. It would harm the priesthood.

You mentioned exterior signs. In the canonical norm you propose, what sort of exterior signs do you have in mind?
If he were to have an exclusive and ostentatious friendship with a man, it would already be an exterior sign. Or if he looks at male pornography on the internet, this would be another sign. These are exterior, verifiable signs.
- Once these are discovered, such a seminarian should be forever excluded from ordination.
- Yes, he can be healed, but the seminary is not a sanitarium for healing people with psychological disorders or homosexual tendencies. This is naïve, and it will harm the priesthood and the person.
- It would be better for such a person to be a good Christian in the world and save his soul, and not to be a priest.
- We can and should help him, or course. But we have to be willing to say to him: you will not be ordained, it is for the salvation of your soul. Be a good Christian in the world.

Better to have fewer priests but healthy, psychologically healthy men. And deep lovers of Christ, deeply spiritual men. It would be better for the entire Church.
- Better to leave some parishes without a priest and some dioceses without a bishop for several years than to ordain a man who has a disorder, either homosexual or other personality disorders.

What other concrete norms do you believe the Vatican sex abuse summit should have issued?
- In a case when a priest or a bishop commits sexual abuse, even one case, he has to be dismissed from the clerical state.
- There should be “zero-tolerance” in this case, and it should be established in Canon Law. There should be no exception.

Of course, the fact of the sexual abuse must be proven and verified by a true canonical process, but when it is, he has to be dismissed from the clerical state.

These two norms (the categorical non-admittance to the seminary and to ordination of men with homosexual tendencies, and the dismissal from the clerical state), in my view, should have been explicitly mentioned in the summit, if it is to have a concrete impact. Otherwise it was a beautiful meeting, but more or less a clerical show with sentimental words and statements.

Should a priest who has abused minors receive any money from the Church?
I think yes. We have to be merciful and should not be cruel. We must always still be human and Christian, and I think the Church should at least temporarily give these clerics who are dismissed financial help – maybe for the first two years.

Prior to the summit, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller issued an open letter calling on the bishops attending the summit to end their silence on the moral corruption in the Church and to uphold divine and natural law. How much do you think their open letter was listened to and heeded at the meeting?
I think the letter of the two cardinals was meritorious and very timely, and history will regard it as a truly positive contribution in this very delicate crisis of abuse on the universal level of the Church. It was a beautiful witness, and I believe this letter honored the College of Cardinals. [If only other cardinals had promptly signed up!]

But I think it was heard more by the simple people than by the clerics: again, clericalism. Some have suggested that the Vatican sex abuse summit was the greatest example of clericalism. They failed to listen to the voices of the lay people. The voice of the laity was not heard sufficiently by clerics. Is this not clericalism?

What do you believe explains the obvious and repeated refusal to address the issue of homosexuality at the summit? Some have argued it might be due to a desire to protect homosexual networks within the hierarchy. Others have suggested it comes from bishops being afraid to say anything negative about homosexuality for fear of repercussions from the State.
I think that the first argument does not have considerable weight in the context of the summit. There are homosexual groups, but in this summit it was not decisive, in my opinion.

The second argument which you mentioned does have some weight but was not decisive. Fear on the part of bishops to confront the world is a factor; the fear of the world. Even though they may personally be against homosexuality, they fear a confrontation with the world. Clerical cowardice: again, clericalism.

But the deepest reason, in my opinion, is that there are mighty clerical clans among bishops and cardinals who want to promote and change in the Church the divine moral law on the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and of the homosexual lifestyle.
- They want to make homosexuality acceptable as a legitimate variant of sexual life.
- In my view, this is the deepest and perhaps the decisive reason why they were silent and failed to address this.

In October a Synod on the Amazon will be held at the Vatican. Your Excellency, you lived in Brazil for a time and are familiar with the region. It’s been said there is a shortage of priests in the Amazon, which some say justifies introducing viri probati. Is it true that such a sacramental crisis and shortage of priests exist?
Well, there is a shortage of priests in Amazonia, but there is also a shortage elsewhere. There is an increasing shortage of priests in Europe.

But the shortage of priests is only an obvious pretext to abolish practically (not theoretically) celibacy in the Latin Church. This has been the aim since Luther. Among the enemies of the Church and sects, the first step is always to abolish celibacy. Priestly celibacy is the last stronghold to abolish in the Church. The sacramental life is only the pretext for doing so.

In my own experience in the Soviet Union, we had several years go by with no Holy Mass. And we survived strong in faith. The faith was lived in the domestic Church which is the family. The faith was handed on through the Catechism. We prayed. We made spiritual communions, through which we received many graces. When suddenly a priest came after one or two years, it was really a feast, and we were so happy, and we sacramentally confessed, and God guided us. So I have had personal experience of this in my life, in the Soviet Union.

I also lived and worked in Brazil for 7 years.
- And I know the Brazilians. They are very pious people, simple people. They would never think up married clergy.
- No, this is an idea put into their heads not by indigenous peoples but by white people, by priests who themselves are not living a deep apostolic and sacrificial life.

Without the true sacrificial life of an apostle you cannot build up the Church. Jesus Christ gave us the example of the sacrificial offering of himself, as did the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Saints, the Missionaries. This built up the Church with lasting spiritual fruits for entire generations.

The shortage of priests in the Amazon is for me an example of the contrary: perhaps priests lack a deeply committed and sacrificial life in the spirit of Jesus and the Apostles and the Saints. They therefore seek human substitutes.
- Indigenous married clergy will not lead to a deepening and growth in the Amazonian Church.
- Other problems will surely arise with the advent of married clergy in the indigenous culture of the Amazon and in other parts of the world of the Latin Rite.

What is most needed is to deepen the roots of the faith and to strengthen the domestic church in the Amazon.
- We need to begin a crusade in the Amazon among these indigenous families, among Christian Catholics, for vocations – imploring God for vocations to the celibate priesthood, and they will come.
- Our Lord said to “pray,” so this lack is a sign that we are not praying enough. And people will be tempted to pray even less because men are filling their heads with the promise that in October they will receive the possibility of having married priests.
- So they no longer pray for their sons to be priests like Jesus, who was celibate. And Jesus is the model for all cultures.

Even one good indigenous celibate priest, a spiritual man, could transform tribes, as the saints did.
- St. John Marie Vianney transformed almost all of France.
- Padre Pio is another example.
- I am not saying that we must expect this standard of holiness but am offering them as examples of the supernatural fruitfulness that can come through one holy priest.
- Even a simple, deep spiritual man who is dedicated to Jesus and to souls in celibacy, an indigenous priest from Amazonia, will surely build up the Church so much there, and awaken new vocations by his example.

This has been the Church’s method since the time of the Apostles. And this method has been tried and proven through 2000 years of the Church’s missionary experience. And this will be true until Christ comes. There is no other way. Adapting to purely humanistic, naturalistic approaches will not enrich the Amazonian Church. We have 2000 years of history to prove this.

I repeat: Brazilian people are deeply aware of the sacredness of the priesthood.
- This is what the Amazonian Synod should do: deepen the awareness of the sacredness of the celibate priesthood.
- The Church has such beautiful examples of missionaries. It should deepen and strengthen the domestic Church, i.e. family life.
- And the synod should start Eucharistic adoration and prayer campaigns for priests and new priestly vocations.
- Without the sacrifice of love, without prayer, we will not build up a local Church. With married clergy, no.

I am not speaking against the married clergy in the Orthodox Churches or Eastern Catholic Churches. I am speaking of the Latin tradition in America and Europe. We have to keep this treasure without weakening it though the introduction of a married clergy, because it has been proven by so much fruitfulness when we look at it from a comprehensive point of view.

Do you believe it’s important for the Cardinals to speak up about the crisis in the Church, and if so what form do you believe this should take?
Yes, it’s very timely and very necessary because the confusion is only increasing.

I think the cardinals should address the issue of the Abu Dhabi document and the phrase on the diversity of religions, because this statement leads ultimately to a denial of the truth of the unique and obligatory character of the Faith in Christ, which is commanded by Divine Revelation.
- In my view, the Abu Dhabi statement is the most dangerous from the doctrinal point of view. The cardinals ought respectfully to ask the Holy Father to correct this phrase officially.

I believe it would also be very timely and needed for cardinals or bishops to issue a kind of profession of faith, of truths, while also rejecting the most widespread errors of our time.
- In my view, they should make a very specific, enumerated profession of truths, saying for example: “I hold firmly that …” followed by the refutation of an error.
- I believe such a profession should include all of the main dangerous errors which are spreading through the life of the Church in our day. [Something more wide-ranging and specific than Cardinal Mueller's recent Manifesto of Faith, which was an admirable initiative on his part, as well as something that had to be expected from a recent Prefect of the doctrine of the faith, who had to live in tacit approval (despite some occasional but far from frontal objections) of what he could later openly protest once he was no longer in the Curia.]

A profession reaffirming the faith but also refuting errors?
Yes, in the same sentence.
- Such a text should be published and widely disseminated to priests and bishops, perhaps asking them to make a public profession with this text in parishes and cathedrals.
- There would be no novelties. It would only state what the Church has always professed.

But of course, Jorge Bergoglio reflexively shoots from the lip, irrepressibly and often irresponsibly...
Read the latest outrageous example of this pope being thoughtless and careless with his words (and being even more outrageous, if he really means them)!

Francis besmirches our Spotless Mother
and Bride of Christ - the Holy Catholic Church

by 'New Catholic'

March 8, 2019

The technique is old: the criminal accuses the innocent in order to create the impression that all are to blame. "In this they are accusing the Church of something for which their own conscience plainly reproaches them," as Saint Pius X warned about the Modernists in Pascendi.

In a meeting with the clergy of Rome in the Lateran Basilica yesterday, the Bishop of the City, Francis, had the temerity to say this while discussing the abuse crisis, of which he is surely a protagonist:

“It [God?] is saving us from hypocrisy, from the spirituality of appearances. He is blowing his Spirit to restore beauty to his Bride, surprised in flagrant adultery.” ("Ci sta salvando dall’ipocrisia, dalla spiritualità delle apparenze. Egli sta soffiando il suo Spirito per ridare bellezza alla sua Sposa, sorpresa in flagrante adulterio.")

No, the Church is spotless and without wrinkle, as Saint Paul explained to the Ephesians:

: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.

- The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, our Holy Mother Church, is spotless, without wrinkle and without blemish.
- She is holy, immaculate, absolutely untouched in her purity washed by the Blood of the Lamb by the unfaithfulness of the laity and of the clergy, in particular of the careless popes of the past few decades, who let the hierarchy be taken by a volcanic wave of immorality and debauchery.

She remains spotless! Those who besmirch her accusing her of adultery when they are the adulterers themselves -- may Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, who calls her "my sister, my love, my dove, my Undefiled," punish them mightily for their horrid defamation!

How can this pope himself mistake the Church, which is the Spouse of Christ, for the sinners who make up the human component of the institution? Christ established the Church - therefore, a divine institution to begin with - precisely to prolong his presence, example and teachings for all men to the end of time, until he comes again to judge all of us.

Jorge Bergoglio makes it worse because with his penchant for colorful expressions, he more or less says the Church has been caught in flagrante delicto, which means literally, in the act of committing an offense, but commonly used to specifically mean "while engaged in sexual activity, often, in illicit or perverse sexual activity".

More recent Bergoglio-speak in which he contradicts himself. One had thought with his Feb. 28 homilette that God's mercy is not infinite, that he was 're-Christianizing' his notion of mercy, but that was apparently a momentary aberration...

Francis versus Francis:
Another day in Casa Santa Marta

by Chris Ferrara

March 7, 2019

Pope Francis on February 28:

“Don’t say: ‘God’s compassion is great, he’ll forgive me my many sins’, and so I continue doing what I want. Regarding this, the advice of the father or grandfather is: ‘Don’t wait to convert yourself to the Lord, don’t postpone it from day to day because the anger of the Lord will suddenly burst forth’…

Pope Francis on March 6:

‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.’ These words are not at all a threat; on the contrary, they are a happy proclamation, a message of joy. Jesus doesn’t want to push people to convert by sowing fear of God’s impending judgment or the sense of guilt for the evil committed. Jesus doesn’t proselytize: He simply proclaims.

First of all, the notion that “Jesus doesn’t proselytize” is among the most ridiculous of this Pope’s theological bloopers. If the statement “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk 16:16) is not proselytizing, then nothing is. To proselytize means “to induce someone to convert to one’s faith” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). The warning by God Incarnate that He will condemn for all eternity those who refuse to be baptized and to believe in Him would appear to be a fairly substantial inducement to conversion.

At any rate, which is it?
(1) Stop sinning and convert now, lest the anger of the Lord come upon you suddenly
or, only a week later,
(2) the Lord does not expect us to convert now for fear of His judgment, and His call to repent and believe because to say the Kingdom of God is at hand is “not at all a threat.”

Answer: Either or both depending upon the rhetorical needs of the moment. For the art of strategic self-contradiction has characterized the entire ecclesiastical career of the man from Argentina.

I am reminded — as I have been so often — of the dire prognostication at Rorate Caeli concerning this pontificate at its very outset, at the time I was expressing unqualified optimism. To quote Rorate:

“Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.”

[The statements came from an Argentine Catholic who wrote Rorate caeli about his great 'reservations' regarding the newly-elected pope almost right after the 'Habemus papam' on March 13, 2013.]

That’s putting it rather mildly, concerning the deluge of plainly heterodox pronouncements from Francis over the past six years. Above all, the outrageous declaration in Amoris Laetitia (¶ 303) that conscience can rightly tell divorced and “remarried” people that while “a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel” it can constitute “what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God” and “that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”

God Himself is asking divorced and “remarried” people to continue living in adultery! For now. That is what Francis really believes and what he has falsely denominated “authentic Magisterium.” It can hardly be squared with his pious declaration on February 28 that one ought to convert and cease sinning lest he fall unexpectedly into the hands of an angry God.

But such is the purpose of strategic inconsistency, the modus operandi of Modernism. To quote Pope Saint Pius X on this score, under the heading “The Methods of the Modernists”:

“In [their] writings and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate now one doctrine now another so that one would be disposed to regard them as vague and doubtful…. Hence in their books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist. When they write history they make no mention of the divinity of Christ, but when they are in the pulpit they profess it clearly; again, when they write history they pay no heed to the Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechise the people, they cite them respectfully.”

It ought to be obvious to any reasonable observer at this point that in Francis we have a Modernist Pope. Worse, a Modernist who, unlike those assessed by Pius X, does not even bother to present a consistently orthodox camouflage for his liberalizing program but rather employs only an occasional orthodox utterance to throw his justified critics off-scent of the trail he follows relentlessly.

If this is not the Pope who would reign during the height of the calamity predicted by the Third Secret, I would hate to contemplate who would be.

I don't believe any modern pope before Jorge Bergoglio was ever careless and thoughtless about the words he said or wrote. The very awareness of being pope and therefore, responsible for confirming his brothers in the faith handed down through two millennia, thereby being a symbol of the unity of all Catholics in the 'one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church', kept any of them from saying anything that would be a breach of that fundamental duty.

But not Jorge Bergoglio, no! As the now-increasingly-exposed-to-be-fraudulent Fr. Rosica told us all - and never denied by the Vatican in any way, shape or form:

Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is “free from disordered attachments.”

Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual
rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture

I am thinking that, for once, Rosica didn't plagiarize that from anyone, unless it was written out or dictated to him by some unregenerate Bergogliac like Fr. Spadaro or Andrea Tornielli who used a willing fallguy mouthpiece to say what even they wouldn't publicly dare say at this point!

BTW, a great terse comment from Fr Z who got a lot of flak for his initial benefit-of-the-doubt for the pope for that diversity thing in the Abu Dhabi statement - he said "the only way that it could be understood in a Catholic sense without it being heretical" was to consider that God's will can either be active or permissive (i.e., he allows evil things to happen as one of the consequences of Original Sin, but man can and ought to use his free will to decide against evil, which a 'diversity of religions' is). Reacting to Bishop Schneider's account of the pope's answer, Fr Z wrote:

That doesn’t change the text of that dreadful statement, but it brings a little more clarity to the situation.
Of course, what else was Francis supposed to say? The only way out of that quicksand was the rope of “permissive will”.

Yet another new 'oddity' from our increasingly strange pope. There's really nothing objectionable about the anecdote itself. Unless you recoil a bit at the image evoked
by the last line of the account. My objection is that it showed a total insensitivity on the part of the pope to express such enthusiasm for a'naked-boy Christ' icon
at a time when the Church is grappling - not very well - with the devastating consequences of too many priests having been obsessed with naked boys (pre- and post-
pubescent)! Do you think I am quibbling to make a small issue of this?

00Friday, March 8, 2019 11:13 PM

How we redefine the good
to justify our sins

Adapted by

from a chapter in 'GRACE AND TRUTH'
March 8, 2019

I remember a political debate where participants were asked, “Who is your favorite philosopher?”

Mostly their answers were ones you’d expect — Aristotle, Plato and so on. But one piously said that his favorite philosopher was Jesus. Another replied with even greater rectitude that Jesus was not a philosopher: Jesus is not a lover of wisdom, but Wisdom itself. He is the Truth that has ordered the universe.

Philosophy is a natural activity of the mind — the discerning of the basic hierarchy of principles by which we deduce what truth is. Theology, however, moves beyond philosophy by considering the source of truth itself.

When Our Lord was twelve years old, the rabbis in the temple marveled at His wisdom. I am sure that Our Lady and St. Joseph had a very good little domestic school going in Nazareth, but His wisdom did not come from them. In His human nature, He did have to learn natural things; for instance, He had to be taught the grammar of the Scriptures that He had given the world. But this magnificent paradox does not contradict His divine nature, which is not merely intelligent, but is the source of all intelligence.

The human being has a free will to choose good or evil. But after having plotted evil, when a person begins to commit the act itself, it begins to contradict the human dignity and the conscience in a more poignant way. This is why the most evil people in the world have had to redefine evil, pretending that it was good. Or, when that hasn’t worked, they have had to drug themselves, either with intoxicating language — slurs and euphemisms and so on — or with chemical drugs.

If we cooperate with evil, if we plot to do evil, and then if we commit ourselves to evil, the human spirit has to deny that what it is doing is evil. Evil always calls itself good; every vice parades itself as a form of liberation. [What's the first and most egregious current example in the Church that comes to your mind when reading those lines?]

In the nineteenth century there was a remarkable character named Fr. Theobald Mathew, an Irish Capuchin who dedicated his life to the temperance movement. There are those today who speak patronizingly of such work, but he was not a puritanical teetotaler, and drunkenness truly was a social crisis at that time.

He had a higher vision, a vision of the human soul as a reflection of the glory of God. And it was so wonderful to him that he wanted people to understand that they were losing sight of something far more splendid than what alcohol or drugs could give.

He was a virtual miracle worker, giving the temperance pledge to hundreds of thousands of Irish and, on one occasion, to a multitude of a hundred thousand Scotsmen. He came to the United States and visited at the White House, where he presented his work to the admiration of President Zachary Taylor. The vice president at the time, who later became President Millard Fillmore, received him at City Hall in New York, and it is said that he even took the pledge.

What Fr. Mathew faced in his day was no different from the drug culture we face today. Any sociologist can come up with an explanation for why alcohol was such a problem in the nineteenth century: The breakdown of social institutions, economic oppression, the suppression of religion, political tyranny, or any number of other things drove people to seek some kind of escape.

But this good priest told the people that God gives us not an escape but an “inscape” — a vision of the good that challenges every attempt to contradict that good by doing evil.

Our Lord gives us His Body and His Blood in the Holy Eucharist. When the world denies the majestic reality of the Holy Eucharist, it will always try to drink itself into oblivion or drug itself out of reality.

Any attempt to redefine the Blessed Sacrament as something less than the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the presentation on the altar of His True Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is an embarkation upon a kind of semi-life.

Why do people even consider doing evil? Well, it’s in the blood — not the Blood of Christ, but human nature. It’s Original Sin. When we appropriate that Original Sin in the form of explicit acts against the good, that’s what we call a sin.

Our Lord told a parable about the owner of a vineyard who left tenants in charge of the land. The proprietor sent one man to visit the vineyard and collect the rents, and that man was beaten. Another went to the vineyard, and he was gravely wounded. And then finally he said, “Surely, they will not touch my son.” He sent his son in, and they killed him.

Our Lord is giving us an allegory for sin.
- The beating of the first servant is venial sin, a lighter kind of offense against the good that can easily be remedied through an Act of Contrition. It does not even require a sacramental Confession, though it is recommended.
- But a venial sin is not to be dismissed lightly, because it lays the groundwork for the more direct affront against God represented by the wounding of the other servant, which represents habitual sin.

The ache in the soul that takes away our desire for the good forms a habit of behavior. These habits lead to the gravest offense of all: killing of the Son Himself.
- This is mortal sin, and every mortal sin is an act of violence against the Lord of Life. St. John Vianney said that when we confess our sins, we take the nails out of Jesus.

Charles Darwin, in his expedition to the Galapagos Islands, noted with great insight how the wildlife seemed unperturbed by the arrival of his ship or the men on it. The reason was clear: They had never seen humans before, and thus had no reason to feel threatened by them. They were not potential hunters or collectors, but just like the birds in the air and the beasts of the field.

But, he observed, the seals jumped off the rocks and swam away at the ship’s approach, for the seals alone of all the species on that island had a long experience of being hunted by humans.

The sons of Adam were like those seals. We have had a long experience — that is, all of human history — to observe and to learn the various ways in which people have offended God by offending against men and women, and this has created a deep wound in the human heart.
- If we are not careful, it can rust into cynicism, which denies the possibility of holiness and eternal joy. Cynicism cooperates with evil.

One of the most admirable writers in the English language was Jonathan Swift. He lived something of a misplaced life as a non-Celt living in Ireland and the dean of the Protestant cathedral of a Catholic country. But he was a man of deep natural virtue. He saw injustice all around him, and he marshaled his literary talent to do what he could to publicize these accounts. To do this, he unleashed his acidic tongue in the form of biting satire.

A lot of people continue to think that Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a children’s book. It is anything but! A child can enjoy it, of course, but it was written for the minds and hearts of the most sophisticated people of his day.

He aimed his satirical barbs at the government officials and the representatives of the ancient institutions of his culture who had fallen into the dismal self-parody of worshipping themselves and their class instead of worshipping the God Who gave them life and power and prosperity.

He reserved particular scorn for the intellectuals who used their intelligence for no useful purpose at all. In the book, they live on a flying island, which they can never quite get to settle down on solid ground.

He satirizes the politicians as jumping through hoops or over strings just to get a particular kind of colored ribbon. Swift laid before the reader how easy it is for us, deprived of the vision of God, to lapse into a kind of innocent rejection of our own dignity. Once we have done that, we become easy prey for the liar. The prince of lies knows that once we have lost the vision of higher things, we can be persuaded to participate in the lower things.

Jonathan Swift, as I said, was a man of natural virtue, to a remarkable degree. What he did lack were the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love to a degree that could overcome bitterness and cynicism. He practically dissolved in his frustration and indignation at the injustices of his day. On his tomb in the cathedral in Dublin is this epitaph: “Where savage indignation no longer tears his heart apart.”

- Our Lord doesn’t want us to deny that kind of bittersweet indignation, but He also doesn’t want our hearts to be torn apart by cynicism.
- The goodness of the human soul can discern good from evil, but it will be eternally frustrated if it doesn’t have access to the grace and truth of Christ, which can release the good and conquer the evil.

It is highly significant that Our Lord reveals Himself as an eternal light shining in the darkness. Our Lord, when He wanted us to see His divine mercy, showed it in a private revelation to St. Faustina with lights coming out of Him. The Light that made the world can cancel out the propensity to evil that is in every human heart.

Instead of surrendering to indignation and dying with a sense of futility, it is far better to follow the example of the saints. In particular, we could take as our model that saint whose very name means “fire”: Ignatius Loyola. He prayed in his Spiritual Exercises, and the Church has taken up his prayer ever since.

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I am and have You have given to me. And I give all back to You to be disposed of according to Your good pleasure. Give me only the comfort of Your presence and the joy of Your love, and with these, I shall be more than rich and shall desire nothing more.

[It happens to be the first post-Communion prayer I say these days, thanks to St. Edmund Campion's Missal which features it along with other pre- and post-Communion prayers from the saints.]
00Saturday, March 9, 2019 8:59 AM

Thank God they seemed to have shot down that sacrilegious proposal by a Jesuit theologian in his 80s who nonetheless is said to have written many books including one
on the theology of the Eucharist! It took the Vatican quite a few days to do it but they did it, hooray! Were there spirited debates over it in Casa Santa Marta involving
Jesuits Bergoglio and Spadaro and their theologians from the various pontifical universities to come to a decision?... I am glad I decided not to put this story on the front
burner right away when it first broke.

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2019 (CNA)- Vatican officials have said there are no plans to discuss changing the matter of the Eucharist during an upcoming synod for the pan-Amazonian region of South America.

The possibility of changing the kind of bread allowed to be used in the celebration of the Eucharist does “not appear in the Preparatory Document for the Special Assembly next October and therefore is not a subject of the next Synod,” Bishop Fabio Fabene, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, told CNA Friday.[Should we take the word of the Synod Secretariat for that? Nothing stopped them or their boss, PF, from inserting whatever they/he wanted on the agenda of the past three synods nor in their final documents. Don't forget AL was the pope's formal and definitive final word on the 'family synods', and who's to say that his post-synodal exhortation for the 'youth synod' will not turn out to be a Laetitia amoris prohibiti (The joy of forbidden love) - and let a Latinist please correct me if my translation is wrong!]

The clarification comes after a Brazilian Jesuit theologian said last month that the October synod on the Amazon could consider the substitution of wheat bread in the eucharistic species with a host made from yuca – a root plant common in the Amazon. [Yuca is an archaic word for what is more commonly known as cassava, from which tapioca is made. It is different from the cactus-like yucca plant. Unleavened cassava-bread is common in Latin America, and is usually crisp like a cracker.]

The exclusive use of bread made from wheat and wine from grapes for celebrating Mass is explicitly regulated by the Church, with any other material defined as invalid matter for the sacrament.

Fr. Francisco Taborda, SJ, said Feb. 28 that a fundamental shift in the matter of the Eucharist was a likely topic to be addressed during the special session of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region in October.

Speaking to Crux, Taborda suggested that because of the humidity in the Amazon at different times of the year, wheat bread sometimes becomes overly moist – something he suggested could justify a radical departure in sacramental teaching and disciple.

"If bread turns too moist, it’s not bread, and if it’s not bread, it’s not the Eucharist,” he said. “In the Amazon, bread is made out of yuca.”

[And no one from Crux thought to dispute him on this? Hosts from wheat have been used throughout the Americas since the Spaniards brought the faith to that continent in the 16th century, and in the even hotter Asian and African tropics. Keeping them dry in properly closed containers was obviously never a problem. Who ever heard of hosts getting too moist because of the climate? They are kept in the tabernacle in a closed ciborium until they have to be distributed, and are never left out in the open. Even the recipe books for cassava bread say that although insects are not interested in it, it must be stored in a tightly sealed container so it does not get exposed to moisture and air.]

Taborda said that the decision to substitute the essential matter of Eucharistic consecration should be left to local bishops. [This calls to mind Mons. Schneider's recent remarks about the faith of Brazilian Catholics who, on their own, would never have thought about having married priests until the notion was introduced to them. I bet few Latin American bishops - or none at all - ever even thought of yuca hosts until Taborda brought it up unbidden.]

Fabene told CNA that “the changing of the Eucharistic matter is the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” [Really? It is in the CDF's competence now to decide to change the matter of the Eucharist??? Can you believe the fundamental ignorance of that statement by the #2 man in Bergoglio's synod secretariat?]

The 80 year-old Taborda is an emeritus professor of theology at the Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy and Theology (FAJE) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he taught for many years. He has written several books, including on the theology of the sacraments.

Taborda spoke to Crux while attending a seminar entitled “Toward the Special Synod for the Amazon: Regional and universal dimensions,” and held in Rome Feb. 25-27.

While the study session was organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a Synod spokesman told CNA that Taborda’s statements “are exclusively personal,” and do not represent official plans.

The teaching of the Church on the essential matter for the consecration of the Eucharist is closely regulated. Canon 924 §2 of the Code of Canon Law states that the bread “must be only wheat.” Similarly, the wine used must be natural and made from grapes and mixed only with water.

Fr. Mark Morozowich is the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, an ecclesiastical faculty with special authority from the Vatican to teach theology.

Morozowich explained to CNA the principles that govern “enculturation,” or deference to local circumstances, within the Mass.

“The Church has always enculturated the liturgy,” he said. “This is something we’ve done through the centuries in every single place from the very beginning.”

Starting with the first ministry of the apostles, he said, “the Church lived Jesus Christ, proclaimed his cross, death, and resurrection. The Church proclaimed Jesus Christ being present body and soul in the elements of the Eucharist.”

He said that there have been, and continue to be, some regional differences in the matter used in the celebration of the Eucharist, but those differences are limited by the Church’s doctrinal teaching.

“Classically, we can look at the very clear acceptance of the Byzantine rite having a leavened bread for its Eucharist, whereas the Roman Church has an unleavened bread for its Eucharist.”

“Both are different but yet both are valid matter according to their own ritual tradition,” Morozowich said. “This is something that has been going on for two thousand years.”

“Some people talk about the use of something else besides wheat flour or the use of something besides wine in the Eucharist; one important part of this is certainly about [remembering] what we are expressing in this prayer, but there’s a continuity to the sacrifice of Christ when he was on this Earth. That basic principle needs to be reflected in all these discussions.”

The Mass is not, Morozowich said, about enacting an exact historical recreation of the last supper, “but at the same time the Church has said there are some core elements of this reality in the way the [Catholic] community has celebrated throughout its history.”

“The Church needs to be very cautious with what are the latest ‘fads’ if you will,” he said. “The Church is very concerned to present the culture and the prayers in a way that is telling and faithful to the way they have been lived through the centuries.”

Even within the differences between the Latin and Byzantine rites, he said, there is an essential continuity of Eucharistic matter.

“Leavened or unleavened, the Church has always used wheat bread. Whether it is mixed with hot or cold water, or mixed once or twice, the Church has always used wine,” Morozowich said.

“These are essential, so that as the believer celebrates the Eucharist and reflects on the institution of that Eucharist, e has a sense of transcending time and a sense of the True Presence that is mediated through these specific elements.”

Of course, Taborda's proposal about what is not a minor matter at all provoked consternated reactions right away which I will post for the record.

Changing the matter of the Eucharist
would create a ‘new religion’, experts say

ROME, March 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Experts including Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider are sounding the alarm over a shocking proposal at the Vatican to consider changing the matter of the Eucharist.

Such a move, critics warn, would invalidate the Sacrament and create, in effect, a “new religion.”

Jesuit theologian Father Francisco Taborda last week raised the possibility that the upcoming Amazonian Synod scheduled for next October might consider changing the matter of the Eucharist, allowing the use of bread made with a South American root called yuca rather than wheaten bread.

Fr. Taborda told Crux on Feb. 28 that climate issues and inculturation warrant the change. Intense humidity during the Amazonian rainy season turns wheaten hosts into a pasty mush, he said, adding that “in the Amazon, bread is made out of yuca,” a shrub native to South America from which tapioca is derived.

Taborda, a professor of theology at the Jesuit university in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was a featured speaker at a study seminar held at the Vatican on Feb. 25-27, in preparation for the October synod on “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.”

Key figures at the two-day seminar included Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a principal proponent of married priests in the Latin Rite. Also in attendance were presidents of Pan-Amazonian bishops conferences and other “prelates and experts” from Amazonia and other geographical regions.

While Fr. Taborda acknowledged that a change to the matter of the Eucharist is a “very complex question,” he said he believes it should be decided by local bishops.

LifeSite approached a number of prominent Catholic theologians and ecclesiastics to ask them if such a change is even conceivable. They replied unanimously and vehemently in the negative.

“It would be entirely improper for the Synod on the Amazon to discuss the change of the matter of the Holy Eucharist,” Cardinal Burke told LifeSite. “To depart from the use of what has always been the matter of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has the gravest of implications.”

“This is completely impossible because it is against the divine law which God has given us,” Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, responded to the proposed change. “To celebrate the Eucharist with yuca would mean introducing a kind of a new religion.”

Fr. John Saward, senior research fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, said that replacing wheaten bread with yuca would contravene the witness of Tradition, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Code of Canon Law.

And one prominent theologian, speaking on condition of anonymity, told LifeSite:

If the Pope were to press ahead with this permission on the grounds of “development of doctrine,” thereby aiding and abetting the heterodox theologians in Rome (or Brazil or Germany or wherever) who proposed it, then he will be authorizing a change of the substance of the Sacrament as determined by the action of Christ our Lord at the Last Supper. “Masses” celebrated with “yuca” bread would not be Masses; there would be no Real Presence, no Sacrifice."

We asked these authorities to explain in more detail why it is simply impossible for such a change to occur.

Cardinal Burke explained that “according to the Faith of the Roman Church, the matter of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is wheat bread and natural grape wine... If any other matter is used, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not validly confected,” he said.

The cardinal noted that “the ancient custom of the Church, according to which only wheaten bread may be used for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, was confirmed at the Council of Florence (Bull of Union with the Armenians Exsultate Deo, November 22, 1439).”

“The matter of the sacraments respects what is taught in the Holy Scriptures,” Cardinal Burke also explained. “The narrative of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist specifies that Christ took wheat bread, not barley bread or any other form of bread, at the Last Supper and changed its substance into the substance of His Body. The Greek word, artos, nearly always signifies wheaten bread.”

Bishop Athanasius Schneider agreed, saying: “Our Lord Jesus Christ took wheat bread and natural grape wine, and the Church has constantly and in the same sense taught for over two thousand years that only wheat bread is the matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist. This is an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.”

The auxiliary of Astana added that the Catechism of the Council of Trent states that the matter of the Holy Eucharist is only wheaten bread. The relevant passage reads:

There are, however, various sorts of bread, either because they consist of different materials — such as wheat, barley, pulse and other products of the earth; or because they possess different qualities — some being leavened, others altogether without leaven.

It is to be observed that, with regard to the former kinds, the words of the Savior show that the bread should be wheaten; for, according to the common usage, when we simply say bread, we are sufficiently understood to mean wheaten bread. This is also declared by a figure in the Old Testament, because the Lord commanded that the loaves of proposition, which signified this Sacrament, should be made of fine flour.

He therefore argued that to change the matter of the Eucharist from wheat bread to another kind of matter would be “tantamount to inventing a sacrament, alien to the one established by Our Lord, which has been preserved unchangingly by the bi-millennial tradition of the entire Church in East and West.”

“To celebrate the Eucharist with yuca would mean introducing a kind of a new religion,” Schneider contended. “Were they to introduce yuca as matter for the Eucharist, it would no longer be the sacrament of the Catholic religion. It would be a new Amazonian religion with Catholic decoration, but it would no longer be the sacrament of the Eucharist of the Catholic Apostolic Church.”

Bishop Schneider also pointed out that “the Council of Trent, Pope Pius XII and John Paul II taught that the Church has no power to change the substance of the sacraments.”

The Church can only change what she has established,” he said. “Yet the Church did not establish the matter of the Eucharist. It was established by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who likewise established that water be the matter of Baptism.”

LifeSite also asked the highly regarded English theologian and author, Father John Saward, to explain why it is impossible to introduce a change in the matter of the Eucharist. Fr. Saward responded:

The witness of Tradition is as clear as can be: the only valid matter of the Eucharist is wheaten bread (panis triticeus). It is the teaching of the Council of Florence and is argued for by St. Thomas in his treatise on the Eucharist in the Summa: “We believe that Christ used this kind of bread when He instituted the Eucharist” (3a q. 74, a. 3). “Without wheaten bread,” St. Thomas goes on to say, “the Sacrament is not validly confected” (sine quo non perficitur sacramentum) (3a q. 74, a. 4)... The 1983 Code is likewise unambiguous: ‘The bread must be made of wheat alone’ (can. 924/2).

Saward argued that a vague notion of “development of doctrine” cannot be invoked to justify this rupture with Sacred Tradition. The limits of such development, he said, are carefully set out by the First Vatican Council: “That meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother Church has once declared, and there must never be a deviation from that meaning on the specious ground and title of a more profound understanding.” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius on the Catholic Faith, ch. 4).

The Oxford-based theologian noted that “Blessed John Henry Newman made the same point in this way: ‘There is nothing which the Church has defined or shall define but what an Apostle, if asked, would have been fully able to answer and would have answered.’ (Letter to Flannigan). In other words, if you had asked St. Peter, ‘What is the only valid matter of the Eucharist?’ he would have replied, ‘Wheaten bread.’”

Fr. Saward also observed that, in recent times, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has insisted that celiac priests “must consecrate and consume altar breads made of wheat, even if the gluten content is reduced.”

As recently as 2017, in fact, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued guidelines for bishops on the bread and wine to be used for the Holy Eucharist.

For all these reasons, Cardinal Burke has said “it would be entirely improper for the Synod on the Amazon to discuss the change of the matter of the Holy Eucharist.”

“It would signify some doubt about the unbroken Tradition by which the Holy Eucharist continues to be the action of Christ in our midst, in fact, the highest and most perfect manifestation of His Presence with us,” he said. “To depart from the use of what has always been the matter of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has the gravest of implications.”

The cardinal added: “One wonders why, after centuries of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Amazon, now there is so much difficulty surrounding the use of hosts of wheaten bread.”

“There is something more involved than a problem of keeping the hosts fresh,” Cardinal Burke observed. “The use of some local food, which is like bread but is not the kind of bread which Our Lord used at the Last Supper, reflects a totally horizontal view of the Holy Eucharist, in which the Holy Eucharist is the action of the community which gathers instead of the action of Christ Who gathers the community.

If, as these authorities suggest, the proposal to change the matter of the Eucharist from wheaten bread to yuca represents a clear and manifest break with the Catholic Faith, the question arises: Should an orthodox bishop refuse even to participate in the Amazonian Synod were such a question on its agenda? [Thankfully, we have now been told it won't be on the agenda, even if that gratitude may well be provisional.]
00Saturday, March 9, 2019 11:22 AM
The words 'adultery' and 'homosexuality'
have vanished from this pope's teaching

Adapted from the English translation of

March 8, 2019

It is a fact, not an opinion. The words 'adultery' and 'homosexuality' have both disappeared from the Magisterium of 'the Church' at its highest level, that of the Roman pontiff.

'Adultery' disappeared completely just when it would have been most natural to say it - at the two synods on the family, and shortly afterward, in Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.”

The disappearance of the second is more recent. But also right at the moment in which it seemed impossible not to say it: at the February 21-24 summit at the Vatican on clerical sex abuse and episcopal cover-ups, in which 80% of reported cases were on male children and adolescents.

“It is known that when one wishes to marginalize or eliminate some truth, there is no need to contradict it openly; on the contrary, this would be the worst strategy, because it would prompt open reactions and draw attention. Much better, instead, to pass over it in silence, not talk about it anymore, to lock it up with the old junk in the attic or the basement, and over the span of some time,all memory of it will be lost, and life will go on as if it were no longer there.”

This observation comes from Dom Giulio Meiattini, a Benedictine monk of the abbey of the Madonna della Scala in Noci, professor of theology at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome, in the preface to the second edition of his book “Amoris laetitia? The sacraments reduced to moralisms”.

The preface can be read in its entirety on the blog of Aldo Maria Valli. But here we will sample the passages most focused on the effective banning of these two words.

On the word adultery, Dom Meiattini writes:

The first change, which does not seem to have been grasped in its effective gravity because it has been dissembled, is the complete disappearance, not to say the banning, of the word ‘adultery.’ This is entirely absent from the two ‘Instrumenta laboris’ preceding the synods of 2014 and 2015, absent from the respective intermediate relations (‘Relationes post disceptationem’), never used by the two final documents submitted for the approval of the synod fathers, and finally definitively buried by ‘Amoris Laetitia.’ Not a detail of little account.

The teaching of the Church, from the time of the Fathers, has always made unmistakable reference to the evangelical and New Testament texts relative to adultery as an essential part of its teaching on indissoluble marriage, with the relative consequences on pastoral practice and canonical discipline. In the aforementioned presynodal, synodal, and postsynodal documents, however, these Gospel passages are never expressly cited, apart from a couple of fragments of Mt 19:8-9, from which however is censored precisely the passage that makes explicit reference to adultery.”

It is the passage in which Jesus says that “whoever repudiates his wife, except in case of concubinage, and marries another commits adultery....

“One must have the honesty to say it and to recognize it: already for some time in the Church there is very rarely any use of the word ‘adultery’ in preaching or in catechesis. Now instead, taking the cue from chapter 8 of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the preference is to use the neutral and innocuous term ‘frailty,’ which in most cases also replaces the very word ‘sin.’

Occasional conjugal infidelity or stable new unions subsequent to the sole marriage celebrated before God are no longer designated with the appropriate term with which Jesus and the Christian tradition define them: adultery...

In the two synods and in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ the sin of adultery has been erased not with a sponge stroke, but rather with a stroke of silence: it is simply no longer spoken of. And what has become of all of those New Testament passages, above all from the gospels, that speak of it openly? All that appears of them is a faded reference in parentheses, preceded by the 'cf'. ['cf' or 'cfr' are both abbreviations for the Latin verb meaning 'to compare', and refers the reader to other material to make a comparison of its contrast to the idea being presented.]

The disappearance of 'homosexuality' from the Church’s magisterium, Dom Meiattini points out, happened more gradually. First, with a change of meaning and therefore of judgment, and then with its total abandonment.

The key moment marking the change of judgment on homosexuality can be seen in paragraphs 50, 51, and 52 of the “Relatio post disceptationem” made public halfway through the 2014 synod on the family.

When on Ocober 13 2014 the “Relatio” was presented to the press, Cardinal Péter Erdõ - who formally figured as the author of the document - dissociated himself from those three paragraphs and attributed their surreptitious composition to Bruno Forte, appointed by the pope as special secretary of the synod.

The next day another cardinal of the highest rank, the South African Wilfrid Napier, denounced the irreparable damage that had been done with that coup de main: “The message has gone out: This is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic church is saying. No matter how we try correcting that… there's no way of retrieving it.”

What was written, in fact, in those three paragraphs? That homosexual behaviors must be “accepted” and that “mutual support to the point of sacrifice constitutes a valuable mainstay for the life of couples of the same sex,” better still if gladdened by children.

Dom Meiattini comments:

These expressions prompted substantial and understandable reactions in the synodal assembly, so much so that at the 2015 synod and finally in ‘Amoris Laetitia’, there was a reversion to a few phrases that were much more sober and non-problematic. But it is clear that the words used in those paragraphs represented in any case an attempt at indirect legitimization, not even so veiled, of homosexuality and even of the adoption of children by homosexual couples.

In the runup to the 2018 'youth synod', expectations were therefore high over what the hierarchy would say on the subject of homosexuality, after there peeped out from its base document, the“Instrumentum laboris, the not innocent [but now very common secular term] acronym LGBT, for the first time in any official Church text.

However, in the final document - in the composition of which it was communicated that “Pope Francis had also taken part personally” - only one brief generic reference was dedicated to homosexuality, in paragraph 150.

In regard to which Dom Meiattini observes: quote] At first reading this seems to be a matter of a paragraph that is basically innocuous. The talk is of respect for homosexual persons, of pastoral initiatives for their integration. It is clear that no one would want to discriminate against these persons and fail to respect them. But what is striking, in these phrases, is not so much what is said, but rather the silence. The silence around the Church doctrine of all time, according to which the homosexual inclination represents a disorder and giving in to it is a sin. Silence, we see, seems to have become a method for softening consciences and brains. In keeping quiet one opens the way to oblivion.

And this brings us to the summit of February 21-24 2019, from which there disappeared entirely not only the notion but even the word “homosexuality.” And to those at the press conference who asked why, Cardinal Blase Cupich and Bishop Charles Scicluna - the two main pilots of the event by the pope’s mandate - responded that “homosexuality has nothing to do with the sexual abuse of minors", even though the evidence of the facts says the opposite.

The word “homosexuality” does not even appear where it would have been practically inevitable, if not obligatory, to say it. There is one passage in the most lauded relation of the nine given in the assembly, in which the Nigerian sister Veronica Openibo lists the “other issues around sexuality” in addition to that of the sexual abuse of minors that is the object of the summit. And here is the list: “misuse of power, money, clericalism, gender discrimination, the role of women and the laity in general.” Full stop. Homosexuality is not there. Replaced with its opposite, gender discrimination, which implies homophobia.

This silence, Dom Meiattini notes, even if by now in various parts of the world there are “priests and bishops who in practice recognize homosexual partnerships, even bless them, hope for their civil regulation and carefully avoid calling them what they are: a moral disorder, a sin that requires penitence, conversion, and forgiveness.”

Is this strategy of silence on adultery and homosexuality, adopted by 'the church of Pope Francis', part of a coordinated and targeted plan? Dom Meiattini says Yes, and he explains it as follows:

Between the downgrading of conjugal infidelity and illegitimate unions between man and woman from the sin of adultery to a simple imperfection or frailty, on the one hand, and the beginning of a subtle legitimization of homosexual relations, above all if they are 'faithful', on the other, there exists a clear relationship of consequentiality.

In fact, if ‘so-called irregular unions’ (as ‘Amoris Laetitia’ calls them) between man and woman are no longer called adultery. On the contrary, they do not even represent ‘true’ irregularities but are merely considered ‘frailty’ or ‘imperfections’ with respect to the evangelical conjugal ideal (again according to the language used by ‘Amoris Laetitia’), then the first obstacle has been toppled in order to recognize sexual relations outside marriage as, at the very least, not condemnable.

If we add to this the pastoral accessory of ‘laissez-faire’ (like entrusting pastoral positions to publicly cohabiting homosexuals, etc.), then the way is now partly open to a tacit and de facto admission of same-sex unions between Catholics.

One can thus understand better the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper on the verge of the publication of ‘Amoris Laetitia’: that this would be only the first of a series of epochal changes in the history of the Church.

All these subterfuges were very obvious to anyone who read AL objectively - especially given the not-very-tacit notions and intentions of Jorge Bergoglio about these 'sins below the belt' - which he has subsequently referred to, post-AL, as 'minor' sins. Which is why it was infuriating to read Cardinal Mueller's defense of AL when he was still part of the Curia - that everything it said was orthodox if read in the light of tradition!

How, in God's name??? His defense of AL was made even more absurd by the fact that the pope's followers were trumpeting it loud and clear that AL marked part of the 'paradigm change' that Bergoglio is working in 'the church'. How can it be 'read in the light of tradition' and a 'paradigm change' at the same time? I suppose that is what rankles me most about Muller's opportunism and its underlying dishonesty, which are not mitigated at all by his recent Manifesto of Faith, as welcome as that surprising initiative was.]

I am sorry I have not gotten around to translate the entire preface of Don Meiattini's new edition of his book, which Aldo Maria Valli did publish on March 4. As soon as I have done so ,I will post it in this space.
00Saturday, March 9, 2019 11:44 AM
As I am unable to post various developments in this regard, I am thankful for this commentary which more or less summarizes the appalling positions taken lately by Catholic politicians in the US Congress and in the various statehouses supporting infanticide of babies who are born despite abortion attempts or simply as an outrageous extension of the mother's supposed right to abort. How has this country's lawmakers many of them Catholic) have gone so quickly - in the space of months - from extending legal abortion all the way to term, to allowing the murder of babies who are born nevertheless? Which is happening at the same time as more ad more citizens are waking up to realize the horrors of abortion and therefore to protest it?

If Catholic politicians were faithful...
by Lawrence P. Grayson

March 7, 2019

“All the evils of the world are due to lukewarm Catholics,” said Pope St. Pius V. While the events of the past several weeks demonstrate the truth of this statement, it may be more accurate to say they are also due to Catholics who abandon, reject or stray from the tenets of their faith.

With actions in several states to legalize late-term abortion, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress. The bill would not restrict a woman’s ability to have an abortion nor affect any health care she may require.

Rather, it states that if a child is born alive following an abortion — and is now an independent human being outside of its mother’s womb — that it be given the same degree of medical care to preserve its life and health as would be given to any other newborn.

The bill faced severe opposition. First, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., blocked a vote. Then, under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a vote on the measure was blocked seven times in the House of Representatives. Both Murray and Pelosi are Catholic.

When a vote finally was taken in the Senate Feb. 25 to break a filibuster, it was defeated 53-44, with 10 Catholics voting against the bill. One of those Catholics was Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who was quickly criticized by Virginia Bishops Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond and Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington. They said that the outcome was “appalling and beyond comprehension,” and that they were “outraged” that the state’s two senators “voted against this critical lifesaving legislation.”

These are not the only high-profile political office holders who profess to be Catholic while opposing the Church’s teachings. They are only the latest ones who have taken prominent action.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a professed Catholic, signed the Reproductive Health Act into law - which allows abortions to be performed throughout a woman’s entire pregnancy, permits non-physicians to perform them, and removes all criminal penalties for the procedure.

In a display of arrogance, Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the act Jan. 22, the anniversary of the enactment of Roe v. Wade, and celebrated by having the World Trade Center bathed in pink lights.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, also a Democrat who identifies as Catholic, is supporting an abortion bill similar to that of New York, which was introduced Jan. 16 into the state’s House of Delegates.

In Maryland, where abortion is already legal throughout a woman’s pregnancy, the speaker of the state’s House of Delegates, Michael Busch, introduced a bill this legislative session to enshrine abortion as a woman’s right in the state constitution, which would preclude any laws to restrict abortion from being passed in the future. Busch is a Democrat and a cradle Catholic who left the faith a few years ago. With strong public opposition, Busch withdrew the bill Feb. 23, but said he would reintroduce it next year when the reaction to the New York law diminishes.

In Virginia, Delegate Kathy Tran (D), a proclaimed Catholic, introduced a bill to allow abortion even when a woman is in labor and about to give birth. The embattled state governor, Ralph Northam, a non-Catholic Democrat and pediatric neurologist, commenting on the bill, said that if a “severely deformed or otherwise nonviable” child was delivered “a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother” to consider possible termination options. Hence, even infanticide would be allowed as a medical option under a bill proposed by a Catholic.

But the Virginia measure is no less draconian than if a child who survives a failed abortion is not given medical care and allowed to die. Abortion is a violent and brutal act, conducted by people who are willing to kill children, not only in the womb, but, increasingly, after being delivered alive.

Pope Francis recently said, “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.”

How has humanity become so degraded that children in the womb are routinely killed and treated as disposable? How can physicians who have taken the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm ignore the cries of a newborn infant who needs their attention? How have mothers gotten to the point where the quality of their lives is more important than life itself for their children?

Pelosi’s words reflect the attitude of too many Catholic politicians. In an interview a few years ago, she stated: “I grant the Church where they are on abortion. That’s where they are; that’s where they have to be. But my faith isn’t about what their position is.”

Kaine, Hillary Cinton's vice-presidential runningmate, expressed a similar view, stating: “I’ve taken a position which is quite common among Catholics. I’ve got a personal feeling about abortion, but the right role for government is to let women make their own decisions.”

This attitude of misguided toleration that too many Catholic politicians express is embraced because it imposes no obligation on them to publicly live the faith and does not interfere with their drive for political success.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson recently wrote, “I do not see how it is possible to build a culture of life in America as long as our elected officials harden their hearts to the cries of unborn children.”

Pope Francis, in his exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, stated, “Our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred.”

Responding to that call, Carl Anderson declared: “You will not see a reed bending here. … On this issue [of life] we will not yield. We will never give in. The Knights of Columbus will never abandon the field.”

Neither should any faithful Catholic.
00Monday, March 11, 2019 4:31 AM

Satan says 'Follow me'(Temptation of Jesus Christ), Ilya Repin [1903)

Temptation is inevitable; sin is not
Lent is an opportunity to do intensively what should be done normally.

by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas

March 9, 2019

Homily preached by the Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan on the First Sunday in Lent, March 10, 2019.

Imagine, if you will, a desert – arid, lifeless, boring in its sameness, oppressive in its heat, removed from civilization, inhabited by wild beasts, eerie because the possibilities for violence, suffering and death seem so real. In fact, the Jews believed that the desert was the abode of evil spirits. And yet, all three Synoptic evangelists tell us that Jesus is driven into the desert under the impulse of the Spirit.

Having painted such a grim picture of life in the desert, I should also note that there is something different about this particular desert. In spite of the potential for violence in the Gospel scene, we also have a sense of peace. Although Christ is with the wild beasts, we have no fear for Him. Nor does Jesus appear to be mastered by the elements; He seems in control throughout. Is there a hint here that the sinful, disordered condition of our world is now being renewed? Do we have here a hint of a “Paradise Restored”?

Sin breeds hate and discord, even in nature. Grace produces harmony and order. Jesus comes proclaiming a time of fulfillment, a time when God’s reign will be established in men’s hearts. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15).

Our Lord renders that challenge after going through the depths of human suffering and temptation. Jesus has the right to make this kind of proclamation because He knows that it is possible to overcome temptation. He has done it, and so can we. Reform [of ourselves] is possible. Our situation is not hopeless; we are meant to be greater and better than we are. That is the good news Jesus brings, and that is the good news Lent bids us practice.

An important question, however, is this: Is sin inevitable for us? Actually, there is an even more basic question, the answer to which will tell me whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant. How many people think that mankind since the fall of Adam is essentially corrupt? How many think he is merely weakened? All of you who raised your hands for corruption are Lutherans.

You see, the main point of contention between Luther and the Church revolved around the view of man each held. Luther believed that the sin of Adam had so totally destroyed man that the only way for man to find favor with God was to hide behind Christ on Judgment Day.

But the Church disagreed. The Catholic approach to man is much more positive, more hopeful, and it stems from the belief that although original sin weakened us as a race and as individuals, it did not take away our basic longing and capacity for good. And the reason for our more positive attitude is because we believe that Jesus reversed and undid the damage done by Adam. When Adam was tempted, he failed; when Jesus was tempted, He conquered.

Lent affords us the opportunity to view reality from the perspective of contrasts: sin and grace; feasting and fasting; death and life. The contrast is the most striking when we consider the behavior of the first Adam and that of the second Adam: The first was tempted and sinned, while the second was tempted but prevailed over His tempter.

If this holy season is going to make us any holier, it will be through making us come to a deeper and better understanding of temptation. Some basic facts are essential to grasp.

First, the Devil is real, and he has an uncanny insight into human psychology, preying on our weaknesses, which he seems to know better than we do ourselves, or at least more than we are usually ready to admit.

Jesus the Messiah is thus subjected to three primal enticements (which have a tug on all people), but they had special significance for One who would be a Savior.
- His first temptation was of the flesh – carnal desires. Interestingly, Satan tempts Jesus to break His fast! Pay heed to this at the outset of your own commitment to holy fasting. Beyond that, today we see all around us the abuse of sex, food, drugs and alcohol. This is what happens when the body masters the mind; the human person is enslaved by the idolatry of creature comforts and eroticism.

- Christ’s second temptation was of the mind, with appeals to pride and envy, among the basest instincts. Today, for example, we encounter people who think that science has all the answers to the questions of life: When and how should life begin? When and how should life end?

These short-sighted people fail to realize that science is neutral and so requires direction, which direction can come only from minds and hearts formed by correct moral principles. When man succumbs to the arrogance of Adam and Eve – trying to be like God or trying to “go it alone” without God – he invariably becomes the victim of these urges, the just reward for the idolatry of a scientism-gone-wild or a pseudo-intellectualism, which are bound to self-destruct. As the Second Vatican Council reminded us in Gaudium et Spes: “Without the Creator, the creature vanishes” (n. 36).

- The Lord’s final temptation was of things, which gaininfluenc e from the force of greed. Today we see its power over those who value possessions more than persons, so that a Caribbean vacation is worth more than another child. In their foolishness, they never learn that the human heart attains complete fulfillment and happiness only in the Creator and never in the creature.

Saint Augustine, who had been tempted in every way and had given into just about every one of those allurements, finally came to the sobering conclusion – after much painful experimentation: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” The sinner-turned-saint still offers that wise counsel to those locked into the idolatry of materialism.

Both Matthew and Luke show Jesus to be a Master of Holy Scripture. Of course, it makes perfect sense for the Word Embodied to know well the written Word. This holy season is an ideal moment to delve more deeply into a prayerful reading of Holy Writ, perhaps by taking a chapter of the Gospels each day as one’s daily reflection on the life of our Savior.

The parish mission at Holy Innocents this coming week, devoted to the Gospel of St. John is likewise an occasion to grow in one’s love for Christ and His holy Word. Remember, however, that Bible study is not an end in itself for, as these temptation accounts demonstrate and as the adage informs us, “even the Devil can quote Scripture for his own purposes.” No, we delve into the Word to know better the Word Himself.

St. Luke concludes his account of the Lord’s temptations with a tantalizing phrase: “[The Devil] departed from him for a time” (4:13). Some translations, however, render the verse as “for another opportunity.” Might that “another opportunity” not be Christ’s temptations which occur in us, the members of His Body, the Church?

Lent, then, is a time to smash the idols in our lives; it is a crash course in confronting temptation.
- How does one respond appropriately to the phenomenon of temptation?
- Granted, massive doses of actual grace can be infused by Almighty God when the Devil makes his assaults.
- Generally, however, the Lord expects us to prepare for temptation by good Christian living on a daily, on-going basis.

Lent is an opportunity to do intensively what should be done normally, as Pope Saint Leo the Great taught in the sixth of his several homilies for this holy season:

“We are summoned more urgently to prepare ourselves by a purification of spirit... What the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.” [dim]

Therefore, works of prayer, charity and self-denial should be embraced with gusto as ways of demonstrating our love for God and as means of strengthening ourselves for the battle of temptation. When the hour of testing comes – and it always does (sometimes far more often than we wish) – the good Lents of our lives will have provided us with the good habits and necessary experience to handle temptation effectively. Which is to say, we shall know how to tell the Devil to go to Hell!

The Church is most realistic in assessing human nature: Temptation is inevitable; sin is not. Saint Augustine again sets the pace in his homily preached on this very same Sunday 16 centuries ago:

“If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the Devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of His victory? See yourself as tempted in Him, and see yourself as victorious in Him. He could have kept the Devil from Himself; but if He were not tempted, He could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.”

In Christ’s temptation, we were all tempted. But there is more: In Christ’s victory over temptation, we were all victorious. That, then, enables us to face the temptations embodied in Lent with a sense of confidence and even joy.

Lent is a prelude to Easter; it is the time of fasting to prepare for the feasting; it is the transition from sin to grace; it is the hour of death leading to everlasting life – all done in and through the Christ who once spent these forty days in the desert.

More 'adventures of a Massgoer'
I did get to hear Fr. Stravinskas preach this homily this afternoon - at the 12:30 pm Novus Ordo Mass at Holy Innocents, the first time I had occasion to attend an NO there. (Because, despite Fr Z's warnings about the switch from daylight saving time, I woke one hour late and couldn't make it to the 10:30 AM Solemn TLM that I usually attend). Fr S was not the Mass celebrant for the NO, so I imagine he preached it first at the TLM Mass that he occasionally celebrates there in place of our pastor, Fr. James Miara.

I must say that Holy Innocents is trying its best to do what Benedict XVI wished with Summmorum Pontificum, which is to incorporate some elements of the TLM into the NO. This was a sung Mass, maybe because it is Sunday (I think the weekday NO Masses would be the typical low Mass).

The Propers that could be sung were sung by the organ-assisted choir, in English, of course, but in a formal chant setting, not Church pop. Even better, some of the prayers in the Canon were chanted (in English) by the priest celebrant in the familiar Gregorian chant as he would have in a TLM. Not however, the Credo and the Pater Noster which in the NO are recited aloud by the congregation with the priest.

I grant it would not be easy to adapt the English version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Credo to Gregorian chant that the congregation could be 'trained' to sing, but I wonder if an effort has been made to adapt them to the two most common Credo settings in the TLM ('Credo-III' from the 16th century and 'Credo-I' from the 11th century), which are both quite memorable and even beautifully haunting. (It is awesome to suddenly hear, in the middle of doing something, my mind intoning "Et incarnatus est de Spiritu sancto, ex Maria Virgine...")

In the Philippines, I grew up hearing only the Credo-III (and could sing it in my sleep by the time I had my first Communion) which is the most popular of its musical settings. I was first introduced to Credo-I at the Church of Our Savior on Park Avenue, where I used to go for the TLM when the pastor was Fr. Rutler; it has become as familiar to me as Credo III. The Credo 'melodies' linger so much that I find myself singing them in my head many times a day, the same way that when I 'say' the Our Father when praying the rosary, it comes naturally to chant it (in my head, of course) as the priest chants it at Mass.

Remember when Benedict XVI made it a feature of his General Audiences that attendees were given a handout with the Pater Noster in Latin so that everyone could say or chant it together at the end of each audience? What a great idea that was - so everyone in those international gatherings could pray together in a common tongue.

For those who may never have heard the sung Credo, here are Credo-III and Credo-I sung by Benedictines [Please immediately click 'skip ad' because the ad that precedes both presentations is truly gross, especially in this context.]

Back to my NO at Holy Innocents: Best of all, I think, was that all those who received communion knelt at the communion rail and received the Host on the tongue. I wonder how many NOs elsewhere are doing this!

Moreover, thankfully, we didn't have that part of the NO where various Massgoers speak up and offer their prayers for their respective intentions, which I find really out of place, almost offensive, at Mass, which is a collective act of worship, not a vehicle to advertise one's private prayers. (Though I admit that the first and only time I found myself in such a situation probably 3 or 4 years ago - at the St Gregory the Great parish church near my house which does not do the TLM at all but which has a 12 noon NO Mass on Sundays - I did take advantage to speak up and say something like, "Let us all pray for Pope Francis that he may lead the Church the way Christ wants his Vicar on earth to do", or probably stronger but properly decorous words to that effect.)

After the Mass (how I missed the Prologue to the Gospel of st John that ends the TLM!), in another TLM enhancement of the NO, the choir intoned the Ave Maria caelorum, the Marian antiphon sung from Candlemas to the Easter vigil (but unlike TLM congregants, these NO Massgoers did not join in - perhaps because it is in Latin). [From Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, the Marian antiphon is Regina caeli; from the day after Pentecost to just before the first Sunday of Advent, it is the Salve regina (perhaps the most familiar to most Catholics, at least as a spoken prayer - Hail, Holy Queen - recited at the end of a rosary; and Alma redemptoris mater, from Advent to Candlemas. These antiphons are more wonderful examples of Gregorian chant in TLM hymnody.]

Oh, one last thing: There were less than 100 Massgoers at this NO, compared to the 250-300 'stable' composition of the 10:30 TLM. Maybe most of the NO Massgoers of Holy Innocents go to morning Mass.

Interestingly, Father Z had one of his occasional on-the-mark rants about the liturgy on this first Sunday of Lent:

The Mass and 'triumphalism'

March 10, 2019

...I was deacon for a Solemn Mass this morning. During Mass I pondered briefly the brainless accusations many libs level at those who want traditional forms of worship. For example, they trot out the label “triumphalism”. Using gold vessels, having rich vestments, singing complex music that requires work on the part of those who hear, maintaining decorum in movement… these things are triumphalistic.

The implication is that traditionalists want a Church to grow back into some kind of secular dominance. They, on the other hand, are spirit-filled rather than institutional. They are all grown up now, so they don’t have to bend the knee. Clay and cheap stuff is adequate for virtue signaling, after all.

That’s not what sober tradition is about.

Sober tradition (all liberalism is stoned) recognizes the eschatological dimension of worship. As I have been preaching and writing for years, we build our churches and fill them with beauty, we develop our worship and participate in it because we are all going to die. Awareness of the Four Last Things pulses within every word and gesture, every stitch of lace and every quilisma.

Liturgical worship, properly understood and properly activated, keeps the participant in a constant tension between the reality of Christ’s definitive, once for all time, defeat of death and the reality that, even though we belong wholly to Him in His mystical Body, we still have to die.

By our sacred liturgical worship we fulfill our obligations to God by the virtue of religion and we confront the fact of our impending death. We go to Mass because of love of God to whom we owe everything. We go to Mass because we are going to die.

At Mass, during which really hard things happen – such as the descent of heaven to earth in anticipation of the descent of the New Jerusalem – which allow us a foretaste in our worship of the liturgy before God’s throne, we come into touch with Mystery, which is transforming.

All our efforts in worship must be directed at fulfillment of the virtue of religion and obtaining that transforming encounter in which God wants to give us what He knows we need to deal with our role in the economy of salvation and with death.
- All of this is hard. So why should worship be easy?
- All of this is mysterious. So why should liturgy be banal?
- All of this is grand beyond telling. So why should Mass be mediocre?

What we do…. at least what we do here where I am involved… has nothing to do with the dopey charge of triumphalism that lazy-brained libs toss around. It has everything to do with recognition of the opposite of triumphalism.
- We know that the Church is going to go through a tribulation, not a worldly triumph.
- We who belong to Christ will have Christ’s experience. That means persecution and emptying.
- Our traditional worship is our propaedeutic for suffering. It is where we practice dying.

Elsewhere I have described the reason why we dress our priests and bishops in solemnity and with beautiful and costly garments. They are our priests who offer our sacrifice. They are, however, at the same time also the victim on the altar of sacrifice. Christ’s priesthood, in them, also means victimhood.

Just as during the time of the Temple the sacrificial lambs were spotless and pampered, so too our priests… right up to the moment their necks are slashed open and their blood drained. We vest our priests [the way we do according to Tradition] because they are also our living offering.

Traditional sacred liturgical worship is all about learning the way up Mount Moriah.

The Church is going to get smaller. Do we want to keep what we have? Maintain our buildings and properties, etc.? Sure. But not at the expense of our role in the the economy of salvation and God’s timeline.

We will probably lose much of what our forebears built with their hope and sacrifices. We have, after all, actively squandered our patrimony like the son who fled from his father’s house.

It’s time to get up, turn, and go back to the point where we started to stray and work to get it right.

I have transposed Father Z's initial paragraphs to the end:

The other day I posted something about churches and synagogues losing membership. This is going to happen, friends. Demographics, on top of decades of stupidity, are not on our side.

I’m not saying that this is the great “falling away” of 2 Thessalonians 2. I’m also not saying that it is isn’t. To my mind, the “restrainer” of whom Paul wrote is probably St. Michael the Archangel. We collectively stopped praying the St. Michael Prayer after Low Mass as part of the Leonine Prayers in 1965 and… all hell breaks loose. Breaking loose is what one does after the restraint stops.

00Monday, March 11, 2019 1:12 PM

In October 2013, Foglio editor Giuliano Ferrara joined Gnocchi and Palmaro in their criticism of the new pope with a book ironicallly entitled 'Questo papa piace troppo' (literal meaning -
'This pope pleases too much'), and in 2015, he wrote the Preface for the book of tributes to Palmaro edited by Gnocchi entitled 'Il buon seme fiorira' (Good seed will flower).

Remembering Mario Palmaro
by Alessandro Gnocchi
Translated from

March 9, 2019

It's been five years since Mario Palmaro passed away and I had thought of evoking his memory by telling you how we came about writing the article we co-signed for Page 1 of Il Foglio on October 9, 2013, with the title "We do not like this pope".

I also thought of describing the vacuum that immediately enclosed us and the 'merciful' attacks we were subjected to, especially from some so-called 'men of the Church' and a certain circle of 'intellectuals', from enemies and so-called friends as well.

At that time, no one had dared to say what Mario and I were already writing, not even those who had already begun to ask themselves about the terrible pontificate that had begun just seven months earlier, and they have not pardoned us for that.

But I must not waste time speaking of others than Mario - no one deserves it better. I think the best thing to do is to re-present the article which marked our lives and which I believe still has something to say. [More, I would say, because it has been more than totally vindicated.]

I simply wish that it be read - or re-read - keeping in mind three dates: When it was published on Oct. 9, 2013, less than 7 months had passed since that 'terrifying' Buona notte [the first words Jorge Bergoglio said to the world which the newly-elected pope addressed to the world] on March 13, and Mario who was suffering from cancer, would die exactly five months later, on
March 9, 2014.

I am re-posting here what I posted of and about that article on this forum at the time:

When 2 reputable authors get fired from
their radio shows for criticizing the Pope elsewhere

The article, published in Il Foglio (the daily newspaper edited by ‘devout atheist’ Giuliano Ferrara), led to the expulsion two days later of its authors from the radio shows they had been hosting individually for 10 years on Radio Maria in Italy (founded privately in 1987 as a ‘tool for evangelization’, it has since grown into an international network in 55 countries), on the grounds that no one working for Radio Maria ought to criticize the Pope.

The authors of the article have co-authored at least 22 books since 2000 on Catholic apologetics and tradition, and are considered among the most authoritative Italian exponents of Catholic tradition, without being extremists in any way.

Alessandro Gnocchi, born in 1959, is a journalist and literary scholar who has written books on Tolkien, Georges Simenon, Conan Doyle, and the Italians Carlo Collodi, author of Pinocchio, and Giovannino Guareschi, author of the Don Camillo series). Mario Palmaro, born in 1988, is a canonist and professor of fundamental philosophy and moral philosophy at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum, and a lecturer on bioethics at the Universita Europea di Roma. Gnocchi’s radio show was entitled “"Uomini e Letteratura: incontri alla luce del Vangelo" (Men and Literature: Encounters in the light pof the Gospel); Palmaro’s was “Incontri con la Bioetica" (Encounters with Bioethics).

Their article is the strongest of any critical statements against Pope Francis that I have yet seen in MSM . Its very title – 'Questo Papa no ci piace', which translates literally as ‘This Pope does not please us’, but idiomatically as “We do not like this Pope” - is equivalent to throwing down the gauntlet to all those who are passionate followers of Pope Francis, as well as to those Catholics who believe it is bad form, if not a sin, to criticize the Pope at all (but many of whom may have been indifferent when the Pope being criticized – and attacked unfairly – was Benedict XVI).

Not surprisingly, however, MSM, even in Italy, appear to have chosen to ignore the challenge (they consider it inconsequential, perhaps, in the vast ocean of popularity engulfing this Pope), and the only strong reaction so far is that of Radio Maria which chose to fire the two ‘dissenters’. So much for freedom of speech.

The following day, Il Foglio published a rejoinder by Massimo Introvigne, an authoritative commentator and sociologist of religion, who has gone out of his way since March 13, 2013, to explain away and justify every gesture and statement of Pope Francis that has caused perplexity to some Catholics. Like Jose Luis Restan [veteran Spanish Catholic commentator who, like Introvigne, wrote prompt commentary underscoring any statement (and actions supportive) of Catholic orthodoxy made by Benedict XVI during the latter’s pontificate], he appears to be sincerely motivated by the desire to support the Pope, whoever he is, and under any circumstances.

But Introvigne argues, in his response to Gnocchi and Palmaro, that disagreeing with the Pope could lead to schism. An extreme statement, which implies that persons critical of the Pope are incapable of distinguishing between the Church and the person of the Pope, or between Catholic teaching and the personal opinions of the Pope. Also, Introvigne never said about the vigilante attackers of Benedict XVIU that they risked fomenting schism! That said, here is the Gnocchi-Palmaro article.

We do not like this Pope
His interviews and gestures are a sampler of moral and religious relativism.
The attention of the media-ecclesial circuit is on the person of Bergoglio, not on Peter.

By Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro
Translated from

October 9, 2013

We do not know how much it cost to put up the impressive display of 'poverty' in which Pope Francis was a protagonist on October 4 in Assisi. Certainly, at a time when simplification is the mode, one could say that the historic day had little that was Franciscan (about the saint) in it.

It was a well-prepared and well-enacted script that was, however, devoid of that something that made the spirit of St. Francis unique: the ability for true surprise. [1) I disagree that the ability to surprise made the saint's spirit unique - it was his ability to truly 'wear Christ' that did; 2) Francis the Pope had that ability to surprise, initially, except that his ‘surprises’ are now taken for granted – “He’s bound to surprise us” has become the routine expectation - and even predictable, as the day in Assisi showed.]

Francis the Pope, who embraces the sick, who cannot gladhand the crowds enough, who makes jokes, who speaks off the cuff, who rides a Panda [a Fiat model], who leaves his cardinals to lunch with government officials while he joins Caritas soup kitchen beneficiaries - all that was expected and did indeed happen.

Of course, amid great competition in the Catholic and para-Catholic media to extol the humility of this Pope. And with a sigh of relief by some because this time, the Pope also spoke about meeting Christ. And the secular media had a chance to say once more that yes, now, with this Pope, the Church is finally keeping step with the times. All of it good stuff for mediocre headline writers eager to close their editions in haste, and let’s see what tomorrow brings.

But in Assisi, there was not even any new surprise, much less an attention-calling one. Any gesture would have been relatively minor anyway, given what Papa Bergoglio has said and done in just six months of being Pope [seven months today] which culminated with his winks at Scalfari and the interview with La Civilta Cattolica.

The only ones who might have been surprised this time were the ‘normalists’, those Catholics who are pathetically intent on convincing other Catholics – and even more pathetically, of convincing themselves – that nothing has changed. That everything in the Church is normal, and that, as usual, it is only the media who are misrepresenting the Pope who has only been saying the same truths taught by his predecessors but expressing himself differently.

But although journalism may be the oldest profession in the world [Are Gnocchi and Palmaro equating it to prostitution?], it is difficult to give credence to such a hypothesis.

For example, Scalfari asked the Pope, “Holiness, is there a single vision of what is good? And who would establish that?”

“Each of us”, replies the Pope, “has his own vision of good and even of evil. We must inspire each one to proceed towards that which he thinks is good”.

Scalfari prods him jesuitically: “You, Holiness, already said so in the letter you sent me. Conscience is autonomous, you said, and each one must obey his own conscience. I think that is one of the most courageous statements ever made by a Pope”.

“And I repeat it now,” the Pope replies. “Each one has how own idea of good and evil, and he must choose to follow the good and combat the bad as he perceives it. This would suffice to make the world a better place”.

[What PF said about conscience in his letter to Scalfari was bad enough, but the statement was equivocal enough for all his Catholic adulators to give him the benefit of the doubt and say, “No, he was not at all adopting the secular idea of conscience!” But then, he reiterates his belief unequivocally in the above exchange with Scalfari, perhaps basking in the latter’s praise of his courage. That reiteration is hard to rationalize, even with the best intentions towards the Pope. Take it from Fr. Schall, an honest Jesuit, who was critical enough of the ‘equivocal’ statement on conscience in the letter to Scalfari.]

As concluded by Vatican II and afterwards more than well restated in Chater 12 of John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis splendor (The splendor of truth), the Polish Pope disputed “some currents of modern thought… which attribute to individual conscience the prerogative of being the supreme resort of moral judgment which decides categorically and infallibly what is good and bad… to the point of arriving at a radically subjectivistic concept of moral judgment”.

Even the most fanciful ‘normalist’ cannot possibly reconcile Bergoglio 2013 with Wojtyla 1993.

In the face of such a change, the media are carrying out their job honestly. In Page 1 headlines and stories, they have cited Pope Francis’s statements as a distinct contrast to what previous Popes and the Church have always taught.

And now, the normalists – who generally always say whatever L’Osservatore Romano thinks – questions the context for these headlines, i.e., that the statements extrapolated from their blessed context do not at all reflect the mens (mind, thinking) of the Pope.

But, as the history of the Church teaches us, some statements which express a complete sense are meaningful in themselves and can be judged regardless of the context. If, in a long interview, someone says “Hitler was a benefactor of mankind”, it would be difficult to defend such a statement to the world.

If a Pope says in an interview, “I believe in God, but not a Catholic God”, the damage is done, regardless of the context. [The point here is that the Allah of Islam, for example, or the one God of the Jews, is not the Trinity that Christians believe God is. For the Pope to say he does not believe in ‘a Catholic God’ would seem to be denying the Trinity. Obviously, he is not doing that, but bending over backwards to assure an atheist like Scalfari that he does not believe in ‘a Catholic God’ is imprudent and thoughtless, to say the least. It seems to me yet another proof of a failing that seems to be consistent in PF - he is more concerned about the PR effect of what he says, rather than in its content or how he expresses it.]

For 2,000 years, the Church has judged doctrinal affirmations by individuals and groups, isolating them from their original context.
- In 1713, Clement XI published the constitution Unigenitus Filius (The only-begotten Son) condemning the 101 propositions of theologian Pasquier Quesnel.
- In 1864, Pius IX published the Syllabus of Errors listing propositions of modern thought that were contrary to Catholic doctrine.
- In 1907, St Pius X in Pascendi dominici gregis had an appendix of 65 ‘modern’ statements incompatible with Catholicism.

Those are just examples to show that when there was a doctrinal error, it was identified and acknowledged openly. And a review of Denzinger would not be a bad idea. [Denzinger is often mentioned these days – the name inevitably recalls Ratzinger – that I have to cite the Wikipedia entry on him: “Heinrich Joseph Dominicus Denzinger (1819–1883) was a leading German Catholic theologian and author of the Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum (Handbook of Creeds and Definitions) commonly referred to simply as 'Denzinger’.”]

Moreover, in the case of the Scalfari interview with the Pope, an analysis of the context would just make things worse. When, for instance, the Pope tells Scalfari that "Proselytism is a solemn folly”, the normalist jumps up to explain right away that the Pope is talking about the aggressive proselytism of the evangelical sects in Latin America.

Unfortunately, in the interview, Papa Bergoglio tells Scalfari:. “I don’t wish to convert you”, which implies that when he called proselytism a ‘solemn folly’, he meant the work done by the Church to convert souls to Catholicism. [Once again, an instance of PF not thinking about what he says and the way he says it There is a reason modern Popes have rarely spoken off the cuff. John Paul II and Benedict XVI did it relatively often but never got into the tangle of undergrowth that PF finds himself in when he does it, because they were able to think carefully about what they said before they said it. PF can get so informal he seems to forget that a Pope cannot speak casually and loosely, especially not about doctrine as basic as the God we believe in, or adopting the secular definition of conscience, without referring at all to the ‘formed conscience’ that Catholics are taught to exercise. ‘Conscience’, after all, implies a knowing decision that one makes and takes.]

It would be difficult to interpret the Pope’s statement otherwise, in the light of the ‘marriage’ between the Gospel and the world that he himself blessed in his interview with La Civilta Cattolica.

“Vatican II,” he said, “was a re-reading of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture. It produced a movement of renewal that arose, very simply, from the Gospel itself. The fruits have been enormous. Just look at the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform was a service to the people as a rereading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are lines of hermeneutic continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel that is current today, and which was that of the Council, is absolutely irreversible”.

Just so! No longer the world seen in the light of the Gospel, but the Gospel deformed [‘read’, the Pope said, i.e., interpreted] in the light of the world, in the light of contemporary culture.

And how many times will that happen then - with every cultural shift that will always dispute the preceding interpretation? This would be nothing other than the ‘permanent Vatican II’ theorized by the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

Along these lines, the idea of a 'new Church is looming on the horizon, in the image of the ‘field hospital’ evoked by the Pope in the Civilta interview, in which, it appears, the doctors have so far not done their work well at all. [Well, haven't the Vatican II 'spiritists' always maintained that the Council gave birth to a new Church that ought to have nothing to do with 'the old'????]

“I am thinking, for example, of the situation of a woman who has put behind her a failed marriage and has even had an abortion,” the Pope says. “Now she has remarried and is living in serenity with five children. But the abortion weighs on her enormously and she has repented sincerely. She wishes to proceed with her Christian life. What should her confessor do?”

It was a statement consciously constructed to end with a question, after which one can proceed to another topic, almost as if to underscore the inability of the Church to respond. And very disconcerting from a Pope, if one considers that for 2,000 years, the Church has answered this with a rule that allows the absolution of the sinner, provided he has repented and resolves not to remain in sin.

[In the example cited, her abortion is not the question – it’s done, and it’s clear she repents because she has since had five children, but the question the Pope fails to confront is her ‘bigamous’ marriage if her first marriage has not been canonically annulled, unless the first husband has died. However, the alternative the Church proposes in such cases – for the woman to live chastely with her present husband – is as 'absurd’ and impractical to the modern mind as the Church’s admonition that Catholic homosexuals should refrain from homosexual activity.

This is the sense in which I believe PF is seeking to accommodate Church teaching with ‘contemporary culture’, for which the Catholic sense of ‘amending one’s life’ accordingly to atone for a sin, is simply unacceptable and even inconceivable. Indeed, the idea that. in seeking God’s mercy, one must atone for the sins one has committed has been missing all along from this Pope’s constant invocation of God’s mercy.

The Cross of Christ that we are called on to share is not just our lot of human trials and tribulations, but also the burden of atoning for our sins. If going out to the peripheries to serve the poor is one way of doing that, so be it – but say so! Not that it should be the primary motivation for doing it, but if one does so as a means of atonement, then one would come to appreciate that it is a good thing by itself.]

And yet, subjugated by the overwhelming personality of Papa Bergoglio, legions of Catholics have swallowed the myth of a problem that does not exist. All of them, burdened now with the supposed error of 2000 years during which the Church has terrorized the poor sinner, are now grateful to the bishop who has come ‘from the ends of the world’ not to resolve a non-existent problem but to invent it.

The disquieting aspect of the thinking that underlies such statements by Pope Francis is the idea of an incurable rift between doctrinal rigor and mercy – that if one imposes doctrine, there cannot be mercy.

But the Church has always taught and lived the contrary. It is one’s perception of sin, and repentance for having sinned with the resolve to avoid sin in the future, that make God’s mercy possible. Jesus saved an adulterous woman from being stoned, absolved her of her sins, but said to her, “Go and sin no more”. [And that’s just what I have been remarking all along, since this ‘Pope of mercy’ myth first sprung, citing the very same and obvious Biblical passage]. He did not say, “Go, and rest assured that my Church will not seek to exercise any spiritual interference in your personal life [As Pope Francis said textually in one of the interviews. But is 'spiritual interference' ('intervention' would be a more appropriate word) not the mission of the Church?].

With the seemingly near-unanimous consensus of the Catholic world and the enamourment of the world with Pope Francis (not to forget that the Gospel also warns against the dangers of such universal praise), one could say that six months of Pope Francis have produced an epochal change.

The fact is we are witnessing the phenomenon of a leader who tells the crowd exactly what they want to hear. One cannot deny that he does this with great talent and mastery. But communication with the people – wherein there is no longer any distinction between believers and non-believers – has been direct and spontaneous only in a fairly small way. [i.e., much of it is done through the media.]

Even the Pope’s immersion in the crowd at St. Peter’s Square or at WYD Rio, in Lampedusa or in Assisi, are filtered through the media which report events to support their own interpretations. [Actually, it has been a major synergy – the normal interest in a new Pope became super-inflated after his initial gestures which the media, and Francis’s cardinal electors, breathlessly greeted right away as ‘a new springtime for the Church’ and Francis as ‘the Pope the Church never had and should have’, and other such superlative absolutes. Everyone loves a winner, and when the entire media world, and in fact, most of the secular world, praises Francis as the pluperfect Pope, then anyone who has a chance to be ‘part of history’ goes out of his way to see him. Though I am perplexed that they do not show up in the numbers expected on occasions like the prayer vigil for peace in Syria, or last night’s Marian prayer vigil.]

The Francis phenomenon does not detract from the fundamental rules of the media game – indeed, it uses it almost to the point of being second nature. The mechanism was defined most effectively in the early 1980s by Mario Alighiero Manacorda in a delightful little book with the most delectable title, Il linguaggio televisivo. O la folle anadiplosi (The language of TV, or the folly of anadiplosis). [Anadiplosis is a rhetorical device used for emphasis, in which the last word of a preceding statement is used to start the next statement, as in, “I am telling you now. Now you must listen!”]

Manacorda pointed out that this artifice has become the essence of mediatic language. “These artifices which are purely formal (about form), superfluous, useless and incomprehensible as to substance”, he wrote, “induce the listener to follow the form – namely, the rhetorical device – and to forget the substance of what is being said”. [In the case of the Francis phenomenon, the form has become the substance, not just in terms of media language, and as John Allen solemnly noted without any shade of irony, "Francis himself has become the message".]

In time, mass communications has replaced substance with form, truth with appearances. [The more usual expression is that perception has replaced reality, because public perception of reality has come to be identical to what the media represents to them as reality.]

And mass media has done so with the habitual use of synecdoche and metonymny, two other rjetorical devices in which one part is made to represent the whole (synecdoche) or a brand name is made to represent a genre or institution [e.g., ‘the Vatican’ for the Catholic Church]

The increasingly vertiginous speed of communications imposes a neglect of the whole picture and places the focus on some particulars consciously chosen by the media to portray the picture they wish to show. Increasingly, newspapers, TV, radio and Internet sites choose to depict events through the use of carefully chosen details, sometimes just one.

From this viewpoit, it would seem that Pope Francis was expressyly ‘made’ for the media, and vice-versa. Just take the image of him boarding an airplane carrying an old black briefcase: the perfect use of synecdoche and metonymy together.

The figure of the Pope becomes represented and absorbed into that briefcase – cancelling out the centuries-old image of the sacred Papacy to replace it with one that is completely new and modern. This is the new Pope, and everything in that detail of the briefcase speaks of his poverty, his humility, his dedication to work, his contemporaneity, his quotidianity, his being down-to-earth and as close to anything terrestrial as one can imagine.
The final effect of this process rejects the impersonal idea of the Papacy and the simultaneous highlighting of the person who happens to be the Pope now. It is an effect that is even more upsetting when one considers that the public which receives this message exalts the ‘grear humility’ shown in this gesture and think that it brings great luster to the Papacy. [But that’s human nature. We exalt in the virtues of others that which we ourselves find hard to exercise, even if, in this case, it was a deliberate studied gesture – PF is not naïve, he knew exactly what he was doing, that it was completely unnecessary, but nevertheless, that it would be a great PR move as a ‘message’ to underscore the humility he professes. A perfect example of playing to the gallery.]

Through synecdoche and metonymy, the next step has been to identify this Pope with the Papacy itself – one part to represent the whole. And Simon has pushed away Peter.

Because fro this phenomenon, Pope Francis, even when expressing himself as a private person, immediately transforms whatever he says or does into a magisterial – or teaching – act. If one also considers that most Catholics believe that anything a Pope says is ‘infallible’, the die is cast.

No matter how much commentators can say that a letter to Scalfari or an interview or whatever informal statements the Pope makes are simply the statements of a private person [Benedict XVI said it best after his decision to renounce the office: “A Pope is never again private”], in an age dominated by mass media, the effects that these ‘informal’ statements produce are incommensurately greater than any solemn statements that he makes. Indeed, the more trivial and insignificant such informal gestures or statements are, the more effective they are because they are considered to be so small as not to be subject to attack or criticism.

It is not by accident that the symbology that underlies the Francis phenomenon consists of ‘routine’ down-to-earth matters. The black briefcase carried onto the plane is a textbook example. But this applies even to his pectoral cross, his papal ring, the altar he uses for Mass, the vestments he puts on – in which the subject becomes the material of which they are made rather than what they stand for.

One could say Jesus is no longer on the pectoral cross worn by Pope Francis because the faithful have been led to contemplate the fact that it is made of steel not gold. [Fact check: someone has pointed out that it is, in fact, of sterling silver, not stainless steel.] And once again, the part subsumes the Whole, which in this case is a capital W.

The Pope also asks us to seek ‘the flesh of Christ’ out there, in the peripheries, and everyone is free to choose which ‘holocaust’ best suits him. [I do object to the Pope’ simplistically equating ‘the flesh of Christ’ only with the literally poor and the materially and physically suffering. As if persons who are materially well off and in good physical health – but with their own share of human tribulations - were unworthy to be considered ‘the flesh of Christ’.]

These days, he seems to think it is in Lampedusa, tomorrow who knows? {And why do intelligent apologists for the Pope, like the outspoken Cardinal Dolan, never question the fact that all these months, PF has shown far more concern about the Muslim migrants who end up drowning in the Mediteranean, than all the Christians who are persecuted daily in Africa, the Middle East, and the Muslim nations of Asia? Dolan’s latest apologia pro Francis is that “he does not want us bishops to talk about abortion, etc. so we do not get distracted from our work against Obamacare and in favor of illegal immigrants”. Go figure!]

This is the triumph of the ‘wisdom of the world’ that St. Paul condemned as folly but which is now being used to re-read the Gospel with the eyes of TV. Back in 1989, Marshall McLuhan wrote to Jacques Maritain: “The environment of the electronic media, which are completely in the ether [not for nothing is the cable connector to Internet servers called an Ethernet!], nourish the illusion of the world as spiritual substance. This is modern reason’s facsimile of the Mystical Body, a deafening manifestation of the anti-Christ. After all is said and done, the master of this world would seem to be a Supreme Electronics Engineer”.

Sooner or later, the world will wake up from this great mass media dreamworld and come back to measuring itself against reality. [Later, if ever, rather than sooner!]

One must also learn true humility, which consists in submitting ourselves to Someone who is greater, who manifests himself through laws that cannot be changed, even by the Vicar of Christ.

And we must find the courage to say that a Catholic can only be confused by a papal statement that says, out of respect for the supposed autonomy of conscience, that everyone must be encouraged to proceed with his own personal view of what is good or bad. Christ and his way cannot be just one of many options. Least of all, for his vicar on earth.

March 10, 2019
P.S. In fairness, I must also recall that some time in December 2013 - two months since the above article came out - Gnocchi reported that the pope had called Palmaro on the telephone because he ha heard that the latter was seriously ailing, which, needless to say, was a very Christian thing to do. Even if it does not cancel out any of this pope's the anti-Catholic and anti-Christian words and deeds.

Synchronistically (to use Karl Jung's preferred term for 'coincidentally'), Aldo Maria Valli devotes his post today to a reflection by one of his colleagues whose views on the church of Bergoglio have necessarily gone far beyond what Gnocchi, Palmero and Ferrara argued in 2013....

What happens in a church that
has lost the sense of the transcendent

Translated from

March 11, 2019

I have been meditating for some time on the so-called new paradigm of ‘the outgoing church’ that has characterized the pontificate of Jorge Bergoglio. I think one can say that this is a ‘going out’, in the first place, from the Church herself. Because this ‘new’ church – which is very horizontal, advocating humanitarian causes all the while it is apparently little inclined to concern itself with the ‘last things’ – is a denatured church.

That is why I offer here a reflection by Marcello Veneziani that I believe to be very well developed.

Indeed, mankind does not need a grand and worldwide social aid organization [for that, we already have the Red Cross and similar agencies, not to mention the Catholic Church herself, whose worldwide social works of charity were in place long before Bergoglio] nor a vaguely Catholic version of humanitarianism, but a pope who speaks to the faithful, as popes before this one have, of eternity and the salvation of souls.


The purpose of the Church
is to save man, not to sedate him

By Marcello Veneziani
Translated from

What is the weak point of Pope Francis’s message to the world? What is the main reason that he evokes such dissent [among Catholics]?

Yesterday, Corrado Augias* in La Repubblica, responding to a reader who had watched his TV conversation with me, noted that in my last book, I had erected ‘a coherent edifice of reactionary thought’ in which I had criticized the pope because he has reduced faith to sociology.

The observation about the pope is correct (even if my book is not about that) but I would not classify it as reactionary thought. I am not frightened by the definition of areactionary but it does not reflect at all the sense of my criticisms.

Indeed, I do not criticize the pope only because he has broken with the past, with tradition and with Christian civilization [Wow! Veneziani has opened up the usual scope of Bergoglian criticism – even if I have gone much farther to say that this pope can be documented well and copiously to be really anti-Christ, if not an or the Anti-Christ], and with the history and doctrine of the Church for the past two millennia.

But I criticize him for something far more radical and devastating, in my opinion.
- That in the church of Bergoglio, there is no longer a horizon of expectation, of hope for the future and of transcendence.
- Everything is instead folded into and sought to be resolved in the context of current history, limited to today and the urgency of giving ‘first aid’.
[After all, he thinks of the Church as a ‘field hospital’, doesn’t he?]

The unequalled resource of the Christian religion compared to any secular vision is to look at eternity beyond time, the future beyond earthly life, resurrection beyond death. The Christian message that opens hearts and engages the mind is all directed towards the future. Faith and hope are theological virtues that are totally aimed towards the future, to what happens then.

The supreme power of the Christian faith is to tame death, to give another opening to life beyond its earthly parabola, to make us understand that everything does not end here, that true life is beyond death, veni foras ['Come forth', Jesus's command when he raised Lazarus from the dead].

Because beyond the human is the divine, beyond history is eternal light. It is this prospect of eternity that is the basis for Christian morals and its rules for how men relate to each other and to the world. It may all be illusion and lies to atheists and skeptics, or the promise of redemption for believers and devotees, but the ultimate reason for believing, for praying and for the morality resulting from these, is in that expectation.

The church of Bergoglio is completely wrapped up in the present, it confronts present problems, it is wholly concerned with the contemporary condition [material and physical, that is – touching the spiritual only pro forma]: migrants, hunger, peace, corruption, social injustices. For him, the priority, if not the exclusive task, of the Church is to face these problems, urge universal brotherhood, denounce inequalities and produce humanitarian policies.

And if the churches are being emptied of priests and faithful, he thinks they must be transformed for ‘social’ purposes – make them places of welcome for the poor and the hungry: more aid, less prayer; more solidarity, less liturgy, less of the sacred, less of devotion.

It is true that charity is the third theological virtue after faith and hope. But if the task of the Church were to make life better for persons living today, then it would not be any different from a humanitarian organization, like Amnesty International, or first-aid and humanitarian rescue programs. The Cross would become only the Red Cross.

Yet the decisive ‘wager’ for the faith is God, not to improve the objective conditions of life. If, in the name of his faith, a Christian takes on this latter burden, that is a good thing, of course, but that faith in God would be replaced by social motivations marks the end of faith – it transforms faith into social commitment, prayer to humanitarian aid. The connotation is that it is more important to save a drowning migrant than it is to save a lost soul.

I know what the answer will be: In saving one man, I am saving Jesus himself, because I see him in everyman, and to practice charity is the best way to bear witness to my faith in God. But judging from the attention [given by the pope] and his daily words and his actions, something quite different is happening: God is replaced by ‘mankind’, Christ is replaced by ‘the poor’, the soul is replaced with just a body to feed and clothe and shelter; eternal redemption is replaced by social rescue.

Therefore, rite, liturgy, symbol, prayer, faith – all become irrelevant. The most disconcerting that many have noted is this mass substitution. ‘Mankind’ in place of God. The cathedral as rescue scow. But does one need faith to carry out acts of solidarity - or are revolution and humanitarian socialism enough?
Sometimes, polemical passion leads me to severe criticism, and I apologize for that. I do not say I hiave all the certainties, much less that I am a depository of truth, and I know I can be mistaken. And if I dare to criticize the present pope, I do so in the name of the saints, popes and theologians who thought differently from him.

For the sake of truth, I cannot keep silent on what I am seeing. If I doubt my faith, I take responsibility. But I cannot accept the fact that the church of Bergoglio increases my doubts instead of dissipating them, or worse, that it would make me consider such doubts secondary or irrelevant compared to the urgency of giving ‘humanitarian aid’.

Is all this reactionary, dear Augias? I don’t think so. Unless you consider God to be the first reactionary of all.

Marcello Veneziani (born 1955) is an Italian journalist who has written some 40 books since 1981 of ‘conservative’ thinking on secular as well as religious issues concening Italy and Europe. He is considered one of Italy’s most outstanding thinkers on the ‘right’. At present, he is an editorial writer for the Italian newspapers' Il Tempo' and 'La Verita'. He has been a commentator for 20 years for RAI (Italian state TV) as well as editor of the midnight edition of RAI’s Radio News.

Corrado Augias (born 1935) is an Italian journalist and TV host who made waves in 2006 as co-author of the book Inchiesta su Gesu (Inquiry on Jesus: Who is the man who changed the world) with Mauro Pesce (born 1941), a Biblicist and Church historian. n the book, they argued, on the basis of their reading of historical data, that ‘the authentic Jesus is not the one preached by the Church’.

In the opinion of Sandro Magister at the time, the publication and success of this book prompted Benedict XVI to an early announcement in November 2006 that he would be publishing a book on Jesus that argues the opposite, namely, that the historical Jesus is the Jesus of faith. The first volume of JESUS OF NAZARETH did come out in April 2007, but in November 2006, the pope authorized publication of its Preface as his preliminary ‘answer’ to the Augias-Pesce book.

Meanwhile, read the continuing apologia pro Bergoglio that Andre Gagliarducci inexplicably keeps making for this pope and his pontificate, even as he points out his and its failings.
I do not know why it reads the way it does linguistically - he writes his blog directly in English, but it was always readable if not always idiomatic and somewhat awkward. This one sounds like it was written by another person altogether in terms of language (not of content), or translated from the Italian by Google. In any case, eminently and amply fiskable. For instance, I cannot believe his two major conclusions, namely:

[sic]"Six years after, we are now experiencing a Papacy that needs to recover some credibility, while secular world figured out this was not the Papacy expected."
"Beyond some doctrinal issue bore by the post-synod exhortation, Pope Francis never changed the Church’s doctrine on marriage and family. Pope Francis has underscored that the defense of life must be framed in the wider field of the social justice, but he did not change the doctrine, and in particular Humanae Vitae, as it was thought."

I have not so far questioned that Gagliarducci appears to sincerely admire Benedict XVI, but I cannot reconcile that admiration with his continued championship of Bergoglio. Which leads me to wonder whether, for all his apparent intelligence (except when it has to do with having to denounce some of Bergoglio's words and actions outright, instead of always justifying them - and worse, consistently blaming them on some mythical 'agenda behind the pope's back' right in the Vatican), he is nothing but a garden-variety robot 'normalist', for whom whoever is pope is right and must be followed.
00Monday, March 11, 2019 6:47 PM
On his blogsite today, Sandro Magister articulates an obvious but hitherto unasked question (because it was considered unthinkable, improbable and impossible):
After the verdicts against Cardinals Pell and Barbarin, what about trying the pope himself?

Church is under siege and stunned
after the Pell and Barbarin verdicts

March 11, 2019

In Australia, Cardinal George Pell has ended up in prison [as he awaits sentencing]. In France, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, has been given a suspended sentence of six months in jail. And it is not out of the question that other prominent cardinals and bishops could soon end up under the judgment of secular tribunals, charged with having committed or “covered up” sexual abuse against minors.

For the Catholic Church, this opens questions of noteworthy gravity, in the face of which her leadership is showing that it is by no means confident that it knows what to do.

In particular, the following three questionS:
Both Pell and Barbarin have been found guilty on the basis of questionable proofs, both in a second trial, after the first had ended without a guilty verdict. For Barbarin, even the prosecutor had asked for acquittal. Both say they are innocent, and have asked for an appeal ruling.

Meanwhile, however, within the Church, the former was prohibited, when the trial was still under way, from the exercise of his public ministry and from contact with minors. And a few days ago, the latter announced his resignation as Archbishop of Lyon, certain that the pope would accept it.

In Pell’s case, the Vatican has announced that the that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith will open a canonical process. And it is likely that the same thing will happen with Barbarin.

But what kind of process? And how? Along general lines, concerning bishops presumed guilty or negligent in matters of abuse, Pope Francis published in June of 2016 an apostolic letter, Come una madre amorevole (Like a loving mother), in which - as he explained afterward at his news conference on the way back from Ireland on August 26 2018 - “it was said that for trying bishops it would be good to set up a special tribunal,” one for all. But he said he himself thought that "this was not practicable,” and opted to resort to a canonical jury that would be set up for each case. As in the case - he presented by way of example - of Guam archbishop Anthony Sablon Apuron, convicted at first instance by the CDF, but whose appeal has been taken in charge by the pope himself, with the assistance of a commission of canonists.

In all this, the procedures continue to be uncertain. Last November, Francis forbade the episcopal conference of the United States to put to a vote the creation of an independent commission of laymen charged with conducting the first hearing on bishops under investigation.

But the alternative solution upheld by Cardinal Blase Cupich, obviously acting for the pope, namely, tp assign first investigation of an accused bishop to the metropolitan of his ecclesiastical province, is also far from being codified. Although Cupich personally presented at the Vatican summit on 'the protection of minors' last February 21-24, he gave no details of any specific plan to deal with accused bishops.

The first objection to Cupich’s proposal is that entrusting the first investigation to the metropolitan - or to another bishop - of the province of the defendant risks putting the judgment back into the hands of clerics who often belong to the same coterie and therefore are tempted to assist each other.

But if there is uncertainty on how to proceed with regard to a bishop presumed to be guilty or negligent, what is to be done when the one under accusation is the pope himself? [Everyone else, when discussing these accusations against Bergoglio, has failed to follow through with the obvious - which they ought to have asked before the recent summit, as, IMHO, I was saying they should. Why is everyone so gung-ho about trying all other bishops suspected of cover-up except Jorge Bergoglio? Whose offenses, at least prima facie, are among the worst cases of episcopal cover-up we know of - the worst if one considers that at least two of his Argentine proteges were/are bishops (Maccherone and Zanchetta) not to mention his most notorious protege so far, Theodore McCarrick

Pope Francis has not yet responded to those who - like former US nuncio, Carlo Maria Viganò - have accused him of supporting and promoting to the e McCarrick, in spite of the fact that his multiple abuses were known to him. And he continues to keep quiet more than six months after having promised journalists at the press conference on the way back from Ireland, on August 26 2018: “Study [the case], and then I will speak.”

Meanwhile, weighing even more on Francis is the case of Argentine bishop Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta, his friend and spiritual son since the latter was undersecretary of the Argentine episcopal conference. The pope made him Bishop of Oran in 2013, soon after he became pope, then after Zanhetta suddenly resigned citing 'health reasons' in 2017, he was promptly elevated by Bergoglio to a Vatican sinecure created for him at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), in spite of the fact that very detailed charges of bad behavior by Zanchetta had been sent by churchmen of the diocese of Orán to the competent authorities, in Argentina and Rome, on several occasions from 2015 to 2017. [The worst part is that these accusations included 'financial mismanagement', which it now turns out, the pope himself had ordered Zanchetta not to disclose he had sold two church properties in Oran so that the diocese could continue to qualify as a 'needy' diocese.]

On this too Francis is keeping quiet.[Worse, his spokesman insisted that the Vatican never heard of the accusations against Zanchetta until late last year.] The only decision that has been made known is that the Vatican has ordered a preliminary investigation by the current Bishop of Oran into the charges on Zanchetta. [Rather academic, and yet another subterfuge, in view of the written depositions sent by the accusers to the nuncio in Argentina and to the Vatiacn.]

And if this investigatio should confirm the responsibility of Pope Francis in theZanchetta case, it remains to be seen how the imperative of a fair trial might be reconciled with the norms of canon law, whose canon 1404 establishes that “the First See is judged by no one", and §2 of canon 1405 specifies that "a judge cannot review an act… by the Roman Pontiff without his prior mandate."

In the case of McCarrick, last February 15, the CDF ruled for his reduction to the lay state, at the end of an administrative penal process, namely one that was simplified and abbreviated, as opposed to a juridical trial.

The congregation almost always proceeds like this, by the extrajudicial route, in the thousands of cases that come under its jurisdiction in matters of abuse. With McCarrick, this made it possible to arrive rapidly at the sentence of reduction to the lay state, before the summit convened at the Vatican from February 21 to 24. But this brought along with it - perhaps deliberately - a grave disadvantage: the impossibility of reconstructing in a judicial setting the network of complicity and of favors, up to the highest levels of the hierarchy, that McCarrick enjoyed for years, from those who nevertheless knew of his misdeeds.

Not to mention the incomprehensible delay in the publication of everything that turns out to be documented concerning McCarrick, “in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See.” The announcement of the publication of these documents, as also of the results of the preliminary investigation that had led to his removal from the college of cardinals, was made last October 6.

And the following day Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the congregation for bishops, confirmed in a letter to the former nuncio Viganò that McCarrick had in effect been under confidential “restrictions,” since 2006, against traveling and appearing in public, “because of rumors around his behavior,” restrictions that he had never obeyed. But since October 6 more than five months have gone by, and still the dossier has not been published as announced.

So then, what procedure would be adopted by the CDF in investigating Cardinal Pell, to begin with? Given that the congregation will wait in any case, before issuing its own ruling, for the result of the appeal process requested by Pell in Australia (preliminary hearing on June 5-6), one must keep in mind what the Holy See customarily does in cases pursues an administrative process after a secular tribunal has already issued its verdict; namely, to take the findings of the secular tribunal as its basis for judgment. And therefore, if Pell loses his appeal, this would be y be followed by an ecclesiastical conviction as well, with the reduction of Pell to the lay state.

This is why it is likely that Pell’s attorneys will insist that the Holy See not adopt an administrative procedure for their client, but a regular canonical process, more unshackled from the results of the Australian trial. In other words, more autonomous, more free, more sovereign.

And what will happen when the Holy See has issued its ruling on the Pell case?
- If it convicts Pell, to go along with his defeat in appeals court, there will be great applause from secular public opinion, as also from the champions of “zero tolerance” within the Church.
- But protests will also be raised by those who will point out to a miscarriage of justice because Pell was deprived of his elementary rights to a fair trial and the inconsistency of the accusations against him. Moreover, a me-too verdict from the CDF would be seen as a ruinous act of submission by the Church to the secular powers.
- If the CDF acquits Pell despite his defeat in Australia's appeals court,
some will admire the autonomy - and the courage - of the Church in evaluating the effective absence of proofs in support of the accusations and in deciding as a result.
- But there will certainly be heated reactions on the part not only of secular public opinion, but also of those sectors of the Church that, in any case, would consider a bishop irredeemable for an accusation of covering up clerical sex abuse, even if he is acquitted in civilian court.

This has been the case with Cardinal Barbarin against whom a former magistrate of the interdiocesan tribunal of Lyon, Pierre Vignon, publicly called for his resignation last summer, before the second trial against him had been completed and after a first trial had ended with acquittal:

“I have been asked repeatedly how I would react if the cardinal were to be declared innocent by the tribunal. The reply is very simple. The conscience of a Christian need not wait for the sentence of a tribunal to know what must be done. If Cardinal Batbarin is not convicted, in any case he is no longer the person who can present himself before victims.”

And this is also the message of the film “Grâce à Dieu,” the subject and target of which is none other than Cardinal Barbarin, released shortly before the tribunal of Lyon was to issue its sentence.

Returning to the case of Cardinal Pell, there are some who are even afraid that the Australian government - under the pressure of public opinion - could interpret an ecclesiastical acquittal of the cardinal as an implicit condemnation of the judicial system of Australia, and as a result break off relations with the Holy See and push for its expulsion from the association of sovereign states. [So they break off relations. Big deal. But pushing to expel the Vatican from 'the association of sovereign states'? What does that mean: push to expel the UN's principal mouthpiece to the world? Good luck with the UN on that!]

Whether this dramatic outcome proves true or not, this is a time of siege of the Church.

The pope's Lenten retreat

Christopher Altieri reports in Catholic Herald today that Mons. Zanchetta is with the pope and the rest of the Roman Curia on their annual Lenten
retreat in Ariccia, outside Rome.

(Altieri reports it as if there was anything wrong with that, other than confirming that Zanchetta is still considered part of the Curial family. I should imagine
both Zanchetta and the pope need a cleansing Lenten retreat -and whoever else among the 64 people gathered in Ariccia are among those plausibly and/or simply
maliciously 'outed' by Frederic Martel in SODOMA).

To preach this year's Lenten exercises, the pope chose 50-year-old Benedictine Abbot Bernardo Gianni of the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte near Florence, who seemed
to really get into the spirit of Carnival just before Lent. (Thanks to Marco Tosatti's blogsite for the photos)

The Exercises will end on Friday, March 15. During the week of the Spiritual Exercises, all audiences are suspended, including the General Audience of Wednesday, March 1.
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