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00Saturday, December 9, 2017 7:07 PM


Page change! - See preceding page for the posts on the pope's desire to modify a line in the Lord's Prayer...

Cardinal Sarah visits Benedict XVI

Oh to have been a fly on the wall!

I am obviously unable to reproduce the entire chapter that Benedict XVI devoted in JESUS OF NAZARETH, Vol. 2, to the Lord's Prayer, but I found an online source that excerpts much of it:

Chapter Five: The Lord’s Prayer

The Sermon on the Mount…draws a comprehensive portrait of the right
way to live. It aims to show us how to be a human being. We could sum up its fundamental insights by saying that man can be understood
only in light of God, and that his life is made righteous only when
he lives it in relation to God.

But God is not some distant stranger. He shows us his face in Jesus. In what Jesus does and wills we come to know the mind and will of God himself...

Christ, who is the truth, has given us these words, and in them he gives us the Holy Spirit….This also reveals something of the specificity of Christian mysticism. It is not in the first instance immersion in the depths of oneself, but encounter with the Spirit of God in the word that goes ahead of us. It is encounter with the Son and the Holy Spirit and thus a becoming-one with the living God who is always both in us and above us..

The first thing we must do is step outside ourselves and open ourselves to God. Nothing can turn out right if our relation to God is not rightly ordered. For this reason, the Our Father begins with God and then…shows us the way toward being human...

Our Father Who Art in Heaven
The gift of God is God himself. The ‘good things’ [Mt 7:9] that he gives us are himself. This reveals in a surprising way what prayer is really all about: It is not about this or that, but about God’s desire to offer us the gift of himself —that is the gift of all gifts, the ‘one thing necessary.’

Prayer is a way of gradually purifying and correcting our wishes and
of slowly coming to realize what we really need: God and his Spirit...

Jesus alone was fully entitled to say ‘my Father,’ because he alone is truly God’s only-begotten Son, of one substance with the Father. By contrast, the rest of us have to say ‘our Father.’ Only within the ‘ we’ of the disciples can we call God ‘Father,’ because only through communion with Jesus Christ do we truly become ‘children of God.’

In this sense, the word 'ouR' is really rather demanding: It requires that we step out of the closed circle of our ‘ I.’ It requires that we surrender ourselves to communion with the other children of God. It requires that we strip ourselves of what is merely our own, of what divides. It requires that we accept the other, the others — that we open our ear and our heart to them...

Hallowed Be Thy Name
[Jesus] says of himself simply, ‘ I am who I am’ — he is without any qualification. This pledge is a name and a non-name at one and the same time.

The Israelites were therefore perfectly right in refusing to utter this self-designation of God, expressed by the word YHWH, so as to avoid degrading it to the level of names of pagan deities... Translations were wrong to write out this name….By doing so, they have dragged the mystery of God, which cannot be captured in images or in names lips can utter, down to the level of some familiar item within a common history of religions….

Our only recourse is to try as reverently as possible to pick up and
purify the polluted fragments of the divine name. But there is no way we can do that alone. All we can do is plead with him not to allow the light of his name to be destroyed in this world”...

Thy Kingdom Come
With [this] petition…the Lord wants to show us how to pray and order
our action in just this way. The first and essential thing is a listening heart, so that God, not we, may reign. The Kingdom of God comes by way of a listening heart. This is its path. And that is what we must pray for again and again...

Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven
The essence of heaven is oneness with God’s will, the oneness of will and truth. Earth becomes ‘ heaven’ when and insofar as God’s will is done there….This why we pray…that earth may become ‘heaven’ ...

And in this light, we now understand that Jesus himself is ‘ heaven’ in the deepest and truest sense of the word — he in whom and through
whom God’s will is wholly done...

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
When we consider Jesus’s message in its entirety, then it is impossible to expunge the eucharistic dimension….This petition helps us to transcend the purely material and to request already now what is to come ‘ tomorrow,’ the new bread. And when we pray for ‘tomorrow’s’ bread today, we are reminded to live already today from tomorrow, from the love of God, which calls us all to be responsible for one another”...

And Forgive Us Our Trespasses,
as We Forgive Those Who Trespass against Us

The fact that all individual beings are deeply interwoven and that all are encompassed in turn by the being of the One, the Incarnate Son, is something we are no longer capable of seeing [because of] the trivialization of evil in which we take refuge [and because of] our individualistic image of man. We can no longer grasp substitution because we think that every man is ensconced in himself alone...

The overcoming of guilt has a price: We must put our heart — or, better, our whole existence — on the line….This act…can become effective only through communion with the One who bore the burdens of us all.

[This] petition [is] a Christological prayer. It calls us…with him to work through and suffer through evil by means of love”...

And Lead Us Not into Temptation
The object of [this] petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can bear, not to let us slip from his hands...

But Deliver Us from Evil
The Our Father in general and this petition in particular [tries] to tell us that it is only when you have lost God that you have lost yourself; then you are nothing more than a random product of evolution…. Evils (plural) can be necessary for our purification, but evil (singular) destroys….This is why we pray that…we ourselves may not be lost...

[This] last petition brings us back to the first three: In asking to be liberated from the power of evil, we are ultimately asking for God’s Kingdom, for union with his will, and for sanctification of his name [as we also beg him] to set a limit to the evils that ravage the world and our lives...

00Sunday, December 10, 2017 7:12 AM

I am very grateful to Fr. De Souza for marking the tenth anniversary of Spe salvi, perhaps my favorite 'short work' by Benedict XVI. After the stupendous surprise he sprung on us all by his radiant first encyclical Deus caritas est, I did not expect to be swept off my feet by an even more dazzling work which in the process of presenting the reasons for Christian hope is also the best history of ideas I have had the pleasure of reading... Many of Benedict's short works are each the equivalent of a semester's course in Western thought - such as each of his famous 'September lectures' was (Regensburg, Paris Bernardins, Westminster Hall, the Bundestag, and even the lecture he wrote but never delivered to La Sapienza University...

Spe Salvi: A masterpiece of hope
Lyrical and creative, it is the work of a brilliant mind

by Fr Raymond de Souza

Saturday, 9 Dec 2017

Ten years ago Benedict XVI issued one of the more curious encyclicals of recent times, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), about the theological virtue of hope. The nature of its appearance meant that it has been prematurely forgotten. [????] It shouldn’t be.

It was curious because almost all major papal documents are projects that involve long preparation and many collaborators. Consider Veritatis Splendor of St John Paul II, some seven years in preparation. Or the mammoth works of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia, the longest papal documents in history, so long that they are necessarily and evidently the work of several different drafters.

Spe Salvi was different. The Vatican drafters were at work on the social encyclical that would become Caritas in Veritate in 2009. Benedict was devoting his spare time, such as a pope has, to his three-volume life of Christ, the first of which appeared in May 2007. But when he returned from his summer sojourn – a holiday it evidently was not – at Castel Gandolfo in the autumn of 2007, Benedict surprised everyone with a complete, polished magisterial meditation on hope. It was then, confirmed by the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth published in 2011, that it became apparent that Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict was the most learned man alive.

Spe Salvi is uniquely the work of brilliant mind steeped in the Christian tradition, a pastoral heart who knows the aspirations and anxieties of his flock, and the soul animated by the simple piety of the faithful.

While Benedict ranges from ancient to modern philosophy on the nature of hope, it is the Sudanese slave turned Canossian Sister, St Josephine Bakhita – one of John Paul’s Jubilee year canonisations – that he proposes as a model of hope.

Benedict writes: “Now she had ‘hope’ – no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: ‘I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me – I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.’ Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed’, no longer a slave, but a free child of God.”

Spe Salvi is lyrical in its treatment about how only love can free us from the prison of history as just one damn thing after another.

“To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us, and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality,” he writes. “It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time – the before and after – no longer exists.”

Yet the creativity of Spe Salvi is not in its treatment of love but justice. Our hope for something more, something beyond this world and across the threshold of death, is not only a desire for a love beyond limits, but also a desire for a limit to evil, a desire for justice. Our hope demands the triumph of justice, which plainly does not prevail in this world.

“I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or, in any case, the strongest argument in favour of faith in eternal life,” the Holy Father writes. “The purely individual need for a fulfilment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ’s return and for new life become fully convincing.”

That God is love has been known since St John wrote it in his epistle. St James writes that mercy triumphs over justice.

Benedict, though, says that the strongest argument for eternal life is not that we might love forever, but that in eternity justice might be wrought for those who were denied it here.

It's as if Benedict XVI had foreseen that the faithful would be sold the false hope of mercy without justice even if he could not have imagined it would come from his successor!

“God is justice and creates justice,” Benedict writes. “This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things – justice and grace – must be seen in their correct inner relationship. Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value.

Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened.”

What do we hope for? For life, for love, for mercy. But first we hope for justice. In the justice of the Cross we find the hope in which we are saved.

Fr Schall, of course, has written the best essays about Spe Salvi. Here is the two-part essay he wrote when the encyclical was first published in 2007.

by Fr. James V. Schall, SJ
December 3, 2007

"Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living forever — endlessly — appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end — this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable."
- Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, #10.

"Good structures (of society) help, but of themselves they are not enough. Man can never be redeemed simply from outside. Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive.

Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it. On the other hand, we must also acknowledge that modern Christianity, faced with the success of science in progressively structuring the world, has to a large extent restricted its attention to the individual and his salvation. In so doing it has limited the horizon of it hope and has failed to recognize sufficiently the greatness of its task...."
- Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, #25.

Modern philosophy, particularly political philosophy, has been characterized by mislocating the supernatural virtue of hope.

Philosophy endeavored to incorporate the transcendent order within the world. It gave man, so it surmised, a practical "hope" of a fully happy life as a result of his own efforts through the sciences of man and nature. Thus the virtue of faith became "belief" in progress. The virtue of charity became the effort to rearrange man, family, and polity so that all that separates man from man would be eliminated through no personal effort of the human subjects.

As a result of this tremendous effort of modernity to make philosophy "practical," the classical notions of the last things —d eath, purgatory, heaven, and hell — were likewise relocated within this world. The result has been, at every level, a distortion of man and a failure to understand his real dignity and destiny.

The greatest aberrations of human history have resulted from this effort to reject the Christian understanding of the proper worldly and transcendent purpose of man. Heaven, hell, purgatory, and death appear in new forms.

In Spe Salvi, the present encyclical on hope, Benedict XVI, with his usual insightful brilliance, re-establishes the proper understanding of the eschaton, the last things. The place of hope in our lives is grounded in the transcendent destiny of man. He is ultimately to become personally a member of the City of God. Death and suffering remain realities within the human condition. Both can be redemptive. The actual plan of salvation included them, once the Fall occurred.

In a famous phrase, Eric Voegelin characterized the intelligibility of modernity as the "immanentization of the eschaton." By this complicated phrase, he meant that far from rejecting Christianity, modernity attempted to accomplish the transcendent ends of man, still present in the modern soul as secular hopes, including the resurrection of the body, by means under his own power. Much of the energy devoted to science had this aim as its not so hidden purpose.

What Benedict does in this encyclical is, to coin a phrase, "de-immanentize" the eschaton. That is, he restores the four last things and the three theological virtues to their original understanding as precisely what we most need to understand ourselves.

These things have been subsumed into a philosophy that denies a creator God. It replaces Him with human intelligence and inner-worldly purpose as the proper destiny of the human race in the cosmos. This effort has simply failed, as Benedict shows in numerous ways. Thus, it is proper to re-present the central understanding primarily of hope. Benedict had already attended to charity in his first encyclical and to logos, (reason) in his Regensburg Lecture.

John Paul II, among other encyclicals, wrote three devoted to God — one on the Father, one on the Son, and one on the Holy Spirit. Benedict XVI's first encyclical was Deus Caritas Est, "God is Love". His second encyclical, published on the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30, 2007, was on hope. Its opening Latin words quote from Paul's epistle to the Romans, "By hope we have been saved."

Logically, we probably can expect a later encyclical on "faith." "These three, faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest of these is charity," as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul is central to the present encyclical on hope. The basic questions are: "Is there anything to hope for?" and "Are the alternatives to Christian hope tenable?" The answer to the first question is "yes," and to the second "no."

Such a consideration on hope is particularly timely. During the Marxist era, there was a brief period, with the publication of books by Ernest Bloch and Jürgen Moltmann, in which hope was of particular ideological currency. This interest was largely because of the Marxist effort to transfer the transcendent object of hope to this world. Even many Christians were tempted to shift their focus from God to this world. The "eschaton" was to be "immanentized," to use Voegelin's phrase.

That is, following Feurerbach, the Christian idea of everlasting life was all right — its location was just misplaced. It could be achieved in this world by human efforts alone, or so it was thought by not a few great intellectuals. We have no need of a "redeemer" or of "grace."

With Spe Salvi, Benedict returns to this topic of hope. He is not now so much reacting to a Marxist inner-worldly utopian claim. He is rather looking for a way to straighten out our minds about the purpose of man both on earth and in his transcendent dimensions.

Benedict wishes to rejoin hope both to its inner-worldly and to its primarily transcendent meanings. He wishes to put to rest once and for all the idea that Christians, by virtue of their transcendent end, neglect the world. It is quite the opposite, as he also shows in Deus Caritas Est. What is most needed in the world for doing what can be done there is precisely charity and hope.

Benedict XVI is far and away the most learned and incisive mind in the public order anywhere in the world today. He is quite dangerous to public orders and religions that will not see themselves against a criterion of logos, of truth. His initiatives (as this encyclical is one and his "Regensburg Lecture" another) are magisterial. They all include historical, philosophical, theological, and scientific dimensions. He covers the whole sweep of intellectual history. His knowledge of scripture and tradition is profound. For those unbelievers who are weak in their chosen faith, it is best not to read him.

There is nothing that the unbeliever has thought that Benedict has not also thought and, indeed, spelled out in terms at least as clear as any unbeliever himself has set down. He is like Aquinas in this sense. The atheist has nothing to teach him that he has not already thought about and analyzed. His thought has that Germanic thoroughness and clarity that make us aware that he has seen issues in their whole sweep.

This encyclical cites words in Greek, Latin, French, and German, usually words he needs to spell out in technical terms to make a point. In addition to St. Paul and Scripture, it cites — by no means at random — Dostoyevsky, Francis Bacon, Marx, Kant, de Lubac, Horkheimer, Gregory Nazianzen, Adorno, Luther, Bernard of Clairvaux, Aquinas, the Fourth Lateran Council, Saint Hilary, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, pseudo-Rufinus, St. Benedict, Frederick Engels, St Ambrose, Plato, and Josephine Bakhita, a former slave from the Sudan. He already cited Aristotle in the Regensburg Lecture, so he can be excused. He manages to touch on the history of slavery, the notion of modernity, the importance of prayer, and the revitalization of the teachings on Purgatory and Hell, all in one relatively brief document.

In a recent review in Asia Times (November 7, 2007), "Spengler" remarked that Benedict is the most important man in the world public order today. He is the one man capable of seeing political problems in their theological and philosophical origins. To see politics only as politics is in a way not to see it all. He provides in the public order, as I like to put it, precisely what it most lacks, namely, the intelligibility of what is going on with man in the world. Get this wrong, as we do, and everything else turns against man.

It has been clear for some time, as I have written elsewhere, that Benedict is the one who explains what the most fundamental issues are that face mankind. Islam is only one of them, though it is a central one. The most important one is the very soul of the West itself and its rejected Christian roots. This act has far more consequences than we are wont to admit.

We are in political confusion because we are in an intellectual and moral confusion. In the Regensburg Lecture, Benedict traced the main issues in modern time back to a Europe that is in the process of losing its understanding of itself by its failure to see the relation of revelation to reason.

The Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and medieval traditions are fundamental for knowing what and where we are. Modernity rejects this tradition because it chooses to do so. There is nothing "inevitable" about it. Evidence that it ought not to do so, however, abounds, especially in its own declining populations. And Europe chooses to do so because it rejects the traditions of reason and revelation out of which it arose in the first place.

The burden of this encyclical is on restoring order to the mind of our kind in thinking about its own destiny.

It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love — a Person. And if we know this Person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of the material elements no longer have the last word; we are not slaves to the universe and of its laws, we are free. (#5)

What this encyclical is about, in part, then, is the untenableness of other versions of what man can hope for, particularly modern versions supposedly deriving from science. This "future," I believe, was what Kant asked about. And Benedict in this encyclical pretty much shows the impossibility of Kant's version of an inner worldly alternative to eternal life as the destiny of man. (#19-20)

In a remarkable analysis of both Horkheimer and Adorno, the two famous Frankfurt school thinkers whom the popes treats with great attention, Benedict shows how they, in a way, re-invent Christian concepts of God and eternal life. They even recognize the need for the resurrection of the body, yet in a specifically un-Christian context (#22, 42-43).

The pope suggests that modern thinkers could not get rid of Christianity except by re-inventing it in some odd and contorted manner. The result was never superior to the original. It is time to look again at the original. This is what this encyclical is about.

The pope makes the same point about the Christian background to modern thought in another way by citing Dostoevsky, himself one of the great prophets of our destiny:

Both these things — justice and grace — must be seen in their correct inner relationship. Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Evil doers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction as though nothing had happened (#44).

In Benedict's view, Plato, in the Gorgias, had essentially the same idea (525a-24c). Both of these citations relate to the good sense contained in the too much maligned doctrine of Purgatory and the hope it implied, a hope that did not overlook the heinousness of our sins, even when forgiven. This was Dostoevsky's point about the banquet.

The primary candidate in the modern world for what replaces the Christian idea of hope is "progress." This term has both a tenable and an untenable meaning.

Up to that time, the recovery of what man had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay 'redemption'. Now, this 'redemption,' the restoration of the lost 'Paradise' is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that the faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level—that of purely private and otherworld affairs (#17).

The kingdom of God is now said to be on earth and a product of man's own efforts. Even Kant, the pope noted, suspected that this new kingdom might in fact turn against man (#23). It is very nice to have a pope who reads Kant carefully.

Early in the encyclical, Benedict says that the Christian message is not only "informative" but "performative" (#2). What does he mean by this? "The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known — it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing." Revelation is, of course, also "informative."

In a very touching comment about parents bringing their child to baptism, the pope recalls what parents ask of baptism. The answer is specifically "eternal life." That is, the parents want to know the real destiny of a real child born into this world whom they know and we know will die. Eternal life is not an abstraction (#10). Continued life in this world, as I cited in the beginning from the same paragraph, simply won't do on its own grounds.

The virtue of hope is a "performative" virtue. It is utterly realistic. It sees that the hope we want is for this individual person. While we want the salvation of all, we want the salvation of each of us. This is not "selfish" but what we are to hope for, precisely death, resurrection, eternal life. This is our sole real end. "In this sense it is true that anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life" (#27).

Here Chesterton's point that the only real charge against Christianity rings true. It is too good to be true, for it offers what we would want, if we could have it. But it does not promise any other way or route than the way that God has offered to us in Christ, that is, in freedom and suffering. We must choose it.

Socrates says in the sixth book of the Republic: "Nobody is satisfied to acquire things that are merely believed to be good, however; but everyone wants the things that really are good and disclaims mere belief here" (505d). Benedict's presentation of the virtue of hope is entirely in conformity with what Socrates says here (#2). What we believe to be true is true. The guarantee is the presence of Christ in the world.

In a very Augustinian passage, Benedict puts it this way, now in terms of the very education of youth of which Socrates was so concerned:

Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or so some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only something infinite will suffice for him..." (#30)

The story of modern youth, in this sense, is the story of disappointment over any alternative but the one that lies at the origin of their creation, that of eternal life.

The alternative utopias and destinies do not cohere.

"This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering. Only God is able to do this; only God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history" (#36). Here we find that the actual hope given in revelation when spelled out describes our condition better than any "rationalistic" alternatives: eternal life (#12).

Let me conclude these preliminary remarks on the encyclical on hope by pointing out how Benedict distinguishes progress in terms of science and the same idea in the field of morals and ethics (#24-25). There can be no "progress" in the field of ethics or politics because each person must himself decide what he will do. We do not exist as one "corporate" being, but as many within the same nature. "Man's freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others — if that were the case we would no longer be free."

Human beings in each of their acts are free. They could choose to do otherwise. If they are bad, they can choose to be good, or to be bad.

"Freedom presupposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning. Naturally, new generations can build on the knowledge and experience of those who went before, and they can draw upon the moral treasury of the whole of humanity. But they can also reject it, because it can never be self-evident in the same way as material inventions." The very doctrine of the eternal salvation of each individual person as an acceptance or rejection of what is given to him depends on this basic principle.

Benedict is careful not to place himself in an individualist position. Man is a political and social animal, even in his salvation. But structures alone cannot save him. The hypothesis that they can, one of the tenets of modernity, is precisely a denial of the freedom that makes eternal, not to mention daily, life worthwhile.

"Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself. If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined—good—state of the world, man's freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all." It is at this point that Benedict cites Francis Bacon in the passage found at the beginning of this essay. To repeat, "man can never be redeemed simply from outside."

What is perhaps amusing about this encyclical is that Benedict simply takes the oft-derided notion of Purgatory and shows how and why it is a perfectly sensible doctrine, one that has sensible philosophical and psychological origins. Most of us, he recalls, are neither wholly good nor bad, and we die that way. It is not irrational to think that a period of purgation is not good for us, in view of our final end (#45). Nor have we gotten rid of the notion of hell. We just re-invented it in our thinking of totalitarian regimes, themselves the product of the darker side of modernity.

Again let me recall the spirit of this encyclical:

"In the modern era, the idea of the Last Judgment has faded into the background. Christian faith has been individualized and primarily oriented towards the salvation of the believer's own soul, while reflection on the world history is largely dominated by the idea of progress. The fundamental content of awaiting a final Judgment, however, has not disappeared; it has simply taken a totally different form" (#42).

Spe Salvi is given to us to show that the original form remains the really reasonable one. Benedict has indeed "de-immanentized the eschaton." He has returned politics to where it should be in this world as a limited effort to do what we can for one another, now motivated by a caritas and a gratia that did not exist without the divine intervention.

But our end, for each of us, remains transcendent. We seek not just our personal salvation and resurrection, but also that into eternal life, the City of God. "Paul reminds the Ephesians that before their encounter with Christ they were 'without hope and without God in the world' (Eph 2:12)." (#2)

We have failed to understand the "greatness of our task" (#25). We are not without hope in the world because we are not without God. By testimony of the futile search in modernity for the "immanent eschaton" itself, no other alternative exists but that of our hope to be saved.

As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, we are not to "grieve as others do who have no hope." How unerring is Benedict's sight to see that it is precisely the virtue of hope that gets to the bottom of what most unsettles the modern mind.
00Sunday, December 10, 2017 7:27 AM

The ‘new narrative’ of the church under Bergoglio
comes with its own new orthodoxies

Translated from

December 6, 2017

Prof. Massimo Introvigne recently gave a long interview to Formiche, which is one of those strange occasions when you would wish very much that what you are reading were true but you know, with displeasure, that it is not.

[Introvigne (born 1955) is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. He has written more than 60 books in this genre. I consider him one of those opportunists in the guise of ‘a Catholic 1000% loyal to the pope whoever he is, right or wrong’, and therefore totally a-critical and laudatory of everything and anything this pope says and does.

It somehow makes it worse that in the previous pontificate, he was always very laudatory of Benedict XVI, for which reason I posted quite a number of his articles over the years. Which is what one could also say about Andrea Tornielli. Yet loyalty to an institution you believe in does not mean you have to be loyal to those of its men – especially its leaders – who are undermining the institution with a clear intention to destroy it, or at least re-make it completely in their own likeness and image.]

The interview proceeds in the line of the official narrative about this pontificate:

In words and gestures, Pope Francis is first of all a communicator. He works incisively on the texts of Tradition which he has received and which he is called on to transmit. He does not change a comma, but the language he uses is different”.

In other words, the ‘novelty’ about this pope is not to be found in the content of what he teaches (“The principles remain firm”), but only that of style (‘communicative and pastoral’), of language, of attitude (“What is different with this pope is his pastoral attitude!”) [Depends whom he is talking to or talking about – he has been just as bullying and arrogant as he has been faux-pastoral], and of tone (‘He has changed the tone of teaching, and for him, tone is fundamental”).

[Let me get this straight: Is Introvigne saying that Francis finds the tone of ‘traditional texts’ ‘wrong’ or somehow inappropriate for today? But those texts also include the words of Jesus in the Gospels. So not only must Bergoglio think he needs to correct Jesus’s teachings – by omitting anything he thinks modern man would find offensive or unpleasant – but he must also correct his ‘tone’ which ranged from meek and mild, to scathing and angry (as he was with the merchants in the temple). Which happens to be the very same range of tone that Bergoglio uses depending on who he is addressing or who he is talking about!]

Just from the outset, there is a lot to comment on: Introvigne seems to be taking it for granted that Pope Francis is a great communicator [‘excellent locutor!”] who succeeds, unlike his opponents (who constitute only an ‘intellectual elite’), to have a direct contact with the masses [“He seeks to avoid intermediaries and wishes to address the faithful directly”] [And other popes did not??? They thought they were only talking to themselves???]

But can we be sure of this? If such an immediate rapport with the faithful truly existed, then St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square should continue to be overcrowded (as they were in the time of the intellectual Benedict XVI), but why are there less and less people coming these days?

Besides, it is not true that the pope does not use intermediaries, because in a media-dominated world, how can it be otherwise? Only that these intermediaries are rather different from those in the past. Instead of using his own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, to propagate his novelties, he prefers to use La Repubblica and Eugenio Scalfari, a choice Introvigne justifies by saying: style “It is better for him to have a good press on Repubblica or on CNN than in the Catholic media”. [Really now!] So it’s a question of taste. But please, let us have no illusions that in Repubblica, the message of the Gospels will come through in all its purity.

style “By using intermediaries, he risks misunderstanding and reduction of his messages… He knows he may have made mistakes with Scalfari and in his airborne news conferences. It is a risk he chooses to take, in his insistence on the need to start processes more than to occupy space”. [One obvious fallacy of this Bergoglian inanity is that in order to start any process, one needs to occupy a space - as he now ‘occupies’ the Church of Christ as if it were his very own, because without the space he occupies as pope, he would be unable to start any of his processes at all.]

It is true that sometimes, perhaps always, in order to reach an objective, one must take risks: whoever is not ready to run any risk is inevitably condemned to inaction. The problem with this Bergoglian attitude is whether the risks are worth whatever is at stake. It would seem, from Introvigne’s words, that everyone (i.e., all the faithful) reads Repubblica, and that therefore, for the pope to communicate with the faithful, he must use that particular medium of communication.

But the premise is wrong because even if it is true that Repubblica readers are far more numerous than those of the OR, obviously not everyone reads Scalfari’s flagship newspaper. Moreover, Repubblica, like other mainstream media, is not a neutral medium but plainly partisan. For the pope to choose this newspaper as his privileged communications outlet does not mean reaching out to a wider audience, but rather, to make a partisan choice and exclude a priori a huge chunk of potential readers that do not share the newspaper’s ideology [and therefore never get to read it]. Of course, the pope has a right to choose, but a shepherd cannot be partisan – he must be father to all…

I also think that this fable of media equivocation and misunderstanding about Pope Francis ought to be shelved once and for all. This pope, when he wants to, can be extremely clear. For example, about AL, which is in itself a deliberately ambiguous document, he has made it very clear how it must be interpreted. If anyone still has any doubts [or dubia, for that matter], then just read the Acta Apostolicae Sedis for October 2016. [That’s right – although the general public has just been recently made aware of it, the Argentine bishops’ letter on AL and the pope’s reply to it were posted in a timely manner, i.e., ‘officialized’ right away, in the AAS.]

It seems to me that we need a ‘different narration’. There’s this emblematic anecdote about the 300,000 Catholic prostitutes of minor age with whom “dissecting Vatican II nor discussing the indissolubility of marriage would be a useless undertaking". I don’t think anyone has ever had the occasion nor the inclination to discuss Vatican II with a gathering of prostitutes (although since they are Catholics, it would not be a bad idea to give them some basic catechesis). [I never heard this anecdote before, but for some reason, Fr. Scalese describes these prostitutes as Filipinas. I do not understand why such an association has to be made with my countrymen – I doubt there are 300,000 prostitutes in my country even if we are a nation of 70-plus million – and it is uncharacteristically insensitive of Fr. S to do this. The anecdote loses nothing if he does not provide a nationality for the prostitutes.]

But here we find ourselves before the great error in the current ecclesial conjuncture in which we find ourselves: To concern oneself with doctrine is supposed to be the ‘old narrative’ that would never ‘reach’ the faithful and must therefore be abandoned to be replaced by the ‘new narrative’ which is simply paying attention to others. One would think that in a Church that is concerned with correct doctrine, no one pays attention to people and their problems.

It is as if the new course – besides its attentiveness to others (which is hardly emphasized as one expects it to be) [because the stress is ideologically selective] – did not also imply a new orthodoxy to replace the old. Oh yes, the rhetoric of Bergoglio’s ‘new church’ continually proclaims the new orthodoxies to live by (climate change, the environment, migrants) [to limit it to the pope’s purely secular priorities, but his ‘religious’ priorities are just as objectionable: weakening Catholicism and ultimately destroying it by coddling Islam and increasing protestantization of ‘the Church’, with the eventual goal of abandoning Catholicism for ‘one-world-religion’ (though I don’t see the non-Christian faiths - Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism - ever going for that at all)].

Introvigne explains Bergoglio’s secular priorities this way: “Through these issues, the pope believes he can dialog with a greater number of people and get closer to them”. You would think most human beings go to sleep at night wringing their hands over the ozone gap and global warming!

The same goes for this pope’s idea of ecumenism. I do not know if the mythical prostitutes care at all about dialog among Catholics, protestants and Orhtodox, but this year, the fifth centenary of Luther’s schism seemed to be the center of attention for the pope and many of his cardinals and bishops. Is this not a discussion limited to restricted circles?

But after having made a [relatively] big to-do about the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II, we are now being told that the debate over Vatican II is nothing but a pastime for a few layabouts who don’t know what to do with their time.

Wait, why am I limiting myself to Vatican II? Haven’t we been also told that even on AL, the debate is closed? Until just recently, and for three years, it seemed as if communion for remarried divorcees was the number-one problem facing the Church – and now, we are told to stop talking about it, that what matters now is ‘to address the peripheries’. [The center does not hold and cannot hold – it lacks a centrifugal force - and yet it purports to reach out and bring the peripheries closer!]

But what is most amazing is the rock-hard conviction with which we are constantly being told that in this ‘new narrative’, “No, the principles have not changed”. To stay with the major moral issues like abortion, euthanasia and marriage, Introvigne tells us: “No, the Church will not change its position. That is impossible… Bergoglio, even if few acknowledge it, is clearly in continuity with his predecessors on these issues”. Really? Yet Introvigne immediately follows up by saying, “Doctrine does not change – it develops”.

But this is an acknowledgement that once ‘the church’ led by Bergoglio starts to change the language, style, tone and attitude of its teachings, it is inevitable that the content of that teaching, one way or the other, also changes.

I am not saying that Introvigne’s entire interview should be thrown into the trash bin. He says things that we can all agree with – which is when he speaks according to his occupation of being a sociologist of religion. He is correct when he says that Mass attendance does not depend on who is pope: “There are processes that have been going on for some time which continue with a constant but slight reduction in active participation”. It is as if Introvigne has forgotten that he was among the very first to allege a positive ‘Francis effect’.

He is also right when he says that the future of the Church is not to be played out in Europe but in the Third World – Latin America, Africa and Asia. However, we really do not see a concrete harmony between this pope and the churches of the Third World. In this case, Introvigne acknowledges that “the African bishops were among the most conservative at the family synods”. Indeed, one might say that Pope Francis has adopted the sensibility not of the Churches of the global South, but rather that of the Churches of northern Europe.

I must credit Introvigne for being fundamentally honest: He acknowledges with apparent sincerity that his own personal vicissitudes have contributed to distancing his former friends from him. But all is well with him now, except that his personal problems coincided with the sudden ‘change of route’ for the Catholic Church under Bergoglio. And so unlike some of his friends who were once defenders of the papacy in general and who now contest this papacy, he can say that he has remained loyal to the pope. [And what about remaining loyal to the truth???]

But even so, he is also forced to admit that in supporting everything this pope says and does, without any ifs and buts, he has risked making blunders that he must regret. Yet popes are not infallible in everything they say and do. Just a modicum of healthy criticism serves us all well, even when it concerns a pope. Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. (Plato is my friend, but truth is a greater friend].

One last comment: In the present global and acritical acceptance [and acclaim] for this pontificate, there has been one exception, and only one: the controversial article on evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic ‘integralism’ in La Civilta Cattolica last summer. [I don’t understand why Fr. S considers it an exception. First of all, it is not primarily about the pope, but an attack against the ‘conservatives’ in the American Church, and by extension, President Trump, whose actions with regard to the social issues about which Catholics have long been at a disadvantage, have served to level the playing field. But the concluding part of the article is a paean of praise for this pope’s supposed ‘application’ of the spiritual dimension to his geopolitical agenda.]

Introvigne’s annoyance with that article is quite significant, as apparently, it has cut him to the deep. His ideological course - (starting with Plino Correa de Oliveira and his ultra-traditionalist TFP - for Tradicion, Familia, Patria - movement, then the Alleanza Cattolica in Italy) and his unabashed sympathy for the contemporary course of the Church in the USA make him a ‘theocon’ who would have felt himself targeted by that article.

My interest is to underscore the weakness of an ideological position (that of the ‘Catho-conservatives’ in Italy) that is showing itself incapable – because of a misguided total submission to the papacy – of making an objective reading of the current situation in the Church.

The undisciplined pope
It seems he does some things just to make news

December 9, 2017

No one noticed it, during and after Francis’s journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh, immoderately focused on the situation of the Rohingya. But in Dhaka, on December 1, the patriarch of the Bengali Buddhists, Sanghanayaka Suddhananda Mahathero, addressed his homage to the pope by recalling with admiration this specific action:

“I will never forget the image of Your Holiness when you washed the feet of the young African refugees. You, Holy Father, have attained the stature of the great, and you are a great example for me.”

If there was a need for yet another confirmation of the global communicative power of Pope Francis, here it is.

In effect, the washing of the feet that he performs every Holy Thursday, during the Mass “in coena Domini,” for prisoners, immigrants, men, women, transexuals of every ethnicity and religion, is a gesture of extraordinary media efficacy. [Because in one fell swoop, it reinforces the myth of Bergoglio 'the humble, the simple, the unconventional reformer, upon whom 'the world' has pinned its hopes of finally destroying Catholicism.]

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is so aware of this that in order to increase its impact he does not hesitate to push beyond the rules that he himself has set for this rite, according to which it should be performed only with members of the Catholic Church.

While vice-versa there is not the least bit of news, so much is it disregarded, on the Mass “in coena Domini” within which Francis performs the washing of feet, the opposite of what happened with with previous popes and in particular with Benedict XVI, who at this Holy Thursday Mass delivered very intense, memorable “mystagogical” homilies, a guide to the mystery. [Bergoglio's fundamental 'low regard' for the Eucharist - which he does not mind being received sacrilegiously by adulterers, aborters and blatant homosexuals - has caused him to forget, so it seems, that the Mass in coena Domini primarily recalls Christ's institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood, and has focused all the attention on an optional sidebar to the Mass, this big deal of feet washing.]

For Francis, in fact, another set of priorities applies, which always puts in first place the action of mercy, invariably manipulated for its greatest communicative efficacy, even at the cost of contradicting itself.

For example, he made news three days after his election as pope when he declined to impart his blessing to the journalists from all over the world who were packed into the audience hall, “respecting,” he said, “the conscience of each, since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers.”

Thunderous applause greeted this surprise move by the pope, whom many admired for his delicate discretion. [Is that what they call flagrant hypocrisy now?]

But just two weeks later Francis did exactly the opposite. On the first Holy Thursday of his pontificate, not only did he impart his blessing without any scruple to the young prisoners whom he had gone to visit, even though quite a few of them were non-Catholic, but he even celebrated Mass in front of them.

But that’s just it, his priority was elsewhere, and he successfully asserted it. The action that made news all over the world was the pope’s washing of the feet of a dozen young prisoners, some of whom, including a Serbian woman, were Muslim. (And at the time there was still a liturgical ban - later lifted by Francis himself - on washing the feet of women, out of the need to imitate the action of Jesus who performed it with the apostles).

The liberties that Francis takes with the liturgy for communication purposes are also valid for him when it comes to Sacred Scripture.

Settimo Cielo has already pointed out, for example, how in a morning homily at Santa Marta Francis attributed to Saint Paul the words, “I boast only of my sins", and also invited those listening to him to give the same kind of “scandal,” meaning to boast of one’s sins in that they have been forgiven by Jesus.

And this in spite of the fact that in none of his letters did Paul ever say the words in question, but if anything, in two instances (2 Corinthians 11:30 and 12:5), something different: “I will boast of my weaknesses”, after listing all of the travails of his life, the imprisonments, floggings, persecutions, insults, shipwrecks.

But “boasting of one’s sins” is more appealing to Francis. It makes a bigger splash. And in fact he said it again two days ago, on Thursday, December 7, at the end of the Mass for the 90th birthday of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, again putting them into the mouth of Saint Paul: “Saint Paul even boasted of his sins, because the glory goes to God alone, and we are weak, all of us.”

In this same celebratory address, Francis congratulated Cardinal Sodano for being “ecclesially disciplined.” But the pope knows well that it is [his own] lack of discipline that makes more news.

I suppose the following post by Fr H qualifies to be another item under Magister's rubric of 'The undisciplined pope':

Will he never stop ... (1)

December 10, 2017

PF thinks the traditional translations of the Oratio Dominica [Lord's Prayer] need to be changed. 'Lead us not into temptation' displeases him. Why should God lead people into temptation to sin? Obviously, this must be a Bad Translation. Would May we not be led into temptation be better?

Fundamentalist traddies are likely to be outraged. Changing the Our Father!!!!!

Although of course I am a Rigid Pharisee, I am not that sort of fundamentalist. The Lord's Prayer contains a number of mysteries. Let me go off at a tangent and give you an example from elsewhere in the Prayer. Let me tell you about 'Give us this day our Daily Bread'.

The Greek word translated 'daily' is particularly mysterious. Epiousion is pretty well a hapax legomenon (a Greek word occurring only once) and Origen remarked that you never heard it used in his time. It looks as though it should be related to epiouse, which means coming. Put that together with hemera (day) and it would mean our bread of the coming day, and St Jerome knew of a Hebrew Gospel which did indeed render it by mahar, of tomorrow.

Might it mean the Bread of the Kingdom? Might it mean the eschatological Food, tomorrow's Bread which we are allowed to receive today ... i.e. the Blessed Sacrament? Or might epiousion mean supersubstantial? Etymologically, it could do so. And so on.

Far from finding my Faith disturbed, I find such questions exhilarating. If you wanted to go further, you could compare the Lucan version of the Our Father with St Matthew's. The Tradition, in all its breadth, gives us such riches upon which to meditate ...

Despite the different possible interpretations of parts of this Prayer, if I were a person of immense authority, I would not choose to use my power to change one single inherited rendering.
- My first reason for not doing so would be that I am profoundly aware that I am not infallible.
- And that a rendering which appealed to me 100% today might no longer do so in a year's time.
- And it is worth remembering that the Church has got along for two millennia without prescribing to us what meaning we should each attach to the words of this prayer.

Two Millennia of hermeneutical freedom ... until we reached the Age of Mercy, the Aetas Bergogliana. Now, it seems, we need to be tied down to those particular interpretations and meanings which appeal to this particular, all-wise, pope.

It's almost as if PF has decided to give a big plug to the recent e-book, The Dictator Pope, by Professor Marcantonio Colonna, about which I wrote a few days ago.

And let me make this clear: the Greek original and its Latin version do not mean what PF wants them to mean. Anybody who claims that they do, is either ignorant or dishonest. PF's proposal is not a translation, but an alteration. But I'll return, Deo volente, to that tomorrow.

(I'm afraid it has occurred to me that all this might be a ploy to provoke yet another disagreement with Cardinal Sarah, with the intention of finally getting rid of him. After all, PF is suggesting that a change be made in liturgical texts which involves eliminating the actual words of what the Greek and Latin and Syrian bibles say the Lord actually said, and replacing them with what a twenty-first century Roman Bishop says he prefers. It is Cardinal Sarah's job, quite frankly, to resist the imposition of a gratuitous mistranslation of an authorised original.)

My second reason for making no change is pastoral. Back in the 1970s, we in the Church of England did indeed experiment with 'modern' translations of the Pater noster.

Those experimental forms are now, I think, rarely used. The reason is: the clergy discovered that among infrequent church-goers, including the house-bound sick and elderly, and those attending Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals, and the Midnight Mass brigade, the Lord's Prayer was the only formula they knew. Any other liturgical memories they had lingering from their childhoods had been rendered out-of-date by the liturgical revolutions of the 1960s.

Was it 'pastoral' to deprive such people of the only remaining bit of a worship-experience which was in the least familiar to them ... which had any sort of purchase upon their memories? So most of us just change 'Our Father which...' into 'Our Father who...', and left it at that.

Incidentally, the 'modern language' Anglican version ... in case you were wondering ... finds no problems whatsoever in the phrase which makes PF and, we gather, some French and Italian bishops, lose so much sleep.

We were right not to meddle.

And here's the conclusion to Fr H's latest broadside against the not very Christian 'Vicar of Christ' today...

Will he never stop ...(2)
PF, the Lord's Prayer and the next Conclave

December 11, 2017

"Lead us not into temptation". It is unlikely that the Greek and Latin words translated as 'temptation' meant the sort of thing we mean by 'temptation' in the confessional ... the 'temptation' to steal something, or to speak uncharitably, or to suspend the Custody of the Eyes.

Peirasmos has been thought to refer much more probably to the time of testing, that is to say, of being tortured or intimidated to give up our Faith. Scripture teaches us that the End Times will indeed be marked by just such testings or persecutions. It is natural to ask God, whose providence disposes the times, to spare us this. [See for example Mt 26:41; Luke 8:13; Apocalypse 2:10 and 3:10.]
(And, by the way, 'Evil could be either masculine or neuter (tou ponerou). Many, probably most, people think it refers to the Evil One.)

So, in my opinion, PF is proposing a revision which is not, as he appears to have been told, a revised translation but a radical change in the meaning of the Greek original. With sorrow, I have to say that this new example of his gigantic self-confidence does not surprise me.

What repeatedly ... it seems, almost daily !! ... irritates me about PF is his endless propensity to treat the Depositum Fidei, the Universal Church and what she has inherited from the Apostles or from the generations since, as something which is at his disposal to change, to criticise, or to mangle in any way that appeals to his personal whimsy at any particular moment.

He is like a toddler who has been given toys to play with ... a big, boisterous and wilful child who likes to play with them rather roughly; whose commonest phrase is "I want ...". If anyone suggests that he should perhaps handle them rather more gently, he throws a tantrum.

I am immensely sorry to have to write like this about Christ's Vicar but, ever since his election, PF has appeared to me to want attention to be drawn particularly to those parts of his personal 'style' which mark him as most radically different from his predecessors.

A pope who disliked close scrutiny and the consequent criticism would keep the journalists and cameramen at a distance, say a very great deal less, and speak only after taking competent advice. An ecclesiastic who deliberately sollicits attention is ill-placed to complain if he gets it, nor can his sycophants plausibly do so on his behalf. This pontificate did not invent the unfortunate modern phenomenon of the celebrity pope, but it has shown how very dangerous and divisive that cult is.

PF's election was, I suppose, the responsibility of the Cardinal Electors ... to whom one has to add such Cardinal non-Electors as Murphy O'Connor, who, we are told, dinnered his way around Rome encouraging his friends, and the other Anglophone Cardinals, to vote for Bergoglio (as he had every right to do).

But there are also perhaps systemic problems here too. I do not think that even those whose analysis of this pontificate is totally different from mine will wish to disagree with much in what follows. Firstly ...

Time was when the Church was blessed with perhaps a dozen or two cardinals, pretty certainly not more than seventy; so that, in a conclave, each elector was more likely to know something about at least the more prominent and papabili of his brethren.

If there are 120 or more electors, you are inevitably going to have the sort of situation in which an Eminent Father "from the peripheries" who knows next to nobody, will be open to be influenced by fellow electors who appear knowledgeable and who combine to assure him that Cardinal X is a Splendid Fellow.

Additionally, PF has (significantly) suppressed the open discussions which the Cardinals used to be allowed to have with each other when they met formally in consistories. His once-claimed passion for parrhesia did not survive his experiences in his two 'synods'.

Secondly, it has come to be felt that it is edifying ... that the World will be impressed ... if a pope is elected within a couple of days. Almost as if it would be dangerous if the electors got to know each other, or if it became apparent to the waiting Press that there were deep divisions inside the Sistine Chapel.

Even those simple souls (Ratzinger and I think they are misguided) who believe that the Holy Spirit chooses the pope, might have trouble giving a plausible theological explanation as to why the Holy Spirit should be so keen to operate through a quick-fire conclave rather than through a more lengthy and carefully considered one.

And, thirdly, PF will bequeath to the next interregnum a Church ... and a Sacred College ... much more deeply and ideologically divided than has been true for a very long time, possibly for ever.

I pray that the next conclave may be very, very, lengthy, even if that does encourage the Vatican press corps endlessly to lecture the watching World on such arcane mysteries as Blocking Thirds. Surely, their Eminences will have learned the lessons of the last five disastrous, destructive, divisive years...

00Sunday, December 10, 2017 6:51 PM
Moneyval says Vatican must strengthen
fight against financial crime

Praises new measures instituted but notes
no suspect has yet been prosecuted

by Cindy Wooden

vatican city, Dec. 10, 2017 (CNS) - The Vatican has earned praise from Council of Europe experts for its updated legislation against money laundering and its vigilance in flagging suspected cases.

But the committee said the effectiveness of the Vatican efforts could not be proven until Vatican courts actually prosecuted someone for a crime.

Moneyval – the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism – released a progress report on the Vatican’s efforts on December 8.

The experts said the Vatican Financial Information Authority “seemed to be working efficiently”, but although the Vatican court had frozen the assets of several accounts at the Vatican bank, “the Holy See had still not brought a money-laundering case to court”.

While considerable amounts of money continued to be frozen, no criminal case had yet produced a confiscation order
, a Moneyval press statement said.

Moneyval said the Financial Information Authority’s 2016 report indicated that the main offenses suspected in Vatican bank accounts it flagged for investigation involved suspected “fraud, serious tax evasion, misappropriation and corruption”.

In a statement, the Vatican said it is “committed to taking the necessary actions in the relevant areas to further strengthen its efforts to combat and prevent financial crimes”.

The Vatican also highlighted the report’s appreciation of “the creation of a specialised Economic Financial Crimes Investigation Unit within the Corps of the Gendarmerie and the appointment of a specialised assistant promoter of justice.”

The Moneyval report said the Vatican had hired two full-time officers for the new unit, both of whom are on leave from “the Italian police forces and both fully trained in modern financial investigation techniques”, but Moneyval also recommended all of the Vatican gendarmes receive training in fighting financial crimes and suggested that the Vatican City court “needs further professional reinforcement in this regard”.

“While this review cannot form a view on the quality of the evidence adduced in financial crime cases that have so far come before the [Vatican City] tribunal,” Moneyval said, “the success rate of the promoter [of justice] before the tribunal so far is not encouraging.”

Another 'secular' post is really quite amusing for thumbing your nose, Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!, at the global warming obsessives...

What's this? Polar bears
everywhere in Alaska and Russia?

Weren't they supposed to be dying off?

by Monica Showalter
December 7, 2017

To climate change fanatics, polar bears are the eye candy for the worldwide call for action on global warming. There have been news reports about the sad shape they are in, with their coats going brown, their food supplies drying up, and their ice floes melting. Conclusion: The bears are set to starve.

Well, turns out there are too many of them now. According to Marc Morano's Climate Depot:

2 new papers: 92% of polar bear
subpopulations stable or increasing –
Alaskan Inuit observe 'too many polar bears' now

..Inuit observations of polar bear ecology: "Last year, there's more bears that are more fat … they rarely see unhealthy bears… back in early 80s, and mid 90s, there were hardly any bears … there's too many polar bears now."

So, instead of furtive bears withering away on ice floes and starving due to loss of habitat, rising sea levels or whatever the global warmers claim, what we actually have here is a bear explosion, with bears so well fed that they've gotten fat.

In Russia, near its Chukotka peninsula, AFP reports:

MOSCOW: A boatload of tourists in the far eastern Russian Arctic thought they were seeing clumps of ice on the shore, before the jaw-dropping realisation that some 200 polar bears were roaming on the mountain slope.

"It was a completely unique situation," said Alexander Gruzdev, director of the Wrangel Island nature reserve where the encounter in September happened. "We were all gobsmacked, to be honest"...

Several years ago, we were warned that bears were starving due to global warming and would be irretrievably lost.

I recall the first interview I did with Alaska's then-governor, Sarah Palin, about the polar bear situation in 2008, before she got famous. I asked her if the news reports were right that polar bears were starving. I only have a reference to the link, unfortunately, but I vividly recall her most memorable quote: "Our bears are healthy bears!"

She added that maybe that could be the situation in Canada, but it certainly wasn't in Alaska.

Now ABC News and NBC News are reporting that bears are flooding Alaska's villages, supposedly because of the loss of their ice floe habitat. The Washington Post is bringing them up as an argument against the GOP tax cut bill.

Problematically to the claim about the missing ice floes (unlikely now that it's winter), the photos prominently feature obese bears who clearly haven't fled any sort of famine.

Fact is, not only are the Alaska natives seeing too many bears proliferating, but so are the scientists who study them. Professor Susan Crockford of the University of Victory has observed the proliferation of bears, and far from saying they are endangered, she concludes they "are not at risk," which, of course, got her attacked by ideological leftists and those for whom global warming is a religion.

Terence Corcoran of Canada's Financial Post notes that this bear issue and the left's shifting story on it is a magic talking point for global warmers, who go after anyone who deviates from their party line:

It's all part of an escalating epic of polar bear junk science. It begins with a paper in which Amstrup, who heads the activist group Polar Bears International, and other climate scientists – including famed temperature hockey-stick maker Michael Mann – produce what must be one of the most pathetic scientific smear jobs in the already sorry history of climate change science smear campaigns. Also along for the hatchet job was Stephan Lewandowsky, an Australian psychologist who asserts that people who have doubts about climate policy are wacky conspiracy theorists who would also tend to believe the 1969 moon landing was faked.

So instead of starving them, 'global warming' [or whatever you choose to call actual climate conditions during this period, which is just a few decades after these same global warming wackos warned us that the world was about to enter a new Ice Age] is now causing bears to proliferate. We are supposed to be upset about it no matter what the truth is. It just goes to show that global warmers can't get their stories straight. And they want to have their bears and starve them, too.

00Tuesday, December 12, 2017 12:25 AM
Roberto de Mattei discusses
the escalating Church crisis

Interview by Maike Hickson

December 11, 2017

Editor’s note: Last month, Dr. Maike Hickson began a correspondence with Catholic historian, author, and speaker Professor Roberto de Mattei on the nature of the escalating crisis in the Church. Although her husband’s recent sudden illness has necessitated that she take a leave of absence from her work here at OnePeterFive, she and her husband both asked that we proceed with the publication of this important and timely interview.

Many Catholics around the world had hoped that the Dubia Cardinals would publish their public correction of Pope Francis concerning his Post-Synodal Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. What would you tell those among the faithful who are now disappointed and even discouraged in the face of the silence of the princes of the Church? With which words would you try to encourage these faithful to persevere in their hope and in their Faith?
The present crisis in the Church did not originate with Pope Francis, and it is not focused in one single person; rather, it dates back to the Second Vatican Council, and, going back even further, to the Modernist Crisis [of the early twentieth century].

Today a large part of the college of cardinals, of the college of bishops, and of the clergy in general, are infected with modernism. [1] The few cardinals, bishops and priests who resist ought to take account of this situation, and it is our job to help them.

But above all one must not imagine that a single act by one of these players, for example a correctio fraterna of the Pope announced by Cardinal Burke, can, by itself, resolve the crisis. What is needed is a convergence and focus of action by diverse groups of both clergy and laity, each one at their own level and according to their own capability.

The sensus fidei can guide the cardinals, bishops, religious, and simple laity how to react [to the present crisis]. The importance of the correctio filialis, signed by 250 scholars, both religious and lay, was that it expressed this sensus fidei. The reaction may be different from one country to another, from one diocese to another, but its characteristics are always those of a profession of the truth and a denunciation of the errors which are opposed to this truth.

But how can this situation be resolved?
It will not be men who save the Church. The situation will be resolved by an extraordinary intervention of Grace, which however must be accompanied by the militant commitment of faithful Catholics. In the face of this present crisis there are some who think that the only thing to do is to wait for a miracle in silence and prayer. But it is not like this. It is true that we need a divine intervention, but grace builds on nature. Each of us ought to do the maximum that we can according to our ability.

The 2016 letter with which Pope Francis gave his approval to the guidelines laid out by the pastors of Buenos Aires was published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, with a note written by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, according to which the Pope himself wanted the two documents – the guidelines and the letter – published in AAS.
The fact that the guidelines of the Argentine bishops and the approval of the Pope have been published in AAS has made it official that “no other interpretations are possible” of Amoris Laetitia other than that of the Argentine bishops, which authorizes communion to be given to those divorced and remarried people who are in an objective state of mortal sin.

The letter was private, but the publication in AAS transforms the position of Pope Francis into an act of the Magisterium. It seems to me that this confirms the thesis expressed by Fr. Giovanni Scalese in his blog, according to which we are entering into a new phase of the pontificate of Pope Francis: moving from a pastoral revolution to the open reformulation of doctrine. [2]

Pope Francis’s discourse of October 11 [2017], on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the new catechism, seems to call for the beginning of a reinterpretation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the light of Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia.

In a recent essay, in light of how Luther is now being reinstated within the Catholic Church, you stated: “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 meditate precisely on St. Ignatius’ two standards (Spiritual Exercises, n. 137)* which will help us make them in these difficult times.” Would you explain these words a little more to our readers, not only in light of the question of Luther, but also in light of Amoris Laetitia?
There are moments in our life and in the history of the Church in which one is obligated to choose between two sides, without ambiguity and compromise.

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and the theology of history of Saint Augustine in The City of God do nothing other than emphasize the Gospel maxim according to which “no one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other or love the one and hate the other” (Matthew 6:24).

Seen in this light, the recent publication in AAS of the letter of Pope Francis to the bishops of Buenos Aires reduces the matter to two diametrically opposed positions. The line of thinking of those cardinals, bishops, and theologians who maintain that it is possible to interpret Amoris Laetitia in continuity with Familiaris Consortio 84 and other documents of the Magisterium has been reduced to dust. [1]

Amoris Laetitia is a document which serves as a litmus test: it must be either accepted or rejected in toto. There is not a third position, and the insertion of Pope Francis’s letter to the Argentine bishops [into AAS] has the merit of making this clear.

There are those who deny that the publication of the letter to the Argentine bishops is an act of the Magisterium, because it proposes an erroneous, if not heretical, position.
Whoever thinks this, it seems to me, begins with a false premise: the idea that the pontifical Magisterium can never err. In reality the guarantee of inerrancy is reserved to the Magisterium only in specific conditions, which are clearly spelled out in the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I.

The existence of errors in the non-infallible documents of the Magisterium, including the pontifical Magisterium, is possible, above all during periods of great crisis. There can be an act of the Magisterium which is both authentic and solemn, but erroneous.

This was the case, for example, in my opinion, with the declaration Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II, which, apart from its pastoral character, is undeniably a Magisterial act and almost certainly contradicts the doctrine of the Church on religious liberty, in at least an indirect and implicit way.

Do you see a formal schism coming, and what would it practically look like? Who would be the creator of that schism, and what would it mean for simple lay people?
A schism is an internal division of the Church, such as happened in Europe for forty years between 1378 and 1417, when it seemed that one could not identify with absolute certainty where the [legitimate] authority of the Church was to be found. This tearing apart known as the “Great Western Schism” was not a matter of heresy.

Generally however, heresy follows schism, as occurred in England at the time of Henry VIII. Today we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation in which heresy, which in itself is more grave than schism, precedes it rather than following it.

There is not yet a formal schism, but there is heresy in the Church. It is the heretics who are promoting schism in the Church, certainly not faithful Catholics. And the faithful Catholics who want to separate themselves from heresy certainly cannot be defined as schismatics.[1]

You seem to suggest that the Pope may be promoting schism and heresy in the Church. What would be the consequences of this most grave situation? Would not the Pope lose his authority as Pope?
One cannot sum up such an important and complex problem in a few words. On this point it is necessary to have a theological debate, on which topic one may refer to the volume True or False Pope by Robert J. Sisco and John Salza, to the writings of Abbott Jean-Michel Gleize in [the French journal] Courrier de Rome, and above all to the study of Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira, Ipotesi teologica di un Papa eretico [Theological hypotheses about a heretic Pope], the Italian edition of which I edited in 2016 and also the next edition in English.

The author, whose basic position I share, develops the thesis of the medieval decretists, of St. Robert Bellarmine, and of modern theologians like Pietro Ballerini, according to whom, while there is a basic incompatibility between [holding] heresy and [holding] papal authority, the Pope does not lose his office until his heresy becomes apparent to the entire Church.

And finally, what would your outlook and encouragement be for our readers, at the end of the 100th Anniversary year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima?
Discouragement is a sentiment which the militant Catholic cannot permit himself.

The first weapon to employ against enemies who attack the Church is the use of reason, in order to demonstrate the contradictions in which these enemies live, and by which they necessarily die.

Then we need to turn to the invincible help of Grace. One hundred years ago Our Lady of Fatima foresaw the crisis of our time. She announced a chastisement for humanity if it was not converted, but she also made an unconditional and irreversible promise: the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. For his part, Our Lord has promised us to be with us always, until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). What more can we ask for?

00Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:09 AM

Medjugorje 'recognized'? FALSE!
Translated from

December 9, 2017

For the record, the 'news' about the Church's recognition of Medjugorje (or its cult) – launchd superficially by some newspapers this weekend, is not true. In fact, it was immediately denied by the Vatican. [See above].
And the loose-lipped archbishop himself had to eat crow. Why he felt he had to go out on a limb the way he did Casts a big question mark on his objectivity to be the pope's envoy on this important matter. It is not the first time he has publicly expressed his partisanship on the issue.

Abp. Hoser clarifies that official pilgrimages
to Medjugorje are still banned

by Christine Niles

December 10, 2017

MEDJUGORJE, Bosnia-Herzegovina - The papal envoy to Medjugorje is admitting his recent comments have been "a little exaggerated." [What an understatement!]

Various pro-Medjugorje blogs exploded with news over the weekend that pilgrimages to the controversial site, where supporters claim apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been taking place daily for nearly 40 years, are now allowed by Rome, with the implication that Medjugorje has now been officially approved.

"Today, dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages," Polish Abp. Henryk Hoser, papal envoy to Medjugorje, said last week to Aleteia. "It's no longer a problem." [That does not sound like an exaggeration. It's a simple unequivocal statement with nary an if or a but!]

Now Hoser is backtracking, admitting that the situation is more nuanced. "It is true what I said, although perhaps it was a little exaggerated in tone," Hoser conceded in comments to Il Giornale Sunday, "but it is absolutely authentic that pilgrimages of prayer can be organized in Medjugorje without any problem, provided they are spiritual and do not concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers."[As if any pilgrim to Medjugorje would go there if it were not for those so-called apparitions!]

Hoser also admitted that the Vatican has yet to issue an official decision on the authenticity of the so-called apparitions. Hoser's nre remarks are consistent with the Church's stance, which has never allowed the faithful to participate in events where the authenticity of the "visions" is taken for granted.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reiterated this position in a 2013 letter sent to every U.S. diocese, in which it affirmed the 1991 Yugoslavian bishops' decree on Medjugorje:

On the basis of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

Yet the gathering of the faithful from various parts of the world to Medjugorje, inspired by reasons of faith or other motives, require the pastoral attention and care, first of all, of the local Bishop, and then of the other bishops with him, so that in Medjugorje and all connected with it, a healthy devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the teachings of the Church may be promoted.

No pilgrimages are allowed that would presuppose any supernatural character to the apparitions, there exists no shrine of the Madonna, and there are no authentic messages, revelations nor true visions!

Hoser confirmed that the situation in Medjugorje is as it has always been: "If a bishop wants to organize a prayer pilgrimage to Medjugorje to pray to Our Lady, he can do it without problem. But if it is organized pilgrimages to go there for the apparitions, we cannot; there is not the authorization to do it."

When asked the reason, he explained that "the problem of the visionaries is not yet solved."

On at least three occasions, Cdl. Gerhard Mueller, former prefect of the CDF, issued letters forbidding the faithful from attending events where Medjugorje visionaries were featured. Such events prompted him to have a letter sent to every U.S. diocese in 2013 prohibiting Catholics from attending events where "the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted."

The Congregation has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, all should accept the declaration, dated 10 April 1991, from the Bishops of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, which asserts: "On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations." It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.

On the authenticity of the apparitions, Hoser explained, "They are working at the Vatican. The document is in the Secretariat of State and must be expected. And of course we need a pronouncement from the Pope who was able to study the report of the commission presided over by Cardinal Ruini."

The Ruini Report issued earlier this year issued an overwhelmingly negative judgment regarding the authenticity of the vast bulk of so-called apparitions. Only the first seven were deemed authentic by 13 of the 14-member commission, while the rest received zero votes in favor of authenticity.

Cardinal Mueller, then-head of the CDF at the time, whose opinion carries at least as much weight as the Ruini Commission, expressed serious doubts that the visions were authentic.

As Hoser noted, the pope has the final say, and he is free to accept or reject the commission's findings.

Pope Francis has publicly expressed severe skepticism toward the visions, saying to the press on the papal plane in May, "The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse. I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time."

He continued, "This isn't Jesus's mother. And these alleged apparitions don't have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, 'Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?' No!"

When Il Giornale asked Hoser to speak on the visionaries, Hoser declined to comment. "I cannot talk about this, I'm sorry," he remarked.
00Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:12 AM

Padre Pio against Satan
A book that narrates the battle waged
all his life by an extraordinary sain

Translated from

December 10, 2017

Marco Tosatti – and Stilum Curiae – speaking on my own behalf: Allow me please to point out a book that has just been published. Since November 30 , it has been on sale on Amazon and its online sites, as well as that of the publisher Chora Books, and will not be available in bookstores for years. It recounts the extraordinary relationship between one of the greatest saints of the 20th century, Padre Pio, and the enemy of human nature, its adversary par excellence, the devil.

It is not a long book, but I am very fond of it, because it was the fruit of long research into the memories of those who knew the saint, and the greater part of its material comes from original sources that are difficult to come by for consultation - namely, the eight volumes of the Positio, an enormous mass of testimonies and documents which were presented in the course of the process for the beatification and canonization of the saint from Gargano.

The battle ended only when Padre Pio’s earthly life came to an end: “a duel from ancient times that took place in the century just past”, a real battle, “a prolonged one-on-one throughout his existence between a monk and his Enemy”.

There are numerous extraordinary episodes in this battle. Among this is one in whcih the protagonist was one of the saint’s most faithful followers, he celebrated exorcist of venerated memory, Fr. Gabriel Amorth who died recently.

But before he did, he told the story of how Angelo Battisti, the first administrator and president of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza that Padre Pio established in the town of San Giovanni Rotonda [it is now one of the best tertiary care hospitals in Europe], had been possessed by the devil in the final years of his life. Fr. Amorth, with whose friendship I was honored, knew Padre Pio personally and had great veneration for him.

In the book, I chose to concentrate only on the apparitions and diabolical manifestations – some of them quite physical and corporeal – experienced by Padre Pio. I also refer to the ecstasies and celestial visions that ofen followed closely these bouts with the devil, and which, I believe, were closely connected to the spiritual battle fought to the quick.

A battle that continued to the end of Padre Pio’s life. I think his adversary never let up on him. I close this post by quoting the final lines of the book:

The hero of an epic should die with his ord in hand. Padre Pio had such a weapon. He revealed what it was a few days before he died.

Fr Tarciso of Cervinara narrates that one day, as he was going to bed, he told his broher monks who were n the cell with him, “Give me my weapon”. And the monks, surprised and curious asked, “What weapon? We do not see anything”.

He said: “It’s in my cassock which you just hung up”. So the friarsm, after having turned al he pockets inside out, said, “Father, there is no weapon in your robe. The only thing here is a rosary”. He answered, “And is this not a weapon? The true weapon?”

00Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:42 PM

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a new major initiative that underscores the sensus fidei of the depositum fidei. This time,it originates with the pro-life and pro-family movements in Italy that have been responsible for the many impressive Family Day rallies there over the past several years...

to the authentic teaching of the Church
by pro-life and pro-family leaders

The number of innocent children killed by abortion during the last century is greater than that of all the human beings who have died in all the wars in recorded history.

The last fifty years have witnessed a continual escalation in attacks on the structure of the family as designed and willed by God, which provides the best environment for human flourishing, and, especially, for the education and formation of children.

Divorce, contraception, acceptance of homosexual acts and unions, and the spread of “gender ideology” have all done immeasurable damage to the family, and its most vulnerable members.

Over the last fifty years the pro-life and pro-family movement has grown in both size and scope in order to confront these grave evils, which threaten both the temporal and eternal good of mankind. Our movement comprises men and women of good will from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.

We are brought together in our defence of the family, and of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, through obedience to the natural law, which is written on all our hearts (cf. Rm 2:15).

However, throughout this last half century the pro-life and pro-family movement has relied in a particular way on the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church, which affirms the moral law with the greatest clarity.

It is therefore with great sorrow that during recent years we have witnessed doctrinal and moral clarity, on issues relating to the protection of human life and the family, increasingly being replaced by ambiguity, and even by doctrines directly contrary to the teaching of Christ and the precepts of the natural law.

- A Filial Appeal, delivered to Pope Francis in September 2015, was signed by around 900,000 people from all over the world and a “Declaration of fidelity to the unchangeable teaching of the Church on matrimony” was presented in 2016.
- On 19 September 2016 four cardinals submitted five dubia to Pope Francis, and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking for the clarification of certain points of doctrine in the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
- In June 2017, the cardinals made public their request for an audience, which had been presented to the Pope by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on 25 April 2017, but which, like the dubia, had received no response.
-On 23 September 2017 a Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis was issued by 62 Catholic theologians and academics “on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions” of Pope Francis.
- By 4 November 2017, 250 theologians, priests, professors and scholars of all nationalities had pledged their support to the Correctio.

The disorder within the Church is increasing, as witnessed by a letter recently sent to Pope Francis by a prominent theologian, which, the author stated, was prompted by “turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.”

As Catholic pro-life and pro-family leaders, we are obliged to highlight numerous additional statements and actions, which have had a particularly damaging impact on our work for the protection of unborn children and the family in recent years. Representative examples include:
- statements and actions which contradict the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraceptive acts (2};
-statements and actions which contradict the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage and the intrinsic evil of sexual acts outside the union of marriage (3);
- the approval of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which effectively call for member states to achieve universal access to abortion, contraception and sex education by 2030 (4);
- the approach adopted towards sex education, particularly in chapter 7 of Amoris Laetitia and in The Meeting Point programme produced by the Pontifical Council for the Family ().

As leaders within the pro-life and pro-family movement, or leaders of lay movements concerned with the defence and diffusion of Catholic moral and social teaching, we have witnessed first-hand the harm and confusion caused by such teaching and actions.

In order to fulfil our responsibilities to those whom we have pledged to protect, in particular unborn children and those made especially vulnerable by the breakdown of the family, we must provide clarity on our position on these issues.

We must also provide leadership to those within our movement who look to us for guidance and advice.

For this reason, we wish to make clear our unchanging adherence to the fundamental moral positions outlined below:
- there exist certain acts which are intrinsically evil and which it is always forbidden to commit (6);
- the direct killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral; consequently, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are intrinsically evil acts (7)
- marriage is the exclusive and indissoluble union of one man and one woman; all sexual acts outside of marriage, including in all forms of non-marital union, are intrinsically evil and gravely injurious to individuals and to society (8);
- adultery is a grave sin, and those who live in adultery cannot be admitted to the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, until such time as they repent and amend their lives(9);
- parents are the primary educators of their children, and the provision of sex education must be undertaken by parents or, in certain circumstances, “in educational centres chosen and controlled by them” (10);
- the separation of the procreative and unitive ends of the sexual act by contraceptive methods is intrinsically evil and has devastating consequences for the family, for society and for the Church (11);
-methods of artificial reproduction are gravely immoral as they separate procreation from the sexual act and, in the great majority of cases, lead directly to the destruction of human life in its earliest stages (12);
- there are only two sexes, male and female, each of which possesses the complementary characteristics and differences that are proper to them (13);
- homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, and no form of union between persons of the same sex can be approved in any way (14).

As Catholic pro-life and pro-family leaders we must remain faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has entrusted the deposit of faith to his Church. We “are obliged to yield to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will by faith.” (15)

We fully assent to all those things “which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.” (16)

We pledge our full obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the legitimate exercise of its authority. However, nothing will ever persuade us, or compel us, to abandon or contradict any article of the Catholic faith or any truth definitively established.

If there is any conflict between the words and acts of any member of the hierarchy, even the pope, and the doctrine that the Church has always taught, we will remain faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church. If we were to depart from the Catholic faith, we would depart from Jesus Christ, to Whom we wish to be united for all eternity.

We, the undersigned, pledge that we will continue to teach and propagate the above moral principles, and every other authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, and will never, for any reason, depart from them.

12th December 2017
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

1. “Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy explains his critical letter to Pope Francis”, Catholic World Report, 1 November 2017,
2. “On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape. Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned. On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” “Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Mexico to Rome”, Catholic News Agency, 18 February 2016, www.catholicnewsag

Fr Federico Lombardi, the Holy See’s spokesman, Fr Lombardi, confirmed the meaning of the pope’s words the following day: “Allora il contraccettivo o il preservativo, in casi di particolare emergenza e gravità, possono anche essere oggetto di un discernimento di coscienza serio. Questo dice il Papa.” “P. Lombardi commenta i temi affrontati dal Papa con i giornalisti”, Radio Vaticana, 19 February 2016, Translation: “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”
3. “In the Argentine countryside, in the Northeastern region, there is a superstition: that couples have a child, they live together. In the countryside this happens. Then, when the child must go to school, they have a civil marriage. And then, as grandparents, they have a religious marriage. It is a superstition, because they say that having a religious wedding straight away scares the husband! We must also fight against these superstitions. Yet really, I say that I have seen a great deal of fidelity in these cohabiting couples, a great deal of fidelity; and I am certain that this is a true marriage, they have the grace of matrimony, precisely because of the fidelity that they have. But there are local superstitions.” “Address of His Holiness Pope Francis at the opening of the pastoral congress of the Diocese of Rome”, 16 June 2016,

During this congress Pope Francis also claimed that “a great majority” of Catholic marriages are invalid. The transcript was later altered, at the request of the pope, to read “a part”. Fr Lombardi commented: “When it’s a matter of topics of a certain importance, the revised text is always submitted to the pope himself. This is what happened in this case, thus the published text was expressly approved by the pope.” “Updated: Most Marriages Today Are Invalid, Pope Francis Suggests”, National Catholic Register, 17 June 2016.
4. “I am gratified that in September 2015 the nations of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, and that, in December 2015, they approved the Paris Agreement on climate change.” “Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the world day of prayer for the care of creation”, 1 September 2016, Further details about the Holy See’s support for the SDGS, and the manner in which the SDGs call for abortion, contraception and sex education see: “The impact of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on children and the family, and their endorsement by the Holy See”, Voice of the Family,
5. “The Meeting Point: project for affective and sexual formation”, Pontifical Council for the Family,
6. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 6 August 1993, No. 52; Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995, No. 67.
7. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, No. 57
8. Canons and Decrees of the Twenty Fourth Session of the Council of Trent, Promulgated 11 November 1563; Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum Divinae, 10 February 1880; Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 31 December 1930.
9. Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 22 November 1981, No. 84; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried, 4 September 1994; Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried, 24 June 2000.
10. Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, 31 December 1929; Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio; Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 8 December 1995.
11. Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii; Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 25 July 1968.
12.Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, 22 February 1987; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitatis Personae, 8 September 2008
13. Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2012
14. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1 October 1986; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 3 June 2003.
15. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Ch. 3.1.
16. Ibid, Ch. 3.8.

00Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:20 PM

Anthony Esolen is professor of English Renaissance and classical literature at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

Pope Francis has caused another round of cheering and dismay by calling for a “better translation” of the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Specifically, he says that the line familiar to us English speakers as “lead us not into temptation” should be rendered as “let us not fall into temptation,” because a loving Father does not subject His children to evil.

We may cite here, in apparent support of that statement, the words of St. James: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:13–14). It was not God who tempted Job, but Satan. It was not God who tempted David with the sight of Bathsheba bathing in her garden, but David himself, whose desire gave birth to the sins of adultery and murder. All Christians, I suppose, will agree.

And yet, and yet: The words of Jesus are clear. The original Greek is not ambiguous. There is no variant hiding in the shelves. We cannot go from an active verb, subjunctive mood, aorist tense, second person singular, with a clear direct object, to a wholly different verb—“do not allow”—completed by an infinitive that is nowhere in the text—“to fall”—without shifting from translation to theological exegesis.

The task of the translator, though he should be informed by the theological, cultural, and linguistic context of the time, is to render what the words mean, literally, even (perhaps especially) when those words sound foreign to our ears.

Here someone will shout, “But sometimes the meanings are not literal.” I agree. Sometimes the primary meaning is figurative; but that is still a linguistic judgment, and not theological exegesis. Even so, we are far more likely to paint for our readers a broad range of figurative meaning by keeping close to the literal field wherein that meaning takes root and flourishes, than by dispensing with the literal, and losing it and much of the figurative to boot.

Hence translations that suppress the word “seed” (as in “Abraham's seed”), or “fruit” (as in “be fruitful, and multiply,” or Jesus’s parable of the vineyard owner who sent his servants to gather the “fruit” of his land), replacing these words with “offspring” and “produce,” are not only pallid English. They make it impossible for us to hear the figurative resonances of these words as Jesus and his fellow Jews heard them, across all of Scripture. They distance us—who are already farther off than is healthy—from what Chesterton has called “the warmth and wonder of created things,” of fruit, and seed, and the marital act that sows the seed.

Someone else will say that language changes over time, and that is why we need revisions. Perhaps. But ancient Greek has not changed, and English in this regard has not changed. “Lead us not into temptation” means “do not lead us into temptation,” and that is that. We might revise and render “temptation” as “testing” or “trial”: “Do not lead us to the test,” but that would still fall under the pope’s disapproval.

No, I believe that the Greek means what it means, and what it means is accurately rendered as “lead us not into temptation,” exactly the same in Matthew as it is in Luke.

Then someone objects, and says that the Greek is just a translation of the Lord’s Aramaic, so that we, by guesswork, can efface the Greek and replace it with a supposititious original. There are three problems here. - First, the Greek is the text we have, and it is canonical.
- Second, there is no reason to suppose that Greek-speaking Jews did not pray the prayer exactly as the Greek-speaking Saint Luke records it, which in this line is identical to Matthew’s.
- Third, if we consider a Semitic substrate it becomes more likely, not less, that the Greek me eisenenkeis hemas eis peirasmon is an exact rendering of what would be a verse of psalmic poetry, as I believe all of the Lord’s Prayer is.

We would have A + B + C, where A is the negative, B is a causative verb (in Hebrew, “lead” = “to cause to go,” as in Psalm 23) with affixes for second-person singular subject and third-person plural object, and C is “into-temptation.” Such a verse or half-verse would be familiar to every one of Jesus's listeners, and they would have expected it to be completed by a second half. And so it is, in another A + B + C: “but + free-us + from-evil,” each element in correspondence with its partner in the previous half.

No, I’m afraid that all attempts to justify an alteration on linguistic grounds fail. But what about the theology?

Let us be careful here. Jesus himself, in Gethsemane, instructed his apostles to pray “lest they be put to the test,” echoing his own words in the Lord’s Prayer. It is not a prayer that they should not fall into temptation, much less that they should not yield to temptation. It is parallel instead with Jesus’s prayer in the garden, that he might be spared the cup that he was about to drink.

Jesus knows our weakness, and knows that trials will come. He knows that, as James says, “blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him”(1:12). But we are weak. We are not yet heroes. We are hardly soldiers at all. So we confess our weakness.

We pray, then, that God will spare us that test—even as we know that tests will come. Jesus himself says it. Satan has demanded Peter, to sift him like wheat, says Jesus, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith might not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31). We are not heroes, we are poor and unprofitable servants, yet we are called to say, with St. Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 3:7). And a Father might very well allow His grown sons and daughters to stand the test, that they might show their strength—His strength in them!—and triumph over the Slanderer.

The words of Jesus, as words, are clear. Their implications are profound. They are hard for us to fathom. They strike us as strange. That is as it should be. Let them stand.
00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 1:16 AM

Sorry, all along I thought I had posted this item in a timely manner...
‘For his Jesuit superior, Bergoglio
was not fit to be made a bishop

An interview with Marcantonio Colonna, author of ‘The Dictator Pope’,
a book that shows Bergoglio’s clear-eyed ascent to power

by Francesco Borgonuovo
Translated from

December 9, 2017

Half the world has by now been made aware of this modest book that the Western media have been juggling the past few days as if it were too hot to handle. In fact, the Italian media have clearly been very guarded. Because it is a scorcher, starting with its title.

The author is ‘Marcantonio Colonna’, a pseudonym adopted from someone who was very real – he was a Viceroy of Italy in the 16th century and was among the heroes of the Battle of Lepanto. The sparse ‘author info’ we are given simply says that the author “graduated from Oxford, and has a profound experience in historical research and its related fields. He has lived in Rome since the start of the Bergoglio Pontificate, and his book is the result of lose contacts with many persons who work in the Vatican, including cardinals and the other principal personages who are cited in the course of the narrative”.

La Verità has succeeded, through e-mail, to reach Colonna who answered some of our questions on his book which has stirred up such interest.

Why did you decide to write this book and why use a pseudonym?
In essence I must say that the image which the pope has enjoyed in the past five years is one of the most stupefying hoaxes in contemporary history. Everyone who works in the Vatican know the great abyss between that image and reality, and it should not come as a surprise that someone sooner or later would speak the truth.

I wrote the book using the pseudonym of a great military champion of the Church in the 16th century, because anyone who reads the book will see that in no way do I intend it as an attack against the Church. In fact, my intention is for the Church not to make another error similar to what resulted n Bergoglio’s election. Namely, to have elected as pope a little known cardinal who has shown himself to be completely different from what he had seemed.

And it was necessary for me to use a pseudonym because as I show in the book, Pope Francis avenges himself without pity on those who oppose him. We saw that with the priests who worked at the CDF whom the pope dismissed without cause or due process in October 2016 because he had been told they were critical of him in private.

So why do you say Bergoglio is a dictator?
The word ‘dictator’ means a sovereign who exercises his own personal will in defiance of laws and of justice. Which is something very different from the legal authority that traditionaly belongs to the head of the Catholic Church. I would once again cite Cardinal Mueller who recounts that when he asked the pope to explain why his three staff members were fired without cause, the pope answered: “I am the pope and I do not have to explain myself to anybody”. [So he's not answerable even to the faithful whom he was elected to lead!] This is not at all the way popes before Bergoglio exercised their authority.

However, in calling Bergoglio a dictator, I also wished to underscore the very close parallels in his style and that of Juan Peron, who was the dictator of Argentina during Bergoglio’s growing-up years. His influence is crucial in explaining Bergoglio’s style. As I say in the book, he is the ecclesiastical transposition of Juan Peron.

In the book, you recount an episode that is little known about Bergoglio’s past, which involves the Jesuit Fr. Kolvenbach. What is it all about? And how did you come to learn of it?
In 1991, when Jorge Bergoglio was to be named a bishop, it was necessary to get a report from the Superior General of his order,
who was Fr. Kolvenbach at that time. His reply, based on the opinions given to him by other Jesuits who knew Bergoglio, was that the man was unfit to be named a bishop. The report said Bergoglio lacked psychological balance, that he was a devious character, and that he had been a divisive figure when he was the Jesuit Provincial of Argentina.

This report was sent to the members of the Congregation or Bishops at the time, and it was known to a number of high-ranking prelates in the Church. [Though obviously no one remembered any of it at all – or if any did, they chose to ignore it - at the time of the 2013 Conclave and the St. Gallen mafia's campaign to get Bergoglio elected.] But Bergoglio, of course, as soon as he became pope, did all he could to keep this fact hidden. And the copy deposited in the order’s archives in Rome simply disappeared.

How did you gather the material for your book?
Many newsmen have commented that my book contains little that is new, and in effect, much of it is based on articles which have been published in the past almost five years since Bergoglio became pope, such as, for example, those by Sandro Magister. What I did was to put all the available material together. [As many have also acknowledged, seeing the burden of proof assembled together in a book makes a far stronger and indelible impression than one's generally short-term memory of events about Bergoglio which pile up day after day to illustrate and underscore consistent character flaws or shortcomings.]

Nonetheless, I think my book provides an important contribution in Chapter 2 devoted to Bergoglio's past record in Argentina, where he was known as an astute politician and manipulator in the best Peronist tradition. Even here, there is little new for Argentines, but the facts I bring out [from documented Argentine sources] are little known to the rest of the world, if only because of the language barrier. So I was a vehicle for translating them.

As for the revelations in the book about resistance to Bergoglian reforms in the Vatican and the reign of fear that currently exists there, these are familiar to those who work at the Vatican, but it was necessary that someone come out publicly with what is well-known but not publicized.

Through what process did Bergoglio become pope?
Chapter 1 describes the activity of the group of cardinals that one of them [Cardinal Danneels of Belgium] called the 'St. Gallen Mafia' to guarantee the election of Bergoglio at the 2013 conclave. Danneels was so proud of the role they played that he gave out all the names of his colleagues to the authors of a biography published about him in 2015. He apparently ignored the fact that what he disclosed was a serious violation of canon law which prohibits any 'conspiracy' to influence the result of a papal conclave. [Though unfortunately, the law does not facilitate its own implementation.]

These cardinals had been meeting for years in secret [in St. Gallen, Switzerland, close to the Italian border] during the years when John Paul II's illness worsened and a new conclave was foreseeable. Their goal was to prevent the election of Joseph Ratzinger, and in 2005, the candidate that they found suitable for their purpose was Bergoglio [who indeed turned out to be the only challenger to Ratzinger after the first ballot had screened out all other candidates from further consideration]. So when Benedict XVI unexpectedly renounced the pontificate in 2013, they used the opportunity to renew the initiative that had failed eight years earlier.

What do you think of Bergoglio's reforms?
My third chapter is entitled "Reform? What reform?". I describe in detail how reform is completely blocked by powerful curial figures with whom this pope has deliberately allied himself.
- In the first place, curial reform has been frustrated – especially the attempt to reduce the inordinate powers of the Secretariat of State which has now become, under Cardinal Parolibn, more powerful than ever before.
- Two, this pope has not kept his promise to act forcefully against sex-offender priests. There are well-known cases of priests and prelates protected by prominent figures in the Bergoglian Curia.
- Third, the complete inversion of the financial reforms that were intended at the time Cardinal Pell set up the new Secretariat for the Economy. He was obstructed by a small group of cardinals who have no wish to give up the financial controls they hold, and did succeed in defying him.
- The dismissal of Libero Milone, the first-ever Vatican Auditor-General [an office instituted by the papal decree that created the Secretariat for the Economy], was a victory for those who oppose financial reform at their expense.

Why did it happen? Because the pope – who was elected to reform the Curia [as everyone made it a point to emphasize again and again in 2013, as though that were the primary problem for the Church, and not the crisis in the faith that had been developing for decades sicne Vatican II] - discovered that he could do this more effectively through corrupt veterans who depend on him to retain their power – and he obeys them blindly.

Have there been reactions from the Holy See to your book?
Obviously, the book is not liked by the powers that be. There were immediate efforts to find out exactly who wrote it. At one point, they thought they had identified him in someone who lives in the UK, whom they threatened on the telephone. What they do not understand is that the book does not represent just my voice, a solitary voice, but that it expresses the concerns of many persons – inside the Vatican and elsewhere – who simply want the truth to be known.

‘The Dictator Pope’:
A mixture of hearsay and insight

The anonymous book makes unproven claims but
some of its analysis is uncomfortably plausible

by Dan Hitchens

Tuesday, 12 Dec 2017

The easily scandalised should avoid The Dictator Pope, a new e-book by the pseudonymous “Marcantonio Colonna” which has risen to 4th place on Amazon Kindle’s Religion and Spirituality bestseller list. And others should approach its more sensational claims – which I won’t repeat here – with caution.

Everyone who writes about the Vatican hears credible things from good sources which we nevertheless cannot publish, because they do not quite pass the evidence threshold, or because we would rather not bring the papal office into disrepute. Colonna just goes right ahead. But the book is also judiciously written and genuinely insightful.

For instance, he addresses the old puzzle: how does the Pope sound at one moment like a theological “liberal”, at the next like a “conservative”? Colonna’s answer is cynical but not implausible: the Pope belongs to a uniquely Argentine tradition, exemplified by the three-time president Juan Perón. There is an apocryphal story about Perón inducting his nephew into politics:

“He first brought the young man with him when he received a deputation of communists; after hearing their views, he told them, ‘You’re quite right.’ The next day he received a deputation of fascists and replied again to their arguments, ‘You’re quite right.’ Then he asked his nephew what he thought and the young man said, ‘You’ve spoken with two groups with diametrically opposite opinions and you told them both that you agreed with them. This is completely unacceptable.’ Perón replied, ‘You’re quite right too.'”

As that suggests, this is a very political book. Colonna expands on previous claims about a group of cardinals – the “St Gallen mafia”, as one member jokingly called them – who tried to prevent Joseph Ratzinger’s election in 2005. The group was originally led by the late Cardinal Martini, who once claimed Humanae Vitae, Paul VI’s encyclical reiterating Church teaching on contraception, had done “serious damage”.

The St Gallen mafia adopted Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as their candidate in 2013, and campaigned for him with all their energy. “With Martini dead, and most of the group coming within a hair of the cut-off age for participation in a conclave, time was running out – they knew this was their last realistic chance,” Colonna writes.

The St Gallen group liked to talk about a more “pastoral” Church, by which, Colonna says, they meant a desire “to get away from the firm upholding of Catholic moral teaching that had characterised Pope John Paul II and move towards the approach that has since been seen in the synod on the family.”

Colonna describes the family synod of 2014-15 as a series of tactical moves to undermine Church teaching on Communion for the remarried. He quotes Cardinal Wilfred Napier, who said he had been told by a Vatican insider that the organisers’ plan was “manipulating the synod, engineering it in a certain direction… I asked: ‘But why?’ He said: ‘Because they want a certain result.’”

Pope Francis specially appointed several prelates to the synod who opposed the traditional teaching. Even then, some ambiguous words about Communion did not receive enough votes from the synod fathers. But they were included in the final report nevertheless.

This material has been presented before, but rarely with such lucidity. Similarly, Colonna’s chapters on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the Knights of Malta make it clearer than ever that, if the conflicts began within those orders, it was Vatican intervention which turned them into catastrophes.

“Fear,” Colonna claims, “is the dominant note” in the Curia. Officials have noted the fate of three officials from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) who were fired. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, then the prefect of the congregation, publicly complained that the Pope “gave no reason” for dismissing this “highly competent” trio.

According to the book, Cardinal Müller asked to discuss the matter with the Pope; but getting an appointment took two or three months, by which time it was too late. This is not untypical, the book says.

“In the past there was a system which provided for each head of a Vatican body to see the Pope regularly, usually twice a month; it was called the udienza di tabella. This has now been abolished; officials have to make special appointments, and they are often told that the Pope is too busy.”

As Colonna tells it, while earnest churchmen like Cardinal Müller flounder, the Vatican is increasingly dominated by canny ecclesiastical politicians who devote much of their time to preventing important reforms. For instance, the proposed audit from PwC was stopped; anyone who seems serious about rooting out financial corruption – such as Libero Milone, the recently ousted auditor general – quickly runs into trouble. Colonna also makes some unsettling claims about what it is like to work for the Pope, both in today’s Vatican and formerly in Buenos Aires archdiocese.

To repeat, The Dictator Pope is not for the easily scandalised. But then it is meant to counterbalance the image presented in the media: the Pope of “No H8”, “Who am I to judge?”, “the leader of the global left”, “a conscience for the world”.

Colonna queries some of the Pope’s much-praised gestures of simplicity, such as his moving into the Vatican guesthouse, instead of the grander papal palace. The book claims the move has cost €2 million, while the palace still has to be maintained.

He also suggests that, despite Pope Francis’s immense popularity with the secular media, he has not won over the Catholic faithful in the same way. Colonna cites official statistics for average attendance at the Pope’s weekly audience in St Peter’s Square:
2013: 51,617
2014: 27,883
2015: 14,818
No figures for 2016 have been published, but Colonna says “they are understood to be under 10,000”.

Unthinking adulation for the Pope can, at times, seem a harmless enough mistake. But amid the present doctrinal crisis, it is not helping anyone. If this book is worth reading, be warned it is as an almost unbearably bitter-tasting medicine.

Let me post another belated translation here. Somehow, it all ties up...

A reader reminds us of
a Marian prophecy in Akita

Translated from

A friend whom I will call ‘Super-Ex’ has written me again – in an earlier post, he had described himself as "ex-Movimento per la Vita, ex- Scienza&Vita, ex-journalist for Avvenire, ex-teacher at a Catholic school" – who fortunately, does not say ‘ex-Catholic’ because he is still and more than ever Catholic. Which, if you think about it, seems like a true miracle in these days, when the ‘witness’ provided by the pope, along with many bishops, prelates, priests and theologians is not what one would consider Christian… But here is what Super-Ex writes:

Dear Tosatti, After my long letter as an 'ex-', above all, of Avvenire, a newspaper that today is unrecognizable, unreadable and intolerable, I thought of sending you a brief excerpt from a book by journalist Andrea Tornielli, once a Ratzingerian of iron, now a Bergoglian of steel, and tomorrow who knows? It is taken from his book Attacco a Ratzinger (Piemme, 2010, p 272), from an apocalyptic chapter focused on many prophecies which foretold an unprecedented crisis in the Church. [The book, co-authored by journalist Paolo Rodari, was actually a defense of Benedict XVI written at the height of the open and determined media campaign to force him to resign over the sexual abuse scandals.]
This passage reminded me of the insults and vulgarities with which some Bergoglian cardinals, Maradiaga above all, have often insulted other cardinals ike Burke and Caffarra for merely raising doctrinal questions to the pope, without ever descending to the personal.

It also reminds me of the inconsistent wanderings of Cardinal Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert Schönborn (I hope I did not drop any of his names), who since March 13, 2013, has been so committed to saying the opposite of what he said and wrote before then [most notably, against the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of which he was the chairman of the editorial board that compiled it in 1985-1992]. Has he converted to Bergoglianism, or to use a word from the prophecy Tornielli quotes, ‘compromised’ himself? Here is what Tornielli wrote:

Explicit references and images about a difficult crisis in the Church are found in the messages from the 1973 Marian apparitions in Akita, Japan, that with the consent of the Vatican, were acknowledged to be supernatural by Mons. John Shojiro Ito, of the diocese of Niigata. Before Mons. Ito made public his approval, he had met in 1988 with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

According to him, on October 13, 1973, anniversary of the Fatima ‘miracle of the sun’, Our Lady appeared to Sister Agnes Sasagawa and said, among other things:

‘The work of the devil will insinuate itself even into the Church in such a way that shall show cardinals opposed to cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me shall be despised and hindered by their brother priests… The Church will be filled with those who accept compromises.’

It is striking to read this today in the light of what is happening in the Church. A veritable photograph… 
00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 2:34 AM
What a pleasure it is to translate and share with you another beautiful Catholic reflection by Aldo Maria Valli on some quotidian events that most of us take for granted... This is a tribute to his unborn child who nevertheless exists for him and his wife as a person whom they look forward to meeting finally in heaven... Most extraordinary.

Our first creche and
our seventh 'hidden child'

Translated from

December 10, 2017

Every once in a while, it happens. Mostly in the morning, at breakfast. At our old wooden table in the kitchen, before a steaming cup of coffee. And it happened today.

As we chatted of this and that, though mostly of our six children – who are the usual focus of our breakfast conversations – we thought of our baby who was never born. To paraphrase the title of a short story by Guareschi, we call him the seventh clandestine or hidden child.

If he had been born, he would be twenty-five today. I use the masculine pronoun but we never got to know if the baby was a he or a she. But we al ready had a name – if he were male, Tommaso, if female, Benedetta. Names which we decided not to use for those who were born after. Because for us, our seventh clandestine was and is unique, and we thought it was right to do just as sports teams do when they retire the jersey of a champion who has retired. Our seventh clandestine was unique and nobody could be like 'him'.

In fact, neither Santa Subito [Valli's fond nickname for his wife Serena] nor I have really asked ourselves about our never-born child. It seemed like we didn't have the time, because after we lost 'him' in a spontaneous miscarriage, he was followed immediately by Silvia, our third, then the twins Anna and Paola, and finally, Laura.

But now the children are all grown, and as Santa Subito and myself are approaching old age, we find ourselves looking at each other now and then and sort of say, "But…", which is somewhat a question and somewhat an exclamation, but goes no farther. "But… who knows? What might have been if…?"

We have a very special love for our s'hidden child'. We felt no bitterness at the time. If the good God so willed it, he had a reason, and we are very sure that his plan for us is and always was good for us, the best there can be. So no recriminations, but gratitude for this mysterious grace.

But at this phase in our life, we sometimes feel a retrospective curiosity entwined with special tenderness. What would our Tomasso have been like? Or our Benedetta? Would he or she have loved to read like his/her only brother and his/her five sisters? What would he or she have studied? Would he or she have played an instrument? Would he or she have been a fan of Inter [the soccer club]?

One thing is sure: Even if he or she had not been born, that baby was and is. That baby was and is a person. Who now surely looks at us, and in the inscrutable way of those who leave us, remains with us.

Yesterday, I set up our first crèche in the manner of my family, and in the next few days, we shall be putting up a second one, according to the tradition in Serena's family. Two crèches, double the joy, double the celebration – it is always a pleasure to double what is beautiful.

While I was setting down the moss, the cardboard hills, the little houses and the Nativity stall, I felt a slight breeze caress me. Like someone had brushed past me. So I turned around – but there was nothing. As I did so, I thought of our seventh child, and I said to him/her that I was glad he or she was there.

Then I called Anna, Paola and Laura to put the finishing touches, and as they placed Mary and Joseph, the ox and the donkey, the shepherds, the sheep, a well, abridge, some geese and hens, the lights, I had the impression that two other eyes were there watching it all, wide open in wonder.

Since the Church 'abolished' the notion of limbo, it is not clear where children like our seventh child are. Sometimes I think there must be a special section in Paradise for them, where they can play as they please, send us kisses and help us set up the crèche. And that perhaps in the highways of heaven, there are crossroads in which these children line up – as do those who bring water and food for cyclists in the Tour de France – to greet the babies destined by God to come down to earth, with a smile and a gaze, telling them as they pass by, "Please bring this to my parents and siblings below". And the descending souls, although busy scrambling to get down into the world, grab the gifts on the fly and do not let go until they land here.

In any case, I already feel a foretaste of when we finally meet. That when we have returned to the house of the Father, there will be a beautiful boy or girl approaching us. Will he/she have the dark eyes of Giovanni, or the clear eyes of Anna and Laura, or the big eyes of Paola? The smile of Giulia, the cute nose of Silvia? Maybe he/she will be a sum of them all. Surely, he/she will be familiar, and when he/she catches our eye, then we will know. And finally, it will be possible to embrace each other. Our seventh child will take us by the hand and say, "Come", and will bring us to see his most beautiful crèche – a living one, and eternal.


Sorry, Signor Valli, to have to post this in the same space as your essay above, but surely you would never put up a creche that just totally spoils the Christmas message, with ill-advised and thoroughly incomprehensible 'additions' to the Christmas story in an attempt to spread an already stale narrative of Bergoglian mercy that's too tiresome for words.

Is this supposed to bring Christmas joy to the beholder?

The first reactions to Pentin's tweet are indicative:

00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 4:09 AM

I am loath, of course, to have to post about Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah in the same breath as Cardinal Mueller, whose fence-straddling and constantly shifting equivocations I find revolting (and inexplicable if he is indeed as orthodox as he professes to be). Surely Benedict XVI who followed Christ's precept to "Let your Yes mean Yes, and your No mean No", could not possibly condone Mueller's very public equivocations. But the article is what it is, so be the judge...'

The influence of Benedict XVI
on Cardinals Müller and Sarah

Books by the two cardinals demonstrate the deep and lasting impact
of the thought and work of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI

by Paul Senz

December 12, 2017

The legacy and papacy of Benedict XVI still looms large over the Catholic Church. This is not due to any ongoing activity on his part; he has lived up to his promise to remain silent in retirement, to devote himself to contemplation and prayer. But his lifetime of teaching and preaching, and the relationships he formed, continue to influence the Church today.

Two prominent examples of his influence are Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller and Cardinal Robert Sarah. Cardinal Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (a post Benedict held as Joseph Ratzinger for more than 20 years), has a longstanding friendship with Benedict, and has been immeasurably influenced by his thought over many years. He was named as Prefect by Pope Benedict in 2012, but his mandate was not renewed by Pope Francis when it ran out in July 2017.

Cardinal Sarah is currently the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI named him President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and he was named to his current post by Pope Francis in November of 2014.

There is another thing these men have in common: both have recently had book-length interviews published by Ignatius Press, and in both cases, there are unmistakable marks that point towards Joseph Ratzinger as a major influence on the thought of both men.

If there is one thing that is clear from the first page of the recent interview book with Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, it is that the until-recently-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in perfect continuity with his predecessor-but-one, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. [Difficult to see any 'perfect continuity'when one defends the exhortation from hell as being interpretable in the light of Church tradition, and never once mentions Benedict XVI's unforgettable answer to a Brazilian couple who asked about the plight of remarried divorcees at the World Meeting of Families in Milan in 2012.

Which, incidentally, Fr. Z somehow revived today, and in which Benedict XVI says that those who cannot receive Communion because they cannot be absolved - i.e., because they continue to live in adultery - always have the recourse to spiritual communion. And as a sinner who did not go to Mass for more than two decades in my life, I can vouch for the consolations and satisfactions of spiritual communion. imperfect and incomplete as it is. In fact, I find the "Domine non sum dignus..." one of the most beautiful invocations in our prayer armamentarium.]

This continuity is not only to be found by the keen-eyed: it is explicitly identified by the author and interviewer, Father Carlos Granados, and can even be found in the title of the book. The Cardinal Müller Report is a direct reference to the groundbreaking book-length interview conducted by journalist Vittorio Messori called The Ratzinger Report. [I did find the frank derivation of the title questionable though I can understand it is opportunistic. The original Spanish title of Mueller's book is "Informe sobre la esperanza" (Report on hope), a direct takeoff from the Spanish title for the RATZINZGER REPORT, "Informe sobre la fe" (Report on the faith), in turn based on the original Italian title RAPPORTO SULLA FEDE. But the Mueller takeoff from the Ratzinger book title was always questionable from the start, because what 'hope' was he reporting on? The book was published shortly after the 2015 'family synod' when all hell was already breaking loose in the Church for the open deception and manipulation towards the pope's desired result that had marked the 'family synods'. I am curious to find out what Mueller found as cause for hope in the church of Bergoglio - at least enough to report on,and how he did so!]

The interview was originally conducted in Spanish, with three books on the table between the men: the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and a Spanish-German dictionary. That and the mind of the cardinal was all that was needed. In the book’s Introduction, the interviewer explains that, “The parallelism is certainly intended as a homage to the friendship between the current prefect and the pope emeritus; but it is also, above all, intended to bring to bear the focus of that interview. In it, Ratzinger completely and accurately diagnosed the situation of the Church, its causes and its effects, and also proposed some paths to a solution. It can be said that ensuing events have validated his focus, which was the subject of so much argument at the time” (x-xi)." [I doubt Mueller would or could have given an honest diagnosis of the church of Bergoglio when he was part of it.]

Time and again throughout the book, Cardinal Müller refers to the thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI as a means of organizing or bookending his remarks. His close relationship with the pope emeritus has allowed him a special insight into his mind, and they are certainly of one mind in most instances.

The Cardinal Müller Report has a somewhat different flavor to it now, in retrospect. The book came out a matter of months before Cardinal Müller was replaced as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As with so much during the current papacy, this move has been met with no little suspicion and speculation.

One seems to be able to detect a certain amount of hesitation or cautious wording in some of Müller’s responses; perhaps a hesitation that he would not have employed had he already been out of his post, something suggested by more blunt comments made by Cardinal Müller in recent months. [I wish Mr. Senz had the good sense to at least tell us why the book could be called a 'report on hope'! I certainly did not get the impression in previous accounts of the book that it even referred to Spe Salvi, Benedict XVI's encyclical masterpiece on Christian hope, which is inextricably tied in with the Four Last Things, a topic hardly if ever touched on in this pontificate, nor to my knowledge, by Mueller.]

For many, Cardinal Robert Sarah (pronounced Suh-RAH) was a surprise choice for Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. For those who accept a narrative of discontinuity between Pope Francis and what came before, Cardinal Sarah may have been the last person on earth they expected to be appointed. [Which was obviously a very political move: Bergoglio needed to replace Sarah as head of the Cor Unum because Sarah's ideas about Catholic charity are those of Benedict XVI in his much under-reported 2012 motu proprio about institutional charity, yet he could not just dismiss the highest-ranking African member of the Curia. And so the promoveatur to the CDW, where the pope has since virtually divested Sarah of any authority.]

Cardinal Sarah is, if nothing else, in complete continuity with Joseph Ratzinger when it comes to things liturgical. But it is not only on liturgical matters that Cardinal Sarah serves as a beacon of continuity with the pope emeritus.

In fact, his most recent book-length interview, titled The Power of Silence, includes an Afterword written by none other than the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. In this Afterword, he praises Cardinal Sarah’s insights and wisdom, as well as his humility.

“Of course he speaks hardly at all about himself,” Benedict writes, “but now and then he does give us a glimpse into his interior life.” This could well be said of the Pope Emeritus himself. Seldom focused on himself or his own accomplishments and wisdom, he always strove to point the reader or listener to God, to contemplate the face of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Ratzinger, the great professor, the magister that the Church so sorely needed in its fight against what he called the dictatorship of relativism and other evils, has always understood the value of words —including knowing when to use few, or none. In his efforts to encourage silence and silent, intimate communion with God, Cardinal Sarah echoes the sentiments of Benedict XVI.

It is difficult to count the number of times through The Power of Silence that Cardinal Sarah quotes the work of Joseph Ratzinger-Pope Benedict XVI. However, the sheer number of these quotations demonstrates how unified the teaching of these two men is. In addition, these quotations together can serve as a sort of programmatic summary of the thought of Cardinal Robert Sarah.

At one point, the cardinal quotes from Cardinal Ratzinger’s book A New Song for the Lord: “Wherever God’s word is translated into human words there remains a surplus of the unspoken and unspeakable which calls us to silence... God reveals himself, but our human words fail to express his immensity, depth,and mystery. He forever remains beyond our words. And how small God would be if we understood him!” (p 127) These words may as well have been written by Cardinal Sarah!

It is no surprise that the pope emeritus would have such kind and intimate words in regards to Cardinal Sarah’s book about silence. Especially in the context of the liturgy, this was something near and dear to his own heart.

Again, quoting Cardinal Ratzinger during a discussion of the liturgy:

“‘If we do not understand the place of silence, we run the risk of bypassing the Word of God, also. Therefore we must enter into this depth of silence in which the mystery greater than all human words is communicated. This step is essential…. God is above all the great silence. It is necessary to escape the multiplication of words in order to rediscover the Word. If there is no silence by which to enter into their depth, the words themselves become incomprehensible. And the liturgy, the presence of the great mystery of God, must therefore be also the place where we have the opportunity to enter into the depths of our souls’” (p 128)

Cardinal Sarah quotes the writings of Joseph Ratzinger over and over again, and always in strong agreement. Perhaps the most typical quotation, and one which really speaks to the hearts of both men, is from Ratzinger’s “The Regensburg Tradition and the Reform of the Liturgy” (which appears in Joseph Ratzinger Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy), in reference to the Eucharistic Prayer:

“Must we not relearn this silent, inner co-praying with each other and with the angels and saints … and with Christ himself,” so that we do not lose “the real inner event of the liturgy, the departure from human speech into being touched by the eternal”?

The words of the pope emeritus in the Afterword to Cardinal Sarah’s book help to illustrate the unity of these two great and unfathomable minds – and hearts. “We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church,” he writes.

“With the liturgy, too, as with the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, it is true that specialized knowledge is necessary. But it is also true of the liturgy that specialization ultimately can talk right past the essential thing unless it is grounded in a deep, interior union with the praying Church, which over and over again learns anew from the Lord himself what adoration is. With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.”

00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 2:48 PM

Fr H s among the first Anglophone commentators to react to the Pledge of Fidelity, and reiterates his view that the Church should consider herself today in the state of
suspended Magisterium that Blessed John Henry Newman postulated in the 19th century about the period of the Arian crisis...

'The temporary suspense of
the function of the Ecclesia Docens'

December 13, 2017

A world-wide group of laymen and laywomen have just issued a defence of Catholic doctrine concerning Family and Life matters. The crucial paragraph, in my view, is this:

We pledge our full obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the legitimate exercise of is authority. However, nothing will ever persuade us, or compel us, to abandon or contradict any article of the Catholic faith or any truth definitively established.

If there is any conflict between the words and acts of any member of the hierarchy, even the pope, and the doctrine that the Church has always taught, we will remain faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church. If we were to depart from the Catholic faith, we would depart from Jesus Christ, to whom we wish to be united for all eternity."

This seems to me exactly right and exactly proportionate to the present situation in the Catholic Church.

By a happy disposition of Providence, this Statement hit the media at the same time as Walter Kasper's gleeful conviction that Amoris laetitia has now become irreformable and that the 'controversy' is now over. Gracious me, what ultrahyperueberpapalist views of the Petrine Ministry these Liberals do have when they get a foul wind into their sails.

And the Statement reminds me of the phrase which Blessed John Henry Newman used in the context of the Arian controversy, in which the great majority of the Bishops, the Ecclesia docens (the teaching Church) including the Successor of S Peter, were either heretics, or were cowed into silence or compromise by the heretics. It is the phrase I have put at the head of this post, which I take in the sense in which Newman subsequently clarified his use of it, and not otherwise.

I suppose we had a good example of this phenomenon of 'suspense' in the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI, in the period between his setting up of a Commission to consider the question of contraception, and his very courageous subsequent reaffirmation of the Church's Magisterial Teaching with the publication of Humanae vitae.

Surely, we are in another such period of suspense now. The question of the admission of adulterers to Holy Communion was magisterially dealt with as recently as 2007, only ten years ago, in Sacramentum Caritatis para 29; it had received synodical and papal clarification in each of the last two pontificates; and is embedded in the Catechism.

But a 'suspense'of that Magisterial teaching began when it was opened up to synodal debate; and that 'suspense' grew wider when PF issued a document which has been interpreted in diametrically opposed ways. The Suspense will end when this or a subsequent Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council reasserts with unmistakeable clarity the teaching of the Magisterium (or possibly when the error, having run its course, happily dies a natural death).

The learned Patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, made clear that he in no way implied the cessation of the Magisterial teaching or office during a 'suspense'. The Dogma of Nicea remained de jure fully in force; but was simply not treated as such by many bishops and so did not 'function'. The bishops remained ex officio guardians and teachers of the Faith; not a microgram of their God-given authority to teach the Faith was lost to them; but de facto they failed to guard and to teach that Faith. The concept of suspense is not so much theological as historical.

Things now are very similar. The teaching of the Magisterium is still, obviously, formally still vigore pleno; but numbers of unfaithful or negligent bishops behave as though it were not. In many cases, they appear and/or claim to do so with the connivance of the Successor of St Peter.

During a 'suspense', does the episcopal ministry of those bishops who are heterodox on just one point still call for religiosum obsequium on other matters? Or is one obliged to consider their entire episcope vitiated by just one point of heterodoxy?

Looking back into the great Anglican Patrimony which Pope Benedict invited us to bring with us into Catholic Unity, I recall a phrase dear to a distinguished and erudite Bishop of Oxford, Charles Gore [1853-1932; a doughty asserter of the doctrine which was re-asserted by Casti Connubii]:The wonderful coherence of Christian doctrine".

A later, even more erudite occupant of the same See, Kenneth Kirk, [1886-1954] commented:

"Gore saw Christian doctrine as a unified whole ... It was his conviction, shared of course with the great Scholastic tradition in theology, that if any single article in this totality was attacked, varied, or distorted, the attack, variation, or distortion would be seen on inspection to affect every other article to a greater or lesser degree. ...

If two systems each of which can claim some real degree of logical principle are in conflict on any one point, investigation will ultimately prove that they differ on every point, though at first sight this may be anything but apparent. For each system is, by hypothesis, self-consistent, and therefore all its members are interlocked, and whatever affects one of them must affect them all."

This is still one of my own working hermeneutical tools. Accordingly,I feel a tentative [???] hesitation, during this lamentable suspense, about taking seriously any teaching statement of an apparently less than orthodox member of the hierarchy.

I throw open the above position to discussion, totally aware of my own fallibility, and anxious to be in all things a docile subject of the authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

And I applaud the statement of Fidelity to Catholic Teaching issued by these eminent and admirable laypeople.

In the context of the Newman postulate, what Fr. De Souza ultimately concludes in the piece below is far from convincing - though it would be a 'best case' scenario. Eespecially given that he precedes it with six reasons why the ' magisterial upgrade' to the Argentine bishops' letter and the pope's reply to it is at best dubious, and that he quotes the duplicitous reasoning of Cardinal Marc Ouellet published in L'Osservatore Romano recently to justify his ultimate conclusion - and does not void the logical need to consider a magisterial suspense on this matter. (The cardinal is Fr. De Souza's Canadian compatriot so perhaps that explains the latter's persuasion about Ouellet's reasoning.)

Pope’s AL guidelines via the bishops
of Argentina get an upgrade

Their elevation to the AAS raises new questions, but clearly
[???] rules out
more adventurous interpretations of the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation

by Father Raymond J. de Souza, SJ

December 12, 2017

The latest clarification of the proper interpretation of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) raises new questions, with perhaps unexpected answers.

In September 2016, the bishops of the Buenos Aires pastoral region released guidelines for the interpretation of Chapter VIII of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, which addresses the situation of those in a sacramental marriage but living in conjugal union with someone else, and perhaps civilly married.

On the same day the guidelines were released, the Pope wrote a private letter to the Buenos Aires bishops commending their efforts and saying that there were “no other interpretations.” This letter was first leaked to the press and then put on the Vatican website.

Pope Francis has now decreed that both the Buenos Aires guidelines and his letter be included in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See) as acts of the “authentic magisterium” of the Roman Pontiff. The AAS is like the official gazette of a government where official regulations are published. Not everything in the AAS is an exercise of the magisterium, but magisterial acts are recorded there.

The Buenos Aires guidelines were widely read as permitting, under limited circumstances related to reduced culpability, admission to confession and Holy Communion of those living in conjugal unions outside of a valid marriage.

However, the guidelines themselves could also be read as conforming to the prevailing teaching of the Church as found in St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So the Buenos Aires text itself did not resolve the ambiguities in Amoris Laetitia. At the time, I examined the guidelines in detail.

As for the “no other interpretations” approval letter of Pope Francis, it was private correspondence. No matter how cleverly leaked to the press, it was not a magisterial act.

It is important to know what the Pope thinks but is not necessarily relevant to what the Pope is officially teaching. The papal letter had no standing. Now it does. What does that mean? There are six considerations that come to mind.
— First, it is a novelty. The letter to the Buenos Aires bishops now appears in the AAS as a formal apostolic letter, for example, like the Holy Father wrote to conclude the Jubilee of Mercy. It never was an apostolic letter before, not when it was written, not when it was received and not when leaked to the press.

An apostolic letter is not private correspondence. Yet what appears in the official record is now something that heretofore did not exist. Nevertheless, its curious retroactive change in status does not impinge on its authority. It now is an apostolic letter, even if it wasn’t when Pope Francis wrote it.

— Second, what the Holy Father meant when he wrote that “there are no other interpretations” is itself in need of further clarification. Does he mean that all interpretations other than the Buenos Aires guidelines are to be ignored, like those of, for example, the Holy Father’s own Diocese of Rome? That can’t possibly be the case. [See comment after the following paragraph.]

Indeed, if only the Buenos Aires guidelines are correct, then it would rule out Pope Francis’s own 2014 telephone advice to a divorced-and-civilly-remarried woman in Argentina — without any pastoral accompaniment — to receive Holy Communion in another parish after her pastor advised her otherwise. So it must mean only those guidelines that are in conformity with the Buenos Aires guidelines are accurate reflections of Amoris Laetitia. [No, Father! You are projecting logic onto a person who acts out of whim and whimsy or sentiment rather than logic. Following your reasoning, it is just as likely therefore that what Bergoglio told the woman in a telephone conversation is what he really wanted AL to say, with or without pastoral accompaniment - the letter being a necessary 'anti-heretical' proviso in AL, since telling the woman to just go receive communion with a priest who would give it to her was basically telling her to ignore everything the Church had taught about adultery and sacrilegious communion.]

— Third, that raises the question of which guidelines could be read as compatible with Buenos Aires.

Though differing in emphasis, the guidelines of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories do not contradict Buenos Aires. So they would appear to be valid.

That’s not the case for the bishops of Malta, whose guidelines go much further than Buenos Aires, with a wholly different understanding of conscience. Therefore, it would appear that the upgraded apostolic letter makes room for Philadelphia and Alberta, but rules out Malta. That is counter-intuitive, but is a reasonable reading of what “no other interpretations” means. [Again, Fr. De Souza seems to be having selective blindness here. 'Other interpretations' could just as well - and probably did in this case - refer to the interpretations of those who said "No - under no circumstances can remarried divorcees receive absolution and communion if they continue to live in adultery".]

— Fourth, does the new apostolic letter contradict Amoris Laetitia itself? Perhaps so, for in No. 300, Pope Francis writes that “priests have the duty to ‘accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop …’”

If the bishop is to establish guidelines, but the Buenos Aires guidelines are the only guidelines possible, what is the point?

Paragraph 300 opens with the observation that “if we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the synod nor this exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases.”

What, then, is the difference between guidelines about which there are “no other interpretations” and general rules that cannot be provided? Are the Buenos Aires guidelines general rules or local rules to be mandated generally?

[So, with the above argument, Fr. De Souza has just demolished his own openly charitable interpretations so far!]

— Fifth, the Buenos Aires apostolic letter does not address directly the key question that Amoris Laetitia raised, which is how to resolve apparent conflicts between it and previous, clearly expressed magisterial teaching.

For example, Amoris Laetitia No. 303 teaches:

“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.”

That appears to conflict with the teaching of St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which says that an intrinsically sinful act, if understood to be so, can never be done, much less be what God himself is asking.

The Buenos Aires guidelines do not address specifically that question, but the thrust of the guidelines actually militates against such a “creative” view of conscience. It is therefore possible that the Buenos Aires guidelines discreetly demur from the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, 303, a demurral that it is now officially endorsed by the Holy Father. That confusion would be dizzying. [But it is specious circular reasoning like Fr. De Souza advances that causes confusion where there shouldn't be confusion. Even for an anti-logical person like Bergoglio, is it really plausible to say that by whatever assent he has given to the Argentine bishops guidelines he has thereby contradicted himself in AL? Come on! Common sense alone says NO!]

— Sixth, and further to the point above, the Buenos Aires guidelines seek to resolve the ambiguities in the Pope’s exhortation by restricting themselves to the grounds of reduced culpability, i.e., that one cannot be guilty of a mortal sin if there is no freedom to act otherwise. That is not in contradiction with previous teaching and is a pastoral principle often applied in matters relating to chastity. [But once the adulterer confesses to a priest, the latter is dutybound to point out why the confessee is living in mortal sin, at which point, the latter is no longer 'culpable by ignorance' and must decide if he desires communion enough to be able to amend his life accordingly, i.e., by abstaining from the conjugal act for as long as the sacramental marriage of either or both spouses has not been annulled. But that seems to be a condition that Bergoglio has never even verbalized in any way - it's just not a 'nice', convenient or pleasant proposition to make!]

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, in a September 2017 address to the Canadian bishops, subsequently published in L’Osservatore Romano, explicitly states that this is only as far as Amoris Laetitia goes:

“The novelty of Amoris Laetitia consists in offering benchmarks to assess extenuating circumstances that diminish the subjective imputability of an objective state of sin and thus lift an obstacle to sacramental life.

The novelty is not changing the norm nor does it change the role of conscience, but rather clarifies the factors that mitigate culpability. [But those mitigating factors cease the moment the adulterer confesses to a priest who respects the sacraments and who must show the sinner in what way he has been sinning and how best to get out of that chronic state of sin.]

Should Cardinal Ouellet’s careful address find itself, in future, elevated in the AAS to the status of “authentic magisterium,” it does offer a response — in a footnote, suitably enough! — to the apparent conflict between Amoris Laetitia, 303, and Veritatis Splendor.

Cardinal Ouellet flatly concludes that Amoris Laetitia “does not distance itself from Veritatis Splendor with respect to the question of determining the objective morality of human acts and of the fundamental role of conscience as a ‘witness’ to the divine law inscribed in the sacred depths of each person.”
[Yes, but the statement ignores the logical consequence once the objective morality of a specific case of adultery and the role of 'conscience' in the lifestyle decisions of the adulterer(s) has been properly 'discerned' with the help of a priest who knows and respects sacramental discipline.]

The Buenos Aires guidelines are less explicit, but are easily read in the same vein as Cardinal Ouellet’s address, namely that Amoris Laetitia has to be read in light of Veritatis Splendor. [Why, Your Eminence, must it be mandatory to do that? - especially considering that four of the five DUBIA specifically state AL's contradiction of general principles oin VS!] Does the new apostolic letter of Pope Francis implicitly concede that point?

If we assume communications between Curial cardinals are functioning well, it is likely that Cardinal Ouellet knew about the apostolic letter upgrade when he addressed the Canadian bishops in September.

Where does all this leave us? In much of the same place, though with the clarification that the most adventurous interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, like those in Malta, are now definitively ruled out. [Wishful thinking, Father! Is there any Vatican statement out there that ever contradicted the interpretation of the (two) bishops of Malta???]

Sandro Magister reacts to the ex post facto magisterial upgrade of the private letters between the bishops of Buenos Aires and the pope about the practical (i.e., pastoral) interpretation of AL...

'The pope has spoken' - or so it seems
But the DUBIA remain, as does Cardinal Caffarra's legacy

December 13, 2017

Two [related] things happened almost on the same day. On the one hand, the publication in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis of that which is presented as the official and definitive interpretation of the controversial eighth chapter of “Amoris Laetitia,” in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried.

On the other the release of a book with homilies and texts by Carlo Caffarra, one of the four cardinals who submitted to Pope Francis their very serious DUBIA precisely on that chapter.

News of the first of these two publications came in early December, when the new volume of the official “Acta” of the Holy See came off the press. But the decision to print the letter in which the pope approves the criteria adopted by the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires for the application of the eighth chapter of “Amoris Laetitia” dates back to six months before, to June 5.

That was, in fact, the day on which Francis gave the order to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state, to proceed with the official publication of both of those documents, the pope’s letter and the text of the Argentine bishops, “velut Magisterium authenticum,” as authentic magisterum.

This is what it states in Latin in the endnotes for the two documents, on page 1074 of the “Acta Apostolicae Sedis,” An. et vol. CVIII, n. 10:

Summus Pontifex decernit ut duo Documenta quae praecedunt edantur per publicationem in situ electronico Vaticano et in "Actis Apostolicae Sedis", velut Magisterium authenticum.
Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die V mensis Iunii anno MMXVII
Petrus Card. Parolin
Secretarius Status

The two documents were published in Spanish, their original language, with the pope’s letter placed first and bearing the title and qualification of “Epistula Apostolica,” followed by the text of the Argentine bishops, presented as “Additum ad Epistulam,” meaning an attachment to the papal letter.

It would therefore seem that with this Francis wanted to resolve once and for all the ambiguities of “Amoris Laetitia,” eliminating any doubt over his intention that under certain conditions the divorced and remarried could receive Eucharistic communion while continuing to cohabit more uxorio (as husband and wife).

In the letter, in fact, he writes that the text of the Argentine bishops “explains in an excellent way chapter VIII of ‘Amoris Laetitia.’ There are no other interpretations.”

This last sentence, however, raises a few doubts. If that of the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires is truly the only interpretation admitted by the pope, then what becomes of the solemn affirmations also written by the pope in the opening of “Amoris Laetitia,” according to which it is right that there should exist “various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it,” so that “each country or region can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs”? [See the fallacy and futility of seeking to attribute logic to a contra-logical person?]

What would become, for example, of more restrictive interpretations, like that of the Polish bishops or of the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput? Or vice-versa, of more expansive interpretations, like that of the German bishops or of the even more reckless bishop of San Diego, Robert McElroy? Should they all be corralled within the criteria established by the Argentine bishops, because after all “there are no other interpretations”?

But even in Argentina, was it not perhaps going beyond the prudential criteria of his confreres of the region of Buenos Aires when the bishop of Reconquista, Ángel José Macín, publicly and collectively celebrated, in the cathedral, the return to communion of thirty couples of divorced and remarried persons who continue to cohabit more uxorio? [Which the Vatican never denounced nor even offered one word of reproof! After all, is that not what Jorge Bergoglio had been doing for years - though perhaps not en masse - in Buenos Aires when he was bishop there? The proof is always in the pudding, not in any recipe for it!]

Neither is it by any means clear what “authentic magisterium” means as applied both to the “apostolic letter” of Pope Francis and to its attachment. Nor is it clear how this act of “magisterium” can be reconciled with canon 915 of the code of canon law that forbids communion for those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.” [A crucial point that Fr. De Souza totally ignores in his novel but condition-laden apologia pro AL!] Doubts have been raised on both of these points by a talented canonist like the American Edward Peters.

But getting back to June 5, the day on which Francis ordered the publication of the two documents as official proceedings of the Holy See, on that date the pope had had on his desk for a month the heartfelt letter in which Cardinal Caffarra asked him for an audience together with the other cardinals of the DUBIA which he resubmitted intact.

Of course, as we all know, neither the DUBIA nor this letter ever received a response, nor can the publication of those two documents in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis be seen as one. Caffarra died on September 6, and even then, the pope has held himself back from exprssing any sign of esteem for him, even on October 1 when he went to visit Bologna, the diocese of which the deceased cardinal was archbishop from 2003 to 2015.

It was all the more striking, therefore, when on December 7, the day on which the book with the homilies and texts by Caffarra was released, a sincere and moving portrait of the cardinal appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, with the title “The gentle light of truth", which states among other things:

“He was greatly pained in recent years by the misunderstanding of which some of his theological positions were the object. He suffered, but in peace. On December 21, 2016 he wrote: ‘I am very serene. The only true suffering is to notice how much obsequiousness there is in the Church, and how much refusal to make use of the light of the intellect.’”

The author of the article, Emanuela Ghini, is a discalced Carmelite nun, highly esteemed for her writings on Sacred Scripture and spirituality. A few months ago there came out in bookstores a very interesting correspondence, spanning half a century, between her and the theologian and then cardinal Giacomo Biffi (1928-2015), Caffarra’s predecessor as archbishop of Bologna.

The preface to the correspondence between Biffi and Emanuela Ghini is by Caffarra himself, a close friend of both.

This is a book not to be missed, together with the one released in recent days with the homilies and texts of the cardinal, one page of which is reproduced below. It couldn’t be more timely.

by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

The alternative to a Church without doctrine is not a pastoral Church, but a Church of whim that is enslaved to the spirit of the time: “praxis sine theoria coecus in via” (Ptactice without theory is a blind man on the road), as the medievals used to say.

This is a serious snare, and if it is not overcome it causes great damage to the Church. For at least two reasons. The first is that, since Sacra Doctrina is nothing other than the divine Revelation of the divine plan for man, if the Church’s mission is not rooted in this, what is the Church saying to man?

The second reason is that when the Church does not protect itself from this snare, it is in danger of breathing the central dogma of relativism: When it comes to the worship that we owe to God and to the care we must have for man, it does not matter what I think about God and about man. The quaestio de veritate becomes a secondary question.

The second snare is to forget that the key to the interpretation of all reality and of human history in particular is not within history itself, but in faith.

Saint Maximus the Confessor maintains that the true disciple of Jesus thinks of everything in Jesus Christ and of Jesus Christ in everything.

Let me give a very timely example. The ennoblement of homosexuality, which we are witnessing in the West, must not be interpreted and judged by taking the mainstream of our societies as the criterion; nor should the moral value of respect that is due to every person - which is metabasis eis allo genos (changing the subject). The criterion is always and only the Sacra Doctrina on sexuality, marriage, sexual dimorphism. Reading the signs of the times instead is a theistical and theological act.

The third snare is the primacy of praxis. The foundation of the salvation of man is man’s faith, not his action.

What must concern the Church is not in primis cooperation with the world in grand operational processes to reach shared objectives. The tireless concern of the Church is that the world may believe in Him whom the Father has sent to save the world.

The primacy of praxis leads to what one great thinker of the past century called the dislocation of the Divine Persons, in which the second Person is not the Word, but the Holy Spirit.

The fourth snare, closely connected to the previous one, is the reduction of the Christian proposal to moral exhortation. It is the Pelagian snare, which Augustine called the horrible poison of Christianity. This reduction has the effect of making the Christian proposal very tedious, and repetitive. It is only God who in his action is always unpredictable. And in fact at the center of Christianity stands not the activity of man, but the Action of God.

The fifth snare is silence about the judgment of God, through a preaching of the divine mercy made in such a way that it risks removing from the conscience of the listener the truth that God judges man.

Two side notes. The first concerns the “great thinker of the past century” to whom Caffarra refers. This is the Swiss philosopher Romano Amerio (1905-1997), author of “Iota Unum,” a formidable apologia for tradition against the “changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th century.”

The second concerns Cardinal Biffi. In addition to the correspondence with Emanuela Ghini, another valuable book of his has been released posthumously this year, “Things new and things old,” published by Cantagalli, which collects his pastoral texts between 1967 and 1975, when he was a parish priest in Legnano and Milan.
00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:43 PM

The dictionary definition of 'nice' is 'pleasing, agreeable, delightful' - all things that Bergoglianism is, according to its founding father, as opposed
to Catholicism, which is uncompromisingly demanding because, after all, Jesus said, there is a straight and narrow path to Heaven, many are
called but few are chosen, and by his Sacrifice on the Cross, shows us among other things that we must be prepared to bear the cross with him.
And so Bergoglianism is a religion of nice, the church of Bergoglio is a church of nice, and its god a god of nice... Comes now this book exploding
this pernicious myth of a 'nice' God, though it seems from this interview that the author does not attempt at all to connect it directly with
what is happening to Catholicism today under this anti-Catholic pope.

The costs of following a 'nice' God
A new book shows the differences between the God of Christianity and the god of nice,
who wants us to always feel good about ourselves, at all costs

Interview by Leslie Fain

December 12, 2017

In his new book God is Not Nice (Ave Maria Press), Ulrich L. Lehner — a professor of religious history and theology at Marquette University — makes the case that for too many people in the West, God has become a personal life coach, a counselor, or even benign grandfather, rather than the awe-inspiring, untamed, demanding God that he truly is.

The worshipping of a “nice” God has led to many of our culture’s ills, according to Lehner. Catholic World Report talked to him about his new book.

What prompted you to write this book?
Countless students of mine went through 10 years of Catholic schooling, or more, but had no clue that God really desires them to be saints. They had no concept of a God who works in their lives, who makes demands, but who also promises a complete transformation.

In short, they had been fed the lie that they can live on their own, make up their own moral standards, and use God as a glitter for weddings and First Communion, and in times of despair. They live as if God were dead, whom they can resuscitate when needed; God is a commodity to them.

I asked myself: How can I make clear that the Christian life they find so boring is just a caricature, and that it is their lives which lack any real substance? That’s how the idea for the book was born.

What is a “nice God” like, and how does he differ from the God taught by the Catholic Church?
The nice god (I don’t use capitalization here to make the difference clearer) is one created in our image and according to our needs. He allows us to live comfortable lives, but he is not expected to take care of us, because we were taught to be self-reliant, doing things our way, never to think of [ourselves] as failing (e.g., Norman Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking — an apostle of the nice god just as much as the prosperity gospel preachers).

Of course we wouldn’t want our kids to say “I am a failure,” but Christianity believes that deep down something in us is so severely broken that we are failures without God, cannot walk a straight line without him, achieve no real greatness without his grace.

In Catholicism you see the difference every time in Mass at the Confiteor, where we confess our sins to the entire community — we admit we fail constantly — or through Confession.

The nice god gives us the illusion that we are always winners who don’t have to apologize, or victims who cannot do anything wrong (the nice god has a double face!) — that we are basically morally good because we haven’t committed murder.

This last sentence I’ve heard countless times from students — many believe they are good because they haven’t committed homicide, yet they don’t give a thought about the darkness of the hook-up-culture, alcoholism, pornography, etc.

When a church adheres to the theology of a “nice” God, how is that reflected in the homilies, liturgies, and witness of the clergy and parishioners, in your experience?
I have heard the nice god being preached at Catholic churches. We are told that we should be “nice” to each other. Every person should be treated with respect, of course, because we are all created in God's image, but if we were told that this is the only thing necessary to becoming “good people,” we know we are listening to a disturbed pastor.

We cannot be good without God interrupting our lives, transforming us— and that is only possible by surrendering to him and his grace, by acknowledging our sinfulness and our need of the sacraments. If god is just the icing on the cake, it’s not the real God.

If our Catholic faith is limited to one hour a week, it shows that it has dissipated. Imagine living with your spouse day in and day out but only talking to her 50 minutes, once a week! I don’t think anybody would consider this a healthy marriage.

I have also met priests who prided themselves on “liturgy free” days: they were happy not to celebrate Mass on those days and have a day off. I wondered whether they abandoned the breviary (the Liturgy of the Hours that all priests are required to observe). Others said they would go on vacation only where they would not be recognizable as priests. I was shocked; the older priests in my parish would drag themselves up to the altar to celebrate daily, no matter what.

In a parish where a priest worships and preaches about the true God, not a “nice” one, what would the typical Mass look like? What would the witness of the priests and parishioners look like, most likely?
St. Brigid of Sweden once had a vision she asked her confessor about. She saw two monasteries. In the first one, the nuns were fighting devils who tried to enter through windows and doors. It was a place of battle. The other monastery was a quiet, deadly silent place. Her confessor said: “In the first monastery faith fights the devil, in the second Satan has already won and the fight is over.”

We are saints in the making, and thus struggle until we die. The nice god is not always easily detected and is often shrewdly disguised under buzzwords of “compassion” or even orthodoxy. Yet, whenever we are not putting [ourselves] and our affirmation at the center, but worshipping the true God, we encounter his mystery.

For that, our parishes need, as Cardinal Sarah says, silence. Without meeting God in silence we don’t know him, cannot be transformed, and ultimately give in to evil and temptation.

You trace this theology of niceness not to the Reformation, but the Enlightenment. Would you explain how Enlightenment thinking led to this flawed view of God?
I have learned a lot from my Protestant friends, especially how to love Christ, the Word of God, and abandoning oneself to God’s providence. The Reformation was heavily anti-Pelagian, and thus against the idea that we can make it to Heaven our own way.

In the Enlightenment, however, the idea of Original Sin was abandoned. Humans were suddenly seen as basically good. God was no longer needed to transform our lives; instead he became a distant being.

Last but not least, the Enlightenment destroyed the idea of the common good and natural law, and Rousseau replaced both with sentimentalism. It is this sentimentalism that reigns today (you do what “feels” right, not what “is” right).

What, in your opinion, causes people to follow a “nice” God when, as you explain in your book, the journey is ultimately unsatisfying?
It is the most comfortable religion you can find. It makes no real demands on you, and you take it from the shelf whenever you “need” it. God becomes the aspirin pill in times of grief and pain, but is abandoned when such times are over. Ultimately the real god is the “god of consumption.” Parents have lost their kids to the mall, not to Christ.

What can you do if you live in a diocese in which the bishop follows and preaches a “nice” God? Is there any way to try to turn things around?
I am a great fan of the Carmelite writers, and all the masters agree that renewal is necessary. Since we are all called to live according to Christ’s commands and his love, a good place to start this renewal is with ourselves and our families.

Being renewed in Christ also means suffering for him; St. John of the Cross was imprisoned by his superiors! This, however, did not deter him from speaking up for what Jesus commanded him to do. In all of this he knew the “reform” was God’s work: it is Christ’s Church, not ours — and he will provide as long as we cling to him.

You use an array of adjectives to describe the true God, including the word “wild.” Could you explain what you mean by that?
Wild in this sense means un-tamed. Yet, today many attempt to tame God’s involvement in our lives — we shut him out and his grace. Modern humans are control freaks (and I don’t exclude myself from that temptation!), but when we try to control God we effectively turn our backs to him. With God there is freedom, life, fulfillment, adventure — that’s why Heaven will never be boring!

How do priests preach about a God who is “not nice” in a culture like ours, which seems offended by most everything?
We all have two passports, one for our citizenship, but the more important one is the one for Heaven. Every citizenship comes with obligations, not just rights. Yet many do not want to change their lifestyles accordingly.

I think priests have a hard enough job as it is and most try their very best; it is the parents who have to convert most. As long as we teach our children that what is true for you might not be true for me; that whatever you feel good about must be right; that as long nobody is hurt all is fine; that hooking-up, porn, etc. is OK as long as it consensual — we cannot expect our churches to change.

What parents today lack is the virtue of fortitude to stand up against the culture of death, which disguises itself as the culture of compassionate[/'b] [Oops! 'Merciful' is the in word] sentimentalism.

Unmask its emptiness, live a life that attracts others to the Good News, inform yourself about the richness of the faith (get your kids good novels to read), and don’t be afraid! Pray without ceasing to the Holy Spirit for good counsel and fortitude.

Do you think that “nice” God theology is here to stay? Why or why not?
It will stay as long as humans live. It feeds on our original sin: our egoism. As long as we put feelings before truth, it will have a powerful hold on culture. [Bergoglianism is also supremely a religion of 'feelings' rather than truth.]

Do you think the worshipping of a nice God has led to any of the ills we are currently seeing in our society? If so, how?
Once we worship the “nice” God, we give in to sentimentalism and emotivism (“whatever feels right is right”), and consequently, we lose contact with reality and the order of creation.

If we don’t accept God’s order, we impose on everything around us our idea of order; however, our self-made order is an illusion built on our desire to have good, pleasant feelings. We don’t want to change our lives, [nor] a God who reminds us that we should.

We see the results all around us: people who do not want to bear the consequences of their actions, who cannot control their desires because they never heard that they have to be controlled or purified, who deny God’s Word having any demands on our life beyond “feeling compassionate” or [being] “consensual.”

If you read Holy Scripture, I don’t think you will find a verse in which God asks us to “feel” anything; feelings change; he asks us to choose him and follow him. That’s why the nice god drowns prayer with activism — there is no place for contemplation and for meeting the real God anymore.

I have witnessed this countless times at my (Catholic) university. Our students had to fight for having the opportunity of Adoration; once they were allowed that, there was no monstrance on campus (a Jesuit university). So the students had to raise the money themselves to buy one, while tens of thousands of dollars were spent on all kinds of activist events. Contemplation is the biggest threat to the nice god. [And in Bergoglianism, you don't have to contemplate. Bergoglio in his wiser-than-God omniscience has already done that for you and is spoonfeeding you with his theology of nice in simple, down-to-earth terms so welcome and familiar to anyone who follows the path of least resistance, i.e., one's own will, certainly not God's.]
00Wednesday, December 13, 2017 6:12 PM
‘They will unmask me eventually',
says author of ‘The Dictator Pope’

The pseudonymous 'Marcantonio Colonna' claims
the pope has seen a shortlist of six possible authors

by Dan Hitchens

Wednesday, 13 Dec 2017

Marcantonio Colonna, the pseudonymous author of The Dictator Pope, has said the Vatican is trying to discover his identity. The book was published as a Kindle edition last week and has caused consternation with its claims about Pope Francis’s reign.

Speaking to the Catholic Herald by email, Colonna claimed that the Pope had been given a list of possible names.

“A person in England was misidentified as the author at one point and immediately received threatening telephone calls from Rome,” Colonna said. “I now hear that Vatican officials have laid before the Pope a shortlist of six people who they think may be the possible author. I suspect that it’s not for the purpose of awarding a literary prize.”

Asked whether he thought his anonymity would last, Colonna said: “Under the present Pope, the Vatican machine has taken espionage to a new level, and I have little doubt that they will unmask me eventually, perhaps after a few more false casts. But they will need to ask themselves whether it is at the cost of giving me more publicity.”

Colonna believes his book has “hit a vein of disillusionment with Francis’s papacy which the mainstream media have missed”.

Some critics have suggested Colonna’s book is mere gossip. For instance, it draws on a supposed report by the Jesuit superior general Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, commissioned when Fr Jorge Bergoglio was proposed as a bishop in Argentina. Fr Kolvenbach’s report allegedly stated that Fr Bergoglio was “unsuitable for such an appointment” because of character defects, which he went on to describe. (The report has since disappeared.)

Asked why the reader should believe this, Colonna replied: “The account I give of the report in my book is not based on rumour. It’s based on first-hand information I received from a priest who read the report when it was first issued, and who was fully in the know of the ecclesiastical process involved.”

Colonna says his concern is not primarily to cover the recent doctrinal controversies in the Church. “My purpose was simply to show the gulf that exists between the image of the liberal, democratic Pope Francis and the true character of this pontificate,” he said. “That is something that ought to give all Catholics cause for concern.”

In this next item, look who's talking! Being me - and not kindly disposed towards this pope - I think it reads like a self-portrait, so don't argue with him!...But if he does not think he is Satan, or possessed by Satan, then for once, he is stating some Catholic doctrine.

'Don't argue with the Devil -
he's much more intelligent than us',
says Pope Francis

by Nick Squires
13 DECEMBER 2017

The Devil is more intelligent than mere mortals and should never be argued with, Pope Francis has warned.

Satan is not a metaphor or a nebulous concept but a real person armed with dark powers, the Pope said in forthright remarks made during a television interview.

“He is evil, he’s not like mist. He’s not a diffuse thing, he is a person. I’m convinced that one must never converse with Satan - if you do that, you’ll be lost,” he told TV2000, a Catholic channel, gesticulating with his hands to emphasise his point.

“He’s more intelligent than us, and he’ll turn you upside down, he’ll make your head spin. He always pretends to be polite - he does it with priests, with bishops. That’s how he enters your mind. But it ends badly if you don’t realise what is happening in time. (We should tell him) go away!” he said. [DIM=8pt][Other than the 'Go away!' part, does that not sound like a self-description?]

Pope Francis frequently refers to the Devil in his homilies, sermons and on Twitter, where he is followed by 40 million people in nine languages.

He uses various terms to refer to the Prince of Darkness, including Satan, the Evil One, the Seducer, Beelzebub and the Great Dragon.

"It's a Jesuit thing. He's a Jesuit who is deeply imbued with the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, which allow people to discern the movements of the good and bad spirit," said Austen Ivereigh, a Vatican analyst and the author of The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. [Thus spake Ivereighiah, prophet of Bergoglianism!]

"For him, this is real, these are not metaphors. It may not be the way that people speak nowadays and some Catholics may be taken aback by it. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of evil being real, but anyone who knows the spirituality of the Jesuits will not be surprised." [Excuse me, Mr. Prophet, but what properly catechized Catholic, even among the so-called 'simple folk', would ever be uncomfortable with the reality of evil? You would think the Jesuits had a monopoly on this perception!]

Three years ago the Argentinian pontiff told a convention of exorcists from around the world that they were doing sterling work in combating "the Devil's works".

He said that exorcists needed to show "the love and welcome of the Church for those possessed by evil".

In 2013, during an address to crowds of faithful in St Peter’s Square, he said the Devil often appears “disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us."

He shares stories about the Devil’s devious ways when he gives his daily homilies in the chapel of the guesthouse where he lives inside the Vatican.

Last week Pope Francis called for the wording of the Lord’s Prayer to be changed so that it blames the Devil, rather than God, for “leading us into temptation”. [If Jesus had wanted it that way, he would have said so. Plus, Bergoglio misses the obvious connotation that the 'Evil' meant by Jesus was not just evil in the abstract but the Evil One himself.]

He said the prayer had been badly translated from the Greek [ignoring more than 2000 years of uncontested Catholic theology and tradition, and the origins of the Biblical canon we use!] used in the New Testament and the new version would better reflect its true meaning.

“It’s not a good translation . . . I am the one who falls. It’s not Him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department,” he said. [Of course, the writer simply reports this totally a-critically.]

The life of a Christian is a continual battle against evil, the Pope has said. [Oh, thank you! From everything else you have been saying, the life of a Christian ought to be a primrose path - and we all know where that leads!]

And about the Lord's Prayer, Bergoglio-style?
'To translate' does not mean 'to interpret'

Translated from

December 11, 2017

Much noise has been generated by statements made by Pope Francis on the program Padre nostro (Our Father) which aired on the Italian bishops’ TV2000 network on December 6. He claimed that the traditional translation in all languages [based on the Latin vulgate translation of the Gospels in Greek handed down by the Apostles] of the penultimate petition in the Lord’s Prayer was ‘not a good translation'.

Even the French [Is he really holding up the contemporary church in France as a model?] have changed the text with a translation that says “do no let me fall into temptation” - [because] it is I who falls, it’s not him [the Lord] who casts me into temptation to see if I fall into it. A father does not do this – rather, he helps us to get up quickly”:.

[So many things wrong with the content and logic of that brief citation and the way it is expressed!]

One might think this was yet another Bergoglian novelty (when the only novelty is that on December 3, first Sunday of Advent, the French bishops introduced a new translation of the Lord’s Prayer into the liturgy), but this is really a question that has dragged on for decades.

From the philological viewpoint, Fr. Zerwik in his Analysis philologica Novi Testamenti graeci ( Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1953) wrote this about the Greek verb εἰσενέγκῃς used in the contested phrase: It is 'the second aorist conjunctive of εἰσ-φέρω, in-duco, which has a permissive sense: ‘allow to enter’, therefore the whole phrase would translate as “let us not enter into temptation”.

But the various Bilbical translations published in the past few decades have indulged their translators’ whims in proposing new ‘solutions’.

In French, the Bible de Jérusalem, in its first and second editions (1956 and 1973), kept the traditional translation
(«Et ne nous soumets pas à la tentation») (do not subject us to temptation), without even bothering to give an explanatory note. But the third edition in 1998 changed it to «Et ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentationn (And do not let us enter into temptation), explaining in a note that “The permissive sense of the Aramaic verb used by Jesus was not reflected either in the Greek or Vulgate translations, whence comes the usual translation of “do not lead us...” (Ne nos inducas...)." But since the early centuries, many Latin manuscripts replaced that with “Ne nos patiari induci” (Do not allow us to be led...)

In 1972, the TOB (???) used the translation: «Et ne nous expose pas à la tentation» (Do not expose us to temptation), with a long comment that can also be read in the Italian edition. The new official translation of the Bible in France, to be used in the liturgy of French-speaking nations, uses the translation of the Bible de Jerusalem, 3rd ed., «Et ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation», which is the translation introduced into the liturgy last week [and which the pope favors].

In English, the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bble as well as the King James Protestant Bible used the familiar and traditional “And lead us not into temptation”, also kept in the Revised Standard Version and its ‘conservative’ successors, the English Standard Version (2001) and the RSV-Second Catholic Edition (2006).

Only the New Revised Standard Version (1990), even in itx Catholic edition (1993), decided to propose a new translation: «And do not bring us to the time of trial». The New American Bible (Revised Edition, 1986) translated the line as «And do not subject us to the final test», specifying in a note that “this petition asks that isciples be spared the final trial”.

The ELLC (English Language Liturgical Consultation) published in 1988 a new ‘ecumenical’ text of the Lord’s Prayer saying “Save us from the time of trial”. (If there ever was an ecumenical text to the Lord’s Prayer, it would be the traditional text itself.)

In the English-speaking nations (other than those that have kept Tradition and have always used the traditional version), a new translation of the Our Father was used in the Novus Ordo – similar but not identical to the ‘ecumenical’ version. In it, the penultimate petition was translated as “Do not bring us to the test”. But everything changed with the publication of the new English missal in 2011 – whereby in all the English-speaking countries, the Lord’s Prayer is now recited in its traditional version. [Not really, because the Novus Ordo 'Our Father' adds the Protestant line "For thine is the power and the glory forever and ever" after 'deliver us from evil". Do not forget, however, the widespread ‘uprising’ by the progrsssivists against the 2011 translations (improved over the provisional translation adopted at the time the Novus Ordo was first instituted, when there was little regard for a faithful translation from the Latin editione typica, and it was all about ‘simplifying’ and ‘shortening’ the prayers to the point of re-interpreting what the authentic Latin text said).]

In Spanish, however, it seems (but I am not sure) that the line in question has always been “No nos dejes caer en la tentación». [I can only speak from my own experience having learned the basic prayers from my Spanish-speaking grandparents (who were born in the closing years of the 19th century), that I have always prayed it that way, without ever questioning that it was not a direct translation of “Lead us not into temptation”].

In my opinion, the Spanish translation, more than any other consideration explains the pope’s intervention on behalf of the new French translation. [That's certainly a mitigating factor for him.] But one must keep in mind that the original Greek verb εἰσενέγκῃς does not contain any connotation of the idea of ‘falling’.

In Italian, the first edition of the Bible published by the Italian bishops’ conferenc ein 1974 kept the traditional version of the Our Father. But in 2008, the bishops apparently thought a new translation was necessary, so the new edition came up with «E non abbandonarci alla tentazione» (Do not abandon us to temptation). So it is in this form that it entered into the new Lectionary published in 2009.

And since Matthew 6,7-15 is read in the Novus Ordo twice during the year (on Tuesday of the first week of Lent, and on Thursday of the 11th week in ordinary time), that is the translation that we hear in the Readings. [But what about when the Lord’s Prayer is said in the Mass-proper, so to speak? Which version is used?]

This rapid review I have attempted of various translations ought to show that there is no contemporary consensus on how to translate ‘Ne nos inducas in tentationem’ into the vernacular.

To oversimplify the translation issue, making it appear that one can easily replace a traditional version with a new one that ‘adequately renders’ what Jesus meant, means not just to delude oneself but also to deceive the faithful. Because no sooner is a new translation approved, there will always be some exegete who will declare himself dissatisfied and thus propose a new translation which he believes ‘more faithful’.

I believe that all this ado is based on a fundamental error which is widespread today: namely, to think that ‘to translate’ is synonymous with ‘to interpret’, which are complementary actions but distinct from each other.

'To translate” means to render a text into another language as faithfully as possible – faithful, that is, to the original text. We cannot entrust to a translation a task – interpretation – that does not belong to it. The interpretation of a text is the task of competent exegetes, not of translators.

Now, if we want a sure interpretation – also quite recent - of the Lord’s Prayer, all we need to do is turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which dedicates to the Lord’s Prayer the second section of Part IV. The explanation of the sixth petition is found in paragraphs 2846-2849 (which among other things, says very responsibly: ‘To translate the Greek verb in a single world is difficult’).

Because once we have understood the sense of that invocation, what need is there to change the traditional translation [which Catholics have used without a problem for two millenia!] But once more, it seems to me that we have turned back to the purely verbal discussions that were so fashionable in the 1970s and 1980s.

It had seemed that Liturgiam authenticam had definitively disposed of those useless diatribes, but having been consigned to the trash bin in this pontificate [with its own decree on liturgical translation, Magnum principium] , we are once again on unsure footing. Is it just by chance that a new translation of the Our Father has been introduced in France, with generous assistance from the pope, just three months after Magnum principium was promulgated?

Seeing how things are, it is predictable that even the third edition of the Roman Missal in Italian – whch has been in deep freeze for years – will soon be thawed out and we too in Italy shall soon abandon the traditional formulation to say “And do not abandon us to temptation”.

I ask: If a God who is our Father cannot lead us into temptation[as the pope objects], would he abandon us to temptation? [Which just shows the absurdity of trying to tinker with one of the oldest and most unexceptionable prayer formulations of the Church! Are all the saints who prayed the traditional prayers in their traditional formulation any less saintly because of it? And will changing the way we pray the Our Father make us any more saintly? All these semantic calisthenics do not advance the faith one bit, much less stem its daily erosion in our day.]

P.S. Another review of The Dictator Pope...

Frustating that it is only on e-book, but
filled with valuable insights and information

The most valuable service provided by the author
is the psychological portrait of Pope Francis:
Manipulative, hypersensitive, and often downright vindictive —
certainly not the
cheerful populist[make that 'pluperfect pope']
that his supporters and the media make him out to be.

by Philip F. Lawler

December 13, 2017

The Dictator Pope is an important yet a frustrating book. Important, because it offers valuable insights into the character of the enigmatic Pope Francis. Frustrating, because the book’s approach virtually ensures that those insights will not be widely shared.

The book is clearly intended to correct the wildly inaccurate public image of a “reformer Pope” — an image that has been nourished by sympathetic media coverage. But in order to substantially influence public opinion, the book would need to reach the general public.

Regrettably — for now, at least — the English-language version of The Dictator Pope is available only in an electronic format, as a self-published work. Lacking the support of a major publisher and the publicity campaign that comes with it, and unavailable in bookstores, the book’s readership will be limited to people with a special interest in Vatican affairs — people who, more often than not, already know the story that the book tells.

If the goal is to persuade, there are other problems with the presentation. First, the author writes under a pseudonym (taking the name of Marcantonio Colonna, an Italian admiral who gained fame at the Battle of Lepanto). Skeptical readers will wonder why he is reluctant to identify himself, and whether his reporting is credible.

This is unfortunate, because The Dictator Pope is the product of a great deal of solid reporting. Whoever “Marcantonio Colonna” really is, he clearly knows his way around the Vatican, and has excellent sources inside the Roman Curia.

Whenever the author wrote about events with which I was personally familiar, I found his treatment accurate. The only factual errors that I discovered in the book were the result of haste or sloppiness: the sort of mistakes that might have been caught by a good copy editor (which is another argument for a major publisher).

However, when the book told stories that were new to me, I found the evidence thin. Too often the author relies on hearsay evidence, and when he cites other reporters, too often their work is based on hearsay as well. Worse, when he makes his most startling claims, “Colonna” offers no evidence at all. He makes the improbable claim, for example, that then-Cardinal Bergoglio had advance notice about the impending resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, when many of the former Pontiff’s closest advisers were taken by surprise.

Later he makes the even more outlandish charge that Pope Francis used the proceeds of the Peter’s Pence collection to subsidize the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Very few readers will be ready to accept these claims without some persuasive evidence. By putting them forward as facts, without supporting them, the author encourages readers to wonder about the book’s other claims.

Again, this is unfortunate, because The Dictator Pope contains an enormous amount of solid information. Some will be familiar to readers who have followed Vatican affairs carefully during the last few years, and already know the sad tales about the manipulation of the Synod of Bishops, the destruction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the takeover of the Knights of Malta, the intimidation of members of the Vatican staff. Pope Francis has encouraged young Catholics to “make a mess”; the book shows that he has followed his own advice.

And some of the book’s revelations will be new to any but the most attentive followers of inside Vatican news. The author reminds us, for instance, that Cardinal Bergoglio became prominent when he delivered a speech at the Synod meeting of 2001, after New York’s Cardinal Egan, who was scheduled to give the address, hurried home in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Argentine cardinal’s speech was heartily applauded by the prelates who heard it. What they did not know, Colonna tells us, is that Cardinal Bergoglio merely read a text that had been prepared by a Vatican staff member.

The Dictator Pope also gives readers samples of a highly critical memo by Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, then the worldwide leader of the Jesuit order, written in 1991, to explain why, in his opinion, Father Jorge Bergoglio should not be made a bishop. The memo is devastating, pointing to character flaws that are confirmed throughout this book.

Indeed the most valuable service provided by the author of The Dictator Pope is the psychological portrait of the Pope: a man who follows in the footsteps of Juan Peron, the demagogic Argentine political leader of young Bergoglio’s formative years.

Manipulative, hypersensitive, and often downright vindictive, Pope Francis is certainly not the cheerful populist that his supporters make him out to be. For all the talk about a “reformer pope,” the rhetoric about decentralization, and the promises of reform, the net results of this pontificate to date have been a climate of fear within the Vatican, a tightening of control, and a resurgence of the “old guard” in Rome.

The Dictator Pope concludes with a plea that the College of Cardinals should recognize the damage that has been done and, when the time comes, derail the efforts of the liberal prelates like the “St. Gallen mafia” to elect another Pontiff like Francis.

Even before the conclave, the author persuasively argues, ranking prelates should fulfill their duties, resisting the public pressure exerted by an authoritarian Pontiff. It’s a compelling argument. But it would have been more compelling still if the author of this book had set an example, defied the pressure, and written this book under his own name.
00Saturday, December 16, 2017 7:50 PM


A 1977 letter on charity from
a now-departed conservative publisher

December 13, 2017

Rorate caeli thanks Roger McCaffrey for permission to publish this letter written to him in 1977 by his father Neil, a noted conservative publisher and political commentator, who for many years ran the Conservative Book Club and assisted with PR for National Review. Needless to say, the content of the letter is astonishingly timely, as we shiver our way through a second postconciliar winter.

February 23, 1977

Dear Roger,

The problem of true charity is — the problem. Some random thoughts.

There can be no charity without justice, in this sense: charity may go beyond justice, but never at the expense of justice.

Von Hildebrand makes a useful distinction between injuries done to me and injuries done to God; the latter either directly or indirectly [because] to others. I cannot forgive an injury done to God, or to another.

We owe charity to our leaders in the Church, yes. But this does not extend to forgiving what in fact we cannot forgive, their offenses against God and the souls in their care. We should pray that they acquit themselves of these sins, but we do them no charity by pretending that their sins are virtues. Indeed, we do them the gravest disservice with such lies; and a worse disservice to those they harm.

We delude ourselves, and insult God, when we act as if God can be served by suppressing the truth, or by lying. This is an amazingly crude notion, but widespread. God is truth.

We may hold ourselves to a high standard of truth, and still offend if we lack charity. “The greatest of these is charity.” So we must somehow find a way to serve truth and charity.

It is a commonplace that charity doesn’t oblige us to like someone. We must treat him as we would want to be treated, do him no harm, wish him well.

Pseudo-charity is a kind of cowardice and damages both subject and object. All lies do.

There is also a place for righteous anger, especially anger at offenses against God or our neighbor. This, surprisingly, is also an aspect of charity. But it is also tricky, and can easily deteriorate into personal anger.

Nothing, nothing in the way of charity can be accomplished without God’s help.

Terrible sins are committed in the name of charity.

Newman insisted on charity — and insisted equally on measures that should be taken against bad people: ostracism, avoidance, censure, etc.

The motive for charity is imitation of and union with God. His life is love, and he lives it not only with Himself but with His creation. If He loves His creatures, we should and must, if we are to imitate Him and become His.

We can judge objective evil — objective guilt if you will — with great accuracy, if we use God’s norms. As to subjective guilt, we can make informed guesses but can never really know. It is in that sense that we “cannot judge.” Hell, we barely know ourselves, let alone others. Who but God can know, in this sense?

But in the former sense (objective guilt), we can judge, and indeed our Lord instructs us to, often. He even tells us: “By their fruits [ye shall know them]…” He tells us to watch out for false Christs, to shun evildoers, etc. What are all those but commands to judge? Judging, after all, is the pristine act of the intellect. It is a sham piety that would have us act contrary to our very nature. Sure, we must rise above nature to reach heaven; but in that process we are to use nature, not do violence to it.

Those of us who have some grasp of the truth yet yield little fruit are barren, I’m pretty sure, because and to the extent that our charity is cold. Prophets, remember, are men of God.

One point Newman insists on: that false ideas of religion harm people. Of course. Otherwise, why Revelation? Faith is no mere adornment. It is the way.

Be patient. Every individual has his own rhythm. Grace too has its own tempo. That is why converts are made — but often over long periods. It took Augustine and Newman about a decade each.

I wish I knew more about charity.


P.S. The classic Gospel and Epistle remarks on charity refer mainly to our fellows, not to Church authorities. Although charity must obtain here, too, the governing problem deals with good shepherds, scandal, etc.

“Charity” should not distract from th2 real issue — which, paradoxically, is charity. But charity rightly understood: the charity owed to the faithful, not the mock charity bestowed by feeble Christians on feeble shepherds. This false charity, in other words, is a device of the Devil to distract from the real charity being denied to the faithful.

Ponder the Pharisees in light of today’s hierarchy. The parallels are overpowering. Was our Lord charitable to the Pharisees? Of course He was — and He excoriated them. So we see that charity must [CAN?, not always MUST!] subsist with righteous indignation, contrary to what the caricaturists of charity like to pretend.

Rog, read First Corinthians, chapter 5, in the Jerusalem Bible translation. It gives the rules for how we are to treat bad Catholics. And we are right. Moreover, Catholic tradition follows St. Paul. Today’s practice is the aberration.

Were he alive today, the elder McCaffrey would not rejoice to see how much worse the situation is, when charity goes by the name of 'mercy' and is really false, either way - 'nice' and 'pleasing' to much of the world, but offensive to God himself.
00Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:39 PM

Pope and Curia

December 16, 2017

In a recent interview, Cardinal Mueller said:

"As the first and the last, the highest most important interpreter of that revelation of God in Christ Jesus, [the pope] is not an isolated person, but head of the Roman Church ... and, therefore, he is reliant on the qualified and engaged cooperation of that Roman Church in the form of the Cardinals and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia".

[Not that the good cardinal ever had the good sense, if not the courage, to point this out to the pope, be it ever by a humble note or letter destined to be forever unacknowledged. Might have hastened his dismissal from the Curia, of course, but surely , he had no illusions Bergoglio would keep him on and was just waiting for the first likely pretext to do so.]

Obvious stuff ... but perhaps not so obvious in this ultrahyperueberpapalist age, in which PF shows himself impatient of the more intelligent and theologically formed members of his Curia; and happily depeneant upon questionable collaborators. I wrote about this not very long ago; I venture to repeat my earlier pieces below. As Cardinal M emphasises, the Curia has a theological status.

The ff is Fr. H's 3-part series then:

The Curia Romana (1)
Jorge Bergoglio has no Magisterial authority whatsoever. The Bishop of Rome does. But, of course, Jorge Bergoglio is Bishop of Rome; and so, qua Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis possesses the very considerable authority defined dogmatically by the First Vatican Council and expressed legally in the two Codices Iuris Canonici.

Being Bishop of Rome is what counts. And being Bishop of Rome, like being Bishop of Anywhere, means being Bishop of Somewhere. And being Bishop of Somewhere means being Bishop of certain people ... of certain living and breathing Christian humans.

What is "a Bishop"? There is a (largely Anglophone) ecclesiastical underworld populated by what are often called episcopi vagantes, "wandering bishops". These are persons who have privately secured for themselves technically 'valid' episcopal orders.

Many people suspect that their motive for doing this has been personal vanity, because these are 'bishops' who are not surrounded by the serried and serious ranks of their presbyterium, nor ministered to ad altare by their cheerful bustling Deacons, and who lack the boisterous, sometimes disorderly, mob of 'their' Laity, laos. And they are not, these episcopi vagantes, in peace and communion with the Apostolic, or indeed with any other, See. Far from it.

Per contra, in Catholic (and Orthodox) ecclesiology, a Bishop is a man who discharges the functions of the high Episcopal office in the context of the structured Church life of People, Deacons, and Presbyters. A gathering of Christians so structured is known as a "Particular Church".

Like any other Diocesan Bishop, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is a Bishop with a Presbyterium, a Diakonia, a Laos. He is not a lonely isolated individual with technically valid orders and a technically valid Electio in Summum Pontificem tucked into his back pocket. He is not, that is to say, a Papa vagans.

With his usual acuity, Blessed John Henry Newman argued, in the case of some early popes who showed signs of doctrinal wobble, that, since this happened after they had been beaten up in Byzantine prisons, it had no bearing on the Papal Office, since they were acting as individuals in physical and moral isolation from their Ecclesia.

In the Particular, local Church of Rome, the "Cardinal Presbyters" are the Pope's presbyterium, which is why they have "titular" churches assigned to them of which they are the titular parish priests. Mutatis mutandis, the Cardinal Deacons. You will see where this is leading.

[Betcha Bergoglio has never thought about this at all. In fact, one doubts he realized all these necessary implications and consequences when on March 13, 2013, he so arrogantly disdained the word 'pope' in his first appearance as such to the world, disdained it ostentatiously and in more ways than one, presenting himself only as 'the Bishop of Rome'.

Perhaps his seemingly 'willful ignorance' of his duty as Bishop of Rome, in particular - the title that makes him pope, to begin with is why he could not even give the DUBIA cardinals the courtesy at least of acknowledging their letter - "Thank you, but I have decided and written what I did in AL. I am the pope and do not have to explain myself to anyone." (The second sentence was what he replied to Cardinal Mueller when the latter asked him about why he dismissed three of his staff members at CDF without cause.)

Of course, he must also have thought, "But I can't go on the record writing down anything like that. Best to just ignore them". Yet hasn't he been lecturing other bishops that they ought always to think of their priests as their own children? Perhaps he thinks the Bishop of Rome is exempt from this duty because his priests are cardinals who pledge their loyalty to him at the time they are made cardinals.]

The 'Cardinalate', if that is the right word, is not without theological significance. It is part of the organic structure of the very important Particular (i.e.local) Church of which the Successor of St Peter is the Bishop. This is seen most easily and most visibly in the persons of the curial Cardinals who permanently work in Rome. But it applies also to the other Cardinals throughout the world, who qua Roman Presbyters have their titular churches and are distributed among the boards of the Roman dicasteries.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Timbuctoo wears red and is addressed as 'Eminence' not because he is the important local 'Primate' of a big 'National Church', but because he is Cardinal Presbyter of the Titular Church of SS Promiscuus and Miscellaneus [I owe this intriguing duo, and their Feast Day (a semidouble), to the fertile imagination of the late Rt Rev Mgr Ronald Knox, Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Arts (Oxon.)] which, until the Risorgimento, the Pontiff used to visit for the Stational Mass on February 31.

There has sometimes been a tendency, which I very strongly condemn, to want to separate the notion of the Pope from that of the Curia. The Pope, it is sometimes said, is the Pope and has his highly significant dogmatically based prerogatives which we can't really avoid fessing up to because they were dogmatically defined at Vatican I.

But the Curia ... that is nothing more than a civil service, and a rather unattractive one to boot ( ... er ... ). Not only is it without doctrinal significance, but its members get in the way; they behave in a bossy fashion in their dealings with the Churches throughout the world. Perhaps they should be cut down. Perhaps they should be put in their place. Might we not be happier without them?

Liberal journalists are programmed to cheer any pope whose sycophants put it about that he intends to savage the Curia.

In my view, this is not merely humanly unfair but is also extremely flawed theologically.
- It is a direct assault upon that structure, the structure of the Particular local Church of Rome, within which the Supreme Pontiff necessarily discharges his unique and indispensible role.
- It is a solvent which, because it seeks to split off the Pope from the structures of his Particular local Church, has the potential to leave the Roman Pontiff as a lonely and decontextualised figure; in effect, a very powerful Episcopus vagans. And that sounds to me very much like saying 'a theologically dubious Absolute Monarch'.

The Curia Romana (2)
It is well-known that in the early centuries of the Church, the Bishop was the Sacramental centre of his Particular Church, and its Teacher who, assisted by the Holy Spirit, preserved and articulated the authentic teaching which that Church had received.

But it seems that the presbyterium [the priests) was the administrative body, the committee which took decisions, the body of men to whom the bishop turned for their consent before he even felt free to absolve a penitent or ordain a subdeacon. And this seems to have been very true in Rome.

There are historians who believe that the Roman Church was, for centuries, governed by its presbyters and entirely lacked a 'monarchical Bishop'. I do not believe this theory, but the evidence upon which it is based does indicate the significance of the Roman presbyters.

When a letter had to be sent to Corinth to sort out the disorders in the Church there, the earliest document we have of the exercise of a disciplinary Primacy by Rome, it was not sent in the name of the Bishop. Indeed, it has been argued that St Clement was not so much the Bishop/Pope, but just the presbyter in charge of correspondence!

Again, I do not accept this, but, again, the fact that such an argument has been deployed does indicate the significance of the Presbyteratus Romanus.

A little later, we have the account by Pope Cornelius of how a previous pope had begged for the favour of being allowed to ordain a particular presbyter who had been vetoed by the clergy and many of the laity. Also, Tertullian's (imaginative and scathing) account of Pope Callistus imploring the consent of the fraternitas to be allowed to absolve an adulterer.

The Church of those centuries saw itself as corporate in a way that we find hard to imagine. Take the earliest letter to the Roman Church after St Paul's, the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch: it does not actually mention a bishop; it is the Church which is said to preside (Kathemene).

Nor does the passage in St Irenaeus which is our earliest evidence for the idea of the Roman Church as the locus par excellence of authentic doctrinal teaching contra haereses, locate that role specifically in the Pope, but in the Church.

It all amounts, of course, to the precisely same thing; if Rome teaches authentic doctrine, and if its bishop is the ecclesiatical organ which enunciates that authentic teaching of the Roman Church ... well, Bob's your uncle. But these facts do bring me back to my initial point: Jorge Bergoglio is nothing; the Bishop of Rome is everything. Papa Bergoglio is Episcopus Romanus in et cum Ecclesia Romana. He is not a vagans.

My conclusion is the same as it was at the end of my first part. The Curia Romana is a body of theological significance. If I wished, in the time-honoured style of this University, to set a spoof quotation as an essay question, "Papa sine Curia Papa nullus: discuss" (a pope without the Roman Curia is no pope) might occur to me ... and I would give deltas to those who argued in favour of or against the tag ... and better marks to those who subdivided their propositions and came out somewhere in the middle.

The Curia Romana (3)
It is against the background I have tried to sketch out that I find myself wondering about the attitude of the present pope towards the Curia. Of course, like every institution insecurely placed in Time, it needs to be reformed from time to time. The question that worries me is whether the present pope is drawing the Curia closer in fidelity to its true ecclesial calling; or pushing it further away.

Commentators have not been slow to remark that, to the outside observer, it looks as if the current pope is attempting to prevent or eliminate the existence of strong foci within the Curia. He seems to be incapable of working with any Head of Dicastery who is not a yes-man. It is a sign, not of the Holy Father's strength, but of his weakness, that he cannot collaborate with as gentle yet principled a man as Robert Sarah, without deeming it necessary to humiliate him before the world. And Sarah was one of his own appointments.

And he also appointed Raymond Burke to be Patron of the Order of Malta. But as soon as a problem arose in the Order, he humiliated and sidelined him. When you appoint people, you should either back them up when the going gets rough, or confess that you yourself erred in making the appointment.

Gerhard Mueller was inherited, not appointed, by Papa Bergoglio. But he confirmed him in office, and the position is a highly significant one. The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. To run the CDF he needed someone who was each of these things. Mueller was and is.

First he humiliated him by sending Schoenborn to front the Amoris laetitia news conference; then by sacking three of his collaborators without even telling him; lastly, he has humiliated him yet again by dumping him with a minute's notice and invoking a principle he had not mentioned either to Mueller or the World before: that Heads of Dicasteries will not be continued in post beyond their first quinquennium.

(Incidentally, it will be interesting to see whether this principle really does get applied as all the Cardinals come to the ends of their terms. The Franciscans of the Immaculate must be puzzled to find that their tormenter Bras de Aviz is still around. Cardinal Parolin must be starting to get demob-happy. There are going to be quite a lot of underemployed 'young' cardinals swilling around, with the Vatican Press Corps hovering hungrily above them like seagulls round a trawler.) [Not that Bergoglio was serious at all about the principle of not extending any Curial head of office beyond their first five-year term, because he would have had to dismiss by now more than half of the current Curial heads of office who have been holding their positions for as long as more than a decade (two quinquennia). Of course, he thinks that he can always get away with lying - which the mainstream media do let him get away with a ALL OF THE TIME!]]]

If the Curia really is in want of radical reform, what it needs is more strong and principled and able workers and fewer unprincipled yes-men. The Press reports suggest that this is not the way our Holy Father appears to see things. But his idiosyncrasies have been obvious since his election.

For the first few years he made a daily exhibition of himself by that constant stream of obscure abuse ... butterflies, pelagians ... which seemed to be directed at clergy. He is the pope who considers that a most natural Christmas present to give his curial collaborators is a torrent of invective. He sneers at grandmothers for their infertility and describes journalists as shit-eaters.

Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view.

The commentators seem to think that Archbishop Ladaria, in his new chair at the CDF, is unlikely to put up much resistance to Bergoglian tantrums. They may very well be very wrong. I pray they are; because the Archbishop has some very precious institutions under his protection: the Ordinariates and Ecclesia Dei.

But we can be sure of one thing: if Ladaria does turn out to have both principles and guts, Pope Francis, if this pontificate continues along its established lines, will either humiliate him or sack him or both. [I thought I read somewhere recently that Abp. Ladaria has published a new book in praise of the church of Bergoglio. That's not really going to help him when push comes to shove, because look at Mueller who published a pre-emptive book in 2016 entitled BENEDETTO E FRANCESCO: Successori di Pietro al servizio della Chiesa - which offends me in that to even think of writing a book placing the two popes on the same plane was a) dishonest and b) misleading. If that was ass-licking, fat lot of good it did for Mueller.]
00Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:20 PM

The Sermon on the Mount, Carl Bloch, 1877

All the Bergoglio hullaballoo about changing the vernacular translations of the Lord's Prayer is really a rerun of the 'spirit of Vatican II' overnight reform of the Mass. I was going
to say 'on a smaller scale', but changing the Mass and changing the words of what is probably the oldest and most familiar of Catholic prayers are really of a piece - a major
tampering of Tradition for no compelling necessity whatsoever.

Not that any objections lingered at all to the introduction of the Protestant line "for thine is the kingdom and the glory for ever and ever" after "deliver us from evil" in the Novus
Ordo Mass. I doubt, however, that even the Novus Ordo enthusiasts, Mons. Piero Marini among them (or the reigning pope himself, for that matter), add that line whenever they
recite the Our Father in their private prayers, such as when praying the rosary for instance.

The Protestant addition is a doxology - a short, hymn-like verse which exalts the glory of God used at the conclusion of a prayer. Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that
the line is not in Matthew and Luke's accounts of the prayer Jesus taught at the Sermon on the Mount. Rather, it is something added on by the Eastern Churches
in the early centuries of Christendom, and which Greek scribes copying the Scriptures usually appended to the Lord's Prayer. This addition, however - a technical tampering with
what Our Lord taught - did not survive in any Catholic Bible.]

Why I oppose changing the English
translation of the 'Our Father'

We shouldn’t change our translation - rather,
we should teach, explain and root ourselves more deeply in it.

by Mons. Charles Pope

December 10, 2017

Recent remarks by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, cast doubt on the traditional English rendering of the Lord’s Prayer. To be fair to the Pope, reports that he is calling for the Our Father to be changed are incorrect. He did not propose any change to the Greek text. [Nor to the Latin vulgate which was based on the Greek Septuagint. But all our liturgical translations come from the Latin editione typica, and that line in Latin has always been 'et ne nos inducas in tentationem', in which the verb 'inducas' means to lead, to conduct, to bring into.]

What he did say, in a recent interview with an Italian Catholic television network, was that the current English translation “lead us not into temptation” is not a good one because God does not lead people to sin. Pope Francis suggested using “do not let us fall into temptation” instead. He added, “It is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell … A father does not do that; a father helps you to get up immediately.”

All of this is fair enough, but I have seldom heard anyone argue that God directly tempts us to sin. Scripture itself makes this clear:"Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12-14).

While the petition “lead us not into temptation” may seem a bit confusing to some, retranslating it as “do not let us fall into temptation” is problematic for a number of reasons.

First, “lead us not in temptation” is the most straightforward and linguistically accurate rendering of the Greek καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν (kai me eisenenkēs hemas eis peirasmon). Almost every commonly read English Bible renders it as “lead us not into temptation” or “do not bring us into temptation.” The Latin Vulgate translation is "et ne nos inducas in tentationem".

The Greek text is not complex and its accuracy is not disputed. Eisenenkēs is an aorist subjunctive in the active voice. “Lead us not” is simply the clearest and most accurate translation of me eisenenkēs. To instead render it “do not allow us” is to read into the text an extended meaning that is not there. While the intention may be to assist the reader to understand that God does not tempt us or directly cause us to fall, the effect is to imply that the inspired Greek text is inadequate.

Second, in the English-speaking world the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few prayers we have in common with non-Catholics. While unity with Protestants and other non-Catholic Christians is not our highest theological priority, we ought not to consider lightly making unilateral changes to the one prayer we do have in common.

Even many of the unchurched have it committed to memory. The Our Father (even with archaic words like “art,” “thy,” and “hallowed”) is a treasured prayer familiar to the majority of English-speaking world.

I am not sure if the Holy Father considered the pastoral and ecumenical loss that a change to the translation by Catholics might cause in the English-speaking world. I say this because his remarks were impromptu.

Third, if we change the translation, we miss a teachable moment. Although the phrase “lead us not into temptation” may confuse some or give the false impression that God directly or intentionally causes temptation, this confusion provides a teachable moment in which an important truth about God can be explained.

[Please! Cradle Catholics learn the Lord's Prayer with their mother's milk, and have been praying it without ever questioning that the line in question means "do not let us be tempted to do wrong". The greatest Catholic minds have prayed it this way for centuries, never once assuming that it implies God could ever 'lead us into temptation'.

So now Bergoglio - pedantic all of a sudden about a prayer he has said all his life with the words'y no nos dejes caer en la tentacion' (and let us not fall into temptation) ['See how clever I am! Did any pope ever question this before?'] - provides a teachable moment about the Lord's Prayer. By all means, let every competent priest and catechist use the opportunity to teach the Lord's Prayer to answer questions and give the necessary explanations, referring to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 2759-2776) says about it.]

We live in an age in which empiricism and scientism strongly predominate. We tend to give great weight to physical, material, and human causes for things that happen. These causes are secondary, though, because they themselves owe their existence to God, who is the primary cause of everything. Things and people owe their existence to God, who is existence itself (ipsum esse). Thus, I am not the primary cause of anything I do; I am the secondary cause because I myself am caused and held in existence by God. God, therefore, is the primary cause of everything that is.

In this age, so focused as it is on secondary causality, we have moved God to the margins and are easily forgetful of God’s “essential” action of holding all things in existence. We tend to think that we are the first cause or that some physical reality is the first cause of things that happen. This is not correct from either a biblical or theological standpoint.

In more ancient and believing times, people were more aware of and conversant with God’s role in sustaining and being the primary cause of all things. They were more comfortable with attributing things to God’s primary causality, things that today are more often attributed to the secondary causality of physical nature or man.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out regarding the more ancient appreciation of primary causality, This is not a “primitive mode of speech,” but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him (Par 304).

This brings us back to the request in the Lord’s Prayer that God “lead us not into temptation.” Surely God does not tempt us in any direct sense. He does not will to entrap us or to confound us so as to make us fall. However, because He is the first cause of all existing things, He is also the first cause of things that tempt us.
So, in asking God to “lead us not into temptation,” we ask Him, who providentially holds us and all things in existence, to lead us forward with the graces we need to resist it. This will allow us to enjoy the good things He gives without giving way to the temptations of our inordinate desires.

To say that God “leads” us is to acknowledge that He is the first cause of our movement through life. Although we have free will in our decisions, He sustains us in those decisions and thereby “leads” us as the first cause of all we do. He sustains us even when He does not approve of what we do. Thus each of us asks, in effect, “Please, Lord, in your provident and sustaining causality of all that I do, lead me in your grace to resist sin and to do what is right.”

This petition in the Our Father holds an important truth about God as the first, the primary cause of all that happens. We cannot go forward unless God leads us and holds us in existence. Mysteriously, God sustains us and leads us by causing our existence, even when we stray from His will for us.

The Holy Father is right in this: God does not “throw” us into temptation, as if He were wanting us to fall. We cannot blame God for our sins, but we ought not to surrender the truth that God does “lead” us in all things by being the first cause of all that is, including every step we take and every decision we make. Again, as the Catechism says, we must profoundly recall God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world.

I argue that altering the English translation of the Our Father (which is an accurate translation of the Greek) in order to make us more 'comfortable',] [Right! I can hear 1.2 billion Catholics suddenly saying, "You know, I was never comfortable saying those words!"] surrenders an opportunity to ponder the mystery of the interaction between God’s providence and our freedom.

I therefore respectfully disagree with any suggestion that we consider changing the translation of the Our Father. I think we should teach, explain, and remain rooted in the translation of the Lord’s Prayer that has sustained and united the English-speaking world for hundreds upon hundreds of years.

[Or for those who may insist on quibbling, why not just say the 'Pater noster' in Latin? It's fairly easy to learn if you don't already know it, and those who are familiar with the traditional Mass may even know it by heart from when it is chanted in the traditional way (no composer can match the solemn beauty of Gregorian chant!)... In Benedict XVI's time, I believe that at each General Audience, participants were each given a leaflet with the Latin words of the Lord's Prayer so everyone could pray it together in St. Peter's Square in the language of the Church.]

00Sunday, December 17, 2017 1:39 AM
How did we get from this...

to this in less than 5 years?

Can you even make out the figures of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child in this travesty of the Nativity scene?

Facebook rejects photo of Vatican Nativity
scene for being ‘sexually provocative’

This is bullshit, of course, from Facebook, which has allowed postings of suicides in progress and all sorts of ‘sexting’ with photos. The only reason to reject the photo in question is its bad taste and blasphemous inclusion in the Nativity scene, not to mention its general ugliness… but to ban it from Facebook when it is already on as many sites as have taken an interest in it is just stupid. BTW, the approval of this travesty and exercise in bad taste by the pope himself says it all...

ROME, December 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Facebook has nixed a photo of this year’s Vatican nativity scene, referencing its policy against “sexually suggestive or provocative” images, Breitbart reported.

The Vatican crèche was donated by the ancient Abbey of Montevergine in the Campania region of southern Italy. Its scenery and crib figures, in 18th-century Neapolitan costumes, were produced by artisans in a local workshop. It incorporates vignettes representing the corporal works of mercy, including visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, and clothing the naked.

“It was this last element that excited the censors at Facebook,” Breitbart said. The manger scene prominently features the figure of a naked man lying on the straw, being offered a cloth by a pilgrim, just opposite where the figure of the baby Jesus will be placed on Christmas Day.

An ad featuring the image of the scene was rejected by Facebook with the following explanation: “Your ad can’t include images that are sexually suggestive or provocative.”

Veteran Vatican journalist Edward Pentin first posted the photo on Twitter on December 12. Since then, it has done the rounds on social media and provoked shock and dismay among many Catholics, some calling it “disgusting” and others suggesting the naked man is “too much a poster boy for the local gym to be a man in need of corporeal mercy.”

Yet others commented: “Despite the weeping and gnashing, the Vatican presepe is doing in traditional Neapolitan style, with somewhat grotesque figures and the crib hidden amongst worldly hustle and bustle, and intentional anachronisms. Depicting the corporal works of mercy is a nice touch.”

The artist behind this year’s Vatican Nativity scene, Antonio Cantone, appeared to suggest that he intended it to be provocative.

“It is not a campy nativity; it is particular and makes you think,” he said. “It leaves no one indifferent; there are provocations.”

In his explanation of the creche at its December 7 inauguration, Pope Francis said:

“This year’s Nativity scene, executed in the typical style of Neapolitan art, is inspired by the works of mercy. They remind us that the Lord has told us: ‘Whatever you wish men to do to you, you also do to them’ (Mt 7.12). The crib is the suggestive place where we contemplate Jesus who, taking upon himself the miseries of man, invites us to do likewise, through acts of mercy.”

There you have it - the imprimatur for this travesty from the mouth of the pope himself! If this pope really wanted his personal message of 'mercy' propagandized through the Vatican Nativity scene, surely a genuinely Catholic artist would have known how to depict the corporal works of mercy as somehow related to the message of Christ but without intruding into the Nativity scene itself. Not this blatant and blasphemous incorporation which deliberately overshadows and makes incidental the event it is supposed to commemorate... Given that the pope approved it all, then the words of censure below from this Spanish commentator surely apply to him and not just to the artist who executed it...

Creche of darkness
by Carlos Maria Rey
Translated from
December 14, 2017

'Clothe the naked', 'bury the dead', 'visit the imprisoned' - from the 7 Corporal works of mercy. I think the more relevant 'work of mercy' to apply to this whole travesty
is the first spiritual work of mercy: 'Instruct the ignorant'.

They have mounted the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. But it’s a creche of darkness that prominently features a dead man
and a naked man. What are these two figures doing in a Nativity scene? What twisted minds are behind this profanation of
the birth of Christ, Son of God?

And this offensive and blasphemous ‘Nativity scene’ is found no less than in the very heart of Christendom. We have here
an example of the ‘new evangelization’ which waves the standards of blasphemy, sacrilege and apostasy.

This is a farcical creche.
It is offensive and blasphemous.
It totally departs from Tradition.
It brings on a nightmare that deprives one of sleep.
It is totally lacking in tenderness.
It is the fruit of some twisted foul minds.
It is inspired by Satan himself.
It [seeks to] destroy the truth of the Catholic faith.
It offends the most intimate Catholic sensibility.
It is ugly and tasteless – run away from it!
It depicts a false scenario to confuse the beholder and lead him to error.
It deserves to be rejected by the faithful of the universal Church.

We have here a work of the human mind, one that is devoid of the Catholic faith. The twisted mind of a smart-alecky mocker,
a charlatan and a drunk, sacrilegious and perverted. It is the mind of someone who profanes the sacred, who laughs at the
unchangeable faith of tradition. It is the mind of someone who plays at being god and imposes his miserable ideas as a cult
of belief.

Where is the joy of the season when there is a corpse on the scene?
Where is the immaculate purity of the Nativity ith the presence of a naked man?
Where is the mystery of the Incarnation?
Where is the mystery of Christ’s mission of Redemption?

God became man to redeem man from sin.
Where in this Nativity scene do we find modesty, innocence, purity, chastity, and the honesty that underlies the depiction
of the birth of Christ?

This is an inadmissible offense to the foundations of our faith.

We should all inundate the Vatican with letters and e-mails expressing our repulsion for this offense against the Christ Child,
against the purity of Mary and the chastity of St. Joseph.

We cannot go on being silent. Our faith is being offended by the Vatican itself. The mud that soils the face of the Church
comes down from the very head of the Church.

Let us get moving, but not to support heresy and sacrilege, but to oppose these as much as we can.

Let us begin by addressing our most vigorous objections to the Vatican and to the papal nuncio to each country.


Did Bergoglio ever think when he approved this terrible Nativity scene, “What would St. Francis of Assisi think?”, since the Poverello, after all, originated the very idea of
recreating the Nativity scene at Christmastime? I know: Bergoglio would say, “He would have approved – putting all those human objects of the seven corporal works of
mercy in the forefront of the beholder’s consciousness”. If so, why did the Poverello never think – from everything that’s known about his life – to do this with his first
creche in Greccio or ever afterwards?

The story of St. Francis of Assisi
and the first Nativity Scene re-creation,
as told by St. Bonaventure

by Gretchen Filz
December 21, 2016

Nativity scenes have been a popular Advent and Christmas decoration for centuries, and — like most things glorious, time-honored, and holy — it originated with a Catholic saint.

St. Francis of Assisi had a special devotion to the Child Jesus, and he is credited with creating the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve of the year 1223.

It is believed that St. Francis was first inspired by this idea after visiting the historical place of Christ’s birth on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land — the humble stable in a Bethlehem cave. It is likely this event which deepened his devotion to the Child Jesus, who was born into the world in such poverty, humility, and simplicity. In fact, Francis founded his new religious Order to imitate these very virtues.

St. Francis recreated the scene of Christ’s birth in a special ritual and Mass he held inside of a cave in Greccio, Italy, inviting both his fellow friars and the townspeople to join in the celebration.

Later he told a friend why he desired to create the first nativity scene in his town:

I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by.

He set up an empty manger (the feeding trough of farm animals which served as Jesus’ crib) inside a cave, and even included a live ox and donkey beside the manger just as it was believed to have happened on that first Christmas night.

Through these visual aids he wanted everyone to impress more deeply into their understanding how Christ came into the world in such poverty and simplicity. This was a typical perspective of St. Francis’ unique charism of simple, poverty-centered spirituality.

It is also said that St. Francis — who was radically devoted to the virtue of evangelical poverty — was inspired to recreate the original nativity scene to overcome the rampant greed and materialism prevalent at that time in Italy. [If he thought as Bergoglio does, he would have incorporated scenes depicting such greed and materialism in the creche in Greccio!]

St Francis in Greccio, Giotto (1297-1300), Fresco, Basilica of St Francis, Assisi

St. Bonaventure (1221 – 1274), a follower and contemporary of St. Francis, has given us a complete account of the night of the first live nativity scene:

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed.

The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise.”...

The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”

The first nativity scene is also associated with an apparition of the Baby Jesus to those gathered with St. Francis on that day. This must have been Jesus’s way of giving his praise and blessing to the nativity scene, which was a novelty in its time and had never been done before.

Again, St. Bonaventure continues the story:

A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Greccio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep.

This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth.

For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles.”

St. Francis’s recreation of that first Christmas night was so popular that soon every church in Italy had its own nativity scene. The devotion also spread to private homes, and in modern times even to secular institutions, so much so that it’s now impossible to imagine Christmas without a nativity scene to behold.

Hopefully this story of the first nativity scene will inspire you to see your nativity set as much more than just as a pretty Christmas decoration. It is a historic Catholic tradition and a tool for meditation on the humility, simplicity, and poverty of Christ that he took on, from the moment of his Incarnation, out of his boundless love for his lost sheep.

In all the depictions of St. Francis and his original act of homage on Greccio, the focus was always on the Christ Child and on nothing else... I doubt Pope Bergoglio has even bothered to check out
St. Francis's devotion to the Christ Child, or on anything else about St. Francis other than that he preached poverty...
00Sunday, December 17, 2017 4:54 AM

Messori talks
Gleanings from a new book about the world’s
most widely-read Catholic lay author

Translated from

December 15, 2017

“These days, even for so many faithful who have become unsure about the Christian afterlife, what I am about to say may seem strange, but the ‘project’ which dominates everything in my life now is to close my earthly adventure well. In short, to say it clearly: I wish above all to have a good death, in the Gospel sense”.

Do you know who said these unusual words? Not a cardinal, a bishop, a parish priest, a religious or a theologian. But a lay Catholic, though not just anyone – namely, Vittorio Messori.

This reflection is found in a beautiful interview with Messori by Aurelio Porfiri at the end of the e-book Et-Et. Ipotesi su Vittorio Messori (Chora Books, 2017), in which the human, spiritual, religious and professional experience of the celebrated writer and author of Ipotesi su Gesu and numerous other best-selling books, is presented with a sense of participation and open sympathy. ['Et-et', by the way, is also the title of Messori's website.] 

Our friend Porfiri, a multifacted man with manifold initiatives and cultural abilities (as journalist, writer, publisher, composer of sacred music and choir director) will forgive me if I shall concentrate here only on the interview. Moreover, anyone who likes Messori and his work would already be familiar with his life story, and those who are not familiar with it will want to know him better after reading the interview, especially by reading his books.

I will focus on the interview because it seems to me that Messori, a very private man, has opened up his heart in this interview, certainly helped by the humanity and interest of his interviewer.

Death is the dominant theme for Messori at this stage of his life, and he says so without circumlocution and with great naturalness.

Let us try to understand each other – without the hypocrisies of the dominant ideology today – political correctness, a masterpiece of hypocrisy and grotesque denial of everything that could be ‘unpleasant’.

In April, I turned 66, an age at which many bishops are already in retirement. My life expectancy is another six or seven years, going by statistical probability, with which I may not necessarily comply. But Psalm 90 clearly reminds us: “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong”. Therefore, I am preparing myself to pass to the ‘other side’.

So, with the journalistic style which had made him famous throughout the world, Messori says what’s what, bluntly. Nothing special, if we think about it. But they are extraordinary statements in a culture like ours, within which even the Church – in order not to displease the world and not to appear ‘retrograde’ – has stopped for some time now to speak about death and the Four Last Things, including the judgment of God.

But for Messori, that moment is important. Or rather, it is the only thing that ultimately counts. And that is why he is preparing himself to die a good death. That is why, he and his wife Rosanna requested and received that which was once called Extreme Unction, but which after Vatican II, has been called ‘anointing the sick’. He says their request was right and timely, since old age itself is a malady.

In short, Messori, as a Christian and as a Catholic, is preparing for his future – "that with a capital F", which is to say, “that which will never end”. Which in any case, does not keep him from staying in the game, so to speak. Listen to this:

It is sad to say this, but one has the impression that the present Church hierarchy is simply making a ‘formal’ reverence (i.e., lip service) to the extraordinary teachings of John Paul II. Even without saying so, many of them believe that his great encyclicals have become out of date. One has the impression that within the Church herself, there is an effort to somehow banish the memory of what was certainly a gust of the Holy Spirit in the Church”. [Because, obviously, the current Successor of St. Peter believes that the Holy Spirit speaks through him and only through him, exclusively.]

Messori was a friend to Papa Wojtyla, whom he interviewed for that worldwide bestseller in the mid-1990s,Crossing the Threshold of Hope. But there is not just understandable nostalgia in his opinions. There is also all the bitter disappointment of someone who sees, in the Church today, a [pro-active] attempt to replace the teaching of John Paul II (Think of Veritatis splendor alone!) and of other great Church teachers and pastors, in the name of a vague aggiornamento (updating), mostly founded on ambiguity and the desire to be seen as friends of 'the world', even at the price of obfuscating if not betraying eternal divine truths.

Messori knows very well that today, among Catholics, it is almost forbidden to speak about the judgment of God. We are advised to limit ourselves to ‘mercy’ without discussing mercy in depth. [All the papal talk about mercy has been superficial, really -remaining on the literal level exactly as depicted in the ‘Nativity scene’ that the reigning pope approved for installation in St. Peter’s Square this year.]

But he disagrees and says so:

“By the [additive] Catholic logic of ‘et-et’ (and…both) [as opposed to ‘aut-aut’, either…or], we must not forget that we shall be judged not just by one criterion but by two. Christ will judge us with mercy and with justice: Justice cannot be unjust, nor must it be merciless. There will surely be mercy, but always with justice.

To name just two examples among the infinite possibilities, even with God’s infinite mercy, there could be none for Stalin, as compared to, say Don Bosco. The unilateral emphasis given to just one of God’s attributes, mercy, leads to a crippled Christianity which ignores an essential aspect of the Gospel: Christ’s dutiful severity notwithstanding his tenderness.

The terrible though very beautiful words of the Dies irae [‘Day of wrath’, the 13th century hymn that is part of the Mass for the Dead in the traditional liturgy but which was eliminated in the Novus Ordo] are weighted on the side of justice, omitting the other part. But we cannot, by denial, imagine the celestial Judge to be like an old uncle whom age has rendered sentimental and feeble, and so is ready to forgive his nephews for everything – everything – even those who were undisciplined to the very end”.

Messori was also the great interviewer, of course, of Joseph Ratzinger (the global best-seller in this case was RAPPORTO SULLA FEDE, from 1985).[It was because of reading it that John Paul II agreed 10 years later to Messori’s request to be interviewed for a book, even if the interview was conducted only in writing... Actually, it began with a TV interview that Messori was to do with the Pope in October 1993 for Italian state TV RAI. But at a meeting in Castel Gandolfo to prepare for the event – which would have been the first-ever papal interview – Messori told the Pope: “Holiness, we need a pope, a teacher who will guide us, not a TV commentator. We are not just in a crisis of the Church, we are in a crisis of faith – people just do not believe in God anymore”. But the pope disagreed forcefully, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis: “I disagree with you”. He did however have second thoughts about it, and eventually cancelled the TV interview. But in the next few months, he gave written answers to Messori’s questions, and these led to the best-selling book first published in 1995.]

About Joseph Ratzinger, Messori told Porfiri:

“I did not just esteem him because he was a Catholic scholar, but I lovd him very much, the Christian Ratzinger. Those who really know him (as I had the good fortune to do) know that he is one of the truly good, most gentle, most understanding of men, besides being the most cultured. He combines the rigor of orthodoxy with mercy, tolerance, and openness.

I met him recently [September 2016] in his residence in the Vatican Gardens, which used to be a nuns’ monastery. It was a very beautiful meeting, and for me, very touching, to find him as lucid as ever but rather frail and needing to support himself with a walker even just to walk a few steps.

And because I loved him, I was rather disheartened when he was elected pope – even for him, it was something that he did not wish to happen. Because above all, he is a scholar, a teacher, a writer of theology. But his moral greatness lay in that he sacrificed his nature and his calling to the Church – his vocation being the tranquility of libraries, of small student circles, of one-on-one conversations, or of learned lectures to specialized congresses.

But he always obeyed the Church, accepting the sacrifice, first when Paul VI ‘yanked’ him out of a quarter-century of university professorship to make him Archbishop of Munich-Freising, and then when he was called to Rome by John Paul II to become Prefect of the CDF, and finally, when he was elected pope at the age of 78, when he had been expecting to return to his studies for the years left to him.”

As for Pope Francis, Messori has decided to keep quiet [after the disproportionate outcry by Bergoglians against a mildly critical article he wrote before Christmas 2015]. He says ‘his popes’ were John Paul II and Benedict XVI “and now, it is for others to measure other popes and their pontificates”. We respect this decision, but cite nonetheless the perplexity he expressed in Corriere della Sera in 2013 and reiterated three years later to Bruno Volpe in an interview for La Fede Quotidiana:

“This pope has made a unilateral choice for ‘mercy’, and I ask myself: What should we do – rip out the pages from the Gospel in which Jesus was severe and sometimes even hard?... So many things perplex me at this time, and because of this and a sense of responsibility, I am keeping quiet. Of course, as a Catholic, I am alarmed and concerned, but I have chosen a different course from other authoritative colleagues and journalists. I could say 'Who am I to judge the pope?' but I am convinced – and I say this again – that this pope has very little interest in doctrine”.

In any case, the distinction Messori makes between the person of the pope and the papacy is interesting. Since when, thanks to communications technology, the pope has become a very central figure in the world’s spotlights, all of the interest has been centered on the person of the pope, which Messori thinks makes little sense.

“I am not interested in whether a pope is sympathetic or disagreeable, if he is black, white or red. I am not interested in his every tic, his obsessions, his private views. I am interested in the fact that, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a man has become the Successor to St. Peter and is therefore also Christ’s Vicar on earth. And therefore, I cannot say it too often: What interests me – and what I think should interest everyone – is the very institution of the papacy, the fact that we have been given this gift, because from the viewpoint of faith it is a gift. Everything else [that does not have to do with how a pope carries out his mission and his task] is nothing but a matter of curiosity that we could even ignore”.

Finally, a last statement by Messori on the present state of the Catholic world:

"I think that what remains of the Catholic world now thinks that the only duty is to be engaged as actively as one can in social works, to relieve every kind of material need. It is right, and it is beautiful, but one must remember that one does not need faith to do this: the world is full of social work volunteers, often admirable, who are atheists or agnostics.

Yet in their obsession for social do-gooding, ‘adult’ believers have forgotten that 'the highest work of charity’ is interceding for the departed, a central aspect of that splendid reality that Tradition calls ‘the communion of saints’: the living help the dead by invoking divine mercy for them, just as the dead intercede with God for us the living. What could be more ‘social’ than that? But it is also the most forgotten fact.”

On Messori’s preparation for the afterlife, Marco Tosatti writes in an affectionate Foreword to the book:

“Prepare yourself as you wish, but not in silence. And please, do not pull back your oars from the boat!

In a Church where we are assailed with ‘aut-aut’ (either-or) every five minutes, we really need your pen to remind us, again and frequently, of the richness of ‘et-et’, the splendor and the greatness of what it has meant for the Church and Rome.

More than ever, we need you and your rationality, that which has convinced so many people that to believe in God is the most logical thing, especially at a time when the Superior-General of the Jesuits says we really don’t know what Jesus said because there were no tape recorders in his time… Would you really want to put the sails down now?”

I agree with Tosatti. [Let us all pray Messori will listen to his friends!]

[I totally missed it but in May this year when the book on Messori first came out, Tosatti reproduced n his blog the Foreword he wrote for 'ET-ET'. I shall translate and post it here as an addendum later.]

00Sunday, December 17, 2017 9:14 AM


New entries for the Clerical Bestiary
Translated from

December 16, 2017

Dear Stilumcurialisti, this bestiary is quite variegated - positively and negatively, but I an afraid more negative than positive…

Let us begin with the new Italian law on ‘end of life’. I would advise you to read the commentary by Marco Tarquinio, editor of Avvenire [the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference now totally under the thumb of the Bergoglio-appointed CEI secretary, Mons. Galantino]. It seeks to put together two unrelated matters: the law that substantially allows murder by request in Italy, and Italian military support against slavery in Africa. Do they seem matters of equal weight to you? Not to me. The reason for putting them together in one commentary? I do not know, but malicious person that I am, I can imagine why.

The Avvenire of Mons. Galantino, obliged to speak about a law that was discussed and passed in the almost total silence of the Italian bishops, not to mention the deafening silence from the pope who is Primate of Italy, in order not to give the impression that the newspaper is finally aligning with those pain-in-the-neck pro-lifers against euthanasia, feels it must also strike out at migrantist circles. Even if it is hard to understand why Catholics should be concerned. After all, we have been told that “The spirit of Marco Pannella [longtime leader of Italy’s Radical Party who died earlier this year and who championed all the ultraliberal causes including abortion on demand, same-sex ‘marriage’ and euthanasia on demand] will help us to live in in the same direction…” by Mons. Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, speaking earlier about the euthanasia bill, now law.. Brace yourself for more of ‘the spirit of Marco Pannella’ in the future!

But if you want to rinse your mouth of the bad taste above, then read the statement by Mons. Crepaldi…

‘Bridges’ will not hold without truth
by Mons. Gianpaolo Crepaldi
Archbishop of Trieste
Translated from

December 16, 2017

On Thursday, December 14, the Italian Parliament approved the so-called DAT law which opens the way to euthanasia in a form that is even more emphatic than in other nations. During the months of discussion preceding the vote, I intervened, as bishop and as president of the Cardinal Van Thuan Observatory, along with others, such as the Centro Studi Rosario Livatino, in order to highlight the gravity of the contents of this law. Unfortunately, what prevailed was the libertarian and ultimately nihilistic ideology professed by so many members of Parliament. And so, Italy will proceed towards a dark future based on a ‘freedom’ that is extenuated and devoid of hope.

This law adds to others approved by this sad Parliament which has distanced our legislation on life and the family from the objective norms of natural moral law that are inscribed in the hearts of men, but which, too often, are obscured by big and small partisan interests and by the deformation of intelligence.

But those who have been most committed to dismantling via legislation the principles of the natural moral law – which, to the believer, is the language of the Creator – are not able to tell us how they will replace the effects of social cohesion achieved by having goals in common.

Freedom understood as self-determination, which this new law affirms and absolutizes, is unable to hold together anything, much less persons, nor can it even help the individual put himself together.

It is most concerning that in this Parliament, such negative laws can be approved in a context of remarkable indifference. I express my support for all those who mobilized with words, writings and other external manifestations in fighting for the human good.

But I must also note that many others should and could have done so. And this observation applies to the Catholic world especially. A wide swath of her components stayed away from defending values so fundamental for the dignity of individuals, fearful perhaps of creating walls instead of bridges by doing so. But bridges that are not built on the truth cannot hold.

At times like this, a sentiment of discouragement may prevail, and it is understandable. Everything in life comes at a price, and the terrible law that has been passed will produce suffering and injustice to the very flesh of persons. One has the impression that we must now commit ourselvesto reconstructing from scratch an alphabet that has been disarticulated.

At the same time, one must always remember that hstory is always open to new courses and solutions, as well as new possibilities for recovery and rescue. But humanly speaking, such recovery and rescue will not compensate for the injustices that have been provoked and experienced, but they will allow us not to conset to more of the same.

Let us not forget not just history, but also the Lord of all history. We trust in him so that we nay be ready to face new occasions which he will set before us.

Then ,there’s James Martin, the Jesuit who is the standard-bearer for the LGBT cause in the Church. This time, we cite him for having disseminated and praised blasphemous pictures spoofing Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day last December 12.

It must be noted that the images are supposed to represent Our Lady ‘re-imagined’ as contemporary Mexican female icons represented by the artist herself in the ‘Wonder Woman’ take-off (she actually calls this ‘Portrait of the Artist as Our Lady of Guadalupe’, a conceptual and metaphysical impossibility!) her mother (at the sewing machine), and her grandmother, and that this is what she thought she was doing:

Even if she had not given it the blasphemous title she does, the fact that in her ‘self-portrait’, Ms Lopez shows herself stomping on an angel in her triumphant lunge forward, while holding a serpent in her right hand, underscores the blasphemy. In which she completely overturns Marian symbology.


A friend from the north has written Me:

A direct experience. FoR the catechetical year of the age group in my parish that are to be confirmed during the year, we had to learn about the Holy Spirit. During our sessions to consider the Most Holy Trinity as a Unity, I realized that the children were answering the most elementary questions with absuridities. For example, what Our Lord commands in Mt 28,19 [“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”] I asked who was giving the mandate, and a child answered: “The Father’. So I made a basic questionnaire to evaluate their level of preparation. Well, a good 90-95% of these children who were to be confRimed soon replied NO to the question “Is Jesus Christ God?” It means that in effect, we are giving confirmation to pagans not Christians. Obviously, it’s because they are ignorant of the essentials of the faith.

And yet, a sacrament of God is horribly misused under the slogan that everyone seems to use these days, “Not to worry! God will provide…”. To me, that sounds like blasphemy…

AMORIS LAETITIA, and the ignorance
of those at the top of the Church hierarchy

But perhaps ignorance of the fundamentals of our faith is much more widespread than one thinks, because it also afflicts – in a way that was once unthinkable - some hierarchical levels. Consider this item:

“The famous American scholar of canon law, Edward N. Peters, laments that pastors today are quite ignorant about canon law and calls on them to study it more. He says, in fact, that distribution of the Eucharist is ‘regulated’ by Canon 915 – of course, never once mentioned in AL, nor in the interpretation of the Buenos Aires bishops, and not even in the approving letter that the pope sent them in reply. But, it follows that for as long as the revised Code of Canon Law which went into effect in 1983 remains in force and unchanged by any pontifical document, everything stays as it was before [Before AL, that is].
He continues:
“Unless Canon 915 itself is directly revoked, gutted, or neutered, it binds ministers of holy Communion to withhold that most august sacrament from, among others, divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community. Nothing I have seen to date, including the appearance of the pope’s and Argentine bishops’ letters in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, makes me think that Canon 915 has suffered such a fate.” He concludes by saying that further Vatican ‘seals of approval’ on AL, or on the two letters that have been upgraded to ‘authentic papal magisterium’, will not change things”.

An opinion confirmed in another letter I got recently:

Dear Mr. Tosatti:
I am M.C., a Portuguese lawyer and canonist. I write you this e-mail because of what is being said about AL 305 after that which was published in the AAS of October 2016.

It is not true that #305 has now become ‘authentic magisterium’. A pope does not have the power to elevate his personal opinions (cf AL #3 and #4) to the category of authentic magisterium. And even if he did, he could not do it by rescript [[I[as was the case with the letters exchanged on AL.]

I do not understand why no one seems to point out these elementary facts of theology and canon law… Thanks a lot. Merry Christmas!

Despite Cardinal Kasper’s recent plea that everyone should stop talking about AL, here is an opinion on that infamous ‘primacy of individual conscience’, which is the key – or one of them – to the problem of admitting anyone to the sacraments:


Let me close with the news that the diocese of Florence has sold some of its land on which a mosque will be built.

[FLORENCE, Dec. 14, 2017 (ANSA) – A new mosque will rise on land that is owned by the Diocese of Florence in the Florentine commune of Sesto Fiorentino. The news, anticipated today by the newspaper La Nazione, has been confirmed by a joint note from the Commune of Sesto, the Archidocese of Florence, the Unviersit y of Florence and the Association for the Mosques of Florence. This will therefore solve the thorny problem of finding land on which to build the Muslim place of worship because up to now, none has been available… A agreement on intent will be signed Friday under which the Archdiocese will sell the land to the Muslim community of the Province of Florence so that they can build a mosque and an Islamic cultural center. In turn, the archdiocese will purchaseland belonging to the University of Florence on which it will build a religious center.

I think this news goes hand in hand with the decision of the international Red Cross to take away the crucifix from all their premises in order nt to offend non-Christian religious sensibilities. In Belgium, many Red Cross volunteers have objected. M,I find it hard not to agree with the Hungarian Foreign Minister who said: “These measures must be considered as attempts to sweep out the civilization and culture of the continent”.


00Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:31 AM
On the Pope, the Argentine bishops,
and the meaning of ‘magisterial authority’

By Phil Lawler
Dec 15, 2017

Several readers have written in recent days to question why this site has offered no editorial commentary on the Vatican announcement that the Pope’s letter to the Argentine bishops on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia should be regarded as magisterial teaching. Two or three readers, going further, have complained that we have given short shrift to a news story of enormous importance.

While I understand these readers’ concerns, I disagree. I did not —and still do not — see this story as particularly important. Not much was changed by the appearance of the Pope’s letter in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, or by Cardinal Parolin’s announcement that the papal statement was magisterial. I say this for three reasons:

First, a private letter from the Pope cannot be seen on the same level as a formal papal document, even if that letter is later made public.

Insofar as Pope Francis made a magisterial statement on marriage, he made it in Amoris Laetitia. Keep in mind that the flurry of interest in the letter to the Argentine bishops involves the interpretation of that apostolic exhortation — that is, the proper understanding of a papal statement that has already been made. And Amoris Laetitia has certainly been given plenty of coverage on this site.

Second, the most controversial aspect of Amoris Laetitia is the suggestion — a suggestion, not a clear statement — that Catholics who are divorced and remarried may under some circumstances receive the Eucharist without making a commitment to live in abstinence.

As canon-law expert Ed Peter has explained, the Code of Canon Law (specifically Canon 915) requires priests to withhold Communion from Catholics in those circumstances. No one disputes the authority of Pope Francis to change canon law, but [SO FAR] he has not changed Canon 915, and so it remains in force, with its own “magisterial authority.”

The Roman Pontiff can speak with authority on questions of faith and morals, but he cannot overrule the laws of logic. [But Bergoglio seems to really believe that he is sui generis among all the humans ever created by God - as Mary was sui generis in the way God destined the future 'mother of God' to be - so he thinks he is free to say and do what he pleases. Surely in his deluded mind, what he pleases is not just good, but the best and only choice(s) possible, and just as he allegedly told Mueller that he does not have to explain himself to anyone because he is pope, he must think that being sui generis - and the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, to boot - he does not have to follow the logic of Logos, but his own Bergologic that does away to begin with, with the principle of non-contradiction. That is why Bergoglio's mental universe appears to be a welter of contradictions. We are cursed with a pope who is irrevocably delusional, to name just one of his worst characteristics.]

In his letter to the Argentine bishops, applauding their understanding of his apostolic exhortation Pope Francis declared: “There are no other interpretations.” [By which we are supposed to understand that there can be no other interpretations that what the Argentine bishops gave in their letter.]

But there are other interpretations. [To none of which he has objected. And as Sandro Magister points out in his blog today, Dec. 18, the interpretation given in the guidelines issued by the pope's own Vicar in Rome, for the Diocese of Rome, of which the pope is Bishop, is far more liberal in interpreting the discernment-accompaniment-blahblah blather of AL than the Argentine bishops' letter. Hah, betcha neither Parolin nor Bergoglio thought of that!]

Some bishops say that Amoris Laetitia upholds the traditional teaching of the Church; others say that the document changes those teachings. These interpretations are incompatible. The Argentine bishops’ document, like the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, leaves crucial questions unanswered. Until those questions are answered clearly, nothing much is accomplished by the claim that the reigning confusion has “magisterial authority". [Perhaps nothing much in substance, but superficially, Bergoglio has elevated two private letters by rescript to be 'authentic magisterium' which is the take-away message for most Catholics who follow these discussions. Not that anything becomes 'authentic magisterium' just because the pope says so - because it can never be if it is anything that contradicts what the Church has taught for millennia!]
00Tuesday, December 19, 2017 9:59 PM
How did we get from this...

to this in less than 5 years?

Can you even make out the figures of Mary, Joseph and the manger in this travesty of the Nativity scene?
Bergoglio has chosen to sacrifice the Christmas message in order to propagandize his 'mercy', though it seems all he cares about
are the corporal works of mercy. What about the spiritual?

When one must search the Vatican's
'Nativity' scene for the Holy Family
who seem like intruders in a
social activism tableau

Translated from

December 18, 2017

Finally I went. To see the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. It was my friend from my favroite pizzeria in Borgo Pio who pushed me to do it: “Go...go... then tell me what you think”.

- You didn’t like it?, I asked.
- Not on your life.
- Why not?
- It made me uncomfortable. With that nude man in the foreground? The gym buff? That’s no poor man to be clothed! He seems to have just come out of a wellness center. And Mary and Joseph are lost somewhere in there, certainly almost hidden by all the other figures. But go and see, then we can talk about it.

And so I went. I must say that the nude man just overpowers everything in the tableau. He’s there in the foreground, pink-fleshed, shaved all over, muscles well-defined. My friend is right – this is no poor man who needs to be clothed! He looks more like a model well-pleased with his attributes.

Then the dead man – who seems to be on display on a table. He is covered with a white sheet, and all we see is a cadaveric arm hanging inert down one side of the table. Next to him there is a big man: we do not know what he is supposed to be doing, but he seems rather threatening, with one hand raised above the corpse and looking rather grim. [He illustrates the corporal work of mercy ‘bury the dead’].

This Nativity scene was donated by the territorial abbey of Montevergine, and is supposed to be, as Vatican Radio tells us, “a work of art using 16th century figures executed according to the most ancient Neapolitan tradition”. [Why the 16th century exactly? Something to do with the Lutheran schism?]

Produced by ‘a Neapolitan artisans’ workshop’, the Nativity scene occupies “a space that is almost 80 square meters and a maximum height of seven meters". It is inspired “by the corporal works of mercy, represented by 20 figures, each about 2 meters high, made up of polychrome terracotta, with crystal eyes and fabric clothing.”

I do not have any articistic competence. The statues, as single statues, are certainly praiseworthy.
[Frankly, I don’t see anything praiseworthy at all in the individual figures, none of whom look particularly ‘aesthetic’: they are generic figures devoid of any expression – literally blank-faced - that might make them sympathetic to the beholder. The figure that is supposed to be Mary (who was 17 when she gave birth) looks like a common Neapolitan matron without the least bit of holiness about her, and I can’t see enough of Joseph to tell how he is portrayed. One commentator has noted that the nude man appears to have been lifted from some other work, which explains why the figure is so incongruous in every way – i.e., the artisan studio that made these figures did not think it worthwhile to cast a new figure to depict ‘the naked’ who must be clothed, for this grotesque and really quite ugly ensemble whose theme was approved by the pope himself.]

The impression is that one is not looking at a Nativity scene at all – that is, a representation of the birth of Jesus – but at a group of people who are quite busy doing their own thing and are really indifferent to the miracle of the Nativity.

The corporal works of mercy are represented by figures in the act of performing them: a man visits a prisoner (of whom we see only the head, which looks creepy because it seems disembodied); a woman with a jug in hand gives water to a thirsty man; a young man assists a sick one; a man looks down on the nude man and seems to offer a piece of cloth (that hangs from his hand and has not even managed to cover anything of the naked man); there’s someone who houses pilgrims; and the man who is presumably preparing to bury the corpse laid out on the table.

In the midst of all this social activism, Joseph and Mary seem to be almost like intruders who happen to be there by accident. Who knows, perhaps when the Baby Jesus takes his place in the manger on Christmas Eve, the Holy Family will probably find some space amid all this busy-ness, but for now, this ‘Nativity scene’ looks like a rather messy and disordered tableau depicting a social cooperative.

I repeat that I have no artistic competence, and what I am saying may horrify art experts, but I cannot deny my disconcertment. Even the Magi seem to be more concerned with the activities going on around them than by anything else. And of course, the whole tableau lacks a stall or a cave or a roof that indicates a refuge, instead of which there is the suggestion of a dome, as though Jesus had chosen to be born in a quake-damaged church of which only a small tottering piece has been left behind.

I read somewhere that Facebook refused to publish a photo of this tableau because it is “sexually allusive and provocative” – because, of course, of the nude man whom my friend calls the gym buff. I do not know how Facebook works out its criteria for 'acceptability' and I do not wish to get into it. I will limit myself for now to imagining what a child might say who is brought to look at this ‘Nativity’ scene.

- Excuse me, mamma and papa, but where is Our Lady? And St Joseph? And the Baby Jesus?
- You have to look closely, son.
- Where?
- There... to the left of the man who is... well, naked. Don’t you see?
- No, I see nothing...
- OK, let’s move a bit... Now, do you see?
- No, I see the head of a dark-haired man seen through a small window. Did they cut it off?
- No my son, they didn’t. That is a man in prison, with his head showing through the window. He is being helped.
- Well, but where is Baby Jesus?
- Let’s move again... Now, do you see?
- No, now I see a man on a table covered with a white cloth. Why?
- Because he is... mmm, dead.
- A dead man! Why? Who killed him? What did they do to him?
- Nothing, my son. He died, and now he must be buried.
- And the Child Jesus?
- Let’s move again, and I will lift you up. Now, do you see?
- No, what I see is one of the Three Kings with a turban around his head. I don’t like it.
- Come on, son, don’t say that!
- Papa, mamma! Let us go! I am afraid...
- Why? Don’t you like this Nativity scene?
- No. I don’t like it. It gives me the creeps...

So there! Now I shall go find my friend the pizzamaker. I know we shall have much to chat about!

While we're at it, let's remind ourselves of the works of mercy:

I can't seem to find any reference to when the Church drew up these lists, about which the Catechism says the following:

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.

The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God...

2448 In its various forms - material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death - human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren.

Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.

In the Catholic Church, the works of mercy are encouraged as an act of both penance and charity. The Protestants see the works of mercy as a means of grace which lead to holiness and aid in sanctification. The works of mercy are based on specific mitzvah (commandments based on divine law) found in the Jewish Torah (as a Jew, Jesus and his family would have observed all these mitzvahs - more than 600 of them - religiously). The corporal works of mercy are echoed in the New Testament by the so-called 'sheep and goats' preaching of Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46), in which the allusions to specific works of mercy come from examples that the Lord gave in his Sermon on the Mount:

"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

But since Bergoglio and Bergoglianism apparently believe that everyone will be saved ultimately, everyone goes to heaven and there really is no Hell, it would seem they do not think there is a Final Judgment at all, so I don't know that this pope ever thinks at all about this 'sheep and goats' teaching. Anyway, did we hear any of these Last Judgment considerations at all from this pope in the weeks of Advent of which it is the theme?

But back to Christmas and some relatively unknown facts about how St. Francis of Assisi thought it ought to be celebrated, after adoring the Christ Child wherever the Nativity scene is re-created as he first did in Greccio in the early 13th century...

That infamous 'consumeristic Christmas'?
It originated with the poor Saint of Assisi -
here is how and why

Translated from

December 17, 2017

Every year at Christmas we hear moralistic sermonizing deprecating the ‘consumeristic Christmas’, replete with anathemas against giftgiving and denunciations of Christmas feasting as sinful waste.

Leading this pontifications in banality, as usual, is the Pontiff himself, Bergoglio, who thunders against ‘the feast of commercial consumerism’, ‘useless gifts’, and ‘abundant waste’. Superficial thoughts that find no equivalent in the great treasury of spiritual literature about the Birth of Jesus.

Above all – far from being an evil – the so-called ‘race for Christmas consumerism’ is, from a social viewpoint, a true manna every year for the economy in Christian nations, even in Italy which has been suffering from great unemployment. In practice, it provides an opportunity for most families – including those with low income – to celebrate Christmas with joy.

Also, are we sure than it is consumerism that has caused Christmas to degenerate into a secular celebration of giftgiving and abundant feasting? It doesn’t seem so, since so-called ‘consumerism’ became widespread in Italy only since the 1960s and 1970s, and even the very notion of consumerism itself is relatively recent, say, the 1950s in the United States.

Whereas Christmas has been celebrated for 2000 years. And Christian tradition itself has linked such a celebration to include giftgiving and abundant feasting.

Leo the Great had a memorable homily in the 5th century:

“There is no room for sadness on the day when Life was born, a Life that destroys our fear of death and goves us the joy of eternal promises. No one is ecluded from this happiness”.

Whenever, in recent years, I chose to ‘confront’ this idea, some were horrified and accused me of wanting to ‘sanctify’ capitalistic consumerism.

Since I was born to a family of miners, in which the Catholic faith was abundant, not money, I know from experience what poverty is, but also what the joy of Christmas always was, even for a poor family like ours.

But this is best demonstrated by someone who is above any suspicion, certainly not one linked to consumerism, luxury and wealth in his chosen vocation, one who passed into history for having been a passionate lover of “My Lady Poverty” – St. Francis of Assisi.

It is not by chance that he ‘invented’ the tradition of the Nativity scene – he was the sublime poet of Christmas, hymn-singer of the Incarnation of God.

In the text containing the testimonials of Brother Leone and some other of Francis’s first friends after his ‘conversion’, which bears the title “Compilatio Assisiensis”, we read:

“Francis had a devtion to the Birth of Christ that was far more than he had to any other festivity of the year, because although Our Lord worked out his Redemption of man in other solemnities, the holy Francis told us, nonetheless, that work began the day he was born for us. That is why he wished every Christian to exult in the Lord on Christmas, and that, out of love for Him, who had given Himself to us, we should all be generous in expressing our joy not just towards the poor but even towards animals and birds”.

The announcement of Christmas – the supreme Gift God made to men, Himself – established for St. Francis a ‘theology of giving’, to give everything in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Chiara Mercuri, who has reconstructed the life of the saint based on these testimonials in her book “Francesco d’Assisi. La storia negata” (Francis of Assisi: The untold story), comments: “Therefore, Christmas should be a day of joy and abundance for everyone. Only if this is so can it really be Christmas”.

She then explains how the saint’s Christmas wish was carried out in his time:

“They had rich dishes that were usually absent from the meals of the Franciscan friars, like meat, cheeses, wine, oil, lard and fresh fruit. Beggars, peasants, doctors, notaries, nobles joined the friars in their feasting, and the women would send the friars and the poor in the vicinity cakes of almonds and honey, pasta dishes, fritters sprinkled with rosewater, pastry rolls filled with honey, raisins, nuts and cinnamon, biscuits with anise, and peppered bread”.

In short, Mercuri concludes, “everyone tried on this day to be ‘Christmas’ for someone else, without forgetting anyone, any living creature”.

St. Francis reached a point that he wished even his beloved larks (who sing the praises of God) [The Italian word for lark is ‘allodole’, literally ‘those who give praise’] and all other animals to be included in the feasting.

His friends wrote in their testimonials:

“We who lived with him heard him say many times: ‘If one day I could speak to the Emperor, I will plead for him that for the love of God and through my imploration, he should issue a decree that would prohibit anyone from capturing a lark or treating a lark badly. And also that all the authorities in every city, the lords of the castles and of villages, should be required every year, on the Nativity of Our Lord, to compel their subjects to sprinkle wheat and other grains on the roads outside the cities and fortresses, so that all the birds, especially our sister larks, will not want for food on such a solemn day.

And out of reverence for the Son of God, who was delivered by his mother in the presence of an ox and a donkey, every man on that night should give enough food to our brother oxen and donkeys. In the same way, let all the poor be fed to satiety by the rich”.

As we see, the way we celebrate Christmas (the Nativity scene, gifts, gestures of charity and solidarity, abundant food on the table) are the things St. Francis thought appropriate for Christmas. He gave birth to the genuine ‘spirit of Christmas’ (beyond Charles Dickens).

The saint of Assisi reminds us that happiness is in giving, in making others happy, because all the most important things in life are given to us freely: life itself, and Creation, heaven, earth, the sea, love, and above all, salvation.

Because God gave himself freely to us, he became man, he died for us, he ransomed us from original sin to rescue us from evil, and he rose again. He taught: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt 10,8).

Giving is the logic of God. Christmas Day is not an anomaly – it is life as it should always be. Can you understand that, Mr. Scrooge?

00Wednesday, December 20, 2017 5:59 PM

Pope Francis’s 'open and incomplete' leadership
and the puzzling 'reform' of the Curia

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, one of the pope's closest advisers, says Bergoglio's leadership
'is based on the success-error dynamic' which inevitably 'destabilizes whoever seeks certainties…'

by Christopher R. Altieri

December 19, 2017

Does Pope Francis have a plan for the reform of the Church? The editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, reportedly says, “No.”

While that answer sounds counter-intuitive, there are good reasons for giving it, only some of which Spadaro is reported to have spelled out, in remarks he delivered to a group of journalists gathered in Madrid under a banner describing themselves as Periodistas pro Papa Francisco – “Journalists for Pope Francis”.

The event was billed as the I Congreso Internacional (first international congress, and included participants from ten countries, according to one organizer. [I had read, in passing, an announcement of this event, and the question that flicked to mind immediately was - "How many will turn up for it?" So, it seems there were journalists from 10 countries! Quite a poor job on the part of the organizers, considering that there are at least 40 countries in the world where Catholics account for 50% or more of the population.]

According to another supporting organization, the actual number of participants was “reduced.” The participants issued a Final Declaration that makes for some fascinating reading on its own.

The only name on the speakers list certainly recognizable to English-speakers was Spadaro’s.

A write-up on Spadaro’s remarks, which appeared in the e-pages of Religión Digital – one of the organizers of the event, along with Mensajeros de la Paz – under the by-line of Religión Digital’s director, José M. Vidal, tells us Spadaro really brought the house down. [RD and Vidal have been among the most pro-active propagandists of this pope, Bregoglianism and the church of Bergoglio, in an unabashedly sycophantic way.]

Religión Digital reports that Spadaro – who really doesn’t like to be called “adviser to” and “confidant of” Pope Francis (so much so that he seems to make a point of expressing his discomfiture at being described in such terms) – as saying some interesting things, mostly regarding what Pope Francis is not. [Spadaro doth protest too much - considering how he has been diligently using his social network capabilities (small though his followers number seems to be] to tout the pope's views every chance he gets and to openly interpret them in case you may not have understood Bergoglio's original language!]

The piece in Religión Digital has Spadaro quoting Pope Francis as saying, in response to a direct question regarding his intentions as a reformer, “I do not [want to reform the Church]. I just want to place Christ more and more at the center of the Church. It will be He who makes the reforms.” [Really??? That's the first time I've read him say any such thing! Now he's saying Christ 'will make the reforms'. Christ does not 'make the reforms' even if the Catholic Church is his one true Church. He gives the Church and the men who are in charge of the Church the graces they need - if they ask for it, accepting they can never do anything by themselves alone, without the grace of God - to be able to make the Church perform the mission for which Christ intended her, which is to prolong his presence on earth for all time.

Yet haven't Bergoglio and his idolators always presented him to be the wonder worker who was going 'to change the Church', not just reform the Curia (which was their specified goal initially)? As in fact, Bergoglio has, by building his own church through piecemeal but systematic wreckovation of the structures and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church while availing all he can of his authority as pope and the bimillennial infrastructure of the Church to make it appear that the emerging church of Bergoglio is, in fact, still the Roman Catholic Church?

Nevertheless, Pope Francis was elected with a mandate for reform. A good deal of ink has been spilled in the effort to parse his papacy as one of reform. He has spoken of the need for reform. So, to hear that he does not want to reform the Church is surprising.

Perhaps it ought not be.

To the extent Pope Francis was elected with a reform mandate, it was a specific one to reform the Roman Curia – and the Curia is not the Church (though it is the instrument that assists the Successor to Peter in his mission of teaching, governance, and sanctification of the Universal Church, and that’s something, like it or not).

In any case, that work seemed to begin in earnest, with the swift nomination of eight (later extended to nine) members of a “small council,” the “C8” (later “C9” after the inclusion of the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin) Council of Cardinal Advisers, in April of 2013, just a month after his election.

Then, at the end of 2014, Pope Francis used the traditional exchange of greetings with the high curial officials to give a list of 15 ills that plague the Curia. That list is interesting to read in light of what has and has not transpired in the intervening three years. Though institutional reform was and is on everyone’s mind, Pope Francis was clearly, in that address, speaking of – and speaking to – the souls of men. [But, as most commonsense commentators observed at the time, why did he wait almost two full years before doing this, when all his talk of reform before that was purely structural and not directed to the men who make up these structures? If he thought the Curia was afflicted by all those spiritual maladies, why did he not, from Day 1 of his papacy, instruct all curial heads to weed out the unworthy from their offices, to begin with? Nor was there any such internal house-cleaning reported at all after that public scolding. It was just so much more of his empty sanctimony that has gotten him nowhere good.]

Spiritual reform, reform of the soul, repentance, conversion, healing, receptiveness to grace, and docility to the promptings of conscience: all these are essential to the life of every Christian, and only more so to the lives of those Christians who are called to assist the Universal Pastor in his governance of the Universal Church.

Even so, the Roman Curia is a bureaucracy, and would be a bureaucracy if it were staffed and run by living saints. It is one thing to undertake a reform of a bureaucracy. It is quite another to undertake a reform of bureaucrats. [Which, to repeat, despite that very public dressing down in his Christmas address to the Curia in 2014, does not appear to have taken place at all. Unless the firing of 3 CDF staff members for allegedly having criticized the pope in private constitutes a measure to reform the bureaucrats!]

The institutional reforms undertaken thus far have been piecemeal: two new departments, given the vague designation of “dicastery,” are responsible for essentially the same work they did before, when that work was spread out over nearly a half-dozen different offices.

Consolidation is fine – it makes a good deal of sense whether viewed from the point of view of mission-effectiveness or from that of the bottom line – but the question of nomenclature is not insignificant.

“Dicastery” is usually an informal shorthand used by Vatican insiders to refer to offices of the Roman Curia willy-nilly. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, once called La Suprema, is a “dicastery,” but so is the glorified think tank called the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Congregations are the big guys: they have governing and teaching responsibilities; councils are usually advisory bodies (the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts is an interesting middle case, but very much sui generis); academies, commissions, etc., are usually ad hoc, more focused on facilitating and being involved in conversations with thought-leaders in and across specific disciplines.

Calling a new department with a broad mandate covering mission-critical areas like Laity, Family, and Life or Integral Human Development (which includes Justice, Peace, Care for Creation, Migrants and Refugees, Health Care, and Papal Charity), by the vague title of “dicastery” does not help anyone understand what the powers of the new offices are or will be, nor does it tell them where they stand in the pecking order.

This is not something that escaped the attention of the men principally responsible for the reform of the Curia. As the Secretary to the C9, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, noted in 2016:

[The distinction present in Pastor bonus between Congregations and Pontifical Councils is operated on the basis of the exercise, or not, of a [governing] power. It is useless, however, to circumvent the impression that comes from it (not only in public opinion) of dicasteries of first and second order! [sic]

This will also be taken into account in the general organization and this is why in the most recent implementations the more general terminology of ‘Dicastery’ has been used, which in ecclesiastical parlance is already used as a synonym and omnicomprehensive (Cf. Pastor bonus art. 1 & 2 § 1 & 2).

Among the counsels received were those insistent and widespread calls for a simplification and a streamlining of the Curia: the merging, or merger, of dicasteries according to matters of competence, as well as internal simplification of the individual dicasteries; the possible suppression of offices that no longer meet the needs of current contingency; the insertion and, possibly, reduction of commissions, academies, committees, etc. within the dicasteries. There have also been calls to reorganize the specific competences of the various dicasteries, moving them, if necessary, from one dicastery to another.
[See? The concern has all been about structures.]

All this takes note of the fact, but does not account for it – nor does it explain how people are to go about their work. If one were to gather the impression that the inevitable confusion is not an unintended consequence, but the real desired result of the reform, one could hardly be blamed.

The one new dicastery that does have a specific designation is the Secretariat for Communication, which has a clear mandate, but is headed by a priest with the rank of monsignor, while the other secretariats are headed by cardinals who are also archbishops.
Nota bene: This is not a question of vanity.

The new communication secretariat’s first task is to implement the recommendations of the two independent blue-ribbon panels (the first conducted by the consulting firm of McKinsey & Co. and the second by a special commission headed by Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes) that studied Vatican communications from 2013 to 2015, and came back with advice that came to: cut costs, and get the message under control.

The cost-cutting work has been hard and painful – more so since Pope Francis told the leadership of the new secretariat they could not wield the sword of redundancy – but the message-control part of the mandate is made measurably more difficult by the circumstance of ecclesiastical rank.

Said simply: prefect or not, no monsignor can tell a bishop what to do, let alone an archbishop or a Red Hat – and the major problems with message discipline have never really come from the communications outfits now under the direct control of the Secretariat for Communications.

The Secretariat for Communications, ongoing challenges notwithstanding, did just this past week clear a major hurdle when it rolled out the revamped web portal Vatican News for beta testing.
So, there’s that. [I have not had the time to check out the new portal, and I have yet to read any reviews of it.]

Meanwhile, the C9 cardinals studying the reform of the Curia continue to meet – their 23rd working session is scheduled for the end of February – without so much as a rough outline having been presented to the public to date (though we are promised it is “more than ¾ ready”).

Perhaps it is as Spadaro is reported to have said to that group of “Pro-Francis” journalists, i.e., that Pope Francis “does not have a plan for the Church,” though a less-reserved observer might suggest that a plan for the Curia is arguably neither too much to ask at this point, nor really entirely lacking. One need only know where to look – and the place to look is Santa Marta, where all the shots are called and all the stories start and end.

Here, too, Spadaro offers some words that are in line with what we have seen of the Holy Father’s own characterization of his working methods. Francis’s leadership, Spadaro is reported to have said, “is based on the success-error dynamic,” which inevitably “destabilizes whoever seeks certainties,” insofar as “discernment is not based on human certainties, but on enabling the unfolding of God’s will in history.” [Oh, so now the infamous 'accompaniment-discernment-blahblahblah' of AL for remarried divorcees who persist on living in adultery is supposed to 'unfold God's will in history' - and are we then to conclude that God's will is for these couples to continue being adulterers and yet be in a stage of grace that makes them worthy to receive communion? I do not doubt Vidal's account of what Spadaro said - so this seems to be an egregious instance of this know-all Jesuit failing to think out the logical consequences of the statements he makes in his endless apologiae pro Bergoglio.]

Spadaro reportedly described the Holy Father’s thought as “open and incomplete” – a turn of phrase that is meant to place Pope Francis’s thought in contrast to that of a closed system or self-contained ideology. [But to vaunt 'open and incomplete thinking' is as much of an ideology in itself - ridiculous as it may be - and as self-contained as any so-called 'self-contained' ideology.]

If this really is an accurate picture of the Holy Father’s mind, it would mean Francis conceives his mission as essentially that of the discerner-in-chief. [Whose task is quite easy, then, because all he has to discern is his own mind - certainly he acts as if he does not have to consult the Catechism and the bimillennial Magisterium it contains and teaches, because all that is irrelevant to the Bergoglian here and now.

After all, hasn't he said from the beginning that everything he says and does since he became pope comes directly from the Holy Spirit? Who needs the Catechism, tradition, previous Magisterium, or even Scriptures, if God speaks directly to you and through you? That is the insufferable conceit and hubris of this man.]

How that understanding squares with the expectations of his electors, or with the hopes of those they elected him to lead, is still very much to be seen.

Another perspective on what's happening in the Bergoglio Vatican - from someone who seems to think Bergoglio is blameless in the 'lawlessness' he decries...

The curia’s biggest problem?
The rule of law is being overlooked

[Does that not follow when you have a 'dictator pope'?]
by Ed Condon

December 20, 2017

Over the weekend, Pope Francis turned 81. All Catholics of good will wished him a happy birthday and, of course, many more. The Pope is now two years past the age at which a cardinal can participate in a conclave, six past the age when curial officials have to submit their resignations, and eight past the age when a diocesan bishop is required to submit his resignation. But he has, I am sure he would agree, still a lot left to do.

The single greatest task still ahead of the Pope is the one clear job before him when he emerged onto the loggia nearly five years ago: reforming the curia. From stamping out networks peddling favouritism and influence, to cleaning up the Vatican finances, everyone agreed that there was an urgent need for some law and order to be brought to the daily operations of the Holy See.

Francis’s first moves appeared big and bold, setting up the C9 Council of Cardinals to advise him on reforming the governing constitution of the Vatican and creating a whole new set of bodies to oversee the finances of the curia.

But from these promising beginnings, sadly little progress has been made. Systematic reform of the curia has given way to a mere renaming and merging departments. Financial scrutiny remains a distant dream, as official after official is sacked for “exceeding their mandate.”

As we await tangible progress towards constitutional reform from the C9, contempt for the rule of law and proper procedure in the curia is palpable when dealing with some Vatican departments.

Last week Prof. Kurt Martens, a very senior and respected canonist and academic, offered up a textbook example of the way Rome is running. Prof. Martens tweeted out a single line from a decree of the Apostolic Signatura, effectively the Church’s Supreme Court. It said that while the court was preparing its decision on a case before it, the Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy had taken the act under appeal to the Pope, who had been persuaded to sign it, thus making it a papal act of governance and beyond appeal. Sadly, this kind of thing is becoming all too common.

I myself know of one very recent case in which someone appealing before another Vatican department received a phone call from a senior cardinal who told him to drop the appeal because “if [the person being appealed] didn’t have the power to do what he wants, I can get the Pope to give it to him.”

The implication is clear: access to the Pope is a serious commodity in Rome, and those few who have it are able and willing to take advantage of it.

One could be forgiven for assuming this was evidence of an over-involved Pope reaching down into specific cases, but, in fact, it seems the Holy Father is, at least at times, unaware of what is happening.

Despite Francis’s stated desire to be a “free-range” Pope, and live in the Domus Sanctae Marta to allow him to be around people on a daily basis, his handlers have eliminated the ordinary mechanisms by which a pope is kept up to date on how the Church is actually being run – the regular udienza di tabella [scheduled one-on-one meetings with the heads of Vatican dicasteries, especially with the heads of CDF and Bishops, which with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, were regularly held on a specific day once a week.] has been swept off the papal schedule, for example, and those out of favour with the Pope’s gatekeepers can find that he doesn’t have a minute to spare for months at a time.

Meanwhile, whether it is retroactively authorising the cancellation of the PWC audit of the Vatican finances or okaying the illegal intervention into the Knights of Malta, those few with daily access to the Pope are able to get his signature on a range of measures which go directly against his stated aims. [Aww, Mr. Condon, don't be so disingenuous! Cancelling the PWC audit and interfering so directly in the internal affairs of the sovereign Knights of Malta could not have happened without this pope's approval, regardless of his 'stated aims'! These were not events -
both reprehensible - that simply came and went but were the object of endless media reporting and commentary for days and weeks. If they had been merely the result of handlers acting on their own, they would have been squelched right away by the pope who is, after all, the supreme authority on all this!]

Two years ago, I wrote here that I feared Pope Francis was becoming a prisoner of his handlers, and this fear seems to have come to pass. [Oh please! Does anyone think that Bergoglio's actions as pope are nothing but things he was compelled to do by his 'handlers'? An autocrat like him needs no handlers. He is his own law and he cannot be held blameless for his errors and missteps.]

Bringing discipline and structural reform to the curia is a herculean labour, and one which requires that the Pope stop presuming the foxes will fix the hen house. [But in this case, the fox is the pope himself, and he'll keep his henhouse exactly as he wants it, smothering any hens he thinks he wants to eat up.]

There is still time, though, if Pope Francis can break through his own inner circle. If he does so, many in Rome may yet find themselves confronted with an old man in a hurry. I hope they do. [SM=g7941] [SM=g7941] [SM=g7941]
00Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:17 PM
New lamentations by Super-Ex:
When 2017 was marked by a pope
who celebrated Luther more
than the Fatima centenary,
what shall we expect in 2018?

Translated from

December 19, 2017

SuperEx – my correspondent who is ex-Avvenire, ex-Movimento per la Vita, etc.but not ex-Catholic - has written to express his best wishes for the Christmas season to myself and to the Catholic Church.

But he also adds a gloomy review of the year about to pass, because as he says, there are no sadder words than to say “It could have been ...” Instead, we know how it has been in the reign of Pope Francis, Sovereign Pontiff...

Dear Tosatti,
The year is coming to an end and one asks spontaneously what a Catholic Pope could have reminded the faithful in 2017.

The first answer that comes to mind is Our Lady of Fatima. Actually, Bergoglio did devote a few days to commemorating the centenary of Mary’s apparitions in Fatima. But only to comply pro forma and then shelve it: "I said this and did that. That’s it for the centenary!" Or [as the Italians say], ‘Passata la festa, gabbato lo santo’ (literally, ‘Once the feast is over, you can forget the saint’).

That’s right. One recalls how the entire tragic weight of Mary’s words in those apparitions was carefully ignored in the pope’s ‘observance’ of the centenary: the vision of Hell shown to the three children, the prophecies of more difficulties for mankind if the world did not heed the call for prayer, penance and conversion... Instead, we were told that Fatima has nothing more to tell us. [Actually, the pope said in Fatima last May that Our Lady’s message was one calling for peace, nothing more!]

Of course, the Mary who appeared in Portugal a hundred years ago was not at all ‘Bergoglian’: she spoke of conversion and chastisement for sins. So she was ‘put in her place’, so to speak. Just as the pope had earlier done to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, whose charism includes a deep Marian devotion.

Then, on the flight back from Fatima, the pope also found it opportune to pick at Medjugorje, which certainly deserves a more serious consideration than a few harsh and confused statements given standing up in an airplane subject to ups and downs! If only out of respect for the millions of persons who believe that Mary appeared there, and who have a right to be treated with greater sensitivity if in fact, the pope eventually decides to downgrade the phenomenon.

The fact is we must accept that in 2017, Mary was not in the center of Bergoglio’s thoughts. Perhaps if only because that Jewish girl who bore the Creator in her womb, is a serious obstacle to Bergoglio’s dialog with Protestants, who are comfortable with having women bishops and with feminist rhetoric, but cannot understand why the Catholic Church should venerate a simple girl as the Mother of God!

So, to shelve the Fatima centenary [as a necessary but nonetheless minor celebration in 2017] also meant forgetting all about another centenary – that of the Communist revolution in Russia, which is closely linked to the Fatima apparitions because it was in Fatima that Our Lady foretold the errors that Communism would spread around the world with its ideology.

But how can the pope speak ill of Communism, considering his sympathies for the Castro regime in Cuba, his ‘super-dialog’ with Beijing, and his esteem for Bolivian President Evo Morales and his gift to him of Christ crucified on the hammer and sickle [and whom, Antonio Socci pointed out recently, the pope just met at the Vatican for the fourth time – they also met when the pope visited Bolivia in 2015 – when he, Bergoglio, has yet to grant an audience to the family of Asia Bibi]? So to bring up what Mary said of Communism would not have been opportune at all!

Because speaking of the Russian Revolution [a social experiment that ended disastrously in the collapse of the Soviet empire and its satellites in 1980] could have been an opening in the dialog with the Orthodox Churches which suffered terribly because of that revolution, and who have much more in common with Catholics than do the Lutherans! But Cardinals Kasper and Marx would not have understood...

But setting aside the Fatima centenary and that of the Russian revolution - Bergoglio friends like Scalfari, Bonino, and a new one, Andrea Orlando (born 1969, currently Italian minister of justice, was one of the founders of the leftist Partita Democrata, Italy’s more or less dominant political party in the past few years) would surely have agreed, which is important to this Vatican. It served, among other things, also to bring down the curtain for now on the IOR, where unspeakable things [also unspoken about] have been occurring lately [largely unreported and ignored by the media] which if they had taken place five years ago, would have provided the anti-clerical left with abundant material for daily denunciations and a continuing narrative of corruption and malfeasance.

A friend points out that it is probably very well that Bergoglio has not once referred to the horrors of Soviet communism [or of Chinese communism, for that matter.] Because if he had done so, he might have had to follow his now well-defined script, whenever he is forced to acknowledge Islamist violence in specific terrorist attacks, which is to immediately neutralize it by saying “But Catholics too have their fanatics and terrorists”. Imagine, my friend tells me, if we had to listen to him say, “But Catholics too have had their own gulags”!

But these are our times: Not just Catholic theology and the catechism are daily put to the test, but between syntactical errors and illogical statements, we are also constantly being given spine-shivering distortions of history!

So if 1917 was not dedicated to commemorating our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima nor the Bolshevik revolution, much less dialog with the Orthodox Churches, it doesn’t mean that the Bergoglio Vatican failed to link it with a significant historical event.

For more than a year now [since mid-2016 and preparations for the pope’s travel to Sweden on Halloween’s Day to open the fifth centenary year of the Lutheran schism], Bergoglio and his closest associates have been commemorating and celebrating Martin Luther – the great heretic par excellence and divider of Christianity and Europe, friend to sovereigns and the powers in his time, the creator of national and nationalistic churches, real churches of state!

And Bergoglio wished to initiate the hosannahs himself, traveling to Sweden to do that with a female Lutheran bishop. Why Sweden of all places? A truly secularized country, in which both faith ad the family are in crisis, of whom only 2% of the population say they practise their religion (most of them being Lutherans), which has women priests galore, and was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex ‘marriage’.

But this pope chose to go to Sweden. Religious sociologist Rodney Stark, in his latets book entitled The trumph of faith, gives us some information about Sweden. He reminds us, first of all, that the Lutheran Church was the church of state till 2006, and that it is a church now in its death throes.

Not the Lutherans, but New Age cultists and oriental religions are all the thing now in Sweden: 20% of Swedes believe in reincarnation and in horoscopes; half of them believe in telepathy; one in five trusts in the power of amulets; two in five believe in ghosts; and most young people are interested in UFOs.

In short, writes Stark, everywhere in Sweden is a ‘private and invisible’ religion, a do-it-yourself faith that is fully consistent with Protestant free conscience and individualism. Following one’s own discernment, as the pope advocates, does he really want every Catholic to custom-individualize his own Credo and his own morality, as they now do in Sweden?

What about 2018? It being the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Revolution [that gave birth to the Me generations and the ‘primacy of my conscience’ and the rejection of traditional morality in favor of “I alone know what’s best for me and I alone can decide”], we shall probably witness the canonization of John Lennon, while ‘Imagine’ becomes the official Vatican hymn.

The word ‘peace’ [which has become as abused as the word ‘love’ and has ceased to mean anything when spoken casually, or even in a context such as the ‘Love and peace’ slogan for the pope’s trip to Myanmar, or his message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, itself an almost meaningless ‘celebration’ observed only by the Catholic Church which instituted it, and whose celebration never seems to go beyond the pope’s message for the year] can provide many take-offs for countless sermons. [Each of them as meaningless as when a beauty contestant says that all she wants for the world is peace.]

Yet after the Year of Mercy, what can we have? Let’s see: the Year of Peace and Love? A quinquennial for migrants and for the environment?

Or since it is the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, will the church of Bergoglio mark it by dismantling it piece by piece, as it has already started to do? Remember it was the encyclical whereby Paul VI, in that fateful year 1968, said a firm NO to the anthropological and ethical revolution that had just conquered the world overnight.

Here's another review of 2017 in the Church. Imagine what it would read like if the writer were a more skillful ironist! But a great job nonetheless of assembling together in one article the absurdities in 2017 of the church of Bergoglio :

A threadbare Christmas tree in a Roman square.

My summary of the spiritual fruits
received from the pope in 2017

By Finan di Lindisfarne
Translated from
December 19, 2017

No point speculating on why this Christmas tree in a Roman public square seems to be almost bald. Yet it contrasts with what I thought was a year that was very fruitful for evangelization and the spiritual direction of souls.

Let me summarize what were, for me, the points of great interior growth and discovery of new frontiers of the faith.
o Faith is relative: It is wrong to absolutize any principle, because it is a sign of scant spiritual and intellectual maturity.
o The Eucharist is not all that important: It is, of course, but we should not obsess about things taught in the Church for the past 2000 years, such as Trans-substantiation.
o Whatever the Church said in the past must be taken with a grain of salt: dogmas, magisterial documents, ecumenical councils – nothing from the past can be important here and now.
o True faith can be measured only by how one welcomes immigrants, according to the absolute Biblical concept of opening frontiers. It is wrong to defend ourselves from hostile peoples who wish to destroy the Christian faith (we recently saw an optimal example of genuine welcome for migrants from the Bishop of Florence who sold a piece of land belonging to the Church on which local Muslims could build a mosque).
o Addendum to the above: Any biblical passage that condemns syncretism is abrogated. The episodes in which God punishes Israel for having allowed the construction of pagan temples within the walls of Jerusalem must be considered as a mere literary exercise.
o On sexual morality, we have witnessed an evolution of sexual emancipation and freedom which will finally bring us to the truth: namely, I alone can decide what my sex is, because it is a gift. However, we are still awaiting the completion of this evolutionary process whereby there will be rightful condemnation for anyone who would wish to confine love to the cage of natural heterosexuality.
o More progress has been made in the area of critical judgment: To think that we can judge any human actions in the light of God’s commandments has been declared wrong by the new ‘men of the church’ who have received the light directly from the Holy Spirit (who blows where He wills): An example is homosexual practices which from being sinful (as a consequence of a retrograde society) have now become virtuous – and that is why the pope has appointed open advocates of homosexual love to high positions in the Catholic Church.
o Homophobia is a pernicious dogma. Anathema to whoever denies the sanctity of homosexual love!
o In the matter of self-determination, the retrograde concept that life is sacred has been replaced, because there are cases when it is not so [as when it is still in the womb], and it is now possible to choose the moment of death: It is wrong to seek to cure a terminally ill person, just let him die as a sign of mercy.
o The ideas of ‘the Cross’ and ‘sacrifice’ are also outdated: God is mercy only! Woe to those who profess the ideas of punishment and sin, of justice and divine condemnation – they are trapped in their own obtuseness.
o The ecological revolution is of primary importance: global warming is a fact and must be corrected, as the Psalms tell us. [They do?]
o Joseph and Mary were refugees: anathema to anyone who denies this truth of the faith.
o Those – and here I shall officially call them ‘rosary-sayers’ – who obtusely defend the family composed of mother, father and children; the indissolubility of marriage; the ban on communion for remarried divorcees who continue to live in adultery – must be isolated and considered insane.
o It is not possible to ask the pope for clarifications on moral matters.
o To grant ius soli [citizenship by virtue of physical presence in a country] to anyone who has entered Italy is a dogma: It is not natural to try to consider it reasonable for anyone to try to investigate such prospective citizens in any way.
o The traditional external gestures of reverence shown inside a church have been abrogated: Eating, dancing, singing pop songs in church are to be considered gifts from heaven to be offered to the Eucharistic presence.
o Priests are forbidden to wear the cassock and any other signs that distinctly identify them as priests. They must dress like all the other faithful. After all, consider the case of a sinner who enters a church in search of a priest before which he must confess a grave sin; he sees someone who is dressed like a laborer, so he leaves without confessing, not knowing that the ‘laborer’ was in fact, the parish priest. So what? Confession is a medieval practice and it has now been replaced by the mercy God bestows on each man abundantly for any and all sins. But then again, what sin? Doesn’t divine mercy cancel the very idea of sin? [So we are told now. But why was it, once more, that God sent his Son to earth? To tell men we could just go on doing as we please and not to worry, God’s mercy will assure us all of heaven after death? So why did he drive out Adam and Eve from Paradise, to begin with? You see where all this ‘mercy without justice’ crap falls apart once it is examined with common sense alone?]
o Martin Luther is a saint: All the Church documents condemning him are hereby abrogated. Protestantism in whatever form is simply one facet of the ‘Church of Christ’, of which the Catholic Church simply happens to be the oldest form.
o Ideologies previously condemned by the Church, such as Marxism and all its filial branches, including Liberation Theology, have now been fully rehabilitated.
o The new model for monasticism shall be Enzo Bianchi’s Bose community.
o The idea of the Gospels as the absolute and definitive textual record of what Jesus said must be laid to rest because the Jesuit Superior-General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, has pointed out that we do not really know what he said since there were no tape recorders in his time. So we must consider the gospels only as initial drafts from which we can then develop our own faith.
o The only firm point in Church teaching must be global pacifism which must and can never ever be rejected.
o Hell does not exist, and if it does exist, it is empty. As the Jesuit Superior-General also tells us, Satan is only a mythological figure. [His fellow Jesuit, the pope, claims on the other hand, that Satan is very real that he tempts man to evil and sin, but does it really matter when according to him also, there cannot be ‘sin’ since God forgives everything and everyone?]
o Our Lady does not ‘send’ messages; let’s play down this tradition of Marian apparitions – it can be tolerated for ‘simple folk’, but must not be encouraged. Indeed, it is not possible to think that the Mother of God would ever speak in reproaches [sin, hell, penance – really?] nor to ask us to change our behavior (to ‘convert’), because, don’t you know, God cannot want us to change: he accepts us for what we are because he is infinitely merciful.
o Communion in the Church must be seen in the context of divisions and encounters which provide vital energy and impulse, and that is why the presence of factions that are diametrically opposed in matters of doctrine constitutes great spiritual fruit.
o Religious freedom must be confirmed as dogma. All religions are equal, but it is also necessary to promote Islam in order to avoid dissidence.

In conclusion, dear readers, I do find it strange that the Christmas tree in the photo is virtually bald, when 'the Church' has never before experienced a year so rich in spirituality and innovation.

00Thursday, December 21, 2017 2:05 AM
Forty years of anti-life legislation in Italy:
From abortion to euthanasia (1978-2017)

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

December 20, 2017

The Renzi-Gentiloni governments will go down in history as those that imposed two of the most wicked laws in the Italian Republic: pseudo-homosexual-marriage, called “Civil Unions” (May 20th 2016) and euthanasia, under the name of the “living will" or DAT (Dichiarazione anticipata di trattamento, Advanced declaration of Treatment), approved by the Senate on December 14th 2017.

This law will be registered in the Official Journal on the fortieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion, Law 194, which passed on May 22. Thus the circle is closed.

Forty years of aggression against life and the family, via abortion to euthanasia, with civil unions and quick divorce along the way. It should be remembered that the law which introduced abortion was signed by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, and Giovanni Leone, the President of the Republic, both Christian Democrats. The euthanasia bill will be signed by a Catholic Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, and by Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic, also a Catholic and former Christian-Democrat parliamentarian.

Neither of them will feel the need to appeal to conscientious objection which La Piccola Casa Della Divina Provvidenza (The small house of Divine Providence) in Turin (better known as Cottolengo), through– its superior General, Don Carmine Arice, had the courage to do:

“We cannot carry out practices that go against the Gospel, even if the possibility of conscientious objection is not provided by the law: Marco Cappato who accompanied people seeking assisted suicide, was taken to court, so we too will go there, in the event of a possible conflict between the law and the Gospel; we must choose the Gospel.”[/qdim]

Don Arice continued by explaining that “faced with a request to die, our structure cannot respond positively. At present, objection of conscience is not provided for private health institutions. Nonetheless, I believe that in conscience we cannot respond positively to a request for [assisted] death: therefore, we will abstain fro enforcing the law, with all the consequences that this implies” (La Stampa, December 15th, 2017).

A second betrayal has been added to that of the Catholic politicians who approved the law.

In 1978, after the approval of abortion, the Movement for Life came into existence, promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference. Officially its aim was to be a voice in defense of unborn life in Italy. In fact, the real role the bishops gave to it was that of impeding the birth of an anti-abortion movement similar to the one formed in the United States and other countries.

This has appeared clear since 1981, when the Movimento per la Vita (Movement for Life) promoted an abrogatory referendum to modify Law 194, wherein, however, the following was confirmed: the legalization of therapeutic abortion for the entire nine months of the pregnancy; public funding for the execution of abortions; the obligation of hospital entities to execute abortions in any case; the free distribution, on the part of consultants, of contraceptives including early abortions for minors.

The referendum which took place on May 17th 1981 – and in which coherent Catholics could do nothing other than abstain – was a defeat for the Movement for Life. It was the beginning of the “lesser evil” strategy, which concession after concession, has brought us to the present disaster.

“On the basis of this strategy," wrote the late Mario Palmaro in a unforgettable article for La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, May 1st 2013,

"the Catholics in politics – and the information and formation entities supporting them –can no longer “limit themselves” (sic) by affirming the non-negotiable principles in opposition to the legislative initiatives which deny them, but must assume a legislative initiative by promoting laws that affirm those principles only in part, but which impede the approval of worse laws. […] One might at least ask though – will this “doctrine of the lesser evil” really obtain results? Yes, it will: disastrous ones.”

Francesco Agnoli wasn’t wrong then when he brought the ambiguities and compromises of the Movement for Life to light (A History of the Movement for Life. From heroism to concessions, 2010) and especially [those of] Carlo Casini, who was its president for twenty-five years, until 2015, when Gian Luigi Gigli succeeded him. Casini was a Christian Democrat parliamentarian in Italy and Europe for thirty years; since 2009 Gigli has been in the people’s-Christian Democratic party which has sustained the Monti, Letta, Renzi and Gentiloni governments.

How can we imagine a free and independent action on the part of public figures subject simultaneously to two powers? That of the respective parties they belong to and that of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, thanks to whose significant funding the Movement for Life is prospering (and dying).

Furthermore, if the Movement for Life, which should have stirred up the public square, posed no resistance whatsoever to the “living will”, how can one ignore the responsibility of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and especially its secretary, Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, who see the main enemy not in euthanasia, but in “unnecessary life-sustaining medical treatment”, and hopes “that someone begins to realize the Church is less bigoted than what is thought” (Avvenire, November 18th 2017)?

The Archbishop of Trieste, Giampaolo Crepaldi, one of the few prelates who openly, publicly condemned the law, underlined the climate of indifference in which the “living will” was approved, particularly in the Catholic world: “Large components [of this Catholic world] have avoided the commitment in defense of fundamental values for the dignity of the person; fearful perhaps, in this way, of creating walls, rather than bridges. However, bridges not built on the truth will not stand up.”

The Vatican reporter, Giuseppe Rusconi, commenting on Monsignor Crepaldi’s words recalls “the grave responsibilities of the Catholic hierarchy which has shown widespread public indifference towards such an ill-omened bill, for the dignity of the human person, a stance in total contrast to the social doctrine of the Church. Grave are the responsibilities of a large part of so-called Italian press agencies, with Avvenire at the top of the list and which immediately raised a white flag - even if they hid behind some apparently quasi-combative headlines,” ( 15 December 2017). [One can understand better now why Marco Tosatti's correspondent, Super-Ex, qualifies himself primarily s ex-Avvenire, ex-Movimento per la Vita!]

Avvenire is the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference, whose secretary, Monsignor Galantino, is one of the Pope’s righthand men. Further, Pope Francis’s words on the end of life to the Pontifical Academy for Life on November 19th, were interpreted by everyone as an “open door” to the form of euthanasia which the ‘living will’ represents.

Necessary words, wrote anti-Catholic Corrado Augias then, “to bring down the ultimate resistance of some Catholics and – probably – convince at least part of them into giving their assent” (Repubblica, December 16th 2017). To the question whether the Pope’s words had represented been an opening for the law on the end of lif,e Monsignor Galantino replied: I’m not a politician but I hope the politicians will do their duty, not only in this respect” (Avvenire, cit.).

For that matter, whom do we have to appeal in order “to build bridges where walls are raised” (Audience of February 25, 2017) if not to the reigning Pontiff”?

The walls have been torn down and the bridges built: the result, as Monsignor Crepaldi stated, is that “a libertarian ideology has prevailed, ultimately nihilistic, expressed in the consciences of many parliamentarians. Thus, Italy is heading into a dark future based on a worn-out [idea of] freedom, devoid of hope.”

Along with Paolo Gentiloni and Matteo Renzi, Pope Francis and a large part of the Catholic world have taken upon themselves the moral responsibility of this law. Yet nothing that happens in history evades the judgment of God Who punishes those responsible for scandals in time and eternity. Only by remembering the Lord’s supreme justice, might we appeal to His infinite mercy to spare us from the deserved punishments on our ill-fated nation.
00Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:11 PM

It's emblematic that the photo, taken at the Curial get-together last Christmastime, shows the gathering in chiaroscuro, in contrast to the bright ceiling fresco.

To echo Fr Hunwicke, when will he stop??? On top of everything, he invents things to rebuke others about. He's right up there with Donald Trump - worse, really, because he is the pope - in distorting truth (flat-out lying, in short) for self-serving purposes.

Pope Francis rebukes dismissed Vatican
officials who claim to be martyrs

[Has anyone read about any of his victims claiming they are martyrs?]

Thursday, 21 Dec 2017

Pope Francis has criticised Vatican officials for “ambition”, “vainglory” and “self-referentiality” in his annual keynote speech.

The yearly address to the Roman Curia, given in the days before Christmas, has often been a wake-up call. [It would be, if one assumes that none of those who work in the Curia ever do a daily examination of conscience or go to confession. Otherwise, Bergoglio's working assumption would be that they are all hardened sinners who are not even aware of sinning and choose to persist in sin - just like his privileged remarried divorcees.] In 2014, Francis drew up a list of “sicknesses” such as “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “existential schizophrenia”.

This year the Pope again delivered some stern criticisms of his staff, and appeared to make reference to recent public controversies.

The Pope denounced an “unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques that in fact represent – for all their self-justification and good intentions – a cancer leading to a self-centeredness”. [Sounds like he's talking about himself?]

He also referred to former officials who left after being “corrupted by ambition or vainglory. Then, when they are quietly sidelined, they wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system, of a “Pope kept in the dark”, of the “old guard”…, rather than reciting a mea culpa.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has been the focus of recent controversy. Three officials were removed from their posts, despite the protests of the then-prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller. The cardinal’s term was then not renewed – the first time this has happened in modern Vatican history.

Cardinal Müller has since complained that Pope Francis “did not give a reason. Just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier.”

Cardinal Müller added: “I cannot accept this way of doing things. As a bishop, one cannot treat people in this way.”

Another prominent official to have been removed this year is Libero Milone, the Vatican auditor general, who claimed he was forced out by the “old guard” because he was cracking down on financial corruption.

In this morning’s speech, the Pope praised “vast majority” of curial officials. saying that many work with “dedication” and sometimes “great holiness”.

But he acknowledged the difficulties of reforming the curia, quoting a 19th-century statesman who quipped: “Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush.” [All right already. It's something that has become axiomatic about curial reform, something the popes before you acknowledged,which didn't stop them from trying to do what they could. But you were supposed to be the wonder-worker pope, right? And up till recently, you were cocksure in all your statements that yes, you are 'reforming the Curia' and everything is right on track to accomplish that. Now, because most recent analyses - even from Bergoglian sites like Crux and iehard Bergoglians like John Allen - have pointed out how little reform has really been accomplished (because the best potential reforms have now been all rolled back), suddenly you acknowledge 'difficulties'.]

00Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:43 PM

The crèche and the gap
The messiness of history is a caution against letting sentimentality take over Christmas;
so are some challenging truths about Mary, Joseph, and their place in the 'economy of salvation'

by George Weigel

December 20, 2017

For the past decade or so, I’ve been assembling a mid-sized Judean village of Fontanini crèche figures, including artisans, herders (with sheep), farmers (with chickens and an a-historical turkey), vintners, blacksmiths, musicians, weavers, and a fisherman or two (one awake, another sleeping).

Like the colossal Neapolitan crèche at the basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome, it’s a reminder that the Lord Jesus was born in the midst of humanity and its messy history: the history that the Child has come to set back on its truest course, which is toward God.

The messiness of history is a caution against letting sentimentality take over Christmas; so are some challenging truths about Mary, Joseph, and their place in what theologians calls the 'economy of salvation'.

Why challenging? Because Mary and Joseph were called to both form their son in the faith of Israel and then give up, even renounce, their human claims on him, so that he might be what God the Father intended and the world needed.

When Luke tells us that Mary kept all that had happened to her and to her boy “in her heart” (Luke 2,52), we may imagine that she was pondering what the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once described as a great detachment: at his birth, Jesus “detached himself from her in order to tread his way back to the Father through the world.”

Some will welcome the message he will preach along that messianic pilgrimage; others will be resistant. And that resistance (in which the Evil One will play no small part) will eventually lead to Calvary, where the sword of sorrow promised by ancient Simeon in Luke 2.35 will pierce Mary’s soul.

Then, in the tableau at the foot of the Cross, as captured by Michelangelo in the Pietà, Mary will offer the silent affirmation of God’s will to which she once vocal assent at the Annunciation: “Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1,38).

The last recorded words of Mary in the New Testament – “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2,5) – underscore that the role of Mary, who receives the Incarnate Word of God at the Annunciation and gives birth to him in the Nativity, is always to give her Son away: to point beyond herself to him, and to call others to obedience to him.

Thus what Balthasar described as a “detachment” applies to Mary as well as to Jesus: Mary detaches herself from whatever her own life-plans might be, and from whatever her maternal instincts to keep her Son close might be, in order to fulfill the vocation planned for her from the beginning – to be the model of all Christian discipleship, which is the abandonment of my will to God’s will for my life.

Then there is Joseph, another model of self-gift and self-renunciation. Hans Urs von Balthasar again:

“In the background of this scene of birth there also stands Joseph, who renounces his own fatherhood and assumes the role of foster father assigned to him.

He provides a particularly impressive example of Christian obedience, which can be…very difficult…to accept, especially in the physical sphere. For one can be poor by having given everything away once and for all, but one can be chaste only by a daily renunciation of something which is inalienable to man.”

[Perhaps the pope of AL would have done well to seek inspiration from the saint whose image he claims to keep by his bedside so he can consign all his problems to him, including letter petitions from the faithful (but never, I think, letters from cardinals seeking clarification) - before summarily rejecting as he did the Church proviso that 'adulterous'couples wishing to receive communion may do so only after confession and amending their life concretely by henceforth living in abstinence.]

And that makes Joseph a model for those who struggle daily to live, by grace, the truths they affirm about human love.

“Mind the gap” is the ubiquitous instruction found on the London Underground, cautioning passengers against stepping between the main and the platform. It’s also a pithy but accurate description of the drama of the Christian life.

For we all live, daily, in the “gap” between the person I am and the person I was called to be at baptism. The quotidian effort to minimize that “gap,” which means cooperating with God’s grace, is the warp and woof of the spiritual life.

So the complement to the Fontanini characters surrounding our family crèche – each of whom represents a personal and unique “life in the gap” – is a small “Mind the Gap” Christmas ornament on our tree. For the Child born in Bethlehem is the bridge across the gap, and the angels atop the tree announce his birth.

A blessed Christmas to all.

Weigel obviously chose not to comment at all on the 'Nativity scene' - really a 'works of mercy' tableau - now on display in St. Peter's Square, when his line about 'the messiness of history' (the routine messiness of life, really) would have been the perfect opening to discuss the messy tableau and to comment on the overwhelming predominance of the 'mercy' theme over the Nativity event that a creche is supposed to commemorate (i.e.,something like - "The tableau reminds us that the messiness of life makes it necessary for each one of us to perform the corporal works of mercy, but...")
00Thursday, December 21, 2017 7:43 PM

Funeral Mass for Cardinal Law
at St. Peter's Basilica

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano says
‘Even cardinals make mistakes’

by John L. Allen Jr.

Dec 21, 2017

ROME – Before an unusually small congregation of mourners, albeit one that featured U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Law was celebrated behind the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday afternoon.

Pope Francis took part in the ritual, not celebrating the Mass but offering final prayers at the end, reading the prescribed prayers for the final commendation of the deceased to God and the final valediction.

The Vatican’s foreign minister, British Archbishop Richard Paul Gallagher, was also on hand for the funeral Mass.

The main celebrant for the liturgy was Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, acting in his capacity as the Dean of the College of Cardinals.

His role was controversial, given that like Law himself, Sodano has a checkered history when it comes to the child sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. [I don't know that Cardinal Sodano's questionable history in this respect has anything to do with why he officiated. He obviously did so as Dean of the College of Cardinals. At Mass, he receives the Body and Blood of Christ - are we to assume he has been receiving communion sacrilegiously at every Mass he has celebrated since his association with Father Maciel? That he never, at any point, realized his grievous error in this respect and failed to confess it and get absolution for it? Besides, the moment a priest celebrates the Eucharistic sacrifice properly, he acts in persona Christi, and nothing about his personal life can change that.]

For much of the late 20th century, Sodano was a patron of the late Mexican Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, whose pattern of sexual abuse and misconduct was eventually recognized by his own order following a Vatican investigation that Sodano had opposed.

In 2010, Sodano again stirred controversy when he suggested during an Easter homily that critics of Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of sexual abuse controversies were engaging in “petty gossip.” [A gross misrepresentation by Allen of the incident, and blatantly unfair to Cardinal Sodano - for whom I hold no particular brief but that he deserves fairness - as I remarked at length at the time.]

In his homily on Thursday for the funeral Mass, Sodano appeared to allude to Law’s association with the abuse scandals in the United States, saying that cardinals too make mistakes and fail, and adding that’s why Catholics include a confession of sins at the beginning of every Mass.

One of the opening prayers for the Mass read: “O God, who chose your servant Cardinal Bernard Law from among your priests and endowed him with pontifical dignity in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we pray, that he may also be admitted to their company forever.”

Thursday’s Mass was not broadcast over any of the Vatican’s media services, as funeral Masses for deceased cardinals generally aren’t carried, and likewise Sodano’s homily was not distributed through Vatican media channels.

In general, the absence of tributes for Law in the usual venues in Rome has been striking. Often when a well-known cardinal dies, there will be admiring pieces on his life and legacy in Italian Catholic media, and comments from senior Church officials in television interviews.

This time around, however, there’s been little official acknowledgment of Law’s death beyond Thursday’s funeral Mass.

None of that, however, has stopped some critics from questioning the wisdom of staging the funeral Mass at St. Peter’s and involving the pope.

Father James Martin, a well-known commentator on Catholic affairs in the United States, tweeted out on Thursday that “there is no need always to follow the norm” and that “it is exceptionally painful for abuse victims to see this.”

[Of course, the sanctimonious Fr Martin would not miss out this chance to be quoted. What I remarked above about Cardinal Sodano and his presumed sins and sinfulness is equally valid for Cardinal Law.

As questionable as his actions in Boston may have been - and John Paul II's decision to name him Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maggiore (which is the #1 Marian shrine in the Catholic world) after he had resigned as Archbishop of Boston - why do Catholics like Martin assume that thereafter, the cardinal remained unrepentant and sinful- and therefore undeserving of a funeral Mass in t. Peter's Basilica which is where funeral Masses for deceased cardinals are held.

In general, the attitude from these sanctimonious types - not to mention the abuse victims themselves whose psychological and emotional damage may well last the rest of their lives - is that any priest or bishop who has been accused of sexual abuse or covering up for it is automatically condemned for life, that there is nothing he could ever do to redeem himself of his sin(s).

My personal proviso about Pope Francis naming Mons. Ricca to be the spiritual adviser at IOR and confirming him as general manager of the Vatican hotels, including Casa Santa Marta, is that Ricca must have assured the pope that he had put his former life as an active homosexual behind him, that he had confessed and been absolved (perhaps he confessed to the pope himself), and that he would henceforth live as a priest ought to live. In which case, having been named the IOR prelate by the pope comes down only to an egregious case of bad optics.

In Benedict XVI's historical letter to the Catholics of Ireland in 2010 on the sexual abuse issue, he devoted a section addressed "To priests and religious who have abused children" - he did not simply give up on them! - in which he says:

I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions.

Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

It's hard to imagine that anyone who went through the difficult process of priestly formation in answer to a vocation he felt, and was subsequently ordained a priest, could ever forget that he can be back in God's grace through confession, penance and a sincere and concrete amendment of his life to renounce the sins and crimes he committed. Those who forget, or choose to ignore this, simply elect to stay with Satan and renounce God. I charitably choose to think that Cardinal Law, Cardinal Sodano and Mons Ricca - to go with the examples cited here - all did the right thing.]

Martin suggested instead that the funeral Mass should have been held at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where Law was installed in 2004 as the archpriest following his resignation from the Archdiocese of Boston. [Assuming it had been held there, Martin would surely have found a reason to object. Anyway, why would it be any 'better' to have the funeral Mass celebrated in Santa Maria Maggiore than in St. Peter's? Besides, the SNAP types would simply say Law did not have a right to a funeral Mass at all!]

00Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:39 PM

Top panel: left, Fr Gheddo at a refugee camp during his mission years; right, in retirement.
Bottom panel: Fr Gheddo's blog site and his last entry on 12/14/17.=, just six days before he died.

Our prayers for the eternal repose of a man who embodied the Church's age-old missionary tradition...

AsiaNews founder
Fr Piero Gheddo dies

by Fr. Bernardo Cervellera

December 20, 2017

Milan (AsiaNews) – Fr Piero Gheddo, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), died today at the Ambrosiana nursing home in Cesano Boscone, near Milan. He was 89 years old and had been ill for some time.

Internationally recognised as ‘the missionary of print media’, Fr Gheddo worked all his life in the world of communications to spread the Gospel. In 1986 he founded AsiaNews, and continued to contribute to it when it went online.

Born in 1929 in Tronzano Vercellese (Italy), he attended the diocesan seminary of Moncrivello (Vercelli province). He entered PIME in 1945 and was ordained priest in 1953. His dream was to go to India, but after his ordination he was always asked to work in journalism.

He often said he had repeatedly asked his superiors to let him go on mission, but without success. Still, he travelled the world like no other and he knew the missionary world in all its aspects and in all its latitudes.

Convinced that the universal mission is the responsibility of each believer, he was one of the founders of the PIME missionary centre in Milan in 1961. From there, he spread culture, information and mission works in Italy and the world together with Fr Amelio Crotti and Fr Giacomo Girardi.

The campaigns organised by the PIME Centre against hunger in the world, for Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, for peace in Lebanon, for the missionary Vigil ahead of World Mission Day have marked the lives of many generations of young people.

The foundation of Mani tese (Extended hands) in 1964 and Editrice Missionaria Italiana (Italian Missionary Publishing, EMI) in 1955 are part of this work.

From 1959 to 1994 he was editor of the monthly magazine Mondo e Missione (World and Mission), one of the most precious tools to learn about global issues and the Christian contribution to Church building and development.

At a time of great ideological conflicts, he combined a clear ecclesial identity to openness and commitment to heal the world’s social wounds, convinced of the irreplaceable contribution of the Gospel to humanity’s full dignity.

In tune with the Second Vatican Council, but rowing against the current, he was the first to denounce – after seeing it in Vietnam – the Vietcong’s violent ideology. Acclaimed by the whole world, he witnessed its oppression of the Vietnamese people.

While valuing Helder Camara, the bishop of Recife – brought to Italy by the PIME Centre –, he was always critical of the Marxist trend within a part of Latin America’s liberation theology.

On the subject of hunger in the world, he stepped away from the obvious complaints (colonialism, exploitation, etc.) and easy solutions (investments, technology transfers, etc.) to show that – as missionaries say – underdevelopment has a cultural dimension. In order to overcome it, education and evangelisation are necessary, to give people and their dignity a role to play in history.

This balance was valued by popes as well. In 1962, as a journalist of the Osservatore Romano, he was chosen by Giovanni XXIII as an expert to draft the conciliar decree Ad Gentes. In the 1990s, John Paul II chose him to author the encyclical Redemptoris Missio.

Fr Gheddo’s activity has been multifaceted. He was the editor of Italia Missionaria (Missionary Italy), whose goal was to promote an evangelising sensibility among young people, as well as Missionari del Pime (PIME Missionaries), to provide direct access to the experiences from the missionary borderlands.

For years, he contributed to Italian state television (RAI) explaining the Sunday gospel. On Rai radio, he contributed a brief morning message (Il Vangelo delle 7.18, The Gospel at 7.18 am). He also collaborated with Radio Maria and various lay publications like the magazine Gente and the newspaper Il Giornale when Indro Montanelli, whom he befriended, was the paper’s editor.

Father Gheddo wrote more than ninety books, thirty of which were translated, and received several journalistic awards.

From 1994 to 2010 he was director of the PIME Historical Archives in Rome, publishing several histories of PIME missions in the world, as well as biographies of some members of the institute.

Deeply convinced that the world needs models and experiences, Fr Gheddo was a driving force behind the cause of beatification of a number PIME missionaries: Giovanni Mazzucconi, Paolo Manna, Clemente Vismara, Mario Vergara, and more recenlty Alfredo Cremonesi.

He worked on documenting the actions of the servants of God Marcello Candia, Angelo Ramazzotti, Felice Tantardini, Carlo Salerio, Egidio Biffi as well as Leopoldo Pastori and Mgr Aristide Pirovano.

Worthy of mention is cause of beatification of his parents, Rosetta Franzi (1902-1934) and Giovanni Gheddo (1900-1942), spearheaded in 2006 by Mgr Enrico Masseroni, bishop of Vercelli.

After overcoming some obstacles, including the fact that a son cannot take up the cause of beatification of his parents, the new archbishop of Vercelli, Marco Arnolfo, restarted the cause in 2015, appointing a new postulator, lawyer Lia Lafronte.

Fr Gheddo’s books on his parents, Il testamento del capitano (The Captain's Testament) with the letters of Pope John from the war in Russia (San Paolo, 2002) and Questi santi genitori (These Holy Parents) (San Paolo, 2005) have become best sellers, popular reading in many Italian families.

Starting in 2014, the ailing Fr Gheddo needed constant medical care. For this reason, he moved to the Ambrosiana nursing home in Cesano Boscone, in the diocese of Milan. Here he worked almost until the end, managing his blog and sending thoughts and reflections about mission in general.
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