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00Tuesday, November 7, 2017 7:28 AM

From left, Fr Stangl, B16, Fr Schweiger, and Manfred Hartl.

Once again, thanks to Beatrice....

A visit to Benedict XVI
As a 90th birthday treat, a Bavarian parish sends
its former pastor to visit his colleague from
the Munich archdioceses’s ‘class of 1951’ ordinands

Translated and adapted from

November 6, 2017

Ruhpolding – As we reported in October on his 90th birthday, the parish’s spiritual adviser, Fr. Bernhard Schweiger, received many good wishes. But as a special gift, his parish came up with something truly memorable: they enabled him to travel to Rome to visit Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

Schweiger was among the 41 men who were ordained priests along with Joseph Ratzinger in 1951. During the almost quarter century that the latter was Prefect of the CDF, his classmates often travelled to Rome to visit him, and Schweiger was among those visited most often. As pope and even after his retirement, Benedict XVI continued to receive his classmates in private. But the circle of survivors from the class of 1951 has steadily declined until only Schweiger came to visit him last year. [The other well-known survivors of that class are, of course, Georg Ratzinger, and the Ratzinger brothers’ good friend, Rupert Berger.] And when he came back to Ruhpolding at the time, he told himself, “This is the last time – it is a very strenuous trip for me now”. [He looks very well and fit in the photo, though.]

But on his 90th birthday, it was thought the parish should make it possible for him to return to Rome. Thus, current parish priest Otto Stangl and the chairman of the parish council Manfred Hartl travelled with Schweiger to Rome, having earlier received an invitation to Mass and breakfast at Mater Ecclesiae.

Fr Stangl said, »It was a beautiful journey, with wonderful autumn weather, pleasant experiences, where we were in a neighborhood very close to St. Peter's Square«.

The day after they arrived was the day for their visit to Mater Ecclesiae. Fathers Schweiger and Stangl were able to concelebrate Mass with Benedict XVI, after which, they had breakfast together.

"It was a special experience for me to see how happy they were together, Fr. Schweiger and Pope Benedict,” Fr.Stangl said. Before they left, the emeritus Pope asked them to extend his greetings and blessing for everyone in Ruhpolding.

Any Bennadict who has tried to collect as many photographs as one could of Joseph Ratzinger especially in his early years would immediately have recognized the place name Ruhpolding, which is a mountainous municipality in the Traunstein district of southeastern Bavaria. Traunstein was, of course, Joseph Ratzinger’s favorite childhood home, because it is also where the Ratzinger lived the longest, from when Joseph was just a schoolboy to when he was ordained a priest.

A few photos from 1952 show the fairly new priest Ratzinger visiting Ruhpolding to say an outdoor Mass on a mountaintop with the village folk.

Today, Ruhpolding remains a tiny town of 6,400 people, but since 1948, it has been a famous spa and tourist resort, especially for winter sports.

I thought I would put in this other 'early Ratzinger' photos I came across while rummaging online for the Ruhpolding photos:

It's the 20-year-old still seminarian Joseph Ratzinger who was invited by his friend and former seminary mentor Alfred Laepple (center in right photo) to be his master of ceremonies at the latter's first Mass in his hometown of Partenkirchen, an even more famous winter resort than Ruhpolding, as it was once the site of a pre-war Winter Olympics. (It boggles the mind that at that time, he had already translated Thomas Aquinas's treatise on love from Latin to German, as one of the assignments Laepple had given him in the seminary. It was also Laepple who introduced Ratzinger to the work of John Henry Newman.)

00Tuesday, November 7, 2017 7:50 AM
I am very thankful to Fr H who manages somehow, almost every day in every way, to hammer away at what a pope can do and cannot do...
not that it will be read, much less heeded at all, by the man who ought to profit most from such lessons, but still a wider public will
become more aware of the limitations to papal power and not be bamboozled by Bergoglio's artifices..

A Pope and the liturgy:
'Non potest' - You can't!

Nov. 6, 2017

Following on from my post about possible dangers to sound Liturgy arising from PF's own personal liturgical fads and his dirigiste instincts, I want to draw to the attention of readers two loci of Magisterial status.

(I presume that readers are already familiar with what the then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy, when he criticised the hyperpapalism which, after Vatican II, played on an erroneous assumption that the pope can do anything. This, of course, could be argued to be non-Magisterial.)

The two places that I wish, very briefly, to draw to your attention are full exercises of a Papal Magisterium.
(1) In the Letter to the Bishops which accompanied Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI wrote "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Notice the expression 'cannot'. The learned pontiff says, not "should not be"; he says "cannot be".

(2) I suspect Ratzinger of being responsible for drafting paragraph 1125 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although, of course, it was promulgated with the force of an Apostolic Constitution in 1992 by Pope St John Paul II.

The second sentence of this paragraph begins with the phrase "Ipsa auctoritas Ecclesiae suprema [Even the supreme authority of the Church itself]". This is a phrase commonly used, especially at Vatican II, of the Pope himself (although surely it would also apply to an Ecumenical Council). Next comes "non potest [is not able]". I ask you to notice that we do not have "non licet" ["he is not permitted"], nor do we have a jussive subjunctive ["he shouldn't do it"]. What is being excluded is being excluded as an impossibility. Just as S John Paul II excluded the sacerdotal ordination of women as an impossibility (nullam facultatem habere)(never to have that faculty).

The sentence in the Catechism continues: " (non potest) liturgiam ad placitum commutare suum (cannot change the Liturgy in accordance with his own fad) sed solummodo in oboedientia fidei et in religiosa mysterii liturgiae observantia (but only in the obedience of the Faith and in the religious observance of the mystery of the Liturgy)."

In other words, if a pope were to attempt to change the Liturgy in accordance with his personal fads, he would be acting ultra vires. And so his attempt would be null.

I suspect we would have to go back to the principled and glorious teaching of Vatican I (Pastor aeternus) to find as clear and forthright a Magisterial statement of what a pope is not competent to do!

[Unfortunately, all these arguments are moot because, like the Muslim Allah, Bergoglio's will is bound to be arbitrary, i.e., as it pleases him for the moment, but nonetheless he expects it to be binding on everyone and recognized by everyone. And his will, in general, is: "Ignore, discard or destroy anything about the Roman Catholic Church that is not in the spirit of Vatican-II, which I happen to embody and express par excellence!"]

Finally, Vatican issues a denial:
‘Ecumenical Mass’ rumours are ‘utterly false’

Mons Roche of CDW and Vatican spokesman Greg Burke have both denied it

by Nick Hallett

Monday, 6 Nov 2017

The Vatican has denied rumours that a secret commission is creating an ‘ecumenical Mass’ that would allow joint Communion between Catholics and Protestants.

Greg Burke, director of the Holy See press office, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, the second highest-ranking official in the Congregation for Divine Worship, both strongly denied the reports after days of speculation.

Archbishop Roche told journalist Christopher Lamb that the rumours were “utterly false”, while Mr Burke said they were “simply not true”.

The denials came after a report by Marco Tosatti in First Things quoted anonymous sources who said a commission was looking at creating an “ecumenical Mass”. Tosatti added that Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, had not been informed of the plans.

Last week, [ITthe Australian asked the Vatican about the rumours but did not receive a response. The paper added that the Mass would supposedly include prayers, readings from scripture and a common Communion, but the Catholic and Protestant clergy would pray the words of consecration silently.

The rumours also prompted German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to say such a Mass would be theologically impossible. An ecumenical Mass would have “no basis”, he said, because Catholics and Protestants “do not agree on the central issues”.

On Friday, Andrea Grillo, who had been named as one of the people on the commission, denied any involvement. He told the Catholic Herald: “Regarding the ‘rumours’, I wish to insist that I am not part of any Vatican commission. I teach, study and publish: these are my only activities.”

I wish I could sincerely say 'Deo gratias!" for this newsbit, but these days, I do not trust a Vatican denial.

November 6, 2017 headlines

Today, Fr. H starts a new series on the double standards that are among the hallmarks of this ueber-ypocritical pontificate:

Double Standards (1):
Pope Francis answers Dubium!!!

7 November 2017

Pope Francis has replied to a plea for an answer to a question, and did so within SIX WEEKS!!

A well-known theologian has commented with immense joy, pointing out how wonderful it is

"that Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears";
"that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the secretary of state";
"that he clearly read the appeal most attentively";
"that he is highly appreciative".

Who is the theologian? Hans Kueng. What was his appeal? That PF would allow free discussion concerning the doctrine of papal infallibility, which Kueng has spent a lot of his life attacking.

Kueng wrote to PF on March 9 2016; his ecstatic press statement describing PF's reply was released to The Tablet on April 27, 2016.
[Maybe it was reported at the time but I do not recall reading anything about it - or maybe, I just tend to roll my eyes and look elsewhere when Kueng's name is brought up.]

Papal Infallibility is a dogma solemnly defined by an Ecumenical Council, Vatican I, in 1870. Its teaching included anathemas against those who denied the doctrine.

Kueng says that PF "set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom ..." etc. etc..

This gripping news broke some weeks before the recent spate of Internet papers by court theologians arguing that documents like Amoris laetitia require a more obsequious acceptance from the theological community than they have in some quarters received.

So ... assuming that Kueng has not been telling naughty porkies ... on the one hand, obsequious submission is required; on the other, the whole fundamental substructure of the Petrine Ministry is up for grabs!!

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Double standards (2), (3), and (4) are due to follow.
00Tuesday, November 7, 2017 10:28 PM

Respect for the Eucharist begins
with how it is 'handled'

Mishandling the Host appears to be the gravest problem in the New Mass

By New Catholic

November 5, 2017

[Inspired by recent debates on the matter, we repost this item from Sept. 28, 2011.

Translation problems? Mass celebrated towards the people? Altar girls? Postures?

No, the greatest and gravest problem of the liturgy of the Latin Church - that is, of the "Ordinary form", or Mass of Paul VI - is one that transcends all this, even it is related to all of them: it is the way the Body of Christ is treated.

That must be the very first issued tackled by an eventual true "reform of the reform", one that is set not by fleeting example, but by hard law.

(1) Any human being who has ever had any experience with any edible object based on a milled product knows that crumbling is a natural part of the process of consuming it: loaves, wafers, cookies, biscuits, crackers, tortillas, nachos - it does not matter, fragmentation takes place.

(2) Catholics believe that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ are truly present in each of the Consecrated Species, and completely in every single and minute fragment of it.

Because of (1) and (2), the Church was traditionally extremely careful regarding the distribution of Holy Communion. That meant reducing to the minimal imaginable level the possibility that any Fragment of the Body of Christ, even the smallest one, might be profaned or lost - which meant only the celebrant himself touched the Body of Christ, that all Fragments could be held under control on the Altar, and that all gestures in the distribution of Holy Communion by the Priest (or Deacon) to the servers and faithful would mean that no Fragment could ever go unaccounted. (And that same process also took place with the distribution under both Species in the East, in a slightly different evolution, but with the same end result: consecrated hands distributing Holy Communion in such a way to make any loss or spillage unlikely and under strict control.)

What the liturgical innovations following the Council did was to inculcate Catholics with the notion that the Fragments of the Body of Christ do not matter - and it would be absurd to limit that only to the abhorrent practice of Communion in the hand; no, it is not just a matter of respect, but of Belief that God Himself is entirely present in each single Fragment of the Consecrated species; and Communion in the hand is only one aspect of this.

In fact, all that permission for distribution by people other than those with consecrated hands that are not purified before and after the Distribution of Holy Communion, the use of all kinds of "vessels", and all related matters - happening thousands upon thousands of times every single day around the world - also necessarily lead to abuse. Or, rather, they ARE the abuse.

All other problems with the New Mass are intimately related with this gravest of problems. If the Sacred Liturgy is the "summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed" (SC, 10), the handling of the Body of Christ by the non-ordained is the pit from which all and every single liturgical abuse ontologically flow. Because if God present in the Most Holy Sacrament is treated as "crumbs" and "dust", then reality vanishes and all that remains, in appearance, are empty and ridiculous symbolisms - and no wonder people do not respect these, change them at will, and expect them to adapt to one's own preferences.

Serendipitously, on the same day, Aldo Maria Valli chose to write about a little-publicized Eucharistic miracle in our day.S ince I first read about this Eucharistic miracle shortly after Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope, I had always wondered why 1) he appeared never to have publicly spoken about it while he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires but more, 2) why he has never referred to it since he became pope.

The facts seem to me quite convincing enough – and I was impressed that Bergoglio himself had been instrumental in the final efforts to obtain definitive and corroborated scientific confirmation that the piece of ‘living flesh’ into which a discarded host had once again demonstrated the Trans-substantiation we Catholics believe takes place everytime Bread and Wine are consecrated at Mass, in the way other Eucharistic miracles through the centuries. Though spotty in places, Valli's summary presents the known facts about the Eucharistic miracle of Buenos Aires.

That Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires
Translated from

November 5, 2017

While there is increasingly insistent talk about an ‘ecumenical Mass’ said to be under study by a Vatican commission [the Vatican denied this yesterday from two fronts], and while there are Catholics who now maintain that the center of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is not the Consecration of the bread and wine but listening to the Word of God, I wish to call attention to a Eucharistic miracle that Pope Francis knows well because it took place in Buenos Aires just before and during his episcopate in the Argentine capital.

Even if [inexplicably to me!] the Church of Buenos Aires has never seemed to desire publicizing it, the story is rather clear.

In the Santa Maria parish, which is in central Buenos Aires, at #286 Avenida La Plata, in the neighborhood called Almagro, on Friday, May 1, 1992 (in the very month and year when Bergoglio was named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires), two fragments from consecrated hosts were found on the corporal of the tabernacle [The corporal is the white linen cloth on which are placed the vessels containing the bread and wine during Mass]. Following SOP in such cases, the parish priest ordered that the fragments be placed in a vessel with water where they would dissolve, and to put this vessel in the tabernacle.

But one week later, the pieces had not dissolved. Rather they now had a blood-red color. Two days later, during Sunday Mass, the priest noted some drops of blood on the paten [the saucer-like vessel that holds the bread to be consecrated]. [One assumes the vessel containing the host fragments meant to be dissolved continued to be kept within the tabernacle.]

Two years later, on Sunday, July 24, 1994, when the priest celebrating Mass (it was for children that Sunday) took out the ciborium from the tabernacle before giving Communion, he noted a drop of blood on one of the interior walls of the tabernacle.

Fast forward to August 15, 1996, Feast of the Assumption. At 7 pm., after Mass, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was approached by one of his parishioners who brought him a host he had found on the floor in a corner of the Church, obviously profaned.

Again, the priest placed the particle in a vessel filled with water so it could dissolve and kept the vessel in the tabernacle. A few days later, on August 26, he found that the host had transformed itself into a solid piece that resembled a fragment of bloody meat.

The priest informed Archbishop Antonio Quarracino, who passed it on to his auxiliary Bergoglio. A professional photographer was called to photograph everything, and a report was made and sent to Rome.

Already in 1992, some hematologists had established that the blood in the earlier episode was human blood. This time, Bergoglio himself authorized an even more thorough investigation from a laboratory in Buenos Aires whose technicians were not informed about the source of the ‘specimens’ sent to them for analysis. Their conclusion:the tissue, along with the red and white blood corpuscles, was from a human heart and was still alive with the cells active.

In 1999, Bergoglio requested a new analysis and asked a Bolivian hematologist, Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gomez, to take a tiny fragment of what seemed to be human flesh (still kept in the tabernacle) and to send it to a forensic genetics laboratory in San Francisco, which reported in 2000 that the sample did contain human DNA.

A similar sampling was sent to Prof. John Walker of the Unviersity of Sydney in Australia, who said that the sample he analyzed were human muscle cells and blood cells that were all intact. Moreover, as Walker would write Castanon, the tissue was inflamed as from someone who had undergone trauma.

Samples were also sent to a heart disease specialist in New York, Dr. Frederic Zugive of Columbia University, who wrote in his report on March 26, 2005:

“The material analyzed is a fragment of heart muscle from the left ventricular wall near the valves. This muscle is responsible for heart contractions. As you know, the left ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The cardiac muscle examined was inflamed and contained a large number of white blood cells. It means that it came from a living heart, since white blood cells die outside the body. Morever, these white corpuscles had penetrated the tissue which indicates that the heart was under great stress, as if its owner had been struck hard through the chest.”

The origin of the samples was not made known to any of the investigators. Zugibe was stunned when told later that the material had been kept in distilled water for many years. And even more so when Dr. Castanon revealed to him that the ‘heart muscle’ had originated from a consecrated host.

“How and why a consecrated host could become the body and blood of a living person,” said the scientist, who has also done studies on the Holy Shroud of Turin, “is an inexplicable mystery for science, something that is not within its competence”.

The Buenos Aires ‘samples’ were further compared in a blind study with those from the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano [In the 8th century, an Italian monk who had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist found, when he said the words of consecration at Mass, the bread change into living flesh and the wine change into blood which coagulated into five globules. The specimens from the miracle are kept in a silver ostensorium venerated at the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano, northern Italy, where they are treated as relics and visited by pilgrims.vThe Catholic Church officially claims the miracle as authentic.] The analysts, not knowing the origin of the samples being compared, concluded that they all belonged to the same person, with type AB blood, and whose DNA was identical to that found on the Shroud of Turin as well as the Sudarium of Oviedo. [This is a piece of linen cloth, 34 by 21 inches, thought to have been used to cover the head of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion (See John 20:7). It has been kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo, northern Spain, since 1113. Modern overlay techniques show that the Sudarium conforms exactly to the image of the face of Jesus in the Shroud of Turin, and of course, that the blood type in both is AB. A full and fascinating account of theSudarium of Oviedo may be read here:]

It must be noted that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, both as auxiliary bishop and then as archbishop, followed the procedures required by the document “Norms for proceeding to discern presumed apparitions and revelations” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1978. It is also known that he went several times to the church of Santa Maria, including for Eucharistic Adoration. [Did he kneel at Eucharistic Adoration?]

In the church of Santa Maria, the faithful are periodically reminded of the facts we have narrated, and the parishioners say “We pray that in the entire community of the Church, the Eucharistic significance of our faith may grow”.

[I do not get the impression that the miraculous ‘fragment’ has ever been put on public display, and if I were one of the church parishioners, of course, I too would like to see this evidence of Trans-substantiation made concretely real.

But the fact that it even happened at all in our time is miracle enough for me. Something that cannot be equaled by even a thousand Medjugorges sprouting everywhere with the claim that Our Lady appears every day with messages sounding like endlessly recycled bad homilies!

So my big question is why the Church – in Rome as well as in Buenos Aires – has never ‘publicized’ the Eucharistic Miracle of Almagro as I like to think of it. Perhaps because the institutional Church has always preferred to ‘go slow’ about pronouncing herself on apparitions and other private revelations, but if she can rely on expert physicians and expert theologians to decide on a miracle of healing through the intercession of a candidate saint, should not the theologians pronounce on the many independent scientific analyses already made about the Eucharistic miracle in Almagro?

My other question is whether we are to read anything in the coincidence of the first Almagro miracle taking place at around the same time Bergoglio was named a bishop. Was it a sign that he was destined for greater things? (My first thought, of course, is: what was Joseph Ratzinger doing on May 1, 1992, other than celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker?) Why has Bergoglio been subsequently ‘reticent’ – uncharacteristically – about this whole subject? I don’t believe he has mentioned it once as pope.

Could it be he himself does not believe in Trans-substantiation, taking the cue from Luther et al, and does not like the implications of the Almagro miracle at all? That’s, of course, an extreme view from someone who truly believes Bergoglio is really anti-Catholic.

However, I do need a quick google course on the Eucharistic miracles before Almagro to get a better fix on the subject.]

00Tuesday, November 7, 2017 11:52 PM

The message from John Paul II reads:

"We shall rise in protest when the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness and reduced to a temporal and conditional agreement which can be easily rescinded; and we shall proclaim the indissolubility of the marriage bond"

Remembering Cardinal Carlo Caffarra
through the streets of Rome

An advertising van that also features St John Paul II’s words
in defense of the family will be doing a weeklong run

Translated from

November 6, 2017

An advertising van will be going through the streets of Rome for a week till next Saturday to remind onlookers with a three-meter-square poster [on both sides of what is essentially a giant sandwich board mounted astride the van] of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who died three months ago, and of the message on the family from John Paul II who had chosen Caffarra back in 1981 to set up and establish the now-‘replaced’ John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

The initiative is promoted by three non profit pro-life organizations – ‘Vita e’ (It is life), Fede e Cultura, and Pro-Vita Onlus – which issued the ff statement: "Today we wish to remember, two months after his death, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna. Faithful servant of Christ and the Church, he was a close collaborator with John Paul II and Benedict XVI with whom he shared their concern for the family, as the image of the Holy Trinity, which God wishes to endure for the good of men.

May 13, 1981, during the celebration of Our Lady’s first apparition in Fatima in 1917, when John Paul II was almost killed by a gunman, also marked the birth of the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, to which the pope named Caffarra as its first president.

Years later, always courageously committed to the defense of life and the family against abortion, test-tube babies, ‘uterus for rent’ and other similar aberrations, Caffarra would refer to a letter written to him at the time by Sor Lucia of Fatima, who wrote: “The decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be fought over marriage and the family”.

In the last phase of his life, Caffarra fought, with his wisdom, humility and gentle firmness, for that ‘healthy doctrine’ of with the Apostle Paul wrote: a healthy doctrine that, along with genuine charity, could put an end to the profound division towards which the Catholic world is headed today. Because, as the Cardinal said in one of his last interviews, “Only a blind could deny that the Church today is in great confusion”. Thanks, Cardinal!”

And today, we have a not unsurprising sequela to the initiative…

Police interrogate one of the promoters
of the Wojtyla-Caffarra 'publicity run' through Rome

After detaining the 'publicity van yesterday at St. Peter’s Square

Translated from

November 7, 2017

After that extraordinary two-hour block imposed by the Roman police near St. Peter’s Square yesterday, a publicity van carrying ‘subversive’ words attributable to a Polish saint and with the portrait of a cleric – some call him a cardinal – from Italy’s Emilia region, one of the persons responsible for this initiative, apparently considered harmful to public security, was interrogated by the Italian state police.

The ‘interview’ at the Borgo commissariat on Piazza Cavour, was conducted in a civil and cordial manner, and lasted about 45 minutes. Present were the station commander and 4 or 5 of his men. Toni Brandi, the man they roped in, says he was first asked if he had the proper authorization for a publicity van. He immediately called one of the organizers of the initiative, whom the police asked to provide them with a copy of that authorization.

Next, the questions centered on the reasons for the publicity ‘run’: Who organized it? Who is really behind this initiative? Why was it decided to do it? Were the Vatican authorities notified about it?

Brandi responded by providing them information about the organizers, saying there was no one else behind the three associations, and that he did not think the Vatican authorities had been informed nor did he see any reason why they should have been informed.

“They asked me if I have contacts in the Vatican and I said I know Mons. Paglia and Cardinals Antonelli and Ruini. Then I reminded them that John Paul II had founded the Pontifical Aadaemy for Life and the institute in his name whose presidency he entrusted to Cardinal Caffarra – that therefore, those of us who have been fighting in defense of life, marriage and the family wished to bring together these two great personalities in commemorating the anniversary of Cardinal Caffarra’s death”.

So he was asked: Was this a campaign to ‘raise awareness’? To protest, perhaps? Or simply a commemoration? Brandi said it was not a protest at all but simply a commemoration of a great cardinal who died two months ago, and a subject dear to him and to the sainted Polish pope – to remind Romans of these two great Catholics.

“But the cardinal was from Bologna!”, they protested. “Yes, but Rome is the seat of Christianity!’, Brandi answered. The commandant said, “But the Church is not talking very much about life these days”. Brandi: “Maybe not now but the Church has always spoken vigorously in defense of life!”

“Then they asked questions about me, what do I do, how am I employed, and they made copies of all my personal documents, including business cards I use when I visit Prague They wanted the names of all my contacts, etc…. Until finally, the commandant seemed satisfied about our ‘motivations’. Still he warned me that if we were ever to post about this on our site, we should pay very careful attention to the captions and to whatever else we wrote.”

I spoke to Toni Brandi, even if yesterday, he happened to be mourning a great loss in his family, and I had to apologize for calling him. He insisted that the police functionaries were very kind, and that it was his impression (mine too) that they were forced to interrogate him as they did…

In Rome, Italy, in 2017! Who could possibly be bothered about a mobile manifesto on John Paul II and a cardinal? What joke of a country do we live in now? [Are the Italians really to blame for this kerfuffle? Or were the police just trying to do Bergoglio 'a favor'?]
00Wednesday, November 8, 2017 2:28 PM
November 7, 2017 headlines
00Wednesday, November 8, 2017 2:36 PM

As pre-announced by Andrea Tornielli when he wrote a few days ago about the new book clearing up the 'mystery' of the death of the 263rd
Successor of Peter...

Pope John Paul I closer to sainthood after
unanimous vote to recognise his ‘heroic virtues’

Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has unanimously voted in favour of the 'heroic virtues' of Pope John Paul I, meaning that Pope Francis will now shortly sign a decree declaring him “Venerable”.

Next, the dicastery must to approve a miracle attributed to his intercession before declaring him “Blessed”, and a second miracle before canonising him as a saint.

Born Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I reigned for just 33 days before dying suddenly of a heart attack. Before his election, he served as Patriarch of Venice for nine years, and was created a cardinal in 1973.
00Wednesday, November 8, 2017 3:55 PM

by Maike Hickson

November 7, 2017

I don't think you will find a clearer, more logical and more definitive rebuttal of all the false claims in defense of AL than Prof. Seifert
does here, as he re-affirms the fundamental truths that AL defies and answers specific points in the defense of AL by perhaps its most
intellectually competent defender so far... Many thanks to Maike Hickson for this invaluable interview...

As Professor Claudio Pierantoni recently stated, there is an ongoing debate between himself and Professor Josef Seifert on one side and Professor Rocco Buttiglione on the other over the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Buttiglione, who is known as an early defender of the exhortation, has also publicly criticized the recent Filial Correction of Pope Francis.

All three philosophers — each a man of standing in his own right — have known each other for years. Seifert and Buttiglione worked together for two decades at the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) in Liechtenstein. For his part, Professor Pierantoni was a student at the IAP’s Chile campus (IAP-IFES, 2004-2012) and was a student of Professor Seifert.

The following interview is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the theological and philosophical discourse between these three men. This time, it is Professor Seifert who explains his position.

How would you generally describe the line of disagreement concerning Amoris Laetitia between you and Prof. Pierantoni on the one hand and Prof. Buttiglione on the other?
I do not think there exists any disagreement between Prof. Pierantoni and me. And I believe that, until he should protest, in what I am going to state as my position, I will also speak for him, but I do not dare to attribute my answers explicitly to Pierantoni, since I do not know whether he will agree with all of them.

Instead, I will speak of the disagreement that arose between myself and Prof. Buttiglione, my very close friend. (Buttiglione translated and introduced, most generously, my largest philosophical book, which soon will be published in English and Spanish, Essere e Persona, Being and Person, into Italian, and worked for almost two decades with me as Professor and Prorector of the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein, of which I am the Founding Rector. [You will recall the irony that Seifert was recently dismissed by the Archbishop of Granada from his professorial chair at the Granada affiliate of the Academy for expressing views 'critical' of Pope Francis!]

I have also worked with Buttiglione for years on the defense of Humanae Vitae and the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II on the family and human life, and we have agreed for two and a half decades on almost everything, except on Machiavelli, whom I consider, with Jacques Maritain, the “Doctor of the Damned,” while he defends him in a book we want to publish jointly but of which he has lost the original of his part. But since the publication of AL, a deep rift between our views has risen.

From many writings and a personal letter Buttiglione has recently written me, I conclude that our disagreement on Amoris Laetitia is to a large extent dependent on two contradictory basic assumptions that underlie our disagreement.

(1) Buttiglione holds that as Catholics, we have to believe to be true whatever the Pope says in the exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, while I agree that, yes, we have an obligation to look first for the truth contained in a magisterial document and to try to interpret it in the light of the truth expressed in the tradition, but we do not have any absolute obligation whatsoever to believe that every part of a pronouncement of the ordinary papal magisterium is true or compatible with the perennial teaching of the Church.

Moreover, we have an obligation NOT to believe it to be true if we see that it clearly contradicts a) perennial Church teaching or b) evident moral truth accessible to human reason, or c) both.

(Incidentally, Buttiglione and I also disagree as to whether what the Pope says in Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, which Buttiglione holds to be unquestionable, while I will explain four reasons why I do not believe so). But even if we were to agree that AL is an exercise of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, I think it is clear that statements made in it (let alone only in a footnote) are not infallible, and therefore are not subject to an obligation to consent to them.

Pope Francis himself confirmed this in even allowing the SSPX to dissent from significant documents of the Second Vatican Council, and, unlike the two preceding Popes, not making their consent to them a condition for their reintegration in the Catholic Church.

On this I agree entirely with Pope Francis, who said (very well, I believe) that one cannot oblige any Catholic to consent to non-dogmatic documents of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, even when the magisterium is exercised in Council documents approved by the Pope, which certainly have a much higher magisterial rank and authority than mere footnotes in a post-synodal exhortation.

The mere fact that AL would be founded on a majority consensus of bishops (which is disputed by a Cardinal who was present at the synods and remarked that a consensus with the novelties of AL did not actually exist in the two synods on the family) is not enough to make its acceptance obligatory.

Even if a clear exercise of the Papal Magisterium is present in given documents, their content, as long as it is not pronounced as a dogma, can be false. This was clearly the case with Pope John XXII who himself revoked his own heresy in a bull he wrote on the day before his death (and his teaching was also declared heretical by his successor), and with Pope Honorius I, all of whose works were condemned posthumously by a Council as heretical and have been burnt.

Thus I am certain that on this first “disagreement of principle” I am right, and Buttiglione is wrong: We do NOT have to believe whatever a Pope writes in the exercise of his “ordinary Magisterium.”

(2) The second fundamental disagreement of principle between us concerns the respective role of “unity with the Pope” and of truth, in the hierarchy of values we have to respect. Buttiglione insisted repeatedly that for him the most important goal is “unity with the Pope,” while I think that the question of truth has an absolute priority.

Therefore if, as I propose as a question to the Pope in my latest article on A [1], pure logic shows that from one affirmation of AL, cited below, one can deduce the negation of intrinsically evil acts and this affirmation contradicts natural law and the entire Catholic Moral Teaching, especially Veritatis Splendor, then this affirmation is evidently false and this must be stated clearly and the affirmation ought to be retracted. To agree with the Pope, have unity with the Pope, on an error is of no value whatsoever.

On the contrary: as Saint Thomas and the Acts of the Apostles stated clearly, in such a case the subordinate has an obligation to criticize his superior, even publicly, as St. Paul criticized St. Peter.

Against my insistence on the absolute priority of truth over unity, Buttiglione wrote me that I am wrong in my short second article on AL even if I were right — meaning by this puzzling assertion either that “unity with the Pope” is more important than truth, or that we must not say the truth if truth endangers our unity with the Pope — a position with which I absolutely disagree, or that the statement from which devastating consequences logically follow could be truly false, as I suggest, while the main content of AL would not be touched by this error, because this error would refer only to a reason for the teaching of Al, not to that teaching itself (I will return to this second point).

More specifically, what is the disagreement with Prof. Buttiglione with regard to the question of the magisterial weight of Amoris Laetitia?
Buttiglione and I disagree as to whether what the Pope says in Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of his Ordinary Magisterium, which Buttiglione holds to be unquestionable, while I doubt it seriously for four (in my opinion decisive) reasons:
- Because the decisive new points of AL are chiefly found in mere footnotes that cannot reverse the sacramental discipline of the Church of 2000 years, solemnly reconfirmed by the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio of Saint Pope John Paul II. Such footnotes cannot be considered an Exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium, as also Cardinals Brandmüller and Burke as well as the other dubia Cardinals and many others noted.
- Moreover, the Pope explicitly says in Ch. III of Amoris Laetitia that he does not want to settle the decisive novelty in AL through his magisterium, but leaves it open to decide by the various national and culturally different and decentralized bishops’ conferences.

He confirmed this position by approving both the decision of the Polish Episcopate to follow FC entirely and not to admit any divorced and civilly remarried or active homosexuals who do not want to change their lives, to the sacraments, and by confirming and praising at the same time also the opposite position: the pronouncement of the Argentinian Bishops of the Buenos Aires area, which coincides with that of many other bishops, including the archbishop of Granada. These bishops adopted the exactly opposite interpretation.

The Pope even praised the far more radical pronouncement of the Bishops of Malta on AL, who proposed a completely situation-ethical interpretation of AL. Thus, Pope Francis follows the idea he proposes of a “decentralized magisterium” or different “magisteria” in the Church — all of which he approves — an idea which I heard Karl Rahner express in Munich half a century ago.

Now, pure logic tells us that the position of the Bishops of Buenos Aires or Malta and that of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, which is diametrically and contradictorily opposed to that of the bishops of Buenos Aires (defended by Buttiglione), and both of which are admitted and approved by the Pope in his new “magisterial pluralism”, cannot both correspond to the “ordinary Magisterium of the Pope”. Hence the novel teachings of AL (, i.e., the Buenos Aires reading) cannot be the “Magisterium of the Pope”.

- The novelties of AL are not primarily doctrinal but pastoral and thus more subject to categories of prudence or imprudence than of truth and falsity; for example, if Popes in the past have asked in the Exercise of their ordinary Magisterium in papal bulls or encyclicals that heretics, magicians, and witches should be burnt at the stake, or when they excommunicated in bulls entire cities because their prince led a war against the Vatican, I am certainly not obliged to believe that this was a prudent pastoral decision.

Buttiglione himself, somewhat contradictorily, says that the new teaching of AL is a purely pastoral one and he also stated, at least in letters to me, that we are not bound to agree with the wisdom of a pastoral decision of a Pope that is not per se true or false, but can be prudent or imprudent. But in that case I am not at all obliged to agree with AL (according to logic being applied to Buttiglione’s admission), nor to agree that its new Pastoral guideline is wise.

(I differ regarding this in another respect with Buttiglione: in that I hold that the novel teaching of AL is not only pastoral but also doctrinal.)

Inasmuch as it is pastoral, however (and therefore not true or false, but prudent or imprudent), Buttiglione and I differ, at least so it seems, in that Buttiglione does not criticize the new Pastoral Guideline of AL and tries to explain its compatibility with the opposite Pastoral Guideline of FC, stated to be rooted in the Gospel itself by Pope John Paul II.

I, however, even prescinding from any doctrinal question, find the new pastoral guideline of AL not only imprudent, but entirely inapplicable.

In my first article on AL,[2] I gave, I believe, cogent arguments for the practical impossibility of “discerning” between adulterers who may and others who may not receive the sacraments without changing their lives. My argument coincides wholly with an argument given by the Polish Episcopate for their decision to abide by FC: it is impossible for a priest in 5 minutes’ conversation in the confessional to determine that an unrepentant sinner is invincibly ignorant and in the state of grace, even though he intends to keep committing what are, objectively speaking, grave sins.

From this practical impossibility of applying discernment which can hardly fail to end in a general opening of Confession and the Eucharist to unrepentant adulterous and homosexual couples, the imprudence of the decision of admitting the “irregular couples” to the sacraments immediately follows.

Could you explain to us here the question of the infallible extraordinary magisterium and the infallible universal ordinary magisterium?
I think that the infallible Extraordinary Magisterium only applies to such central matters of doctrine and faith that either the Pope defines “ex cathedra” (which has happened only two or three times in the history of the Church) or which a Council, in union with the Pope, defined as being a dogma and de fide in such a way that anyone who contradicted it was declared “anathema”.

The infallible Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is present only in teachings of the ordinary magisterium that coincide with what the Church has taught always and everywhere, not with entirely novel teachings.

Neither one of these criteria of infallibility applies to the novelties of AL.

Is Amoris Laetitia of such magisterial weight that one may not disagree with its teaching without falling into the category of being disobedient, heretical, or schismatic, at least in spirit?
Absolutely not, for the reasons given. Therefore, to treat Catholics who dissent from AL as heretics, schismatics in fact or in spirit, or disobedient to the Pope, is a grave injustice.

In this context, is it more important that we follow the pope and his new teaching for the sake of obedience (which is in itself a great good) or that we preserve the traditional teaching of the Church?
I think that as soon as we find that a new teaching is false, we are obliged, not to obey it. And as soon as we find a new pastoral decision of the Pope inapplicable in good conscience, such as giving the sacraments to unrepentant sinners on the basis of an (impossible for us) “discernment” of whether their sin is compatible with their being in the state of grace for subjective reasons, we are likewise morally obliged NOT to obey it under the principle St. Peter formulated and Robert Spaemann recently called to mind: that we have to obey God more than men.

This applies even more when we are convinced that giving absolution and the holy Eucharist to public sinners (even if they were in the state of grace) is, notwithstanding their personal innocence, wrong, as is implied in Familiaris Consortio 84.

FC speaks of an objective disharmony of adulterous relations with the law of Christ and with the meaning of matrimony — and of the deep analogous and symbolic signification of marriage in relation to the relationship between Christ and the Church as a reason why a couple who lives in discord with the divine commandments should not receive the sacraments. This objective discrepancy is enough to support the judgment of the Church that they must not be given access to the sacraments. (On this point, I made some incorrect concessions to Buttiglione in letters and my previous writings on AL). FC and Church tradition do not require that sinners who gravely deviate from divine law have to live “subjectively in mortal sin” (which God alone knows) for being denied access to the sacraments. If this were otherwise, we would also have to admit abortionists, first degree murderers, etc. to the sacraments because we can never know with certainty that they have lost sanctifying grace.

You yourself, in your own polite criticism of Amoris Laetitia, pointed especially to Paragraph 303* of this papal document, highlighting the potential danger of making irrelevant any absolute moral norms. How did you and Prof. Buttiglione discuss this aspect of the debate?
*Paragraph 303 of Amoris Laetitia reads, as follows:

“Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”

Prof. Buttiglione said about my second article, "Does Pure Logic Threaten to Destroy the Entire Moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?", that “I am wrong even if I am right” for the reasons that (1) there is an obligation of consenting to anything the Ordinary Papal Magisterium is telling us (to which I have responded), (2) that a reason offered by the Pope for a teaching may be erroneous while the teaching itself is correct.

In other words, Buttiglione believes that the assertion “that we can know in our conscience that God himself wants us to consider continuing to live in adultery the best and most generous response we can give him in our situation” is not a teaching of Pope Francis that we have to believe (according to Buttiglione). [So even Buttiglione cherrypicks what is to be believed about AL! In other words, the document is so flawed that even its most intellectually reputable defender must make exceptions to its statements.] Rather, we would only have to believe the real teaching of AL, namely, that after proper discernment, unrepentant adulterous and homosexual couples may be admitted to the sacraments.

I think, on the contrary, that what No. 303* says (and many other parts of AL imply) is the most significant doctrinal content and the main reason for the pastoral teaching of AL, which (for the reasons explained in my answer No. 1, 2 and 3, to your second Question), cannot be regarded as a “magisterial teaching” at all.

In this context of some sinner who might be pleasing to God even though he still remains in his sin: is it Catholic to maintain a position that God might be pleased with us, perhaps because we mended some sin in our lives, while however still remaining in another grave sin? That is to say, could it be sufficient in God’s eyes to return to the state of Sanctifying Grace by making a sign of good will while yet still maintaining, for example, a sinful relationship?
I think that God could of course be pleased by us, after a divorce from our sacramental wife, for stopping to beat up and to calumniate our civilly married second wife or our children, even if we continue in a sinful relationship. But he cannot ever will or be pleased with the fact that we continue to live in adultery, for example.

It is certainly possible that invincible ignorance or weakness of will does not make a person lose the state of sanctifying grace, even if that person lives objectively in grave sin. But I think that a) this is very rare, especially if the priest in confession discharges himself his obligation to tell the sinner the truth, and 2) that nobody can be sure of that, and 3) that to live in the state of grace is not enough to receive worthily the sacraments while living objectively in grave sin, as I have explained.

Would God ask of any sinner at some point in his life to remain in his sin? How would you comment on this claim in light of the Council of Trent?
I think that this clearly impossible and declared dogmatically as a heresy by the Council of Trent.

Where does Prof. Buttiglione, in your eyes, leave the solid foundation of Catholic moral teaching, perhaps in order to maintain loyalty toward Pope Francis?
(1) With respect to his “two principles” that separate us, they do not correspond to sound Catholic teaching because it is Catholic teaching (and the basis for all condemnation of heresies in the history of the Church) that a) truth has priority over unity and b) that no Catholic has an absolute duty to accept everything a Pope or Council are saying if it is not dogmatic and de fide, and if he has good reason to believe that it is contrary to natural or revealed truth or to both (to claim otherwise would be papolatry). Besides,
(2) I believe that Professor Buttiglione’s concrete and brilliant [??? Can something inherently flawed be brilliant at all?] but unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the novelties of Amoris Laetitia with Familiaris Consortio, Veritatis Splendor, Evangelium Vitae, Humanae Vitae, and the Tradition of the Church all fail and put him at the risk of using overcomplicated and sophistical reasons and of contradicting dogmas of the Church such as
(a) that God never commands things which we cannot obey, with the help of grace (a Lutheran heresy denied this and was condemned in the Council of Trent), or
(b) that extramoral evils (such that the partner of a second “marriage” will leave me) can never be greater evils than a sin and the intention to prevent them can never justify committing a sin (VS and Trent affirmed this and condemned its negation as heretical), or
(c) that weighing good versus bad effects of any action can never justify committing one of the many intrinsically evil acts (Veritatis Splendor made this very solemnly clear).

Could you comment on the following words as expressed by Buttiglione himself? “The Pope does not say that God is happy with the fact that divorced-and-remarried continue to have sexual intercourse with each other. The conscience recognizes that it is not in conformity with the law. However, the conscience also knows that it has begun a journey of conversion. One still sleeps with a woman who is not his wife but has stopped taking drugs and going with prostitutes, has found a job and takes care of his children. He has the right to think that God is happy with him, at least in part.”]
Certainly God can be happy that a man “stopped taking drugs and going with prostitutes, has found a job and takes care of his children,” but He can never be happy with him “still sleeping with a woman who is not his wife” or agree that continuing committing what Christ himself calls adultery is the “most generous response” an adulterer can give to God in his situation.

To claim this this would a) either deny the dogma that God does not command anything impossible to fulfill, or b) deny the dogma that God never wants us to sin, or both.

Did not Martin Luther, too, teach that man sometimes has to sin? Would you discuss this matter in light of Buttiglione’s own words?
Yes, I believe that in Buttiglione’s defense of AL there is a great danger of falling into the Lutheran heresy of the simul iustus et peccator in the sense that grace alone justifies us and that we can remain in sanctifying grace while committing mortal sins.

And the recent celebration of the Luther-fest in the Vatican, the statement of high-ranking prelates that “Luther was right” and was a “gift of the Holy Spirit” to the Catholic Church, the rumor that a Catholic-Lutheran joint “mass” is being discussed, the placing of Luther’s statue in the Vatican, etc. are alarming signs that it is not only Buttiglione who starts flirting with some of Luther’s errors.

This heresy is closely related to Luther’s teaching that grace is not a principle that truly transforms us morally, and allows us to “become perfect like our father in heaven is perfect” which Christ and Holy Scripture tell us is God’s will.

This error is linked also to Luther’s rejection of the veneration, canonization, and invocation of Saints to intercede for us in prayers and in the liturgy, masses in their honor, etc.

I do not claim of course that my friend Rocco holds these errors, but some of his remarks, for example, interpreting the story of Nero’s Christian prostitute as having been in a situation in which she was not free to refuse to have sex with Nero, and that her consent to have sexual relations with Nero allowed her to save many Christians (Buttiglione even called her a Saint for his reason), give at least the impression that Buttiglione flirts with some of Luther’s views on freedom and grace. Or that he even accepts them. The same holds true for his description of situations in which nobody can expect that adulterers can decide either to live together in abstinence, or to separate, and thus “have to sin”.

Could you also present to us that part of the debate with Buttiglione where you deal with the question as to whether divorced and “remarried” couples, in light of the prescribed process of discernment, would still be less culpable because they might have a defectively formed subjective conscience?
A person who suffers from invincible ignorance or an innocently deformed conscience, believing or “feeling” that his adultery is OK, of course may be less guilty than one who acts directly against the voice of his conscience.

But we must never forget that the wrongness of adultery is part of the natural law written into every man`s heart, as the Apostle Paul says, such that it is extremely improbable that somebody has no knowledge whatsoever of the sin of adultery or homosexual activity. The pagan Cicero calls the person who denies that adultery is always and everywhere a grave sin “a madman”.

But above all, we must understand that ethical value blindness is, more often than not, itself sinful or the consequence of sin, because we have become dull to the voice of conscience because of repeated sin, or because we make a foul compromise between our pride and concupiscence, on the one hand, and our limited will to do the good on the other hand, such that we do not see clearly the sinfulness of actions as soon as the moral law does not allow us to live out our passions or inclinations.

Dietrich von Hildebrand has analyzed these and many other forms of “guilty forms of moral value blindness” and deformation of conscience in an admirable book unfortunately not yet published in English but announced for immediate publication by the newly founded Dietrich von Hildebrand Press as Morality and Ethical Value Knowledge.

A general attitude of being prone to give in to the attractions of what satisfies us subjectively, while still not wanting to sin consciously and openly, will easily obscure our moral judgment, either in partial moral value blindness or in blindness of subsumption, i.e., of not subsuming our behavior under the category of “adultery”.

In these and many other cases of moral value blindness we are fully responsible for the deformation of our conscience and thus the absence of consciousness that we commit a mortal sin does not make us innocent because we are guilty for our blindness itself.

How, thus, could there be any “mitigating factors” that would render a relationship of a divorced and “remarried” couple sinless?
Even if there could be mitigating factors that would make a relationship of divorced and remarried couples completely sinless, we must note:

(1) As soon as an adulterous couple speaks with a priest who should “discern”, this priest has a duty of telling them that their relation is objectively sinful; in that moment, however, they cease to commit adultery “completely innocently”;
(2) As long as they continue to do what is objectively gravely sinful, it does not seem possible for them or for any priest to judge that their relation is “sinless”, which would presuppose an ability to look into the depth of a soul, which we never have with respect to ourselves and even less with other persons;
(3) It is unreasonable to expect that a priest is able to judge this after a few minutes talking in the confessional;

(4) It is intolerable and would create private and public scandal if priests started to create two groups of sinners: those adulterers and homosexuals who are innocent and can receive the sacraments and those who know better and must be excluded;
(5) In praxis, the failing attempt to separate these “good” and “bad” grave sinners will inevitably lead to admitting every adulterer and homosexual to the sacraments, and many sacrileges will be committed;
(6) As Familiaris Consortio teaches, receiving worthily the sacrament of Confession or the Eucharist has objective and not merely subjective conditions. It requires that a couple does not live objectively in adulterous relations, and not only that the sinner “does not feel that this is sinful” or even not only that the sinner is not personally “losing sanctifying grace” (because God, who sees his heart, knows that he is not sinning mortally).

Should this whole debate be held only among experts and not in public?
Since the question of the worthy reception and dispensation of the sacraments is of crucial importance for each priest and faithful – their eternal salvation may depend on this – the claim that this matter should not be discussed publicly is absurd. Moreover, Amoris Laetitia is published, and its very different and contradictory interpretations have been published. Thus the debate should be conducted publicly.

Should we all be silent in this situation for the sake of keeping peace and unity in the Catholic Church?
I think I have answered this question already, but I wish to re-emphasize that truth has not only priority over unity and peace, but is the condition of authentic unity and peace.

I might here quote Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher whom Pope Francis apparently wants to beatify, and who expressed this in his marvelous French language that translates a bit less beautifully into English thus:

“It is as much a crime to disturb the peace when truth prevails as it is to keep the peace when truth is violated. There is therefore a time in which peace is justified and another time when it is not justifiable. For it is written that there is a time for peace and a time for war and it is the law of truth that distinguishes the two.

But at no time is there a time for truth and a time for error, for it is written that God’s truth shall abide forever. That is why Christ has said that He has come to bring peace and at the same time that He has come to bring the sword. But He does not say that He has come to bring both the truth and falsehood.” — (Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662)

What would you say to people who now claim that those who oppose Pope Francis with regard to some of his public statements (even if they are not explicitly magisterial, but still have an influence on Catholic faithful) have the intention to break up the Catholic Church?
It is of course possible that some critics of the Church have such an intention, but it is certainly absolutely false and would be calumny if it were said of the four dubia Cardinals, of Father Weinandy, of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, of Prof. Claudio Pierantoni, Prof. Carlos Casanova, and of many other persons who raised their critical voices or signed the Correctio filialis.

(It would also, even if my archbishop of Granada thought, said, or wrote so, be untrue of myself, I might add, who would be willing to die for “the unity of the Church in the truth” and has absolutely no intention to break up the unity of the Church).

John-Henry Westen (editor of LifeSiteNews) recently pointed out in an excellent speech in Rome, on Oct. 28, in a Conference on Humanae Vitae sponsored by the “Voice for the Family,” that
(1) the pope himself exhorted us to criticize him freely and not to be concerned with what the “pope would think” and
(2) that the true friends of the pope and of the Church are those who are vigilant and do not praise the pope by flatteries and adulation, of which the successor of St. Peter, destined to be The Rock, has no need whatsoever.

To hold the contrary, that anyone who criticizes a word spoken by the Pope “has an intention to break up the Catholic Church” or just does break up the unity of the Church, would be to judge that the Apostle Paul had the intention to disrupt the unity of the Catholic Church when he criticized the first Pope, instituted by Christ Himself, openly and sharply during the first Council of the Apostles.

What do you think about Cardinal Müller’s Foreword to Rocco Buttiglione’s new book, "Friendly Replies to the Critics of Amoris Laetitia"?
I cannot answer this question thoroughly before having seen the full text of the new book and of Cardinal Müller’s Foreword, of which I have only read a few fragments that left me pretty much perplexed.

His praise of Buttiglione’s new book on Amoris Laetitia has astonished me very much:
(1) first of all, because Cardinal Müller recently published a book in Spanish, in which he affirmed that no Pope or Council could change the sacramental discipline of the Church, which is, as FC 84 says, founded on Sacred Scripture itself.

For writing this, the archbishop of Madrid called Cardinal Müller’s book anti-Pope and forbade him to present it in the Catholic University and Seminary San Dámaso in Madrid.

The Cardinal presented it at another Catholic University in Madrid, saying that AL did not change or intend to change anything of the teaching and sacramental discipline expressed in FC 84, which is, Müller said, inseparable from perennial Church teaching.

Don Livio Melina, a former student of mine in the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and until recently President of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome, gave the same interpretation.

Our archbishop of Granada, Don Francisco Javier Martínez, sent the statement of Melina to all the clergy of Granada, obviously in agreement with it (but he later changed and espoused the Buenos Aires Interpretation of AL and first suspended me from teaching his seminarians, and then fired – forcefully retired – me from my chair of the IAP-IFES, when I published my second article on AL).

I thought from the beginning that Cardinal Müller’s judgment was quite correct as far as perennial Church Teaching is concerned, but incorrect as an interpretation of AL. On this merely hermeneutical question I agreed with Buttiglione who saw from the beginning that AL says something very different than FC, but tried to explain this as purely pastoral and “complementary”: Pope John Paul II would have just spoken on the “objective side” of adultery being gravely disordered, while AL Laetitia takes into account the classical subjective conditions of mortal sin and imputability. Thus both Popes are right although they propose opposite pastoral decisions of the Church.

Saint John Paul II forbids divorced and remarried Catholics (outside the Church) access to the sacraments except if they live in complete abstinence, because he just speaks of the objective sinfulness of adultery; Pope Francis allows their receiving sacramental absolution and Eucharist even if they have no intention to change their life, because he asks to discern and recognize the possible state of grace in such “good adulterers and homosexuals”.

Now, I gather from the published fragments of his Preface accessible to me that Cardinal Müller:
(1) completely switched to the Buttiglione-Buenos Aires interpretation of the text of AL being “hermeneutically correct” (on this I agree now with both; they interpret AL textually correctly).
(2) That he now also thanks Buttiglione and defends AL wholesale like Buttiglione, by not only accepting access to the sacraments of couples of whom he said a few months back that no council or pope can authorize them to receive the sacraments because the prohibition taught by FC belongs to, or is the logical consequence of, perennial Church teaching.

Thus, Cardinal Müller seems now to contradict likewise his previous strong doctrinal assertion that the sacramental discipline affirmed by Pope John Paul II — namely, that nobody who lives in objective contradiction to the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage can be admitted to the sacraments is a part and perpetual logical consequence of the teachings on Christ and of the Church.

(3) Thirdly, Cardinal Müller seems to deny now as well that in AL there is any trace of teleological ethics and situation ethics. Thus he answers my question: “Does pure Logic threaten to destroy the entire moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?“[3] in the negative.

Hence Cardinal Müller seems to deny that the affirmation, “conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal” [namely to continue to live in adultery or homosexual relations] logically implies that God can approve of us committing an intrinsically evil act such as adultery in some situations, and consequently there are no more any intrinsically wrong acts in any situation.

In contrast to Cardinal Müller’s view that AL does not deny intrinsically evil acts nor claim that continuing an objectively gravely sinful act can correspond to God’s will for us, Father Spadaro, friend and authorized interpreter of AL, recently attributed to Pope Francis and AL the view that Francis negates “any general rule that would make a class of human actions morally wrong” (which means denying that any human action, as a class, is intrinsically wrong, regardless of circumstances and consequences).[/b

Thus at this point, in view of this switch of Cardinal Müller’s position, the second and third points of which I consider false, I can only confess my complete perplexity about Cardinal Müller’s statements
and keep hoping that reading the full text will shed some light on the puzzle of his joining his authority to Buttiglione.

[OK, now I feel very reassured that it is not just my lingering initial distrust of Mueller that has led to my harsh denunciations of his shifting positions on AL, even if to anyone with common sense, it is apparent that he has been switching back and forth in his public statements on AL (or to use my metaphor for him, leaning over as he pleases to whichever side of the fence he thinks he is straddling).]

[1] “Does pure Logic threaten to destroy the entire moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?“ Aemaet, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, Bd. 6 (2017), 2-9.
[2] “Amoris Laetitia. Joy, Sadness and Hopes”. Aemaet Bd. 5, Nr. 2 (2016) 160-249, urn:nbn:de:0288-2015080654.
[3] Aemaet, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, Bd. 6 (2017), 2-9.

In stark contrast to the clarity and linear logic of Prof. Seifert, try to read - if you can survive the first few paragraphs - Andrea Tornielli's labored and tortuous attack against the critics of AL:

00Thursday, November 9, 2017 2:55 AM

I waited a day to see if I could raise Messori’s original article online but the September-October edition of Il Timone where it was published
is not online, nor do I find it yet in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, which is the daily journal that is a daughter of the monthly Il Timone.
So, for now, I will do with the account of it published Sunday in Il Giornale, which also published Page 1 of the article as shown above, but not the whole article

Messori criticizes the Pope, saying
he has immersed the Church in today's 'liquid society’

by Francesco Boezi
Translated from
November 5, 2017

Vittorio Messori [by way of his international book sales over the last four decades] is thought to be the most widely read contemporary Catholic author in the world today.

From his ground-breaking booklength interview with Cardinal Ratzinger in 1984 to his booklength interview with John Paul II on the 15th anniversary of his pontificate in 1993 [and several of his own books about the Catholic faith and Biblical research)], the voice of the man from Sassuolo (province of Modena, northcentral Italy), has had particular weight in public opinion.

A Vaticanista who has voluntarily kept away from the ongoing war between critics of Pope Francis and the guardians of the latter’s ‘revolution’ in the Church, he nonetheless recently expressed criticism on the state of the Church’s health, words that the website Liberta e Persona has called Messori’s ‘dubia’ over Bergoglio.

In his regular column 'Il Vivaio' (The nursery) in the September-October 2017 issue of the magazine Il Timone, after discussing the present actuality of the theory of the ‘liquid society’ originated by the recently deceased Polish sociologist-philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, he includes the Catholic Church today as among the institutions immersed in such a sociological-existential involution. Of Jewish descent, Bauman saw how the collapse of communism opened the doors even wider to unreined individualism.

Messori writes:

“…The believer is disconcerted by the fact that even the Church – which had been the bimillenary example of institutional stability - now seems to want to ‘become liquid herself’. In a most disturbing interview, the new Superior-eGneral of the Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, has ‘liquefied’ the Gospel itself, since, he says, the words of Jesus were not recorded on tape , and so we do not really know what he said...

But another Jesuit, also South American, who is no less than the pope himself, in one of the many interviews he has been saying to all and sundry, in any and all circumstances – in flight, in St. Peter’s Square, on the street, what have you – that which is one of the hinges of his strategy of governance and teaching: “The Catholic temptation that must be overcome is that of the uniformity of her rules, of their rigidity, whereas it cought to judge and act case by case. [i.e., according to circumstances, which is, of course, a definition of situational ethics which is an enemy of Truth, as JPII makes clear in Veritatis splendor]’

In short, Messori appears to include the pope among those responsible for the fact that, under Bergoglio, even the Church now finds it acceptable that, in Bauman’s words, ‘change is the only permanent thing’ and ‘incertainty has become the only certainty’ [no better definition of philosophical and moral relativism].

Messori underscores:

“The term that this pope uses most often [after mercy, of course] is ‘discernment’ – an old tradition with the Jesuits which, however, has not until now come to mean ‘liberally interpreting even dogma, according to the situation’.”

Such an interpretation, Messori says, has been seen to be ‘erroneous’ and ‘damaging’ to the Catholic Church.

Il Timone has a long history, during which its contributors have included Cardinals Ratzinger, Caffarra and Mueller. Now it delivers this broadside at the workings of the Bergoglio Pontificate.

I paraphrase freely from Beatrice about the ff background and context for this rare intervention by Messori:
You may recall that around Christmas in 2014, Messori wrote a short article for Corriere della Sera which Antonio Socci described as “a very moderate commentary, compared to the usual eulogies to the Argentine pope, in which with a great deal of respect, he wrote about his ‘perplexities’ about some of the pope’s actions and statements”. But it started a firestorm of violent denunciations on the part of the Bergoglians, including Messori’s onetime friend, Andrea Tornielli (with whom he had co-authored a book during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, when even Tornielli was an unabashed Ratzingerian and defender of Benedict XVI against the attacks he got from his dissenters).

Since when, Messori has not written or spoken directly about this pontificate, except perhaps if we read between the lines of his wonderful account of the one and only visit he has made so far to the Emeritus Pope in Sept, 2015. And in December 2016, interviewed by Bruno Volpe for the website 'La Fede Quotidiana' about the ambiguities of Amoris Laetitia, he said this:

“I think there is ambiguity, and that it was intended. It is typical of Jesuits to say and not say. So many things leave me perplexed at this time, and for this reason, and out of a sense of responsibility, I have kept quiet. I am certainly alarmed and uneasy as a Catholic, but I have chosen not to be like my other colleagues and journalists who speak authoritatively. After all, who am I to judge the pope? But I am convinced, and I say so again, that Francis has little interest in doctrine”.

I certainly agree with Beatrice who comments: "I understand and I respect Mr. Messori’s reasons, even if personally, I wish he would speak out more. But again, who am I to judge Messori?”

00Thursday, November 9, 2017 4:42 AM

Aldo Maria Valli has another series of vignettes this time making fun of recent developments in the church of Bergoglio…in which whatever
seems to be wacky is indeed wacky and frighteningly so.

It seems that…
Translated from

It seems that the Vatican Post Office has a problem. Dysfunctions have arisen after the Vatican’s philatelic office issued a stamp showing Luther and his main theologian Melancthon at the foot of the Cross with the city of Wittemberg as the background. As the presentation for the stamp reads, Luther holds a Bible, 'source and goal of his doctrine', while Melancthon, one of the major protagonists of the ‘Reformation’, “holds the Confessio Augustana, the first official exposition of the principles of Protestantism compiled by him”.

Quickly an object for stamp collectors, the stamp however appears not to be holding up to its function – it will not stick on to envelops. After some inquiries, it was found that the envelops at the Vatican Post Office, incurably Catholic, refuse to accommodate the Luther stamps, because ‘Con noi, non si attacca’ – No one attaches anything to us [a reference to Luther nailing his schismatic theses on the door of the Wittemberg cathedral].

It seems that a hitherto unknown tribe has been discovered in the Amazonia. Curiously, the discovery was made the day after the pope announced a special synodal assembly for the pan-Amazon region to take place in 2019. As you know, the assembly will also discuss the priest shortage afflicting that vast region, and therefore, the possibility to ordain married men as priests.

An eventuality that some sectors in the Church immediately greeted with approval, especially by someone like Mons. Erwin Krautler, German-born bishop of the territorial prelature of Xingu in the Amazon, who favors immediate ordination of married men, proceeding next to the ordination of female deacons.

And what are the characteristics of the newly-discovered tribe? It would seem that they are all celibate priests who chose to isolate themselves from the world. Who, upon learning of the synodal assembly for the Amazon and the possibility of ordaining married priests, quickly fled into the depths of the jungle without leaving a trace.
It seems that Fr. Thomas Weinandy, Fr. Samir Khalil Samir and Prof. Josef Seifert are planning to write a book together. As we know, all three recently underwent analogous experiences: Fr. Weinandy, theologian, was dismissed by the USCCB as a theological consultant; Fr. Samir, Islamologist, was dismissed from his teaching post at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and has retired to Cairo; and Prof. Seifert, philosopher, was fired from his professorial chair in the Spanish affiliate of the International Philosophical Academy he had founded.

The reason? All three, in different ways, had publicly expressed questions and criticisms of some aspects of the current papal magisterium. The title of the book? The working hypothesis is “Toccati dalla misericordia" (Touched by mercy).
It seems that the European Parliament wishes to grant the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to the Bishop of Modena, who as we know, wrote in his diocesan weekly calling on all his parish priests not to invite or host some categories of individuals to any meetings or conferences. Those to be excluded being “visionaries and charismatics”, but also “journalists and intellectuals who manifest subtle or open dissent with the official Church and above all, with Pope Francis”.

The citation for the prelate apparently says, among other things: “For his tireless action in defense of human rights, first of all freedom of word and thought, in line with the social doctrine of the Church, and for his willingness to engage in an open and sincere confrontation, exempt from any form of prevention or prejudice.”
It seems that a rapid training course in discernment has been organized on the international level.

Among the first to be called to take the course are some Belgian young people who, while Cardinal De Kesel was celebrating the fifth centenary of Luther’s schism with the protestants, decided to recite the Rosary in the Cathedral of Brussels. As will the hundreds of thousands of Poles who recited the Rosary along their country’s borders with seven nations on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in repentance and reparation for sins as Our Lady of Fatima enjoined us 100 years ago. The discernment course is entitled “Towards the path to liberation: No to walls, yes to bridges” and will be held in former Communist re-education camps .
It seems that the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences will stop holding conferences on climate change at the Vatican. And also that said academy will no longer invite leading exponents of the abortionist culture and diehard neo-Malthusians to their conferences….

But wait, it seems that the above has been promptly denied by the Vatican.
It seems that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, after having banned from its Facebook page all ‘friends’ who were sending messages to protest the dismissal of Fr. Weinandy, have decided to publish a document entitled “How to dialog in the Church: The importance of listening”.
It seems that the reasons given by the Italian police for justifying their two-hour blockage last Sunday of a publicity van commemorating the death of Cardinal Caffarra two months ago and reminding onlookers of John Paul II’s words on the indissolubility of marriage, were not as earlier reported. The policemen actually said, “Cardinal Caffarra was not in line with Pope Francis”. [Marco Tosatti actually had an intermediate report in which Toni Brandi, the organizer questioned by the police, said that when first asked on the phone by the police what was the reason for the publicity run, he was told precisely that: “What is all this about, considering that Cardinal Caffarra was not in line with Pope Francis” – as if Caffarra’s dissent from the pope justified any police action at all!But Valli puts a good spin to it:] It seems that as to their own motives, the policemen chose to give precedence to the truth.

00Thursday, November 9, 2017 5:57 AM

When evil triumphed:
The 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution

The centenary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 should be
an occasion for understanding Marxism’s amoral and pseudo-religious nature.

by Samuel Gregg

November 8, 2017

One hundred years ago on October 25 (Old Style Calendar) (Nov. 8 in the current calendar), a Marxist political movement led by an intellectual political activist named Vladimir Lenin mounted a successful coup d’état against Russia’s ailing Provisional Government.

Most believed the Bolsheviks would themselves be overthrown quickly. Scarcely anyone recognized that it marked the beginning of one of the world’s most diabolical regimes, one which lasted until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

The implications of what came to be known as the October Revolution weren’t really grasped at the time. That’s partly because, as the historian Richard Pipes wrote in his epic The Russian Revolution (1990), “the West considered Russia to lie on the periphery of the civilized world,” one which was “in the midst of a World War of unprecedented destructiveness.” Yet it didn’t take long for Russia’s new Communist masters to show just how far they would go to maintain and extend their rule as they sought to realize the Marxist dream.

The toppling of Russia’s Provisional Government by Lenin and the Bolsheviks turned out to be an exercise in pushing down a house of cards. Contrary to later Communist myths, the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was never stormed. After token resistance, it was overrun by mobs of looters. Moscow was a different matter. Fierce house-to-house fighting lasted until November 2.

In his account of the Bolshevik coup, Pipes points out that most of the population paid little attention to what was happening. This owed something to Lenin and his colleague, Leon Trotsky, successfully portraying the Bolshevik coup as a takeover by the Soviets of workers and soldiers: organizations which had functioned as a type of parallel government in the months leading up to the coup.

That was hardly the first lie propagated by the Bolsheviks. From the beginning, Communism has held, and Marxists have believed, that the ends always justifies the means. By this, they mean they don’t recognize any moral constraints whatsoever when it comes to seizing and using power to realize their goals. [How tempting to compare this to the situation in the Church today!]

Lenin himself exemplified this. The effects of Lenin’s willingness to lie, sanction mass theft, and authorize the execution of those deemed a threat to the Bolshevik Revolution only differed from Stalin in terms of scale. Like Stalin, Lenin was, to use Pipes’s expression, “A stranger to moral qualms”.

But from where did this essential amorality arise? Lenin himself was no sadist. He wasn’t the type of functionary which you find in all totalitarian systems: those who take pleasure in torturing or killing people or supervising such goings-on. Lenin was, Pipes maintains, simply apathetic about the suffering of others; his unconcern with their pain reflected his Communist beliefs.

This is one reason why I’ve always regarded claims that “Juanita is a sincere Communist, but she’s a good person” to be as naïve, ignorant, and dangerous as suggesting that “Hans is a sincere Nazi, but he’s a nice chap.” For to be a Communist is to embrace views of humanity just as reprehensible as those of a convinced Nazi. The phrase “Marxist humanism” (which you still hear today in the faculty-lounges of Western Europe and California or on parts of the political left) is as self-contradictory as “Nazi humanism.”

Sympathetic and hostile biographers of Lenin agree that his embrace of Marxism involved whole-hearted acceptance of Marxism’s combination of philosophical materialism and a deterministic view of history. This mixture of ideas leads to clear and disturbing conclusions.

First, the true philosophical materialist doesn’t think there’s anything special about human beings. Expressions like “dignity,” “rights,” “responsibilities,” etc., are empty constructs in a materialist’s world. Instead people are just “material.” Thus like any other material object, they can be shaped — and disposed of — as others will. And the only way to determine who gets to do the molding and terminating in this world is whoever possesses the power to do so and who is least squeamish about using it.

The parallel here between the implications of Communism’s philosophical materialism and Nazism’s nihilistic glorification of the Nietzschean will to power is clear.

So where does the Marxist view of history fit into this? Orthodox Communist thinking holds that history is driven by changes in the means of production and its ownership. At some point, we will arrive at the end of history: the Communist utopia which will emerge after the proletariat inevitably achieves dominance and abolishes private property, money, class-differentials, and the state (and, yes, there is an anarchist dimension to Communism). [In this, China's Communism post-Deng Xiao Ping in the late 80s, who saw China had to adopt and adapt capitalism (and the concept of private property) in order to compete in today's world, is utterly unorthodox.]

The misery experienced by people as part of this process is precisely that: merely part of a process. Humans are just the material through which history works.

This is why Lenin was unmoved, for example, by the suffering of peasants affected by a famine which broke out in the 1890s in the Volga region where his family lived. Lenin opposed helping starving peasants because he thought such assistance would impede their movement to the city in search of food and work. Anything that speeded up their absorption into the urban proletariat which would be the engine of inevitable revolution was to be welcomed — even a famine. All Lenin added to this was the conviction that a vanguard led by people like himself could accelerate the inevitable if the right set of conditions emerged.

It’s in this sense that subsequent developments under Communist regimes — Lenin’s Red Terror; Stalin’s purges and gulags; the millions slaughtered during Mao’s Cultural Revolution; the genocide engineered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; Castro’s concentration camps and the firing squads presided over by the Argentine-born contemporary leftist-icon Che Guevara, etc., — were not aberrations. They flowed logically from Communism’s integration of philosophical materialism, its view of history, and Lenin’s conviction that the party could hasten the inevitable. It's just that Lenin was more at ease with this trajectory than some Marxists were, and are, willing to admit themselves to be.

In its rejection of morality and its willingness to do evil - lots and lots of evil — to achieve desired goals, Marxism’s criminal and terroristic character is laid bare. Lenin himself would have been familiar with Karl Marx’s own lack of inhibitions in this area. As Marx wrote in Neue Rheinische Zeitung in May 1849, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”

Yet for all its essential materialism, the Marxism espoused by Lenin and the other Bolshevik leaders who took over Russia was always more than that. It also amounted to a type of religion: indeed, a deeply intolerant faith which brooked no dissent.

This insight is well-explained in Benedict XVI’s second encyclical, Spe Salvi. This was published in November 2007, almost 90 years to the day that the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. The timing, I suspect, was not coincidental. [YES! Thank God for Samuel Gregg and the blessed few who unfailingly continue to underscore the relevance of Joseph Ratzinger's thought to almost any subject under discussion. And one of the most breathtaking aspects of Spe Salvi is that it is also a brilliant history of ideas such as one does not expect to find in a papal document.]

As the encyclical’s title suggests, it focuses on the meaning of Christian hope. At one level, this involves distinguishing the Christian understanding of hope from the way it is understood by others.

According to Benedict, Marx effectively took the ultimate horizon of hope offered by the prospect of eternal life with God, and turned it into a very this-worldly salvation theory of history, politics, and economics. Marx then applied himself, in Benedict’s words, “to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation.”

There is, Benedict writes, a straight line between the development of this secular religion and October 1917. “Real revolution followed,” observed the pope, “in the most radical way in Russia.”

To this, we can add other areas in which Marxism apes Christianity. Communist regimes had sacred books such as Das Kapital, and prophets like Marx and Engels. They possessed their own ecclesial organization (the Communist Party) with its own hierarchical clergy (party-members, the Central Committee, the Politburo, the General Secretary), theologians (Marxist theoreticians), saints (Che), and its own doctrines from which party-members could not stray without compromising their orthodoxy. Communist systems even had their own version of the end-times: the New Jerusalem of Communism. The more you look, the more obvious the parallels with Christianity.

But there were, Benedict comments, two fatal flaws in all this.
- The first was Marx’s vagueness about how to transition from what was supposed to be an intermediate state — the dictatorship of the proletariat — to Communism. “Lenin,” Benedict states, “must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed” (SS 21). That opened the door to the intermediate becoming permanent: i.e., systematic and lasting terrorism and criminality. [The ultimate failure of Communism was that none of the Communist societies ever even came close to any 'dictatorship of the proletariat' as theorized by Marx, for the simple reason that the Communist masters who constituted a determinedly entrenched self-preserving hierarchy would never have relinquished the oligarchic dictatorship they exercised to anyone, much less 'the proletariat' who remained hopelessly nothing more than grist for the communist mill.]

- More fundamentally, Benedict states that Marxism’s Achilles heel turned out to be its core beliefs. For if you are a true philosophical materialist, you cannot believe in free will or free choice. Why? Because these are distinctly non-material features of human beings. You can’t touch free will. Yet we know that it exists whenever we make a free choice for one thing rather than another.

Hence, thanks to his philosophical materialism, Marx — and all his followers, past and present — lost sight of something. “He forgot man,” Benedict wrote, “and he forgot man’s freedom.” Hence, Marx also “forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil” (SS 21).

Benedict’s point is that the possibility of error and human sinfulness is part of the price-tag that goes along with the liberty to choose between good and evil. This not only means that there are no heavens-on-earth. It also means that striving to create the earthly utopia promised by Marxism and its fellow travelers always leads to destruction.

Death and devastation didn’t take long to follow Lenin’s seizure of power in 1917. The Bolsheviks were not the originators of state terrorism. But the depth and extent of the terror implemented by Lenin and his followers far exceeded that of France’s Jacobin dictatorship, which murdered thousands of “enemies of the Revolution” between 1793 and 1794.

The Red Terror wasn’t solely a result of the Civil War which engulfed Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. Terrorism was a matter of state policy for the Bolsheviks. As Trotsky (himself an advocate of mass terror who proclaimed that “our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine”) later related, Lenin opposed and successfully reversed the death penalty’s abolition. His reasoning was simple: “How can you make a revolution without executions?”

The same cold-bloodedness was on full display during a Cabinet meeting in February 1918. During a discussion about how to deal with “counter-revolutionaries,” Lenin turned to Isaac Steinberg, the non-Bolshevik Social Revolutionary Commissar for Justice, and asked: “Do you really believe that we can be victorious without the cruelest revolutionary terror?” [Sometimes I think the Bergoglio pontificate is applying Lenin's take-no-prisoners principle symbolically!]

As the debate continued, Steinberg’s anger about Lenin’s proposals to replace due process of law with “revolutionary conscience” grew. Eventually Steinberg exploded and exclaimed, “Then why do we bother with a Commissariat of Justice? Let’s call it frankly the Commissariat for Social Extermination and be done with it!” Lenin’s response was telling: “Well put . . . that’s exactly how it should be . . . but we can’t say that.”

Herein we come face-to-face with the true nature of the evil of Marxism which was unleashed by the Bolshevik Revolution. Communism authorizes and even celebrates the suspension and suppression of moral norms that absolutely prohibit certain actions like lying — or theft or killing or being envious.

It’s one thing to be, for instance, dishonest but acknowledge you are doing evil. It’s altogether different to say that no such moral absolutes exist: that morality is in effect a fiction, a mere set of customs to be dispensed with, whenever convenient. [And why does that insistently call to mind this pontificate as well? It's that deadly AL relativist fallout.]

A century ago, people who believed such things took over an empire which was on its knees. That event marked the beginning of choices that, according to the Black Book of Communism (1997), resulted in the deaths of anywhere between 85 and 100 million people in the 20th century. The amorality that lead to such oceans of blood, and the real character of the Marxism from which this amorality flowed, are what we should be remembering on this centennial of the October Revolution.

Sometimes, it turns out, evil does win. [In the short run, yes, even if the Soviet Empire outlasted the 12 years of Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich by 62 years. Meanwhile, China's hybrid capitalist Communism is now going on three decades, without signs of abandoning the market economy, and we can really discount Cuba and North Korea since they are too small to count other than for nuisance value (yes, including Kim's nuclear threats).]
00Thursday, November 9, 2017 6:00 AM


November 8, 2017 headlines

00Friday, November 10, 2017 1:59 AM

Regensburg revives ‘Hausbuch’ tradition:
Benedict XVI gets copy of the Sonntagsbibel

Translated from the website of the Diocese of Regensburg

November 7, 2017

Regensburg’s Sonntagsbibel (Sunday Bible) has reached the Eternal City. The 11-man editorial team led by Bishop Rudolg Voderholzer visited Benedict XVI at Mater Ecclesiae on Monday, Nov. 6, to give him a copy of the book which contains texts from Benedict XVI.

The Sonntagsbibel is a contemporary revival of the Hausbuch tradition among German Catholics, a tradition that Joseph Ratzinger grew up in. So the new book was for him a reminder of his childhood, when the Ratzinger children began their Sunday on Saturday night. Their father would read to them from such a Hausbuch, a compendium of prayers and readings meant to be used at home. He recalled this tradition when he spoke to participants at the World Meeting of Families in Milan in June 2012.

He told the Regensburg delegation how beautiful these Saturday evening readings were for him and his family. The emeritus pope also told them he was very touched and happy to meet so many friends from Regensburg on this occasion.

In the postwar world, there were very few attempts to revive the tradition of liturgical house Bibles, and such attempts were usually ‘small’ ones. Regensburg’s Sonntagsbibel is the first to attempt it on a major scale.

In 960 pages, the book contains the two readings and the gospel for all Sundays and holidays of the three-year liturgical cycle. All the readings contain an appropriate commentary taken from the COMPLETE WRITINGS of Joseph Ratzinger and his papal texts to underscore not just his love for Scriptures but also his bond with his Bavarian homeland. It is illustrated with artwork contributed by diocesan members.

On the morning before the Regensburg delegation met with Benedict XVI, Mons. Voderholzer said Mass for them at the Hungarian Chapel near the tomb of St. Peter. He thanked his team for the work they had done on the Sonntagsbibel, and noted with great joy how many positive responses the diocese has been getting for the project.

Mons. Voderholzer presented each of his team members individually to the pope and informed him what role they played in the project: Apart from Mons. Voderholzer and his Auxiliary Bishop Josef Graf, the team includes: Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Gradl, Professor for Exegesis of the New Tetament at the Theological Faculty of Trier, and a priest in the diocese of Regensburg; Wolfgang Stöckl, leader of the diocese’s Catholic adult education; Gabriel Weiten, Mons. Voderholzer’s theological adviser; Dr. Maria Baumann, who is in charge of the Diocesan Museum; Prof. Dr. Sigmund Bonk, head of the Albertus Magnus Academic Forum; Dr. Albrecht Weiland, representative of the Schnell & Steiner publishing house; photographer Anton Brand; graphics designer Manfred Cuno; and Falk Flach, who was in charge of typesetting.

00Friday, November 10, 2017 9:18 AM
November 9, 2017
00Friday, November 10, 2017 2:26 PM
Mons. Schooyans (born 1930) is a priest of the Archdiocese of Brussels-Malines, in Belgium. He has been a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and guest professor at several US universities, who has written books on political philosophy contemporary ideologies, and population policy, and a veteran of several missions in the Third World. Here he gives a brilliant exposition of the casuistic strategy employed by Bergoglianism to upend traditional morality.

From casuistry to ‘mercy’:
Toward a new art of pleasing

By Msgr. Michel Schooyans

November 9, 2017

One might think casuistry is dead and buried, that the controversies of the 17th century should be over once and for all.

Rarely do any of our contemporaries still read the Lettres Provinciales(Provincial Letters) and the authors whom Pascal (1623-1662) attacks therein. These authors are casuists – that is to say, moralists who seek to resolve matters of conscience without succumbing to rigorism.

On re-reading the famous Lettres, we were struck by the similarity emerging between a controversial document written in the 17th century and the positions today defended by pastors and theologians aspiring to effect radical changes in the Church’s pastoral teaching and doctrine.

The recent Synods on the Family (October 2014 to October 2015) has revealed a reforming pugnacity of which the Lettres Provinciales give us a better understanding today. Hence, Pascal comes to be known in an unexpected light.

The 'family synods' revealed a profound malaise in the Church – a crisis of growth without doubt, but also recurrent debates on the question of “remarried” divorced persons, “models” for the family, the role of women, birth control, surrogate motherhood, homosexuality, and euthanasia.

It is futile to close our eyes: the Church is challenged in its very foundations. These are to be found in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, in the teaching of Jesus, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the announcement of the Gospel by the Apostles, in an ever finer understanding of Revelation, in the assent of faith by the community of believers.

The Church has been entrusted by Jesus with the mission of receiving these truths, casting light on their coherence, commemorating them.
The Church has not been given by the Lord either a mission to modify these truths or a mission to rewrite the Credo. The Church is the guardian of this treasure. The Church should study these truths, clarify them, deepen man’s understanding of them, and invite all men to adhere to them through faith.

There are even discussions – on marriage, for example – that were brought to a close by the Lord himself. It was specifically to conceal these historical truths that descendants of the Pharisees have denied the historicity of the Gospels (cf. Mark 10:11).

The teaching of the Lord has an exacting moral dimension. This teaching certainly urges us to a rational adherence to the Golden Rule, on which mankind’s great sages have meditated for centuries. Jesus brings this rule to its perfection. But the Church’s tradition has its own precepts of conduct, prime among which are love of God and neighbor. “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).

This double-commandment is the fundamental benchmark for the actions of the Christian. The Christian is called to be open to the inspiration of the Spirit, which is love, and to respond to this inspiration through faith, which acts through love (Gal. 5:6).

Between love and faith, the link is indissoluble. If, in the teaching of the Church, this link is broken,
- Christian morality sinks into various forms of relativism or skepticism, to the point of contentment with subjective and fluctuating opinions.
- There is no longer any reference to the truth, nor to the authority that guarantees it.
- Transgression is ultimately abolished, because the moral reference points imparted by God to man are rejected.
- Man, it will even be suggested, no longer needs to love God in order to achieve salvation or to believe in His love.
- Morality is fatally split, and the door is open wide to legalism, agnosticism and secularisation.

In his teaching, Saint Paul urges us to avoid the snares of a morality devoid of roots in revelation. This is how he exhorts Christians:

You must not fall in with the manners of this world. There must be inward change, a remaking of your minds, so that you can satisfy yourselves what is God’s will, the good thing, the desirable thing, the perfect thing. (Rom. 12:2).

And this is my prayer for you: may your love grow richer and richer yet, in the fullness of its knowledge and the depth of its perception, so that you may learn to prize what is of value.” (Phil. 1:9 s.; cf. 1 Thess. 5:19-22)

Today, one perceives the return of casuistry to allow moralists to examine and resolve matters of conscience. Certain moralists intend to offer solutions that please those who have recourse to their superior knowledge.

Among the casuists of yesterday and today, the fundamental principles of morality are eclipsed by the (frequently divergent) opinions pronounced by these grave spiritual advisers. The disinterest with which fundamental morality is now viewed leaves the way open for the introduction of a positive law, which removes standards of conduct from any remaining reference to the fundamental rules of morality.
- The casuist, or neo-casuist, has become legislator and judge. He cultivates the art of confusing the faithful.
- Concern for the truth, revealed and accessible to reason, is now of no interest.
- Ultimately, the only interest will be in “probable” positions. Through probabilism, one proposition is open to contradictory interpretations.

Probabilism will make it possible to blow first hot, then cold, for and against. Forgotten is the teaching of Jesus: “Let your word be ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from the evil one
(Matt. 5:37, James 5:12; cf. 2 Col. 1:20).

However, each neo-casuist will go with his own interpretation. The tendency is toward a confusion of propositions, duplicity, double- or triple-truth, an avalanche of interpretations. The casuist has a divided heart but intends to be a friend to the world (James 4:4-8).

Progressively, the rules of behavior proceeding from the will of the Lord and handed down by the Magisterium of the Church are languishing in decline. The moral assessment of acts can therefore be modified. Not content with toning down this assessment, the casuists wish to transform the moral law itself.

This will be the task of casuists – confessors; spiritual advisers; and, on occasion, bishops. All must have a concern to please. They must in consequence resort to compromise and accommodate their arguments to the satisfaction of human passions: no person must be rebuffed.

The moral assessment of an act no longer depends on whether it conforms to the will of God, as made known to us by revelation. This depends on the intention of the moral agent, and this intention can be modulated and molded by the spiritual adviser who “supports” his followers.

In order to please, the spiritual adviser will have to soften the rigor of the doctrine handed down by tradition. The pastor will have to adapt his words to the nature of man, whose passions are naturally led into sin. Hence the progressive relegation of references to original sin and grace.

The influence of Pelagius (a monk of British origin) is evident: man must save himself and take his destiny into his own hands. Telling the truth forms no part of the role of the casuist, who must captivate, present an engaging line of argument, curry favor, make salvation easy, and delight those who aspire to “have itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3).

In short, the eclipse of the decisive contribution of revelation to morality is paving the way for the investiture of the casuist and creating a space favorable to the installation of a government of consciences. Space is shrinking for religious liberty, as offered in Scripture to the children of God and inseparable from adherence to faith in the Lord.

Let us turn to an analysis of examples of areas in which the actions of the neo-casuists of today emerge clearly.

The government of consciences
With the arrival, in the Church, of governors of conscience, we perceive the proximity of the casuist notion of government of the city, with the notion to be found, for example, in Machiavelli, Boétie, and Hobbes.

Without asserting or making themselves accountable for this, the neo-casuists are certainly heirs of these masters in the art of governing slaves. A mortal God, the Leviathan defines what is just and what is good; he decides what men should think and wish for. It is he, the Leviathan, who governs the consciences, thoughts, and actions of all his subjects. He is accountable to no one.

With the three authors cited above, we can see that the neo-casuists have aligned themselves with the theoreticians of tyranny and totalitarianism. Does not the ABC of totalitarian power consist, first of all, in the subjugation, the alienation, of conscience? By this means, the casuists offer a robust guarantee to all who wish to establish a single civil religion that is easily controllable and laws discriminating against citizens.

In order to please everyone, it is necessary “to adapt” the sacraments.

Let us take the case of the sacrament of Penance. The disinterest with which this sacrament is today viewed can be understood through the “rigorism” demonstrated by confessors in the times of the elders. At least, so we are assured by the casuists.

Today, the confessor should learn to make this sacrament please penitents. However, in toning down the severity attributed to this sacrament, the casuist separates the penitent from the grace offered by God. The neo-casuist of today distances the sinner from the divine source of mercy, yet it is to this source that the sinner must return.

The consequences of this deliberate deviation are paradoxical and dramatic. The new morality leads the Christian to render the sacrament of Penance, and hence the Cross of Christ and His resurrection, futile (1 Col. 1:17). If this sacrament is no longer received as one of the major manifestations of the merciful love of God for us, if it is no longer perceived as necessary to salvation, it will soon cease to be necessary to instruct bishops and priests in offering absolution to sinners.

The rarity and, ultimately, the disappearance of the sacramental offer of pardon by the priest will lead, and in reality has already led, to other estrangements, including that of the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. And so on for the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism and Confirmation) and the sacrament of the sick, not to speak of the liturgy in general.

At any rate, for the neo-casuists, there is in fact no longer a revelation to be received or a tradition to be handed down. As has already been remarked, “the truth is the new!” The new is the new seal of the truth. This new casuistry is leading Christians to make a clean break with the past. Finally, the obsession with compromise is pushing the new casuists toward a return to nature, as before original sin.

The question of “re-marriage”
The teaching of the neo-casuists calls to mind the spirit of compromise demonstrated to a considerable extent by the English bishops vis-à-vis Henry VIII. This question has relevance today, although the mode of compromise is different.

Who are the clerics from all orders who seek to please the powerful in this world? Are they swearers or refusers? How great is the number of pastors of all ranks who wish to make allegiance to the powerful of this world, albeit easily and without the need to swear publicly fidelity to the new “values” of the world today?

In pushing to facilitate “re-marriage,” the neo-casuists are giving their backing to all those political players undermining respect for life and the family. With their assistance, declarations of nullity will be easy to obtain, as will be flexible or repeated “marriages.”

The neo-casuists show great interest in cases of divorced persons who are “remarried.” As in other cases, the different stages of their approach provide a good illustration of salami tactics (a phrase coined by Matyas Rákosi),[ b]according to which what one would never concede as a whole is conceded slice by slice.

So let us follow the process.
- First slice: At the point of departure, we find references to the teaching in Scripture on marriage and the Church’s doctrine on this question.
- Second slice: Emphasis is placed on the difficulties in “receiving” this teaching.
- Third slice, in the form of a question: Are “remarried” divorced persons in a state of grave sin?
- The fourth slice consists of the entry on the scene of the spiritual adviser, who will help “remarried” divorced persons to “discern” – that is, to choose whatever suits them in their situation. The spiritual adviser must show himself to be understanding and indulgent. He must demonstrate compassion, but what compassion?

For the casuist, in effect, when one undertakes a moral assessment of an act, concern for compassion must take precedence over the assessment of actions that are objectively wrong. The adviser must be lenient, adapt to circumstances.
-With the fifth slice of salami, each individual will be able to discern, personally and with full freedom of thought, what suits him best.

In effect, along the way, the word discernment has become equivocal, ambiguous. It is not to be interpreted in the Pauline sense recalled in the scriptural references cited above. It is a matter not of seeking the will of God, but of discerning the right choice, the choice that will maximize the “itching of the ears.”

Homicide is another matter that merits our attention. We are now going to focus on a matter of deviation of intention.

According to the classic casuistry of the 17th century, homicide could proceed from a desire for vengeance, which is a crime. To avoid this criminal definition, it was necessary to deviate from this criminal intention, the intention to avenge oneself, and assign to the homicide a different, morally permitted, intention. Rather than invoke vengeance as a motive, the casuist invoked, for example, a desire to defend one’s honor, considered morally permissible.

We will now see how this deviation of intention is applicable to a modern matter. The argument runs as follows: Mrs. X wishes to abort the baby she is expecting; the baby is not wanted. Yet abortion is a morally inadmissible crime. The intention is then deviated from, with the result that the initial intention is erased. Not with the intention of freeing oneself from an unwanted baby!

Instead of this initial intention, it will be argued that, under certain circumstances, abortion is morally admissible because, for example, its purpose is to save the lives of persons who are ill, by providing physicians with anatomical parts in good condition and to which a price is attached. The intention defines the moral quality of the gift. Hence, it is possible to please a broad spectrum of beneficiaries, whose “generosity” and “freedom of spirit” the casuists lose no opportunity in flattering.

The teachings of the Church on abortion are well known. As soon as the reality of a human being is established, the Church teaches that the life and dignity of that being should be respected. The doctrine of the Church on this question is constant and attested to throughout tradition.

This situation troubles some neo-casuists. They have therefore coined a new expression:humanization of the embryo. They say there is no humanization of the embryo unless a community wishes to welcome that embryo. It is society that humanizes the embryo. If society refuses to humanize the embryo, there can be no homicide, given that the human reality of this embryo is not recognized.

In the examples we cite here, salami tactics come to the aid of the neo-casuists. Initially, abortion is clandestine, then presented as exceptional, then rare, then facilitated, then legalized, then habitual. Those who oppose abortion are denigrated, threatened, ostracized, condemned. This is how the political institutions and the law are unpicked.

Let us note that thanks to the casuists, abortion is first facilitated in the Church, and from there, in the State. The same now applies to “re-marriage.”

Positive law is taking over from the new morality. It finds its inspiration in the neo-casuists. This was observable, in France, during the debates on legislation on abortion. This is a scenario that could spread throughout the world. With the impetus of the neo-casuists, abortion could be declared a new “human right” on a universal scale.
[[The United Nations and its agencies – and all the pro-abortion governments – already consider it a human right!, de facto if not de jure, and they define it as such explicitly in many of their documents!]

The question of euthanasia also merits discussion. This practice is becoming more and more extensive in traditionally Christian Western countries. Demographers regularly draw attention to the aging population in these regions of the world.

Life expectancy at birth is rising almost everywhere. In principle, aging in itself is good news. For centuries, throughout the world, men have struggled against early death. At the beginning of the 19th century, life expectancy at birth was often thirty years of age. Today, life expectancy is about eighty.

However, this situation will generate problems of all kinds. Let us mention one: who will pay the pensions? To euthanize burdensome and onerous elderly people would certainly make it possible to achieve better economies. It will then be said that it is necessary to help costly elderly people “die in dignity.” Because it is politically difficult to defer the pension age, life expectancy will be lowered.

The process has already begun in certain regions of Europe – hence a reduction in health care; pharmaceutical products; and, above all, a reduction in the pension bill. Because politically correct right-thinking people balk at a program so austere, the intention must be modified to be able to pass a law legalizing euthanasia.

How to proceed? By developing a pitiable argument on compassion. It is necessary to please all categories of persons affected by this program.
- These persons must be persuaded to subscribe to a plan whose objective is to give death “under good conditions” and “in dignity.”
- Death given in dignity would be the high point in quality of life!
- Rather than recommend palliative treatment and surround the ill person with affection, his fragility will be abused; he will be misled as to the fatal treatment to be inflicted.
- Vigilant neo-casuists will be on hand to verify that the homicidal act “authorizing” the gift of death is in compliance with positive law.
- The cooperation of carefully primed chaplains will be especially appreciated to authenticate the compassion manifested in death given as a gift.

The party of the casuists
Discussions during the Synod on the Family revealed the determination with which a group of pastors and theologians do not hesitate to undermine the Church’s doctrinal cohesion. This group functions in the manner of a powerful, international, well heeled, organized, and disciplined party. The active members of this party have ready access to the media; they frequently appear unmasked. They operate with backing from some of the highest authorities in the Church.

The main target of these activists is Christian morality, criticized for having a severity incompatible with the “values” of our time. We must find ways that lead the Church to please, by reconciling its moral teaching with human passions.

The solution proposed by the neo-casuists starts by calling into question fundamental morality, then obscuring the natural light of reason.
- The original meaning of the references to Christian morality revealed in Scripture and the teaching of Jesus is distorted.
- The precepts of reason are regarded as indefinitely debatable – probabilism prevails.
- Primacy should be accorded to the will of those who are powerful enough to impose their will.
- Disparate partnerships with unbelievers will be formed without hesitation
(cf. 2 Col. 6:14).

This voluntarist morality will have a free hand in placing itself at the service of political power, the State, and also the market, high finance, the law, etc. In concrete terms, it will be necessary to please corrupt political heads, champions of tax fraud and usury, abortionists, manufacturers who deal in pills, lawyers willing to defend the least defensible causes, agronomists enriched by transgenic products, etc. The new morality will hence insidiously penetrate the media, families, schools, universities, hospitals, and courts.

This has led to the formation of a social body that refuses to accord primacy of place to the search for the truth yet is highly active where there are consciences to govern, assassins to reassure, malefactors to free, wealthy citizens with whom to curry favor. Through this network, the neo-casuists will be able to hold sway over the wheels of the Church, influence the choice of candidates for high office, and forge alliances that imperil the Church’s very existence.

Toward a religion of compromise?
The text here produced is not intended to expound an essay on the Synod devoted to the Family. It aims to draw attention to the rift between dogmatic and moral, to the confusion between truth and novelty, between morality and positive law, between truth and action, and to equivocal statements troubling discernment.

What is most troubling with regard to the casuists is their disinterest in the truth.
- In them, we find a relativism, indeed a skepticism, which means that in terms of morality, one should act in accordance with the most probable standard.
- One should choose the standard that, in a given circumstance, is regarded as most pleasing to a given person, a given spiritual follower, a given public. This applies to the City as it does to men.
- Everyone has to make his choice – not in terms of the truth, but in terms of circumstances.
- The laws of the City also have their origin in circumstances. The best laws are those that please the most and please the greatest number.

Hence, we are witnessing the expansion of a religion of compromise, indeed individualist utilitarianism, since the concern to please others does not extinguish the concern to please oneself.

In order to please, casuists must be up to date with current developments, attentive to things new. The Fathers of the Church of previous generations and the great theologians of the past, even the recent past, are presented as not adapted to the current situation in the Church; they are regarded as outmoded. For the casuists, the Church’s tradition needs to be filtered and fundamentally called into question.

As we are gravely assured by the neo-casuists, we know what the Church should do today to please everyone (cf. John 9). The desire to please is aimed at the winners in particular. The new social and political morality should handle such people with care. They have a lifestyle to be protected and even improved; they have to maintain their rank. So much the worse for the poor, who do not have the same worldly constraints! Certainly, one must also please the poor, but it must be acknowledged that they are less “interesting” than the people with influence. Not everyone can be a winner!

The morality of the casuists ultimately resembles a gnosis distilled in select circles, a knowledge one might call esoteric, targeted at a minority of people who experience no need to be saved by the Cross of Jesus. Pelagianism has rarely flourished so much.

The traditional morality of the Church has always recognized that there are acts that are objectively wrong. This same moral theology also recognizes, and has long done so, the importance of circumstances. This means that, in the assessment of an act, account must be taken of the circumstances in which the act has been committed and the levels of responsibility; this is what the moralists call accountability.

The casuists of today proceed in the same way as their founders: they minimize the importance of traditional morality and overemphasize the role of circumstances. Along the way, conscience is led into self-deceit because it allows itself to be distorted by the desire to please.

Hence, one perceives in the media that casuists are frequently transfixed by a world destined to disappear. Too often, they forget that, with Jesus, a new world has already begun. We recall this central point in human history: “The old world has passed, now a new reality is here” (Apoc. 21:5).

We turn again to Saint Paul: “There must be a renewal in the inner life of your minds; you must be clothed in the new self, which is created in God’s image, justified and sanctified through the truth.” (Eph. 4:2-3 s.)

The actions of casuists today affect not only the Church’s moral teaching, but also the entirety of dogmatic theology, in particular the question of the Magisterium. This point is frequently insufficiently emphasized.

The unity of the Church is in peril where there are suggestions of biased, at times demagogic, proposals for decentralization, largely inspired by Lutheran reform. Better to be answerable to the princes of this world than to affirm unity around the Good Shepherd!

The sanctity of the Church is in peril where casuists exploit man’s weakness and preach a devotion that is easy and neglectful of the Cross.

Catholicity is in peril where the Church ventures onto the path of Babel and undervalues the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the gift of languages. Is it not He, the Spirit, who brings together the diversity of those who share the same faith in Jesus, the Son of God?

The apostolicity of the Church is in peril where, in the name of exemption, poorly understood, a community, a “party” is exempted from the jurisdiction of the bishop and considered to be answerable directly to the pope.

Many neo-casuists are exempt. How can it be doubted that this exemption weakens the Episcopal body as a whole?

Bibliographic Credits
Cariou, Pierre, Pascal et la casuistique, an essential work, Paris, PUF, Collection Questions, 1993.
Jean-Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, Vatican City, 1993.
Nouveau Testament, TOB, several editions.
Pascal, Les Provinciales, edited by Jacques Chevalier, Paris, La Pléiade, 1954.
Pascal, Les Provinciales, edited by Jean Steinmann, Paris, Armand Colin, 1962.
Pascal, Les Provinciales, Preface by Robert Kanters, Lausanne, Ed. Rencontre, 1967.
Wikipedia: excellent articles on Pascal, Casuistry, Provinciales.
00Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:32 AM

Pope Francis and his 'Lutheran turning point'
by Roberto de Mattei
Translated for Rorate caeli by 'Francesca Romana' from

November 8, 2017

On October 31, 2016, Pope Francis inaugurated the year of Luther by meeting with representatives of Lutheranism from all over the world in the Swedish Cathedral of Lund. Since then, meetings and “ecumenical” celebrations ad abundantiam have followed one after the other in the Catholic Church.

A year exactly from that date, the 'Lutheran turning point' was sealed by a symbolic act the gravity of which very few have noticed. The Vatican Post Office issued a stamp which celebrates the birth of Protestantism on October 31st 1517, the date Luther hung his 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral.

“V Centenary of the Protestant Reformation”can be read at the top of the stamp, presented on October 31st of this year by the Vatican Philatelic Office. The official communiqué describes the stamp: “It depicts Jesus Crucified in the foreground on a gold, timeless background showing Wittenberg city. In an attitude of penance, on their knees respectively on the left and the right of the the Cross, Martin Luther holds a Bible, source and point of his doctrine, while Philip Melanchthon, theologian and a friend of Martin Luther’s, one of the most important protagonists of the Reformation, holds in his hand the Augsburg Confession, Confessio Augustuana, the first official exposition of the principles of Protestantism drawn up by him.”

The substitution of Our Lady and St. John at the foot of the Cross with the two heresiarchs, Luther and Melanchthon, is a blasphemous offense that no Catholic cardinal or bishop has, to date, openly condemned. The significance of this image is explained by the joint declaration of the World Lutheran Federation and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, published the same day as the stamp.

The note refers to the positive outcome of the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, endorsing the “new understanding of those XVI century events which lead to our separation” and affirms how both sides are “very grateful for the theological and spiritual gifts received through the Reformation”.

As if that weren’t enough, around the same time, La Civiltà Cattolica, the Pope’s “unofficial” voice, celebrated Luther with an article by Father Giancarlo Pani (Martin Luther, Five Hundred Years Later, in La Civiltà Cattolica , of October 21st – November 4th 2017, pp. 119-130)

Father Pani is the same priest who said in 2014 that the Fathers of the Council of Trent had admitted the possibility of divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery, according to the custom established in the schismatic Greek Church. Now he is sustaining that Martin Luther was in no way a heretic, but an authentic “reformer”.

In fact, “ the theses of Wittenberg are not a challenge, nor a rebellion against authority, but the proposal to renew the proclamation of the Gospel, in the sincere desire for a “reform” in the Church”.
(p.128). Despite the claim “ by the Church of Rome and Luther of incarnating the truth in toto and being dispensers of it ” “ the role Luther had as a witness to the faith cannot be denied: He is “the reformer”; he was able to initiate a process of “reform” where the results of it have also benefited the Catholic Church.”

If this is the case then he has been unjustly persecuted and defamed by the Catholic Church for 500 years. The time has come to rehabilitate him. And in order to rehabilitate him we cannot limit ourselves to presenting only his prophetic side, but must make the Church accept and put into practice his demands of reform. And the Post-Synod Exhortation Amoris Laetitia represents a decisive stage on this path.

They are not wrong then - the authors of the Correctio filialis (to Pope Francis) when they underlined “the affinity between Luther’s ideas on the law, justification and matrimony and those taught or favored by Pope Francis in Amoris laetitia and elsewhere.”

At this point it should be remembered that Pope Francis, like Father Pani, belongs to the Society of Jesus, whose Founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, was the champion of the Faith that Divine Providence raised up in the XVI century against Lutheranism. In Germany, apostles like St. Peter Canisio and Blessed Peter Fabro, fought every inch of the way against the heretics, and on the terrain of anti-Protestant fervor, no one can surpass St. Robert Bellarmino.

La Civiltà Cattolica was founded in 1850, with the support of Pius IX, and had a role of doctrinal defense against the errors of the time for a very long time. From its very first edition, on April 6th 1850, it dedicated an extensive anonymous essay (by Father Matteo Liberatore) on The Political Rationalism of the Italian Revolution, in which he saw Protestantism as the cause of all modern errors. These theses were developed, among others, by two famous Jesuit theologians: Fathers Giovanni Perrone (Protestantism and the Rule of the Faith, La Civiltà Cattolica, Rome 1853, 2 voll.), and Hartmann Grisar (Luther, Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1911/1912, 3 voll.).

But the commemoration of the Lutheran revolt made by the Jesuit journal in October 1917, the fourth centenary marking the 95 theses in Wittenberg, takes on a special meaning. (Luther and Lutheranism, in La Civiltà Cattolica, IV (1917), pp. 207-233; 421-430). The theologian of La Civiltà Cattolica explained that

“The essence of the Lutheran spirit, or rather Lutheranism, is rebellion in all of its extension and in all the force of its word. Rebellion, therefore, which is personified in Luther, was varied and profound, complex and very vast; which apparently appeared but was in fact violent, angry, trivial, obscene and diabolic; deep down it was studied, and directed according to the circumstances, focused on opportunistic ends and interests, intended and wanted with measured, resolute determination.” (pp.208-309).

La Civiltà Cattolica continues,

"Luther initiated that contemptible parody, with which the rebel monk attributed to God, his ideas, blasphemies and the abominations of his perverted mind: he outraged the Pope in an unspeakable way in the name of Christ, he cursed Caesar in the name of Christ, he blasphemed against the Church, against bishops, against monks with absolute infernal impetuosity, in the name of Christ; he threw his religious habit onto the tree of Judas, in the name of Christ and in the name of Christ he was married sacrilegiously” (p.209).

“With the very convenient pretext of following Scripture, as that which alone contains the word of God, he conducted a war on scholastic theology, tradition, canon law, all the institutions and precepts of the Church and councils: in place of these august and venerated things, he, Martin Luther, perjured monk and self-proclaimed doctor, put himself and his authority! Popes, doctors and Holy Fathers were no longer of any worth; the word of Marin Luther was worth more than all of them! (p.212). [How very Bergoglian!]

The Lutheran theory of justification, in the end, “was born of Luther’s imagination, not by the Gospel or any other word of God revealed to the writers of the New Testament: for us, every Lutheran novelty finds its origins in the concupiscence he stimulated, and in his development of the falsification of Scripture or in formal lying” (p.214)

Father Pani cannot deny that the opinion he gives of Luther is a 360- degree turnaround from the one his confreres gave in the same journal, a century ago. In 1917, he was censured as an apostate, a rebel, a blasphemer; today he is being praised as a reformer, a prophet, [even] holy. No Hegelian dialectic can harmonize yesterday’s judgment with today’s.

Luther was either a heretic who denied some basic dogmas of Christianity, or he was a “witness to faith” who initiated the Reformation of the Church, brought to completion by the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis.

In short, every Catholic is called upon to choose whether to side with Pope Francis and the Jesuits of today, or be alongside the Jesuits of yesterday and the Popes of all time.

It is time for choices and to mediate precisely on St. Ignatius’s two standards -"It will be here how Christ calls and wants all under His standard; and Lucifer, on the contrary, under his.” (no. 137, Spiritual Exercises) - which will help us make them in these difficult times.

St. Pius V and St. Charles Borromeo defending Catholicism against Islam and the Protestant Heresy, Giovanni Gasparro, 2017

I'm almost a week late in posting this, because I was hoping to find online the other painting referred to in the articlebt no luck so far.
But this has to do with one of those 'timeless' thoughts that we need to keep in mind these days...

A prayer to St. Charles Borromeo:
Bless the artists who stand firm
where priests and bishops are giving in

by Camillo Langone
November 4, 2017

St. Charles Borromeo, flagellator of Protestants, I entreat you on this your feast day, concerning the infatuation many priests have for Martin Luther, witnessed recently in Milanese exhibitions and Vatican stamps. Yet, where priests are surrendering, painters are resisting.

In Imola, Sergio Padovani at present is exhibiting a portrait fittingly entitled "Martin Luther, the Heretic" while in Aldefia Giovanni Gasparro is busy putting the final brushstrokes to his work of the following sensational title: "St Pius V and St. Charles Borromeo defending Catholicism against Islam and the Protestant Heresy." Commissioned, naturally, not by an ecclesiastic, but a member of the laity.

He who was called “a blind heresiarch” by St. John Bosco and an 'impious blasphemer" by St. Peter Canisius is depicted alongside a pig and with swinish eyes himself: inclined to evil, to guzzling and nuns (in fact) his contemporaries used to call him Porcus Saxioniae [the pig of Saxony].

St. Charles, bless these two artists who frequently paint Saints and who, today, with courage and coherence, are showing who this man really was whom the Saints attacked rightly for his sins against the faith.

P.S. Fr Z called attention to the ff article as a 'tour de force' that "puts into perspective the lack of enthusiasm some of us have regarding 'celebration' of the 500th anniversary of the revolt." And indeed we must be thankful to Mr. Stagnaro for providing this lengthy J'accuse of Protestantism, but i just wish he had done his account of his forgiving all this nonetheless with some logical system (i.e., at least chronological and thematic) instead of tossing it off at random as the items come to his mind.

For instance, why does he wait till the middle of the least to state the most significant definitive fact of all, namely: "... I truly forgive them for the Great Tragedy, that is, their sixteenth century split with Rome."... I have also taken the liberty of omitting the introductory "I can forgive them for..." that precedes each of the items Stagnaro lists.

MrStagnaro is a journalist and editorialist for the National Catholic Register (USA) and the Catholic Herald (UK) specializing in apologetics and catechetics. He has written a number of popular books (meant for the layman) on Catholic theology.

Calling a spade a spade

November 10, 2017

I can forgive Protestants and Protestantism for most things.

- For the Know-Nothing Party and their murderous Philadelphia Nativist Riot, the Intolerable Acts, Bloody Monday and the Orange Riots in New York City in 1871 and 1872. I forgive them for the “Blaine Amendments” which forbade tax money be used to fund Catholic parochial schools.

- For the KKK and for funding the Mexican atheist genocidal maniac Plutarco Ares Calles in his efforts to kill Catholics during the Cristero Wars. I can forgive them for calling any, and all, popes, the “Anti-Christ(s)” and “Whores(s) of Babylon.”

- For supporting Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy by which the Church gained many of her modern martyrs; for the Recusancy Acts and the fictitious, so-called “Popish Plot”... and for the fact that as a Catholic, I shall never sit upon the British Throne though literally everyone else is allowed to do so.

- For 'The Troubles' in Ireland and Oliver Cromwell and his engineered Potato Famine and the slaughter and military occupation of that country.

- For the enslavement of 50,000 men, women and children who were forcibly removed from Ireland and sent to Bermuda and Barbados as indentured servants ― America’s first slaves.

- For the Canadian Gavazzi Riots and the Orange Order and Ontario Regulation 17 that doomed Catholic schools in Quebec; ...for the American Protective Association and their Canadian counterparts, the Protestant Protective Association.

- For forcibly converting Catholic convicts and political prisoners to Anglicanism in Australia; forced conversions is something that Muslim terrorists have been doing for 1400 years.

- For 500 years of venom and vitriol spouted by every street preacher and door-knocker ― the seething anti-Catholic hatred that is at the core of primitive Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism and Jehovah’s Witnesses ― but not them exclusively. Indeed, it makes up a great deal of traditional Anglicanism, Methodism and many other forms of “mainstream” Protestantism.

- For those of them who refuse to refer to Catholics as Christians.

- For intentionally ignoring the 1500 years that occurred prior to Martin Luther when everyone in Western Europe who was a Christian was, by necessity, a Catholic.

- For Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, the inspiration for the current assault upon religious liberty in America and Europe. (Don’t worry, Jack Chick and your ignorant and poisonous “Chick Tracts” and for calling Catholics, “Mackerel Snappers” ― all is forgiven.)

- Martin Luther for foisting a desecrated and greatly redacted Bible upon the world pretending that God “would have wanted it that way.” Luther removed seven books and parts of three others from the Old Testament ― the fullness of which is called the Septuagint and was used by Christ himself when he walked among us.

- Martin Luther for accepting funding from Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Muslim Ottoman Empire as he “struggled” to secede from the Catholic Church.
[Luther schemed to throw Christendom under the bus for fun and profit, as he urged his fellow Protestants to side with the Muslim Turks in defeating the Catholic Church and, with it, Europe. Suleiman even extended his munificent kinship to any and all Protestants in Hungary and Romania now that they were no longer “Christian” (i.e., loyal to the pope). The sultan urged Luther and Protestants to unite under the Muslim banner to defeat both the emperor and the pope. Please recall that Suleiman the Terrorist wanted nothing less than to wipe Christianity from the planet ― talk about politics and their strange bedfellows!]

- For the ridiculous 700 Club television show and their tiresome attacks on the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

- For taking 500 years to realize that Sola Scriptura is a great deal of nonsense and that even Luther had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary ― the first Christian, the Mother of God.

- For their cognitive dissonance in simultaneously insisting that: 1) everyone is allowed to interpret the Bible as they wish and they are all equally correct and 2) Catholics are wrong in the way they interpret the Bible no matter how they do it.

- For their anti-Catholicism, which is what historian John Highham called “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history,” and what historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. has called, “the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people.”

- For their support of the violence towards Catholics during the so-called “Enlightenment” and for the development of Freemasonry and the Brazilian “Religious Question” and the Columbian La Violencia and the Michelade Massacre of 1567. [By the way, Freemasonry’s exotic magicalism greatly contributed to the development of Mormonism, Unitarianism, Seventh-Day Adventism, Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witness’ Arianistic perspectives.]

-For making Fr. Nicholas Copernicus put the brakes on his heliocentric theory and data until after his death even though his friend, Pope Paul III, urged him to publish while the scientist was still alive. [Apparently, Fr. Copernicus hoped to avoid upsetting Luther and Melanchthon who were both contemptuous of the priest’s heliocentric paradigm and feared that his theories would further alienate Protestants against the Church from which they originally sprang. [This does not make sense - they would have wanted the Protestants further alienated from the Catholic Church!]]

This isn’t an empty Christian platitude ―I truly forgive them for the Great Tragedy, that is, their sixteenth century split with Rome.

- For John Calvin’s, Ian Paisley’s and the Westboro Baptist Church’s reductive, tiresome and poisonous bluster and posturing.

- For their support and schadenfreude as they stood back and did nothing during Spain’s Red Terror and during Hitler’s repression of the Catholic Church especially for The Night of Long Knives.

- For the Dutch Protestants’ explicit support of the Tokugawa Shogunate when they slaughtered tens of thousands of Japanese Catholics in the sixteenth century.

- For the 500 years of anti-Catholic stereotypes typical in their literature as in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian.

- For their support/coddling of the rabidly fundamentalist atheist “Americans United for Separation of Church and State” which was originally an explicitly anti-Catholic organization called “Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State.”

- For crucifying European history with their insidious and indecorous “Black Legend” which poisoned the minds of hundreds of millions of people who would rather believe lies about the Inquisition rather than risk reading a book on the subject.

- For the countless false prophecies concerning the end of the world that have proved time and time again to be absolutely false.

- For ignoring Scriptures that specifically explain how to distinguish between one of God’s real prophets and a false one:

You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the Lord. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Lord’s message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him. (Deut. 18:21-22)

- For ignoring Christ’s own words when he commissions St. Peter as the Church’s leader:

And so I tell you, Peter: you are rock, and on this rock foundation I will build My church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. (Matt. 16:18)

Protestants ignore the salient fact that Christ’s One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church will never fail. Not even the Gates of Hell will prevail against it.

It follows that if an organization that claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit actually fails miserably, that means the Holy Spirit wasn’t truly with them such as the Anabaptists, the Shakers and the Puritans.

11 Protestant churches close every day in America. It’s impossible to determine how many close every day around the world. There are 41,000 Protestant churches around the world currently and that means at least 40,999 are completely wrong. This doesn’t include the many tens of thousands of Protestant churches that have failed in the past 500 years. God clearly isn’t dictating different messages to intentionally sow discord, confusion and lies … however, this does remind me of another lesser spirit who enjoys doing exactly this (John 8:44).

But what I can’t forgive them for, not yet at least, is their insipid restorationism ― the idea that God somehow made a mistake 2000 years ago when he gave control of the his, One, True Church to the Catholic Church and the papacy, whose progenitor was St. Peter as testified by Christ not once but twice in the New Testament (Matt. 16:18-19, John 21:15-17).

Restorationism is the belief that Christianity should be restored to how it was during the Apostolic Era using nothing but Scriptures ― a project doomed to failure. Their goal to re-establish Christianity in its original form has been a part of Christianity for 2000 years and, indeed, St. Francis of Assisi hoped to “get back to the basics” also but he didn’t make the mistake of believing that God had made a mistake in putting St. Peter and his successors in charge. Rather, he hoped to refocus the Church ― not to change dogma and authority.

This is not something that can be generously glossed over as their previous genocide of Catholics on multiple continents or even the desecration of our holiest places over the past 500 years. The trillions of Protestant lies about Catholics are as naught in comparison to this blasphemy.

To suggest that God was somehow mistaken in anything he does is scurrilous impiety and profane heresy.

Luther’s “Ecce ego sto!” (Here I stand) sounds more and more like Lucifer’s “Non serviam!” (We will not serve).

Restorationism is anathema. God makes no mistakes (Ps 19:7-10). He doesn’t mumble or backpeddle like Allah (Ps 12:6-7). He’s not confused or addlebrained (Neh 9:6). He needs no assistance from anyone or anything (Col 1:6). His decisions are final and perfect in their love and justice (Prov 16:10). He doesn’t need to explain himself (Rom 1:20). He accepts no counsel (Ps 33:11).

When God bestowed stewardship upon Peter and his successors, God didn’t mean “well … you can be in charge until people in the sixteenth century come to know better.”

Restorationism is beyond comprehension. God isn’t imperfect and thus, anyone who worships an imperfect God isn’t worshiping the Trinity (Ps 18:30).

Muslims also celebrate a restorationism of sorts in that they believe Islam is what Allah always had in mind but was simply not sure how to implement it successfully until the advent of Mohammad. They believe that both Jews and Christians have become corrupted along with their sacred scriptures, which are “untrustworthy” due to Allah’s machinations. And that only they have a perfect and complete understanding of God’s “true plan.” Sound familiar?

But if this is true, as in the case of Protestantism, then how did God’s message get garbled in the first place? Wouldn’t God have known his message was going to get hinky? If he’s omniscient and omnicompetent he would. A lesser god would easily fall into this error.

How was he so foolish in trusting the wrong people initially? How could mere mortals come to realize something that he couldn’t (Job 38:1-41:34)?

But, more importantly, how can we ever trust this imperfect deity now that new messengers, none of whom are divine, have come along? Perhaps this deity is confused once again. It’s a slippery slope and one that is easily proven wrong.

I don’t see a difference in what these Christian restorationists believe and that which Islamic restorationists proffer. It’s not odd that Protestants had received Muslim financial, political and ideological support 500 years ago birds of a feather, as it were.

But the main reason I condemn restorationism is that it’s a non-starter. If someone believes in evil grand conspiracy theories, they make themselves out to be the hero/champion that God has been looking for. It’s up to them and no one else! They are the thin holy line that separates Order and Chaos ― between Heaven and Hell. And as they are assured of their sanctified state, anything and everything they think, say and do is acceptable. After all, this is what “God wanted” all along…

Here is a George Weigel essay I inexplicably missed at the time....

Which Reformation? What reform?
In reality, there were multiple, contending reformations
in play in the first centuries of modernity

by George Weigel

October 25, 2017

Despite the formulation you’ll hear before and after the October 31 quincentenary of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, there was no single “Reformation” to which the Catholic “Counter-Reformation” was the similarly univocal response.

Rather, as Yale historian Carlos Eire shows in his eminently readable and magisterial work Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450–1650, there were multiple, contending reformations in play in the first centuries of modernity.

- There was the reformation of European intellectual life led by humanists steeped in the Greek and Roman classics: men like the Dutchman Erasmus (whose scholarship deeply influenced those who would become known as “Protestants” but who never broke with Rome) and Thomas More (who urged Erasmus to deepen his knowledge of Greek, the Church fathers, and the New Testament in its original language).
- There were at least four major flavors of “Protestant” reformation— Lutheran, Zwinglian, Radical, and Calvinist — and plenty of subdivisions within those categories.
- There were impressive pre-Luther Catholic reformers like the archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros.
- There were Catholic reformers who left a mixed legacy: the French educator Guillaume Budé, for example, influenced both the Protestant reformer John Calvin and the Catholic reformer Ignatius Loyola.
- There was the failed Catholic reform mandated by the Fifth Lateran Council but never implemented by Pope Leo X (the first and last pontiff to keep an albino elephant as a pet).
- And there were the Catholic reformers, of various theological and pastoral dispositions, who shaped the teaching of the Council of Trent and then vigorously implemented its reforms.
[Inexplicably, the above list omits the English Reformation launched by Henry VIII's schism from the Church when she would not allow him an adulterous marriage.]

There were, in short, multiple Reformations. Their sometimes-violent interaction created much of what became the modern world, for good and for ill.

The bad bits are the concern of Notre Dame’s Brad Gregory in The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society, a book aptly described by one reviewer as “brilliant, extraordinarily learned, eccentric, opinionated, variously wrong-headed, and utterly wonderful.”

In Gregory’s argument, among the things “The Reformation” — in this case, the various Protestant Reformations — bequeathed the modern world were hyper-individualism, suspicion of all authority, moral subjectivism and relativism, skepticism about the truth of anything, the banishment of religious thought from western academic life, and the reduction of all true knowledge to what we can know from science.

That’s a broad indictment, to be sure. But amidst Gregory’s dense prose and complex presentation, serious readers will get a glimpse of how bad ideas — such as the mistaken notion of God as a willful (if infinite) being-among-other-beings — can play themselves out in history with devastating results.

The 500th anniversary of one of the emblematic acts in this cultural tsunami of Reformations should lead to a deepening of ecumenical dialogue about what these many early modern reformers wrought — and not just for the world, but primarily for the Church. That deepened conversation would do well to focus on what makes for authentic “reform” in the Church.

In the Fall issue of Plough, the quarterly of the Bruderhof Community, I propose that all authentic reform in the Church must begin from a recovery of some part of the Church’s essential “form” or constitution (in the British sense), which was given to the Church by Christ.

True ecclesial reform is thus always re-form. It is not something we make up by our own cleverness. It does not mean surrender to the spirit of the age. It does not involve substituting our judgment for God’s revelation. True Christian reform always involves bringing into the present something the Church has laid aside or misplaced, and making that Christ-given something into an instrument of renewal.

And how, on this quincentenary of the Ninety-Five Theses, should we measure the authenticity of renewal? The evangelical criterion seems decisive here.

If the reform and renewal in question really does restore to the Church something of its Christ-given “form,” then the results will be evident evangelically — in an increased harvest of souls who have come to know the Lord Jesus, who walk in his Way, and who share the gift they have been given with others, thereby healing a broken and often death-dealing culture.

By the same criterion, empty churches, flaccid evangelization, and surrender to the prevailing cultural mores signal false reform and failed renewal, which can be dressed up in either romantic-nostalgic or progressive livery.
00Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:16 AM

'Lupi rapaces'

10 November 2017

The first antiphon which we say or sing tomorrow at Lauds for S Martin of Tours shows his disciples asking him not to desert them because Rapacious Wolves will invade his flock. (I wonder why that antiphon went missing from the [Novus Ordo] Liturgia Horarum.)

Rapacious Wolves are always around. Look at (via a Concordance) the New Testament. Look at (via its index) what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Scandal and those who cause it. (A lady wolf was involved in the very Foundation of Rome, and the Romans sometimes referred to Professional Ladies as Wolfesses.)

Wolves were around at the very beginning of the Pontificate of our beloved Holy Father Benedict XVI. In the homily at his inauguration, he asked us to pray for him "that I may not flee for fear of the wolves".

I believe St Thomas talks somewhere about Wolves being demons; or tyrants; or heresiarchs. Is it true that the Patron of the Diocese of St Gallen is a St Lupus, or did my ungoverned sense of fantasy just make that up?

Englishmen will recollect a diverting frivolity in rebus lupinis (in matters lupine). We once had a politician called Sir Geoffrey Howe; quiet and very unnasty. So much so that his despisers said that being attacked by him was "like being savaged by a dead sheep". Eventually, even he discovered that he could take no more of Mrs Thatcher, and decided to resign. People ... and not least Mrs T ... assumed that his resignation speech would be characteristically anodyne. Not so. The House of Commons became quiet enough for that proverbially cadent pin as he tore savagely into her personality and her politics ... but still in the same mildest tones.

Not long after, he was ennobled, and went, as one does, to Queen Victoria Street to consult the Heralds about a Coat of Arms. In consultation with them he settled upon his design, which was granted. The Crest (the Crest of a Coat of Arms is the bit on top of the helmet which itself rests above the shield) which he received was ... a Wolf courant imperfectly concealed within a rather tatty sheepskin. I bet you Americans wish you had a House of Commons, a House of Lords, and a College of Heralds.

Wolves are always around; they're nothing new in the life of the Church. Perhaps some keen young Catholic academic would like to write a doctoral dissertation De Lupitate. She could bring her narrative right down to the present day. [Why the female pronoun, Fr H?]

I hope her sleep will not be disturbed by the howls.

Marco Tosatti has two new tales that attest to how in the Church today, the most rapacious wolves are to be found among the shepherds...

Sicilian priest incurs 'double excommunication'
for refusing to make a publid declaration
of fidelity to the reigning pope

November 10, 2017

Today don Alessandro Minutella is being excommunicated. The Sicilian priest announced it himself speaking last night on Radio Domina Nostra, a religious broadcaster in Sicily. (The video may be seen here:

For the past several months, the priest, who has been very explicit in his criticisms of some decisions by the pope and the Vatican, was particularly very critical of the ambiguities contained in Amoris laetitis, for which his bishop removed him from his parish and obliged him to silence. A measure he put up with for nine months, but last night, he decided to speak up again. Here is some of what he said:

Following my recourse to the Congregation of the Clergy [he shortens this to Conclero] after writing my bishop n Sept 21, in which I professed each and everyone of the truths of the Catholic faith, including bowing to the will and intellect of the Roman Pontiff, the Prefect informed me that my recourse would be suspended [??? not acted on?] until December 8, but that meanwhile, I must make a public declaration of fidelity to Pope Francis on all the neteworks. I asked myself what would have prompted this singular request. In any case, having already said in my previous letter that I bow to the intellect and will of the Roman Pontiff, I did not think it necessary to comply with the ‘request’.

Where, I asked myself, could this unusual request have originated? In any case, today, I was called to the diocessan curia by my bishop, who, after long months of hiding from me, handed me a letter which says that if I do not carry out a public act of fidelity to the pope, I would be excommunicated with two solemn anathemas

I found myself almost smiling, thinking that after all, this ‘church’ has already virtually rescinded Luther’s excommunication, and so, I too can hope, can’t I? I reminded the bishop that in my letter to him, which I copy furnished the Conclero, I had reiterated my obedience to the Roman Pontiff.

This is either a case of schizophrenia or a true and proper blackmail. So I ask myself and all of you – Is the Roman Pontiff not Pope Francis? Or is it that, now, the Roman Pontiff is someone other than Pope Francis? Because if they are one and the same, then I do not understand how the bishop should move into the direction of a double excommunication. [What does a double excommunicationmean exactly?] So there must be something else behind all this.

But pay attention because what is at stake here is the good of the Church herself. Because if the distinction is merely nominal between the Roman Pontiff and Pope Francis, I did make my statement of obeisance in writing. But now they will not listen to me, so what was the purpose for my nine months of obedience? But I will not accommodate them with a hypocritical act, which would not be one of obedience, but of supine subjection and submission because, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, the virtue of obedience is subject to the rule of justice, and that if justice is not the cardinal virtue that determines obedience, then obedience itself is no longer a virtue but would become subjection.

As a priest and as a baptized person profoundly enamoured with Christ and his Church which is now experiencing a Calvary, I say this: It is I who now humbly ask that the Roman Pontiff clarify what he really thinks about communion for remarried divorcees. Because he has created a climate of confusion for which he is principally responsible.

And what about the salvation of souls? Now is the time for true Catholics who do not wish to hide behind a windbreak, to come out. Now is the time. And I strongly address an appeal to our cardinals, excellencies, and brother priests, at a time of immense confusion for the Church: If we do not speak out, then we shall be leading an immense number of souls to hell, and we too shall merit eternal damnation.

I kept silent for nine months, yet starting tomorrow, I shall be twice excommunicated. And all I can say is – we must obey God first before men. And the condemnation I have received is not valid – but I consider them medals of honor…

This false church is going full stem ahead with its abuse of power, putting fear into others, of which I would be an example, so that any priest who may wish to speak out shall be careful not to do so, or be ‘reduced’ as they have done to don Minutella. Because I refuse to make public obeisance specifically to Pope Francis – not just to the Roman Pontiff – I have been doubly excommunicated. This has not happened before. It is an action that one expects of totalitarian regimes, not of the Catholic Church!”

There is no doubt that the action taken by the Vatican, especially by the Prefect of Conclero, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, and shared by Mons. Corrado Lorefice, is extremely severe. Don Minutella has not been the first priest to criticize decisions made in the Church. Even in Italy. But for other dissenters, the Church had always practiced patience and tolerance.

For all its hyperbole, I like the way this reader, reacting to don Minutella's video, describes what he thinks Bergoglio is. Except for the anti-pope part (because he was elected, after all, and no claims disputing the legitimacy of his election will make any difference), his description does approach the 'truth' about this pope, insofar as his increasingly anti-Catholic actions and statements have so far revealed.

Timotheos Petros
5 hours ago
Dear Mr Minutella,
Jorge Bergoglio is not a misguided Catholic, he is a freemason, an antipope, a sworn enemy of Jesus Christ and His Church. He is the high-priest of the judeo-masonic Vatican II sect, the counterfeit Catholic Church prophesied in the Scriptures. By the merciful grace of Almighty God, you are already beginning to see through this wicked deception. Keep going...

A Catholic association appeals to the cardinals:
It is time for a canonical correction of Pope Francis

November 9, 2017

Veri Catholici, an international association born in 2015 with the goal of preserving the eternal faith taught by our Lord Jesus Christ and transmitted by the Catholic Church through the centuries, and which has been very active in the social networks with a platform that publishes in 10 languages, is the protagonist today of a major initiative.

The association has bought advertising space in one of the Italian national newspapes in order to launch an appeal addressed to the cardinals and bishops of the Church as well as directly to the people of Rome.

After a lengthy introduction, the appeal comes to its central point: “Based on this, we appeal to the faithful of the Church of Rome to formally ask the cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church to canonically reprove Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to judge whether his election was valid – namely, was he even Catholic at the time he was elected pope – or whether he is in schism with the Catholic Church, out of odium for Christ, for his teaching, for the Eucharist, etc., and whether he is no longer in communion with the Church because he has been plotting to subvert her and/or pertinaciously, publicly, manifestly and habitually denies or attacks a truth revealed by God, especially about the indissolubility of marriage and the impossibility of giving communion to public sinners”. [As critical as I am of Bergoglio's persona and his acts as pope, I find this bill of charges particularly rash and harsh for a public manifesto. But obviously, this is how extreme the association believes their initiative has to be.]

Once more therefore, the crux of the protest is Amoris Laetitia with all the polemics it has generated since it was published last year and which shows no sign of dying out – indeed, it seems to generate ever new polemical debates, despite all the efforts by those closest to the actual governance of the Church to “soothe and cut off… cut off and soothe”. [“Sopire, troncare (…) troncare, sopire” is a famous quote from Alessandro Manzoni’s great masterpiece I Promessi Sposi]

As in ancient times, the manifesto is addressed to the Roman people:

“In the wicked times we live in, when the clergy has replaced the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the documents of Vatican-II, and now seek to prostitute his teaching on matrimony, family, and sacramental discipline for public sinners, with the perverse godless morality of adulterers, fornicators asnd sodomites, it is necessary for the salvation of the Church and the liberation of ecclesial authority that the faithful of the Church of Rome should act and no longer remain silent.”

The historical reference to the dark times the Church has gone through in the past is evident in this statement:

“As Romans of old have done many times and on different occasions, when they expelled anti-popes and false preteners to the apostolic throne, so too do the fiathul of the icity of Rome today have the solemn duty and right to act” by signing this appeal online and displaying on their windows a papal banner turned upside down."

00Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:24 PM

Sor Leonella with Pope John Paul II.

Italian nun killed in Somalia in the backlash over
the Regensburg lecture has been declared a martyr

Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address declared martyr
by David V Barrett

Friday, 10 Nov 2017

Pope Francis has formally recognised the martyrdom of an Italian Consolata sister murdered in Somalia in 2006.

Consolata Sister Leonella Sgorbati and her bodyguard were gunned down as they left the children’s hospital where she worked in Mogadishu. Their deaths in September 2006 came amid rising tensions in the Muslim world over a speech that Pope Benedict XVI had given in Regensburg, Germany, quoting a Christian emperor’s criticism of Islam.

Most Islamic leaders in Somalia condemned the killing, emphasizing that Sister Sgorbati was dedicating her efforts to the Somali people. She was 65 at the time, had worked in Africa for 35 years and had been in Somalia since 2001.

Rosa Maria Sgorbati was born in 1940. She joined the Consolata Mission Sisters in 1963 and made her perpetual profession of vows in 1972, taking the name Leonella.

Following a nursing course in England, she was sent to Kenya in 1970. In 1985 she became the principal tutor at the school of nursing in Meru in eastern Kenya. In 1993 she was elected regional superior of her order, a position she held until 1999.

In 2001 she spent some months in Mogadishu in Somalia, returning in 2002 to set up a nursing school there.

On September 17 2006, four days after returning to Mogadishu from a holiday in Italy, she and her guard were gunned down as she crossed the road from the children’s hospital to the nurses’ accommodation. Her final words were “I forgive; I forgive; I forgive.”

No reason was given for her killing, but it is believed to have been a reaction to Pope Benedict’s words in Regensburg. Two days before her death the hardline cleric Sheikh Abubakar Hassan Malin told worshippers at his mosque to hunt and kill all those who offended Mohammed.

Somalian officials said there would be justice for Sister Leonella’s murder, and two suspects were later arrested.

In August 2013 Sister Leonella was granted the title Servant of God. Pope Francis has now recognised that she was killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith); her beatification is expected to take place in 2018.

[It must be a first that reaction tot a pope's speech - actually, to a widespread, rash and unfounded inerpretation of one passage in the speech - has led to a genuine martyrdom.]

Pope Francis also formally recognised the martyrdom of a 25-year-old priest in Hungary in 1957. Born in 1931 Fr Janos Brenner had been a Cistercian novice, but when the communist government banned religious orders in 1950 he entered a diocesan seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1955.

In December 1957 he received a late-night call to visit a sick person. On the path outside the village, he was stabbed 32 times and died before a doctor could arrive. Although it was never proven, it was believed that communist officials, who did not like his ministry with young people, were ultimately responsible for his death.
00Sunday, November 12, 2017 3:17 AM

New tales for the Clerical Bestiary
Translated from

November 11, 2017

The problem with compiling thisClerical Bestiary is that there are too many ‘current events’ hooks [mostly crooks] during the week to report to the readers of this blog.


We start with a tweet from Rorate caeli which notes and criticizes a comment from the Twitter site Pope_News which featured a photograph of Benedict XVade publicI with Mons. Rudolf Voderholzerof Regensburg with the text: “Benedict receives Bishop Voderholzer and a delegation from Regensburg on Monday, Nov. 6. For someone ‘hidden from the world’, there are lots of photo-ops”. [I think the tweeter meant ‘too many photos made public’, because it is not as if B16 were hunting down photo-ops (opportunities)! It was meant to be snide, of course. As if B16 could censor what his visitors wish to do with the photos they take at Mater Ecclesiae. ]

To which Rorate caeli tweeted the comment: “This odium for Pope Benedict on the past of an account called ‘PopeNews’ is truly bizarre. There’s no need to deride Benedict XVI to protect Francis.”
[Twitter, like texting, is forcibly hastening the death of grammar, spelling and logic, not to mention common civility. Both tweets cited above are logic-deficient. The Rorate tweet, because deriding Benedict in this case was not at all meant ‘to protect Francis’ – but simply to deride Benedict. How does deriding Benedict protect Francis in any way?]


This has to do with Mons. Perego, new bishop of Ferrara, and the movement called Il Popolo della Famiglia (PdF). As the name indicates, their cause is the family, which should be among the themes taken to heart by the Church. [But in a serious non-misleading way, though, not using ‘family’ to justify two synods intended to relax sacramental discipline regarding matrimony, penance and communion.] Or, at least, that’s how it used to be.

A parish priet in the diocese had hosted a meeting in his parish with representatives of the Popolo. Which earned him a formal and official decree of reproval from Bishop Perego.

[It’s hard to read the decree because I am unable to enhance any enlargement of the 3-inch photo available, but the priest is cited for having “disobeyed the general decree issued by Perego last October 9 prohibiting the use of any church property for political ends”.]

The Popolo did not remain quiet. Here is part of their reaction: “Perego wishes to be a bishop-pilot who indulges in politics and considers the Popolo della Famiglia as a political adversary that must be denied freedom of expression. ‘Welcoming’ is Perego’s most beloved word, but for everyone except the PdF. He certainly does not like our group, and seems obsessed by his need to ‘de-negrisize’ his diocese [rid all traces of his predecessor bishop, Mons Luigi Negri, perhaps the staunchest of the few ‘conservative’ bishops of Italy].

"Unlike Mons. Negri, Perego wishes to ingratiate himself with the political party that dominates his diocese: he has explicitly championed the ius soli proposal and has put pressure on members of the Italian Parliament to approve it into law soon, just as in his nine years leading the foundation called Migrantes, he was always propagandizing for indiscriminate immigration and his distorted idea of ‘welcoming’.

"As sons of the Church, we are ready to fight for our right to have space to act in the public sphere, and to defend the courageous priests who welcome us because they believe that our cause offers witness to the truth, even if that truth is inconvenient to many.”

PdF founder and president Marino Adinolfi said “it is not right to close the doors to us – for years, we have spoken in parish halls throughout Italy – whereas churches themselves are made available for the likes of Renzi [former prime minister and head of the Partita Democrata) and Emma Bonino [veteran political Valkyrie for the left and her Italian Radical Party], who supported the Cirinna law [which allowed same-sex marriage in Italy] and the law facilitating euthanasia.”

Indeed, we have seen photos of Renzi campaigning in church, of Bonino, patroness of abortions, pushing her radical causes inside churches, and recently, of Italian Senate President Grasso making a book presentation inside a Church. And there’s Laura Boldrini, head of the Chamber of Deputies, at a social event inside a Church.

Should we expect a series of decrees against parish priests who allowed such secular use of churches [which are consecrated spaces not intended for secular use]? But no, the church blasphemers all happen to have the right political affiliation [namely radically, Bergoglically left].


In the United States, the Archbishop of Chicago, Blaise Cupich, is a most generous contributor to our Bestuary.

As you see in his tweet below, speaking to the Catholic Theological Union in the USA, he called on them that to exercise ‘discernment’, a term dear to the pope, means we should be ready “to abandon our dearest-held convictions of faith”. The tweeter who passed this on commented.

Cupich again, this time criticized by Ignatius insight, for the statement he issued after the Texas church massacre last Sunday.

As the statement is too hard to read on an un-enhanced blow-up, I took a screenshot of the statement from the Chicago diocesan site and super-imposed it on the tweet’s own screenshot.

What does Cupich write about instead? Gun control, state control over mentally ill persons, and other things that are certainly relevant. To a politician, not to a man of the Church.

Bad news comes in threes. The same Cupich two days ago had lavish praise for James Martin, SJ, leading paladin for LGBT causes, and the controversial author of a controversial book. “He is really one of the principal evangelizers in the Church today, if not the principal evangelizer,” said Cupich of Martin in an address at the University of Chicago, “especially of young people”.

Martin openly demands that the Church change its teaching on homosexuality and homosexual acts. And Cupich says, “I appreciate what he is doing. I think he has a wonderful message, and I appreciate the way he brings his message to others”.


Back in Italy, a Catholic writer from Maruggio, Pierfranco Bruni, laments that he was cancelled out of a debate – for which posters had already been made – in the presence of the Vatican’s new prefect for communications, Mons. Dario Vigano, because he has been critical of present Church policies.

Left, original poster includes the name of Pierfranco Bruni; the replacement poster does not.

The local paper, La Voce di Maruggio, carried Bruni’s protest, from which we cite the ff:

“The church of Bergoglio purges in the name of lying, of feigning false dialog. An act of the Inquisition took place yesterday, Oct. 27, in Grottaglie, in the presence of Mons. Vigano. The sponsors of the discussion [the Padri Minimi, or Order of Minims founded by St Francis di Paola in the 15th century, of Grottaglie] were apparently ordered not to use me as moderator as originally planned. It seems the order came directly from the Vatican. Why? Simply because my positions are not in line with Bergoglian relativism. And so a face-to-face between me and Vigano was not welcome. It appears that a free voice is a nuisance. That is why I was not in Grottaglie on Oct. 27. The posters announcing the event were even replaced, although all the news reports announcing it carried my name.”


In we read a story that in other times would be incredible. Namely, why is a priest who uses Facebook to lead in praying the rosary repeatedly blocked on Facebook? For no reason, Facebook blocked the profile of don Mirco Bianchi, who has attracted a boom of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ with his initiative leading the praying of the rosary at noon and at midnight, even as he has been protested by many anti-clericals and Islamic extremists. [So they have now adopted theidiotic Bergoglian view that praying the rosary as the Poles did last October 8 is somehow anti-Islam???]

But the 43-year-old parish priest of Villamarina-Gatteo Mare in the province of Forli-Cesena, east central Italy, says he cannot lead the prayers online anymore because Facebook has cancelled his ‘sharing’ privileges. “A million hits in a very short time – and now I cannot share.”

On criticism that he should do his praying in church, he says, «My mission on Facebook has two reasons. First of all, it has become one of the major channels for world communication, especially for those of the dominant thought today that is anti-Catholic.” He says he spends enough time with his church and parish duties and at the confessional, but what is wrong with spreading prayer?”


00Sunday, November 12, 2017 5:16 AM

God’s judgment, Hell, Paradise, purgatory:
Lessons from John Paul II and Benedict XVI
are most relevant today

Translated from

November 11, 2017

Today, November 11, the Church remembers a great saint, Martin of Tours (316-397), familiar to most perhaps by an act which has been depicted in many paintings: Martin, who was Roman soldier serving in France, while on patrol one day saw a near-naked beggar freezing in the cold at one of the city gates of Amiens, whereupon he tore up his own cloak in half to clothe the poor man. The sky cleared, the temperature became more bearable, and that night, Martin had a dream: Jesus, wrapped in the half of the cloak he had given the beggar, was returning it to him. And the next day, Martin found his cloak intact once more.

Martin, who was 18 years old at the time and was preparing to be baptized, thus carried out an act which has become very central in Christian iconography. (Martin is venerated as a saint not just by Catholics but also by the Orthodox and Copts.) He entered popular culture in the expression ‘St. Martin’s summer’ (a brief warm spell at the start of November after the initial winter chill has set in), and he would have important consequences even in the language of the Church.

The Latin word for cloak or mantle is cappa. The short mantle of the Roman soldiers was called a cappella, which also became the name not just for the place where the Merovingian kings kept Martin’s miraculous cloak but, by extension, for all places of prayer in which relics are kept, under the custody of chaplains (in Italian, cappellani).

In Tours, when he visited on the occasion of the 16th centenary of St. Martin’s death, John Paul II said:

St Martin of Tours is an important witness to evangelical charity. Every year, on the 11th of November, liturgy reminds us of his noble figure, of his life and the wonders that God realized in him. These events have become symbolic, so to speak – linked to this saint, who was first a soldier and then a bishop, they are known throughout the Church…

We all know the famous event in his life when, as a young soldier, he encountered a beggar, almost naked and trembling from the cold. Martin took his cloak, divided it in half, and covered the beggar with it. It is exactly what the Gospel from Matthew that we heard just now said: “I was naked and you clothed me” (Mt 25,36). At the last judgment, Jesus will say this to those he will point to his right, those who were good in life, and they will ask, “Lord, when did we see you naked and clothed you?” (Mt 25,38). And Christ will say to them: “Verily I say unto you, every time you did these things for the least of my brothers, you did it for me” (Mt 25,40).
One must highlight what John Paul II then said about the last judgment:
In giving half of his cloak to the poor man of Amiens, Martin translated into a concrete act the words of Jesus which announced the last judgment: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.(Mt 25, 31-33). He will say to those on his right: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. (Mt 25,34).

Contemplating the life of St. Martin, and above all his ardor in showing love for his neighbor, the Church quickly concluded that the Bishop of Tours will surely be found among the elect.

Yet today, to speak of divine justice seems to have become obsolete. We are no longer used to it. Papa Wojtyla confronted us not just with the question of Christian consistency but also of the judgment that the Father shall render about us, a judgment that is necessary to validate our freedom of choice.

Starting with Martin of Tours, we arrived at John Paul II’s meditation on divine justice. Words that in turn link directly to an answer that Benedict XVI made spontaneously but with admirable lucidity, addressing the parish priests of Rome.

It was February of 2008 at the Hall of Benedictions in St. Peter’s Basilica. Papa Ratzinger was holding the traditional meeting of the pope with the parish priests of his diocese at the start of Lent, and was responding to their questions.

One priest denounced the increasingly widespread attitude on the part of Catholic priests to keep silent about the Last Things – death, the last judgment, hell and paradise – pointing out that “In the catechisms of the Italian bishops conference that are used to teach the faith to our young people, hell is never mentioned, purgatory is never mentioned, Paradise once, sin only once, and it was to refer to Original Sin. If these essential parts of our faith are left out, does it not seem to collapse the meaning of Christ’s redemption?”

Here is what Benedict XVI answered:

You correctly spoke of the fundamental themes of the faith which unfortunately rarely appear in our preaching. In the encyclical Spe Salvi I wanted to speak precisely about the Last Judgement, judgement in general, and in this context also about Purgatory, Hell and Heaven.

I think we have all been struck by the Marxist objection that Christians have only spoken of the afterlife and have ignored the earth. Thus, we demonstrate that we are truly committed to our earth and are not people who talk about distant realties, who do not help the earth.

Now, although it is right to show that Christians work for the earth - and we are all called to work to make this earth really a city for God and of God - we must not forget the other dimension. Unless we take it into account, we cannot work well for the earth: to show this was one of my fundamental purposes in writing the Encyclical.

When one does not know the judgement of God one does not know the possibility of Hell, of the radical and definitive failure of life, one does not know the possibility of and need for purification. Man then fails to work well for the earth because he ultimately loses his criteria, he no longer knows himself - through not knowing God - and destroys the earth.

All the great ideologies have promised: we will take things in hand, we will no longer neglect the earth, we will create a new, just, correct and brotherly world. But they destroyed the world instead. We see it with Nazism, we also see it with Communism which promised to build the world as it was supposed to be and instead destroyed it.

In the ad limina visits of Bishops from former Communist countries, I always see anew that in those lands, not only the planet and ecology, but above all and more seriously, souls have been destroyed. Rediscovering the truly human conscience illuminated by God's presence is our first task for the re-edification of the earth. This is the common experience of those countries. The re-edification of the earth, while respecting this planet's cry of suffering, can only be achieved by rediscovering God in the soul with the eyes open to God.

You are therefore right: we must speak of all this precisely because of our responsibility to the earth, to the people who are alive today. We must also speak of sin itself as the possibility of destroying ourselves, hence, also other parts of the world.

In the Encyclical I tried to show that it is God's Last Judgement that guarantees justice. We all want a just world. Yet we cannot atone for all the destruction of the past, all the people unjustly tortured and killed. God alone can create justice, which must be justice for all, even for the dead, and as the great Marxist Adorno said, only the resurrection of the body, which he claimed as unreal, would be able to create justice. We believe in this resurrection of the body in which not all will be equal.

Today people have become used to thinking: what is sin? God is great, he knows us, so sin does not count; in the end God will be kind to us all. It is a beautiful hope. But both justice and true guilt exist. Those who have destroyed man and the earth cannot suddenly sit down at God's table together with their victims. God creates justice. We must keep this in mind.

Therefore, I felt it was important to write this text also about Purgatory, which for me is an obvious truth, so evident and also so necessary and comforting that it could not be absent. I tried to say: perhaps those who have destroyed themselves in this way, who are forever unredeemable, who no longer possess any elements on which God's love can rest, who no longer have a minimal capacity for loving, may not be so numerous. This would be Hell.

On the other hand, those who are so pure that they can enter immediately into God's communion are undoubtedly few - or at any rate not many. A great many of us hope that there is something in us that can be saved, that there may be in us a final desire to serve God and serve human beings, to live in accordance with God. Yet there are so very many wounds, there is so much filth. We need to be prepared, to be purified.

This is our hope: even with so much dirt in our souls, in the end the Lord will give us the possibility, he will wash us at last with his goodness that comes from his Cross. In this way he makes us capable of being for him in eternity. And thus Heaven is hope, it is justice brought about at last.

He also gives us criteria by which to live, so that this time may be in some way paradise, a first gleam of paradise. Where people live according to these criteria, a hint of paradise appears in the world and is visible.

It also seems to me to be a demonstration of the truth of faith, of the need to follow the road of the Commandments, of which we must speak further. These really are road signs on our way and show us how to live well, how to choose life.

Therefore, we must also speak of sin and of the sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation. A sincere person knows that he is guilty, that he must start again, that he must be purified. And this is the marvellous reality which the Lord offers us: there is a chance of renewal, of being new. The Lord starts with us again and in this way we can also start again with the others in our life. This aspect of renewal, of the restitution of our being after so many errors, so many sins, is the great promise, the great gift the Church offers but which psychotherapy, for example, cannot offer.

Today, in the face of so many destroyed or seriously injured psyches, psychotherapy is so widespread and also necessary. Yet the possibilities of psychotherapy are very limited: it can only make some sort of effort to restore balance to an unbalanced soul but cannot provide true renewal, the overcoming of these serious diseases of the soul. It is therefore always temporary and never definitive.

The Sacrament of Penance gives us the opportunity to be renewed through and through with God's power - ego te absolvo -, which is possible because Christ took these sins, this guilt, upon himself. I think there is a great need of this especially today. We can be healed.

Souls that are wounded and ill, as everyone knows by experience, not only need advice but true renewal, which can only come from God's power, from the power of Crucified Love. I feel this is the important connection of the mysteries which in the end truly affect our lives. We must recover them ourselves and so bring them once again within our people's reach.

FromPapa Ratzinger, we have this first blinding reflection: “When one does not know the judgement of God one does not know the possibility of Hell, of the radical and definitive failure of life, one does not know the possibility of and need for purification.” Because of this ignorance, or indifference, we cannot become better servants of others. Indeed, if one does not know God, if one ignores divine justice, one cannot know man, we cannot know ourselves, and failing that, we destroy ourselves.

Benedict XVI makes a link between the reticence of men of the Church today about the Last Tnings, and the Marxist-originated objection that the believer, by concerning himself with divine justice and the afterlife, detaches himself from reality. But the pope explains that the believer, who, by ignoring the Last Things goes into the world to prove that his mind and heart are not in a remote and ultimately futile dimension, does not realize that by doing so, ‘he loses the criteria for living’ and ends up being subject to the world.

He recalls the ad limina visits of bishops from countries which used to be Communist, and says it is clear that during the years of oppression and state atheism, not just natural resources were destroyed but also souls. And so, it becomes more obvious how important it is to “rediscover a truly human conscience”, one that is “illuminated by the presence of God”.

In short, believers put themselves genuinely in the service of their brothers and of the earth, not by following the world, nor by adhering to the latest environmental fad, but by re-proposing God and ‘finding God in our soul”.

Acknowledging how right the priest was in his question, he said that the Church should speak of the Last Things out of “responsibility to the earth and to the people who live on it”. But above all, that we must speak of sin as ‘the possibility of destroying ourselves’ and therefore, other parts of our world.

God’s judgment alone can guarantee justice, he says, reaffirming our faith the resurrection of the body at which time, not all will be equal. These are considerations that are ‘most incorrect’ , but they are increasingly valuable now when, especially in what is considered pastoral, the Church is going in a different direction.

Paradise is justice done. It is not amnesty. Being aware of this gives us the criteria for how we must live on earth, seeking thereby to find on earth a bit of the light of Paradise. Which leads Benedict XVI to the importance of the sacrament of Penance and the possibility it offers for renewal – unlike psychotherapy which can only seek to restore some balance to a troubled mind but cannot give true renewal that overcomes the maladies of the soul.

He concludes by saying that “The Sacrament of Penance gives us the opportunity to be renewed through and through with God's power… Souls that are wounded and ill, as everyone knows by experience, not only need advice but true renewal, which can only come from God's power, from the power of Crucified Love. I feel this is the important connection of the mysteries which in the end truly affect our lives. We must recover them ourselves and so bring them once again within our people's reach.”

On the feast of St. Martin of Tours, let us meditate on the words of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

[This column would have been equally appropriate for All Souls’ DaY... And I do applaud Valli for his strategy - since he woke up to the sad reality that the reigning pope represents for the Church and for the faith - to take every occasion to highlight what other popes have said, especially Benedict XVI, about the things this pope should be saying but isn't doing so.]

P.S. Here's an unexpected 'addendum' of sorts to the above...

Why John Paul and Benedict say
'Start your purgatory today'

Is purgatory a faraway place? Or does it begin here and now?

by Judy Landrieu Klein
November 04, 2017

God is a consuming Fire. He alone can refine us like gold, and separate us from the slag and dross of our selfish individualities to fuse us into this wholeness of perfect unity that will reflect His own Triune Life forever.
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

While the month of November brings to the fore the awareness of the holy souls in purgatory, it also begets an important question: Is purgatory a faraway “place” or is it a state of existence all of us are called to, starting now?

St. John Paul II created a bit of a firestorm during a papal audience in 1999 when he stated during a catechesis on the Last Things, “Purgatory … is not a place, but a condition of existence.”

He continued, “Those who, after death, exist in a state of purification, are already in the love of Christ who removes from them the remnants of imperfection.” (General Audience, July 21, 1999)

Earlier, in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II had written:

The “living flame of love,” of which St. John (of the Cross) speaks, is above all, a purifying fire. The mystical nights described by this great doctor of the church on the basis of his own experience correspond, in a certain sense, to purgatory.

God makes man pass through such an interior purgatory of his sensual and spiritual nature in order to bring him into union with Himself. Here we do not find ourselves before a mere tribunal.

We present ourselves before the power of Love itself … It is Love that demands purification, before man can be made ready for that union with God which is his ultimate vocation and destiny. (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 186-187)

The Bible is replete with images that portray God’s love as fire, with a key theme being that the fire of God’s love burns that which it touches without destroying it (Ex 3:2, Heb 12:28). Pope Benedict XVI explained this concept pointedly in the following words:

Jesus sets fire to the earth. Whoever comes close to Jesus, accordingly, must be prepared to be burned …It burns, yet this is not a destructive fire but one that makes things bright and pure and free and grand. Being a Christian, then, is daring to entrust oneself to this burning fire. (God and the World, 222)

It could thus be said that purgation is the experience wherein one is immersed in the fire of the love of God, with the effect being that whatever is not of God, i.e., everything within us that is incongruent with his love, is burned away.

As Catholics, we may readily accept that such purgation will happen to us after death. But what we don’t often consider is that the same love we will encounter after death is meant to cleanse us even now, while we are still alive. In fact, the degree to which we allow the fire of God’s love to purify us in this life will determine how much purgation we will need in the next!

So bring on the fire, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. Because purification involves the pain of suffering and death, most of us try our darnedest to avoid it.

What within us, exactly, must be purified unto death as we draw near to Christ? While St. Paul called it “the flesh,” Trappist monk Thomas Merton named it the “false self,” which he said is the illusory persona projected by the human ego that “wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love … the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires.” (New Seeds of Contemplation, 35)

This is the self that finds its identity in pleasure, popularity, power, posturing and pride instead of authentic love; the self constructed by the ego that gives us an identity of our own making instead of the identity that God invites us to discover only through love of him. This self must die that we might truly live; one must allow it to be stripped away in order to become real and true in loving God, self and others.

Purgatory now? Indeed, may it be so. Let us pray:

Sanctify, O Lord, our souls, minds, and bodies. Touch our minds and search out our consciences. Cast out from us every evil thought, every base desire and memory, every unseemly word, all envy, pride and hypocrisy, every lie, every deceit, all greed, all wickedness, all wrath, all anger, all malice, all blasphemy, all sloth, every movement that is alien to your holy will. Enable us to turn to you, O God, who loves humankind, to call upon you with boldness, with a pure heart, a contrite soul, a face unashamed, and with lips that are sanctified. Amen.
- From The Divine Liturgy of James the Holy Apostle

00Sunday, November 12, 2017 5:22 AM
November 11, 2017 headlines
00Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:52 PM

'Only robots would blindly
follow a Pope in error'

By Pete Baklinski

November 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Catholics who insist that the faithful are duty-bound to submit to a pope whose teachings clearly contradict previous popes and even the Bible inadvertently fulfill the “crude protestant caricature of papal authority,” writes Catholic academic Dr. Edward Feser.

“Protestants sometimes accuse Catholics of believing that a pope has the authority to make up new doctrines or even to contradict Scripture,” wrote Feser, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in California, in an article published in Catholic World Report October 30.

According to the “crude protestant caricature of papal authority,” if a pope “decided one day to add a fourth Person to the Trinity, or to declare abortion morally permissible, or to delete the Sixth Commandment, then – so the idea goes – Catholics would be duty bound to salute crisply, bark an enthusiastic ‘Yes, sir!,’ and fall in line robotically with the new doctrine du jour.”

Feser said the reverse is actually true, namely that the Church “puts the pope in a doctrinal box.”

“Even when he is speaking ex cathedra [authoritatively from the chair], he must stay within the parameters he has inherited,” he said. “He can draw out implications implicit in earlier doctrine, but he cannot make up new doctrines out of whole cloth. And what he teaches must be consistent with the entire body of past binding teaching. He is not permitted to contradict past doctrine and he cannot pit one doctrine against another".

The professor in his article was responding to arguments made by Dr. Robert Fastiggi in support of the Pope Francis’s recent move to seemingly overturn Catholic teaching on capital punishment by declaring “contrary to the Gospel.”

The professor quoted from recent Vatican Councils to demonstrate how the pope is tasked by God to, in the words of the First Vatican Council, “not…make known some new doctrine, but…religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.”

He also quoted the Second Vatican Council’s teaching that the Church cannot teach contrary to Scripture. “The living teaching office of the Church… is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully,” Feser quoted from Dei Verbum [Word of God].

The professor said that a pope is not permitted to “work around these restrictions by coming up with novel reinterpretations of Scripture or of past binding doctrine.”

He quoted from the First Vatican Council which taught that the “meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.”

Added the Council: “May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along… but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding.”

Feser said that the pope is “not protected from all theological error when not speaking ex cathedra [from the chair].
“This is not some novel opinion put forward by theological liberals or radical traditionalists. On the contrary, the Church has always recognized this, and it was commonly acknowledged in the very conservative approved manuals of theology in the pre-Vatican II period,” he said.

He quoted from Van Noort’s 1957 Dogmatic Theology to back his point.

“All theologians admit that the pope can make a mistake in matters of faith and morals when so speaking: either by proposing a false opinion in a matter not yet defined, or by innocently differing from some doctrine already defined.

Theologians disagree, however, over the question of whether the pope can become a formal heretic by stubbornly clinging to an error in a matter already defined. The more probable and respectful opinion, followed by Suárez, Bellarmine and many others, holds that just as God has not till this day ever permitted such a thing to happen, so too he never will permit a pope to become a formal and public heretic. Still, some competent theologians do concede that the pope when not speaking ex cathedra could fall into formal heresy.”

[The problem, of course, as an anti-Bergoglian like me sees it, is that Bergoglio sounds often like he knows better than God the Father, that he would never have expelled Adam and Eve from Eden, or even, never have given them the commandment not to eat the forbidden fruit, to begin with. We already know he thinks better than Jesus by the liberty he takes of editing or truncating and mis-interpreting his words from the Gospel.

'Suarez, Bellarmine and many others' ruled out such a possibility because they did not think, in their wildest imaginations, that could someone so opposed to the basic facts of the faith ever be elected pope. Nor, I am sure, did most of the cardinals who elected him think he had anything more dubious about his past - and his mindset - than allowing communion for everyone in Buenos Aires, terrible enough as that is.]

Commented Feser: “Notice that the Church permits theologians to hold that a pope could even in principle fall into formal heresy when not speaking ex cathedra, and some approved theologians have in fact held this, even if they disagreed about how likely this is in practice.”

The professor went on to answer the argument that a pope should never be accused of error because it could serve to undermine people’s confidence in the office of the pope and in papal authority.

“In fact, the opposite is the case. You cannot reinforce people’s confidence in the papal Magisterium unless you first make it clear exactly what are the scope and limits of that Magisterium,” he said.
“When well-meaning theologians…tie themselves in logical knots in order to avoid having to admit that a pope might have misspoken or made a mistake when not speaking ex cathedra – despite the fact that the Church herself has always acknowledged that this can happen! – they reinforce the slander that Catholics are committed to what I have called the Crude Protestant Caricature of papal authority,”
he added.

Feser said that arguing that Catholics must follow a pope when and if he commits doctrinal error does not help anybody.

“In particular, they give (however unintentionally) the false impression that popes can reinvent doctrine at will and simply stipulate, by dictatorial fiat, that the novelties they are teaching are ‘scriptural’ and ‘traditional", he said.

“They thereby make a laughingstock of Catholic claims to have preserved the deposit of faith whole and undefiled. And they thereby undermine confidence in the papal Magisterium. Non-Catholics are liable to conclude that Catholic claims about the papacy are a kind of Orwellian sophistry. Some Catholics are liable to conclude this too, and to lose their faith as a result – whereas if they were reassured instead that the Church does not require them to deny the obvious, their faith will be saved,” he added.

Feser’s position is similar to that of Catholic philosopher Dr. Josef Seifert, who recently argued that faithful Catholics “have an obligation” not to follow or obey the Pope if he clearly contradicts perennial teachings of the Catholic Church.

“I think that as soon as we find that a new teaching is false, we are obliged not to obey it. And as soon as we find a new pastoral decision of the Pope inapplicable in good conscience, such as giving the sacraments to unrepentant sinners on the basis of an (impossible for us) ‘discernment’ of whether their sin is compatible with their being in the state of grace for subjective reasons, we are likewise morally obliged not to obey it,” he said in an interview this month.

There can be no real “unity with the Pope” unless there is a prior unity based on truth", he said. [But this ontificate - and this pope - seem incapable of the whole truth, which they willfully violate with their mis-statements of the Gospel and will distort further to justify ther original sin of bearing false witness to God's word itself.]

I cannot believe I missed seeing Feser's original article, but seeing that I did, I shall post it in full as soon as I can.
00Sunday, November 12, 2017 2:51 PM

Bergoglio's 'revolution':In small doses
but meant to be 'irreversible'

November 12, 2017

On the world stage, Pope Francis’s star is burning brighter than ever [IT IS???], now even as [WOULD-BE] nuclear peacemaker between the United States and North Korea.

But within the Church he finds himself in a piecemeal 'world war', a strange war that he himself has contributed to unleashing, absolutely convinced that it will all come to a good end.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is unquestionably an innovator. But in method, because the ultimate results are still to be seen.

He introduces his innovations in small doses, sometimes on the sly, perhaps in an allusive footnote, as he did with the now-famous footnote 351 of the postsynodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” only to say later with candor, when questioned on one of his equally famous airborne press conferences, that he doesn’t even remember that footnote.

And yet those few cryptic lines were enough to ignite within the Church an unprecedented conflict, with entire episcopates squaring of - Germany in favor of the innovation, in Poland against, and so on all over the world between diocese and diocese, between parish and parish. Where what is at stake is not only yes or no to communion for the divorced and remarried, but the end of the indissolubility of marriage and the admission of divorce within the Catholic Church too, as has been the case with Protestants and Orthodox.

Many serious and responsible Catholics are understandably alarmed over this confusion that pervades the Church. But Francis is doing nothing to put the house back into order. He is moving right along with confidence. No point in even waving to acknowledge the cardinals who submit their own “doubts” and those of others to him on capital questions of doctrine that they see under threat, asking him to bring clarity. He allows free rein to the most disparate interpretations, whether conservative or progressive in the extreme, without ever explicitly condemning any of them.

The important thing for him is “to cast the seed so that the power may be unleashed,” it is “to mix the leaven so that the power may bring growth,” words from a homily of his a few days ago at Santa Marta. And if I get my hands dirty, thanks be to God! Because woe to those who preach under the illusion of not getting their hands dirty. These are museum curators.” [See, he has now gone as far as to justify getting his own hands dirty! It may just have been a manner of speech (loose and unconsidered, as is usual for him), but how can a pope say any such thing? Obviously, he can and does if he happens to be Bergoglio.]

Pascal, the philosopher and man of faith whom Francis says he wants to beatify, wrote fiery words against the Jesuits of his time, who threw into the fray their most daring ideas, so that over time they would ripen little by little and become the common opinion.

But this is precisely what the first Jesuit pope in history is doing today: setting into motion “processes” within which he is sowing the innovations that he wants to win out sooner or later, in the most diverse fields, as for example his judgment on Protestantism. [About which a prominent German Lutheran pastor called him 'the true heir of Luther'. Isn't Bergoglianism simply a contemporary recycling of Lutheranism, even if without, so far, the pottymouth invective Luther indulged in?]

In Argentina, Bergoglio unleashed terrible invectives against Luther and Calvin. But as pope he is doing the complete opposite - he does nothing but sing Luther’s praises. On a visit to the Lutheran church in Rome, when asked to say whether Catholics and Protestants may receive communion together in spite of the fact that the former believe that the bread and wine “really” become the body and blood of Christ while the latter do not, he answered yes, and then no, and then I don’t know, and then figure it out yourselves, in an ecstasy of contradictions, but in practice giving the go-ahead.

It is the fluidity of his magisterium that is the true novelty of Francis’s pontificate. What he does not tolerate is that anyone should dare tie it down in clear and distinct ideas, purging it of its innovative contents.

He summarily removed fro office Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, who as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith insisted on saying that in “Amoris Laetitia” there was nothing new with respect to tradition [even as Mueller tied himself up in knots contradicting and then justifying and going back and forth in his position over the untruths in AL].

And he has publicly humiliated Cardinal Robert Sarah, who as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, rightly insists that the CDW should retain final approval of the translations of the Latin missal in the various languages. He has npw been ordered to write all the bishops himself that the pope is giving every national Church the freedom to translate as it likes - which would seed a Church that Bergoglio envisions to be federated [i.e.,no longer catholic and universal], one of the ultimate objectives for Bergoglio, the unrelenting schemer.
00Monday, November 13, 2017 12:26 AM

I was led to this article by Beatrice who published a French translation on her site as a companion piece to the report on the ‘double excommunication’ of
Fr. Minutella in Sicily, because Mons. Livi was recently prohibited by the Bishop of Modena from giving a scheduled lecture in a Modena parish. However, I ended up
being extremely disillusioned by the fact that although Livi was an original signatory to the Correctio Filialis, he attributes all the heresies propagated by AL
to "the pope’s collaborators who have been giving him bad advice". Could it be that the 79-year-old theologian really intended to diss Bergoglio as nothing more
than a robot who follows his advisers because he does not know any better!

Theologian who signed the Correctio Filialis
prohibited from giving a lecture in Modena

And makes a number of statements that seem to reflect a 'confusione filialis'

by Bruno Volpe

November 4, 2017

“Unfortunately, I must denounce persection against me and all those who, like me, are not in line with the dictatorship of relativism which seems to be the dominant thought not just in politics but also in theology. And if Fr Cavalcoli thinks differently? I respect him, but let him give me a reason, though he himself often changes his mind”.

This is what the noted theology professor Mons. Antonio Livi told us in an interview regarding the Correctio filialis.

[Unfortunate that the interview starts with a reference to Fr. Cavalcoli, who may not necessarily be known to readers, even Italian readers. He is a noted Dominican theologian (born 1941) and author of several books who is known for his ‘hard line’ orthodoxy. He made headlines last year when the Vatican censured him for having said that the latest earthquake in Italy was a ‘divine punishment’ caused by ‘actions committed today in our society, such as civil marriages’.

Deputy Secretary of State Angelo Becciu said the words were “offensive to believers and scandalous for non-believers" and called on Cavalcoli to apologize. Cavalcoli was then suspended from his radio program by the very Bergoglian Radio Maria,which said that it considered the position of Fr. Cavalcoli on the earthquake as unacceptable and was therefore suspending him from broadcasting immediately.

Cavalcoli said that if one listens to what he actually said, he was not at all categorical but rather ‘very possibilistic’, so he did not see what he had to apologize for. “Those who should ask forgiveness,” he said, “are those who have re-valuated the heretic Luther” and referred to ‘masonic infiltration’ of the Vatican.

Prof. Livi, Fr. Cavalcoli said in a recent interview that he does not understand the Correctio finalis which he thinks is a blow to the gut of the current pope. What do you think?
He is an erudite Dominican theologian whom I respect. But everyone has his own opinion and is free to express it. I do not intend to get into another polemic with him, especially since he has behaved differently depending on circumstances. He often changes his mind about me.

In any case, the Correctio filialIS which I signed along with 61 other theologians, is not a blow to the gut of the pope, but is a filial service to the Holy Father - that he may confirm his brothers in the faith instead of leading them to confusion regarding the validity of Church doctrine on the Commandments and on the Sacraments. Those who have addressed themselves respectfully to the pope on this matter have not sinned against the Church but have fulfilled an obligation of conscience.

Why and how?
To help those who govern to speak and act with evangelical clarity is expressly demanded of the church community. The Gospel says so and demands it – when it commands the exercise of fraternal correction, giving the example of St. Paul correcting the first pope, St. Peter, who had an ambiguous attitude towards the universality of the redemption of Christ. The Church teaches that is is a work of mercy to correct whoever is in error, whether the error s doctrinal or pastoral.

Meanwhile, you were also recently prohibited from giving a previously scheduled lecture in Modena…
Unfortunately I must denounce such persecution against me and all those who, like me, are not in line with the dictatorship of relativism which seems to be the dominant thought today not just in politics but also in theology.

A parish in Modena had invited me to speak on the pastoral problems arising from the ideology of relativism, but I had to cancel the lecture on orders of the Bishop of Modena. [The very same bishop, Erio Castelucci, who in October wrote his priests in a diocesan letter calling on them not to invite or host “visionaries, charismatics, journalists and intellectuals who manifest dissent, subtle or open, to the official Church and above all, to Pope Francis”. ]

Is Amoris Laetitia heretical?
The Correctio filialis does not say so, and I have never said so. Indeed, I have debated those who speak of the possibility of a heretical pope. In itself, AL is an important post-synodal document that does not contain formally heretical statements but it allows interpretations and practices that are without a doubt heretical. All in all, Cavalcoli has been saying the same thing and does not differ from us in substance. The true problem is with the pope's collaborators - they are the objects of my criticism as well as of Fr. Cavalcoli’s. They write and say things in his behalf which are heretical, but the pope neither clarifies nor corrects nor denies.

[It’s quite a copout for Fr. Livi to blame the pope’s collaborators, who are really his surrogates (Schoenborn, Spadaro, Paglia, Tornielli, to name the most exposed in this regard, plus the whole Vatican communications staff and the media they run).

If the pope ‘neither clarifies nor corrects nor denies’ what they say in his name, then obviously he approves the ‘heretical’ statements Livi acknowledges they have been making. How unpardonably disingenuous to excuse Bergoglio just because he has been very careful not to write or say any statements that could be technically considered ‘material heresy’.!

And that was the whole point in the calculated casuistry and embarrassing artifices resorted to in AL. But it’s not as if he had not made his intentions very clear about communion for remarried divorcees since he was first asked in public about them back in July 2013, when he also announced that he was convoking a synodal assembly on’the family’ which would tackle the issue. Not forgetting that ‘communion for everyone’ was already his policy in Buenos Aires for years.

Besides, he explicitly approved the interpretations of AL by the Argentine bishops, the German bishops and the Maltese bishops who favor the heretical interpretation, but kept silent about the Polish bishops who have stood by what John Paul II reaffirmed in Familiaris consortio. Does all that corroborating evidence of heretical intention count for nothing in a canonical determination of heresy by a pope?]

What is your particular censure of AL?
In everything I have said so far, I have made clear that the Correctio Filialis must not at all be considered an act of hostility against the pope, but rather a true act of love for the Curch of Christ, in which the pope, whoever he is, is the Vicar of Christ and has the authority of teaching and governance that Christ gave Peter and his successors.

But as I have said, the pope is surrounded by terrible collaborators who are clearly heretical. With the Correctio, we simply wished to ask the pope to speak finally with the necessary clarity and not to create more confusion.

AL, unfortunately, is a deliberately ambiguous document that opposes the teaching of John Paul II, the doctrine taught in the Catechism, and above all, Catholic dogma. We are seeing the negative effects of its apparent negation of the dogmas on the sacraments (Baptism [???], Matrimony, Penance and the Eucharist) in the practical consequences so far.

Is the Church in confusion?
I have said and written so many times, even on my blog ( Because of what we now see in the differing [and diametrically opposing] positions of the various episcopal conferences, it is certainly a church in confusion and in disintegration. I denounce these things for the good of the Church, and therefore, for the faith of each and every Catholic, and not to criticize anyone. We are caught in a drift towards Lutheranism.

What do you think when you see Luther featured in a Mass handout, hear his praises sung at the Vatican, and statements like ‘the Reformation was an event of the Holy Spirit’?
That it is an enormous idiocy which is a most serious offense against the HolySpirit – in short, it is blasphemy. Luther was a heretic and it is not possible to ‘abolish’ what the Council of Trent said [about him and Protestantism].

As for the repeated exaltations of Luther as a historical figure, they are an insult to the Catholic fath. But these are all among the pastoral, therefore practical, errors of a pope who is very ill-advised.

[Mons. Livi obviously has such a low opinion of someone who would succumb to the ill advice of his collaborators! But isn’t Bergoglio touted by his closest associates as someone who is single-minded about his intentions and will do what he thinks best to achieve them regardless of what advice he may get?] Jorge Bergoglio is the victim of many evil men because he has always been particularly sensitive [i.e., receptive] to the slogans of liberation theology and has never had great esteem, for dogmatic theology and its logical and metaphysical premises.

[i.e., Fr. Livi is saying that Bergoglio is a victim of bad advice because he does not know any better! Excuse me, but this is a man who is not shy about editing and correcting what Jesus says in the Gospels.

He may not ‘know any better’ in the formal sense of having inadequate theological formation, but precisely because he does not give a hoot about theology or liturgy or history – in short, for the things that an informed minister of the Church ought to know – he seems to think that “I know it all, and better than anyone, including Jesus who was wrong about adultery and the last judgment and hell, and God who should have been merciful to Adam and Eve.”

I find the statements made by Fr. Livi in this interview very troubling and even incredible, given who he is. Born in 1938, he became a student of Etienne Gilson, the French philosopher who along with Jacques Maritain and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (a Dominican theologian like Cavalcoli), were considered the foremost exponents of neo-Thomism.

Apart from his many distinguished professorships in various unviersities, principally at the Pontifical Lateran University, and his authorship of a number of books (34 are listed in his Wikipedia entry), he also founded the International Science and Common Sense Association, having defined common sense in an anti-Cartesian way to mean ‘the natural and incontrovertible certainties possessed by every man’. By that definition or even by what we mean when we say common sense, his insistent exculpation of Bergoglio as being nothing more than the victim of bad advice and bad advisers makes no sense at all!]

Meanwhile, here is the summary of a longer essay written by a Italian signatory of the Correctio that Sandro Magister published last week on his blog. The full essay is available in Italian. This signatory does not hedge his opinions...

The 'Correctio' explained by one of its signatories:
"It all started with the 'spirit of Vatican-II'"

Received and published by

Nov. 9, 2017

The author has taught at the state university of Florence and at the pontifical theological faculty of central Italy.


by Pietro De Marco

What convinced me to sign the "Correctio" is its doctrinal core, meaning the clarification of the “false and heretical propositions propagated in the Church,” even by Pope Francis. The propositions under censure in fact have the value of going to the heart of intellectual opinions and attitudes of theological-dogmatic significance that for decades have been spread in the intellectual Catholic koinè [The Greek word for the standard Greek language adapted in ancient times. In this sense, De Marco apparently means the common language, in the sense of widespread, used in the circles he refers to, and therefore, to the ideas represented by such language].

Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio participates spontaneously in this "koinè. It is a result of what is currently called the "spirit of the Council," meaning of the Council as constructed by the intelligentsia on the sidelines and asserted over the subsequent years.

Whole generations, in particular those that are now growing old, have been impregnated with it and are still acting as its representatives with no self-criticism, as if the Church had not gone through more than half a century of travail on account of the errors and perverse effects induced precisely by that "spirit."

With the current pontificate, a “conciliar” vision made of few formulas, mostly dismissive of that which is the essence of Catholicism – reason and institution, dogma and liturgy, sacraments and morality – is spreading and imposing itself as the public opinion of the Church, sure of the pope’s personal support, brimming with certainty, without discernment of the implications and not without conceit or disdain against those who are opposed to it: in fact, exactly the way every ideology works.

In effect, one grasps an argumentary and rhetorical aspect of this not only in the pontiff’s opinings, but also in official documents like "Amoris Laetitia." Thus, by way of example,
- the distinction between regular and irregular is taken as “artificial and exterior”;
- the age-old judgment on Protestantism is attributed to “fear and prejudice about the other’s faith”;
- respect for tradition means “being in mothballs, like a coating against parasites”;
- the age-old legitimization of the death penalty on the part of the Church is traced back to the “preoccupation to hold on to power and wealth”; and so on.

A dismissive attitude and typical 'grassroots' rhetoric, in addition to the anticlerical repertoire, that infested the 1960’s and ‘70’s (I have a detailed and abundant memory of this, between Florence and Bologna) from which the militant conciliar “momentum” never freed itself, were in decline until the election of Bergoglio as pope paradoxically re-legitimized this agenda and made it front and center. The premises and effects of this culture are expressed in the propositions defined as “false and heretical” by the "Correctio."

Such propositions must be understood as implicit assumptions, or major premises, of what that 'conciliar' vision has for years consistently affirmed or proposed, and has implemented on the so-called pastoral terrain. When word and practice are brought to their objective premise that has a doctrinal nature, their erosive and destructive power appears.

These are, in fact, the doctrinal chasms that for decades have made it possible for pastoral practice to drift along on formulas that are liberating, approachable, generous, accompanied by reassurances to the faithful that they are founded in the Gospels: a foundation they claim to be self-evident, given the supposed conformity of 'a weak and sinful Jesus' to the human experience. [If the clergy and theologians of which Prof. De Marco had experience preached 'a weak and sinful Jesus', then that is the most rank blasphemy one can imagine!]

In the face of all this, the "Correctio" is like a little "Pascendi," the anti-modernist encyclical of one hundred and ten years ago, but dramatically, it does not come from a pontiff but is addressed to him as a censure.

It has been pointedly noted how, precisely in the theological and pastoral culture within which this pope's actions are embedded - a culture always aimed at downgrading canon law - unprecedented attention is now being paid to 'norms'. Why? Because its pastoral sensibility, devoid of any theological rationale, has become a pursuit of reduction, of exoneration.

The pastoral concern that seems to guide most clergies and episcopates today consists in seeking to guarantee a sort of egalitarian treatment for the faithful, to gratify them with a public recognition of 'equal rights' [to the sacraments] - of which access to the Eucharist is only the tip of the iceberg - no matter what their situation is with regard to moral theology and canon law. [More simply put, regardless of the state of sin they are in, especially a chronic state of sin like the adultery practised by the RCDs.]

Not many seem to realize this, not even the pope, but this pastoral practice of [false] mercy, particularly in the urban and secularized societies of the world, is moe current in the petit bourgeois “existential peripheries” than in the slums, because of the perverse workings of a widespread hypertrophy of individual rights.

Rights and advantages, then: pastoral practice tends to resemble a customer loyalty program. Today access to the Eucharist on request, tomorrow much more. In fact, beyond moral theology and law, it is the dissolution of the theology of grace and of the supernatural life, it is the reduction of the sacraments to anthropology and social ethics, which become ever more apparent.

The immediate result is a paradoxical Pelagianism without norms, except for those that are individual, intuitive, emotional, situational. [Important to bear in mind what Pelagianism is, namely, the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid.]

Which is the approach that has been pursued for centuries by modernizing branches of Protestantism and “churchless” forms of Christianity. It comes as no surprise to see the almost enthusiastic discovery of Luther that emerges in the words of Bergoglio and that, not without consternation, the "Correctio" repudiates.
This is why the first formulation censured by the "Correctio" ("Homo iustificatus iis caret viribus…")). ['A justified person has not the strength..] is, in its technicality, the most profound, in the sense that it goes to the heart of the multi-decade drama of recent Catholic theology.

This repudiates in the current “pastorality” the nullification of the cognition of grace, in particular of sanctifying grace, which is replaced with the believer’s claim to self-justification with regard to God and the Church.

Even the most generous of hypotheses concerning Pope Francis - that his intention is to win general approval for the Church in the world, in order to then convey with the authority conferred upon him a new universal legitimization an eternal announcement that today is not heeded and indeed not capable of being received – would make sense if the present-day phase of the loyalty program has not left and does not not leave behind the ruins of truths that are then to be proposed for belief tomorrow.

This two-stage hypothesis (to be “approachable” today in order to be listened to again tomorrow, with rigorously orthodox preaching and proclamation) still characterized the upright intentions of Pope John XXIII and the conciliar fathers. But the “grassroots” culture at work in Bergoglio does not participate in it in any way.

Being “approachable” today is in reality equivalent to an acritical process of becoming equal in order to be accepted, without any "metanoia" [conversion] in the other. [More simply put, it means going down to the level of 'the world' where everything is relativistic, especially morality.]

This mimetic attraction toward the world, meaning toward modern secularism, which over fifty years has produced in the Church a dramatic exsanguination of its priestly ministry, with the Society of Jesus among the hardest hit, has as its background precisely a complex of false and heretical convictions. This mimetic complex, proposed with authority by intellectual innovators, these bundles of half truths and errors, have been opposed by all the recent popes.

But now there is a pope who for the first time is making himself the guarantor and actor in capite (at the head) precisely of that corrosive postconciliar magma and of the unhappy present-day attempt to satisfy the unruly faithful at the expense of Christian truth and profundity. For which the sociological pressure of the world of the divorced is, for many theologians and moralists, only a pretext. [A 'pressure' which, I maintain, is largely non-existent on the part of the RCDs themselves whom these theologians and moralists have been instrumentalizing all along to push their own agenda.]

The above text is a summary of a more extensive contribution from Professor Pietro De Marco, which can be read in its entirety on this other page of Settimo Cielo:
> La mia posizione entro la "Correctio"

00Monday, November 13, 2017 1:17 AM
November 12, 2017 headlines

At Mass for a deceased underground priest,
Cardinal Zen asks for God's grace
to save the Church in China
and the Holy See from the 'precipice'

by Li Yuan

November 11, 2017

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Cardinal Joseph Zen, Emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong, has asked God to save the Holy See "from the brink of the precipice and not sell out the faithful Church [to the Chinese government]". The cardinal expressed his concerns in his homily recalling Fr. Wei Heping (alias Yu Heping), who died two years ago in mysterious and suspicious circumstances.

The Mass was held last night in the Church of St. Jude, organized by the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace.

Pointing out that "the Holy See is not necessarily the Pope," the cardinal remarked that in recent years, in which dialogue between Beijing and the Vatican is taking place, the Holy See has often remained silent about the grave events of the Chinese Church such as death of Fr. Wei, the captivity of Msgr. Giacomo Su Zhimin, and the destruction of crosses and churches in Zhejiang.

"Dialogue is important and necessary," Cardinal Zen said." However, it [the Holy See] is too optimistic about the communist regime. It has depended on its diplomacy instead of faith. It does not have a bottom line to reach an agreement."

He continued: “The Holy See is ceaselessly compromising and has even arrived at the point of selling itself out to appease. This is by no means what God expects of the Church and by no means faithful to the mission that Christ gave the Apostles."

These comments seem to have been provoked by some news the Cardinal has recently received and which is "very shocking". Previously, Card. Zen had thought the negotiations were stalled, that "the Pope was more cautious" perhaps because "Beijing had expressed other demands on which he could not agree."

But now the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong says "they are pushing for an evil plan: to ask faithful bishops to resign in order to leave room for illicit and excommunicated bishops. This is a bolt out of the blue! And it presages a huge disaster for the Church. "

"Some might think I'm using this Mass to complain," the cardinal said. "No, I think Fr. Wei is using my mouth to communicate. These words serve to let us know what kind of grace we are asking for today. "

The body of Fr. Wei, an active 41-year-old priest of the underground community, was found in suspicious circumstances in the Ren River, near Taiyuan City (Shanxi) on November 8, 2015. He had been expected to return the day before from a trip to Liaoning Province.

According to ecclesial sources, who closely followed his case, the autopsy revealed a wide hemorrhage in the right part of the brain, but there were no visible wounds on the skin. The police concluded that he had committed suicide and archived the case.

The family of Fr. Wei was not allowed to have a copy of the autopsy report and they asked to reopen the investigation but the police refused.

A faithful in the underground community thanked Card. Zen for remembering Fr. Wei and the Church's difficulties in China, and said she was saddened after reading the Cardinal's homily, posted today on his blog: "After reading this, my heart bleeds. As the cardinal said, maybe we should retreat to a cave and weep. But my heart does not give me peace. "

The Justice and Peace Commission, which organized the Mass for Fr. Wei also published a 78-page paper and electronic booklet titled "Peace Pilgrim", symbolically using his name (Heping means "peace") and his tireless commitment to evangelization.

The booklet contains articles written by his family, friends, and faithful who received catechism from him, hoping that Catholics will not forget Fr. Wei, before the truth about his death is revealed.

The text also includes a reflection of the priest and his opinion on the relations between China and the Vatican, entitled "Time belongs to God". In it he said there should be no hurry to make an agreement, if the political situation is not yet ready.
00Monday, November 13, 2017 11:30 PM
"Has it worked?" -
the question we dare not ask about
the Vatican-II liturgical reform

November 13, 2017

In this centenary year of the Soviet Revolution, it is worth reflecting that after 70 years, the Russian people actually asked the question, "Has it worked?" It is the question an efficient business asks regularly. I suspect parents in a healthy family ask that question. It should be the fundamental question of the spiritual life.

Fifty years after the implementation of the liturgical changes [Novus Ordo], it is the question the Church should be asking itself. Any business would have market-tested before a change of brand. [But this was not done at all. The Novus Ordo was simply imposed on the universal Church overnight. I do not recall that there was even a brief transitional period allowed]. I suppose that Summorum Pontificum was Benedict's way of doing this retrospectively. [Not really. SP simply said that the Traditional Mass was never abrogated or outlawed, and that it remains a fully legitimate rite in the Roman Church. After all, it had been 'market-tested' for centuries, even if we only start from the Council of Trent - which recognized all Roman rite liturgies that had been in use for at least 200 years at the time of the Council.

Before the Roman Missal of 1570 resulting from the standardization of the liturgy by the Council of Trent, the Order of Mass in the Roman rite was less uniform, but by 1000 AD many sections of the Tridentine Mass were already established as part of the Mass, probably since the time of Pope Gregory I (590-604) who made a general revision of the Mass liturgy.]

Vatican II's liturgical reforms were introduced en masse everywhere and within a few years of the Council, unlike the gradually introduced liturgical reforms of Pius V that percolated gradually as old books were slowly replaced but even then, only where the Roman Rite was used, the Milanese, Lyonese, Bragans, Dominican, Carthusian, for example, continued using their own Rites, and acted as a kind of quality control or reference point for the reformed Roman Rite. [How exactly? How many priests are even aware that there are other forms of the Roman Rite validated by the Council of Trent and mostly unaffected by the Novus Ordo?]

There are two areas where, 'Has it worked?' should be asked - the first is liturgical reform; the second is the modern use of the papal fiat (by Paul VI) that introduced them - it was an unprecedented use of papal power.

On the second question, Pope Francis is forcing most conservatives to ask about the modern use of papal power, "Has it worked?". [More pertinently, "Does it work?", in the case of this pope's all-out exercise of it beyond the boundaries defined for the papacy by the First Vatican Council, as articulated most recently in a 1998 document from the CDF on 'The Primacy of the Successor of Peter':

"The Roman Pontiff - like all the faithful - is subject to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith, and is the guarantor of the Church's obedience; in this sense he is servus servorum Dei.

He does not make arbitrary decisions, but is spokesman for the will of the Lord, who speaks to man in the Scriptures lived and interpreted by Tradition; in other words, the episkope of the primacy has limits set by divine law and by the Church's divine, inviolable constitution found in Revelation.

The Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism
: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy."

[One doubts, of course, that Jorge Bergoglio ever bothered to read documents from the CDF when he was a bishop! Nor that he has taken seriously the entire existing body of literature since the 19th century about the limitations to the power and authority of a pope.]

I half think that it is a deliberate policy, a reductio ad absurdum, that the Pope is raising with allies like Fr Spadaro and Dr Ivereigh and other cheerleaders. Are they cooperators who will heroically sacrifice their careers in a successive papacy?

Dare one suggest that Magnum Principium might actually be a return of the Church to local Rites and Usages that are mutually enriching? I suspect not but it is a possibility. [As MP is specifically concerned only with the translation of liturgical books, it is quite a leap to imagine that it would necessarily lead to 'a return to local Rites and Usages' which was exactly what the Tridentine liturgical standardization intended to avoid, except for those rites and usages that had been in use for at least 200 years by the time of the Tridentine reform.

First, let us ask whether in the 10 years since SP, there has been any mutual enrichment between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, as Benedict XVI envisioned. Any evidence to this effect is anecdotal and it is mostly one-sided - how some priests (perhaps many) have taken to celebrate the Novus Ordo by re-instilling in it the sense of the sacredness and mystery that infuses the traditional Mass (in other words, by celebrating it the way John Paul II and Benedict XVI did).]

The Ordinariate Rite after all seems to have this effect where it is celebrated. [But the Ordinariate Rite falls into the same category as other current but historical Roman rites such as the Ambrosian, the Dominican, the Mozarabic, etc. It is the Vatican-approved Catholic adaptation of the High Anglican Sunday liturgy (that most resembles the traditional Catholic Mass), and was approved for the ex-Anglicans who became Catholic under Anglicanorum coetibus. Since the Ordinariate Rite has much more in common with the EF than with the Novus Ordo, one wonders in what way it is affecting the Novus Ordo at all, other than the effect of the EF to help instill a sense of sacredness and mystery into the Novus Ordo.]

Apparently a large number of French Seminaries are closing, as are a whole lot of ancient monasteries, and practically every convent has become a retirement home. I am not sure what the number is this year, but last year, in our diocese we had only 3 seminarians. Whilst I was at the seminary we had in this city of Brighton and Hove almost 30 priests; in 17 years time by the year 2030 we will be lucky to have 2 under 65, they will age prematurely out of exhaustion.

The thing is that there isn't an absence of vocations. From my little parish we have three men, two preparing for the priesthood and one in a rather rigorous contemplative monastery but they were very much involved in the Old Rite and have gone to communities outside of the diocese.

It isn't even that there is an absence of contemplative religious - there are new convents opening in the Channel Islands and in the Diocese of Lancaster, but again the sisters will worship according to Old Rite. The only monastery flourishing, without scandal, in Italy (despite episcopal opposition) is Old Rite, at Norcia [the Benedictine monastery]. The same in France, where a quarter of this year's ordinations were of priests attached to the Old Rite, and where monastic life is generally declining, retracting but Old Rite monasteries like Fontgombault are actually making new foundations.

I am quite willing to accept that it is not necessarily the Rite itself responsible for this, but if it is not, then it is the theology that goes with the Rite, or the 'ecclesiological experience' that goes with it. On a practical level the Old Rite seems to work.

Why are we incapable of asking, "Has it worked?" about the Novus Ordo? Presumably because of the ideological attachment, rather like the politburo of the Soviet Union that did not allow itself to question any 'givens'.

What then is the answer to "Has it worked?" regarding the Novus Ordo? It certainly has worked in that it is by far the liturgy most celebrated in the universal Church. Alas! But if we consider the continuing decline in Sunday Massgoing since it was introduced, it certainly has not brought in more Catholics to Sunday Mass - for all its convenience, brevity, informality and openness to all kinds of 'creative' abuses of the liturgy in the futile attempt to make the Mass more 'entertaining' or having the congregation more 'involved'. Sunday Mass is hardly the place to go for anyone looking to be entertained, and for whom the idea of worshiping God is a no-starter to begin with.
00Tuesday, November 14, 2017 1:33 AM

About what used to be
the ‘Apostleship of Prayer’

Translated from

November 13, 2017

The Barnabites [Fr. Scalese is a Barnabite] are inextricably linked to the Apostleship of Prayer. The movement began in France in 1844 with the Jesuit priests Gautrelet and Ramiere but in Italy, it was disseminated by the Barnabites starting in 1864 – under the direction first of Fr. Antonio Maresca (1831-1891) and then Fr. Giovanni Battista Vitale (1849-1916). It was they who were responsible for the Italian Messaggero del Sacro Cuore.

We also owe Fr. Maresca the initiative of constructing a shrine to the Sacred Heart in Rome (the present Basilica of Sacro Cuore near Rome’s main train terminal), an initiative that initially floundered for lack of funds but which was completed thanks to the intervention of the later St. Don Bosco. But after the death of Fr. Vitale in 1916, the direction of the Italian Apostleship for Prayer passed to the hands of the Jesuits.

Thus, it is not pleasant to witness the progreesive decline of a spiritual movement that gave so much to the Churhch in the 19th and 20th centuries. The work of ‘updating’ the Apostleship began atthe time of Vatican-II (when it seemed that everything in the Church had to be subject to revision following the new canons). Initially, the changes were limited to some modifications in the Daily Offering Prayer (such as inserting new terms like “Mother of the Church”, “joys”, “in the grace of the Holy Spirit”) – which was not a problem, as the prayer was enriched wthout losing any of its content.

More recently (I cannot date the year exactly) an alternative formulation for the Daily Offering was provided:

God, our Father, I offer you my entire day. I offer you my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys and sufferings, in union with the Heart of your Son Jesus Christ who continues to offer himself to you in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit who guided Jesus be my guide and my strength today, so that I may be a witness to his love. With Mary, Mother of the Lord and of the Church, I pray specially for the intentions that the Holy Father recommends all faithful to pray for this mont.

It appears – and it is – a beautiful prayer with solid theological foundation. But I do not know if you noted that any reference to reparation has been omitted, though this is one of the characteristic elements of Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart.

But the work of overhauling the Apostleship of Prayer has not ended. Recently (this year perhaps, because in the Apostleship's booklet for 2016, we do not find it), a new name for the Apostolate has come up – “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network" – in some cases, with the old name included, in others, completely replacing it. Was this really necessary? I like the expression Apostleship for Prayer very much, because it tells us that prayer, too, is a form of apostolate; in some cases (for example, for monks and cloistered religious, or for us who live and work in Islamic countries), it is the only form of apostolate.

So why replace such a significant term with a generic name like ‘Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network’? [Because the new name converts the initiative into a vanity enterprise in behalf of the pope – and who but the Jesuits would do that? I can almost bet it was done with the advice of Fr. Spadaro, fully concurred in by Pope Francis, of course.]

Before 2017, the Apostleship proposed two prayer intentions for the Pope – one general, one missionary. Since January 2017, however, there is only one now. On alternate months, the intention is either ‘universal’ (replacing the old term ‘general’), or ‘for evangelization’ (replacing the term ‘missionary’).

Leaving aside the new terms, which can be argued, the fact of proposing just one intention would appear to be a practical move, given the tendency of bishops, religious institutions and movements to add their own specific intentions (the Italian bishops conference, for example, has added its own monthly intentions for some years now).

But beyond these modifications in form, what most ‘perplexes’ veteran followers of the Apostleship is the content of the prayer intentions which have gradually assumed a prevalently social character. It’s not that we shouldn’t also pray about social problems, but when these seem to have become the only concern of those drawing up the prayer intentions, it cannot fail to raise questions.

And now, doubts of a doctrinal character are also raised. Let us read the ‘intention for evangelization’ proposed for the month of November:

For the Christians in Asia, so that, bearing witness to the Gospel in words and acts, they may favor dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding, above all, with those who belong to other religions.

Of course, I am happy that everyone is asked to pray for the Christians in Asia, among whom are my own small flock [Fr. Scalese is the ecclesiastical superior of the Roman Catholic Mission of Afghanistan]. But I must confess that since Nov. 1, I have felt uneasy reciting the intention. Let us re-read it carefully. It asks for two things: 1) that the Christians in Asia bear witness to the Gospel; and 2) that they favor dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding.

Of course, both things are good in themselves. But about #2? It’s not as if the Christians in Asia, who for the most part live in non-Christian societies, would desire enmity, discord and conflict in their respective countries! Beyond any other considerations one might make of #2, I can only cite what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in his letter to the Jews who had been exiled to Babylon: “Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the LORD, for upon its welfare your own depends.” (Jer 29,7).

The problem is that the two propositions contained in the prayer intention are not coordinated ('bearing witness' and 'they may favor'), but the first is subordinated to the second because it is used as a gerund, which means that the first action is functional to the second, i.e., by bearing witness to the Gospel, one favors dialog, etc. Meaning that the purpose of bearing witness to the Gospel is to favor dialog, etc.

To me, that does not seem right at all. Even if dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding are in themselves important values, they cannot be considered absolute values, and the Gospel cannot be reduced to an instrument to achieve such purposes. [The Gospel, as indeed, the entire message and mission of Jesus Christ, is to save souls, but this does not seem to be a primary concern at all for this pope and his followers.]

St. Paul reminds us that the Gospel "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek. For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith” (Rom 1,16-17).

Bearing witness to the Gospel is all about faith, because only in faith can man find salvation. It is obvious that if bearing witness to the Gospel served only to favor dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding, then the Gospel becomes something else completely – a simple code of ethics which, if followed, could realize those secular values.

But notwithstanding the incorrect formulation of the prayer intention, I have tried to give it the right interpretation (by first coordinating, as I said earlier, the two propositions) and have tried to excuse those who framed the intention, thinking they may have involuntarily expressed improperly an intention that is valid in itself.

But then I saw the videoclip of the pope illustrating this prayer intention, and I had to backtrack: the intention must be understood exactly as it is expressed. Watch it (it only lasts a minute):

Not only does it say clearly that we must pray in order that “Christians may favor dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding, especially with the members of other religions” – confirming that this is the true prayer intention, but the video also omits any reference to “bearing witness to the Gospel”. [Not the first time that these pope-videos have failed to mention anything spiritual beyond their usually social/sociological concerns.]

From a certain perspective, perhaps it is better this way, because then one avoids subordinating ones’s testimony to the Gospel to dialog, etc. But it leaves a bitter taste because it would appear that the pope himself does not ask of us to pray that the Christians in Asia may bear witness to the Gospel. By leaving it out, it would seem that bearing witness to the Gospel is merely optional to this prayer intention [For those who have read the written intention, but for those who see only this video, the intention would seem to be purely secular and have nothing to do with the faith.]

The fact is that everyone is free – and cannot be impeded by anyone – from praying that the Christians in Asia may bear witness to the Gospel for what it truly is, while at the same time, “favor dialog, peace and reciprocal understanding. Which is what Christians have been doing for the past 2000-plus years.

00Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:19 PM
November 13-14, 2017 headlines


November 14, 2017

In what he surely thought was a serious analysis from High Atop The Thing, over at Fishwrap, Michael Sean Winters, the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left and one of the New catholic Red Guards, looked at the beginning of the USCCB’s annual November meeting. He wrote (Fr Z's comment in red):

Some of the bishops are good friends with Cardinal Raymond Burke who has asserted that Amoris Laetitia is not a magisterial document. [How ominous!]

Everything about the culture of the bishops argues against them ever allowing their division to be aired too obviously in public. The divisions are clear, this year most tellingly in the race for the next chair of the Pro-Life Activities Committee, which pits Cardinal Cupich against Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas.

Naumann is the embodiment of the culture warrior style of episcopal leadership and Cupich personifies the consistent ethic of life approach* advocated by his predecessor in Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. No one is sure how that vote will turn out. Everyone is sure the vote will be a quasi-referendum on support for Pope Francis.

*[Don't be fooled by the tag 'consistent ethic of life' which Bernardin used to describe his so-called 'seamless garment' preaching. In one of Cardinal Mueller's unambiguous statements, he described it thus:

"The 'seamless garment' image was used to great effect to root the Church’s response to various moral issues — from nuclear proliferation to poverty — within the overarching teaching on the sanctity of human life, from natural conception to natural death.

Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the image has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner, to allow or at least to justify turning a blind eye to instances of abortion, contraception, or public funding for embryonic stem cell research, as long as these were simultaneously accompanied by opposition to the death penalty or promotion of economic development for the poor.

This morning the bishops voted to elect Archbishop Naumann, not Cupich, as head of the Pro-Life Committee, 96-82.

212 bishops participated in a “practice” vote. 178 voted on the matter of this committee. So, 34 abstained.

[Shall we interpret that one balloting to indicate that among the active US bishops today, 96 are still leaning orthodox, 82 are definitely Bergoglian, and 34 do not want to show their hand?]

But… “Everyone is sure the vote will be a quasi-referendum on support for Pope Francis.”

It will be interesting to see what Wile E.’s analysis will be of this! NB, his ominous mention of Card. Burke. Hmmm….


00Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:15 PM

Why can't this pope simply say, NO, YES, YES, YES, AND YES to the DUBIA?

Because he can't do so honestly, without contradicting himself and admitting to the world he is wrong and...gasp!, heretical!

1. Can the divorced and remarried who are still engaged in a sexual relationship receive absolution and communion without a change of life?
2. Do absolute moral norms still exist?
3. Does objective grave sin still exist?
4. Is the teaching still valid that however much circumstances may lessen an individual’s guilt, those circumstances cannot change an intrinsically evil act into a subjectively good act?
5. Does the Church’s teaching that an appeal to conscience cannot overcome absolute moral norms still hold true?

...And I don't know why Cardinal Burke persists in 'waiting for Bergodot'...

The next step toward
'formal correction?'

by Steve Skojec

November 1, 2017

One year ago today, on November 14, 2016, four cardinals took the formal step of publishing a set of five DUBIA — inquiries about doubtful theological propositions — that they had issued directly to Pope Francis two months earlier.

The DUBIA pertained to the pastoral guidelines for divorced and “remarried” Catholics living more uxorio (engaging in sexual relations) as outlined in the pope’s magnum opus [FROM HELL!], the 264-page, nearly 60,000 word post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL).

Today, after an intervening year without a single response or audience granted — a year in which two of the four DUBIA cardinals have died — Cardinal Burke in a new interview indicated that the pope’s silence is an insufficient response to the grave confusion and concern his exhortation has caused. [With all due respect, but Your Eminence, gimme a break here! Silence is the absence of response, which speaks volumes in this case, so where is the insufficiency? And is that the most the good cardinal can say about the pope's attitude? It is worse than indifference . He simply does not give a damn about what his critics think, especially about his indefensible propositions in AL.]

In a November 14 interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke made a “final plea” to Pope Francis, citing the “continually worsening” gravity of the situation that has followed in the wake of the exhortation.

Burke says that the concern of the dubia cardinals has always been “to determine precisely what the Pope wanted to teach as Successor of Peter”, and he reiterated his initial analysis of the document, saying that “By their very nature, affirmations that lack this clarity cannot be qualified expressions of the magisterium.[That may be so, but that still does not neutralize the centuries-long 'tradition' that most simple faithful think anything 'the pope says' amounts to gospel truth! The public really does not care -or even think about - what is 'magisterial' or not. What matters most, in practical effect, is what most Catholics perceive anything 'the pope says' to mean.]

Burke continues:

It is evident that some of Amoris Laetitia’s indications regarding essential aspects of the faith and of the practice of the Christian life have received various interpretations that are divergent and at times incompatible with each other. This incontestable fact confirms that these indications are ambivalent, permitting a variety of readings, many of which are in contrast to Catholic doctrine.

The questions we Cardinals have raised thus regard what exactly the Holy Father has taught and how his teaching harmonizes with the deposit of the faith, given that the magisterium “is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed” (Vatican Council II,
Constitution Dei Verbum, n. 10).[/dim[

Seemingly referring to Professor Josef Seifert’s analysis that the logical consequence of the application of certain principles suggested in AL would be a destruction of the entire edifice of Catholic moral teaching, Burke said:

“To understand how far-reaching these proposed changes are, it is enough to think of what would happen if this reasoning were to be applied to other cases, such as that of a medical doctor performing abortions, of a politician belonging to a ring of corruption, of a suffering person deciding to make a request for assisted suicide…”

Saying that the “sense of the ecclesial sacramental practice is increasingly eroding in the Church,” Burke admitted that he was making, as interviewer Edward Pentin asked him, a “final plea” to the pope, perhaps signaling that the next step would not simply be another warning:

Yes, for these grave reasons, one year after rendering public the dubia, I again turn to the Holy Father and to the whole Church, emphasizing how urgent it is that, in exercising the ministry he has received from the Lord, the Pope should confirm his brothers in the faith with a clear expression of the teaching regarding both Christian morality and the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice.

[One weeps and gnashes teeth in desperation, and in vain, over the futility of such appeals to reason and to the true faith addressed to a pope who is fundamentally as anti-Catholic as Bergoglio!]

Since its publication in April 2016 as a reflection upon two synods on marriage and family held in 2014 and 2015 respectively, AL has stirred up more controversy among theologians, bishops, and pastors than any papal action in living memory.

Many milestones have taken place since AL first made its public debut last year — too many to count. Among the most significant, in chronological order:
- On June 29, 2016, an international group of 45 Catholic theologians, pastors, and scholars issued a letter and theological analysis to the college of cardinals pertaining to Amoris Laetitia. The signatories outlined 19 theological censures — 11 of which were labeled as heretical — based on a “natural reading” of AL. On July 26, 2016, their document and the letter with their signatures was published after being leaked to the press, presumably by one of the recipients.
- On September 19th, 2016 — ten days after the pope’s letter affirming the sacrilegious interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by the bishops of the Buenos Aires region — four Catholic cardinals — Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner — sent a letter to the pope noting “grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the Church”. The letter included five dubia — the formal method by which theologians and prelates can seek clarifications on matters of Church teaching from Rome.
- On November 14th, 2016, after receiving no response from the pope, the four “dubia cardinals” published their letter, including the five dubia pertaining to Amoris Laetitia’s various propositions.
- On December 7, 2016, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan — one of the most outspoken orthodox voices in the Church — claimed in an interview with a French television station that of the dubia remained unanswered there was “not only a risk of schism” but that “a certain type of schism already exists in the Church”.

“We are witnessing today,” Bishop Schneider said, “a bizarre form of schism. Externally, numerous ecclesiastics safeguard formal unity with the pope, at times for the good of their own careers or out of a kind of papolatry. And at the same time they have broken ties with Christ, the Truth, and with Christ, the true Head of the Church.”

- On December 19, 2016, Cardinal Burke — the most prominent dubia cardinal in the English speaking world, said in an interview with Lisa Bourne of LifeSiteNews that the dubia “have to have a response because they have to do with the very foundations of the moral life and of the Church’s constant teaching with regard to good and evil”. Asked about the timeline for a proposed “formal correction” of the pope in the absence of a response to the dubia, Burke indicated that should such an action become necessary, it would most likely take place some time after Epiphany in 2017.
- Also On December 19, 2016, Cardinal Burke explained in an interview with Catholic World Report that there was a scriptural basis for rebuking a pope (Gal 2:11) and indicated that there were more prelates than the four cardinals who supported the dubia. When asked if it were possible for the pope to “separate himself from communion with the Church” through “schism or heresy,” Burke responded, “If a pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.”
- On December 24, 2016, the major German newspaper Der Spiegel published an article in which it was claimed that among a “very small circle” of people close to the pope, Francis remarked that it was possible he would “enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church.”
- On January 11, 2017, John F. Salza, co-author of the book True or False Pope, outlined in an article for The Remnant (later reprinted at 1P5) what might happen, juridically speaking, if Pope Francis were to continue to refuse to answer the DUBIA.
- On January 17, 2017, three of the Kazakhstani Bishops — Tomash Peta, Metropolitan Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda, and Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana — issued a joint statement requesting prayers from the faithful that Pope Francis would “confirm the unchanging praxis of the Church with regard to the truth of the indissolubility of marriage.” The bishops gave specific examples of how Amoris Laetitia contains “pastoral guidelines” which contradicted “in practice” certain “truths and doctrines that the Catholic Church has continually taught as being sure.”
- On March 25, 2017, Cardinal Burke gave a talk at a parish in Springfield, Virginia, in which he spoke of the spread of a very “harmful confusion in the Church” and the need for the dubia to be answered. Asked what would happen if the pope failed to respond, Cardinal Burke said, “we simply will have to correct the situation, again, in a respectful way, that simply can say that, to draw the response to the questions from the constant teachings of the Church and to make that known for the good of souls.”
- On June 8, 2017, the Polish Bishops’ Conference completed its general assembly, whereupon their spokesman, Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, said that “the teaching of the Church with regard to Holy Communion for those people who live in non-sacramental relationships ‘has not Changed’ after the papal document Amoris Laetitia.”
- on June 19, 2017, veteran Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister published a letter from dubia Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, written on April 25th, 2017, in which he requested “that a papal audience be granted so that they might discuss the dubia which have not yet been answered.” At the date of the publication of the letter, two months had passed with, again, no response from the pope to the request for an audience.
- On July 5, 2017, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of the four dubia cardinals, passed away while on holiday in Bad Füssing, Germany at the age of 83. At the time of his passing, no response to the request for an audience was yet received. In a message read at Meisner’s funeral, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminded those who were mourning his friend that “The Lord does not abandon His Church.”
- On September 6, 2017, almost two months to the day from the passing of Cardinal Meisner, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, another of the four dubia cardinals, passed away at the age of 79. No message from the pope emeritus was read at the funeral of Caffarra.
- On September 12, 2017, Gabriel Ariza of the Spanish-language publication Infovaticana revealed that the late Cardinal Caffarra had confirmed just months before his death that he knew the dubia cardinals were being “monitored” and that they “had their communications tapped” and could “do little more than seek some form of more secure communication.”

Since September 2017, things on the dubia front had been relatively quiet. [What, Mr Skojec thinks the CORRECTIO FILIALIS made public on September 24 has nothing to do with the DUBIA? Isn't it supposed to be the kind of correction that Cardinal Burke has referred to since December 2016 and has taken not one step to realize?]

The absence of a formal correction in October — marking the 100th anniversary of the final Fatima apparition — left many Catholics wondering if action would be taken at all. Today’s revelation [WHAT REVELATION?] however, makes clear that the DUBIA effort — as well as the formal correction that necessarily was to follow — is on track and moving forward. [Do you see it? I must be blind! And what has made the usually in-your-face militant Skojec suddenly meek as a lamb at all this cardinal inaction?]

I obviously came across the Skojec article before seeing Edward Pentin's interview itself, to which here is the link:
[I shall post it for the Forum record as soon as I can.]

00Tuesday, November 14, 2017 7:17 PM

IL PAPOCCHIO reigns supreme in the Church - and he thinks there are no limits whatsoever to papal authority. He not only knows better than Jesus -
since he corrects and edits him as he pleases; he also thinks his election gave him a license to build his own church on the very back of the Church
he was elected to lead, the Church founded by Christ but which he thinks he can improve on in a thousand and one ways. The deposit of faith is just
so much bilge in the new barque that this Successor of Peter is riding on... So if he can do as he pleases about Jesus's words and teaching, why would
he not do as he pleases with everything else, as he does? Hence, the double standard he employs - one for those who think like him and will blindly
follow him, right or wrong; the other, for everyone else.

Fr H started his 'Double standards' post last week with a report that this pope had responded to Hans Kueng's particular dubium in six weeks,
telling him to feel free and go ahead disputing papal infallibility as Kueng has done for over a decade. Of course, he would encourage Kueng -
whatever Vatican-I and subsequent Church magisterium may have said about papal infallibility, Bergoglio probably believes it won't
affect him at all: When he, Bergoglio, says something on any subject whatsoever, including faith and morals, it cannot be other
than infallible

Double standards (2), (3), and (4)

November 14, 2017

It is difficult always to be certain what PF has said, because throughout his pontificate there has been a persistent risk that he has been misreported or misunderstood. I prefix that very important caveat as I continue to list amusing examples of Double Standards.

(2) PF told Cardinal Mueller that he had decided not to reappoint curial officials after the expiry of their five-year term. Mueller was to consider himself to be but the first victim of the new convention.

There seem to be uncertainties about whether PF has been applying this norm uniformly ... or, indeed, at all.

(3) PF talked loudly about Parrhesia in the distant days when he hoped it would encourage Synodal Fathers to say what he wanted to hear them saying. It is rumoured that he has more recently been much more reticent about uttering the pi word.

(4) PF is described as favouring Subsidiarity especially in the new exciting sense of allowing Germanophone hierarchs do do what they like. But ...
(a) a few months ago, a Roman Instruction stripped diocesan bishops of the right to authorise new religious communities within their jurisdictions without the prior inspection and sanction of the Congregation for Religious.
(b) a draft document did the rounds in Rome, according to which young clergy in the Roman Colleges, whoever are the ordinaries of their home dioceses, would be required to concelebrate rather than being allowed to get into the disgusting habit of saying a daily private EF Mass. [Does anyone know what became of this proposal?]

4 a & b are very understandable. The great renaissance of Catholicism which began in the last decades of the 25-year Wojtyla-Ratzinger diarchy disproportionately influenced the young of both sexes.
- Hence, the demise of old communities now reduced to impotent senility was accompanied by a mushrooming of young religious orders which either prefer the Old Mass or, with a broader menu, elevate the Old Mass to optable equality with the New.
- Hence also the growth of vocations to the Sacred Priesthood in the Ecclesia Dei communities but, much more strikingly still, also in the Church at large.
- This has led to a new phenomenon: young priests who for pastoral reasons will willingly say the New Mass (although not necessarily always with the ritual options most fashionable in the 1970s), but whose own interior Gold Standard is the Old Mass and who will, if pastoral needs do not demand otherwise, instinctively say their daily private Masses according to the Old Missal.

It is not surprising that there are those for whom these new cultural manifestations are less than unambiguously welcome. Now an older generation, but still luxuriating on the emotional highs of the late 60s, they peer from under their dear drooping eyelids into the faces of the young. Is it remarkable that they discern in those faces the sure prognostics of their own transience?
00Tuesday, November 14, 2017 7:47 PM

From "The Last Judgment" by Michelangelo [1536–1541]

I was meaning to post a note about Fr. Stravinskas's homily [his homilies are always striking] at the Church of the Holy Innocents after coming from Mass last Sunday, and when I failed to do it, I consoled myself that the entire homily was probably going to be posted on Catholic World Report which has been posting the good father's homilies at Holy Innocents over the past two years... And here it is:

Focusing again on the Four Last Things
Our Christian goal ought to be nothing short of Heaven –
not escaping Hell by the skin of our teeth,
nor being resigned to 'doing time' in Purgatory

by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D, STD
Homily preached at the Church of the Holy Innocents, Manhattan
23rd Sunday after Pentecost

November 12, 2017

As the liturgical year winds down, you will find that the Scriptures increasingly focus our attention on what are traditionally referred to as “the four last things” – death, judgment, Heaven, Hell.

Truth be told, we don’t hear much of any of those four last things at all anymore – and we are all the poorer for it. Now, we shouldn’t be obsessed by these concerns, but because they formed a fundamental part of Jesus’s preaching and teaching, they ought to form a part of ours as well.

Some years back, I was addressing a crowd of over a thousand people in the Miami area for a Saturday conference on the Faith. During the question period, a woman stood up and asked if the Church still believed in Hell because she hadn’t heard it mentioned from the pulpit in years.

I turned the tables by pitching her question back to the audience: “How many people here this morning,” I asked, “have heard a homily on Heaven within the past five years?” Fewer than twenty hands went up. “Now,” I continued, “how many have heard a homily on Hell within the past five years?” Not a single hand surfaced.

I think you would agree that something’s off when statistics like that emerge – and I wouldn’t be surprised if many people here today would have similar data to report. In fact, the problem is so widespread that the former Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict said that the greatest difficulty in the Church over the past four decades is a loss of a sense of eschatology – which is the $64,000 word for the four last things.

In other words, if we lose sight of where we’re headed, not only is our eternal salvation jeopardized, but our earthly existence is likewise compromised. So, let’s try to remedy that situation a bit right now, taking the Catechism of the Catholic Church as our guide.

The goal of every human being ought to be Heaven. That realization prompted the priest who taught us seminarians Freshman English at Seton Hall to say: “Gentlemen, I know Heaven’s our true home, but I’m not the least bit homesick.” And believe it or not, that is a rather Christian attitude.

What I mean is this: While we should regard life on high as our final destiny, we should also appreciate life here below because it too is God’s gift to us. Indeed, if we cannot appreciate the divine gift of earthly life, chances are we won’t be able to appreciate eternal life, either, because the two are intimately connected.

While observing that “in one sense bodily death is natural,” the Catechism also stresses that from the perspective of faith, death is seen as “the wages of sin,” as St. Paul put it to the Romans [1006].

“Death has been transformed by Christ,” we read, most especially because of his enduring it “in an act of total and free submission to the will of His Father.” Therefore, “the obedience of Jesus transformed the curse of death into a blessing” [1009].

This is seen most clearly in the Christian attitude toward death, crystallized in the funeral liturgy: “For your faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not ended.” The phase of pilgrimage thus ends and is taken up into man’s final goal – eternal life.

The Catechism takes special aim at theological or philosophical theories which would fail to take account of the finality and irrepeatability of human life and death. Very bluntly, it says: “There is no ‘reincarnation’ after death” [1013].

This reflection ends with an encouragement to avail oneself of all the aids of traditional spirituality in preparing for one’s death. Thus we are reminded of the petition of the Litany of the Saints that the Lord would deliver us “from a sudden and unprovided death,” as well our daily prayer to the Virgin to “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” It also urges us to have recourse to the intercession of St. Joseph, “the patron of a happy death” [1014].

This all leads to the logical question, “How do the dead rise?” First of all, what does it mean to “rise from the dead”? The Catechism explains that “in death, the separation of the soul and the body, the body of man falls into corruption while the soul goes for its encounter with God, all the while living in expectation of its being reunited to its glorified body. God in His omnipotence will definitively bestow incorruptible life on our bodies by uniting them to our souls, by the power of the Resurrection of Jesus” [997].

All men will rise, we are told, while the “how” of it all “surpasses our imagination” and is open to us “only in faith.” The text goes on to note that “our participation in the Eucharist gives us even now a foretaste of the transfiguration of our body by Christ” [1000], as preparation for the last day – Christ’s Parousia or final coming in glory [1001].

The emphasis on the real, bodily, corporeal nature of the risen body is important since some thinkers today have reduced the risen life to no more than a vague kind of shadowy existence; the ultimate and normal mode of existence for those possessed of a human nature is life in a body, to which the presence of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother in their glorified bodies in Heaven now attests.

Having met death, what has one to look forward to? Life eternal. But in what does that consist? Immediately upon death, each person experiences a “particular judgment” which seals his destiny for eternity. Yes, contrary to the wishful thinking of this age, there is a judgment.

And if you want an artistic depiction of Christ the Judge, I suggest considering the one which looms large in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington or, better yet, Michelangelo’s in the Sistine Chapel.

In that hour, we shall not be able to blame bad parenting or poor environment for our misdeeds; all the masks will be gone; all self-deception, laid bare. We’ll not be able to convince Christ that, in spite of all kinds of horrific sins (yes, sins, not weaknesses), “I am really a good person, Lord.”

The time for repentance will be over, as will the time of mercy. This is not said to inspire fear because a true Christian does not obey God’s laws out of servile fear; he does so out of loving obedience. One who has lived according to the Gospel here below has nothing to fear on the day of judgment.

And so, we read in the Catechism: “Those who die in the grace and friendship of God, and who are completely purified, live forever with Christ” [1023]; this occurs in the place we call heaven, which “is the final goal and realization of the most profound aspirations of man, the state of supreme and definitive happiness” [1024]. “To live in heaven is ‘to be with Christ'” [1025]. “This mystery of blessed communion with God and with all those who are in Christ surpasses all comprehension and all depiction” [1027]; this experience of heavenly glory we call “the beatific vision” [1028]. [The article of faith that John XXII denied heretically, although he inisisted he was saying it as a private theologian and not as part of his Magisterium. He recanted the day before he died, at the urging of a cardinal-nephew and other relatives.]*

Next we consider “those who die in the grace and friendship of God, but not fully purified, although assured of their eternal salvation.” These souls “endure a purification after their death, so as to obtain the sanctity necessary to enter into the joy of heaven” [1030]; “this final purification of the elect” is traditionally called purgatory and is “totally distinct from the punishment of the damned” [1031].

On behalf of the poor souls, we are advised to pray, especially through the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. “The Church also recommends alms-giving, indulgences and works of penance on behalf of the dead” [1032] —in response to those who have argued for 35 years that such efforts are either useless or not in keeping with “contemporary” Catholic approaches.

Even less “modern” is the insistence on the reality of eternal punishment: “And it is this state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and with the blessed which is designated by the word ‘hell'” [1033].

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. The souls of those who die in the state of mortal sin descend immediately after death into hell. . . . The principal pain of hell consists in eternal separation from God” [1035].

Why does the Church adhere to such a teaching? First of all, because it is part of divine Revelation, but also to serve as “a call to responsibility” (for man to use his freedom wisely “in view of his eternal destiny”) and “a call to conversion” (following the lead of the Lord Who urged men to “enter by the narrow gate,” not the wide one which “leads to perdition”) [1036].

Finally, we read that God predestines no one to go to hell; what is necessary for that is a willful turning away from God (mortal sin) and persisting in that until the end” [1037]. This position of the Church, then, is presented in a truly positive and holistic fashion, as is appropriate.

All too often we moderns are so unrealistic as we seek to pick and choose what tickles our ears, while sifting out messages that do not. Just because we don’t like something doesn’t make it cease to exist.

I always find it fascinating and sadly amusing how stories of so-called “near-death” experiences are always filled with visions of light, happiness and peace. Has the National Enquirer ever found a single person who encountered the terror of Hell in such situations? Apparently, they never interviewed the three children from Fatima. No, wishful thinking keeps such “negative” thoughts at bay.

There is, however, one very valid question about the Christian teaching on Hell: How can it be reconciled with our equally strong doctrine of a merciful God.

Well, think about these facts:
- Who is God? Saint John tells us: “God is love.”
- What is Heaven? Possessing and being possessed by love for all eternity.
Now, what kind of a loving God would force someone to be in a place and with people for which his entire earthly life made him unsuited?

On the contrary, the very existence of Hell demonstrates the perfect balance between God’s justice and God’s mercy: Divine justice accuses the unrepentant sinner of being unworthy of eternal happiness, while divine mercy allows the sinner to choose forever the defective brand of happiness he has continually sought.

Perhaps a home-spun example might help: Let’s suppose that your favorite vegetable is asparagus, and you serve it at every meal because it is both healthful and delicious. A guest arrives for dinner and as you share the menu with him, he informs you that not only does he detest the taste of asparagus but is actually allergic to it. Would it be kind, considerate or merciful of you to force-feed him massive doses of the vegetable? Hardly.

Similarly, Almighty God will never force His love on anyone, always allowing us to exercise our freedom, even in defective and damaging ways – so much does He respect our human dignity.

The month of November has a particular focus on eternity as we began with the Solemnity of All Saints and moved on to the Commemoration of All Souls the next day, keeping the Poor Souls in our prayers and Masses in a special way for the remainder of the month.

Following the general resurrection comes the final judgment. “The most Holy Roman Church believes and confesses firmly that on the day of judgment all men will appear together with their own bodies before the judgment seat of Christ to render an account of their works” [1059]. With the result that “the Kingdom of God will arrive in all its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ forever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. Then God will be ‘all in all’ [1 Cor 15:28], in eternal life” [1060].

This focus is especially valuable in a time when catechesis and preaching alike have failed to give adequate attention to a life for man beyond our present existence.

Our Christian goal ought to be nothing short of Heaven – not escaping Hell by the skin of our teeth, nor being resigned to “doing time” in Purgatory.

Someone like Saint Thérèse set the goal of her life in childhood, as she mentioned so often: “I’ve always wished that I could be a saint.” And then she gives a final piece of advice, advice we would all do well to heed: “Believe me, don’t wait until tomorrow to begin becoming a saint.”

Pope Benedict says it’s “a journey that lasts a lifetime,” but we need to embark on that journey today.

The French author of the last century, Léon Bloy, put our whole question into clear relief with stunning simplicity and depth: “There is only one sadness in life – not being a saint.”

Stay tuned as we hone in on Heaven next week.

*Church historian Roberto de Mattei informs us farther on John XXII's heresy - what happened in the 14th century might be quite instructive in our time:

In three sermons he gave in the Cathedral of Avignon between November 1st 1331 and January 5th 1332, he (John XXIII) sustained the view that the souls of the just, even after their perfect purification in Purgatory, did not enjoy the Beatific Vision of God. Only after the resurrection of the flesh and the general judgment would they be raised by God to the vision of the Divinity.

Placed “under the altar” (Apoc. 6,9) the souls of the saints would be consoled and protected by the Humanity of Christ, but the Beatific Vision would be deferred until the resurrection of their bodies and the general judgment (Marc Dykmans in Les sermons de Jean XXII sur la vision beatifique, Gregorian University, Rome 1973, published the entire texts of the sermons pronounced by John XXII; cfr: also Christian Trottman, La vision béatifique. Des disputes scolastiques à sa définition par Benoit XII, Ecole Française de Rome, Rome 1995, pp. 417-739).

The error according to which the Beatific Vision of the Divinity would be conceded to souls not after the first judgment, but only after the resurrection of the flesh was an old one, but in the XIII century it had been rebutted by St. Thomas Aquinas, primarily in De veritate (q. 8, a. 1) and in the Summa Theologica ( I, q. 12, a. 1).

When John XXII re-proposed this error, he was openly criticized by many theologians. Among those that intervened in the debate, were Guillaume Durand de Saint Pourcain, Bishop of Meaux (1270-1334), who accused the Pope of re-proposing the Catharist heresies; the English Dominican Thomas Waleys (1318-1349), who, as a result of his public resistance underwent trial and imprisonment; the Franciscan Nicola da Lira (1270-1349); and Cardinal Jacques Fournier (1280-1342), pontifical theologian and author of the treatise De statu animarum ante generale iudicium (On the state of souls before the General Judgment).

When the Pope tried to impose this erroneous doctrine on the Faculty of Theology in Paris, the King of France, Philip VI of Valois, prohibited its teaching, and, according to accounts by the Sorbonne’s Chancellor, Jean Gerson [even] reached the point of threatening John XXII with the stake if he didn’t make a retraction. John XXII’s sermons totus mundum christianum turbaverunt (John XXII's sermons have distorbed the whole Christian world), so said Thomas of Strasburg, Master of the Hermits of Saint Augustine (in Dykmans, op. cit., p. 10).

On the eve of John XXII’s death, he stated that he had expressed himself simply as a private theologian, without any binding to the magisterium he held. Giovanni Villani reports in his Chronicle the retraction the Pope made on his thesis on December 3rd 1334, the day before his death, at the solicitation of Cardinal Dal Poggetto, his nephew, and some other relatives.

On December 20th 1334, Cardinal Fournier was elected Pope, taking the name of Benedict XII (1335-1342). The new Pontiff wanted to close the issue with a dogmatic definition, the constitution, Benedictus Deus of January 29th 1336, where he expresses thus: “We, with apostolic authority, define the following: "According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints […] already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in heaven […] and these souls have seen and see the divine essence with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.” (Denz-H, n. 1000). It was an article of faith referred to again on July 6th 1439, by the Bull Laetentur coeli at the Council of Florence (Denz-H, n. 1305).

Following these doctrinal decisions, the thesis sustained by John XXII must be considered formally heretical, even if at that time the Pope sustained that he had not defined it as a dogma of faith.

St. Robert Bellarmine who dealt amply with this issue in De Romano Pontifice (Opera omnia, Venetiis 1599, Book. IV, chap. 14, coll. 841-844) writes that John XXII supported a heretical thesis, with the intention of imposing it as the truth on the faithful, but died before he could have defined the dogma, without therefore, undermining the principle of pontifical infallibility by his behavior.

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