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00Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:14 PM

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


With thanks to Scenron of La Vigna del Signore, whose 2018 B16 heading I adapted for the Forum (as I did his 2017 heading last year).

The accusation that Catholics are obsessed with sex comes from those of 'the world' engaging in the familiar psychological process of projection and inversion - projecting onto others their own obsession. Who in the secular world will deny that nothing attracts and titillates 'the public' - collectively and individually - more than anything that has to do with sex? Even the most popular celebrities get extra attention if any report about them has to do with sex. So, please, enough with the negative projections on Catholics ....

Obsessed with sex? No, Catholics are obsessed with life
There seems little doubt that 2018 is going to witness yet another great clash over
'Humanae Vitae'- arguably one of the most contested and disputed papal texts in modern history

by Carl Olson

January 9, 2018

“Why are Catholics so obsessed with sex?” I’ve been asked the question more than once; you have probably heard or seen it as well. In my experience, it has never been asked because I was talking about sex. It usually comes out of the blue, almost as though the person asking the question — a question often uttered more as an accusation than an inquiry — is, well, obsessed with what he thinks the Church is constantly discussing. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “Why do you think Catholics are obsessed with sex?”
Him: “Well, the Church is always telling Catholics what they can or cannot do—”
Me: “So you’ve heard quite a few homilies about sex recently?”
Him: “Um, no. I’m not a Catholic. [Or: “I haven’t been to Mass for 20 years.”] I’m talking about the pope. I don’t want the pope in my bedroom.”
Me: “I don’t think the pope wants to be in your bedroom—”
Him: “Why can’t the Catholic Church just let people make up their own minds about sex?”

The point, then, is they don’t like the fact the Church teaches that sex belongs in a certain place (in a life-long marriage), comes with responsibilities (not just pleasures), and is oriented toward both unitive and procreative ends (again, not just momentary pleasures separate from marriage).

I’ve also found that some people like to criticize Catholics for having too many kids and lambast the Church for making sex a “dirty” topic and “unnatural” thing. What becomes clear very quickly is the lack of knowledge about what the Church actually teaches (no surprise, that) and an equally sad lack of knowledge about the nature and meaning of sex.

Longtime readers will forgive me, I trust, if I refer again to Frank Sheed’s wonderful quip, at the start of a chapter in his 1953 book Society and Sanity: “The typical modern man practically never thinks about sex.” As Sheed explains, in words even more true today than they were six decades ago:

He dreams of it, of course, by day and by night; he craves for it; he pictures it, is stimulated or depressed by it, drools over it. But this frothing, steaming activity is not thinking. Drooling is not thinking, picturing is not thinking, craving is not thinking, dreaming is not thinking. Thinking means bringing the power of the mind to bear: thinking about sex means striving to see sex in its innermost reality and in the function it is meant to serve.

The fact is simply this: the dominant culture in the West is obsessed with sex — that is, sexual attractions and acts that have little or nothing to do with authentic love, marriage, procreation, the common good, and eternal life.

And it has been for decades, during which time the Church has often been forced into a defensive stance, one that is sometimes interpreted as simply saying, “No, no, no!” (For a decidedly non-Catholic but frank history of the Sixties, the Sexual Revolution, and the culture wars, see Andrew Hartman’s 2015 book A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars, from University of Chicago Press.)

In fairness, there has been much to say “No!” to: the contraceptive mentality, the scourge of abortion, the steady drop in both marriages and births, the rise and acceptance of divorce, the mainstreaming of homosexuality, and, more recently, the wholesale embrace of gender ideology. And so this controversial comment, made by Pope Francis in 2013, makes some sense, at least initially and superficially:

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

[Which is not to say that it is not necessary to talk about what the Church teaches when it is clear! On the contrary, because what she clearly teaches is so often ignored, or even worse, not really known at all, not even by Catholics, it becomes necessary to reiterate such teachings as often as necessary. (Not however in the way Bergoglio chose to reiterate much of orthodox Church teaching on marriage and the family in AL - which was simply to provide the extra-thick icing and sugarcoating for the poison pill of Chapter 8. That was a sham - how dishonest it is to reiterate such teachings just before undermining the foundation of sacramental discipline that underlies them.)]

As I wrote at the time, the Pontiff’s remark could have benefitted from both clarity and context. But, as we have learned since, providing clarity and context is not usually a concern of the Holy Father, especially in interviews and off-the-cuff statements. Regardless, theologian Massimo Faggioli [the infamous 'Maximum Beans', whose beans - and brain - aren't exactly where they ought to be] who teaches at Villanova University, finds that 2013 comment to be of some importance in light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. In an article posted earlier today on the Commonweal site, Faggioli writes:

The preparations to mark this anniversary suggest we will see yet more signs of tension in how different Catholics (culturally and geographically) understand Catholicism. Based on the program they released at their November gathering in Baltimore, for example, the U.S. bishops are far more excited about celebrating the anniversary of Humanae Vitae than their counterparts in the rest of the world, who seem to be looking at marriage and family with a different kind of focus. And this “enthusiasm gap” is reflective of more than just the present moment; it suggests continuation of the skirmishes within the Church that have persisted through Francis’s papacy. It began within a few months of Francis’s election, with his decision to pull back on the obsessive emphasis on sexuality.

What, then, is involved in the U.S. bishops’ “obsessive” emphasis on sexuality? The USCCB page states: “The papal encyclical, Humanae vitae (HV) written by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1968, provides beautiful and clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life.” There will be conferences and talks on family life, marriage, the “feminine genius”, and natural family planning.

The attentive Catholic will note, of course, that Humanae Vitae was written on the topic of “the regulation of birth” and that its opening sentence states: “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.” In other words, it all seems to follow rather logically and, yes, naturally.

So what, exactly, is the source of Faggioli’s apparent frustration? In sum, he is annoyed by the “culture-war approach” he finds among certain Catholics (he highlights George Weigel’s November 2017 article “What’s changed since ‘Humanae Vitae’?”) who are critical or wary of a series of lectures being given at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Faggioli offers this rather smirking take:

What’s really going on in Rome is a pluralistic and intellectually diverse engagement with Humanae Vitae; in addition to the program organized by the Gregorian, there was also the conference at the Angelicum last September. Meanwhile, the U.S. bishops have a series of events clearly focused on “natural family planning.”
And then this, which gets to the heart of the matter:
“The second symptom of impoverishment is the tendency to reduce understanding of a particularly sensitive papal teaching and its reception to a particular cultural and geographic point of view, and then universalize it.”

On one hand, it’s reasonable and important to consider how Humanae Vitae has been received in different countries and cultures. But it’s also worth noting the elephant in the room: the Sexual Revolution and the incredible pressure put on Paul VI following Vatican II to change Church teaching about artificial contraceptives did not take place in, or come from, Third World countries. This was, quite simply, a Western/First World issue — which has, of course, now spread throughout the world as various Western countries and institutions have worked to promote the culture of death so carefully described and so rightly denounced by St. John Paul II.

On cue, as it were, there is now a detailed report by Diane Montagna of about a December 14th lecture delivered at Pontifical Gregorian University — yes, as part of the above-mentioned lectures — by Italian moral theologian Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, who is reported to have spoken approvingly of “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.”

There is much to digest, but I will just focus here on these remarks, as reported by Montagna:

Through His Paschal Mystery, Fr. Chiodi said, “Jesus … opens to the believer the possibility of acting responsibly, that is, a way of acting that responds to grace, passing through the travails of history and of evil.”

“Within this perspective,” Chiodi argued, “moral norms are not reducible to rational objectivity but belong to human life understood as a story of salvation and grace. The norms conserve the good and instruct in the way of good. But they are historical.”

This (and several other statements in the report) bring to mind warnings found in St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, as when he states:

In their desire, however, to keep the moral life in a Christian context, certain moral theologians have introduced a sharp distinction, contrary to Catholic doctrine, between an ethical order, which would be human in origin and of value for this world alone, and an order of salvation, for which only certain intentions and interior attitudes regarding God and neighbour would be significant.

This has then led to an actual denial that there exists, in Divine Revelation, a specific and determined moral content, universally valid and permanent. The word of God would be limited to proposing an exhortation, a generic paraenesis, which the autonomous reason alone would then have the task of completing with normative directives which are truly “objective”, that is, adapted to the concrete historical situation.

Naturally, an autonomy conceived in this way also involves the denial of a specific doctrinal competence on the part of the Church and her Magisterium with regard to particular moral norms which deal with the so-called “human good”. Such norms would not be part of the proper content of Revelation, and would not in themselves be relevant for salvation. No one can fail to see that such an interpretation of the autonomy of human reason involves positions incompatible with Catholic teaching.

Thus we come full circle, again, back to essential points in Amoris Laetitia and Veritatis Splendor, which, in my opinion, cannot be easily reconciled, if at all (as I’ve discussed before, in this November 2016 essay).

There seems little doubt, at this point, that 2018 is going to witness yet another great clash over Paul VI’s encyclical — arguably the most contested and disputed papal text in history. Those who have studied the writings of Karol Wajtyla/John Paul II will be able to show that, in fact, being deeply concerned about abortion, the contraceptive mentality, and related matters is not, in the end, a matter of being “obsessed with sex,” but of being obsessed with life. (“In marriage sex loses none of its strength,” wrote Sheed, “but it serves life.”) And that this focus is rooted in divine truth — objective, unchanging truth — about the nature of man, as Gaudium et spes stated:

Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards.* These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. (par 51)

*[This is, of course, the polar opposite of the very subjective 'discernment' process advocated by Bergoglio in AL which is pre-loaded already in favor of 'discerning' whatever the sinning couple think is 'good', i.e., acceptable, for them. It would be amazing how Bergoglio and all his fellow paladins of that satanic 'spirit of Vatican II' choose to ignore anything Vatican II says that does not conform to their 'spirit' - except that if Bergoglio himself chooses to do this selective acknowledgment with Jesus's words no less, then who can he not be selective with?]

Finally, at risk of stating what should be obvious: Gaudium et spes is not an “American” document and St. John Paul II was not an “American” citizen. I suggest that if Faggioli and friends wish to undermine or attack the thinking of the great pontiff, they do so openly and without hiding behind their anti-American rhetoric and passive-aggressive sophistry.

I really think that the best way to deal with dishonest intellectual airheads like Maximum Beans is simply to ignore their shoddy writings and absurd non-arguments... Same goes for all those who have been squandering computer time seeking to respond to self-proclaimed Bergoglio defense attorney Stephen Walford whose only qualification for writing the blather that he does is that he is free to write whatever he pleases, no matter how big a fool he makes of himself.

Comments on Fr. Chiodi’s
're-reading of 'Humanae Vitae'

by Josef Seifert

January 9, 2018

Editor’s Note: The following text is a statement written by Professor Josef Seifert, a famous Austrian philosopher and co-founder of the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP). He kindly sent it to us for publication.

Professor Father Maurizio Chiodi delivered last Dec. 14, 2017, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a speech entitled “Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016)”.

He is a new member of PAV, the Pontifical Academy for Life, founded by Pope John Paul II in order to explain and defend the truths the Church teaches about human life in Humanae Vitae and other documents.

Nonetheless, Chiodi does not only openly reject a central moral teaching of the Church on contraception, admirably stated in Humanae Vitae, namely that a wonderful and deep link exists between the conjugal loving union and procreation, such that any single contraceptive act that separates the unitive from the procreative meaning of the conjugal act is intrinsically wrong in any situation. Above and beyond his denial of this teaching, Chiodi asserts that contraception is even morally mandatory under certain circumstances. According to him, responsible parenthood can oblige a married couple to use artificial birth control.

This suggests an answer Fr. Chiodi gives to two of the famous five dubia of the four Cardinals. Chiodi’s implicit answer may be formulated thus: “Indeed, there are no human actions that are intrinsically wrong under all circumstances”.

Chiodi invokes Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, as a new model and paradigm for moral theology that eliminates the notion (solemnly and magisterially laid down in Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and Veritatis Splendor) that contraception is an intrinsically evil human act that is wrong anywhere and at any time.

Chiodi adds, in radical and direct contradiction to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church in Humanae Vitae, that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” Fr. Chiodi argued.

Chiodi’s position constitutes an unequivocal defense of the consequentialist and proportionalist ethics that attacked Humanae Vitae from the first day of its publication on, and not only took issue with its teaching that contraception is intrinsically wrong, but claimed that there are no intrinsically evil acts at all; and that any human action is determined in its moral character solely by the proportion between its good and bad effects. This opinion was clearly and unambiguously refuted and rejected by Veritatis Splendor.

Chiodi likewise proposes more general philosophical and ethical positions that are profoundly erroneous and totally destructive not only of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, but also of the essence of morality, and in fact, of any truth and any Church Teaching: namely 1) a historical relativism, 2) a consensus theory of truth, and 3) situation ethics.

Saying that the norms of natural law “conserve the good and instruct in the way of good, but they are historical“, Chiodi denies the perennial truth and validity of the norms that tell us that contraception and many other acts are intrinsically wrong, in a way that is not relative to, and dependent on, historically changing opinions, as if Humanae Vitae could have been true in 1968 but would no longer be so in 2018.

Besides this, Chiodi, while not directly claiming it, still strongly suggests that the fact that a large percentage of Catholic spouses practice contraception and do not accept the norms justifies silence about them, or even proves that these norms are no longer valid, as if majority consensus determined the truth.[1]

In the same way, he could claim that we are justified no longer to speak of the first commandment to love God above everything else, or even that this norm is no longer valid because a majority of Catholics do not fulfill it, or that the commandment that forbids to give false witness against one’s neighbor is not valid any longer because most people lie and calumniate others.

Claiming that some “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception” (Chiodi, ibid.), Chiodi denies in fact directly the intrinsic wrongness of contraception magisterially taught by Paul VI and his predecessors and successors, and makes what is morally good or bad in the transmission of human life entirely dependent on concrete situations.

Drawing out the lines of such a purely teleological or consequentialist proportionalist ethics of contraception, Chiodi suggests that quite in general no intrinsically wrong acts exist and that the moral quality of a human action can never be determined universally “by a general rule,” but depends on a proportion between good and bad consequences of human actions in concrete situations.

Understood in this general way, the situation ethics Fr. Chiodi defends would also deny the intrinsic wrongness of abortion and euthanasia, and of many other acts listed in Veritatis Splendor as acts that are morally wrong under all circumstances and in all situations.

It is worth noting that this opinion has nothing to do with blindness of conscience, lack of ethical knowledge, or personal imputability invoked so often by Rocco Buttiglione in the present debate. No, Chiodi implies an entirely objective “duty to contracept” in certain situations.

Thus the lecture of Father Chiodi contains, besides his open rejection of Church Teaching on contraception in Humanae Vitae, disastrous general philosophical errors that have been magisterially and forcefully rejected by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor.

One can only hope that Pope Francis, Archbishop Paglia, and the large majority of members of PAV will ask Father Chiodi to revoke these grave errors, or to resign immediately his membership in this illustrious Academy, whose founder and spiritual Father Pope John Paul II unambiguously and consistently fought against precisely these same errors that Father Chiodi now proposes, and condemned them in a definitive way. [Abandon hope - if you think any of the above will happen!]

Moreover, Saint John Paul II founded the PAV precisely in order that it explain and defend these truths Chiodi denies. (As, prior to its reform through Pope Francis in 2016, an ordinary, life-long member of PAV, who had to take an oath never to deny these truths, I could only feel profound sadness over this betrayal of the PAV, especially dear to the heart of John Paul II, if such views as Chiodi’s are not retracted by himself, by the PAV, or by Pope Francis).

Ethical truth and the untruth of this proportionalism are not only subject of Catholic faith, however, but can be recognized by human reason as well.[2] They have been forcefully defended by the great pagan philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Cicero and are being defended by members of other religions, some of whom are members of the new John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family that continues, without any ambiguities, its service to the great founding truths and goals of PAV.

Prof. Dr. habil. Dr. h.c. Josef Seifert, President
John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family

[1] I rely here on the summary of the talk in LifeSite: “While in the 50s and 60s was an urgent for believers, now the great majority of even believing married couples live as though the norm doesn’t exist,” he said.

“Officially and objectively the norm has remained,” but “even many pastors” don’t talk about it, he said. “In public, in catechesis, and in preaching, they prefer not to talk about it” while “in personal encounters they maintain a very indulgent attitude when the issue is raised.” “And therefore,” he argued, “it’s significant that Amoris Laetitia speaks so little about it.”

[2] See Josef Seifert, “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts I: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in Veritatis Splendor”. Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 2, pp. 27-67; “The Splendor of Truth and Intrinsically Immoral Acts II: A Philosophical Defense of the Rejection of Proportionalism and Consequentialism in Veritatis Splendor”. Studia Philosophiae Christianae UKSW 51 (2015) 3, pp. 7-37.

00Thursday, January 11, 2018 5:07 PM
A look ahead at 2018
by Steve Skojec

January 10, 2018

...What do I think 2018 has in store, then? Please note that the following is not comprehensive. And taking into account my sense that it’s going to be a wild, unpredictable year, in fact, it’s not even probable that it will be very accurate. Caveat lector, but some of the handwriting on the wall appears to be in permanent marker.

The world has been changing rather drastically in the past few years. New, unexpected, and even unthinkable political possibilities (ie., Trump, Brexit) have become realities in various parts of the world where the status quo seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be on rails.

I pay far less attention to politics these days than I ever have, but there’s no way to avoid spillover into areas that affect every one of us, however non-political we may be determined to be. For example,
- The continued hijra in Europe, and the way the ignorati in political power there are just determined to be dhimmis will undoubtedly continue to dominate much of the news cycle.
- Tensions in the Asia-Pacific region will also likely continue to play a dominating role in global geopolitics.
- I expect the non-stop jawing about Russia/America collusion to die down somewhat even as new fronts are explored in the as-yet-bloodless revolution against the new American President.
- So too will continue the purge against powerful men in entertainment and politics through the sudden and overwhelming force of the #MeToo campaign. (I do not doubt, for the record, that many of the targets are moral monsters who deserve to be driven out like demons, but I sense a deeper opportunism beneath the aggregated whole, and I wonder what new horrors will fill the vacuum.)

The larger zeitgeist battle being waged is the escalating War Against Sanity. This is the term I am using to describe the usurpation of reason and the rebellion against the laws of rational thought in pursuit of various ideological agendas.

From a continued push to argue things like the notion that biological sex/age/identity is irrelevant (and that people can be trans-anything) and the increased acceptance of gender-bending sexualization of children (who apparently don’t get to claim #MeToo) to the seemingly endless arguments that what the Catholic Church has always believed and taught can be turned on its ear because the magic man in Rome says so, it will become increasingly difficult to have a rational debate with anyone about anything because logic as we know it has been beaten mercilessly, discarded, and left for dead. Language is meaningless, nobody is willing to concede anything, and the fact that we could ever have real discourse at all seems a relic of a bygone era we might as well erase from our memories, just for good measure.

All of this deconstruction of our ability to think clearly and know actual truths is very relevant, for obvious reasons, to what we may expect from the Vatican in the coming year.

This is the year, I think, that the Amoris Laetitia debate, per se, will likely begin to recede from its position of total dominance in Church discourse. People on all sides are growing tired of discussing it, since it seems all angles have been explored and exhausted, and with no answer to the dubia and no formal correction seemingly on the way, we have been reduced to trench warfare, neither side gaining ground, neither side losing it, yet both knowing that to retreat would be catastrophic. So shots will continue to be fired, the occasional body will languish in the fetid ground of no man’s land between, and nothing will move very much one way or the other.

But what will move forward are the monsters that AL has unleashed. What has come into stark relief is the truth that AL was always intended to be a theological Pandora’s Box. As Josef Seifert so sagely predicted, if AL “claims a totally objective divine will for us to commit, in certain situations, acts that are intrinsically wrong, and have always been considered such by the Church,” then the alarming developments we have seen thus far “refer only to the peak of an iceberg, to the weak beginning of an avalanche, or to the first few buildings destroyed by a moral theological atomic bomb that threatens to tear down the whole moral edifice of the 10 commandments and of Catholic Moral Teaching.”

So, as we have just seen in the case of Fr. Chiodi of the Pontifical Academy for Life, this is precisely what is now happening. Last June, I had warned that we were seeing signs of a move on the part of the Vatican to re-interpret Humanae Vitae according to the moral framework created by Amoris Laeitita. “They’re coming for Humanae Vitae,” I said, “and its proscriptions against contraception, and they’re not going to stop until they get what they want.” People scoffed. Denials were issued that there was any such plan afoot.

And then this happened.

Fr. Chiodi dedicated the second part of his lecture to the relationship between Humanae Vitae and Amoris Laetitia. While he acknowledged that Humanae Vitaeoccupies “a very important place” in the “historical development” of the Church’s magisterium on marriage, he said the encyclical has become more of a “symbolic issue, criticized or rejected by those who were disappointed with its conclusions, or considered as a true pillar of Catholic moral doctrine on sexuality by others.”

The Italian priest attributed the encyclical’s increasing importance to its insertion in John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, n. 29-34, but especially, he said, “to the fact that Veritatis Splendor n. 80 includes contraception among the ‘intrinsically evil’ acts.”

But from a pastoral point of view, he said the “urgency of the issue” of contraception “seems gradually to be diminishing.”

Fr. Chiodi then did those in attendance the favor of crystalizing his insinuations with unmistakable clarity:

There are circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception. In these cases, a technological intervention does not negate the responsibility of the generating relationship. The insistence of the Church’s Magisterium on natural methods cannot be interpreted, in my opinion, as a norm which is an end in itself, nor as a mere conformity with biological laws, because the norm points to an anthropology, to the good of marital responsibility.

And there it is.

This is a priest who, again, was appointed to the new Pontifical Academy for Life after Pope Francis gutted it of its former members. His lecture was organized by the Argentine Jesuit Father Humberto Miguel Yanez — Director of the Department of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University and a good friend of Pope Francis. As Diane Montagna reported in her piece about Chiodi’s talk, the signs were already there:

Father Chiodi’s December 14 lecture is not his first attempt to justify contraception, nor to use arguments that critics say are condemned in Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

Earlier this year, both he and Father Yanez also took part in the presentation at the Gregorian of a new book entitled Amoris Laetitia: A Turning Point for Moral Theology, edited by Stephan Goertz and Caroline Witting, in which it is argued that Amoris Laetitia represents a paradigm shift for all moral theology and especially in interpreting Humanae Vitae.

Similarly, the Vatican is beginning a shift in its position on euthanasia, as certain events seem to indicate. And despite recent statements seemingly to the contrary, as reported by Dorothy Cummings McClean at LifeSiteNews just before Christmas, some Italian pro-life leaders are pointing the finger at the pope himself for helping along the passage of a new Italian euthanasia law:

Critics say the resistance of Catholic politicians to the bill was weakened after Pope Francis’s November speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life, in which he indicated that people may refuse life-prolonging medical treatment but failed to note that administration of nutrition and hydration are basic humanitarian care rather than medical treatment.

According to Italy’s La Repubblica, and The New York Times, many of the bill’s supporters, and many Catholics, saw Francis’s speech as a “green light” to the new law.

“The words of Pope Francis on the end of life, on November 16 at the Pontifical Academy for Life, were interpreted by all as an ‘open door’ to the form of euthanasia that is the living will,” wrote Roberto di Mattei, Catholic historian and head of Italy’s Lepanto Foundation.

The Pope’s words on the topic were necessary, wrote Corrado Augias in La Repubblica, “to overthrow the last resistance of some Catholics and–probably–to convince at least a group of them to give their consent to [the pro-euthanasia law].”

Right-to-die advocate Marco Cappato, a member of Italy’s far-left “Radical Party” praised Francis immediately after his Academy for Life address for placing the wishes of the sick person at the center of the controversy about medical care for the terminally ill. Francis, he thought, was on the side of the bill.

And so things will continue.
- This pope who ever says one thing while manipulating events toward a different end.
- A cabal of advisors and surrogates empowered to spread the messages of the revolution through the Church, changing practice by altering perception while leaving doctrine untouched — the latter tactic making it possible for the useful idiots to keep saying that the pope has done nothing unorthodox.

Other agenda pieces likely to dominate the headlines this year include - A married priesthood — with a trial run in Latin America — and more pushes in the direction of female deacons.
- At some point down the road, whether this year or beyond, we can also expect to see the arguments of Amoris Laetitia applied more directly to homosexual relationships. There’s simply no reason for them not to be, with the moral barriers smashed open, and too many power-players in Rome or with influence over the pope who want to see movement on this issue. (No sooner did I hit “publish” than I received this story in my inbox.)

But as I said, I also think this will be a year of surprises. Of unexpected twists and turns.
- Critical reaction to this papacy continues to snowball, as even Catholics who see opposition to the pope as distasteful find themselves forced to decide between traditional morality and Church teaching and the machinations of the this papacy.
- When Phil Lawler’s book hits shelves next month, it will have come as the result of just such a decision — long debated and hard won — and will be the third of its kind in the past year, as Francis’ indiscretions are no longer able to be sufficiently contained in the space provided by articles and blog posts, instead necessitating dedicated volumes of their own.
- Even now the Vatican search continues for the true identity of the author of the most explosive of the three — The Dictator Pope — amidst a somewhat lighthearted but nevertheless spirited campaign of misdirection now in its infancy on social media, under the hashtag “#IAmMarcantonioColonna“.
- Meanwhile, as convenient but dispensable papal defenders like Stephen Walford, Emmett O’Reagan, Austen Ivereigh, and Massimo Faggioli continue to be taken less and less seriously in their attempts the defend the indefensible in whatever ersatz Catholic media will have them, will the Vatican be forced to find new champions of their agenda?

It’s a program so transparently un-Catholic that the only professional theologian among the current crop flatly admitted, “There is no possible coexistence between an ‘ordinary form of Catholic theology’ and an ‘extraordinary form of Catholic theology’,” because “some of most active promoters of the Old Mass” hold “theological views that are not Catholic anymore.”[???] (In other words — the Catholicism of the past 2,000 years is dead and buried, along with its immutable and divinely revealed truths. Viva la revolución!)[No! Muera la satanica revolucion bergogliana![

This kind of crazy can only end in heartbreak for the people who believe it.

So yes, I think 2018 is the beginning of the end for Francis and Friends. They’ll ram through as much as they possibly can — remember, we’ve been warned by his closest friends that if the pope thinks he’s running out of road, he’ll speed things up — but there’s only so much time left on the clock.

What I am less confident about is how it will end or what we’ll get after. I do not see that we have an episcopacy with the courage to confront the man while he is alive, so we may have to settle for a posthumous settling of accounts. (As surely as Catholicism is true, this papacy will eventually be condemned. Honorius was an amateur in comparison.)

But we have to be realistic: we have a curia with an increasingly Franciscan flavor — and I don’t mean the Saint of Assisi [that is why it is simply wrong to use the adjective 'Franciscan' for anything Bergoglio: the basic generic adjective for that is and can only be 'Bergoglian'; in the same way I have never used 'Benedictine' to describe anything having to do with Benedict XVI, but rather 'Benedettian' which makes it clear I am not referring to St. Benedict or the orders named for him] — and we’ve already heard loud whispering that the Bergoglian electors plagued with buyer’s remorse think it’d be a good idea to replace the Argentinian Apocalypse with a more subdued version in the shape of someone like Cardinal Parolin.

If the Holy Spirit ever needed to be at work in a conclave, it’s the next one. As one wise bishop said to me much earlier in this papacy, “We must pray for a holy pope. We must pray for a traditional pope.”

...I’d say angst among the faithful is at an all-time high, and a lot of you have reached the “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” stage. That has its purpose, but it’s not a sustainable place to be, so I hope you’ll join me in seeking out healthier habits this year. We need a long game. We need to outlast the disaster. We need to live to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In closing, I’d like to ask you all for a renewed effort of prayer. Please pray for me and for the other writers and everyone involved in this work. The amount of spiritual opposition we face is staggering at times, and I can only imagine how much worse off we’d be if we didn’t have a literal army of you out there backing us up, storming heaven on our behalf. And though there are fewer of us, we’ll pray for you, too. I say it every year at this time, but the benefits of our 1P5 community are an untapped treasure, and we need to ensure we don’t take it for granted.

Thanks for sticking with us this far. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. The “God of Surprises” no doubt has much in store for us in 2018.

Edward Pentin offers a conventional Vatican-perspective look-ahead for 2018:

Pope Francis’s fifth year:
A new synod, Humanae Vitae's 50th, a more decentralized Church

by Edward Pentin

January 10, 2018

A synodal assembly on 'youth problems', further moves toward a decentralization of authority from the Vatican, and a probable consistory of new cardinals are just some of the expected papal happenings to take place in 2018.

Events already locked in the calendar make clear that another busy year awaits Pope Francis, one in which he is expected to press on in pursuing his vision for the Church as he approaches the fifth anniversary of his pontificate.

One of the most significant papal engagements will be the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme “The Young, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” to be held in October.

Francis, who just turned 81, has said the theme is “consistent” with the content of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), his summary document on the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family, and it will aim “to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity” so that through “discernment” they will “discover their plan for life and realize it with joy.”

The synod itself promises to introduce a “new approach” for the Church concerning youth, moving away from the tendency to think “we have always done it this way,” in the words of Pope Francis. It is expected to focus on helping them deal with today’s challenges such as the “throwaway culture” of a consumerist society.

The synod will be preceded by a March 19-24 meeting of young people in Rome held by the Synod Secretariat to allow them to share “their hopes, doubts and worries ahead of the synod.”

The Vatican last year sent out a 25-page preparatory document to all the dioceses in the world, which included a questionnaire to allow young people to share their opinions on social issues ahead of the October synod.

The Register has learned the Vatican has been overwhelmed with tens of thousands of responses [Was it not reported late last year that the response to the document and its questionnaire was so underwhelming the Synod Secretariat expressed concern?], and as well as posing a processing challenge for the synod secretariat, critics have said the preparatory document is "heavy on sociology and psychology and light on Scripture and Tradition.” [What did you expect? That's a great description of its mover-in-chief, is it not?]

Others are concerned the synod will be pushed in a harmful direction, largely because it will fail to address the most serious problems facing young people today. But still others see the synod as a very positive way for the Church to accompany young people in their human and spiritual growth so that they can make the world a better place. [Dear Mr Pentin, you disappoint me with your filler-type platitudes.]

A further possible flashpoint for heated debate this year will be the 50th anniversary of Pope Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On human life), which reaffirmed the Church’s ban on artificial contraception. There are concerns that moves are underway to use this anniversary to reassess the encyclical and implement a “new moral paradigm,” as some have tried to do in their interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.

The intention of such moves would be to soften the Church’s position upheld in Humanae Vitae — an encyclical believed by its proponents to have been prophetic, as it foresaw that widespread use of contraception would lead to a breakdown of the family and a greater dehumanization of society.

The Church officials involved in the commission, established in 2017 with Pope Francis’s approval to study Humanae Vitae, say that concerns about weakening the document are unfounded. [To be taken in the same spirit as the Bergoglians' crap that "AL does not really change Catholic teaching at all!" It ain't for nothing you've been seeing a lot of commentary on statements fearlessly made at a Gregorian University symposium by one Maurizio Chiodi, a moral theologian in the tradition of Bergoglio's favorite theologian from the Humanae Vitae era, Bernard Häring, who was among the most vocal dissenters from infallible Catholic teaching, such as the deep truths authoritatively set forth during his own professional life in Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI and in Veritatis Splendor by Pope John Paul II. Speaking to his fellow Jesuits last November, Bergoglio praised Häring as 'one of the first to try to revive an ailing moral theology following the Second Vatican Council'. As Jeff Mirus commented at the time, "anyone who would praise him as one of the first to give Catholic moral theology new life in the twentieth century must be ignorant, confused, or subversive"... Chiodi (whose last name means [carpentry] 'nails' in Italian) is obviously the vanguard of the imminent Bergoglian assault on HV. It would be foolish to ignore the nails he has already hammered home to convey his message. The monster AL continually growing new serpent heads, as the Bergoglians now seem to refer to AL as 'the new paradigm' by which every Bergoglian statement is justified. Just short of saying that AL is now the Bergoglian 'gospel' by which to measure everything.

So far, only one overseas papal visit has been confirmed for this year: to Peru and Chile, Jan. 15-22. The apostolic voyage will be significant for its emphasis on the environment and the welfare of indigenous people. The Holy Father will meet indigenous communities from the Amazon in Lima Jan. 19 — a timely visit ahead of the 2019 Pan-Amazonian Synod of Bishops.

This will be his fifth trip to the Americas, which he reportedly views as one continent, and like the 21 other visits outside Italy that he has made since his election, the people he will meet are typical of the “peripheries” that are a central focus of this pontificate.

The Holy Father is expected to visit Ireland in the summer, at some point during the World Meeting of Families in Dublin that takes place Aug. 21-26.

Since the implosion of the faith in Ireland due to the clerical sex-abuse crisis and rampant secularism, the Pope will effectively be traveling to a country that once led the world in missionary outreach but is now on the Church’s periphery.

His visit is also likely to come soon after a referendum on whether to repeal Ireland’s ban on abortion in almost all circumstances. The vote is expected to take place sometime in the summer.

Many will be interested to see if Francis also becomes the first pontiff to visit Northern Ireland, once the focal point of the “Troubles” between Unionists wanting to remain part of the United Kingdom and Republicans aiming for a united Ireland. Pope St. John Paul II came close to making it there during his visit in 1979, but security prevented him from crossing the border.

Other possible visits this year could be to Romania and India, postponed from 2017. The Pope told reporters on the flight back from Bangladesh in December that he needed a “single trip” to India, given it is a vast and culturally diverse country, and he hoped “to do it in 2018 if I’m alive!”

Also possible is a trip to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to mark 100 years since their independence. The visit, which the Vatican says is still in its planning stage, would be timely, as concerns grow about Russian aggression against the Baltic states.

Within Italy, the Pope is to make a pastoral visit to Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo March 17. The trip will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and the 100th anniversary of Padre Pio receiving the stigmata. The Holy Father will visit a pediatric oncology ward of the hospital St. Pio founded.

Papal appointments will be something to look out for this year, with expected changes in leadership within the Roman Curia as well as dioceses worldwide. Included among those could be Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington D.C., who is two years beyond retirement age, although insiders say the Pope is likely to keep him on for at least another year.

Others who will have just reached or will reach the retirement age of 75 this year and could be replaced include Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Argentinian prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches; Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The French cardinal has worsening symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which has affected him for some years and prevented him from joining the Pope on his recent visit to Burma and Bangladesh.

Senior Curial officials who are well past retirement age and expected to step down this year are Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (he turns 80 in June), and Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in March.

Also due to reach retirement this year is Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See — a Vatican dicastery at the center of questions concerning the Pope’s reform of Curial finances. The continuing tensions over financial reform, with obstructions of investigations into alleged corrupt practices, could remain a significant challenge for the Pope in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, eyes will be on the future of key papal adviser Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, following an investigation into corruption allegations in his archdiocese.

The cardinal, who turned 75 in December and handed his resignation to the Pope on age grounds, has denied many of the accusations, although questions remain unanswered. So far, he remains archbishop of Tegucigalpa, a position he has held since 1993.

As of Jan. 1, the number of cardinal-electors under the age of 80 is precisely 120 — the suggested limit set by Blessed Paul VI. But by mid-June, that number will have fallen to 114, giving Pope Francis the possibility of holding a small consistory in the fall to create six new red hats. That would take the number of his personal choices of cardinal-electors to 55, almost half the number eligible to vote in a conclave.

Persistent rumors have circulated that he wants to enlarge the number of cardinal-electors to more than 150, paving the way for a much larger consistory, but so far no concrete evidence has emerged that this will actually happen.

Meanwhile, the push toward decentralizing the Church away from the Vatican and into the hands of local bishops is expected to continue, in line with the Pope’s agenda laid out in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

Speaking about the most recent meeting of the “Council of Nine Cardinals” on Curial reform, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that the priority for the Pope is not reform of structures and changing documents so much as creating a “mentality of service” based on the vision that the Holy See “is at the service of the local Churches.” [But so far that's all that's been done - 'reform of structures' (more nominal and token than substantial) and 'changing documents'. And is not that so-called 'mentality of service' really a euphemism for 'mentality of total obeisance to Bergoglio'? (A topic discussed by Fra Cristoforo in a post I shall post hereafter.)]

Prominent examples of the Holy Father’s intention to extend greater authority to bishops’ conferences in matters that involve the Church’s doctrine and pastoral practice include Amoris Laetitia, which has controversially resulted in bishops having differing interpretations of pastoral practice with regard to allowing civilly remarried divorcees to Holy Communion, and his recent motu proprio on liturgical translations, Magnum Principium, which reduced Vatican oversight over translations into local languages.

Other areas where such an approach potentially could come under consideration in the upcoming months include ordaining some married men and intercommunion for Protestant spouses.

Concerns over these and other issues related to doctrine and the effects on the Church of decentralization are likely to be a continued challenge for the Pope in the months ahead.

In terms of the Holy Father’s pastoral outreach, he is expected to continue to witness to Divine Mercy [to make a great show of Bergoglian 'mercy', that is] by making further surprise visits to the poor, sick and elderly in Rome and further afield.

Meanwhile, on the global scene, look out for further diplomatic efforts toward Russia, China and the Islamic world, as well as interventions in trouble spots such as Venezuela, the Middle East and Africa — part of what L’Osservatore Romano’s director, Giovanni Maria Vian, has said is Francis’s skill in “breaking down walls between North and South.” [Excuse me, any examples of that 'skill' so far? Not a single diplomatic initiative on his part has succeeded - except perhaps 'mediating' the rapprochement between Obama and Cuba, though I doubt he really was needed for that, since both sides were clearly dying to get together at any cost!]

With all due respect for all his excellent work in the past, I hope that on his blog, Pentin gives us a less 'Vatican Press Office' account of his papal forecast for 2018.
00Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:54 PM

Of course, Prof Seifert already wrote the definitive smackback to Fr. Chiodi on his 're-reading of Humanae Vitae in the light of Amoris Laetitia'. (That's a Bergoglian innovation in thought: to reread
an existing document in the light of something written half a century later, even if that something is a shoddy, slipshod, self-indulgent text bordering on heresy, compared to the tightly argued
orthodoxies of an encyclical that far outranks in magisterial importance a miserable third-rate post-synodal exhortation). But every worthwhile refutation and condemnation of Chiodi's Bergoglio-
servile lecture needs to be read...

Sad...but most Catholics don't care anyway...

January 9, 2018

Is it possible that Catholic progressives have successfully positioned themselves to emerge victorious in their war to dismantle Humanae Vitae and, by finally driving a stake through the document's heart, to achieve the Protestant Reformers' dream?

Some background:
o 50 years ago, Blessed Pope Paul VI declared in the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, that artificial forms of birth control are intrinsically evil and,thus, their use is forbidden. The Pope did so--much to the chagrin of Catholic progressives--despite a commission recommending he do the opposite.
o Arguably, that declaration has divided the Church with progressives--perhaps constituting the majority in the industrialized West--being the most vocal not only in expressing their disdain ("the Pope has no business in my bedroom") but also in declaring the encyclical non-binding Church teaching since it has not been accepted by Catholics.
o For their part, Catholic conservatives have generally been successful in fending off these attacks, if only because Humanae Vitae has been upheld in subsequent papal teaching and its prophetic dimensions have sustained the test of time.​
o In this new battle, progressive Catholics may have found support--and are arguing that they have--from none other than Pope Francis and, in particular, Chapter 8 of his 2016 post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

Many commentators have focused upon Amoris Laetitia to justify the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried couples who have not received a declaration of nullity of their first bonds. But, in the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, progressives have found a very wide and spacious opening not only to do away with the kind of objective, scholastic morality that underpins Humanae Vitae but also to achieve their much grander and more ambitious objective: A protestantized Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis recently appointed one warrior in this particular battle to the Pontifical Academy for Life. He's Father Maurizio Chiodi, a professor of Moral Theology in Milan.

As reported over at, in a recent public lecture at Rome's (Jesuit) Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr. Chiodi argued there are "circumstances--I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8--that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception." Taking direct aim at Humanae Vitae, Chiodi argued that when “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found."

The key to Chiodi's deconstruction of Humanae Vitae is the word "responsible," the adjective introduced into the working document of the 2015 Synod on the Family. It was used to modify "parenthood" in "responsible parenthood."

Fr. Chiodi maintains: artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.

Let's be clear: This cleverly worded discourse is all about changing Church teaching concerning moral norms, conscience, and moral judgments.

Using clever twists of phrase, Catholic progressives--like Fr. Chiodi--would very much like that existential circumstances--as intimated in his statement about "welcome and hospitality"--be used to grant exceptions which, in turn, would permit individuals to commit what Humanae Vitae called "intrinsically evil acts" but in "good" conscience.

Let's also be clear: Most Catholics living in the US and Europe agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Chiodi. Why? They're regularly using artificial forms of birth control and don't like the Church reminding them that what they're doing is intrinsically evil. Or, as the Catholic progressive media would characterize those who conservatives who uphold Church teaching, "those who wag a sanctimonious finger of moral judgment and condemnation." They ask: "Who are you to judge?"

While Fr. Chiodi acknowledges the very important place of Humanae Vitae in in the Church's historical development, he also appears to consider it simultaneously a relic of the past. As evidence, he cites the fact that most Catholics--not just married couples but priests, pastors, bishops, and apparently, Pope Francis--have rejected its teaching. In his lecture, Chiodi observed:

While in the 50s and 60s [the norm] was urgent for believers, now the great majority of even believing married couples live as though the norm doesn't exist. Officially and objectively the norm has remained...[but] even many pastors don't talk about it. In public, in catechesis, and in preaching, they prefer not to talk about it. In personal encounters, they maintain a very indulgent attitude when the issue is raised. And therefore, it's significant that Amoris Laetitia speaks so little about it. [Deliberately, don't you think? Why bring up a text that already you are thinking to dump, or at least savage mercilessly?]

Fr. Chiodi asserts that the reason is Pope Francis wants Catholics to think for themselves. According to Fr. Chiodi, "...normally, the objective is identified with the moral norm known by reason and the subjective is identified with the conscience enlightened by the law." But, the Pope has rejected this notion, arguing instead in Chapter 8 that “the relationship between objective and subjective is not a relationship between the norm known by reason and the conscience" but "between the act…and conscience."

Insofar as Fr. Chiodi is concerned, it's high time to "rethink a theory of conscience" that recovers "the original link between conscience and the moral act."

Fr. Chiodi cites Jesus as his authority, noting that "Jesus opens to the believer the possibility of acting responsibly, that is, a way of acting that responds to grace, passing through the travails of history and of evil." He adds:

“Within this perspective, moral norms are not reducible to rational objectivity but belong to human life understood as a story of salvation and grace. The norms conserve the good and instruct in the way of good. But they are historical. [Moral norms] have a symbolic and universal quality, because they point to the good to which they attest, and to the conscience which they instruct and guard. In this light, discernment is not an activity added on [but] conscience itself.

Those who disagree with Fr. Chiodi should take heart. He provides a great service by illuminating what Catholic progressives actually have in mind. All that's required is to strip the clever twists of phrase down to what they actually mean:
o "historical" connotes subject to change--in other words, "relativism";
o "conscience" connotes an ideal that is not normative for existential circumstances--in other words, "individualism"; and,
o "responsibility" connotes discerning other options that are mandated by existential circumstances--in other words, "subjectivism."

So, as Fr. Chiodi's argument can be summarized:50 years ago, Blessed Pope Paul VI had it correct, given the times. While he taught the ideal, history has changed. Having rejected that ideal, Catholics must make responsible decisions today for themselves by discerning what their existential circumstances mandate.

Five hundred years ago, "sola scriptura" was the Protestant Reformers' battle cry. Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, all Christians needed to discern God's will responsibly was scripture and conscience, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit...not papal encyclicals, absolute moral norms, or even Magisterium.

If today's progressive Catholics prove themselves successful in their war to dismantle Humanae Vitae, will all roads lead to Protestantism?
00Friday, January 12, 2018 1:17 AM
Spiffero is an Italian word that means either ‘draft’ (as in air that comes in through a fissure) or ‘a tale told’, and the blog Anonimi della Croce has been using it (in it plural form) to label stories told to them by their sources in the Vatican. As you can see, their series now comes to #57.

You may believe this story or not, but to me, it sounds plausible – especially considering that, even as many Vaticanistas had been warning that Humanae Vitae was to be the next major encyclical targeted for sabotage by this pope, I was quite unprepared for the nakedly unequivocal manner by which Fr. Chiodi launched what seemed to be the Bergoglian battering ram for the anti-HV offensive. It might have been less effective as an opening move if he had not then openly cited AL as the justification for discarding HV, and that’s it! He thereby flung open the gates for Bergoglians to use AL to justify any sin that is no longer sin for Bergoglians.

I had thought that openly recognizing homosexuality and other sexual deviancies now in fashion (as in LGBT) as ‘natural’ human attributes that no one can deny to any human being – as well as their resulting assorted unions – was going to be Bergoglio’s next great ‘un-sinning’ initiative after RCD adulterers. But now, he is going for what is undoubtedly the most widespread sin in the Catholic world since the 1950s - artificial contraception. So he thinks it is easier to debunk an encyclical than it would be to promulgate some papal decree granting benediction to all sexually deviant practices and those who practice them? Think of the other Catholic No-Nos in line for Bergoglian un-sinning: a carnally sexual life for priests, or granting communion to those who do not believe in the Trans-substantiation, not to mention the liturgical travesty of 'an ecumenical Mass'… This man has gone way past the limits of any possible justification for his anti-Catholic, anti-Christian actions, and I cannot now look at any picture of him without seeing him sprouting horns and spewing hellfire…. Yet is is the same man that I dutifully and fervently pray for in the 'Te igitur' at Mass (except, of course, that I always add, "...our Pope emeritus Benedict XVI", before going on to the bishop, and I do not just say 'Cardinal Dolan' but "all the bishops of the world").]

Spifferi LVII: The danger of schism
Via a proposed ‘act of fidelity’
to the pope and his teaching to be
required of all men of the Church

by Fra Cristoforo
Translated from

January 8, 2018

Let me begin by saying that what is reported in our Spifferi comes from a source that is very 'in' at the Vatican. And that he tells me what he considers to be important from what he is able to 'catch' from the entourage that daily hang around Casa Santa Marta. Therefore I report only what was confided to me. Which I publish because I owe it to the truth.

I can assure you that my source is worthy and reliable. Proven by the fact that so many Spifferi have, alas, been sadly confirmed in reality. And for those that have not yet been confirmed, it's a matter of time, but they will be. As you know, things at Casa Santa Marta can change from one day to the next. Depends on the papal mood. We are simply ambassadors, and as they say, ambassadors are not to blame for the bad news they may bring.

That being clear, we come to the current Spiffero. Bergoglio always was clear about the 'reforms' he wants. From the first moment of his pontificate, he has hammered on migrants, climate and ecumenism. And with the publication of AL, he has signed, sealed and delivered his relativism in terms of morality. So these points have been firmed up in the 'new church'. [Fra Cristoforo calls it 'neo-chiesa', but it really is properly called 'the church of Bergoglio'. To say 'new church' implies he is capable of changing the one true Church of Christ, as he thinks he is doing. Except that no one gets to change the one true Church of Christ, and he who claims to do so is guilty prima facie of apostasy.]

In almost all the parishes now, it is all they talk about. To the faithful and to children being catechized, nothing is taught by Bergoglio's 'word'. Like an obsession.

But as we have seen these days, not everyone is in line. And among the resisters are some bishops and cardinals. This is what worries Bergoglio. Thoe who resist him. He cannot stand for it, nor can he stand them. Perhaps because it is stronger than he? So this is what they have been studying at Casa Santa Marta for some months now.

My source tells me that a sort of "act of fidelity to the pope (obviously to Papa Omissis) and to his magisterium" is under study. (I have deliberately not capitalized any of the nouns).

This ‘act of fidelity’ will be required of all clerics in the Catholic Church – deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals. And it must be formally professed. In the various dioceses, a day will be chosen on which all clerics – from the bishop to the deacons – shall ‘solemnly’ profess this formal act of fidelity. Which would really mean ‘blind fidelity’ to the ‘magisterium’ and teachings of Bergoglio. Of course this will be obligatory, not optional. Whoever fails to declare this ‘promise’ solemnly should consider himself suspended a divinis [cannot legitimately exercise his priestly ministry].

If this particular Spiffero should come to pass – and I hope it does not – then we shall really be at a turning point. A schism [even if not formal] from which I don’t think any Catholic can consider himself exempt [he has to be on one side or the other]. Because how can one profess fidelity to a heretical magisterium? [And here I go again: Worse than heretical, it is apostate!]

I think here will be a rupture never before seen in the history of the Church. Between Bergoglio’s new church and those who remain faithful to the traditional teachings of the Church. [Except, as I keep pointing out, in this schism, it’s certainly not the orthodox Catholics who will leave the Church! But neither will Bergoglio and his followers, because right now, their only strength is that he happens to be the pope, with all the authority and power that goes with it. So he will insist on the fiction that his ‘new church’ – the church of Bergoglio – is really the same ‘holy, Roman Catholic and apostolic Church’ that he was elected to lead, only now it is ‘a new re-formed and reformed church’. So what will he do? Excommunicate all those who refuse his teachings and his increasingly questionable because morally rotten ‘leadership’? Fine ‘symbol of unity’ this pope has turned out to be! And he’ll only make it worse. So please, God, take him NOW but give him the grace of a deathbed repentance.]

As for the timing, my source thinks within a few months, because the text of the ‘act of fidelity’ is already being prepared.

I think it is time more than ever to increase our prayers. Let us invoke Our Lady strongly that she may save us from this disaster. Let us offer Eucharistic Adoration. Let us pray to the apostles, the martyrs, the saints, the souls in purgatory, the angels and the archangels, and all the heavenly host. Let us storm Heaven as much as we can. Because if such a rupture occurs, the ensuing battle will be fierce. [Bergoglio and all the legions of Satan against faithful Catholics.]

Let us pray all we can. Let us pray for each other, so that none of us will yield to the enemy. Let us fast if we can.

It is true that Our Lord promised us that ‘the gates of Hell would not prevail’ against his Church. But he did not say there would not be a battle. There will be. And it will be decisive. [At least at this moment in history. But time will not stop still.][COLORE]
00Friday, January 12, 2018 6:24 AM

Cynical me, but the first thing I checked after reading the headline was to find out if the cardinal was still 'active'. Not surprised at all to confirm
he is an emeritus. What 'active cardinal' of bishop in the Church today would express himself so uncompromisingly on the 'hot' topics he speaks on!

Mexican cardinal affirms orthodox Catholic teaching:
Those who practice homosexuality, contraception,
adultery cannot receive Communion

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

January 9, 2018 ( – Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, Mexico, rejected the possibility of giving Holy Communion to people who commit the sins of homosexuality, contraception, and adultery [and do not repent and have no intention to amend their life!], in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.

He also called homosexuality a “psychological illness” that leads to the self-destruction of its practitioners. He accused the elite financial class of the Anglo-Saxon countries of seeking to impose gender ideology on developing countries.

Asked about proposals to give practicing homosexuals Holy Communion if they are in “good conscience” about their behavior, Sandoval responded, “They can't be in good conscience. Chastity is a universal precept. All of us must maintain chastity [in specific situations and circumstances]."

The cardinal added that chastity is not something required exclusively of those who suffer from homosexual impulses, but of everyone according to his particular situation.

“So just as those who have normal tendencies, and aren't married, have to abstain, so those who have abnormal tendencies must also abstain,” said Sandoval, adding, “Even more so, knowing that homosexuality is a psychological illness which can be cured. Let them seek a cure, because homosexuality is never permitted.”

“That's what Genesis is about. Gomorrah . . . what happened with Sodom and Gomorrah? What happened? They gave vent to their desires and were destroyed in that way,” said the Cardinal.

“There are many people who have the misfortune of being homosexual but who live chastely,” said Sandoval. “Those, yes, are going to enter into the kingdom of God. But those who practice it will not enter the kingdom of God. St. Paul says that. And homosexuality is condemned, totally condemned, in the Old Testament, in Genesis, and by St. Paul in the New Testament.”

Sandoval also rejected proposals to give Holy Communion to Catholics who use artificial birth control, noting that “contraception is decisively condemned, totally condemned, in Blessed Paul VI's Humanae vitae. It's totally condemned because it runs counter to human nature and against the plan of God. All forms of contraception.”

The Cardinal said that Pope Francis had been misunderstood regarding giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and remarried,[Now this is where the cardinal strays from commonsense - as he proves by citing John Paul II's explicit instructions in Familiaris consortio as the answer to the 'confusion' over AL's sacramentally poisonous propositions! It is precisely those passages that AL deliberately contradicts - first, by not even quoting the determinative paragraphs of FC, and second, by its implicit permission of remarried divorced adulterers to receive communion by their own 'discernment' - though nominally 'accompanied' by a priest in arriving at this 'discernment' - yet continue to live as husband and wife] and pointed to Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, which gave “a series of very wise and very concrete conditions that were established by the Holy Father, John Paul II."

"It's necessary to return to them," he said. "They give a response to the confusion over chapter eight of Amoris Laetitia.” He observed that Familiaris consortio requires that those who have divorced and invalidly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion unless they abstain from the sexual act. [Which is not what AL says at all!]

Sandoval made his remarks in an interview with LifeSiteNews in late August of last year.

Cardinal Sandoval told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that the progress of the culture of death in Mexico is continuing, despite a “great exorcism” that was performed on the country in 2015. He put part of the blame on bishops whom he said often don’t have the courage to speak the truth.

Asked LifeSiteNews: “In 2015 you did a rite of ‘great exorcism’ . . . for all of Mexico in response to attacks against the value of human life in the country. How has the situation changed in the country since then? Is it better, worse, or the same in your opinion?”

Responded the Cardinal: “Yes, I did that exorcism in the cathedral of San Luis Potosi with the doors closed and with few people, at the request of the archbishop of San Luis Potosí, who asked me to do the exorcism, fundamentally because he was having many problems with the local government with his priests, and with those of his priests who were out of control were being pursued by the authorities.”

“And I added also the supplication of our Lord for family and life. I added that it would be for all of Mexico so that God would aid us to enable us to fight against that current that seeks to destroy life and family. An exorcism is an act of supplication. It's a supplication made to God to repulse evil, to repulse the devil who is working underneath all of these nefarious initiatives.[In which case, the Vatican - starting at Casa Santa Marta (Poor St. Martha who has to be associated with such an unholy place) - is badly in need of exorcism!]

“Your question is, ‘What is the state of things in Mexico now?’ It's worse. I say that it's worse. Well, why is it worse? Because God permits it to be so. Or because of our sins, because we haven't known how to pray and act as we should.”

Asked LifeSiteNews: “So you also see this problem in part as a symptom of a lack of action on the part of some Catholic prelates?”

Responded the Cardinal: “Yes. I think that the need is, above all, for systematic and solid catechesis for the people, that is, to preach the Gospel, as St. Paul said, in season and out of season, to instruct the people regarding the importance of the family and the value of the family, regarding the nature of Christian morality that Our Lord Jesus Christ left to us and really, to form their consciences from childhood."

"Yes, we have been lacking in that. And furthermore, when the government undertakes initiatives, in one state or another here in Mexico, well, it's necessary to protest and it's necessary to ask the people to oppose them. . . . And I think that there is a lack, in many bishops, of that ‘parrhesia,’ as St. Paul says, that courage to announce and to denounce.”

Cardinal Sandoval said that the impetus for initiatives to create homosexual “marriage” and impose gender ideology in Latin America were coming from foreign powers, principally from wealthy and powerful interests in the Anglo-Saxon countries, who are seeking to impose a “new order” and a global government on the world.

“They are forcing this on countries here in Latin America, most of all, by means of the economy,” said Sandoval. “Our countries are underdeveloped, they need help, they're in debt, they need loans, and they can be denied to them if they don't implement these policies. They can raise the interest rates on the debts they have, things like that.”

“So, that policy comes - so say many - from an Anglo-Saxon elite that is very dominant over international organizations, like the UN and others, and they have this plan to arrive at the ‘new order.’ And the ‘new order’ is one global government, one economy, one culture, one religion by which they can eliminate the Christian faith, or confuse it with the others.”

“[They claim that] it's necessary to eliminate the family in which men are formed with conscience and character, who defend themselves. And it's necessary to eliminate national independence, so that everyone is subject to an international authority. So you see it as a plan carried out by rich and powerful countries to impose themselves,” said Sandoval. [A plan, however, that has the glad and wholehearted support of the current pope who thinks precisely in terms of a 'one-world' order - government, culture, religion, thought, all regimented under a global umbrella of the liberal agenda spelled out in the UN's so-called 'Sustainable Development Goals' aiming for something not even Jesus thought was necessary, else he would have said so: to eliminate hunger and poverty in the world. And all by 2030! If that's not overweening HUBRIS, what is?]

Cardinal Sandoval, one of the strongest pro-life voices in Latin America, is emeritus archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, where he took on anti-Catholic government officials and repeatedly defied attempts by politicians to attack the right to life and family values. Repeated attempts have been made by public officials and political pressure groups in Mexico to prosecute Sandoval in response to his pro-life activities, but to no avail.

The cardinal expressed similar sentiments in a recent public act of reparation for the sins of Mexicans against life and family, in which he said, “We have sinned by committing the worst, most grave, and most cruel crime of all, that of abortion, practiced throughout our country, sometimes with the consent of iniquitous laws and sometimes in secret, in hiding, but always with cruelty, with malice that takes advantage of the innocent and defenseless.”

“We have sinned, O Lord, accepting and promoting gender ideology, which with its package of perversions aggresses against family and life, with the unconfessed purpose of ruining societies, subjugating and plundering them,” he said.
00Friday, January 12, 2018 7:24 PM
The following discussion about the 'logic of the Left' - more properly, of course, its 'illogic' - is general, even if it proceeds from a specific case that illustrates the principle discussed very well.
But it struck me as being just as specific when the general principle is applied to the dynamic of the Bergoglio pontificate and its synergy with its captive media - essentially, of course, because
both the pontificate and its captive media epitomize contemporary leftist thinking...

Canadian professor on the Left’s faulty logic:
Everything is ‘predicated on power’

And 'truth' is merely the 'narratives' that keep a hierarchy going

by Dorothy Cummings McLean

TORONTO, January 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent video, Canadian freedom-of-speech advocate Dr. Jordan Peterson exposed how and why the extreme left dispenses with the concepts of objectivity, logic, and evidence.

The 2-hour film, titled “Deconstruction: The Lindsay Shepherd Affair”, consists of a conversation among Peterson and two associate professors from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. David Haskell and Dr. William McNally.

Laurier student Lindsay Shepherd made headlines worldwide after she was called into a disciplinary hearing by two other professors for the apparent crime of having shown a clip of Peterson debating transgender activists on a publicly funded television show. Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, shot to prominence through publicly opposing legislation that would force Canadians to use made-up pronouns for transsexuals.

In one segment of the film, Haskel reveals that he was astonished by a principle he found in the widely used university textbook Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology: “Objectivity, as found through rational thought, is a western and masculine concept that we will challenge throughout this text.”

“It’s too bad that you’re shocked by that,” says Peterson. “The PC types have been saying exactly that since the 1970s. Make no mistake about this…. This isn’t something they’ve kept secret. This is the dead statement.”

Peterson explained that the notions of logic, coherence and even empirical data are held in suspicion by the postmodernist intellectuals who rule the roost in contemporary universities.

“[They say] ‘Let’s question the definition of evidence’,” Peterson says on the video. “Because the underlying idea here is that all hierarchies are predicated on power.” From this point of view, there is no disinterestedness, no love of truth: only desire for power.

In that view, Peterson explains, “The reason someone puts forward something as evidence isn’t because it’s evidence - it’s because it’s evidence that he has that position of power. And so if you’re a postmodernist and you say ‘Well, I’m going to question your evidence’, what you think you’re saying is that you’re going to question my claim to that arbitrary power.”

Postmodernists don’t believe there is any evidence outside claims of arbitrary power, Peterson asserted: “The postmodernists dispensed with that [idea] in the 1970s. That’s [French philosopher] Derrida. That’s exactly what he said.”

This leftist obsession with power encroaches even on the hard sciences; postmodern activists see power structures even in scientific fields like biology and chemistry, Peterson explained.

“When they say ‘We want to question the definition of evidence because the definition of evidence currently supports the scientific power structure in chemistry, [more relevant: 'in ecology and climate change'!] say, and that’s fundamentally dominated by, let’s say, white men. We can go after the definition of evidence itself. And that’s how we’re going to bring [the power structure] down.’ [That's exactly how the catastrophic-climate-change advocates came to dominate what they claim to be the 'settled science' on this issue!]

“And so the next people on the hit list are going to be the biologists,” Peterson continues. “They’re already under attack from the social justice warriors.”

“I’ve just read a paper that says mathematics is whiteness,” says Haskell. “I didn’t know that mathematics could have a race.”

“Yeah, but the thing is, there’s nothing illogical about these claims once you’ve accepted the central axiom,” Peterson replies. “Axioms are straightforward. The world [according to postmodernists] is a battleground of power hierarchies. That’s what it is. There isn’t anything else outside of that.”

Truth, to postmodernists, is merely the stories, or “narratives”, which keep a hierarchy going. [Nowhere is that better illustrated than in reporting on the Church, even and especially by Vatican media itself, in the era of Bergoglio.]

“[They believe] each power hierarchy generates its own internal narrative, including rules for what constitutes evidence that support and buttress the structure of that hierarchy,” says Peterson. “And because the hierarchies exclude, then it’s in the best interests of the people who are excluded to invert the hierarchy. And of course [postmodernists] also regard that as just, even though that’s part of the incoherence of the entire argument.”

Business professor McNally observed that “every dimension” of the Lindsay Shepherd scandal was about power, including the “double-speak”, the idea that exposing people to ideas could be violent, and the “sacred circling around the victim group.”

Peterson, a professor of psychology, enthused that the attempts of postmodernists to make Shepherd the bad guy in the free-speech scandal were “so bloody interesting.” He noted the “unbelievable strategic attempt to transform Shepherd into the perpetrator and [professors] Rambukkana and Pimlott into the victims, especially Rambukkana as a professor of color.”

The President and Vice-Chancellor of Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Deborah MacLatchey, eventually released a statement exonerating Shepherd of any wrongdoing, but before that the student was vilified by some of Rambukkana’s defenders.

“The reverse narrative was, well, Lindsay Shepherd was using something like her white privilege,” explains Peterson, “and her white tears … to harass a poor … untenured professor of color. There was every attempt on the part of people going after Shepherd to make that the narrative.”

“Deconstruction: The Lindsay Shepherd Affair” was taped on December 19, 2017 and posted on Facebook on December 26.
00Saturday, January 13, 2018 7:28 PM


What is the back story to this latest Bergoglian travesty? Who is the Nuncio to the Netherlands who would have had to vet any nomination for
a papal honor before passing it on to the Vatican? Or was he simply bypassed? Perhaps the pope did not know what he was doing? But he had
to sign the formal certificate of conferment that goes with the medal and the other award accouterments! Unless he simply signs away anything
placed before him without examining the document – or the Vatican uses a robot papal-signer . Maybe the name did not mean anything to him,
so he just happily signed another token of esteem for a European minister…

Doing my best here to try to explain this episode as merely a case of careless oversight. But given Bergoglio's repeated public praises and
embraces for the mother of Italy's abortion law, Emma Bonino, does he deserve the benefit of the doubt for this honor to Plouner?

And do you think the Vatican will withdraw the honor if there is enough outrage shown about it? Little outrage was raised in the mainstream
media - in which I now include almost all the major Catholic media – about the Bergoglio-Bonino bromance, and when he was asked once about
it, considering Bonino's appalling record as an abortionist herself, he replied, ]"But you must look at the totality of what she is doing!"
(As if expressing concern for immigrants trying to enter Europe illegally made up for just one of the innocent lives Bonino took! In effect,
Bergoglio was saying that it is far more important to care about immigrants than to be concerned in any way about abortion –
even as he continues to pay lip service against abortion when convenient or unavoidable for him,because he is still, after all, pope.

But few have been outraged enough to call him out as condemnable for this in a way that is even worse perhaps than he is condemnable for
the atrocities in AL! And now, this. It, too, shall pass uncondemned? ANATHEMA SIT!

[Having hailed Emma Bonino (who boasts
she did 10,000 bicycle pump abortions)
as one of Italy's contemporary greats]

Pope confers Order of St Gregory
on leading Dutch abortionist

by Michael Hichborn

January 12, 2018

Reports began surfacing on Twitter today that Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, was honored by Pope Francis with the title of Commander in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great.

The Lepanto Institute was able to confirm from a December 22, 2017 Dutch radio broadcast that Ploumen indeed received the honor. In a brief video clip promoting the broadcast, Ploumen displays the medal while saying that she received it from the Pope.
Here is the video:

Here is a crude translation of the exchange:
BNR – And this is the umpteenth prize that Lilianne Ploumen won in 2017 …
Ploumen – Yes, it is a high distinction from the Vatican; from the pope.
BNR – From the pope.
Ploumen – Beautiful.
BNR – Yes.
Ploumen – It is Commander in the Order of St. Gregory.
BNR – And that despite that you are pro-abortion.
Ploumen – Yes, you can check.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great , one of five knighthood orers in the Chruch, was established in September 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI. Membership in the Order is conferred on lay men and women (not necessarily Catholic) for their “personal service to the Holy See and to the Roman Catholic Church, through their unusual labors, their support of the Holy See, and their excellent examples set forth in their communities and their countries.” [Let's see how Ploumen meets those criteria:]

To say that Lilianne Ploumen is “pro-abortion” is an extreme understatement and doesn’t even come close to the scandalous reality of her activism.

In January of last year, after US President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, Ploumen launched a new NGO called 'She Decides 'to provide mass amounts of funds to organizations that would no longer receive funds from the US government. The Mexico City Policy automatically denies US funding for international organizations which perform or promote abortion.

Referring to the Mexico City Policy as a “Global Gag Rule,” Ploumen stated that the intention of She Decides was to continue support for existing programs being run by organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International. She said, “These are successful and effective programs: direct support, distributing condoms, making sure women are accompanied at the birth, and making sure abortion is safe if they have no other choice.” By July of 2017, Ploumen’s program had raised over $300 million.

In October of 2017, Ploumen wrote an article for the Financial Times, in which she emphatically stated, “America’s regressive policies on abortion are a calamity for girls’ and women’s rights that the rest of the world must counter.”

Ironically, just a few days ago, Ploumen was awarded the Machiavelli Prize “for her campaign for the safe abortion fund SheDecides.” The article on the award indicates that “The Machiavelli prize is awarded to a person or organization which the jury considers has excelled in public communication. In particular, the jury praised the speed at which SheDecides was set up and went global.”

It is worth noting that from 2004-2007, Ploumen was the Director of Programs and on the Board of Directors for CORDAID, the Dutch Catholic aid relief agency that was caught funding Planned Parenthood and dispensing contraception.

But Ploumen’s anti-Catholic activity isn’t restricted to abortion. In September of 2017, Ploumen participated in the United Nations LGBTI Core Group. As the first speaker at the event, Ploumen noted that“LGBTI rights are human rights.” In her opening remarks, she said, “We cannot be complacent. [Today] in more than 70 countries homosexuality is still criminalized…stigma against LGBT people continue all over the world.”
In 2014, Ploumen ended foreign aid to the country of Uganda for passing a bill banning sodomy and same-sex “marriage.”

In February of 2010, Ploumen called on LGBT activists to descend upon and disrupt Mass at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, wearing pink triangles with the words “Jesus excludes no one.” The reason? She and other pro-LGBT activists were protesting the Church’s moral teaching regarding homosexuality.

It remains to be seen what service Lilianne Ploumen has provided for the Catholic Church or the Holy See [see paragraph above - perhaps the Vatican considered that a service!], given her staunch support for homosexuality, abortion and contraception. Given that the one thing that Lilianne Ploumen is known for in the past year is the establishment of a fund that provides hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that commit abortion and dispense contraception, it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate her recent pontifical honor from this grievous and scandalous act.
00Saturday, January 13, 2018 8:36 PM

Basking in the glow of Epiphany:
The wedding feast at Cana

By Peter Kwasniewski

January 13, 2018

In the giant new lectionary, poster-child of the liturgical reform, we find very strange things if we take pains to scratch beneath the surface.

One of the most surprising, to me, was the discovery that the passage from the second chapter of the Gospel of St. John about the wedding feast at Cana — among the most picturesque, moving, and theologically profound passages in all the Gospels — is read only once every three years in the Novus Ordo (in “Year C”). In contrast, it is read every year in the old Mass, on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, where it has appeared for centuries without interruption.

The wedding at Cana is the place where our Lord first reveals His glory; where His “hour,” the hour of His passion and cross, in a sense begins; where His disciples first believe in Him; where His Mother is shown as the perfect intercessor. It holds not only inexhaustible lessons for our spiritual life, as does any page of the Gospels, but archetypal ones that have no exact parallel elsewhere.

It is, one might say, a “staple Gospel” or “super Gospel” that should never be too far away from our minds and hearts. Annually seems a natural rhythm. The old liturgy, as usual, acts on the right instinct. The new liturgy, in contrast, treats it as just another waystation in the drilled march through as much of Scripture as we can survive in two or three years.

This Gospel passage is a perfect window into the larger problem of the murder of the Epiphany season. Those who attend the traditional Latin Mass are aware of how beautifully, how tenderly, how lovingly, the Church basks in the light of the newborn Christ, the youthful Christ, the Christ of the river Jordan and the miracle of Cana.

Epiphanytide is one of the most poetic and touching of all the seasons (or “sub-seasons,” as it were).
- It starts with the feast of the Epiphany itself, which, in accord with unbroken custom stretching back for centuries, is celebrated on the “Twelfth Day” after Christmas, January 6 (and not on the nearest Sunday, to suit the world’s imperious work schedule).
- One week later, on the octave day, January 13, the Church in her usus antiquior celebrates the Baptism of Christ.
- Then the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany brings us the Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana.

The three great theophanies or divine manifestations honored in this season — namely, the visit of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding of Cana — are given their full individual due, without haste, without unseemly compression or alternation. Indeed, there is a leisurely feel to this Epiphany season, a sense of time suspended. It is as if Holy Mother Church, like a mother watching her children grow up too fast, cannot quite resign herself to parting from the young Christ.

Epiphanytide is the afterglow of the revelation of Christ to the world, Christ who is the true Enlightenment against which the devil vainly (although at times with considerable temporary success) attempts to establish his substitutes — most especially the rationalist and liberal worldview under which Catholics have been living, and which they have slowly adopted, over the past several centuries, to the near extinction of their liturgical life.

As Fulton Sheen famously said, “Every man was born to live; only Christ was born to die.” When the weeks after Epiphany have run their course, we arrive at Septuagesima, that wonderful door of transition to the three-week period of transition from the innocent joy of Christmas to the penance and introspection of the Lenten fast.

What a masterful grasp of psychology the traditional liturgy displays! No normal human being would want to go from Christmas back to a so-called “Ordinary Time” and then be suddenly parachuted into Lent, as the Novus Ordo awkwardly does, with no attention to the exigencies of the heart.

The ancient liturgy knows better: we must pass from a season that is, emotionally, perhaps the most contrary to that of Lent to the season of Lent itself by means of a medium or transitional period, a “post-Christmas and pre-Lent” period. This is Septuagesimatide.

Let us return to the little town of Cana, the inauspicious place immortalized by the highly auspicious wonder wrought by the Word-made-flesh. Our Lord’s choice to be present at the wedding feast and to perform His first miracle there is traditionally seen as His blessing on the institution and state of marriage itself, foreshadowing His institution of the sacrament of matrimony and inaugurating His own nuptial union with His immaculate Bride, which culminated in the total gift of Himself upon the Cross.

The way St. John deliberately connects Cana with Calvary is evident from a close study of chapters 2 and 19 of his Gospel. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, marriage derives its Christian greatness, its sacramentality, from the fact that it represents and, in a way, makes present the indissoluble union of Christ and the Church.

Could anyone fail to see that this Gospel, perennially relevant at any point in history, is particularly central and urgent in our own times, when the Creator’s gift of marriage has been misunderstood, denigrated, attacked, redefined, subtly downgraded—sometimes, alas, even by members of the Catholic hierarchy? All the more reason, then, to hold fast to the traditional annual reading of the wedding feast at Cana, brought to you by your local traditional Latin Mass.

May God in His mercy lead the Roman Church to rediscover, sooner rather than later, the immense divine and human wisdom that was and is enshrined in her ancient calendar, so that the faithful may measure their lives by its exquisite rhythm of feasts and seasons.
00Sunday, January 14, 2018 8:29 PM
'On this Rock...'???
by Mark Lambert

January 13, 2018

When I look back at the person I was before entering five years of formal study in Catholic theology at Maryvale I recognise just how different I am now. I see those five years very much as a period of preparation orchestrated by God to help me through the challenges I would soon endure.

Before beginning, I was pretty laissez faire, not really my fault, I just did not know why I was Catholic, other than it was what my family had always been and it seemed to make some sense. I did not know what the Church taught, or how that might effect my life, death or possibility of salvation. I could not articulate the Good News. I could not pass on the faith to anyone else.

The first thing I realised about studying the Catholic faith was how coherent it was and how it addressed all my concerns and all the shortcomings in my knowledge quite confidently. I came to be confident that, no matter how convoluted or complicated my question, someone, somewhere in the Catholic world had thought carefully about it and given an answer which carefully built on the revelation of Christ and the Apostles.

I was astounded by the consistency and cohesive nature of this message. Even what seemed really obvious flaws in issues like inconsistency in the Bible were easily handled.

I started to gain real confidence in the Catholic Church. I relished my study. This was something I could know and engage with. Something good for me and my family. Something that was not widely known anymore...Why not? I wanted to learn, I wanted to grow in faith and knowledge, I wanted to share that knowledge with my community.

I quickly discovered that quite a lot of people were at odds with anything that challenged their "cafeteria" version of the faith. I was told that it means different things to different people. I thought, that being the case, you cannot hope for it to change your life or play the role it should in your life.

(Yet) No matter what, I always had the Pope and the Tradition of the Church behind me. A Tradition carefully elucidated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Tradition unwavering and full of wisdom. It gave me the confidence to sit with priests and write part of the diocesan marriage and family life policy and argue for orthodoxy based on a proper understanding of Church teaching.

I quickly discerned one really upsetting and common trend in the clergy through all this. Some priests get quite upset when a lay person is excited and enthusiastic about their faith and tend to dismiss an enthusiastic disciple as a spiritual pretender or zealot. Overtly enthusiastic disciples strike many Catholics as arrogant, extreme, overly emotional and elitist.

You are dismissed and called names. Priests write and circulate secret emails about you and try to undermine whatever work you are involved in. They then get extremely uppity if you confront them or try to talk abut this. In her book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell talks about this:

This Catholic discomfort with overt Spiritual passion is another expression of the Spiral of Silence...A mutual priest-friend was put off when, in a burst of enthusiasm, Daniel urged him, "Let's be saints!" He said his first impulse was to wish Daniel would calm down and stop sounding so "Protestant". Who did Daniel think he was?
Eventually my priest-friend recognised that his real issue was not that Daniel was too extreme. He realised that the fire of his own discipleship, the spark that had fuelled his priestly vocation, had burned low. Daniel's passion had illuminated his own spiritual state. (p. 63-64).

I thank God that my own Parish Priest has always helped, encouraged and supported me. But some of the greatest obstacles I have encountered in my journey towards real discipleship: trying every day to put Jesus Christ at the centre of my life, have been priests who criticise, condemn, attack and diminish any effort I have made.

But that's nothing compared to this papacy.

It honestly feels like Cardinal Parolin, Cardinal Coccopalmerio, et al don't even know the faith. What Chiodi and Bode are saying is out and out heresy - statements that, according to Church teaching, will lead souls to perdition! The Church is the teacher of truths that contradict what the world says and saves souls from hell, not leads them comfortably towards it!

And Pope Francis bestows papal honours on pro-abortion politicians and activists.

The best we can hope for is huge damage to papal (this pope's) authority [insofar as he misleads the Church and the faithful he was elected to lead], and for a return to the Church hierarchy of respect for logical consistent thought in the Vatican. This papacy undermines the Church and undermines Christ.

At this stage, it really seems to me that anyone still comfortable with this papacy is against the Church and what she has always taught and for something else. God knows what.
00Monday, January 15, 2018 6:46 AM
It’s taken me a few days to put this thing together. First, because I have been waiting - in vain, so far - for a good rebuttal to the assault on Joseph Ratzinger's INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY, but whereas there have been a couple of articles in Italian so far (none in English, alas!) - which I have translated and will post - none of them does it with the sweep and power that do justice to the extraordinary man-priest-theologian that Joseph Ratzinger is.

On January 2, 2018, Sandro Magister posted what for me was a double whammy – when he reported on the Foreword written by Benedict XVI for the 70th birthday tribute book to Cardinal Gerhard Mueller; and on a new book that literally places Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in the same heretical plane as Jorge Bergoglio (and this on the basis of Ratzinger’s basic theological text, Introduction to Christianity, first published 50 years ago).

One is amazed it took 50 years for someone, anyone, to come up with a heretical exegesis of this unexceptionably Catholic text, when there never was the slightest doubt cast on its orthodoxy since it became an instant classic in the late 60s, despite (or perhaps because of) the general religious iconoclasm of the 1968 Revolution). Nor during the 23 years Joseph Ratzinger was the official guardian of Church orthodoxy, nor during his eight years as pope and his steadfast defense of Vatican II to be seen only in the hermeneutic of continuity, nor in the first four and a half years of his retirement)!

But their obsessive odium of Vatican II has led some traditionalists to tar and quarter anyone who dares say something positive about Vatican II as heretics who must be thrown out of the Church and disowned by anyone professing to be Catholic. Forgetting that only another Council can amend what a Council has formally decreed.

That being so, and absent a new Council to pass judgment on whatever errors Vatican-II may have had, John Paul II and Benedict XVI both tried, as far as they could, to show that the Vatican-II elements most protested by the ultra-traditionalists (religious freedom instead of religious tolerance, ecumenism as renouncing the duty to convert non-Catholic Christians, collegiality as opposed to papal primacy, and for Mons. Lefebvre, the tension between ‘Doctrinal versus Pastoral’ that led to endless confusion during and after the Council) may and can be interpreted in the light of Tradition. Certainly the only wise option rather than allowing the progressivist ‘spirit of Vatican II’ hermeneutic to hold undisputed sway in the Church.

As for the first book, I took – and continue to take – exception and umbrage at one sentence in Benedict XVI’s tribute to Mueller [“You defended the clear traditions of the faith, but in the spirit of Pope Francis you also sought to understand how they can be lived today.”] – a statement that makes me gag because I find it totally unnecessary (it could have been left out completely without affecting the rest of the tribute) but worse, because I wholeheartedly find the statement untrue.

As for the other book, Magister chooses to leave the exposition of what it is to Mons. Antonio Livi (born 1938), who taught at the Pontifical Lateran University from 1993-2008 (the last years as Dean of its Faculty of Philosophy) and has written 36 books on theology. However, before proceeding to my translation of Livi’s polemic against Joseph Ratzinger, I first thought it would be useful to first post an article from Catholic News Service which reports what some leading contemporary theologians said about Ratzinger’s theology shortly after he was elected Pope.

But on second thought, I felt that a far better way would be to post Cardinal Ratzinger’s Preface to the Jubilee Year edition of INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY (2000) since both newly minted Ratzinger critics (Enrico Maria Radaelli and Antonio Livi) refer to it, and in fact, use the Italian translation of the Jubilee Year edition as the textual basis for their criticism. I have not seen any extended excerpt from Radaelli’s condemnation of Ratzinger’s theology, but I do not think either he or Livi are a match to Joseph Ratzinger’s erudition, insight and language, nor, most especially, to his genuine Catholicism and grasp of Christianity through his personal approach to Christ. Not to mention his insightful synthesis of the history of our times with respect to widely held notions about God and Christ.

However, when going through the document for purposes of text enhancement, I was not exactly surprised that much of Cardinal Ratzinger’s critique of the faith at the turn of the millennium appear specifically applicable to most of the beloved tenets of Bergoglianism. And that, I think, is the added bonus to re-reading this masterful re-introduction to Introduction to Christianity.

In INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY, Ratzinger restates the Apostles' Creed and the meaning of this foundational text in language that has contemporary resonance.
Like the Apostles' Creed, the book presents the doctrines pertaining to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in sequence.

Introduction, "I Believe – Amen"
I. Belief in the World of Today
II. The Ecclesiastical Form of Faith
Part One, God
I. Prolegomena to the Subject of God
II. The Biblical Belief in God
III. The God of Faith and the God of the Philosophers
IV. Faith in God Today
which provides an argument for God's existence based upon the intelligibility of being qua thought
("thought-being") and for freedom as the "structural form of all being"

V. Belief in the Triune God
Part Two, Jesus Christ
I. "I Believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord"
II. The Development of Faith in Christ in the Christological Articles of the Creed
Part Three, The Spirit and the Church
I. The Intrinsic Unity of the Last Statements in the Creed
II. Two Major Questions Posed by the Articles on the Spirit and the Church

The Apostle's Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

The following is the Preface to the 2000 German edition of Introduction to Christianity in its English translation by Michael Miller, originally published in Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004). This reprint comes from the Fall 2004 edition of COMMUNIO, the international Catholic journal of theology co-founded by Joseph Ratzinger.


by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Since this work was first published, more than thirty years have passed, in which world history has moved along at a brisk pace. In retrospect, two years seem to be particularly important milestones in the final decades of the millennium that has just come to an end: 1968 and 1989.

The year 1968 marked the rebellion of a new generation, which not only considered post-war reconstruction in Europe as inadequate, full of injustice, full of selfishness and greed, but also viewed the entire course of history since the triumph of Christianity as a mistake and a failure.

These young people wanted to improve things at last, to bring about freedom, equality, and justice, and they were convinced that they had found the way to this better world in the mainstream of Marxist thought.

The year 1989 brought the surprising collapse of the socialist regimes in Europe, which left behind a sorry legacy of ruined lands and ruined souls. Anyone who expected that the hour had come again for the Christian message was disappointed.

Although the number of believing Christians throughout the world is not small, Christianity failed at that historical moment to make itself heard as an epoch-making alternative. Basically, the Marxist doctrine of salvation (in several differently orchestrated variations, of course) had taken a stand as the sole ethically motivated guide to the future that was at the same time consistent with a scientific worldview. Therefore, even after the shock of 1989, it did not simply abdicate.

We need only to recall how little was said about the horrors of the Communist gulag, how isolated Solzhenitsyn’s voice remained: no one speaks about any of that. A sort of shame forbids it; even Pol Pot’s murderous regime is mentioned only occasionally in passing. But there were still disappointment and a deep-seated perplexity.

People no longer trust grand moral promises, and after all, that is what Marxism had understood itself to be. It was about justice for all, about peace, about doing away with unfair master-servant relationships, and so on.

Marxism believed that it had to dispense with ethical principles for the time being and that it was allowed to use terror as a beneficial means to these noble ends. Once the resulting human devastation became visible, even for a moment, the former ideologues preferred to retreat to a pragmatic position or else declared quite openly their contempt for ethics.

We can observe a tragic example of this in Colombia, where a campaign was started, under the Marxist banner at first, to liberate the small farmers who had been downtrodden by the wealthy financiers.

Today, instead, a rebel republic has developed, beyond governmental control, which quite openly depends on drug trafficking and no longer seeks any moral justification for this, especially since it thereby satisfies a demand in wealthy nations and at the same time gives bread to people who would otherwise not be able to expect much of anything from the world economy.

In such a perplexing situation, shouldn’t Christianity try very seriously to rediscover its voice, so as to “introduce” the new millennium to its message, and to make it comprehensible as a general guide for the future?

Anyway, where was the voice of the Christian faith at that time? In 1967, when the book was being written, the fermentation of the early post-conciliar period was in full swing. This is precisely what the Second Vatican Council had intended: to endow Christianity once more with the power to shape history.

The nineteenth century had seen the formulation of the opinion that religion belonged to the subjective, private realm and should have its place there. But precisely because it was to be categorized as something subjective, it could not be a determining factor in the overall course of history and in the epochal decisions that must be made as part of it.

Now, following the council, it was supposed to become evident again that the faith of Christians embraces all of life, that it stands in the midst of history and in time and has relevance beyond the realm of subjective notions.

Christianity — at least from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church —was trying to emerge again from the ghetto to which it had been relegated since the nineteenth century and to become involved once more in the world at large.

We do not need to discuss here the intra-ecclesiastical disputes and frictions that arose over the interpretation and assimilation of the council. The main thing affecting the status of Christianity in that period was the idea of a new relationship between the Church and the world.

Although Romano Guardini in the 1930s had coined the expression, 'Unterscheidung des Christlichen' [distinguishing what is Christian] — something that was extremely necessary then — such distinctions now no longer seemed to be important; on the contrary, the spirit of the age called for crossing boundaries, reaching out to the world, and becoming involved in it.

It was already demonstrated upon the Parisian barricades in 1968 how quickly these ideas could emerge from the academic discussions of churchmen and find a very practical application: a revolutionary eucharist was celebrated there, thus putting into practice a new fusion of the Church and the world under the banner of the revolution that was supposed to bring, at last, the dawn of a better age. The leading role played by Catholic and Protestant student groups in the revolutionary upheavals at universities, both in Europe and beyond, confirmed this trend.

This new translation of ideas into practice, this new fusion of the Christian impulse with secular and political action, was like a lightning-bolt; the real fires that it set, however, were in Latin America. The theology of liberation seemed for more than a decade to point the way by which the faith might again shape the world, because it was making common cause with the findings and worldly wisdom of the hour.

No one could dispute the fact that there was in Latin America, to a horrifying extent, oppression, unjust rule, the concentration of property and power in the hands of a few, and the exploitation of the poor, and there was no disputing either that something had to be done.

And since it was a question of countries with a Catholic majority, there could be no doubt that the Church bore the responsibility here and that the faith had to prove itself as a force for justice. But how?

Now Marx appeared to be the great guidebook. He was said to be playing now the role that had fallen to Aristotle in the 13th century; the latter’s pre-Christian (that is, “pagan”) philosophy had to be baptized, in order to bring faith and reason into the proper relation to one another.

But anyone who accepts Marx (in whatever neo-Marxist variation he may choose) as the representative of worldly reason, not only accepts a philosophy, a vision of the origin and meaning of existence, but also and especially adopts a practical program. For this “philosophy” is essentially a “praxis,” which does not presuppose a “truth” but rather creates one.

Anyone who makes Marx the philosopher of theology adopts the primacy of politics and economics, which now become the real powers that can bring about salvation (and, if misused, can wreak havoc). The redemption of mankind, to this way of thinking, occurs through politics and economics, in which the form of the future is determined.
[Does this not call to mind one Jorge Bergoglio, who, though he may not think of Marx as a 'philosopher of theology', certainly has been marked enough by the politico-economic context of Latin American liberation theology and its many variants? Among them, Bergoglio's so-called 'teologia del pueblo', which differs from the infamous LTs of Central America only in that it does not advocate armed resistance against the status quo as the preferred path to 'liberation'.]

This primacy of praxis and politics meant, above all, that God could not be categorized as something “practical.” The “reality” in which one had to get involved now was solely the material reality of given historical circumstances, which were to be viewed critically and reformed, redirected to the right goals by using the appropriate means, among which violence was indispensable.

From this perspective, speaking about God belongs neither to the realm of the practical nor to that of reality. If it was to be indulged in at all, it would have to be postponed until the more important work had been done. [Again, that spells out Bergoglio's priorities in carrying out his function as Vicar of Christ on earth: first, attend to the material needs of the poor and the migrant masses, as well as to the physical care man must give to the planet and its resources - then, we can talk about the faith and God.]

What remained was the figure of Jesus, who of course no longer appeared now as the Christ, but rather as the embodiment of all the suffering and oppressed and as their spokesman, who calls us to rise up, to change society. [Again, how Bergoglian!]

What was new in all this was that the program of changing the world, which in Marx was intended to be not only atheistic but also anti-religious, was now filled with religious passion and was based on religious principles: a new reading of the Bible (especially of the Old Testament) and a liturgy that was celebrated as a symbolic fulfillment of the revolution and as a preparation for it.

It must be admitted: by means of this remarkable synthesis, Christianity had stepped once more onto the world stage and had become an “epoch-making” message. It is no surprise that the socialist states took a stand in favor of this movement.

More noteworthy is the fact that, even in the 'capitalist' countries, liberation theology was the darling of public opinion; to contradict it was viewed positively as a sin against humanity and mankind, even though no one, naturally, wanted to see the practical measures applied in their own situation, because they of course had already arrived at a just social order.

Now it cannot be denied that in the various liberation theologies there really were some worthwhile insights as well. All of these plans for an epoch-making synthesis of Christianity and the world had to step aside, however, the moment that that faith in politics as a salvific force collapsed.

Man is, indeed, as Aristotle says, a “political being,” but he cannot be reduced to politics and economics. I see the real and most profound problem with the liberation theologies in their effective omission of the idea of God, which of course also changed the figure of Christ fundamentally (as we have indicated). Not as though God had been denied — it’s just that he was not needed in regard to the “reality” that mankind had to deal with. God had nothing to do.

One is struck by this point and suddenly wonders: Was that the case only in liberation theology? Or was this theory able to arrive at such an assessment of the question about God — that the question was not a practical one for the long-overdue business of changing the world — only because the Christian world thought much the same thing, or rather, lived in much the same way, without reflecting on it or noticing it?

Hasn’t Christian consciousness acquiesced to a great extent — without being aware of it — in the attitude that faith in God is something subjective, which belongs in the private realm and not in the common activities of public life where, in order to be able to get along, we all have to behave now “etsi Deus non daretur” (“as if there were no God”)?

Wasn’t it necessary to find a way that would be valid, in case it turned out that God doesn’t exist? And, indeed it happened automatically that, when the faith stepped out of the inner sanctum of ecclesiastical matters into the general public, it had nothing for God to do and left him where he was: in the private realm, in the intimate sphere that doesn’t concern anyone else.

It didn’t take any particular negligence, and certainly not a deliberate denial, to leave God as a God with nothing to do, especially since his Name had been misused so often.

But the faith would really have come out of the ghetto only if it had brought its most distinctive feature with it into the public arena: the God who judges and suffers, the God who sets limits and standards for us; the God from whom we come and to whom we are going. But as it was, He really remained in the ghetto, having by now absolutely nothing to do.

Yet God is “practical” and not just some theoretical conclusion of a consoling worldview that one may adhere to or simply disregard. We see that today in every place where the deliberate denial of him has become a matter of principle and where his absence is no longer mitigated at all.

For at first, when God is left out of the picture, everything apparently goes on as before. Mature decisions and the basic structures of life remain in place, even though they have lost their foundations. But, as Nietzsche describes it, once the news really reaches people that “God is dead,” and they take it to heart, then everything changes.

This is demonstrated today, on the one hand, in the way that science treats human life: man is becoming a technological object while vanishing to an ever-greater degree as a human subject, and he has only himself to blame. When human embryos are artificially “cultivated” so as to have “research material” and to obtain a supply of organs, which then are supposed to benefit other human beings, there is scarcely an outcry, because so few are horrified any more. Progress demands all this, and they really are noble goals: improving the quality of life — at least for those who can afford to have recourse to such services.

But if man, in his origin and at his very roots, is only an object to himself, if he is “produced” and comes off the production line with selected features and accessories, what on earth is man then supposed to think of man? How should he act toward him? What will be man’s attitude toward man, when he can no longer find anything of the divine mystery in the other, but only his own know-how? What is happening in the “high-tech” areas of science is reflected wherever the culture, broadly speaking, has managed to tear God out of men’s hearts.

Today there are places where trafficking in human beings goes on quite openly: a cynical consumption of humanity while society looks on helplessly. For example, organized crime constantly brings women out of Albania on various pretexts and delivers them to the mainland across the sea as prostitutes, and because there are enough cynics there waiting for such “wares,” organized crime becomes more powerful, and those who try to put a stop to it discover that the Hydra of evil keeps growing new heads, no matter how many they may cut off.

And do we not see everywhere around us, in seemingly orderly neighborhoods, an increase in violence, which is taken more and more for granted and is becoming more and more reckless?

I do not want to extend this horror-scenario any further. But modern man ought to wonder whether God might not in fact be the genuine reality, the basic prerequisite for any “realism,” so that, without him, nothing is safe.

Let us return to the course of historical developments since 1967. The year 1989, as I was saying, brought with it no new answers, but rather deepened the general perplexity and nourished skepticism about great ideals.

But something did happen. Religion became modern again. Its disappearance is no longer anticipated; on the contrary, various new forms of it are growing luxuriantly. In the leaden loneliness of a God-forsaken world, in its interior boredom, the search for mysticism, for any sort of contact with the divine, has sprung up anew. [What we recognize as 'New Age spirituality'.]

Everywhere there is talk about visions and messages from the other world, and wherever there is a report of an apparition, thousands travel there, in order to discover, perhaps, a crack in the world, through which heaven might look down on them and send them consolation.

Some complain that this new search for religion, to a great extent, is bypassing the traditional Christian churches. An institution is inconvenient, and dogma is bothersome. What is sought is an experience, an encounter with the Absolutely-Other. [Again, familiar concepts now, from Bergoglianism. Except that Bergoglio's idea of the 'Absolutely Other' - i.e., the God we seek - ends up ultimately being 'I', the 'I' whose primacy of conscience is the object of Bergoglian pastoral discernment, otherwise Bergoglically termed 'the voice of the Holy Spirit'. And this, in the Bergoglian cosmos, turns out to be nothing other than the 'I' who alone knows best and can discern best what is 'good' for it, always of course a most selfish, self-serving, self-gratifying discernment.]

I cannot say that I am in unqualified agreement with this complaint. At the World Youth Days, such as the one recently in Paris, faith becomes experience and provides the joy of fellowship. Something of an ecstasy, in the good sense, is communicated. The dismal and destructive ecstasy of drugs, of hammering rhythms, noise, and drunkenness is confronted with a bright ecstasy of light, of joyful encounter in God’s sunshine.

Let it not be said that this is only a momentary thing. Often it is so, no doubt. But it can also be a moment that brings about a lasting change and begins a journey.

Similar things happen in the many lay movements that have sprung up in the last few decades. Here, too, faith becomes a form of lived experience, the joy of setting out on a journey and of participating in the mystery of the leaven that permeates the whole mass from within and renews it. Eventually, provided that the root is sound, even apparition sites can be incentives to go again in search of God in a sober way.

Anyone who expected that Christianity would now become a mass movement was, of course, disappointed. But mass movements are not the ones that bear the promise of the future within them. The future is made wherever people find their way to one another in life-shaping convictions. And a good future grows wherever these convictions come from the truth and lead to it. [Hear that, Pope Francis? Do your beloved 'popular movements' sow the truth or are they just vehicles for neo-Marxist - and therefore, anti-Catholic and anti-Christian - aspirations that are not even masked at all?]

The rediscovery of religion, however, has another side to it. We have already seen that this trend looks for religion as an experience, that the 'mystical' aspect of religion is an important part of it: religion that offers me contact with the Absolutely Other.

In our historical situation, this means that the mystical religions of Asia (parts of Hinduism and of Buddhism), with their renunciation of dogma and their minimal degree of institutionalization [two features of Bergoglianism, except that for now, it requires some degree of institutionalization (through the infrastructure of the Catholic Church) to secure a foothold], appear to be more suitable for enlightened humanity than dogmatically determined and institutionally structured Christianity.

In general, however, the result is that individual religions are relativized; for all the differences and, yes, the contradictions among these various sorts of belief, the only thing that matters, ultimately, it is said, is the inside of all these different forms, the contact with the ineffable, with the hidden mystery.

And to a great extent people agree that this mystery is not completely manifested in any one form of revelation, that it is always glimpsed in random and fragmentary ways and yet is always sought as one and the same thing.

That we cannot know God himself, that everything which can be stated and described can only be a symbol: this is nothing short of a fundamental certainty for modern man, which he also understands somehow as his humility in the presence of the infinite. [For the modern man who even bothers to think about God, but most who are proudly atheistic or agnostic, don't.]

Associated with this relativizing is the notion of a great peace among religions, which recognize each other as different ways of reflecting the One Eternal Being and which should leave up to the individual the path he will grope along to find the One who nevertheless unites them all. [The essence of Bergoglio's - and Hans Kueng's before him, famously - ultimate objective of 'one world religion'.]

Through such a relativizing process, the Christian faith is radically changed, especially at two fundamental places in its essential message:
1. The figure of Christ is interpreted in a completely new way, not only in reference to dogma, but also and precisely with regard to the Gospels. The belief that Christ is the only Son of God, that God really dwells among us as man in him, and that the man Jesus is eternally in God, is God himself, and therefore is not a figure in which God appears, but rather the sole and irreplaceable God — this belief is thereby excluded.

Instead of being the man who is God, Christ becomes the one who has experienced God in a special way. He is an enlightened one and therein is no longer fundamentally different from other enlightened individuals, for instance, Buddha. But in such an interpretation the figure of Jesus loses its inner logic. It is torn out of the historical setting in which it is anchored and forced into a scheme of things which is alien to it. [All of this factored into Joseph Ratzinger's determination to complete, despite his fulltime function as Pope, his JESUS OF NAZARETH trilogy, even if he had barely begun it when he was elected Pope.]

Buddha — and in this he is comparable to Socrates — directs the attention of his disciples away from himself: his own person doesn’t matter, but only the path that he has pointed out. Someone who finds the way can forget Buddha.

But with Jesus, what matters is precisely his Person, Christ himself. When he says, “I am he,” we hear the tones of the “I AM” on Mount Horeb. The way consists precisely in following him, for “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). He himself is the way, and there is no way that is independent of him, on which he would no longer matter.

Since the real message that he brings is not a doctrine but his very person, we must of course add that this “I” of Jesus refers absolutely to the “Thou” of the Father and is not self-sufficient, but rather is indeed truly a “way.”

“My teaching is not mine” (Jn 7:16). “I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 5:30). The “I” is important, because it draws us completely into the dynamic of mission, because it leads to the surpassing of self and to union with him unto whom we have been created.

If the figure of Jesus is taken out of this inevitably scandalous dimension, if it is separated from his Godhead, then it becomes self-contradictory. All that is left are shreds that leave us perplexed or else become excuses for self-affirmation.

2. The concept of God is fundamentally changed. The question as to whether God should be thought of as a person or impersonally now seems to be of secondary importance; no longer can an essential difference be noted between theistic and nontheistic forms of religion.

This view is spreading with astonishing rapidity. Even believing and theologically trained Catholics, who want to share in the responsibilities of the Church’s life, will ask the question (as though the answer were self-evident): “Can it really be that important, whether someone understands God as a person or impersonally?” After all, we should be broad-minded — so goes the opinion — since the mystery of God is in any case beyond all concepts and images.

But such concessions strike at the heart of the biblical faith. The shema, the “Hear, O Israel” from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, was and still is the real core of the believer’s identity, not only for Israel, but also for Christianity.

The believing Jew dies reciting this profession; the Jewish martyrs breathed their last declaring it and gave their lives for it: “Hear, O Israel. He is our God. He is one.” The fact that this God now shows us his face in Jesus Christ (Jn 14:9) —a face that Moses was not allowed to see (Ex 33:20) — does not alter this profession in the least and changes nothing essential in this identity.

Of course, the Bible does not use the term “person” to say that God is personal, but the divine personality is apparent nevertheless, inasmuch as there is a Name of God. A name implies the ability to be called on, to speak, to hear, to answer. This is essential for the biblical God, and if this is taken away, the faith of the Bible has been abandoned.

It cannot be disputed that there have been and there are false, superficial ways of understanding God as personal. Precisely when we apply the concept of person to God, the difference between our idea of person and the reality of God — as the Fourth Lateran Council says about all speech concerning God — is always infinitely greater than what they have in common.

False applications of the concept of person are sure to be present, whenever God is monopolized for one’s own human interests and thus his Name is sullied. It is not by chance that the Second Commandment, which is supposed to protect the Name of God, follows directly after the First, which teaches us to adore him.

With the disappearance of what is meant by “the Name of God,” that is, God’s personal nature, his Name is no longer protected and honored, but abandoned outright instead. But what is actually meant, then, by God’s Name, by his being personal? Precisely this: not only that we can experience him, beyond all [earthly] experience, but also that he can express and communicate himself.

When God is understood in a completely impersonal way, for instance in Buddhism, as sheer negation with respect to everything that appears real to us, then there is no positive relationship between “God” and the world. Then the world has to be overcome as a source of suffering, but it no longer can be shaped. Religion then points out ways to overcome the world, to free people from the burden of its seeming, but it offers no standards by which we can live in the world, no forms of societal responsibility within it.

The situation is somewhat different in Hinduism. The essential thing there is the experience of identity: At bottom I am one with the hidden ground of reality itself — the famous tat tvam asi of the Upanishads. Salvation then consists in liberation from individuality, from being-a-person, in overcoming the differentiation from all other beings that is rooted in being-a-person: the deception of the self concerning itself must be put aside.

The problem with this view of being has come very much to the fore in Neo-Hinduism. Where there is no uniqueness of persons, the inviolable dignity of each individual person has no foundation, either. In order to bring about the reforms that are now underway in India (abolition of caste laws and of immolating widows, etc.) it was specifically necessary to break with this fundamental understanding and to introduce into the overall system of Indian thought the concept of person, as it has developed in the Christian faith out of the encounter with the personal God.

The search for the correct “praxis,” for right action, in this case has begun to correct the “theory”: We can see to some extent how “practical” the Christian belief in God is, and how unfair it is to brush these disputed but important distinctions aside as being ultimately irrelevant.

With these considerations we have reached the point from which an Introduction to Christianity must set out today. Before I attempt to extend a bit farther the line of argument that I have suggested, another reference to the present status of faith in God and in Christ is called for.

There is a fear of Christian “imperialism", a nostalgia for the beautiful multiplicity of religions and their supposedly primordial cheerfulness and freedom. Colonialism is said to be essentially bound up with historical Christianity, which was unwilling to accept the other in his otherness and tried to bring everything under its own protection. Thus, according to this view, the religions and cultures of South America were trodden down and stamped out and violence was done to the soul of the native peoples, who could not find themselves in the new order and were forcibly deprived of the old. [Let us see what Bergoglio has to say about this when he meets with 'indigenous groups' on his coming trip to Chile! Indigenous organizations in Latin America were indignant when in 2007, Benedict XVI said:

What did the acceptance of the Christian faith mean for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean? For them, it meant knowing and welcoming Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realizing it, in their rich religious traditions. Christ is the Saviour for whom they were silently longing... In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture...

Now there are milder and harsher variants of this opinion. The milder version says that we should finally grant to these lost cultures the right of domicile within the Christian faith and allow them to devise for themselves an aboriginal form of Christianity. The more radical view regards Christianity in its entirety as a sort of alienation, from which the native peoples must be liberated.

The demand for an aboriginal Christianity, properly understood, should be taken as an extremely important task. All great cultures are open to one another and to the truth. They all have something to contribute to the Bride’s “many-colored robes” mentioned in Psalm 45:14, which Patristic writers applied to the Church.

To be sure, many opportunities have been missed and new ones present themselves. Let us not forget, however, that those native peoples, to a notable extent, have already found their own expression of the Christian faith in popular devotions.

That the suffering God and the kindly Mother in particular have become for them the central images of the faith, which have given them access to the God of the Bible, has something to say to us, too, today. But of course, much still remains to be done.

Let us return to the question about God and about Christ as the centerpiece of an introduction to the Christian faith. One thing has already become evident: the mystical dimension of the concept of God, which the Asian religions bring with them as a challenge to us, must clearly be decisive for our thinking, too, and for our faith.

God has become quite concrete in Christ, but in this way his mystery has also become still greater. God is always infinitely greater than all our concepts and all our images and names. The fact that we now acknowledge him to be triune does not mean that we have meanwhile learned everything about him. On the contrary: he is only showing us how little we know about him and how little we can comprehend him or even begin to take his measure.

Today, after the horrors of the [twentieth-century] totalitarian regimes (I remind the reader of the memorial at Auschwitz), the problem of theodicy [explaining why God allows evil] urgently and mightily [In German, he uses the words mit brennender Gewalt, literally 'with burning force'] demands the attention of us all.

This is just one more indication of how little we are capable of defining God, much less fathoming him. After all, God’s answer to Job* explains nothing, but rather sets boundaries to our mania for judging everything and being able to say the final word on a subject, and reminds us of our limitations. It admonishes us to trust the mystery of God in its incomprehensibility. *[Job and his friends have been trying to answer a question that they can never solve. There are mysteries beyond human comprehension, such as, how to make a world or how to explain suffering. God does not answer Job's question about why he, or any human, should suffer. Instead, Job is advised to recognize human limits and trust that God will take care of what Job and others cannot know or do.]

Having said this, we must still emphasize the brightness of God, along with the darkness. Ever since the Prologue to the Gospel of John, the concept of Logos has been at the very center of our Christian faith in God. Logos signifies reason, meaning, or even 'word' — a meaning, therefore, which is Word, which is relationship,
which is creative.

The God who is Logos guarantees the intelligibility of the world, the intelligibility of our existence, reason’s accord with God, and God’s accord with reason, even though his understanding infinitely surpasses ours and to us may so often appear to be darkness.

The world comes from reason and this reason is a Person, is Love —this is what our biblical faith tells us about God. Reason can speak about God, it must speak about God, or else it cuts itself short. Included in this is the concept of creation.

The world is not just maya, appearance, which we must ultimately leave behind. It is not merely the endless wheel of sufferings, from which we must try to escape. It is something positive. It is good, despite all the evil in it and despite all the sorrow, and it is good to live in it. God, who is the creator and declares himself in his creation, also gives direction and measure to human action.

We are living today in a crisis of moral values [Ethos], which by now is no longer merely an academic question about the ultimate foundations of ethical theories, but rather an entirely practical matter. The news is getting around that moral values cannot be grounded in something else, and the consequences of this view are working themselves out. The published works on the theme of moral values are stacked high and almost toppling over, which on the one hand indicates the urgency of the question, but on the other hand also suggests the prevailing perplexity.

Kolakowski*, in his line of thinking, has very emphatically pointed out that deleting faith in God, however one may try to spin or turn it, ultimately deprives moral values of their grounding. If the world and man do not come from a creative intelligence, which stores within itself their measure and plots the path of human existence, then all that is left are traffic rules for human behavior, which can be discarded or maintained according to their usefulness.
*[Leszek Kowakolski, 1927-2009, Polish philosopher and historian of ideas, best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought. Due to his criticism of Marxism and Communism, Kołakowski was effectively exiled from Poland in 1968 and spent most of the remainder of his career at All Souls College, Oxford. Despite this exile, Kołakowski was a major inspiration for the Solidarity movement that flourished in Poland in the 1980s and helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.]

All that remains is the calculus of consequences — what is called teleological ethics or proportionalism. [We have heard this raised again and again in discussions questioning the moral and ethical relativism of AL!]

But who can really make a judgment beyond the consequences of the present moment? Won’t a new ruling class, then, take hold of the keys to human existence and become the managers of mankind? When dealing with a calculus of consequences, the inviolability of human dignity no longer exists, because nothing is good or bad in itself any more.

The problem of moral values is back on the table today, and it is an item of great urgency. Faith in the Logos, the Word who is in the beginning, understands moral values as responsibility, as a response to the Word, and thus gives them their intelligibility as well as their essential orientation.

Connected with this also is the task of searching for a common understanding of responsibility, together with all honest, rational inquiry and with the great religious traditions. In this endeavor there is not only the intrinsic proximity of the three great monotheistic religions, but also significant lines of convergence with the other strand of Asian religiosity we encounter in Confucianism and Taoism.

If it is true that the term Logos — the Word in the beginning, creative reason, and love — is decisive for the Christian image of God, and if the concept of Logos simultaneously forms the core of Christology, of faith in Christ, then the indivisibility of faith in God and faith in his incarnate Son Jesus Christ is only confirmed once more. We will not understand Jesus any better or come any closer to him, if we bracket off faith in his divinity.

The fear that belief in his divinity might alienate him from modern man is widespread today. It is not only for the sake of the other religions that some would like to de-emphasize this faith as much as possible. It is first and foremost a question of our own Western fears. All of this seems incompatible with our modern worldview. It must just be a question of mythological interpretations, which were then transformed by the Greek mentality into metaphysics.

But when we separate Christ and God, behind this effort there is also a doubt as to whether God is at all capable of being so close to us, whether he is allowed to bow down so low. The fact that we don’t want this appears to be humility. But Romano Guardini correctly pointed out that the higher form of humility consists in allowing God to do precisely what appears to us to be unfitting, and to bow down to what he does, not to what we contrive about him and for him.

A notion of God’s remoteness from the world is behind our apparently humble realism, and therefore a loss of God’s presence is also connected with it. If God is not in Christ, then he retreats into an immeasurable distance, and if God is no longer a God-with-us, then he is plainly an absent God and thus no God at all: a god who cannot work is not God.

As for the fear that Jesus moves us too far away if we believe in his Divine Sonship, precisely the opposite is true: were he only a man, then he has retreated irrevocably into the past, and only a distant recollection can perceive him more or less clearly.

But if God truly assumed manhood and thus is at the same time true man and true God in Jesus, then he participates, as man, in the presence of God, which embraces all ages. Then, and only then, is he not just something that happened yesterday, but is present among us, our contemporary in our today.

That is why I am firmly convinced that a renewal of Christology must have the courage to see Christ in all of his greatness, as he is presented by the four Gospels together in the many tensions of their unity.

If I had this Introduction to Christianity to write over again today, all of the experiences of the last thirty years would have to go into the text, which would then also have to include the context of inter-religious discussions to a much greater degree than seemed fitting at the time.

But I believe that I was not mistaken as to the fundamental approach, in that I put the question of God and the question about Christ in the very center, which then leads to a “narrative Christology” and demonstrates that the place for faith is
in the Church.
This basic orientation, I think, was correct.

That is why I venture to place this book once more in the hands of the reader today.
00Monday, January 15, 2018 8:14 AM

I could not add more to the preceding post because there is a limit of 65,000 characters for a post. But it's just as well because I do not want anything like
the following to be in the same post as Joseph Ratzinger's essay... But now, read what Livi wrote, quoting from Radaelli and adding his own broadsides to
Radaelli's critique:

Heresy (is) in power
by Antonio Livi
Translated from

January 2, 2018

I believe it is indispensable, in the present theological-pastoral conjuncture, to consider what Enrico Maria Radaelli has so exhaustively demonstrated in his last work, Al cuore di Ratzinger. Al cuore del mondo" (In the heart of Ratzinger. In the heart of the world) (Edizioni Pro-manuscripto Aurea Domus, Milano 2017), namely, that the hegemony (first de facto, then de jure) of progressivist theology in the magisterial and governing structures of the Catholic Church owes itself even – and perhaps above all – to the teachings of Professor Joseph Ratzinger which were never denied, much less overcome, by Joseph Ratzinger as bishop, cardinal and pope.

[It is an unfounded exaggeration to speak of this ‘hegemony’ before Bergoglio became pope – since when, many of his writings and discourses have appeared to legitimize, at least for the media and the public they influence, most of progressive theology, i.e., made it de jure. But one must question that before March 13, 2013, there was even a de facto hegemony, although evidently, progressivist theology had sought to impose itself on the Church after Vatican-II, with varying degrees of success or failure and on different levels of the Church structure.

But to say it had de facto hegemony is to say – which Radaelli and Livi both dare affirm – that their theology had ‘overtaken’ even the popes themselves, whose individual and collective Magisterium will quickly dispel that lie! While Paul VI may have allowed himself to be influenced by his liturgical commission into protestantizing the Mass, that would seem to be the extent of the ‘hegemony’ that the progressivists had on him, because before the Novus Ordo, he had decreed Humanae Vitae – in the very year of the Cultural Revolution in the West – against the recommendations of his progressivist study commission. And shortly after his Mass came into effect, he made that famous line about ‘the smoke of Satan having seeped into the Church’.]

This hypothesis, which thus enunciated, could appear to many as unacceptable (I refer to all those who have so far seen Ratzinger as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF and then as Pope Benedict XVi as a providential bulwark against what he himself called ‘the dictatorship of relativism’), has adequate scientific justification in Radaelli’s book which analyzes page by page Ratzinger’s fundamental theological text, Einführung in das Christentum: Vorlesungen über das apostolische Glaubensbekenntnis (Introduction to Christianity: Lectures on the Apostolic Creed) which was published in 1968 as a re-elaboration of the lectures in theology given the preceding semester by the then 41-year-old professor at the University of Tuebingen, which has had 22 editions since then, the latest one in 2017.

Radaelli is known as the foremost disciple and interpreter of Romano Amerio who in 1985 published Iota Unum. Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa Cattolica nel secolo XX (Iota unum: A study of changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th century) – which I consider the first, courageous, serious and documented denunciation of the presence of theological modernism in the form (rhetoric) and substance (ideology) of Gaudium et spes, and of other Vatican-II texts. [Livi forgets that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI himself has been an outspoken critic of some main features in G&S – perhaps one of his major disagreements with John Paul II, who, having contributed to its drafting, stood by it 100%.]

Imitating the exegetic scrupulousness and intellectual honesty of his mentor [Livi thereby implies thereby that Joseph Ratzinger lacks both qualities!], Radaelli carefully studied the Ratzinger text, citing its fundamental passages from a recent Italian edition (2000), immediately noting – and this is one of the facts that support his hypothesis – that Joseph Ratzinger, even when he had become Prefect of the CDF, never felt the need to review or modify its contents. [And why would he??? He has been both consistent and honest about what he believes and what he teaches!]

Indeed, in 2000, he wrote that his book could well have been entitled Introduction to Christianity: Yesterday, today and tomorrow, adding: “Its basic orientation was, I believe, right. Wherefore my courage in placing this book once more in the hands of readers”. (“Introductory essay to the 2000 edition”, ed. cit., p 24).

In short, Radaelli concludes, the theology that Ratzinger has always professed and which can be found in all his writings, even in those signed as Benedict XVI (his three books on JESUS OF NAZARETH and 16 volumes of his INSEGNAMENTI (Teachings) [official texts of his Magisterium as compiled by the Vatican Archives and published twice a year during his Pontificate]) [I must interrupt here to question Livi’s false assertion that the JESUS books were signed as Benedict XVI – since the then-Pope was always very clear, from the beginning, that those books are his own personal writings as Joseph Ratzinger, not as Benedict XVI] are not substantially different from that of the “Introduction..’, which is an immanentist theology in which all the traditional terms of Catholic dogma remain linguistically unaltered but their meaning has changed: he has set aside, because he considers them incomprehensible today, all the conceptual schemes proper to Scripture itself, to the Fathers of the Church, and to the Magisterium (which presuppose what Bergson called ‘the spontaneous metaphysics of the human intellect’), “the dogmas of the faith are re-interpreted with conceptual schemes that are proper to modern subjectivism (from Kant’s transcendentalism to Hegel’s dialectic idealism).

All at the expense, Radaelli correctly observes, most especially of the basic notion of Christianity, namely, faith in the revelation of supernatural mysteries by God, ‘fides qua creditur’ (faith as belief). “This idea becomes irremediably deformed in the theology of Ratzinger by the adoption of the Kantian scheme that it is impossible to have a metaphysical knowledge of God, with the consequent recourse to ‘the postulates of practical reason’, which entails the denial of the rational premises of the faith and its replacement by ‘the reasons for believing’ which constituted the classic argument of apologetics after Vatican-I, merely on the ‘desire to believe’ which was theorized by the philosophy of pragmatist religion a la William James. [Imagine accusing the Pope of Faith-and-Reason himself of denying the rational premises of the faith!]

Ratzinger has always sustained, even in his most recent discourses, that the Christian act of faith has as its specific object, not the mysteries revealed by Christ, but the person of Christ himself, as we know him in the Scriptures and in the liturgy of the Church. [And why not? As Ratzinger reiterates in the 2000 essay, Christ's message is himself! Moreover, the mysteries of the faith mean less than nothing, unless one believes in Christ as the Son of God incarnated in order to redeem man from the ultimate consequence of Original Sin – which is eternal separation from God. And while we may call the mysteries of the faith ’mysteries’, they really adapt themselves to our limited human comprehension to the point that, as Christians and as Catholics, we accept and understand that yes, God can be Three Persons and still be One, which, I suppose, would be the basic ‘mystery’ that confronts a child first learning to be Christian and making the Sign of the Cross in the name of the three Persons of the Trinity.]

And because most contemporary theology today, according to Ratzinger, is unable to speak of faith other them in ambiguous and contradictory terms, “The problem of knowing exactly the content and the meaning of the Christian faith is today enveloped in a nebulous aura of uncertainty as perhaps never before in history” (op.cit., p 25).
[So? Is that not a fact?]

In effect, theology today is constrained to admit that, in the believer’s soul, doubt is always associated with his act of faith (which he wills, even if it is 'unfounded'). [But is that not what faith is? I have faith because it was taught to me with my mother's milk, and even if as a child, I may not have been able to completely understand or explain what it was that I believed in, I knew exactly what I believed in by the time I had my first Communion, and I thank God that my belief, my faith, has always been complete and absolute, because faith, as such, does not have to be fully comprehensible nor explicable: it just is, and once you have accepted it and internalized it – as any Catholic who lives a sacramental life necessarily does – you don’t even question it. To doubt is to question your own faith, and it is a contradiction to the word ‘faith’ itself.]

This happens because the basis for the act of faith is no longer, as Vatican I taught, “the authority of God who cannot deceive himself nor deceive men”, but man himself who has wanted to construct an idea of God that satisfies his own spiritual exigencies. [Is that what Livi and Radaelli think Catholics do? Of course, each one of us is free to ‘imagine’ God as we please, but if you profess and practice Catholicism, then your basic unchanging idea of God cannot be other than the Triune God, even if Jorge Bergoglio says “There is no Catholic God”.]

But this idea of God, which the religious man of today has constructed in his own likeness and image [NO! How can any BEING other than GOD be the Three-in-One SUPREME BEING, CREATOR AND LORD OF ALL? – and if you imagine God as just like you, then you are not being Christian or Catholic at all], is inevitably uncertain and problematic, and theologian Ratzinger is aware of the radical incompatibility of God with contemporary culture.

Whoever tries to disseminate the faith among men who live and think today can really have the impression of being a clown, or even someone coming back to life from an old sarcophagus… He will realize the condition of insecurity towards which his own faith is heading, the almost unstemmable power of the unbelief that opposes his good will to believe… The threat of uncertainty weighs on the believer… (as though) he can live his faith only and always by giving in to the ocean of nothingness, of temptation and of doubt, because he has been assigned this sea of uncertainty as the only possible locus for his faith” (op. cit., pp 34-37)

[But he is describing the situation of the believer in today’s world - not saying that this is how it ought to be, but how it is - to better underscore why the message of Christ (Christ himself!) needs more than ever to be reinforced in the ‘faithful’ believer, and properly taught to catechumens and to the uninformed.]

Radaelli shows how the same expressions are found in the publicity for the Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who as Archbishop of Milan, liked to say: “Each of us has in ourself a believer and a non-believer who question each other in turn”. [That is not what Ratzinger says in the quoted passage. He says the believer today finds he has to live in a world of uncertainty that will always challenge his belief – or better yet, his faith – which does not necessarily mean that he has to succumb to this uncertainty. But do Radaelli and Livi subscribe to the Martini axiom – which is not what Ratzinger was saying? If they both pride themselves in being staunch Catholics, as firm and solid and steadfast in their faith as the Fathers of the Church – whom they accuse Ratzinger of setting aside, when he has probably been the most openly and widely Patristic of all the modern Popes! – then surely they cannot uphold Martini’s axiom!] I would add that these are the same expressions used by Gianni Vattimo in describing Christian belief as part of the Christian’s ‘weak thinking’.

But it is precisely
this substantially skeptical notion of faith in Revelation which, according to Ratzinger, allows theology a profitable confrontation with today’s philosophy and science, explicitly conceding to them the epistemological premise that a rational knowledge of God and of natural law is impossible. [But that is the secular premise. And theologians do not need to be skeptical about Revelation in order to confront this secular view – it is simply a given for their task. Are they saying that Ratzinger himself is skeptical of Revelation? What an absurd notion about someone who wrote the JESUS OF NAZARETH trilogy – in which the very premise is that Jesus was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament had foretold in so many ways, and that the Gospels narrate the true and authentic story of the historical Jesus who is also the Jesus of the faith.]

In effect, if not even the believer is certain about the existence of God and of his visible presence in Christ [which Ratzinger does not say - only that believers today are constantly challenged by unbelief about the existence of God, and consequently, about Jesus himself being the Son of God!], then in the Church’s dialog with the modern world, one must speak of God as a hypothesis [Livi appears to disapprove of this, but to the secular world, yes, God is nothing but a hypothesis they have no use for, but that does not make him a hypothesis to the believer, and if the latter must argue against a secular about God, then he has to argue against the secular’s hypothesis, in favor of the God he believes in!] It is a hypothesis [the world’s – not Ratzinger’s] that Kant believed necessary as a foundation for religious piety, but not as evidence of natural reason on the basis of which it would be reasonable to believe in the word of Christ, who reveals the Father.

That explains to me why Ratzinger, in his praiseworthy efforts at pastoral dialog with secular culture, asked his interlocutors to think in terms of a public morality based on the hypothesis that God exists. (cfr Jürgen Habermas e Joseph Ratzinger, "Ragione e fede in dialogo", trad. it. a cura di G. Bosetti, Marsilio, Venezia 2005).
[Yes, because he was talking to seculars who do not believe in God. The maxim, etsi Deus non daretur (“as if God does not exist”) is attributed to the 17th century Dutch jurist and pioneer of international law, Hugo Grotius, has been used by the Church to describe the post-Enlightenment emphasis on the autonomy of the human person, who thinks and acts “as if God does not exist”. Joseph Ratzinger has often cited it to say that it would be more rational for it to be configured as etsi Deus daretur (as if God exists), and that is what he was telling them, as Pascal used to tell his non-believing friends. To agnostics, he has said, what do you have to lose by living etsi Deus daretur?]

Thus did the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith argue on the eve of his election as Pope:

We must therefore overturn the Enlightenment axiom and say: even he who fails to find the way to accepting God, must nonetheless seek to live and direct his life ‘veluti si Deus daretur’, as if God did exist. This is the advice Pascal gave to his non-believer friends. This is the advice we would like to give even today to our friends who do not believe. This way, no one would be limited in his freedom, but all our work would find a support and a criterion which it urgently needs.” (“Europe in the crisis of cultures”, lecture given on the night of April 1, 2005, in Subiaco, at the St. Scholastica Monastery, when he received the Premio San Benedetto “for the promotion of life and the family in Europe”).

I read with particular attention the pages of Radaelli’s book in which the concept of ‘weak faith’ is adequately documented. It involves a philosophical-theological problem which, for its importance from the pastoral viewpoint, has always been at the center of my own studies (cfr Antonio Livi, "Razionalità della fede nella Rivelazione. Un’analisi filosofica alla luce della logica aletica", Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2005; "Logica della testimonianza. Quando credere è ragionevole", Lateran University Press, Città del Vaticano 2007; "Filosofia del senso comune. Logica della scienza e della fede", Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2010; "Quale pretesa di verità può essere riconosciuta alle dimostrazioni filosofiche dell’esistenza di Dio", in "L’esistenza di Dio. Un’innegabile verità del senso comune che dalla formalizzazione metafisica può ricevere piena giustificazione dialettica", a cura di F. Renzi, Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2016, pp. 19-36).
[A bit of self-puffery here!]

Radaelli’s analysis of Ratzinger’s text made me understand why this great theologian [Freudian slip by Livi? How can he call someone he virtually accuses of heresy and being responsible for the post-conciliar drift towards heresy 'a great theologian'?] has accepted as inevitable today a fideistic interpretation of Christianity [WHOA! Fideism is defined as an “exclusive or basic reliance upon faith alone, accompanied by a consequent disparagement of reason and utilized especially in the pursuit of philosophical or religious truth” - how, once again, can Livi make such statements about the heretofore unchallenged Pope of Faith-and-Reason?] and dismissed as useless ‘neo-scholastic apologetics’ a return to the ‘praeambula fidei’ of Thomas Aquinas that was also acknowledged in the dogmatic documents of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council. [I'll have to find out in INTRODUCTION... where it is that Ratzinger writes that, if he wrote it at all! According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the praeambula fidei (which date back to the Fathers, far before Thomas Aquinas) are those truths preparatory to faith - the existence of God and the fact of revelation- which form the motives of credibility of the Christian religion and so make the profession of the Christian Faith a rationabile obsequium (reasonable service). Can anyone in his right mind imagine Joseph Ratzinger dismissing that?]

The reason is that from the beginning, namely, since ‘Introduction to Christianity', Ratzinger has taken part in that most efficient cultural operation that Cornelio Fabro defined as the ‘adventure of progressivist theology’ and which did just have Karl Rahner as its only protagonist.

Usually, too much importance is given to the doctrinal disagreement between Rahner and Ratzinger, following which the latter left the ‘Concilium’ group of theologians to join those of ‘Communio’. [One would think from Livi’s account that Ratzinger only left Concilium because of the dispute with Rahner and that he then went on to join Communio – when, in fact, he was among the founding members of Communio, the theological journal started by the post-Vatican II theologians who disagreed with the progressivist interpretation of Vatican II that prevailed in Concilium, the first post-conciliar theological journal.]

The truth is that the disagreement was only about dialectical methodology and not about the basic content of the ‘anthropological turning point’ that both wished to imprint on Catholic theology in view of a radical reform of the Church. [Livi’s conclusion, attributing an identity of purpose between Rahner and Ratzinger.]

Just read what Ratzinger himself wrote of his initial collaboration with Rahner during Vatican-II:

“Working with him, I realized that Rahner and I, although we agreed on many points and many aspirations, lived on two different planets. He, like me, was committed to liturgical reform, to a new use for exegesis in the Church and in theology, but his reasons were as diverse from mine. His theology – despite the Patristic readings in his initial years – was totally characterized by the tradition of Suarezian scholasticism [Francisco Suarez, 1548-1617, Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher and theologian, generally regarded among the greatest scholastics after Thomas Aquinas] and his new version of it in the light of German idealism and Heidegger.

It was a speculative and philosophical theology, in which, ultimately, Scriptures and the Fathers no longer had a very important part, and in which, above all, the historical dimension was of little importance. I, on the other hand, because of my training, was entirely reared on the Scriptures and the Fathers, and on thinking that was essentially historical”. (Joseph Ratzinger, "La mia vita. Autobiografia", Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2005, p. 123).

[Well, does that not prove the opposite of what Livi has been saying about the commonality between Rahner and Ratzinger, and what Radaelli claims that Ratzinger has ‘set aside the conceptual schemes proper to Scriptures themselves and the Fathers of the Church”?]

This digression allows me to reaffirm that the theme confronted by Radaelli’s new book and the acute critique with which he treats it renders a great service to understanding what has been happening in the Church from the 1960s to the present. They are events that I have often synthesized in the words “heresy (is) in power’. I express myself in terms that may seem simplistic or exaggerated but instead they are fully justified by the facts.

The reality is that neo-modernist theology, with its obvious ethical drift, has gradually assumed hegemony in the Church (in seminaries, in the pontifical universities, in the doctrinal commissions of episcopal conferences, and in the dicasteries of the Holy See), and from these positions of power, has influenced the themes and language of various expressions of ecclesial magisterium, and this influence has been fell (in various degrees) in all the documents of Vatican II and many of the teachings of the post-conciliar popes. (cfr Antonio Livi, "Come la teologia neomodernista è passata dal rifiuto del Magistero ancora dogmatico all’esaltazione di un Magistero volutamente ambiguo", in "Teologia e Magistero, oggi", Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2017, pp. 59-86). [So, apparently Livi himself only recently set down these thoughts in his own book. He is, by the way, the editorial director of the Leonardo da Vinci publishing house.]

These popes have all been conditioned by this hegemony that Joseph Ratzinger himself designated just before he was elected pope, as the ‘dictatorship of relativism’. [In a controversy that attracted a number of contributions over several months in 2011, Sandro Magister highlighted the ‘disappointment’ of many traditionalists – including Radaelli and Robert de Mattei – that Benedict XVI had chosen to ‘ignore’ the errors of Vatican II itself, while concentrating only on what went wrong after the Council. In their opinion, the first error was “the renunciation of the Church's authority to exercise, when necessary, a magisterium of definition and condemnation; the renunciation, that is, of the anathema, in exchange for dialogue”. In a way, that is true, because the current idea of 'dialog' presupposes political correctness, i.e., not giving offense to others, and its particularly erroneous variant, 'ecclesial correctness', whereby, despite Canon 212, no Catholic can or should criticize the pope, however wrong the latter may be.

But since it takes another Council to ‘undo’ whatever outstanding errors were made by Vatican-II, Benedict XVI could only seek to rationalize, as he did, with the December 2005 ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ address, the most controversial decisions of Vatican II as contained in its documents by taking the tried-and-tested Church approach to interpret ambiguities in the Vatican II documents in the light of Church tradition. (This, of course, is the principal justification Cardinal Mueller makes for AL, but with the best will in the world, the justification cannot hold for AL because of the Pandora’s box of counter-traditional and counter-doctrinal practices it has let loose. One could say that, too, for the Vatican-II documents, of course, but progressivist interpretations have been countered and denounced by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whereas the liberal interpretations of AL are not just upheld but endorsed by the current pope.)]

Paul VI certainly presided over and directed the Council wisely after the death of John XXIII, and he must be credited with some providential interventions, such as the ‘Nota explicative previa’ which he added to the docmatic constitution Lumen gentium, as well as excluding from discussion at the Council the topics of priestly celibacy and artificial contraception (which he later addressed in the encyclicals Sacerdotis Coelibatus and Humanae Vitae), but at the same time, he upheld the interpretation of Vatican-II as an ‘anthropolgical turning point’ for ecclesiology, as the supreme event that recognized the humanistic values of modernity on the basis of a common ‘religion of man’.

John Paul II certainly had the courage to condemn theological deviations in morality (Veritatis splendor), and took up the teachings of Vatican II against fideism (Fides et ratio) but he allowed Karl Rahner to consolidate
his hegemony on ecclesiological studies [Livi confuses 'influence' with 'hegemony', which means dominant leadership] and publicly honored him (with a letter of praise on his 80th birthday) and other important exponents of progressivist theology (naming Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar cardinals).

At the same time, he was deaf to the appeals of many authoritative representatives of the world’s bishops who asked him to effectively counteract the heretical drift of the ecumenical movement and of relations with the Jews. (cfr Mario Oliveri, "Un Vescovo scrive alla Santa Sede sui pericoli pastorali del relativismo dogmatico", Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2017). [I am surprised Livi did not cite Benedict XVI's Anglicanorum coetibus as an example of the 'heretical drift in the ecumenical movement'! And what does he have against Catholic relations with the Jews?

No need to speak of the present pope. There is enough in the precise and relevant citations made of him by Radaelli in this most useful book.

Now, to give further context to how far out the Radaelli-Livi attack on Ratzinger's theology is, here is an article written shortly after Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, in which some Anglophone theologians speak out on his theology:

Theologians reflect on the new Pope's theology
By Jerry Filtreau
May 2005

As a theologian the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI has been described as Augustinian rather than Thomist and more ressourcement than aggiornamento.

These are categories many Catholics may not recognize, but theologians who know his work said they help characterize important aspects of how the new pope, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, thinks.

The French term ressourcement, meaning a return to the sources, and the Italian term aggiornamento, updating or modernizing, were two ways of speaking about the task of church reform and renewal at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. In the years following the council, they began to be seen as distinct terms identifying different views of the council.

"I think Cardinal Ratzinger had some concerns with what he perceived to be the drift of some of post-Vatican II Catholic theology and, to compensate for that, perhaps stressed the 'ressourcement,'" said Father Robert P. Imbelli, a theologian at Boston College.

"But I don't think he is unaware of the need for 'aggiornamento.' The question is the relative balance between them," he said. "I use those two terms which were used at the time of the council as an effort to speak about the dialectic and tension of Vatican II, which has perdured. I think the difficulty is to keep the tension, and too often one opts for an either/or rather than a both/and."

St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest theologians of the ancient church, is noted for his strong emphasis on the corruption of human nature by sin and the absolute necessity of grace for salvation.

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest medieval theologians, did not deny sin or the need for grace, but he placed greater emphasis on the goodness of nature, including human nature.

For an Augustinian theologian like the new pope, "there's a certain pessimism about what a human being can do on his own without God's grace," said Dennis Doyle, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "I think that does color his approach, and it mixes in very well with his strong anti-Marxism, which is also at the same time an anti-utopianism, the idea that human beings should not try to create a perfect world on their own." [Because Original Sin makes that objectively intrinsically impossible!]

The idea that there is "something very negative about the human experience if we consider it apart from God's grace ... is a strong characteristic of his work," Doyle said.

In Cardinal Ratzinger's homily to the other cardinals just before entering the conclave where he was elected pope, that strong Augustinian bent came through clearly as he warned against "a dictatorship of relativism," "a trivialization of evil" and alien ideologies assailing the church, "from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism."

As a young priest teaching theology in Germany, Father Ratzinger studied St. Augustine extensively. His first book, in 1954, was "Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche" ("People and House of God in Augustine's Teaching on the Church").

In an article in a German theological review in 1969 he wrote, "Augustine has kept me company for more than 20 years. I have developed my theology in a dialogue with Augustine, though naturally I have tried to conduct this dialogue as a man of today."

No short article or couple of labels can capture the complexity and nuances of thought of someone who has been part of the Catholic theological world for more than half a century, the author of more than 60 books and hundreds of articles, one who, as head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has been deeply involved in the greatest questions of theology and teaching confronting the church in the past 24 years.

But Father Imbelli said such a discussion of a person's theological roots and leanings, despite its limitations, can be helpful in getting "away from the too-easy liberal-conservative dichotomy."

He called Pope Benedict "a person of substance who is firm in doctrine but also able to explain the faith, not just issue dictums. He will be a pope of reconciliation and peace."

He said he believed the pope's choice of Benedict as his papal name reflected first of all his admiration for St. Benedict, whose life and spirituality were "profoundly rooted in Christ." For the pope, as for his namesake, "Christ is the measure" of everything, he said.

Father John T. Ford, a professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, said that for many years he used Father Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity," which came out in English in 1969, as a basic text for courses on Christianity.

He, like others, recognized a shift in the theologian's approach to postconciliar reform just a few years after the council. By all accounts the young Father Ratzinger was part of the progressive wing of the church before and during the Second Vatican Council, in which he participated as theological expert to German Cardinal Joseph Frings. He was involved in the drafting of several of the council's documents.

Near the end of the council, which was held in four sessions from 1962 to 1965, the beginnings of his break with many fellow progressives could be seen in concerns he had about the council's Pastoral Constitution on the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes.

In The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger, British Dominican Father Aidan Nichols wrote that in Father Ratzinger's notes on the development of that document during the council's third session, he recorded "the unresolved tension between two tendencies, one which gave enthusiastic affirmation to the world in a theology of the incarnation, the other presenting the much more critical posture of a theology of the cross."

"This contrast enables us to establish more closely the nature of Ratzinger's 'progressivism' at this point," the British theologian wrote. "It was controlled not so much by the imperative of modernization, or adaptation, 'aggiornamento,' but by that of a return to the biblical, patristic and high medieval sources, 'ressourcement.'"

Father Nichols said that in Father Ratzinger's published notes on the council's fourth session, his objections to the optimism about the world found in Gaudium et Spes increased.

In the epilogue to the fourth session notes, he added, Father Ratzinger struck "more than one somber note."

"Here and there, he thought, and perhaps more frequently than this phrase would imply, 'renewal' would be regarded as synonymous with the 'dilution and trivialization of the whole.' Here and there, the pleasure of liturgical experimentation would 'belittle and discredit' the reform in worship. Here and there, people would enquire after modernity, not after truth, and make what was contemporary the measure of all they did," Father Nichols wrote.

In a 1967 commentary on the council, Father Ratzinger repeatedly criticized Gaudium et Spes, calling it "unsatisfactory" and saying it "is not at all prepared to make sin the center of the theological edifice."

As Gaudium et Spes was being developed, Doyle said, "everybody agreed that the world is an ambiguous place and that the church has the light of Christ to offer to the world." He said the document, however, reflects more the kind of approach that another prominent German theologian at the council, Jesuit Father Karl Rahner, would take.

"Rahner's spin on that was that Christianity is making explicit what to some degree is already true about all of human experience," Doyle said. "Ratzinger, consistently throughout his theological life, always gave more of an emphasis to the need for an explicit encounter with Christ and he did not point to the presence of grace in the world that is somehow prior to or other than what is explicitly Christian not that he wouldn't acknowledge it, but he wouldn't use it as a starting point or as a point of emphasis in the way that Karl Rahner did."

Father Ford spoke of a shift in Father Ratzinger's direction around 1968, during the student uprisings in the United States and Western Europe. "There was a certain exuberance or euphoria after the Second Vatican Council," he said, but 1968 saw student protests against the war in Vietnam, the issuance of Pope Paul VI's condemnation of artificial birth control, followed by organized public dissent to that teaching from many theologians and the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

In his 2000 biography, Cardinal Ratzinger, John L. Allen reports that as a theology professor at Tubingen in 1968, Father Ratzinger was shocked "that the theology faculties of Tubingen became the 'real ideological center' of the movement toward Marxism."

In one of his own books, Salt of the Earth, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of the confrontations and challenges to the faith in 1968, "That experience made it clear to me that the abuse of the faith had to be resisted precisely if one wanted to uphold the will of the council."

Father Imbelli said that as a priest in the years following the Second Vatican Council, the new pope "had begun as one of the people who was promoting the new review, Concilium." I]Concilium is an international theological journal founded in 1965 and published in seven languages to, in its words, "promote theological discussion in the spirit of Vatican II." Father Ratzinger was on the founding board.

Father Imbelli added that within a few years, however, Father Ratzinger "became concerned about the direction" in which that journal was going. He assisted Swiss theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar in founding another journal that would restore the balance they thought was lacking in Concilium.

Communio, a quarterly begun in 1972 and now published in 15 semi-autonomous editions in Europe, Latin America and the United States, says it is committed to a "program of renewal through return to the sources of the authentic tradition."

Communio promotes reflective circles where its readers regularly get together to pray and discuss articles in the journal and issues in the church. One of its goals is to help overcome the polarization between church traditionalists and progressives. As a priest, bishop and cardinal the new pope has been a frequent contributor.

Father Imbelli said, "I tend to associate Communio with the 'ressourcement' of Vatican II and Concilium with the 'aggiornamento.'"

Father Ford said another key event that alarmed Father Ratzinger just a few years after the council was the publication of Infallible? An Inquiry by his former colleague at Tubingen, Father Hans Kung.

"I was just appalled by Kueng's book. It was more a trumpet blast than a serious work of theology," Father Ford said. However, he said, "it was picked up in popular circles" and for the next decade "it caused the wrong debate."

Father Ratzinger was made Archbishop of Munich and Freising and a cardinal in 1977, and in 1979 he was involved in the decision of the Vatican, in conjunction with the German bishops, that Father Kueng could no longer teach as a Catholic theologian.

While speaking of the time around 1968-70 as a kind of turning point, Doyle cautioned that "this always has to be qualified, in the sense that he also argues that he didn't fundamentally change his positions."

Rather, Doyle said, the radicalization among students, the dissent against the birth control teaching and other things, including a discussion in Concilium on whether there should be a Vatican III, "brought home to him that the Second Vatican Council could be interpreted and applied as though it were the starting point of some liberal trajectory."

It was in that time, he said, that "he seemed to become aware of how distinct his own positions were from the direction that the implementation of the council was going."

And here's the first of two replies to the Livi article posted by Magister on his blog. The writer is a Lawyer from Trieste who is a member of the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists.

Joseph Ratzinger as theologian:
Modern but not modernist

By Antonio Caragliu
Translated from

January 4, 2018

Antonio Livi, in his recent review of Enrico Maria Radaelli’s latest book, has the merit of being clear and to invite us to consider some basic problems regarding the always actual and relevant question of the relationship between faith and reason. [Yet he never once uses that binomial in his review!]

He criticizes Joseph Ratzinger for assuming “the epistemological presupposition that a rational knowledge of God and natural law is impossible”, thus disowning the classical doctrine of the ‘preambula fidei’ and making himself -complicit with ‘modernism’, its skepticism and its subjectivity. [How anyone could say that of the hidden co-author of Fides et ratio, and whose linchpin argument for the new evangelization was the utter compatibility (and inseparability) of Christian faith and reason! If he 'assumes' the epistemological presupposition Livi cites, it is an academic assumption, to lay the ground for contesting it, but he is not assuming the belief himself that it is impossible to rationally know God!]

Livi’s hypothesis does not convince me. But he leads us to ask an interesting question: What is the specifically modern attribute of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology?

The emeritus Pope himself explicitly reaffirms the modernity of his own theological reflections: “I have sought to bring the Church forward on the basis of a modern interpretation of the faith”, he says in Last Conversations to Peter Seewald.

As Livi warns, the modernity of Ratzinger’s theology influences a consideration of the classic doctrine of the praeambula fidei – those truths of a rational and natural order that prepare us for the faith. But this consideration, unlike what Livi claims, does not contradict the principle of the possibility that God can be rationally known, which Ratzinger reaches by another path.

This path takes into account the methodological atheism proper to the experimental sciences which, setting aside the logical aspect of the question of whether God exists, marked the passage from classical culture to the modern. Inn dealing with this methodological atheism, Livi and Ratzinger take two different paths.

Livi takes the path of the metaphysics of ‘common sense’, which he defines as the “organic ensemble of those certainties about the existence of beings in our immediate experience which are always and necessarily at the basis of every other certainty, or of every other claim to truth in judgment, whether existential or atrributive (A. Livi, "Filosofia del senso comune. Logica della scienza e della fede", Roma 2010, p. 7).

Livi’s explicitly metaphysical path is centered on the determination of ‘primary proofs’ that remain substantially extraneous to the investigation of fact that is proper to modern sciences.

Whereas Ratzinger chooses a path that I would define an 'ontological examination in depth’ of the epistemological considerations of modern science. An ontological analysis that derives the origin of human reason from the ‘creative Reason’ for all being. [I have to keep reminding myself: ontology has to do with the nature of being, existence, reality. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.]

At this point, one must specify how the knowledge that emerges with modern science is not so much a decription of facts and things (this is the error which persists in neo-positivism and analytical philosophy), but a knowledge of laws, that is, of the relationships between things, of functions. Such a methodological approach does not require determining the cause of why things exist.

That is why Ratzinger’s ontological analysis is not oriented to ‘entities’ and the cause of their existence – as classical metaphysics does, or Livi’s – but towards the legality and rationality that constitute the inevitable premise of scientific research. It is a modern path that is is also extraordinarily adherent to Biblical faith.

Ratzinger writes in his “Introductory essay to the 2000 edition’ of Introduction to Christianity which is the object of the criticism by both Radaelli and Livi:

“The prologue to the Gospel of John presents the idea of logos as central to the Christian faith in God. The word Logos means reason, meaning, but also word. Therefore, it has a sense of being a relationship, of being creative. God, who is Logos, assures man that the world has sense, it is rational, that existence has sense, that God corresponds to reason and reason corresponds to God, even if his reason constantly exceeds ours and often seems obscure to us. The world was born of reason, and this reason is a person, it is love: this is the message of the Biblical faith in God. Reason can speak of God, rather, it must speak of God, if it does not want to amputate itself. The idea of creation is linked to reason. The world is not just maya – appearance – that man must ultimately leave behind. The world cannot be reduced to an infinite wheel of suffering from which man seeks to be free. The world is positive”. ("Introduzione al cristianesimo", Brescia 2005, p. 21).

Between the ontological truth of creative Reason and the transcendental premises of science, there is no logically necessary relationship. As earlier said, scientific laws do without the question of the existence of God and the origin of reality. Because of this logical reason, Ratzinger maintains that the existence of God remains “the best hypothesis, even if it only remains a hypothesis" (J. Ratzinger, "L'Europa di Benedetto nella crisi delle culture", Siena 2005, p. 123).

I believe that the specifically modern character of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology lies in considering this logical reason.
It is a modern theology, but not skeptical, subjective or modernist.

The second 'reply' posted by Magister came from, strangely enough, one of the prominent 'pupils' of Livi, according to the article on Livi in Italian Wikipedia. Arzillo, who often contributes to Magister's posts, is described as an expert in the philosophy of law. He too has written books on philosophy and theology.Perhaps out of deference to his mentor, Arzillo does not even mention that he is replying to Livi's assault on Ratzinger:

Ratzinger's theology points
to St Paul at the Areopagus,
not to Kant and Hegel

by Francesco Arzillo

January 10, 2018

I think that the final part of the unforgettable address by Benedict XVI at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris on September 12, 2008, could offer a decisive key for understanding succinctly - but also retrospectively - the true core of the thought of the “pope theologian.”

These are his exact words:

«The fundamental structure of Christian proclamation 'outwards' – towards searching and questioning mankind – is seen in Saint Paul’s address at the Areopagus. We should remember that the Areopagus was not a form of academy at which the most illustrious minds would meet for discussion of lofty matters, but a court of justice, which was competent in matters of religion and ought to have opposed the import of foreign religions.

This is exactly what Paul is reproached for: he seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities” (Acts 17:18). To this, Paul responds: "I have found an altar of yours with this inscription: ‘to an unknown god’. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you" (17:23). Paul is not proclaiming unknown gods. He is proclaiming him whom men do not know and yet do know – the unknown-known; the one they are seeking, whom ultimately they know already, and who yet remains the unknown and unrecognizable

The deepest layer of human thinking and feeling somehow knows that he must exist, that at the beginning of all things, there must be not irrationality, but creative Reason – not blind chance, but freedom.

«Yet even though all men somehow know this, as Paul expressly says in the Letter to the Romans (1:21), this knowledge remains unreal: a God who is merely imagined and invented is not God at all. If he does not reveal himself, we cannot gain access to him. The novelty of Christian proclamation is that it can now say to all peoples: he has revealed himself. He personally. And now the way to him is open.

The novelty of Christian proclamation does not consist in a thought, but in a deed: God has revealed himself. Yet this is no blind deed, but one which is itself "Logos" – the presence of eternal reason in our flesh. "Verbum caro factum est"
(Jn 1:14): just so, amid what is made (factum) there is now "Logos", "Logos" is among us. Creation (factum) is rational. Naturally, the humility of reason is always needed, in order to accept it: man’s humility, which responds to God’s humility.

«Our present situation differs in many respects from the one that Paul encountered in Athens, yet despite the difference, the two situations also have much in common. Our cities are no longer filled with altars and with images of multiple deities. God has truly become for many the great unknown.

But just as in the past, when behind the many images of God the question concerning the unknown God was hidden and present, so too the present absence of God is silently besieged by the question concerning him. "Quaerere Deum" – to seek God and to let oneself be found by him, that is today no less necessary than in former times.

A purely positivistic culture which tries to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences. What gave Europe’s culture its foundation – the search for God and the readiness to listen to him – remains today the basis of any genuine culture.»

In these dense passages of the address of Benedict XVI, enthusiasts of philosophy and theology can find the thousand complex strands of the question of Revelation, as it is posed today in the mind of those who would like to be faithful to the wealth of revealed truth and of the understanding elaborated by the Church’s magisterium, above all in the two Vatican councils.

These councils must be interpreted, as Leo Scheffczyk taught, according to a criterion of strict continuity - I would say of reciprocity - from which it can be demonstrated that:
- On the one hand, Vatican I also incorporates the concept of the self-revelation of God (DH 3004), which is not an innovation of Vatican II, and which - taken in itself - is older than the re-use of it made by philosophical idealism in a different context of thought: a reference to this can be found, in fact, as far back as in Saint Bonaventure;
- On the other hand, Vatican II must be understood in the sense that “the words and actions presented by God themselves communicate the truth and can be accepted with reasonableness in their sense only as truth” (cf. L. Scheffczyck, "Fondamenti del dogma. Introduzione alla dogmatica,” Rome, Lateran University Press, 2010, pp. 82-83).

In the address of Benedict XVI in Paris, somewhat subtle but also very concrete, one can therefore find “in a nutshell” truly everything. There is a realistic understanding of the “preambula fidei.” There is the need for salvation. There is human reason in its various forms, and there is the Logos/Advent. There is human history intertwined with that of salvation.

But it does not contain any preliminary barrier of a Kantian nature, or in any case of irrational, pragmatic, or antimetaphysical origin.

In this latter regard it is opportune to point out that in the address “The faith and theology of our days” delivered in Guadalajara, Mexico in May of 1996, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger did not limit himself to criticizing certain forms of neo-Scholastic rationalism, citing as “more well-founded historically and objectively the position of J. Pieper” (who was in any case a thinker of Thomistic origin). But above all, in criticizing the relativistic theories of Hick, Knitter, and other theologians, he emphasized precisely the fact that they are ultimately founded “on a rationalism that, in Kant’s manner, maintains that reason cannot know that which is metaphysical”; while instead “man possesses a more extensive dimension than Kant and the various post-Kantian philosophies attributed to him.”

Moreover, in keeping with these premises, in the address to the international congress on the natural law organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on February 12, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI recalled

“another less visible danger, but no less disturbing: the method that permits us to know ever more deeply the rational structures of matter makes us ever less capable of perceiving the source of this rationality, creative Reason. The capacity to see the laws of material being makes us incapable of seeing the ethical message contained in being, a message that tradition calls lex naturalis, natural moral law. This word for many today is almost incomprehensible due to a concept of nature that is no longer metaphysical, but only empirical.”

It is no coincidence, for that matter, that Ratzinger’s thought has been the object instead - and I would say prevalently - of a criticism of a “progressivist” nature. Klaus Müller, in a calm and dense reading of the work of the pope theologian, in retracing the question of “Platonism” and of the “Hellenization of Christianity,” in fact emphasized how “Ratzinger never developed a positive and creative relationship with modern thought,” and in the first place with the grand season of German idealism (K. Müller, "Il teologo papa,” in a supplement to "Il Regno - Documenti" no. 3, February 1, 2013).

It seems to me that these few references could help bring the “Ratzinger question” back onto the right track.

[I was going to post a third reply, but once again, I am warned that I am overstepping 65,000 characters, so I shall carry er to the next post.]
00Monday, January 15, 2018 11:02 AM

This reply to Radaelli/Livi comes from a most unexpected source - the Italian edition of Aleteia...

Ratzinger a heretic?
Let’s not be absurd!

By Giovanni Marcotullio
Translated from
January 3, 2018

The disciple and heir of Romano Amerio, Enrico Maria Radaelli, has dedicated his latest book to a systematic contestation of Joseph Ratzinger’s INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY. Mons. Antonio Livi wrote a review that Sandro Magister published online.

Much can certainly be discussed quite amply on this issue while just as much can be made clear – from Radaelli and Livi's adherence to the embarrassing [???] Correctio Filialis to the pope on AL [they are both signatories], to considering the generic aversion of a certain kind of ‘theology’ to all of the Church’s living Tradition (in which the magisterium and theology of the 20th century would seem to be nothing but a pretext).

Sandro Magister yesterday published the text of a review by Mons. Antonio Livi of a new book by Enrico Maria Radaelli, "Al cuore di Ratzinger. Al cuore del mondo" (At the heart of Ratzinger. At the heart of the world) [I think it translates best idiomatically as ‘At the heart of Ratzinger is the heart of ‘the world’].

Radaelli’s hypothesis is synthesized in extreme terms by Livi thus: that the hegemony (first de facto ,then de jure) of progressivist theology in the magisterial and governing structures of the Catholic Church owes itself even – and perhaps above all – to the teachings of Professor Joseph Ratzinger which were never denied nor even overcome by Joseph Ratzinger as bishop, cardinal and pope.

Livi adds: “This hypothesis, which thus enunciated, could appear to many as unacceptable (I refer to all those who have so far seen Ratzinger as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF and then as Pope Benedict XVi as a providential bulwark against what he himself called ‘the dictatorship of relativism’, has adequate scientific justification in Radaelli’s book which analyzes page by page Ratzinger’s fundamental theological text, "Einführung in das Christentum: Vorlesungen über das apostolische Glaubensbekenntnis" (Introduction to Christianity: Lectures on the Apostolic Creed) which was published in 1968 as a re-elaboration of the lectures in theology given the preceding semested by the then young professor at the University of Tuebingen, which has had 22 editions since then, the latest one on 2017.”

A passage ever useful to remind us that the black legend of Ratzinger as the “German shepherd’ of the faith was a [not always] surreptitious campaign of calumny for decades against a man whose gentleness is equaled only by his erudition and piety.

Officials of the CDF have personally related to me of proceedings against certain authors [charged with possible anti-Catholic writings] that lasted far more than expected because ‘il Cardinale’ would delay a verdict for weeks by calling new hearings, asking for more explanations, reflections, prayer… One day, someone will tell the story of “Joseph Ratzinger, the ‘inquisitor’ with the heart of gold”.

But not today. What is being told today is the nonsense about “Joseph Ratzinger, heretic in disguise”. At first glance, it would seem that the defamatory discourse also contains some praise – a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge praising Jacob Marley for his openminded kindness to orphans and widows. But in order not to fall right away into such simplistic Manichaeism (black or white) one must remember that acclaimed progessivist modernist theologians like Hans Kueng have always pointed – and still do – to Ratzinger as the acme of conservatism.

Not seldom in the ecceisastical sciences, the crossfire to which a theory or a person is subjected is a good if rudimentary criterion to discern the goodness of these sciences. But the opportunity presented by Radaelli’s book demands more profound and extensive reflection. We could get a first impression from the immediate endorsement-agreement offered by Massimo Introvigne on Facebook:

“Interesting intervention by don Antonio Livi, who is the true maître a penser of those who run La Bussola and other publications hostile to Pope Francis, in which he accuses Benedict XVI of heresy – and even John Paul II does not come out well, especially because he was much too friendly with the Jews. It is a very very important text to understand the ideology underlying the campaigns against Pope Francis, whose most influential theoreticians – who are not necessarily those who are most often heard – are not at all nostalgic for Benedict XVI but accuse all the post-conciliar popes globally of heresy (some of them, in truth, do not like either Pius XI or Pius XII, because for them, the last pope whose faith they trust was Pius X who succeeded a pope they mistrust, Leo XIII). As I have written often before, these are the true leaders of the revolt against Francis, and those ingenuous ones who still lament for Benedict XVI only serve as cannon fodder in battles fought by generals they don’t even know.

Introvigne is a sociologist of religions – one of the foremost on the world – as well as a man who, through his own personal trajectory, has been able to familiarize himself thoroughly with theological topics, and is therefore not forced to judge them as an outsider. Without getting into the merits of the various headlines that Introvigne includes as evidence for the ‘campaigns against Pope Francis’, I do share the following with him:
1. The enemies of Pope Francis turn up their noses even at the popes who preceded him.
2. For every post-conciliar pope, they have always brought up the words of Paul VI about the ‘smoke of Satan’ that has entered the Chruch (the only Montinian statement they like, but which they promptly turn against him.)
3. When one scratches under the surface of their vaunted appreciation for Pius XII (it seems difficult to resist the magnetic fascination of such a hieratic man), and tries to test that appreciation, one would find them either unprepared or extremely critical about documents like Divino afflante Spiritu, Mystici corporis, and others.
4. Since those documents by Pius XII were only the latest touches that preceded the great event of Vatican-II, these critics turn up their noses even more if they go back to Pius XII, with his Quadragesimo anno and Casti connubii.

So, who is the pope who they think is good? I would say: No one. In words, they might say Pius X (as Introvigne suggests), but Papa Sarto was appreciated by these critics above all for some of his dialectical opposition to the modernist tendencies of some theologians as in the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, and I cannot resist thinking that even him – a gentle man who as Patriarch of Venice gladly visited an insane asylum in full ‘choir dress’ in order to entertain the wards with the spectacle of ecclesiastical garments (“They like red,” he told his aides) – would have rapidly drawn complaints from the professional belly-achers for whom bile appears to be the sacrament of their religion.

But I would not say this of Mons. Livi, whose balanced erudition I have always had great respect, which did not keep me from thinking about him recently as the figleaf which the 62 signatories of the Correctio Filialis managed to get on their side. [Why would they need a 'fig leaf', to begin with - since the Correctio is as solid as such a document can be?]

I have not yet read Radaelli’s book, so I cannot speak here of the latest work by the heir of Romano Amerio. But I will comment on some of the things Livi wrote. As for Amerio and his ‘school’, in general, it is worth reprising a very instructive passage from a bibliographical summary published on In which two introductions are quoted, which were published respectively by Fede e Cultura and by Lindau: Iota Unum as an instrument to “realize the pope’s project to read a substantial continuity vetween the magisterium and theology before Vatican II, during Vatican II and after Vatican-II”, as Mons. Luigi Negri wrote; or Iota Unum as an instrument “to discern and admire the unchangeable identity of our Church, the lastingness of what she defines. We recognize her identity and her unity in her diversity”, as Mons. Castrillon-Hoyos did.

The two statements resemble each other in certain ways: both emphasize the possibility that Iota Unum offers to construct an overall framework in which what the Church has always taught and the innovations of Vatican I could be coherently and organically reconciled, a framework that would thus better describe the multiform ‘face of the Church'.

The difference is that Mons. Negri favors an a posteriori reading of Vatican II in the light of the underlying need to identify its continuity with Tradition, while Cardinal Castrillon emphasizes the multiform diversity of the Church a priori – ‘the wealth of the Church in its polychrome manifestation'.

It is not my intention to be disrespectful but I have the impression that neither of them ever read Iota Unum. Or rather, it is very probable that they had read it and then sought to salvage what was salvageable, namely by directing the reader to a hermeneutic effort that would embrace all of the 20th century (it was precisely in 1918, a hundred years ago, that Romano Guardini’s Lo spirito della liturgia was published), and would motivate him to read every passage in the book – even those that are not necessarily positive – as a stage in an organic development. That is very probable, but the editors of were right in their assessment: that both Mons. Negri and Cardinal Castrillon were not speaking about the spirit of Iota Unum, nor of Amerio nor of his school.

But we are not now talking of Amerio but of Radaelli, and not even of the latter, but of Livi and his presentation of Radaelli’s book, and it was not to settle any accounts that we cited the frank and instructive commentary from unavox, but rather to remind the reader that the question of the current diatribes in the church will not be extinguished with respect to the present pontificate as some would have us understand – that is just propaganda, as Introvigne suggests, which is useful to mobilize the ‘cannon fodder’ (whose surrogates today are the ‘lions of the [computer] keyboard’). The question is really the diversity of Catholic theology throughout the 20th century, and this time it is being unfurled starting from the writings of one of its indispensable protagonists. Joseph Ratzinger, precisely.

That Introduction to Christianity, which the Polish Pope admired so much that it led him to name the then-Archbishop of Munich Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, effectively represents a first academic reading of the documents of Vatican II (where the young Ratzinger distinguished himself as the theological consultant of Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne) [and shortly thereafter, was named on his own as an official theological expert for the Council], substantiated and tested in the fire of the most ancient Patristic sources and then weighed by the criteria of modern criticism.

That text did not have 22 editions of its original (not counting all its translations) because it was written by Joseph Ratzinger: Ratzinger became known as the giant that he is because of this book. Therefore it will surely be worthwhile for anyone deeply interested in theology to acquaint himself with Radaelli’s close [page by page, according to Livi] critique.

Of course, Radaelli’s hypothesis is arduous, as Livi synthesizes it:

”[It is] an immanentist theology in which all the traditional terms of Catholic dogma remain linguistically unaltered but their meaning has changed: he has set aside, because he considers them incomprehensible today, all the conceptual schemes proper to Scripture itself, to the Fathers of the Church, and to the Magisterium (which presuppose what Bergson called ‘the spontaneous metaphysics of the human intellect’, the dogmas of the faith are re-interpreted with conceptual schemes that are proper to modern subjectivism (from Kant’s transcendentalism to Hegel’s dialectic idealism).

All at the expense, Radaelli correctly observes, most especially of the basic notion of Christianity, namely, faith in the revelation of supernatural mysteries by God, ‘fides qua creditur’ (faith as belief). This idea becomes irremediably deformed in the theology of Ratzinger by the adoption of the Kantian scheme that it is impossible to have a metaphysical knowledge of God, with the consequent recourse to ‘the postulates of practical reason’, which entails the denial of the rational premises of the faith and its replacement by ‘the reasons for believing’ which constituted the classic argument of apologetics after Vatican-I, merely on the ‘desire to believe’ which was theorized by the philosophy of pragmatist religion a la William James.

Now, while I fail to see any trace of William James in Introduction to Christianity, I recall easily that Ratzinger named Kant among the champions of that radical change in Weltanschauung (worldview) typical of modernity that cannot be completely rejected because it expresses “essential features of the faith that are more or less ignored in other constellations” (p 60) but can neither be embraced ingenuously:

“As much as one needs to go slowly with peremptory and hasty judgments, it is still obligatory nonetheless to advise being wary of short-circuits. Whenever the two attempts cited verum quia factum and verum quia facendum - true because of fact (i.e., because it has been done); and true because it can be done - become exclusive and situate the faith totally on the plane of done or doable, they end up masking the true ‘significance of what a persons means when he says “Credo” (I believe).”

What do we mean when we say ‘I believe’? Mons. Livi writes: "Ratzinger has always sustained, even in his most recent discourses, that the Christian act of faith has as its specific object, not the mysteries revealed by Christ but the person of Christ himself, as we know him in the Scriptures and in the liturgy of the Church."

I wish Mons. Livi would better explain what he means – because what he attributes to Ratzinger resonates with Origen’s autobasileia (Jesus as ‘the kingdom in person’), Iesus dulcis memoria attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, and Adoro te devote attributed to Thomas Aquinas – and how could this all contribute to ‘weak thought’.

The insistence on the personal relevance of Christ in the salvific act and in our individual faith does not attenuate – rather, it provides both foundation and substance forb- the Messiah’s magisterial mission. And one can only gape when one sees the Preface to the first edition that Livi clearly distorts to the point of making it say the exact opposite of what Ratzinger expressly affirms:

‘And poor Hans [Ratzinger cites the famous German story of ‘Hans in luck’] – in this case the Christian – who trustfully allowed himself to be led from one exchange to another, from one interpretation to another, does he not risk ending up soon having in hand, instead of the lump of gold he had at the start, nothing but a useless stone instrument which he happily threw away?” (J. Ratzinger, Introduzione al cristianesimo, 26)

Ratzinger compared the descending trajectory of some contemporary theologies to that of the peasant who bartered a lump of gold with objects which were seemingly more advantageous to him but were gradually less and less precious and more and more useless – so how can Livi write as he does that “theology today, according to Ratzinger, cannot speak of the faith except in ambiguous and contradictory terms”?

He follows with ad personam arguments which are more embarrassing for Mons Livi as much as he raises little surprise when he indulges in low-league polemics: One of his main accusations against Ratzinger would be that he uses some terms also used by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (cited in Radaelli), but Livi also adds that both clerics were in agreement here with Gianni Vattimo [a Nietzschean Italian philosopher, born 1936, who emphasizes ‘weak thought’, namely, that objective truth founded in a rational unitary subject be relinquished for a more multi-faceted conception closer to that of the arts].

From one surrealism to the next, Livi arrives at seeing ‘weak thought’ in Ratzinger’s invitation to non-believing intellectuals:

"We must therefore overturn the Enlightenment axiom and say: even he who fails to find the way to accepting God, must nonetheless seek to live and direct his life ‘veluti si Deus daretur’, as if God did exist. This is the advice Pascal gave to his non-believer friends This is the advice we woiuld like to give even today to our friends who do not believe. This way, no one would be limited in his freedom, but all our work would find a support and a criterion which it urgently needs.”

For Livi, this means assuming Kant’s practical postulate for the existence of God, not an invitation to non-believers to live a good life, namely, one that purifies conscience, and consequently, the intellect and the will itself. I think this is also found in the definitions of Vatican-I which Livi often cites. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, the Dominican theologian whom Livi cites as an authority in support of his position, wrote about Vatican I: “A Conciliar Father asked – during the discussion on the dogmatic constitution Dei Filius [Son of God] – that the verb ‘dimostrare, demonstret’ which supposes that reason starts from principles whose truth it perceives by its own light, be replaced by the verb ‘provare, probet’, which does not make that supposition”.

And after reporting that the monsignor’s amendment was voted down by the Council, Garrigou-Lagrange quotes the monsignor’s reply: "Even if the intrinsic truth of faith is not demonstrated, without any doubt, its foundations, in a certain sense, can be shown”. And he explains in a footnote: “'In a certain sense’ does not mean that the demonstration is not rigorous: it means that the foundations of faith can be demonstrated in a certain sense but not in others, but are believed nonetheless by supernatural means. The fact of Revelation is demonstrated insofar as it is supernatural quoad modum (in manner) (a miraculous intervention of God) but not that it is supernatural quoad substantiam (in substance). From this point of view, it is a formal reason for a faith that is supernatural in substance. (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 30 passim)

Moreover, it was precisely Thomas Aquinas who illustrated in the first article of his Summa Theologiae that theology is not a theoretical but a practical science: if it were not so, then one cannot explain the supernatural epic of the Divine Comedy, written not long after St. Thomas’s great teaching, and how Dante disposes himself to the ‘beatific vision,’ which did not bring him unparalleled erudition, but rather through a very long and detailed ethical review that was both personal and universal.

Nontheless, we find in Henri de Lubac the great author one must look to in order to understand Ratzinger’s theology better (in this case, Livi does not honor to himself by liquidating this theological colossus as being no more than ‘an important representative of progressivist theology’, implying moreover that John Paul II was wrong in making him a cardinal).

In his famous Méditation sur l’Église, the Jesuit Patrologist explained how faith always lived in the tension of being ecclesial in its method, but theological in its on purpose and principle. (Henri De Lubac, Méditation sur l’Église 25)

How is it possible to taint with charges of ‘anthropological reductionism’ and idealistic subjectivism authors who are so clear and direct in continually reaffirming the primacy of God! – this escapes me altogether. I think it is useful to cite the preceding paragraph in Meditation to understand what Ratzinger admired in one whom he always declared to have been one of his teachers. [He has aways spoken fondly of de Lubac’s ‘Christianity’ as fundamental in his seminary education.]

“Through many hesitations and rethinking about which Greek Texts or Latin translations bear traces of it – rarely does a new idea quickly find expression in a fixed term – more and more, ‘to believe in’ has become the habitual expression for designating the act of Christian faith. The fact is that it implies a gradual revelation of God about Himself, a revelation that culminates in Christ, and suggests an attitude of the soul that responds to this revelation.

Although the two words ‘belief’ and ‘faith’, in our current language, serve equally as a noun to the verb "to believe", and although they may be employed as synonyms, the latter word ‘faith’ is capable of evoking in some cases a more profound act than the first. More profound and of another nature.

The subject engages more in his faith than in a simple belief. Because you can believe many things: but one really does not give one’s faith if not to someone. One can believe in beings, that is believe in their existence – this is how one speaks of belief in angels. But faith, in the strongest sense of the term, can only be addressed to God. It is this faith that is meant in the expression ‘to believe in’.” (ibid.)

It is difficult to turn back to stagnant, poisoned waters after having tasted the teachings of such masters. And truly, in reading some ‘theologies’, I can hardly recognize the features of Christianity (at last not the way I know it). But so no one can say thatI am defending heetics like Ratzinger with writings from heretics like De Lubac, I would like to close with one of the observations made by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, in the closing pages of Dieu, son existence et sa nature, a work which in 1919 received the blessing of Papa Della Chiesa (Benedict XV), the pope from whom Benedict XVI took his papal name:

“We would like to be able to place ourselves in a totally supernatural atmosphere to be able to meditate beyond the noise of disputes the profound sense of divine words. The most elevated theological doctrines do not truly work on our spirit unless our interior Teacher opens up our intelligence, clarifies and instructs our hearts.

He can allow us then to understand in all their profundity the words which he said: “Without me you can do nothing.” We are not capable, by ourselves – as if it came from us – not even the smallest thought that is useful for our salvation. It is God only who works in us what we may want and what we may do, with his approval. What distinguishes you from others? What do you have, yourself, that you have not received?" (R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Dieu, son existence et sa nature, 847)

00Monday, January 15, 2018 11:58 AM
Fr. Thomas Reese’s irrational battle with Greek philosophy
The former editor of America magazine ought to read Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture
and Vatican II’s documents on seminary training and Catholic education

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

January 11, 2018

Fr. Thomas Reese, the former editor of the Jesuit magazine America, has apparently launched himself on a new crusade: the dehellenization of Catholic seminary education. [A frank and unabashed descent into Philistinism! Did Reese not have to study Greek philosophy at all in seminary? And here I thought Jesuits prided themselves most for providing first-rate education!]

In a recent column for Religion News Service that was published by the dissident National Catholic Reporter, Reese laments that seminarians are still being given instruction in Greek philosophy —in particular, the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle — before going on to study Catholic theology.

Reese is exercised over the fact that Catholic seminarians have to learn dogmatic terms derived from such philosophical systems because they’re 'unintelligible' to modern man, and rooted in notions that he regards as outdated, such as “rigid categories and rules” and “certitude”. Reese’s lexicon of objectionable vocabulary even includes terms that are contained in the dogmatic canons of ecumenical councils.

“Sadly, the church does expect seminarians to learn Greek philosophy before studying theology, which results in them spouting unintelligible concepts like ‘transubstantiation’ and ‘consubstantial,’" writes Reese [How can a Catholic priest say that those two particular concepts are 'unintelligible' to Catholics, when they represent two of the most fundamental elements of the faith? - the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, and the Trans-substantiation that takes place at Consecration?], lamenting that “Catholic conservatives were brought up in a church that presented itself as unchanging because in Greek philosophy the perfect cannot change.” He calls such an approach “ahistorical” and “doomed to failure.”

Such people “see the world as ideologues with rigid categories and rules. They have absolute certitude in their views and are not open to new questions. They are incapable of dialogue or learning from others,” bewails Reese. [Oh how tiresomely and outrageously Bergoglian!]

Ironically, Reese pushes this nonsense in the name of defending, of all people, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the man many believe ousted him from America in 2005 for making the magazine into a sounding board for dissidents. Reese seeks to place Benedict in the same camp as the Francis regime, making them both the victims of wicked theologians of the traditional (and therefore, Hellenistic) variety who oppose the doctrinal innovations of the Francis papacy.

Apparently Reese has forgotten (or worse, hasn’t) that one of the most memorable moments in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI was his prophetic address to representatives of science at the University of Regensburg in September of 2006, when he warned against the dehellenization of Christianity in explicit terms, observing that the Christian faith was formulated within the milieu of Greek language, culture, and philosophy, elements that permeate the Scriptures and the writings of the earliest Church Fathers.

In his address, Benedict notes that the enemies of the Catholic faith have long sought to attack its Hellenistic dimension, beginning with the Protestant rejection of Aristotelian scholasticism in the 16th century, and continuing with the assault against the supernatural elements of the Christian faith in the 19th century by liberal theologians such as Adolf von Harnack, who attributed such elements to Greek philosophy.

He then arrives at the third and most recent stage of dehellenization advocated by the likes of Reese: the claim that Greek thought is not relevant in other social contexts, and should therefore be dropped in favor of other more culturally-relevant worldviews.

“This thesis is not simply false, but it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.”

And that, it would seem, is the crux of the matter. Those who rail against the influence of Plato, Aristotle and their Scholastic successors are not moved by an immoderate enthusiasm for cultural diversity. Rather, they are vexed by the most essential aspect of Greek philosophy: its application of reason to theology, with its so very troublesome requirements, such as consistency of thought, and non-contradiction.

The Law of the Excluded Middle would seem to be the greatest obstacle standing between neo-modernists and their project to overthrow the Catholic Church’s traditional and authentic doctrines. If only Aristotle weren’t standing guard over Catholic theology, insisting that A is indeed A, they could have their heretical cake and eat it too.

Heaping irony upon irony, Reese tries to somehow tie Thomas Aquinas to his dehellenization project as well, insinuating that the Angelic Doctor was a cultural relativist who was simply speaking the language of his day when he used Greek philosophy, and urging that theologians imitate him by embracing modern intellectual fashions.

This, however, is more modernist bunkum; sound philosophy isn’t a language or a cultural style — it’s a universally valid way of using reason to arrive at truth. Aristotle’s thought, and particularly his logical treatises, had long been respected in the Catholic Church precisely because they were a component of the Greek philosophical tradition that had informed the Church from the beginning, and the rediscovery of Aristotle’s forgotten works were naturally received with openness by most theologians, even if some of his doctrines were disputed.

Reese then casually repeats the silly but convenient historical myth that Aquinas’s works were condemned and burned by the archbishop of Paris, which supposedly proves that we can’t trust the Church’s judgments against dissident theologians.

The reality is that in 1277 the archbishops of Paris and of London issued condemnations of a very long list of propositions that were mostly aimed at other theologians, but included some propositions that may have been derived from the doctrines of Aquinas. However, Aquinas was not named in the condemnations, and his works were never banned and certainly never burnt.

An investigation into the orthodoxy of Aquinas’s works appears to have begun in 1277, but was never concluded. His works continued to be used by theologians and were universally embraced and defended by Dominicans, and soon became the template for Catholic theology in most of the Church.

Reese even wants to enlist Vatican II in his favor, implying that somehow the council would favor his desire to rid Catholic education of Greek philosophy. It will be of immense disappointment to the man, if he someday bothers to read the documents themselves, to find that they positively require that seminarians and university students be taught the very Hellenistic thought of Aquinas.

Optatam totius, the council’s decree on priestly training, dictates that “in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the [seminary] students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections.”

It also requires students to learn the Church Fathers, whose thinking was heavily influenced by Neoplatonism (also pooh-poohed by Reese for its supposed irrelevance in the modern context).

Gravissimum educationis, the council’s decree on Christian education, contains a whole paragraph contradicting Reese’s claim that novel philosophies are necessary to speak to modern man, urging that students be taught the doctors of the Catholic Church, particularly Aquinas, so that “as questions that are new and current are raised and investigations carefully made according to the example of the doctors of the Church and especially of St. Thomas Aquinas, there may be a deeper realization of the harmony of faith and science.” Thus students will be “molded into men truly outstanding in their training, ready to undertake weighty responsibilities in society and witness to the faith in the world.”

Search as he may, Fr. Thomas Reese is not going to find in the tradition of the Catholic Church any inspiration for banishing Greek philosophical thought from the instruction of seminarians, or indeed of Catholics in general. It is only in the camp of dissidents, to which he was exiled in 2005, that he will find a sympathetic ear for his desire to impose such a wreckovation on our already badly compromised Catholic educational system.
00Monday, January 15, 2018 6:16 PM

The pope and his TV host: Should this priest not dress properly if not out of respect for the pope then out of respect for his own priesthood? Obviously, this is an 'image' that both the pope as well as the
Italian bishops' conference do not mind at all for priests!

One of my belated translations...
There must be a reason…
Why a TV show with the pope
as regular guest is a flop

Translated from

January 11, 2018

Don Filippo Di Giacomo, in the Venerdi opinion supplement of La Repubblica on January 5, informs us of the flop registered by the TV2000 program ‘Padre nostro’ with no less than the pope as a regular protagonist.

Pope Francis has been the protagonist of a program entitled Padre Nostro (Our Father) [One wonders which ‘father’ is meant here – il papa, or God] aired every Thursday evening since Oct. 25, 2016, on TV2000, the so-called ‘bishops’ TV’ [it is the TV network of the media conglomerate belonging to the Italian bishops’ conference]. It is hosted by don Marco Pozza, chaplain of the prison in Padua.

The program had been accompanied by a grand and lengthy publicity barrage on every possible organ of communication, from the press to radio, and don Pozza’s appearance on all the major national TV channels. But despite all that, it has attracted so few viewers as to be embarrassing.

Confirming, above all, what the TV audience data for the past 3 years have been attesting: Pope Francis on TV gets half the audience that Pope Benedict XVI had. The latter had an average audience [for his Angelus and Wednesday catechesis] of 20% of viewees, whereas his successor has been registering an audience of 9-12%. [Gee, whatever happened to the most popular man who ever walked the earth, as the media inflated his image at the start? - contributing to the impressive turnouts at St. Peter's in 2013, but which then steadily got cut in half every year since then.]

If as McLuhan famously said (the late Canadian media guru who was a practicing Catholic and was highly disapproving of microphones on the altar and had a profound disgust for ‘contemporary’ Masses), “the medium is the message”, what does it say when people tune out and switch to another program when watching a ‘talking’ cassock on TV? There must be a reason!

We too had occasion here to mention this program in connection with the minor polemics over the pope’s statements on changing the vernacular translation for the sixth invocation in the 'Our Father' [‘and lead us not into temptation’, in English]. And now we learn that the series has been a flop, and that TV viewership of this pope in Italy is at best 9-12% when he is ‘on’. I’m not an expert on TV viewership so I cannot evaluate the real significance of these figures, but I trust in don Filippo who knows the media and whom I have always appreciated, even if we do not share the same viewpoint, for his uncommon intellectual honesty.

But setting aside technical evaluations, I think however that some reflections of a general character cannot be avoided:
1. First, I wish to make clear not just that success is not a value in itself, nor is it even a parameter for judging the value of a person or an action. As a general principle, this is especially true for Christians: we cannot measure the holiness of a person or the validity of a pastoral action based on the popular consensus that the person enjoys or the approval that an event gets. If we were to judge on the basis of ‘success’, then Jesus and the martyrs would be listed among the list of ‘failures’ who do not deserve any credit. Rather, according to the Gospel, lack of success should be considered as a reason for beatitude: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.” (Lk 6, 22)

The fact that success cannot be the ultimate goal for our actions, does not mean that we should not consider the reactions (positive or negative) that our words or actions provoke in those around us and ask ourselves the reasons for those reactions.

2. But it must be said that this pontificate has made much of image. Indeed, if I remember well, one of the topics most discussed by the cardinals in preparation for the Conclave of 2013 was precisely how to recover an image for a Church that appeared to be irremediably compromised. And from the first words and actions of the new pope it was apparent that particular importance was given to image.

Remember the mediatic resonance of the pope who went to pay his bill at the priests’ hotel in Via della Scrofa? It was about pushing the idea of a pope who behaves very much like any of us, one who would nto be ‘castled in’ at the Vatican enclosed in the papal apartments and remote from the life and problems of the common man. Of course, the whole world was ‘struck’ by this novelty. Later, given the repeitiveness – and even, shall we say, the artificiality - of some such ‘novelties’, we became used to the new course and we have since become rather skeptical and indifferent.

This new course includes those inflight news conferences, the interviews given freely to various media outlets, and lately, as we have seen, taking regular part in a TV program. Perhaps, they had not fully considered the fact that TV programs are routineley and systematically monitored to measure their audience. And the Auditel data for the pope’s program are merciless. For a pontificate that holds so much for image, the result must be, beyond any doubt, a very serious humiliation.

3. Comparisons are always unpleasant, but seeing that don Filippo brought it up, we cannot ignore what he says. It would seem that one of the biggest problems of Benedict XVI’s pontificate was its relationship with the world of information. Or, better said, it is a fact that his pontificate had a problem with the media. But we must ask who was responsible for this problem.

Public opinion [which is shaped by none other than the media] seems never to have had a doubt as to who should be considered responsible: the theologian pope, an intellectual who lived among his books and was incapable of speaking to the people. And now we find out that his audience ratings were twice that of his successor who is supposed to be very popular and close to the common man and his problems.

Now, should we not revisit the interpretation given to the difficult relationship between Papa Ratzinger and the media? Probably the fault for alleged ‘failure of communications’ was really with the media, and not with the pope.* [It always was. Although they had no choice but to report actual data at the time, the media were the first to be shocked that Benedict XVI was actually drawing bigger audiences to St. Peter's than John Paul II did in his peak years. That did not, however, make them change their narrative of Benedict XVI as an unpopular pope out of touch with the faithful and isolated in his ivory tower.]

In the same way, the media are chiefty responsible for constructing the myth of the pope-everyone-likes, considering that now, it seems, he is not all that popular on TV as one might expect from the myth. But it also seems the problem is not limited to TV viewership alone. St. Peter’s Square itself has seemed to have far less crowds for the pope’s appearances. I say ‘seems’ because I am unable to verify it in person [Fr. Scalese currently heads the resident Catholic mission in Afghanistan]; and TV is not of great help because it only shows what the program directors want you to see, and not just in this case.

The fact is in Benedict XVI’s time, TV often did not show a full view of the piazza during one of his events – so that the viewers would not see that there were far more than the proverbial ‘four cats’ that the newspapers often tried to insinuate were all that he could attract (at least then, I could check it out for myself). Now, they don’t show a full view of St. Peter’s at a Francis event in order not to show that the expected crowd for the most-popular-pope-ever is no longer there.

4. The flop for the Padre Nostro program could be explained by the fact that it is carried on TV2000, the network of the Italian bishops’ conference, which is surely not among the channels frequented by the public. But it does not mean that it doesn’t have its specialized audience – some programs, like the rosary broadcast directly from Lourdes, do get ratings far more than that of Padre Nostro.

5. Padre Nostro was a program conceived and executed according to the canons of the ‘church that goes forth’, and it has all the ingredients: the most-popular-pope-ever who allows himself to be interviewed, like any other VIP, by a ‘street priest’, actually a prison warden, who looks young and wears casual clothes [too casual and most inappropriate] – certainly not a ‘tonaca teletrasmessa’ [TV-transmitted priest’s garb]. Yet, it looks as if it has not worked. One could say that people are not at all attracted to this kind of church, which they may perceive as even more clerical than the ‘200-years-behind’ Church [among the infamous last words of the late Cardinal Martini] that Benedict XVI was accused of leading.

6. The conclusion one reaches at the end of these considerations is that perhaps one does not need to kowtow to the world to be accepted by it.
- Perhaps it is better for the Church to remain what she has always been, the Church of always, that does not need to blend into the world.
- That the pope, in order to have people pay attention and really like him, should not feel dutybound to be on a regular TV show or to find every day something expedient for the media to report on, but simply begin to be the pope with simplicity and discretion, as popes before him have always done.
- That everyone in the Church, from the Supreme Pontiff to the least among the faithful, stop mimicking the world and say what is thought to be ‘pleasing’ to people, but go back to saying and doing only what Christ said we ought to be doing as the Church has always taught.

* P.S. On how the media treated Benedict XVI: As someone who gladly made it my concern to follow closely as much as I could of whatever was reported or commented about Benedict XVI in the media, I must say that Fr. Scalese makes too sweeping a generalization.

There were two major spans of time (several months we are talking here) when media hostility was marked and highly gratuitous:
First, the 2009-2010 spell when somehow the very man who had been responsible for first meeting the sexual abuse issue head-on on in the Church and getting something done about it was suddenly targeted in every possible way as being himself directly or indirectly responsible for major cover-ups if not for personal involvement in such scandals himself.

That came to nothing, of course, because there was nothing behind the campaign but outright animosity that prompted the major news outlets on the planet – the AP, the New York Times and the Der Spiegel group of Germany – to put all their resources into trying to discredit Ratzinger on this account, with the ulterior motive of forcing him to resign as pope.

The second was the Vatileaks ‘scandal’, largely manufactured and then hyper-inflated, based on pilfered documents that did not show a single 'scandal' the media considered worth investigating themselves, though they made it seem that Vatileaks was the largest scandal that had ever hit the Vatican. And the Conclave cardinals simply bought into this media image which became their pretext for making Curial reform the priority problem they saw for the Church and for the new pope they were to elect!

In between, of course, there were minor spells involving a few weeks of media furor in a short list that B16 hounds like John Allen and Marco Politi loved to repeat:
– The Regensburg lecture which media bias reduced to nothing but a citation the pope made from the last Byzantine emperor who, in the 15th century, was able to criticize Mohammed and Islam to his Muslim interlocutor during the Turkish Ottoman siege that preceded the fall of Byzantium;
- The appointment of Mons. Wielgus to be Archbishop of Warsaw when it turned out he was a documented spy for the secret service of the Polish Communist regime; and
- Lifting the excommunication of the four Lefebvrian bishops, one of whom, Mons. Williamson, was shown to be a habitual Holocaust denier.

Benedict XVI took full responsibility for Regensburg without taking back anything of what he said, instead underscoring that the citation illustrated the point he was making about truth in dialog. And the Wielgus and Williamson fiascos were both failures of the Vatican bureaucracy responsible for thoroughly vetting candidate bishops and yes, anyone involved in a major high-profile papal lifting of excommunication (not that it would have stopped the pope from lifting the excommunication but that the proper explanations would have been made beforehand, namely, that as deplorable as Williamson’s Holocaust negationism is, it had absolutely nothing to do with why he was excommunicated to begin with, and why his excommunication ought not to be lifted along with the 3 other Lefebvrian bishops).

It appears Fr Scalese posted a new article around the time I was posting the above. His title for it is 'Chi comanda in Vaticano?' which I think is a superfluous rhetorical question, so I have replaced it with something that makes the burden of his article clear - to underscore the contradiction between this pope's words against abortion and his actions...

It has been four days, after all, since the news came out that some time before Christmas, the Vatican had conferred the honor of Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great on Holland's leading advocate of abortion and LGBT rights. But the Vatican has yet to explain how and why this could have happened, much less withdrawn the conferment for the great mistake that it is. It's as if the Holy See has lost all sense of shame about its blatant anti-Catholicism under this pope...

When actions speak louder than words
Translated from

January 15, 2018

Readers who follow me regularly would have noted that in my articles I rarely refer to Amoris Laetitia, for reasons that I explained soon after its publication in my post on April 14, 2016. It is the same reason that I courteously declined when, last August, the promoters of the Correctio Filialis asked me if I wished to sign the document. My thinking is: who am I to correct the Holy Father, and how can I judge the orthodoxy of his intervention? [I find this a rare and puzzling disingenuousness in Fr. Scalese, who has certainly expressed himself strongly on many other occasions against statements or actions by Bergoglio that he disapproves of because they would seem to contradict what the Church teaches (i.e., orthodoxy). In any case, I looked back to the April 2016 post – which I will post after this – and see that it consisted of 10 questions Fr. Scalese raises as initial points to reflect upon about AL. Framed as questions, they obviously did not indicate approval but rather the confusion generated by the document.]

But that did not deter me then nor does it now deter me from harboring serious doubts on AL, nor to underscore the ambiguity of the language used therein, nor to denounce the procedural defects evident in its drafting, nor from taking note of the consequences it has provoked, particularly the confusion it has spread in the Church and the divisions among cardinals, bishops, priests and the faithful.

Since then, too, a most disputable interpretation of AL has been declared by the pope himself in writing as ‘the only possible interpretation’ of AL and has been formally elevated to the rank of ‘authentic magisterium’, so I am even more dumbstruck, not because my doubts have been dissipated, but simply because I no longer know what to think [This final phrase, I take it, is simply an empty colloquialism because Fr. Scalese certainly knows exactly what he thinks on any subject he decides to write on!]

But there is another magisterium, to which I do not feel bound in any way, and which I consider it absolutely legitimate to judgee – we can call it the magisterium of gestures. One does not communicate only with words; one also communicates through signs. And gestures are usually more eloquent and incisive than words, even if, when taken by themselves alone, they can be polyvalent, i.e., they can communicate various messages.

Let us take the example of a kiss: a baby’s kiss for the mother is an expression of love, while Judas’s kiss was the immediate sign of his betrayal of Jesus. That is why words are necessary to explain the real value of a gesture. Baptism, for instance, to distinguish it from anuy other ‘washing’, must be accompanied by the sacramental words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. But the opposite can also be true: that words are ambiguous but gestures are unequivocal. This is exactly the situation we are now living in the Church.

Pope Francis does not like to speak about ethical questions. He explained his reason a few months after his election, in the interview he gave to La Civilta Cattolica in September 2013:

We cannot always insist on speaking about abortion, homosexual ‘marriage’ and the use of artificial contraceptives. This is not possible. [Of course, it is! Not just possible but obligatory. Catholics – the pope first of all - ought to speak about these issues and affirm/reaffirm/defend the Catholic position whenever and however the opportunity arises.] I have not spoken much about these issues, and I have been criticized for it. But when speaks about them, it must be in a context. [Precisely. The context being whenever the issue is raised to question or to actively oppose Catholic teaching!] Besides, everyone knows what the position of the Church is. [Not everyone – casual Catholics have to be reminded now and again; and, worse, not anymore, since you have made even the idea of sin itself subjective, with this notion of open-ended ‘discernment’ in which you leave it to the sinner to ‘discern’ whether he is in a state of sin – i.e., whether he is sinning by chronic adultery, for example, in the case of RCDs – because if he ‘discerns’ otherwise, then he thinks he is in a state of grace that qualifies him to receive communion! But it goes even farther back to your acknowledgment to Scalfari of the ‘primacy of the individual conscience’ to determine what is good or bad – i.e., you are saying that determination of good or bad, and therefore of sin, is now entirely subjective, and has nothing to do with absolute norms such as the Commandments of God. Which means, as Eugenio Scalfari rightly concluded – and this was more than a year before AL was published - means - you have effectively abolished the idea of sin. And all your rigmarole about ostentatiously going to confession yourself and ostentatiously giving confession to others is a big sham! If I can decide for myself that I have committed ‘no sin’ even if I may have violated all the Ten Commandments one by one, who needs confession?] I am a son of the Church and it is not necessary to keep talking about these issues... [Bergoglio uses that formulation 'I am a son of the Church' as if affirming that would make right anything erroneous he has said (he said this first about homosexuals and their lifestyle, when he told journalists to go look up themselves what the Catechism says about homosexual practices, when he very simply could have said, in fewer words than his admonition, "Homosexual practices are sinful, and homosexuals are obliged to live chastely", which obviously this 'son of the Church' was not prepared to say, or the whole world would have jumped at him. Instead, he chose to say, "Who am I to judge...?" and instantly, he was Man of the Year for all the gay publications and associations throughout the world.]

Teachings, whether about doctrine or about morality, are not all equivalent. Missionary ministry is not obsessed about the disarticulated transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be imposed with insistence. Missionary announcement concentrates on the essential, on the necessary – what excites and attracts most about Jesus and his Gospel, that which makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. So we must find a new equilibrium - otherwise the moral edifice of the Church would collapse like a house of cards, and we risk losing the freshness and perfume of the Gospel. [Really by reaffirming Church teaching against abortion and sins against chastity and contraception???] Our evangelical propositions must be more simple but also more profound and more enlightening (because) moral consequences derive from these propositions.

One could not agree more with the second paragraph. Except that… in the past five years, I must have missed the missionary pronouncements concentrated on the essential. Perhaps I was distracted. But what I have perceived so far is that the insistence, perhaps obsessive, on certain topics (abortion, gay unions, artificial contraception) has been replaced by the insistence, no less obsessive, on other topics [migration and indiscriminate embrace of Islam, climate change, world poverty, ‘an economy that kills’].

But, leaving aside this inconsistency that only the blind would deny, it must be said that every time Papa Bergoglio has spoken about abortion [Let’s see – one can count the occasions on the fingers of one hand!], he has never failed to express a clear condemnation. [Right, what I have long since called his pro forma denunciations of abortion, occasions when it would really be far-out weird if he failed to say the words – when there’s a March to Life that stops right outside his Angelus window on a Sunday, or the pro-life movement in the USA asks for a message for their annual Walk for Life... For an example of his latest pro forma denunciations of abortion, see here:]

Therefore, the problem is not that he has failed to say the right words [when he has to!]. The problem arises when one goes form his words to his actions.

In recent days, we learned of the conferment of the Cross of the Order of St Gregory the Great on Lilianne Ploumen, who has been a cabinet minister int eh Netherlands, and who is an open supporter of abortion and LGBT ‘rights’… Such a gesture outweighs a thousands words from the pope and is more eloquent than multiple addresses or statements – in one moment, it sweeps away any declaration the pope may have made about support for unborn life.

Yet it is not the first case of such a gesture. It must be added to a long series of analogous situations, which La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana reminds us of : from the pope’s choice of atheist Eugenio Scalfari as his favored if not exclusive interlocutor, to calling Emma Bonino one of Italy’s ‘contemporary greats’, to nominating abortionists and abortion supporters to his completely overhauled Pontifical Academy for Life, to the Vatican invitations to leading population control advocates to take part in a [never-ending, it seems] series of environmentalist symposiums organized the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences.

All these instances are unequivocal gestures sending out a clear message: The principles that up till March 13, 2013, had been sustained, promoted and defended b the Catholic Church in ethical matters, although they have not been expressly retracted, are in fact considered de facto obsolete, in favor of being in line with the dominant worldview.

These gestures do not simply serve to increase the confusion in the Church – but they cause disconcertment, indignation and scandal among the faithful who have always believed that among so many opinable questions, there are some principles that are absolutely non-negotiable, such as the sacredness of human life [‘from conception to its natural end’]. [But Bergoglio has explicitly said that "there are no non-negotiable principles", consistent, of course, with his moral relativism.]

In the face of actions like the honor given to Ploumen, one must ask what value system does the Holy See currently hold as a reference? Is it still the Commandments of God, or has the latter been replaced by the dominant ideology? One must ask whether ‘the church’ under Bergoglio can still be considered the authentic interpreter of the Gospel, or has it now become just another ‘section’ of the United Nations?

But above all, one must also ask: Who really rules at the Vatican today? [Can there be any question about that? From THE DICTATOR POPE to John Allen’s recent article expressing wondrous admiration that this pope seems to know everything that is taking place and spoken about at the Vatican, one cannot say that anyone else but Bergoglio reigns, rules and dictates!]

P.S. UPDATE! And the Vatican reaction is worse than I had imagined!

After 4 days, the Vatican
'explains' the honor to Ploumen
but appears to simply shrug it off

Apparently, they see nothing wrong with it

by Steve Skojec

January 16, 2018

[Skojec first recaps the story of the Vatican honor conferred on Ploumen...]

...The Vatican, meanwhile, maintained a stony silence about the whole affair, until, after the combined pressure from the reporting of The Lepanto Institute and OnePeterFive (and the outlets that subsequently picked up on the story) pushed the Vatican into issuing a terse statement. More on that statement in a second.

I would first like to note something I find petty, unprofessional, and frankly juvenile in all of this. (Sadly, however, not at all surprising.) I wrote to Greg Burke, the American who now serves as the Director of the Holy See Press Office, last Saturday evening, a day after our first report came out. I wrote:

Dear Greg,
This story is, for obvious reasons, controversial:

We’d very much like to get a statement from the Vatican on whether the pope knew she was being given this award, and why. And if she did not receive it from the Vatican but purchased it second-hand, that’d be good to know as well.

We’re eager to publish a story correcting any part of this we’ve gotten wrong. It’d be awful to think a woman with such significant pro-abortion credentials would receive a papal decoration.

Pretty straightforward, right? A chance to clear the air. To deliver the information about what really happened to the audience most concerned about it. To show that in this case at least, the Vatican was the good guy.

But I received no response. Now, I know that people in the Vatican read us here, and they’re almost certainly not fans of our criticism. But I’ve interacted with Greg before when he wanted a story corrected, so it’s not as though he’s above a gruff reply when the situation warrants. Not in this case, though. Nothing.

And yet yesterday, when I got home from an evening visiting friends, I saw a brand-new story from the National Catholic Register (which, to my knowledge, hadn’t done anything with this story at all before last night) saying that the Vatican had issued a statement: [It is a 'puzzlement' that hardly anyone picked up the story - and it is shocking that the Register only chimed in with the Vatican explanation. Is Edward Pentin on vacation? Hard to think he would have ignored the original story!]

“The honor of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great received by Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development, in June 2017 during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, responds to the diplomatic practice of the exchange of honors between delegations on the occasion of official visits by Heads of State or Government in the Vatican.

Therefore, it is not in the slightest a placet [an expression of assent] to the politics in favor of abortion and of birth control that Mrs Ploumen promotes.”

[The Vatican explanation demeans the Order of St. Gregory immeasurably. They should say Masses in reparation for this offense to the pope-saint for thus demeaning his name, as well. Is membership in the Order now being handed out to the pope's visitors as they do a formal blessing on parchment signed by the pope to visitors whose embassies are thoughtful enough to ask the Vatican for one? I have one from the first time I was privileged to meet John Paul II at the Vatican.]

Curious, I checked my email again to see if I’d missed something. Nothing there. I went to the Holy See Press Office website. Zilch. I finally fired off a message to a contact in Rome, who told me that to their knowledge, the statement was sent directly to journalists who had expressed interest in the story, and was to be found nowhere else. [In other words, Burke thought the explanation was not even worth posting on the Vatican's daily news bulletin! Of course, Burke gets his marching orders from someone above him.]

That’s funny. I’m pretty sure my email to Greg Burke and the two full reports on that matter that appeared here constituted “interest in the story.”

But of course, “Shadowbanning” is all the rage these days, and the Vatican communications apparatus — playground bully that it is — appears to be simply ignoring me. If that is in fact the case, I interpret it as a sign that a) There was no reason to hurry to update the story with the statement and b) There is no reason to view the statement as a sign of good faith intended to set the record straight, but simple CYA.

Frankly, from a PR standpoint, it’s a terrible statement. It only acknowledges what we had already reported — that Ploumen received the award as part of a group — while making an anemic excuse about how it doesn’t mean what it looks like it means.

Meanwhile, it does nothing to answer any of the following questions:
- Why was no vetting process applied to the distribution of these awards?
- Why was a 186-year-old papal decoration created to bestow a supreme honor on those who have served the Church well being given out like a commemorative Vatican snow globe or a pope pencil in a VIP visitor goody bag?
- Why was there no statement condemning or distancing the Vatican from Ploumen’s public comments in which she says she was awarded a “prize” by a Vatican that probably knew what she was about in confirmation of her work?
- Why was there no expression of remorse that an award was given to one of the most effective single promoters of abortion in the world today?
- Why was the award not recalled?
- If the award could not be recalled without creating a diplomatic crisis, why was there nothing in the statement encouraging Ploumen to voluntarily return it, or at the very least stop using it to mislead people into thinking the pope was rubber stamping her agenda?

The statement, if it can be characterized simply, does only two things:
- it tells the world that the award itself is now meaningless, so no big deal; and
- it expresses that the Vatican is really annoyed that those meddling kids were asking questions about it at all, and how dare they think there should be some connection between actual Catholic values and the bestowal of a papal award?!

It is yet another in a long line of communications failures from the Vatican. I’d think with the billion euros they’ve got tucked away under the mattresses, they could hire a competent staff of professionals. But I suppose until they can find a pope who acts like a Catholic, I should keep my expectations low.

Meanwhile, many of the faithful who heard the story went from open disbelief (“How can something this bad possibly be true?”) to excuse-making (“The pope couldn’t possibly have known!”) to, after the Vatican statement, saying, “See? It really wasn’t a big deal after all!”

Well, it was true, and it is a big deal, but as to whether the pope knew? That’s something worthy of addressing briefly here.

I think, in a way, it’s almost immaterial whether he knew about this or not. He has intentionally surrounded himself with corrupt and craven men. They are, by and large, lazy and vicious and self-serving — and simply don’t care about doing what is right.

And so, when a thing like this comes to light, the Vatican, rather than expressing the appropriate horror and concern, essentially acts indignant that they were called out at all. The attitude seems to be, “Who do you think YOU are to ask questions, peon?”

Only that’s not how things work anymore, and they don’t control the message. One of these days, they’re going to figure that out. Not answering emails isn’t going to stop me or any other Catholic writer from actively pursuing these stories. It is, however, going to encourage us to think they’re being underhanded. There’s an old and obvious rule of thumb: If you don’t want people to think you’re doing something wrong, don’t act like you have something to hide. Pretty basic.

The pope, of course, is nowhere to be found in any of this. No indication of regret from the papal plane, where he’s too busy joking with reporters he doesn’t go to a doctor for his health, but to a witch. (No, I’m not making that up.) [No reporter on the papal plane asked him about the Ploumen case??? Or were they instructed by Greg Burke not to bring it up at all?] No assertion that he will ensure the Vatican will be more diligent. No moral outrage that a woman who raised $300 million for abortion in 6 months is claiming he supports her work.

Complete. Radio. Silence.

Even if the pope were not actively, undeniably engaged almost daily in the deconstruction of the entire body of Catholic moral teaching, his silence in the face of scandal after scandal would tell the faithful that he’s perfectly fine with everything that’s happening. Pope Honorius, frankly, was anathematized for less.

Pope Felix III told us exactly what to think about this kind of behavior: “An error which is not resisted is approved; a truth which is not defended is suppressed…. He who does not oppose an evident crime is open to the suspicion of secret complicity.”

Not a day goes by that we do not get new proof of this pope's moral emptiness!

Before I saw Skojec's new article, I was going to add the following commentary on the Ploumen case from a Busso editorialist.

Abortionist honored by the Vatican?
What game is being played here?

by Tommasso Scandroglio
Translated from

January 15, 2018

[After reprising the original news report from Lepanto Institute, with the relevant research it had done on Ploumen, he gos on to say this:]

One must ask how this person can be called Catholic. The question was asked of her when the New York Times interviewed her in February 2017 after President Trump revived George W. Bush’s ban on American aid to any international organizations that discuss abortion as an option with their clients. She replied: “Some people think that when you are Catholic, you can only do what you are told to do [by the Church]. But to be Catholic simply means to form your own conscience via certain norms and rules. [Norms and rules which are those of the world, not of Catholicism, certainly not the Ten Commandments!] My mother always taught me that my conscience should be my touchstone for reference”. [Spoken like a true Bergoglian!]

But beyond Ploumen’s self-certification as a Catholic, what is scandalous, obviously, is that the Holy See should confer such an honor on a manifest sinner – to use an expression from the Code of Canon Law – who has been actively and tenaciously fighting against some of the non-negotiable principles defended by the Church, presenting herself de facto, and even de jure, as an enemy of the Catholic Church and certainly not as a paladin of the faith.

This honor to Ploumen proves [not that we need any more proof!] that outside [AND INSIDE!] the Holy See, there are very well-placed persons in influential circles who support homosexualism and abortism. Who think with total conviction that homosexuality, gender theory and abortion – not to mention other noxious social phenomena – are good for man, good for Christians and good for all of human society.

The excuse of doctrinal confusion can no longer be used. On the contrary, we are dealing here with persons who consciously and deliberately act on the side of evil and who are therefore working in bad faith. Dialog, ‘mercy’, inclusion, pontifical engineering – namely, the Bergoglian ministry completely bent on laying down bridges anywhere and with anyone – are, in this case, nothing but a smokescreen to hide the Vatican’s promotion of policies that are in clear opposition to Catholic doctrine, to the teachings of Christ, and to the true good of man.

The Marco Pannellas, Emma Boninos, Scalfaris, Jeffrey Sachses, Von Boeselagers (the Knights of Malta Chancellor who promoted the use of condoms in some Asian countries), the Biggars and Le Blancs (scientists who are new members of the Pontifical Academy for Life(PAV) and who openly promote abortion, euthanasia and artificial reproduction), the Chiodis (the latter also a member of the PAV, in favor of artificial reproduction and contraception in his ridiculous re-reading of Humanae Vitae in the light of AL), and the Ploumens of the world not only should not be receiving honors, appointments and attestations of esteem from the Vatican, but ought to be severely condemned for what they do.

This would be of extreme service for the salvation of their souls and for the good of the souls of ‘simple’ folk. It would be helping out a hand to them so that they do not fall into the abyss, and to keep others from falling. But to give them a pontifical honor – besides insulting all those who have truly merited theirs – does not just mean besmirching the prestige of the Order of St Gregory the Great, but also prostituting the Church’s faith and morals. And not the least, scandalizing not a few Catholics!
00Wednesday, January 17, 2018 3:45 AM

Sixteen days into 2018, I finally find a Canon-212 headline summary that is minimally useful for the purpose I originally intended these headline summaries
to be - to give us a sense of what is happening day-to-day in what passes for 'the Church' these days. The past two weeks merely saw C212 posting
repetitive and pejorative headlines on stale commentary not worth noting.

Thanks to LifeSite, we now have a written account on Father Gerald Murray's recent disquisition on AL with Raymond Arroyo in EWTN's 'The World Over'... Even if
Fr. Murray's suggestion for the pope to withdraw Chapter 8 of AL is logical to anyone else but Bergoglio and his paladins, it is also most unrealistic (after the
lengths Bergoglio has gone to in order to institutionalize his most outrageous anti-Catholic propositions in AL, does anyone really expect him to admit he is wrong?).
But Fr. Murray's arguments are always clarifying in a way Bergoglio is inherently incapable of, so read on

Fr. Murray calls for the pope
to withdraw Chapter 8 of AL

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

January 16, 2018 ( – Fr. Gerald Murray, a regular commentator on EWTN’s news program 'The World Over', told show host Raymond Arroyo in a recent interview that the infamous Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia is in “error,” and that he hopes it will be “withdrawn” by the pope.

Murray, a canon lawyer, also condemned the interpretation of AL published by the Argentine bishops of the Pastoral Region of Buenos Aires last year, and recently republished by the Pope himself in the official Acts of the Apostolic See. He called this interpretation - now formally described by Bergoglio as his 'authentic magisterium' - an “overthrow of the moral order” and called for its withdrawal as well.

Critics say that both AL and the Bergoglio-backed Argentine interpretation of it appear to excuse the sin of adultery and to permit Holy Communion to those who are living in adultery in invalid second 'marriages.'

“Catholic doctrine about the nature of marriage the indissolubility of marriage, about the intrinsic evil of adultery – that can’t change,” Murray told Arroyo in the January 11 interview. “What’s happened here is that the Argentine bishops have given an interpretation of AL which I believe and so many others do, that contradicts the clearly enunciated teaching of all the previous popes.”

“By speaking out we’re not attacking Pope Francis, we’re simply saying: 'Pope Francis we think that you’ve made an error, we think that the reasoning you’ve given in Amoris laetitia is faulty, and we think that these bishops, by saying that it’s sometimes undoable for people to observe the sixth commandment, are teaching something that is contrary to the gospel and should be withdrawn,” said Murray.

“Indeed, my hope and prayer is that Amoris laetitia chapter 8 would be withdrawn, because I think it’s causing huge problems in the life of the Church,” he added

“The crisis is prompted by the fact that the Argentinean bishops justify this by saying that in some cases it is not feasible for remarried divorees to avoid committing adultery - and that introduces into Catholic theology a completely contradictory notion that is completely alien to the faith, that somebody could not or would be incapable of observing virtue, and that if they’re incapable of refraining from adultery, they’re not really guilty,” Murray told Arroyo.

“So we kind of have here something very serious under the guise of pastoral charity, and that is the overthrow of the moral order. What is intrinsically evil – adultery is intrinsically evil – can never be turned into something good by claiming that, well, people can’t avoid that sin.”

Arroyo agreed, adding, “I am very upset with the notion and I think that it is in ignorance – I’m going to write it off, in mercy, to ignorance – among some of the people that I’ve been reading, because they don’t seem to understand that the Catholic Church is not a political institution where, when you get a new pope, everything is changed, you suddenly change everything. No, no, no, it is built on a continuity – historical, theological, canon law – all of this builds, one thing upon another, and flows naturally from it.”

“So you do have to square or reconcile what went before with what is being proposed today, and if there is a rupture there is going to be reaction. That is normative," said Arroyo.

Arroyo illustrated the effects of the progressive breakdown in Catholic moral teaching by citing various news stories, including a recent LifeSiteNews article about a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life who has said that contraception is “required” under certain circumstances.

Arroyo and Murray discussed the consequences that are beginning to arise from the theology contained in Amoris laetitia, as the logic of justifying the mortal sin of adultery is applied to other mortal sins by theologians and even bishops.

Murray blasted a lead German bishop who recently said that the Church should discuss blessing homosexual unions because there is “much that is positive” in such relationships.

“He wants us to bless sodomy? He wants the Catholic Church to say to two people who are sodomizing each other: ‘you’re doing something that is pleasing in the sight of God’ and we want God to bless, meaning, we want God to favor this type of activity?” asked Murray.

“This, and this is quite simply a statement of fact, this is a total rejection of Catholic doctrine on the immorality of homosexual activity,” Murray said. “For this bishop to say that is a major scandal. He should repent of it and turn away from it because he’s leading people into sin.”

“If I seem angry it’s because I am,” added Murray. “This is infuriating. A shepherd is sent out to lead the sheep to the pure waters of Catholic truth and this man is saying that immoral activity should be blessed? He needs to repent of that teaching.”

Murray also condemned public statements recently made by Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who has recently claimed that contraception may be morally obligatory under certain circumstances, noting that Chiodi is basing his claim on Amoris laetitia.

“Fr. Chiodi has done a tremendous disservice to the Church and it’s really a disgraceful performance on his part in a lecture at a Catholic university to state that some couples should, as a matter of virtue, as a matter of doing what’s right, use artificial contraception,” said Murray.

“Artificial contraception is intrinsically evil, it’s a moral disorder, it’s a mortal sin,” Murray continued. “For a priest to be telling people to do that is encouraging them to commit sin.”

Chiodi “precisely takes Amoris Laetitia chapter 8 as his launching pad to say that what was taught in the past no longer has relevancy given the changing circumstances. This is wrong,” said Murray. “No priest can contradict Catholic teaching and thereby change it. Catholic teaching remains. What it does is it scandalizes the faithful, weakens the faith, and it’s an invitation to commit sin.”

[In other words, AL Chapter 8 with its outrageous anti-Catholic propositions is serving what Bergoglio must have intended it to do - to be the 'Open Sesame' for all anti-Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests to get all aboard his 'mercy bus' and begin 'un-sinning' mortal sins of every kind, starting with the chronic state of mortal sin in which adulterers and active sexual deviants live. Abortion and artificial contraception are already getting the wink-wink nod from Bergoglio, who also happens to be the prime sinner right now against the Eighth Commandment (Thou shalt not bear false witness - in other words, thou shalt not lie). I cannot now imagine how he will try to get around the sin of killing others. Perhaps he will next 'un-sin' not going to Sunday Mass (a commandment of the Church, after all, not one in the Decalogue).]

Murray praised the bishops of Kazakhstan for issuing a statement defending the Catholic Church’s doctrines on the grave sinfulness of adultery and condemning the giving of Holy Communion to those who practice it.

“The Kazakh bishops deserve praise in my opinion because they’re raising this discussion precisely to the appropriate level, which is what has Catholic doctrine always been? It needs to be defended and if it’s being misstated or misinterpreted, that needs to be rejected,” said Murray.

“This is in no way an attack on the person of the pope,” he added. “I see it precisely as an act of loyalty to the pope and to the See of Peter that we would say ‘Peter, we need clarity here.’”

Murray rejected the claim made by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, that Amoris laetitia has introduced a “new paradigm” into the Church. [A news report I had fully intended to post, but it somehow slipped away. So this man whom Sandro Magister sees as the 'only' plausible candidate right now to succeed to Bergoglio as pope, is showing his bona fides as a trueblue Bergoglian to all Bergoglian cardinals and potential cardinal electors at the next Conclave. And all those previous forays at seeming to spin Bergoglio's words and actions into something more moderate were his attempts to appeal to the more orthodox cardinals so he can get his vote from both sides of the ideological aisle! Beware of Parolin! ]

"A paradigm is basically a political category, for like a government policy that we’re going to look at things in a different way, you know, Richard Nixon’s shift on China, things of that sort,” said Murray. “But in the Catholic Church, Catholic doctrine is not subject to paradigm shifts. Catholic doctrine is a treasure given by Christ and entrusted to the Church to be promoted, defended, explained.”

EWTN’s The World Over is viewed by millions of Catholics weekly. The network itself reaches an estimated 250 million households worldwide.

Fr. Murray’s remarks were partially in reference to his recent article for The Catholic Thing, in which he discusses the “crisis” in the Church provoked by the pope’s publication of the Argentinean bishops’ interpretation of AL in the Acts of the Apostolic See. Murray has been denounced bitterly by partisans of the pope for writing the article.
00Wednesday, January 17, 2018 4:02 AM

I'm surprised at this BBC article which actually acknowledges 'hostility' to the-most-popular-pope-ever!

Pope Francis likely to face hostility
on his official visit to Chile

By Eva Ontiveros

16 January 2018

When the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis's trip to Chile would not be an easy one, it was no exaggeration.

In the pontiff's 22nd overseas visit, he will meet an unprecedented degree of hostility on his native continent.

When asked to evaluate Pope Francis on a scale of 0 to 10, Chileans gave him a score of 5.3, the lowest ranking for any Pope.

Trust in the Catholic Church as an institution fared even worse, polling at just 36% - the lowest in Latin America.

With such a low rating, it is not surprising that before boarding his plane from Rome, Pope Francis asked his congregation to pray for him.

Chile is a land of contrasts. It is estimated that more than 60% of the population identifies itself as Christian, and 45% belongs to the Catholic Church. But it is also the second most secular country in Latin America.

Some 38% of Chileans regard themselves as agnostic, atheist or non-religious.

So what are the three main challenges the Pope will face on his Chilean trip?

1: Corruption and poverty
In the days before Pope Francis was due to land in Chile, the visit came under criticism for the costs involved while so many people were struggling under the poverty threshold.

Catholic churches in the capital, Santiago, were firebombed, causing minor damage but sending a clear message.

Three churches caught fire after they were targeted with homemade devices. A fourth church was spared any damage after an explosive was defused, but a message left on a wall nearby read: "The poor are dying."

Flyers were also left at the properties, warning that the next target would be the Pope.

The Apostolic Nunciature was also occupied briefly with protesters complaining about the expense of the pontiff's trip.

The lack of initiative in fighting against corruption is also seen by many Chileans as a way of slowing down development and keeping poor people from prospering.

2: Resentment after sexual abuse scandal cover-up
The Catholic Church in Chile has yet to recover from the downward spiral that began with the so-called Karadima abuse case.

For more than a decade, local church leaders ignored complaints against the highly influential Fernando Karadima, a Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting children.

When the victims went public, the Vatican finally investigated the affair and Fr Karadima was found guilty in 2011. [Under Benedict XVI]

Pope Francis has made clear his "zero tolerance" for abuse, but his appointment of one of Fr Karadima's protégés - Juan Barros - as the bishop of Osorno in southern Chile has reopened old wounds.

According to Fr Karadima's victims, Bishop Barros was aware of the abuse but allowed it to happen, although he denies knowing of the crimes.

In an open letter, James Hamilton, one of Fr Karadima's best-known and outspoken victims, said: "I still don't understand how we, the thousands of victims of abuse, were not protected by our priests, who were silent witnesses to what was happening to us."

3: Indigenous discontent
On Wednesday, Pope Francis will visit Temuco, a city in southern Chile that acts as the de facto capital for the indigenous Mapuche people.

The Mapuche community has opposed colonisation for 300 years - fighting against Spanish colonisers first, then the Chilean nation-state - in what is considered one of Latin America's longest-running conflicts. It is a conflict that erupts in violence periodically.

The Pope is to celebrate a mass for "the progress of peoples" followed by lunch with Mapuche representatives.

There are longstanding issues for this community - among them, ancestral land ownership, and legal recognition for the Mapuche language and culture.

Leaders hope that Pope Francis can help them end decades of discrimination, and bridge differences.

Sandro Magister now offers us a detailed chronology and analysis of Bergoglio's words and actions regarding the Karadima-Barros episodes - yet another illustration of his puzzling equivocation (if not outright duplicity, or more simply, LYING, which it appears is a modus operandi for him] in dealing with priestly sex abuses, notwithstanding all his fiery words of 'zero tolerance' in the matter...

Bergoglio's doublespeak about
his appointment of Chilean bishop Barros

January 16, 2018

A few days before the arrival of Pope Francis in Chile, the Associated Press published a January 2015 letter he sent to the bishops of Chile.

It raises the question: What is the real thinking of Jorge Mario Bergoglio concerning the biggest scandal that has shaken the Church in Chile in recent years, the one centered on a priest named Fernando Karadima?

Karadima, now eighty-seven, was for years a pastor in Santiago, but above all was an extremely popular educator and leader of vast ranks of young people and priests, some of whom went on to become bishops.

In 2010, however, many of his disciples revealed that he had sexually abused them when they were young or minors. The Holy See quickly reached the conclusion that those accusations were well-founded. And on June 21, 2011 it found Karadima guilty and ordered him to retire to a private life of penance and prayer.

Afterward, however, new charges were made against three bishops who had been raised in the school of Karadima, accused of having witnessed or taken part in some of the sexual abuse committed by their teacher.

These three bishops were:
- Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, ordained in 1995 as auxiliary of ValparaÍso, later made bishop of Iquique and at the time the military ordinary of Chile;
- Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic, ordained in 1998, bishop of Linares;
- Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca, ordained in 1995, bishop of Talca;

The Holy See also opened investigations into these three bishops. And it quickly came to the decision to remove them from the exercise of their offices.

This, in fact, is what can be gathered from the letter of Pope Francis made public a few days ago by the Associated Press.

According to what the pope writes in this letter, in 2014 the Vatican nuncio in Chile, Ivo Scapolo, asked Barros, the bishop most in the eye of the hurricane, to resign and take a year of sabbatical. The nuncio also told Barros confidentially - again according to what the pope writes - that the same step would be requested of the other two bishops under accusation.

Barros, however, in the letter of resignation that he sent to the Vatican authorities toward the end of 2014, also put down in writing what the nuncio had said to him confidentially concerning the other two bishops. And this infraction - the pope writes in the letter - “complicated and blocked” everything. [How exactly does mentioning something said by the nunco - even if confidentially - become 'an infraction that could complicate and block everything' in which everything presumably included not acting on Barros's resignation! This is a Bergoglian 'excuse' as shoddy and embarrassing as that of the heVatican's recent 'explanation' for conferring the Order of St. Gregory the Great on an abortion/LGBT activist nonpareil!]
In fact, the resignation of Barros and of the other two bishops had no follow-up. Not only that. Shortly afterward, Francis even promoted Barros from military ordinary to bishop of a diocese, that of Osorno.

The appointment was made public on January 10, 2015, and in Chile all bedlam broke loose. On January 23, the permanent council of the episcopal conference of Chile wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to revoke the appointment. And on January 31 Francis replied to the Chilean bishops with none other than the letter now made public by the Associated Press.

Here it is translated in its entirety from the original Spanish:

Vatican, January 31, 2015

To the distinguished bishops of
the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile

Dear brothers:

I have received your e-mail of the 23rd of this month. Thank you very much for openly manifesting the disquiet that you have at this time concerning the appointment of Mons. Juan Barros Madrid. I understand what you are saying to me and I am aware that the situation of the Church of Chile is difficult due to all the trials you have had to endure.

I pledge to you, in addition to my fraternal understanding, my closeness as a brother and my prayer.

I remember well the visit that you made in February of last year, and also the various proposals, which seemed to me prudent and constructive.

However, there then arose, at the end of the year, a serious problem. The distinguished nuncio asked Mons. Barros for his resignation and urged him to take a sabbatical period (one year, for example) before taking on another pastoral responsibility as diocesan bishop. And he mentioned to him that the same procedure would be used with the bishops of Talca and Linares, but not to tell them about this. Mons. Barros sent the text of his resignation, adding this remark from the nuncio.

As you can understand, this remark of the distinguished nuncio complicated and blocked any further move in the direction of offering a sabbatical year. I spoke about the matter with Card. Ouellet, and I know that he spoke with the distinguished nuncio.

At this time, following the express indication of the Congregation for Bishops, Mons. Barros is doing a month of Spiritual Exercises in Spain. [So, from having been asked to submit his resignation, Barros ends up with no 'disciplinary action' other than a monthlong retreat in Spain!]I do not know if he will pass through Rome afterward, but I will advise Card. Ouellet of this and of the suggestion that you are making.

I thank you once again for your openness and frankness in expressing your views and feelings: this is the only way to work for the Church, the care of which the Lord has entrusted to the bishops.

I ask you to please pray for me, because I need it.

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin watch over you.


This letter does not explain why a mere impropriety in writing - and moreover a correctible one - was enough to nullify Barros’s resignation.

Nor much less does the pope cite, or explain, the bewildering about-face that he made by promoting Barros to be a diocesan bishop whom just a short time before he had intended to remove.

This, in any case,is what happened next.
- On March 6, 2015, Francis received in audience the archbishop of Concepción, Fernando Natalio Chomalí Garib, apostolic administrator of Osorno before the installation of the new bishop.
- On March 21, 2015 Barros made his official entrance into the diocese of Osorno, amid a hurricane of protests.
- Ten days later, on March 31, a statement from the deputy director of the Vatican press office declared that “prior to the recent appointment of His Excellency Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.” Which does not explain why until the very end of 2014, the Holy See appeared to support the resignation of Barros.
- In April Marie Collins, a victim of abuse in her youth and a prominent member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, publicly criticized the appointment of Barros. And with three other members of the commission she went to Rome to meet with the president of the commission, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, to get him to convince the pope to revoke the appointment. [Obviously, to no avail.]
- In May, at the end of a general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Francis met with a former spokesman of the Chilean episcopal conference, Jaime Coiro, along with his family, who told him that in Chile the Church “is praying and suffering” because of all that is happening.

And these are the words that Francis addressed to him, immortalized in a video of one minute and twenty seconds released the following October 2 by the Chilean television network “Ahora Noticias”:

In the original Spanish:
"Es una Iglesia que perdió la libertad dejándose llenar la cabeza por políticos, juzgando a un obispo sin ninguna prueba después de veinte años de servicio. O sea, que piensen con la cabeza, no se dejen llevar por las narices de todos los zurdos que son los que armaron la cosa.

"Además, la única acusación que hubo contra ese obispo fue desacreditada por la corte judicial. O sea, por favor, eh… no pierdan la serenidad. Osorno sufre sí, por tonta, porque no abre su corazón a lo que Dios dice y se deja llevar por las macanas que dice toda esa gente. Yo soy el primero en juzgar y castigar a alguien que tiene acusaciones de ese tipo… Pero en este caso ni una prueba, al contrario… De corazón se lo digo. No se dejen llevar por las narices de estos que buscan lío no más, que buscan calumnias…".
In English:
“It is a Church that has lost its freedom because it has let its head be filled up by the politicians, judging a bishop without any proof after twenty years of service. So think with your heads, and don’t let yourselves be led by the nose by all those leftists who are the ones who drummed up the business.

“Furthermore, the only accusation that there has been against this bishop has been discredited by the judicial court. So please, eh? Don’t lose your serenity. Yes, Osorno is suffering, because it is stupid, because it is not opening its heart to what God is saying and is letting itself get carried away by the stupidities that all those people are saying. I am the first to judge and punish those who have been accused of such things... But in this case there is a lack of proof, or rather, on the contrary... I say it from the heart. Don’t let yourselves be led by the nose by these people who are seeking only to make ‘lío,’ confusion, who seek to calumniate….”

[One must note that this intemperate outburst on the part of Bergoglio - who probably was unaware he was being recorded - appears to illustrate his typical invective against those who oppose him in any way, more intemperate than the language he uses in his daily homilettes and certainly suggestive of the rage he is capable of displaying behind the scenes, as reported in several anecdotes out of Casa Santa Marta. Imagine, a pope giving way to such negativity during a ropeline meeting with an unsuspecting and well-intentioned Chilean Catholic! Yet very few in the media and the blogosphere bothered to call him out on the inappropriateness and the content of his outburst.
- In October, after the releae of these words from Francis that were as exonerating for Barros as they were humiliating for his accusers, the protests exploded with even more force. And even Marie Collins stated in a tweet her deep dismay over this position taken by the pope:"What a waste that trip to Rome re Barros was, when you see the claims of Karadima's courageous victims categorised in this way."
- A year and a half later, on February 20, 2017, Francis received the bishops of Chile on their “ad limina” visit. He conversed with them, behind closed doors, for about three hours. After the meeting, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello stated that the pope also touched “with much sincerity” upon the problem of pedophilia, urging them to “overcome this situation.” But nothing changed with regard to the bishop of Osorno, who was also present at the meeting, as were the other two disciples of Karadima, the bishops of Linares and Talca.

And that brings us up to the arrival of Pope Francis in Chile, right when the lid has been lifted - with the publication of that January 2015 letter - on the mess of contradictions that marks his management of the affair.

Contradictions between speech and action. And saying one thing today and the next time its opposite.

[So much to-do in the news today that Bergoglio met with some victims of priestly sex abuse in Chile. I bet that did not include any of Karadima's accusers, one of whom - which Magister fails to mention - has said that not only was Barros aware of Karadima's abuses but also was present at some of the events. Surely this must have factored in the investigation that led to the Nuncio in Chils recommending the resignation of Barros and the two other Karadima proteges.]

00Wednesday, January 17, 2018 5:31 PM

So the great Fr. Schall turns 90 on January 28 - may God give him more joyful and productive years! I first came to read Fr. Schall when
Benedict XVI became Pope, and he was an exhilarating discovery for me. He was always quick to write profound reflections on what Benedict XVI
said, wrote and did, in a way that never hid his admiration for someone he has often called the greatest mind addressing contemporary man
today. Obviously, in many ways, their minds are congenial. Fr. Schall's insights have been just as precious on general topics that should
interest and engross anyone who has an inquiring mind. THE CATHOLIC THING has assembled a compendium of testimonials to him for his 90th
birthday, but I shall start out with his own account about himself at 90...

Schall at 90
by James V. Schall, S.J.

Beginning with “Schall at Seventy,” I have written a birthday comment (January 20) every five years. At seventy, I would be teaching at Georgetown for another fifteen years. On December 7, 2012, I gave my “Last Lecture” in Gaston Hall. On the first day of Spring, 2013, I flew to California, and have resided here in Los Gatos since. It is a good place for tired and retired Jesuits. Some forty of my various classmates have died here since I arrived. We do not call this center “The Waiting Room” or “The Last Assignment” for nothing, but all in good cheer.

In reading Brad Miner’s book, The Compleat Gentleman, I came across the following passage: “But, God willing, we will all turn ninety, and then what? We can plausibly think of fifty as young, but ninety?” Indeed.

This Los Gatos house is where I entered the Order as a novice in 1948. I left here for studies at Gonzaga University in 1952. This second run is already longer than the first. One manages to keep busy. The computer enables many things. I have had a number of books published since I arrived here.

In one, Remembering Belloc, I recalled his Path to Rome. There he said something pertinent to what concerns us as we age. In 1901, Belloc reflected that, in later years, we begin to worry about the human side of the supernatural Church.

When I arrived here five years ago, I did not suspect that the center of the Church, Rome, where I taught for twelve years, would turn out to be something to worry about. In recent decades, the Church seemed to be in sure hands. Now many people I know throw up their hands and wonder what will collapse next. My books, Catholicism and Intelligence and The Modern Age, more or less spelled out the world as I came to see it.

A former student, Scott Walter, recalled the annoyance that Walker Percy felt when constantly asked in interviews why he was a Catholic. He simply inquired: “What else is there?” My experience finds this to be the most productive of answers. See what you come up with in trying to find something better.

On examination, what is claimed to be better almost invariably turns out to be worse. One good thing about evil and sin is that we can think about them with a cold eye. But just because nothing is better does not prove that no basic problem exists at the center.

In retrospect, much of my life consisted in recommending things to read. I discovered Plato at a relatively advanced age. At Georgetown, every so often, I would spend a semester with a class in which we would read as much of Plato as we could.

To read Plato, however, it helps to be well-grounded in Aristotle and Aquinas. Few are more helpful in putting all these together than Charles N. R. McCoy, Josef Pieper, Joseph Ratzinger, and Robert Sokolowski. I had been fortunate in my early studies to have had as teachers Clifford Kossel, S. J. and Heinrich Rommen.

When asked what “field” I was in, I usually said “political philosophy.” But lest that sound hopelessly narrow, I argued that from this beginning one could and should go in many directions. If there is any “distinct” Schall contribution to political philosophy, it is basically distilled in my Political Philosophy & Revelation: A Catholic View.

The essential point is that reason and revelation belong together in a non-contradictory way. But we see this only after acknowledging what questions that philosophy can ask but not answer by itself. At this point, we become aware that an intelligence is found in revelation. The mind of revelation and the mind of reason have the same origin.

What I best like to write is the short essay – The Satisfied Crocodile (American Chesterton Society) is the latest collection. What I like to recommend are short books that take an unsuspecting student or curious adult to the heart of things. Such books can be found. Suggesting them was the burden of Another Sort of Learning and Docilitas: On Teaching and Being Taught.

Ultimately, “teaching” consists in two things: 1) the teacher and the student together read the same books that bring both to the truth, to the heart of things (Plato is the quickest way); 2) A professor, to recall Frederick Wilhelmsen, must state, over the years, what he has learned in his teaching.

That Schall at ninety has said all that he has to say is probable, but don’t count on it! As we age, we can, with Belloc, worry about the human side of the supernatural Church. But about Schall’s corporeal side, little leeway is left. The words of the rousing old tune state it best: “The Old Grey Mare she ‘ain’t’ what she used to be, many long years ago.”

For a more comprehensive background on Fr. Schall, here is a tribute to Fr Schall published in Catholic World Report on his 89th birthday a year ago:

The docile visionary, James V. Schall, SJ
Observations on the life and thought of a remarkable priest,
philosopher, professor, and author on the occasion of his 89th birthday

by David Paul Deavel

January 28, 2017

Several years ago I began a review of The Modern Age (St. Augustine’s Press, 2011) by noting the error of the author, Fr. James Schall, in citing Psalm 90, verse 10’s estimate of the standard human age as “four score years and ten” (90) rather than “three score and ten, four score if our strength endure.” Three score and ten is 70, four score is 80.

I sympathized with Fr. Schall’s confusion, given that at the time of publication he was 83 and still strolling the aisles of Georgetown University to quiz undergraduates on what precisely Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas, or Tocqueville meant by this or that passage, while using his spare time to write essays in dozens of journals and books on the difficulties of faith and reason, the oddities of political philosophy’s autonomy and yet dependence on divine revelation, and the “strange coherences of Catholicism” (as he subtitled another book). “Of the making of many books there is no end,” we read in Ecclesiastes, and we might add to that, “certainly not in the lifetime of Schall.”

By the time you read this essay, Fr. Schall (b. January 28, 1928) will be turning 89, heading toward what his younger, 83-year-old self mistakenly assumed the biblically allotted norm. Of course he did slow down, a bit, retiring in 2012 from his 58-year teaching career, which began with 14 years in the faculty of social sciences at the Gregorian University in Rome, for seven of which he taught fall semester in the government department at the University of San Francisco.

He spent his last 35 years as a professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, where he was thrice awarded by the senior class with the Edward G. Bunn, SJ Award for Faculty Excellence, and moonlighted with stints as a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, National Council of Humanities, and National Endowment for the Humanities.

His “retirement” to Los Gatos, California, site of his Jesuit novitiate over six decades earlier, richly deserves ironic scare quotes. All-knowing Wikipedia can’t even keep up with his post-retirement publications, limited not merely to regular columns in The Catholic Thing, Gilbert, Catholic World Report, and The University Bookman and countless venues that had not counted on him sending them something, but received them anyway.

With over 30 books under his belt at retirement, Schall’s books just since 2012 include Political Philosophy and Revelation: A Catholic Reading (CUA Press, 2013), Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius, 2013), The Classical Moment: Selected Essays on Knowledge and its Pleasures (St. Augustine’s, 2014), Remembering Belloc (St. Augustine’s, 2014), On Christians and Prosperity (Acton, 2015), and the book sitting next to me, Docilitas: On Being Taught (St. Augustine’s, 2016).

As I write, St. Augustine’s lists as forthcoming At a Breezy Time of Day: Selected Schall Interviews on Just About Everything, On the Principles of Taxing Beer, and The Praise of ‘Sons of Bitches’: On the Worship of God by Fallen Man. As to what manuscripts are sitting on other publisher’s desks at the moment, only God and Fr. Schall know. If he has moved on to the life of a rocking chair, the rocking chair sits in a library very close to the plug-in for his laptop.

While it is common in the lives of people celebrated for great achievements — whether of holiness, artistry, or scholarship — to look back and see hints of what was to come, it is nice to know that an undistinguished childhood does not rule out a very distinguished adulthood. The child might be father of the man, but the apple can sometimes fall a bit farther from the tree.

In an interview I did with him in 2005 after a conference lecture, Schall recalled growing up in small-town Iowa (he was born in the delightfully named town of Pocahontas) in the 1930s and 40s: “I knew I could read, but we were too busy playing ball and all the rest. As far as children’s literature . . . I didn’t get much of it.”

After a desultory semester at Santa Clara University he enlisted in the army in 1946. Like many a young man, Schall found that soldiering involved a lot more hurrying-up-to-wait than he had anticipated. It was during this time that he discovered the joy of the library set up on his post, a joy tempered by bemusement at the offerings: “I was standing in the library looking at all these books, and I realized I didn’t know what to read. Did you start from left to right or go from A to Z or what?”

After his army stint, Schall went back to Santa Clara for another year and then entered the California Province of the Jesuits in 1948 with a hunger for education. He ended up receiving his BA and MA in philosophy from Gonzaga University, his MA in sacred theology from Santa Clara, and a PhD in political theory from Georgetown in 1960, all before being ordained a priest in 1964.

From then on it was a life of consistent, thoughtful action and teaching, without the drastic markers of celebrity or ignominy. Explaining to Joan Frawley Desmond the secret of his productivity in an article marking his 2012 retirement, he said his “daily routine is exactly like it has been all my life: Get up; say Mass and [the Divine] Office; go to meals; shoot the breeze; read some more; do what I have to do; and go to bed.”

While he never “went viral,” he made a life that was remarkable for the steady accumulation of articles, essays, and books produced, and, more importantly, sacraments dispensed, sermons and retreats preached, students taught, and truths and blessings pondered. “A long obedience in the same direction,” the Protestant spiritual writer Eugene Peterson’s definition of Christian discipleship, seems written with Fr. Schall in mind.

To simply list those accomplishments and that patterned form of life may make some think that the life of Schall has been, if not exciting, a kind of life of Riley. But the biblical teaching about discipleship is that the disciple is never greater than the master and that discipleship does not lift us up above earthly troubles.

So it has been with Schall. He may be going on ninety, but he has been dying for many years. When I interviewed him in 2005 he had been receiving treatments for cancer for a year or so. A recurrence of cancer in 2010 caused him to have part of his jaw removed and replaced by a bone from his lower leg. Many years before he lost an eye due to a different disease.

And of course as an academic and political philosopher he has lived to see difficult developments in both the academy and western political thought that have been troubling. “Beloved,” we read in the first Epistle of Peter, “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you” (4:12).

Fr. Schall has never been surprised at the disastrous or the ludicrous. George Weigel wrote of his dual mastery as teacher and spiritual director, explaining that “he is both because he is a man at peace with the absurdities of the world, which he knows to be part of a divine plan he doesn’t presume to grasp fully.”

Schall’s career in political philosophy has been built on the very Catholic notion that the not-fully graspable divine plan, which includes death, is nevertheless at the heart of the political project. His Georgetown doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the famed German Catholic natural law theorist and émigré Heinrich Rommen, was on “Immortality and the Foundations of Political Theory.” The history of political thought began with the difficulty that mortality presents for a polis in search of justice:

I have always been struck by the fact that the immortality of the soul is a teaching that grew out of political philosophy, out of Plato’s wonderment: “Are all crimes properly punished and are all good deeds rewarded?” In one sense, the ancient city was itself founded to minister justice among the feuding tribes and individuals. A citizen was someone who lived in a polity that sought to see that justice was done. But it is quite clear that no human polity or court has ever managed to reward and punish everything that deserved it.

The questions of justice and of the highest end of humans, contemplation of the truth, were not answerable from within political philosophy itself. While Plato thought such contemplation possible only for a few, hence the smallness of his ideal polis, Aristotle’s emphasis on our gathering knowledge from sense experience meant that even non-philosophers could be part of the city and could have as their end the contemplation that goes well beyond political life.

For Schall the problem with this outlook is that Aristotle could not identify how it is that more than a few ordinary people could actually find contemplative happiness.

For Schall, Christian Revelation offers the answers to the problems laid out by Plato and Aristotle, giving the possibility of justice and a contemplative beatitude to ordinary human beings outside this life.
- It clarifies the end of man and also gives a way toward that beatitude, not giving the details of how to the political philosopher, but the vision of whither.
- In its doctrine of original sin it also gives limits to political philosophy by suggesting that moral evil is something that is endemic to human nature, not something that can be stamped out with political tools and technocratic means.
- Christianity’s ideal city is the city of God, where persons experience justice and contemplate the Lamb who was slain.

For Schall, Augustine was a kind of realist who made clear that politics was a this-worldly check on sinful mankind and that even the best regimes could only provide the “tranquility of order.” For Augustine, political life was a necessary evil.

It was left to St. Thomas to discover the positive, Aristotelian insight that nature and political life have their own dignity that is distinct and this-worldly, but ordered toward the “supernatural” end that is found in contemplation of and participation in the life of God.

Modern political theory, which has rejected the sensible limitations of classical theory and the clarifications offered by Christian revelation and thinkers like Augustine and Thomas, has too often been the foundation of political projects of a quasi-redemptive character that have attempted to bring transcendence to the earthly city without an acknowledgment of either the transcendent nature of man or his inherent frailty and the impossibility of truly eradicating evil in this life.

The experiments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been designed to “immanentize the eschaton,” in Eric Voegelin’s famous phrase. While paradises have not been forthcoming, hells on earth have been created often enough.

To be clear, Schall is not suggesting that Christian political thinking can only go back to the “thirteenth, the greatest of centuries.” Schall does not propose reviving the institutional arrangements of the Christian Middle Ages, but instead reviving the spirit of medieval Christian political thought: “a way of thinking about human, social, and political life that takes into consideration what we know about human beings from unaided reason and divine revelation.”

To know the fullness of Christian revelation about human beings — the glorious destiny of man as personal, social, and contemplative being, but also the limits of what is possible here on earth to make that happen — is to realize a truth “that leaves politics to be what it is, precisely non-redemptive. . . . To know this is the first step to an age that has shed from its public life the illusion that it decides the last things for all of the people, all of the time.”

As Schall observes, too often that illusion has been at the heart of modern politics as a “substitute religion or metaphysics” giving us “covert ideological efforts to resolve what are essentially Christian ideas by man within this world.” A non-redemptive politics will be aware of the human end of contemplation of divine things but refrain from offering itself as the source or summit of those things.

To be a good citizen, therefore, is to be something more than a citizen. It is to be a human being open to being taught and open to receiving the heavenly vision, just as in politics, from both reason and revelation. For the follower of St. Thomas Aquinas, to receive the supernatural gift of contemplation can be prepared for by the purely natural contemplation of truth available everywhere. That is the point of education.

And education is to be taken seriously but not with undue solemnity, as evidenced by the front cover of Another Sort of Learning, Schall’s most famous book in this line, which tells us its contents are “Selected Contrary Essays on How Finally to Acquire an Education While Still at College or Anywhere Else: Containing Some Belated Advice about How to Employ Your Leisure Time When Ultimate Questions Remain Perplexing in Spite of Your Highest Earned Academic Degree, Together with Sundry Books Lists Nowhere Else in Captivity to Be Found.”

Here Schall addressed students and alumni of sundry educational institutions who felt that they were getting or had gotten “an education” but were not educated: that is, they had not been taught how to seek the truth of things deep down.

Schall’s newest book, Docilitas: On Teaching and Being Taught, returns to this theme of learning to see the whole of things, so that we might see the highest of things. It is that Catholic vision of wholeness — for Schall it’s not just Athens and Jerusalem, but Rome as the place where the two meet — that Schall says is essential for any true education: “One ought not to come to college to learn something, unless he comes first to learn everything. That is its real adventure. It is the only real justification for freeing ourselves for four or more years from the busy, un-leisured things that storm about us from every side and for which alone we are told, falsely, that we exist”.

Learning everything really does mean learning from every thing. The docilitas or teachability that is his theme is an openness to the real. “Education means,” he writes, “that we seek to know (and see and hear and taste and feel) what is.” And what is includes “myriads of particular things” that we encounter “whose ultimate cause of being we wonder about”.

Schall’s penchant for citing Charlie Brown alongside Plato, facts about the 1937 World Series alongside details of the Big Bang, and pretty much anything seemingly insignificant alongside the recognized-as-significant follows through in this book as well. Any one of them can lead us to wonder about their causes all the way back to their ultimate cause.

While Schall has plenty of wisdom about the teacher in this volume (especially in the chapters “On Teaching” and “On Teaching and the Highest Good”), the focus on docility puts more emphasis on the responsibility of one who wants to learn.

Schall’s introduction, “Knowledge is not ‘Owned,’” makes clear that while professors can pass on enthusiasm and a willingness to speak not merely of what they know or hypothesize, but of what they see and wonder about, the responsibility is on the student. For no teacher can give a student the “willingness to do the sometimes hard work of learning”. Only when the teacher and learner are looking closely at the same things, wondering and reasoning about them and even learning about themselves, can there be said to be any real education going on.

Although he’s not striding through the classrooms anymore, one suspects that, going into his ninetieth year, Fr. James Schall is still teaching because he is still learning about the myriad things including himself. It is his continuing docility that enables him to be the visionary he is.

[This essay was adapted from the Preface to the Winter 2017 issue of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, of which Mr. Deavel is associate editor. At the time of this writing, he was also adjunct professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).]

00Wednesday, January 17, 2018 8:27 PM

Marco Tosatti has provided a transcript (translated from Ducth to Italian) of the exchange between the interviewer and Lilliane Ploumen in that video where she
shows off the Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great conferred on her by the Vatican last year. It turns out she also advocates marrying off girls at 14, a cause
in which she says she is actively seeking Vatican cooperation!]

More from Ploumen and the Vatican's
lame explanation of why she was made
a Commander of the Order of St Gregory

January 16, 2018

So you have won another prize…
- Yes, another one. I have received high recognition from the Pope…
Is it because of what you are doing for the cause of abortion?
- Well, that is not brought up, but it is interesting that what is mentioned is [what I do] about resources for society…
But that is true for many other people…
- Of course, and I believe the Vatican know that I founded ‘She decides’. But that did not stop them from giving me this recognition – it is a special honor…
What kind of recognition is it?
- It makes me a Commander in the Order of St Gregory.
Well, congratulations! Is this not truly progressivist on the part of the pope?
- Yes, that is so. And I am happy to have received it.
Do you see it as a confirmation of what you have been doung for women and for abortion?
- Yes, that too. In recent years, I have invested a lot in establishing contacts with the Vatican…
You mean, lobbying work?
- Yes, lobbying. You know that the Vatican, especially under the preceding popes, had a rigid attitude about the rights of girls and women…
- Which will not change overnight – one must have no illusions abut this. But there are areas perhaps in which we can nonetheless cooperate, and this is what I have been seeking. For example, the Chruch is very much against the marriage of children, and this may seem strange to us [the Dutch], but in many countries the Church has a great influence, so that if a bishop says, “Dear people, it is a bad idea to arrange marriage for girls who are only 14 years old”, it will help [presumably, to counteract that attitude. But why on earth would she advocate for girls to be married off at 14?] Then there was a bishop in Uganda who spoke against homosexualism, and the Vatican told him: “Look, we do not approve this practice, but man is created as he is and we should accept him as he is”.
And so you are pragmatic enough that if the pope or the Vatican can help in your mission…
- Certainly.
Even if they don’t approve of it?
- Naturally. Let us not make a mistake. The Church has a very influential voice among the faithful, but it is also part of negotiations in the United Nations, so it makes a difference if they side with, say Saudi Arabia, and not with Holland on any issue – I prefer them to be on our side.
Alongside Member of Parliament Ploumen?
- Yes.

But while I was writing this post, I got a reply from the Vatican Press Office, from whom I had requested an explanation of the Ploumen honor. [He quotes the note already cited by Steve Skojec, and it turns out it is signed by Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the Spanish deputy to Press Director Greg Burke.]

Meanwhile, Cardinal Eijk of Holland made it clear he had no part in the conferment of the honor nor was he ever consulted about it.

So these are the facts. The report was not ‘fake news’ , despite the incredulity of many, including some of this blog’s followers who thought it was fake news.

One interesting detail: From the moment the report first came out in public – with an accompanying video – on the evening of January 12 )i.e., four days ago), not one journalist in the major news agencies and media outlets who deal with Vatican news even thought of seeking an explanation from the Vatican [because they chose not to report it at all, to begin with!]

It cannot be said that the news of a prominent abortion activist honored by the Vatican is not newsworthy. So one must find a reason for the media indifference elsewhere. Unfortunately, there is no reason to be found that is worthy of the term.

Riccardo Cascioli comments on Ploumen's admission of her lobbying efforts in the Vatican...

So there's an abortion lobby
at the Vatican...

[Who needs a lobby when the pope himself gladly gives his patronage
to the world's leading advocates of population control
he constantly invites to push their agenda in the Vatican?]

by Riccardo Cascioli
Translated from

January 17, 2018

The episode of the Vatican’s conferment of the Order of St. Gregory, rank of Commander, to the Dutch abortion advocate Lillian Ploumen has reached levels of absurdity to the point that it is hard to avoid speaking of a true and proper abortion lobby in the Holy See.[Not that a lobby is needed at all, since the Bergoglio Vatican itself has this never-ending series of international conferences on social issues, to which the world’s leading advocates of population control are among the repeatedly invited speakers!] If only because this is merely the most recent in a series of increasingly embarrassing ‘incidents’ for which a definitive clarification ought to be made. [But to get a definitive clarification from this Pontificate on anything it deliberately wants to leave open and equivocal is, as I have remarked before and forgive the bad pun, equivalent to waiting for Ber-godot!]

Ploumen, who is Holland’s Minister for Development, is a super-activist for abortion as well as for LGBT ‘rights’, and her credentials in this respect would make Emma Bonino envious. [She ought to be, because Bergoglio has yet to give her a formal honor, even if he has praised her as one of ‘Italy’s contemporary greats’, has embraced her publicly on several occasions, and has shrugged off her notorious record as an abortionist who boasts she performed at least 10,000 abortions herself with a bicycle pump by saying "But one must consider the totality of her work!” which, as far as I can research, appears to be of interest to Bergoglio only insofar as she advocates indiscriminate immigration. In the past few days, she has called for the government to allow half a million new migrants into Italy.]

So one cannot understand why the Vatican would have given her an honor intended to be for lay persons who have distinguished themselves by service to the Catholic Church.

[Cascioli goes on to cite the absurd response from the Vatican Press Office given four days after the news broke, to persons like Marco Tosatti who asked the Vatican to explain the honor conferred on Ploumen.]

The Vatican reply is an obvious attempt to minimize the episode, but it only worsens the situation, if that is even possible. From the reply, one would think that when there are visiting government or state delegations, the Holy See prepares by having a tray laid out with the medals corresponding to the various knightly orders in the Church from which delegation members would be honored at random. But of course, these papal honors are not given at random – they are conferred ad personam – to a specific person [named in the papally-signed certificate of conferment that accompanies these honors], and only after the Vatican has evaluated the merits of the prospective honoree. The reason for the conferment is stated in that certificate which is given along with the medal and ribbon that corresponds to the honor given.

Ploumen herself in the video says that although her activism in favor of abortion ‘is not mentioned’, “it is interesting that what is mentioned is [what I do] for the resources of society”, but nonetheless, she sees the honor “as a confirmation of what I have been doing for girls and women with respect to abortion”, admitting that in recent years, she has been carrying out lobbying actions at the Vatican to get their cooperation in her work in some of the developing countries.

So this was not a random honor. They certainly knew at the Vatican who Ploumen is and what she does [the photograph of her talking to the pope indicates that, at the very least, the latter must at least have been given some background information about her – but does he really care about details like this which merely ‘get in the way’ of his bonhomie towards everyone to whom he grants an audience?]

Surely, those at the Vatican who are in charge of these things remember a recent episode that also involved the Order of St. Gregory, when in the autumn of 2012, it became known that the famous talkshow host of the BBC, Jimmy Savile, who had died the year before, was in fact a serial molester of women and minors. He was given the Order of St. Gregory way back when – for the generous contributions to Catholic causes of someone who was much beloved by the British public. The Vatican withdrew the recognition, and at the Secretariat of State where such decisions are made, controls were supposedly installed to make sure that Church honors were not given out too easily and without appropriate investigation.

The Ploumen case is much worse – because the Vatican knew very well what ‘civilian’ battles she has been actively fighting, so what Catholic merit could they have found in her work? Especially since Cardinal Eijk of the Netherlands has said he had nothing to do with the conferment of the honor and was, in fact, never consulted about it.

It starts to become clear that in the highest spheres of the Vatican, there are those who are taking advantage of this pontificate to advance agenda which have nothing to do with the teachings of the Catholic Church [Only now 'starting' to become clear? That's disingenuous! Worse, the agenda is proactively anti-Catholic, but why say “highest spheres of the Vatican… taking advantage of this pontificate to advance [their] agenda” when it is clearly the pope’s agenda that is being advanced, because none of whatever is taking place in the Vatican right now could possibly take place without the pope’s knowledge and blessing. Ask John Allen and Mons. Brian Farrell who sing the praises of a 'very hands-on pope...who knows everything that is taking place and is being said at the Vatican"!]

On the question of abortion, it must be acknowledged that this pope has always been clear in his words – “Abortion is a crime, it is an absolute evil” – even if he has not lifted a finger (or spoken a word) to influence the political debate on the issue as he does so willingly and gladly on the social issues dear to his heart.

But he has surrounded himself with persons who obviously wish to bring ‘the Church’ on a wayward path, in which the dominant drumbeats are the promotion of the LGBT agenda, the openness towards artificial contraception, and the wink-wink nod at abortion on demand. [Which is, though not explicitly akcknowledged, Bergoglio’s own agenda.]

Therefore it is time – urgent and necessary – for the pope to make a clear statement that will put an end to this drift because, in this case, whether he likes it or not – his silence becomes complicity.

[And when will opinion-makers stop demanding the impossible of Bergoglio? He thrives on the confusion and polemic he sows by his deliberate ambiguity and equivocation on matters that popes before him always spelled out with conclusive definitive clarity.

He is the primary follower of what he advised Catholics at the start of his pontificate: Hagan lio! Make a mess, sow confusion, turn things upside down, inside out, whenever you can. This pope is certainly not the symbol of unity that a pope ought to be for the Church!]

On the Ploumen case, Aldo Maria Valli has confected a new fantasy- satire about this Pontificate to add to his serious commentaries and a new book in which he fantasizes a far-into-the-future consequence of the Bergoglio Pontificate (more about that later)....

An interview with Pope Gregory the Great
[In which the interviewer ends up being more the interviewee]
Translated for Rorate caeli by Francesca Romana from

January 16, 2018

Good day, Your Holiness.
Good day to you too.

Might I disturb your Holiness for a moment?
Of course.

You are Pope Gregory, aren’t you? Gregory The First, called Gregory The Great?
In person.

Please pardon my boldness, but I’d like to interview Your Holiness.

Yes, just ask you a few questions.
Go ahead, I’ll be happy to answer them if I’m able.

Thank you, Your Holiness. I don’t know if you’ve heard that the Equestrian Order carrying your Holiness’ name was given to a Dutch lady….
Equestrian Order? I’m afraid I don’t understand….

Well then….hmm….It’s an Order of Chivalry of the Holy See - an award.
And this award, as you call it, carries my name?

Exactly Your Holiness.
And why?

Well, then, it was another Pope Gregory, Gregory XVI, in 1831, who founded this Order, a first class one, to confer to Catholics, both men and women, who have distinguished themselves in their service to the Church as well as for their good example.
Interesting. And why ever would Our successor Gregory XVI name it after Us?

Well, I’m not really an expert on the matter, but I believe it was to honour You. You have been … you are an important Pope, very important…
Ah…I see…

Yes, so I was saying that recently this honour, this award, was given to a Dutch lady…
Why? Did she do battle against the barbarians?

No, no, Your Holiness….
Battling the barbarians, defending Rome and saving the Faith is of great merit. We did battle against the Lombards for a long time…
Of course…of course… Or perhaps this lady evangelized some populations?...

No, Your Holiness, she evangelized no-one. At least that’s how it appears to us…
Well then, did she perhaps contribute to the rebuilding of Rome? In our time, We worked hard to bring back luster to the city, in an age of great decadence…

Yes, yes, we know this, but no, this lady has not contributed to the rebuilding of Rome…
Ah, now I’m with you! Well then she surely has contributed to improving the liturgy, rendering it more coherent and solemn. It was another one of Our undertakings….

No, Your Holiness. She hasn’t contributed to improving the liturgy…
Oh, how odd. Well why then this honour which carries Our name?...

There you have it, Your Holiness, the fact is that…
No, don’t tell me now! I’ve got it! She re-launched Gregorian Chant, Our beloved Gregorian Chant!

Not that either, Your Holiness. The lady has done nothing in favour of Gregorian Chant. To tell you the truth I don’t even know whether she can sing…
Oh! But you surprise Us, sir. You are talking about an award that carries Our name , but I see none of the questions that were at the center of our work and life correspond to the interests of this lady…

That’s it, Your Holiness, it was precisely on this [issue] that we’d like your opinion. The Order of St. Gregory The Great was given to that lady because…because…
Tell us, do tell us…don’t keep Us on tenterhooks!

Because…well actually we don’t really know why. It was our hope Holiness, that You might be able to help us understand…
Us? …but We, my dear man …didn’t even know of the existence of this award…

Yes, but I thought that since the Order carries your august name, your Holiness perhaps might have been informed…
No, I’m sorry to say, but no-one told Us anything. Still, believe me, this happens a lot. In any case what remarkable thing might this lady have done?

Well, the thing is..this lady had worked …actually - has been working a lot in favour of abortion and the LGBT cause-…
My dear man, at this point I confess I understand nothing at all of what you’re saying.

Please forgive me, Your Holiness, it isn’t easy to explain…
I see that. I see that. You are saying things that don’t make any sense…

But they do make sense, Your Holiness. They are only difficult [to understand) for those like Yourself, who lived a long time ago.
Try anyway. We’d be most grateful.

How to do this now? Look, Your Holiness, I’ll try to say it like this: this lady retains that mothers when they are expecting a child, can decide whether to keep the baby or not. She further retains that rights should be extended and granted as far as possible to all those people who are part of the LGBT world: lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders.
My dear man, we are bound to reiterate that it is rather difficult for Us to understand the meaning of your words. One thing though, We think We have understood and it is that this dear lady has done absolutely nothing in defense of the Church and the Faith. Therefore, if you don’t mind, we’d prefer now to end this interview which for Us - perhaps also as a result of all the centuries separating us – has been somewhat onerous and – we will not hide it - a source of certain disquiet.

I understand very well Your Holiness and hope that Your Holiness will forgive us. We had thought…
Not to worry. Go your way in peace and receive Our blessing.

Thank you Your Holiness, thank you very much.
But before you go, tell Us: in your times, who is it that holds the fate of Our beloved Holy Mother Church in his hands?

We have a Pope who comes from Argentina…
Argentina? And what country might that be? Is it in the part of the Angles?

No, Your Holiness, it isn’t. It is a part of the world which was discovered many, many years after your existence on this earth. A lot of water has flowed under the bridges of the Tiber…
Don’t mention the Tiber! When I was Pope that river overflowed in a devastating manner and caused a terrible plague. Has it been overflowing now – in your times?

No, Your Holiness. Thank God it hasn’t overflowed for quite a while now.
And what about the plague? Do you have it?

No, Your Holiness, we don’t. At least not in the classical sense of the word.
Again, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

Never mind, Your Holiness, I’ll leave you to rest.
One last thing: were the barbarians converted in the end?

It’s difficult to say Your Holiness. In general yes, but perhaps new barbarians are looming over us…
My dear man, your enigmatic words prove distasteful to Our mind…

Forgive me again. Your Holiness has been more than patient. Thank you and rest well.
Now I think I’ll devote some time to Chant. Gregorian – obviously!

Excellent! Thank you once again! Au revoir, Your Holiness!

Donald McClarey at THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC had this comment on how the Vatican Press Office has simply 'shrugged off' the Ploumen case:

There isn’t a chance in the world that the current Vatican would grant such an honor to a politician who was given to making racist statements [or worse, anti-Islam statements!] That they overlooked her radical pro-abort record wasn’t a matter of diplomatic cynicism but rather the fact that the powers that be at the Vatican are not going to make an issue of abortion.

Pope Francis has political irons in the fire that are much more important to him than the fact that a politician has spent her career championing the slaying of children in the womb. When it comes to pro-lifers, the Pope tosses us a soundbite every now and then, and then he does something like this to reassure his political allies on the left that he really does not mean it.

And here's a most ironic counterpart to Bergoglio',insincerity on abortion...

President Trump to address
March for Life via live stream

by Claire Chretien

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump will speak at the 45th annual March for Life on Friday via a live video feed, becoming the first President to do so.

EWTN staffers broke the news on Twitter Wednesday morning.

“We're excited to announce that the President will become the first sitting president to address the March for Life from the White House live via satellite,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a media briefing today. “This will take place from the Rose Garden. The President is committed to protecting the life of the unborn and he is excited to be part of this historic event.”

Previous Republican presidents have delivered remarks to the March for Life via pre-taped video messages or phone calls.

“Since his first day in office, President Trump has remained steadfast on his campaign promises to the pro-life cause and has actively worked to protect the unborn,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life. “Over the past year, the Trump administration has significantly advanced pro-life policy, and it is with great confidence that, under his leadership, we expect to see other pro-life achievements in the years to come. We welcome our 45th President, Donald Trump, to the 45th annual March for Life.”

Last year, President Trump called out the media for giving extensive coverage to a pro-abortion march but not to the March for Life, the largest pro-life event in the world. The March for Life draws hundreds of thousands of people every year on or near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.

The theme of this year’s March for Life is “Love Saves Lives.”

Vice President Pence and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway both spoke at last year’s March for Life.

Operation Rescue recently named Trump its 2017 “pro-life person of the year.”

Since taking office, Trump has reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. foreign aid from going to organizations that commit or promote abortion abroad. He has signed a law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood, appointed a number of strong pro-life advocates to key Administration positions, and ended Obama's HHS contraception and abortion pill mandate requiring employers to violate their consciences.

Since Trump took office, the U.S. has stood up for the right to life at the United Nations. Trump pulled the U.S. out of a pro-abortion, pro-LGBT United Nations agency, UNESCO.

When he declared November 2017 National Adoption Month, Trump said, “no child in America – born or unborn – is unwanted or unloved.”

He has slammed forced abortion and infanticide in North Korea, appointed conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, and actively supported defunding abortion business Planned Parenthood.

LifeSiteNews will provide updates as more details become available.

Mundabor promptly commented on this development:

Obsessing with abortion? No, not the pope…

JANUARY 17, 2018

Trump's decision to address the US March For Life live shows once again a handful of very evident facts:

1. This President is way more Catholic than the Pope. As Francis invites us to “not obsess” about abortion, Trump actually does exactly that.

2. Trump engagement in favour of the Unborn is more than a mere slogan, as such a hard pro-life profile will certainly not bring him additional supporters. This is a man of integrity keeping his word, not an Auntie Merkel saying what is convenient on the day.

3. The cowardly US Bishops relentlessly working against the most outspokenly pro-life President since the Gipper show that they do not care about the unborn, and are perfectly at ease with the pro-death agenda of the Democratic Party. This, with the excuse of their socialist-spectacled obsession with “social injustices”.

4. The unborn US babies are, mostly, legal US citizens in fieri (in the making). Too much Stars and Stripes for the Democrats and their Bishops, I suppose. They prefer to let these oppressed, innocent, in fieri US Citizens die, and prefer instead to import illegals from (let us say this again, because repetitio iuvant) shithole countries, who then proceed to Somalise and Haitise the US as much as they can, perpetuating the power of the Democrats in the process.

5. Thank God for President Trump. [Not however for his coarse language and his self-indiscipline! While I cheer anyone who calls a spade a spade, the President of the United States can and ought to say politically incorrect things if they are true without descending to incivility. No country is inherently a 'shithole', however destitute, misguided and corrupt its government may be. And Trump's Twitter-mania is too childishly self-indulgent to be taken seriously, for all the partial truths his tweets may contain.]

00Wednesday, January 17, 2018 10:59 PM

Bishop Schneider compares
the AL crisis to the Arian crisis

January 15, 2018

Bishop Schneider’s French is slow, but accurate.

The entire interview is interesting, but the real meat on the grill is from 6:20, when the interviewer asks what to do if Francis does not answer the Dubia.

Bishop Schneider’s answer is clear: then it is the Bishops’ job to restore order. Note, here, that the poor man has already abandoned any hope that the two surviving Kittens [Mundabor's term for the DUBIA cardinals] may do what they promised they would.

This is followed by another intelligent question: will this, though, not engender a schism?W
Again, the Bishop’s answer is very lucid, and it is a bomb: We are already in a schism of sort, he says: one in which the schismatics are in unity with the Pope, but not with Christ. What this means is obvious: the Pope is, whilst factually still in charge, in a de facto schism with all his predecessors.

His attack on corrupt bishops that follows the above statements closes with a beautiful statement of Catholicism: it does not matter how many prelates try to peddle a false Gospel - both doctrine and discipline will never change because they are divinely instituted.

The Bishops addresses here a point that I myself, in my little sphere, have tried to make: a false doctrine is not a change in doctrine, a perverted discipline is not a new discipline.

It is important that we get these concepts right, because words are important. You must never engender in those who listen to you the impression that doctrine can be changed or discipline can become heretical. What we are witnessing now is an obfuscation of doctrine and a perversion of discipline, not their modification.

A transvestite is not a woman. He is merely a pathetic fake, a grotesque attempt at imitation.

Francis presides over a Trannie Vatican, insulting the teaching of the Church everyday as it abuses its office and allows countless degenerates to scrounge an existence at her cost.

Thankfully, the Church is indefectible, and She will survive this just as She survived the Arian crisis. An event, the latter, which, having no precedents at all, must have seemed to the contemporaries far more terrifying than even the crisis we are witnessing now.

The truthful Catholics in those times kept soldiering. We do exactly the same.

Fr. Stravinskas , who occasionally celebrates the TLM at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan - and whose homilies on such occasions usually end up published on Catholic World Report - offers a less dispiriting view of the situation in the Church today with respect to AL. God grant he is right in his analysis!

Still, the pope and his trueblue Bergoglians hold the high ground in terms of strategy and tactics because they are engaged in a systematic battle to undermine the deposit of Catholic faith - whereas the broad resistance to them, as significant as Fr. Stravinskas makes it out to be, is simply not organized at all, and at the moment, it is simply to each his own form and degree of resistance.

'Ecclesial reception' in the era of Pope Francis
Out of more than 5,000 bishops in the universal Church, open supporters of AL's
permissiveness about receiving Communion cannot be said to
constitute 'reception'

by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas

January 16, 2018

This coming July will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark encyclical of Blessed Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. Promulgating this document on the licit and illicit means of regulating birth surely went against the grain of the Pontiff who, by nature, avoided conflict at all costs; he issued the letter, surely knowing full well that conflict would ensue.

It is one of the clearest signs of the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church that a pope so given to irenicism would be willing to take on the opprobrium of the world and of all too many in the Church.

Humanae Vitae has marked my life in the Church. I entered college seminary a mere three weeks after its promulgation. Significantly, the very first night of priestly formation, the senior seminarians asked us freshmen (kids seventeen or eighteen years of age) to declare ourselves: Are you with the Pope or the theologians (by which they meant the dissenters)? Amazingly, our class was evenly divided. Perhaps even more amazingly, with the passage of eight years of philosophical and theological studies, not one of us changed his position. The shadow of HV hung over every aspect of seminary life: liturgy, priestly spirituality, dogma, morality, canon law, pastoral praxis.

Paul VI was warned by the German specialist in the history of the Council of Trent, Hubert Jedin, that if the Pope did not engage the battle to maintain the truth of HV, losses to the Church of the twentieth century would eclipse losses sustained from the Protestant Reformation. Jedin never received a reply from the Pope he was trying to help. Sound familiar?

One of the arguments put forth by the HV dissenters was that the encyclical had failed to garner “ecclesial reception.” Neither the term nor the concept was a novelty; however, its use was insidious. Ecclesial reception refers to the process by which the Church at all levels, but especially through the worldwide college of bishops, takes a teaching to heart, thereby recognizing it as part of the Deposit of Faith.

Blessed Pius IX had recourse to reception in the lead-up to his solemn definition of the dogma of Our Lady’s immaculate conception, asking the bishops of the world if that doctrine formed part of the sensus fidelium. Venerable Pius XII did the same before proclaiming the dogma of Mary’s bodily assumption.

The theologians dissenting from HV pointed to the responses of many episcopal conferences which openly questioned the Pope’s teaching or at least finessed it in such a way as to make it meaningless. Interestingly, the American episcopate came down solidly on the side of the Pope in their pastoral letter, Human Life in Our Day.

At any rate, the dissenters asserted that the lack of support (“reception”) essentially nullified the encyclical. By a curious turn of events, those who dissented from the papal document in 1968 (and/or their theological descendants) are now cheerleaders for Amoris Laetitia, the 2016 apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis. What I find most curious of all is that these “cheerleaders” have not taken into account the “non-reception” of this exhortation.

What do I mean? If a supposedly fatal flaw of HV was the lack of episcopal support (truth be told, that is not the sole criterion for authentic teaching; standing in continuity with previous teaching is paramount), why are they unwilling to apply that standard today?

Critics of AL’s eighth chapter are deeply concerned about the confusion sown there and seem to think they are lonely “voices crying in the wilderness.” I beg to differ. Great publicity has been given to bishops who have interpreted AL as permitting divorced/remarrieds to receive Holy Communion. In point of fact, the number of such bishops is minuscule.

According to my calculations, only two diocesan bishops in the United States have promoted that position; two bishops in Malta; a region of Argentine bishops; a committee of German bishops. Out of more than 5,000 bishops in the universal Church, I don’t think we can consider supporters of the problematic practice as constituting “reception.”

Actually, bishops dealing with AL at all have come down on the side of maintaining the immemorial discipline of the Church which denies Communion to those who persist in an adulterous union. The first American diocese out of the gate was Archbishop Charles Chaput’s Philadelphia. The statement of the US episcopal conference is likewise orthodox, like that of Poland’s hierarchy. The bishops of Kazakstan are the latest in what is, in reality, a rather long procession – and who can forget the DUBIA cardinals? In other words, either through positive teaching in favor of the tradition or silence in the wake of AL, the worldwide episcopate has not tendered “reception.” [One suspects, however, that silence out of prudent discretion prevails over positive teaching - because positive teaching on these hotbutton social issues challenging Catholic doctrine - nor on sin and the Four Last Things, for that matter - has apparently not been heard in the Church for decades.]

If we add the category of the sensus fidelium, again we do not find support for any change in discipline. In the past two years of hearing confessions in a broad swath of the Church in this country, I have not had a single penitent ask about availing himself/herself of the supposed opening of Communion for the divorced and remarried. Further, every priest of my acquaintance confirms my experience. Simply put, neither at the hierarchical level nor at the level of the lay faithful has a permissive reading of AL been accepted into the life of the Church. [May it be truly so!]

Pope Francis cannot turn a postcard response to a group of bishops into “authentic magisterium.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, reminds us: [

This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed. (CCC, 86)

What are some other “take-aways” in this confused and confusing moment of ecclesial life?

When AL made its debut, I offered a detailed commentary in The Catholic Response (May-June 2016). While noting some passages which could cause concern, I suggested treating the exhortation as admitting of a totally orthodox interpretation (which is indeed possible). Had that advice been followed, the innovators would have had the burden of proving their case, rather than those expressing reservations about particular passages. Unfortunately, that toothpaste can’t be put back into the tube.

However, I would like to make two other strategic suggestions.

First, let’s re-visit what Vatican I taught about the charism of infallibility, namely, that the charism inheres in the Church as a whole and not in the pope. Rather, in certain very limited, clearly defined circumstances, the pope may exercise that charism.

There has been a kind of “creeping infallibilism” in the Church over the past several decades, so much so that I daresay that the Fathers of Vatican I would be astonished at how so many papal utterances are accorded authoritative status. Somewhat amusingly, dissenters from traditional moral norms are now touting “respect for the Holy Father” whom they mocked fifty years ago. That said, Catholics do not worship the pope; they worship the Triune God.

When the infallibility debate was in full bloom, W. G. Ward opined, “I should like a new Papal Bull every morning with my Times at breakfast.” In the wake of the conciliar definition of infallibility, Gladstone produced a pamphlet alleging that Catholics no longer had freedom of thought. That, in turn, provoked John Henry Newman to write his 150-page Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. He ends with a flourish, his famous toast: “To the Pope, if you please, – still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.”

Undoubtedly, that is what the Fathers of Vatican II meant by asserting that the magisterium serves the Word of God and does not control or contradict it. Papolatry is not Catholic, regardless from which side of the aisle it emanates.

Second, last December 17, Father Maurizio Chiodi delivered a lecture at the Gregorian University in Rome as part of the institution’s series commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of HV. His remarks were a strong echo of the dissenters of 1968 – truly troublesome, especially since he was recently appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

While all that is lamentable, my guess is that his presentation was probably not heard by more than two or three dozen people. Those justifiably scandalized by the lecture spread word of the talk far and wide, thus giving heterodoxy major publicity. This approach on the part of loyal sons and daughters of the Church has been employed throughout the crisis born of AL – unwisely, in my estimation.

While falsehood needs to be confronted, prudence also has a role to play. Who said what to whom under what circumstances? Who is best situated to deal with the problem? What is the most appropriate forum? In this age of rampant recourse to social media, not only are false teachings propagated but everyone with a Facebook or Twitter account feels qualified to enter the fray.

Even though this is an uncomfortable hour in the life of the Church, it has ample precedent in her history. Lest we forget, nearly every bishop walking into the Council of Nicea was an Arian or at least had Arian sympathies, prompting St. Jerome to remark: “The whole world groaned and marveled to find itself Arian.”

The courage of bishops like Nicholas and Athanasius and the faith of common folk brought about victory for orthodoxy. I suspect that the Holy Spirit is using the present disconcerting situation to teach us a similar lesson, issuing in a similar happy result.
00Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:20 AM

So, how about a few specific less uncivil alternatives to 'shithole'???

An Open Letter to President Trump
by Bruce Bawer

January 14, 2018

Dear Mr. President,
Attentive as I am to current events, I could not help noticing that you were criticized in some circles the other day for your alleged utterance of a certain two-syllable noun in a private White House meeting.

You were said to have used this noun to describe certain nations from which the U.S. currently accepts immigrants. The noun in question was widely viewed as being a tad vulgar and your application of it to these countries was regarded by some as being a mite insensitive.

After pondering the matter for a couple of days, I have come to the conclusion that, indeed, it might not be advisable hereafter for you to use this word again. In fact, it seems to me that it can be problematic to use any single umbrella term when seeking to characterize a group of nations around the world, each of which, after all, has its own distinctive qualities.

I am sure you will agree with me that when one does generalize in this fashion, one risks being seen as reductive and as failing to appreciate the subtle nuances that distinguish one land from another and, more broadly, to be insufficiently cognizant of the importance of diversity.

With this in mind, I have prepared a world map on which I have proposed descriptive labels for about two dozen specific countries. I hope you will find it helpful and will consider making use of my suggestions in your future conversations. I am sorry not to have created an exhaustive list that takes into account all 195 countries on earth, but it has been a busy week.

Bruce Bawer

By way of a cultural footnote, those old enough may remember the time in the 1960s through the 1980s when Manhattan's Time Square area with its neighboring streets on the West Side was called 'the asshole of the world' because it was a warren of shops peddling live sex, peep shows, porn and all the variants thereof? I don't recall anyone disagreeing with that term because it was literally true, given the unspeakable filth it harbored. Not even the city itself, whose mayors did get on to cleaning it out and turning it into the multimedia ad center and major franchise-store hub that it now is.
laura k hewitt
00Thursday, January 18, 2018 5:25 AM
[POSTQUOTE][QUOTE:134986476=TERESA BENEDETTA, 10/5/2017 9:35 PM]
[DIM=8pt][I]I've not really had the time to review the backlog of reports and commentaries on the CORRECTIO, but Aldo Maria Valli's blog today provides an excellent take-off point.[/I][/DIM]

October 5, 2017
‘Heresy’ and ‘schism’ – near-archaic words which would seem to have virtually disappeared from the vocabulary of Catholics - are back in the center of numerous analyses and observations on the present situation in the Church. For many Catholics, who are concerned as much about safeguarding the faith as the unity of the Church, these words are a source of disquiet.

Thence, a question which – without ever losing faith in the Spirit of Truth, “assiduous Advocate and Defender of the work of salvation” (in St. John Paul II’s definition) – is laden with anguish: Now what?



Dear Ms Hewitt -
Thank you for your contribution, and welcome to the Forum!
00Friday, January 19, 2018 12:30 AM

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


Sorry... I did not realize that I am unable to modify with the necessary enhancements a post by someone who is not registered with the forum, so my page heading has to come in here...

Peter Kwasniewski has, in the last few days, written two articles on the essentials of Catholicism that have tended to become less and less essential and more inconsequential
in the decades since Vatican II - and are likely to become even more so, given the anti-Catholic hubris of Pope Francis and those who, with him, control the infrastructures and
institutions of the Catholic Church because he is the pope... Kwasniewski first wrote about the Eucharist, but I will start out with the later article on the Four Last Things,
especially Hell..

The reality of hell and the fear of God -
banished from current Catholic awareness

by Peter Kwasniewski

January 17, 2018

In my article “The Fifty-Year Descent to Footnote 351: Our Progressive Desensitization to the Most Holy Eucharist,” I spoke of how the liturgical reform’s many sudden and drastic changes in ritual and ceremonial have contributed to a continual erosion of belief in the Mass as a true and proper Sacrifice and in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

In the present article, I wish to look at a closely related topic, namely, how the holy fear of God, which begins in the dreading of His just punishments for sin and matures into love of Him for His own sake and a desire to dwell with Him forever in heaven, has been undermined by the systematic removal of texts from the liturgy concerning the reality of hell and our need for vigilance and self-denial in order to steer clear of it.

There are many articles that show how radically the prayers were altered in the missal of the Novus Ordo, whether to downplay the subordination of earthly to heavenly things (as, for instance, with St. Albert), or to “purge the mythical element” (as with St. Catherine), or to avoid addressing Christ directly as God (as occurred in Advent), or to downplay the kingship of Christ over societies and governments (as with the reinvention of Christ the King).

The list goes on and on, as Lauren Pristas, Anthony Cekada, and other authors have shown. Here, my purpose is more modest: I will focus on texts that mention hell, and we will see how they have fared in the time between the 1962 Missale Romanum and its intended replacement of less than a decade later.

The most obvious and eloquent testimony to the Church’s doctrine about the Four Last Things (death, judgment, heaven, and hell, as well as their adjunct, purgatory) is the traditional Requiem Mass, which was prayed in the Latin Rite for so many centuries unchanged and is still used wherever the Latin Mass flourishes.

The Requiem Mass organically developed in such a way that there is a balance in its texts between, on the one hand, consolation and confidence in heaven, and, on the other hand, the fear of punishment with prayers for the rescuing of the soul from hell. It is simply catholic in this regard, taking into account the fullness of Gospel teaching about the afterlife.

Needless to say, all of these texts must be recited or sung at every Requiem Mass — nothing is “optional,” just as neither are death, judgment, and an eternal destiny of bliss or pain.

The Requiem is certainly not lacking in consoling or confident prayers. Look at the Introit, the Epistle (1 Thess 4:13–18), the Gradual (Ps 111:7), the Gospel (John 11:21–27), the Secret, the Communion, and the Postcommunion: all of these ask for a merciful pardon and eternal rest, and express confidence that the soul with faith in Christ “will be in everlasting remembrance” and “not fear the evil hearing” (Gradual). The Tract seems to waver between light and darkness:

Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin: and by the help of Thy grace, may they be enabled to escape the avenging judgment and enjoy the happiness of light eternal.

The Sequence, the famous “Dies Irae,” gives free rein to terrifying and trembling truths:

The day of wrath, that awful day, shall reduce the world to ashes, as David and the Sibyl prophesied. How great will be the terror, when the Judge shall come to examine all things rigorously! … The written book shall be brought forth, containing all for which the world must be judged.

When, therefore, the Judge shall be seated, whatsoever is hidden shall be brought to light, naught shall remain unpunished. What then shall I, unhappy man, allege? Whom shall I invoke as protector, when even the just shall hardly be secure? O King of awful majesty, who of Thy free gift savest them that are to be saved, save me, O fount of mercy! …

My prayers are not worthy, but Thou who art good, grant in Thy kindness that I may not burn in the everlasting fire. Give me a place among Thy sheep and separate me from the goats, setting me on Thy right side. When the reprobate, covered with confusion, shall have been sentenced to the cruel flames, call me with the blessed.

The Offertory continues in a similar vein:

O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and the bottomless pit. Deliver them from the jaws of the lion, that hell not swallow them up, that they be not plunged into darkness. but let the holy standard-bearer Michael lead them into that holy light,
R. which once Thou didst promise to Abraham and to his seed.
V. Lord, we offer unto Thee sacrifices of praise and prayers; accept them on behalf of those whom we remember this day: Lord, make them pass from death to life,
R. which Thou once promised to Abraham and to his seed.

Perhaps most telling of all is the Collect appointed for the day of death or burial:

O God, whose property is ever to have mercy and to spare, we humbly entreat Thee on behalf of thy servant N., whom Thou hast bidden this day to pass out of this world, that Thou wouldst not deliver him into the hands of the enemy, nor forget him forever, but command that he be taken up by Thy holy angels and borne to the fatherland of paradise; that as he put his hope and faith in Thee, he will not suffer the pains of hell, but may possess everlasting joys.

These are strong prayers that deal unabashedly with the gaping jaws of hell and the possibility that we may be consumed by them for unrepented sins. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church; but they may very well prevail against you or me. Such a liturgy presents the whole of the Catholic Faith. Once again: lex orandi, lex credendi. We believe as we pray. And what we do not pray, we will sooner or later cease to believe — it will be replaced by ersatz doctrine of dubious pedigree.

A wholesome recognition of eternal consequences may be seen in any number of places in the traditional Roman missal. Here is the Collect for the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6:

O God, who didst adorn the blessed Bishop Nicholas with countless miracles: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the flames of hell.

(In the Novus Ordo, this has been tamed into: “We humbly implore your mercy, Lord: protect us in all dangers through the prayers of the Bishop Saint Nicholas, that the way of salvation may lie open before us.”)

The Friday of Passion Week includes this galvanizing Collect:

Mercifully pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts: that we who restrain ourselves from sin by voluntary chastisement may rather suffer for a time than be condemned to eternal punishment.

The Collect for the Mass of Maundy Thursday speaks with clarity about the fate of Judas:

O God, from whom Judas received the punishment of his guilt, and the thief the reward of his confession: grant unto us the full fruit of Thy clemency; that even as in His Passion our Lord Jesus Christ gave to each retribution according to his merits, so having cleared away our former guilt, he may bestow on us the grace of His resurrection.

The Second Sunday after Easter prays in its Collect:

O God, who, by the humility of Thy Son, hast lifted up a fallen world, grant unending joy to Thy faithful; that those whom Thou hast snatched from the perils of endless death, Thou mayest cause to enjoy never-ending delights.

The Third Sunday after Pentecost offers one of those magnificent Collects that says so much in so few words, and can be prayed with fervor by anyone who has the slightest self-knowledge:

O God, the protector of all that trust in Thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, multiply Thy mercies upon us: that having Thee for our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not those which are eternal.

Of course, the only Eucharistic Prayer ever used in the usus antiquior is the 6th-century Roman Canon, which forthrightly implores the Divine Majesty:

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to be appeased and accept this oblation of our service, as also of Thy whole family, and to dispose our days in Thy peace, snatch us from eternal damnation, and count us in the flock of Thine elect.

In addition, one could cite pertinent verses from the Sequences Stabat Mater and Lauda Sion, which, while still given as options in the Novus Ordo, are generally skipped over, due to length; they are, as usual, required in the old Latin Mass on certain days of the year.

Gentle reader, would you believe me if I said that none of the foregoing liturgical texts have survived the liturgical reform? But it is true. In some cases, the texts were removed altogether and can be found nowhere in the new books. In other cases, certain texts (such as the Offertory of the Requiem) can be found in a recondite and rarely-used book like the Graduale Romanum, or tucked away as a fourteenth option somewhere, but in practice they have disappeared from the life of the Church. The only place they thrive is where they are front and center as a required part of her public worship, namely, in communities that avail themselves of the traditional liturgy.

Beyond such prayers, hell is mentioned many times each year in the Gospel readings of the traditional Latin Mass, which, thankfully, retains the ancient one-year cycle of readings, rather than the gargantuan off-rhythm two- and three-year cycles of the Novus Ordo.

In the usus antiquior, the solemn pronouncement of Our Lord in chapter 12 of the Gospel of St. Luke — “I say to you, my friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will shew you whom you shall fear: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear him” — is read at least four times in the year, namely, for the feast of St. Justin Martyr (April 14), SS. John and Paul (June 26), the Holy Maccabees (August 1), and SS. Tiburtius and Susanna (August 11), as well as any other time the common of several martyrs might be used. In comparison, this passage is read once every other year in the Novus Ordo.

The parallel passage in chapter 10 of the Gospel of St. Matthew — “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell” — is read for four feasts, those of St. Polycarp (January 26), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (March 18), St. Athanasius (May 2), and St. Irenaeus (July 3). In the Novus Ordo, it is read on one Saturday each year, and one Sunday every third year.

Matthew 5:22, “Whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire,” is part of the Gospel on the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. In the Novus Ordo, this fortunately appears two weekdays per year, and one Sunday every third year.

The pericope of Matthew 18:1–10, which includes these haunting words—

Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

— is read at least twice each year in the usus antiquior, namely, for the Dedication of St. Michael Archangel (September 29) and the Holy Guardian Angels (October 2). In the Novus Ordo, astonishingly, these verses are never read at all: the “friendly” verses 1–5, 10, and 12–14 are read a number of times, but the above-cited verses about hell-fire are excised. Too scary, I guess.

If I have done the math correctly, over a three-year period, one who attends the traditional Latin Mass daily will hear these particular hell-mentioning Gospels 33 times, while one who attends the Novus Ordo will hear them 13 times.[2] Obviously, there are a lot of other factors one would need to take into account for a full comparison of the presentation of the four last things in both forms of the Roman Rite, a project that exceeds the purpose of this article.

Nevertheless, the comparison just given already exposes the kind of deep differences in lex orandi that I am claiming are relevant for understanding the confusion of our times in doctrine (lex credendi) and morals (lex vivendi).[3]

We have seen that the traditional liturgy prays for the living and the dead in a realistic manner and instructs us accordingly, emphasizing the mercy of God and the attainability of eternal life but not neglecting the Lord’s “avenging judgment” and the real possibility of damnation.

Traditional liturgy inculcates in us a lively awareness of our weakness and dependency on grace, the gravity of sin, the need for penance and asceticism, and the fundamental role that fear of the Lord must play in our interior life. The basic attitude of the worshiper is the one praised by the Psalmist: “Serve ye the Lord in fear, and rejoice before Him with trembling” (Ps 2:11).[4]

Instructed by the Mass of the Ages and other liturgical texts,[5] we believe that
(a) not everyone automatically goes to heaven,
(b) there is an almighty, all-knowing, all-just Judge who will scrutinize our works and give us what we ourselves have sought in our choices — whether glory or shame, beatitude or damnation;
(c) the departed soul desperately needs our prayers because we wish them to be released from the agonies of purgatory, and one of the ways that happens is when members of the Church Militant offer prayers and penances for the dead.

Our actions in this life have eternal consequences, for good or for ill. One of those actions we must discern is whether we are living right now in accordance with the commandments of God, especially the Ten Commandments. This is not an optional examination of conscience for the extra-pious but a required examination for every human being who has reached the use of reason.

In other words, no one may excuse himself before the Judge by saying: “I didn’t know I was supposed to examine my conscience on whether or not I was adhering to the Ten Commandments.” There are some things no one can be blamed for not knowing if they were never told, but there are other things — the natural moral law, in particular — that we are obliged to know and are capable of knowing.

Moreover, the Catholic, having examined his conscience in this manner, must make a discernment about whether he is in a state of sanctifying grace, that he may approach the heavenly Banquet to receive the wounded and glorified Flesh of the Savior. This, after all, is the teaching of no less an authority that the Apostle St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27–29:

Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink of the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eatheth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord.

But these verses, too, have been entirely omitted from the Novus Ordo. One begins to detect a pattern in all of this. The frightening fact, ladies and gentlemen, is that the Novus Ordo systematically downplays the reality of hell.[6]

The virtual disappearance of certain liturgical prayers and readings, and the significant reduction of others, is surely part of the reason, arguably the principal reason, that today’s Catholics are inclined to hold both universal salvation AND an “everyone is welcome” attitude about who may receive Holy Communion. The one view fits the other hand-in-glove.

The Amoris Laetitia debacle can be solved only when there is a broad return to traditional (i.e., Catholic) teaching on all of these subjects. The restoration of this teaching depends for its penetration, efficacy, and longevity on zealous adherence to traditional liturgies (Eastern and Western) where they already flourish, and their complete restoration wherever they do not. As far away as this goal seems, we must never tire of pursuing it, for the bond that unites the lex orandi, the lex credendi, and the lex vivendi is intrinsic, indissoluble, and inevitable.

[1] Incidentally, the great antiquity of this Offertory is evident in a number of features. First, it preserves the form of a responsory, which was the original form of all the offertory antiphons. As time went on, the other offertory chants were shortened, but this one always remained in full. (The original verses for other Offertory chants are available in the Offertoriale published by Solesmes.) Second, its Old Testament resonances are characteristic of the classic prayer of the Roman Church, in particular the mention of the promise to Abraham and to his seed (i.e., Christ, as St. Paul teaches in Galatians), and the use of the phrase “sacrifice of praise,” which is how the 6th-century Roman Canon describes the Eucharistic oblation. We are peering here into the very heart of the Roman Catholic liturgy.
[2] The numbers I am adding together are (4+4+4)+(4+4+4)+(1+1+1)+(2+2+2) for the usus antiquior Gospels, and (1+0+1)+(1+1+2)+(2+2+3)+(0+0+0) for the Novus Ordo.
[3] The ideal study aid for this question is Matthew P. Hazell’s Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite (Lectionary Study Press, 2016). My Foreword to this volume goes into a number of other disturbing aspects of the revised lectionary. Recently I wrote about the significance of the fact that the Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana is read every year in the traditional Mass (Second Sunday after Epiphany) but only once every three years in the Novus Ordo (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C).
[4] St. Augustine comments on this verse: “Serve the Lord with fear", lest what is said, You kings and judges of the earth, turn into pride. "nd rejoice with trembling" - Very excellently is rejoice added, lest serve the Lord with fear should seem to tend to misery. But again, lest this same rejoicing should run on to unrestrained inconsiderateness, there is added with trembling, that it might avail for a warning, and for the careful guarding of holiness.”
[5] Such as the Athanasian Creed Quicumque vult, whose opening words are like a throwing-down of the gauntlet to indifferentism and universalism: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”
[6] We often see the same thing in the dumbed-down versions of traditional prayers that are used in many catechism classes today. I came across an Act of Contrition in a CCD classroom that read more or less as follows: “My Lord, I am sorry for my sins. Help me to live like Jesus and to love everyone I meet. Amen.” A prayer of this sort does not adequately express either perfect or imperfect contrition. Contrast it with one of the traditional versions of the Act of Contrition: “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because these sins have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to do penance, to sin no more, and to amend my life. Amen.”

The 50-year descent to Footnote 351:
Our progressive desensitization
to the Most Holy Eucharist

by Peter Kwasniewski

January 10, 2018

We did not wake up one fine day in 2017 to find ourselves suddenly confronted with Eucharistic sacrilege being promoted from on high. There was a long, slow process that led to this moment.

It consisted in the gradual dilution of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Blessed Sacrament at its heart, with institutionally tolerated sacrilege along the way. Fifty years of desacralization has ended in the temerity of contradicting the entire Catholic tradition about the most holy of all the Church’s mysteries.

The first major step was the allowance of communion in the hand while standing — a sharp break from the deeply-ingrained practice of many centuries of kneeling in adoration at the altar rail and receiving on the tongue, like a baby bird being fed by its parent (as we see in countless medieval depictions of the pelican that has wounded her breast in order to feed her chicks).

This change had the obvious effect of making people think the Holy Eucharist wasn’t so mysterious and holy after all. If you can just take it in your hand like ordinary food, it might as well be a potato chip distributed at a party.[1]

The feeling of awe and reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament was systematically diminished and undermined through this modernist re-introduction of an ancient practice that had long since been discontinued by the Church in her pastoral wisdom. Nor, as has been well documented, did the faithful themselves request the abolition of the custom of receiving on the tongue while kneeling; it was imposed by the self-styled “experts.”[2]

The second major step was the allowance of lay ministers of communion. This reinforced the perception that the Church had given up all that stuff about the priest being essentially different from the laity, about the Mass as a divine sacrifice and the Eucharist as the Bread of Angels that only anointed hands are fit to handle. True, a priest still had to say the magic words, but after that, Jack and Jill could come up, take bowls and cups, and hand out the tokens of club membership.

The effect of these “reforms” and others like them (the replacement of majestic and mysterious Latin with everyday vernacular; the substitution of guitar and piano ditties for pipe organ and chant; the turning around of the priest to face the people like a talkshow ;host; the removal of altar rails, the de-centering [more like a displacement or banishment] of tabernacle,; the uglification of vestments and vessels, and more) was to weaken and corrupt the faith of the people in the Mass as a true and proper sacrifice and in the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Jesus.

No wonder that after this, the idea of the Eucharistic fast, and of preparing oneself for communion by going to confession, went right out the window for the vast majority of people. The Church’s own pastors didn’t act as if they really believed these things anymore, so why should their flocks?

In short, we have lived through, and suffered under, half a century of ritual diminishment and symbolic contradiction of the Church’s faith in the sublime mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ. As John Paul II and Benedict XVI lamented, there is scant evidence in our communities of any awareness of the distinction between worthy and unworthy communions — one of the most basic lessons children used to be taught in their catechism class.

Children in those primitive “pre-Vatican II days” were taught to practice virtue and avoid mortal sin because they should desire to be able to receive the Lord and be ever more perfectly united to Him, until they reached the glory of heaven where they would possess Him forever.
- They were taught that if one received the Lord in a state of mortal sin, one committed a further and a worse sin.
- They were taught that making a good confession, with sorrow for sin and an intention to avoid it in future, was enough to put this bad situation right and restore them to God’s friendship.
Who could seriously assert that most Catholics believe any of this today, or that they would even recognize, much less understand, the concepts?[3]

Today, at least in certain Western countries, nearly everyone goes up for communion when the time comes. It’s just “what you do at Mass.” Hardly anyone goes to confession; hardly anyone refrains from receiving, out of a consciousness of sin; and rare is the priest who ever preaches about having the right dispositions for communion. (Contrast this with St. John Vianney, who preached relentlessly about these things, and greatly intensified his parish’s commitment to the sacrament of confession and to frequent communion. It’s not for nothing that he’s the patron saint of parish priests. Patrons are meant to be imitated.)

Thus was the ground devilishly prepared for the final stage, in which any impediments to communion are theoretically and practically dissolved. In a general situation where the few Catholics who still attend Mass all receive, it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to single out a handful of so-called “divorced and remarried” people for special treatment: “You are not allowed to go to communion, but meanwhile, the self-abusing and fornicating teens, the contracepting couples, the families who sometimes skip Sunday Mass for sports events — all are welcome to come forward, as usual!”

This is the big picture that explains, to my mind, why the liberals or progressives in the Church are totally incapable of seeing why anyone would object to chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia with its nuclear footnote.[4]
- They do not really believe that the Mass is a true and proper sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Trinity;
- they do not really believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence;
- they do not believe that one is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of God;
- they do not believe that one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking his own condemnation, just as those who eat worthily are seeding their souls and bodies for a glorious resurrection.

The Amorites, as we might call them, see “the Eucharist” as a fraternal gathering, a social event, an affirmation of human worth, a “celebration” of God’s “unconditional love,” and whatever other Hallmark slogans come to mind. Within the confines of this horizontal and superficial theology, there is no room for any requirements or prohibitions: everyone is welcome, and anything goes! Since the Eucharist is a meal symbolizing God’s welcome of the sinner, there is no reason to exclude anyone, for any reason, from partaking of the “table of plenty.”

Amoris Laetitia fits into this larger historical trajectory whereby the Mass has been stripped of its transcendent, mysterious, fearful and challenging sacrificial realism and pushed continually in the direction of an ordinary meal with ordinary folks doing ordinary things for a this-worldly end,[5] with a forced spontaneity and embarrassing banality that has failed to attract the overflow crowds predicted by Paul VI.

At such a Mass, is there anything to do but receive communion? Who would ever think of going just for the sake of adoring God and contemplating His beauty? Opportunities and incentives for adoration are practically non-existent in the Novus Ordo, and beauty has fared no better, or rather much worse. In such circumstances, to place a barrier between a free meal and a guest who thinks well of himself for being there is unthinkable.[6]

In truth, the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross, made present in our midst; it is simultaneously the heavenly life-giving wedding feast of the now-glorified Christ. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the one-flesh union of a bride adorned with grace and a Bridegroom who is her sole happiness.

I am not surprised to find that, at traditional Latin Masses around the world, including in the United States, one sees two related phenomena: a large number of the faithful availing themselves of confession, before and during Mass; and a fair number of the faithful who remain in the pews and do not go forward for communion. The interior triumphs of the one, the interior trials of the other, are known to God alone.

But this much is obvious: they all came to worship Him. They came in response to His majesty. They came to fulfill a solemn obligation of the virtue of religion. Whether they are personally disposed to receive or not is a question at a different level. This is the sanity that prevails in the realm of tradition; it is the sanity that paves the way for sanctity.

[1] In a moving scene in Robert Hugh Benson’s novel By What Authority?, we read the following about the character Isabel’s experience of a Calvinist communion service: “The mahogany table had been brought down from the eastern wall to beneath the cupola, and stood there with a large white cloth, descending almost to the ground on every side; and a row of silver vessels, flat plates and tall new Communion cups and flagons, shone upon it. … The three ministers had communicated by now; and there was a rustle and clatter of feet as the empty seats in front, hung with houselling cloths, began to be filled.” Isabel sees some people receive kneeling, others standing. And all this at a ceremony of Protestants who expressly denied the Real Presence and the sacrificial nature of the Mass".
[2] There is an obvious difference between an original practice, such as early Christians receiving in the hand, and a later re-introduction of such a practice when it has long since become obsolete. In the former case, the practice is innocent. In the latter case, it amounts to a repudiation and a symbolic contradiction of the values represented by kneeling before the host and not handling it oneself.
[3] Msgr. Benson wrote this about his Anglican days: “I was an official in a church that did not seem to know her own mind, even in matters directly connected with the salvation of the soul.… Might I, or might I not, tell my penitents that they are bound to confess their mortal sins before Communion? … The smallest Roman Catholic child knew precisely how to be reconciled to God, and to receive His grace…” (A City Set on a Hill). Does not this Anglican’s description of the problem in his own communion sound frightfully close to what may be found today in the Roman Catholic Church?
[4] Or perhaps we should say footnotes, since there are several that are severely problematic.
[5] It is consistent with the love-blind embrace of the United Nations and the “Greenpeace” environmentalism of Laudato Si’.
[6] We can begin to see the magnitude of the sea change if we imagine what it would have been like had the Kasper Proposal been floated in 1965 —the last year in which we can arguably say that we still had an integral and authentic Roman Rite throughout the entire Church (albeit already orphaned of its opening and closing prayers).

There would have been stunned incredulity and righteous indignation. The proposal wouldn’t have lasted longer than a lit match. No churchman in his right mind would have countenanced it. Progressives today attack traditionalists equally for our love of the traditional liturgy, our dogmatic intransigence, and our commitment to objective morality. They are right see a deep and abiding connection between these things — a connection neatly summed up as lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. [We pray as we believe and as we live.]

The following reflection by Aldo Maria Valli extends the scope of Kwasniewski's essays to the general situation in the Church today. As I have consistently done since 2005, all Biblical translations in English come from the USCCB's New American Bible, revised edition.

'The time will come when people
will no longer tolerate sound doctrine...'

Translated from

January 15, 2018

For various reasons, these days I have been re-reading the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy and I must say that I was surprised by the actuality of its contents. I would even say the surprise was lightning-like. Besides the problems of attribution, into which I shall not enter, the letter is striking for how it succeeds to describe the sufferings faced by the authentic followers of Jesus and for the clarity with which it indicates the duty to fight against present errors of the faith and prepare to fight those in the future.

There are two passages usually most cited from the Second Letter to Timothy: that in which Paul underscores the importance of transmitting the faith in the family, thanks to the women, above all (“I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you” and that in which the apostle, in the sunset of his life, strikes a balance sheet that every Christian would wish to share: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."

These two passages alone justify reading and rereading this epistle. But here is yet another passage which, in a few strokes, paints a picture in which we can recognie the situation of the faith today: "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths”.

And what ought to be done with false teachers and their myths? “Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.”

So you see, there is a confrontation here. On the one hand, false words, peddled as true by those who are really peddling myths to please their listeners. On the other hand, there are the authentic words that must be taken as a model because they come from the teachings of the masters who speak because they have found the truth and have experienced it.

One must get into this confrontation with courage, without being conditioned by questions of opportunity or fear. “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Confrontation brings suffering – that is inevitable. But we are not alone.

I was also struck by the pairing of love and power. The Spirit of Power and the Spirit of Love are one and the same. And it has nothing to do with a saccharine and sentimental idea of love, to which current preaching exhorting to solidariltiy and mass brotherhood has accustomed us.

St Paul writes from prison, as so often happens to those who defend the truth aganst the assaults of the sophisticated. He is therefore ‘in chains’, like a criminal, because those who serve lies and falsehood overturn reality. “But the word of God is unchained”. No one can silence the word of God. And what is this word we may be sure of? It is that “Jesus Christ, descendant of David, arose from the dead! Such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained”. This is the central mystery of our faith, which is never sufficiently believed nor announced enough.

It is certain that “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself”.

Here we have everything that matters. And that is why we are also urged to remember ‘these things’: “Stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.”

It is an invitation to essentiality, to concentrate on that which is truly fundamental. And what could be more important than divine judgment? “Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation. Avoid profane, idle talk, for such people will become more and more godless” but not forgetting that “their teaching [false teachers] will spread like gangrene”.

So the task is quite clear. But there is also a strategy to respect, and it is clearly described: “A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.”

What is there to add to that? Any poor comment I make will only spoil those statements.

“But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days,” St. Paul warns at one point. “People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them!”

I am not an exegete and I apologzie to the experts in Sacred Scripture. I only wished to share some of the feelings and houghts elicited in me by the Second etter to Timothy.

Before I close, allow me to quote from the homily of Benedict XVI on June 28, 2008, at the first Vespers for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at the opening of the Pauline Year:

In a world in which falsehood is powerful, the truth is paid for with suffering. The one who desires to avoid suffering, to keep it at bay, keeps life itself and its greatness at bay; he cannot be a servant of truth and thus a servant of faith. There is no love without suffering - without the suffering of renouncing oneself, of the transformation and purification of self for true freedom.

[I take the liberty of adding the statements that follow, which are the conclusion of the homily:

Where there is nothing worth suffering for, even life loses its value. The Eucharist - the center of our Christian being - is founded on Jesus's sacrifice for us; it is born from the suffering of love which culminated in the Cross. We live by this love that gives itself. It gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for him in this world, knowing that in this very way our life becomes great and mature and true.

In the light of all St Paul's Letters, we see how the prophecy made to Ananias at the time of Paul's call came true in the process of teaching the Gentiles: "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name". His suffering made him credible as a teacher of truth who did not seek his own advantage, his own glory or his personal satisfaction, but applied himself for the sake of the One who loved us and has given himself for us all.

I have remarked on it before, but I note with gratitude and satisfaction everytime it happens, that Valli, since he came to face the truth about Pope Francis after Amoris Laetitia, has been very consistent in quoting Benedict XVI as sort of his final word to close any essay he writes with a primarily spiritual or religious theme.
00Friday, January 19, 2018 3:04 AM
A litany of [new] Bergoglian errors
by Mark Lambert

January 17, 2018

Pope Francis routinely honours, welcomes, greets, and entertains public sinners. No doubt many see in this imitation of Christ:"
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, 'Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' (Mt 9:11)
This makes anyone criticising things like his honouring of Dutch abortion activist Elisabeth Ploumen seem like the Pharisees in the Gospel.

But St. Paul commands that the worst sinners must be driven out of the community: 'But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat". (1Cor 5:11)

It is true that Christ ate with sinners, but He called them to repentance, something Pope Francis never does. Instead, he ignores their grave public sins and pretends all is well, saving his rebukes for those faithful to the Church.

John Allen Jr at Crux offers this interesting and timely insight into Pope Francis' culpability: "What nobody disputes is the fact of the situation, which is that Francis just flat-out knows what’s going on...which means...he gets all the credit when things go right, but also all the blame when they don’t." [Not that Allen sees any culpability at all in Bergoglio!]

Well let's have a look at what went on last week under this Pontiff "who governs in the first person singular".

First there was Fr Chiodi, new appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life who reportedly said that there are “circumstances ­– I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 ­­– that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” When contacted by the Catholic Herald, Fr Chiodi did not deny making the remarks but said he preferred not to comment. Pope Francis revamped the academy last year, removing almost 100 members and appointing 45 new ones.

Church teaching forbids [artificial] contraception under all circumstances. Pope Pius XI wrote that contraception is “intrinsically vicious” and that “the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime”. Pope Paul VI wrote in Humanae Vitae that “sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive” is “to be absolutely excluded” and that “it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it”.

So did Pope Francis immediately contact Chiodi and tick him off as he did Cardinal Sarah when he suggested there should be more reverence in the liturgy? Did the CDF issue a statement correcting this error? We heard nothing but silence. In fact, Chiodi's opposition to settled Church teaching is well known, the Catholic Herald reported on it back in June. Should we pretend the Holy Father is unaware? It seems unlikely. Does it mean then that the Holy Father supports Chiodi's opposition to Church teaching?

We also had the vice president of the German bishops’ conference calling for Catholic clergy to bless same-sex unions. This is a bishop of the Catholic Church calling for the blessing of an objective moral evil. Canon Lawyer Fr Gerald Murray said on EWTN's The World Over Live that Bode should repent of this grave sin.

“This, and this is quite simply a statement of fact, this is a total rejection of Catholic doctrine on the immorality of homosexual activity,” Murray said. “For this bishop to say that is a major scandal. He should repent of it and turn away from it because he’s leading people into sin.”

“If I seem angry it’s because I am,” added Murray. “This is infuriating. A shepherd is sent out to lead the sheep to the pure waters of Catholic truth and this man is saying that immoral activity should be blessed? He needs to repent of that teaching.” Bishop against bishop, cardinal against cardinal.

So the CDF, naturally censured him, right? Pope Francis immediately issued a statement condemning his error then, right? Or perhaps he wrote an unprecedented letter, as he did to Cardinal Sarah not so long ago? If you think any of these things happen you are mistaken. Nothing happened.

The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Amoris Laetitia is marked a “paradigm shift” for the Church. The cardinal did not clarify exactly what the “paradigm shift” involved, of course — he couldn't, because there is no logical explanation. This is the sole reason they're using the indefectibility argument now, and a *very* strict interpretation of it at that, is because they *can't* explain Amoris Laetitia's suggestions after months of trying. It's a complete red herring.

The cardinal made his remarks in an interview with Vatican News, the Vatican’s recently launched official media outlet. He is right that Amoris Laetitia is a paradigm shift; it is a political move to divorce the Catholic faith from the fides quae, objective truth, logic and reason. Notice also the complete lack of credible real-world pastoral examples where Amoris Laetitia would apply - strange for something touted as being so "realistic" eh?

Then there was the news that the Pope has appointed Cardinal Roger Michael Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, as his special envoy at the celebration of the 150 th anniversary of the erection of the diocese of Scranton, United States of America, to take place on 4 March 2018.

Mahoney is an instrumental figure in the cover-up of priestly sex abuses against children and minors in the USA. So much so that his successor forbade him from public ministry due to his woeful handling of abuse cases. The diocese Mahony is being sent to is known for loyalty to the true Faith. Archbishop Chaput is presiding & preaching. They probably asked the Holy Father for a Legate, and it would seem that to send Mahony is a deliberate (and nasty) message.

But perhaps the worst gaff of the week was the almost unbelievable news that Pope Francis has made the Dutch politician and extreme abortion activist Elisabeth Maria Josepha “Lilianne” Ploumen a knight in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great.

After considerable deliberation, the best cronies could come up with on this was to protest that it was unreasonable to suggest that Pope Francis personally took the decision to award a pro-abortion campaigner. Of course, in reality nobody thought that.

What they thought & think is that this would have been inconceivable under John Paul II or Benedict XVI, & Pope Francis must withdraw the honour now. He likely won’t, of course & we’ll all draw our own conclusions.

When they eventually deemed to comment on the story, The Holy See Press Office said the Dutch militant pro-abortion politician Lilianne Ploumen was given the ancient papal honor as ‘diplomatic practice’ for a visiting official head of state delegation to the Vatican. This was a lie. The Holy See does not routinely give Papal awards to the entourage of Heads of State: nor does any one else.

Catholic Deacon Nick Donnelly made this very apposite comment on the present situation:

00Friday, January 19, 2018 7:45 PM

Note how promptly Bergoglian consigliere Fr. Spadaro got himself into the picture, literally and figuratively, for this latest Bergoglian publicity coup...

Does this join the litany of recent papal errors?

The Pope marries a couple
on the papal airplane. Hmmm.

January 18, 2018

I fairly dread papal trips these days. You never know what is going to happen on the papal airplane. Will there be another presser in which the Holy Father will say something like, “Who am I to judge?” That was a gift – now perpetually taken out of context and abused – that keeps on giving.

I read at Crux that the Holy Father married (witnessed the marriage) of a steward and stewardess on the papal airplane – during the flight.

Paula Podest, 39, and Carlos Ciufardi, 41, have been together for over ten years. They met in the air, where she was his boss as a flight attendant for LATAM, Chile’s flagship airline. They have been civilly married since 2010. Days before they were scheduled to have their church wedding, an earthquake destroyed the church where they were supposed to marry. [Fr Z's comment: According to the Daily Mail, that was 8 years ago. 8 years… and they haven’t married in church? I suppose they had marriage prep. Also, in the case of an earthquake, the church building isn’t a sine qua non for getting married. It is sad that they couldn’t get marriage in that church, but… [sacramental] marriage is the really important part of the equation, not the building or photos.] [Did the pope's improvised and necessarily abbreviated ritual constitute a proper and valid sacrament of matrimony?]

Today, as they were posing with Francis and the rest of the crew for the official picture, Francis asked them if they were married in the Church. They told him no, and the pontiff immediately took charge, asking them if they wanted him to marry them, and they agreed.

The newlyweds shared the conversation they had with the pontiff with the journalists, with Podest acknowledging that she was “still in shock,” so he did most of the talking, even though, from what they told journalists, “she’s still the boss in the house,” as she was at the airline when they met.

“He asked us if we were married, I said no because of the earthquake, and he said, ‘well, I’ll marry you’,” according to Ciufardi. [One must credit media-meister Bergoglio for quickly seeing an opportunity to post yet another historic papal first, never mind what canon law says about the necessary preparations (including confession and communion) and prescribed ritual for any priest who performs a marriage ceremony - which is, after all, a sacrament, that must be performed properly and solemnly, not improvised on-the-spot as if it were simply a publicity stunt - which this one was, without a doubt!]
“It is historic,” the pope told them. “Never has a pope married a couple on a plane.” [How's that for full awareness that he was doing something 'irregular', but what does it matter? he is the pope and he can do as he pleases, right?]

The spouses asked the pontiff if he was certain about marrying them on the plane, asking him “are you sure?”

When the pope asked for a witness, they tapped the CEO of the airline, and to make sure there was no doubt over the validity of the sacrament, the pope “asked the cardinals who were with him” to draft the license, which they did. The document is handmade, signed by one of the cardinals, also a witness.

“He held our hands, blessed the rings, and he married us in the name of God,” Ciufardi said.

“What he said to us is very important: ‘This is the sacrament the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married’,” Ciufardi said.
Speaking about the rings, Francis said that they shouldn’t be either too tight, because “they would be a torture,” or too loose, or else they might risk misplacing them.

These days there are controversies over the meaning of marriage. These days, fewer and fewer couples are marrying.

For example, if a couple who are in an adulterous relationship because at least one party divorced his true spouse and then civilly marries another woman – without the Church giving a declaration of nullity concerning his first, true marriage, can that remarried, adulterous couple be admitted to Holy Communion, even though they haven’t made any commitment to live chaste lives? Some say, “Yes!”, and, by doing so, they call into question the very meaning of matrimony and also the Eucharist. At the very least, they make a mockery of matrimony, trivialize it.

I trust that this well-intentioned gesture by Pope Francis isn’t taken merely to be some sort of stunt, which the badly-motivated will utilize to trivialize the sacrament of matrimony even more than is is being trivialized today.

Another thing: may this couple stay together! It would be… not so great were they to split up after this rather dramatic aerial display. Headline: Papal midair marriage crashes!

I can’t say that I like the whole airplane thing. The Pope makes his calls. Who am I to judge?

Can we put sentimentality aside for a moment? Gestures like this have consequences. This wasn’t some odd priest on an airplane, it was the Vicar of Christ.

Again, this is all very huggy and warm and fuzzy. But let’s think about this.

I wasn’t there, of course, but I think it could have been a good idea to make sure they knew what matrimony is really all about. That’s what marriage preparation is for. They’ve been civilly but not sacramentally married for 8 years. All this time they didn’t seek the sacrament? What’s that about? Maybe the Pope got their story.

When a priest marries a couple, he should be reasonably sure that they know what they are getting into. He can be fairly sure if they had some kind of marriage prep, done by himself or by another priest, etc. You have to know before you witness the marriage of couple – if they are going to enter into this sacramental bond – whether or not they have the right intentions. Does the couple – I’m speaking generically now – any couple – intend to remain together for life? Do they intend for their bond to be exclusive? Do they intend to accept the gift of children?

Also, the sacrament of matrimony is one of the “sacraments of the living”. It should be received in the state of grace, after a good examination of conscience and confession. Not by “surprise”, as it were.

Moreover, you have to ascertain if they are both free to marry, having no previous bond that the Church had to examine. I imagine that, before tying their knot the Holy Father asked them about these things. Right? He was a diocesan bishop. He knows about these things.

The Pope can dispense immediately anything that can be dispensed. But if there is a previous bond… nope. And an airplane isn’t the place to deal with Pauline or Petrine Privilege. Get that wrong when you are Pope and problems result.

Sure, this on-the-spot – well…it was “on-the-spot” only relatively speaking – marriage took care of one instance of a couple living together. There are a lot more out there.

I wonder if the on-the-spot thing won’t spur odd situations:
“The Pope married that couple on an airplane! Why won’t you, Father, marry us right now here at the zoo?”

What do you want to bet that sort of thing will pop up for priests after this?

I hope that this no doubt well-intentioned gesture by the Holy Father won’t also wind up being one of those gifts that keep on giving, but not in a good way.

Anyway, I wish that couple a holy and happy life.

Thoughts on a mid-air marriage

January 18, 2018

Show of hands! Who wants to rain all over the sentimental parade lining up behind (what is being presented as) the pope’s facilitation of married love? Anyone? Anyone?

I thought not. Oh well.

Readers of this blog know that I am no fan of canonical form for marriage (cc. 1108, 1117) — a cure that has far outlived the malady (clandestine marriage) it was designed to treat — but canonical form is still law for Catholics and that law goes to the validity of Catholic marriage.

Based on the reports offered in the media so far, I cannot tell whether the ‘wedding’ that the pope put together for an unsuspecting couple satisfies Church requirements on marriage. Moreover, several other laws impacting the liceity of marriage seem simply to have been disregarded in the event.

As happened several times under earlier administrations, a representative from the Vatican Press Office assures us that “everything was valid”. Such assertions by canonically unqualified and unauthorized PR staff carry, of course, no weight. Real questions worthy of real answers are still raised by this event.

Before getting into details, however, let me say that I am sorry for Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, two perfectly pleasant flight attendants who paid a courtesy call on their celebrity guest and, next thing they know, their names, faces, and rather odd marriage history are being broadcast to the world. They did not ask for a wedding and were astonished when Pope Francis suggested it. This was not their idea.

Now, about the matter itself:
Popes have jurisdiction for the external forum anywhere on earth (cc. 134, 331, 1108), so Francis can officiate at a wedding anywhere, anytime. [Just to get things straight here: In the canon law of the Catholic Church, a distinction is made between the internal forum, where an act of governance is made without publicity, and the external forum, where the act is public and verifiable. In canon law, internal forum, the realm of conscience, is contrasted with the external or outward forum; thus, a marriage might be null and void in the internal forum, but binding outwardly, i.e.,in the external forum, for want of judicial proof to the contrary.]

But officiating at a wedding means something specific: it means asking for and receiving the consent of the contracting parties to marrying each each other (c. 1108) here and now. Per the Rite of Matrimony, consent is sought from each party individually and must be oriented to marrying the other party at this time; the request is not posed as a joint question to the couple about being married, akin to, ‘do you two want to be married?’, but rather is framed ‘do you marry him/her?’ at this point in time.

If consent (the heart of marriage per c. 1057) is not adequately asked for and received, it is not exchanged, and such a couple would not be married (and, No, Ecclesia supplet’ cannot make up for a failure in what is actually sacramental — as opposed to canonical — form).

The above reports mention, as far as I can see, only the pope’s broaching the topic of marriage by asking the couple whether they wanted to be married, placing their hands together, saying a few inspirational words about marriage, and pronouncing them husband and wife. But such a sequence describes, not at all, a present exchange of consent by the parties. Let us hope, then, that in the actual event considerably more was said than has been reported.

Second, canonical form demands two independent actual witnesses to the exchange of consent, meaning that five persons must be immediately present for the wedding — not folks who heard about it a few minutes later, or who saw something happening and wondered, hey, what’s going on back there? — but five persons acting together and at the same time: a bride, a groom, an officiant, and two other actual witnesses.

While reports are unclear as to how many people actually witnessed this event, and while this photo shows four people in the event (plus a camera man?) and four signatures on a document, another photo shows five names on the marriage document, so one may presume (c. 1541) accordingly.

Third, several canons impacting the liceity of weddings (norms on ‘liceity’ often being regarded as wink-wink rules in Church life, especially when higher-ups model the wink-winking) were apparently ignored here, including:
- the requirement for serious pastoral preparation prior to a wedding (c. 1063),
- administration of Confirmation [if one or both spouses have not been confirmed] before Matrimony (c. 1065),
- urging of Penance and holy Communion before a wedding (c. 1065), -
verification that no obstacles to validity or liceity are in place (c. 1066), securing evidence of the contractants’ freedom to marry (c. 1068) upon pain of acting illicitly without it (c. 1114),
- an expectation that Catholic weddings be celebrated in a parish church (cc. 1115, 1118), and
- making use of the Church’s treasury of liturgical books for celebration of the sacramental rite (c. 1119).

As this story reverberates ‘round the world, now, deacons, priests, and bishops who try to uphold Church norms fostering values such as deliberate marriage preparation, an ecclesial context for a Catholic wedding, and the use of established and reliable texts for expressing consent will, undoubtedly, have the Podest-Ciuffardi wedding tossed in their face as evidence that, if Pope Francis does not insist on such legalistic silliness and only cares about whether two people love one another, why shouldn’t they do likewise? The ministry of conscientious clergy in this regard just got harder.

As mentioned above, I would be happy to see the requirement of canonical form for marriage eliminated, this, for several reasons, one of which is that — long story omitted — we could actually make higher demands of Catholics who want to marry before our clergy than we can currently demand.

But the pope’s example of a spontaneous, zero-preparation, wedding is not at all what I and like-minded others have in mind. This couple undoubtedly gave more thought and attention to what they did by civilly marrying before a magistrate back in 2010 than they could have possibly given to what the pope suggested to them, on a few seconds’ notice, while at work, high above the Andes mountains.

If I have to say it, I will: I hope Podest and Ciuffardi are married and that they live happily ever after, but I worry whenever momentous life decisions are taken on a minute’s notice and under circumstances bound to contribute to one’s being carried away by events.

The pope has opined, apparently more than once, that “half of all sacramental marriages are null”. Here’s hoping that Podest and Ciuffardi beat those odds.

But, more surprises in connection with what some Bergoglio fanatics might well consider the 'wedding of the millennium' so far... Which confirms my first suspicion that the event was not quite all that 'spontaneous' (Why, for instance, would the pope ask airline crew members if they were married in Church during a fairly routine photo session with the crew?)

The mid-air marriage gets muddier

January 19, 2018

Popes on planes aren’t supposed to be a setting from which to draw fodder for canon law essay exams, but as far back as Pope Benedict XVI, such flights have occasioned more than their fair share of papal words or actions carrying canonical implications but undertaken with little apparent advertence to canon law. [As far as I can recall, the canon law question came up when Benedict XVI said in 2007 on his way to Brazil, that he agreed with the Mexican bishops who said Catholic politicians in Mexico had excommunicated themselves by legalizing abortion in that nation’s capital. “It’s nothing new, it’s normal, it wasn’t arbitrary. It is what is foreseen by the church’s doctrine,” Benedict told reporters. That does not sound like he spoke with 'little apparent advertence to canon law'. But the media spun it to say that the pope was himself excommunicating pro-abortion politicians.]

Let’s start with some fact questions in regard to the mid-air marriage recently officiated by Pope Francis. It is emerging that maybe the wedding wasn’t as spontaneous as reported, that maybe the happy couple were not “astonished” at the pope’s allegedly sudden idea, and that maybe the ‘Here?!’ and ‘It was a great surprise’ portrayals were expected.

Last month, in an interview published in, Podest and Ciuffardi, picked to serve on the cabin crew for the papal visit, talked about their civil marriage from some eight years ago (which they had been too busy to convalidate), and stated that they

“both hope that in January this delayed [wedding] plan can finally take place on the plane and be officiated over by none other than Pope Francis himself. ‘We would like it. This is our place, our second home, it is where we feel secure.’” In the original Spanish: Ambos esperan que en enero próximo este postergado plan pueda finalmente concretarse sobre el avión y dirigido nada menos que por el mismísimo Papa Francisco. “Nos encantaría. Es nuestro lugar, es nuestra segunda casa, es donde nos sentimos seguros”.

C’mon, someone was obviously planning something. It would be interesting to know who and what. [It's sad that the 'newlyweds' themselves have added an aspect of falsehood to this entire set-up, because it appears to have been an orchestrated set-up.]

In any event, a slurry of canon law exam questions can be drawn from this event in light of other facts, assuming they are facts (see my D&A no. 3 to the right), as discussed here, including:
— Defend the assertion that “convalidation” in a lack of form situation differs from a “wedding” only in regard to accidentals. Be sure to discuss Canon 1160.
— Discuss whether the official minister at a Catholic wedding can serve as one of the two other “witnesses” for purposes of canonical form (Canon 1108).
— Explain how the manifestation of consent to marriage is be “asked for and received” per Canon 1108 and the Rite of Marriage.
— Discuss how attention to various norms for the liceity of weddings/marriages contribute to the Church’s pastoral responsibility teach the faithful about the importance of marriage. Include at least three examples.
— Discuss the difference between “convalidation” and “radical sanation”. Include in your answer whether witnesses are required for sanations and whether consent is renewed and accepted in sanations.
— Discuss the canonical and pastoral differences between an ecclesiastical authority figure’s disregarding of the law versus one’s dispensing from the law. Give indicators by which the two actions might be distinguished. You may assume a Canon 91 actor.
— Challenge or defend the continuation of the requirement of canonical form for marriage. If you challenge form, account for Cdl. Ratinger’s 1994 remarks on same; if you defend form, account for its being the first step in the sequence that led to the ‘mid-air marriage’ case of 2018.

Fr H's comment so r:

On that mid-air marriage

January 19, 2018

On the one hand, it is extremely good that PF did not just tell them that they were All Right as they were. His action admirably made clear that they needed to get married because, despite their civil 'marriage', they were not in fact married. Eccellente. Clearly, [??? Do we know that?] he will first have taken them aside and absolved them from their acts of fornication, before receiving their consent in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. What's not to like?

On the other hand, canonists have been uneasy about the "wedding" in the airliner. It all interests me because twice recently, 2 January and 14 January, I have vigorously argued against the apparent belief of some super-hyper-ueberpapalists, that the Roman Pontiff, just because he makes and dispenses from laws, is himself above the Law.

And if it were to be asserted that "By doing X, PF tacitly dispensed himself from the law(s) against X", I would regard the implications of that approach as thoroughly disturbing ... almost like the Nazi notion that the Fuehrer's will is the Supreme Law. The whole business would suggest the ugly idea that "I'm the Pope and so I can do anything".

Indeed he is and indeed he can't.

God bless the pair of them! And him as well!

I wonder if the journalists will check that they were canonically free to marry, and ferret around to uncover the facts about the Act of God which prevented them from marrying in due form in the first place...

Marco Tosatti comments by way of Pezzo Grosso...

Pezzo Grosso is disconsolate for what
he considers another major error by this pope

Translated from

January 19, 2018

I must say that I was expecting it a bit. After having read reports and seen the images of the mid-air marriage ‘celebrated’ by the pope, launched and disseminated by the Vatican communications machinery, and commented in various ways on the social networks, I told myself, “I’d like to know what Pezzo Grosso will write me this time.” As in fact, he did. The only surprise was that he did not do so earlier. He wrote:

Dear Tosatti,
I learn from Corriere della Sera that the pope celebrated ‘a surprise marriage’ on an airplane. The newspaper says the couple have lived together for 8 years, civilly married in 2010 and have two children but have wanted to be married in Church. So it has taken them 8 years to want to be married in Church, and then to do so on an airplane, not a church… Then, we are told by the Vatican spokesman that the formula used by the pope to marry the couple was “Are you sure? Are you both sure?”

Well, amen! To play with the sacraments, as with playing with Catholic practice in general, is dangerous. In just a few moments, the pope managed to ridicule the sacrament of matrimony and perhaps even that of penance (did they confess to him formally and did he then absolve them formally that for eight years they have been living as husband and wife without benefit of sacramental marriage?) I will not even get into other required procedures for a Catholic marriage such as prior banns, etc.

Everything with this pope seems to be part of a movie, a fiction, interpreted by an actor who is a master at improvisation, loves to spring ‘surprises’, knows how to create a true-to-life telenovela. But one no longer wonders at what he does – we suffer, and that’s our part. When I read about this latest ‘show’, O thought of Blessed Antonio Rosmini. If he had witnessed this today, then the wounds of the Church* would have been six, not five – the sixth being the perplexing exhibitionism at the summit of ‘the Church’.

*Blessed Rosmini (1797-1855, beatified in November 2007 ) wrote a book entitled The Five Wounds of the Church, in which he says that the five main evils of the Italian Church in his time correspond to the five wounds on the hands, feet, and side of the Divine Redeemer.
- He likens the wound in Jesus's left hand to the lack of sympathy between the clergy and people in the act of public worship, which he sees as a result of a lack of adequate Christian evangelical teaching.
- And it is to be accounted for by the wound in the right hand — the insufficient education of the clergy, their secularisation and their alienation from scripture and their bishops.
- This, in turn, was both caused and perpetuated by the great wound in the side, which pierced the Heart of the Divine Sufferer, and which Rosmini sees as a parallel for the divisions among the Bishops, separating them from one another, and also from their clergy and people, forgetting their true union in the Body of Christ.
- The wound of the right foot is compared to the civil power of the Bishops making them into worldly schemers and politicians, more or less intent on selfish interests.
- The wound of the left foot is compared to events of the feudal period, when the freehold tenures of the Church were treated as fiefs by an overlord, or suzerain, who saw in the chief pastors of the flock of Christ only a particular variety of vassals or dependants.

00Friday, January 19, 2018 9:38 PM

When the pope himself chooses to make light of the sacrament of matrimony by officiating at a 'marriage' that seems to have had everything to do with getting
maximum publicity mileage rather than setting things sacramentally right for a couple who have been living together unmarried for eight years, he is really
telling all the priests of the world that they have the free option to improvise on the sacraments when they want to do so, and not because there
is an emergency that may perhaps require them to improvise as best they can.

Certainly there was no emergency for the Chilean steward and flight attendant, who apparently planned on getting a 'church marriage' in the way they succeeded
to do. Why could not the pope have sat down with them for a few minutes, instead, to tell them, for example: "Tell me who your bishop or parish priest is,
and I shall instruct them to arrange so that you can get married properly in church as soon as the requirements are met"
? He didn't because he thinks
of himself as a unique pope in the history of the Church who would set yet another historic example by marrying the couple then and there! Obviously this pope
does not believe in the adage that if you must do anything, do it right and do it well, because you are not serious and sincere if you just do it any which way,
sloppily and wrongly. The pope's cavalier attitude toward the sacraments is an example of the minimalism that Roberto de Mattei describes in his new essay:

Minimalism: the present-day
sickness of Catholicism

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

January 17, 2018

In Italy recently, two videos have been circulating online which give pause for thought. The first replicates the words of Don Fredo Olivero, Rector of the Church of San Rocco in Turin, uttered during Midnight Mass. “Do you know why I’m not going to say the Creed? Because I don’t believe it!”

Amidst the laughter of the faithful, the priest continues: “As if anyone understands it – but as for myself after many years I’ve realized that it was something I didn’t understand and couldn’t accept. Let’s sing something else that presents the essential things of the faith.” The priest then substituted the Creed with the song “Dolce Sentire” from the film “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”.

The Creed sums up the articles of the Catholic Faith. To deny merely one of these articles constitutes heresy. To deny the Creed, in block, constitutes an act of public apostasy. Further, to deny it during Holy Mass, constitutes an intolerable scandal. The removal, suspension a divinis and excommunication of the priest should have been immediate. Yet none of this occurred.

While the media was spreading this incredible news, the lone voice of ecclesiastical reaction came from the other end of Italy, in Sicily, where Don Salvatore Priola, parish-priest and rector of the Marian Sanctuary of Altavilla Milicia, expressed his indignation in a homily against the priest from Piedmont, urging his faithful, and every baptized person, to react publically in the face of such a scandal.

A video reports his impassioned words:

“Brothers and sisters – he said – when you hear a priest saying things that are against the Catholic Faith, you must have the courage to stand up and tell the priest - even during the Mass: this is not allowed! It’s time to stand up when you hear things that are against our Creed. Even if a bishop says them even if a priest says them. Stand up and say: Father, Your Grace, this is not allowed. Because we have the Gospel: Because we are all under the Gospel, from the Pope down. We are all under the Gospel".

The two opposing homilies call for some reflections. If a priest goes as far as repudiating the Catholic Creed, without incurring sanctions by the ecclesiastical authorities, we find ourselves indeed faced with a situation of crisis in the Church of unparalleled gravity. Even more since the case of Don Frido Olivero is not isolated. Thousands of priests in the world think the same way and act accordingly.

What appears to be something out of the ordinary though, and which consequently merits the total appreciation of true Catholics, is the Sicilian priest’s invitation to stand up in Church and admonish a priest publically, even a bishop, who is giving scandal. This public correction is not only legitimate, but at times a duty.

This is a point that ought to be emphasized. The true cause of the present crisis is not so much in the arrogance of those who have lost the faith, but in the weakness of those, who, conserving it, choose to be silent, rather than defend it publically. This minimalism constitutes our present-day spiritual and moral sickness.

For many Catholics, we should not oppose errors, as it is enough “to behave well”, or resistance should be limited to the defense of the negative, moral absolutes, that is to those norms that prohibit always and in every case, specific behaviors against the Divine and moral law. This is sacrosanct, but we must remember that there are not only negative precepts which tell us what we can never do, there are also positive precepts which tell us what we must do; what works and attitudes that are pleasing to God and through which we are able to love our neighbor.

While the negative precepts (thou shalt not kill, steal or commit impure acts) are formulated in concrete terms seeing as they prohibit a specific action always and everywhere, without exceptions, the positive precepts (prayer, sacrifice, love of the Cross) are not specific, as they cannot establish what we must do in every circumstance, yet they are also obligatory, according to the situation.

The modernists are improperly spreading “situation ethics” from the positive precepts to the negative ones, in the name of God’s love, forgetting that loving means observing the moral law, as Jesus said: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me” (Jn 14, 21).

The conservatives for their part, often attest positions of minimalistic morality, forgetting that a Catholic must love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Mk 12, 28-30). For this St.Thomas Aquinas explains that we are all bound not only to the good, but to the greater good, not at the level of action, but in that of love (Mt 19, 12).

The first moral truth is love. Man must love God above all creatures, and love creatures according to the order established by God. There are negative acts that can never be carried out, under any circumstance. Yet there are positive acts, which, in determinate circumstances are mandatory to carry out. This moral duty does not have its foundation in a negative precept, but in the love of God.

Precepts then have a lower limit: what one cannot do, but they do not have a higher limit, since loving God and neighbor have no boundaries and we are perfect in the measure of our love.

John Paul II explains it in no. 52 of Veritatis Splendor. “The fact that only the negative commandments oblige always and under all circumstances does not mean that in the moral life prohibitions are more important than the obligation to do good indicated by the positive commandments. The reason is this: the commandment of love of God and neighbour does not have in its dynamic any higher limit, but it does have a lower limit, beneath which the commandment is broken. Furthermore, what must be done in any given situation depends on the circumstances, not all of which can be foreseen.”

We must oppose the theory of the “lesser evil” with that of the “greater good”. At the level of action, the good cannot be determined a priori, since the actions we might carry out are many, uncertain and indeterminate. However, if the greater good presents itself as clear in our conscience, well defined and as such that we can act upon it hic et nunc (here and now), negligence is culpable: we have the moral obligation to act on it.

The precept of fraternal correction is among the positive moral precepts. One is not always obliged to do it, and one cannot demand it a duty from others, but each one of us must feel bound to react, faced with public negations of the Catholic Truth. Those who truly love God have to follow the example of Eusebius, the layman, subsequently made a bishop, who, in 423, rose up in public against Nestorius who had denied the Divine Maternity.

Don Salvatore Priola’s exhortation to stand up when we hear things said against the Catholic Faith, is an invitation to manifest our maximalism in loving God and not hide our light under a bushel, but put it in a lamp-stand, [in this way] illuminating the darkness of our times with our example.

Meanwhile, Mundabor is relentless with his intemperate language against Bergoglio, but making allowances for that [he is stooping to Bergoglio's level in his invective], there is some truth in what he says...

Minimal crowd for a papal Mass

January 19, 2018

[The photo, as you can see, is from the revitalized, renovated and consolidated Vatican media outlet. Common sense might have advised not releasing the photo
at all, but it comes from their own video. At first I thought - "oh, the photo must have been taken long before the event was scheduled to begin, when only the
early birds were in", but then the popemobile with the pope in it is clearly in the photo so it does reflect the attendance for this papal Mass. Thank God there was
never any such embarrassing photo taken in Benedict XVI's Pontificate... So, all right now, Spadaro, Ivereigh, Tornielli, Allen and all you assorted professional
makers/keepers of the fast-fading myth of the-most-popular-pope-ever, let's hear your explanations! Perhaps a terrorist threat or fear of anti-Bergoglio bombs
kept away the faithful who really and truly love this pope despite all the negative polling that preceded his visit?]

This is the astonishing picture of the epic failure of Francis in Chile.

Who is interested in [an old, lewd, bitter ass] someone spouting sugary nonsense or socialist drivel every time he opens that
[stupid] mouth of his?

Who has any respect for someone constantly sabotaging the Sacraments?

When will the Vatican (and the endless choir of sycophants constantly licking his boots) admit that this man [old, lurid scoundrel]
not only does not attract, but positively repels the faithful?

This man is an embarrassment not only for the Church as a whole, but even to those who support his destructive agenda. Too vulgar,
[too lewd], too grumpy, too short-tempered to keep the lie of the “humble Pope” going.

The more he keeps traveling, the more we will see pictures like this one, which will couple well with the one of a more and more
deserted Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican...

00Friday, January 19, 2018 10:51 PM
Athenagoras, Orthodoxy's Bergoglio

January 19, 2018

The day Pope Francis moved on from Chile to Peru on his current trip marked the beginning all around the world of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which culminates on January 25 with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

Half a century ago, on July 25, 1967, in Istanbul, the ecumenical journey marked the second meeting between Paul VI and the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras. [It followed their historic first meeting in Jerusalem in 1965.]

And on the occasion of this anniversary, Eliana Versace, a Church historian, has published in the “Notiziario” of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia two documents of exceptional interest.

These are two reports sent by the Italian ambassador to Turkey at the time, Mario Mondello, to the Italian foreign minister, Senator Amintore Fanfani.

The first report is a detailed account of that 1967 trip of Papa Montini to Turkey. And the second, a dozen pages or so in length, reports the long conversation that the ambassador had with Athenagoras shortly after that meeting with Paul VI.

A conversation that the ambassador himself found “surprising” and “troubling,” beginning with the personage he found before him: “picturesque,” “ardent and affable,” “perhaps a bit awkward and perhaps a bit histrionic.”

And this character profile itself leads one to associate the figure of Athenagoras with that of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

But there’s more, much more. We now know that there is an extraordinary proximity between the two, precisely in their manner of conceiving of the ecumenical journey.

To grasp this proximity it is enough to read this passage from the ambassador’s report:

“To the question from the ambassador on the importance of the theological differences among the various Churches, the patriarch responded vigorously, and said: ‘And how could I attribute importance to them, if there are none?’

To explain the meaning of his words to his surprised interlocutor, he compared himself to a diplomat: ‘You know, theologians are like jurists. Do you diplomats listen to the jurists when you feel that you must carry out some gesture or some important act of international politics? Of course not. Well then, I am a diplomat. Besides, out of scruples of conscience I asked a few theologians to study in what these differences would consist. Well then, you know what they found? That there are none. That’s it. On the contrary, they realized that our Churches separated without any motives for conflict, without any reason, but only because of a succession of actions carried out by one side and the other, imperceptibly. In short, a querelle d’évêques (quarrel among bishops).”
And further on:
“So there was only one path for the Patriarch of Constantinople [himself, Athenagoras] to follow: ‘There is only one Blessed Mother, the same for all. Just as there is only one Christ, the same for all. And we all use the same baptism, which makes us all Christians. Enough with the differences: let us draw near to each other with ‘acts.’ The only path to follow is that of love and of charity, and love and charity impose the way of union.

[Not, of course, that any appreciable 'progress' was made in Catholic-Orthodox relations until in 2007 (40 years since Athenagoras said all that), the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialog between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches made a breakthrough agreement in Ravenna to begin discussing the primary issue that divides the two Churches: the primacy of the pope. But whereas the subsequent meetings of the Commission (Cyprus, 2009, and Austria, 2010) pursued this discussion of "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium" (that is, before the Great Schism of 1057), the two subsequent ones in Bergoglio's pontificate appeared to have dropped that in favor of 'Primacy and Synodality in the Church'.]

And now compare this with what Pope Francis said on February 26, 2017 in a question-and-answer session at the All Saints Anglican Church in Rome:

"Your Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, warned against the risk, in ecumenical dialogue, of giving priority to cooperation in social initiatives rather than following the more demanding path of theological agreement. It appears that you prefer the contrary, that is, to 'walk and work' together in order to reach the goal of Christian unity. Is this true?"
"I do not know the context in which Pope Benedict said this. I don’t know, and so it is a little difficult for me. I cannot really answer this.... Whether he meant to say this or not?... Perhaps it was during a conversation with theologians.... But I am sure that both aspects are important. This is certain. Which of the two has priority?...

And on the other hand, Patriarch Athenagoras’s famous comment – which is true because I asked Patriarch Bartholomew and he said: 'This is true' – when he said to Blessed Pope Paul VI: 'Let us make unity together and leave the theologians on an island to think about it'. It was a joke, but historically, it is accurate. I had doubts but Patriarch Bartholomew told me that it was true.

But what is the heart of the matter, because I believe that what Pope Benedict said is true: we must seek a theological dialogue in order to also seek the roots... of the Sacraments .. of many issues on which we are still not in agreement. But this cannot be done in a laboratory: it must be done as we advance, along the way. We are on a journey, and as we journey, we also have these discussions. Theologians do this. But in the meantime, we help each other, we, one with the other, with our needs, in our lives; also spiritually we help each other.

For example, in the ‘twinning’ [of the parishes] there was the fact of studying Scripture together, and we help each other in our charitable service, in service to the poor, in hospitals, in wars.... It is very important. This is very important.

It is not possible to have ecumenical dialogue while standing still. No. [But in the mindset of Bergoglio and the professional ecumenicists, dialog is the end in itself and becomes a never-ending dialectic that never gets resolved! And what is that but 'standing still'?] Ecumenical dialogue is carried out as we walk, because ecumenical dialogue is a journey, and theological matters are discussed along the way. I believe this betrays neither the thought of Pope Benedict, nor the reality of ecumenical dialogue. This is my interpretation. If I knew the context in which that thought was expressed, I might say something different, but this is what comes to mind to say."

And what the pope said on November 30, 2014, on the flight back from Turkey:

"I believe we are moving forward in our relations with the Orthodox; they have the sacraments and apostolic succession... we are moving forward. What are we waiting for? For theologians to reach an agreement? That day will never come, I assure you, I'm sceptical. Theologians work well but remember what Athenagoras said to Paul VI: 'Let's put the theologians on an island to discuss among themselves and we’ll just get on with things!'

I thought that this might not have been true, but Bartholomew told me: 'No, it's true, he said that'. We mustn't wait. Unity is a journey we have to take, but we need to do it together. This is spiritual ecumenism: praying together, working together. There are so many works of charity, so much work.... Teaching together.... Moving forward together. This is spiritual ecumenism. Then there is an ecumenism of blood: when they kill Christians, we have so many martyrs.... starting with those in Uganda, canonized 50 years ago: half were Anglican, half Catholic, but the ones [who killed them] didn't say: 'You're Catholic.... you're Anglican….' No: 'You are Christian', and so their blood mixed. This is the ecumenism of blood. Our martyrs are crying out: 'We are one! We already have unity, in spirit and in blood'. […]

This is ecumenism of blood, which helps us so much, which tells us so much. And I think we have to take this journey courageously. Yes, share university chairs, it's being done, but go forward, continue to do so.... I’ll say something that a few, perhaps, are not able to understand: the Eastern Catholic Churches have a right to exist, but uniatism is a dated word. We cannot speak in these terms today. We need to find another way."

It is not known for sure where and when Athenagoras is thought to have made his quip about the theologians to be marooned on an island. Certainly not during his first historic encounter with Paul VI in Jerusalem on January 5, 1964, the entire audio recording of which has been made public.

The fact is, however, that the quip has entered the oral tradition, and Francis has resorted to it a number of times for confirmation of his own vision of ecumenism.

Returning to the report of Ambassador Mondello, Eliana Versace has also published a summary of it in L'Osservatore Romano in July 2017.

And it is a letter that has other surprises in store, for example, where Athenagoras tells the ambassador that he is in the habit of addressing Papa Montini as “Paul II, because he is the true successor of Saint Paul, updated for the present time,” or better yet, by the name of “Paul II the Victorious,” “imitating with his hand the gesture that Churchill used to indicate victory.”

In the run-up to the present week of ecumenical prayer, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity, recalled in L'Osservatore Romano that there are two paths that feed into the ecumenical way, from its origin until today.

The first, begun in 1910, took the name of “Faith and Order,” and has “as its primary objective the search for unity in faith,” on the terrain of doctrine and theology.

The second, opened in 1914, took the name of “Life and Work,” and is intended to unify the various Christian denominations, regardless of their doctrinal divisions, in a shared “effort on behalf of understanding and peace among peoples.”

It is patently clear that of these two paths only the second interests Pope Francis. Just as, we now know, it did Patriarch Athenagoras before him.
00Saturday, January 20, 2018 2:52 AM

BTW, the slogan for the pope's visit to Chile was 'Mi paz les doy' (My peace I give you) which is not in quotation marks and is followed by his name Papa Francisco, giving the impression that he is
imparting his peace (whatever that may be), and not that this is something Jesus said! The . Whose peace is he giving? The slogan for Peru is a generic 'Unidos por la esperanza' (United for hope) -
should that not be 'unidos en la esperanza' (United in hope')?

This is the second BBC story that has surprised me these days... Are there cracks now in what was once the MSM's monolithic and relentless hagiography of Jorge Bergoglio?

Pope's 'slander' comment
angers Chile abuse victims

19 January 2018

Pope Francis has triggered anger in Chile after accusing victims of a paedophile priest of slander.

Francis said there was "no proof" for their claims that abuse by Father Fernando Karadima had been covered up by another man, Bishop Juan Barros.

"There is not one single piece of proof against him (Bishop Barros). It is all slander. Is that clear?" the Pope said.

One Karadima victim said the Pope's earlier plea for forgiveness over clerical sex abuse was "empty".

The Pope made his comments on Thursday before celebrating Mass outside the city of Iquique in northern Chile.

"The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk," the Pope told journalists.

What is the controversy about?
The Catholic Church suffered a body blow in Chile in 2010 when Father Karadima was publicly accused of molesting several teenaged boys in the capital, Santiago, starting in the 1980s. In 2011, under Benedict XVI, the Vatican found him guilty of abusing teenage boys and sentenced to a lifetime of "penance and prayer".

He never faced criminal prosecution in Chile as too much time had passed, but the judge who heard victims' testimony in a year-long investigation described them as "truthful and reliable".

Mr Cruz says that Bishop Barros was present when Father Karadima - then the bishop's mentor - kissed and groped him and another boy. While Bishop Barros has not been accused of abuse, the Pope has been criticised for appointing him bishop of Osorno in 2015. Barros's ordination ceremony had to be cut short over protests in the cathedral.

What is the response from accusers?
Juan Carlos Cruz was one of the bishop's accusers who was quick to condemn the Pope's stance.

"As if I could have taken a selfie or photo while Karadima abused me and others with Juan Barros standing next to him watching everything," he tweeted.

"These people are absolutely crazy, and @Pontifex (the Pope's Twitter handle) is talking about reparation to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty."

Another Barros accuser, James Hamilton, told a news conference the response revealed an "unknown face" of the pontiff. "What the Pope has done today is offensive and painful, and not only against us, but against everyone seeking to end the abuses" he said.

Pope's defence will raise questions
by James Reynolds in Rome

Pope Francis began his trip to Chile with an uncompromising message: "It is right to ask for forgiveness and to make every effort to support the victims [of abuse committed by priests]."

This makes his subsequent dismissal of claims made again
st Bishop Juan Barros all the more difficult for victims to understand.

At the heart of this issue lies the Pope's decision to offer his consistent support to the bishop. In 2015, despite opposition in Chile, Francis appointed Juan Barros as the Bishop of Osorno. The Pope was then recorded telling visitors to the Vatican that there was not a shred of evidence that the bishop had covered up crimes committed by a fellow priest. On his trip to Chile, Francis repeated this blunt defence of Juan Barros.

In legal terms, the burden of proof does not lie with the Pope or his bishop to prove the bishop's innocence. But a papacy is also judged in other ways. Some will wonder why the Pope does not offer a more detailed explanation as to exactly why he chooses to believe and defend a bishop against the cover-up allegations made by victims in Chile.

The controversy comes at a time when questions are being asked about the Vatican's efforts to tackle clerical sexual abuse. In 2014, the Pope set up a high-profile commission to advise him. But the two commission members who were themselves survivors of clerical abuse resigned in protest at an apparent lack of progress. At the end of 2017, the commission's term formally expired. Its exact future is unclear. [That the pope has not even bothered to extend its term is indicative in itself of a fundamental lack of seriousness in Bergoglio's periodic iterations of 'zero tolerance' for priestly sex offenders even as he appears to be coddling not a few those who have serious charges of involvement and actual commission of abuses!]

What other response has there been in Chile?
Another senior Catholic figure in Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic of Rancagua, criticised Bishop Barros's continuing role in the Church, telling T13 radio: "It left me with a bitter taste that a brother of mine occupied a leading role [in the abuse scandal] - that was not good."

He added: "The victims are the priority, they should be the main concern of the Church."

The state co-ordinator for the Pope's visit to Chile, Benito Baranda, told Radio Cooperativa that Bishop Barros "should have stopped being a bishop a long time ago" and that his presence was damaging the Church.

Writing in La Tercera newspaper, journalist Ascanio Cavallo said the Pope's stance could "multiply the wrath" of those who want to see the bishop expelled from his post, but added: "There is no longer any doubt: the Pope supports his bishop."

Earlier in his Chile trip, Francis had met victims of sexual abuse by priests in the country. He cried with them and said he felt "pain and shame" over the scandal. [To which he appears to have a selective bias. Would it not have been more dramatic - and genuinely pastoral - if he had asked to meet with Barros's accusers and listen to their stories, instead of simply dismissing what they say as 'slander'?]

The US-based NGO Bishop Accountability says almost 80 members of Catholic clergy have been accused of child sex abuse in Chile since 2000.

Pope Francis arrived in Peru late on Thursday for a three-day visit which will conclude his two-nation South America trip.

Pope defends accused bishop,
denounces accusers:
The pattern is familiar

By Phil Lawler
January 19, 2018

In the bad old days, when Catholic parents reported that a priest had abused their child, and/or that the pastor was aware of the abuse, the bishop might scold them, saying that their complaints were nonsense, saying that they had no proof, accusing them of calumny.

The bishop might make these harsh statements, in the bad old days, even if he was fully aware of charges against the priest — even if he had encouraged the pastor to resign because of his mishandling of the situation.

These were the bad old days.

But in the bad old days the faithful parents still had some reasons to hope for justice:
- They could hope that a petition to Rome would reach the ears of the Pope. But now it’s the Pope who is denouncing the accusers.
- They could hope that the secular courts would provide satisfaction. But the secular courts in Chile have already rendered their verdict —acknowledging the strength of the accusations — and the Pope is not swayed.
- They could hope that mass-media outlets would investigate their claims, putting more pressure on the bishop to take them seriously. But now the mass media still give Pope Francis the friendliest of coverage. [Not in Chile at the moment! And not lately by the BBC!]

In the bad old days, a bishop could dismiss and insult aggrieved parents just because he could: because no one held him accountable.

These are the bad old days again.

It was not accidental that to represent him at the centenary celebration of the Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania, this pope chose disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of San Francisco whose record in pro-active covering-up for the sex-offender priests in his archdiocese was arguably far worse than the late Cardinal Law! Of all the cardinals Bergoglio could have named, why choose Mahony at all? I think it was Lawler himself who commented that this was a deliberate slap at Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who was probably the first bishop in the world to have issued pastoral guidelines on AL that upheld Catholic teaching and tradition rather than the open sacramental indiscipline and sacrilege of AL.
00Sunday, January 21, 2018 1:29 AM

When a papal farce unravels instantly
What for does the Vatican have this new amped-up, overhyped Secretariat for Communications when it cannot even manage its bag of abracadabra tricks right?

Remember when Benedict XVI became the object of worldwide opprobrium - and media ridicule - because no one at the Vatican had informed him of FSSPX
Bishop Williamson's Holocaust negationism before he lifted his excommunication? Everyone assumed at the time that Williamson's record was common knowledge
to anyone who would have bothered to google him online, but the fact was that his views about the Holocaust had never been published before Swedish
TV decided to broadcast an interview with him done in November 2009 on the very eve of the day in January 2010 when the Vatican announced
that Benedict XVI was lifting the excommunication of the four FSSPX bishops consecrated illegally by Mons. Lefebvre.
[I went into considerable effort
proving this at the time with screen captures of searches about Williamson's published statements before January 2010.]

My point is that the information on Williamson's Holocaust views was obviously not available from the usual sources and resources at the time Benedict XVI
decided to lift the excommunications. Knowing about it would not have stopped the pope from lifting the excommunications but it would have given the
Vatican time to prepare the public and let the whole world know that
1) having erroneous historical views is not an excommunicable sin for the Church - nor a sin at all, for that matter, because stupidity is not a sin if its
worst consequence is to hold up the stupid person to ridicule; and
2) that Williamson's denial of the Holocaust, while lamentable, had nothing to do with why he was excommunicated nor why the excommunication was being lifted.

You would think the Vatican Press Office might have learned something from that 'fiasco' in 2010. So, committing a similar and thoroughly avoidable mistake in
2018 is unforgivable. Especially since obviously there was some preparation for this 'spontaneous' event on the part of the Vatican.

One imagines that in the months preceding the visit, those coordinating the papal visit in Chile would have forwarded the couple's wish-request to the Vatican
(along with the detailed plans for the use of the Chilean airline while the pope was in Chile), and that the competent official(s) 'in charge of papal anecdotes' promptly
seized on it as an opportunity too precious not to exploit for setting yet another historic Bergoglian first.

Obviously, too, their Chilean counterparts failed to inform them (one presumes after the request had already been more or less approved by the Vatican as one of
those 'surprises' that the pope would spring during his trip) that, in fact, the excited couple had spoken about it to a Chilean newspaper (more than one, as it turns out).
Or perhaps both the Chilean papal-visit coordinators and their Vatican counterparts thought that the couple's giving away the game a few weeks before the visit would be
overlooked, given the PR force majeure of a new and unprecedented papal action!

They cannot say the pope was not briefed about it beforehand, because why and how would he know, during a routine souvenir photo session with the plane crew, that
one steward and one flight attendant had been concubines for eight years, and therefore offer to marry them then and there? Bergoglio has taken part in more serious
lies before this for anyone with commonsense to doubt he was complicit in this farce. So how does it feel for a Catholic to have a pope who, on top of all his other
faults and offenses, is also turning out to be a habitual and inveterate liar? Because this is the ultimate significance of this midair marriage farce.

How will the Vatican PR cooks explain egg all over their face with the exposure of their farce?

No, it was not a spontaneous act
nor was it the pope's idea to begin with

By Carlos Esteban
Translated from

January 19, 2018

The story of the airborne wedding celebrated by Pope Francis enroute from Chile to Peru had been presented as something spontaneous by the Vatican Press Office, even though, it turns out, it was months in the making.

As little interest as news of Church affairs may have for most people, most readers would have sat up and taken note of such a ‘touching’ headline: the pope, on a brief flight, has a routine photo session with the plane crew, and somehow learns of a common-law relationship between one steward and one flight attendant, and on the spur of the moment, the pope asks them whether they would him to marry them then and there.

What an extraordinary surprise, what excitement all around! And what a great anecdote, how human and appealing!

There are few labels more horrible than being called ‘enemy of the pope’. And I know that very well because for some time now ‘the pope’s men’ have launched themselves with vengeful joy against anyone who expresses any doubt or objection to the direction which this pope wishes to give ‘the Church’, or to any of his ad-lib statements.

Because today, we have the curious paradox that those who had been most vocal in the past about their ‘doubts’, to say it kindly, on the infallibility of the pope when he speaks ex cathedra on faith and morals, have now become fervent believers in it, even when he speaks of the weather or tells a joke.

According to that curious viewpoint, a ‘friend of the pope’ would be a sycophant, one indulgent to whatever defects or faults he may have – which such a friend would never notice nor question – but will rather celebrate anything the pope does, good or bad.

The friend, in the case we are speaking of, would be anyone who repeats, while wearing a dunce’s cap, the touching anecdote of the midair marriage, underscoring how ‘informal’, good-natured and spontaneous our Holy Father is, and applauding him as at a children’s party.

Ever since bonhomie has been considered an obligatory virtue for the powerful of the world, everyone turns it on fullblast, relentlessly, as if to always do whatever occurs to you when it occurs to you was an extraordinary merit and not self-indulgence. To bypass protocol has become so ‘common’ that following it is what appears extraordinary nowadays and proof of extraordinary self-control.

I wonder if there is not a secret office in the Roman Curia that corresponds more or less to ‘in charge of papal anecdotes’, because one expects Catholic journalists today to swallow anything that is told to them, convinced that their mission is to maintain a fairytale image of everything that has to do with the ecclesial world.

Otherwise, those in the Vatican Press Office [and their counterparts in Chile preparing for the pope’s visit] would have known that in the newspaper La Tercera de Chile on January 11, under the news item entitled ‘The newsman who became a plane steward and who will serve on board the papal flights while in Chile', the now most-famous 'newlyweds' on earth had expressed the hope that their religious wedding “would be realized on the plane and officiated by no less than Pope Francis himself”.

Well! When I had believed [along with everyone else who read the first reports of the mid-air marriage] that the idea came from the pope himself, just like that, to convince the couple that they should take the transcendental step which he would gladly perform for them!

And that background story that they could not have their church wedding as planned because their church was damaged in an earthquake? It becomes laughable when one learns that the earthquake happened in 2010. I know I am not familiar with the state of the church in Chile, but I do not think it is in the same desperate situation as those of Saudi Arabia or North Korea, such that in the intervening 7 years, it was impossible – or even very difficult – for the couple to find a priest who would marry them or a church or chapel where the wedding could take place.

Moreover – and despite the defense to the death of the apologists for AL – it would seem that this pope himself does not take his own writing seriously because he certainly did not give time for the Church to exercise any pre-matrimonial ‘discernment’, nor did he refer the couple to their parish priest so they could do everything properly for a sacramental marriage, nor any other of the prudential measures that AL recommends as necessary to prepare for the sacrament of matrimony.

Perhaps he thinks that for a couple who have cohabited for eight years and had two children without showing any urgency to have a sacramental marriage, a minimum period of reflection was not even necessary. Who knows?

It is a website in Italian and Spanish that considers itself

"a free and independent medium of communication intended to serve the Catholic Church and society as a ‘cooperator of Truth’ in questions affecting the life of the Church, especially of Catholic lay faithful in the Western world, and the Church’s defense of the non-negotiable principles enumerated by Benedict XVI. Our commitment is therefore primarily the defense of life from conception to its natural end; the defense of the natural family; the defense of the parents’ inviolable right to decide on the education of their children; and in support of policies oriented to the common good without ever losing sight of the true Good News which fills us all with hope: Jesus Christ".]

Now that we do get 'half-fake' news,
no one calls it that!

Translated from

January 20, 2018

That mid-air marriage performed by the pope? It is half fake news, badly cooked and badly served. Because all Chie had been speaking abut that ‘improvised’ marriage ‘spontaneously’ proposed by the pope for a month before it happened.

Last night, a dear friend of mine who follows Church affairs around the world (apparently through a planetary network of friends) sent me the link to an article in the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio one month ago, about an interview with the captain and the crew of the plane that would ferry the pope while in Chile. It includes a brief interview with the steward and the flight attendant who were married by the pope, in which Carlos and Paula say they have been together eight years, married civilly, with two children (6 and 3), and had planned to be married in church on February 27, 2010, but an earthquake destroyed the church where they were planning to do it. Then it became postponed because of work and the children. But they said, “And so both of us hope that next January this delayed plan will finally be realized on the plane and performed by no less than Pope Francis himself. We would love that. [The airplane] is our workplace, our second home, where we feel safe and sure”.

It is quite probable that at the time of that interview, the pope had no idea whatsoever of who Carlo and Paula were. But it is equally probable that someone (singular or plural) already knew something like this was in the works and let the couple know, because otherwise, how could the couple have hypothesized so freely about an inflight wedding?

So what about everything we have read about the spontaneity of the occasion, of the couple’s dialog with the pope that gave rise to the pope’s ‘inspired’ improvisation, etc? Judge for yourself.

Moreover, a canonist friend points out to me that the pope cannot overrule, no matter how he prefers to ignore rules [that are not his], are the canonical requirements for a sacramental marriage. Proof that both spouses are Catholic (their baptismal certificates), the certainty that neither of them have other marital bonds, [not to mention that they have gone to confession before contracting the sacrament of matrimony]… i.e. Even a pope must make sure that all the required elements are in place [not just a handwritten marriage contract signed by four or five prelates who happen to be around] before he can marry them properly]. [Ah, but I can now see the orchestrators of this farce coming forward to say, “Well, we checked out beforehand that the couple had been both baptized and confirmed in the Church; we advised them to make sure they go to confession before going on the papal flight; and back in 2010, when they were thinking of getting married in church, they said they already took part in the pre-nuptial preparations required by the Church. So yes, everything was in order for the pope to marry them.” Which, of course, gets them out of that jam, but squarely makes them guilty of pre-planning this ‘spontaneous’ event.]

Yet anything goes, it seems, to further embroider the image of a pope very much on the ball, a pope of the people, and thus carry out the scenario that Pezzo Gross yesterday called something straight out of a telenovela.

Deception and banalization
in that midair marriage

by Riccardo Cascioli
Translated from

January 20, 2018

When he holds that inflight news conference returning to Rome from Peru, Pope Francis will perhaps have a chance to explain better what he meant by performing a marriage ceremony of sorts for a couple of Chilean plane crewmembers who had been living together for eight years.

The more so because he must also justify that the ‘express’ marriage he performed – about which the whole world learned instantly – had really been amply prepared for beforehand. A December 19, 2017 article in El Mercurio featured an article about the plane crew that would serve the pope while he was in Chile, in which Carlos Ciuffardi and Paula Podest say they hope to be married by the pope on the plane during one of their flights with him. Which is exactly what happened.

One can therefore imagine that the couple had previously made such a request ‘officially’ in some way to those who were organizing the pope’s visit, that the Vatican approved their request, and therefore, that which the Vatican had sought to present as a totally spontaneous impulse from the pope hand instead been planned and prepared for.

It is a disconcerting and incomprehensible concoction which makes not just the present Bergoglian court at the Vatican ridiculous but the papacy itself. Whoever directed this scenario, because it was a staged event, there is more reason to think that this literal coup de theatre was meant to convey a message.

After all, it has been the mark of this pontificate to insist that actions speak louder than words. We must therefore ask – beyond the intentions of the architects of this farce – what impact and what message was intended in this staged gesture of the pope that has been seen and reported across the globe?

Unfortunately, the first impression is that the sacrament of matrimony is not to be taken too seriously, in which sentiment decisively prevails over reason, and in which it is the spouses who are the principal protagonists rather than God. Not very different therefore from the quickie marriages performed in Las Vegas.

This also implies that Church requirements for the proper celebration of a sacramental marriage are merely a useless frill and a obstacle for all those who wish to be married in church. Indeed, there is no state of necessity that justifies not getting married in church, within a nuptial Mass, after adequate pre-nuptial preparation in the Church, after the announcement of banns, and after presenting a series of documents attesting to the baptism and confirmation of the prospective spouses and to the fact that neither of them has any existing marital bonds.

So if the pope shows the world that all these things are superfluous, how can a parish priest now claim all those requirements from a couple who wish to be married in his church? We can now expect increasingly difficult situations for priests whose parishioners will demand a quick marriage without wasting time on the canonical requirements for it.

Just as now, after AL, there are persons who, while remaining in a chronic state of mortal sin for living in adultery, claim that they are absolved of sin “because the pope said so”, or simply [and perhaps, more typically], just go straight to communion without even bothering to go to confession. Not that the pope had said so explicitly, but this is the common perception now, the message that has been disseminated to the faithful because of AL.

Speaking of which, we must consider as nothing more than scrap paper all those parts in which it insists on ‘adequate preparation for marriage’. When it was precisely this pope himself who had said that half of all Catholic marriages are invalid because of the lack of preparation and ‘knowledge’ on the part of couples who say Yes to their marriage vows – to the point that he published two motu proprio that would facilitate and speed up the annulment process for Church marriages [what some canon lawyers have called Bergoglio’s ‘quickie Catholic divorce’].

At the same time, he says in AL that there should be greater responsibility so that young people who wish to get married in church are adequately prepared to do so, and that already existing preparatory courses should be carefully reviewed and carried out to the degree that such preparation is needed.

Not that these instructions in AL have been heeded, because it seems that almost everyone has simply considered that the document is all about giving communion to remarried divorcees. But now, the objective need for couples to arrive at matrimony with full awareness and knowledge of the duties and responsibilities it imposes on them seems definitely cancelled by the pope’s ‘spontaneous’ gesture for the Chilean couple. It would seem that such a preparation is no longer necessary. That all that was needed was for him to ask them, “Are you sure [you want to be married]?” and for them to answer “Yes”. And done! [Did he even say “I now pronounce you man and wife’?”]

[However, as I remarked earlier, the Vatican apologists can always claim that the pope’s handlers made sure all the canonical requirements for a religious marriage had been met by the couple before they got on the papal flight! So there!]
P.S. Even though this 'spontaneous' event was planned, it certainly took all of the media oxygen and effectively 1) replaced the Ploumen case in the headlines; and 2) distracted from the remarkably poor attendance at papal events in Chile.

Finally, for today, Valli's satirical takeoff...

'Welcome aboard Wedding Airlines!'
Translated from]

January 20, 2018

The taxi drives up right in front of Terminal One. A man dressed as pope gets off and walks towards the security gate. They allow him to pass – after all, he is carrying just his usual single briefcase – so he can get on board right away.

“Welcome, Holiness”, says the grinning plane steward. “Today we have six – two in economy, three in business, and one in business-plus”.
“Ummm,” the man dressed as pope feigns to moan. “There are more and more. This is getting to be quite demanding. And where are we going this time?”
“Amsterdam, Holiness. We must hurry. Would you like a whiskey?”
“Thanks, that’s exactly what I need!”

In effect, since Wedding Airlines began its service, requests have multiplied. You cannot imagine how many couples wish to 'get married' in midair, with a pretend pope as an extraordinary celebrant. ‘Marriages on the fly’, they are called, with a nice play on words. So what if the ceremony has neither legal nor religious value? The important thing is to have fun and great souvenir photos!

“Put wings on your marriage!”, says the airline’s slogan. “Put on your seat belts and prepare your rings!”

The airline’s chief competitor, Two Rings, was not too happy, and instead of having a pretend-pope, they only had a pretend-cardinal. To thonk it was they who had first used that line about the seatbelts and rings!

Hardly had the plane lifted off for Amsterdam then it was time to get to work. The first flying couple was a man of 50 and a woman of 40, who had been living together for 20 years, and had three children. They had an economy rite, therefore in narrower space but also faster.

The ‘pope’ smiled, recited his formula, asked the ritual questions and gave his blessing. Then kisses and photos. Done!

The ceremony in business class was a bit more complicated because it also included a brief homily from the ‘pope’. And in business-plus, it also included champagne afterwards – and on special request, the presence of a few newsmen who pretended to be surprised.

After 2 hours and 35 minutes, right on schedule, the Wedding Airlines plane landed in Schiphol, and the ‘pope’ could finally relax. He would see the return flight to catch up on his sleep. Since he agreed to play pretend-pope, he found it increasingly tiresome to go up and down the aisles. Actually, he minded having to give up his regular viewing of some South American telenovelas of which he was a protagonist in the role of the Beautiful Prince of Darkness. But Wedding Airlines paid well.

“All this is blasphemy, to say the least”, wrote two aged cardinals (true ones) in a traditionalist newspaper. But no one minded them.

Things went well until the day – Wedding Airlines was flying from Rome to Tallinn, Estonia – when a Puerto Rican couple in Business-Plus presented themselves for the ceremony.

The pretend-pope was ready with his final blessing, “I pronounce you man and wife, but beware of the turbulence!”, and the situation appeared to be going well when the about-to-be-husband said No instead of Yes.
“Excuse me?”, the pretend-pope asked, with a half smile.
“Excuse me?,” the about-to-be-wife said, with a strained smile.
“NO!” the man repeated.
Without yet understanding what was happening, all 90 relatives of the bride descended on the bridegroom, while his 80 relatives attacked the woman’s relatives.

For a moment, the crew thought that this too was a fake fight, a variation on the theme. But it was not! Anything but mere turbulence! The encounter became so violent that the flight was in serious danger of crashing. And that, decided air control authorities, put an end to these fake marriages inflight.

"Which demonstrates,” the two aged cardinals wrote, “that this whole thing made no sense!” To which the principal progressivist newspaper replied that those two cardinals must be pitied because they failed to understand the logic of ‘image’.

And Wedding Airlines? It changed itself to an airline specializing in divorces with three possibilities: economy (fast), business (very fast), and business-plus (instantly, with champagne).

I apologize...Valli did have an immediate straight commentary on the papal wedding stunt...

My 'dubia' on that midair marriage
Translated from

January 19, 2018

The marriage Pope Francis ‘performed’ on an airplane while travelling from Chile to nearby Peru, was quickly known [and seen] around the globe and elicited great sympathy for the happy and ‘much moved’ couple, and for the pope himself for a gesture that was considered ‘beautiful’ because it was ‘spontaneous’ and ‘anti-conformist’. [Two adjectives which describe this pope’s attitude towards the sacraments in general - as generously displayed in AL and his record of sacramental permissiveness in Buenos Aires before he became pope. Yet what is there for a bishop – much less a pope – to be proud of in ‘spontaneously’ innovating on the Sacraments of the Church which, by definition, ought to conform to prescribed ritual and tradition?]

I think that the pope’s action was quite questionable in the light of the value fo the sacrament of Matrimony. Obviously I will be called obscurantist, legalist, pharisaic for what I am about to write. I don’t care. As a baptized Catholic, I care about the Sacraments.

Many will ask: And who are you to judge? That’s easy: I am a baptized Catholic, and as such it is my duty to be on the side of the truth of the faith.

Obviously, only God can see into the hearts of his creatures, and in this case, my judgment is not about the persons involved. I know that the ‘newlyweds’, a plane steward and a flight attendant, deserve maximum respect. As a baptized Catholic, my concern is for the sacraments. Therefore I ask the following questions:

The reports say that the couple had been planning to be married in Church since 2010, but it didn’t happen because their church was destroyed in an earthquake. But eight years have passed since then during which they have been cohabitating and had two children. [One assumes neither child was baptized – because if the parents had thought of baptizing them at all, they could easily have arranged to get married first before the baptisms.] Since both are gainfully employed, I do not think the impediment was financial. Did the pope even ask them why they had to wait eight years? [Obviously he did not because he probably was provided a briefing paper about the couple to prepare him for his ‘spontaneous’ offer to marry them inflight, and one must assume the briefing paper did not think some such basic questions were even necessary.]

Before ‘performing’ the ceremony, did the pope give them confession and absolution first? [The briefing paper probably assured Bergoglio that yes, both persons were duly baptized and confirmed in the Church, they have no other conjugal ties that would prejudice a religious wedding for them, and that yes, they were told by the trip-coordinators they ought to make sure they went to confession before going on the papal flight.]

We were told that the idea of marrying the couple then and there was a spontaneous offer made by Bergoglio. What is this pope’s idea of matrimony, then? Something that can be done ‘on the fly’ as it were, out of emotion and sentimentalism, and in the name of spontaneity? [Certainly not what he so solemnly wrote in the ‘orthodox’, non-controversial parts of AL! Now you can see what a deceptive sugarcoating all the ‘orthodox’ ballast was for the poison in Chapter 8.]

Celebrating a sacrament the way he did, was he not banalizing it? Did he allow sentimentalism and superficiality to override faith and reason?

The news report said the pope asked each of the partners, “Are you sure?... Then OK!” Does he really think that a sacrament can be thus simplified and, if I may be allowed the word, parodied?

Did he not thereby transform matrimony into nothing more than a sort of happening [Valli uses the English word], a triumph of improvisation, for an occasion that demands, by canon law and tradition, maturity, responsibility and sacredness?

Did he not thereby devalue a sacrament of the Church and reduce it to an extemporaneous event?

Does such a performance not involve elements of protagonism and narcissism – even if unconsciously – on the part of the spouses and the celebrant himself?

In all of this, did the presence of God not become merely an accessory to the fact that could just as well have been ignored?

Would it not have been more advisable – given that the event was pre-planned – to have asked the couple to come to the chapel of the Nunciature in Santiago where a proper sacramental marriage could have been celebrated, Mass and all, in a way worthy of the dignity of the sacrament in which the two spouses are considered to be co-ministers?

Has the pope’s performance preserved and guaranteed the dignity of the sacrament of marriage as the Catechism calls on the ministers of the Church to do for a sacrament which, by its very nature, is intended to be a source of sanctifying grace?

“God himself is the author of marriage”, the Catechism tells us. That being so, was it at all legitimate – even for the pope – to perform a marriage without a nuoptial Mass when there was no urgent reason to do so? [Other than a PR coup of yet another historic Bergoglian ‘first’ that was guaranteed to drive the scandalous Ploumen case out of the headlines!]

Does the Catechism not say that sacramental marriage is a liturgical act that ought to be celebrated with the public liturgy of the Church?

And since the Church, as a concerned mother, recommends to all Catholics intending to marry their participation in a parish course intended to prepare them for marriage, did Carlo and Paula do that? [That’s probably one of the points covered in the briefing paper for the pope – assuming there was one, and if there was none, he should have asked for one when he was briefed about the ‘spontaneous’ gesture he was to come up with - to assure him that he could legitimately go ahead with his act since ‘all the I’s were dotted and the t’s crossed’ to make sure that all canonical requirements (outside of performing the ceremony in church and within a Mass).]

Otherwise, are we then to think that such a pre-nuptial course is really just a formality that would only be a waste of time?

So, the above are the ‘dubia’ that have arisen in this simple Catholic who is not trying to be a killjoy - I am just a poor creature who has in his heart the faith, the Catholic Church, and the sacraments instituted by Christ.
00Sunday, January 21, 2018 4:53 AM
Time-Lapse video of the March for Life in Washington yesterday

Full text of President Trump’s
speech to the March for Life 2018:
'We will always defend the right to life'

January 19, 2018

President Trump became the first President yesterday to address the March for Life, now on its 45th year, on a live video feed to the participants.

We have tens of thousands of people watching this right down the road, tens of thousands. So, I congratulate you, and at least we picked a beautiful day, you can’t get a more beautiful day. I want to thank our Vice President Mike Pence for that wonderful introduction. I also want to thank you and Karen for being true champions for life. T

Today I’m honored and really proud to be the first president to stand with you here at the White House to address the 45th March for Life, that’s very very special, 45th March for Life, and this is a truly remarkable group. Today tens of thousands of families, students, and patriots, and really just great citizens gather here in our nations Capitol. You come from many backgrounds, and many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause, to build a society where life is celebrated and protected and cherished.

The March for Life is a movement born out of love: you love your families; you love your neighbors; you love our nation; and you love every child born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.

We know that life is the greatest miracle of all. We see it in the eyes of every new mother who cradles that wonderful, innocent, and glorious-newborn child in her loving arms. I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the caring support they need to choose life.

Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential, because of you. You’re living witnesses of this year’s March for life theme, and that theme is, ‘Love Saves Lives.’

As you all know Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions along with China North Korea and others. Right now, in a number of States, the laws allow a baby to be born [sic, aborted] from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.

It is wrong. It has to change.

Americans are more and more pro-life. You see that all the time. In fact, only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time.
Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the ‘right to life.’

Tomorrow will mark exactly one year since I took the oath of office. And I will say our country is doing really well. Our economy is perhaps the best it’s ever been. You look at the job numbers, the companies pouring back into our country, look at the stock market at an all-time high, unemployment at a 17-year low, unemployment for African workers at the lowest mark in the history of our country, unemployment for Hispanics at a record-low in history, unemployment for women, think of this, at an 18-year low.

We’re really proud of what we’re doing.

And during my first week in office, I reinstated a policy first put in place by Pres. Ronald Ragan, the Mexico City Policy.

I strongly supported the House of Representatives’ pain-capable bill, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide. And I call upon the Senate to pass this important law and send it to my desk for signing.

On the National Day of Prayer, I signed an executive order to protect religious liberty. [I’m] very proud of that. Today, I’m announcing that we’ve just issued a new proposal to protect conscience rights and religious freedoms of doctors, nurses, and other medical professions. So important.

I have also just reversed the previous administration’s policy that restricted state efforts to direct Medicaid funding away from abortion facilities that violate the law.

We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society. But this movement can only succeed with the heart and the soul and the prayer of the people.

Here with us today is Marianne Donadio from Greensboro North Carolina... Marianne was 17 when she found out that she was pregnant. At first, she felt like she had no place to turn. But when she told her parents they responded with total love, total affection, total support. Great parents? Great? [Trump asked Marianne. She responded in the affirmative] I thought you were going to say that. I had to be careful.

Marianne bravely chose life and soon gave birth to her son. She named him Benedict which means blessing. Marianne was so grateful for her parents' love and support that she felt called to serve those who were not as fortunate as her. She joined with others in her community to start a maternity home to care for homeless women who were pregnant. That’s great. They named it ‘Room at the Inn.’ Today, Marianne and her husband Don are the parents of six beautiful children. And her eldest son Benedict and her daughter Maria join us here today.

Over the last 15 years, Room at the Inn has provided housing, childcare, counseling, education, and job-training to more than 400 women. Even more importantly, it has given them hope. It has shown each woman she is not forgotten, that she is not alone, and that she really now has a whole family of people who will help her succeed.

That hope is the true gift of this incredible movement that brings us together today.

It is the gift of friendship, the gift of mentorship, and the gift of encouragement, love, and support. Those are beautiful words and those are beautiful gifts.

And most importantly of all, it is the gift of life itself – that is why we march, that is why we pray, and that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity, and life for every child of God.

Thank you to the March for life, special, special people. And we are with you all the way. May God bless you and may God bless America. Thank you.

00Sunday, January 21, 2018 7:22 PM

Now even a trueblue Bergoglian says this:
Pope’s words ‘a source of great pain’
for abuse survivors, says Cardinal O'Malley

Sunday, 21 Jan 2018

Pope Francis’s top adviser on clerical sex abuse has implicitly rebuked the Pontiff over his accusations of slander against Chilean abuse victims, saying that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse”.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, said he couldn’t explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used” and that such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”

In an extraordinary effort at damage control, Cardinal O’Malley insisted in a statement that Francis “fully recognises the egregious failures of the Church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones”.

Francis set off a national uproar upon leaving Chile on Thursday when he accused victims of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered another bishop, Juan Barros. The victims say Barros knew of the abuse by Fr Fernando Karadima but did nothing to stop it – a charge Barros denies.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis told Chilean journalists in the northern city of Iquique. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

The remarks shocked Chileans, drew immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates and once again raised the question of whether the 81-year-old Argentine Jesuit “gets it” about sex abuse.

The Karadima scandal has devastated the credibility of the Catholic Church in Chile, and Francis’s comments will likely haunt it for the foreseeable future.

Cardinal O’Malley’s carefully worded critique was remarkable since it is rare for a cardinal to publicly rebuke the Pope in such terms. But Francis’s remarks were so potentially toxic to the Vatican’s years-long effort to turn the tide on decades of clerical sex abuse and cover-up that he clearly felt he had to respond.

Cardinal O’Malley headed Francis’s much-touted committee for the protection of minors until it lapsed last month after its initial three-year mandate expired. Francis has not named new members, and the committee’s future remains unclear.

“It is understandable that Pope Franciss’ statements … were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” Cardinal O’Malley said in the statement. “Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.”

Francis’s comments were all the more problematic because Karadima’s victims were deemed so credible by the Vatican that it sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

Those same victims accused Barros of witnessing the abuse. Yet Francis said he considered their accusations “all calumny” and that he wouldn’t believe them without proof.

Catholic officials for years sought to discredit victims of abuse by accusing them of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But many in the Church and the Vatican have come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the Church had wrongly sought to protect its own by demonising and discrediting the most vulnerable of its flock.

Cardinal O’Malley said he couldn’t fully address the Barros case because he didn’t know the details and wasn’t involved. But he insisted the pope “gets it” and is committed to “zero tolerance” for abuse.

“Accompanying the Holy Father at numerous meetings with survivors I have witnessed his pain of knowing the depth and breadth of the wounds inflicted on those who were abused and that the process of recovery can take a lifetime,” he said.

Karadima’s victims reported to Church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the Santiago parish he ran. But only when they went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago [Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz, who represents Latin America in Bergoglio's advisory Council of Cardinals] subsequently apologised for having refused to believe the victims from the start.

Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno.

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the Church’s credibility in the country.

Earlier, Steve Skojec provided a most useful recapitulation of the actions versus words contradiction exhibited by this pope on the question of clerical sex abuse:

Pope Francis prompts outrage with accusations
against against clerical sex abuse victims

[Those victims he did not 'meet and cry with' in Chile]

by Steve Skojec

January 19, 2018

In stunning new comments made during his visit to South America this week, Pope Francis has attacked the credibility of victims of notorious clerical sexual abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima. The pope accused abuse victims of “calumny” for their allegations that Bishop Juan Barros, a Karadima protege, knew about the abuse, or even that he watched as it took place.

“There is not one shred of proof against him.” Francis said to a Chilean journalist at the end of his visit to Chile. “It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

On Twitter, Barros’s “most vocal accuser”, Juan Carlos Cruz, lashed out about the absurdity of the pope expecting proof from his abuse:
As if one could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros standing next to him watching everything. These people from above are crazy and @Pontifex is talking about reparation to the victims. We remain the same and his forgiveness remains empty.”

Cruz reiterated his outrage in an exchange with Crux‘s Austen Ivereigh, when the latter questioned his claims. “Does he need a photo, a selfie, as proof? Sorry Austen, we did not think of it as we were being abused and Juan Barros watching.”

According to the Associated Press, the pope’s “astonishing” comments “drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates.”

A group of Karadima victims spoke out against the pope’s words yesterday, saying, “This is serious and we cannot accept it … what he has done today is offensive and painful, and it also reveals an unknown face of the Pontiff.”

Those who are surprised by the pope’s comments in Chile are likely more familiar with his [seemingly] tough talk on clerical sex abuse. In September 2015, Pope Francis addressed victims of abuse at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia in clear, unequivocal terms:

I carry in my heart the stories, the suffering and the pain of the minors who were sexually abused by priests. I’m overwhelmed by the shame that people who were in charge of caring for those young ones raped them and caused them great damages. I regret this profoundly. God weeps! The crimes and sins of sexual abuse to minors can’t be kept a secret anymore. I commit to the zealous oversight of the Church to protect minors, and I promise that everyone responsible will be held accountable.

In June of the following year, the pope issued a new motu proprio letter taking steps further than just words. Entitled “Come una madre amorevole” (As a Loving Mother), the letter established norms seeking the removal of bishops who have, “through negligence, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself.”

At the time, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that the letter “clarifies that negligence regarding cases of sexual abuse committed against children or vulnerable adults are among the ‘grave causes’ that justify removal from ecclesiastical Offices, even of Bishops.”

During his current visit to South America, Gerard O’Connell of America magazine tweeted about a moment where the pope expressed solidarity with victims:

Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said Pope Francis “listened, prayed and cried” with a small group of victims abused by priests, when he met them at the nunciature in Santiago, after lunch today. He spent around half an hour with them, alone, without anyone else present.

Nevertheless, by the end of the trip, the pope expressed his indignance at accusations against Barros from known victims of Fr. Karadima.

Despite powerful words and moving gestures, the pope’s track record on dealing with perpetrators of abuse or those who covered for them has been wildly inconsistent. While there have been some cases — like that of the conservative Bishop Robert Finn of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who was removed on the basis of what some have termed “politically motivated” charges of neglect — other, more egregious examples have not only gone ignored, but in some cases have been actively thwarted or even promoted by Francis. As we reported in October, 2015, not long after his statement in Philadelphia, the pope’s words and actions on the matter are often worlds apart.

Mons. Barros
The case of Bishop Barros and the controversy that surrounds it is nothing new, though thepope's harsh response in Chile is now bringing attention to an issue that many have never heard about before this week. The appointment of Barros by Francis in 2015 was, in fact, so controversial, that five members of the pope’s anti-abuse commission expressed “concern and incredulity” at the assignment. Similarly, Barros’s installation Mass was forced to be cut short when hundreds of protesters showed up.

It was at this time that Francis first showed his contempt for victims in Chile — a contempt his recent words appear to confirm. In a video from May of 2015, Francis accused those who implicated Barros of being “dumb”: “The Osorno community is suffering because it’s dumb,” Pope Francis told a group of tourists on St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, because it “has let its head be filled with what politicians say, judging a bishop without any proof...Don’t be led by the nose by the leftists who orchestrated all of this”.

Cardinal Danneels
Also of particular note is the pope’s closeness with Cardinal Godfried Danneels from Belgium, who has become perhaps the most notorious member of the so-called “St. Gallen Mafia” — a group of cardinals who worked together to ensure Bergoglio’s election to the papacy.

Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 trying to stop a sex abuse victim from going public. As Marcantonio Colonna later reported in The Dictator Pope, Danneels’s home and his diocesan offices were later raided by police, who seized computers and documentation on abuse allegations. “For reasons that remain unclear,” wrote Colonna “the seized evidence was declared to have been inadmissible, the documents returned to the archdiocese and the investigation was abruptly closed. This despite the fact that individuals had come forward with almost five hundred separate complaints, including many that alleged Danneels had used his power and connections to shield clerical sex abusers.”

Nevertheless, Colonna writes that according to Danneels, the 2013 conclave was for him “a personal resurrection experience.” And sure enough, if one looks closely at the photos of the new pope on the Loggia, standing there in shadows is the triumphant-looking kingmaker himself, the once-disgraced Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

Later, Danneels — a man who was implicated and even recorded in the act of covering up the clerical abuse of children — would be personally invited by the pope to both 'family synods'.

Father Inzoli
In a January, 2017 report, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote of a “child abuse scandal” “coming for Pope Francis”. Dougherty detailed the way clerics accused of abuse were able to avoid discipline under Francis by means of powerful friends and connections:

Consider the case of Fr. Mauro Inzoli. Inzoli lived in a flamboyant fashion and had such a taste for flashy cars that he earned the nickname “Don Mercedes.” He was also accused of molesting children. He allegedly abused minors in the confessional. He even went so far as to teach children that sexual contact with him was legitimated by scripture and their faith. When his case reached CDF, he was found guilty. And in 2012, under the papacy of Pope Benedict, Inzoli was defrocked.

But Don Mercedes had “cardinal friends", we have learned. Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, now dean of the Roman Rota, both intervened on behalf of Inzoli, and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to a “a life of humility and prayer.” These strictures seem not to have troubled Inzoli too much. In January 2015, Don Mercedes participated in a conference on the family in Lombardy.

Last summer (2017), civil authorities finished their own trial of Inzoli, convicting him of eight offenses. Another 15 lay beyond the statute of limitations. The Italian press hammered the Vatican, specifically the CDF, for not sharing the information they had found in their canonical trial with civil authorities. Of course, the pope himself could have allowed the CDF to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired.

Francis was subsequently forced to laicize Inzoli last summer. But not until the predator priest had shown up at a family conference where he had no business being.

Cardinal Coccopalmerio and his orgying protege
For his part, it was Cardinal Coccopalmerio who had petitioned Francis to give an apartment in the CDF building to his secretary, Msgr. Luigi Capozzi — an apartment that was raided by Vatican police who last year were re[orted to have broken up "a drug-fueled, homosexual debauched party.” (Coccopalmerio had also reportedly requested that Capozzi be made a bishop.)

Is this pontificate starting to crack?
For five years now, Francis’w progressiveist papacy has made him nearly bulletproof with the secular press and the progressive Catholic media. His infamous “Who am I to judge?” comment about a known homosexual priest in his employ helped to land him on the cover of “LGBT news” magazine The Advocate as “Person of the Year” in 2013. He has also graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Fortune, People, and Vanity Fair, among others — almost always in a positive context. It’s a distinction virtually unknown to his recent predecessors, who more often than not found themselves maligned for their teachings.

But the victim-shaming by the pope this week may mark a change in his fortunes. A few months ago, a Google search of “Pope Francis” and “Sex Abuse” was likely to return our October 2015 report on Danneels and Barros on the first page of results. But in the wake of the pope’s inconceivably tone-deaf comments in Chile, our report has been buried in a deluge of new stories from major outlets around the world.

Rumors of Bergoglio's temper are a thing of legend, but always reported from behind closed doors, by anonymous sources. His indignation over the Barros accusations is a rare misstep from arguably the most media-savvy pope in history. [Not that rare, since he already unloaded his contempt earlier to that hapless group of tourists in St. Peter's Square. Obviously, something about Barros - or clerical sex abuse in general - touches off a total loss of self-control and discretion in Bergoglio. One would have said it was overflowing outrage at the very thought of priestly sex abuses, but since his angry words were directed first to the Chilean faithful who opposed his naming of Barros to be a diocesan bishop, and then next to the victims of clerical sex abuse, it has to be something else!] Nevertheless, the clerical sex abuse crisis is a powerful third rail in the Church’s relations with the secular world. The damage done here likely won’t soon be forgotten.

Beginning of the end, of blip on the radar?
I’ve said from the outset of 2018 that I think this is the year Francis’s fortunes will turn. The world has reached “peak Francis,” and those who love him, love him for his push towards a new, progressive iteration of Catholicism. The faithful, on the other hand, have had more than their fill of his appetite for destruction. What is certain is that his outrageous comments about abuse victims will not endear him to either camp, lowering his stock among supporters and cementing his reputation among critics.

Still, Francis has enormous good will in the bank among those with a vested interest in the furtherance of his agenda. The news of a papal award being given to one of the most notorious abortion promoters in the world began making international headlines just days after the joint reports first appeared here and at The Lepanto Institute.

For the global Left, this was nothing but a feather in the pope’s cap, but the story was quickly drowned out with coos of wistful approval from women the world over (including true believers) when news broke that Francis had offered, on the spot, to officiate the wedding of two flight attendants on a recent papal flight. The couple, so the story went, was planning to marry in 2010 when their parish was damaged by an earthquake.

Although they have been living together in a civil marriage for years and have two children, they never found the time to be married in a Catholic Church. The “impromptu” wedding was quickly picked up as yet another heartwarming story demonstrating the humanity of “the people’s pope” — never mind that it broke a bunch of canon laws, made a triviality of something sacred, set a terrible precedent that will put priests the world over in a tough situation, and was, contrary to a calculated pretense of spontaneity, actually planned out a month in advance. In other words, it was a cheap and transparent PR stunt, but it appears to have done some good for the pope’s damaged image.

When all the smiley face emojis and animated hearts fade, however, the question will remain: how many tricks does a papacy need to stay afloat when it sees clerical abuse victims unafraid to stand up for themselves as “dumb” people full of “calumny”? For that matter, how many tricks does it have left? [Oh, never fear! As many as Bergoglio can conjure when he pleases! The more important question is, can he get away with new tricks, or variations on previously tried-and-tested tricks? Yes, he can and will - because he is still the pope and can manipulate the institutions and infrastructure of the Catholic Church anyway he wants to in order to insure the triumph of his very own church of Bergoglio.]

The Internet is famous for having a short attention span, but there are some things people have a hard time forgetting. Abusing spiritual power to take advantage of children and vulnerable young adults is one of them. With the armor of this papacy finally cracking, it appears there may finally be a chance for the world to see what some of us have long known: the ugly reality that lies beneath.

Perhaps even more surprising than Cardinal O'Malley's rebuke of the pope is this article by Robert Mickens, Bergoglian DOC, premier cru (to describe him in terms - Italian and French, respectively - used for certified wines from 'first growth' grapes), and perhaps, more significantly, anti-Ratzinger nonpareil, makes some shocking accusations against his idol, which are not really attenuated by his loyal attempts to make excuses for him (Note his seemingly non-sequitur subtitle - though later in the story, one realizes Mickens means that as bishop, Bergoglio himself 'mishandled' priestly sex abuse cases!)

The pope’s bewildering inaction on sexual abuse
There is no question that Francis is authentic —
he does not demand of others what he does not demand of himself

by Robert Mickens

January 19, 2018

Pope Francis has been away in South America this past week and, while in Chile, he drew only modest crowds of supporters. It was the frostiest reception he’s received on any of his 22 foreign trips — at least to those countries with a majority of Christians and certainly in the traditionally Catholic lands of Latin America.

What the trip made glaringly clear is that, despite the support Francis has received for his many good and inspiring steps to restore evangelical credibility to the church and its mission [OK, Mickens, start listing them, if you can!] many people still see him as “all talk and no action” when it comes to the issue of clergy sex abuse — especially in holding accountable those bishops who tried to cover it up.

The best-known case of this in Chile directly involves the pope and his unwavering support of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who has been accused of protecting one of the country’s most notorious abusing priests. Many Chileans were angered when the pope allowed the bishop to concelebrate at the largest public Mass of the papal trip.

And while the surprising and touching wedding ceremony [Mickens obviously insists on keeping up the myth though the deception was quite quickly unveiled] that Francis performed for two flight attendants during an inland flight on Thursday may have deflected attention from this for a fleeting moment, it is not likely to reassure the people of Chile — or many other Catholics from around the world — who continue to be disappointed and confused by the pope’s apparent inaction on sex abuse.

This has long been the ugliest blot on his pontificate. And in the course of a few days it is now even uglier.

Pope Francis’d credibility in dealing with sexual abuse has always been questionable, despite the many excuses and the positive “spin” his apologists and adulators have continued to put forth.

It is undeniable that he has done far less than Benedict XVI did in addressing sexual abuse in the church, and yet the press has treated Francis with far greater tolerance for his omissions than it would have ever conceded to his now-retired predecessor. [Must have cost Mickens an arm and a leg to come to this admission!]
Francis simply has been flatfooted on the issue. [Flat-footed? Or not really sincere?]

It took Cardinals Reinhard Marx and Sean O’Malley, members of his C9 “privy council,” to convince the Jesuit pope to establish the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and other now-aborted attempts to deal with sex abuse.

But after three years of activity, the mandate of the commission’s members has expired. The PCPM has effectively been in mothballs now for over a month.

Marie Collins, who was arguably the most credible member of the commission, shared her frustration this week over the PCPM’s abeyance.

“It appears to me that the obvious lack of urgency or any slight of concern in the Vatican about the commission's current status reflects how unimportant the membership is considered. Also the low priority being given to this issue of child protection despite the assurances so often given by the pope and others that it has the highest priority!” she wrote on her blog.

This is damning. And Pope Francis — and all who support his efforts to reform and renew the church — should be very concerned....

“Why has the pope not disciplined bishops who mishandled sex abuse cases?” Perhaps because he did the same thing.

There is fairly substantial evidence, even if Francis’s supporters have always denied or refused to believe it, that when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and president of Argentina’s episcopal conference, the future pope did little very little to remove or report priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

Some alleged victims have said Cardinal Bergoglio did not even answer their letters of complaint. They’ve also said he refused to meet them or apologize to them.
[This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this published about Bergoglio's record on this issue! I had always wondered about the strange silence! To think this revelation is coming from Mickens! Is he perhaps starting to 'ease into' a critical attitude towards the pope about whom he is among those who have always held him up as the pluperfect pope?]

Perhaps this pope — a man who so deeply lives with the knowledge that he is a sinner who has been forgiven and needs to continually to be reminded of that forgiveness — is hampered by this painful admission: “Who am I to judge other bishops who, to one degree or another, failed to deal with complaints of sexual abuse just as I did?”

Here you may read what a Boston Globe columnist writes about Bergoglio's performance in the matter of clerical sex abuse:
The first line of the column reads:
Let the record show that the promise of Pope Francis died in Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 18, in the year of our Lord 2018.
And its closing lines are:
Well, Pope Francis fooled us. He fooled us all.

I'm not posting the article because the columnist tars everyone in the Church with his working premise that "Pope Francis is a company man, no better than his predecessors when it comes to siding with the institutional Roman Catholic Church against any who would criticize it or those, even children, who have been victimized by it."
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