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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

Ultimo Aggiornamento: 21/07/2017 07.27
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ALWAYS AND EVER OUR MOST BELOVED BENEDICTUS XVI

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See preceding page for earlier entries today,7/14/17. [/DIM
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JULY 14, 2017

PewSitter
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Canon212.com
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I am running so behind with my posts. There are some that are already in English –
1. Principally the malicious, ill-conceived and horribly written attack in La Civilta Cattolica on "Evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic
integralism" (sic) in the United States - it is co-authored by LCC editor Antonio Spadaro and the Protestant whom Bergoglio chose
to edit the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano - it is tedious and uses tortured pseudo-academic language to express a
Manichaean worldview that Bergoglio represents absolute good, in effect, compared to the absolute evil represented by what the authors
describe in their title. Genuine thinkers will have a field day ripping this up.
2. Two reactions (from canonist Ed Peters and from Lifesite) to the new Bergoglian proposal considerably lowering the bar on 'saint-
making', which could really lead to increased lack of discrimination in this matter (but apparently both commentators are much more
positive about it than I am);
3. Fr. Brian Harrison’s assessment of Bergoglio after four years of a narcissistic, totally idiosyncratic exercise of the Petrine ministry;
and
4. A brief item illustrated with a graph to show the dismal state to which the Church has been reduced in Australia.

More interesting are the items I have to translate:
1. Marco Tosatti reacting today to the Catholic blogosphere more or less 'piling up' on 1Peter5 and on him (for passing on to his Italian
readers the 1P5 story about Cardinal Mueller) [surprising attack by Rorate caeli saying 1P5 should 'stop publishing fake news'!],
and yesterday, the results of a recent italian poll on attitudes toward the Church and Bergoglio.
2. Aldo Maria Valli with a July 10 post remarking on a most unorthodox article entitled “First, your conscience, then the rules”,
apparently written for a weekly Sunday handout in Italy called La Domenica by one of Valli’s own colleagues in the Italian media,
and which Valli considers a typical example of the anarchic heterodoxy generated by Amoris laetitia; and a July 14 article in which
he quotes liberally from a letter recently sent to the pope by an Italian theologian with what we might call the theologian’s own
series of dubia about what this pope believes.
3. Two articles – one Italian, the other from an Argentine newspaper – examining the many reasons why Bergoglio has so far not
visited his homeland. (He has visited or plans to visits all the countries bordering Argentina but has avoided it in four years!
John Paul II visited Poland 9 times in 27 years, and Benedict XVI visited Germany three times in 8 years.)
4. Two articles – one in German, the other in Portuguese – elaborating on the theme, ‘Quo vadis, Francesco?'


Today, both aggregators posted a new set of above-the-fold headlines
late in the day:

PewSitter
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Canon212.com
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Yet I have not the slightest curiosity to see what Bergoglio surrogates-par-excellence Schoenborn, Paglia and Spadaro have to say,
because I am sure they would be predictably outrageous, anti-Catholic and Bergoglian (rather than Christian) to the marrow. The 'teaser
headlines' are bad enough... And I would love nothing better than to strike a match and 'ideally' see Mons. 'Straw' Paglia ('paglia' means
straw or hay) go up in sulfur-smelling smoke! Have you ever heard a more senseless asinine bray, a more cowardly position? If he were not
a straw man, surely his liver would be lily-white!


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A dysfunctional screed from two
would-be theoreticians of Bergoglianism


This article was first posted in English on Rorate caeli, and it has since received – expectedly - quite a few reactions in the past two days from persons far more qualified than the two authors in terms of academic credentials, intellectual pedigree and published body of work, which have commented so far on this preposterous, completely one-sided , necessarily skewed and pretentiously pedantic view of Christianity in the United States today. I have tried to keep my remarks to a minimum, because I just find the entire exercise a pathetic mishmash of unfounded generalizations and distorted applications, untruths and half-truths (which are thereby untruths) – but there are too many wrong or questionable statements I cannot bear to ignore.

And what are we to think, BTW, of two editors of not-insignificant ‘Catholic’ publications who use a self-contradictory term like ‘an ecumenism of conflict’? And just as erroneously refer to what they perceive as common ground between the two –isms they purport to analyze here as ‘a surprising ecumenism’? Editors, especially those who also purport to be scholars and theoreticians, should have a more proper respect for what words mean.

The authors do not acknowledge anything good about Christianity in the US today since they insist on seeing only two aspects of it – what they contemptuously call ‘evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic integralism’ . ‘Integralism’ is, of course, a word they have adopted from the preferred French term for so-called Catholic fundamentalists, or ‘integristes’, such as they consider the FSSPX. In other words, the authors ought to inform the man in whose behalf they have drawn up this paper - for whom they have constituted themselves as the de facto theoreticians of his naïve and off-the-cuff ‘geo-theopolitical’ world view - and who uses the word ‘fundamentalist’ for everyone he thinks is too traditional and too adherent to religious rules.


For the record:
The Anti-American Pope

RORATE CAELI
July 13, 2017

Two of Pope Francis's closest confidantes attack the United States and American conservatives in La Civiltà Cattolica, the journal considered the official voice of the Vatican, and its diplomatic department (the Secretariat of State), and authored by two of the Pope's own closest confidantes, Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ (its editor) and Argentine Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa (shockingly, the editor of the Spanish-language edition of L’Osservatore Romano).

Due to its unprecedented nature, and the direct attack it makes on the United States, its current administration (including President Trump and Steve Bannon, one of the President's highest advisors), American Evangelicals, conservative Catholics in the United States (and Europe and Africa, concerned with the rise of Islamism), and even on a specific website and person (Church Militant and Michael Voris), the article's overreach is nothing if not breathtaking.

The Civiltà site is down at the moment, so before any item is changed, this is what was originally published:


Evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic integralism in the USA:
A surprising ecumenism

By Antonio Spadaro S.J.
Editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica
and
Marcelo Figueroa, Presbyterian pastor
Editor-in-chief of the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano

In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.

Religion, political Manichaeism and a cult of the apocalypse
Religion has had a more incisive role in electoral processes and government decisions over recent decades, especially in some US governments. It offers a moral role for identifying what is good and what is bad.

At times this mingling of politics, morals and religion has taken on a Manichaean language that divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil. In fact, President George W. Bush spoke in his day about challenging the “axis of evil” and stated it was the USA’s duty to “free the world from evil” following the events of September 11, 2001. Today President Trump steers the fight against a wider, generic collective entity of the “bad” or even the “very bad.” Sometimes the tones used by his supporters in some campaigns take on meanings that we could define as “epic.”

These stances are based on Christian-Evangelical fundamentalist principles dating from the beginning of the 20th Century that have been gradually radicalized. These have moved on from a rejection of all that is mundane – as politics was considered – to bringing a strong and determined religious-moral influence to bear on democratic processes and their results. [What exactly is wrong with that? And is that not what Bergoglio and Bergoglianism have been trying to do for the past four years? It’s called bringing religion to the public square. And in the case of Catholics, standing up for Catholic values, not taking the easy copout of a Mons. Paglia who says “I don’t have to defend Christian values because they defend themselves”? The same attitude really as that of Bergoglio who insists Catholics must not ‘speak too much’ about the very issues, principles and values at the heart of Catholic teaching which the secular world – and most secularized Catholics – reject and/or have jettisoned.][/dim

The term “evangelical fundamentalist” can today be assimilated to the “evangelical right” or “theoconservatism” and has its origins in the years 1910-1915. In that period a South Californian millionaire, Lyman Stewart, published the 12-volume work The Fundamentals. The author wanted to respond to the threat of modernist ideas of the time. He summarized the thought of authors whose doctrinal support he appreciated. He exemplified the moral, social, collective and individual aspects of the evangelical faith. His admirers include many politicians and even two recent presidents: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The social-religious groups inspired by authors such as Stewart consider the United States to be a nation blessed by God. And they do not hesitate to base the economic growth of the country on a literal adherence to the Bible. Over more recent years this current of thought has been fed by the stigmatization of enemies who are often “demonized.”
The panorama of threats to their understanding of the American way of life have included modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements and so on. And now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims.

To maintain conflict levels, their biblical exegeses have evolved toward a decontextualized reading of the Old Testament texts about the conquering and defense of the “promised land,” rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels. [But there is no conflict between the two – loving Jesus Christ above all does not mean failing to come to the defense of his teachings if and when necessary, which is all the time today. Nor can Christians who take the Bible teachings seriously ever ‘decontextualize’ their reading of the Old Testament, which, Christians are taught, should be read in the light of the New Testament, the reverse of the general rule of precedence that governs Church Magisterium, i.e., to read the new in the light of the old.]

Within this narrative, whatever pushes toward conflict is not off limits. It does not take into account the bond between capital and profits and arms sales. [Oh, what a pitiful reference to one of Bergoglio’s most ridiculous theories about what causes war!] Quite the opposite, often war itself is assimilated to the heroic conquests of the “Lord of Hosts” of Gideon and David. In this Manichaean vision, belligerence can acquire a theological justification and there are pastors who seek a biblical foundation for it, using the scriptural texts out of context. A statement that applies to Islam and its imams, and hardly ever to modern-day Christian pastors!]

Another interesting aspect is the relationship with creation of these religious groups that are composed mainly of whites from the deep American South. There is a sort of “anesthetic” with regard to ecological disasters and problems generated by climate change. They profess “dominionism” and consider ecologists as people who are against the Christian faith. They place their own roots in a literalist understanding of the creation narratives of the book of Genesis that put humanity in a position of “dominion” over creation, while creation remains subject to human will in biblical submission.

In this theological vision, natural disasters, dramatic climate change and the global ecological crisis are not only not perceived as an alarm that should lead them to reconsider their dogmas, but they are seen as the complete opposite: signs that confirm their non-allegorical understanding of the final figures of the Book of Revelation and their apocalyptic hope in a “new heaven and a new earth.” [Now they mock millennia-old interpretations of John’s Revelation and the hope it promises against all ‘apocalyptic’ events and circumstances to those who live in Christ???]

Theirs is a prophetic formula: fight the threats to American Christian values and prepare for the imminent justice of an Armageddon, a final showdown between Good and Evil, between God and Satan. [No, not just for the final showdown, but for the everyday, moment-to-moment, never-ending battle between good and evil, between God and Satan, since the fall of Lucifer. Besides, few modern-day Christian pastors, especially not the most successful televangelists, sound anything like the proverbial Bible-Belt preachers, nor are there many Catholic priests today who breathe fire-and-brimstone from the pulpit.]

In this sense, every process (be it of peace, dialogue, etc.) collapses before the needs of the end, the final battle against the enemy. And the community of believers (faith) becomes a community of combatants (fight). Such a unidirectional reading of the biblical texts can anesthetize consciences or actively support the most atrocious and dramatic portrayals of a world that is living beyond the frontiers of its own “promised land.” [Typical of the fallacious generalizations of Spadaro and Figueroa!]

Pastor Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) is the father of so-called “Christian reconstructionism” (or “dominionist theology”) that had a great influence on the theopolitical vision of Christian fundamentalism. This is the doctrine that feeds political organizations and networks such as the Council for National Policy and the thoughts of their exponents such as Steve Bannon, currently chief strategist at the White House and supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.[1]

“The first thing we have to do is give a voice to our Churches,” some say. The real meaning of this type of expression is the desire for some influence in the political and parliamentary sphere and in the juridical and educational areas so that public norms can be subjected to religious morals. [DUH! And what is wrong with that, provided the morals are the right ones? In Bergoglianism, of course, the influence sought is not intended to be subjected to ‘religious morals’ but only to whatever is the pensee unique of the dominant mentality .]

Rushdoony’s doctrine maintains a theocratic necessity: submit the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism. At heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world-views of jihadists and the new crusaders and is imbibed from wells that are not too far apart. We must not forget that the theopolitics spread by ISIS is based on the same cult of an apocalypse that needs to be brought about as soon as possible. So, it is not just accidental that George W. Bush was seen as a “great crusader” by Osama bin Laden. [George W Bush certainly didn’t want an apocalypse, and even his relative failure in Iraq was far from apocalyptic. Indeed, not even Stalin or Mao or Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and ISIS. Obama or Trump, aimed for apocalypse for that matter – because apocalypse would bring an end to everyone and everything on earth, and certainly none of the protagonists of any wars in the history of the world have wanted that, otherwise what are they fighting for? There is no selective or partial apocalypse, or it would not be apocalypse at all.]

Theology of prosperity and the rhetoric of religious liberty
Together with political Manichaeism, another relevant phenomenon is the passage from original puritan pietism, as expressed in Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, to the “Theology of Prosperity” that is mainly proposed in the media[/b [???] and by millionaire pastors and missionary organizations with strong religious, social and political influence. They proclaim a “Prosperity Gospel” for they believe God desires his followers to be physically healthy, materially rich and personally happy.

It is easy to note how some messages of the electoral campaign and their semiotics are full of references to evangelical fundamentalism. For example, we see political leaders appearing triumphant with a Bible in their hands.
[In the case of US presidents, they have chosen to take their oath of office on the Bible – on which occasion they are triumphant – but not necessarily triumphal – because they did win their high office.]

Pastor Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) is an important figure who inspired US Presidents such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. He officiated at the first wedding of the current president and the funeral of his parents. He was a successful preacher. He sold millions of copies of his book The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) that is full of phrases such as “If you believe in something, you get it”, “Nothing will stop you if you keep repeating: God is with me, who is against me” or “Keep in mind your vision of success and success will come” and so on. Many prosperous televangelists mix marketing, strategic direction and preaching, concentrating more on personal success than on salvation or eternal life. [Mutatis mutandis, we could say that one Jorge Bergoglio mixes marketing, strategic direction and preaching to concentrate more on crusading for social issues that are often misguided rather than carrying out his primary duty which is to strengthen the faith of his flock and save their souls.]

A third element, together with Manichaeism and the prosperity gospel, is a particular form of proclamation of the defense of “religious liberty.” The erosion of religious liberty is clearly a grave threat within a spreading secularism. But we must avoid its defense coming in the fundamentalist terms of a “religion in total freedom,” perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state. [And is there any one instance at all Spadaro and Figueroa can cite, of any Christian religion in the USA posing a direct virtual challenge to the security of the state? Isn’t that claim the monopoly of Islam in which their faith determines everything in the life of their people? But of course, Bergoglians can never see anything wrong with Islam, oh no! It’s only these Christians who don’t think like them who are not just religious ‘fundamentalists’ to be denounced by ‘non-fundamentalists’ (i.e, religious libertarians) like the Bergoglians, but also enemies of the state!]

Fundamentalist ecumenism
Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere.

Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned.

There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.

Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict [What the hell is an ‘ecumenism of conflict’, considering that ecumenism is supposed to be the promotion of unity???] [that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state. [When was there ever a Christian theocratic state after the collapse of the Byzantine empire? And much as Luther was able to win the influence of the local German princes, even he, as far as I can tell, never aimed at leading, or even establishing, a theocratic state. The only states that have practiced out-and-out theocracy from the very beginning of their history to the present are the Muslim states, even if their theocracies today are not all as radical as that of Iran.]

However, the most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations. The word “ecumenism” transforms into a paradox, into an “ecumenism of hate.” Intolerance is a celestial mark of purism. Reductionism is the exegetical methodology. Ultra-literalism is its hermeneutical key. [Such incoherence is worthy of the worst of Bergoglian expression!]

[From this point onwards, everything should be in LURID PURPLE. It’s a ratcheting up of the pseudo-erudition and tortured language of Bergoglio’s ‘theopolitical theorists’ ( to use their own coined adjective – a pained one that makes me wince!) – employed in their outright Manichaean worldview that in effect, Bergoglio represents ‘absolute good’ against the so-called ‘fundamentalist and integralist’ world they impugn as absolute evil, a world they call Manichaean! But that’s characteristic of Bergoglio and his followers – typically, narcissistic exemplars of the Biblical failure to see the beam blocking off their sight in every sense when they see the tiniest mote in others’ eyes, they never see that they themselves are often worse offenders of the sins and offenses they impute to others.]

Clearly there is an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions. His is an ecumenism that moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges. [AHA! This is really the point towards which all of the preceding balderdash has been leading to! So I shall not comment on the rest of it which is just another misplaced paean to Bergoglio.]

This presence of opposing ecumenisms – and their contrasting perceptions of the faith and visions of the world where religions have irreconcilable roles – is perhaps the least known and most dramatic aspect of the spread of Integralist fundamentalism. Here we can understand why the pontiff is so committed to working against “walls” and any kind of “war of religion.”

The temptation of “spiritual war”
The religious element should never be confused with the political one. Confusing spiritual power with temporal power means subjecting one to the other. An evident aspect of Pope Francis’s geopolitics rests in not giving theological room to the power to impose oneself or to find an internal or external enemy to fight. There is a need to flee the temptation to project divinity on political power that then uses it for its own ends. Francis empties from within the narrative of sectarian millenarianism and dominionism that is preparing the apocalypse and the “final clash.”[2] Underlining mercy as a fundamental attribute of God expresses this radically Christian need.

Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes. Yet it is this very dynamic with a spurious theological flavor that tries to impose its own law and logic in the political sphere.

There is a shocking rhetoric used, for example, by the writers of Church Militant, a successful US-based digital platform that is openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses Christian symbols to impose itself. This abuse is called “authentic Christianity.” And to show its own preferences, it has created a close analogy between Donald Trump and Emperor Constantine, and between Hilary Clinton and Diocletian. The American elections in this perspective were seen as a “spiritual war.”[3]

This warlike and militant approach seems most attractive and evocative to a certain public, especially given that the victory of Constantine – it was presumed impossible for him to beat Maxentius and the Roman establishment – had to be attributed to a divine intervention: in hoc signo vinces. [Spadaro and Figueroa contest this???]

Church Militant asks if Trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans. The response suggested is affirmative. The indirect missioning for President Trump is clear: he has to follow through on the consequences. This is a very direct message that then wants to condition the presidency by framing it as a divine election. In hoc signo vinces. Indeed.

Today, more than ever, power needs to be removed from its faded confessional dress, from its armor, its rusty breastplate. The fundamentalist theopolitical plan is to set up a kingdom of the divinity here and now. And that divinity is obviously the projection of the power that has been built. This vision generates the ideology of conquest.

The theopolitical plan that is truly Christian would be eschatological, that is it applies to the future and orients current history toward the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace. This vision generates a process of integration that unfolds with a diplomacy that crowns no one as a “man of Providence.”

And this is why the diplomacy of the Holy See wants to establish direct and fluid relations with the superpowers, without entering into pre-constituted networks of alliances and influence. In this sphere, the pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power. So, there is no need to imagine a taking of sides for moral reasons, much worse for spiritual ones.

Francis radically rejects the idea of activating a Kingdom of God on earth as was at the basis of the Holy Roman Empire and similar political and institutional forms, including at the level of a “party.” Understood this way, the “elected people” would enter a complicated political and religious web that would make them forget they are at the service of the world, placing them in opposition to those who are different, those who do not belong, that is the “enemy.”

So, then the Christian roots of a people are never to be understood in an ethnic way. The notions of roots and identity do not have the same content for a Catholic as for a neo-Pagan. Triumphalist, arrogant and vindictive ethnicism is actually the opposite of Christianity.

The pope on May 9 in an interview with the French daily La Croix, said: “Yes Europe has Christian roots. Christianity has the duty of watering them, but in a spirit of service as in the washing of feet. The duty of Christianity for Europe is that of service.” And again: “The contribution of Christianity to a culture is that of Christ washing the feet, or the service and the gift of life. There is no room for colonialism.”

Against fear
Which feeling underlies the persuasive temptation for a spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism? It is fear of the breakup of a constructed order and the fear of chaos. Indeed, it functions that way thanks to the chaos perceived. The political strategy for success becomes that of raising the tones of the conflictual, exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism.

Religion at this point becomes a guarantor of order and a political part would incarnate its needs. The appeal to the apocalypse justifies the power desired by a god or colluded in with a god. And fundamentalism thereby shows itself not to be the product of a religious experience but a poor and abusive perversion of it.

This is why Francis is carrying forward a systematic counter-narration with respect to the narrative of fear. There is a need to fight against the manipulation of this season of anxiety and insecurity. Again, Francis is courageous here and gives no theological-political legitimacy to terrorists, avoiding any reduction of Islam to Islamic terrorism. Nor does he give it to those who postulate and want a “holy war” or to build barrier-fences crowned with barbed wire. The only crown that counts for the Christian is the one with thorns that Christ wore on high.[4]


FOOTNOTES:
[1] Bannon believes in the apocalyptic vision that William Strauss and Neil Howe theorized in their book The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. See also N. Howe, “Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book”, in The Washington Post, February 24, 2017.
[2] See A. Aresu, “Pope Francis against the Apocalypse”, in Macrogeo(www.macrogeo.global/analysis/pope-francis-against-the-apocalypse), June 9, 2017.
[3] See “Donald ‘Constantine’ Trump? Could Heaven be intervening directly in the election?”, in Church Militant (www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-donald-constantine-trump).
[4] For further reflection see D. J. Fares, “L’antropologia politica di Papa Francesco», in Civ. Catt. 2014 I 345-360; A. Spadaro, “La diplomazia di Francesco. La misericordia come processo politico”, ib 2016 I 209-226; D. J. Fares, “Papa Francesco e la politica”, ib 2016 I 373-385; J. L. Narvaja, “La crisi di ogni politica cristiana. Erich Przywara e l’‘idea di Europa’”, ib 2016 I 437-448; Id., “Il significato della politica internazionale di Francesco”, ib 2017 III 8-15.

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Center, Cardinal Meisner with Benedict XVI in Cologne, August 2005; right, the Cardinal in tears as he listens to Benedict XVI’s address in Auschwitz, May 2006.

Pope Benedict’s message
at Cardinal Meisner’s funeral

by Steve Skojec
ONEPETERFIVE
July 15, 2017

We reported last week on the death of Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Germany, Archbishop Emeritus of Cologne and one of the four so-called “dubia cardinals”. Dr. Maike Hickson also shared a touching memorial of Meisner, who by all accounts was beloved by all who knew him. In a report on the German cardinal written last year, Hickson also noted his closeness to Pope Benedict XVI, and his role in the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the office of the papacy in 2005, in opposition to the wishes of the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia,” who were reported to have desired the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio at that time.

Today, Saturday, July 15, 2017, the funeral Mass for Cardinal Meisner was offered in Cologne Cathedral. Pope Francis, who was not present, had a message read to those gathered by the Apostolic Nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović. Then, in what has been characterized as a surprise — particularly considering his usual silence on matters facing the Church — a message from the Pope Emeritus himself was read by his Personal Secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who also serves as Prefect of the Papal Household for Pope Francis.

When one reads the message — particularly where the Pope Emeritus speaks of how Meisner “learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing,” one cannot help but see in it a possible reflection on his own choice to step away from the papacy, and the crisis that even now engulfs the Church in his absence.

This message, of course, of the Lord not abandoning His Church, cannot be read in isolation from the somewhat cryptic message the Pope Emeritus gave the five new cardinals at the ordinary public consistory last month: “The Lord wins in the end.” It would appear this is a theme very much on the mind of the former pontiff in recent days.

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Here is my translation of the transcript provided by kathnet of Benedict XVI’s message which was read by Mons. Gaenswein at the funeral Mass for Cardinal Meisner today:

At this time when the Church of Cologne and believers from far and wide say farewell to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, I am in my heart and thoughts with all of you, and I am pleased to do as Cardinal Woelki asked to address these words of remembrance in his honor.

When I was informed of the Cardinal’s death last Wednesday by telephone, I did not want to believe it initially. The day before, we had spoken to each other on the telephone. He sounded very thankful that he was now on vacation after having taken part in the beatification ceremony for Bishop Theophilius Matulionis in Vilnius (Lithuania) just the preceding Sunday.

All his life, he manifested his love for the Churches in Eastern Europe who had suffered under Communist persecution, and his appreciation for having withstood the sufferings of that time. And so it is no coincidence that the last foreign visit he was to make in his life was to honor one of the confessors of faith in those countries.

What particularly impressed me from my last conversations with the cardinal who has passed away was his relaxed cheerfulness, the inner joy and the confidence at which he had arrived. We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor had found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time when the Church stands in particularly pressing need of compelling pastors who can resist the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist and who live and think the faith with determination.

But what moved me more was that, in this last phase of his life, he had learned to let go, living out of the deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

Of late, two things caused him to become ever more joyful and confident:
For one, he repeatedly told me how it filled him with profound delight to see how young people, especially young men, experience the grace of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession – the gift of having truly found that life which only God can give.

The other thing which always touched him anew and gave him great joy was the quiet spread of Eucharistic Adoration. At World Youth Day in Cologne, this was a central concern of his: that there be Adoration – a silence in which only the Lord speaks to the heart.

Some experts in pastoral work and liturgy were of the opinion that such silence in contemplation of the Lord could not be achieved with such a large number of people. A few even considered Eucharistic Adoration as such to be obsolete - that the Lord desires to be received in the Eucharistic Bread, and not to be gazed upon.

That, however, one cannot eat this Bread like ordinary nourishment, and that to receive the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrament makes demands upon every dimension of our existence – that to receive him must be to worship him – has since become once again very clear.
Thus, the interlude of the Eucharistic Adoration at the World Youth Day in Cologne became an interior experience which remained unforgettable, and not only for the Cardinal, for whom this moment remained ever present, like a great light, within him.

When, on that last morning, Cardinal Meisner didn’t appear at Mass, he was found dead in his room. His breviary had slipped from his hands: he died praying, looking to the Lord, speaking with the Lord. The manner of death which was granted to him shows once again how he lived: looking to the Lord and speaking with the Lord.

Therefore, we may trustingly recommend his soul to the benevolence of God. Lord, we thank Thee for the witness of Thy servant Joachim. May he be an intercessor for the church of Cologne and for the whole world! Requiescat in pace!


The only pictures I have been able to get online so far about Cardinal Meisner’s funeral are of the procession that brought his coffin to the Cathedral of Cologne, and they only go as far as the coffin being taken into the Cathedral. I do not think I have ever before seen pictures of how a German bishop is buried, but the funeral procession is quite impressive. The miter carried by an official preceding the hearse seems to be the ecclesial equivalent of the riderless horse used in secular state funerals like that of John Kennedy.

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More pictures:
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And is Benedict's overt message now causing widespread whetting of
the Long Knives, sabers and scimitars by the Bergoglio paladins who
over-reacted pathetically to the most innocuous Preface/Afterword
he wrote for Cardinal Sarah's book?


P.S. What I certainly did not expect were these instantaneous (i.e, via Twitter) STUNNINGLY DUMB, PATHETICALLY EMBARRASSING reactions from two CPIs (certified Bergoglio idolators) who should, like Donald Trump, remember to think (twice, at least, if their initial expressive impulse may be considered 'thought' at all) before they tweet anything!
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Melloni is the last surviving member of the original 'Bologna school' who co-opted everyone else in publishing their 5-volume History of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) before any conservative Church historian thought to do so, thereby imposing their progressivist ’spirit of Vatican II’ hermeneutic of rupture on most of the world, reinforcing what all those men of the Church who thought like them had already been imposing in their own limited circles. And Faggioli (whose full name translates appropriately as ‘maximum beans’) is an ardent Bergoglian Vaticanista whose analyses of Church events in the age of Bergoglio are necessarily skewed.

Perhaps the most laughable line from these two Bergoglians is that someone else wrote Benedict XVI’s funeral message for Cardinal Meisner!
1) This would be the first time anyone accused Joseph Ratzinger of requiring and using a ghost writer, much less for a very personal homage to one of his dearest friends; and
2) Neither of them obviously recognize the phrase Benedict XVI used about the Church in his 2005 Meditations and Prayers for the Via Crucis in the Rome Colosseum, in the opening line of the prayer: “Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side.”

In fact, let us look back at the entire meditation and prayer he wrote for the Ninth Station of the Cross on that occasion. Every person who works in the Church ought to have these emblazoned on his brain, or failing that, on his refrigerator door so he can see it at least once a day, and as a poster in his sacristy where he can see it everytime he vests for a liturgy.

As the supreme realist he has always been, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has never shrunk from acknowledging openly what is wrong with the Church – the sins and offenses towards which he has devoted his entire life as a minister of the Church to correct and minimize, since they cannot be eliminated altogether.

That is why his words will always be relevant to man, the Church and the world today… And though much of what he says may seem to apply very particularly to the situation of the Church in the era of Bergoglio, these temptations and tendencies have always been present in the Church, and that is why at Holy Mass, prayers are constantly invoked for the Church and all who work with her.


NINTH STATION
Jesus falls for the third time


MEDITATION
What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism.
- Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church?
- How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts!
- How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there!
- How often is his Word twisted and misused!
- What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words!
- How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency!
- What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall!
All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us (cf. Mt 8: 25).

PRAYER
Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat.

The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures.

Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered.

But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

This pope would do well to have these words hung on his door instead of the pop-psych twaddle he now has there.

I do not know what someone like Andrea Tornielli may have said by now, but his initial ‘tweet’ simply quoted from Benedict XVI's eulogy. And so did the initial ‘reaction’ from another charter FOB (friend of Bergoglio), Luis Badilla, the editor of the semi-official aggregator of Vatican news, IL SISMOGRAFO (which, unlike the two Anglophone Catholic news aggregators, offers complete stories, not just headlines, from their original sources whether Italian, Spanish, French, or English).

But the fact that the first reactions from the four Bergoglians was either unfounded and inevitably silly derision, and ‘No comment’, in effect, tells us that none of the four were able to quickly muster any argument to pose against Benedict’s words. Or, Tornielli and Badilla may have initially decided they were not going to even indicate they saw in Benedict’s words any criticism whatsoever of the church of Bergoglio, therefore, just quote Benedict and make no comment! Whereas Melloni and Faggioli both behaved like clowns, or better yet, dunces! On his part, Antonio Socci’s first reaction was to cite the ff instant reaction from an Italian blogsite…


Benedict XVI:
‘The boat of the Church is on the verge of capsizing’

Translated from
LIBERTA E PERSONA
July 15, 2017

What does Benedict XVI think? What does he say? Does he agree, more or less, with Bergoglio ? What does he think of the Four Cardinals’ DUBIA?

To all these questions, one could only give a vague response. But some, who are advocates of the new course in the Church, have pointed to the ‘correctness’ demonstrated by Benedict XVI with regard to his successor – i.e., he has never criticized him, because he is in complete agreement!

[Up to the Preface/Afterword he prepared for Cardinal Sarah’s book, and the fact that he chose not to attend the last two cardinal-making consistories, I unhappily thought that the Emeritus Pope had simply allowed the impression conveyed by official Vatican news reports and photos of a ‘love fest’ between the two popes, on top of the seemingly total approval of his successor that he said to Peter Seewald as published in their interview-book, were unfortunate reinforcements of the open derision if not contempt with which he has been treated by people like Mundabor, Louie Verrecchio, Frank Walker, even Hilary White, and all the other bloggers who call him ‘nu-Benedict’ or some such term.

But alas, what’s in the book will remain on the record – and few will care that the words were probably said shortly after the election of Bergoglio, before he had said and done anything truly alarming, words that must also be seen in the light of Benedict’s spontaneous statement to the cardinals before the 2013 Conclave promising ‘obedience and respect’ to whoever would be elected pope. Assuming, of course, like we all did, that his successor would be a Catholic pope, not a quintessential anti-Catholic in disguise!]


Others who are critical of many decisions made by this pope, would point to some facts that appear to signify just the opposite – like the preface of Benedict XVI to the second book by Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is certainly not in the liturgical and doctrinal line of Bergoglio.

And the DUBIA? Many things would seem to indicate that Benedict XVI agrees with the Four Cardinals: his own Magisterium; his profound friendship with all four, two of them fellow Germans; the statements made by his secretary Mons. Georg Gaenswein who once said publicly, referring to Amoris laetitia, that Church doctrine cannot be changed by a footnote to a papal document, and on another occasion, offered the information that Benedict XVI has been following the debate over the DUBIA (and his use of the term in itself indicates that the emeritus pope finds the topic interesting and not unfounded).

Today, after reading what Benedict XVI wrote to memorialize the death of his friend, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, emeritus Archbishop of Cologne, it would be difficult to pretend not to know what he thinks!

Wny? First of all, because Benedict XVI reveals that he had spoken by phone to Cardinal Meisner the day before he died: “When I learned last Wednesday by phone of the death of Cardinal Meisner, I could not believe it initially. We had spoken on the phone the day before. He sounded very happy because he was now on vacation…” Therefore Benedict XVI and Meisner, one of the Four Cardinals who sent their DUBIA on AL to Pope Francis, continued to be in touch regularly up to the end.

It‘s difficult to imagine that Benedict would have distanced himself from such a crucial act by his dear friend. It’s difficult to imagine that they did not also speak this last time of Cardinal Mueller’s defenestration, considering that the latter – rudely dismissed, probably because he did not take a ‘rupturist’ interpretation of AL – had been appointed CDF Prefect by Benedict himself.

And it must be noted that Meisner, the day before he died, had spoken to both Benedict and Mueller, to whom he expressed his profound sorrow that he had been dismissed from the Curia. Surely, Benedict must have felt the same.

In any case, we have a cardinal who signed the DUBIA who, up to the day before he died, was following the situation of the Church, speaking to two friends both known for their orthodoxy.

And what did Benedict write in remembering the cardinal who was his intiate friend? “We know that he was a passionate shepherd, and that the office of pastor is difficult, especially at a time when the Church has need of pastors who can resist the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times)”.

In which there is a clear and positive judgment for the passionate shepherd who goes against the mainstream, against the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist. It is not difficult to understand who, in the case of the DUBIA, is with the spirit of the times - certainly not Burke-Brandmueller-Caffarra-Meisner!

But Benedict says more: “However, what moved me most is that he lived the last phase of his life… increasingly with the profound certainty that the Lord does not abandon his Church, even if sometimes the boat has taken on so much water that it is on the verge of capsizing…”

Benedict does not have doubts: Meisner did not betray the Church by raising questions, ‘in the last phase of his life’, about certain fundamental passages in AL. Meisner has always loved the Church, even seeing that the boat of Peter is on the verge of capsizing!

That line about the boat of the Church is an inapellable statement that links Meisner, his faith, his fight against the spirit of the Zeitgeist which has entered the Temple, and the terrible crisis towards which the Church is heading! [And is it not already crisis when her supposed leader shows every day in every way that he is really anti-Catholic???]

Benedict concluded his tribute by writing: “When, on that last morning, Cardinal Meisner didn’t appear at Mass, he was found dead in his room. His breviary had slipped from his hands: he died praying, looking to the Lord, speaking with the Lord. The manner of death which was granted to him shows once again how he lived: looking to the Lord and speaking with the Lord. “
For the cardinal who was accused by men of the Church who are now ‘in’ of being against the reigning pope, of wanting to divide the Church, etc. , there could not have been a more eloquent eulogy from a man who is still dressed in white and who signs himself “Benedict XVI, Emeritus Pope”.

Socci’s own comment:
HERE IS WHY THE POPE (THAT IS, BENEDICT XVI) HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND IS STILL SO OPPOSED BY THE MEDIA AND THE POWERS OF THE WORLD, WHILE BERGOGLIO IS ADULATED BY THEM:

God’s messengers are often not welcome. This was the case with the prophet Amos… Whether he was accepted or rejected, he continued to prophesy, preaching what God says and not what men want to hear. This remains the mandate of the Church: do not preach what the powers of the world want to hear. Amos’s criteria were truth and justice even if these did not gain applause and opposed human powers".
-BENEDICT XVI

July 15, 2012

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I’m falling even farther back in my posts. Yesterday, Sunday, I gave up after ‘ShockWave Flash’ – which I have no need for – kept crashing, and in the process, closing down Chrome – which in itself, has lately been shutting itself off too often. I’ve tried all the online tips I can find to get rid of Shockwave Flash, but it is bundled with Google Chrome and their instructions for unbundling it just do not work.

This morning, intending first to insert the info about the dumb tweets by Melloni and Faggioli, and new photos of the Meisner funeral, it was the Forum server back to its old tricks of opening slow, taking several seconds before I can see onscreen what I have typed, and taking even longer to enable me to correct whatever is wrong on what I could not see as I typed! Or the program suddenly is ‘Not responding’, and when it does that, Chrome itself eventually shuts down. It took me at least one and a half hours before I could post my addenda, so I have not even been able to check out what’s in the usual sites I check at the start of the day… Let me see if this note and the ff article will post properly after I have composed them on Word, and then copying onto the Forum reply box, hoping that at least 90% of my text enhancement commands, painstakingly written out, will come out properly. Because they never do, and I can’t tell where I went wrong unless I see it on Preview in the Forum… And then comes the terrible ordeal of having to make the corrections because entering just one correction can take forever – which is exactly what happened in posting the original Civilta Cattolica article that Dr. Gregg criticizes here.

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On that strange, disturbing and anti-American
article in ‘La Civilta Cattolica’

Whoever signed off on this article (assuming it was properly vetted) at the Secretariat of State didn’t pick up
on the authors’ conflation of tangentially related matters, or raise questions about the article’s emotivist tone,
or even noted the authors’ distinctly amateur grasp of American religious history and the finer points of US politics.

[Perhaps because the supposed vetters do not know better themselves and simply consider
Spadaro and Figueroa unassailable because after all, they have the pope’s full confidence]

By Samuel Gregg
CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT
July 14, 2017

Anti-Americanism is as old (if not older) as the American Revolution itself. Like all nations, America has its flaws. But these defects attract disproportionate attention from the rest of the world. This is partly because of the size and worldwide reach of America’s media as well as the United States’ superpower status. On a global scale, the choices made by, say, Argentina and Italy, just aren’t as important for international affairs as decisions made by the United States.

Some of the most insightful analyses of America have been written by non-Americans. The exemplar is Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835/1840). Yet despite the scale and intensity of the attention given to the United States, it’s not hard to find articles written by intelligent non-Americans which reflect serious misunderstandings and occasional outright ignorance of the political, economic and cultural currents shaping America.

This brings me to a very odd article that recently appeared in La Civiltà Cattolica: the Italian Jesuit periodical published twice a month and which enjoys a quasi-official status inasmuch as the Vatican’s Secretariat of State exercises oversight over the articles it publishes.

Entitled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” its authors Father Antonio Spadaro SJ (Civiltà Cattolica’s editor-in-chief) and Rev. Marcelo Figueroa (a Presbyterian pastor who is editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano’s Argentinean edition), make various assertions about specific political and religious trends in the United States - claims which are, at best, tenuous and certainly badly informed.

Consider, for instance, the authors’ analogy between the theological outlook of particular strands of American Evangelicalism and ISIS. As far as I am aware, American self-described fundamentalists are not destroying 2000 year-old architectural treasures, decapitating Muslims, crucifying Middle Eastern Christians, promoting vile anti-Semitic literature, or slaughtering octogenarian French priests.

Another questionable contention made in the article is that the Holy Roman Empire was constituted as an effort to realize the Kingdom of God on earth. This particular analysis will come as news to serious historians of that complicated political entity which became, as the saying goes, neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire.

Various links are also made between climate change skepticism, the faith of white southern Christians (comments which, if applied to other racial groups, would be denounced by some as verging on bigotry), and apocalyptic thinking among some American Evangelicals. Taken together, it is claimed, these things reflect and help fuel a Manichean view of the world on the United States’ part. Then there is the article’s peculiar association of the heresy of the Prosperity Gospel with recent efforts to protect religious liberty in America.

No doubt, Evangelical scholars and others will highlight the many problems characterizing the article’s grasp of the history of Evangelical Christianity and fundamentalism in America. One agnostic friend of mine who happens to be a leading historian of American Evangelicalism at a prestigious secular university described the article’s take on this subject to me as “laughably ignorant”.

I also suspect Rev. Figueroa and Father Spadaro are oblivious, for instance, to many Evangelicals’ embrace of natural law thinking in recent decades: something that, by definition, immunizes any serious Christian from fideist tendencies. But two particular claims made by the authors require a more detailed response.

As noted, the authors assert that Evangelical Fundamentalism has contributed to America adopting a Manichean understanding of international affairs. They argue, however, that Pope Francis rejects any outlook which sees the world in terms of forces of light and forces of darkness. Instead, they maintain, the pope wisely recognizes that at the root of conflicts between nations “there is always a fight for power.” [True, Manichaeans were distinguished by their philosophy of dualism which sees everything as black or white – light vs darkness, good vs. evil, love vs hate. As a young man, St. Augustine was a Manichaean for nine years, believing it was better than Christinaity, before he was finally convinced that it was a very flawed belief system and he was baptized into Catholicism. But Bergoglio’s theoreticians, in this case Spadaro and Figueroa, do not seem to see that what they claim to be Bergoglio’s root cause for all conflict – ‘there is always a fight for power’ – is inevitably and inherently a fight between two opposing factions who can only see things in black and white, with respect to the opponent. Is that not therefore, ‘Manichaean’ itself? But Bergoglianism seems to prefer name-calling and labeling others with ‘demonizing’ epithets, instead of presenting solid rational arguments. Witness their handling of the DUBIA! ]

No doubt, the desire for power motivates some international actors. But it is also important to acknowledge that certain ideas — such as Marxism-Leninism, Islamist jihadism, or National Socialism — have driven transnational movements and nation-states to act in ways that are evil because the ideas themselves are evil.

For Americans (and anyone else) to recognize this and call these things by their name is not to buy into Manichaeism. It is simply recognition that some ideas are indeed wicked and lead to many people, even nations, engaging in gravely evil acts.

You can’t understand, for example, the left-populist regime that’s presently destroying Venezuela unless you grasp that its leadership and many of its supporters are partly motivated by a deeply conflictual view of the world. Much of this comes straight from Marx and Lenin (as anyone who has listened to any of the late Hugo Chávez’s short three-hour television rants will tell you). It’s worth recalling that when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “the evil empire” in 1983, millions of people behind the Iron Curtain instantly understood what he was talking about. Theyknew that the systems under which they lived were grounded upon evil ideas about the nature of man and society.

Furthermore, the fact that some Americans describe (often accurately) particular regimes as evil doesn’t mean that they view America as an embryonic Kingdom of God on earth. Plenty of American Evangelicals today are deeply distressed, for example, by the state of elite and popular culture in the United States. Nor are they slow to point out these failings, including when these weaknesses manifest themselves in their own ranks. That should make any Western European or Latin American pause before they start attributing Manichaean views of the world to millions of American Christians.

A second problematic thesis characterizing the Spadaro-Figueroa article which requires more attention is its characterization of the relationship between many Catholics and Evangelicals in America: a rapport which the priest and the minister plainly have great reservations about.

Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa correctly observe that many Catholics and Evangelicals have found common cause in recent decades around issues such as “abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.” They then add that [colore-#b200ff] “Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.”

By “Catholic Integralists,” we can safely presume that the authors mean the many American Catholics (routinely labeled as “conservative”) who have chosen to ally themselves with Evangelicals to defend things such as the culture of life and religious freedom from the type of doctrinaire secularism which ran rampant under the Obama Administration. But the vast majority of these Catholics aren’t “integralists,” let alone theocrats-in-waiting. Quite the contrary. Nor are the vast majority of Evangelicals in America pushing theocratic agendas.

If one looks, for example, at statements put together by various scholars and intellectuals involved in movements such as “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” they contain not a shred of theocratic aspiration. The ecumenical discussion between those involved in these endeavors have led over time to genuine fruit in terms of clarification of points in common, removing misconceptions, identifying real doctrinal road-blocks, and identifying areas where practical work to promote the common good can be pursued together. This stands in stark contrast to the bromides and non-sequiturs that characterize ecumenical discussion with the rapidly declining liberal mainstream Protestant confessions who long ago abandoned very basic Christian orthodoxies on faith and morals which most Evangelicals continue to rigorously affirm.

Moreover, when it comes to Evangelical and Catholic Christians in America making the argument that, for example, unborn human beings are entitled to the same protections from the unjust use of lethal force as any other human being, or that religious liberty is more than just freedom of worship, or that parents are entitled to insist that their children not be subjected to the nonsense of “gender theory’ at school, these arguments have increasingly been presented in terms of public reason. Catholics have a long tradition of doing this. Yet it is also an approach that many Evangelicals have started embracing in recent years.

This does not add up to the imposition of theocracy or the claiming of special privileges, let alone trying to facilitate quasi-Throne-and-Altar arrangements or some type of Evangelical/Catholic American Nationalism. Contrary to the claims of Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa, this is not “a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state.”

It’s about maintaining that the truths knowable by all people via their natural reason may be legitimately reflected in the public square of pluralist societies like the United States. Furthermore, the assertion of these truths in this way not only helps facilitate freedom and genuine pluralism (as opposed to the ideology of “diversity”) in America; they also help protect non-Christians and non-believers from unjust coercion as much as any other American.


If the Civiltà article simply reflected the views of a random Western European Catholic priest and an Argentine Presbyterian minister, few would be concerned about its content. But Civiltà articles are subject to scrutiny from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Hence, it’s curious that whoever signed off on this article (assuming it was properly vetted) at the Secretariat of State didn’t pick up on the authors’ conflation of tangentially related matters, or raise questions about the article’s emotivist tone, or alert Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa to their distinctly amateur grasp of American religious history and the finer points of American politics.

If it is the case that red flags were not raised—or were ignored—then all Catholics, American or otherwise, have reason for concern. It is simply not in the universal Church’s interests to develop or encourage substantially false understandings of the United States or the Anglosphere more generally.

People — including the pope and his advisors — are free to form views of different nations and the conduct of international affairs. No one expects the bishop of Rome to be uncritical of the United States, or any other country. There is plenty to criticize about America, just as there is to criticize about Argentina (such the economic delusions, systematic envy, and personality-cults encouraged by the poison of Peronism) or Italy (such as the corruption and rampant clientelism in its political and economic culture to which Vatican officials and Italian clerics have not, sadly, proved immune).

Nevertheless, the development of such views should be informed by careful reflection, a command of detail, and an accurate understanding of the history and development of a country. Regrettably, these are lacking in the Spadaro-Figueroa article and it shows. The greatest damage, however, is to the Holy See’s credibility as a serious contributor to international affairs. And that benefits no one, least of all Pope Francis. [Who, obviously, does not care enough – or know enough – to disown such shoddy claims made in his name by a couple of pseudo-scholars!]

Maureen Mullarkey's take on the Spadaro-Figueroa tract is, as usual, inimitable!

[IMG]http://u.cubeupload.com/MARITER_7/BNRNAKEDEMPEROR.png[/IMG]
All hail the naked Emperor! Mullarkey provides the illustration by Munro Scott Orr (1874-1955), a UK artist apparently best known for his Art Nouveau illustrations of classic fairy tales.

In God they don't trust:
That anti-American syllabus in Vatican journal

by Maureen Mullarkey
RORATE CAELI
Ju;y 17, 2017

My initial response — unbidden, unguarded — to the Civiltà Cattolica broadside against American conservatives was relief. Almost a kind of glee. The Emperor has thrown his New Clothes on the floor in a fit of pique; his courtiers bend low to pick up what is not there. The pantomime is fully in the open. Here, thankfully, is a barefaced specimen of intellectual sterility too obvious for a cosmetic gloss.

The Spadaro-Figueroa tirade is as nasty as it is ignorant. Writing as proxies for Francis, the pair make plain their boss’s uncomprehending distaste for America — its history, its politics, and its Christianity. They have given us an accidental exposé bereft of critical reflection and with no ear for its own cant. Of a piece with longstanding European disdain for the American character and manners, the invective suggests a crippling case of status anxiety vis-à-vis the global intellectual elite it aches to ingratiate.

Our authors bolt out of the starting gate snorting suspicion of ‘In God We Trust’. The first sentence quivers with implication: “This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America.” (Hint: These notes are the very stuff of Bergoglio’s “economy that kills.”) The motto represents “a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.”

On exhibit in this chosen opener is the post-modern denial of the existence of objective reality. The past’s own utterances are not steadfast. The truth of them, like that of any text, is unfixed, determined by current ideological needs.

What In God We Trust represents is the temper of an agonized nation in the throes of the Civil War. First stamped on the two-cent coin in 1864, there is nothing problematic about it. After war began in 1861, a campaign grew to acknowledge God on the small change of quotidian life that passes hand to hand. The motto originated as a non-denominational prayer — part talisman — against dissolution. Replacing the goddess of liberty, the words were meant to signal future generations that we were not a pagan nation. In the words of one supplicant to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase:

From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.


Why would a contemporary pontificate not second the emotion?

Not engraved on paper bills until the mid-twentieth century, 'In God We Trust' - declared the National Motto of the United States in 1956, in the height of the deadly global struggle of Christian Civilization against Communism, remains on our currency as a daily reminder to put not our trust in princes.

That ancient caution gets under the skin of Vatican rajahs. Their naked irritation brings to mind Dickens’s dismay during his visit to America in the 1840s. The great social critic, the people’s tribune, was distressed that the American merchant class — mere tradesmen — often neglected to remove their hats in the company of their betters.

Fusion between religion and state, faith and politics? Any talk of fusion has to acknowledge the breathtaking synthesis, achieved in our lifetime, between atheistic Leftism and radical/liberal religion.

Spadaro & Co.’s writ of censure projects the current pontificate’s own pretentions and ambitions onto conservative American Christians. This Vatican is up to its gullet in the politics of climate change, of mass migration, of Islamic appeasement, of image-making as a tool of propaganda.

Bergoglio, self-ordained as a geopolitician - and here lauded as one -is elbow-deep in a sly, treacherous politics of class animus. What was Laudato Sì, addressed to the entire planet, but a megalomaniacal synthesis of established religious idiom and radical statist over-reach? Projection is the narcissist’s most characteristic move.


In fine postmodern style, the Vatican’s [putatively] learned toadies upend traditional catechetical insistence on objective evil by muttering darkly about Manichaean visions. They swat at Presidents Bush and Trump for calling evil by name. Where is that delicate papal regard slathered on the Castro thugs?

They deplore the American “bond between capital and profits and arms sales,” a Bergoglian idée fixe. Francis’s men cite the meme as if it were an accepted tool of analysis rather than a facile slogan meant to silence prudential concerns about national sovereignty, civic well-being, and the rule of law.

Derrida notwithstanding, there really is a bottom to the abyss of deconstruction. Our high priests of defamation hit it in their equation of George W. Bush with ISIS. Both, you see, share a theopolitics based on “some cult of an apocalypse.” Kudos to Osama bin Laden for having the wit to call Bush a “great crusader.”

The ugliest point in Spadaro & Co.’s lunatic Syllabus of American Errors is its contempt for “religious groups composed mainly of whites from the deep American South.” Sound familiar? It is a riff on [Hilary Clinton’s] “bitter clingers” and “deplorables” but more candidly racist. An insinuation appropriate to academic pit stops like Evergreen State College is grotesque in the pope’s own house organ. It brings to the surface what hovers beneath Francis’ s touted sympathy for the oppressed. He is concerned only with those poor-and-oppressed whose interests are useful to the Left. And the Left finds it useful to see white skin as a sign of moral defect.

Like Humpty Dumpty, postmodern minds believe words can mean . . . whatever. Accordingly, this foray into sociology collapses evangelicalism into fundamentalism. Others are far better suited to correct the article’s virulent caricature of evangelicalism than I am.

Still, no one can miss one conspicuous contribution to Vatican hostility: pentecostalism and evangelicalism are fast gaining ground in Latin America. Let bush-league intellectuals mock the prosperity gospel and Norman Vincent Peale’s popularity of sixty years ago. In the end, Horatio Alger stories and work ethic offer poor people as individuals alternatives to collective imprisonment in Francis’s cherished mystical category, The Poor.

Francis, we are told, delivers a “counter narrative” to the American “narrative of fear.” This is the language of leftwing academia, not of the Church.

he Church speaks of truth and falsity. Despite time-bound burdens on clear expression, aspiration to truth is its sacred trust. Narratives, by contrast, are rhetorical devices, elements of fiction. Paul tells us we see but through a glass, darkly. Yet we labor to pierce the obscurity, not to devise scripts that suit the moment.


The value of this diatribe in Civiltà Cattolica is its exposure of just how far down the rabbit hole Francis has taken us. An intellectually degraded pontificate is incapable of moral or theological lucidity. As Pascal Bruckner noted more than a decade ago, “In Europe, anti-Americanism is a veritable passport to notoriety.” And this pontificate lusts to be noticed on modernity’s own terms.
GOD HELP US!

Then there was this early reaction in the UK's Catholic Herald...

Why is 'Civiltà Cattolica' attacking American Christians?
If the essayists are allowed to engage in corny psychoanalysis, then permit me to do the same

by Tim Stanley
CATHOLIC HERALD
July 16, 2017

The Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica has just published an essay on US religious politics that beggars belief. I cannot comment on the theology, but I know my American history – and this article is full of so many errors that it’s impossible to keep silent about it. It matters because one of the authors, Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ, the magazine’s editor, is said to be a confidant of the Pope. [More than confidant, he has become this pope's surrogate, unofficial spokesman as well as primary adviser on anything that has to do with the media.]

Where to begin? The essay asserts that an alliance between evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic “integralism” has driven the Republican Party towards a Manichean, materialist, economically regressive Right. There’s a lot of words in that summary. Not all of them are accurate.

Let’s begin with the Catholic bit. I have never once met an American Catholic politician who has described themselves as an integralist [‘Integriste’ is the French word they tried to adapt]. The phrase is European in origin: it refers to a supposed Catholic traditionalism, bordering on fascism, that seeks to close the gap between church and state. To repeat: I have never met an integralist. The essay quotes the website Church Militant, which may well travel that path [For all its defects, the site most certainly does not!], but I strongly doubt that House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of America’s most powerful Catholics, reads it.

We are told there is a “surprising ecumenism … developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere”. This is an odd reading of history. Catholic and evangelical alliance-building began openly in the Seventies over abortion – an alliance that fought for the rights of the unborn and which can be credited with reducing sectarian prejudice and tension.

That said, the political coalition has been tenuous ever since. The two groups typically divide over immigration; they have very little in common when it comes to economic or health policy. Obama reunited them in defence of free speech, but Donald Trump will slowly divide them over his Mexican wall, Muslim-migration clampdown and reform to Obamacare.

I suspect the essayists confuse Republicans who happen to be Catholics, many of them cradle Catholics rather than fanatical converts, with Catholics who have gone out of their way to hijack the GOP as a vehicle for their theology. The latter are probably few in number, if they exist at all. Even those Catholics who are explicitly linked to social conservatism are difficult to define in black-and-white terms. Do the essayists consider Sarah Palin to be one of these dangerous integralists: born Catholic but converted to evangelicalism? Or how about Vice President Mike Pence, who has become less denominational the further he has moved to the Right?

Meanwhile, there are plenty of liberal Catholics who have entered the Democratic Party, stuck with their Church and routinely invoke Catholicism to explain their policy positions. Why do the essayists not condemn Nancy Pelosi or Tim Kaine for engaging in a “surprising ecumenism” with liberal Episcopalians?

My biggest gripe with the article is its lack of clarity [but before that, its shameless display of ignorance]. It makes sweeping generalisations that are untrue. Not all evangelicals are fundamentalists, for instance, and not all evangelical fundamentalists are Right-wing activists. Pat Robertson, the charismatic evangelical, certainly is – he even ran for President in 1988. But the essayists tell us that religious conservatives are anti-ecological, which Robertson is strictly speaking not (he once appeared in a commercial with African-American preacher Al Sharpton to warn about climate change – another “surprising ecumenism”).

The essay makes a number of statements about American Protestantism that are inaccurate. It begins its narrative of evangelicalism in the early 20th century, even though most historians would stress the influence of early Calvinist thought and the Great Awakenings that preceded the fundamentalist surge. It highlights Dominionism and the Prosperity Gospel, which really only had serious political purchase in the 1980s and early 1990s. They were influential, it’s true, but also hugely controversial and routinely sidelined.

It is implied that Richard Nixon fell under the influence of the fundamentalists, but he came from a Quaker family and reportedly considered conversion to Catholicism. If Nixon is part of this “surprising ecumenism”, I’ll eat my hat. He established the Environmental Protection Agency, desegregated Southern schools and backed the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Catholic/evangelical coup in US politics is a pretty ineffectual one. [A great point to make, and one that is generally ignored.] Abortion remains legal; gay marriage is now regarded as a civil right. Its influence is occasionally liberalising. Newt Gingrich, a Catholic convert and former Republican House Speaker, is part of the conservative campaign for criminal justice reform.

The essay betrays a European’s take on America, forcing the template by which we might read European history on to the United States. It doesn’t fit.
- For instance, far from being a 99 per cent white movement, as the essay suggests, some of the most outspoken religious conservatives in America are black.
- Fundamentalists in the Twenties often denounced Darwinism because they linked it to eugenics. Until the Seventies, fundamentalists withdrew entirely from politics on the grounds that saving souls was all that mattered; many opposed prayer in schools.
- And yet, in a fine example of reductio ad absurdum, this essay goes so far as to equate George W Bush with Osama bin Laden, because both were influenced by philosophies that divide the world between good and evil:

“At heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world-views of jihadists and the new crusaders and is imbibed from wells that are not too far apart. We must not forget that the theopolitics spread by Isis is based on the same cult of an apocalypse that needs to be brought about as soon as possible. So, it is not just accidental that George W Bush was seen as a ‘great crusader’ by Osama bin Laden.”

This is offensive. I suspect I know what’s behind it. If the essayists are allowed to engage in corny psychoanalysis, then permit me to do the same. Many Europeans and Latin Americans, ashamed of their countries’ dalliance with fascism [Often much more than dalliance, as in Argentina’s history since Juan Peron to Cristina Kirchner], often try to implicate America in the same historical forces. But it’s more a more complex job than they think.

There is such a thing as American fascism: slavery and segregation are its most obvious outward signs, and Catholics engaged in both alongside Protestants. But in the Thirties, democracy held out in the US in the way that it didn’t in Europe. And part of the reason for that was a history of resistance to state power and corporatism that is part of the DNA of America’s vibrant, violent, sometimes quite insane religious culture. American history is complicated. It defies lazy caricatures. [Especially by a couple of pseudo-scholars who obviously did not even bother about fact-checking, thinking that their personal opinion substitutes for fact.]


Another one from CH...

Spadaro's essay criticises
many ideas and groups that deserve it

But in the end it is wrong-headed and simplistic

by Stephen White
CATHOLIC HERALD
JulY 14, 2017

Antonio Spadaro SJ has coauthored an essay for the publication he edits, La Civiltà Cattolica, in which he and his Presbyterian co-author, Marcelo Figueroa, take aim at certain strains of fundamentalism in the United States and their influence on both American politics and American Catholics. The essay is critical of many ideas and groups that are very much deserving of criticism, but in the end it sheds almost no light on the actual dynamics shaping the American religious and political landscape.

To begin with, fundamentalism is not the mainstream of American Protestantism, nor does it have the influence in American politics that the authors imagine it does. The notion, for example, that George W. Bush is a fundamentalist with a Manichean worldview is patently false. So is the suggestion that there’s some close affinity between the Biblical literalism of fundamentalism, on the one hand, and the God-wants-you-to-be-rich hucksterism of the Prosperity Gospel. That Donald Trump has been deeply shaped by some confluence or conspiracy of the two is ludicrous.

To these bizarre and hackneyed assessments of the Protestant religious scene in America, our authors add an attack on a fringe Catholic media outlet called Church Militant. The primary connection between the aforementioned problematic Protestants and the Church Militant seems to be that the Church Militant and Christian fundamentalists 1) both think they’re right and other people are wrong, and 2) really don’t like abortion. (Prosperity Gospel types don’t go in much for culture wars; they’re too busy praying their way to payday.)

In attacking Church Militant, the authors aren’t erecting a straw man; the outfit is real, and a problem. (Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit forbade them to use the word “Catholic”, in their name and Archbishop Charles Chaput had to kick them out of Philadelphia in the run-up to the World Meeting of Families in 2015 because they were being so obnoxious.)

But Church Militant is so far out on the right-wing fringe that in calling attention to it [If they are, it does not make some of the valid things they say any less right or less Catholic], the authors are either radically overestimating its actual influence, or using it as a convenient whipping boy — a stand-in for everything they don’t particularly care for in American Catholicism.

Sadly, that seems to be the recipe for most of the piece: present a parade of horribles in a way that suggests to the reader that they’re related even if they’re not, drop in a gratuitous jab at George W. Bush for zest, sprinkle Donald Trump’s name generously, add one dash of Steve Bannon, and then contrast the whole thing to Pope Francis and voilà!

All of this is too bad, really. For one, America’s maddeningly complex religious landscape needs thoughtful analysis and critique. And theological trends have a way of bleeding from one denomination to another. American Catholicism has surely been influenced — for the better and also the worse — by the fact that America is overwhelmingly Protestant.

The Jesuits have a long history ['History' is right - it just ain't so anymore!] of protecting the Catholic faith from the more problematic aspects of Protestant Christianity — for the benefit of Catholics and Protestants alike. That’s still a worthwhile endeavour. Unfortunately, the essay in La Civiltà Cattolica is not.

There's more - but this plethora of reactions to the Spadaro-Figueroa essay was predictable and inevitable.

Are Americans from Mars?
by Robert Royal
THE CATHOLIC THING
JULY 17, 2017

Percival Lowell was a member of the distinguished Boston Lowell family, graduate of Harvard, founder of the Lowell Observatory, the most prominent American astronomer – some say – until Carl Sagan. He also believed, on the basis of what he thought careful scientific observation, that there were canals on Mars, and wrote several books about what might have driven Martians to such a vast undertaking.

Unfortunately, his “observations” were an optical illusion (as several scientists already knew in Lowell’s day). Recent Mars probes have discovered no signs of the civilization Lowell thought once existed there.

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, and Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian hand-picked by Pope Francis to be editor on the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano, have recently made quite controversial observations about America in “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism.”

They are, with good reason, destined to suffer the fate of poor Percival Lowell.

It’s not that they don’t have some data. But like many distant observers who know little of the concrete reality they are describing, they mistake the relative size and significance of almost everything.

For example, they take Rousas John Rushdoony – a marginal figure unknown these days to most evangelicals and much criticized by many who do – as a major reference point because his theocratic views fit the thesis they’re trying to push about conservative religion and politics in America.

In dozens of other instances, they draw lines among widely disparate facts with even less justification than the old believers in Martian canals.

Their main fear is that the collaboration of Catholics and Evangelicals in fighting the culture war is really a bid to create a theocracy in America. You usually hear a charge like that from Planned Parenthood or gay-rights groups or fringe academics. Not from the Vatican.

Further, the authors opine, the participants in this “surprising ecumenism” indulge in a “Manichean” view of Good vs. Evil that sees America as the Promised Land and her enemies as enemies of God whom it’s only right to destroy, literally, with our armed forces.

Taking this as the heart of the Evangelical-Catholic alliance is so delusional that a Catholic must feel embarrassed that a journal supposedly reviewed and authorized by the Vatican would run such slanderous nonsense. The authors would have done better to get out and see some of America rather than, it seems, spending so much time with left-wing sociologists of religion.

There is something like an emerging theocracy in the United States, with a Manichean vision. But it’s the theocracy of sexual absolutism that cannot tolerate pluralism or dissent. The Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, evangelical bakers, anyone who stands up to the contraception-abortion-“gay-marriage” (and now) “transgender” juggernaut risks legal jeopardy and accusations of being a “hate group.” (Spadaro and Figueroa echo this claim, saying the Evangelical-Catholic alliance represents a xenophobic, Islamophobic, purist vision that is really an “ecumenism of hate.”)

Fighting the sexual theocracy is imperative, for believers and non-believers alike who care about liberty and the common good in a pluralist society. The courts have – so far – found for defenders of religious liberty, largely Catholics and Evangelicals. But that such cases even have to be brought tells us who is really trying to impose a kind of totalitarianism on America.

Most traditional Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, and others would be happy, at this point, to be just left alone.

All this is invisible to Spadaro and Figueroa, or is dismissed as a cover for something sinister. They know not the heart of American Evangelicalism, which is generally closer to the thoughtfulness of a Russell Moore than to blind Fundamentalism (which is why we use two different terms for the two groupings).

Their labeling American Catholic conservatives as “integralists” is another slander and a sloppy misapplication of a term from one period of European history to something else entirely. They could easily have learned this.

The authors claim that Pope Francis has outlined an alternative to “militant” Christianity. But their obsession with “dialogue” over these matters is a plausible strategy only to people who have never had to confront the sharp edge of the culture war. And believe they can go on avoiding it forever. They can’t.

Pope Francis added to the international controversy last week. If his frequent dialogue partner, Eugenio Scalfari – editor of the socialist La Reppublica – is to be believed (personally, I find about 25 percent of what he “reports” vaguely credible), Francis spoke just before the G-20 meeting in Hamburg of the “distorted vision of the world” of America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Syria, especially on immigration matters.

The pope’s including us among such malefactors agitated many Americans. If he meant that he disagrees with President Trump, perhaps he should have said as much.

He went on to say, in Scalfari’s perhaps garbled telling, that a “federated Europe” is necessary or Europe will count for nothing in the world. This is curious for several reasons. In other contexts, the pope seems to have given up on Europe – and expects renewal from the “peripheries.” Further, the European Union is already “federated,” perhaps too much so.

I was at a conference in Portugal two weeks ago where repeated German calls for “ever closer ties” among European nations worried everyone except the Germans themselves. It’s a commonplace in such meetings to lament the EU’s lack of political accountability and arrogance – and Germany’s looming financial power.

In the last analysis, Europe counts for little, because it is in demographic collapse, is spiritually and culturally adrift, doesn’t have the means to defend itself, and seems to think its only reason for being is to be “open” to other cultures.

America has multiple grave problems, but still enjoys active religious engagement in the public square, is groping towards political and cultural renewal, and – not incidentally – still accepts over 1,000,000 legal immigrants every year.

Perhaps it would be worth noting such things, sometime, in Rome.


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Phil Lawler certainly grasped immediately the obvious implication of Cardinal Schoenborn’s most recent comment on AL – and the fact that
the smarmy Schoenborn himself and the equally smarmy Ivereigh who reports his statement appear to recount this with great pride shows
both are too blinded by their Bergoglidolatry to even realize that what they are proclaiming so proudly is actually quite incredible to any
thinking Catholic!


Did Pope Francis himself wonder
whether Amoris Laetitia was orthodox?

By Phil Lawler
catholicculture.org
July 17, 2017

Pope Francis has referred to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn as the “authoritative interpreter” of Amoris Laetitia. So when the Austrian cardinal spoke to an Irish audience about the controversial papal document, people naturally paid careful attention.

According to Austen Ivereigh’s account:

Schönborn revealed that when he met the Pope shortly after the presentation of Amoris, Francis thanked him, and asked him if the document was orthodox.

“I said, ‘Holy Father, it is fully orthodox’,” Schönborn told us he told the pope, adding that a few days later he received from Francis a little note that said: “Thank you for that word. That gave me comfort.”

Assuming that it is accurate — and we have no reason to doubt that it is — Cardinal Schönborn’s anecdote presents us with an astonishing picture: The successor to St. Peter — the man whose solemn duty it is to guard the deposit of the faith — is asking another prelate whether his own teaching is orthodox. And he is comforted to hear an affirmative answer.

More: Pope Francis consults with Cardinal Schönborn — one of his close advisers, and a respected theologian [Is he still respected?] — and looks for assurance that his teaching is orthodox, after the document has been issued. [Apparently Bergoglio did not see fit to send the AL 'draft' to be reviewed by Schoenborn, whom he would then ask to present the finished product!What chutzpah on the part of Bergoglio, and what smarmy subservience on the part of Schoenborn!]

It is ordinary procedure for a Pope to draft a document and then circulate it privately among respected cardinals and theologians, asking them if they could detect any difficulties, so that inaccuracies can be corrected before promulgating the document. According to a rumor that is too widespread to be dismissed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith submitted dozens of suggested amendments to Amoris Laetitia [‘About 200’, it has been reported again and again, without any denial from the Vatican, whose spinmeisters do not seem to care - so they never bothered to spin it - about the implicit confirmation thereby that this pope actually ignored what the CDF had to say about AL, even he had sent them a ‘draft’ to review, i.e., this was merely pro forma and not intended to mean that whatever the CDF had to say would amount to anything more than a bucket of spit to this pope ] and they were all ignored. Of course the Holy Father has every right to accept or reject suggestions from his staff. [His right to do that does not make it right that he totally ignores what the CDF has to say on doctrine, yet the Vatican seems to take perverse pride in this. ]

Cardinal Schönborn’s account leads toward the stunning possibility that Pope Francis was not entirely sure about the orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia even after he released it. At the very least the fact that he could take “comfort” in Cardinal Schönborn’s reassurance tells us the Pope knew some influential prelates would find the document unsound.

JULY 18, 2017
P.S.
And you thought Schoenborn
was done with his shockers?


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It turns out Cardinal Schoenborn committed an even greater offense in his Ireland talk than the one commented upon above by Phil Lawler –
which is bad enough, as it is in the same category as the literal “Is the pope Catholic?” answer that he gives in the first tweet below,
even if he may have said it ‘tongue in cheek’. Until March 13, 2013, it was simply unthinkable to ever think questions like these would be
asked about a pope.

Steve Skojec, in his commentary at 1Peter5,
onepeterfive.com/cardinal-schonborn-dubia-questions-can-answe...
shared two tweets by Greg Daly, a reported for Irish Catholic, who was present for Schoenborn’s appalling performance on July 13.
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If Schoenborn says all 5 DUBIA can be answered YES, then either 1) he was not thinking when he said it, or 2) he really believes that
the answer to the first DUBIUM is really YES
, completely in keeping with the Bergoglian intention all along to loosen all restrictions
on receiving the Eucharist for adulterous couples who continue to have conjugal relations and do not intend to stop doing so.


Look at the five DUBIA again, and tell me how any orthodox Catholic can answer #1 with a Yes:

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


And yet, Schoenborn remains president of the Foundation established by the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis! If he were an honest man, he ought to have resigned from about 2012, when he first openly endorsed the homosexual lifestyle by opposing a decision by one of his parish priests to reject the election of a man in open cohabitation with another man as president of the parish council. Worse, he declared after having lunch with the ‘couple’ that he saw nothing wrong with their relationship.

Since then, of course, he has gone farther and farther afield, visiting Medjugorje with high-profile media coverage and celebrating Mass there without informing the local bishop. (Benedict XVI had to ask him to write out his apology by hand and fax it from the Vatican to the Bishop of Mostar.) And right after March 13, 2013, he completely turned his coat and became a Bergoglio sycophant, claiming to have experienced a ‘miracle’ in the Sistine Chapel at the election of the Argentine.

I do not have the words to describe the contempt I have for his insincerity and his utter dishonesty – and I came by this early enough, as I instinctively mistrusted the smarminess which comes through in all of his photographs. But this mistrust was cemented when I discovered from a book by Fr. Vincent Twomey, a genuine doctoral student of Prof Ratzinger, that Schoenborn was never really a student of Prof Ratzinger in Regensburg but had attended a semester ‘auditing’ his lectures (many universities allow persons who are not enrolled in a course to sit in and ‘audit’ or listen), as he already had his doctorate in theology from the Sorbonne at the time.

Yet all the while, since Joseph Ratzinger became pope, the news media unanimously referred to him as the new pope’s ‘most outstanding student’, not to mention ‘protégé’, without any correction issued by Schoenborn... On second thought, Schoenborn’s smarmy look and his deceptively soft manner of speaking recalls the same characteristics in his new lord and master. Whatever excellences he may have as a person, priest and pastor, I would not wish him as a pastor for anyone.

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Here are two recent articles from Argentine newspapers about the anomaly of this pope choosing not to visit his homeland more than four years since
he became pope…


Why has Pope Francis not visited Argentina nor plan to?
By Loris Zanatta
Translated from
LA NACION
July 11, 2017

Why has he gone to central Africa, to east Asia, to Sweden, Turkey and various nations in Latin America but not to his own homeland? Of course, this has raised conjectures and much controversy. But those around the pope shrug it off when asked. It’s the usual provincialism on display –‘ this pope has no time for vulgar concerns’!

But as time passes, it has become quite clear that this has been a deliberate choice, a conscious calculation. How to explain it otherwise? And by the way, those who claim this are his friends, his devotees, his numerous spokesmen: some say they have just spoken to him, some vaunt an old friendship with the man who is now pope, some speak of hearing from privileged channels. The cacophony is enormous, and the resulting circus is not good for the pope’s image. Some think: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres” [There's that most useful Spanish saying a propos again!]

And all of them believe they know why the pope has refused to visit Argentina. [It’s been more than four years, and let me repeat that John Paul II visited Poland within 9 months of his election and would visit it 9 times in 27 years, while Benedict XVI went to Germany within 4 months of his election and would visit it another 2 times.]

I really have no idea – I look on surprised and quite amused at the debate. I read a woman journalist who claims to have been friends with Bergoglio for 17 years – and she has photos that seem to confirm it. Of course, she wrote an ‘intimate’ biography of the pope, already predicting his beatification! She says she knows why he is not visiting Argentina – but she won’t reveal it! And BTW, searching through news archives, it seems that the lady has some skeletons in her closet – but it’sold news, doesn’t matter!

It could be envy, but other friends of Bergoglio [Ah, those FOBs, the originals!] make other claims. Especially Gustavo Vera – it is inexplicable to many how an ex-Trotskyite, now running for office in the party of Cristina Kirchner, came to be a spokesman for this pope and that the pope does acknowledge him as such. He is a saint who has liberated sexual slaves, some say. He is a violent man with little to commend him and no respect for the law, his detractors say. Vera presents himself alongside Guillermo Moreno, adirer of the pope as well as of hardly orthodox ‘methods’, to use a euphemism. He was Secretary of Commerce but he hated the market: - as a bood Peronist and a good Bergoglian! Vera and Moreno are not exactly conciliatory figures, not even with each other.

What has lately stirred up protest against them and the pope is the invitation from the Vatican to the Argentine Procurator-General, Alejandra Gils Carbó, for a summit on ‘new forms of slavery’ – a scandal that cannot be explained except that she was appointed to her position by ex-President Cristina Kirchner with the intention of appropriating the nation’s judiciary, but Gils Carbó is also involved in a serious case of corruption. So to invite her to the Vatican just now does not exactly help unite Argentines with Bergoglio!

Above all, there is an old Peronist leader who claims he has a friendship with Bergoglio that dates to being together in the association called Guardias de Hierro [Iron Guards] (which was supposed to be ‘Peronist, Catholic, nationalist, anti-liberal and anti-Marxist’) and who seems to live on TV where he is a constant presence. The pope, he says “remains very great’ to all Argentines!

Hebe de Bonafini, who began as one of those heroic mothers of the Plaza de Mayo [a square facing the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, where the relatives of the ‘desparecidos’ during the military dictatorship of the 1980s used to demonstrate regularly] and now more ‘famous’ for her verbal incontinence [Gee, sounds familiar!], wrote the pope after having met him [addressing him in the familiar second-person plural typically used by Argentines, rather than the formal third-person singular]: “I know that you think that by coming to Argentina, you would be doing a favor to Pastor Mauricio”. [dim=8pt [A derogatory term for anti-Peronist President Mauricio Macri, who is persona non grata to Bergoglio.] Did the pope really say that? In which case, is he ‘punishing’ Argentines for having elected a rich man President and not a Peronist ‘man of the people’? I think not, but who knows?

But Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, man of science and the Roman Curia, from a ‘nationalist’ Argentine family, showed no doubts at all in a recent interview where he said the pope is not visiting Argentina in order not to deepen ‘la grieta’ [fissure], not to rub salt on the wound that has divided the nation since time immemorial. Is that possible? Can an authority whose mission is to reconcile, pacify and calm down passions, cause or aggravate discord in his own nation? But that’s the way it seems. His friends are sure: It is the Argentines themselves who must be blamed for his decision not to visit Argentina!

Well, we human beings are weak and sinful. But does the pope not have a responsibility if his figure divides not just Argentina but Catholics around the world? If his friends are those we have described, is his heart beats only ‘one way’, if he has solutions for everyting (from climate change to retirement pensions, from employment to immigration, from poverty to development), if he blesses some people and condemns everyone else, it is nor surprising that he divides more than he unites. Yet politics was devised precisely to deal with all his apparent priority concerns.

Meanwhile, why he chooses not to visit Argentina remains a mystery.

Why hasn't the pope visited Argentina?
By Ricardo Roa
Translated from CLARIN
June 27, 2017

BUENOS AIRES — Since he began his papacy more than four years ago, Pope Francis has traveled frequently, visiting countries of all shapes and sizes, from the powerful United States and France to more overlooked places like Sri Lanka and Bosnia.

Whatever the political orientation of the host government — be it centrist or conservative, socialist or populist — Francis has been there. Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, Armenia, Uganda, South Korea, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Albania ... 25 countries in all so far!

But guess where the Pope hasn't been? His home country: Argentina. He's come close, visiting neighboring Brazil and Paraguay. He went to Ecuador too. And recently he announced plans for another trip to South America, this time with stops planned in Colombia, Chile and Peru. But still, no Argentina. The fact is, nobody knows when or even if he will come here. Isn't it strange?

Francis — or Jorge Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires — does the same thing in Rome that he used to do here: He keeps an eye on politics and the inner workings of Peronism, the political ideology espoused by the previous president, leftist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015), and most of the country's other leaders in recent decades. He reads and asks all the time about what is happening in Argentina, and always seeks contacts and direct links. He practices rapprochement, as it were.

He sends greetings on birthdays, writes to his old school chums, telephones abuse victims, and sends text messages to support people involved in the fight against human trafficking. He speaks with words and gestures, and especially gestures that define him politically. He sent a rosary to the detained neighborhood-association activist Milagro Sala, and acts as an informal patriarch of Peronism, sending everyone the letters and instructions they expect to receive from him.

At such times, the pope reverts to being "Padre Jorge," the Peronist priest. That he sometimes draws comparisons to Gen. Juan Perón himself — the former leader of Argentina (1956-1955 and 1973-1974) and founding father of Peronism — is no coincidence.


He is the same old Father Jorge when he talks about or waits on leading figures of the Kirchner faction who were contemptuous of him even after he became pope, or when he insisted on scowling while meeting with Argentina's current president, the conservative Mauricio Macri.

Four years of not returning to his country may or may not seem a long time, depending on one's perspective. But here in Argentina, it feels like we've been waiting forever. We see him as our Pope, after all. It's Bergoglio's decision to make, of course. And presumably there's a reason for the delay. But it's hard to imagine what it could be. At any rate, only he knows.

Perhaps the Pope doesn't want to show any favoritism. He didn't visit when Mrs. Kirchner was president, so he won't visit during Macri's term in office either. Then again, he could come and make a point of meeting both leaders — as a way to even things out. And what if Macri is reelected in 2019? Will Francis never visit again?

It could be too that the Pope worries about la grieta," as Argentina's deep political divisions are known. Maybe he worries that if he comes, he'll end up being used by one side or the other. But what if the opposite happened? What if his enormous prestige and popularity helped mitigate the political fight while boosting the Church's wider efforts to moderate Argentine politics?

Presumably there's a reason for the delay. But it's hard to imagine what it could be.

Outside of Argentina, Francis has proved to be an able mediator: between Cuba and the United States, or between the Colombian state and guerrillas. [Both questionable, both as to the extent of his ‘mediation’ and to the outcome of the mediation.] He can pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and, while there, embrace a Jewish rabbi and Muslim imam — both from Argentina. That's because building bridges is precisely what the Supreme Pontiff does.

Except when it comes to his countrymen, he won't. Outside our country, the pope has worked to close rifts and bring faiths nearer. He has carefully attended to the Church and its efforts across the globe.

No doubt people in other countries are wondering why Francis doesn't visit his native land. Frankly, here in Argentina we don't know what to do to get him to visit. It shouldn't be that way. But it is, God knows why — and Francis, of course.
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Ross Douthat places the recent retirement from center stage of four cardinals (in one case, by death) in a frightening context…

What will be the pope’s next act?
by Ross Douthat
Op-Ed columnist
NEW YORK TIMES
July 15, 2017

By the standards of the Francis papacy, things were rather quiet in Rome for much of 2017. The great controversy of the previous two years, the debate over communion for the divorced and remarried, had entered a kind of stalemate, with bishops the world over disagreeing and the pope himself keeping a deliberate silence. One long act of the pontificate seemed finished; the question was how much drama there was still to come.

The last month has supplied some. In rapid succession, four important cardinals have been removed from the stage. The first, George Pell, was both in charge of the pope’s financial reforms and a leading opponent of communion for the remarried. He has returned to his native Australia to face charges of sexual abuse — charges that either represent a culminating revelation in the church’s grim accounting on the issue, or else (as Pell’s defenders insist) a sign that the abuse scandal has become a license for prosecutorial witch hunts.

The second cardinal, Gerhard Mueller, was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office charged with safeguarding Catholic doctrine. Often sidelined by Francis, he had performed a careful tightrope walk on the pope’s marriage document, Amoris Laetitia, insisting that it did not change Church teaching on remarriage and the sacraments while downplaying the signals that the pope himself thought otherwise. His five-year term was expiring; these are often renewed, but his was not, and in a manner so brusque that the usually circumspect German publicly complained.

The third cardinal, Joachim Meisner, was a retired archbishop of Cologne and a longtime friend of Benedict XVI. He was one of the signatories of the dubia — the public questions four cardinals posed last year to Francis about Amoris Laetitia, effectively questioning its orthodoxy. He died in his sleep at 83 — shortly after Mueller, his fellow countryman, had called him to report the news that he had been cashiered.

The fourth, Angelo Scola, was another Benedict XVI confidant and a leading contender for the papacy at the last conclave. He retired as archbishop of Milan five days after Mueller’s departure.

These four very different departures have a combined effect: They weaken resistance to Francis in the highest reaches of the hierarchy. And they raise the question facing the remainder of his pontificate: With high-level opposition thinned out and the Benedict/John Paul II vision in eclipse, how far does the pope intend to push?

It is clear enough that Francis has friends and allies who want him to go forward in a hurry. They regard the ambiguous shift on divorce and remarriage as a proof-of-concept for how the church can change on a wider range of issues, where they have lately made forays and appeals — intercommunion with Protestants, married priests, same-sex relationships, euthanasia, female deacons, artificial birth control, and more.

So too in politics, where the pope’s obvious hostility to Trumpian populism has been leveraged by some of his friends into a sweeping critique of all Catholic engagement with the political right, and especially the American Catholic alliance with evangelical Protestants.

And so too in liturgical issues, where there is talk that Francis’s outreach to the Society of Saint Pius X, the semi-schismatic group that celebrates the Latin Mass, could lead first to the FSSPX’s reintegration and then the suppression of the pre-Vatican II liturgy for everyone else — effectively using the FSSPX to quarantine traditionalism.

If so far Francis’s pontificate has been a kind of halfway revolution, its ambitions somewhat balked and its changes left ambiguous, these kind of ideas would make the revolution much more sweeping.

But the pope himself remains both more cautious than his friends — the men he appointed to succeed Mueller and Scola are moderate, not radical — and also perhaps more unpredictable.

His more liberal appointees can get ahead of him, as in the case of Charlie Gard, the dying English baby whose doctors and government won’t let his parents pay for an unlikely-to-succeed treatment. The pope’s refashioned Pontifical Academy for Life, which now accepts pro-choice and euthanasia-friendly members, issued a statement that seemed to support the government over the parents. But shortly thereafter, Francis intervened in support of the parents’ rights, creating a somewhat defensive scramble by his allies.

This small example gets at a larger point. We know that Francis is a liberal pope, but apart from the remarriage debate we don’t know what priority he places on any given liberal-Catholic goal.

Among many liberals there is a palpable ambition, a sense that a sweeping opportunity to rout conservative Catholicism might finally be at hand. But there is also a palpable anxiety, since the Church’s long-term future is not obviously progressive — not with a growing African church and a shrinking European one, a priesthood whose younger ranks are often quite conservative, and little evidence that the Francis era has brought any sudden renewal.

How much does Francis himself share either sentiment — the ambition, the anxiety? The next act of this papacy will tell.

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In which Abp. Chaput takes on some errors of the Spadaro-Figueroa tandem presenting themselves as theoreticians for the 'geo-theo-political' objectives of Bergoglianism…

A word about useful tools
By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
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July 18, 2017

History is full of great quotations that people never said. One of the best lines comes from Vladimir Lenin. He described Russian progressives, social democrats, and other fellow travelers as “useful idiots” – naïve allies in revolution whom the Bolsheviks promptly crushed when they took power.

Or so the legend goes. In fact, there’s no evidence Lenin actually spoke those words, at least in public. But no one seems to care. It’s a compelling line, and in its own way, entirely true. The naïve and imprudent can very easily end up as useful tools in a larger conflict; or to frame it more generously, as useful innocents. The result is usually the same. They’re discarded.

History is also full of unfortunate comments that really were said – as found, for example, in a recent Rome-based journal article that many have already rightly criticized. The article in question, La Civiltà Cattolicas ’ “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” is an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.

Catholics and other Christians who see themselves as progressive tend to be wary of the religious liberty debate. Some distrust it as a smokescreen for conservative politics. Some see it as a distraction from other urgent issues. Some are made uneasy by the cooperation of many Catholics and evangelicals, as well as Mormons and many Orthodox, to push back against abortion on demand, to defend marriage and the family, and to resist LGBT efforts to weaken religious freedom protections through coercive SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) “anti-discrimination” laws.

But working for religious freedom has never precluded service to the poor. The opposite is true. In America, the liberty of religious communities has always been a seedbed of social action and ministry to those in need.

The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep. Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power
.
As an evangelical friend once said, the whole idea of Baptist faith cuts against the integration of Church and state. Foreign observers who want to criticize the United States and its religious landscape – and yes, there’s always plenty to criticize — should note that fact. It’s rather basic.

Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a “narrative of fear” — as the La Civiltà Cattolica authors curiously describe it — might have made some sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant. It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.
So it’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true. [Surely, the archbishop cannot still claim surprise after more than four years when the supposed Vicar of Christ on earth has been leading the charge himself!]

Earlier this month, one of the main architects and financiers of today’s LGBT activism said publicly what should have been obvious all along: The goal of at least some gay activism is not simply to assure equality for the same-sex attracted, but to “punish the wicked” – in other words, to punish those who oppose the LGBT cultural agenda.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include. Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong.

Catholics are called to treat all persons with charity and justice. That includes those who hate what we believe. It demands a conversion of heart. It demands patience, courage and humility. We need to shed any self-righteousness. But charity and justice can’t be severed from truth. For Christians, Scripture is the Word of God, the revelation of God’s truth – and there’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct.

Trying to do so demeans what Christians have always claimed to believe. It reduces us to useful tools of those who would smother the faith that so many other Christians have suffered, and are now suffering, to fully witness.
This is why groups that fight for religious liberty in our courts, legislatures, and in the public square – distinguished groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Becket (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) – are heroes, not “haters.”

And if their efforts draw Catholics, evangelicals and other people of good will together in common cause, we should thank God for the unity it brings.

***
The Archbishop encourages readers to learn more about, and to support with their prayers and resources, the Alliance Defending Freedom at www.adflegal.org, and Becket at www.becketlaw.org.


I don't know if Fr. Schall will address this issue soon or at all, but meanwhile, another prominent Jesuit communicator has taken on his colleague at La Civilta Cattolica for something he denoucnes as 'not even risng to the level of mediocrity'...

Article by pope’s confidantes adds little
to understanding Trump’s America

[nor the state of Christianity in the USA today]

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, SJ
CRUX
July 15, 2017

If Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro was not the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica [I'll refer to it as LCC from hereon] his recent attack on the “ecumenism of hate” he diagnoses in the United States never would have been published in that [once] venerable journal.

Indeed, had such a commentary on the theological roots of contemporary American politics been submitted to the Jesuit magazine America, the authors would have been invited to give it a major re-write, or better, to choose another topic altogether on which they had some expertise. [This is the famous 'peer review' process in which editors of serious (not bias-compromised) scientific journals (LCC, which has to be predominantly theological in content, is a scientific journal in that context), require their contributors to be as correct as they can in their facts, to cite reliable and verifiable sources for the facts they refer to, and to present objective data and reasonably founded conclusions drawn therefrom in order to come forward with any new hypothesis, discovery or claim as something more solid than just the writer's personal opinion. If the article has to be rewritten many times until it meets the criteria, then so be it, but it will not be published unless and until it does. I was always impressed that Joseph Ratzinger never fails to refer to theology as a science, because that is how he sees it, and why he is religiously rigorous in his own theological methodology and writing, and in considering the theology of others.]

Wrong on Protestant history, ignorant of contemporary Catholic life, tendentious in its analysis, patronizing in tone and damning with faint praise the very policies of the Holy Father it seeks to defend, it is hard to understand what ambitions were had for a piece that does not even rise to the level of mediocrity. [WOW! Fr. De Souza rises to proverbial Jesuit eloquence to denounce the output of a fellow Jesuit who truly shames the order's legendary scholastic and academic tradition with this balderdash, as no one has been brazen enough to call it!]

Pope Francis deserves much better from those he has entrusted to interpret his thought. [Well, he handpicked them, after all, and, let us remember once more, "A man is known by the company he keeps".]

Authored with Marcelo Figueroa, a Protestant pastor personally chosen by Pope Francis last year to be the editor-in-chief of the new Argentinean edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the article argues that what they consider the hate-filled politics of the Trump administration has its roots in an unholy alliance between “Evangelical Fundamentalism” and “Catholic Integralism.”

These “new crusaders” - George W. Bush, went down this path too, they argue, and, to a lesser degree Ronald Reagan before him - are little different in their theological inspiration from the “jihadists” they oppose. The theological inspiration of the current American administration has, they submit, quite a bit in common with the religious thinking of Osama bin Laden. [Father Z has a post today in which he observes how Spadaro and Figueroa actually avoid imputing anything negative to Ronald Reagan - even if it was he who famously called the USSR an 'evil empire' and unhesitatingly saw the Cold War as a battle between good and evil, so how much more 'Manichaean' can you be? - because unlike George W Bush and Trump who are perceived to be particularly unpopular Presidents, Reagan has such enormous popularity ratings that to attack him in the same breath as Bush and Trump would be like Bergoglio stepping on a deadly third rail!]

Spadaro and Figueroa argue that Evangelical fundamentalism subjects politics to a biblical literalism which rejects dialogue and peace in favor of bringing about salvation through apocalyptic wars. Such theology has opposed “the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements,” inter alia, “and now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims.” Catholic “integralists” are their allies in this exclusionary and violent approach to politics, hence the emerging “ecumenism of hate.”

Experts in American Protestant history will, soon enough, expose the many errors made by Spadaro and Figueroa, who assemble a mishmash of fundamentalism, the “prosperity gospel,” “Christian reconstructionism,” Norman Vincent Peale, and Rousas John Rushdoony, in presenting their account of American Evangelicalism’s [alleged] history of hate.

Permit one bit of history [i.e.,historical ignorance] to suffice:

“The term ‘evangelical fundamentalist’ can today be assimilated to the ‘evangelical right’ or ‘theoconservatism’ and has its origins in the years 1910-1915. In that period a South Californian millionaire, Lyman Stewart, published the 12-volume work The Fundamentals. The author wanted to respond to the threat of modernist ideas of the time. He summarized the thought of authors whose doctrinal support he appreciated. He exemplified the moral, social, collective and individual aspects of the evangelical faith. His admirers include many politicians and even two recent presidents: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.”


Spadaro and Figueroa appear to think that The Fundamentals is the work of a single “author.” In fact, it consists of some 90 essays by more than five dozen authors, including most of the major Protestant denominations. But that’s a relative quibble compared to the charge they make, patronizingly, that American Evangelical theology, suffering from an incapacity for proper biblical exegesis, is thus hell-bent on precipitating Armageddon. But perhaps it is better that Pastor Figueroa’s fellow Protestants in the United States enter into a fraternal dialogue with him about their “jihadist” theology. [I have yet to come across any Protestant critique of this major intellectual embarrassment that passes for a scholarly essay!]

On the Catholic side, Spadaro and Figueroa are alarmed, as they write in this key paragraph:

“Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.

Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state. However, the most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations. The word ‘ecumenism’ transforms into a paradox, into an ‘ecumenism of hate.’ Intolerance is a celestial mark of purism. Reductionism is the exegetical methodology. Ultraliteralism is its hermeneutical key.”


All that would certainly be alarming. But is it happening? Who are “those who profess to be Catholic” who “dream of a theocratic type of state”? What journals expound their thoughts? In what faculties do they teach? What books have they written? What movements does their thought animate? NONE OF THAT EXISTS. [Except in the overwrought imagination which they share with their lord and master!]

But there is Michael Voris and his Church Militant site. After their superficial survey of a century of American Protestant thought, Spadaro and Figueroa offer only this on the Catholic side:

“There is a shocking rhetoric used, for example, by the writers of Church Militant, a successful US-based digital platform that is openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses Christian symbols to impose itself. This abuse is called “authentic Christianity.” And to show its own preferences, it has created a close analogy between Donald Trump and Emperor Constantine, and between Hilary Clinton and Diocletian. The American elections in this perspective were seen as a ‘spiritual war’.”


Perhaps Michael Voris is successful, but only a vast ignorance of the American Catholic scene would consider Church Militant to be influential, let alone representative. Voris has been forbidden to use the name “Catholic” in his ventures, and just last week was asked to leave the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, American Catholicism’s largest such recent gathering. Did Spadaro consult his Jesuit colleagues at America, or Figueroa his American colleagues at L’Osservatore Romano, about the relative importance of Voris on the American “theological” scene, as it were?

Selecting such a singular and extreme example fatally undercuts the argument that Spadaro and Figueroa are advancing, and evidences a willingness to think ill of the character of American Catholic discourse. We might then ask how this is supposed to serve the ministry of Pope Francis.

Surely Spadaro and Figueroa know that they are widely considered papal confidants and authentic interpreters of his thought. That is why attention is duly paid to what they write, edit and tweet. A piece that patronizes Evangelicals and mischaracterizes Catholics would seem to retard the very ecumenism that the Holy Father seeks to advance. Surely this is not the vision that Pope Francis has of Christian theology in the United States?[Is that a rhetorical question, wishful thinking, or both?]

Spadaro and Figueroa, having outlined the “ecumenism of hate,” note that there is “an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis.” Well, yes. One expects that the Holy Father has a rather different approach than spreading hate. But that is a rather low bar.

Spadaro and Figueroa have a slightly different aim in bringing Pope Francis into this odd piece. In ramping up the threat of the integralist ecumenism of hate, the authors amplify the supposed danger of being contaminated by them. If condemning “jihadism” for example, might ally you with “crusaders,” perhaps it is better to say nothing at all, or simply insist upon “dialogue,” without specifying its substance. But Pope Francis has not done that, as witness his recent speech to a Muslim audience in Cairo.

Spadaro and Figueroa appear to favor a more neutral approach, and attribute it to the Holy See:

[“And this is why the diplomacy of the Holy See wants to establish direct and fluid relations with the superpowers, without entering into pre-constituted networks of alliances and influence. In this sphere, the pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power. So, there is no need to imagine a taking of sides for moral reasons, much worse for spiritual ones.”


La Civiltà Cattolica derives much of its prestige from the fact that its pages are reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State before publication. Do the Holy See’s top diplomats agree with the characterization of their work as not “saying who is right or who is wrong” because all are fighting over power?

Spadaro and Figueroa’s theological assessment of the “ecumenism of hate” does not bear scrutiny. Their charges will dissipate quickly enough for lack of substantive argument. But the claim that the Holy See refrains from distinguishing between right and wrong in a world of tyrants and their victims needs a correction soon. It would have been opportune for the Secretariat of State to have done so before publication. [Perhaps since Spadaro and Figueroa appear to be in a much more privileged position close to the papal ear, mind and heart than anyone at the Secretariat of State – Spadaro especially in his persona as unofficial spokesman for the pope – the middle-level managers at SecState who are supposedly in charge of 'vetting' LCC before publication, have simply stopped doing so, because who are they, after all, to demand that a papal pet like Spadaro should meet 'peer review' standards?]

Funny that Fr. Longenecker should home in on two now all-too-familiar and tedious communications tactics by the Bergoglians led by their lord and master – setting up strawmen (actual 'people', or categories of people, anyway, as we all know someone likes to do, as well as strawman arguments) every chance they get, and using them as scapegoats for everything they find wrong in the Church and in the world.

Spadaro, straw men and scapegoats
by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
From his PATHEOS blog
July 17, 2017

Fr De Souza has brilliantly analyzed for CRUX the article at La Civilta Cattolica that everyone is talking about. His juicy observation about the article is that “It does not rise to the level of mediocrity”.

Having read the article I actually agreed with some of the observations about Evangelical Fundamentalism. The problem is that the authors are commenting on something they don’t know about from personal experience. It’s all theory from a few books they’ve read and perhaps a few conversations with fellow intellectuals in some coffee shop in Europe.

The American Evangelical scene is far more complex and crazy than these guys understand. [That is not to say that they do not have good people at all who are not 'crazy'!] Their snide comment, for instance about Evangelical fundamentalists being mostly “white men from the deep South”, is a racist bigoted comment on the level of Obama’s famous and fatuous wisecrack about country folk who “cling to their religion and guns” or Mrs Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”.

When will these people learn that not all conservatives are Wal-Mart shoppers with a gun rack in their pick-up? [And what is wrong, Fr Dwight, with a Wal-Mart shopper who carries a gun in his pickup??? As long he does so to protect himself and his family and not to hunt others to kill them!]

But the main problem is that in the second half Spadaro and Figueroa attempt to throw Catholic conservatives into the same pick-up truck as the “stupid Evangelicals”. [Oh, dear – he makes it worse by extending the faulty synecdoche (i.e, where a part is taken to represent the whole)!]
- They come up with a name “Catholic Integralists” - this shadowy group who want to create a “theocracy” and go to war with the Muslims etc. etc. As others have pointed out, such American Catholics only exist in the imagination of Spadaro and Figueroa.
- They come up with Michael Voris and his Church Militant group. Sure, but Michael and his devotees are a tiny minority in the Catholic Church of the USA. Do we really need the editor of a major Vatican paper to put Voris in his place? I think not.

Spadaro’s attack on American “Catholic Integralists” is an attack on a straw man. It's a scarecrow and like all scarecrows the article doesn’t have a brain.

But there is a reason for Spadaro to create this straw man. He wants to create a scarecrow that seems scary. By creating this imaginary creature “the American Catholic Integralist” he has given a label to all the Catholic conservatives he wishes to demonize.

This follows the usual routine of conflict: 1. Generalize about your enemy. 2. Imagine they are organized 3.Create a name for this shadowy group 4. Demonize them 5. Marginalize them 6. Exclude them 7.Get rid of them. 8. Feel good about it. In other words, use a scarecrow to create a scapegoat.

The article is a classic example of the progressivists' passive-aggressive tactics. Their talk is all about sweetness and light and tolerance and being nice, but while they smile they stab and while they kiss they twist the knife.

The fact that Spadaro and Figueroa blather on about “Pope Francis is building a world without fences and borders – which calls for dialogue and not for war and conflict” makes this blatant attempt at stereotyping and scapegoating all the more ironic. [Not ironic at all, if one consider's Bergoglio's daily example of demonizing everyone who does not think as he does - in which case Bergoglio bears the brunt of the irony.]

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July 19, 2017
I saw the reports on the 'Domspatzen' scandal (referred to in two links from Canon 2i12.com above] too late to post about it.
For the basis of the following commentary by Steve Skojec, look up the AP account published in CRUX of what many people might now
be calling 'the Georg Ratzinger sex abuse scandal' which broke anew yesterday.

cruxnow.com/global-church/2017/07/18/hundreds-boys-abused-choir-run-georg-ra...


For the Pope Emeritus,
a strange sort of coincidence

by Steve Skojec
ONEPETERFIVE
July 18, 2017

Despite what some folks might say, we’re not in the business of trafficking in conspiracy theories... Nevertheless, let me line up some dots for you and see if a picture emerges.

On Saturday, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had a message read to those gathered at the funeral of the late Cardinal Meisner. In it, he said something that drew a great deal of attention:

What particularly impressed me from my last conversations with the now passed Cardinal was the relaxed cheerfulness, the inner joy and the confidence at which he had arrived.

We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination.

However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if [sometimes] the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.


Some German speakers have since pointed out that the last sentence was slightly more conditional than our translation read. That the word “sometimes” should appear before “the boat”, as I’ve placed it in brackets above. But I find this to be a distinction without a difference. Like many, many others, I had the distinct impression when reading this that the former pope was blinking a message in Morse Code — perhaps subconsciously, perhaps intentionally, but a message nonetheless.

When I read it, my first thought was, “He’s speaking about himself here. That he views himself, too, as a “passionate shepherd and pastor who found it difficult to leave his post” but who “learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church”.

Even if the boat looks like it’s about to go under.

Whether this is a self-assessment or really just a reflection on his departed friend from Germany, it is more difficult not to read into this a critique of how the Church is being run today than it is to see it as exactly that. This notion takes on a deeper meaning when we recall that he told the five newest cardinals just weeks ago — rather cryptically — that “The Lord wins in the end.”

It is of course no surprise that everyone is talking about these comments. And it is also not a surprise, therefore, that the former pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, has now gone out of his way to deny that there is any such meaning in Benedict’s words [translation by Google with some polishing from me]:

“Nonsense,” said Monsignor Georg Gänswein, “the pope emeritus was deliberately manipulated; with that sentence he was not referring to anything specific, but spoke of the situation of the Church today as in the past as a boat that does not sail in calm waters. Francis also says this. I understand that this may give rise to allusions or false impressions, but behind those words there is no attack. “
Gänswein also dismissed claims, found in some of the sillier quarters of the Internet, that the pope emeritus did not write his own words. He “wrote the message alone,” said Gänswein, from the “first to the last letter in his own hand, and no one helped him.”

[Forgive the necessary digression, but… It is clearly a measure of the mindless malice of Joseph Ratzinger's critics like Melloni and Faggioli (sounds like an item from an ala carte Italian menu), and all the rest who mindlessly echo them, that Gaenswein's last statements even had to be made about a man who had written - before he even became pope - enough to fill 16 volumes averaging about 800 pages each, one who was known from the start of his career as a German professor in his 20s as 'Goldmund' ('golden mouth', which is 'chrysostom' in Greek) for the amazing excellence of his lectures which, delivered spontaneously though certainly from notes, even then were described as 'print ready', and whose homilies and catecheses as Pope brought comparisons to St. Pope Leo the Great...

As for Gaenswein's protestations about what Benedict XVI meant or didn't mean, it doesn't really matter. Joseph Ratzinger is a veteran wizard with words, and knows exactly what he wants to say and how to say it in order to convey what he means. We don't need Gaenswein to tell us what to think about what Benedict XVI says or writes.]


But clearly, the impression his statement gave was nearly universal. Many, many Catholics saw the comments as a shot across the bow. As a man forced into a compromise position who was desperate to convey that things in the Church are not as good, in his view, as he has given the public impression he believes.

Which is, perhaps, why I find it exceedingly odd that just today — three days after the former pope’s comments began their viral circulation of the Internet — a new report has come out concerning alleged abuse of members of the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir in Germany, of which Georg Ratzinger, the 93-year-old older brother of the former pope, served as head for 30 years (1964-1994). The report that was issued in 2016 alleged 231 victims; the new story claims at least 547 victims. The initial abuse allegations surfaced in 2010. [i.e., precisely at the peak of the avowed and overt campaign by the world's media giants to uncover anything that might directly tie Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI to a case of sexual abuse or of covering up for priests who committed sexual abuse, and thereby force him to resign as Pope. In the course of which the Domspatzen scandal came to light, implicating his brother instead! About which Georg Ratzinger promptly answered saying he had never heard of sexual abuses, but yes, he did know of physical abuses, such as slapping the boys, which he candidly said he himself did sometimes, as it was routine discipline in Germany until it became illegal to do that… I have more observations to make about this below.*]

Now of course, it’s likely just a coincidence. Clearly, the investigation has been ongoing for the better part of a decade. Perhaps this new report had been scheduled to come out this week all along. But the timing certainly is interesting — a former pope speaks up in a way the world interprets as a criticism of a pontificate known for its autocratic and controlling style, led by a pope a pope known as one who keeps and settles scores, and within 3 days an international news story implicating his elderly brother in a sex abuse scandal is making headlines around the globe.

If nobody is using this as leverage to pressure the former pope into silence, then the odds are simply fascinating. Make of it what you will.

*The new report on the Domspatzen, concluded after seven years of investigation, uncovered 500 cases of physical injury abuses and 67 sexual abuses, committed by 49 perpetrators, in the 47 years from 1945-1992. That comes to an average of 11 physical abuses and 1.43 sexual abuses a year. Moreover, the sexual abuses make up less than 12 percent of the total 567 cases reported.

Needless to say, one abuse alone is already one too many, but this new report recalls the outcome of one of the official investigations by the Irish government into the sexual abuses said to have been prevalent in Irish Catholic schools and institutions from the 1920s onward – in which, similarly, the complaints of physical and emotional abuse far outnumbered the complaints of sexual abuse.

These days, however, when the media say 'abuse' in connection with the Church, they don't even bother to qualify it because they consider – quite rightly – that everyone will simply think it refers 'yet again' to sexual crimes by priests.

The Domspatzen cases date back 19 years from when Georg Ratzinger took on his position as Choir Master of the Regensburg Cathedral (Domkapellmeister was his official title, 'dom' being German for cathedral)) and do cover 28 of the 30 years he served in that position. But the headlines have been typical of the AP's "Hundreds of boys abused in choir once run by Georg Ratzinger". Having achieved beyond-maximum innuendo impact by such a headline, what the reports carefully omit to make clear is that the abuses took part in the two boarding schools which the Domspatzen boys attended, i.e., in their daily schoolday life, in which Georg Ratzinger had no part (he was employed by the Cathedral, not by the boarding schools), and not, say, at choir practice with him in the Cathedral. One imagines some reporter already feverishly interviewing ex-Domspatzen from the Ratzinger years to find out if the choir director had ever misbehaved with them, how and how often, during the many concert tours they gave abroad!

Of course, the point of all these stories is not about any objective facts uncovered – which cannot be undone or denied - but to lay down innuendoes thick enough to be mythified into factoids, especially if the reports are about sexual abuse by priests. Anything to soil the Church – or in this case, anyone named Ratzinger - with any muck that can be raked up!]

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I must apologize that I had never before looked up the blogsite called Archbishop Cranmer, which I recall seeing occasionally in my rapid skim-throughs
online, but it turns out it something I ought to check out more often if not regularly because it represents the views of conservative Anglicans
upset by the doctrinal and pastoral upheavals of the Communion in the past several decades but who are sticking it out and not crossing the Tiber via
the Ordinariates… Here is a most interesting blogpost reflecting on the vicissitudes of Deacon Nick Donnelly and his recent decision to change
his Tweetername – or whatever the right term is for it - from 'Protect the Pope' to 'Protect the Faith'. How admirable!


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‘Protect the Pope’ was a blog established in 2010 by the Rev. Nick Donnelly, a kindly, humble and intelligent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church (and the second-nicest Catholic in the Twittersphere). His blog soon became one of the most important go-to Romish blogs in the UK (if not the world), with a million hits a year from people eager to read his incisive commentary and robust defence of Roman Catholic orthodoxy against the “lies, half-truths and misrepresentations of a coalition of aggressive secularists, atheists and homosexual activists” of the left-liberal intelligentsia (mainly media), who weren’t overly fond of Pope Benedict XVI for various reasons.

“I set up Protect the Pope to defend Benedict XVI during his state visit to the UK,” Nick Donnelly tweeted earlier this week. “Vicious attacks in the media. Now the media love Francis.”

And the media loves Pope Francis mainly because he is not as ‘rigid‘ as Pope Benedict XVI: “@Pontifex appointing pro-abortion/euthanasia advocates to the Pontifical Academy for Life was the last straw for me. Not Catholic”, Deacon Nick explained, before adding rather mournfully: “I hoped for the best, but my worst fears for the Church are being realized. He is destroying the Catholic nature of the Church".

This destruction, Deacon Nick avers, is evidenced in the appointment of the pro-choice moral theologian Professor Nigel Biggar to the Pontificia Academia pro Vita. What on earth is a pro-abortion Anglican doing on a body which was founded with the purpose of promoting and defending human life?

And so ‘Protect the Pope’ has morphed into ‘Protect the Faith’, just to dispel any notion that ‘Protect the Pope’ was actually protecting the Pope – as opposed to protecting the Pope Emeritus, which ‘Protect the Pope’ was established to do. And ‘Protect the Pope Emeritus’ is a bit of a clumsy name for a blog (and Twitter handle), so ‘Protect the Faith’ it must be, because the cardinals and bishops obviously aren’t doing it.

There’s quite a bit of backbiting (not to say backstabbing) in the Roman Catholic Church at the moment, principally down to the Francis-Benedict hermeneutic of discontinuity (or the very easy perception of such).

Intra-ecclesial division is nothing new, of course: there has been a liberal-traditional fissure in the Roman Catholic Church at least since the Second Vatican Council, and arguably those consultations, declarations and decrees were an attempt to codify a response to preexisting divisions on the nature of Christ and the Church and the application of Christian theology in the (post-)modern world. The Church has always been divided (1Cor 1:12; 3:4), but the Benedict-Francis sectarianism seems to be heading inexorably toward schism. [Oh please! And I thought this blogger would be intelligent enough to see just how impossible that is – for the simple reason that neither 'faction' is likely to break off from the Roman Catholic Church: the Bergoglians because their man happens to be pope right now, who can and does use the Church openly and shamelessly for his own hubristic narcissistic agenda, and he certainly is not going to do a Luther because he is the pope and can do with the Church as he pleases, whether he can rightfully do so or not; and orthodox Catholics won't - those one might call the 'Benedict faction' (although it necessarily includes bitter traditionalists more popish than the emeritus who use him just now as a punching bag no less viciously as theyuse Jorge Bergoglio) - because the Church we call 'our Church' is the one true Church of Christ with a bimillennial deposit of faith that no anti-Catholic Jorge-come-lately from Buenos Aires can pillage.]

Tweets and blog homilies abound referring to Francis quite brazenly as the Antipope who must resign for the good of the Church. These critics aren’t Protestants (well, technically, they are, by definition) but devout Roman Catholics (or a bit more devout than the Pope). There are plots and rumours of plots to depose the Pontiff; accounts of a pope utterly despised by his own clergy; tales of infighting and factionalism which is escalating to ecclesial civil war.

Every utterance made by the Pope Emeritus is seized upon by traditionalists as the word of the ‘true’ Pope or the ‘real’ Pope – the one they wish had never resigned and inflicted this disastrous Papacy on the world. Did Benedict write about the “dictatorship of the zeitgeist“? He must mean the befuddled Francis. Did he mention a capsizing boat? That must be the Holy Mother Church under the heretic Francis.

Many of the faithful believe that the Petrine ministry still properly resides with Benedict: God will preserve the Magisterium through him. The charisms of indefectibility and infallibility cannot be defectible or fallible, and Francis is seemingly a thousand errors and wrongs all rolled into one. Rome seems to have become the seat of the Antichrist, or at least one of many antichrists.
1Jn 2:18).

And so ‘Protect the Pope’ must die in order that the Rev’d Nick Donnelly may preach Catholic truth and distinguish himself from the Pope who does not preach anything like that truth.

Of course, Pope Francis would say to Deacon Nick that he is being “too rigid” in his understanding of doctrine; that he lacks mercy, grace and goodness. This upstart deacon is trying to be “more Papist than the Pope“, as the Pope once accused those Catholics who put doctrinal phariseeism before the work of the Holy Spirit.

Deacon Nick would take it on the chin, and respond along the lines of: “When the pope (lower-case) appoints pro-abortion/euthanasia advocates as advisers and no cardinal or bishop protests, I have to speak out, come what may.” The Spirit of the Lord is upon him, you see. He might add: “Also, it’s very easy nowadays to be more Catholic than the pope (lower case): you just have to uphold the doctrines contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

And that would be his rationale in two tweets.

Nick Donnelly is no stranger to disputation, occasionally correcting, rebuking and exhorting ‘with all longsuffering and doctrine‘ (2Tim 4:2). And in his ministry he has corrected and rebuked eminent Roman Catholic theologians, quite a few bishops and the odd cardinal. But on 2nd March 2014 his ‘Protect the Pope’ blog fell silent.

On 7th March of that year, his wife posted an explanation for this absence: “Nick has been asked to observe a period of prayer and reflection.” She did not specify why this reflection was being observed or by whom it had been requested. But the Diocese of Lancaster (ie Bishop Michael Campbell) helpfully issued a swift statement to the press, freely disclosing the Bishop to be the initiator of the request. It read:

After learning that a notice had been placed upon the Protect the Pope website on 7 March saying: ‘Deacon Nick stands down from Protect the Pope for a period of prayer and reflection’ the Bishop’s Office at the Diocese of Lancaster was able to confirm that Bishop Campbell had recently requested Deacon Nick Donnelly to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site.
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that the Bishop asked Deacon Nick to use this pause to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.
Deacon Nick has agreed to the Bishop’s request at this time.


It was interesting phraseology: Deacon Nick was “requested…to voluntarily pause” from writing his blog. What was one to infer from this other than that Deacon Nick had been somehow failing to fulfil his diaconal duties or had been otherwise deficient, disobedient or unfaithful to his church’s teaching?

This “period of prayer and reflection” was manifestly nothing of the sort: the “request” carried more than a whiff of absolutist clericalism; an enforced disciplinary censorship imposed upon the Deacon who had presumed to defend the Pope (ie the embodiment of Roman Catholic orthodoxy) against the more liberal winds blowing through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBEW).

It was even more disconcerting when one considers that a conversation between a bishop and a member of his clergy remains, by convention, totally confidential: while the Diocese was happily issuing its defensive press releases, Deacon Nick was faithfully Trappist, having evidently been given no dispensation to speak or write about any conversations he may or may not have been having with his Bishop.

Filling the void – as nature requires – a number of interesting explanations about the reasons for the Bishop’s censoriousness surfaced. The Tablet stated: “Protect the Pope… regularly criticised groups and individual bishops – including Cardinal Vincent Nichols – for being at odds with church teaching on issues such as homosexuality, women’s ordination, contraception and abortion. It is understood that concerns about the site had been raised with Bishop Campbell by fellow members of the English and Welsh hierarchy.”

Fr Z, who runs the popular eponymous US blog, said: “I, for one, can imagine that a lot of pressure was exerted on the Bishop of Lancaster to have gone to such an extreme as to command a cleric under his charge not to think aloud in public.”

And Fr Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity wrote: “I think that it is no great secret that Catholic blogs are indeed a frequent topic of conversation at the meetings of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.”

It appeared, then, that Deacon Nick Donnelly was just a bit too Catholic for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. For as long as Pope Benedict XVI sat upon St Peter’s Throne issuing the occasiona lmotu proprio favouring the old paths (Jer 6:16), Deacon Nick’s commitment to immutable truths and infallible moral law were tolerated, not least because they chimed with the Vatican under Benedict, if not quite with the CBEW.

But under Francis, the traditionalists appear to be on the retreat: they are sidelined or censored while those progressive Roman Catholics who advocate a more tolerant approach to priestly celibacy, same-sex unions, abortion or divorce and re-marriage are not merely tolerated but actively promoted.

Benedict XVI was a Catholic Herald kind of pope; Francis inclines toward The Tablet. Or at least that’s how it appears. Certainly, the Diocese of Lancaster isn’t averse to promoting the latter on its website, giving high profile coverage to liberal bishops who are calling for a “radical re-examination of human sexuality”, while downplaying (/ignoring) the traditional teaching.


For Deacon Nick, such a radical re-examination is unnecessary, unholy and un-Catholic. Indeed, for him it amounts to apostasy [Oh goody, a rare ally in calling Bergoglio's hubris outright and clear 'apostasy', even if necessarily not [yet] formal, rather than the too-easily dodged accusations of 'heresy': Such teachings do not ‘develop’ through synodical debate and legislative resolution, for that would incline toward the more heterodox Anglican view. No, if the Magisterium is infallible, its teaching must be protected and the Deposit of Faith defended. Dissenting bishops and cardinals must be called out, corrected and rebuked using Scripture and referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Those who do not repent ought to be excommunicated.
.
But it was Deacon Nick who was “requested” to “prayerfully reflect”.

The Catholic Herald wrote that it is impractical for bishops to seek to “censor the blogosphere”, not least because this sort of medieval inquisitorial heavy-handedness has a tendency to backfire in this fragmented digital age. Indeed, a perplexed (if not deeply upset) Mrs Donnelly reluctantly assumed the role of protecting the Pope during her husband’s voluntary-mandatory period of reflection. They might have muzzled the Deacon with appeals to lofty episcopal authority, but it’s nigh impossible to censor the new media altogether. When Bishop Michael wrote demanding that no one post on ‘Protect the Pope’, she immediately stopped out of respect for his office.

Deacon Nick was tolerated (just about) by what may be termed the ‘protestant’ bishops of the Roman Catholic Church for as long as Benedict reigned. Since his abdication, the liberals have been doing what liberals, clerical or civil, always do – silencing the opposition and using the levers of the institution to destroy it.

The Church needs more prophetic blogging watchmen like Deacon Nick Donnelly, exposing hypocrisy, challenging double standards and shining a light into its mysterious workings and often impenetrable darkness. And the Church needs more bishops like Michael Campbell who will exhort the faithful into long periods of prayer and reflection, for ‘Protect the Faith’ is the undoubted fruit of this profound reflection.

Michael Campbell’s request was for Nick Donnelly “to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site”. That leaves him free to post to his heart’s content (as the Holy Spirit leads) on a new ‘Protect the Faith’ site. Laudate Dominum!

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More reflections on Benedict XVI's eulogy for Cardinal Joachim Meisner…

The signals from Benedict XVI
in his eulogy for Cardinal Meisner

Translated from the blog of
ALDO MARIA VALLI
July 19, 2017

I don't know if you would agree, but I find the message of Benedict XVI in memory of his friend Joachim Meisner – besides being very beautiful in its simplicity, profundity and elegance – contains some messages that Joseh Ratzinger wants to communicate to us and whose importance goes far beyond remembering a pastor so greatly appreciated by the emeritus Pope.

In expressing his profound affection for the cardinal who died last July 5, Ratzigner invites us to reflect on some points that also tell us very much about Benedict XVI himself – how he sees the Church today, how he is living through this phase of his life, and of the priorities that the faithful should always keep in mind.

Onb his blog, Sandro Magister published the entire text of an Italian translation from the German original, and so we can savor the text word for word. [Valli proceeds to reprint the Italian text.]

I believe that in this message, Benedict XVI tells us much about himself, and his concerns and hopes for the faith and for the Church. Every word must be analyzed, but I shall limit myself to the thoughts expressed in it that struck me most.

At one point, Joseph Ratzinger says that "it certainly was not by chance" that Meisner's last visit "was made to a confessor of the faith". [ [He had attended the beatification ceremony for a Lithuanian bishop.]

To confess the faith, especially in the most difficult times, when everything seems lost: There is a mandate here. If it is not possible through words and gestures, if the circumstances impede a public profession, a person's life itself, with its fidelity and consistency, can become his confession of faith. Especially at a time like ours, marked by a secularization process that directly affects the Church herself, it is such testimony that accounts, and the faithful must pay attention to the signs that God sends us through such testimonies of faith.

I remember, in this respect, that in JESUS OF NAZARETH, Benedict XVI wrote about "the weak signals that God sends the world in order to break the dictatorship of habit" – signals that must not just be received but also searched for, to begin with, and to to do so, one must keep alive the necessary sensibility to do it. The persons able to receive such signals, Benedict XVI wrote, "scrutinize what is taking place around them to seek out what is great, what is good, what constitutes true justice and true goodness… who are not content with existing reality and do not stifle the heart's unease, that unease that impels man to seek something greater and to undertake an internal journey".

A second point in the eulogy for Cardinal Meisner is when Ratzinger underscores his "natural serenity, his interior peace and the trust that he had found" in his old age. A serenity, a peace, and a trust that certainly even Benedict XVI would have sought after he gave up the Pontificate, but perhaps, for many reasons, has not yet fully achieved. It is a treasure that the emeritus Pope seeks with such desire and continues to seek in prayer, in nearness to the Lord, and the prayers of his friends.

Related to the above is a third important point. It is clear that when Ratzinger speaks of pastors "able to oppose the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) and fully determined to act and think from the viewpoint of the faith", he also has himself and his experience as the Supreme Pastor in mind.

Without 'forcing' anything out of Benedict XVI's thoughts expressed in the letter, he almost seems to be asking himself: "Will I be able to carry out this task? Will I be sufficiently resolute at a time when the Church is in so much need of authentic pastors? Will my decision to give up the papacy be useful in this context?"

Shortly afterwards, in the eulogy for Meisner, Ratzinger himself emerges clearly. When Benedict XVI says that he was most struck that his friend, in the final phase of his life, had learned "to let go and live more than ever with the profound certainty that the Lord does not abandon his Church, even if sometimes the boat seems on the verge of capsizing" – we see him here, although backlighted, at the moment of his renunciation that was both dramatic and liberating, a decision he made with total trust in the Lord who does not abandon the Church even if disaster, from a human viewpoint, seems so close.

The reference to the boat of the Church reminds us directly of the words pronounced by Cardinal Ratzinger, on April 18, 2005, in his homily at the Missa pro eligendo Pontefice at St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of the 2005 Conclave – words which would seem in hindsight to have been the 'electoral manifesto' of the future pope:

How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

The boat may be overwhelmed by the waves, may seem to be adrift, but the Lord does not allow it to be shipwrecked because he never sends us a trial without also giving us the strength to face it. And precisely when shipwreck appears nearest, we ought to raise our 'antennae' well to seek out those 'weak signals' that God never tires of sending us – this is the duty of everyone, consecrated persons as well as laymen, to become like spiritual 'radio receptors' that will place us on the wavelength in which Gods sends his messages.

Now we come to Eucharistic Adoration. In the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, I was there as a reporter and I remember very well the night of the Prayer Vigil before the concluding Mass: The Eucharistic Adoration in which almost a million young people participated on the plain in Marienfeld was an unprecedented event. The silence was total, the recollection and contemplation were absolute. Those young men and women launched a very powerful message. Kneeling in prayer and adoration, they demonstrated in the most effective way that Eucharistic Adoration was not a practice that has become obsolete, but that it is at the heart of our experience of the faith. They gave the lie to supposed experts in liturgy and 'pastoral' ministry who said that what Benedict XVI intended to do – introduce Eucharistic Adoration as the main feature of the WYD Prayer Vigil – would never succeed.

Why did Benedict XVI, evoking that prayer vigil with young people in Cologne, underscore in his eulogy for Meisner that "we cannot eat this Bread as if it were any common nourishment", that to receive the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrament "affects all the dimensions of our life" and that "to receive him must be to adore him and to worship him, which is something that becomes increasingly clear every day"?

These reflections, brief but precise, are in their turn signals that Benedict XVI is sending. Which reminds us of another intervention by Joseph Ratzinger not too long ago. I refer to the brief remarks he gave off the cuff on June 28 last year, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

It had not been on the program that after Pope Francis gave his address, Benedict XVI would reply. But the Emeritus Pope – who was back at the Apostolic Palace for the first time since he left it on February 28, 2013 – rose to say some words, and after the customary civilities, proposed a thought centered on the Eucharist.

Recalling that on the day they were ordained, one of his friends [Rupert Berger] had the word Eucharistomen [dim=8pt[Greek for 'We give thanks' ] printed on his commemorative prayer card, Benedict XVI said:

“Eucharistomen”! On that occasion, my friend Berger wished to evoke not just the dimension of human gratitude, but of course, the more profound word it hides which appears in liturgy, in Scripture, in the words "Gratias agens benedixit fregit deditque" ("giving thanks to Thee, blessed it, broke it and gave it (to his disciples").

'Eucharistomen' brings us back to the reality of that thanksgiving, the new dimension that Christ gave it. He had transformed the cross, suffering, all the evils of the world, into a thanksgiving and therefore a blessing. Thus, fundamentally, he trans-substantiated life and the world, and he gave us - and gives us every day - the Bread of true life which triumphs over the world, thanks to the power of his love.

In the end, we wish to be included in the Lord's thanksgiving, so that we may truly receive a new life and help in the trans-substantiation of the world - that it may be a world not of death but of life, a world in which love has triumphed over death.

I have asked myself why, on that day, and with such precision, Benedict XVI decided to focus on the Eucharist and trans-substantiation. [At the time, the most proximate reason was probably the announcement that Bergoglio would be going to Sweden to concelebrate the opening of the 500th centenary of Luther's schism with a Swedish pastor, added to the fact that earlier, at a visit to the Lutheran Church in Rome, Bergoglio had indicated he would allow inter-faith communion to a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic. Even if Protestants do not believe in Trans-substantiation at all, and for them, 1) the act of communion is merely a symbolic participation in the Lord's Supper, not a re-creation of his supreme sacrifice for mankind, and bread and wine remain nothing but bread and wine, and 2) a Catholic priest's Consecration of these species do not mean they are trans-substantiated into the real Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, Benedict XVI was also speaking just three and a half months before the second Bergoglian family synod, meant like the first one in 2014, to force the synodal Fathers to allow communion for remarried divorcees who continue to live in adultery. IMHO, this potential disrespect for the Eucharist was Benedict XVI's priority concern.]

And now, in his message about his friend Meisner, he refers anew to the Eucharistic Bread 'that cannot be eaten like any common nourishment" and that in this Presence, we have a duty to worship and to adore. An insistence that cannot be casual.

Some commentators, not without malice, have asked whether the eulogy for Meisner was written by Benedict XVI himself. As far as I am concerned, not only I am completely certain that this is all Benedict XVI, but that it is also important to examine the signals that Joseph Ratzinger thereby wanted to send us all. [And we can be sure Cardinal Meisner in the house of the Lord is only too happy that Benedict XVI had this occasion to send the signals that he did!]

Another 'reading' of the Meisner eulogy comes from Fr. De Souza, who does not think that Benedict XVI's remarks about the state of the Church today was meant in any way as a criticism of his successor. It is true that even in his time, Benedict XVI had used the image of a floundering Church as perennially potential if not actual, but how can we say he did not mean this time to underscore that the image of a Church on the verge of capsizing has become quite actual today? As punctiliously (and overly, IMHO) discreet as he has been these past four years about showing any sign of 'disobedience' or 'disrespect' for his successor, Benedict XVI is certainly not naïve, and we know from his own abundant and compelling Magisterium and the record of his life where he stands on all the heterodox positions and statements that his successor has taken. Because he has become a virtual prisoner of Bergoglio does not mean that he has turned his back on everything he taught and lived before March 13, 2013!

In a way, we do not even need to hear from him what he thinks of every single thing we object to about Bergoglio – we merely have to look into what he has said and written on any specific topic in the past. Which is why it is most unfortunate that he said those words which sounded like total unconditional support of everything Bergoglio says and does, at the opening of his last book-length interview with Peter Seewald. Never mind if, from the timeline, it appears he gave that part of the interview shortly after Bergoglio's election, that is, before it became undeniably clear that this Argentine arriviste intended to remake the Church of Christ in his own image and likeness! Those words documented in a book have given all of his new enemies among Catholic commentators a basis to now continually mock him as 'nuBenedict' or 'deutero-Benedict' (Melloni's Latinized version of what modern parlance would call Benedict 2.0), and to look back on all his teachings on Vatican II as a reinforcement of its false 'spirit' and therefore contributing to the destruction of the Church like Paul VI and John Paul II, a destruction that is only being accelerated and perhaps meant to be achieved by Bergoglio. The latest twist of the knife in this respect is some essay in Rorate caeli by a priest who rants against "the fake hermeneutic of continuity". And Mundabor, much as I agree most of the time with him in his anti-Bergoglio screeds, has been abominably and unforgivably venomous to Benedict XVI lately.


His farewell to Cardinal Meisner
was vintage Ratzinger

The pope emeritus’ July 11 message reminded all listeners why Benedict XVI.
remains without literary peer among Catholic preachers and theologians

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, SJ
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER
July 19, 2017

There was a surprise at the funeral Mass of Cardinal Joachim Meisner on July 15 in Cologne; a message was read from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, dated July 11. The message was not as explosive as some commentators with short memories made it out to be; it was vintage Ratzinger, always alert to the precarious state of the Church.

The message reminded all listeners why Benedict remains without literary peer among Catholic preachers and theologians; in just 650 words (in the English translation), he summarized the arc of a great Churchman’s life in light of the signs of the times. In an ecclesial environment of increasingly strident language, Benedict’s characteristically serene and luminous intervention was a gift to the memory of his great friend. The mellifluous message was significant in seven ways.

A capsizing Church
The image that garnered the most attention, accompanied by inflamed headlines in some quarters of the Catholic media, was Benedict’s depiction of a beleaguered Church:

This passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon his Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

That ought not be interpreted as though Benedict thinks the Church is floundering under Pope Francis. There is no basis for ]that in any public record. [What does Father mean by 'that' – that Benedict thinks it, or that the Church is floundering under Francis?]

Dutifully enough, Benedict’s secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein — who read the message at the funeral — clarified that, of course, Benedict’s remarks were not directed at Pope Francis. ['Dutiful' is the appropriate adjective – dutiful to the pope, his official boss, but a gratuitous remark since he volunteered it and was not asked about it. But how could it be dutiful to the emeritus Pope, his private boss by his personal choice? He could have said more neutrally, "I read exactly what Benedict XVI wrote – it is not my place to interpret it, as I think his words are quite clear."]

The image of the boat taking on water is a favorite of Benedict’s. At the Mass before the conclave in 2005, when he preached against the “dictatorship of relativism” — to which he returned in Cardinal Meisner’s funeral message — he spoke also of stormy waters:

How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves — flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth.

And in his last general audience before his abdication, on Feb. 27, 2013, he returned again to the biblical image of the Church as a boat in danger of sinking:

I have felt like St. Peter with the apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: The Lord has given us so many days of sun and of light winds, days when the catch was abundant; there were also moments when the waters were rough and the winds against us, as throughout the Church’s history, and the Lord seemed to be sleeping.

But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat, and I have always known that the barque of the Church is not mine, but his. Nor does the Lord let it sink; it is he who guides it, surely also through those whom he has chosen, because he so wished. This has been, and is, a certainty which nothing can shake.

For long decades, Ratzinger/Benedict has considered the state of the Church — especially in his native Germany — to be in dire shape. His message for Cardinal Meisner’s obsequies could not refrain from returning to that theme, as the two of them spent most of their life together in a boat that was taking on water. Nothing more need be read into Benedict’s image than that. . [I beg to disagree, most vehemently, though I have, of course, compelling reasons to do so: The Emeritus could hardly have been referring to the Church in Germany alone – whatever Mons. Gaenswein or Fr. De Souza may say. Even the passages from the past that Fr. De Souza cites refer to the universal Church, not to some particular Church. (BTW, I am surprised that both Valli and De Souza forgot that Joseph Ratzinger used almost the identical phraseology about the boat in danger of capsizing most famously in the Ninth Prayer for the Ninth Station of the Cross in the Via Crucis meditations he wrote for Good Friday 2005 less than a month before he would be elected Pope.)

As a virtual 'prisoner of the Vatican' (even if the initial circumstances were his choice), living within Vatican walls in itself puts Benedict XVI in the position of a vassal to the lord of the fiefdom who has every means to compel his subjects' compliance – especially when, in this case, the subject is someone who had pledged publicly his obedience and respect to the new pope before anyone even had any idea of who his successor would be to the cardinals who had gathered to elect a new pope. That pledge was a virtual self-estoppel for Benedict XVI – and in hindsight, he ought not to have said it at all, as no one was expecting him to say it. But he did, and he has to live with it as best as he can. How could he, a vassal, disobey, much less, denounce, his liege lord to whom he had preemptively pledged his obedience and respect?

He has to denounce what he thinks wrong or misguided in his successor's words and actions indirectly – and Cardinal Meisner's funeral gave him a great opportunity to do so. In stating general observations about the Church and the life of a dedicated pastor like Meisner, he delivers his commentary on the current state of the Church without having to name anyone. And it is also the best answer to those who claim Benedict believes he is just as much pope today as his successor - otherwise he would not be living under Bergoglio's thumb as he does, in effect.
(In the same way that he availed of the Meisner eulogy and of his brief remarks to mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination, he had availed earlier of a message on the inauguration of the Aula Magna renamed in his honor at the Gregorian University to deplore, in effect, the 'replacement' of the Church's mission to evangelize and bring more people to Jesus by the effete and ultimately ineffective idea and practice of inter-religious dialog.)]


Brothers in battle: Ratzinger and Meisner
Cardinal Meisner was Benedict’s best friend in the German hierarchy; they had spoken by phone the day before he died. Meisner himself revealed that, during the conclave of 2005, he fought “like I have never fought before” to see Joseph Ratzinger elected.
After his election, it was reported that Cardinal Meisner still called Benedict “Joseph” in private. Meisner was the one who went to Benedict asking that he sack his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as he was not being served well. Benedict refused, but that Cardinal Meisner could ask indicated his closeness to the Holy Father.

Together, Meisner and Ratzinger were the two great pillars of Catholic orthodoxy in a turbulent time for the Church in Germany. Ratzinger became archbishop of Munich in 1977, and then came to Rome as prefect of doctrine in 1981. Meisner was made an auxiliary bishop of Erfurt-Meiningen, a diocese in East Germany, in 1975. In 1980 he became bishop of a still-divided Berlin, and in 1988, he was named archbishop of Cologne, Germany’s premier diocese. He held that post for 25 years, until he retired at 80 in 2014.

The Church in Germany has an outsize influence in global Catholicism, due to the level of its scholarship, its well-developed institutions and its vast sums of money. It was critical to the life of the Church universal that Ratzinger and Meisner brought that influence to bear partly for good over the last 40 years. Their friendship was forged in many battles fought together.

A life fraught with history
Benedict began his message:

We had spoken on the telephone to one another just the day before. Gratefulness for finally being able to begin his vacation, after having participated in the beatification ceremony of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius on the previous Sunday (June 25), was audible in his voice. Love for the Churches in the neighboring countries to the East, which suffered under communist persecution, as well as an appreciation for their holding fast amidst the suffering of those times, made a lifelong impression upon him. And, thus, it is no coincidence that the last visitation of his life was paid in respect to a “Confessor of the Faith” from those lands.


Joachim Meisner was born on Christmas Day 1933 in Breslau, Germany. When he was born, Berlin was only three years old as a diocese, having been carved out of the Diocese of Breslau. After the war, Breslau became Wrocław, Poland, and the Meisner family shifted west as the map of Germany shifted west. He grew up under communism and became a bishop in a German Church divided between west and east, free and persecuted; he lived that division daily when he became bishop of Berlin in 1980. Upon his transfer to Germany’s most important see in 1988, he witnessed the unification of Berlin and of Germany.

In his life of nearly 84 years, Meisner lived under the Third Reich, Soviet domination, a divided Germany and a free and united Europe. His solidarity with the enslaved Churches under communism was borne of experience. He, along with Ratzinger, belongs to the last generation of those pastors who witnessed the drama of totalitarian atheism in Europe.

Eucharist and confession
The consolations of old men who have seen much and endured much are worth noting. Benedict did just that:

Of late, two things caused [Cardinal Meisner] to become ever more joyful and confident: For one, he repeatedly related to me how it filled him with profound delight to see how young people, especially young men, experienced the grace of forgiveness in the sacrament of confession — the gift of having truly found that life which only God can give them… The other thing which always touched him anew and put him in a joyful mood was the quiet spread of Eucharistic adoration…

The Eucharist and confession are the two sacraments that can be received frequently; they are thus the pillars of a sacramental life, and the sacraments are the lifeblood of the Church. There can be no healthy ecclesial life without confessional practice and Eucharistic devotion. That Cardinal Meisner, after a long pastoral life engaged in various challenges and many temporalities, would be heartened by a renewal of both sacraments meant that he never forgot what the Church exists for, namely “the life that only God can give.”

World Youth Day
The 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, scheduled before Ratzinger became pope but which was providentially his first foreign trip, brought Benedict and Cardinal Meisner together at global Catholicism’s grandest event. It was observed that Benedict put his own stamp on WYD at Cologne, adding a prolonged period of Eucharistic adoration to the Saturday evening vigil. Benedict now reveals Cardinal Meisner’s key role in that decision:

At World Youth Day in Cologne, this was a central concern of his: that there be adoration — a silence in which only the Lord speaks to the heart. Some experts in pastoral work and liturgy were of the opinion that such silence in contemplation of the Lord could not be achieved with such a large number of people. A few even considered Eucharistic adoration as such to be obsolete, as the Lord desires to be received in the Eucharistic Bread, and not examined. That, however, one cannot eat this Bread like some common nourishment, and that to “receive” the Lord in the Eucharistic sacrament makes demands upon every dimension of our existence — that to receive must be to adore — has since become, once again, very clear. Thus the interlude of the Eucharistic adoration at the Cologne World Youth Day became an interior event which remained, and not only for the cardinal, unforgettable. This moment remained ever present, like a great light, within him.

One expects that that night remains a great light for Benedict, too, demonstrating again the centrality of World Youth Day in the life of the Church — not only for the young, but their pastors, too.

Benedict engages
It was noted widely [and inevitably] that Cardinal Meisner was one of the four dubia cardinals. Along with Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra and Walter Brandmüller, Cardinal Meisner signed his name to formal questions put to Pope Francis challenging the apparent papal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

Benedict certainly knew that his speech at Cardinal Meisner’s funeral would be interpreted as an act of support for the four cardinals’ initiative. But there is no real doubt about what Benedict thinks on the matter, as his own magisterium is clearly opposed by the very interpretations of Amoris Laetitia the four cardinals were attempting to correct. That he might want to salute the last great act of fidelity of a friend and great Churchman is understandable.

Benedict has clearly taken a decision to engage — quietly but unmistakably — over the past year. His decision to write the foreword to the German edition of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s latest book, Silence, was a recent example, where he gave his endorsement to the liturgical path Cardinal Sarah is following.

Both Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal Meisner have been attacked by those who apparently enjoy favor by Pope Francis, so Benedict’s decision to publicly praise them is significant. And if Benedict is doing that publicly, one can quite imagine what he is saying in his private correspondence, in phone calls and to his visitors.
[So Fr. De Souza, does that not contradict your hypothesis that the words in the Meisner eulogy were not meant at all to be a criticism of the Church in the age of Bergoglio?]
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I did not realize Lawrence England had kept up with Jorge Bergoglio's infinite repertory of his pickled-pepper-faced insults
to anyone and everyone he does not like because they do not agree with him or his worldview, but on the basis of the entries
in this 'book' alone, Bergoglio has got to be the most bilious leader who ever lived (I doubt even the Ku Klux Klan has
a fraction of the bile this pope spews habitually)... And as habituated as I have become to expect something dreadful coming
from this pope's mouth every day - in addition, that is, to his anathema-worthy positions on doctrine (that is the province
of Denzinger-Bergoglio to document and rebut in detail) - going through the list of insults and denigratory statements
he has actually said, when they are listed one after the other, is quite a jolting and sickening experience!
How can
a pope spew so much bile and not be called out for it? The documentary record is abundant and overwhelming and growing
each day, yet he remains impervious and, of course, undaunted and unchecked. This is the true face of Bergoglian 'mercy'
and it is mercilessly un-Christian and uncharitable.
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Phil Lawler has turned out to be the equivalent of Marco Tosatti in the Anglophone blogosphere - and may their tribe increase! Both have
been diligent and consistent in calling down any un-Catholic, anti-Catholic or otherwise questionable statement or positions articulated
by the reigning pope and his myrmidons, and able to do in relatively brief but pungent posts that are very much on the mark and on target.


A partisan vision at the Vatican?
Further thoughts on that 'Civilta Cattolica' essay

By Phil Lawler
catholic culture.org
July 19, 2017

A week after the appearance of the Spadaro-Figueroa rant against American conservatives, I am still shaking my head with disbelief, wondering how a semi-official Vatican journal could have published such a harshly partisan and grossly misinformed analysis of American politics. I am not alone.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia was characteristically polite but firm in his critique, describing the already infamous Civilta Cattolica essay as “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.”

Archbishop Chaput — who has been a prime mover in Catholic-Evangelical cooperation, and thus implicitly a target of the Spadaro-Figueroa diatribe — pointed out the absurdity of the suggestion that American Baptists in particular are working toward a theocratic regime, noting that “the whole idea of Baptist faith cuts against the integration of Church and state.”

And what’s wrong with ecumenical cooperation in the public sphere? Abp. Chaput remarks: "The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power."

Ordinarily one might think of Father Spadaro (“the mouthpiece of Pope Francis”) as a champion of dialogue in general and ecumenical dialogue in particular. But not here. Rather than reaching out to reassure the readers who were appalled by the essay, he doubled down, as it his wont. On his Twitter account he cited the angry reaction as a demonstration of the essay’s accuracy: “The reaction of the ‘haters’ seems a clear sign that our article is telling the truth about the ‘ecumenism of hate.’”

There is no impulse here toward “accompanying” people who have other ideas; only a willingness to demonize the “haters” who disagree. He charges that American conservatives see their political battles as contests between good and evil, but Father Spadaro seems to adopt that attitude himself. [As I always say, Bergoglians always see the tiniest mote in everybody else's eye, blissfully unaware of the enormous beam of intolerance that completely blocks their sight, mind and heart to anything other than what they believe and stand for.]

By the way, I cannot provide a link to Father Spadaro’s tweet (above) because I — like all those who criticize his views — have been blocked from access to his Twitter account. Dialogue, anyone?)

Before moving on to another subject — and I hope to a more rational argument — let me make two final points about the Civilta Cattolica essay: one minor, the other more important:

In the essay, Spadaro and Figueroa refer to the “value voter” bloc in America. A friend in Rome called attention to a detail that I had not noticed when I read the essay. In the US, it is invariably described as the “values voter” bloc; no one ordinarily uses the singular. Or almost no one.

When my sharp-eyed friend searched the Web for uses of the singular “value voter,” he turned up a list of references in left-wing publications. Maybe the authors of the Civilta essay intended to use the plural, and I’m making too much of a simple typo. But it’s a coincidence, at least, that the term, unfamiliar to American ears, turns out to be favored by left-wing pundits in America and papal advisers in Rome.

But now let me turn my attention to the phrase that I found most curious in the piece: the claim that in international conflicts “the Pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power.” There is an element of truth, certainly, in the observation that every international conflict involves a struggle for power. However:
• At the outset, notice how bizarre it is to hear that the Pope “does not want to say who is right or who is wrong.” Ordinarily don’t we think of that as part of the job description for a Roman Pontiff: to help us distinguish between right and wrong? [Oh no, as he mindlessly says, 'who is he to judge?'!]
• Sometimes a fight for power does involve a contest between right and wrong. St. John Paul II perceived a worldwide battle between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death.” The Church should not shrink from that battle. [Or Ronald Reagan's reference to the USSR as 'the evil empire' vs the relative good that the USA represents. Or, more current, ISIS and jihadism vs the non-Muslim world and reason.]
• Moreover Pope Francis has been quite clear in his statements on what he considers right and wrong on issues such as immigration, the environment, and arms trafficking. The claim made by Spadaro and Figueroa seems demonstrably inaccurate.
• But maybe the authors mean that the Pope is reluctant to take sides on specific sorts of issues: military conflicts (as in Syria) or political conflicts (as in Venezuela). Fair enough.

Prudence dictates that the Vatican should always be cautious about statements that could be interpreted as advocacy for a partisan political viewpoint. Which is why the Civilta essay should never have been written.


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 21/07/2017 07.27]
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