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00Tuesday, June 23, 2020 11:52 PM

On April 16, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI turned 93.


See previous page for earlier entries today, 6/23/20.

There is a second major Bergoglio 'project' that remains unfulfilled. Despite teasers since the start of 2020 by pro-Bergoglio Catholic media sources that the Vatican was set to release its full report on Theodore McCarrick that Pope Francis had promised in 2018, two years have come and gone, and the report release remains nthing but a 'teaser'...

2 years after McCarrick's exposure,
questions are unanswered

By JD Flynn

Denver, June 19, 2020 (CNA) - On June 20, 2018, American Catholics woke up to discover that retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick stood accused of sexually abusing a teenager.

The cardinal said he was innocent. The New York archdiocese said it was a singular allegation. Dioceses in New Jersey said they had received isolated allegations of misconduct with adults.

Then the dam broke. It emerged that McCarrick had a pattern of sexual abuse and coercion, with minors and with young priests and seminarians. American Catholics learned about the cardinal’s beach house, his wandering hands, his preference for thin, non-smoking seminarians. His coercive and manipulative letters became available to read, the testimony of his victims was crushing.

But the story didn’t stop at McCarrick. It emerged that allegations had been made about the cardinal already. That a seminary professor’s warnings went unheeded. That the Holy See had historical knowledge of McCarrick’s misdeeds, and, whatever it had done, it had not informed Catholics, or removed the cardinal from public life, for years.

Eventually, of course, he was removed. And the fact that allegations against McCarrick had come to light showed that some Church leaders, at least, were working for transparency, and for justice.

But after the McCarrick allegations, more allegations of abuse of power, of negligence in office, or of a propensity for cover-up were thrust into the spotlight: Bishop Bransfield, Bishop Salazar, Bishop Malone, Archbishop Zanchetta, Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Hoeppner, Bishop Hart, Bishop Binzer, Cardinal Wuerl, Cardinal Mahony.

Bishops offered investigations, new policies, new hotlines, and new pledges. The U.S. bishops faced off with Pope Francis when it seemed the Holy See would thwart their attempts. Eventually some of their proposals became policy not just for the U.S., but for the Church around the world.

Bishops conducted listening sessions, bore the brunt of anger, watched diocesan revenues decline, and found themselves under state and federal investigations.

Diocesan and parish staffers implemented policies, prepared records for investigators, and tried to keep their composure amid months of demoralizing news.

Priests wondered what to tell their people, while wondering whether they could trust their bishops, and wondering what all this might mean for the future of the Church.

But what many Catholics said they wanted, they have not yet gotten: Accountability. Who knew what when? Who participated in coercive, abusive, or immoral behavior? Who enabled or facilitated it? Who ignored it? What will be the consequences?
- Diocesan investigations in New York and New Jersey have not been published.
- Records sit in file cabinets in the Washington archdiocese, but have not been released.
- A long-promised report from the Holy See has not been published. Most bishops have simply stopped asking for the McCarrick report, at least out loud; whatever zeal they showed in the first few months has apparently been tamped down.

For many Catholics, the silence has become its own scandal. The delays seem, to many observers, incomprehensible, regardless of whether the reason is to avoid litigation, to avoid embarrassment, to avoid accountability.

And a long wait has turned, for many lay Catholics and clerics, into a kind of cynical resignation that very little might actually be coming, and even that won’t be coming soon.

But losing trust over McCarrick is really part of a broader trend.

The context for the last two years in the Church’s life is a growing loss of trust among Americans in all of the country’s long-revered public institutions, including the Church.
- Trust in the government, the media, the academy, and in religious institutions has been on the decline for years.
- The last three months of American life demonstrate how far that trust has fallen: In the eyes of many Americans, the credibility of the federal government, of public health experts, of the police, and of the media is reaching historic lows.
- Institutions have become platforms for personal advancement and brand-building, instead of forges by which character is formed.
- Amid that social change, institutional loyalties and connections have become passé.
- In the social media era, even with an expectation of evermore rigid political orthodoxy, each person has become a brand of one.
- Practicing a religion no longer offers some unique business, civic, or social benefit for Americans. There is no longer much point to lukewarm Catholicism.

The Church asks Catholics for a kind of trust that is, in contemporary America, countercultural. And in the wake of the last two years, that kind of trust seems also counterintuitive.

To be a faithful Catholic is to say “I place my trust in the teachings, and formation, and leaders, and way of living offered by the Church so much that I will give my life over to it.”

To be a faithful Catholic is to say “I surrender my will to the will of Christ and His Church.”

The Church will continue to ask for that trust.

But the McCarrick scandal has made it harder to ask, and harder to say yes. The soil was already rocky, the McCarrick scandal has made the rocks more jagged.

Answers on simple questions would probably help, accountability would likely help even more. But those things may not be forthcoming, and few Catholics are in a position to change that. Those who might be able to get answers are either asking behind the scenes, or just not asking anymore.

Still, it is too soon, two years after the McCarrick scandal, to see what its long-term effects might be.

But there is a set of questions that each Catholic, clerical and lay, can answer for himself, and must:
- Amid scandal, and disappointment, and frustration, and anger, and when it is unpopular and perhaps even costly, will we continue to turn to the Lord?
- dDo Catholics believe the Church can form them into saints, and are they willing to be formed?
- Will Christ and His Church remain the source of our hope?

A CNA timeline of
the McCarrick scandal
and related matters

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2020 (CNA) - June 20 marks two years since the announcement that credible allegations of sexual abuse had been raised against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
In the months that followed, a major crisis of abuse and cover-up within the Church in the U.S. was revealed, and Church officials responded with new policies and pledges of transparency.But we are still no nearer to an official accounting for McCarrick's sins and reprehensible misconduct. Here is a timeline of major events in the last two years:


June 20
The Archdiocese of New York announces that an allegation of sexual abuse by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been found to be “credible and substantiated.” In the following months, additional allegations will be raised against McCarrick, including claims that McCarrick had a widely-known reputation for sexual advances toward seminarians.

July 3
The Diocese of Cheyenne says Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting two boys after he became bishop of the diocese in 1976. A third credible allegation is confirmed a few weeks later.

July 28
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of McCarrick from the College of Cardinals and suspends him from the exercise of any public ministry. He directs McCarrick to observe a life of prayer and penance, pending the canonical process against him.

August 14
A grand jury report in Pennsylvania details allegations against some 300 priests, from more than 1,000 victims in six of the state’s Catholic dioceses over a 70-year period. The report was met with national outcry and prompted more than a dozen other states to follow suit.

August 16
The U.S. bishops’ conference calls for a Vatican-led investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up surrounding McCarrick.

August 25
Former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano releases a “testament” claiming that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

August 26
Asked during an in-flight interview about Vigano’s letter, Pope Francis says he “will not say a single word” on the subject and instructs journalists to use their “journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.”

September 12
Pope Francis calls for all the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the world to meet at the Vatican Feb. 21-24 to address the protection of minors.

September 19
The administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announces new accountability measures, including a code of conduct for bishops and the creation of an independent reporting mechanism for complaints against bishops. The committee also calls for a full investigation into the allegations against McCarrick and the Church’s response to these allegations.

October 6
The Vatican announces that Pope Francis has ordered a review of all Holy See files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick. The results of that review have not, to date, been released.

November 12
U.S. bishops gather for an annual fall meeting in Baltimore; the Vatican instructs them to delay until after the February meeting a vote on two proposals intended to be the foundation of the U.S. Church’s response to the abuse crisis.

November 14
The U.S. bishops fail to pass a resolution that would have “encouraged” the Holy See to release all documents on the allegations of misconduct against McCarrick.


January 2-8
At the suggestion of Pope Francis, the U.S. bishops hold a retreat to consider how to respond to the still ongoing sexual abuse crises facing the Church.

January 11
McCarrick is laicized. Also known as dismissal from the clerical state, he no longer has the right to exercise sacred ministry in the Church, except in the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death. In addition, he no longer has the canonical right to be financially supported by the Church. A statement from the Vatican announcing the laicization is released Feb. 16.

February 21–24
The Vatican holds a sex abuse summit with the heads of bishops’ conference from countries around the world. The summit’s stated purpose is to educate the world’s bishops on their responsibility for protecting minors from abuse within the Church.

April 4
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upholds a 2018 verdict finding Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, guilty of several abuse related charges. Apuron is deprived of his office as archbishop and forbidden to use the insignia of a bishop or live within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese. He is not removed from ministry or the clerical state, and is not instructed to live in prayer and penance.

April 4
Archbishop Wilton Gregory is appointed to replace Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where McCarrick had been archbishop and lived in retirement. Gregory promises “I will always tell you the truth.”

May 9
Pope Francis issues new experimental norms for the handling of some sex abuse allegations. The norms place seminarians and religious coerced into sexual activity through the abuse of authority in the same criminal category as abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. They also establish obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, require that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and put the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations of abuse or negligence against suffragan bishops.

June 4
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, is accused of mishandling an allegation of sexual coercion made against his former vicar general by permitting the priest to transfer to another diocese and continue in ministry. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston disputes the claim, saying the priest underwent a rehabilitation process, and was recommended to be returned to ministry by the professionals who assessed him.

June 5
An investigation finds credible allegations of sexual harassment and coercion of adults by former Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, as well as the fostering of “a culture of fear of retaliation and retribution” that prevented his conduct from being discovered or reported. Pope Francis had accepted Bransfield’s resignation the previous September when he turned 75.

June 12-13
At their annual spring meeting, the U.S. bishops approve the creation of a national third-party reporting mechanism, directives to apply the pope’s new norms, protocol for a diocesan bishop to restrict the ministry his predecessor when needed, and a set of non-binding moral commitments pledging to hold themselves to the same standards applied to priests.

June 12
Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne announces that the Vatican has begun a penal process against Bishop Emeritus Joseph Hart of Cheynne amid allegations that he sexually abused minors and covered up sexual abuse.

July 19
Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, bishop emeritus of Wheeling-Charleston, was barred by the Vatican from living within his former see and was banned from public ministry in response to reports of sexual and financial misconduct. The Vatican wrote that Bransfield has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.”

July 23
Bishop Mark E. Brannan, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is appointed to replace disgraced Bransfield in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Brannan is installed on August 22.

August 15
A one-year window allowing for survivors of abuse to file claims against the institutions which enabled their abuse opens in New York. Over 400 lawsuits are filed on the first day, including many against the Church. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston is named as a perpetrator in one of the lawsuits. Guglielmone denies all allegations, but dialed down his public appearances in the immediate aftermath. A similar window opened in New Jersey in December 2019.

September 3
Slate publishes the first interview with McCarrick since he was laicized and removed from the clerical state. In the interview, McCarrick refuses to admit any wrongdoing and insisted that he is “not as bad as they paint me,” and he stated that “I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.”

September 10
Archbishop Bernard Hebda authorizes the first investigation under the norms in Vos estis lux mundi, into Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston. Hebda told CNA at that time that he had “been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston.”

November 11
Cardinal Sean O’Malley told his brother bishops at the USCCB Fall General Assembly in Boston that the McCarrick report would be released “if not before Christmas, soon in the new year.”

November 13
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn reveals that he has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1970s.

November 26
Bishop Brennan orders Bishop Bransfield to apologize for his misdeeds and pay $792,638 in restitution for his financial misconduct.

December 4
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo. Malone was accused of mishandling allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

December 10
Pope Francis told Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing that the McCarrick report would be published “probably after the beginning of the new year.”

December 23
The Washington Post makes public the report of the investigation into the financial and sexual misconduct of Bishop Bransfield.


January 7
Reports emerge that McCarrick has left the friary in Kansas where he had been staying. It is unclear where he currently resides.

January 18
The Archdiocese of New York confirmed that Cardinal Timothy Dolan had been asked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to conduct an investigation into the allegations against DiMarzio.

February 4
The Vatican orders additional investigation into the actions of Bishop Hoeppner.

February 13
McCarrick’s coat of arms was removed from his former cathedral in Washington, DC. Previously, the coat of arms had been covered up.

May 7
Pope Francis accepts the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, an auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati. Binzer had mishandled an abusive priest and did not properly report the situation to appropriate authorities.

June 4
Another man accuses Bishop DiMarzio of sexual abuse when he was a minor. DiMarzio referred to the new accusation as “outrageous and libelous” and mused filing suit against his accusers.

June 9
Prosecutors announce that they will not be pursuing criminal charges against Hart due to insufficient evidence.
00Friday, June 26, 2020 1:20 AM
On his blog today, Aldo Maria Valli calls attention to this analysis of what's happening in the USA these days, written by Julio Loredo, president of the Italian Traditione-Famiglia-Proprieta (TFP), one of several such traditional Catholic movements around the world inspired by the late intellectual-politician Plinio Correa da Oliveira, who founded the first TFP in Brazil in 1960. Loredo himself wrote a best-selling book on Liberation Theology which he called 'a lead-weighted lifesaver for the poor'.

A revolution by the book
by Julio Loredo
Translated from

June 23, 2020

What’s happening in the USA is a ‘revolution by the book’ (rivoluzione da manuale). [I’d say 'by the books'! – Starting with Barack Obama’s political guru, Saul Alinsky and his RULES FOR RADICALS, the homegrown manual underpinned and supplemented by older guides like the propaganda ABCs successfully wielded by Hitler’s Nazis, the Russian Bolsheviks and the Maoists!]

Although different in their historic concreteness, revolutions always have some elements in common. The French Revolution in 1789 was considered an emblematic event precisely because it was the paradigm for all the ingredients of a Revolution. [Contrast that with the American Revolution, which predated the French by 13 years,and was more simply a ‘War of Independence’ from the British colonizers, but which did realize a true revolution in the unprecedented Declaration of Independence and the Constitution framed by the Founding Fathers in 1776.] Perhaps in the future, historians will study what is happening in the USA now as an event with emblematic characteristics.

What are the ingredients of a revolution? And how do we see them in the USA today?

A frenetic climate
The first ingredient is a climate of electrifying frenzy, partly due to real circumstances which have been cleverly manipulated, and partly through artifice using well-studied techniques of psychologically manipulating masses. Not to mention a considerable and incontestable dose of preternatural [beyond natural, i.e., artificial] infestation.

During the French Revolution, the frenzy was such that even members of the nobility allowed themselves to be carried along the wave of inebriating enthusiasm of the sans-culottes [literally, ‘without breeches’, derogatory term used by the aristocrats to describe the lower classes who wore pants not the fashionable breeches].

In her memoirs, the Marquise de La Tour de Pin Gouvernet (1770-1853), who was a dame of honor in Marie-Antoinette’s court, writes that, against every personal conviction, she found herself so caught up by hearing the Marseillaise sung in the streets that her husband had to slap her so she could 'come back to her senses'. More than once, caught up by the frenetic hymn, she would find herself screaming with the crowds “Aristocrats to the gallows!”

Similarly frenzied was the climate in 1968. “The Revolution is here because there’s something in the air”, one of the famous rock bands sang. Describing that ‘something in the air’, TIME magazine spoke of “a wind of philosophical folly” that “the bourgeois values were overwhelmed with a youthful wave that was provocative, inebriating and irritating”.

And this wave intoxicated and sucked into its vortex an entire generation, including many representatives of that very bourgeoisie that it wished to destroy. [And many of the 68ers, of course, in time found their comfortable niches in the bourgeoisie and higher social and economic circles, even as not a few chose to encapsulate themselves in the Gen ’68 time warp and continue to do so today.]

In the United States, the climate has been charged for some time. The election of Donald Trump blindsided the liberal left [led by the Democrats and all their fellow travelers in academia and in Big Tech], who had become accustomed to reign uncontested.

[Not really, because there was always a conservative part of the American public, including those who voted for Trump rather than for ueber-liberal queen Hillary Clinton. Except that with Trump as President, almost all of mainstream media and the new online media founded by Big Tech, along with the diehard never-Trumpers, have since presented a united front that could and cannot see anything good in Donald Trump and anything he does, choosing to hammer on all his negatives relentlessly – his most unlikeable personal attributes driven by an unfortunately overweening narcissism - and ignoring all of his very real achievements in the first three years of his presidency.

The whole anti-Trump no-holds-barred offensive has been focused on seeking to nullify the 2012 presidential elections by all means at their disposal, reiterated 24/7 ad nauseam, mostly through fake news, monumental hoaxes such as the Russian collusion and the Flynn frame-up, and the rigged impeachment in January 2019 based largely on those manufactured hoaxes.

Anything, in short, that could possibly hound him out of office before his term is over, and failing that, prevent his reelection at all costs. Even if the only candidate they have come up with to pit against him is a visibly doddering, often incoherent and ridicule-prone late septuagenarian who has nothing to show in terms of concrete achievement after more than 40 years in Washington as a senator and as vice president. That is how little the Democrats think of their country and their people – to prefer a tried and tested incompetent to Trump who has not only managed to accomplish 90 percent of what he set out to do as President, despite all the obstacles in his way, but has outdone all his recent predecessors in terms of the real progress he brought to the USA on the economic, diplomatic, military and social justice fronts, always putting America first, but without oppressing anyone who has no legitimate right to avail of benefits that American citizens have a priority to receive.]

Trump has not reacted well to the attacks [because he can more than match their vitriol], provoking ever-new attacks in relentless propaganda blow after propaganda blow. 'The Donald’ has not allowed himself to be intimidated and has responded in kind [except that even when he exaggerates, he does not indulge in fake news – wrong conjectures, yes, unfortunately, as in his sideshow skirmish with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and his ill-advised unconfirmed tweet that a 77-year-old Brooklyn man knocked down by the police during a protest rally was perhaps an agent provocateur of the rally organizers].

And so, there has been an escalation of the ideological division in the United States. Surveys show a divided America, with just a few centrists looking on. There seems to be an atmosphere now of civil war. [American ideological division has been deepening as the Democratic Party has increasingly advocated leftist liberal policies in the past two decades – culminating in the political leadership of such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, who have co-opted a weak-willed ideological weathervane like Joe Biden as the puppet through whom they hope to pull all the strings that matter if and when he becomes president. That is why the division was never more stark in terms of so-called ‘red’ (Republican) and ‘blue’ (Democrat) states seen in the 2012 presidential elections.]

To this has now been added a surreal atmosphere weighed down by nervousness, fear and uncertainties, that first arose with the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the United States severely. And the American left has not passed up any opportunity to blame everything on Trump, accusing him of incompetence in handling the health crisis [once again, ignoring all the things he did, from providing daily briefings to the nation during the first three months of the truly unprecedented pandemic and the social and economic havoc it has wrought, mobilizing heavy industry to produce ventilators much needed by US hospitals to deal with the most serious cases so that no hospital ever had to complain they did not have the ventilators, motivating other industries to gear up in order to turn out masks, gowns, gloves and sanitizers to meet the demand, deploying the armed forces to construct instant new hospitals where needed and to take care of distributing medical supplies to health facilities around the nation. His critics cry ‘incompetence’ but they cannot cite specific cases of incompetence – rather, it is as if they are blaming the whole global pandemic on him, criticizing him every day as being racist for calling the virus ‘the Wuhan virus’ or ‘the Chinese virus’ or, lately ‘the kung flu’.] And Trump, of course, has responded to them with his usual inflammatory tweets. So the atmosphere was already saturated.

It only needed one spark to make it explode. That spark was the death of George Floyd, a black man asphyxiated to death by a white policeman in Minneapolis who knelt on his throat for almost 9 minutes (though a review of all available videotapes showed he died after the first three minutes). This event, as horrifying as it was, would not have provoked this kind o explosion if the atmosphere had not already been saturated.

An atmosphere that distorts
the perception of reality

The first victim par excellence of this electrifying frenzy is the perception of reality.

Public opinion that is dominated by such a frenzy behaves in many ways like a psychologically labile person who is easy prey to paranoia. Psychiatry refers to "disturbances of sense perception”. - Perception of reality itself is changed, and consequently, its evaluation.
- Whereas marginal facts become sensational news, others that are perhaps more relevant tend to disappear from view.
- It then becomes very easy to disseminate not just fake news but also what we might call fake judgments, namely, false evaluations based on falsities presented as fact.

- It is a sort of collective paranoia in which, out of momentary excitement, persons lose the ability to think objectively and thus be able to judge a situation impartially in order to be able to react in an appropriate manner.

Gestures that in ordinary times would have been considered weird now are considered normal, even sympathetic. An example would be the ‘baciapiedi’ (kissing the feet) which are occurring more often in the USA – a black man on the street holds out his foot, and white men near him line up to kiss it. Or, here in Italy, the leaders of the Partita Democrata (PD) kneeling down in homage to George Floyd. A grotesque gesture, one would have said, were it not for the climate of revolutionary frenzy that inspired it.

That is why it has become so difficult for the defenders of order to oppose the revolutionary hurricane and its impetuous winds. Their ‘weapons’ – truth, logic, tranquility and good sense – are completely useless in a climate of collective paranoia.

A typical example of the false perception of reality is the manipulation of the term ‘racism’, claimed by the American left as the trigger for the current revolution, as the enemy to be defeated. All protesters appear convinced they are protesting ‘racism’. But one simply has to look at some relevant figures to realize that it is based on fake news [fake ‘facts’] leading to false judgment.

Official statistics from the Bureau of Justice in 2018 reported 547,948 cases of black-against-white violence, and 59,788 of white-against-black violence (National Crime Victimization Survey 2018, Table 4). In which it appears that the whites are ten times more the victims of racism.

Another example: From 2017 to 2019, US policemen had killed, in line of duty, 1,398 whites and 755 blacks – twice as many whites as blacks. Is that racism? [NB: For context, by Census Bureau estimate, blacks constituted 13.4% of the US population in 2019, and whites 76.3%.] In April 2015, the Washington Times published a well-documented report headlined “Police kill more whites than blacks, but only black deaths appear to arouse indignation”.

These past few weeks, statements have been made by prominent African-Americans like Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington and the rapper Lil Wayne, refuting the claim that racism is a dominant problem in US society today. But in the current climate, such statements were hardly reported or quickly passed over [as they go against the Dominant Thought] while the racism key is pounded over and over.

A side observation: The true ‘executioner’ of blacks in the USA is abortion. It is estimated that 44% of all abortions carried out in the USA victimize black babies(“Abortion: The overlooked tragedy for black Americans”, Arizona Capitol Times, 25 Feb 2020). [i.e., 44% of all US abortions take place among African-Americans who only make up 13.4% of the US population.] In short, a real holocaust of African Americans takes place every year, but the media never speak of this.

The role of propaganda
Another necessary element of revolution is propaganda.

Let’s start from the premise that those who create revolutionary propaganda know very well that a population in the grip of an electrifying frenzy is much more easily manipulated than public opinion that is reasoned and peaceable. But in times of revolution, one can wage all-out psychological war- unthinkable in normal times.

[Really? Since the global left gained ascendancy after their temporary setback with the collapse of communism in Europe, they have not stopped their psychological warfare, or more bluntly, their mass brainwashing of a captive population through the schools and the media. Just as the Masons decided back in the early 19th century that the way to bring down the Catholic Church was to subvert it from within, so that priests and prelates who think like them would eventually rise to the top – as they have succeeded since 2013 – so has the liberal left succeeded in coopting at least half of the American population to their politically correct One Thought, through the educational system and the media, reinforced in recent years by the rise of the Big Tech companies that made online forums the single most influential information tool ever employed in history. Perhaps, even the most shamelessly overt technique of global brainwashing that there could ever be.]

Manipulation is done in many ways:
- by the simple choice of what to publish and what not to publish
- reporting facts [and mis-facts] in an openly tendentious way
- by coloring the news in such a way as to strongly impress the reader emotionally rather than rationally
- or, presenting selected ‘news’ flatly and without calling any attention so that certain facts which would normally cause ‘excitement’ [or more than usual interest] in the reader, are instead read with indifference.

Propaganda is an authentic ‘art’. Sometimes called ‘Real Art’ by master propagandists – that revolutionaries have mastered to perfection.

An important aspect of revolutionary propaganda is to manipulate all elements of the environment that could possibly have an impact in individual sensibility especially at the subconscious level. It is what [Brazilian traditionalist philosopher] Plinio Correa de Oliveira calls the 'tendentious depth’ of revolutionary propaganda: colors, spaces, forms, music, fashions, etc which all combine to convey and reinforce the propaganda message. Thus, the skillful propaganda use of photographs, videos, symbols, gestures and key icons of the revolution du jour.

A concrete example of propagandistic discrimination in recent events: While the media has gone to great lengths to publicize the killing of George Floyd and later that of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of policemen, hardly anyone in the leftist media even reported the killing of David Dorn, 77, a retired policeman in St. Louis, Missouri, who was killed by looters while he stood guard at a friend’s jewelry store.

An interesting study of how propaganda has been manipulating the narrative on the ongoing ‘revolts’ in the USA comes from Danielle Kilgo and Summer Harlow of the University of Indiana, who observe: “The opinions of the public at large on the protests and the various movements animating the protests are largely formed by what they read or see in the media. This gives journalists an immense power to shape and guide the narrative on the revolts”. (“Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public’s view of protest”, Women’s Agenda).

Leaving aside the question of how the propaganda is financed [it all costs millions of dollars to launch and sustain], how have the media managed to coordinate among themselves such that they all report the same ‘news’ in the same way while they all ignore (silence or hide) news that does not fit their narrative? Here we get into the study – as fascinating as it is sensitive – of the mechanisms through which revolutionary forces organize among each other.

Suffice it to say that to think that so many players (as many as there are media outlets) could all move simultaneously in the same direction and in the same way to achieve the same end would be like thinking that by throwing out hundreds of alphabet letters from a window, they could all fall to the ground in such a way as to compose a poem. As the Americans would say, ‘it simply does not happen’.

The fear-and-sympathy binomial
Revolutionary psywar is baaed on the manipulation of what Correa de Oliveira called ‘the fear-and-sympathy binomial’: “A binomial of forces – let us call it ‘fear and sympathy’ – is at work in the psyche of numberless persons” (Trasbordo ideologico inavvertito e Dialogo (Inadvertent ideological transfer and dialog), 2012).

On the one hand, public opinion in the USA fears an eventual explosion of racial violence, with blood and destruction in its wake. On the other hand, it has a natural sympathy for racial equality and favors the peaceful integration of ethnic minorities into the national system. Specifically, public opinion fears pillage and violence while it demonstrates support for the peaceful manifestations carried out in the name of George Floyd.

With this psychological background then, revolutionary propaganda uses what Correa de Oliveira calls ‘talisman words’ – in this case, ‘racism’ – capable of arousing a whole constellation of impressions and emotions, of sympathies and revulsions, which act to direct the individual into new ideological paths.

A talisman word is loaded with great propagandistic efficiency. It also has a great elasticity, enabling it to be abused, so that it is presented in an ever-increasingly radical sense. Thus, from a rejection of ‘racism’ in its strict sense, namely, discrimination for reasons of race, it has gone on to rejection of the ‘racist’ society, which really means going on to fight every perceived discrimination – political, economic, cultural, moral, etc- ostensibly directed at persons of the ‘wrong’ race’. By using this psychological technique, revolutionary propaganda carries public opinion from an ideal that everyone can share to an anarchic ideal.

It would be useful to reread the cited essay byPCorrea da Oliveira, replacing the talisman word analyzed by him (‘dialog’) with ‘racism’.

An organizing structure
Is there an organizing structure behind these uprisings in the USA? Or are these spontaneous popular movements which are not coordinated among each other?

An organizing structure, often invisible, is an essential element for every revolution. It stimulates, coordinates and guides the uprisings.

A paradigmatic case was the so-called Grande Peur (Great Fear) in July 1789: “On the same day, at the same hour, and in the same manner, throughout France, emerged agitators who screamed for revolt, sowing fear and anxiety among the citizens who were driven to take up arms in the belief that 'The Germans are coming!' And so, uprisings arose everywhere. On the pretext of defending France, Jacobin clubs obtained guns from the Army. A few days later, people found out that it was all a great hoax, bringing the commotions to an end. But the Jacobins were now armed, further sharpening the climate of electrifying frenzy which had been fuelling the French Revolution.

Something similar is happening in the USA. “When protests are transformed into uprisings which take place everywhere at the same time, and using similar tactics and slogans, it is not the work of a few persons in revolt,” John Horvath comments. “When pallets of bricks appear near places where shortly pillage and violence will start, this is not the work of random opportunists. And when the protestors have the universal support of the media, of politicians, of celebrities, of corporate executives and the clergy, there is something much more in play. This seemingly universal uprising is led by persons who know how to direct and articulate events towards specific objectives. These revolts are neither spontaneous nor random. Movements like this require organization, planning and a narrative. They require expert militants”. (John Horvat II, “Facciamo attenzione alla regola seguita dagli artefici delle sommosse” (Let us pay attention to the rules followed by those who create uprisings), Tradition Family Property, 12-06-20).

A subversive and revolutionary goal
We come to the central and final point of this analysis.
What characterizes – I would say, what defines - a revolution is its ultimate goal to radically subvert the established order.

Revolutionary elements are not really there to protest this or that situation nor to resolve this or that problem. Given situations or problems are merely instruments, pretexts. Revolution means to derail established order.

“Rioters need violence because they are writing the narrative for everything that will follow,” Horvat writes. "It is the old narrative of the left according to which history is an eternal struggle between oppressors and oppressed. But rioters do not want social harmony because that would impede the advance of revolutionary progress. The American Left is exploiting the disorder to foment class war on a vast scale. All the known personages in this drama continue to be the same groups: abortionists, LGBT activists, socialists, feminists, even Satanists, all take part in this revolution against the established order.”

It is not by chance that the American left - amplified by the headline-making megaphonic screams of the protesters - has been characterizing these protests as a ‘systemic crisis’. In other words, the problem is not ‘racism’. They want to overturn the entire American system.

[Significantly, the so-called leader of the Black Lives Matter movement in Greater New York admitted as much in even stronger words in an interview last night when asked about the goal of his movement: “If our demands are not met, then we will burn down the system and replace it with our own”.

[And how do they think they will do that, even with the millions from George Soros and company that is financing their revolt? Replace a system that has been evolving since 1776, sometimes in fits and starts, to produce what is widely recognized, with all its imperfections, as the best democratic system in the world that offers equal opportunities for everyone? With what and with whom?

Does anyone believe that anyone of these rioters could possibly be a budding George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt – to mention just some of the historic names who have contributed to America’s greatness, many of whom have been the target of ignorant iconoclasts in the past few days of desecrating and/or pulling down historical monuments?]

For their purposes the Left uses any group which is angry and wishes to change the system in some point or other: abortionists, LGBT activists, socialists, feminists, etc. [He forgets the professional ‘community organizers’, such as Barack Obama started out, according to his guru Alinsky’s program, who would be, in some probably principal way, the organizers of this chaos, to use an the oxymoron.]

Revolutionary theorists speak of a New Proletariat committed to the struggle for what Herbert Marcuse defined as “a diffuse and total disintegration of the system”. The uprisings in the USA fall under a new type of revolution- which scholars call “diffuse molecular revolution” – diverse results serving as warning, such as in Chile at the end of 2019.

It is an anarchic revolution which seeks a general dissolution of the system and which uses any minority or social group willing and ready to rebel against any point of the established order. This, however, is for another article.

By Charles Lipson

June 24, 2020

Due process is not the strong suit of mobs. Neither is nuance, open discussion, or disagreement. These inherent defects should be painfully obvious as mobs pull down statues, seize sections of cities, and demand the public approach them on bended knee, literally. Anyone who dares push back, perhaps with a mild tweet saying “All lives matter,” faces immediate censure. If the mob is successful, any offenders will lose their jobs. Feckless employers are all too eager to appease the mob and hope it turns on another target.

In this perilous environment, the most frenzied voices do more than dominate the public square.
- They monopolize it by silencing dissent.
- They have received full-throated support from the tech giants that control electronic discussion and the media giants determined to shape the narrative rather than report the news.
- Twitter and NBC are the poster children for this assault on free and open discussion.
- Their suppression in the name of “social justice” betrays the idea, best articulated in John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,” that competing, divergent views lead to greater understanding and better decisions.

The idea of an open forum, so basic to democracies, already lies a-moldering in the grave of academia, at least in the humanities and social sciences.
- Imagine applying for a job in Gender Studies and saying you oppose abortions after, say, Week 38. The term for such a person is “unemployed.”
- Imagine merely calling for a discussion on the pros and cons of affirmative action, taking the negative side, and hoping to win tenure in political science, sociology, anthropology, or history. Bad career move. There is more robust political debate at the Academy Awards.
- University administrations are equally rigid. Rejecting affirmative action, questioning the implementation of Title 9, or opposing Black Lives Matter would end your chances of being hired by the admissions office or dean of students at nearly every American university.
- Yet all of them proudly tout, with no sense of irony, their “office of diversity and inclusion,” fully staffed and generously funded.

For them, of course, diversity never includes diverse viewpoints. It’s all about DNA and gender identity.
- Modern universities are now well-oiled machines to stamp out dissenting views. That’s been true for decades.
- What’s new, and disturbing, is seeing this orthodoxy spread to K-12 education, corporate HR departments, mainline churches, and newsrooms.

The “thought police” are on patrol and ever-vigilant, twirling the twin batons of guilt and moral superiority.
- Dissent from their approved views is not just considered an error, much less an innocent one.
- It is considered immoral, illegitimate, and unworthy of a public hearing.
- Although both left and right have moved steadily toward this abyss, the worst excesses today come from the left, just as they came from the right in the 1950s.
- Opponents are seen in religious terms, as dangerous apostates who deserve to be burned at the stake, at least symbolically.

You never expect the Spanish Inquisition. Yet here it is. That is the powerful iconography behind torching police cars and neighborhood stores.

The last time we saw this frenzy (without the arson) was during the dark days of Joe McCarthy and the Hollywood Blacklist. Audiences flocked to Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” because it likened the moment to the Salem witch trials. Today’s audiences would be appalled to hear the same critique now applies to them. Alas, it does.

Suppressing free speech is not the same as violence, but the two are invariably intertwined.
- The threat of violence not only underscores the intensity of particular views — it heightens the danger of voicing any disagreement.
- Large-scale violence, whatever its source, whatever its purpose, undermines social stability and assails democratic procedures.
- It won’t stand for long because the public won’t tolerate it. They will demand leaders who restore order. The only question is what kind of order and at what cost.

The first duty of any government is to establish public order and safety, ideally with popular support.
- In constitutional democracies, we have well-defined procedures to establish that order, determine its content (such the speed limit or right to carry a weapon), proper ways to enforce it, and penalties for violating it.
- In the United States, we have one additional constraint, a fundamentally important one: personal rights, such as freedom of speech and religion, cannot be overridden, even by large majorities.
- This social and political order is not static — it is always evolving — but there are well-established procedures to make those changes, ensure all voices are heard, and protect each citizen’s inalienable rights
. (Even using the term “citizen” is contentious these days. The language police don’t like it because it excludes some people.)

Calls to “Defund the police,” if they are serious, attack the very idea of establishing this peaceful public order. Cities foolish enough to attempt it will unleash violence, arson, and predation and meet a predictable backlash from citizens determined to protect their lives and property. They will either stand and fight or flee to safer spaces.

Although mobs are not always violent, rule by mobs is always a threat to constitutional democracy.
- Even peaceful protests can morph into mob rule when they stamp out dissenting voices or quash democratic procedures.
- We are seeing some of that today, where peaceful protests, guaranteed under the First Amendment’s rights to free speech and assembly, attempt to suppress others’ speech, demand obedience from public officials, topple symbols they claim to hate, and smear anyone bold enough to disagree.
- Corporations and universities have folded under these attacks as quickly as a cheap umbrella, or Seattle’s city council.

To preserve our democracy, we must resist the mob.
- That begins with understanding the gravity of the threat and standing up to it.
- They have no claim to moral superiority and no right to use violence to achieve their ends.
- Yielding the public square to this “thought police,” however powerful and intimidating they are, is the road to tyranny.
- It leads away from our country’s hard-won achievement of ordered liberty and constitutional democracy.
Remember, the mob aims to do more than pull down statues of the Founding Fathers. It aims to pull down their historic achievements.

Charles Lipson is Emeritus Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security.

And where is the ´Church´ in all this? The American bishops, with probably 2 or 3 exceptions out of more than 200, has been abject as ever, as shameful in their submission to blatant civil violation of the freedom of worship and their Pavlovian reflex of kowtowing to anyone they consider to be ´victims of society´. In which they mirror exactly what their pope in Rome and his Italian bishops have been doing. They would all make letter-perfect Muslims! (´Islam´ means submission, and that is what that faith demands of its subjects - unquestioning submission, faith without reason.

The Church collaborates in its own destruction
when it allies itself with anti'religious movement

by George Neumayr

June 21, 2020

One might think the Catholic Church would stand against the orgy of iconoclasm that we are witnessing across the country — toppled statues, defaced churches, and the like. But, no, the feeble voices of priests and bishops join the creepy chorus of the mob.

In California, the mob has targeted statues of Junipero Serra, the saintly Franciscan who spread the faith through a system of missions. Where is the Church to protect the statues? Nowhere. In Ventura, where the mob demands the removal of a Serra statue in front of its city hall, the Church has gone along with it, the Ventura Star reports.

In a joint statement released Thursday, Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere, Father Tom Elewaut of Mission San Buenaventura and Tumamait-Stenslie say they agree the statue should be removed from the public property.

The statue is a designated historic landmark, the statement says.
“We have listened and we have heard the calls from those in the community and believe the time has come for the statue to be taken down and moved to a more appropriate non-public location, it says.

“We all believe that the removal of the statue should be accomplished without force, without anger and … without uncivil discourse, much less vandalism,” the statement says.

According to its website, Black Lives Matter seeks to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another.”

It also seeks to build “a queer‐affirming network” and says, “When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of hetero'normative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).”

These and other odious positions, such as “defund the police,” should generate condemnations from the Church. Instead, the bishops are tripping over themselves to praise the group’s movement.

The same bishops who wouldn’t dare attend a pro-life demonstration turn up at Black Lives Matter protests.
- Bishop Mario Dorsonville, who used to live with the rapist Theodore McCarrick, marched in one in Washington, D.C.
- After El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz took a knee with Black Lives Matter, he was rewarded with a phone call from the pope, commending him for his activism.
- Seitz even softpedaled the seriousness of the mayhem that followed George Floyd’s death, saying, “My brother bishop in Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, suggested we should be less quick to judge the proportionality of ‘their’ response and start talking about the proportionality of ‘ours.’ We also need to remember what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, that ‘a riot is the language of the unheard.’”.

In this politically correct frenzy, priests are expected to ratify the lying narrative ripping the country apart. Woe to those who don’t.
- Witness Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s acceding to the sacking of the MIT chaplain Fr. Daniel Moloney, who failed to bow to the propaganda of Black Lives matter by writing, “In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.” He will have to be sent off to the bishops’ re-education camp.

Under Pope Francis, the Church has a death wish, conferring its blessing upon a revolution that will consume it. In all the bishops’ blather about the “failures” of the Church, they never mention one of the failures at the root of the revolution: the Church’s inability to transmit faith and virtue to rising generations.

For decades, the Church has preached politics instead of holiness, which has just added to the woes of our anti-religious age.
- Out of her secularized schools have come pro-abortion “Catholic” pols who de-Christianize society and poison young minds.
- Nancy Pelosi and company cheer on the mob as they crush the last symbols of civilization.
- On the toppled statues of Junipero Serra, among others, are the fingerprints of Church officials who were too cowardly or faithless to defend them. The future chroniclers of this age will find it remarkable that they came down not in spite of the Church but in part because of her.
00Saturday, June 27, 2020 4:56 AM
The following news today is a rare point of light in the moral and intellectual darkness cast by the chillingly hysterical reign of terror by American leftist protesters who are seeking to impose their will on this nation of 330 million by hook and by crook, by any means possible - the fouler the better - and at all costs. If one summed up the numbers they have mustered for their multiform demonstrations in the past three weeks since they seized on the reprehensible cop-killing of George Floyd as the pretext to unleash their irrational rage against the American system, the sum would not reach one million, yet with the rooting and cheering of mainstream media and the Big Tech online forums, and with the complicitness of Democratic governors, mayors and lawmakers who gleefully urge them on in their crimes, they behave and talk as if they alone can tell the rest of the American people what is acceptable and what is not. In clear defiance of the Constitution and of federal, state and municipal laws designed to insure the individual rights, public safety and property protection of every citizen...

Federal judge rules that Cuomo and De Blasio
had no authority to limit worship services
even as they were condoning mass protests

by Caleb Parke

June 27, 2020

NEW YORK CITY - A federal judge said today New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio "exceeded" their executive limits by limiting worship services and condoning mass protests as the state continues to reopen from coronavirus restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe issued a preliminary injunction Friday on behalf of two Catholic priests -- Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos -- and a trio of Orthodox Jewish congregants -- Elchanan Perr, Daniel Schonborn, and Mayer Mayerfeld -- in Brooklyn, represented by the Thomas More Society.

They filed the suit in the Northern District of New York after mass protests and looting occurred in the Big Apple following George Floyd's police-related death in May.

De Blasio had "simultaneous pro-protest/anti-religious gathering messages" when he "actively encouraged participation in protests and openly discouraged religious gatherings and threatened religious worshipers," Sharpe said in his federal order.

"Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio could have just as easily discouraged protests, short of condemning their message, in the name of public health and exercised discretion to suspend enforcement for public safety reasons instead of encouraging what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules," the judge added. "They could have also been silent. But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment."

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara celebrated the decision and called Cuomo's executive orders a "sham" that "went right out the window as soon as he and Mayor de Blasio saw a mass protest movement they favored taking to the streets by the thousands."

"Suddenly, the limit on ‘mass gatherings’ was no longer necessary to ‘save lives,’" Ferrara said in a statement to Fox News. "Yet they were continuing to ban high school graduations and other outdoor gatherings exceeding a mere 25 people."

He added, "This decision is an important step toward inhibiting the suddenly emerging trend of exercising absolute monarchy on [the] pretext of public health. What this kind of regime really meant in practice is freedom for me, but not for thee.”

The Justice Department called it a "win for religious freedom and the civil liberties of New Yorkers."

"Government cannot discriminate by protecting free speech and the right to assemble while threatening or limiting religious exercise – it must protect all rights guaranteed under the First Amendment,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said.

He continued: “The court’s decision is consistent with positions and arguments made by the United States Department of Justice in similar filings and letters, including in New York City and elsewhere around the country. The Department of Justice will continue to support people of faith who seek equal treatment against threats and actions by public officials who discriminate against them because of their religion. The Constitution and our oath to defend and protect it require nothing less."

As a result of the federal order, Cuomo, James, and de Blasio are "enjoined and restrained from enforcing any indoor gathering limitations” against the involved houses of worship “greater than imposed for Phase 2 industries,” provided that participants follow the prescribed social distancing.

They are also forbidden from “enforcing any limitation for outdoor gatherings provided that participants in such gatherings follow social distancing requirements as set forth in the applicable executive orders and guidance.”

In his decision, Sharpe notes the limits placed on houses of worship by the New York leaders: Still limiting houses of worship to 25 percent indoor capacity during Phases 2 and 3 and a 25 person outdoor gathering limit in Phase 3 locations, and a 10-person gathering limit in Phase 1 and 2, while allowing mass protests and other numbers for businesses and 150-person outdoor graduation ceremonies.

Among many violations cited in the lawsuit, Thomas More points out de Blasio ignored social distancing and the 10-person limit when he didn't wear a face mask on June 4 while attending and addressing a mass political gathering at New York City's Cadman Plaza. Days later, in Williamsburg, Hasidic Jewish children were kicked out of a park by a police officer enforcing Cuomo and de Blasio's 10-person limit on "non-essential gatherings."

In April, de Blasio threatened the Jewish community -- which had a string of attacks this past winter -- with arrests and prosecutions for "illegal" mass religious gatherings after police in Williamsburg broke up the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz.

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio wrote in a tweet. "I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period."

He was forced to apologize for targeting the Jewish community as a whole but doubled down on his remarks, calling it "tough love."
00Saturday, June 27, 2020 8:54 PM

Archbishop Viganò answers criticism

by Phil Lawler

June 26, 2020

In answer to written questions, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has issued a provocative new statement clarifying and expanding on his views on the doctrinal and pastoral problems that have arisen since Vatican II, the role of the Council in giving rise to those problems, and the need for “an act of humility that all of us, beginning with the hierarchy and the Pope, must carry out: recognizing the infiltration of the enemy into the heart of the Church.”

The following is the text of Vigano’s written replies to the questions. It is preceded by a note that says:

“Dear Mr. Lawler, I have received through our mutual friend Edward Pentin your e-mail in which you have questions about what I have recently written about Vatican-II. I am glad to answer you, hoping that my reflections may contribute to heal the Catholic Church of the grave ills that afflict her.”


First, what are you saying about Vatican II? That things have gone downhill fast since then is certainly true.
- But if the whole Council is a problem, how did that happen?
- How do we reconcile that with what we believe about the inerrancy of the magisterium?
- How were all the Council fathers deceived? Even if only some parts of the Council (e.g. Nostra Aetate, Dignitatis Humanae) are problematical, we still face the same questions.
- Many of us have been saying for years that the “spirit of Vatican II” is in error. Are you now saying that this phony liberal “spirit” does accurately reflect the work of the Council?

I do not think that it is necessary to demonstrate that the Council represents a problem: the simple fact that we are raising this question about Vatican II and not about Trent or Vatican I seems to me to confirm a fact that is obvious and recognized by everyone. In reality, even those who defend the Council with swords drawn find themselves doing so apart from all the other previous ecumenical councils, of which not even one was ever said to be a pastoral council.

And note that they call it “the Council” par excellence, as if it was the one and only council in the entire history of the Church, or at least considering it as an unicum , whether because of the formulation of its doctrine or for the authority of its magisterium. It is a council that, differently from all those that preceded it, called itself a pastoral council, declaring that it did not want to propose any new doctrine, but which in fact created a distinction between before and after, between a dogmatic council and a pastoral council, between unequivocal canons and empty talk, between ‘anathema sit['Let him be anathema', refrain marking the heretical errors listed by the Council of Trent] and winking at the world.

In this sense, I believe that the problem of the infallibility of the Magisterium (the inerrancy you mention is properly a quality of Sacred Scripture) does not even arise, because the Legislator, that is, the Roman Pontiff around whom the Council was convened, solemnly and clearly affirmed that he did not want to use the doctrinal authority which he could have exercised if he wanted. I would like to make the observation that nothing is more pastoral than what is proposed as dogmatic, because the exercise of the munus docendi in its highest form coincides with the order that the Lord gave to Peter to feed his sheep and lambs.
- And yet this opposition between dogmatic and pastoral was made precisely by the one [John XXIII] who, in his discourse opening the Council, sought to give a severe meaning to dogma and a softer, more conciliatory meaning to pastoral care.
- We also find the same setting in the interventions of Bergoglio, where he identifies “pastoralism [pastoralità]” as a soft version of rigid Catholic teaching in matters of Faith and Morals, in the name of discernment.

It is painful to recognize that the practice of having recourse to an equivocal lexicon, using Catholic terms understood in an improper way, invaded the Church starting with Vatican II, which is the first and most emblematic example of the so-called ciciterismo, the equivocating and intentionally imprecise use of the language. [It was a term used for conceptual vagueness or vacuity by Romano Amerio (1905-1997, Swiss-Italian theologian who famously critiqued post-Vatican II 'evolution' in ecclesiology and liturgy, in the book Iota Unum)]. This happened because aggiornamento, a term in itself ideologically promoted by the Council as an absolute, held dialogue with the world to be its priority above all else.

There is another equivocation that must be clarified:
- If on the one hand John XXIII and Paul VI declared that they did not want to commit the Council to the definition of new doctrines and wanted it to limit itself to being only pastoral,
- on the other hand it is true that externally — mediatically or in the media, we would say today — the emphasis given to its acts was enormous. This emphasis served to convey the idea of a presumed doctrinal authority, of an implicit magisterial infallibility, even though these were clearly excluded right from the beginning.

If this emphasis occurred, it was in order to allow the more or less heterodox instances to be perceived as authoritative and thus to be accepted by the clergy and the faithful.

But this would be enough to discredit those authors of a similar deception, who still cry out today if anyone touches Nostra Aetate, while they are silent even if someone denies the divinity of Our Lord or the perpetual virginity of Mary Most Holy.

Let us recall that
- Catholics do not worship a Council, neither Vatican II nor Trent, but rather the Most Holy Trinity, the One True God;
- they do not venerate a conciliar declaration or a post-synodal exhortation but rather the Truth that these acts of the Magisterium convey.

You ask me: “How were all the Council fathers deceived?” I reply by drawing on my experience of those years and the words of my brothers with whom I engaged in discussion at that time.
- No one could have imagined that right in the heart of the ecclesial body there were hostile forces so powerful and organized that they could succeed in rejecting the perfectly orthodox preparatory schemas that had been prepared by Cardinals and Prelates with a reliable fidelity to the Church, replacing them with a bundle of cleverly disguised errors behind long-winded and deliberately equivocal speeches.
- No one could have believed that, right under the vaults of the Vatican Basilica, the estates-general could be convoked that would decree the abdication of the Catholic Church and the inauguration of the Revolution. (As I have already mentioned in a previous article, Cardinal Suenens called Vatican II “the 1789 of the Church”).
- The Council Fathers were the object of a sensational deception, of a fraud that was cleverly perpetrated by having recourse to the most subtle means: they found themselves in the minority in the linguistic groups, excluded from meetings convened at the last moment, pressured into giving their placet by making them believe that the Holy Father wanted it.
- And what the innovators did not succeed in obtaining in the Conciliar Aula, they achieved in the Commissions and Committees, thanks also to the activism of theologians and periti who were accredited and acclaimed by a powerful media machine.

There is a vast array of studies and documents that testify to this systematic malicious mens [mentality] of some of the Council Fathers on the one hand, and the naïve optimism or carelessness of other well-intentioned Council Fathers on the other. The activity of the Coetus Internationalis Patrum [opposing the innovators] could do little or nothing, when the violations of the rules by the progressives were ratified at the Sacred Table itself [by the Pope].

Those who have maintained that the “spirit of the Council” represented a heterodox or erroneous interpretation of Vatican II engaged in an unnecessary and harmful operation, even if they were driven to do so in good faith.
- It is understandable that a Cardinal or Bishop would want to defend the honor of the Church and desire that she would not be discredited before the faithful and the world, and so it was thought that what the progressives attributed to the Council was in reality an undue misrepresentation, an arbitrary forcing.

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

On the other hand, when we commonly speak of the spirit of an event, we mean precisely that it constitutes the soul, the essence of that event. We can thus affirm that
- the spirit of the Council is the Council itself,
- that the errors of the post-conciliar period were contained in nuce (in a nutshell) in the Conciliar Acts,

just as it is rightly said that the Novus Ordo is the Mass of the Council, even if in the presence of the Council Fathers, the Mass that was always celebrated was the Mass that the progressives significantly call pre-conciliar.
- And again: if Vatican II truly did not represent a point of rupture, what is the reason for speaking of a pre-conciliar Church and a post-conciliar church, as if these were two different entities, defined in their essence by the Council itself?
- And if the Council was truly in line with the uninterrupted infallible Magisterium of the Church, why is it the only Council that poses grave and serious problems of interpretation, demonstrating its ontological heterogeneity with respect to other Councils?

What is the solution? Bishop Schneider proposes that a future Pontiff must repudiate errors; Archbishop Viganò finds that inadequate. But then how can the errors be corrected, in a way that maintains the authority of the teaching magisterium?
The solution, in my opinion, lies above all in an act of humility that all of us, beginning with the Hierarchy and the Pope, must carry out: recognizing
- the infiltration of the enemy into the heart of the Church,
- the systematic occupation of key posts,
- the conspiracy of a group of rebels — including, in the front line, the deviated Society of Jesus — which has succeeded in giving the appearance of legitimacy and legality to a subversive and revolutionary act.

We should also recognize the inadequacy of the response of the good, the naivete of many, the fearfulness of others, and the interests of those who have benefited thanks to that conspiracy.

After his triple denial of Christ in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter “flevit amare” - he wept bitterly. Tradition tells us that the Prince of the Apostles had two furrows on his cheeks for the rest of his days, as a result of the tears which he copiously shed, repenting of his betrayal.
- It will be for one of his Successors, the Vicar of Christ, in the fullness of his apostolic power, to rejoin the thread of Tradition there where it was cut off. This will not be a defeat but an act of truth, humility, and courage.
- The authority and infallibility of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles will thus emerge intact and reconfirmed.
In fact, they were not deliberately called into question at Vatican II, but ironically they would be on a future day in which a Pontiff would correct the errors that that Council permitted, playing jests with the equivocation of an authority it officially denied having but that the faithful were surreptitiously allowed to understand that it did have by the entire Hierarchy, beginning right with the Popes of the Council.

I wish to recall that for some people what is expressed above may sound excessive, because it would seem to call into question the authority of the Church and of the Roman Pontiffs. And yet, no scruple impeded the violation of Saint Pius V’s Bull Quo primum tempore, abolishing from one day to the next the entire Roman Liturgy, the venerable millenary treasure of the doctrine and spirituality of the traditional Mass, the immense patrimony of Gregorian chant and sacred music, the beauty of the rites and sacred vestments; disfiguring architectural harmony even in the most distinguished basilicas, removing balustrades, monumental altars, and tabernacles: everything was sacrificed on the conciliar renewal’s altar of coram populo [facing the people], with the aggravating circumstance of having done it only because that Liturgy was admirably Catholic and irreconcilable with the spirit of Vatican II.

The Church is a divine institution, and everything in her ought to start with God and return to Him.

- What is at stake is not the prestige of a ruling class, nor the image of a company or a party.
- What we are dealing with here is the glory of the Majesty of God, of not nullifying the Passion of Our Lord on the Cross, of the sufferings of His Most Holy Mother, of the blood of the Martyrs, of the testimony of the Saints, of the eternal salvation of souls.
- If out of pride or unfortunate obstinacy we do not know how to recognize the error and deception into which we have fallen, we will have to give an account to God, who is as merciful with his people when they repent as he is implacable in justice when they follow Lucifer in his non serviam
['I will not serve', Lucifer's defiance of God.]

Dearest Doctor Lawler, to you and to your readers, I cordially send my greetings and the blessing of Our Lord, through the intercession of His and our Most Holy Mother.

00Sunday, June 28, 2020 8:05 PM

Left: Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know" by Fr. Daniel Moloney was published recently by Ignatius Press and Augustine Institute. Right: June 16 article in The Boston Globe about Fr. Moloney resigning from his position
as Catholic chaplain at MIT.

“Crucify him!”:
The will of the mob and Fr. Daniel Moloney

by Joseph Pearce

June 20, 2020

Fr. Daniel Moloney is one of the finest priests I know and one of the most erudite. I have been honored to work with him in my capacity as Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute because he is the author of Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know,which is a fine and orthodox exposition of the virtue of mercy, without which justice is impossible.

It was ironic, therefore, that Fr. Moloney was shown neither mercy nor justice when he was forced to resign from his position as Catholic chaplain at MIT for daring to suggest that we should keep our heads in the wake of the death of George Floyd, allowing reason and love to make sense of what really happened during his tragic arrest in Minneapolis.

There is a further irony in the fact that the Gospel text on which Fr. Moloney was preaching, which caused him to be sacrificed as a scapegoat to assuage the demands of the mob, was “blessed are the peacemakers”.

Let’s look at the reasons given for Fr. Moloney’s forced resignation, and then let’s look at what he actually said. The abyss between the hysteria of the former and the charity and clarity of the latter is striking.

Suzy Nelson, dean of student life at MIT, sent an email to students calling Moloney’s comments “deeply disturbing”, adding that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character, Father Moloney’s message failed to acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism.”

Much more deeply disturbing than anything Fr. Moloney actually wrote was the fact that this good priest was thrown to the dogs by his own archdiocese to assuage the blood lust of the mob. A spokesman for the archdiocese described his comments as “wrong” and apparently so wrong that he was forced to resign.

Having given the case for the prosecution, which might perhaps more accurately be described as the justification for the persecution and the rationale for the witch-hunt, let’s look at what Fr. Moloney actually wrote.
- “The Gospel says one thing,” Fr. Moloney began, referring to the blessedness of the peacemakers, “and everyone else is saying partial truths, at most.”
- Having lamented the unjust and brutal killing of George Floyd, Fr. Moloney stated the uncontested facts, as “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” as they might be, that George Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life”.
- Having stated the obvious, he stated the uncontested fact that Mr. Floyd had been “convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit”.
- Furthermore, and continuing to state uncontested facts, Fr. Moloney mentioned that Mr. Floyd was “high on drugs at the time of his arrest”.
- This statement of well-known and incontrovertible facts was then followed by what Fr. Moloney had to say about them:

He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel. Catholics want all life protected from conception until natural death.

The police officer who knelt on his neck until he died acted wrongly. Watching the video, I wondered, what he was thinking?! The charges filed against him allege dangerous negligence, but say nothing about his state of mind. He might have killed George Floyd intentionally, or not. He hasn’t told us.

But he showed disregard for his life, and we cannot accept that in our law enforcement officers. It is right that he has been arrested and will be prosecuted…. Criminals have human dignity, too. That’s why we Catholics are asked to work to abolish the death penalty in this country.

What exactly has Fr. Moloney said that could constitute the “devaluing and disparaging” of George Floyd’s character? Where, in these words about rooting for sinners and wanting all lives protected “from conception until natural death” did Fr. Moloney “fail to acknowledge the dignity of each human being”?

Although Fr. Moloney might have said something “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” in failing to bend the knee to the newly canonized saint, George Floyd, one suspects that his greatest crime was his apparent failure to stress the “devastating impact of systemic racism”. It is in the uttering of the following words that he would have committed the greatest crime in the eyes of the ideological ethno-masochists:

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is a major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.

It is this statement which incited the lynch-mob to descend on Fr. Moloney. In the eyes of the mob, such statements are not merely “deeply disturbing” and ”wrong”, they are deeply heretical. Anyone who utters such heresies must be made a scapegoat and must be sacrificed on the altar of the new “woke” religion.

Let’s exacerbate the so-called “heresy” and risk the ire of the mob by insisting on the known facts.
- Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we don’t know that the killing of George Floyd was an act of racism.
- We know and could see with our own eyes that it was an act of crass and probably sadistic brutality, but there is no evidence that Derek Chauvin was a racist. In his many years as a police officer, there’s not a single complaint alleging that he acted in a racist manner. [But several about his undue use of force!]

And let’s make sure that we know exactly what Fr. Moloney was actually saying and, equally important, what he was not saying.
- He wasn’t saying, as some have alleged by misquoting him, that George Floyd’s death was not an act of racism.
- He was simply saying that we don’t know whether it was racist. It might be but there’s no actual evidence to suggest it. The only evidence is one of presumption.
- It is presumed that Derek Chauvin must be a racist because he is a white police officer. Now this presumption is really “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” because it is accusing every police officer who happens to have been tainted with the wrong colored skin of being guilty as charged, merely because of his skin color, irrespective of the total lack of actual or factual evidence.

As for racism itself, Fr. Moloney condemns it in no uncertain terms. “Racism is a sin,” he says. “So is rash judgment”. He then goes on to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church to illustrate the solidarity that is both needed and lacking in our current hate-filled and unforgiving times:

Solidarity with our fellow human beings is ‘a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood… sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross to his heavenly Father, on behalf of sinful humanity.” (#1939). Our solidarity with one another is deeply frayed now. Everything we say (or don’t say) is treated with suspicion, rather than charity…. Everyone’s mind is made up, everyone’s angry with each other — even though everyone says they’re opposed to injustices and sins.

Fr. Moloney concludes his “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” overview of the present calamitous situation by returning to the words of the Gospel which had animated everything he said. “Blessed are the peacemakers, our Lord tells us. May we all be counted among them.”
- Can anyone in their right mind and heart really believe that anything Fr. Moloney said constitutes a reason for his being offered as a sacrifice to the mob?
- Can we really find anything in his words that are truly “wrong” as the archdiocesan spokesman claimed?

It is said that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. In this case the [supposedly] good men did much worse than merely nothing. They did the dirty work of the mob.

It is intriguing in this light to consider the words of the leader of another mob, a mob which was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and a mob which is nonetheless admired, in spite of the death-count, by many of those in the current mobs besieging our nation.

It was Lenin who said that the mob should advance on all fronts, withdrawing when it encounters steel but advancing when it encounters mush. In this instance, the mob has encountered nothing but mush and has advanced over the bruised and bleeding priest who is its latest innocent victim.

As for Fr. Moloney, he shows us in his book Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know, the tyranny of a society that demands justice but not mercy.
- It is true, as the mob claims, proclaiming it as a violent threat, that where there’s no justice, there’s also no peace.
- It is also true, however, that where there is no love and mercy, there will be neither peace nor justice.

The mob knows nothing of love or mercy as its hatred against this good and holy priest demonstrates. He was shown no mercy by the mob, nor was he protected by the archdiocese, which showed no courage in throwing the lamb to the pack of ravenous wolves. This is the ugly truth which is really and truly “deeply disturbing” and “wrong”.

Canceling Father Moloney
By David Deavel

June 26, 2020

...I was made aware last week of a story involving an old friend who did not remain silent and who was indeed canceled.

Fr. Daniel Moloney, who had served as the Catholic chaplain at MIT since 2015, was forced to resign after writing a letter to the MIT community concerning George Floyd and the protests that offended the sensibilities of some members of MIT’s student life and diversity administration. [And the Archdiocese of Boston, under Cardinal Sean O’Malley – whose blatant hypocrisies are probably sending, even if unremarked at his funeral urn in San Giovannin Rotondo, the mortal remains of his sainted fellow Capuchin Padre Pio into endless cartwheels of indignation – promptly threw its full weight against Moloney.]

Fr. Moloney’s June 7 email was about the deep divisions in society that are caused by sin and need to be healed.
- Fr. Moloney clearly condemned Officer Chauvin’s actions: “George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn’t have been.”
- But it dared to make the further point that George Floyd was himself not a saint and was indeed a person whose life was not conspicuous for virtue.

Fr. Moloney’s point in making this observation was that such a situation did not mean that Floyd should have died, because George Floyd retained his human dignity. Indeed, our human dignity cannot be erased or ignored precisely because it is not rooted in our own virtue but instead in our human nature: We are beloved sons and daughters of God and made in His image. But, Moloney went on, [dim=12 pt] We do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel… Criminals have human dignity, too.”

One can’t be much clearer than this about George Floyd’s dignity, and yet MIT’s Dean of Student Life, Suzy Nelson, was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, “Those who wrote me and other senior leaders were outraged, and many felt abandoned and alienated by their faith. By devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character, Father Moloney’s message failed to acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism.”

One can see by the combination of claims that Dean Nelson realized that accusing Fr. Moloney of denying “systemic racism” is a weak claim and likely had to put a little more egg in the pudding by charging him with something that is more serious—albeit patently false. But her statement was for public consumption.

No, the real “sin” against academic administrators and departments of diversity was to question the claims that Officer Chauvin was motivated by racism and that police departments are themselves “systemically racist.”
- He did not even deny the claims. Moloney simply said, “I do not think we know that.”
- It did not matter that Fr. Moloney acknowledged that police departments are themselves filled with individuals who sometimes become hardened, brutal, and even racist. (“Some of them certainly develop attitudes towards the people they investigate and arrest that are unjust and sinful.”)

While Dean Nelson claimed Fr. Moloney had not lived up to the statement he signed as a chaplain, acknowledging that “actions or statements that diminish the value of individuals or groups of people are prohibited,” it is pretty clear that this statement is being interpreted as protecting some people and groups from criticism.
- While George Floyd was beyond criticism, Derek Chauvin is assumed to have acted out of racism and must be devalued.
- While protesters and even rioters must not be “diminished or devalued” (read: criticized), police departments as a whole must be considered as dangerous agents of destruction to minorities.
The real sin was to cite the inconvenient facts that 150 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019 and that 18 people, including one police officer, have been killed in the “riots.” Even to use that last term is to court controversy.

It really did not matter that Fr. Moloney’s letter, which acknowledged the human dignity of all people and condemned police brutality and any kind of racism, and which cited approvingly calls for abolition of the death penalty by Catholic bishops and by the pope, was a model of balance and a call for all people to seek mercy, justice, and reconciliation. What mattered was that he had not repeated the dogmatic utterances of a secular religion. He had to be canceled.

I am not surprised by the position of MIT’s administrators. Frankly, I would have been more shocked in today’s atmosphere if they had done otherwise. What I am shocked by is the craven attitude taken by the archbishop of Boston. In a statement quoted by the Globe, the archdiocese said that though they should not be taken to represent Fr. Moloney’s entire ministry, his comments “nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”

They were “wrong”?
- What the diocese indicated was wrong was that they did not comport with Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s recent letter on the George Floyd killing.
- That letter invokes the language of “systemic and structural racism,” repeats the claim that the protests were mostly peaceful, and closes with the holy phrase of our times, “Black Lives Matter.”
Black Lives Matter. Full stop.

But this use of the capitalized phrase is a drastic mistake as it gives a kind of imprimatur to a group whose official statements include some claims that cannot be reconciled with Catholic Christianity. Is such language now required in the Archdiocese of Boston? It appears so.

My guess is that what further motivated Dean Nelson and also the archbishop was Fr. Moloney’s even more blunt language written the day before on his personal blog, “Spiritual Directions,” in which he was more explicit about the context of our discussions:

Racism is a sin, and Jesus conquers sin. It’s a sad fact that most of our thinking about race takes place in a left-wing, Marxist, atheistic context, in which a desire for power and an awareness of otherness crowd out Christian reflections on meekness and solidarity It didn’t used to be this way.

The Civil Rights movement was once led by Christians, most notably the Protestant Pastor Martin Luther King. It appealed to the Gospel to unify people of all races. As in so much of our life, so too with regard to race, it’s a struggle to think in Christian terms.
- When people only talk about justice, it’s a struggle to cultivate mercy.
- It’s a struggle to forgive those who have trespassed against us, or people like us.
- It’s easy to forget what we said above, that mercy is commanded of us.

- The reminder that in a godless world, power ends up being the dominant — sometimes the only — category is too much for those for who pride themselves on “compassion.”
- The reminder that the oft-invoked Civil Rights movement was much different than the Marxist-influenced Black Lives Matter movement is too much for academics and activists claiming its mantle.
- The reminder that these views are mostly found on one end of the political spectrum is too much for clerics desperately afraid to be thought un-progressive.

To his credit, Fr. Moloney expressed sorrow for the way in which his letter was taken but did not apologize for his letter. Though the Archdiocese of Boston may say so officially, Fr. Moloney did nothing wrong. I am sympathetic to what I take to be Cardinal O’Malley’s desire to keep a good relationship with MIT in order to have a priest chaplain on campus.
- If the Cardinal judged a full-throated defense of Fr. Moloney imprudent, an eventual reassignment of Fr. Moloney and the appointment of a new chaplain would not have been completely inappropriate after a bit of time for things to cool down and some efforts to smooth things over.
- He could have shown Dean Nelson and those in the MIT administration what kind of attitude to speech a university ought to have by sponsoring precisely the difficult but charitable conversation that they say they want, but Fr. Moloney actually had the courage to undertake.

But to give in to the mob and to say something false is a shameful betrayal of the truth. It also invites the silencing of every Catholic and indeed every other person out there who does not hold the requisite politically correct opinions.

One notes that one of the most prominent Black Lives Matter activists, Shaun King, recently tweeted that he believes that “statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down.”If depictions of Christ or Mary in your church are deemed “too white,” what will the Cardinal say?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous 1974 essay “Live Not by Lies” is appropriate here. His call was for a refusal to participate in lies or even the tyranny of partial truths either by repeating them or by allowing others to think we hold to them. He implored his readers:

The simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation (is) our personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything. But not with any help from me.”

Bishops, even Cardinals, need to read it now and read it often.

And Catholics and other Christians need to recall the words of Flannery O’Connor written in a letter to a friend disappointed in the Catholic Church: “It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it, but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.”

00Wednesday, July 1, 2020 4:57 PM

'Pandemania" at least two weeks officially over in Italy - yet the people who came for the Sunday Angelus with the pope were so few (and St. Peter's Square so huge) they did not need to consciously 'social-distance' themselves.
00Wednesday, July 1, 2020 5:04 PM

Thanks to Rorate caeli for the obit.

Benedict XVI’s brother
Georg Ratzinger has died

July 1, 2020

REGENSBURG, July 1, 2020 (CNA) - Benedict XVI’s older brother Georg Ratzinger died on Wednesday, just a little more than one week after the Pope emeritus’ visit.

Msgr. Georg Ratzinger died at his home in Regensburg at the age of 96 on July 1.

The Pope Emeritus was able to say a last goodbye to his older brother on June 22 at the end of a four-day trip to Germany to spend time with his ailing brother.

“One can only wish everyone such affection, such a fraternal togetherness, as witnessed in the relationship of the Ratzinger brothers. It lives on fidelity, trust, selflessness and a solid foundation: in the case of the Ratzinger brothers, this is the common, living faith in Christ, the Son of God,” Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said June 22.

Voderholzer said that the Eucharist was offered every day at Georg’s bedside during Benedict’s visit. The bishop said that when he participated in the Mass with the two brothers he felt that this “is the source upon which they live.”

Msgr. Ratzinger was born in Bavaria on January 15, 1924 as the first son of Joseph and Maria Ratzinger. He expressed an early talent for music, learning to play the violin and the church organ as a child.

He went on to serve as the choir master of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the cathedral choir of Regensburg, from 1964 to 1994.

On June 29, 2011, he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest in Rome together with his brother. Both men were ordained priests in 1951.

Mons. Georg died 2 days after the 69th anniversary of that ordination.

Georg Ratzinger dies in Regensburg

July 1, 2020

The elderly Bavarian priest had been hospitalized in Regensburg, in Bavaria, where he lived and where he received his brother Joseph’s final visit, with whom he had been ordained on the same day.
By Vatican News

Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of the Pope emeritus, died Wednesday morning, aged 96. He had been hospitalized in Regensburg, the city where he lived the greater part of his long life.

With his death, Joseph Ratzinger – who had desired to make the journey by plane to see his dying brother one last time – remains the only member of the family still alive.

The two brothers – one a musician and kappellmeister of a famous choir, the other first a theologian and then a bishop, cardinal, and finally pope - were ordained together on the same day, and were always closely united.

Born in Pleiskirchen, Bavaria, on 15 January 1924, Georg Ratzinger began playing the organ in the parish church when he was 11 years old. In 1935 he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein, but in 1942 he was conscripted into the Reichsarbeitsdienst (the Reich Labour Service), and later in the Wehrmacht, with which he also fought in Italy. Captured by the Allies in March 1945, he remained a prisoner in Naples for several months before being released and allowed to return to his family.

In 1947, together with his brother Joseph, he entered the Herzogliches Georgianum seminary in Munich. On 29 June 1951, both brothers, along with about forty other companions, were ordained priests in the Cathedral of Freising by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber.

After directing the choir in Traunstein for thirty years, from 1964 to 1994, he became the Kappelmeister of the cathedral choir of the Regensburg, the “Regensburger Domspatzen”. He toured the world conducting numerous concerts, and directed many recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Ars Musici and other important record labels, with productions dedicated to Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn and other composers.

On 22 August 2008, thanking the mayor of Castel Gandolfo for having granted Georg honorary citizenship, Benedict XVI said of his brother, “From the beginning of my life my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but also a trustworthy guide. For me he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He has always shown me the path to take, even in difficult situations.”

“My brother and I,” said Georg Ratzinger in an interview eleven years ago, “were both altar boys, we both served Mass. It was soon clear to us, first to me and then to him, that our life would be at the service of the Church.”

And he shared memories of their childhood: “At Tittmoning, Joseph had received Confirmation from Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, the great Archbishop of Munich. He had been impressed, and said he too wanted to become a cardinal. But, only a few days after this encounter, seeing the painter who painted the walls of our house, he also said that when he grew up, he wanted to be a painter…”

After recalling the dark years of the war, and their father’s opposition to Nazism, Georg spoke about the love of music they shared: “In our house everyone loved music. Our father had a zither that he often played in the evening. We used to sing together. It was always an event for us. In Marktl am Inn, later, there was a music band that fascinated me. I always thought that music was one of the most beautiful things God created. My brother always loved music too. Maybe I infected him.”

Georg was a forthright man, little accustomed to diplomacy. As an example, he never hid the fact that he did not rejoice at his brother’s election to the papacy in April 2005: “I must admit, I didn’t expect it, and was a bit disappointed,” he said. “Given his heavy commitments, I understood that our relationship would be notably curtailed. In any case, behind the human decision of the cardinals, there is the will of God, and to this we must say yes.”

In 2011, in an interview with a German magazine, Georg Ratzinger said, “If he could no longer carry out his duties from the point of view of his physical condition, my brother should have the courage to resign.” And he would be among the first to be informed, months in advance, of Benedict’s historic decision to renounce the Petrine ministry for reasons of age.

“Age makes itself felt,” Georg observed after the announcement of the resignation in February 2013. “My brother desires more peace in old age.” Despite health issues with his legs and eyesight, the older brother of the Pope emeritus continued to travel from Regensburg to Rome, staying at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery for various periods, spending time with Benedict and keeping him company.

Georg also appeared, in segments excerpted from various interviews, in a half-hour documentary by journalist Tassilo Forchheimer for Bayerischer Rundfunk, the public broadcaster in Bavaria, which was aired in January 2020.

For the Diocese of Regensburg, Georg Ratzinger became an important personage in its history when he was named Domkapellmeister (Cathedral Choir Master) of the city's St. Peter's Cathedral in 1964, leading the world-famous Regensburger Domspatzen ('Regensburg Sparrows) boys' choir for the next 30 years, taking them to numerous tours abroad and conducting them in numerous albums. Even if he had not been brother to Joseph Ratzinger, the diocese would have paid homage to him at his death as they did today on their website.
You may sign in to express your condolences at

00Wednesday, July 1, 2020 8:15 PM

'White fragility' in the DiAngelo book refers to what she alleges to be 'white people's paper-thin skin' because "our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall
to pieces at the first application of stress—such as, for instance, when someone suggests that “flesh-toned” may not be an appropriate name for a beige crayon".

On 'White Fragility' -
America’s current #1 bestseller, being
the egghead view of white 'racism'

June 28, 2020

A core principle of the academic movement that shot through elite schools in America since the early nineties was the view that individual rights, humanism, and the democratic process are all just stalking-horses for white supremacy. The concept, as articulated in books like former corporate consultant Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (Amazon’s #1 seller!) reduces everything, even the smallest and most innocent human interactions, to racial power contests.

It’s been mind-boggling to watch White Fragility celebrated in recent weeks.
- When it surged past a Hunger Games book on bestseller lists, USA Today cheered, “American readers are more interested in combatting racism than in literary escapism.”
- When DiAngelo appeared on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon gushed, “I know… everyone wants to talk to you right now!”
- White Fragility has been pitched as an uncontroversial road-map for fighting racism, at a time when after the murder of George Floyd Americans are suddenly (and appropriately) interested in doing just that.

Except this isn’t a straightforward book about examining one’s own prejudices. Have the people hyping this impressively crazy book actually read it?

DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. Her book has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.

If your category is “white,” bad news: you have no identity apart from your participation in white supremacy (“Anti-blackness is foundational to our very identities… Whiteness has always been predicated on blackness”), which naturally means “a positive white identity is an impossible goal.”

DiAngelo instructs us there is nothing to be done here, except “strive to be less white.” To deny this theory, or to have the effrontery to sneak away from the tedium of DiAngelo’s lecturing – what she describes as “leaving the stress-inducing situation” – is to affirm her conception of white supremacy. This intellectual equivalent of the “ordeal by water” (if you float, you’re a witch) is orthodoxy across much of academia.

DiAngelo’s writing style is pure pain. The lexicon favored by intersectional theorists of this type is built around the same principles as Orwell’s Newspeak: it banishes ambiguity, nuance, and feeling and structures itself around sterile word pairs, like racist and antiracist, platform and deplatform, center and silence, that reduce all thinking to a series of binary choices. Ironically, Donald Trump does something similar, only with words like “AMAZING!” and “SAD!” that are simultaneously more childish and livelier.

Writers like DiAngelo like to make ugly verbs out of ugly nouns and ugly nouns out of ugly verbs (there are countless permutations on centering and privileging alone). In a world where only a few ideas are considered important, redundancy is encouraged, e.g. “To be less white is to break with white silence and white solidarity, to stop privileging the comfort of white people,” or “Ruth Frankenberg, a premier white scholar in the field of whiteness, describes whiteness as multidimensional…”

DiAngelo writes like a person who was put in timeout as a child for speaking clearly. “When there is disequilibrium in the habitus — when social cues are unfamiliar and/or when they challenge our capital — we use strategies to regain our balance,” she says (“People taken out of their comfort zones find ways to deal,” according to Google Translate). Ideas that go through the English-DiAngelo translator usually end up significantly altered, as in this key part of the book when she addresses Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” speech:

One line of King’s speech in particular—that one day he might be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin—was seized upon by the white public because the words were seen to provide a simple and immediate solution to racial tensions: pretend that we don’t see race, and racism will end. Color blindness was now promoted as the remedy for racism, with white people insisting that they didn’t see race or, if they did, that it had no meaning to them.

That this speech was held up as the framework for American race relations for more than half a century precisely because people of all races understood King to be referring to a difficult and beautiful long-term goal worth pursuing is discounted, of course.

DiAngelo's book is based upon the idea that human beings are incapable of judging each other by the content of their character, and if people of different races think they are getting along or even loving one another, they probably need immediate antiracism training.

This is an important passage because rejection of King’s “dream” of racial harmony — not even as a description of the obviously flawed present, but as the aspirational goal of a better future — has become a central tenet of this brand of antiracist doctrine mainstream press outlets are rushing to embrace.

The book’s most amazing passage concerns the story of Jackie Robinson:

The story of Jackie Robinson is a classic example of how whiteness obscures racism by rendering whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible. Robinson is often celebrated as the first African American to break the color line…

While Robinson was certainly an amazing baseball player, this story line depicts him as racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level.

Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: “Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.” There is not a single baseball fan anywhere – literally not one, except perhaps Robin DiAngelo, I guess – who believes Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier because he “finally had what it took to play with whites.”

Everyone familiar with this story understands that Robinson had to be exceptional, both as a player and as a human being, to confront the racist institution known as Major League Baseball. His story has always been understood as a complex, long-developing political tale about overcoming violent systemic oppression. For DiAngelo to suggest history should re-cast Robinson as “the first black man whites allowed to play major league baseball” is grotesque and profoundly belittling.

Robinson’s story moreover did not render “whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible.” It did the opposite. Robinson uncovered a generation of job inflation for mediocre white ballplayers in a dramatic example of “privilege” that was keenly understood by baseball fans of all races fifty years before White Fragility' '

Baseball statistics nerds have long been arguing about whether to put asterisks next to the records of white stars who never had to pitch to Josh Gibson, or hit against prime Satchel Paige or Webster McDonald. Robinson’s story, on every level, exposed and evangelized the truth about the very forces DiAngelo argues it rendered “invisible.”

It takes a special kind of ignorant for an author to choose an example that illustrates the mathematical opposite of one’s intended point, but this isn’t uncommon in White Fragility, which may be the dumbest book ever written. It makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina.

Yet these ideas are taking America by storm. The movement that calls itself “antiracism” – I think it deserves that name a lot less than “pro-lifers” deserve theirs and am amazed journalists parrot it without question – is complete in its pessimism about race relations. It sees the human being as locked into one of three categories: members of oppressed groups, allies, and white oppressors.

Where we reside on the spectrum of righteousness is, they say, almost entirely determined by birth, a view probably shared by a lot of 4chan readers. With a full commitment to the program of psychological ablutions outlined in the book, one may strive for a “less white identity,” but again, DiAngelo explicitly rejects the Kingian goal of just trying to love one another as impossible, for two people born with different skin colors.

This dingbat racialist cult, which has no art, music, literature, and certainly no comedy, is the vision of “progress” institutional America has chosen to endorse in the Trump era. Why? Maybe because it fits. It won’t hurt the business model of the news media, which for decades now has been monetizing division and has known how to profit from moral panics and witch hunts since before Fleet street discovered the Mod/Rocker wars.

Democratic Party leaders, pioneers of the costless gesture, have already embraced this performative race politics as a useful tool for disciplining apostates like Bernie Sanders. Bernie took off in presidential politics as a hard-charging crusader against a Wall Street-fattened political establishment, and exited four years later a self-flagellating, defeated old white man who seemed to regret not apologizing more for his third house. Clad in kente cloth scarves, the Democrats who crushed him will burn up CSPAN with homilies on privilege even as they reassure donors they’ll stay away from Medicare for All or the carried interest tax break.

For corporate America the calculation is simple. What’s easier, giving up business models based on war, slave labor, and regulatory arbitrage, or benching Aunt Jemima? There’s a deal to be made here, greased by the fact that the “antiracism” prophets promoted in books like White Fragility share corporate America's instinctive hostility to privacy, individual rights, freedom of speech, etc.

Corporate America doubtless views the current protest movement as something that can be addressed as an H.R. [Human Resources, the current term for what used to be the 'Personnel' department of an organization] matter, among other things by hiring thousands of DiAngelos to institute codes for the proper mode of Black-white workplace interaction.

If you’re wondering what that might look like, here’s DiAngelo explaining how she handled the fallout from making a bad joke while she was “facilitating antiracism training” at the office of one of her clients.

When one employee responds negatively to the training, DiAngelo quips the person must have been put off by one of her Black female team members: “The white people,” she says, “were scared by Deborah’s hair.” (White priests of antiracism like DiAngelo seem universally to be more awkward and clueless around minorities than your average Trump-supporting construction worker).

DiAngelo doesn’t grasp the joke flopped and has to be told two days later that one of her web developer clients was offended. In despair, she writes, “I seek out a friend who is white and has a solid understanding of cross-racial dynamics.”

After DiAngelo confesses her feelings of embarrassment, shame and guilt to the enlightened white cross-racial dynamics expert (everyone should have such a person on speed-dial), she approaches the offended web developer. She asks, “Would you be willing to grant me the opportunity to repair the racism I perpetrated toward you in that meeting?” At which point the web developer agrees, leading to a conversation establishing the parameters of problematic joke resolution.

This dialogue straight out of South Park – “Is it okay if I touch your penis? No, you may not touch my penis at this time!” – has a good shot of becoming standard at every transnational corporation, law firm, university, newsroom, etc.

Of course the upside such consultants can offer is an important one. Under pressure from people like this, companies might address long-overdue inequities in boardroom diversity.

The downside, which we’re already seeing, is that organizations everywhere will embrace powerful new tools for solving professional disputes, through a never-ending purge. One of the central tenets of DiAngelo’s book (and others like it) is that racism cannot be eradicated and can only be managed through constant, “lifelong” vigilance, much like the battle with addiction.

A useful theory, if your business is selling teams of high-priced toxicity-hunters to corporations as next-generation versions of efficiency experts — in the fight against this disease, companies will need the help forever and ever.

Cancelations already are happening too fast to track. In a phenomenon that will be familiar to students of Russian history, accusers are beginning to appear alongside the accused.
- Three years ago a popular Canadian writer named Hal Niedzviecki was denounced for expressing the opinion that “anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities." He reportedly was forced out of the Writer’s Union of Canada for the crime of “cultural appropriation,” and denounced as a racist by many, including a poet named Gwen Benaway. The latter said Niedzviecki “doesn’t see the humanity of indigenous peoples.” Last week, Benaway herself was denounced on Twitter for failing to provide proof that she was Indigenous.
- Michael Korenberg, the chair of the board at the University of British Columbia, was forced to resign for liking tweets by Dinesh D’Souza and Donald Trump, which you might think is fine –
- but what about Latino electrical worker Emmanuel Cafferty, fired after a white activist took a photo of him making an OK symbol (it was described online as a “white power” sign)?
- How about Sue Schafer, the heretofore unknown graphic designer the Washington Post decided to out in a 3000-word article for attending a Halloween party two years ago in blackface (a failed parody of a different blackface incident involving Megyn Kelly)? She was fired, of course. How was this news? Why was ruining this person’s life necessary?

People everywhere today are being encouraged to snitch out schoolmates, parents, and colleagues for thoughtcrime. The New York Times wrote a salutary piece about high schoolers scanning social media accounts of peers for evidence of “anti-black racism” to make public, because what can go wrong with encouraging teenagers to start submarining each other’s careers before they’ve even finished growing?

“People who go to college end up becoming racist lawyers and doctors. I don’t want people like that to keep getting jobs,” one 16 year-old said. “Someone rly started a Google doc of racists and their info for us to ruin their lives… I love twitter,” wrote a different person, adding cheery emojis.

A bizarre echo of North Korea’s “three generations of punishment” doctrine could be seen in the boycotts of Holy Land grocery, a well-known hummus maker in Minneapolis. In recent weeks it’s been abandoned by clients and seen its lease pulled because of racist tweets made by the CEO’s 14 year-old daughter eight years ago.

Parents calling out their kids is also in vogue. In Slate, “Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill” wrote to advice columnist Michelle Herman in a letter headlined, “I think I’ve screwed up the way my kids think about race.” The problem, the aggrieved parent noted, was that his/her sons had gone to a diverse school, and their “closest friends are still a mix of black, Hispanic, and white kids,” which to them was natural. The parent worried when one son was asked to fill out an application for a potential college roommate and expressed annoyance at having to specify race, because “I don’t care about race.”

Clearly, a situation needing fixing! The parent asked if someone who didn’t care about race was “just as racist as someone who only has white friends” and asked if it was “too late” to do anything. No fear, Herman wrote: it’s never too late for kids like yours to educate themselves. To help, she linked to a program of materials designed for just that purpose, a “Lesson Plan for Being An Ally,” that included a month of readings of… 'White Fragility'. Hopefully that kid with the Black and Hispanic friends can be cured!

This notion that color-blindness is itself racist, one of the main themes of White Fragility, could have amazing consequences. - In researching I Can’t Breathe, I met civil rights activists who recounted decades of struggle to remove race from the law. I heard stories of lawyers who were physically threatened for years in places like rural Arkansas just for trying to end explicit hiring and housing discrimination and other remnants of Jim Crow. Last week, an Oregon County casually exempted “people of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling” from a Covid-19 related mask order. Who thinks creating different laws for different racial categories is going to end well? When has it ever?

At a time of catastrophe and national despair, when conservative nationalism is on the rise and violent confrontation on the streets is becoming commonplace, it’s extremely suspicious that the books politicians, the press, university administrators, and corporate consultants alike are asking us to read are urging us to put race even more at the center of our identities, and fetishize the unbridgeable nature of our differences.

Meanwhile books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, which are both beautiful and actually anti-racist, have been banned, for containing the “N-word.” (White Fragility contains it too, by the way).

It’s almost like someone thinks there’s a benefit to keeping people divided.

Matt Taibbi (born 1950), American author, journalist and podcaster, has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports. He is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone.
Taibbi's long collaboration with the latter makes his analysis of the shamelessly biased DiAngelo book faux-theorizing the new pet agenda of the radical left, surprising,
to say the least, in its unequivocal denunciation.

00Wednesday, July 1, 2020 8:48 PM

If you think that the entire furor over McCarrick and continuing sexual abuses committed by some priests and bishops has improved the situation at all, consider the following case
detailed by an American seminarian who was, in effect, expelled from The North American College seminary in Rome for having blown the whistle on 'inappropriate behavior' toward
another seminarian by the vice-rector of that college...

Dismissed seminarian fights back:
Open letter exposes seminary cover-up

by William Mahoney

June 30, 2020

After being forced out of the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome, former seminarian Anthony Gorgia has launched a GoFundMe account to finance legal action against "culpable Church leaders who will listen ... when faced with a lawsuit."

Gorgia, once an exemplary seminarian, was forced to leave the NAC during the 2018–2019 school year after witnessing the seminary's vice-rector inappropriately touching a seminarian in his care.

Gorgia's impeccable record of service, coupled with love and admiration of professionals and people who know him, were no deterrent to his bishop, Cdl. Timothy Dolan of New York. Dolan sided with officials at the NAC, where he had been rector — a well-known stepping-stone position to the episcopacy for career-minded clergy.

Dolan acted on false accusations the NAC leveled against Gorgia, requiring an eight-month interruption of the former seminarian's studies and a repeat of his second year "if" readmitted to the NAC after evaluation. Gorgia had to resign, since compliance would have meant agreement with the false allegations.

[This episode has cancelled any remaining shreds of respect I have for the Archbishop of New York, whom I had given the benefit of the doubt at times over questionable, sometimes reprehensible, incident after incident, quote upon quote, reported in succession about him over the past few years. In many ways, he is just as reprehensible as the more ostentatiously Bergoglian bishops in the USA like Cupich and Tobin, and I should have realized it much much earlier.]

In addition to pursuing legal action to combat a cover-up culture that protects homsexual predators and punishes good men, Gorgia has also launched Save our Seminarians, a blog to stay updated about the case.


June 1, 2020
Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church

Dear fellow Catholics,

"Ask and you shall receive ... knock and the door will be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7). As I closed the door of my room at the Pontifical North American College (NAC), I thought of the urgent surgery awaiting me, and I was eager to resume the life of study, prayer and ministry I so loved as a seminarian. I could never have imagined that the door closed on that November morning would foreshadow the abrupt and unjust closing of another door — the door of a dream to become a priest in the archdiocese of New York.

What happens in a Church when a cry for help is heard but not answered; when doors are knocked upon in search of help, only to be shut without regard? While pains I could never have fathomed awaited me across the ocean far worse than my surgery, I cannot help but wonder if they are part of a deeper plan by God — a plan to bring to light a crisis at the NAC.

As I share my experiences, I do not write with a spiteful pen or as a "failed vocation." My witnesses and unanimous record of excellent evaluations of my formation throughout my time in seminary speak for themselves. I submit this account as a faithful Catholic, supported by hundreds of pages of testimony, so that others may be spared the victimization I experience to this day.

Cardinal Dolan nominated me to continue priestly studies at the NAC with high recommendations from my pre-theology rector at Cathedral Seminary in Douglaston, New York.

As I dedicated over 20 years of my life to serving the Church in various ministries, my zeal for serving God's people grew, and the Lord deepened my vision of priestly life. Those who have known me supported this call, and I was ever more confident that the voice that first called me when I was 6 years old was indeed the Lord's.
As I entered seminary in 2015, I left all and followed Christ on a path my formators, peers and Cdl. Dolan saw as genuine — a path that took me thousands of miles away to the NAC in Vatican City.

In 2017, Cdl. Dolan nominated me to continue priestly studies at the NAC with high recommendations from my pre-theology rector at Cathedral Seminary in Douglaston, New York. My time at the NAC was marked by achievements and blessings: being chosen to serve Pope Francis' Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica; obtaining summa cum laude grades in all my studies; receiving stellar evaluations from the faculty and the cardinal; and being appointed by the faculty as academic representative to the Pontifical Gregorian University. In this role, and with my solid linguistic and academic record, my peers saw me as a leader in the service of others — a perception I regard as my greatest success.

In October of 2018, I was informed by physicians of my need to return to New York for urgent surgery. Following all the instructions from my seminary advisor, I obtained permissions for a brief, six-week leave for surgery and recovery which Cdl. Dolan approved in writing.

Just before my departure for surgery, I witnessed inappropriate physical behavior committed by vice-rector Fr. Adam Park, a priest of the archdiocese of Washington who was ordained by ex-cardinal McCarrick and was later secretary to Cdl. [Donald] Wuerl. Father Park initiated this contact with a seminarian assigned as his advisee (as such, Fr. Park had power over whether or not this seminarian would advance toward priesthood). The seminarian later divulged to me that Fr. Park made other physical contact described as "hurtful."

I also received other reports among NAC classmates alleging inappropriate behaviors by the vice-rector. One classmate, apparently distressed by his own knowledge, stated to me the urgency of reporting and investigating what multiple students have known and observed of Fr. Park. I was also informed that a seminarian was portraying behaviors of "crying out for help" during a formation conference on sexual abuse of power.

During my recovery from surgery, I kept up with all of my studies daily with the support of my professors, and I purchased my return ticket to Rome. Five days before I was to return to the NAC, Cdl. Dolan wrote to inform me that the NAC rector, Fr. Peter Harman, spontaneously wished to discontinue my return on the basis of fabricated claims against my "permission documentation" and "human formation" which could easily be disproved by evidence.
- In response, I requested on five occasions to meet with the cardinal to state my case.
- This meeting would have allowed me an opportunity to provide him documentation refuting the concocted statements made against me and to present evidence of Fr. Park's alleged misconduct.
- I also submitted to the cardinal testimony from a seminary psychologist who wrote in my defense, "Anthony has always demonstrated an excellent character ... I believe that it is so important for our Church to continue to form such emotionally healthy young men."
- Despite my appeals and those of professional witnesses, Cdl. Dolan's response was to deny all of my five requests for a meeting.

I knew in good faith that I could not be complicit with demonstrably false terms, which I believed represented a cover-up of what I knew of the vice-rector. I informed Cdl. Dolan that, in the absence of an impartial investigation into my case that would rectify the falsities, I could do no other than in conscience resign under duress as a seminarian of the archdiocese of New York and the NAC.

In the correspondence, I expressed to the cardinal my concern about a toxic environment at the NAC when I wrote, "I believe that an environment in which a seminarian is maligned by his superiors and not given the chance to bring the truth to transparency is harmful to his preparation toward the priesthood." Cardinal Dolan's brief response was a handwritten, food-stained letter stating that he accepted my resignation.

Following Cdl. Dolan's correspondences, many supporters wrote letters to the cardinal imploring that I be given a chance to present my evidence and clear my name of the false claims against me. Multiple documents prove that the cardinal has been in receipt of the allegations of misconduct surrounding Fr. Park. Instead of calling for an investigation into this very serious matter, it seems that both the cardinal and Fr. Harman are attempting to cover it up.

Amid the copious letters Cdl. Dolan has received urging for an investigation, he went as far as writing to my parents of his decision to "discard the correspondence" they sent him in which they kindly asked him to examine what "ulterior motive" may have led to the injustices taken against me.

Some [Church officials] ... have even denied knowledge of these reports, despite signed return receipts confirming delivery.

Amid pleas and messages that have emerged from the NAC stating that "the time is now" for action to be taken regarding Father Park's reported behaviors — and directed by evidence and testimonies that have come forward from seminarians — I or other concerned individuals have felt morally obligated to report this case for over a year and a half to the following responsible officials:

Vatican Congregation for Clergy
Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga
Cardinal Seán O'Malley (president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors)
Archbishop Christophe Pierre (papal nuncio to the United States)
Archbishop Bernardito Auza (former papal nuncio to the United Nations)
all U.S. ordinaries
Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service
Board of Governors of the North American College
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archbishop Wilton Gregory (Father Park's ordinary)
Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Father Harman's ordinary)
Father Christopher Argano (vocations director of the New York archdiocese)
Father James Ferreira (former priest-secretary of Cdl. Dolan)
Father Thomas Devery (Pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Staten Island, New York)

Despite urgent requests to these clerics for an investigation and Church laws regarding mandated reporting, the matter has been left uninvestigated by Church officials. Some among this listing have even denied knowledge of these reports, despite signed return receipts confirming delivery.

I ask the support of all readers to raise awareness about the horrific events based at the NAC, apparently covered up by responsible Church officials.

Faced with unyielding resistance toward any opportunity to state my case, other professionals and I became aware of the larger picture in which my case appears to stand.
- Just months, even days prior to the unfolding of my case, two other U.S. seminary rectors were forced to resign in 2018 amid accusations that misconduct was taking place in their seminaries.
- It seemed no mere coincidence that Fr. Park, of whom allegations have been made, is the NAC's Director of Human Formation — the very tool used to wrongly discredit me despite abundant evidence of my excellent standing.
- I observed a chilling parallel to events that already befell other seminarians punished for exposing the corruption they experienced.

Given my leadership at the NAC, I could not help but ask myself the following questions:
- Could the information I possessed regarding the behaviors of the vice-rector, Fr. Park, and apparent cover-up by the rector, Fr. Harman, have been perceived as a threat to their advancement in the Church?
- Might their fear have been the impetus behind a plan to extract me from the community on false grounds?
- Could Church leaders who were aware of my case and failed to ascertain the truth have been motivated by fear of having another seminary scandal exposed?

How blessed it is to follow the call of the Lord, but how tragic when what the Lord has called is cut short by injustice. I grieve the loss of what I have treasured — a chance to study for Christ's priesthood. But has Christ at this moment led me to another mission no less priestly, to sacrifice for truth, despite the cost?

Christ continues to call new generations to the priesthood, as I believe He called me. But how can we expect enthusiastic response when fervor for priesthood may well meet an appalling end?

What stands before us is not merely a case of destruction apparently permitted and covered up at the NAC, but a larger picture — a crisis, repeated yet again, that imperils our hope for authentic, holy vocations to serve the people of God.

I ask the support of all readers to raise awareness about the horrific events based at the NAC, apparently covered up by responsible Church officials. I also encourage anyone who may have information surrounding those involved in this case to come forward, even anonymously, so that an unbiased investigation may restore integrity and confidence in priestly formation.

May good men and women take this chance to stand up for what is right, so that silence may no longer yield new generations of victims of shattered vocations.

Sincerely in Christ,
Anthony Gorgia

Another bishop, another blatantly dishonest act

This has to do with Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of Los Angeles, whose reaction to the toppling of the statues of St. Junipero Serra in California, amounted to a rejection of the values he espoused in his much-acclaimed video
series on Catholicism. Yet another Catholic prelate I used to admire - until he became a Bergoglio bishop and joined the Bergoglian choir endlessly intoning 'Laudato si, mi papa' (Be praised, my pope).

On lay Catholic social action:
The bishops must have our backs

by Jeff Mirus

June 26, 2020

A family member texted me on Wednesday to suggest that Bishop Robert Barron’s response to an important question had been inadequate. As Catholics decried the toppling of the statues of St. Junipero Serra in several California locations, Bishop Barron noticed that many wanted to know what the bishops were going to do about it. He responded that this is the wrong question because (citing Vatican II) it is the province of the laity to engage directly with the larger secular world. Therefore, Bishop Barron argued, lay people should be asking what they themselves are going to do about it.

This is certainly true, but my texter interpreted it as a typical episcopal evasion of yet another culturally-sensitive question. It is fine to tell the laity they need to take greater responsibility for engagement with the world; that position is unarguable. The problem is the pervasive sense among the laity that the bishops will seldom support and encourage them when they do this — unless, of course, they take a position that the Conference of Catholic Bishops has already specifically endorsed.

The laity frequently sense that they are far more likely to be rebuked by their bishops if they defend Catholic faith, morals, ideas and action in ways that generate controversy.

In other words, the laity run the perpetual risk of being considered “uncharitable” if they do not strike the typically extremely cautious episcopal tone of voice, which so often seeks above all
(a) to adopt positions that will be seen as reasonable by the dominant culture;
(b) to express them with numerous caveats to lessen the impact; and (c) to leave out anything foreseen to be controversial with Those Who Matter.

There are two ways to illustrate this problem. I could talk about all the fixed moral issues that most bishops fail to address vigorously or frequently at all, especially the sexual issues on which the world is directly and irrevocably at odds with the Church, to the point of condemning and shutting out anyone who disagrees with the dominant culture. In most places, you will not even hear the moral and spiritual aspects of these issues addressed from the pulpit.

Alternatively, I could talk about prudential issues on which the bishops often stake out arguable but one-sided positions that align nicely with the attitudes of the dominant culture, leaving only “the deplorables” behind — an issue like the best way to deal with immigration, for example, or the best way to combat racism.

Here, for example, the bishops typically endorse as good policy anything that purports to help the disadvantaged (after all, the default Catholic position ought to be to help somehow — the question is “how?”). Since we are talking about bishops here, the result is that Catholics who regard any such proposal as harmful to the common good are often perceived as morally suspect.

I am over-simplifying somewhat, but I suspect most readers will see what I am getting at. I am not even saying that the bishops consistently or usually endorse foolish and damaging policies. What I am saying here is that, at least in the West and certainly in the United States, the most seriously committed Catholic laity — those who accept everything the Church teaches and are willing to sacrifice considerably to maintain and promote it — sense very clearly that they are not really encouraged by their bishops to engage the social order according to their own application of Catholic principles. In fact, they expect to be rebuked or undermined just as soon as they give any offense at all to the dominant culture, even inadvertently.

The bishops must take responsibility for a two-part solution to this problem:

Solution 1: DO NOT fall into the category mistake which afflicts social action today.

There is a gigantic category mistake which plagues contemporary thought when it comes to social commentary and social judgment. That category mistake is to act as if questions of faith and morals are merely prudential and relative, whereas questions of social policy are absolute and binding in conscience.

Even bishops seem to fall into this error with some frequency, in that they so often insist on the categorical rightness or wrongness of various economic, social, political or legal policies, while at the same time temporizing or maintaining silence on matters of faith and morals, and on the intrinsically evil policies which directly violate the natural moral law.

In addition to insisting that the reality is quite the opposite —that faith and morals are always absolute and social policies are more generally prudential and relativ — the first part of the solution is that Catholic bishops must recognize it is rarely their business to take prudential positions on complex public issues. As evidence, let us read the same passage in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church cited by Bishop Barron:

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature…. The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. [#31]

Is it not very odd indeed that, following the promulgation of this document in 1964, bishops around the world rapidly moved to establish national committees and offices, controlled by themselves, with the task of proposing policies to address social issues?
Nothing is more foreign to what the Second Vatican Council prescribed in its central dogmatic constitution, for it is precisely this larger socio-political action which is the province of the laity. The bishops at once deflect their own responsibility and incorrectly restrict the sphere of lay responsibility by making this mistake over and over and over again.

Solution 2: DO teach the moral principles within which authentic prudence must function.
- In contrast to the laity, bishops are to teach, rule and sanctify in the Church. (You can read about their role in the same document.) - With respect to the social order, their job is to make men holy while teaching all the members of the Church the spiritual and moral principles within the bounds of which prudential policies must be formed.

Bishops will generally be completely unsuited by training and experience to make social policy, and their efforts to do so will in any case only be interpreted as partisan. Since there is no official Catholic position on prudential arrangements, bishops squander both their authority and their credibility — and with it, the trust of the laity —w hen they fail to confine themselves to their God-given role in the constitution of the Church.

In the social order, these moral principles which the bishops must teach are all practically applied in accordance with the demands of the common good.
- For example, human persons have a general right to migrate from one place to another but such movement is always subject to the demands of the common good of the community of reference.
- Catholics, therefore, are to be as generous as possible in “welcoming the stranger” without significantly damaging the common good.
- The laity must look long and hard at what really threatens the common good, in order to devise practical yet creative policies that work toward good ends without collateral damage to the community as a whole.

Part of this process involves raising tough questions “outside the box”, so to speak. In this case, is it the acceptance of more immigrants in itself that damages the common good, or is it the tremendous expense of social policies which encourage dependence on the State — policies which may not only reduce our ability to welcome immigrants but also undermine the common good by fostering a totalitarian vision, and diminishing freedom, self-reliance and personal initiative?

There are no perfect solutions but, for example, might we not by now rethink the immense costs and the results of public education? These are difficult questions, to be sure, but they cannot be settled by clerics. They are the province of the laity.

Nearly all social policy questions fall into this range of prudence operating with a compass set in accordance with the moral laws revealed by God through nature and Revelation, for both of which the Church serves as custodian.
- Religious liberty? All have a right to freedom in seeking God within the limits set by the common good.
- Environmentalism? We are bound by natural and Divine Law to be good stewards of God’s gifts in accordance with the common good. Personal immorality of various kinds? The Church can teach us the - difference between right and wrong and the law of charity, but what behaviors are to be guaranteed, or allowed, or punished in law must be prudentially determined through a practical assessment of the common good.

Bishop Barron has done more than many to acquaint Catholics and others with the beauty and attractiveness of Christ and the Church. He is also right to emphasize lay responsibility for addressing social issues. Surely, we are not to wait for bishop X or Y to recommend a solution to social problems; we are to address them with vigorous prudence within the parameters set by the absolute truths we know from God and nature, most reliably through the Church herself. But the family member who texted me raised an important point.

Our bishops need not only to cease staking out prudential positions on one social issue after another. Merely stepping away is not quite enough. They must also exercise vigorously two of their central responsibilities.
- First, they must teach Christ’s truth to the laity without shaving it to fit the perceptions of the dominant culture.
- Second, when we as lay faithful engage the issues according to the best prudential decisions we can make, the bishops must encourage us in Christ.
- Given positions within the just parameters of Catholic truth, they must not decry our decisions and actions as soon as we contradict their personal preferences or ruffle the feathers of the dominant culture.

The bishops must follow here, not lead. As my texter put it, “The bishops must have our backs.”

00Thursday, July 2, 2020 6:18 AM

On June 28, Mons. Charles Pope started an eight-part series on the current ‘decline of the West’, a process that has been going on since the phrase was first popularized by
German author-philosopher Oswald Spengler in his two-volume book published in 1918 and 1922.

Spengler “rejected the Eurocentric view of history, especially the division of history into the linear "ancient-medieval-modern" rubric. According to Spengler, the meaningful
units for history are not epochs but whole cultures which evolve as organisms. He recognizes at least eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mesoamerican
(Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, and Western or European. Cultures have a lifespan of about a thousand years of flourishing, and a thousand years of decline.
The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a "civilization".

In his time, Spengler already saw the Western world ending, that we were witnessing the last season — "winter time"— of Western Civilization. "In Spengler's depiction,
Western Man is a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached."

Here is Part 1 of Mons. Pope’s series.

A question and a warning from the Lord
by Mons. Charles Pope

June 28,2020

In the 4th Century, St. Augustine lamented the decline of Rome and Roman culture. Like any good citizen, he loved his country and culture. But things were falling to pieces, decadence was everywhere. He struggled to understand this and accept it. In his sorrow he wrote The City of God which contains his own observations and explanations of a time much like our own wherein a civilization was collapsing.

There is something of a cycle that empires, nations, cultures and civilizations go through. They rise, sometimes heroically in a great struggle, they thrive, but then see decadence and disorder set in as their very greatness turns to greed and then laziness. Their strength fades and an enemy easily overwhelms or simply replaces them.

Is this cycle inevitable? No, there is a central and common cause of decline: they forsake God’s Laws whether known through the Natural Law or through revealed truth. Turning from the truth which alone sets them free, they turn to lies and sin which enslaves and weakens.

Long before Augustine or us there were disasters that befell God’s people. A story from Second Chronicles speaks to our time and asks a focal question. Let’s consider the text and then apply it.

After the death of Jehoiada, the princes of Judah… forsook the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols; and because of this crime of theirs, wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD, the people would not listen to their warnings. Then the Spirit of God possessed Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. He took his stand above the people and said to them: “God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.’” But they conspired against him, and at the king’s order they stoned him to death in the court of the LORD’s temple.

At the turn of the year a force of Arameans came…They invaded Judah and Jerusalem,[and] though the Aramean force came with few men, the LORD surrendered a very large force into their power, because Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 24:17-25)

The contours of the story are clear enough; Israel abandoned the Lord and played the harlot worshiping the God’s of the Canaanites. This caused many evils such as wrath and a declining economy. Sin also weakens family ties, national unity and resolve. Hence even a small band of Arameans defeated them easily.

At a critical moment the prophet Zechariah asked them a focal question: “Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.”

In other words, “Why are you being so foolish as to forsake the Lord and block your blessings? Call upon the Lord who you have abandoned! He is the only source of true blessing for you!”

But the people and the princes of the people thought his words hateful and stoned him to death right in the porch of the temple. So loathsome was this murder that Jesus would later single it out as especially evil and attach to it a very grave warning for the people of his time:

And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt 23:29-36)

And this great punishment did in fact come to pass. In 70 AD. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans. Though the city has since been rebuilt, the Temple and the civilization and culture it represented has never been rebuilt.

An era ended in April of 70. Zechariah’s haunting question had gone unanswered by them: ‘Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands, so that you cannot prosper?” Their refusal to give an answer and make amends brought about the great warning: Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.

Both Zechariah and Jesus warned different ages, but the warning now comes to us who, collectively transgress God’s Law, shed innocent blood and forsake God by both disbelief, but even more so, by marginalization.

Yes, in our own times we have marginalized God. Huge numbers of militant secularists have forsaken the worship of our true God and now give homage to the god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (see 2 Cor 4:4). Hating the truth, they call the truth hateful. Preferring the darkness, they call the light of truth harsh.

God and the Holy Faith He inspired is obnoxious to them and they demand removal of all religious imagery, speech, and influence from the public square. Many others too, even if less militant, have no place for God or faith in their life. God is simply irrelevant to them and the Faith of which He is the author is outdated and out of synch with the virtue signalers of our time.

And what has all this gotten us? Arguably, the collapse of a once great civilization. Our pillars are shaken, and things are toppling fast.

The first pillar of any civilization is a strong family where ties that bind and loyalties that last are born. Our basic unit is not the individual, it is the family. As the atom is to the physical world (with its proton, neutron and electrons) so the family is to civilization (with a father a mother and children). - Split the atom and tremendous destructive forces go out that, if not reined in will lay everything waste and dangerous.
- Split the family as we have done and tremendous destructive forces go out that, if not reined in will lay everything waste and create situations that are downright dangerous.

It is not just the divorce rate which increased sevenfold in the 20th century, it is also cohabitation, sexual misbehavior, single motherhood and now same-sex unions which have all undermined the biblical definition of marriage of one man for one woman till death do them part, bearing fruit in their children.

As always, it is children who pay the price for adult misbehavior. When parents throw down the cross, the children must pick it up. This family chaos seldom produces tall growth. Most of the children who emerge from the cauldron of broken family are themselves broken, traumatized and significantly lacking in what makes for good human formation.

Due to sexual misbehavior, Mmny children never even see the light of day. Eighty-five percent of abortions are performed on single women. Hence fornication leads to abortion and we killed over sixty million of our own children since 1973 in the U.S. This blood cries for vengeance as Jesus noted above. We are and will pay dearly for what we have done in collapsing our families and killing our own children. This is a civilization killer.

Another pillar of any civilization is a strong culture. And at the heart of any culture is a shared “cultus” or devotion to God. We are currently engaged in a foolish experiment to see if we can have a culture without a shared cultus. We cannot.

While America has had numerous sectarian differences over the centuries, there was still a basic and shared Judeo-Christian, biblical worldview.
- The moral vision of the Scriptures, even though not lived perfectly, was a fundamental reference.
- Norms about marriage, sexuality, human rights and justice were drawn from this shared vision.
- Even as regards slavery, while the founding fathers could not end it, the abolitionist movement rooted in the churches and denominations, did end it and the Civil Rights movement also rooted in the churches fought to end segregation and discrimination.
This was done by appealing to the consciences of Americans rooted in the Judeo-Christian vision.

But in recent decades we have increasingly chosen to jettison this shared view in favor of subjectivism and a vapid, divisive and argumentative diversity that cannot unite us, rather than the a fruitful diversity united in a basic moral vision and yet enriched by diverse strengths and traditions.
- God and religious traditions, observances and norms are rejected with growing hostility.
- Faith is relegated to the margins and even, at times, legally excluded from the national conversation.

This in turn has led to a third and significant problem, the rise of subjectivism and relativism.
- In subjectivism the locus (or place) of truth moves from the object to the subject.
- What a thing really is, or what is plainly going on in a situation, is suppressed in favor of subjective opinion about what a thing is or what is going on.
- In effect we move from a shared and external source for truth to a increasingly subjective source for “truth.”

It is routine to hear a reasoned argument dismissed by someone saying, “That may be true for you, but it is not true for me.” But of course, this fundamentally misunderstands what truth is. Truth is not opinion, it is a declaration, based on evidence and revelation, of what conforms to reality.

What this shift from the object to the subject means is that rational discussions can no longer be had.
- Appealing to a shared body of presumptions supplied by both an authoritative biblical worldview and reality itself, once provided a framework for reasoning, discussions and decisions.
- This, having been removed, means that those who prevail in debates or differences are those with the most power, money, influence, or just those who are the most exotic and demanding.

For these reasons and more there cannot be a culture without a shared cultus: namely, Someone (God) or something (a body of beliefs) above us all, to whom or to which we must be conformed and base our reasoning. What is left is a vacuum and a power struggle between individuals or groups who have no common basis on which to reason. And thus, a battle, the tyranny of relativism, ensues, a culture collapses and, with it, civilization.

Well, enough said. Back to the Question and the warning:

Question: Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands, so that you cannot prosper?
Warning: Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.

Is there a way back? Yes, but only one way:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

00Thursday, July 2, 2020 7:09 PM
Facing scandal and debt,
Pope shifts into high gear
on financial reform

John L. Allen Jr.

ROME – Maybe there’s no single blueprint for reform, but one time-honored propeller for change often is the intersection of scandal and necessity. That certainly seems to be the case in Pope Francis’s Vatican with regard to finances, where at no time since 2013-14 have reform moves been rolling out so fast and furious as right now.

The difference is that seven years ago, the flurry of activity was mostly about new laws and structures. Today it’s more about application and enforcement, which is always trickier, because it means specific people could lose jobs or power and, in some cases, they could face criminal indictments.

The latest such development came Tuesday, when the Vatican announced that following a raid on the offices of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office that administers St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope has named Italian Archbishop Mario Giordana, a former papal ambassador to Haiti and Slovakia, as “extraordinary commissioner” of the fabbrica with the charge to “update its statutes, shed light on its administration and reorganize its administrative and technical offices.”

['Fabbrica' is the Italian word for 'factory', which applies to part of the office's work, namely, the manufacture of works of art like mosaic reproductions of famous Italian paintings which the popes generally give out to world leaders and other VIPs as gifts of state, and the continuing restoration of paintings, sculptures, murals, tapestries and historical liturgical vestments, as well as architectural/building repairs within the Vatican. Interestingly, 'fabbrica di San Pietro' is also an Italian metaphor for a 'never-ending job' which describes the Fabbrica's never-ending maintenance and restoration work.]

According to reports in the Italian press, the move comes after repeated internal complaints within the Fabbrica about irregularities in contracting, raising suspicions of favoritism. The 78-year-old Giordana, according to Tuesday’s Vatican statement, will be assisted by a commission.

Despite the general stall related to the coronavirus over the last several months, it’s been drive time in terms of a financial reshuffle in the Vatican, with Tuesday’s shake-up merely the latest chapter.

Italy went into a nationwide lockdown on March 8, and since that time, Pope Francis has taken the following steps:
- Appointed Italian banker and economist Giuseppe Schlitzer on April 15 as the new director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, its financial vigilance unit, after the abrupt departure last November of Swiss anti-money laundering expert René Brülhart.
- Fired five Vatican employees on May 1 believed to have been involved in a controversial purchase of a piece of property in London by the Secretariat of State, which unfolded in two stages between 2013 and 2018.
- Convened a meeting of all department heads to discuss the Vatican’s financial situation and possible reforms in early May, featuring a detailed report by Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, named by Francis last November as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
- Shut down nine holding companies in mid-May based in the Swiss cities of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, all of which were created to manage portions of the Vatican’s investment portfolio and its land and real estate holdings.
- Transferred the Vatican’s “Center for the Elaboration of Data,” basically its financial monitoring service, from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretariat for the Economy, in an effort to create a stronger distinction between administration and oversight.
- Issued a new law on procurement June 1, which applies both to the Roman Curia, meaning the bureaucracy governing the universal church, as well as to the Vatican City State. It bars conflicts of interest, mandates competitive bidding procedures, and centralizes control over contracting.
- Nominated Italian layman Fabio Gasperini, a former banking services expert for Ernst and Young, as the new number two official at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, effectively the Vatican’s central bank.

What’s driving this flurry of activity?
For one thing, there’s London.
- The unfolding scandal has been a massive embarrassment, among other things calling into question the effectiveness of the pope’s reform efforts.
- It’s especially worrying since presumably, at some point this year the Vatican will face its next round of review by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering agency.
- If the agency decides the London debacle means the Vatican isn’t serious about compliance with international standards of transparency and accountability, it could be frozen out of currency markets and face significantly higher transaction costs.

For another, there’s the coronavirus.
- The analysis presented to the pope and department heads by Guerreo suggests the Vatican’s deficit could balloon by as much as 175 percent this year, reaching almost $160 million, due to declining income from investments and real estate as well as drop-offs in contributions from dioceses around the world as they struggle with their own financial problems.
- That deficit comes on top of several long-term structural weaknesses in the Vatican’s financial situation, most of all a looming pension crisis.
- Basically, the Vatican is over-staffed relative to its resources and struggles just to meet payroll, let alone setting aside the funds that will be necessary as today’s workforce begins to reach retirement age.

In other words, a comprehensive financial house-cleaning is no longer simple a moral desideratum, or a PR drive to avoid future public scandals. It’s a matter of survival, which almost always has the effect of clarifying thinking and lending a sense of urgency.

It remains to be seen how effective these new measures will be. For one thing, it will be important to see whether the review of the Fabbrica follows the same script as so many other Vatican inquests into financial scandals, which is to identify a handful of Italian laity, either external consultants or direct employees, and blame it all on them, thereby insulating cardinals and other senior clergy from culpability.

Nevertheless, six months ago it was tempting to conclude that Pope Francis had given up on financial reform. [Chiefly because, early on, he did turn tail on specific fundamental reforms proposed by Cardinal Pell when was put in charge of the Vatican economy [and finances] early in the Papacy and 'returned' much of the power Pell was supposed to have had to the 'traditional' repositories of financial and administrative power in thecVatican, namely the Secretariat of State - main culprit in the London scandal - and the APSA.]

Today, given the double whammy of scandal and debt, he definitely seems in earnest.

00Thursday, July 2, 2020 10:05 PM
Pope Francis praying for Pope emeritus
Benedict XVI in his time of loss

July 2, 2020

Pope Francis on Thursday sent a letter conveying his condolences to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the death of his older brother, Georg.

George Ratzinger, 96, renowned ex-Kapellmeister of the world-famous Regensburg Domspatzen boys'choir, died on Wednesday morning after being hospitalized [he was not hospitalized and he died in his home] in Regensburg, the city where he lived the greater part of his life.

Pope Francis’s letter:

To His Holiness
Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus

You had the sensitivity to be the first to inform me of the news of the death of your beloved brother, Monsignor Georg. I wish to renew my deepest sympathy and spiritual closeness to you in this moment of sorrow.

I assure you of my prayers of suffrage for the late and lamented, that the Lord of life, in His merciful goodness, may welcome him into heaven and grant him the reward prepared for faithful servants of the Gospel.

I pray also for you, Your Holiness, invoking the Father, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the support of Christian hope and tender divine consolation.

Always united in faith in the Risen Christ, the source of hope and peace,

Filially and fraternally,


A slight quibble: Why was the letter sent Thursday, and not Wednesday when, as the pope claims, Benedict XVI himself "was the first to inform me of the news..." ?

Gloria.TV has a different quibble, unwarranted really:

He prays for the deceased and for “Your Holiness" - a title used only for a pope.

Not true, of course. If the editors had just bothered to check out their facts, here is Wikipedia (appropriately sourced) on the subject:

His Holiness (Latin: Sanctitas) is the official style used to address the Roman Catholic pope and Oriental Orthodox patriarchs. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has the title of His All-Holiness.

In February 2013, the Holy See announced that former Pope Benedict XVI would retain the style "His Holiness" after resigning and becoming pope emeritus.

The honorific is also used for religious leaders from other traditions, including Buddhism (for figures such as Lu Sheng-yen, the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa)... and in fact, the Dalai Lama uses the title His Holiness on his website... To the credit of Pope Francis's scribes, the papal letter did follow the address protocol decreed by Benedict XVI himself when he was still Pope.

Meanwhile, the diocese of Regensburg has announced funeral arrangements for Mons. Georg:

Diocese plans 3 days
of public obsequies
for Mons. Ratzinger

Translated from

July 2, 2020

The diocese of Regensburg, the St John collegiate chapter [secular priests who are the canons responsible for the administration of the cathedral, as Georg Ratzinger was], the Domspatzen [(‘Cathedral Sparrows’ boys’ choir, whom Mons. Georg led from 1964-1994], friends, students, companions and relatives bid goodbye to the former Domkapellmeister [Cathedral Choir Master] in a series of liturgies announced by the Diocese on its website today.

The Domspatzen will say a special goodbye at a Funeral Vespers to be held on Sunday, July 5, with 220 singers performing in the Regensburg Cathedral of St. Peter. The event is not public but can be followed on livestream on the diocesan website, on Facebook, and on television via TVA and oTV.

On Monday, July 6, 2020, at 7 p.m., the rosary will be prayed in the cathedral. Everyone is welcome.

On Tuesday, July 7, from 10 am - 6pm, the public will have an opportunity to say their goodbye and register in a condolence book, at the St. Johann abbey church near the cathedral.

On Wednesday, July 8, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer will celebrate a Pontifical Requiem Mass in the Cathedral. Interment will follow around 12:30 pm in the Domspatzen gravesite in the Lower Catholic Cemetery of Regensburg. [One supposes Benedict XVI agreed to this when he was in Regensburg last month. Somehow, it is difficult to believe that Mons. Georg himself would have chosen this burial site instead of being buried at the family gravesite in Ziegetsdorf.]

Due to the coronavirus situation, a limited number of seats are available for the Requiem Mass in the cathedral. Registrations can be received from Monday, July 6, at (0941) 597-1662 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The requiem itself can be followed as a live stream via the diocesan website, on facebook (, TVA, OTV and other transmission channels.

Herewith, the formal obituary notice published by the diocesein the local press for Mons. Georg:

00Thursday, July 2, 2020 10:41 PM
Reductio ad absurdum of the
leftist iconoclastic rampage:

And now, from California,
a preview of what might yet come

by Connor Malloy

July 1, 2020

NB- CWR precedes the imagined 'broadcast' with the ff editorial note: The following is mostly fake news. For now. Stay tuned.

News Anchor: In other news, following the toppling of two Junipero Serra statues in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the state of California has approved the demolition of California’s oldest surviving structure, the Serra Chapel, on the grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded by Serra and his Franciscans in 1776.

This act followed new legislation approved by the state, called the Clean Slate Bill, in which anyone who wishes may destroy symbols of California’s heritage free of charge and without fear of prosecution.

We go to our field correspondent, Chester Cromwell, for more on these fast-moving events. Chester, while many Californians are sympathetic to bringing down the monument to Junipero Serra, why the growing concerns about other heritage landmarks?

Field Correspondent Cromwell: Good evening, Peter. I am told by sources that it is simply the next step in freeing the state of California from oppressive and insulting images, and that this removal of statues is both liberating and cathartic. Of course, care must be taken.

As one art historian recently noted in the New York Times, some protesters “have already been severely injured tearing down statues,” and that’s of some concern. We don’t want to see anyone hurt as these people take out their frustrations on statues and other monuments. But, overall, this appears to be a healthy, communal activity.

As you can see, there are large groups of chanting protestors behind me; I am standing on the former site of Mission San Juan Capistrano, one of twenty-one Franciscan missions that defined for so long California’s history, architecture, and religious roots. Today, all those missions — ranging from San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north — were pulverized due to their association of the Euro-centric oppression wrought by Franciscan missionaries.

News Anchor [listening to producer in his ear]: Ummm…Chester, to clarify, you said the Spanish-style buildings and chapels, some of them from the eighteenth century, were destroyed?

Cromwell: That’s right. A generous donor donated twenty-one wrecking balls for this project, each spray-painted with various signs and symbols. These buildings include other famous missions such as Santa Barbara, San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, and San Juan Bautista, the latter featured in Alfred Hitchock’s Vertigo. All mission-related references are to be banished from the state as per the new mandate.

News Anchor: Chester, I also understand the Franciscan missionaries were only a subsidiary of a larger Spanish colonization of Alta California in the late eighteenth century, is that correct?

Cromwell: I do not know. Military members of that expedition, such as Juan de Anza and Gaspar de Portola, have not been mentioned by protestors and rioters, and monuments to these individuals — many stone placards that populate obscure trails — have so far apparently remained ignored and unread.

News Anchor: I understand. Very interesting. We turn now to Blaise Bixby outside the National Shrine of St. Francis in San Francisco. Blaise, Chester just mentioned the razing of several major California landmarks. What is the situation outside the National Shrine?

Blaise Bixby: The situation outside the National Shrine of St. Francis is that it is no longer a shrine, but now the Peoples’ Museum of Social Wokeness, here in the former city of San Francisco

News Anchor: What was that?! I’m sorry, Blaise, your connection was fuzzy; you said former city of San Francisco?

Bixby: Indeed. An emergency order was passed just moments ago redefining the name San Francisco, which was named of course after St. Francis of Assisi, over objections that the 13th-century saint tried to convert an Egyptian sultan, imposing his white privilege on the man’s own customs.

News Anchor: That is big news, indeed! Has a new name been chosen, Blaise?

Bixby: Yes, apparently so. I’ve just been told that the new name for the city and bay, as I understand it, is now Zorin, named after the villain from the James Bond movie filmed largely in, um, San Francisco and portrayed by Christopher Walken.

News Anchor: Such interesting times! Well, I suspect this is just the domino effect we see with these sort of trends. Have other names changed, Blaise, from Catholic-rooted names to carefree, new names, perhaps after the whales in Star Trek IV, also set in San Francisco?

Bixby: Yes, in fact. All of California’s Catholic-themed names are being changed so as not to appear religiously bent, thus, according to a statement from California’s governor, “liberating this great state from the specter of racism, white supremacy, religious oppression, xenophobia, use of Latin, and Romanist propaganda.”

This includes the state capital, Sacramento, since its association with the sacraments of the Catholic Church is offensive. Here in the Bay Area other city managers have reversed the names and seals of such cities as Santa Clara, San Leandro, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Mateo, and San Benito since all evoke the patronage of a Catholic saint.

News Anchor: I gather that this includes dozens of other cities as well as mountain ranges and valleys, such as San Gabriel, Santa Ynez, Santa Anita?

One moment. Out in Los Angeles for an update is, uh, Chester Cromwell. Weren’t you just down at Capistrano, Chester?

Cromwell: Well, I’m actually reporting in front of a green screen next to you, Peter, given the prospect of falling statues, fires, assaults, and other activities. But at any rate, as of today “Los Angeles” is no more. The city council, after discovering the original name of the nation’s most populous region was actually El Pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles—

Peter: “The Town of the Queen of the Angels”, correct?

Cromwell: That’s right, Peter.

Peter: Oh, that’s just — so L.A. was essentially named in honor of the Mother of God?

Cromwell: Apparently, if you say so. But the council is voting on a new name. I’m told that “JusticeLand” and “CopFreeZone” are the two leading candidates.

Peter: Keep us posted on that. Now, one more time, back to Blaise Bixby, outside the Museum of Woke in San Fran—or, rather, Zorin—Blaise, where are all of California’s Catholics during this transition?

Bixby: Peter, I hear from an anonymous source that many Catholics have moved underground in designated zones below the San Andreas Fault — named after the apostle Andrew — and a portion of the San Onofre nuclear site, named after desert hermit Saint Onophrius.

Peter: Fascinating! Thank you. Finally, tonight, inter-league play begins down at Petco Park in San Diego with two California teams facing off. (Turns to someone off camera.) Is it still called that? Somewhat ironic. (Faces camera again.) Anyway, Chester Cromwell is in front of a green screen shot of the baseball field. Chester, what can you tell us about the match-up between the, ummm, the Padres and the Angels?

Please do not think that all of the above is far-fetched and could not possibly happen! Happen it can, in these days of mass hysteria and relentless One-Thoughtism. God have mercy on us, on the United States, and all of California with its unmatched legacy in this country of historic places named after Catholic saints.

What about the name of the state itself? I think perhaps it will be retained by the hordes of woke warriors, considering its origin. Even if it was named by the Spaniards and the inspiration was a 16th century Spanish novel about a mythical land. Here's Wikipedia:

In the early 16th-century romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), California was the name of a mythical island populated only by black warrior women. [Does that not remind you of the fierce young women who founded Black Lives Matter?] The popular Spanish novel was printed in several editions, with the earliest surviving edition published about 1510. The author was Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, also known as Ordóñez de Montalvo.

The novel described the Island of California as being east of the Indies, close to the Terrestrial Paradise, and ruled by Queen Calafia. For many years the de Montalvo novel languished in obscurity, with no connection between it and the name California. That changed in 1864 when a portion of the original was translated by Edward Everett Hale for The Antiquarian Society, and printed in The Atlantic Monthly magazine.

Hale concluded that when Spanish explorers came upon the Baja California Peninsula, they named it California, after the fictional island in de Montalvo's book, because the explorers thought the peninsula was an island, east of the Indies, similar to the island described in de Montalvo's novel...

How about a patriotic
filmathon this weekend?

Donald McClarey at American Catholic provides a magnificent counterpoint to the dystopia 'foretold' in the satire above with his selection of Top 10 Patriotic Films to watch on the Fourth Of July. He has clips and edifying commentary:

00Sunday, July 5, 2020 11:43 PM

Right: The Ratzinger brothers walk in the garden of Joseph's Pentling homeduring his apostolic visit to Bavaria in 2006. Left panel: Top- Cardinal Ratzinger presents his brother to John Paul II; middle- Georg Ratzinger with
Michael Hesemann in 2010; bottom- Georg Ratzinger at 86.

Exclusive interview with co-author
of "My Brother, the Pope" brings out
the late Kapellmeister's private persona

by Deborah Castellano Lubov

July 6, 2020

Georg Ratzinger “was a man who hid his brilliance and greatness behind his even greater humility. A kind soul, a true gentleman, so warm-hearted and friendly to everyone, with a wonderful, charming, typical Bavarian mischievous sense of humor…”

Benedict’s famous older brother, who returned to his Heavenly homeland on July 1, and whose funeral will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg this Wednesday, July 8th, could not be explained with more clarity or more personally, than by Dr. Michael Hesemann, his co-author in the interview-book [B‘My Brother, the Pope, in this account told by the German author, Church historian and family friend.

How did you first get to know Monsignor Georg Ratzinger?
In 2009, when the attacks on Pope Benedict XVI started [in a particularly vicious resurgence of the clerical sex abuse furor], we founded an association to defend him and called it “Germany pro Papa”. Our Regensburg representative, Roswitha Biersack, kept Georg Ratzinger informed about all our activities and eventually, in December 2010, introduced me to him.

I can say that I loved him from the very first moment: He was the wise, gentle, humorous elderly gentleman we all wished to know. I brought him some of my books, he checked with his brother, and eventually he trusted me.

When I realized what a brilliant memory he had and how good he was in telling stories from his life, I said to myself: This is something we have to preserve for the world, for the future. This is how the project of our common book My Brother, the Pope was born. He was 86 at that time, in rather good health and best spirits, and the time was just ripe.

What struck you most about him?
He was a man who hid his brilliance and greatness behind his even greater humility. A kind soul, a true gentleman, so warm-hearted and friendly to everyone, with a wonderful, charming, typical Bavarian mischievous sense of humor. At the same time, he was down toeEarth and much more extroverted than his rather shy brother.

He loved to have people around him, his house sometimes resembled a beehive, with visitors in the morning and afternoon. Many of his former Regensburg Cathedral Choir Boys (“Regensburger Domspatzen”) stayed in contact with him for decades, visited him regularly as if he became a member of their family, and came to help him when he was nearly blind and unable to walk. They read books for him, they wrote letters for him or just came to talk and enjoy a coffee, tea and a piece of cake which was always offered in his house. He really changed their lives and became an inspiration for so many. So, he indeed left a big family of friends and students behind.

Dr. Hesemann, please tell us a little bit about Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. For instance, what were some of his hobbies, favorites, priorities, hopes…
Although he was nearly blind, he was extremely well-informed about so many new books and publications, because he had his volunteer readers and a brilliant memory. You could really talk with him about everything, from Church-matters over policy up to football.

But his great love, of course, was music. I think the best birthday gift I ever made to him was when I invited a good friend, the world-famous pianist Anastassiya Dranchuk, to play for him. We repeated that on his next names day and his last birthday.

His weakness was sweets and I always brought him cookies and cakes, but most of all, he liked Christmas cookies. Generally, Christmas was very important for him and once, in a laudatio given on his 90th birthday which we celebrated in the Vatican, I called him “a Christmassy person”.

He was born on January 15, which was still in the Christmas season and as we all know, Christmas was the birth not only of Christ, but also of Church music: It was when the angels sung their “Hallelujah” in Bethlehem. So, the “spirit of Christmas” influenced his life, work and vocation, and it was no coincidence that his most successful CD with the Regensburger Domspatzen was the one with German Christmas Chorales; nearly every German family has it at home.

This also reflected his upbringing in a very pious family which really celebrated the feasts of the Church in the most solemn way, which prayed the rosary together every day, kneeling on the hard kitchen floor and, since it prayed together always stayed together in good and in bad times.

What was his relationship with his brother, Joseph Ratzinger, who, if I may, refer to as Benedict?
A deep, brotherly love. The Ratzingers were always a very close, loving, caring family. The siblings got even closer when their parents died in the 1960s; their older sister Maria became the housekeeper, secretary and assistant of Joseph Ratzinger and Georg went to Regensburg as Musical Director of the Regensburg Cathedral, “Domkapellmeister”. But they regularly met, celebrated the feasts together and visited the parent’s grave which they transferred to Regensburg.

In 1969, when Joseph Ratzinger received the call from Regensburg University and from then on, taught dogmatics there, there begun the happiest time of their adult life, since all three siblings were united again. Unfortunately, the Lord had other plans.

In 1977, Joseph Ratzinger became Archbishop of Munich and Freising and had to move, and in 1983, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. In 1991, Maria Ratzinger passed away, which only strengthened the bond between the two siblings who remained.

They were so much looking forward to being together again after Card. Ratzinger’s retirement. Cardinal Ratzinger kept his house in Regensburg for all those years, to go home there for vacations, to meet his brother and to have a place to stay after retirement from Rome. But once again, the Lord had other plans.

And, believe me, for Georg Ratzinger the election of Benedict XVI first of all was a shock. All common plans they were looking forward to were smashed once and for all. For a whole day he was unable to go to the phone, so frustrated he was. Thank God they found a way to stay close. They spoke nearly every day on the phone and Georg visited his brother in Rome about four times a year, the last time in January 2020. He wanted to come again in late March 2020, but the Corona crisis prevented it. So, it was a blessing that at least Pope Benedict was able to come and say farewell, two weeks ago.

What are some memories of what they used to do together? Some anecdotes?
He was brilliant in telling anecdotes, always reflecting his warm humor. And there are hundreds of photos of sightseeing trips they made together. This had a long tradition for them.

In the Middle of World War II, in 1941, when because of the war, no international audience came to the world-famous Salzburg Classical Music Festival, he managed to buy several cheap tickets and both brothers made the trip on their bicycles, spending the nights in a small hotel. Georg was 17 at that time, Joseph just 14!

Indeed, this trip became providential. Joseph discovered his love for Mozart and became the “Mozart of theology.” Georg saw, for the very first time, the legendary Regensburger Domspatze”, the Regensburg Cathedral Boys Choir and fell in love with them. Twenty-three years later, he became their Musical director!

Another beautiful story which he tells in our book was when the war was over and he returned from an American POW camp [in Italy]. Joseph, who was 18 but was conscripted at age 14, had already arrived at their parents home earlier. On this day, after a very brief greeting, Georg just marched into the house, sat down at the piano and started to play the Te Deum. Then all of them started to cry and hugged each other.

But besides those highlights in their lives, there was their daily lives which which were so normal and down-to-earth, in spite of their prominence. Even when Joseph Ratzinger was already Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and Georg Ratzinger a musical genius celebrated by the world, they were just two ordinary brothers when they met: Georg was cooking, Joseph washed the dishes afterwards. Once again, greatness hiding behind humility!

Just keep in mind, that only in the last 15 years of his life, Georg Ratzinger was “the Pope’s brother”. For a long time, at least until 1977, Georg was much better known. At this time, Joseph Ratzinger was sometimes called “the little brother of the famous Musical Director”.

Even after Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, his brother Georg continued to address him Joseph. “Anything else would not be natural”, he told me. He was so much down to earth, even as his soul reached out to heaven. But to summarize, they always were “one heart and one soul”, as we say in German, and Georg, as the older one and the first who had the vocation to become a priest, was the role model of his younger brother Joseph.

What about some memories with their parents?
Well, what impressed me most was what turned out to be the Ratzinger 'family secret'. How did it happen that a rather simple family, a country policeman and a hotel cook, raised two sons who were both geniuses, each one of his kind — Georg Ratzinger, as the famous musician, composer and choir leader who toured the world, and Joseph Ratzinger, the greatest German theologian and 265th successor of St. Peter?

Eventually, I found out that their source of inspiration was the intense Catholic faith and strong piety of this family. As I said before, they prayed the Rosary together every day, kneeling on the kitchen floor; they went to church regularly; they celebrated the feasts of the Church year.

They got all their inspiration from the richness of the Bavarian Catholic Culture, a culture which gave birth to Mozart and so many other geniuses, because its beauty and richness reflects the beauty and magnificence of heaven. At the same time, the common prayer and devotion became the source for the strong love that united this family, their powerful source which helped them to overcome the temptations of these turbulent times, made them immune against the blasphemous Nazi ideology and caused their vocation.

Interestingly, both brothers were, each in their way, a synthesis of their parents: The strict, perfectionist police officer who also had a gentle side, a great love for music and a deep faith, and the hard-working, loving and caring mother who was not only a beautiful but also just a wonderful, warm-hearted woman.

When Georg used to visit the Vatican what did their time consist of?
He had his own room in the Monastery Mater Ecclesiae and a sister (nun) who took care of him. The brothers' day started with the highlight, the Holy Mass they celebrated together. They had breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and in between prayed together, played or listened to music together, talked with each other and in the evening, they sometimes watched TV.

It was a quiet, harmonic time and Georg Ratzinger was always looking forward to go there and be with his brother. But at the same time, he never wanted to move there. He loved Regensburg and Bavaria, he enjoyed the freedom and the regular visits by his friends. He found a home which he never wanted to give up.

And you can be sure Pope Benedict envied him. He always missed his beloved, beautiful Bavaria, its green meadows, its colorful flowers on the balcony of the houses, its mountains, its people, its baroque monasteries and medieval cities. Who ever visited Bavaria will fully understand that. Nowhere in the world you are closer to heaven!

Why did Benedict go to visit his brother recently?
To say a last farewell. In January, Georg Ratzinger had been to Rome for the last time. The next trip was planned for March, but was impossible due to the Corona crisis. In January, we all celebrated his 96th birthday and he was just in great shape. He had his ups and downs, but this is normal in this age. But then came the weeks and months of isolation.

Of course, he had his housekeeper, a wonderful sister, but not the five to ten visitors a day which kept him young. Around Pentecost he started to feel weak, his heart gave him trouble. When the situation became serious, his brother decided that he had to act.

For all his life Pope Benedict regretted that he was unable to be with his beloved sister when she died in 1991, because he was sick himself at that time. This time he knew he could not wait too long. So he decided, more or less from one day to thenext, to come. He was in Regensburg for four days and spent many hours in the morning and late afternoon with his brother. They talked, celebrated Holy Mass together, prayed together or just held hands. It gave both of them so much.

When you see pictures of Pope Benedict when he arrived and when he left, it’s like he rejuvenated. The tension had gone, he smiles. He knew it was their last encounter in this world. But he also felt his brother would go in peace now.

So, they gave a wonderful testimony of both, brotherly love and Catholic trust in God and eternal life. They knew, they were confident, that their next reunion is in heaven, where all the burden of this material existence is gone and they both will live in the eternal joy of the presence of God.

How did Monsignor Georg’s prayer life prepare him for a return to his heavenly home?
Even in his advanced age, his prayer life was intense. Until he became physically too weak, he used to celebrate the Holy Mass every morning, originally in St. Johann, a small Church just next to the large, gothic Regensburg Cathedral, then in his private chapel in his house. Together with his dear housekeeper, Sister Laurenthe, he prayed the rosary and the hourly prayer.

He also loved to listen to musica sacra, as a foretaste of heavenly beauty. Music, as I said before, is the language of the angels, and he spoke this language very well.

In the last weeks, he contemplated all his life in an intense way and prepared for what he called the “heavenly exam”. I am confident he passed it easily with the brilliance, charm and sense of humor he always had. We who were privileged to meet him, will always remember him with gratitude as a man with a golden heart. For all his life, he inspired people to search for God in the beauty of music. Now he himself sings in the heavenly choirs. He went the way he showed and prepared for so many and receives his divine reward.

00Monday, July 6, 2020 8:34 PM
Checking back today whether Photobucket has taken out their cancellation note one each and every photograph/graphic that was uploaded to them before they suddenly decided to charge users $399 a year for their service, the first post I came across was this one, from August 2017, which you will agree, is always worth re-reading:

The clear-eyed realism of Joseph Ratzinger is very much in evidence in this fragment of a reflection on the Papacy that he wrote 14 years before he became Pope, at a time when no one, least of all he himself, could have imagined he would one day be Pope...

Papal primacy:
The power of God over weakness

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

…In order to understand the way in which Peter is a rock, a quality he does not have of himself, it is useful to keep in mind how Matthew continues the narrative.

It was not by “flesh and blood” but by the revelation of the Father that he had confessed Christ in the name of the Twelve. When Jesus subsequently explains the figure and destiny of the Christ in this world, prophesying death and resurrection, it is flesh and blood that respond: Peter “scolds the Lord”: “By no means shall this ever be” (16:22).

To which Jesus replies: “Be gone, behind me, Satan; you are a stumbling block (skandalon) for me” (16:23). Left to his own resources, the one who by God’s grace is permitted to be the bedrock is a stone on the path that makes the foot stumble.

The tension between the gift coming from the Lord and man’s own capacity is rousingly portrayed in this scene, which is some sense anticipates the entire drama of papal history. In this history we repeatedly encounter two situations.

On the one hand, the papacy remains the foundation of the Church in virtue of a power that does not derive from herself.

At the same time, individual popes have again and again become a scandal because of what they themselves are as men, because they want to precede, not follow, Christ, because they believe that they must determine by their own logic the path that only Christ himself can decide: “You do not think God’s thoughts, but man’s (Mt 16:23)

…The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church.

But the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure…It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock. In the very disproportion between man’s capacity and God’s sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite.

The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of the God’s power…

When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is.

Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it…

00Tuesday, July 7, 2020 6:07 PM

A situation that can be changed
only by prayer and fasting

Never before in my almost 100 years have I seen such tensions,
such real hatreds, such unChristian and unAmerican incivilities

by Fr. James Lloyd, CSP

July 5, 2020

Fr Lloyd at 99 is the oldest living Paulist priest today [the order is formally called the Community of St Paul].He marked the 70th anniversary
of his priestly ordination two years ago, but continues to be an active priest hearing confessions, writing for the Paulist Fathers website and,
as a psychologist, providing pro-bono counseling services.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I have been stunned, shocked, perplexed, alarmed and angered by recent public demonstrations. What is happening to our law-abiding, peaceful country?

Never before in my almost 100 years have I seen such tensions, such near and real hatreds, such unChristian and unAmerican incivilities. There is little or no dialogue — just rage, shouting, property destruction, injury, lies, theft and looting.
[The anti-American protestors have absolutely no interest in dialog, because like their ideological fellow travelers in the US media, academia, political and business worlds, they believe absolutely that their worldview is the only thinking - the One Thought - that is allowable. In complete defiance and disregard of reason, logic and, much less, fairness and justice.] The intimidation is reminiscent of the Gestapo or the Brown Shirts of Hitler’s Germany.

A bad apple cop caused the unnecessary and brutal death of a black man, George Floyd, who had been caught in a petty, low-level offense. It ignited legitimate protest, but also unleashed blatant criminality and a huge torrent of real hatred for this country and its law-abiding citizens. Peaceful and legitimate protests were hijacked by seditionists and thugs. Even people who seemed balanced and reasoned got swept up by the anarchist,s and some became raging, violent protesters, tossing fire bombs and destroying private and public property.

It is not a one-sided problem. People are blameworthy from all directions. Putting all the blame on a rogue cop is simplistic. The principle of causality is always operating. An effect is in response to a cause. Why are all these things happening in this way at this point in time? Why? Will someone explain to me the link between bias and stealing a Rolex from a Fifth Avenue store? I want justice for the murdered man but I also demand protection from violent looters who have no respect for the rights of others. Attacking innocent people never solved social problems.

Is this a demonic force? How does one explain the loss of reason and the total embrace of violence and disruption? There is near 100% agreement that the cop is a bad dude and that there is real room for stricter guidelines for law enforcement. Effective law enforcement doesn’t need brutality or murder to keep the peace. 90% of police (at a basic minimum) know and practice such a common sense attitude.

I know whereof what I speak. I was a police chaplain for over 20 years (NYPD) and found the law enforcement officers generally to be decent, hard-working men, anxious to do the right thing as they faced serious life-threatening situations every day. Most of them were God-fearing family men. Most adhere to the strict regulations of their own calling.

I am also a priest. Most priests are sincere men but we have bad apples. We do not throw all priests under the bus because of some disgusting cardinal or priest. That is neither reasonable nor fair. We must fix the problem, not kill the entity.

Similarly, we don’t engage in unbelievably dumb rhetoric, screaming for the abolition of police departments, like Chirlane McCray, the wife of NYC’s Mayor De Blasio, who said that life without police “would be like a nirvana, a utopia that we are nowhere close to getting to.” This must rank very high on any historic list of stupidities. She must know little of human nature. I learned in the first grade about a reality called Original Sin — a given for any real insight how human beings function. [It's probably irrelevant to say this here, but Mrs De Blasio happens to be African-American, and her long marriage to the very Caucasian Bill De Blasio says much for both of them.]

But our country, our beloved country - the country where we laughed together no matter one’s background, where we relaxed enjoyed hot dogs and Baseball, where we gathered around campfires and sang “I’ve been workin’ on the railroad”, where I could worship without interference from government, where I could say whatever I liked without fear of retribution or of a wild eyed bigot screaming at me should I say the “wrong thing”, where everyone had a shot at life as black Americans became President, Secretaries of State, advisors to Presidents, members of Congress, millionaire movie stars, millionaire sports figures, prominent religious leaders- we are all guaranteed opportunity, not outcome. Outcome usually depends on personal initiative, sacrifice, and character. Ask Ben Carson or Clarence Thomas or Candace Owen! The real American spirit asks not for handouts but only a fair shot at a happy life.

Yet in some sections of our country there was (and still is) definite bias against black people. That is unconscionable and wrong. But it is also incorrect to call this ‘systemic racism.’ I lived under systemic racism for seven years in South Africa, whereaApartheid made American bigotry look like Sodality Boys Clubs. Honest Americans are ashamed and would like to redress this evil —and certainly most try. How to do it is the question. No solution is ever really possible unless one sees the problem through the other’s eyes. Don’t criticize someone until you have walked in his shoes. Could that ever be possible?

The underlying factor is the history of slavery, the national shame which decent people have tried to redress with considerable success. No one has any right to own another person, as that person is made in God’s image and is God’s child. This is a sacrilege which calls to heaven for vengeance!
- Is the scar of slavery so deep that it can never be healed?
- Is there an element in the deep recesses that refuses to be healed?
- Is there some kind of self destruction that leads people to a feeling of victimization, no matter how well they do in life?
Analogously, in my Jewish soul is there some element that whispers to me that the centuries of discrimination and humiliation have marked me with a self-doubting DNA, in spite of my achievements and successes?
- I know that had I lived in Germany in my youth, I would most likely not be alive today. That was systemic racism.
- I understand that it would be difficult to dialogue with Nazis! The difference today is that in the United States, 99.9% of Americans are horrified at the murder of George Floyd, want justice for him, and want bad police removed. We are all on the same page!

Murder is never right. Nor is brutality. Looting and mayhem are never right. It is never right to redress a wrong by doing “the wrong thing”.

I was raised in the tenements of the West Side. Seven people crowded into a railway flat with one bathroom. No car. Vacation was a day trip to Coney Island with the 5 cent subway fare and homemade sandwiches. The parish school was free, sponsored by the Paulist Fathers; high school tuition also paid by the priests, at $10 per month. College was CCNY and later a scholarship to St Francis in Brooklyn. I was a Duns Scotus Scholar. My father went gray overnight in the Depression. We ate sufficiently but sparsely and survived.

We “made do.” We wore clothes until they fell apart. We laughed. We loved. We prayed. My sister became a college professor. I received a PhD from NYU. My maiden aunt earned a PhD from Columbia. We all made it and never felt victimized. It was never easy but obviously doable. There was no social security or supplemental funding. Those were challenging times.

Being half Jewish and half Irish, I endured sneers and innuendos of being a “ Jew b- – – d”, an “Irish pig”, and ignorant and low class. I too was hurt and embarrassed by many in my formative years. Yet by God’s grace and with gratitude for opportunity, we kept healthy goals and got out of our ghetto. Almost anyone can if they are willing to pay the price of hard work and sacrifice.

Clearly having a supportive and encouraging mother and father helps tremendously, but that is for another essay . The “poor me” cry is a cop-out and ultimately self sabotage. At the very least we can all make our tough situations a little bit better.

Now, I am almost 100 years old and am near nauseated when I see so many young people crying victimization as they carry their cell phones and wear expensive sneakers and drive expensive cars and plan their winter break in warm climates. The opportunities (even with college debts) are enormous today for anyone who is willing to shake a leg and work.
- Is it that people don’t even see their possibilities?
- Or is it that people want not just a good living but rather the fantasy life of Hollywood and the media? On the proverbial platter?
- Is it revenge that is the goal and not justice?
- Isn’t life a series of balances between having and not having?

Perhaps looters, crummy cops, and hired protestors could benefit from a serious conversation with God wherein one might ask for the grace to see the beauty of what one has without any bitterness relating to what one does not have.

And for the grace to attain the basic America dream because, granting limitations, there are many wide open chances for a happy life, pursuing happiness and personal destiny.

It begins to look as if all the “sit-downs” and dialogues and ranting sessions will never really do the job of healing. I suspect both sides need a spiritual approach to help see God in his fellow man. We all need the help of God, not smooth-talking ambitious politicians. It is, as the Lord said, a situation that can be changed only by prayer and fasting.

Editor’s note: This essay originally appeared in a slightly different form on Fr. Lloyd’s Facebook page on June 27, 2020.
00Wednesday, July 8, 2020 5:12 AM

I am most thankful to Sandro Magister for having been the only person, to my knowledge, who reacted to Mons. Viganò’s full-throated denunciation of Vatican II last month, which reads in parts like a direct slap at Benedict XVI, never mind that since the end of Vatican II, he had always fought to underscore proactively – as professor, theologian, archbishop, then as cardinal and Pope - that the Council texts must not be interpreted as a rupture with what the Church has always taught.

Even if, one must admit that in 1985, 20 years after the Council closed, when John Paul II convened a special synod to ‘institutionalize’ the right interpretation and application of Vatican II, the discontinuity narrative had already taken over key sectors of the Church, as Joseph Ratzinger himself denounced so forcefully in the RATZINGER REPORT of 1984 [in Italian, RAPPORTO SULLA FEDE (Report on the faith)] that preceded the synod.

And that in 2005, another 20 years later, when, as Pope, he delivered his seminal address on the ‘hermeneutic of continuity in renewal’ – as beautifully reasoned and attention-grabbing as it was - it seemed to have been more a question of enunciating that hermeneutic in a papal document, for the record, not out of any real expectation of reversing the havoc already wrought on the Church by the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ cardinals, bishops and priests who had systematically sought to influence dioceses, parishes, seminaries and Catholic schools around the world and win them over to their progressivist hermeneutic of rupture.

The new debate over Vatican II that Mons. Viganò’s broadside has ignited has since taken a number of turns, but let us begin with Magister.

Archbishop Viganò on the brink of schism:
The unheeded lesson of Benedict XVI

June 29, 2020

Benedict XVI promoted him to apostolic nuncio in the United States in 2011. The meek theologian pope certainly could not have imagined, nine years ago, that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò - who returned to private life in 2016 but has been anything but hidden - would today be blaming him for having “deceived” the whole Church in that he would have it be believed that the Second Vatican Council was immune to heresies and moreover should be interpreted in perfect continuity with true perennial doctrine.

Because this is just the length to which Viganò has gone in recent days, capping off a relentless barrage of denunciations of Church heresies over the last few decades, with the root of it all being the Council, most recently in an exchange with Phil Lawler, editor of [Posted earlier on this thread]

Attention! Not the Council interpreted badly, but the Council as such and en bloc. In his latest public statements, in fact, Viganò has rejected as too timid and vacuous even the claim of some to “correct” Vatican II here and there, in its texts which in his judgment are more blatantly heretical, such as the declaration “Dignitatis Humanae” on religious freedom.

Because what must be done once and for all - he has demanded - is "to drop it 'in toto' and forget it.” Naturally with the concomitant “expulsion from the sacred precinct” of all those Church authorities who, identified as guilty of the deception and “invited to amend,” have not changed their ways.

According to Viganò, what has distorted the Church ever since the Council is a sort of “universal religion whose first theoretician was Freemasonry.” And whose political arm is that “completely out-of-control world government” pursued by the “nameless and faceless” powers that are now bending to their own interests even the coronavirus pandemic.

Last May 8, Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Joseph Zen Zekiun also carelessly affixed their signatures to an appeal by Viganò against this looming “New World Order.” Just as to a subsequent open letter from Viganò to Donald Trump - whom he invoked as a warrior of light against the power of darkness that acts both in the “deep state” and in the “deep Church” - the president of the United States replied enthusiastically, with a tweet that went viral.

But getting back to the reckless indictment launched by Viganò against Benedict XVI for his “failed attempts to correct conciliar excesses by invoking the hermeneutic of continuity,” it is obligatory to give the accused the right to speak.

The hermeneutic of continuity - or more precisely: “the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church” - is in fact the keystone of the interpretation that Benedict XVI gave of Vatican Council II, in his memorable address to the Vatican curia on Christmas Eve of 2005, the first year of his pontificate.
It is a speech that is absolutely to be reread in its entirety:

But here in summation is how Papa Ratzinger developed his exegesis of Vatican Council II. He began by recalling that also after the Council of Nicaea in 325 the Church was rocked by the most heated conflicts, which made St. Basil write:

“The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith...”

But why has the aftermath of Vatican II been so contentious as well? Benedict XVI's answer is that everything has depended “on its hermeneutic,” meaning on the “key to interpreting and applying it.” The conflict has arisen from the fact that “two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other’’. On the one hand there was a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.” On the other, a “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church.”

According to the first hermeneutic, "it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit,” making room for “impulses toward the new” that are seen as underlying the texts, “in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless.”

But with this - the pope objected – “the nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one.” When instead “the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord” and the bishops need simply be its faithful and wise “administrators.”

Up to this point, Benedict XVI therefore seemed to attribute the hermeneutic of discontinuity to the Church's progressive current alone. But further on in the address, in analyzing in depth the Council’s intention to “give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State,” he took up the question on which not the progressives but the traditionalists have stumbled more, to the point of breaking with the Church as the followers of Marcel Lefebvre have done and as Viganò now seems on the point of doing.

It is the question of religious freedom, addressed by the conciliar declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. A declaration that Viganò too charges with the worst of offenses, to the point of writing that “if it has been possible for Pachamama to be worshiped in a church, we owe this to Dignitatis Humanae.

In fact, it is undeniable that on religious freedom Vatican II marked a clear discontinuity, if not a rupture, with the ordinary teaching of the Church of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which was strongly anti-liberal.

Benedict XVI explicitly recognized this in his address and also explained the historical reasons for it, which precisely because they are historical have changed over time and allowed the Council, “recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom,” to recover “the deepest patrimony of the Church,” that “of Jesus himself” and “of the martyrs of the early Church,” who “died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.”

“It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that is the very nature of true reform,” Papa Ratzinger said in that address. “The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.”

There is therefore a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” which Benedict XVI acknowledged in some way by saying “it is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.”

But at this point we might as well let him talk and reproduce below the final part of that address of his on the Council, in which he presented at length what has been summarized above in a few lines. Viganò's counterarguments are also available on the websites that cover him. Let the reader compare.

“In this process of innovation in continuity…”
by Benedict XVI

[…] In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other. The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term "contemporary world", we opt for another that is more precise: the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.
This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described "religion within pure reason" and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.

In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church's faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the "hypothesis of God" superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.

The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.
So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.

Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.

It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer.

First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance - a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

These are all subjects of great importance - they were the great themes of the second part of the Council - on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.

In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church's decisions on contingent matters - for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible - should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself.

It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within. On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

Basic decisions, therefore, can continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change.
- Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning.
- Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed, but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22:21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2:2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.

At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues "her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God", proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

Those who expected that with this fundamental "yes" to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the "openness towards the world" accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.

In our time too, the Church remains a "sign that will be opposed" (Lk 2,34) - not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel's opposition to human dangers and errors.

On the contrary, it was certainly the Council's intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.

The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as "openness to the world", belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.

In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3,15). This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.

When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition, and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time.

There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.

This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.

Rome, December 22, 2005

Viganò replied to Magister twice - first in written answers to LifeSite's John Henry Westen who openly challenged him to say exactly what he meant by his aforementioned critique: Did he believe Vatican II to be an invalid council and thus to be complete repudiated, or if he believes it is a valid council that contained many errors, would the faithful pre-Vatican II magisterium for their spiritual guidance? And second, in a letter to Magister himself. Here first is the LifeSite feature:

Archbishop Viganò: 'I do not think Vatican II
was invalid, but it was gravely manipulated'

[Which is what Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI
has said all along since 1965]

but Vigano concludes we should simply go back
to the Council of Trent]

by John Henry Westen

July 3, 2020

Editor’s note: The following exchange with former USA nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is offered in the hopes of clarifying his position on this important matter of consideration in the Church.

Dear Archbishop Viganò,

I am hoping to get a clarification from you about your latest texts regarding the second Vatican council.

In your June 9 text you said that “it is undeniable that from Vatican II onwards a parallel church was built, superimposed over and diametrically opposed to the true Church of Christ.”

In your subsequent interview with Phil Lawler he asked: “What is the solution? Bishop Schneider proposes that a future Pontiff must repudiate errors; Archbishop Viganò finds that inadequate. But then how can the errors be corrected, in a way that maintains the authority of the teaching magisterium?”

You replied: “It will be for one of his Successors, the Vicar of Christ, in the fullness of his apostolic power, to rejoin the thread of Tradition there where it was cut off. This will not be a defeat but an act of truth, humility, and courage. The authority and infallibility of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles will emerge intact and reconfirmed (bold mine).”

From this it is unclear whether you believe Vatican II to be an invalid council and thus to be complete repudiated or if you believe that while a valid council it contained many errors and the faithful would be better served by having it forgotten about and could rather draw on Vatican I and other councils for their sustenance.

I believe this clarification would be helpful.

In Christ and His beloved Mother,
1 July 2020
In festo Pretiosissimi Sanguinis
Domini Nostri Iesu Christi

Vigano's reply (translated from the Italian by Giuseppe Pellegrini):

Dear John-Henry,
I thank you for your letter, with which you give me the opportunity to clarify what I have already expressed about Vatican II. This delicate argument is involving prominent persons of the ecclesiastical world and not a few erudite laity: I trust that my modest contribution can help to lifting off the blanket of equivocations that weighs on the Council, thus leading to a shared solution.

You begin with my initial observation: “It is undeniable that from Vatican II onwards a parallel church was built, superimposed over and diametrically opposed to the true Church of Christ,” and then quote my words about the solution to the impasse in which we find ourselves today: “It will be for one of his Successors, the Vicar of Christ, in the fullness of his apostolic power, to rejoin the thread of Tradition there where it was cut off. This will not be a defeat but an act of truth, humility, and courage. The authority and infallibility of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles will emerge intact and reconfirmed.”

You then state that my position is not clear – “whether you believe Vatican II to be an invalid council and thus to be complete repudiated, or if you believe that while a valid council it contained many errors and the faithful would be better served by having it forgotten about.”

I have never thought and even less have I affirmed that Vatican II was an invalid Ecumenical Council: in fact it was convoked by the supreme authority, by the Supreme Pontiff, and all of the Bishops of the world took part in it. Vatican II is a valid Council, supported by the same authority as Vatican I and Trent. However, as I have already written, from its origin it was made the object of a grave manipulation by a fifth column that penetrated into the very heart of the Church that perverted its purposes, as confirmed by the disastrous results that are before everyone’s eyes.

Let us remember that in the French Revolution, the fact that the Estates-General were legitimately convoked on May 5, 1789, by Louis XVI did not prevent things from escalating into the Revolution and the Terror (the comparison is not out of place, since Cardinal Suenens called the conciliar event “the 1789 of the Church”).

In his recent intervention, His Eminence Cardinal Walter Brandmüller maintains that the Council places itself in continuity with the Tradition, and as proof of this he remarks:

It is sufficient to glance at the notes of the text. It can thus be seen that ten previous councils are quoted by the document. Among these, Vatican I is referred to 12 times, and Trent 16 times. From this it is already clear that, for example, any idea of “distancing from Trent” is absolutely excluded.

The relationship with Tradition appears even closer if we think of how, among the popes, Pius XII is cited 55 times, Leo XIII on 17 occasions, and Pius XI in 12 passages. To these are added Benedict XIV, Benedict XV, Pius IX, Pius X, Innocent I and Gelasius. The most impressive aspect, however, is the presence of the Fathers in the texts of Lumen Gentium.

The council refers to the teaching of the Fathers a full 44 times, including Augustine, Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian, John Chrysostom and Irenaeus. Furthermore, the great theologians and doctors of the Church are cited: Thomas Aquinas in 12 passages, along with seven other heavyweights.

As I pointed out in the analogous case of the Synod of Pistoia, the presence of orthodox content does not exclude the presence of other heretical propositions nor does it mitigate their gravity, nor can the truth be used to hide even only one single error. On the contrary, the numerous citations of other Councils, of magisterial acts or of the Fathers of the Church can precisely serve to conceal, with a malicious intent, the controversial points. In this regard, it is useful to recall the words of the Tractatus de Fide orthodoxa contra Arianos, cited by Leo XIII in his encyclical Satis Cognitum:

There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic Tradition.
Leo XIII then comments:
The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.

On the pages of L’Osservatore Romano, in an article on April 14, 2013, Cardinal Kasper admitted that “in many places [the Council Fathers] had to find formulas of compromise, in which often the positions of the majority (conservatives) are found alongside those of the minority (progressives), designed to delimit them. Therefore, the conciliar texts themselves have an enormous potential for conflict, opening the door to selective reception in both directions.” This is the origin of the relevant ambiguities, patent contradictions, and serious doctrinal and pastoral errors. [And something that was recognized from the time of the Council by many of the theological periti who were consulted [e.g.Joseph Ratzinger and his fellow likeminded Vat-II alumni who together set up Communio, a theological journal to counter Concilio, published by Hans Kueng and his fellow progressivist periti.]

It could be objected that taking into consideration the presumption of malice in a magisterial act ought to be rejected with disdain, since the Magisterium ought to be aimed at confirming the faithful in the Faith; but perhaps it is precisely the intentional fraud that makes an act prove to be non-magisterial and authorizes its condemnation or decrees its nullity. His Eminence Cardinal Brandmüller concluded his comment with these words: “It would be appropriate to avoid the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ that accuses the interlocutor from the beginning of heretical conceptions.”

While I surely share this sentiment in the abstract and in general, I think it appropriate to formulate a distinction to better frame this concrete case. In order to do this, it is necessary to abandon the approach that is a bit too legalistic, that considers all doctrinal questions inherent in the Church as reducible and resolvable principally on the basis of a normative reference: let us not forget that the law is at the service of the Truth, and not vice-versa. And the same holds for the Authority that is the minister of that law and custodian of that Truth. On the other hand, when Our Lord faced his Passion, the Synagogue had deserted its proper function as guide of the Chosen People in fidelity to the Covenant, just as part of the Hierarchy has done for sixty years.

This legalistic attitude is at the foundation of the deception of the Innovators, those who devised a very simple way to actuate the Revolution: imposing it by virtue of authority with an act that the Ecclesia docens [the teaching Church] adopted in order to define truths of the Faith with a binding force for the Ecclesia discens [the learning Church], restating that teaching in other equally binding documents, albeit in a different degree.

In short, it was decided to affix the label “Council” to an event conceived by some with the aim of demolishing the Church, and in order to do this the conspirators acted with malicious intent and subversive purposes. [This would seem to place John XXIII among the conspirators as he expressly convened Vatican II as a pastoral council.] Father Edward Schillebeecks candidly said: «We express it diplomatically, but after the Council we will draw the implicit conclusions» (De Bazuin, n.16, 1965).

It is not therefore a question of a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” but on the contrary something much more grave than a suspicion, corroborated by a calm evaluation of the facts, as well as by the admission of the protagonists themselves. In this regard, who among them is more authoritative than then-Cardinal Ratzinger?

The impression grew steadily that nothing was now stable in the Church, that everything was open to revision. More and more the Council appeared to be like a great Church parliament, that could change everything and reshape everything according to its own desires. Very clearly resentment was growing against Rome and against the Curia, which appeared to be the real enemy of everything that was new and progressive. The disputes at the Council were more and more portrayed according to the party model of modern parliamentarism. When information was presented in this way, the person receiving it saw himself compelled to take sides with one of the parties. [...] If the bishops in Rome could change the Church, and even the faith itself (as it appeared they could), why only the bishops? In any event, the faith could be changed – or so it now appeared, in contrast to everything we previously thought. The faith no longer seemed exempt from human decision making but rather was now apparently determined by it. And we knew that the bishops had learned from theologians the new things they were now proposing. For believers, it was a remarkable phenomenon that their bishops seemed to show a different face in Rome from the one they wore at home. (J. Ratzinger, Milestones, Ignatius Press, 1997, pp. 132-133).

[Why then did Vigano portray Benedict XVI in his June 9 manifesto as, in effect, the ringleader of the Vatican II deceivers?]

At this point it is right to draw attention to a recurring paradox in world affairs: the mainstream calls people “conspiracy theorists” if they reveal and denounce the conspiracy that the mainstream itself has devised, in order to divert attention from the conspiracy and delegitimize those who denounce it. Similarly, it seems to me that there is the risk of defining as “hermeneutic of suspicion” anyone who reveals and denounces the conciliar fraud, as if they were people who unjustifiably accuse “the interlocutor from the beginning of heretical conceptions.”

Instead, it is necessary to understand if the action of the protagonists of the Council can justify the suspicion towards them, if not actually prove such suspicion correct; and if whether the result they obtained legitimizes a negative evaluation of the entire Council, of some of its parts, or of none of it.

If we persist in thinking that those who conceived Vatican II as a subversive event rivaled Saint Alphonsus in piety and Saint Thomas in doctrine, we demonstrate a naivety that cannot be reconciled with the evangelical precept, and indeed borders on, if not connivance, then certainly carelessness. [But no one has been that naive - especially since the 'spirit of Vatican II' exponents never masked their subversive intentions.]

Obviously, I am not referring to the majority of Council Fathers, who were certainly animated by pious and holy intentions; I speak instead of the protagonists of the Council-event, of the so-called theologians who up until Vatican II were restricted by canonical censures and forbidden from teaching, and who for this very reason were chosen and promoted and helped, so that their credentials of heterodoxy became a cause of merit for them, while the undisputed orthodoxy of Cardinal Ottaviani and his collaborators in the Holy Office were sufficient reason to consign the preparatory schemae of the Council to the flames, with the consent of John XXIII.

I doubt that with regard to Msgr. Bugnini – to cite only one name – an attitude of prudent suspicion is either censurable or lacking in Charity. On the contrary: the dishonesty of the author of the Novus Ordo in pursuing his purposes, his adherence to Masonry and his own admissions in his diaries given to the press show that the measures taken by Paul VI toward him were all too lenient and ineffective, since everything he did in the Conciliar Commissions and at the Congregation of Rites remained intact and became an integral part of the Acta Concilii and the related reforms. Thus the hermeneutic of suspicion is quite welcome if it serves to demonstrate that there are valid reasons for the suspicion and that these suspicions often materialize in the certainty of intentional fraud.

Let us now return to Vatican II, to demonstrate the trap into which the good Pastors fell, misled into error along with their flock by a most astute work of deception by people notoriously infected by Modernism and not rarely also misled in their own moral conduct. As I wrote above, the fraud lies in having recourse to a Council as a container for a subversive maneuver, and in the utilization of the authority of the Church to impose the doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and spiritual revolution that is ontologically contrary to the purpose for which the Council was called and its magisterial authority was exercised. [From this perspective, Paul VI who ratified all the Vatican II documents, and the 2,500+ Council Fathers - including Marcel Lefebvre who signed all of them although he later denied having signed 'Dignitatis Humanae, the declaration on religious freedom - were all co-conspirators who consciously misused the Council.]

I repeat: the label “Council” affixed to the packaging does not reflect its content. [Which contradicts what he affirms at the start of the answers to Westen:

I have never thought and even less have I affirmed that Vatican II was an invalid Ecumenical Council: in fact it was convoked by the supreme authority, by the Supreme Pontiff, and all of the Bishops of the world took part in it. Vatican II is a valid Council, supported by the same authority as Vatican I and Trent...'

We have witnessed a new and different way of understanding the same words of the Catholic lexicon:
- The expression “ecumenical council” given to the Council of Trent does not coincide with the meaning given by the proponents of Vatican II, for whom the term “council” alludes to “conciliation” and the term “ecumenical” to inter-religious dialogue.
- The “spirit of the council” is the “spirit of conciliation, of compromise,” just as the assembly was a solemn and public attestation of conciliatory dialogue with the world, for the first time in the history of the Church.

Bugnini wrote:

“We must take out of our Catholic prayers and the Catholic liturgy everything which could be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, the Protestants” [cf. L’Osservatore Romano, 19 March 1965].

From these words we understand that the intent of the reform that was the fruit of the conciliar mens was to reduce the proclamation of Catholic Truth in order not to offend the heretics: and this is exactly what was done, not only in the Holy Mass – horribly disfigured in the name of ecumenism – but also in the exposition of dogma in the documents of doctrinal content; the use of subsistit in is a very clear example.

Perhaps it will be possible to debate the motives that may have led to this unique event, so fraught with consequences for the Church; but we can no longer deny the evidence and pretend that Vatican II was not something qualitatively different from Vatican I, despite the numerous heroic and documented efforts, even by the highest authority, to interpret it by force as a normal Ecumenical Council.
- Anyone with common sense can see that it is an absurdity to want to interpret a Council, since it is and ought to be a clear and unequivocal norm of Faith and Morals. [Surely none of the preceding 20 ecumenical councils recognized by the Church made decisions and issued decrees which were completely uncontested. Besides, as a 'Spirit of Vatican II' historian observes:

The first twenty Councils were called to settle particular problems (usually doctrinal), or for disciplinary purposes. The sole exception is Vatican II which was called to examine the Church itself and this developed, rationally, into a consideration of the Church in relation to the world it serves.

- Secondarily, if a magisterial act raises serious and reasoned arguments that it may be lacking in doctrinal coherence with magisterial acts that have preceded it, it is evident that the condemnation of a single heterodox point in any case discredits the entire document.
- If we add to this the fact that the errors formulated or left obliquely to be understood between the lines are not limited to one or two cases, and that the errors affirmed correspond conversely to an enormous mass of truths that are not confirmed, we can ask ourselves whether it may be right to expunge the last assembly from the catalog of canonical Councils. [In other words, to invalidate it completely. Probably an impossible task, if only because no previous council recognized by the Church has been invalidated. And that it would take another council to invalidate, or even to simply correct, anything that Vatican II decreed.]

The sentence will be issued by history and by the sensus fidei of the Christian people even before it is given by an official document. The tree is judged by its fruits, and it is not enough to speak of a conciliar springtime to hide the harsh winter that grips the Church; nor to invent married priests and deaconesses in order to remedy the collapse of vocations; nor to adapt the Gospel to the modern mentality in order to gain more consensus. The Christian life is a militia, not a nice outing in the country, and this is all the more true for priestly life.

I conclude with a request to those who are profitably intervening in the debate about the Council: I would like us first and foremost to seek to proclaim salvific Truth to all men, because their and our eternal salvation depends on it; and that we only secondarily concern ourselves with the canonical and juridical implications raised by Vatican II: anathema sit or damnatio memoriae, it changes little. [Then, what is to be done?]

If the Council truly did not change anything of our Faith [a premise which the progressivists reject, for the simple reason that they believe Vatican II did establish a new 'Church'.], then let us pick up the Catechism of Saint Pius X, return to the Missal of Saint Pius V*, remain before the Tabernacle, not desert the Confessional, and practice penance and mortification with a spirit of reparation. This is whence the eternal youthfulness of the Spirit springs. And above all: let us do so in such a way that our works give solid and coherent witness to what we preach.
*[In effect, Viganò would have us go back to the 16th-century Council of Trent, which John XXIII, in convening Vatican II, wished the Church to go beyond being 'somewhat inward-looking and static for 400 years since the Council of Trent' whereas, the catalogue of global changes since the 16th century is vast and involves greater understanding of the universe, of other cultures and of mankind itself].

+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop

I have to translate Magister's blogpost in which he publishes Vigano's letter to him, and a recent lecture in Rome by Cardinal Brandmueller on the difficulties of 'interpreting' Vatican II.
00Wednesday, July 8, 2020 8:19 PM

Benedict XVI follows brother's
funeral on livestream

REGENSBURG, Germany, July 8, 2020 (CNS) - Retired Pope Benedict XVI followed the funeral of his brother, Georg Ratzinger, via livestreaming, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said Pope Benedict, 93, was connected to the Mass taking place for his older brother July 8 in the Regensburg Cathedral. Msgr. Georg Ratzinger died on July 1 at age 96.

During the Mass, the Regensburg bishop recalled the surprise June 18-22 visit Pope Benedict paid to the sickbed of his dying brother.

"This sign of humanity touched many people. So all the more do we share in your mourning," he said in words addressed to the retired pope.

The Vatican newspaper and KNA reported that alongside Bishop Voderholzer at the altar was Pope Benedict's private secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, and the pope's ambassador to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. Among other participants were the former Regensburg bishop, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, and Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

The retired pope had written to his deceased brother a letter, which was read out loud at the ceremony by Archbishop Ganswein.

7/9/20 Correction: The letter was not to his brother, as reported on the news, even in Vatican News. The letter, published on the Regensburg diocesan website, is actually addressed to Bishop Voderholzer, thanking him and all who helped Georg Ratzinger in the last weeks of his life, as well as all those who sent their condolences to Benedict, andthen goes on to say what he most remembers about his brother's characteristics.I will post a full translation of the letter ASAP.

Remembering his "dear brother, Georg," Pope Benedict wrote, "May God reward you for everything you have done, have suffered and have given me."

The retired pope said his brother "received and understood his vocation to the priesthood as a musical vocation at the same time." He recalled his brother's "cheerfulness, his humor and his joy for the good gifts of creation." He also noted that his brother came to accept living with almost total blindness for 20 years.

Recalling his visit to Regensburg, the retired pope said he said "farewell" to his brother, knowing that "it would be a farewell from this world forever. But we also knew that God, who is good, who gave us this gift of being together in this world, also reigns in the other world, and there he will let us be reunited again."

Providing musical accompaniment for the funeral Mass were 16 former members of the "Domspatzen," the name of the Regensburg Cathedral's world-famous boys' choir that Msgr. Ratzinger directed from 1964 to 1994.

Bishop Voderholzer praised Msgr. Ratzinger's musical contribution and said it made clear how church music was not an "external ingredient" in a Christian church service. Music itself was " a medium of evangelization," he said.

Pope emeritus pens emotional letter
for brother's funeral service

July 8, 2020

The funeral of Mons. Georg Ratzinger, the brother of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, was held on Wednesday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Regensburg, Germany.

Mons. Ratzinger died at the age of 96 on 1 July in Regensburg, the city where he lived the greater part of his life. His death came just over a week after the Pope emeritus made a visit in mid-June to Regensburg to be with his ailing brother.

Following his brother's death, Pope Francis sent a personal note of condolences to his predecessor, assuring the Pope emeritus of his prayers both for his brother and for Benedict himself.

During the funeral celebrated by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Archbishop Georg Gänswein read an emotional letter written by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI for the occasion.

“At this hour when you offer my brother the final brotherly service and guide him on his final earthly path, I am with you,” the Pope emeritus assured in his letter.

Pope emeritus Benedict also said that people “from many countries, social and professional backgrounds” had written to him in a way that touched his heart.

Lamenting his inability to reply to each one of them personally, he nonetheless thanked them for accompanying him at this time. He also thanked all those who have been with his late brother “visibly and invisibly” during these past weeks.

“The echo of his life and work, which I have received in these days in the form of letters, telegrams and emails, goes far beyond what I could have imagined,” he wrote, adding that Cardinal Newman’s motto “Cor ad cor loquitur" (Heart speaks to heart) has become true for him, as hearts speak to each other beyond words on paper.

Benedict XVI said three characteristics come up when recalling his brother.

The first – wrote the Pope emeritus – is that his brother “received and understood his vocation to the priesthood as a musical vocation at the same time.”

He recalled that already in the early years of his elder brother’s life in Bavaria, Georg took the personal initiative to train himself thoroughly in music. These studies eventually led him to become the Kapellmeister of Regensburg Cathedral and conductor of the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir, a title which Georg would not have accepted, the Pope emeritus said, if their mother was still alive. The Pope emeritus recalled that their mother died around the same time as Kapellmeister Schrems, the predecessor of Georg Ratzinger, as Domkapellmeister of Regensburger Domspatzen.

He remarked that his service in Regensburg became “more and more of a joy” for his late brother, adding however that “hostility and rejection were not lacking, especially in the beginning.” At the same time, he noted that his brother became a father figure to the many young people who remained with him in the choir.

“My heartfelt thanks also go to all of them at this hour when I was allowed to experience again how he had become and always realized himself again as a priestly person, being a priest and musician,” he wrote.

The second characteristic about his brother that the Pope emeritus remembered is “his cheerfulness, his humor, and his joy for the good gifts of creation."

“At the same time, however," he wrote, “he was a man of direct speech as he expressed his convictions openly.”

He said that despite living in almost total blindness for more than 20 years, his brother “accepted” his situation and “overcame it inwardly.”

The Pope emeritus pointed out that “sobriety and honesty were the true center” of his late brother’s life, adding that “in the end, he was always a man of God.”

Recalling his last visit with his brother, the Pope emeritus said that, when he said “goodbye” to his brother on 22 June, he “knew it would be a farewell from this world forever.” Yet he expressed surety in the fact that “the good Lord, who has given us this union in this world, reigns in the other world and will give us a new union.”

“In the end, I would like to thank him for allowing me to be with him again in the last days of his life,” he wrote. “He did not ask me to visit him. But I felt it was time to go see him again. I am deeply grateful for this inner sign that the Lord has given me.”

In conclusion, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI thanked his brother. “Thank you, dear Georg, for all that you have done, suffered and given me.” He also thanked Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer for his assistance.

Leaving the Catedral after the funeral Mass, left, Mons. Gaenswein; right, Princess Gloria Thurn und Taxis, who lives in Regensburg, was a good friend to the Ratzinger brothers.

Mons Georg was laid to rest at the Lower Regensburg Catholic cemetery at the gravesite of the Regensburger Domspatzen Foundation.

00Thursday, July 9, 2020 9:07 PM

Great example of the Bergoglian song-and-dance over Vatican 'financial' reform - two or maybe even more steps back after the 'one step forward'
that John Allen was touting recently...

All offices, agencies ordered
to shut down all external accounts
and deposit all funds only at APSA

Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino from

July 7, 2020

Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, we have received a letter which the Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy and Finance, Juan A. Guerrero, S.J., sent to the heads of all Vatican departments, essentially to ask that they close all current “external” accounts of the various dicasteries and offices and transfer the money preserved in these accounts to APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.

APSA is, of course, currently headed by the former secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, and by Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, the bishop protected by Bergoglio who is under investigation in Argentina for alleged sexual abuse of seminarians and criticized for his financial management of the Diocese of Orano, from which he suddenly fled, only to reappear at Santa Marta under the pope's preferential patronage.

Here is the letter:


To the Dicastery Heads
To the Heads of Entities and Organs of the Holy See
To the President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State
From the Vatican, 8 May 2020

Most Reverend Eminence,
Most Reverend Excellency,
Most Reverend Monsignor,
Egregious Doctor,

I write this following the Inter-Dicasterial Meeting of 4 May presided over by the Holy Father, which addressed the economic and financial implications for the Holy See and Vatican City State deriving from the Covid-19 emergency.

Following the process of consultation of the working group composed of the Superiors of Secretariat of State, the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Governorate of the Vatican City State, in the context of the aforementioned meeting, further economic measures were discussed in order to strengthen the overall financial position at this particularly negative economic juncture.

Having considered determinations that emerged, and having informed the Superior Authority, I am now asking to be able to implement what has been established regarding the liquidity management of each Entity. More particularly, I am kindly requesting the following:
- Keep the funds held at APSA, avoiding moving them to other financial institutions, except for funds aimed at and tied to specific activities, projects, or donations.
- Transfer to APSA any liquidity presently in current accounts with external financial institutions.
-Transer to APSA any liquidity in current accounts at IOR.

Where it is necessary to maintain a deposit with IOR or other banks for operational needs, I am kindly asking you to communicate this to this Secretariat as soon as possible.

The Secretariat for the Economy remains at your disposition for any necessary clarification. Thanking you for your attention to this matter, and taking this occasion to offer you my kindest regards.

Juan A. Guerrero, S.J.

According to several experts in Vatican finances whom we have consulted, the motive of this letter – which does not seem to have been received with big smiles by the heads of the different Dicasteries – indicates one thing above all else: that the Holy See has a desperate need for liquidity, and since it is APSA that pays all the salaries of Vatican employees, the need for funds is mandatory.

Among other things, it has been noted that many organs of the Holy See have accounts in banks other than APSA and IOR (the Institute for Religious Works – from whose account, however, they tell us, you cannot make transfers), which are necessary for example for organs like the Vatican Publishing House (LEV) that are concerned with publications.

“They are looking between the cushions of the sofa and the armchairs to find the money that has fallen out of their pockets,” joked one of the experts whom we consulted.

Certainly the closure of the Vatican Museums [in February due to the Covid crisis] and their as yet only partial reopening (there are no rivers of tourists as in the past) was a harsh blow to the revenue normally generated by the ticket office, and thus to the liquidity of the Holy See.

But in addition to the hypothesis of a huge liquidity crisis at APSA, there is also that of a much broader strategic project (and that does not exclude the first reason at all).

One of the experts we consulted hypothesizes that they are thinking of closing the IOR and making APSA the only financial institution of the Holy See, a hypothesis already aired about ten years ago.

If all the entities and institutions of the Holy See remove their funds deposited at IOR and transfer them to APSA, the only thing remaining in the IOR would probably be “unofficial accounts.”

This could signify the desire to put what is transparent into APSA and leave the rest to IOR.

In technical terms, this would mean distinguishing and implementing the “Bad Bank” from the “Good Bank” – the Holy See would hold the “Good Bank”(APSA), and the “Bad Bank”(IOR) could be sold, for example, to a Swiss or Luxembourgian bank.

00Thursday, July 9, 2020 10:45 PM

On Vatican II:
A letter from Viganò and
a lecture by Brandmueller
Who is right?

Translated from

July 6, 2020

I have received a letter from Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò in reply to my recent blogpost regarding his most recent critique [and most extreme] of Vatican II, to which I shall make four brief observations before I publish it below.

The first observation is the archbishop’s accusation that Benedict XVI had ‘deceived’ the entire Church about Vatican II. It is true that Viganò never says the name. But it is very evident that when he identifies the ‘deception’ as to tell the faithful that Vatican II should be read in continuity with the true teaching of the Church, the first one who stands accused would be the man who has been the most authoritative advocate of this hermeneutic, namely, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

The second has to do with my ‘tribute to the Prince’. I confess my disappointment. I am kowtowing neither to the Terza Loggia [the third floor of the Apostolic Palace which contains the offices of the Secretariat of State and the papal apartment, among others] nor to my publisher. I had expected to be accused of something worse. Like belonging to the ‘New World Order’ above which there could be no higher power in Viganò’s worldview of the present.

The third has to do with the phrase I used - ‘on the verge of schism’. I am not surprised that Viganò rejects being described that way. It is always that way. Whoever wishes to detach himself from the Church believes that it is others who do not think as he does who are schismatic, whereas he stands firmly in the truth.

The fourth observation has to do with the conflicts regarding Vatican II. Viganò cites a passage from Cardinal Ratzinger’s memoir to illustrate this. But to have a better idea of how Benedict XVI lived and interpreted the conflicts, the address [Extemporaneous, it lasted almost an hour, and was a masterful analysis of the ‘true Council’ versus ‘the council of the media’ which has prevailed in the public opinion] that he gave to the clergy of Rome on February 14, 2013, three days after announcing his renunciation of the Papacy, is indispensable. It was a virtual memorandum for the future.

Having said that, here is Viganò’s letter. This time, I am appending after it, a recent lecture given by Cardinakl Walther Brandmueller in Rome, which was a true lectio magistralis that was more historical than theological, and which Inpost here with his authorization.


Dear Magister,

Allow me to reply to your article “Abp Viganò on the verge of schism”, published on June 29.

I am well aware that having dared to express a strongly critical opinion of Vatican II would suffice to revive the inquisitorial spirit that would otherwise be execrated by conformists. [Magister’s post was not ‘inquisitorial’ in any way!] Nonetheless, in a respectful discussion between ecclesiastics and competent laymen, I do not think it is inappropriate to bring up the problems which remain unresolved to this day, first of all, the crises afflicting the Church following Vatican II, which has reached a point of devastation.

There are those who speak of the misinterpretation of the Council; some, on the need to read it in continuity with Tradition; some, on the opportunity to correct errors contained in the Council documents, or to interpret the equivocations in the texts in the Catholic sense. On the other hand, we do not lack for those who consider Vatican II as a guide for proceeding towards a revolution, change, the transformation of the Church into a new modern entity that is in step with the times.

All this is part of the normal dynamics in a dialogue which is too often invoked but rarely practiced. Those who have expressed dissent so far from the statements I have made on Vatican II have never entered into the merits of the issue, but have limited themselves to labelling me with epithets that some more illustrious and venerable among my brothers have previously merited. [From my limited exposure to the Catholic media I regularly check on, I am actually surprised that I have only seen Magister 'dissenting' from Vigano's sweeping denunciation of Vatican II in toto.]

And it is curious that, whether in the doctrinal or political area, the progressivists claim primacy, as though they had been elected to consider their adversary as ontologically inferior, unworthy of attention and response, but simplistically dismissed as Lefebvrian in church terms or fascist in social terms.

But lack of arguments does not legitimize them to dictate the rules nor to decide who has the right to speak out, especially when reason, before faith, is able to show where the deception is, who is responsible for it, and for what purpose. [As intolerant as the 'spiritists' may typically be of anyone who does not share their worldview, there has been no lack of open dissent to their perversion of Vatican II in the past 55 years since Vatican II ended.]

Initially, it seemed to me that the content of your article was to be considered as an understandable tribute to the Prince, whether he is to be found in the frescoed salas of the Terza Loggia or in your publisher’s office. And yet, on reading what you attributed to me, I found an ‘inexactitude’, let us call it so, which I hope was the result of a misunderstanding.

You state that I accused Benedict XVI of "having deceived the entire Church, leading the faithful to believe that Vatican II was immune from heresies but must rather be read in perfect continuity with the true doctrine as it has always been”.

I don’t think I ever wrote anything like that about the Holy Father. [Oops! Purists will question Viganò's reference to Benedict XVI as 'the Holy Father'. Intentional?] On the contrary, I wrote, and I reaffirm it, that all of us, or nearly all, were deceived by those who used the Council as a ‘container’ endowed with implicit authority and the authoritativeness of the Council Fathers who took part, but perverting their purpose. And those who fell for the deception did so because, loving the Church and the Pope, they could not believe that in the heart of the Vatican itself, there could be a minority of very well-organized conspirators who would and could use the Council to demolish the Church herself, from within, and who in doing so, could count on the silence and inaction, if not the complicity, of [the highest] Church authorities. These are historical facts, of which you will allow me this personal reading which I believe can be shared by others. [In his June 9 letter that sparked this new round of Vatican II debate, Viganò did number himself among "those who fell for the deception". In this case, he is self-admittedly very much a carlo-come-lately among the passionate opponents of Vatican II, so it is difficult to see how he can be so sanctimonious about Joseph Ratzinger/Benedic tXVI in the following paragraph.]

Allow me also to remind you, if it is necessary, that Benedict XVI’s moderate critical reading of Vatican II from the traditional viewpoint is part of an admirable but recent past, whereas in the 1960s, the position of then theologian Joseph Ratzinger was something else. Authoritative studies are available alongside admissions by the then professor at Tuebingen confirming the Emeritus Pope’s partial regrets.

[So Viganò describes Benedict XVI’s position on Vatican II as one of ‘partial regrets’! I do not understand why Viganò would refer to whatever Ratzinger may have written in ‘the 1960s’ (Vatican II lasted from 1962-1965. The young Ratzinger did draft Cardinal Frings’s 1962 Genoa statement on what he hoped the Council would achieve – a statement John XXIII would tell Frings captured exactly what he wanted from the Council, and which, in effect, became the springboard for the Council to jettison the prepared conservative schema (talking points) framed by a Vatican commission under Cardinal Ottaviani for a more ‘forward-looking’ agenda.

In any case, I would urge Mons. Viganò to read a most enlightening lecture given in April 2005 by a Jesuit, Fr. Jared Wicks, when Joseph Ratzinger became Pope.,%2007s,%20Yama,%20Prof.%20Ratzinger%20at%20Vatican%20II....pdf
Wicks came to know him in Muenster just before Vatican II began, having applied to do his doctoral dissertation under Prof Ratzinger. The latter had to decline because he was leaving for Vatican II, but passed him on to another theologian. While pursuing his doctorate, Wicks had occasion to attend Ratzinger’s lectures in Muenster during the Council years, when he would be back from the October-December council sessions to teach his winter semester classes and he told his students what was happening in the Council.

Wicks’s lecture – he assembled the material when it became clear that Joseph Ratzinger would most likely be elected the next pope - has the most complete account I have seen of what exactly Joseph Ratzinger did and wrote while being theological adviser to Cardinal Frings of Cologne and from the first year of the Council, also one of its accredited theological periti (experts). His positions, it appears, were always moderate, and as early as 1966, he published 'Theological Highlights of Vatican II', about which Wicks says: ”In this interpretation of Vatican II, a typical remark is his critical assessment of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and its Ch. III on the collegiality of the bishops.

Not everything has been achieved that one might have hoped for. Much remains incomplete and fragmentary, and even what has been achieved, such as the doctrine on collegiality of bishops, is more properly termed a beginning than an end .... We must go even one step further and say that everything a Council decides can only serve as a beginning; its real importance is only achieved in its translation into the realities of everyday Church life."

He was ever the realist – so it is not surprising that in 1985, 20 years after the Council ended, he would publish THE RATZINGER REPORT, his interview book with Vittorio Messori, in which he looks back at the dreary panorama of post-Vatican II developments undermining the Catholic faith and the Church. A book which earned both him and Messori death threats for months by all the elements in the Church, especially in Italy, who felt themselves to be the targets of the cardinal’s denunciations. Mons. Viganò, it seems, overlooks this too, and his comment above makes it appear that Joseph Ratzinger’s ‘second thoughts’ about the undesirable consequences of Vatican II only began rather late in the day. As his own did, much much later.

Nor do I see what you call the “temerarious accusation unleashed by Vigano against Benedict XVI for his failed attempts to correct post-conciliar excesses by invoking the hermeneutic of continuity”, because this opinion is widely shared not only in conservative circles but also and especially among the progressivists. [In short, he does fault Benedict XVI for failing to ‘correct post-conciliar excesses’ – how was he supposed to do it, singlehandedly? If even Viganò admits that until recently, he too believed in Vatican II, or what he was told about Vatican II?]

And it must be said that what the innovators succeeded to obtain through deception, astuteness and extortions was the result of a vision which was then found applied to the maximum in the Bergoglian 'magisterium’ of Amoris Laetitia. Their fraudulent intention was admitted by Ratzinger himself:

The impression grew steadily that nothing was now stable in the Church, that everything was open to revision. More and more the Council appeared to be like a great Church parliament, that could change everything and reshape everything according to its own desires. (cfr. J. Ratzinger, “La mia vita”, traduzione dal tedesco di Giuseppe Reguzzoni, Cinisello Balsamo, Edizioni San Paolo, 1997, pp. 99).

[How is that an admission by Ratzinger of the council’s ‘fraudulent intention’? He was stating the obvious about how the ‘spiritists’ had hijacked Vatican II to ‘change everything and reshape everything according to its (their) desires”.]

But the admission was even more open from the Dominican Edward Schillebeecks who said: “Now we are stating [our intentions] diplomatically, but after the Council, we shall follow the implicit consequences” (“De Bazuin” n. 16, 1965).

We have confirmation that the intended ambiguity of [some] texts had the precise purpose of holding together opposing and irreconcilable visions, in the name of utility, and to the detriment of revealed Truth. A Truth which, when proclaimed in its entirety, cannot be other than divisive, just as our Lord is divisive: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?v No, I tell you, but rather division” (Lk 12, 51).

I don’t think there is anything reproachable in suggesting that we should all simply forget Vatican II: Its own champions have known how to exercise a damnatio memoriae effortlessly not just with one Council, but for all the other Councils before it, since they claim that Vatican II is the first ecumenical council of a new church, and that their council had brought an end to the old religion and the old Mass.

You will say that this is the position of extremists, and that virtue is somewhere in between the extremists and those who consider Vatican II as simply the last in an uninterrupted series of events in which the Holy Spirit speaks through the only Magisterium which is infallible. If that were so, it must be explained why the conciliar church gave itself a new liturgy and a new church calendar, and consequently, a new doctrine - “nova lex orandi, nova lex credendi” – disdainfully distancing itself from the past [the Church ‘as it was’ before Vatican II].

The very idea of setting Vatican II aside provokes scandal even in those, who like you, who recognize the crisis of the past several years, but obstinately refuse to see the causal link between Vatican II and its logical and inevitable effects. You write: “Attention! Not the Council misinterpreted, but the Council as such and in whole”.

I ask you then: What would be the correct interpretation of the Council? That which you give it, or that of its very diligent artificers who already knew how they would interpret it even while they were writing the various conciliar decrees and declarations? Or perhaps, the interpretation of the German episcopate? Or that of the theologians who teach in the pontifical universities of Rome and whose writings are published in Catholic periodicals around the world? Or that of Joseph Ratzinger? Or of Mons. Schneider? Or of Bergoglio?

[But there is a fundamental difference among the different ’sources’ of interpretation that he cites!
- On the one hand, there are the two popes, who, de jure, define the Magisterium of the Church during their respective pontificates, with the age-old limitation that this magisterium should always proclaim and never stray from the deposit of faith, a limitation that, of course, the reigning pope has consistently ignored to proclaim his personal opinions as Magisterium.
- Likewise, a pope is dutybound to honor the decrees and declarations promulgated by an ecumenical council, namely a pope and the bishops of the world that take part in the council, unless and until another such council abrogates or corrects those decrees and declarations. In interpreting Vatican II, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI upheld the principle that its decrees and declarations, even where ambiguous (deliberately so, or otherwise), should be interpreted according to the deposit of faith.
- Whereas Bergoglio has far outdone even his fellow progressivists who since 1965 (this includes the other categories Vigano cites - the artificers of the Vatican II ambiguities, the German episcopate, the uber-liberal theologians of the pontifical universities – and all who think like them) have relentlessly pushed their idea of Vatican II as the birth of a ‘new church’ and a rejection, if not total eradication, of what for centuries the Church has stood for and which it continues to stand for in the ‘conservative’ interpretation of Vatican II.

This suffices to understand how much damage has been caused by the very act of employing language so equivocal as to ‘legitimize’ opposing and contradictory interpretations, on which basis those who fostered the equivocation proclaimed what they called a conciliar springtime for the Church. That is why I do not hesitate to say that Vatican II ought to be forgotten – “as it is and in its entirety” – and I claim the right to say so without making myself culpable of schism for threatening the unity of the Church. [A most quixotic idea, but at best, impracticable and undoable - and won't erase or minimize the inestimable damage that has already been done to the faith and the Church. So how does that help anything?]

The unity of the Church is inseparably found in Charity and Truth, but where error reigns or even merely twists the Truth, there can be no Charity.

The pretty fable on hermeneutics – especially authoritative because of its author – nonetheless remains an attempt to give conciliar dignity to a true and proper ‘ambush’ against the Church, so as not to discredit the popes who desired that council, then proposed and re-proposed it. So much so that those same popes, one after the other, have been raised to the honor of the altars for having been ‘popes of the council’.

[It certainly is unfortunate that John XXII, Paul VI and John Paul II happened to be canonized by the reigning pope, which casts a question on their canonization such as Vigano raises. Fairly or unfairly, this throws into question whether individually, they had the attributes of holiness required of those beatified or canonized by the Church, even if none of them was devoid of their share of personal and official errors. It also unfairly lumps three distinctly diverse personalities in one basket.]

Allow me to cite a passage from the article of Prof Maria Guarini in response to your article, and published June 29 on Chiesa e post-concilio, entitled “Mons. Viganò is not on the verge of schism: All the chickens are [simply] coming home to roost”:

“It is precisely from this that dialog between the deaf arose and threatens to go on – to no avail (so far, other than the debate provoked by Mons. Viganò), because the interlocutors use dffferent readings of diverse realities: Vatican II, by changing the language, also changed the parameters of approaching reality. They end up speaking of the same thing to which, however, they give different meanings. Among other things, the principal characteristic of the present Church hierarchy is the use of apodictic affirmations [i.e., ‘clearly established and without dispute’] without ever bothering to demonstrate them or doing so with weak and sophistic demonstrations. But there is no need for demonstrations anyway, because the new approach and the new language have subverted everything aborigine.

And what has not been demonstrated about anomalous ‘pastorality’ devoid of defined theological principles is precisely that which deprives us of the material to dispute. It is the advance of inchoate, fluid, and ever dissolving affirmations in place of clear, unequivocal, definitive, truthful constructs: the incandescent perennial solidity of dogma against the sewage and shifting sands of the transient neo-magisterium.”

I continue to hope that the tone of your article was not dictated by the simple fact of my having dared to reopen the debate on that Council, that many, too many in the ecclesial structure, consider an unicum in the history of the Church, almost an untouchable idol.

Be assured that, unlike many bishops, such as those of the German ‘Synodal Path’ who have already gone far beyond the verge of schism – by promoting and shamelessly claiming to impose worldly ideologies and aberrant practices on the Church – I have no desire to separate myself from Mother Church, for whose exaltation, I renew the offer of my life daily.

“Deus refugium nostrum et virtus,
populum ad Te clamantem propitius respice;
Et intercedente Gloriosa et Immaculata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria,
cum Beato Ioseph, ejus Sponso,
ac Beatis Apostolis Tuis, Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis,
quas pro conversione peccatorum,
pro libertate et exaltatione Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae,
preces effundimus, misericors et benignus exaudi”.

[“O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church.”
From the Prayers at the end of Low Mass by Pope Leo XIII]

Accept, dear Sandro, my salutatory blessing as I wish you everything that is good, in Christ Jesus.

Carlo Maria Viganò
July 3, 2020
Feast of St. Irinaeus, Bishop and Martyr

It turns out that Marco Tosatti has posted an English translation of the Brandmueller lecture on Vatican II on his blog, so I will post that now.

Difficulties in interpreting Vatican II
by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
Address by the former President of
the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences to
the Ecclesia Mater School, Rome, June 2020

Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino for

July 7, 2020

The fact that in the interpretation of conciliar documents differing opinions may be reached is certainly not a novelty for the history of the councils. Formulating truths of the faith means expressing the unspeakable mystery of divine truth in a human language. However, it is and remains a bold undertaking, one which Saint Augustine once compared to a child attempting to empty the sea with a bucket.

And in this undertaking even an ecumenical council cannot do much more than that child.

There is therefore nothing strange if even the infallible doctrinal affirmations of a council or a pope are able to define revealed truth – and thus delimit it with respect to error – but never grasp the fullness of divine truth.

This is the essential fact that we must not lose sight of in the face of the difficulties of interpretation presented to us by Vatican II. In order to illustrate them, we will limit ourselves to those conciliar texts that have been perceived as particularly difficult by so-called traditionalist circles.

First of all, however, it is good to take a look at the particularities that distinguish Vatican II from the preceding ecumenical councils.

In this regard, there is a premise to be laid down: To the historian of the council, Vatican II appears, under many aspects, to be above all a council of superlatives.
- We begin with the observation that in the history of the Church no other council was prepared for so intensely as was Vatican II. True, the council that preceded it was also very well prepared for when it opened on December 8, 1869. Probably the theological quality of the preparatory schemas was even superior to that of the council that followed it. It is however impossible to ignore that the number of ideas and proposals sent from all over the world, as well as the way in which they were elaborated, was greater than all that had been seen [in the history of councils] up until then.

The fact that Vatican II was a council of superlatives [superlatives can be either best or worst!] emerged conspicuously on October 11, 1962, when an immense number of bishops – two thousand four hundred forty – entered in procession into Saint Peter’s Basilica. If Vatican I, with its approximately 642 Fathers, found enough space in the right transept of the Basilica, now the entire central nave was transformed into the synodal aula.

In the approximately one hundred intervening years between the two councils, the Church had become, as now emerged visibly in the most impressive way, a universal Church not only in name but also in fact. This reality was now reflected in the number of 2,440 Fathers and their countries of origin.

In addition, for the first time in history a council was able to vote with the help of electronic technology, and the acoustical problems that had still bothered the participants at Vatican I were no longer even mentioned.

And while we are talking about modern means of communication: prior to then it had never happened, as it did in 1962, that about one thousand journalists from all over the world were accredited to the council. This made Vatican II the most well-known council of all time, a media event of the first degree.

It was also, however, a council of superlatives in a very particular way with regard to its results. Of the 1,135 pages that compose the compiled edition of decrees of all the councils generally held to be ecumenical, twenty-one in all, Vatican II alone has given us 315 pages, or well over a quarter of the total. Therefore, it certainly occupies a special place in the series of all the ecumenical councils, even if we are only using the most material and external criteria.

Apart from all this, there are however other particularities that distinguish Vatican II from the councils that preceded it, for example regarding the functions of an ecumenical council. The councils are supreme teachers, supreme legislators, supreme judges, under and with the pope, to whom these roles pertain even without a council. Not all councils have performed this function.

If, for example, the First Council of Lyons, in 1245, with the excommunication and deposition of the Emperor Frederick II, acted as a court and moreover passed laws, by contrast Vatican I did not hold trials nor promulgate any laws but decided exclusively on doctrinal matters.

The Council of Vienne of 1311-12, instead, both passed judgment and issued laws, and also decided on doctrinal questions.

The same holds for the Council of Constance in 1414-18 and the Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence of 1431-1439.

Vatican II instead did not pronounce any judgments, did not truly issue any laws, and it did not even take any definitive decisions on questions of faith.

Rather, it effectively gave shape to a new type of council, intending itself as a pastoral council, thus concerned with the care of souls, aimed at making known to the world of that time the teaching and instruction of the Gospel in a more attractive and orienting way. In particular, it did not express any doctrinal condemnation.

John XXIII, in his discourse for the solemn opening of the council, spoke expressly: “There is no time in which the Church has not opposed these errors; she often condemned them, at times with the greatest severity. With regard to the present time, […] she prefers to use the medicine of mercy […]; she thinks that she ought to go to meet the needs of today, expressing more clearly the value of her teaching more than condemning.”

[The fallacy of his aspirational statement, of course, has never been more obvious. The progressivist go-getters of Vatican II both
1) never 'expressed the value of her teaching' - because they did not value anything but their own ideas of what the church ought to teach; and
2) distinguished themselves by their no-holds-barred condemnation of most of the Church's articles of faith, as well as all those Catholics who chose and choose to abide by the deposit of faith as it was till the Vatican II 'spiritists' trashed it mercilessly.

Well, as we know fifty years after its conclusion, the council would have written a glorious page if, following in the footsteps of Pius XII, it had found the courage to make a repeated and clearly expressed condemnation of communism.

The fear of pronouncing doctrinal condemnations and dogmatic definitions, instead, made it so that at the end of the council there was the impression that some of the conciliar affirmations had a higher degree of authenticity, and thus a completely different binding character.

Thus, for example, the Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church and Dei Verbum on Divine Revelation undoubtedly have the nature and binding character of authentic doctrinal teachings – although here too nothing was defined in a binding way, strictly speaking - while for example the Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae “takes a position on these questions of the time without a clear normative content,” according to [German theologian] Klaus Mörsdorf [1909-1989].

In fact, this applies to disciplinary documents, which regulate pastoral practice. The binding character of the conciliar texts is thus of varying degrees.

Taking a further step, the question must then be asked about the relationship between Vatican II and the entire Tradition of the Church. We may find an answer by analyzing how much, or how little, the conciliar texts have drawn from the Tradition. In this sense, as an example, it is enough to examine the Constitution Lumen Gentium. It is sufficient to glance at the notes of the text.
- It can thus be seen that ten previous councils are quoted by the document.
- Among these, Vatican I is referred to 12 times, and Trent 16 times. From this it is already clear that, for example, any idea of “distancing from Trent” is absolutely excluded.
- The relationship with Tradition appears even closer if we think of how, among the popes, Pius XII is cited 55 times, Leo XIII on 17 occasions, and Pius XI in 12 passages. To these are added Benedict XIV, Benedict XV, Pius IX, Pius X, Innocent I and Gelasius.
- The most impressive aspect, however, is the presence of the Fathers in the text of Lumen Gentium. The council refers to the teaching of the Fathers a full 44 times, including Augustine, Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian, John Chrysostom and Irenaeus.
- Furthermore, the great theologians and doctors of the Church are cited: Thomas Aquinas in 12 passages, along with seven other heavyweights.

This list alone is enough to illustrate how much the Fathers of Vatican II intended to place themselves in the current of the Tradition, integrated into that process of receiving and handing on that is the raison d’etre of the Church: “I received from the Lord what I in turn have handed on to you,” says the Apostle. It is evident that also under this aspect we cannot speak of a new beginning of the Church, or thus of a new Pentecost.

[That may be so, but one supposes that the progressivists went along with it as part of their great sham game, to give the majority of the Council Fathers a false sense of security that they were, in fact, protecting and reaffirming the deposit of faith, despite the many semantic compromises they signed on to in the name of conciliar unity.]

This leads to important consequences for the interpretation of the Council, and more precisely not of the “conciliar event” but rather of its texts. A central tangible concern of many of Benedict XVI’s statements was to highlight the close organic connection of Vatican II with the rest of the Tradition of the Church, thus showing that a hermeneutic that believes it sees a break with Tradition in Vatican II is in error.

This “hermeneutic of rupture” is made both by those who see in Vatican II a distancing from the authentic faith, thus an error or even a heresy, and also by those who, by means of such a rupture with the past want to daringly make a courageous departure towards new shores. [AsBenedict XVI explicitly pointed out in his December 2005 address to the Roman Curia.]

However: the presumption of a rupture in the teaching and sacramental action of the Church is impossible, even if only for theological reasons. [Impossible in the abstract, maybe, but in fact, proclaiming and actually executing the rupture, mostly unchallenged, was nothing less than a romp for the 'spiritists' who knew how to play the media who were always on their side, anyway, being on the side of whoever is 'against the Church'.]
- If we believe in the promise of Jesus Christ to remain with his Church until the end of time, to send the Holy Spirit who will lead us into the richness of truth, then it is absurd to think that the teaching of the Church, transmitted in an authentic way, can over time prove to be wrong on one point or another, or that an error that has always been rejected can at a certain moment be revealed to be true.
- Whoever maintains that this is possible would be the victim of that relativism which says that truth is essentially subject to change; that in reality truth does not exist at all. [Which is, in fact, the operational bedrock for the progressivists, and anyone else who has contempt for the Church and its God-fearing values and practices.]

[The cardinal's points from here on present the fundamental aspects of an ecumenical council, in theory, and which were more or less observed in the councils that preceded Vatican II, but largely dumped in practice before the ink had dried on the Vatican II documents which were to be shamelessly and fraudulently used as the blueprint for the 'new church' desired by the progressivists. So read on, not forgetting to take a lick from a salt pack now and then.]

Every council makes its specific contribution to this Tradition. Naturally a council’s contribution cannot consist of adding new content to the Church’s deposit of faith. And even less can a council eliminate teachings of the faith handed down thus far.

Rather, what is accomplished here is a process of development, clarification and discernment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a process that leads each council, with its definitive doctrinal declarations, to enter as an integral part in the overall Tradition of the Church.

From this point of view, the councils always open forward, looking toward a more complete, clear, and current doctrinal proclamation; they do not go backwards. A council will never contradict those that have preceded it, but it can integrate, specify, and continue.

Things are different, however, for the council as an organ of legislation. The latter can – and certainly must – confront, but always within the limits indicated by the faith, the concrete needs of a particular historical situation and, from this point of view, is in principle subject to change.

From these observations one thing ought to emerge clearly: all that has been said also applies to Vatican II. It too is nothing more – but also nothing less – than a council among, alongside, and after the others. It is not above and not even outside, but falls within the series of ecumenical councils of the Church.

That this is so results not least of all from the self-understanding of almost all the councils. It is enough to recall their respective affirmations, as well as those of the first Fathers of the Church, on the question. They recognize in the Tradition the very nature of councils.

Already Vincent of Lerins († prior to 450) reflects expressly on this in his Commonitorium:

“To what has the Church aspired by means of her conciliar decrees, if not to ensure that what was believed before the council was afterwards believed with greater diligence; that what was previously announced without vigor would afterwards be announced with greater intensity; that what she previously celebrated with absolute certainty would afterwards be adored with greater zeal? This, I maintain, and nothing else, the Church, shaken by the innovations of the heretics, has always obtained by means her conciliar decrees: that which previously she had received from the “ancestors” only by means of tradition, she has now deposited in writing also for “posterity.” She has done so by synthesizing much in a few words and, often, for the purpose of a clearer understanding, expressing the unchanging content of the faith with new definitions” (Commonitorium, ch. 36).

This authentically Catholic conviction finds expression in the definition of the Second Council of Nicea in 787, which states: “Therefore, proceeding on the royal pathway and following in all and for all the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church, recognizing, in fact, that the Holy Spirit dwells in her, we define…”; and then there follow the central principles of the conciliar decree. The last of the four anathemas of that council is also particularly important: “If anyone rejects any ecclesiastical tradition, whether written or non-written, let him be anathema.”

In holding a council, the Church realizes her most profound nature. The Church – and therefore the council – hands on by living and lives by handing on. Tradition is the true realization of her essence.

The decisive element of the interpretative horizon is the authentic transmission of the Faith, not the spirit of the time. This absolutely cannot mean rigidity and immobility. The way the Church keeps her eyes fixed on today must not become less. It is the present questions that demand an answer.

But the elements that compose the answer can only come from Divine Revelation, offered once and for all, which the Church hands on authentically down the centuries. This transmission thus constitutes the criterion to which every new response ought to refer if it wants to be true and valid.

It is necessary to take into account these fundamental considerations even in the interpretation of the most disputed conciliar texts.

These are mainly the Declarations Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae, which have raised objections from the Fraternity of Saint Pius X. This latter accuses the council of having erred in the faith. To this, however, we must respond decisively.

It is quite clear that when a conciliar text formulated in 1965, which at the time was intended to start from the situation in which it was created and on the basis of the intention of its affirmations, is proclaimed in the world of today, it must necessarily be contemplated in the present interpretative horizon.

Let us take, for example, Nostra Aetate. Whoever today accuses this text of religious indifferentism must read it in the light of Dominus Iesus, which would categorically rule out any misunderstanding in the sense of indifferentism or syncretism.

[In fact, the two most important practical corrective actions to Vatican II - officially undertaken by the Catholic hierrchy represented by the Pope - were the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as one result of the 1985 synod called by John Paul II on the proper reception and interpretation of Vatican II, and Dominus Iesus, the CDF reiteration of the Catholic deposit of faith issued in the Jubilee year 2000, marking the end of Christianity's second millennium. I would add Summorum Pontificum in 2007, which resuscitated the 'Mass for the ages' that Paul VI and his fellow protestantizers thought they had buried once and for all in what was the most overt sacrilege perpetrated by the 'spiritists'. And I don't want to seem to be beating up on Mons. Vigano, but he has simply overlooked those three milestones in his wholesale accusation that nothing has been done to correct the perversions borne out of Vatican II.]

With ever new impulses, the post-conciliar magisterium by means of its clarifications has removed the basis for any erroneous interpretation of the conciliar texts either in the traditionalist sense or in the progressivist sense.

After these fundamental observations, I would now like to explain another interpretative principle that results from the historicity of every text. Just as all texts – and thus also all magisterial texts – arise from a particular historical situation and are determined by the concrete situation of their conception, they are also proclaimed with a precise intention in a precise historical moment.

We must not lose sight of this principle today when we set about interpreting one of these texts.

We must also take into account the fact that the hermeneutical horizon that has been so determined shifts and is modified in proportion to the chronological distance which the present interpreter has from the moment in which the text was created.
This means that past interpretations, depending on how chronologically distant they are, may become to a greater or lesser extent claims that are now only of historical interest. This awareness is particularly important when we consider texts of the magisterial and pastoral ministry of the Church.

One could immediately object that the truth, especially the truth of divine revelation, is an eternal and immutable truth, which cannot undergo alterations. Certainly the truth is not subject to discussion. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass,” says the Lord.

It is, however, equally true that the recognition of this eternal truth by man, who is subject to historical change, is itself subject to change, just like the man who recognizes it. That is to say: depending on the historical moment, one or another aspect of eternal truth is grasped, recognized, and understood in a new and deeper way.

Precisely for this reason, even a conciliar text, if contemplated in its spiritual and cultural context, etc., and in the light of our time, may be understood in a new, more profound, and clearer way.

To the extent that we take this concept into account in our efforts to understand the teachings of Vatican II today and for today, we will succeed in overcoming various conflicts that arise in its regard.

Naturally the interpretation of the council is the competence of theological debate, which has always dealt with it. In fact, the results of this debate finally found space in the documents of the post-conciliar magisterium.

In light of what has been said, it would be a serious error not to take this principle into account in the interpretation of the council for the present time and to act as if time had stopped in 1965.

I would like to illustrate what has been said with three examples that seem to me to be particularly characteristic.

In this regard, immediately what stands out is the Declaration Nostra Aetate on the relationship between the Church and non-Christian religions and the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio on ecumenism. For a long time these two documents have been subjected to criticism by so-called traditionalist circles. Both of these documents are accused of lacking clarity and decisiveness in upholding the truth in relation to syncretism, relativism, and indifferentism. At the time of the approval of the texts it was difficult to foresee that they would offer footholds for similar criticisms.

It had been the experience of the totalitarianism of the first half of the 20th century and of the persecutions experienced together that reminded Jews and Christians – Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox – of the fundamental things that they held in common. The commitment to overcoming the ancient hostilities between them and to working towards a new coexistence was generally perceived as a duty imposed by the Lord. Read in this spirit and in this background, the two documents gave a very strong impetus to this commitment.

But then a page turned. Only a few decades after the conclusion of the council, a theological vision of non-Christian religions developed, above all in the Anglo-Saxon world, which spoke of different paths of salvation for man, more or less equivalent, and that thus placed the Christian mission into doubt. The proclamation of the Church, it was said, should be carried out in such a way so as to make a Muslim become a better Muslim, and so forth.

It was the Englishman John Hick, who spread this type of idea more or less beginning in 1980. In fact, against this new background one or the other formulation of Nostra Aetate could be misunderstood. Furthermore, Nostra Aetate “speaks of religion only in a positive way and ignores the sick and disturbed forms of religion, which from a historical and theological point of view have a wide scope (Benedict XVI, Collected Works, vol. VII/1, Preface).

At this point it is necessary to recall in a particular way the passage of Nostra Aetate which refers to Islam. The text is not only accused of indifferentism. It must be observed first of all, in this regard, that the decree certainly “cum aestimatione quoque muslimos respicit" (also regards Muslims with esteem), but absolutely not Islam. It is not referring to its teaching, but to the people who follow it. The fact that in subsequent formulations behind equal or similar words a very different understanding is hidden is evident for the Islamologist of today. At this point of the document, which intends to prepare the way for a peaceful dialogue, the rigid standard of dogmatic terminology should not be applied, although a commitment in this sense would have been desirable. In fact, the text was published in 1965.

For our current understanding, the problem assumes instead an entirely different aspect: it is Islam that has profoundly changed in the last half-century, as is demonstrated by the degree of Islamic aggression and hostility towards the “Christian” West. Against the background of the experience of the decades since 9-11, a decree of this kind should say something else.

For the purposes of a serious conciliar hermeneutic, there is no point in raging and arguing against the 1965 text: the decree now has only a historical interest.

It was then the magisterium, with the Declaration Dominus Iesus [in 2000], that removed the basis for any indifferentism and indicated in an unequivocal way Jesus Christ as the one way to eternal salvation and the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ as the only community of salvation for every man.

Something similar has happened through the various clarifications of the meaning of the famous phrase “subsistit in.” If in the ecumenical discourse there had been affirmations that could give rise to the impression that the Catholic Church was only one among many aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ, the interpretation of “subsistit in” confirmed by Dominus Iesus has eliminated any misunderstanding.

Another scandalum for many is the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae on religious freedom. This too has been accused of indifferentism, betrayal of the truth of the faith, and contradiction of Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus Errorum.

The fact that this is not the case appears evident if the interpretative principles formulated above are applied: the two documents were created in a different historical context and had to respond to different situations.

The Syllabus Errorum – just like Gregory XVI’s Mirari Vos which preceded it – was aimed at the philosophical refutation of the claim of the absoluteness of truth, especially of revealed truth, by means of indifferentism and relativism. Pius IX emphasized that error has no rights with respect to the truth.

Dignitatis Humanae instead comes from a completely different situation, created by the totalitarianisms of the 20th century which, by means of ideological constraint, denigrated the freedom of the individual, of the person. Furthermore, the Fathers of Vatican II had before their eyes the political reality of their own time, which in different conditions, though not in lesser measure, threatened the liberty of the person.

For this reason, the central point of Dignitatis Humanae was not the – undisputed – untouchability of truth, but rather the freedom of the individual from every external constraint with regard to religious conviction.

In this regard, it is good to assure those who support the “absolute a-historicity of the truth” that no theologian or philosopher endowed with good sense would speak of the mutability or inconstancy of the truth. What changes rather, what is subjected to mutation, is the recognition, the awareness of truth by man, which totally changes. Here the Profession of Faith of the People of God occupies a place of excellence, which Paul VI proclaimed in the culminating moment of the post-conciliar crisis.

In synthesis: The Syllabus defended the truth; Vatican II defended the liberty of the person.

It is difficult to discern a contradiction between the two documents if they are contemplated in their historical context and understood according to what the intentions of their affirmations were at the time of their composition.

Furthermore, for the purpose of a correct interpretation, today all of the post-conciliar magisterium must be taken into account.

Finally, mention should be made of the worldly optimism, evidently somewhat naïve, which animated the council fathers during the drafting of Gaudium et Spes.

As soon as the council was over it became clear that this “world” was undergoing an ever more rapid process of secularization which pushed the Christian faith, and religion in general, to the margins of society.

It was therefore necessary to redefine the relationship between the Church and “this world” – as John calls it – and to complete and interpret the conciliar text, for example in the sense of the speeches of Benedict XVI during his visit to Germany.

This means however that a current interpretation of the council which brings out the essence of the conciliar teaching making it fertile for the faith and the teaching of the Church of the present, must read its texts in the light of all of the post-conciliar magisterium and understand its documents as the actualization of the council.

As highlighted at the beginning: Vatican II is not the first nor will it be the last council. This means that its magisterial declarations must be examined in the light of Tradition, that is to say, interpreted in such a way as to be able to identify, with respect to it, an extension, a deepening, or even a clarification, but not a contradiction.

Handing over – “tradition” – does not imply the simple delivery of a well-sealed package so much as an organic, vital process, which Vincent of Lerins compares to the progressive transformation of the person from a baby to a man: it is always that same person who undergoes the phases of development.

This applies to the areas of doctrine and the sacramental-hierarchical structure of the Church, but not for her pastoral action, whose efficacy continues to be determined by the needs of the contingent situations of the world that surrounds her. Naturally here too any contradiction between praxis and dogma is to be excluded.

It is a “process of active reception” which must also be carried out on the basis of unity in the heart of the Church. In fact, there are also cases – not in the sphere of truths of the faith, but in the moral sphere – in which what was prohibited yesterday may be appropriate today.

If, for example, prior to Vatican II the absolute ban on cremating the dead laid down the consequence of excommunication for any Catholic who chose cremation, in a time in which cremation has lost its aspect of protest against faith in the resurrection of the dead, it was possible to lift such a ban.

This applies in a similar way in the case of the ban on interest [on borrowed money]in the 15th-16th century, when the Franciscans and Dominicans – more precisely in Florence – challenged each other in bitter duels from the pulpits, where the contenders accused each other of heresy over the question of permitting the charging of interest, and threatened the opponent with burning in the flames of hell. It was a moral problem, born with the changes of economic reforms, and then it became obsolete once more.

We must go slowly, therefore, also in the debate over Vatican II and its interpretation, which in turn must take place against the background of the situation that has changed over time. In this regard, the magisterium of the post-conciliar popes has made important contributions, which however have not been sufficiently taken into account in the present debate.

Furthermore, in this discussion, it is good to recall the admonition to patience and modesty made by Saint Paul to Timothy (2 Tim 4:1 ff.).

Unfortunately these discussions continue to assume forms that are not in accord with brotherly love. It ought to be possible to reconcile zeal for the truth with the correctness of love of neighbor. In particular, it would be opportune to avoid that “hermeneutic of suspicion” that accuses the interlocutor from the outset of having heretical conceptions.

In synthesis: The difficulties in interpretation of the conciliar texts do not derive only from their content. It is necessary to increasingly hold in consideration the way in which our discussions develop in this regard.

I appreciate Cardinal Brandmueller's introduction of the issue of context in considering the most problematic of the Vatican II texts. Of course, it is helpful only to those, like me, who choose to consider the controversial texts in the light of what the Church has always taught, i.e., according to Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity in renewal, and would not consider Vatican II as the last word on anything that has do with the faith or the Church.

It is a conscious choice because it seems to be the only rational alternative to face a problem that will remain a problem if one insists on seeing only the negative side of equivocal texts. Yet, one can see that advocating the hermeneutic of continuity is equivalent to carrying out a hopeful brick-by-brick re-edification of faith, when much of it already lies in post-conciliar fragments.

It is still much better than over-indulging in the blame game of the past 55 years which gets us nowhere and ends up being a contest as to who can beat his breast better and be the undisputed Tarzan in a jungle war that is best abandoned for the quieter, unspectacular but steadfast task of re-edification. With God's grace, non praevalebunt.
00Sunday, July 12, 2020 9:45 PM

On April 16, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI turned 93.


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

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

Translated from

July 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Beijing muzzling the pope?

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

Translated from

July 5, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many other blogs subsequently reposted and commented on Tosatti's post.
00Tuesday, July 14, 2020 5:52 AM

Amid all the verbiage about Vatican-II, present as well as over the past 55 years, Aldo Maria Valli has written perhaps the most perceptive diagnosis of its
fundamental and 'fatal' error - without needing any arguments pro or con, he cuts to the chase and nails his conclusion. In 6 words, it explains everything
that went wrong about Vatican II and its unfortunate consequences... The post is a transcript of his latest weekly broadcast for Radio Roma Libera.

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

Translated from

July 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is curious that Vatican II, which expressly set out not to be dogmatic, has itself become a dogma. If we could look at it as an event of many faces, with the hopes it gave rise to, but also with all its intrinsic limitations and the errors of perspective that marked it, then we would do great service to the Church and to the quality of our faith.
00Tuesday, July 14, 2020 1:08 PM

Another 'clamorous' case of Bergoglian aphasia...

Pope spares 8 words
for Hagia Sophia
reverting to a mosque

by Jules Gomes

July 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Museum to mosque:
Why Hagia Sophia matters

by Ines A. Murzaku

July 13, 2020

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

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

What is the history behind Hagia Sophia?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does keeping the museum status of Hagia Sophia matter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the great mosaics of Hagia Sophia:

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

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

Top left, The Empress Zoe mosaic: Constantine IX Monomachos, left, and his Empress, Zoe, offer a money purse and a parchment of donation to the Pantocrator; bottom left, The Comnenos mosaic: Similar to the Empress Zoe mosaic, but this time, it is John II Comnenos and his Empress, Irene, making their offerings to the Theotokos; right, the great Theotokos mosaic in the apse over the main altar.
One may better appreciate the scale of the mosaics if one considers the dimensions of Hagia Sophia: 269 ft long by 240 ft wide by 180 ft high (27 stories by 24 stories by 18 stories). Mosaics are the epitome of Byzantine church art and can best be appreciated outside what used to be Byzantium, in the Cathedral of Monreale outside Palermo, Sicily, and in the churches of Ravenna - all replete with breathtaking mosaics.
00Tuesday, July 14, 2020 2:30 PM

Early on, the ravening unrelenting blood lust of BLMania homed in on tearing down statues of 'white Jesus' which speaks of the appalling ignorance, real as well as feigned, that the BLManiacs all seem to share. If
those who screamed their heads off were even aware that Jesus was born a hunded percent Jewish, one could even accuse them of anti-Semitism, which is, of course, not as bad as being actually anti-Christ because
anti-religion in general.

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

by David Bonagura Jr.

July 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But God became man not so we could make him more like us, but so that we could become like him — ”conformed to the image of his Son,” as Paul puts it, “in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29) — who is perfectly just, perfectly mercifully, and loves all men and woman indiscriminately as his own.
00Wednesday, July 15, 2020 1:29 AM

In the past year, Antonio Socci has written more about his concerns for Italy's political situation - in particular, the apparent tendency
for its leaders to surrender Italian sovereignty to the European Union in general and to Germany in particular, because of Italy's
increasingly dire economy - than with his concerns about the Church. His columns the past two Sundays have been very instructive
about what is happening in Italy, but the lessons he draws and the questions he raises are true for most Western democracies
at this time.

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

July 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated from

July 5, 2020

In an eloquent document by Benedict XVI, we read:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

00Wednesday, July 15, 2020 8:39 PM

The political significance of
Erdogan's move on Hagia Sophia

by Hugh Fitzgerald

July 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Hagia Sophia figures
in Erdogan's caliphate scheme

by Kamel Abderrahmani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by David Abulafia

July 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

00Thursday, July 16, 2020 1:59 AM

Standard views of HongKong such as these are taken from atop Victoria Peak on HongKong island, looking across to Kowloon, which is the larger part of the teryitory that was once a British Crown Colony, on the mainland.

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

By Anonymous

July 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

00Thursday, July 16, 2020 3:48 AM

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

Open Letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
and Bishop Athanasius Schneider

July 9, 2020

Your Excellencies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Schneider:

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

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

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

Bishop Schneider:

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

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

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

Archbishop Viganò:

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

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

Papal Primacy and the New Collegiality
Bishop Schneider:

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

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

Archbishop Viganò:

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

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

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

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

Bishop Schneider:

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

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

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

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

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

In Christo Rege, (signed)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Sandro Magiter

July 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2he second attributed to the Council of Florence:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Elizabeth Bruenig

July 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

00Thursday, July 16, 2020 7:48 PM

Left, Altar of Peter's Chair in St. Peter's Basilica; right,13th-century bronze statue of St. Peter attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, venerated in St. Peter's Basilica.

The once and future papacy
by Robert Royal

July 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaw quotes British historian Lord Macauley in an afterword:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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