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THE CHURCH MILITANT - BELEAGUERED BY BERGOGLIANISM

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ALWAYS AND EVER OUR MOST BELOVED BENEDICTUS XVI





Fr H today offers what Blessed John Henry Newman has written that applies to the reigning pope's co-declaration with a Muslim imam about the diversity of religions...

'Diversity of religions is intended by God' -
Cardinal Newman comments


6 February 2019

So PF has agreed with a Moslem cleric that religious pluralism and diversity are willed by God.

I am rather interested in what other Moslem scholars might have to say about this. Some of them are quite sound chaps when it comes to the errors of Relativism.

Fr Zed has given a characteristically fine and intelligent interpretation of PF's words. As have some others.

Having perused them, I am also rather interested in what some parts of the Jewish Community might think of any suggestion that the Holocaust was willed by God as part of His "permissive will".

What Fr Zed and others have done is (this is not irony; I mean it) absolutely essential; it is truly necessary. In the great task which some future pontificate will inherit, of putting the Papal Magisterium back up on its feet after the disasters of this pontificate, it won't do just to say "That man was repeatedly, disastrously, wrong". Because the obvious corollary of this is that any pope may be horribly wrong.

The standing of the Successor of St Peter will need to be restored, for the good of the Church and for however much time there will be before the End. So, surely, it will have to be said that there are ambiguities in his scripts which need to be interpreted carefully and authoritatively in order to rescue them, and him, from apparent heresy.

But I do think it is outrageous that pastors and academics should have to waste their time dreaming up these 'interpretations' of yet another PF disaster. By the way: was Cardinal Ladaria shown this text?

Blessed John Henry Newman dealt succinctly with this particular heresy in the biglietto speech which he delivered on receiving the official notification that he was to be a Cardinal.

"For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth ... Liberalism in religion is [ doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true.

It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy."
...



Actually ... come to think of it ... you'd better keep quiet about all this. Newman is due to be canonised later this year; it would be a shame to put a spanner in the works (do Americans use that expression?) at this stage in the proceedings.

I have a terrible vision in my imagination of PF, dear poppet that he is, tottering out of St Peter's, propped up as ever by poor Mgr Marini, tearing up the text prepared for him to read (he quite likes doing that), and saying "I'm cancelling the canonisation, and actually I'm dismissing this Newman from being a Beatus. I'd never realised what a Rigid Pharisaical Pelagian Sourpuss Elitist Coprophiliac he was. AND THAT'S MAGISTERIUM!!!"

You wouldn't want that to happen, would you? Just when we're all looking forward to having JHN on the Calendar as a Double of the First Cless with a Common Octave?

So ... ... 'nuff said ... ... Shhhhhhh!


And here is Aldo Maria Valli's humorous and highly ironic take on what many consider yet another apostasy by PF. But after all, is it not the logical and obvious progressivist extrapolation - by the Vatican II progressivist par excellence - of Vatican II's Nostra aetate which effectively cancelled the mission of the Church to carry out Christ's Great Mandate to "Go forth and make disciples of all nations..."?


THE SAINT AND THE SULTAN, THE POPE AND THE IMAM

An interview with St. Francis
Translated from

February 5, 2019

- Good morning, St. Francis.
- And good morning to you. May the Lord grant you peace!
- Thank you. I wish you the same. Would you allow me to ask a question?
- Please..
- It’s about Francis.
- Fancis?
- Yes, Pope Francis.
- Pope Francis?
- Yes, Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis.
- Oh…
- What is it?
- Nothing… You wanted to know…?
- Yes, St. Francis, I wanted to ask your opinion about a statement in the Declaration signed by Francis and the Grand Imam.
- They signed a declaration?
- Yes, in Abu Dhabi.
- And where is that? Is it near Damietta?
- Not really. But that’s not important. The point is that in the Declaration…
- I would imagine that the pope, to bear witness to his faith, offered to walk into the fire as I did in 1219…
- Ummm, no, St. Francis. There was no fire.
- Why not?
- Well, you know – ordeal by fire is no longer used.
- What a pity! What is it then?
- That the pope and the Grand Imam signed this Declaration…
- Oh good! The Grand Imam converted to Christianity…
- Ummm, no, St Francis.
- But if he signed something…
- Yes, he signed a Declaration to say he agrees about dialog and coexistence and tolerance…
- And the pope did not ask the sultan…
- The Grand Imam…
- Well, OK – so the pope did not ask the Grand Imam to convert to Christianity?
- No…
- What do you mean “no’?
- That it is no longer the custom to do that…
- How strange! But is it not the duty of the pope to announce the Gospel to all men?
- Yes, but then, there’s the question of dialog and respect...
- I don’t understand. I had an ardent desire: to go to the sultan, preach the Christian faith to Muslims and show my complete willingness to die for Christ. That is why I joined a Crusader army…
- Excuse me, St Francis…
- What now?
- It’s just that today, it is not good to speak of the Crusades…
- How strange! But as I was saying, that is why I went to see the Muslim sultan who listened to me gladly. But when I asked him to convert along with all his people, he hesitated. So I proposed to him that a big fire be lit and said: “I, along with your priests, will walk into the fire, and that way you will know which faith is more true and more holy. But his priests snuck away. So I said: "I will walk into the fire, and if I walk out unharmed, you will convert". But of course, he would have none of it…
- I know the story, St. Francis. Now I want to ask you one thing…
- Of course, go ahead…
- It’s about a sentence in that Declaration, where it says: “The plurality and diversity of religion, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom…”
– It is written so?
– Yes.
– Really? Never heard anything like that. Therefore, if I understand it right, if the diversity of religion is God’s will, then I, a Christian, should not preach the Gospel?
– More or less.
- But if I don’t preach the Gospel, then am I a Christian?
- That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you, dear saint…
- But… I am surprised. I walked among the infidels…
- Ummm, St. Francis, please…
- What now?
- Well, one cannot say infidel any more…
- And why not?
- Because it is not ‘correct’. You know, dialog, respect…
- Well then, I went among the Muslims to risk martyrdom not to sign - what do you call it?
- A Declaration.
- OK, I didn’t go among them to sign a declaration. Least of all, one that also says that not being Christian is God’s wise will…
- But please understand that times have changed…
- The times, the times… But faith cannot change. To preach Christ is our duty, especially to the Saracens.
- Again, St Francis, please!
- Now what is it?
- One cannot say Saracens anymore…
- Then what word should I use?
- Words of dialog and respect…
- Dialog? Respect? Don’t you know that the sultan’s guards assaulted us, lashed us with whips, placed us in chains, and I was forced to scream to send them away???
- Other times now, St. Francis. Now we have tolerance.
- That may be. But nonetheless I said to the sultan clearly: “We were sent not by men but by God to show you and your people the way of salvation and to announce the Gospel to you”.
- So I take it, St. Francis, you do not like the Declaration with that statement?
- I don’t know what to tell you, but it all seems strange to me. But did the pope remain after the signing?
- Of course. Why do you ask?
- Because I made it clear to the sultan: “I will gladly stay,” I told the Saracen…
- St. Francis, please…
- Oh yes, one cannot say Saracen anymore.
- Thank you.
- So I said to the Sultan, “I will gladly stay here with you if you and your people convert to Christ”. But I don’t think the pope asked anything like that, did he?
- No…
- Later, when the sultan criticized me for the holy undertaking…
- 'Holy undertaking'?
- Yes, the Crusade…
- Dear St. Francis, please understand, we cannot call the Crusades a ‘holy undertaking’!
- And why not?
- Dialog, respect…
- All right then. When the sultan criticized me for the Crusade, I answered with resolve: “Christians rightly attack you and the land you have occupied, because you blaspheme the name of Christ and deprive those whom you can of their faith. But if you wish to know the Creator and the Redeemer, to profess and adore him, I would love to stay among you!”
- But again…
- What?
- That was a different time.
- And different Christians, as far as I can tell.

- Perhaps. Nonetheless, thank you for this interview.
-You’re welcome. May the Lord grant you peace!

Sohrab Ahmari, ex-Muslim, sees a positive note to Abu Dhabi that may sound offkey to many, and probably raises porcupine hackles at Casa Santa Marta and Al Azhar, but he makes a case, though it means shrugging off, inexplicably and questionably, the gravity of the 'God wills it' statement ...

The pope’s Abu Dhabi trip has vindicated
Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture

by Sohrab Ahmari

February 5, 2019

Pope Francis made history this week when he became the first Catholic pontiff to visit the United Arab Emirates – which is to say, the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. His presence here gave succour to the region’s often-persecuted Christian minorities, uplifted the more than 120,000 faithful who packed a stadium for Tuesday’s papal Mass and marked a bright new chapter in relations between the Holy See and the Muslim world.

But one thing went unremarked amid all the justifiable enthusiasm: namely, that Francis’s visit vindicated the wisdom of his predecessor’s much-maligned Regensburg lecture.

Back in 2006, religiously illiterate Western reporters and opportunistic Islamist preachers alike distorted Benedict XVI’s 2006 address into a crude harangue against Islam. It was anything but. Benedict’s polemic was directed against modern intellectual movements that seek to exclude religion (Islam as much as Christianity) from the realm of reason, treating faith as at best a purely subjective matter. Put another way, his target was Western modernity.

By insisting that the only questions worth asking are those with scientific or technical answers, Benedict warned, Western scientism and materialism reduced man to a status much lower than the one that revealed religions and classical philosophy and metaphysics (including Islamic metaphysics) granted him.

As a result, “man’s origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, … have no place within the purview of collective reason.” Hamstrung to such a degree, modern “reason” could neither promote nor enter into a genuine dialogue among cultures. And a backlash was inevitable, since “the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.”

In Abu Dhabi, Francis and his Muslim counterpart, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Cairo, picked up on many of the same themes. Though neither equalled Benedict’s depth or precision at Regensburg, nevertheless the two men laid out a vision of Christian-Muslim dialogue centered on a shared critique of modernity’s various individualistic, materialistic and scientistic trends. Regensburg’s echo was unmistakable.

In his address at the Abu Dhabi Founder’s Memorial, Francis emphasised the human family’s common metaphysical origins: “He who is the Creator of all things and of all persons wants us to live as brothers and sisters, dwelling in the common home of creation which he has given us.” This shared heritage, Francis added, means that “fraternity is established here at the roots of our common humanity, as ‘a vocation contained in God’s plan of creation.’” That last bit about “a vocation contained in God’s plan of creation” was a quotation from a 2010 speech by his predecessor.

Francis also railed against “individualism” and “utilitarianism” – that is, the rotten political and ideological fruits of the materialism and scientism that Benedict had in mind. “A purely utilitarian development cannot provide real and lasting progress,” he said. Instead, he called for an “integral” form of development that takes into account humanity’s metaphysical origins and destination – considerations that the modern scientistic worldview is incapable of grasping.

Remarkably, Sheikh Tayeb sounded many similar notes. At the root of our contemporary confusions and discord, the Grand Imam of Sunni Islam’s oldest and most authoritative seminary said, were the “rebellions against God” and “unbound freedom” and anti-religious outrages unleashed 300 years ago – that is, by the century of “Enlightenment” leading up to the French Revolution. At this – and I know this because I was in the room, just 30 feet away – Pope Francis nodded deeply and knowingly.

Most secular media outlets only heard the notes about interfaith dialogue and fraternity. What they didn’t appreciate – and couldn’t, precisely because they are outgrowths and proponents of the modern scientistic worldview – is that neither the Pope’s nor the sheikh’s moral claims would be intelligible without the religious foundations on which they rest. But precisely by making these grand claims against the impoverished ideology of the age, Francis and his Muslim interlocutor, each in his own way and within his own tradition, vindicated the prophetic German pontiff so badly misunderstood when he sat on Peter’s chair.

Sohrab Ahmari is the op-ed editor of the New York Post, a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald and author of the just-published memoir, From Fire, by Water (Ignatius Press).


Mundabor, of course, is as mordantly critical of the reigning pope as ever, and not unreasonably...

About the evil that God allows

Frburary 5, 2019

Frankie has done it again.

In his boundless desire to spit in the face of Catholicism he has signed, together with some Mohammedan, a declaration stating that God “willed” a plurality of religions.

You see where this is going: the usual stuff of “we are all so wonderful in our own, unique, God-willed way, so there is no need to convert anyone”.

If Francis were Catholic, he would know the fundamental difference between what God wills and what God allows. God always allows something that is wrong in order that, in some way at times not intelligible to us, some good may come of it.

A young woman is raped. Did God will it? Not in the sense that he wanted it. However, he certainly allowed it to happen. Is rape therefore something good? Certainly not.

Heresy causes great saints. An unjust war of aggression causes an awful lot of prayer. Francis causes some people to really discover Catholicism. Obama causes Trump. Rape causes… Santa Maria Goretti!

All of these things are, undoubtedly, evil. However, Providence arranges the world in such a way that even the evil God allows mysteriously, but invariably, works for the triumph of what is good.

If one does not understand this basic concepts, Christianity has no meaning to him. In his mind everything is then allowed and even good, because everything was willed by God. From fornication to cocaine and from abortion to sodomy, everything is sanctioned and cleansed of any stigma. Hey, it is God-willed…

Francis either does not understand Christianity or, much more likely, hates it.

The key to understanding this Pontificate lies in the correct perception of the hatred this man has against everything that is good and holy. [Wouldn't put it that way, but he does 'hate' many of the essential things that make up the Catholic faith, therefore the best generic adjective and definition I apply to him is and remains 'anti-Catholic']

Meanwhile, John Allen is uncharacteristically blunt about what was deafeningly absent in the pope's many statements in Abu Dhabi, including the platitudinous Declaration signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar... But then, no one really expected/expects this pope to be specific and precise in any way - in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere, now or in the future - about the 'shortcomings' of Islam and its followers.

If religious freedom’s a process,
why not name the elephant in the room?

by John L. Allen Jr.
Editor

February 6, 2019

ROME - One way to measure the real nature of struggles over religious freedom in the Islamic world is by the kind of person who would show up in the United Arab Emirates over the last three days, joining Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt for a massive inter-religious paean to peace, love and tolerance.

[What was really inter-religious about it - except as far as we know, between the pope and Muslim religious leaders led by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar?
- Who, for instance, represented the Christian Orthodox Churches, or Anglicanism, or the World Federation of [Protestant] Churches, or Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, you name it?
- Or other Islamic sects other than the Sunni which the Grand Imam leads? Were Shiites and Sufis invited?
- Why do the news reports I have seen so far not mention any names representing other Christian churches, and more specifically, Judaism, for that matter?
- Would a meeting organized by the Muslim Council of Elders ever think of inviting a Jew?
- Just as important: Why did all the participants of this 'massive inter-religious' event not put their signatures to the declaration? Al-Tayyeb did not sign it in behalf of them, any more than the pope signed it in behalf of all Catholics.]


There were more than 700 religious leaders on hand [and it would have been journalistically responsible of Allen to cite some names that are not Muslim! - but he couldn't, could he, or he would have mentioned them] , and Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, a well-known Muslim cleric from Pakistan, is a good example of the kind of crowd the event drew.

Ashrafi is known as a “liberal” cleric in his native country, the kind of religious leader who condemns extremism and stands for tolerance and acceptance and who’s been awarded a presidential honor for the defense of peace and human rights. So real are those commitments that there was recently a push in the Pakistan Ulema Council, the main body of Islamic clerics in the country, to expel him and replace him with someone more traditional.

Certainly, Ashrafi said all the right things in Abu Dhabi in terms of the event’s official talking points. [C'mon, everybody always says all the right things on grandstand occasions like this - it doesn't mean a thing unless one sees them standing up concretely for it in their individual and official actions.]

“All religious leaders today are saying that religion doesn’t have anything to do with extremism and terrorism,” he said.

“I think the UAE has achieved a great victory, because today a message is going from the UAE to the whole world that we are Muslims, Christians, Jews and other religious people, united for brotherhood of human beings against those using the name of religion for his personal cause and personal needs,” he said.

All that is encouraging, offering a classic example of the “other face” of Islam.

Yet even such an enlightened cleric as Ashrafi defended his nation’s notorious blasphemy laws, which envisions death sentences for perceived outrages against religious figures, texts and beliefs - and what’s most telling is why.

“Because of the blasphemy laws, thousands of people have been saved,” Ashrafi insisted. “If the law weren’t there, I tell you, it’s possible that I speak blasphemy you’ll kill me, or if you do it I’ll kill you.”

He cited the well-known 2012 case of a Christian girl named Rishma, who was 14 years old at the time and who suffers from a mental disability. She was arrested under the blasphemy laws after reports that she had burned pages from a Koran, and theoretically faced execution. After the case was reviewed, and in light of her condition, she was released.

“With the law, there can be negotiations,” Ashrafi said. “She was released because of the blasphemy law.”

That, in a nutshell, is the problem: A respected and clearly moderate Islamic cleric - the kind of guy, after all, happy to be seen with a pope - nevertheless is saying that in one of the world’s flagship Muslim nations, religious sensitivities are so extreme that if the civil law didn’t punish perceived acts of blasphemy, vigilante violence would be ungovernable.

[Allen, of course, fails to mention that Francis's new BFF, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, is notorious for issuing messages in English that sound moderate and reasonable, while the Muslim account of what he says in Arabic is usually the familiar Islamist extremism and odious bigotry against non-Muslims. Most infamously, in addition to urging Muslims on his daily television show to kill Christians, he also advocates killing all Muslims who apostasize from Islam - i.e., any Muslim who would dare convert to another religion. Oakes Spalding on his blog 'Mahound's Paradise', offered a documented account of this the day the Abu Dhabi Declaration was signed:
http://mahoundsparadise.blogspot.com/2019/02/vaticans-new-document-on-human.html
BTW, Al-Tayyeb was one of the 137 original signatories of A COMMON WORD, the response from leading Muslim intellectuals - after all the mass hysteria had died down - to Benedict XVI's Regensburg address. Frankly, I didn't think he would be on the list, but I checked the site two days ago, and he is there, #127 I think, to establish his bona fides, as it were, as a Muslim 'moderate' if that chimera exists at all.]


Pakistan is hardly the only example of a place where enlightened religious leadership struggles to gain traction on the ground.

From where Francis was in Abu Dhabi over the last three days, for instance, it’s only about an hour by car to Saudi Arabia, where the Koran is officially the national constitution, apostasy is punishable by death and honor killings aren’t uncommon when a family member converts from Islam to another faith.

Public expressions of non-Islamic belief aren’t tolerated, and the Kingdom’s Muttawa, the religious secret police, sometimes harass and detain Christians even for gathering for worship in private homes.

In the UAE itself the same pattern exists, albeit generally in more benign form. Last year, the UAE ranked 45th among the world’s top 50 nations in terms of a lack of religious freedom according to Open Doors, a Protestant watchdog group that tracks anti-Christian persecution around the world.

Granted, Francis used the occasion to lay down a couple of markers on religious freedom, insisting that it’s more than freedom to worship but involves the right to be public about the faith one professes.

“I would like to emphasize religious freedom,” he said Monday. “Without freedom, we are no longer children [of God] but slaves.”

Some observers see the joint declaration Francis signed with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of Al-Azhar as an important text that could have important consequences, perhaps especially in Egyptian schools most influenced by Al-Azhar.

“We resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood,” it reads.

Still, that sort of rhetoric has been heard before. What we didn’t hear in the UAE was a specific papal challenge to the impediments in many Islamic societies to realizing that vision, with blasphemy laws being one clear example. [Especially with the Asia Bibi case so fresh in our minds!]


Perhaps the reality is that nothing a pope could say or do would have much impact on the social realities described by leaders such as Pakistan’s Ashrafi. However, we won’t know until it’s tried. [Aw, Mr. Allen, stop giving this pope a copout! Realizing the apparent futility of one's words and efforts in support and defense of truth never stopped popes before Francis from saying what had to be said, when and if it had to be said.]

Francis said on the plane coming back to Rome that achieving full religious freedom is a “process” - and, perhaps, a slightly more robust papal capacity to name the elephant in the room with his Muslim hosts could be part of that process. ['Slightly more robust papal capacity...'? How about the a priori existence of that capacity, to begin with??? Of which there is none, by all accounts about Jorge Bergoglio as man, cardinal and pope.]

Rorate caeli reacted to the 'plurality-diversity' statement with a simple but powerful point-counterpoint presentation:

No, Francis, God did not 'will a plurality and diversity of religion'
Saying so is 'altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion', as Pius XI wrote in a 1938 encyclical


Point:

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.
- Document co-signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar


Counterpoint:

Never perhaps in the past have we seen, as we see in these our own times, the minds of men so occupied by the desire both of strengthening and of extending to the common welfare of human society that fraternal relationship which binds and unites us together, and which is a consequence of our common origin and nature.

For since the nations do not yet fully enjoy the fruits of peace - indeed rather do old and new disagreements in various places break forth into sedition and civic strife - and since on the other hand many disputes which concern the tranquility and prosperity of nations cannot be settled without the active concurrence and help of those who rule the States and promote their interests, it is easily understood, and the more so because none now dispute the unity of the human race, why many desire that the various nations, inspired by this universal kinship, should daily be more closely united one to another.

A similar object is aimed at by some, in those matters which concern the New Law promulgated by Christ our Lord. For since they hold it for certain that men destitute of all religious sense are very rarely to be found, they seem to have founded on that belief a hope that the nations, although they differ among themselves in certain religious matters, will without much difficulty come to agree as brethren in professing certain doctrines, which form as it were a common basis of the spiritual life.

For which reason conventions, meetings and addresses are frequently arranged by these persons, at which a large number of listeners are present, and at which all without distinction are invited to join in the discussion, both infidels of every kind, and Christians, even those who have unhappily fallen away from Christ or who with obstinacy and pertinacity deny His divine nature and mission.

Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule.

Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.


Pius XI
Mortalium Animos, 1938



At this point, I believe that Nostra aetate, Vatican II's DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS (one of the Council's most controversial documents - and its shortest at only 5 paragraphs - ought to be revisited, and the Lefebvrians' objections to it reconsidered.
http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

A 2017 article entitled "One Text, Two Declarations: Theological Trajectories from Nostra aetate" gives a historical account of how the document came about (it started as a simple statement desired by John XXIII to somehow 'make up' to the Jews for the Holocaust, and ended up including other major non-Christian religions including Islam):
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0040563916681991

A similar account can be read in 'Nostra aetate - stages of creation" from 2014
http://cejsh.icm.edu.pl/cejsh/element/bwmeta1.element.ojs-doi-10_15633_ps_744/c/744-626.pdf
in which the author, an Australian theologian, notes the
'open-ended' statement in paragraph 2 of the document, which says
"The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions". What does 'true and holy' mean? And what is the dogmatic status of Paragraph 2? He notes that at the time of Vatican II, "Theologians from both camps, Joseph Ratzinger from the conservative camp, and Karl Rahner and Yves Congar from the other side, see this openendedness as a commission to later generations to develop these ideas more clearly."

Then there is a British Jesuit's mostly positive lookback at the document on its 50th anniversary in 2015 that briefly refers to its shortcomings but also sacknowledges "it is but a beginning, a ‘pastoral document’ that records a theological moment in the life of the Church".
http://www.jesuit.org.uk/articles/nostra-aetate-%E2%80%93-moral-heart-second-vatican-council

Lastly, in this outline for a brief overview of Nostra aetate, consider a statement made by Mons. Guido Pozzo - lately demoted by the pope from being Secretary of Ecclesia Dei to be financial administrator or something of the Sistine Chapel Choir which is now under the jurisdiction of Mons. Guido Marini, master of pontifical liturgical celebrations - when he was still heading Ecclesia Dei. This was said in the conetxt of the doctrinal discussions with the FSSPX, for whom Nostra aetate is a major bone of contention:

The Secretary for the Unity of Christians said on 18 November 1964 in the Council Hall about Nostra aetate : "As to the character of the declaration, the Secretariate does not want to write a dogmatic declaration on non-Christian religions, but, rather, practical and pastoral norms'.

Nostra aetate does not have any dogmatic authority and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognise this declaration as dogmatic. This declaration can only be understood in the light of tradition and of the continuous Magisterium.

For example, there exists today, unfortunately, the view - contrary to the Catholic Faith - that there is a salvific path independent of Christ and His Church. That [he apparently means "The unfortunate existence today of such an unCatholic view"] has also been officially confirmed last of all by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith itself in its declaration Dominus Iesus. Therefore any interpretation of Nostra aetate which goes into this direction is fully unfounded and has to be rejected".


In short, no one can interpret Nostra aetate as a dogmatic statement that recognizes the equality of all religions as Bergoglio and his spirit-of-V2 progressivists apparently believe, as by the same token, they dismiss DOMINUS IESUS affirming Jesus as the only way to salvation.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/7/2019 7:59 AM]
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From PewSitter, 2/6/2019


A few months back, I decided to stop using the headline summaries of canon212.com and PewSitter as a convenient to capture a daily 'snapshot' of what is happening in the Church and in the rest of the world as it impacts on the Church. The primary reason was because of the infuriatingly maddening and frankly unnecessary 'bias tags' (e.g., PervChurch, FrancisBishop, etc) that canon212.com now uses routinely on the headlines that it flags. PewSitter does not do that but it is also not very timely in updating its summaries, so posting something that is sometimes two days old (especially on weekends) is not really useful for my purposes. Nonetheless, I can only be thankful to both news aggregators for facilitating my 'work' for the Forum - i.e., pointing to a number of stories to follow up which I would never find on my own in the little time I have, which is, at best, catch as catch can.

Today, I use a PewSitter headline sampling about a topic that has grabbed the horrified attention of many American Catholics - whose outrage is well expressed in George Weigel's essay below:


The moral depravity of
Andrew Cuomo & friends

When Catholics dodge the abortion issue in conversation, they betray the Gospel
and amplify the catechetical failures of the past and present.

by George Weigel

February 6, 2019

Writing recently on women seeking the presidency and the “likability” factor in our politics, Peggy Noonan made a tart observation: “There are a lot of male candidates with likability problems. Some, such as Andrew Cuomo, a three-term governor of a large state, are so unlikable they aren’t even mentioned as contenders.”

Without contesting Miss Noonan’s point, I’d like to offer an addendum: Andrew Cuomo is too morally depraved to be the President of the United States — or the Governor of New York, for that matter.

Of all the obscenities surrounding Governor Cuomo’s January 22 signing of a bill whose title (“The Reproductive Health Act”) would make George Orwell gag, the most cringe-inducing was the signing ceremony itself. You can watch it on YouTube, if you’ve the stomach for it.

The ceremony is replete with the self-congratulatory political blather to which many of us have become inured. What is truly sickening is the unholy glee with which Cuomo signed this sordid bill — a demonic mirth shared by the other miscreants on the platform with him. Just what are these people celebrating?

The New York RHA declares abortion on demand, at any moment in a pregnancy, up to birth, a fundamental right. A healthy infant born in New York State today could have been legally killed yesterday, according to the RHA. And the killing would not be pretty.

For third-trimester abortions involve either poisoning the unborn child or collapsing its skull by the grotesque procedure known as “dilation and extraction;” the mother then gives “birth” to a dead baby who’s been executed in a manner that would revolt anyone with an iota of feeling, were similar violence perpetrated on a dog or cat.


I recently met a young man who was born at 24 weeks of gestation, when he weighed a little over a pound. My young friend was considered a child, a living member of the human community, when he spent months in the neo-natal intensive care unit of his local hospital.

The New York RHA permits children of the exact same gestational age to be surgically chopped up in the womb (“dilation and curettage”) — and its sponsors imagine this legal license to dismember a helpless human being while inflicting excruciating pain to be a civilizational advance, rather than the reversion to barbarism it is.

The gory-body-parts school of pro-life activism has never appealed to me, because women caught in the dilemma of unplanned pregnancy are looking for friends who will offer them compassion and assistance, not force them to watch the obstetrical equivalent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

But the unprecedented nature of the New York RHA demands that Andrew Cuomo & Friends be confronted with the reality of what they wrought and what they celebrate — which is the legal butchery of innocent children.

There are over 3,300 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States. They embody the virtue of solidarity by offering women in crisis the life-affirming care of real medicine, not the death-dealing witchcraft of the abortionist. With humane alternatives readily available, it is ludicrous to claim, as Cuomo & Friends do, that access to abortion up until birth is an imperative of justice. Indeed, any such claim makes a mockery of any rational concept of justice, for the New York RHA legalizes the brutal exercise of raw power over an innocent human life.

Another facet of this awfulness demands attention: Andrew Cuomo, and all pro-“choice” politicians who self-identify as Catholics, bespeak a massive failure of catechesis and Christian formation in the Church in the United States.

In the face of that failure, the people of the Church, ordained and lay, are called to a stringent examination of conscience.
- When bishops fail to declare, in the strongest and clearest terms, that support for immoral bills such as the New York RHA puts the legislator or executive in a gravely impaired position within the communion of the Church, their dereliction of duty compounds that catechetical failure.
- When lay Catholics dodge the abortion issue in conversation because it’s too uncomfortable or might make them look “conservative” or “anti-feminist,” they betray the Gospel and amplify the catechetical failures of the past and present.

Moral depravity stalks the land. Calling it such is deemed “extremist” by United States senators. We all have work to do. And we all must summon the courage to do it.



2/7/2019 12:49 AM
 
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Left, Jorge Bergoglio with his parents in 1958 when he joined the Society of Jesus. Right, Bergoglio saying Mass in Cordoba in 1976.

'Comrade' Bergoglio
What he and his followers won't say about his past

Translated from

Originally published in
LA VERITA
January 30, 2019

Once upon a time in Argentina, there was a Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was among the opponents of Liberation Theology, which was not far from Castroism, and who in the 1970S was a member of the Guardia de Hierro (Iron Guard), a Peronist organization that proclaimed itself nationalist, Cahtolic and ferociously anti-Communist.

In those days, when anyone reminded him that the Argentine Iron Guard harked back to the Romanian Iron Guard, a movement led by Commandant Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, nationalist and fascist, Bergoglio would reply, “So much the better”.

For the record, the Romanian Iron Guard was a very popular movement in 1930s Romania, and was considered anti-Semitic and Nazi-loving, attracting many passionate followers not just in Romania. One of this was Italian journalist Indro Montanelli, who published in Corriere della Sera a series of enthusiastic reports full of admiration for Codreanu, in the summer of 1940, with the Second World War well under way – belying his posthumous testimony that he converted to anti-fascism in 1938. These texts were recently republished in an anthology of Montanelli’s articles entitled Da inviato da guerra (As a war correspondent).

Evidently, even in Peron’s Argentina, the myth of Codreanu (who was barbarously assassinated) and of his supposed Christian fundamentalism had its proselytes. In 1974, after Peron died, the Argentine Iron Guard was dissolved. At that time, they comprised 3,500 militants and 15,000 acitivists who opposed the left-wing guerrilla fighters infiltrated by the Castrist followers of Che Guevara; they were, so to speak, the far right wing of justicialism [the term used to describe Peron’s personal ideology]. The founder of the organization to which the young Bergoglio belonged was Alejandro Gallego Alvarez, and his movement was very particular about the ‘cultural formation’ of its members and their presence among ‘the disinherited and the least’ [Peron’s ‘preferential' constituency].

In those years, Bergoglio was a declared adversary of leftists Jesuits who held nationalist and populist views. His aversion at the time to liberation theology earned him the accusation of omerta [Mafia-like vow of silence over bad things happening in one’s own organization] and later of collaborating with the dictatorship of the military generals frm 1976-1983, from Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentine activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for “his courageous nonviolent struggle (that) lit a light in the darkness of Argentina's violence” during the military dictatorship.

Historian Osvaldo Bayer told the newspapers when Bergoglio was elected pope, “It is a bitter defeat for us that Bergoglio has become pope”, and Orlando Yorio, one of the Jesuit priests captured and tortured by the generals’ secret service would say: “Bergoglio never warned us of the risk that we ran. I am sure that he himself provided the police with a list that included our names”.

It was only after the military dictatorship fell that Bergoglio started to distance himself from ‘nationalistic’ Peronism.

I have faithfully taken the above reconstruction from a book by Emidio Novi, La riscossa populista [The populist comeback], which has just been published by Controcorrente, in which Novi claims that the reigning pope’s progressivist and worldly preferences were born out of his past, that “Papa Bergoglio wishes to forgive himself for his fascist past that lasted until 1980”. And that is why he does not waste any opportunity to proclaim what is politically correct, the progressivist ideology of indiscriminate ‘welcome’ and of radical anti-nationalism.

Novi, who had been a journalist for years before becoming elected senator under Forza Italia (Berlusconi’s party), died in August last year in his hometown of Sant’Agata in Puglia, southeast Italy, after he was run over by a garbage truck that was backing up. His book was published posthumously with a preface by Amedeo Laboccetta and edited by his son, Vittorio Alfredo Novi.

Novi had described himself as a populist decades before the populist wave emerged in Italy. He was a populist to the third power (i.e., cubed rather than squared, as an expression of the strength of his conviction), because he came from the most militant wing of the Italian Socialist Movement that had been inspired by fascist socialism; then because he came from southern Italy and was a genuine interpreter of ancient southern populism on the cusp between populist revolt and nostalgia for the Bourbons [this royal house, related to the Bourbons of France and Spain, Bourbons ruled in Naples from 1734 to 1806 and in Sicily from 1734 to 1816, and in a unified Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from 1816 to 1860. They also ruled in Parma from 1731 to 1735, 1748–1802 and 1847–1859]; and finally, Novi was a populist because he considered the financial oligarchs and the dictatorship of bankers and Eurocrats as the principal enemy of the people today. That is why he loved to describe himself as a national-populist and national-souverainist ahead of his time.

In his last book, Novi devotes many pages to the ‘papulism’ of Bergoglio, to his ‘improvised and crude theology’, to his surrender to Islam, to his migrationist obsession to the point of describing the Holy Family as clandestine immigrants seeking refuge. He considers the present pope “an instrument of the Anti-Christ”, who is useful to both the radical progressivists advocating indiscriminate immigration and to the worldly secular leaders of finance who have jumbled together the old idea of Third-Worldism with international socialism ,in a global plan that encourages nomads without roots, without a homeland and for whom there should be no frontiers.

But of his Argentine past, in the time of Peron, of his justicialism and the succeeding military dictatorship, Bergoglio prefers not to speak. Something most unlikely for the extrovert he has become on everything else.

That was about the Bergoglio that was. The following is about the Bergoglio that is very much now...

Letter from a priest:
'I never thought I would ever get to
to feel such perplexity about a pope'

Translated from

February 6, 2019

I received this letter from a priest.

I am a priest in the Archdiocese of Genoa and I never imagine I would ever come to harbor such great perplexity about the man who sits on Peter’s Chair.

I have always thought of the pope as an unmoveable, irreplaceable reference point of being a Christian. Those who, like me, grew up with John Paul II as pope, have seen in him and in his successor great examples of faith lived concretely and in holiness.

I did not welcome Benedict XVI’s resignation. He was a man who never used words randomly, he was wise and he helped me lift myself towards the transcendent. He is a man of God.

Yet I looked at the election of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires without prejudice – I did not know anything about him, and moreover, the pope is the pope. For months, I listened with interest to his words, seeing in him a simplicity that made me say to myself, “Considering his ability to enter into the hearts of men, his sensitivity towards those who suffer, perhaps he will succeed to be more incisive in annpuncing Christ and the truths of the faith in a way that will wake up the peoples of the West from their anesthetized conscience.”

But day after day, I began to perceive a crescendo in ambiguities that were subtle at first. I started to notice something distorted in his messages. Initially, I didn’t understand enough, but it emerged from his words, from his quips and from his interviews that he has a totally horizontal view of life, with the exclusion of the vertical plane and God’s judgment, and with a far from merciful contempt for those who have opinions different from his.

I must say that now, in the Catholic Church, I feel as if I were in a religion different from that I had been raised in.
- The obsession with social issues has become insupportable.
- It seems to have been forgotten that with the great saints of charity, attention to one’s brothers/neighbors was born out of contemplation and adoration of Christ.
- Bergoglio’s appeals sound like those of a politician.
- His church that is ‘outgoing’ and a ‘field hospital’ has become an agency for social services.

Frankly, as much as I believe in the importance of assisting the poor and the needy, a church that has become primarily an agency of social services does not attract me – it is not the community of those who would be saved by Christ.

And I am also struck dumb by the ambiguities about the family. Sometimes, the pope’s speeches sound ‘beautiful’ at first hearing, but revisiting them, I realize that he never conveys a clear vision. For instance, what has his Amoris Laetitia led to? Great confusion! In concrete terms, everyone today just does as he wishes, giving the priority to man while forgetting the divine commandments. This confusion, this lack of clarity, is most disqueting because they seem calculated, intended as such. But why?

In faith, I seek clarity and solidity. I seek salvation. But today it seems that the pope is telling us it is enough to just do a bit of good for others and everything else will follow. What has happened to the announcement of Chris tas the only Savior, to calling the faithful to eternal life and to the things beyond this earth?

I would never have thought I would reach this point about the Successor of Peter. Frankly, I do not understand him at all, and I feel misled.
- I go on because without the Lord, life would be nothing but desperation, and I seek to be faithful to that bimillennial deposit of faith which cannot be nullified.
- I nourish myself with the lives of saints. I listen to the words of Mary in her apparitions, when she recalls us to the vertical sense of life.
- And I confess with sorrow that in celebrating Mass, I find it difficult to mention the name of this pope.
- I find it difficult to watch hm on TV, and when others ask me about him, I quickly change the subject.
- I am burdened by the thought that he who should be the Church’s guide on earth has now become for me an obstacle I prefer to avoid.

Where is this Successor of Peter leading us?
Where is he leading a church that no longer speaks of mortal sin and no longer helps the faithful to avoid it?
What does it mean that he forgets to affirm Christ as the only savior and insists that all religions are equal?
Does he want to lead us to Paradise or elsewhere?

A PRIEST



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/7/2019 1:39 AM]
2/7/2019 8:30 AM
 
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Revisiting 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'
Both Joseph Ratzinger and Romano Guardini, in their classic books on the liturgy, demonstrate that
continuing conflicts and difficulties with matters liturgical are not about taste but about doctrine.

by Fr Peter M.J. Stravinskas

February 4, 2019

Last year was a year of many anniversaries. One that was perhaps less noticed was the fortieth anniversary of Ignatius Press. As part of that observance, its founder, Father Joseph Fessio, decided to reprint what has become a classic of the “new liturgical movement,” Joseph Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.

The choice of both author and work was most appropriate: first, because Ignatius Press introduced the then-relatively unknown author to the Anglophone world (indeed, I suspect not a few of those early publications of Ratzinger sat in a warehouse until he came into his own as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and eventually as Pope!); second, because Father Fessio has always seen the Sacred Liturgy as the locus privilegiatus.

Reprinting the Ratzinger volume was not enough; included was the eponymous work by Romano Guardini, precisely during the centennial year of its original publication – a work consistently identified by Ratzinger as one of the most formative books for his personal spiritual life and for his academic orientation as well.

The commemorative edition is graced by a preface of Pope Benedict and by a foreword by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, and one whom many of us consider to have assumed the liturgical mantle of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict. Indeed, Pope Francis told him to continue the liturgical program of Pope Benedict.

For the most part, I intend this review to concentrate on the salient insights of Father Guardini since, unfortunately, his name has been frequently invoked by all too many of the would-be liturgists of the post-Vatican II era, all the while failing to make a holistic presentation of the material found in his work.

It is interesting to note that Guardini doesn’t offer particular suggestions for liturgical renewal as much as provide an over-arching framework for a genuine understanding of the Sacred Liturgy.

Permit me to highlight but a handful of his many jewels.
- Guardini places a heavy stress on the corporate nature of liturgical worship, the “we” of it, its universality, thus eliminating “the ephemeral, adventitious, and locally characteristic elements.”
- He asserts that it is “sustained by thought,” “governed and interwoven with dogma.”
- And what about the place of the heart? “The heart must be guided, supported, and purified by the mind”; even more, the heart must be “directed by thought, and not by feeling.”

He goes on to speak the unspeakable in our era of egalitarianism and, even more, an era which canonizes the cult of the slob: “A fairly high degree of genuine learning and culture is necessary in the long run in order to keep spiritual life healthy”; yet again, “spiritual life should be impregnated with the wholesome salt of genuine and lofty culture.”

A key virtue for one involved in liturgical education and action is that of “humility,” which demands the “acceptance of the spiritual principles that the liturgy offers and that far transcend the little world of individual spiritual existence,” calling for the “subordination of self.”

He has the temerity to declare that “liturgy keeps all vulgarizing elements at a distance” and that one “must learn to subscribe to the noble, restrained forms that etiquette requires in the House and at the Court of the Divine Majesty.”

Imagine: “the House and Court of the Divine Majesty”! And that “House and Court” require a unique liturgical style: “clear in language, measured in movement, severe in its ideas, languages, ceremonies, and imagery fashioned out of the simple elements of the spiritual life; rich, varied, and lucid; its force further intensified by the fact that the liturgy employs a classic language, remote from everyday life.” Yes, one of the “grand-daddies” of the liturgical movement thought the use of Latin was important because it is “remote from everyday life.”

Guardini takes on the relationship between liturgy and devotional exercises, holding that both are needed, but in proper proportion. He warns: “If private devotion were nonexistent, and if the liturgy were the final and exclusive form of spiritual exercise, that exercise might easily degenerate into a frigid formula..."

(I have long maintained that one of the reasons why the liturgy itself has taken on such an emotional and pietistic hue in so many places is precisely due to the near-total banishment of devotions like novenas and Benediction, which gave a space to the affective dimension of worship.)

He confronts the resurgent Gnostic heresy which would denigrate a rich liturgical experience as it would maintain that a purely “spiritual” dimension is sufficient for the spiritually mature. Decades before Guardini, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman gave a response to such arguments:

The Bible then may be said to give us the spirit of religion; but the Church must provide the body in which that spirit is to be lodged. Religion must be realized in particular acts, in order to its continuing alive...

There is no such thing as abstract religion. When persons attempt to worship in this (what they call) more spiritual manner, they end, in fact, in not worshiping at all.
This frequently happens. Every one may know it from his own experience of himself. Youths, for instance (and perhaps those who should know better than they), sometimes argue with themselves, “What is the need of praying statedly morning and evening? why use a form of words? why kneel? why cannot I pray in bed, or walking, or dressing?” they end in not praying at all.

Again, what will the devotion of the country people be, if we strip religion of its external symbols, and bid them seek out and gaze upon the Invisible? Scripture gives the spirit, and the Church the body, to our worship; and we may as well expect that the spirits of men might be seen by us without the intervention of their bodies, as suppose that the Object of faith can be realized in a world of sense and excitement, without the instrumentality of an outward form to arrest and fix attention, to stimulate the careless, and to encourage the desponding.[1]


Guardini sees through the problem of neo-Gnosticism because he has a profound appreciation of sign and symbol, a precursor of Mircea Eliade forty years later, with his magisterial The Sacred and the Profane.

No slouch in this regard, either, was the late Father Andrew Greeley with his admonition that when we are talking about a “symbol,” it is never possible to modify it by the adverb “just.” Nothing is “just a symbol.”

Guardini also devotes considerable space to a consideration of “the playfulness of the liturgy” – an expression which must not be mistaken for tomfoolery; rather, it means that the liturgy is not done for any personal gain or for any “payback.” Josef Pieper teased out some of this meaning in Leisure, The Basis of Culture (1947), while Hugo Rahner [2] produced Man at Play (1963).

Closely aligned with this point comes Guardini’s assertion that liturgy is not didactic (pace, the Eastern Orthodox who would disagree) – although we can learn from it. He explains:

“...the liturgy has no thought-out, deliberate, detailed plan of instruction. In order to sense the difference, it is sufficient to compare a week of the ecclesiastical year with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. In the latter, every element is determined by deliberate choice, everything is directed toward the production of a certain spiritual and didactic result... It is not so with the liturgy. The fact that the latter has no place in the Spiritual Exercises is a proof of this.”

Perhaps this helps us appreciate the Jesuit Pope’s apparent lack of interest and even seeming boredom during the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.

Are there guides for us in navigating a path? Yes: “The play of the child and the creation of the artist”. Thus,

the liturgy “has toiled to express in a thousand forms the sacred, God-given life of the soul to no other purpose than that the soul plays before God.” If the liturgy teaches anything, it is that “the soul [ought] not to see purposes everywhere, not to be too conscious of the end it wishes to attain, not to be desirous of being overly clever and grown-up, but to understand simplicity in life.”


St. John Vianney’s parishioner comes to mind: “I look at Him, and He looks back at me.” Or, as I used to tell my high school students who said they “got nothing out of Mass,” “You’re not there to get anything out of it. You’re there to give – your adoration.”

While having a highly developed appreciation for signs and symbols, Guardini also warns against having a merely “aesthetic” appreciation of the liturgy. It was often said of certain Anglicans that they were “all dressed up with nowhere to go.” Or, of some young priests who love Latin liturgy but can’t conjugate “amo.” Indeed, he levels a very harsh critique of “aesthetes” because he believes that “pride of place” belongs not to beauty, but to truth. To be sure, beauty inspires awe – the “Ah” of a child upon entering a Gothic cathedral. His point, however, is that beauty “eludes those who pursue it for its own sake”; otherwise, “the ‘house of prayer’ becomes once more, in a different way, a ‘den of thieves.’”

He quotes with approval Abbot Ildefons Herwegen: “... the liturgy has developed into a work of art; it was not deliberately formed as such by the Church.” That said, I don’t think he would take issue with Hans Urs von Balthasar’s observation:[auote]Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another.

Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. No longer loved or fostered by religion, beauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man. We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it.

Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love. [3]


Do we “get anything” out of liturgical prayer? At times, we experience genuine tranquillity and awe: “But these moments are fleeting, and we must be content to accept them as they come or are sent.”

Closely tied to this awareness is what Guardini calls the problem of “the will” and the desire for autonomy, “the will to power” of Nietzsche, whereby “Superman” fashions his own forms of worship, so as to achieve what he wants to experience. The way to avoid such a development is found in the primacy of the “contemplative”: “the wonderful power of relaxation proper to the liturgy and its deep reposefulness” – “contemplation, adoration, and glorification of divine truth” (Can we see Cardinal Sarah smiling here?).

Some years ago, having had some truly distressing liturgical experiences during an extended visit to France, I was delighted to concelebrate Holy Mass for the Solemnity of the Mother of God with the rector of the Cathedral of Avignon. When I complimented his ars celebrandi, he replied: “In the Sacred Liturgy, dear Father, we should ‘repose, not compose.’”

Between Guardini’s opus and that of Ratzinger, stand two magisterial documents: Mediator Dei of Pope Pius XII and Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. Those two documents mine the gold from the early liturgical movement, epitomized in Guardini.

Also lying between the two German theologians was a massive cultural devolution (one which Guardini could only espy from afar). Ratzinger’s Part One develops much of Guardini’s theoretical foundations, taking into account the magisterial and cultural developments.

The rest of the Ratzinger work is application, as if to say, “If you understand and accept these principles, then this is what you should be doing.” Thus, we are treated to the Cardinal’s “take” on neuralgic issues like: ad orientem celebrations of Mass; the place of Latin; the nature of sacred music; the placement of the tabernacle; what constitutes sacred art during a revival of iconoclasm; the importance of kneeling; the centrality of silence.

I have given somewhat short shrift to the Ratzinger work because it was a best-seller when it first hit the book stores and continues to be a point of reference. Pope Benedict would not be offended and would actually agree. Why? Because he has always seen the importance of laying a proper foundation.

In the previous paragraph, I said, “If you understand and accept these principles, then this is what you should be doing.” That is the crux of the matter. In the liturgy wars, we often have argued about liturgical dance and Renaissance polyphony and modes of distributing and receiving Holy Communion.

At the end of the day, those matters are symptomatic of a far deeper problem, namely, that all too many among us (especially in the liturgical elite circles) do not “understand and accept these principles.” Which is to say that our difficulties are not about taste but about doctrine. Christ bids us “worship in spirit and in truth”(Jn 4:24). These two texts can do much to lead us on that royal path.

Endnotes:
1 Parochial and Plain Sermons, 2.7.
2 The brother of Karl Rahner, who quipped that he intended to spend his retirement translating his brother’s works into German!
3 The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, Volume I.




The other side of the coin: A biography of Mass wrecker and Novus Ordo architect Annibale Bugnini is shedding new light on how and why he was able to do what he did...

What Bugnini was thinking
when he destroyed the Catholic Mass

by Peter Kwasniewski


In G.K. Chesterton’s story “The Queer Feet,” Father Brown says:

A crime is like any other work of art. Don’t look surprised; crimes are by no means the only works of art that come from an infernal workshop. But every work of art, divine or diabolic, has one indispensable mark — I mean, that the centre of it is simple, however much the fulfilment may be complicated. Thus, in Hamlet, let us say, the grotesqueness of the grave-digger, the flowers of the mad girl, the fantastic finery of Osric, the pallor of the ghost and the grin of the skull are all oddities in a sort of tangled wreath round one plain tragic figure of a man in black. [1]


This passage came to my mind when reading the newly translated recent biography Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy (Angelico Press, 2018) by the prolific and well respected French historian Yves Chiron.

The wide-ranging liturgical reform that took place in the Catholic Church predominantly between the years 1950 and 1975 was, indeed, like Hamlet, a complicated business, involving hundreds of bishops and experts, several popes, an ecumenical council, and countless publications, but at the center of it stood “one plain tragic figure of a man in black” — or perhaps we might say black with red piping: Msgr. (later Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini, a Vincentian priest who was one of the few men who had a hand in this quarter-century reform from its beginning nearly to its end.

Those who have heard of Annibale Bugnini (1912–1982) tend to think of him either as an evil schemer bent on the destruction of the Catholic Faith or as a talented bureaucrat who smoothly guided a complex liturgical reform to its happy conclusion. This book, which is well researched yet mercifully compact for a modern biography, portrays a more complex and human figure.

That he was totally convinced of and consistently acted upon various rationalist and pastoral theories about how liturgy “ought to be” is indisputable, and this book provides copious documentation of it, but not all of his ideas were welcomed by those in authority, and he did eventually run afoul of the pope to whose itching ear and promulgating pen he had enjoyed such uninhibited access.

Through Chiron’s book we become acquainted with the life of a man who was singularly influential in marshaling the forces necessary for an unprecedented revision of Roman Catholic worship. One sees how it came about, step by step, pope by pope, committee by committee, book by book.

It is truly one of the most astonishing stories in the history of Catholicism, and one about which Henry Sire rightly quips: “The story of how the liturgical revolution was put through is one that hampers the historian by its very enormity; he would wish, for his own sake, to have a less unbelievable tale to tell.”[2] With Chiron patiently taking the reader through the phases of Bugnini’s life and activity, the tale becomes a little less unbelievable, albeit no less an enormity, as each daring maneuver leads to a new opening, a new opportunity, and new changes [3].

Was Bugnini a mastermind, one of those rare Faustian individuals who singlehandedly change the course of history, or was he a small-minded ideologue and opportunist? The evidence presented in this biography tends to support the latter. Additional evidence not discussed by Chiron lends support to the same interpretation.

In a memorable address in Montreal, Canada in 1982, Archbishop Lefebvre shared the story of a meeting he attended with other superiors general in Rome in the mid-1960s:

I had the occasion to see for myself what influence Fr. Bugnini had. One wonders how such a thing as this could have happened at Rome. At that time immediately after the Council, I was Superior General of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and we had a meeting of the Superiors General at Rome.

We had asked Fr. Bugnini to explain to us what his New Mass was, for this was not at all a small event. Immediately after the Council talk was heard of the ‘Normative Mass’, the ‘New Mass’, the ‘Novus Ordo’. What did all this mean? …

Fr. Bugnini, with much confidence, explained what the Normative Mass would be:
- This will be changed, that will be changed, and we will put in place another Offertory.
- We will be able to reduce the communion prayers.
- We will be able to have several different formats for the beginning of Mass.
- We will be able to say the Mass in the vernacular tongue. …

Personally I was myself so stunned that I remained mute, although I generally speak freely when it is a question of opposing those with whom I am not in agreement. I could not utter a word. How could it be possible for this man before me to be entrusted with the entire reform of the Catholic Liturgy, the entire reform of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the sacraments, of the Breviary, and of all our prayers? Where are we going? Where is the Church going?

Two Superiors General had the courage to speak out. One of them asked Fr. Bugnini: “Is this an active participation, that is a bodily participation, that is to say with vocal prayers, or is it a spiritual participation? In any case you have spoken so much of the participation of the faithful that it seems you can no longer justify Mass celebrated without the faithful. Your entire Mass has been fabricated around the participation of the faithful. We Benedictines celebrate our Masses without the assistance of the faithful. Does this mean that we must discontinue our private Masses, since we do not have faithful to participate in them?”

I repeat to you exactly that which Fr. Bugnini said. I have it still in my ears, so much did it strike me: “To speak truthfully, we didn’t think of that,” he said!

Afterwards another arose and said: “Reverend Father, you have said that we will suppress this and we will suppress that, that we will replace this thing by that and always by shorter prayers. I have the impression that your new Mass could be said in ten or twelve minutes or at the most a quarter of an hour. This is not reasonable. This is not respectful towards such an act of the Church.”

Well, this is what he replied: “We can always add Something.” Is this for real? I heard it myself. If somebody had told me the story I would perhaps have doubted it, but I heard it myself. [4]


When we read an account like this, we are tempted to think it an exaggeration. Chiron’s careful, almost surgical examination of original documents proves that it is nothing of the kind. While studiously avoiding romanticization or caricature, Chiron paints a portrait of his protagonist that harmonizes with such accounts as Lefebvre’s, or that of Bouyer in his Memoirs.

Bugnini was indeed an adroit manager, manipulator, massager, and messenger.
- He knew how to gather an “all-star” team that would work in the direction he thought best.
- He knew how to win over the pope to his ideas.
- He knew when to speak up and when to keep silent.
To take one example, he urged the preconciliar preparatory commission on liturgy not to put forth too many radical ideas lest their entire project of reform be shot down; it was enough, Bugnini said, to offer general innocuous-sounding indications and to fill out the details later in committee work.

The term “Machiavellian” might have to be excluded only because there is no smoking-gun evidence of malice. Rather, Bugnini is that oddest of odd figures: the seemingly well-intentioned Machiavellian who stifles his opponents because they are obviously wrong and he is obviously right.

In his delightful novella Rasselas, Samuel Johnson places on the lips of one of his characters advice that could have been custom-made for Bugnini:

“Do not therefore, in thy administration of the year, indulge thy pride by innovation; do not please thyself with thinking that thou canst make thyself renowned to all future ages by disordering the seasons. The memory of mischief is no desirable fame.”


In this swift-moving biography, which is rich with details but never gets bogged down in minutiae, Chiron shows us what made Bugnini “tick”:
- a one-track obsession with “active participation,” understood as rational comprehension of verbal data, and,
- as a corollary, the need for a radical simplification of liturgical forms to meet the straightforward, efficient modern Western man.

To this goal, everything else was to be subordinated: all ecclesiastical traditions were so much flotsam and jetsam compared to the pastoral urgency of immediate conveyance of Vatican II-flavored content.

This explains why Latin had to give way to vernacular, why complex language had to be broken down into bite-sized chunks, why elaborate prayers and ceremonies had to be abbreviated or abolished, why the priest should interact familiarly with the people rather than fulfilling a distinct hieratic role, why Gregorian chant had to be sidelined in favor of popular songs, and so forth.

In a way, it all “makes sense,” just as Cartesianism “makes sense” to one who rejects the possibility of knowing any reality other than the mind, or as Freudianism “makes sense” to one who is already disposed to evaluating situations for their sexual exploitability, or as deconstructionism “makes sense” to one who rejects the possibility of meaning.

How very different, indeed contrary, to the postconciliar project of building the first liturgy of moderns, by moderns, for moderns, is the attitude we meet in the memoirs of Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking of his youthful discovery of the riches of the liturgy:

It was a riveting adventure to move by degrees into the mysterious world of the liturgy, which was being enacted before us and for us there on the altar. It was becoming more and more clear to me that here I was encountering a reality that no one had simply thought up, a reality that no official authority or great individual had created.

This mysterious fabric of texts and actions had grown from the faith of the Church over the centuries. It bore the whole weight of history within itself, and yet, at the same time, it was much more than the product of human history. Every century had left its mark upon it. … Not everything was logical. Things sometimes got complicated, and it was not always easy to find one’s way. But precisely this is what made the whole edifice wonderful, like one’s own home.
[5]


I would like to comment here on the conspiracy theory that will forever cling to Bugnini — namely, that he was a Freemason, and that the liturgical reform was a Masonic plot to undermine the Church from within.

With the patient precision of the historian, Chiron looks at every piece of available evidence and reaches the conclusion that it is impossible to say with certainty whether Bugnini was or was not a Freemason; evidence adequate to a conviction is wanting. He mentions that the accusation arose from someone “highly placed” in the Church’s hierarchy; he quotes Bugnini’s indignant testimonies that he never had, nor dreamt of having, anything to do with a secret society, and there it stands, a classic case of contrary assertions with no way (yet) of proving one side or the other right [6]. Some readers will, perhaps, be disappointed, as they might have expected research to return a definite verdict. But there are two things to be said about this matter.

First, in the intriguing foreword, we learn of a 1996 interview in which Dom Alcuin Reid asked Cardinal Stickler if he believed that Bugnini was a Freemason and if this was the reason Paul VI dismissed him. “No,” the cardinal replied, “it was something far worse.” But His Eminence declined to reveal what the “far worse” was — and, frankly, the concept of something “far worse” than a Freemason opens frightening vistas of imagination.

Second, let us assume for the sake of argument that Bugnini was just who he said he was, and just as he appears from the historical record — a “lover and cultivator of the liturgy,” as it seemed to him. In some ways, this is the most depressing of all scenarios.

One might almost have more respect for Bugnini if he had operated by some grand plan to demolish the liturgy of the ages and replace it with a mechanism brilliantly contrived to undermine Catholicism, if he had been an apostate infiltrator whose only goal was wreaking havoc on the central nervous system of the Church. We are looking for a Professor Moriarty who orchestrates the underworld.

But if it turns out that he was an earnest, hardworking, small-minded man, won over by the rhetoric of the Liturgical Movement, incapable of self-doubt in the wee hours of the night, utterly blind to the world-shifting implications of what he was doing, a diligent functionary with half-baked ideas and the stubbornness to push them along at every opportunity, then we enter into the soulless gray world of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”[7].

We are looking at the equivalent of the SS officer who killed Jews in concentration camps because it seemed like the conscientious fulfillment of his duty to the State, under lawful commands from above.

Perhaps, in the end, the irrepressible urge to make Bugnini a Freemason, with or without sufficient evidence (“surely he must have been…”), is a defense mechanism against having to face up to the possibility that he was sincerely service-oriented as he went about dismantling twenty centuries of organically developed liturgy.

That is not to say he always used pure means; he was adroit and clever at getting his way and willing to bend the truth. But he always felt he was in the right, that such a great and difficult end justified whatever means it took to reach it, and that someday everyone would come around to his point of view.

Few managers in the history of bureaucracies have ever been so mistaken. Baptized Catholics today fall into three groups:
- the majority, who are fallen away and attend no liturgy, or who would lightly skip a Mass to attend sonny’s soccer game;
- practising Catholics, who, aware of no alternative, dutifully attend the Bugnini Mass, taking the scraps that fall from the table of plenty; and
- a sizeable minority who, despite differences among themselves, adhere energetically to the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy.
This is not the future Bugnini dreamt of — if, indeed, he permitted himself the luxury of dreaming, in the midst of journals, conferences, meetings, audiences, and correspondence.

A clever poet has written:

In Rome they should have known him by his name:
the enemy descending with his brutes.
But to our guardians’ eternal shame,
the harried faithful know him by his fruits.
[8]


When I finished Chiron’s Bugnini, I leaned back in my chair and thought wistfully about the momentous period its pages brought before my eyes — how outdated, how stale, how empty it all seems today, when it lives on in a legacy that stimulates about the same level of enthusiasm as Victorian sentimental kitsch.

Bugnini’s life had been spent in a sleepless effort to bring the Church “up to date,” to make her an equal partner with modernity at last, in a bid to conquer the culture — and now look at the smoking remains, the boarded up churches, the indifferent and ignorant laity, the infant-slaying Cuomos and Pelosis, the liturgy that bores to tears, the pope afflicted with heretical logorrhea.

It is not the Church that engaged modernity, but modernity that colonized the Church, reducing her to a state of vassalage. Without explicitly intending to do so in this book, Chiron helps us to see why Catholic traditionalism (or traditional Catholicism, if you prefer) is, in fact, the only way forward out of this pit of despair.

What the modern liturgists who fawn on Bugnini don’t get — and really need to have spelled out for them like little children — is this:
- We do not welcome the postconciliar liturgical reforms, and we will never sing their praises.
- You cannot force us to like them; you cannot even force us to celebrate them.
- We think they were the project of an insane arrogance, acting on faulty principles and yielding shameful results.
- We distrust the people who ran the Consilium, especially Bugnini, and
- No matter how many purple-faced prelates stand up and haughtily proclaim: “It was the will of the Holy Spirit” or “It was the dictate of the Second Vatican Council” or “It was promulgated by Paul VI,” we will always hold to the great liturgical tradition that developed organically from St. Peter, St. Damasus, St. Gregory the Great to the twentieth century, and our numbers will continue to grow, even as dioceses consolidate parishes, sell off churches, and bleed out legal damages.

The enthusiastic liturgists of the ’60s and ’70s are the aging nostalgics of today, as the Church increasingly splits into those who take established dogma, tradition, and liturgy seriously and those who would modernize them to the point of dissipation.

Readers are in Chiron’s debt — and readers of English, in John Pepino’s debt — for such a polished and professional biography of a key figure in the corporate remodeling of the Church of Today. This biography does not temper our instinctive revulsion, but rather feeds and focuses it.

To Bugnini, we say again, Bugni-no.


Notes:
[1] G. K. Chesterton, “The Queer Feet,” in The Complete Father Brown (New York: Penguin, 1981), 51.
[2] H. J. A. Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015), 251. I have said it before and I will say it again: the chapter “The Destruction of the Mass” in this book, pp. 226–86, is simply the best concise account I have seen anywhere of what was done to the Mass in the liturgical reform, why, and how.
[3] In my opinion, the one who comes off as the worst villain in the story is Paul VI. Chiron has written a biography of Paul VI, too, which is currently being translated into English.
[4] From a conference given by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1982. The full text may be found at www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/The-Infiltration-of-Modernism-in-the-Chu...
[5] Milestones: Memoirs 1927–1977, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 19–20.
[6] Chiron notes that there are some private journals and papers that are still jealously guarded by Bugnini’s literary executors. One wonders if such texts will ever come to light.
[7] Arendt says this about Eichmann: “Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a ‘monster,’ but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [of his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported”(Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil [New York: Penguin Classics, 2006], 54).
[8] Mark Amorose, City under Siege: Sonnets and Other Verse (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2017), 34. This little book of lovely and witty poems deserves to be better known.


Hannah Arendt's book on Eichmann, forever memorable for the phrase 'the banality of evil', was one of the seminal books I read when I was a college sophomore, and now that Kwasniewski brings it up - and the particular quotation he cites about Eichmann as a clown rather than a monster, I find it hard not to apply the phrase 'banality of evil' to Jorge Bergoglio's clowneries which are daily reported, yes, but almost uniformly glossed over and increasingly shrugged off, even by a great many intelligent people. As though his 'evil' does not already mean the spiritual Passion of the Church and the untold spiritual suffering it is causing and will continue to cause for millions of faithful misled by his banalities now and in the future.


Finally, Aldo Maria Valli cites another appalling example of the banality of evil perpetrated by priests today who can't seem to find any limits to the licentiousness they find allowed to them by the Novus Ordo and the general laissez-faire attitude of the reigning pope and his religious indifferentism...

'Right men in the right positions' - #10
Translated from

February 4, 2019

Dear friends, today’s installment, #10 , of the right men in the right positions, begins with a parish priest who, on the occasion of the Week for Christian Unity, thought it would be good to open the doors of his church to a Baptist pastoress, make her his concelebrant, entrust to her the proclamation of the Gospel and a homily thereon, and since she was there anyway, why not make her distribute Communion, too?

The disconcertment of some of his parishioners was understandable who thought they had come to the wrong church, looked around them and confirmed they were in their own parish church, but under the circumstances, they chose to leave. One of them wrote to me:

“I am writing you to add my recent experience to the list of the iniquities that have been taking place in many Italian churches which you have been keeping track of for some time. The hope is that those who have oversight duties become aware of these, verify them and intervene to correct them. I am also writing this to the Curia of Milan.

I had transferred my residence to Milan a month ago after getting married. On Sunday, January 11, my wife and I went to our first Mass at what was to be our parish church, St John Lateran, on via Pinturricchio 35. At the start of the Mass, the parish priest announced that a pastoress from an evangelical church in Milan was going to take part in the Mass, which meant that she stood or sat by him throughout the celebration, then read and commented on the Gospel. The pretext was that it was the Week for Christian Unity. And so the pastoress read the Gospel at the ambo, and commented on it from the chair in place of the celebrant who stood aside.

It was ironical – considering what evangelicals think of Our Lady - that the gospel for the day was about the marriage in Cana, one of the few Gospel episodes in which Mary’s presence is described, and in fact, when she speaks up. I do not want to say anything of what the pastoress said, given that you can imagine how much of what she said conformed to Catholic doctrine. And the obvious conclusion of her sermon was how unachronistic and unreasonable it was that today the Christian churches are still separate when we all profess the same things.

But even worse was that, after the consecration of the bread and the wine, the lady remained all along standing just behind the celebrant who, when it was time to distribute Communion - to the surprise, I think of the pastoress herself - gave her the ciborium with the consecrated hosts, and accordingly, she positioned herself in the center of the nave as a substitute for the priest who faded away off to the left side. And the pastoress gave Holy Communion to a great number of the faithful, most of whom apparently did not think there was anything strange afoot.

Ignoring everything else, is it possible for a 60-year-old priest not to understand that a person who does not believe in the Sacrament and of the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread cannot distribute communion? Let us hope it is due to ‘blessed ignorance’!

At the end of the Mass, before the final blessing, the priest expressed his gratitude to the pastoress and informed the congregation of the address of her church. Then, ‘forgetting’ to genuflect before the altar, the priest walked towards the sacristy chatting with the pastoress.

I don’t have to tell you how sad I am about the whole episode. One man who was setaed in front of us got up and left the church after the pastoress began her homily, and a lady left during the homily…”

Later, the priest, when interviewed about his actions, justified himself saying that "Transsubstantiation is just one of many ways to explain he real presence, and the evangelical churches do not exclude it… The Church recommends transubstantiation but it is not the only way one can attempt to understand this event which is anyway beyond our powers of comprehension".
Interviewer: Are you saying that Transsubstantiation is simply one of the ways to ‘understand’ the eucharist?
Priest: In fact, yes – it's not the only way although it is specifically recommended by the Church, but it is not the only way to make it intelligible.

Now, let us go on to His Excellency the Most Reverend Archbishop of Detroit, Mons. Allan Vigneron, who has prohibited a parish priest on his diocese, Fr. Lee Acervo, from celebrating the Mass ad orientem.

Acervo, a former informatics engineer, and parish priest of St. Edward on the Lake in Lakeport, had been celebrating Mass ‘facing the Lord’ for over a year, a decision he made after it was suggested by Cardinal Robert sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Acervo’s decision was welcomed positively by his parishioners, and it represented for him, he wrote in the parish bulletin, ‘an edifying and richfully rewarding turning point’.

But just before Christmas, auxiliary bishop Robert Fisher, on Vigneron’s order, directed Fr. Lee to celebrate the Mass facing the congregation and to start doing so not later than February 1. There was one concession: he could celebrate Mass ad orientem one Sunday a month and two weekdays a week. Fr. Lee wrote an appeal to Bishop Vigneron and also wrote to Cardinals Sarah and Burke.

We shall close with some unknown ‘extraordinary minister’ of Communion at the recent WYD in Panama, who apparently allowed a consecrated host to fall to the ground and failed to do anything about it. It was found by a young Filipino, who recounted, “I found an entire piece of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the ground as I was walking through the grassy plain where the Mass was held,” wrote Marvin Sy who says he took the host into his mouth there and then to prevent any further desecration.

“I hope,” he continued, “that next time those who administer communion first check the ground around them before leaving, because it is wrong to treat the Real Presence so lightly”.


How many millions, or tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, of Catholics have been led down the slippery slopes of liturgical licentiousness enabled by Paul VI (and implicitly encouraged by the reigning pope) into a spiritual abyss they are not even aware of!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/8/2019 3:31 PM]
2/7/2019 11:59 PM
 
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Perhaps if Jorge Bergoglio ever remembers anything about the traditional Mass - or better yet, if he said the Traditional Mass every day - the words of the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John, which are said
at the end of the Mass to round up the full meaning of the Sacrifice, would remind him in no unmistakable terms what DOMINUS IESUS reiterated for the world in 2000, on the bimillenary jubilee of the faith...


The Christian faith:
The only valid and the only God-willed religion

By Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana (Kazakhstan)
Special to

February 8, 2019

The Truth of the filial adoption in Christ, which is intrinsically supernatural, constitutes the synthesis of the entire Divine Revelation.

Being adopted by God as sons is always a gratuitous gift of grace, the most sublime gift of God to mankind. One obtains it, however, only through a personal faith in Christ and through the reception of baptism, as the Lord himself taught: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.” (John 3: 5-7).

In the past decades one often heard - even from the mouth of some representatives of the Church’s hierarchy - statements about the theory of “anonymous Christians” [originated by Karl Rahner]. This theory says the following: The mission of the Church in the world would consist ultimately in raising the awareness that all men must have of their salvation in Christ and consequently of their filial adoption in Christ. Since, according to the same theory, every human being possesses already the sonship of God in the depth of his personality.

Yet, such a theory contradicts directly Divine Revelation, as Christ taught it and His Apostles and the Church over two thousand years always transmitted it unchangingly and without a shadow of a doubt.

In his essay “The Church, consisting of Jews and Gentiles” (Die Kirche aus Juden und Heiden) Erik Peterson, the well-known convert and exegete, long since (in 1933) warned against the danger of such a theory, when he affirmed that one cannot reduce being a Christian (“Christsein”) to the natural order, in which the fruits of the redemption achieved by Jesus Christ would be generally imputed to every human being as a kind of heritage, solely because he would share human nature with the incarnated Word. Filial adoption in Christ is not an automatic result, guaranteed through belonging to the human race.

Saint Athanasius (cf. Oratio contra Arianos II, 59) left us a simple and at the same time an apt explanation of the difference between the natural state of men as God’s creatures and the glory of being a son of God in Christ. Saint Athanasius derives his explanation from the words of the holy Gospel according to John, that say: "He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1: 12-13).

John uses the expression “who are born” to say that men become sons of God not by nature, but by adoption. This shows the love of God, that He Who is their creator becomes then through grace also their Father. This happens when, as the Apostle says, men receive in their hearts the Spirit of the Incarnated Son, Who cries in them: "Abba, Father!"

Saint Athanasius continues his explanation saying, that as created beings, men can become sons of God in no other manner than through faith and baptism, when they receive the Spirit of the natural and true Son of God. Precisely for that reason the Word became flesh, to make men capable of adoption as sons of God and of participation in the Divine nature. Consequently, by nature God is not in the proper sense the Father of all human beings. Only if someone consciously accepts Christ and is baptized, will he be able to cry in truth: "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8: 15; Gal. 4: 6).

Since the beginnings of the Church there was the assertion, as testified by Tertullian: “One is not born a Christian, but one becomes a Christian” (Apol., 18, 5). And Saint Cyprian of Carthage formulated aptly this truth, saying: «He cannot have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother” (De unit., 6).

The most urgent task of the Church in our time is to care about the change of the spiritual climate and about the spiritual migration, namely that the climate of non-belief in Jesus Christ, the climate of the rejection of the kingship of Christ, be changed into the climate of explicit faith in Jesus Christ, of the acceptance of His kingship, and that men may migrate from the misery of the spiritual slavery of unbelief into the happiness of being sons of God and from of a life of sin into the state of sanctifying grace. These are the migrants about whom we must care urgently.

Christianity is the only God-willed religion. Therefore, it can never be placed complementarily side by side with other religions. Those would violate the truth of Divine Revelation, as it is unmistakably affirmed in the First Commandment of the Decalogue, who would assert that the diversity of religions is the will of God.

According to the will of Christ, faith in Him and in His Divine teaching must replace other religions, however not by force, but by loving persuasion, as expressed in the hymn of Lauds of the Feast of Christ the King: “Non Ille regna cladibus, non vi metuque subdidit: alto levatus stipite, amore traxit omnia” (“Not with sword, force and fear He subjects peoples, but lifted up on the Cross He lovingly draws all things to Himself”).

There is only one way to God, and this is Jesus Christ, for He Himself said: “I am the Way”. There is only one truth, and this is Jesus Christ, for He Himself said: “I am the Truth”. There is only one true supernatural life of the soul, and this is Jesus Christ, for He Himself said: “I am the Life”. (John 14:6)

The Incarnated Son of God taught that outside faith in Him there cannot be a true and God-pleasing religion: “I am the door. By me, if any man enters in, he shall be saved” (John 10: 9). God commanded to all men, without exception, to hear His Son: “This is my most beloved Son; hear Him!” (Mk. 9: 7).

God did not say: “You can hear My Son or you can hear other founders of a religion, for it is My will that there are different religions.” God has forbidden us to recognize the legitimacy of the religion of other gods: “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me” (Ex. 20: 3) and “What fellowship has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Cor. 6: 14-16).

If other religions likewise corresponded to the will of God, there would not have been the Divine condemnation of the religion of the Golden Calf at the time of Moses (cf. Ex. 32: 4-20); then the Christians of today could unpunished cultivate the religion of a new Golden Calf, since all religions are, according to that theory, God-pleasing ways as well.

God gave the Apostles and through them the Church for all times the solemn order to instruct all nations and the followers of all religions in the only one true Faith, teaching them to observe all His Divine commandments and baptize them (cf. Mt. 28: 19-20). Since the preaching of the Apostles and of the first Pope, the Apostle Saint Peter, the Church proclaimed always that there is salvation in no other name, i.e., in no other faith under heaven by which men must be saved, but in the Name and in the Faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 4: 12).

With the words of Saint Augustine the Church taught in all times: “The Christian religion is the only religion which possesses the universal way for the salvation of the soul; for except by this way, none can be saved. This is a kind of royal way, which alone leads to a kingdom which does not totter like all temporal dignities, but stands firm on eternal foundations.” (De civitate Dei, 10, 32, 1).

The following words of the great Pope Leo XIII testify the same unchanging teaching of the Magisterium in all times, when he affirmed:

“The view that all religions are alike, is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which, as it is the only one that is true, cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions.” (Encyclical Humanum genus, n. 16)


In recent times the Magisterium presented substantially the same unchanging teaching in the Document Dominus Jesus (August 6, 2000), from which we quote the following relevant assertions:

“Theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.” (n. 7)

“Those solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to Christian and Catholic faith.” (n. 14)

“Not infrequently it is proposed that theology should avoid the use of terms like “unicity”, “universality”, and “absoluteness”, which give the impression of excessive emphasis on the significance and value of the salvific event of Jesus Christ in relation to other religions. In reality, however, such language is simply being faithful to revelation” (n. 15)

“It is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.” (n. 21)

“The faith rules it out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another' (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 36).” (n. 22)


The Apostles and the countless Christian martyrs of all times, especially those of the first three centuries, would have been spared martyrdom, if they had said: “The pagan religion and its worship is a way, which as well corresponds to the will of God.”

There would have been for instance no Christian France, no “Eldest Daughter of the Church,” if Saint Remigius had said to Clovis, the King of the Francs: “Do not despise your pagan religion you have worshiped up to now,and worship now Christ, Whom you have persecuted up to now.” The saintly bishop actually spoke differently, although in a rather rough way: “Worship what you burned, and burn what you have worshiped!”

True universal brotherhood can be only in Christ, and namely between baptized persons. The full glory of God’s sons will be attained only in the beatific vision of God in heaven, as Holy Scripture teaches: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3: 1-2).

No authority on earth – not even the supreme authority of the Church – has the right to dispense people from other religions from the explicit Faith in Jesus Christ as the Incarnated Son of God and the only Savior of mankind with the assurance that the different religions as such are willed by God Himself.

Indelible – because written with the finger of God and crystal-clear in their meaning – remain, however, the words of the Son of God: “Whoever believes in the Son of God is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3: 18).

This truth was valid up to now in all Christian generations and will remain valid until the end of time, irrespective of the fact that some people in the Church of our so fickle, cowardly, sensationalist, and conformist time reinterpret this truth in a sense contrary to its evident wording, selling thereby this reinterpretation as continuity in the development of doctrine.

Outside the Christian Faith no other religion can be a true and God-willed way, since this is the explicit will of God, that all people believe in His Son: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life” (John 6: 40). Outside the Christian Faith no other religion is able to transmit true supernatural life: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17: 3).

With the above post - which apparently Mons. Schneider sent to as many outlets he could e-mail it to, and not just to Rorate caeli, I have relegated my little post yesterday, 2/7/19, to what it is - a peripheral commentary on the strange circumstances attendant to the Declaration signed by the pope and the imam of Al-Azhar. (I didn't find any new commentary on the issue yesterday that I found worth posting, though there appears to have been one by Roberto De Mattei.)

February 7, 2019
If you have any doubts at all that the recent 'Human Fraternity Meeting' in Abu Dhabi was held principally to provide a stage for Pope Francis and his new BFF, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, who is also the president of the Muslim Council of Elders which convoked the meeting, take a look at the only information I have been able to find online so far on just exactly which world religions other than Islam and Bergoglio Catholicism were represented and who attended in their name (after failing to find any Google answers to 'Who represented Anglicanism at the Human Fraternity Meeting?' and 'Who represented the Christian Orthodox Churches at the Human Fraternity Meeting').

https://www.thenational.ae/uae/the-pope-in-the-uae/in-profile-the-key-religious-figures-in-abu-dhabi-during-papal-visit-1.821798

So the list heads off with Imam Al-Tayyeb himself, who called the meeting, to begin with, and one other 'major' Muslim name, the Grand Mufti of Tunisia.
- Where were the Grand Muftis (or their equivalents, or at least, their designated representatives) from the other 48 Muslim-majority countries of the world?
- Were Saudi Arabia which is Wahhabist, not Sunni, and Iran, which is Shi'ite, not Sunni, invited at all?

And who are the other 'key figures' mentioned?
1. Cardinal Bechara of Lebanon (Catholic)
2. Bishop Julius, who supervises Coptic bishops in the Gulf (Christian Copt)
2. Olav Tveit, of the World Council of Churches (Protestant)
3. Bob Roberts, founding pastor of the Northwood evangelical mega-church in Texas
4. Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder of the Westhampton Synagogue in NY, from which he was booted, and of a Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
[about whom a Google search came up with a 2016 story entitled 'Rabbi with 5 ex-wives and a new fling, finally gets Hamptons boot' as the second item following his Wikipedia entry; a follow-up story says he married the 'fling' in 2017]. In fairness, the Wiki article says that "he was rated number 37 of the top 50 most influential American rabbis by Newsweek magazine in 2007", but not after that. But it also points out that he was investigated in 2010 by the Rabbinical Council of America for breaching the code of ethics about extramarital relationships, and that the Council finally expelled him in 2015. I didn't go out looking for these 'strange' and perhaps not irrelevant facts about the rabbi - they just popped up on a random Google search. He has apparently made a name for himself in promoting interfaith relations, creating the Annual Weekend of Twinning Synagogues and Mosques since 2008, and has been particularly active in the Emirates.
5. A senior Hindu priest of the SwamiNarayan branch of Hinduism
6. The female president of a little-known branch of Buddhism in Japan that was founded by her father

No wonder nobody else but Bergoglio and al-Tayyeb signed that Declaration. The meeting was obviously staged simply to provide an international context to the Bergoglio-AlTayyeb Big Show of signing a declaration obviously pre-fabricated at Casa Santa Marta and Al Azhar long before the meeting, and which was so laden with platitudes any 'interfaith meeting' participant would have signed it with eyes closed if they had been asked to.

- Imagine having a major international interfaith meeting and not having the Dalai Lama. Or maybe they invited him and he declined?
- What about any rabbis from Israel?
- And again, where were any representatives from the Christian Orthodox Churches (14 autocephalous, 15 now with the new Ukraine Orthodox Church not recognized by Russia)?
- Or from the Anglican Communion?

Could the reporting on this 'major interfaith meeting' have been so spotty and deficient as to fail to mention such facts if they were available?



Meanwhile, the reigning pope's now habitual and familiar mendacity keeps pace with his anti-Catholic statements...

Papal theologian never saw final draft
of Declaration with imam as pope claims

by Diane Montagna


ROME, February 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Informed sources have confirmed that the papal theologian, Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych, was consulted but did not see the final draft of the controversial “Document on Human Fraternity” that Pope Francis signed this week with a Grand Imam.

The news, reported by the National Catholic Register on Wednesday, runs contrary to Pope Francis’s claim that the papal theologian “officially” read and “approved” the document, which even some within the Vatican are calling “heresy.”

The Pope came under fire early this week for signing the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque, during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4.

The document incited controversy among Christians for asserting that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom” – a statement many believe contravenes the Catholic Faith.

While some have sought to downplay the passage, saying it must be read in context, one Dominican has argued that “in its obvious sense [the statement] is false, and in fact heretical.” One respected Catholic historian has also said it “overturns” the Gospel.

Who approved it?

During an inflight press conference on his return from Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis sought to allay concerns over the document, telling reporters:

“I want to say one thing and repeat it clearly: from the Catholic point of view, the document did not go one millimeter beyond the Second Vatican Council. It’s even cited there several times. Nothing. The document was done in the spirit of Vatican II....

“Before taking the decision to say it’s good as is, let’s finish it here, at least for my part, I had some theologians read it, and also [I had it read] officially by the Theologian of the Papal Household, who is a Dominican with the beautiful Dominican tradition — not to go on a witch hunt but to see where the right thing is. And he approved it.”


The current Theologian of the Papal Household, Father Wojciech Giertych, O.P., was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. The post, which has been held by Dominicans since the Middle Ages, is tasked with providing advice to the Pope on theological issues, as well as checking papal texts for theological clarity.

The news that the papal theologian never saw the final draft raises several questions:
- Who are the other “theologians” who read and advised the Pope on the document?
- Was the papal theologian’s advice heeded, and if so, to what extent?
- And if he did not see and approve the final draft, who did?

On his return from Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis said the document “was prepared with much reflection and prayer,” adding that “both the Grand Imam with his team, and me with mine, prayed a lot in order to make this document.” He added that it took almost a year to write. “It needed to ripen, to remain somewhat confidential,” he said, “so as not to give birth to the child before the proper time.”

The Pope told reporters that “if someone feels bad” about the document, he “understands". [QUOTE]“It’s not an everyday thing, and it’s not a step backwards. It’s a step forward that comes from 50 years ago, from the Council that must unfold and develop. Historians say that it takes 100 years for a Council to take root in the Church. We’re halfway there.”



The Pope said he can also understand how the “Document on Human Fraternity” might seem jarring to some. “It happened to me, too,” he said. “I read a sentence, and I said to myself: This sentence is a little … I don’t know if it’s sure. Instead, it was a phrase from the Council! It surprised me, too.”

He noted that in the Islamic world, too, there are “various opinions” on the document, “some more radical, others not.” “There will be discrepancies between them... but it’s a process, the process must ripen — like flowers, like fruit,” he said.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has argued that an apparently “new” (and what some consider heterodox) teaching is actually a “development of doctrine.”

When he changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty (n. 2267), Francis said the new wording “expresses the progress of the doctrine of the most recent pontiffs as well as the change in the conscience of the Christian people, which rejects a penalty that seriously harms human dignity.”

And when Amoris Laetitia was presented at the Vatican, its new teaching on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics was described as an “organic development” in the spirit of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Responding to the Pope’s inflight remarks on his return from Abu Dhabi, an anonymous Dominican told LifeSite: “With respect, the Pope needs to remember that his duty is not to conform only to the teaching of Vatican II, but also to that of all the councils.”

“Moreover,” the theologian added, “nothing in Vatican II states that non-Catholic religions are willed by God, so when Pope Francis tells us that nothing in his ‘Document on Fraternity’ goes beyond Vatican II, he is telling us something that is not true.”

Fr H's take on the most recently reported Bergoglian lie...

Waugh and Pope Francis
[Woe is Pope Francis!]


February 8, 2019

In Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh describes his disillusionment with the Army in terms of a husband's disillusionment with a wife: "I caught the false notes in her voice and learned to listen for them apprehensively ... I learned ... her jealousy and self-seeking, and her nervous trick with the fingers when she was lying ...".

I wonder if I am the only one to have followed this process with PF: "The nervous trick with the fingers when she was lying".

I had precisely this experience again with regard to PF's recent document advocating syncretistic relativism. Even before I had found the full text of the Declaration on my computer (I am still no good at all with these machines), I had seen his statement that the Declaration did not "go an inch beyond" the teaching of Vatican II.

Instantly ... I knew ... that it was going to go, in fact, rather more than an inch.

"The nervous trick with the fingers when he is lying".

Perhaps some of you, during these dark days, have recalled Chesterton's words "Naught for your comfort, Yea, naught for your desire, save that the sky grows darker yet and the sea rises higher". But at least PF's propensity to resort to mendacity like a duck to water makes him that bit easier to read and, to that degree, perhaps a trifle less dangerous. [Not really. How many see that he is lying - compared to those who 'receive' is words unquestioningly 'because he is the pope' - and how many of those who see the lies deny the fact?]


Grave concerns about
the Abu Dhabi document

By Professor Josef Seifert

February 8, 2019

There are grave concerns among Catholics about the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together which Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, signed on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi.

Nobody doubts that many truths about God and the natural moral law, and many semina verbi have been known by the pagans and are contained in many religions (except in the directly satanic ones), such as the “golden rule”.

Nobody believes that God cannot give the grace of eternal salvation outside the realm of the visible Church, its sacraments and conscious Christian faith. No one fails to see the many good and beautiful truths Pope Francis and the Imam confirm in the document.

However, to claim that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions (colour, sex, race and language) are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings” goes far, far beyond all this.
- How can God will religions that deny Christ's divinity and resurrection?
- How is this compatible with logic?
- Can God want that men hold contradictorily opposed beliefs about Jesus Christ or about God or about any other thing?

How can God from creation on have willed that men would fall into sin, worship false gods, become victims of errors and superstitions of all sorts, that they adhere to subtly atheist or pantheist religions such as Buddhism, or to religions cursed by the Old Testament and attributed to demons and demon-worship?

How can God, who wants his disciples to go out and preach to the whole world and baptize them, have willed any Christian heresy, let alone religions that deny the faith of which Jesus says to Nicodemus that he who believes in Him will be saved and he who does not, will be damned (John 3,18)?

If we read the Old and the New Testament, or look at the universal teachings of the Church on the divine command, given by Christ himself, to preach the Gospel to all nations, on the necessity of baptism and faith for salvation, etc., the opposite is clearly the case.

How can it then be true that God in His wisdom willed from creation on that many people do not believe in their only Redeemer?

I do not see any artful mental acrobatics capable of denying that this statement not only contains all heresies but also alleges a divine will for a large majority of mankind espouse all kinds of false and non-Christian religious creeds.

Besides, by attributing to God the will that there be religions contradicting His Divine Revelation, instead of attributing to him the will that all nations shall come to believe in the one true God and His Son and our Redeemer, God is turned into a relativist who does not know that there is only one truth and that its opposite cannot be true for different nations, or who does not care whether men believe in truth or falsity. This phrase claims that God wills religious errors.

By signing the statement that God wills a plurality of religions, the Pope defied both fides and ratio and rejected Christianity which is inseparable from the belief in Jesus Christ, who is the unus Dominus. (I assume that also the highest Islamic authorities will expel this Imam because Islam makes an absolute claim to truth as well).

In fact, if God really “wills all religions,” then he must hate the Catholic Church most of all because of its claim to be the one, Catholic, and apostolic Church, and because it rejects in its dogmas and perennial magisterial teachings any relativization of the Christian religion which would turn Christianity into one of many contradictory religions.

In sum: Any Catholic should pray that the Pope convert and reject this horrible sentence in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by him and the Great Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, because it undermines all true and beautiful things this document says on brotherhood.

It is neither impossible nor shameful for a Pope to retract errors that he has committed in his non-infallible teachings. The first Pope, instituted by Jesus Christ himself, Peter, did so upon the reprimand of St. Paul during the first Apostolic Council of the Church. Pope John XXII revoked on this deathbed a heresy about separated souls that he had committed in a previous document and that was a second time condemned as heresy by his successor.

Therefore, we have all good reason to hope that Pope Francis will revoke a sentence that constitutes a total break with logic as well as with Biblical and Church teaching.

If he does not do this, I am afraid that Canon Law may apply according to which a Pope automatically loses his Petrine office when professing heresy, especially when he professes the sum-total of all heresies.


[Ah, but dear Professor, haven't all the most brilliant and most implacable critics of this pope's 'apostasies and heresies' all come to the conclusion that regardless of what may be true in theory about the validity or invalidity of a pope's position as pope, nothing can really be done about it unless he dies or resigns?

Moreover, as I have remarked from almost the very beginning of this pontificate, I don't think Jorge Bergoglio, as individual, cardinal or pope, has ever subscribed to DOMINUS IESUS, which is the Church's most recent formal reaffirmation of the unicity of the one true Church of Christ as the way to salvation. I am 99% certain that if one did a thorough search of all the texts, oral and written, attributed to Bergoglio since he became pope, he has never once referred to DOMINUS IESUS because it reaffirms something that he almost daily refutes in thought, word and deed.]


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/18/2019 8:56 AM]
2/8/2019 10:50 PM
 
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Chesterton on creeds
by James V. Schall, S.J.

February 8, 2019

Chesterton thought that probably people were “intensely interested in theology — if possible more than in religion.” Why would he say this? It is, I think, because theology means precisely word or thought about God, the attempt to unravel and clarify what we mean by or know of the highest Being.

The knowledge of whether God exists is one thing, interesting enough as it is. But the real interest comes when, once knowing of the existence of a beginning source or cause, we commence our wondering about what sort of a being or reality this origin or end might be. So we try to formulate what we think, what we conclude, what we articulate. When we begin to do this articulating, we are in the creed-making business, whatever we call it.

“A creed means what anybody believes, and generally lends something of its definite character even to what he disbelieves. That the Creator is indifferent to creed is itself a creed. Even that the Creator does not exist at all is in essence a creed.”

This is why it is important especially for those who claim that they are free of odious creeds to identify their own creed so that we can examine them for their validity. We can in fact state in creedal form any claim to deny the need of a creed. No one is more pitiful or more dangerous than the “creedless” professor or parson. Chesterton had the uncanny ability to perceive and articulate the hidden creeds of those who had no creeds.

What might also sound strange to us on first reading is Chesterton’s insistence that morality is not very interesting. We hear a lot about the notion that we should not bother about the differing creeds or statements of what people believe but look to their deeds.

Samuel Johnson, I believe, once quipped that if a man denies in theory the validity of private property while he is visiting our house, we should count the silver after he leaves.

It is true that by their fruits you shall know them. What is not true is that these fruits come from some sort of mindlessness that has no relation to a thought that might have caused them.
- If we really only were interested in actions with no perception of the thoughts that caused then, “the result would be a torrent of tedium, a howling wilderness of boredom.”
- We would eliminate “mysticism” and the consciousness of our inner lives.
- The attention to deeds without to the thought behind them would be only moralising, something men find “the dreariest experience on earth.”

By eliminating any discussion of creed, creeds of even those who claim not to have any, we would at the same time get rid of what men “find really interesting,” namely, “the disputes about dogmas and creeds.” That is to say, we would rid ourselves of serious discussions about what is true.

At which point, one might ask: What is the 'creed' that Jorge Bergoglio professes??? Does he not profane the Credo he must recite at daily Mass by his anti-Catholic beliefs - borne out in word and deed - that are alien to it??? The present Vicar of Christ on earth is living a big lie which he obviously thinks is not, so certain is he that he alone knows best, better than Jesus whose Gospel he freely edits and manipulates as he pleases, and whose Church he has been wreckovating into his image and likeness.

On the same day, another TCT writer also wrote about creeds...

A new Creed?
by David Carlin

February 8, 2019

It is an interesting fact that Christianity’s three most famous creedal statements, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, contain no moral doctrines. They contain metaphysical doctrines, e.g. the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement; and what I suppose may be called historical-miraculous doctrines, e.g., the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Ascension. But no moral doctrines: nothing about the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the two great commandments – love God, love your neighbor.

Is this because early Christianity was not concerned with morality? Far from it. The four Gospels and the other parts of the New Testament, if we may take these as indicators of early Christianity, are replete with concerns about morality.

But the morality of early Christianity was pretty much noncontroversial, whereas the doctrinal parts of Christianity were highly controversial.

The creeds were created to draw bright lines between orthodox and non-orthodox beliefs. The Church was saying, “This is what we believe, and that is what we don’t believe. There’s the line between the two. If you’re on this side of the line, you are inside the Church. If you’re on that side, you are outside the Church.”

That this is what was going on is very clear in the case of the Nicene Creed, created by the first Ecumenical Council held at Nicea (325 AD) and somewhat modified at the First Council of Constantinople (381). The point of the Nicene Creed, while reaffirming and clarifying the doctrines expressed in the earlier Apostles Creed, was to draw a bright line between Catholic/Orthodox beliefs and Arian beliefs.

The Arians held that the Son was very like God the Father – but not quite. The Son is a great God so to speak, but not equal to the greatest of all Gods, God the Father. The Son, who had created the world, had himself been created by the Father. The Son was the first and greatest of all creatures, but inferior to the Father and subordinate to him. By implication, then, Jesus, who was the human incarnation of the Son, was not the highest God.

The Council of Nicea having clarified that Jesus was both true God and true man, there remained the great question of the relationship between the divinity of Jesus and his humanity. Subsequent Councils dealt with that vexed question, ruling out the Monophysite solution (Jesus was one person with a single divine nature) and the Nestorian solution (Jesus is two persons, one human, the other divine), and settling finally on the Catholic/Orthodox solution (Jesus has two natures, human and divine, yet is one person, a divine person).

The Church was only loosely organized in those days. The bishop of Rome (the pope) was generally acknowledged to be Church’s number one bishop, but he did not possess supreme administrative authority; he could not, for example, hire and fire bishops in Egypt and Greece and Syria. Hence [DIM=132t]the Church was not held together by being answerable to a central administrative headquarters. It was held together above all by a doctrinal consensus.

And so it was important to find just the right formulations of doctrine. Every time a doctrinal disagreement arose, this disagreement threatened to destroy the unity of the Church. It became important to call the bishops together in yet one more ecumenical council that would re-state the Catholic/Orthodox doctrine.

The results were mixed. On the one hand, orthodoxy became more and more precisely defined. On the other, not all parts of the Christian world obeyed the doctrinal dictates of the ecumenical councils. As a consequence, Christianity, ideally a unified thing, split into a number of large sections: the Catholic/Orthodox section, the Arian section, the Monophysite section, the Nestorian section.

Eventually (in the 11thcentury) the Catholic/Orthodox section split in two. Then the Catholic section split into Catholic and Protestant sections. And, finally, the Protestant section split into a thousand subsections.

But throughout these many centuries and these many splits and re-splits, there were no notable disagreements about moral issues. All Christians, with only a few insignificant exceptions, agreed on the importance of the Ten Commandments (even if they might not agree on how to number them), of the Beatitudes, of the two great commandments (love God, love your neighbor); and they agreed that the ideal Christian life was a life done in imitation of Christ.

And they all also agreed that the rules of morality were God-based and therefore unchangeable; they were not man-made and therefore amendable when we happened to think of something that seemed to us better.


I am not saying of course that all Christians lived according to their Christian moral beliefs. Far from it. But they did at least hold these beliefs, no matter how often they violated them. Christian adulterers, for instance, did not deny that adultery is very sinful. Nor did crooked Christian politicians deny that bribery is wrong. No, with regard to adultery, bribery, etc., they made special exceptions for themselves.

Today, however, all this has changed, a change that took place beginning in the 20th century. Today many Christians, including many Catholics, hold that certain ancient Christian sins – including for example fornication, adultery, abortion, homosexual sodomy, suicide, and euthanasia – are no longer sinful.

Do we, then, need a new creed, a moral creed that will draw bright lines between true Christian morality and the bogus Christian morality that has infected much of the Protestant world and is beginning to infect the Catholic world? I say, definitely YES.


And do we, therefore, need a new ecumenical council that will draw up this moral creed? No, for I fear the “soft-on-orthodoxy” bishops, especially German bishops, could perhaps dominate such a council.

So, we face a two-fold challenge:
- Rome would first need to be vigilant in appointing a whole new generation of bishops who are truly and fully Catholic in their views on faith and morals.
- And those bishops would also need the courage to directly confront our culture, including many of today’s self-described “Christians.”

Likely? Let us pray.

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi... The way we pray is the way we believe and the way we live... How each of us tries to live up to this Christian ideal is the subject of the following reflection.

What has become of
‘the soldiers of Christ’?

Translated from

February 8, 2019

Since political correctness became the guideline for the world’s dominant thought, the Catholic Church no longer uses expressions inspired by the idea of war and combat. For instance, she no longer speaks of souls to ‘conquer’ and has abandoned the expression ‘soldiers of Christ’.

And yet, with Scriptures in hand, it is difficult not to see that the life of faith is combat. St. Augustine, in his treatise De agone christiano, explains very well why, for the Christian, there can be no perfect peace in his life on earth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in speaking of the Sacrament of Confirmation, uses many beautiful expressions: It speaks of the growth and deepening of baptismal grace, of a firmer union with Christ and the Church, but it no longer says that with Confirmation, one becomes a ‘soldier of Christ’, as St. Pius X’s Catechism says.

An interesting reflection on this comes from Fr. Louis Sentagne of the FSSPX in an editorial in La tradizione cattolica, No. 108. I reproduce part of it here.

One must keep in mind a doctrinal and historical truth: We don’t yet belong to the Church Triumphant. We hope, with the supernatural theological virtue of hope, to belong one day, passing through the Church Penitent in purgatory. But for now, we belong to the Church Militant. And what does that mean? The Catechism of the Council of Trent tells us: “It is called militant because her members must always do combat against those terrible enemies which are the world, the flesh and the devil”.

If we look at history, when was the Church ever at peace?
- During the three centuries of Roman persecution at its inception? - After the persecutions, barely ten years after, began the worst of the heresies at the time – Arianism – which one can compare for its breadth and damage only with the Protestant heresy (not to mention the present).
- Was the Church at peace when pagan barbarians from the north invaded, and Muslims attempted to from the south?
- Or during the eternal attempts by secular powers to usurp her, whether their names were Frederick Barbarossa, Philip the Beautiful, Joseph II or Napoleon?
- During the 11th century, with the Great Schism, or the 16th with the Protestant schism, or the 18th with the French Revolution and all its European consequences?

No, the Church Militant is not meant to live in peace with the world. Does that mean that Christians are evil sowers of war? No. The Christian must be a peacemaker, but of peace with God, and therefore at war against ‘the world, the flesh and the devil”. What does the Sacrament of Confirmation mean that we receive? If we go back to the Catechism of St. Pius X, Question number 304 says:
Q. What is Confirmation?
A. Confirmation is the sacrament which makes us perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ, and imprints our character.

Therefore, we become ‘perfect ChristiThe role of a soldier is to fight for as long as there are enemies. And there will be enemies till the end of the world and the definitive triumph of Christ the King.

The kingdom of Christ is primarily spiritual. Therefore, our field of battle is principally to win souls to Christ. Especially our own – because yes, the first battle has to be for our own soul.

To be ‘perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ” is the exact opposite of making a pact with the world and its ways, of always living on the edge between mortal sin and a state of grace, or swinging between one and the other. “Be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect!” That is our ideal. But is it really? Yet it is the ideal at our Confirmation and FirstCommunion, or have we forgotten?

“Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3,16). If we do not want to hear this reproach that the angel had for the Church of Laodicea, we must commit ourselves to a true Christian life founded on the truths of the faith that we should increasingly live in depth, a faith lived in charity, a faith lived in prayer.

Such a living faith will ignite apostolic fire in us. If we understand and try to live the difference between Paradise and Hell, between living in a state of grace and in mortal sin, how could we be indifferent to the fate of so many souls who descend to hell like snowflakes, to use an expression from Our Lady at Fatima?

We have received the treasure of Tradition and we must consider it ours. But the Gospel says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5,14-15).

- Fr. Louis Sentagne, FSSPX
La tradizione cattolica, n. 3 (108), 2018




One who was certainly a magnificent example of a soldier of Christ - and so near to us in time - was the Venerable Fulton Sheen whose many charisms also included that of prophecy. On his blog at National Catholic Register, Joseph Pronechen examines statements made by the man who was the world's first and most spiritually successful 'televangelist' long before the term was coined, and how prophetic he was of the times we live in today...

Did Fulton Sheen prophesy about our times?
In a talk 72 years ago, he was as visionary as prophets of old.

by Joseph Pronechen


“We are at the end of Christendom.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen said during a talk in 1947. Making clear he didn’t mean Christianity or the Church, he said, “Christendom is economic, political, social life as inspired by Christian principles. That is ending — we’ve seen it die. Look at the symptoms: the breakup of the family, divorce, abortion, immorality, general dishonesty.”

Prophetic then, he was already a visionary and forewarning in the Jan. 26, 1947 radio broadcast. “Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis?” he asked 72 years ago. Then gave the answer:


"Partly because men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation, and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times… Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world. The great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on."


Certainly seems a snapshot of the usual suspects — the headlines and stories of today. To highlight his point, Sheen emphasized that

"The very day Sodom was destroyed, Scripture describes the sun as bright; Balthasar’s realm came to an end in darkness; people saw Noah preparing for the flood 120 years before it came, but men would not believe. In the midst of seeming prosperity, world-unity, the decree to the angels goes forth, but the masses go on their sordid routines. As our Lord said: For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:38-39)


Sheen wondered if we’re even aware of the signs of the times because “basic dogmas of the modern world [were] dissolving before our very eyes.” Replacing them were the assumptions that
1) man has “no other function in life than to produce and acquire wealth,”
(2) the idea that man is naturally good and “has no need of a God to give Him rights, or a Redeemer to salvage him from guilt, because progress is automatic thanks to science-education and evolution, which will one day make man a kind of a god,” and
(3) the idea that "reason isn’t for discovering the meaning and goal of life, namely the salvation of the soul, but merely to devise new technical advances to make on this earth a city of man to displace the city of God.”
Isn’t technology, advancing at a dizzying rate, demanding the obedience of so much of the population? [Just look at the virtual bondage of contemporary man to the Internet and its multitude of platforms providing instant gratification to human senses and human egoism!]

Sheen pointed out the signs of the times reveal we’re “definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale-builder for the individual but of no social relevance, an ambulance that took care of the wrecks of the social order until science reached a point where there would be no more wrecks; which called on God only as a defender of national ideals, or as a silent partner… but who had nothing to say about how the business should be run.”

Then the great bishop said something that at first seems shocking as we look at today: “The new era into which we are entering is what might be called the religious phase of human history.” But he quickly said this didn’t mean men will “turn to God.” Rather, they’ll turn from indifference to having a passion for “an absolute.”

The struggle will be “for the souls of men… The conflict of the future is between the absolute who is the God-man and the absolute which is the man god; the God Who became man and the man who makes himself God; brothers in Christ and comrades in anti-Christ.”

S goes on to describe the anti-Christ, which we’ll leave for
another time, other than now to say “his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect.” The saintly bishop brings in Communism, too, which has its place in what’s going on at the time and beyond, as we still see. Remember what Our Lady of Fatima said about Russia spreading its errors (Communism) if the world didn’t heed Our Lady’s directives.

The farsighted Sheen reminded, “God will not allow unrighteousness to become eternal. Revolution, disintegration, chaos, must be reminders that our thinking has been wrong, our dreams have been unholy. Moral truth is vindicated by the ruin that follows when it has been repudiated. The chaos of our times is the strongest negative argument that could ever be advanced for Christianity… The disintegration following an abandonment of God thus becomes a triumph of meaning, a reaffirmation of purpose… Adversity is the expression of God’s condemnation of evil, the registering of Divine Judgement... Catastrophe reveals that evil is self-defeating; we cannot turn from God without hurting ourselves.”

Sheen gave another reason why a crisis must come — “to prevent a false identification of the Church and the world.” Our Lord wanted his followers to be different from those who were not: I have taken you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)

Even in those 1947 days Sheen saw that “Mediocrity and compromise characterize the lives of many Christians. Many read the same novels as modern pagans, educate their children in the same godless way, listen to the same commentators who have no other standard than judging today by yesterday, and tomorrow by today, allow pagan practices such as divorce and remarriage to creep into the family; there are not wanting, so-called Catholic labor leaders recommending Communists for Congress, or Catholic writers who accept presidencies in Communist front organizations to instill totalitarian ideas in movies. There is no longer the conflict and opposition which is supposed to characterize us. We are influencing the world less than the world influences us. There is no apartness.”

He quoted St. Paul on this very idea, telling the Corinthians: “what has innocence to do with lawlessness? What is there in common between light and darkness? What harmony between Christ and Belial?”

Sheen perfectly mirrored 2018-19 headlines when it comes to people who stand up for the faith, for pro-life, for marriage. “Evil must come to reject us, to despise us, to hate us, to persecute us, and then shall we define our loyalties, affirm our fidelities and state on whose side we stand. How shall the strong and weak trees be manifested unless the wind blows? Our quantity indeed will decrease, but our quality will increase. Then shall be verified the words of Our Master: whoever does not gather with me, scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

Already in 1947 Sheen saw “the coming of the Day of the Beast, when there will be no buying or selling unless men have been signed with the sign of the Beast who would devour the child of the Mother of Mothers.”

The good bishop noted — remember this was 1947 — “With the family disintegrating with one divorce for every two marriages in 35 major cities in the United States, with five divorces for every six marriages in Los Angeles — there is no denying that something has snapped… Anyone who has had anything to do with God is hated today, whether his vocation was to announce His Divine Son, Jesus Christ, as did the Jew, or to follow Him as the Christian.”

What would Sheen tell us today as we’ve deteriorated far beyond what he already saw, as he added:

"Every now and then in history the devil is given a long rope, for we must never forget that Our Lord said to Judas and his band: This is your hour. God has His day, but evil has its hour when the shepherd shall be struck and the sheep dispersed.”


Yet Sheen is not fearful for the Church but for the world in speaking of the “emergence of the anti-Christ against Christ.”

“We tremble not that God may be dethroned, but that barbarism may reign; it is not Transubstantiation that may perish, but the home; not the sacraments that may fade away, but the moral law. The Church can have no different words for the weeping woman than those of Christ on the way to Calvary: Weep not over me; but weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:28)


Over the centuries the Church has had its Good Fridays, he reminds us, but there’s always Easter Sundays “because Jesus promised the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.’ (Matthew 28:20)".

As bleak as things may be, never has “there been such a strong argument for the need of Christianity, for men are now discovering that their misery and their woes, their wars and their revolutions increase in direct ratio and proportion to the neglect of Christianity. Evil is self-defeating; good alone is self-preserving.”

Like prophets of old, Sheen stood firm in hope, giving practical recommendations as true today as in 1947.

First, Christians “must realize that a moment of crisis is not a time of despair, but of opportunity. The more we can anticipate the doom, the more we can avoid it. Once we recognize we are under Divine Wrath, we become eligible for Divine Mercy. It was because of famine the prodigal said: ‘I will arise, and will go to my father.’ The very disciplines of God create hope. The thief on the right came to God by a crucifixion. The Christian finds a basis for optimism in the most thorough-going pessimism, for his Easter is within three days of Good Friday.”

Sheen offered this great, hope-filled encouragement too: “One of the surprises of heaven will be to see how many saints were made in the midst of chaos, and war and revolution.” He points out the great multitude standing before the throne of God and identified as “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)

There’s more to spur us on, firm in hope. Sheen strongly reminds that after “Our Divine Lord had pictured the catastrophes that would fall upon a morally disordered civilization…he did not say ‘Fear,’ but when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28)


“The world is serving your souls with an awful summons — the summons to heroic efforts at spiritualization. Catholics ought to stir up their faith, hang a crucifix in their homes to remind them that we too have to carry a cross, gather the family together every night to recite the Rosary that through corporate prayer there might be intercession for the world; go to daily Mass that the spirit of love and sacrifice might be sprinkled in our business, our social life and our duties. More heroic souls might undertake the Holy Hour daily, particularly in parishes conscious of the needs of prayers of reparation as well as petition, conducting such devotions in their churches... The forces of evil are united; the forces of good are divided. We may not be able to meet in the same pew — would to God we did — but we can meet on our knees...

Those who have the faith had better keep in the state of grace and those who have neither had better find out what they mean, for in the coming age there will be only one way to stop your trembling knees, and that will be to get down on them and pray. The most important problem in the world today is your soul, for that is what the struggle is about...

There is only one path out of the chaotic conditions, the concerned bishop revealed. “The only way out of this crisis is spiritual, because the trouble is not in the way we keep our books, but in the way we keep our souls. The time is nearer than you think.”


He advised us to turn to St. Michael in prayer. We once did with the St. Michael prayer after every single Mass until the 1960s. Today, some dioceses are restoring the practice. Would they all did.

And we are to turn especially to Our Lady: “As Thou didst form the Word made flesh in Thy womb, form Him in our hearts. Be in our midst as tongues of fire descend upon our cold hearts and if this be night, then come, O Lady of the Blue of Heaven, show us once again the Light of the World in the heart of a day.”
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2019 12:10 AM]
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Finally, Cardinal Mueller has done something one wishes he and other cardinals and bishops would have done earlier. Like the more limited reply of Mons. Schneider to the anti-Catholic religious indifferentism expressed early in the Abu Dhabi Declaration, Cardinal Mueller deemed it prudent not to direct the intended critique at the reigning pope, because without mentioning his name - thoroughly unnecessary, in view of the circumstances - it is very obvious who has been the principal culprit in all the outrages to the faith that are implied in the criticisms. This way, the defense of the faith does not become automatically labelled 'partisan' and 'provocative' as was Mons. Vigano's Testimony. Of course, the Manifesto is partisan - in behalf of the one true Church of Christ and its deposit of faith. This is the essential militancy demanded of the 'soldiers of Christ', especially the successors to the apostles. So thank you, Cardinal Mueller...

Cardinal Müller issues Manifesto:
A quasi correction of Pope Francis’s pontificate



February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope.

The cardinal's intention was to release the manifesto on February 10, eve of the anniversary of Pope Benedict’s announcement in 2013 that he would abdicate his papal office, as well as the eve of the cardinal's own ordination to the priesthood. However, a Polish website broke the embargo and thus the document is being released today.

Pope Francis removed Cardinal Müller from his post as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2017 after he had served in that capacity since he was appointed by Pope Benedict in 2012.

In the manifesto, Cardinal Müller does not mention the Pope but says that he was asked to make a public testimony of the truth “in the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith.”

The manifesto was released in the wake of Pope Francis’s highly controversial joint document with an Islamic leader which says that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom” – a statement many believe contravenes the Catholic Faith.

Cardinal Müller takes a contrary stand when he says in the Manifesto:

The distinction of the three persons in the divine unity (CCC 254) marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions. Religions disagree precisely over this belief in Jesus the Christ. … Therefore, the first letter of John refers to one who denies His divinity as an antichrist (1 John 2:22), since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is from eternity one in being with God, His Father (CCC 663).


The cardinal released his manifesto to a worldwide audience, in seven different languages, thus allowing for a widespread affirmation of the orthodox Catholic faith.

To this end, LifeSite is hosting a petition at its LifePetitions platform so the Catholic clergy and faithful of the world, in all language groups, can make a visible sign of their support for the full and unvarnished faith and for the Cardinal’s initiative...

Following is the full text of the Manifesto. (Numbers following some of the citations refer to paragraphs in the CAtechism of the Catholic Church):

Manifesto of Faith
“Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1)


In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation.

It is the shepherds' very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves. The words of the Apostle here apply: “For above all I have delivered unto you what I have received” (1 Cor. 15:3).

Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the peoples (see LG 1). In this situation, the question of orientation arises.

According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” (Fidei Depositum IV). It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the “dictatorship of relativism.”[1]

1. The one and triune God revealed in Jesus Christ
The epitome of the Faith of all Christians is found in the confession of the Most Holy Trinity. We have become disciples of Jesus, children and friends of God by being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The distinction of the three persons in the divine unity (254) marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions. Religions disagree precisely over this belief in Jesus the Christ. He is true God and true Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

The Word made flesh, the Son of God, is the only Savior of the world (679) and the only Mediator between God and men (846). Therefore, the first letter of John refers to one who denies His divinity as an antichrist (1 John 2:22), since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is from eternity one in being with God, His Father (663).

We are to resist the relapse into ancient heresies with clear resolve, which saw in Jesus Christ only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist. He is first and foremost the Word that was with God and is God, the Son of the Father, Who assumed our human nature to redeem us and Who will come to judge the living and the dead. Him alone, we worship in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Only and True God (691).

2. The Church
Jesus Christ founded the Church as a visible sign and tool of salvation realized in the Catholic Church (816). He gave His Church, which “emerged from the side of the Christ who died on the Cross” (766), a sacramental constitution that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved (765).

Christ, the Head, and the faithful as members of the body, are a mystical Body (795), which is why the Church is sacred, for the one Mediator has designed and sustained its visible structure (771). Through it the redemptive work of Christ becomes present in time and space via the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Holy Mass (1330).

The Church conveys with the authority of Christ the divine revelation, which extends to all the elements of doctrine, “including the moral teaching, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, and observed” (2035).

3. Sacramental Order
The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation in Jesus Christ (776). She does not reflect herself, but the light of Christ, which shines on her face. But this happens only when the truth revealed in Jesus Christ becomes the point of reference, rather than the views of a majority or the spirit of the times; for Christ Himself has entrusted the fullness of grace and truth to the Catholic Church (819), and He Himself is present in the sacraments of the Church.

The Church is not a man-made association whose structure its members voted into being at their will. It is of divine origin. "Christ himself is the author of ministry in the Church. He set her up, gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal (874). The admonition of the Apostle is still valid today, that cursed is anyone who proclaims another gospel, “even if we ourselves were to give it or an angel from heaven” (Gal 1:8).

The mediation of faith is inextricably bound up with the human credibility of its messengers, who in some cases have abandoned the people entrusted to them, unsettling them and severely damaging their faith. Here the Word of Scripture describes those who do not listen to the truth and who follow their own wishes, who flatter their ears because they cannot endure sound doctrine (cf. 2 Tim 4:3-4).

The task of the Magisterium of the Church is to “preserve God’s people from deviations and defections” in order to “guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error” (890). This is especially true with regard to all seven sacraments.

The Holy Eucharist is “source and summit of the Christian life” (1324). The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ includes us in His Sacrifice of the Cross, is aimed at the most intimate union with Him (1382). Therefore, the Holy Scripture admonishes with regard to the reception of the Holy Communion: “Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord's cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion” (1385).

From the internal logic of the sacrament, it is understood that divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church, just as all those who are not disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (1457), because it does not bring them to salvation. To point this out corresponds to the spiritual works of mercy.

The confession of sins in Holy Confession at least once a year is one of the Church’s commandments (2042). When the believers no longer confess their sins and no longer experience the absolution of their sins, salvation becomes impossible; after all, Jesus Christ became Man to redeem us from our sins. The power of forgiveness that the Risen Lord has given to the Apostles and their successors in the ministry of bishops and priests applies also for mortal and venial sins which we commit after Baptism.

The current popular practice of confession makes it clear that the conscience of the faithful is not sufficiently formed. God's mercy is given to us, that we might fulfil His Commandments to become one with His Holy Will, and not so as to avoid the call to repentance (1458).

“The priest continues the work of redemption on earth” (1589). The ordination of the priest “gives him a sacred power” (1592), which is irreplaceable, because through it Jesus becomes sacramentally present in His saving action. Therefore, priests voluntarily opt for celibacy as "a sign of new life" (1579).

It is about the self-giving in the service of Christ and His coming kingdom. With a view to receiving the ordination in the three stages of this ministry, the Church is “bound by the choice made by the Lord Himself. That is why it is not possible to ordain women” (1577). To imply that this impossibility is somehow a form of discrimination against women shows only the lack of understanding for this sacrament, which is not about earthly power but the representation of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.

4. Moral Law
Faith and life are inseparable, for Faith apart from works is dead ( 1815). The moral law is the work of divine wisdom and leads man to the promised blessedness (1950).

Consequently, the "knowledge of the divine and natural law is necessary" to do good and reach this goal (1955). Accepting this truth is essential for all people of good will. For he who dies in mortal sin without repentance will be forever separated from God (1033). This leads to practical consequences in the lives of Christians, which are often ignored today (cf 2270-2283; 2350-2381). The moral law is not a burden, but part of that liberating truth (cf Jn 8:32) through which the Christian walks on the path of salvation and which may not be relativized.

5. Eternal Life
Many wonder today what purpose the Church still has in its existence, when even bishops prefer to be politicians rather than to proclaim the Gospel as teachers of the Faith. The role of the Church must not be watered down by trivialities, but its proper place must be addressed.

Every human being has an immortal soul, which in death is separated from the body, hoping for the resurrection of the dead (366). Death makes man's decision for or against God definite. Everyone has to face the particular judgement immediately after death (1021). Either a purification is necessary, or man goes directly into heavenly bliss and is allowed to see God face to face. There is also the dreadful possibility that a person will remain opposed to God to the very end, and by definitely refusing His Love, "condemns himself immediately and forever" (1022).

“God created us without us, but He did not want to save us without us” (1847). The eternity of the punishment of hell is a terrible reality, which - according to the testimony of Holy Scripture - attracts all who “die in the state of mortal sin” (1035). The Christian goes through the narrow gate, for “the gate is wide, and the way that leads to ruin is wide, and many are upon it” (Mt 7:13).

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (675); it is the fraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice; for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess 2:10).

CALL
As workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we all have a responsibility to recall these fundamental truths by clinging to what we ourselves have received. We want to give courage to go the way of Jesus Christ with determination, in order to obtain eternal life by following His commandments (2075).

Let us ask the Lord to let us know how great the gift of the Catholic Faith is, through which opens the door to eternal life. “For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: The Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when He shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). Therefore, we are committed to strengthening the Faith by confessing the truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.

We too, and especially we bishops and priests, are addressed when Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, gives this admonition to his companion and successor, Timothy: “I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming, and His kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.” (2 Tim 4:1-5).

May Mary, the Mother of God, implore for us the grace to remain faithful without wavering to the confession of the truth about Jesus Christ.

United in faith and prayer,

Gerhard Cardinal Müller
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2012-2017


Perhaps my only caveat is that Mueller did not seek to get other cardinals and bishops to sign his manifesto before releasing it. The impact would have been far greater. Of course, nothing stops like-minded cardinals and bishops to now add their signatures to the Manifesto, and whether they do so or not becomes a litmus test for their orthodoxy and their willingness to stand up for it... I almost dread the response will not come anywhere near as good as it can be. Let us all invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon them.

On the other hand, how will the paladins of the reigning pope react? They can't very well come up with anything sounding like a defense against the implied critiques, because that would be to acknowledge the manifesto as the rebuke and correction that it is. But will, for instance, Tornielli and Spadaro, Ivereigh and Faggioli, and the other usual suspects ever come out and say, "Of course, we believe what Cardinal Mueller states in the manifesto?" Ah, but that's the litmus test on their part! They probably will choose to ignore it completely - if we don't acknowledge it, it did not happen or it does not exist!


Mundabor's commentary is noteworthy:



...This is a big, fat, “enough is enough!”

The Cardinal does not go to war openly against Francis, but he ridicules him in front of the Catholic world. The Cardinal clearly seems to either defy Francis to take measures against him, or to show that Francis has become so embarrassing that he will now be openly corrected and contradicted without any regard for his position of authority.

When a Cardinal accuses the Pope, in an official manifesto, of making the work of the Antichrist, I think many faithful listen.

Whilst Cardinal Mueller was never an example of orthodoxy, this manifesto is better than any meowing that has ever come from Cardinal Burke and his sorry band of Bragging Kittens. It is strong, insistent, bold-faced, and quite the wake-up call. It does not ask Francis to state the truth. It does it for him, whether he likes it or not.


I very much doubt that the Cardinal is alone on this. But I will give him credit for this: that he had the guts to come out with words of truth alone, putting himself on the firing line.

What will Francis now do? Punish a Cardinal for a document consisting almost entirely of quotations from the Catechism and the Scriptures? I’d love to see it. I think I’d have to buy a new popcorn-maker.

My take is that Mueller is sending to Francis a simple, but clear message: “Shut up, old nincompoop. Enough is enough. You have been testing our patience for long enough.”

Again: Mueller is a an experienced politician and diplomatic. He knows what he is doing.

There might be more behind this than meets the eye.


Considering the original timing Mueller had planned for releasing this Manifesto, it is not far-fetched to think
that he must have consulted the Emeritus Pope and received his approval for this.


February 10, 2019
P.S. Incredibly, one of the reigning pope's most reliable paladins - if not exactly among the brightest - rose to Cardinal Mueller's bait with a reaction that made my jaw drop.

Thanks to Marco Tosatti for the Twitter image.

Everything I have read so far about what Maximum Beans writes (as I do not go out and seek his articles at all) from other people's accounts have given me the impression of a flyweight trying very hard to pose as an intellectual of consequence. This sally proves yet again that despite the literal translation of his name, he knows beans about what he's talking, and what he knows really doesn't amount to a hill of beans. The Italian girl caught him out quite easily.

Since the premature release of Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto fell on a Friday, it means that there has been very little reaction so far (most people do take weekends off, even the most diligent of bloggers), and Faggioli's is the only one on Bergoglio's team who has reacted for now, as far as I know. How unfortunate for the Bergogliacs it had to be him! We may have to wait for the OR on Tuesday. That is, if Casa Santa Marta acknowledges it at all. Can't wait to see the official line - or lack of it.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/11/2019 6:55 AM]
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From Riccardo Cascioli's editorial today, it appears the major Italian newspapers this weekend did take the ideological route in reporting Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto as an attack
against the pope, anti-Bergoglio at the very least. Well it is, obviously – and no one could possibly think Mueller’s reaffirmations of Catholic doctrine were not made precisely to
counter some of Bergoglio’s most egregious violations of Catholic doctrine.

But the Manifesto is presented as a positive reaffirmation of some basic elements of our faith. To say that by doing so, Mueller is going against the pope means Bergoglio’s allies
and defenders implicitly admit that some of Bergoglio’s teachings are, in fact, anti-Catholic. What the pope’s followers and allies must answer in all honesty is this:
Did Mueller say anything in his Manifesto that contradicts Catholic doctrine – as it stood more or less intact for 2012 years until March 13, 2013? If the answer
is No, then why don’t the Catholics among them subscribe to it and sign it? But Hell will literally freeze over before they do that – and all of them will be permanent
ice fixtures in that hell.





Mueller, the pope, and
the precedent of Antioch

by Riccardo Cascioli
Editorial

February 11, 2019

To understand Cardinal Mueller’s Manifesto of Faith, and before that, the DUBIA on Amoris Laetitia [not to mention the Fraternal Correction and countless other petitions sent to this pope – and pointedly ignored and not acknowledged by him], one must return to Antioch when St. Paul confronted St. Peter on an issue that was vital for the nascent Christian community. Which is something very different from the political reading given to the Manifesto by the major Italian newspapers, including that of the Italian bishops.

We all know the famous ‘incident at Antioch’ when St. Paul took a clear position against St. Peter about the Jewish customs that the Vicar of Christ wished to impose on the pagans converting to Christianity. St. Paul himself recounts it in his Letter to the Galatians, saying, “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong”. It wasn’t a small matter because, as St Paul said, the 'truth of the Gospel’ itself was in question. Nor did St. Paul tread lightly, since he reproached Peter outright for being a hypocrite.

Let’s imagine how the average Vatican reporter today – those who are encamped in the major Italian newspapers – would have reported the incident. “Paul attacks Peter” would certainly be the headline, and
the commentary would have attacked Paul for daring to question the authority of the pope.

Followed by reporting ‘in depth’ on the conspiracy against Peter of which Paul was part, along with the rich capitalists of Antioch, who were suspicious about ‘a fisherman with the odor of fish”. And great room would have been made for James, who was a target of some of Paul’s arrows, as another way by which the latter sought to delegitimize Peter to whom James was a close collaborator. So in the public opinion, Paul would have been identified as an enemy of the pope, an apostle whose hostility might have forced Peter to resign, and allow him to take his place. [I don't think Cascioli is making Mueller analogous, nuch less equivalent, to St. Paul when he cites the Antioch incident. The incident does illustrate that the Vicar of Christ - even when he was the very first ever! - can be challenged in good faith by one of his subordinates, and he does not have to be a St. Paul to be able to do so.]

Fortunately, there was no Repubblica or Vatican Insider at the time, not even La Civilta Cattolica. Therefore, from the Bible accounts, we learn that it was possible for the disciples of Jesus to have harsh disputes among themselves, but in the interests of truth, not of their personal ideological positions. It is possible to ask the pope to account for some of his decisions without casting the least doubt on his legitimacy and his position.

Thus we can more than understand the unpleasantness and pain of cardinals who care about the unity of the Church -such as Mueller, and before him, the Four Cardinals of the Dubia (Caffarra, Meisner, Burke and Brandmueller) – who are depicted as enemies of the pope for merely asking clarificatory questions and reaffirming Catholic doctrine. Which is much less than St. Paul did.


In this regard, it is interesting that Vatican Insider, in its headline on Mueller’s Manifesto, says it corrects ‘the doctrine of the pope’ conveying the idea – which is certainly not Catholic – that it is the pope who makes doctrine. Sometimes [??? Often, if not always!], headlines betray the real thinking of media decision-makers.

Also fortunately, there was no Avvenire at the time of the Apostles, otherwise, in order not to perturb the souls of Christians, the news would have been reported as “Peter and Paul confirm that their views are fully identical”, to judge from the two articles Avvenire devoted to the Manifesto.

In the first, a Vaticanista says the Manifesto has nothing to do with the pope since he is not even mentioned. In the second, a professor of fundamental theology explains that what Mueller wrote is exactly what Pope Francis has always maintained. He does not, of course, explain why Mueller would have had to write the Manifesto at all! [Ha, ha, ha! One could foresee they would be fumbling, bumbling and stumbling all over themselves in trying to counter the Manifesto PR-wise. Has anyone of them dared to say that one iota of the doctrine Mueller cites is not Catholic doctrine at all? Vatican Insider takes the facile but heretical copout that Mueller is trying to correct 'the pope's doctrine'. Shades of Fr. Rosica and his audacious assumption that Bergoglio now has the power and authority to make his own doctrine, his own tradition, his own church! And why not, because that is exactly how Bergoglio has been behaving!]

On the other hand, it is clear that the problem of ‘growing confusion in the teaching of the faith’ mentioned in the introduction to Mueller’s Manifesto cannot all be imputed to Pope Francis – it is a process that began in the past which is now bearing its mature but poisoned fruit in this pontificate. But to claim that Cardinal Mueller views the articles of faith he reaffirms in the same way as the pope does is to insult the intelligence of the reader.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012-2017 (interesting that Mueller appends that to his signature, not ex-Prefect or Emeritus Prefect), he explains clearly and definitively what the Church teaches on the major controversial issues of doctrine about which this pope has never replied to those who seek clarification on his statements (see the DUBIA!].

That is why Mueller’s final call is addressed to bishops and priests to come out in the open and explicitly confirm their fidelity to the doctrine of the Church (not the doctrine of a pope or whoever) – it is not a call to rebellion but to keep the Church united around the truth revealed by Jesus Christ. Which is the best help one can give the pope at this time.

Oh, but wait till you read Cardinal Kasper's reaction!

Kasper says Mueller’s manifesto
spreads ‘confusion and division’



Munich, Germany, Feb 10, 2019 (CNA/EWTN News)- Cardinal Walter Kasper has released a criticism of Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s “Manifesto of Faith,” accusing it of containing half-truths and blanket statements that could lead to division and confusion in the Church.

In a statement on katholisch.de, Kasper said that while the manifesto “contains many statements of faith that every upright Catholic can wholeheartedly affirm,” some of the truths in it “are pointed out so pointedly that it fades out the other half.” [So? Kasper himself still calls them 'truths'!]

On Feb. 8, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, published a “Manifesto of Faith,” which he described as a response to Catholics who have requested that he issue a “public testimony about the truth of revelation” in response to “growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith.”

The manifesto addresses five areas of Catholic doctrine: Christology, ecclesiology, sacraments, morality, and eschatology, the branch of theology that addresses death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Each section draws heavily from references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In his document, Müller quotes the catechism, noting that “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” He adds that “from the internal logic of the sacrament,” that norm applies to “divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church.” He also reiterated that the Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood and affirmed Church teaching on the existence of heaven and hell.

Kasper, who has been an outspoken advocate of the admission of the divorced-and-remarried to Holy Communion, accused Müller of making “unacceptable blanket statements,” such as the assertion that “the conscience of the faithful is not sufficiently formed.” [Since when was the conscience of the faithful, taken as a whole, ever 'sufficiently formed' (i.e., according to Catholic doctrine) in modern times? Can Kasper even say that of his fellow Germans, most of all?]

“It is undoubtedly true that the confession of the Triune God constitutes a fundamental difference in belief in God and the image of man from other religions. But are there not similarities, especially with the Jews and the Muslims, in the belief in the one God? And are not these similarities today fundamental to peace in the world and in society? Half the truth is not the Catholic truth!” Kasper charged. [Kasper is, in effect, saying that the God of the Jews and the Allah of Islam are equivalent to the Holy Trinity, which is patently false. And Mueller is not arguing on the basis of social/sociological intentions but simply in theological terms. In his own statements, Kasper is the one who is stating half truths about patent falsehoods!]

He also said that he was “totally horrified” to read Müller’s statement that failing to teach the truths of the Catholic faith “it is the fraud of Antichrist.

Kasper suggested that Müller was following the path of Martin Luther: “One who rightly advocates reforms in the Church, but wants to pursue these behind the Pope’s back and enforce them in opposition to him? I would find that hard to believe. For that could only lead to confusion and division. That could unhinge the Catholic Church.” [Kasper's words have the pathetic illogic of senile dementia! Did he try to re-read what he wrote before he released the statement?]

Again, ha-ha-ha! Watch the Bergogliacs twisting and turning in the headwinds of the doctrinal storm they have unleashed over the past six years as it now reaches hurricane force.

Father H reiterates a point Blessed Newman made so forcefully about the times when there is efectively a suspense of the functions of the Magisterium, as Fr H proposes rightfully the Catholic Church has been enduring during this anti-Catholic Pontificate.


Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto and
Blessed Newman's 'suspense of the Magisterium'


February 11, 2019

Cardinal Mueller's magnificent Manifesto is an interesting document. Happily, it is bound to arouse amusing comments from the Usual Suspects ... the Robert Mickenses; the Austen Ivereighs; all the Silly Gang. (I wonder what that theological heavyweight Cupich will make of it?) I write 'happily' because we can do with the laughs. I pastorally counsel readers to laugh, rather than getting depressed. You have a duty to refuse to let PF and his cronies make you depressed. (If nothing else works for you, you could resort to Alcohol. This morning's communication from the Wine Society speaks very well of the 2017 Rhones. Cointreau, lemon juice, and vodka make a classical thirties 'White Lady'. Praise to our Lady of Lourdes, our Lady of Victory!)

Perhaps this could be worked up into a new branch of Pastoral Theology: what to take as an antidote to each species of heresy. A few simple recipes could be lodged permanently in every confessional for use in quantum possum et tu indiges.

As some of the Silly Gang have observed, it is undoubtedly true that there is one large apparent gap in His Eminence's Manifesto: He does not mention the Petrine Ministry of the Roman Pontiff.

This is unusual in modern Catholic discourse. The sickly mawkish modern cult of the Bishop of Rome has for so long pushed the Witness of the Incarnate Word, the words of Scripture, the teaching of the Fathers, into the background. How often have you heard a semi-literate sermon in which "Pope Francis Says" is prominent, but never any hint is given of "Jesus Says"? So, if the Manifesto had no other value, that particular silence would be as refreshing as a glass of cold water on a sticky day.

But why?

Possibly the Cardinal agrees with the great Anglican theologian Eric Mascall that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not so much tell us something about the Christian Faith, as about the circumstances in which we might be told something about that Faith.

But I am convinced that, consciously or unconsciously, Gerhard Mueller has in mind the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman about the situation during the Arian crisis:

"... the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission ... at one time the pope [Liberius], at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils*, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ... I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years ..."


It seems to me that the moment when PF decided not to aswer the Dubia of the four Cardinals was the formal, official moment ... the starting gun ... when the Petrine Ministry entered into its current "temporary suspense". When, likewise, he ignored the Filial Correction which some of us had sent him, he confirmed that Suspense.

Thus we are officially in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in a vacatio which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ formally returns from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, "devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith".

In a masterly address on Apostasy delivered a couple of years ago at Buckfast, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke spoke of "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could!

And you will remember the Letter sent to PF by Fr Tom Weinandy. He wrote that a bishop who espoused heretical teaching "would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry."

If this pontificate lasts much longer, perhaps we shall need to unpick some of the implications of that last sentence.

As if to confirm providentially the judgement of Mueller, Weinandy and others, a few days ago PF enacted a document which was not carelessly enunciated at the back of an airliner but, so he himself has told us, had been in his consideration for months. The Indifferentism so often condemned by his predecessors, so repugnant to the teaching of Holy Scripture, so insulting to the witness of each and every Martyr, is now the teaching of a man who also, lamentably, holds the office of Bishop of Rome.

This suggests to me that PF has himself consciously stopped even bothering to remain within the parameters set by the Magisterium to which he is as much under an obligation to submit as is anybody else. Fas est et ab hostibus doceri (It is right to be taught by the enemy): So never forget the chilling words of Fr Rosica, that this pope is free from the constraints of Scripture and Tradition.

I can see no present grounds plausibly to speculate that PF's divagations from orthodoxy will in future tolerate any restraints. It is as if, having discovered himself at the bottom of a hole, he has decided that the only thing to do is to keep digging with redoubled energy until he gets to Tasmania.

Or, like the Duke of Wellington in the Fifth Act of the Battle of Waterloo, perhaps he is saying to the world "In for a penny, in for a pound"! Or does he think that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb? Will his parting gift to the Church Militant be a ringing endorsement of the homoiousios?

By joining with Newman in this analysis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their offices. On the contrary. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not at this moment using it.

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Note: Newman in referring to general councils, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So nobody should try to apply these words to Vatican II, which was undoubtedly a 'valid' Ecumenical Council. Whether it always sought all the right answers to all the right questions in all the right places is, of course, another matter.



The Mueller Manifesto
By Robert Royal

February 11, 2019

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller published a “Manifesto of Faith” last week. Actually, it was leaked prematurely by a Polish group. The Manifesto was supposed to appear yesterday, the eve of the anniversary of Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation, which also happens to be the eve of the anniversary of Mueller’s ordination, both anniversaries falling on February 11, i.e., today.

Like everything Mueller has published since Pope Francis removed him from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it’s rich in a multitude of ways, though it is only four pages long. Many people have been asking him to clarify Catholic teachings that have seemed to be in doubt in recent years. So, in an indirect way, we finally have responses to the Dubia presented to the pope, which Francis chose not to answer.

The Manifesto addresses the pope’s seeming indifferentism in the recent declaration he signed with Muslims claiming that God wills a plurality of religions. As Mueller points out, the Trinitarian revelation of the Gospels “marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions,” even the other monotheistic faiths. And this is crucially important for our understanding not only of God, but ourselves.

The Church is an integral part of God’s special plan because it “conveys with the authority of Christ the divine revelation, which extends to all the elements of doctrine, ‘including the moral teaching, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, and observed.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2035)

In what is clearly a commentary on questions about marriage raised by Amoris laetitia and about intercommunion with non-Catholics, he lists groups that can’t receive Communion:

From the internal logic of the sacrament, it is understood that divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church, just as all those who are not disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (CCC 1457), because it does not bring them to salvation. To point this out corresponds to the spiritual works of mercy.


And he’s quite blunt about the cumulative effect of failure to restate fundamental truths: “Many wonder today what purpose the Church still has in its existence, when even bishops prefer to be politicians rather than to proclaim the Gospel as teachers of the Faith.”

Such clarifications are all to the good these days. But I was struck by one line near the beginning: “Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith,” which seems obvious enough, though numerous Catholic leaders, even at the highest levels, have long seemed unconcerned about that lack of awareness.

Imagine if a nation – actually if you’re American you won’t have to try very hard – woke up to find one day that it was not teaching its children, which is to say its future generations, the basic truths about its past; training them in how to read, write, and think clearly and consistently; to do basic math, so that asking 2 + 2 = ? leads us into philosophical/theological tangles.

How would responsible parents, teachers, leaders react?

Benedict XVI remarked in a 2010 interview that it’s puzzling how Catholics who have attended Catholic schools for a dozen years or more often seem to emerge with a sympathy for Islam or a basic acquaintance with Buddhism, but without much loyalty toward or knowledge of their own faith.

This is more than an educational problem. It goes to one of the central questions about the very nature of Christianity. As Mueller continues in that sentence I quoted above about the loss of basic truths, “so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life.”

And so we confront something that has fallen by the wayside in much modern Christian thought. Is Christ what He Himself told us He is: the Way, the Truth, and the Life? And not in some vague sentimentalized way in which we all are – eventually and indulgently – saved, whatever we think and do. But in the, yes, merciful, but also demanding – sometimes even threatening – way of the real Jesus in the Gospels, who speaks of Gehenna “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” (Mk. 9:48)

I raise this point in full knowledge that the infernal propaganda machine long ago succeeded in making anyone who brings up Hell appear like the longhair kook on the street corner with the sign: The End Is Near. For many people, even Christians, God is just too Nice a Guy for such things.

But the words are Jesus’s. As Mueller remarks, “We are to resist the relapse into ancient heresies with clear resolve, which saw in Jesus Christ only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist.”

There are many horrific evils in the world, even in the modern, progressive, enlightened world. Starting with the thousands of innocents slaughtered every day before they are even born.

Even the Aztecs who cut out still-beating hearts in human sacrifice or the ancient worshippers of Moloch didn’t run up anywhere near such body counts. (Pace the pope and his Muslim counterpart, all religions are not equal and do not necessarily seek the same things.)

The good shepherd knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. But they know each other not just by smell, or by being of the same flock – a flock may be good or bad. They know each other, if they are human beings and not merely animals, with their hearts, minds, and souls. And that inevitably means they are one because they share and live by certain truths.

Kudos to Mueller for his sturdy clarity: “It is the shepherds’ very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves.”
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/11/2019 5:13 PM]
2/11/2019 9:42 AM
 
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On this anniversary, an unexpected tribute to Benedict XVI - more than just perfunctory but inadequate in many ways - from Andrea Tornielli - harking back perhaps to the Ratzingerian that he was all through Benedict XVI's Pontificate (to my recollection, easily the most reliable Ratzingerian among all the Vaticanistas), which was why it was such a shock to see him turn his coat over so completely just days after the election of a new pope... But why, among all of Benedict XVI's adddresses did Tornielli choose to focus here on Benedict XVI's address about worldliness and the Church to the Catholic movements of Germany in 2011? Is he perhaps atonihg somehow for the fact that in 2013, when he and the rest of the world's Bergoglio-incensing media were ecstatically exalting the then-new pope's statements about worldliness as if he had just uncovered a great truth never before realized by anyone in the Church, even he, Tornielli, appeared to have forgotten all about the Freiburg address that certainly made headlines when it was delivered - especially considering whom he delivered it to. Anyway, thank you, Mr Tornielli, for remembering Benedict XVI on this anniversary.

Six years since Benedict XVI's
historic resignation

by Andrea Tornielli
Editorial Director, Vatican Media

February 11, 2019

VATICAN CITY - Six years have passed since that lightning in a serene sky, the first resignation of a Pope for reasons of health and old age.

On February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI, almost at the conclusion of the eighth year of his pontificate, announced he would leave the Petrine ministry at the end of that month, because he no longer felt capable of carrying - physically and spiritually - the weight of pontificate. T he weight of a ministry that in the last century has changed profoundly in the modality of its exercise, with the addition of celebrations, commitments, appointments and international trips.

Tornielli has altered what Benedict XVI said in his renunciation address:

..In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

He said 'strength of mind and body', and no reference to spiritual strength.]


Much has been said and written about that event destined to mark the history of the Church. And there is a risk of focusing all attention only on that humble and destabilizing gesture, ending up by relegating the personal testimony and above all the teaching of Benedict XVI to the background.

Regarding the testimony, given the imminent start of the Meeting for the Protection of Minors that will bring together the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences around the world with Pope Francis in the Vatican, it is worth remembering that it was Benedict XVI himself who initiated the encounters with victims of abuse.

Encounters away from the cameras, made of listening, praying and crying with them. Of course, these meetings were accompanied by clearer and more decisive rules to combat the terrible plague of abuse. But there is no doubt that a necessary change of mentality in the Church to confront the plague requires that bishops and religious superiors be able to meet with the victims and their families, to share the pain of their tragic stories, in order to become directly aware of a phenomenon that can never be fought only with standards, codes or good practices.

Regarding the Magisterium of Pope Ratzinger, too often "crushed" into reductive readings and prefabricated clichés unable to value the richness, complexity and fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council [and more importantly, to the entire bimillennial deposit of faith], how can we not remember his insistence that

The Church has nothing of her own to offer to him who founded her, such that she might say: here is something wonderful that we did! Her raison d’être consists in being a tool of redemption, in letting herself be saturated by God’s word and in bringing the world into loving unity with God. The Church is immersed in the Redeemer’s outreach to men.

When she is truly herself, she is always on the move, she constantly has to place herself at the service of the mission that she has received from the Lord. And therefore she must always open up afresh to the cares of the world, to which she herself belongs, and give herself over to them, in order to make present and continue the holy exchange that began with the Incarnation.'


In that same speech, Pope Ratzinger warned against the opposite tendency, namely

"[When] the Church becomes self-satisfied, settles down in this world, becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. Not infrequently, she gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness towards God, her vocation to opening up the world towards the other."

Tornielli's next citation from the Freiburg speech is a rather inept paraphrase of it:
Therefore, in that speech the German Pontiff showed the positive side of secularization, which has "contributed in an essential way to the purification and internal reform" of the Church herself, also expropriating her assets and privileges. Because, he concluded, "freed from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can dedicate herself better and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. You can again live more fluently your call to the ministry of the worship of God and the service of your neighbor."

In fairness to Benedict XVI, allow me to quote the substantive part of the Freiburg address that followed the introductory comments about worldliness:

In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from her tendency towards worldliness and once again to become open towards God. In this she follows the words of Jesus: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:16), and in precisely this way he gives himself to the world. One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.

Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she, as it were, sets aside her worldly wealth and once again completely embraces her worldly poverty. In this she shares the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs. At those moments in history, the Church shared with that tribe the demands of a poverty that was open to the world, in order to be released from her material ties: and in this way her missionary activity regained credibility.

History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbour.

The missionary task, which is linked to Christian worship and should determine its structure, becomes more clearly visible. The Church opens herself to the world not in order to win men for an institution with its own claims to power, but in order to lead them to themselves by leading them to him of whom each person can say with Saint Augustine: he is closer to me than I am to myself (cf. Confessions, III,6,11). He who is infinitely above me is yet so deeply within me that he is my true interiority. This form of openness to the world on the Church’s part also serves to indicate how the individual Christian can be open to the world in effective and appropriate ways.

It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit....

Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God’s love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now, a task which at the same time points beyond the present world because this present life is also bound up with eternal life.

As individuals and as the community of the Church, let us live the simplicity of a great love, which is both the simplest and hardest thing on earth, because it demands no more and no less than the gift of oneself.



The following was obviously not intended to be an anniversary tribute to Benedict XVI by Andrea Gagliarducci whose journalistic 'objectivity' has often bent over backwards a lot in order to place Pope Francis's words and actions in the best possible light. And, BTW, I am not sure Casa Santa Marta will appreciate all the credit being given to Benedict XVI by Gagliarducci.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to compare his article with that of Sohrab Ahmari who wrote one week ago exactly what Gagliarducci writes this week - crediting Benedict XVI for starting the process that has made it possible for his successor to seek rapprochement with Islam, though in the latter's case, it is at the expense of truth and the Catholic faith. Certainly not at all what Benedict XVI had in mind.

My reservations about the theses of both writers are very personal and subjective and may reflect more my abiding skepticism about the real willingness and capacity of the Islamic world - as manifested by its leading intellectuals - to override in any way Islam's explicit goal of world domination through outright conquest. I find it extremely unrealistic to expect this at all. Words are cheap, and it is actions that count. Will the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar issue a ringing denunciation in the name of Islam the next time there is a massacre perpetrated by Islamist extremists? Imagine what an unlikely paradox it would be for him to denounce Islamist terrorism while Pope Francis goes out of his way to exonerate them of any culpability!

That said, I shall post Mr Gagliarducci's latest column without indulging my itch to fisk him wherever possible.


Why Pope Francis’s trip to Abu Dhabi
is Benedict XVI’s vindication


February 11, 2019

Nothing is born out of nothing. Not even Pope Francis’s trip to the United Arab Emirates. The first Pope to travel to a country in the Arab Gulf, Pope Francis brought back home a joint declaration with [the grand Imam of] Al Azhar university that underscores that no violence can be applied in the name of God; that citizenship is something not connected to religion; that freedom is everybody’s right, and includes religious freedom.

These are not issues that can be taken for granted, when it comes to the Islamic world. Because citizenship, in Islam, is always connected to the faith you profess. Because, where Islamic law is understood and applied literally, conversion to another religious confession is still considered apostasy and condemned. And because acts of terrorism have often been justified as part of the “jihad mandate”.

These are not issues that can be taken for granted, though there is a path within Islam to overcome these notions, and even to go beyond the literal application of the Quran. This path led to the Marrakech declaration in 2015, to the Beirut Conference in 2016, to the International Conference for Peace of Cairo in 2017, to the Islamabad Declaration in 2018, and finally to the conference on Human Fraternity in the Arab Emirates.

A main blazer of this path is the Muslim Council of the Elders [Gagliarducci mistakenly calls it the 'Council of the Elderly'], established in 2014 and led by Ahmed al Tayyib, Grand Imam of al Azhar. While not all of the Islamic world is on this path, it is anyway a beginning. [Pace Gagliarducci and Al-Tayyeb - what exactly have those declarations done to minimize Islamist terrorism and to make Islam tolerant of non-Muslims in any way??? The road to hell is paved and littered with such ultimately meaningless declarations.]

It must be said that, back in 2006, few would have thought that Islamic scholars could sign a declaration like the Abu Dhabi one. During those years, a dialogue with Islam was feared, or carried out with a sort of inferiority complex. There was a fear to spell out with the Islamic world the real nature of the issues.

Then, in 2006, with Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture, everything changed.

The lecture generated some turmoil, which is still reverberating. The turmoil was focused just on an excerpt of the conference, which was a quote of a quote that stated that Islam had done nothing but violent and evil things.

That quote was just part of the lecture, and Benedict XVI used that quote to launch another big topic: that of the impossibility of faith without reason. Being at the university of Regensburg gave him the idea. He taught theology in that university, and this showed, Benedict XVI said, that “even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason.”

In Western civilization, Benedict XVI noted, reason was becoming detached from God, and he criticized that. He also pointed the finger at the secularization of religions, and questioned the abandonment of the idea that “not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature.”

The lecture was not an exercise against Islam, thus, but rather an indictment of the Western world, and on a wider scale of the radicalization of religious thought, an outcome of the withdrawal of reason.

That passage of the lecture is still criticized, because it is not understood. But many did understand it. It was understood by the 138 Muslims who sent an open letter to Benedict XVI, “A common word,” which started a Muslim-Catholic dialogue that had not existed before.

That passage was also understood by intellectuals, and by countries. Some numbers help to explain it . Benedict XVI inherited a Holy See with full diplomatic ties with 177 States. In seven years of pontificate, the Holy See opened diplomatic ties with Montenegro (2006), the United Arab Emirates (2007), Botswana (2008), Russia (2009), Malaysia (2011) and South Sudan (2013). None of these six States is Catholic. Three of them are Muslim, two Orthodox and another one mostly Anglican-Methodist.

Of these States, the United Arab Emirates began under Benedict XVI a path of dialogue that led them to host the conference on human fraternity.

Benedict XVI also shaped all of his diplomatic activity around the notion of truth. The diplomacy of truth was a slap in the face to many. And it was also for al Azhar University [under the selfsame Al-Tayyeb], which broke relations with the Holy See after Benedict XVI denounced the 2011 Alexandria bombing, that targeted the churches of Coptic Christians.

Relations with al Azhar were [ostentatiously] restored in 2016 under Pope Francis. It was also because the same al Azhar started rethinking itself, and this path began under Benedict XVI. The establishment of the Council of the Elders, in 2014, can also be considered part of a conversation that, in fact, began with the Regensburg lecture.

Benedict XVI described the issues, saw the danger coming and faced it. The false promises held out by the 'Arab Springs' was incredibly anticipated by a special Synod for the Middle East in 2010. This is clear by reading Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, the post Synod exhortation that Benedict XVI gave in Lebanon, during the last trip of his pontificate.

Over these last two years, Pope Francis has multiplied contacts with the Muslim world. His approach is different from that of Pope Benedict. He does not set the gaze on the wide issues, but rather fosters the so called “culture of the encounter” for the most. Pope Francis’s approach to issues is pragmatic.

Even this approach, as well as the sympathy credited in advance to the Catholic Church in this dialogue, is an outcome of that harsh discussion that dates back more than 10 years. The accusation raised against Benedict XVI that he did not respect Islam came, in fact, from the secular world Benedict XVI criticized.

More than ten years later, it has become clear that the real issue at stake is secularization. As it has become clear that all religions were stricken by secularization, with no exception. The religious sentiment is actually at risk.

Benedict XVI understood that decades ago. He wrote about it, shed light on it and finally clearly denounced it in the Regensburg lecture. Large parts of that lecture were dedicated to the fact that theology was always more disincarnate from reason.

The Abu Dhabi declaration in the end reiterated the principle of faith supported by reason. We finally get to the big issue. In the end, when it turns to real issues, Benedict XVI is always a reference point. Even the diplomacy of truth came back on stage when the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue issued, in August 2014, a declaration against the Daesh [ISIS].

These are the reasons why Pope Francis’S trip to the Emirates is Benedict XVI’s great vindication, as it harvests the fruits of a dialogue that began teh years ago, was strengthened through reasonable discussions, and supported by strong faith identities.

Six years after Benedict XVI’s historic renunciation, though, it can be said that Benedict XVI and his pontificate were not understood at all, since it was really larger than its time, and identified trends before they clearly emerged. [That is not exactly true, as any review would show of the annual and periodic evaluations written by journalists and other Church observers during the Pontificate, and especially after its early and most lamented end. Benedict;'s Pontificate was well and properly appreciated until the false scandal of Vatileaks - which discredited Benedict not one iota, as even the Vatileaks leaker himself said in his book - somehow obscured all of that in the last months of the pontificate. Though not enough to silence the tributes to Benedict XVI immediately after his renunciation - reading uncannily like obits for a really great pope, one who had died instead of simply retired. Soon to be swamped under, however, and this time, more definitively, by the worldwide adulation that greeted his successor.]

Now, retired on 'the mountain', held in great esteem by Pope Francis — who recently underscored again his merit in countering the sex abuse scandals — Benedict XVI intercedes for the Church. From that far position, despite all the limits imposed by the current situation, he can begin to see part of his work flourishing.
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A writer for La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana decided to 'fact-check' Pope Francis's assertion that the controversial line in his joint Declaration on Human Fraternity with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar "did not go one millimeter beyond what the Second Vatican Council said". As usual, our mendacious pope barefacedly asserts a false 'fact' tonsuit his purposes. to Here is what she found out:

Religious pluralism: What the faith
and Vatican II do not say about it

[Contrary to what Pope Francis claims]

by Luisella Scrosati
Translated from

February 7, 2019

Even while acknowledging every positive signal from the pope’s visit to Abu Dhabi, one cannot justify the statement of errors about the truths of the faith. And that is why the Declaration on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis and Omam Al-Tayyeb, which describes religious pluralism as the wise fruit of God’s will, is unacceptable.

It is not my intention to minimize the importance of the Abu Dhabi document which aims for the peaceful coexistence of all peoples, with its statements about safeguarding religious freedom, protecting places of worship, a common commitment to the defense of life and the condemnation of terrorism in the name of religion. [All of which have been affirmed and reaffirmed in countless post-Conciliar annual interfaith assemblies, without making the least bit of difference to the violations of religious freedom and places or worship, and the massive disregard for human life demonstrated in almost daily acts of terrorism, great and small, committed largely by Muslims. So why should this platitudinous Declaration of noble intentions be any different or remarkable?]

Nonetheless there is no circumstance that can justify the affirmation of errors and dissemination of confusion about the truths of the Catholic faith. This refers to Paragraph 5 of the Declaration which states: “The plurality and diversity of religion, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom…”

In his usual post-trip inflight news conference, the pope elaborated on this point, saying quite firmly that

“I want to say one thing and repeat it clearly: from the Catholic point of view, the document did not go one millimeter beyond the Second Vatican Council. It’s even cited there several times. Nothing. The document was done in the spirit of Vatican II....

“Before taking the decision to say it’s good as is, let’s finish it here, at least for my part, I had some theologians read it, and also [I had it read] officially by the Theologian of the Papal Household, who is a Dominican with the beautiful Dominican tradition — not to go on a witch hunt but to see where the right thing is. And he approved it…

“It’s not an everyday thing, and it’s not a step backwards. It’s a step forward that comes from 50 years ago, from the Council that must unfold and develop.”

He added that he himself noticed a statement in the Declaration that left him quite perplexed – he did not specify what - but that he then realized it was a sentence right out of Vatican II.

It couldn’t have been the now controversial line from Paragraph 5 because there is not a single line in the documents of Vatican-II that justifies such a statement.

Lumen gentium, 16, speaks of those who have not yet been reached by the Gospel, or who belong to other religions, who are “related in various ways to the People of God”. Persons, not religions. A bit later, the paragraph says: "Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel… given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life”.

The difference is plain: it is one thing to say that other religions may have aspects of truth and goodness which, as such, come from God, and therefore “could have a role in evangelical preparation”, as Dominus Iesus, 21, affirms with greater precision.

It is something else to say that all the various religions were willed by God. Because if that were so, then one would have to say that even the errors in these religions – errors which Lumen gentium kept in mind – were willed by the Most High. How can we think that the Son of God became man, while at the same time, God wills a religion like Islam which denies the Trinity and the Incarnation? God cannot be schizophrenic.

Not even the text of Nostra aetate, which is ‘generous’ towards non-Christian religions, justifies the assertion of Abu Dhabi 5. It speaks of the common origin of all men and their final goal*, but considers the various religions as efforts by man to respond to the fundamental questions of existence.

It says “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men”.

And it says “The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion” not because God willed a plurality of religions but because all men are created in his image.

*[A digression, but I only noticed this for the first time. The second paragraph of Nostra aetate begins with these statements: “One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God… Is that second sentence not an unjustified presumption? Can the final goal of say, Satanists, be God? Unless one interprets the sentence to mean that the final goal of everyone is ultimately ‘to be God’ himself, which is already the great sin of modern man, but that is obviously not what was meant in Nostra aetate.]

So it is evident that the statement in AbuDhabi 5 does not find any legitimization in the texts of Vatican II, yet this pope claims otherwise. Although of course, he gives himself wiggle room by saying “The document was done in the spirit of Vatican II’, a spirit that has already pushed the Church far beyond the texts of the Council.

One seems to see here the image of that hermeneutic of discontinuity described by Benedict XVI in his famous Christiams address to the Roman Curia in 2005:

“It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless.

However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead.

Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague. In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit."
[/


The authentic interpretation of the Vatican II texts on the topic of religious diversity is found, among others, in DOMINUS IESUS, No. 21:

it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.

Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements which come from God, and which are part of what “the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures, and religions”. Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God.

One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.


There is therefore the distinction between elements of truth that come from God, and various religions as such which may contain errors that are obstacles to salvation. Moreover, if some ‘prayers and rites’ in these religions which could have a role of preparation for the Gospel cannot be assumed to have a divine origin, how is it possible that the religions themselves have a divine origin?

It does seem as though in the 50 years since Vatican II, Francis and his theologians have simply leapfrogged over the way reaffirmed by DOMINUS IESUS, in a curious hermeneutic which is not justified by the texts and which ignores the official interpretations of the Magisterium.

Another error present in the Abu Dhabi document is in assuming that religious freedom is based on God’s will to have a diversity of religions. Without getting into all the issues of this particular question, one must recognize that Vatican II recognized the immunity of any person from coercion into any faith, especially not by the state itself.
- It was not about a right for anyone to act according to his conscience, even if erroneous, much less about a right born ouf of the goodness of any particular religion or the divine origin of that religion.
- It is rather a negative right – namely, the right not to be coerced into any profession of religion or non-religion, for as long as this does not have any negative consequences for the common good (because then, the state would have the right to intervene in a matter that is it rightful competence).

Dignitatis humanae [the Vatican II declaration on religious freedom] says in Paragraph 2 that “the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself”. It doesn’t say that the right is based on the goodness of religious plurality much less, that God himself willed such a plurality.

In fact, DH Paragraph 1 says that

“God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men”.


Paul VI, in an address on December 20, 1976, said that “The Council in no way based this right on the fact that all religions and all doctrines, even if erroneous, have more or less the same value – instead, it based it on the dignity of the human person”. If religious plurality had been willed by God, then the error of giving all religions more or less the same value is just around the corner.

It is rather singular that neither this pope nor those he consulted even remarked on the consequent amplification of what Vatican II said. [Why would it be singular? They’ve been amplifying it for 50 years now!] Nor that they end up projecting the image of a schizophrenic God who says through the Word Incarnate: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14,6), and then many centuries later, in his ‘wisdom’, wills a religion that teaches: “The Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah’. That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them. How deluded they are!” (Sura 9, v 30 of the Koran).


The Joint Declaration on Human Fraternity:
A public repudiation of the Catholic faith

by John Lamont

February 10, 2019

On February 4, 2019 Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, signed a 'Document on Human Fraternity'. The document and its signing were public acts. It contains the following passage:

'Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives.'


Taken in its normal meaning, the statement that the pluralism and diversity of religions is willed by God in his wisdom is directly contrary to the Catholic faith. The pluralism and diversity of religions is an evil, and as such cannot be willed by God. These religions contradict each other on doctrinal and moral issues. It must therefore be the case that at least some of these religions are in error where they disagree; and it is a grave evil to hold false dogmatic and moral beliefs. Moreover, the Christian teaching is that there is only one true religion, the religion that worships the Most Holy Trinity. Religions that do not worship the Holy Trinity are false religions, that in themselves cause harm to their worshipers. As such, they are evils.

Many Catholics are reluctant to see this assertion as an act of heresy or apostasy by Pope Francis. In order to do so, they must interpret these words in a sense that can be reconciled with Catholic teaching. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has offered such an interpretation. He remarks:

When we speak of God’s will we make distinctions. God has an “active or positive will” and a “permissive will”. God’s “active will” concerns that which is good, true and beautiful. On the other hand, God has a “permissive will” by which He allows that things will take place that are not in accord with the order He established For example, God created Adam and Eve to live a certain way according to their nature and His will. However, He foresaw that they would fall and He permitted them to fall. By His active will they were to live a certain way. By His permissive will they strayed and fell. In the end, even all that God permits to go wrong will eventually be righted.


Applying the distinction between God's active will and God's permissive will to Pope Francis's words, and interpreting the words as asserting that the plurality of religions is the object of God's permissive will rather than of His active will, is the only way of understanding them in a Christian sense. The question is whether these words can be understood in this sense.

It is useful to briefly explain this distinction.
- There are some things that God simply does not will. For example, He did not will to create a universe containing only inanimate objects. The only undoubtedly correct thing to say about this possibility is the fact that He did not will it; it is not clearly true to say that He willed that it not happen.
- Evil, on the other hand, is not just something that God does not will; it is something that His will is always actively opposed to, since He is boundlessly and perfectly good.

We can however distinguish between two ways in which His will can be opposed to evil. In one way, His will opposes evil by not allowing it to happen because of its being evil. However, some evils do happen. Such existing evils cannot be said to be willed by God, because He cannot will evil. Nonetheless, He could have prevented any existing evil, and He determines every aspect of creation through His will.

An existing evil cannot occur because He was unable to prevent it, or because He simply did not will to prevent it. So if He did not prevent an evil, it must be the case that although He did not will the existence of the evil, He willed to permit its existence. His wisdom and goodness means that He will only will to permit an evil if the evil that is permitted is part of a greater good.

The question is therefore whether we can understand Pope Francis's words as meaning that the plurality of religions is the object of the permissive will of God, rather than something that he actually wills to occur. There are several reasons why this cannot be the case.

a). Saying that something is willed by God, and saying that it is the object of God's permissive will, are mutually exclusive. The objects of God's permissive will are things that He does not will. In order to understand Pope Francis's words as meaning that the plurality of religions is the object of God's permissive will, it would have to be explicitly stated that God's will is to be understood here as His permissive will; or else the context would have to make it clear that this was what was meant. Neither of these conditions obtain. So the normal meaning of the claim that God wills the plurality of religions - viz. that he considers this plurality a good, and causes it to exist for this reason - should be understood as the meaning of Pope Francis's words.

b). The context makes it clear that Pope Francis's words state that God does will religious pluralism itself. Religious pluralism is classed together with other differences such as colour, sex, race, and language that are not evil in themselves, and that are positively willed by God.

c). The document is a joint document signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque. As such, it expresses a conviction that is shared by both of them. We cannot reasonably attribute to the Grand Imam the view that religions other than Christianity are merely the object of God's permissive will.

One might ask what meaning we should attribute to the statement, if the Grand Imam signed it and agreed to it. It is possible that the Imam has embraced a form of postmodern religious pluralism, but it is probably unfair to understand him in this sense.
- It is more likely that his acceptance of the statement results from the belief in determinism that is a feature of Sunni Islam.
- According to this determinism, everything that happens is directly willed and caused by God and could not happen otherwise. God is nonetheless not to blame for human sin and other evils, and He justly punishes men for sin.
- Such determinism holds that religious pluralism is in fact directly willed and caused by God; but it does not therefore conclude that this pluralism is a good, that all religions are good, or that men will not be justly punished for belonging to false religions (which for the Imam would be all religions except for Islam).

This is not to say that this determinism is a component of the statement signed by the Pope and the Imam; it would rather be a presupposition held by the Imam that enables him to agree with Pope Francis that God wills the plurality of religions, although they no doubt differ on why He wills them.

This statement by Pope Francis is thus a clear, public repudiation of the Catholic faith. It follows a series of other more or less clear and public repudiations of this kind. Enough has been said about this rejection of the faith; it is time that something was done about it.
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Some people make things happen; some people watch things happening; some people don’t know what’s happening.” This old saw hacked into my head upon reading the Manifesto signed by “30 Pro-Europe Intellectuals,” informally sub-titled in many media reports, “Europe is coming apart before our eyes.”

It soon became clear that these 30 Pro-Europe Intellectuals are among those who don’t know what is happening. “The idea of Europe is in peril,” the Manifesto begins. “From all sides there are criticisms, insults and desertions from the cause.”

But it does not explain what this “idea” is or how the “cause” might be defined. The final sentence references a “challenge to liberal democracy,” as though the word “liberal” could bear the weight of the document’s quite preposterous insinuations.

If they do not know what exactly they favor, these intellectuals know well what they oppose: “populism” and “demagoguery.” “Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes,” they lament. It soon becomes clear that what we have here is not “30 Pro-Europe Intellectuals” but “30 Pro-European Union intellectuals,” an entirely different kettle of drummer boys.

Some of the signatories are well-known: the novelists Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and Milan Kundera; the notorious journalist Eugenio Scalfari; the playboy philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, author of the Manifesto. They count themselves “European patriots” and preach about the need to lift Europe's peoples “above themselves and their warring past.”

But what they really defend is the oligarchy of Brussels bureaucracy, which has for many years threatened to asphyxiate Europe. Their Manifesto is a party political broadcast on behalf of the European Union, specifically in the context of its European Parliament elections this coming May.

These intellectuals sarcastically dismiss Europeans’ current craving to “reconnect with their national souls.” “Abstractions such as ‘soul’ and ‘identity’ often exist only in the imagination of demagogues,” they declare.


In response to the nationalist and identitarian onslaught, we must rediscover the spirit of activism or accept that resentment and hatred will surround and submerge us. Urgently, we need to sound the alarm against these arsonists of soul and spiritwho, from Paris to Rome, with stops along the way in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, want to make a bonfire of our freedoms.


So soul, it appears, may exist after all without benefit of demagogues — Or perhaps the demagogues are both generators and assassins of soul?

The intellectuals mention the “new crisis of the European conscience that promises to tear down everything that made our societies great” but do not elaborate on the nature of “everything.” They drop the names Erasmus, Dante, Goethe, and Comenius, but nowhere in the document does the word “Christian” appear.

The failure of the E.U. project is causally related to Europe's retreat from its rich Christian heritage.
- That retreat has left a vacuum that economics, liberalism, and materialism have failed to fill.
- A bogus liberalism has attacked and all but destroyed the three fundamental pillars of human society in Europe: family, Church, and nation.
- Yet all three are capable of resurgence at any moment. Early signs of such resurgence are what scared the E.U. intellectuals into print.

In the end, they descend to reductio ad Hitlerum, referring to “a challenge greater than any since the 1930s.” They employ the term “populism” as a hypnotic trigger-word to demonize those who are different in outlook.

“Populism” was once merely a synonym for “popular,” signifying a connection to the people, for the people, with the people. Almost no one speaks of “the people” these days, and for good reason: The people present a problem for the elites, who have reintroduced the concept of “populism” as a handy pejorative synonym for “democracy” — which for obvious reasons they cannot so readily condemn.

Of course, the word is intended to invoke the image of a seething, foaming, raging rabble. But there are all kinds of mobs, including “intellectual” mobs. These intellectuals have issued no statements condemning #MeToo mobs, pro-choice mobs, LGBT mobs, or common or garden Twitter mobs seeking the scalps of holdouts from the latest “liberal” demands.

None of these writers and intellectuals can be deemed to have exalted in his or her work any entity rooted in what they defend that is even loosely to be called Europe. Of all the books published under the names of the thirty, perhaps only Ian McEwan’s Atonement might be counted as a great European novel.

Interestingly, the signatories make no attempt to plead innocence on these charges: “Our generation got it wrong,” they admit. “Like Garibaldi's followers in the 19th century, who repeated, like a mantra, ‘Italia se farà da sè' (Italy will make herself by herself), we believed that the continent would come together on its own, without our needing to fight for it, or to work for it. This, we told ourselves, was ‘the direction of history'.”

Indeed: The direction of history, as Havel noted, is the quintessential totalitarian idea. Those among the European intelligentsia who did not actively participate sat by and permitted the birth of the fundamentally totalitarian idea that doing what you pleased could sustain a civilization — thus enabling the destruction of the European peoples through the slaughter of innocents and the diversion of human desiring.
- When this created the inevitable demographic crisis, the intellectuals left their inks in their inkwells.
- When people who did speak out were silenced and ostracized, they again kept their pens in their sheaths.
They are more right than they believe about getting it wrong.

The failure of the “European project” has therefore also been a cultural, artistic, and philosophical failure. Michel Houellebecq aside, Europe in the era of what is called “the European Union” has had no great cultural iconographers capable of summoning up its spirit and essences, and Houellebecq does not flatter it. It is arguable that there never was a united art or literature of Europe, and that only Christianity served to create the impression that there was.

[Houllebecq was described as "France’s biggest literary export and, some say, greatest living writer" in a 2015 article by The Guardian about his international bestseller, Submission. The novel imagines a situation in which a Muslim party upholding Islamist and patriarchal values is able to win the 2022 presidential election in France with the support of the Socialist Party. The book drew an unusual amount of attention because, by a macabre coincidence, it was released on the day of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. In 2002, Houellebecq was tried for racial hatred after calling Islam "the dumbest religion" in an interview. He told the court that his words had been twisted, saying: "I have never displayed the least contempt for Muslims [but] I have as much contempt as ever for Islam". The court acquitted him on the grounds of freedom of expression.]

The late French philosopher Jean Baudrillard once observed that, although each part of the American continent feels different from every other part, there is also a pervasive American essence. Europe is not like that. What became “The European Union” was never articulate about itself in cultural terms, but instead resorted to a language and logic of materialism and secular democracy, which writers and artists failed to plumb, bypass, or otherwise negotiate.
- The bureaucratic nature of the E.U. has led it to treat culture as irrelevant and non-essential, soul as some residual anachronism, identity as a problem, and faith as something to be “tolerated” at best.
- In the absence of a cultural and spiritual vision, economics became everything and, inevitably, nothing.
- In its headlong dash to fulfill its aims in that idiom, the E.U. destroyed the European peoples’ hopes and finally demanded that they lie down and die.

What the thirty intellectuals call “Europe” was never a convincing replacement for the nation-states of the eponymous continent. Nothing made this clearer than the failure of the post-1960s arts establishment to create an art or literature that might serve to unify the nations of Europe into a common home. Now the intellectuals seek to cover their tracks.

It will take more than moral blackmail or virtue-signaling to put things back together again. A revolution is happening across the free world.
- It is not a revolution of the “Right,” “alt-right,” or “far right,” but a revolution from the concrete center, from the places where working people live and work to build, fix, paint, and clean the world as their antecedents did for thousands of years.
- It is fundamentally a reaction against lies, intimidation, official stupidity, and political correctness.
- It is already sweeping Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, and the countries of the Eastern bloc.
- It is at the back of Brexit and Donald Trump.
- It may not be an “intellectual’ movement, but it is a movement rooted in a deep and ancient intelligence — the intelligence of the human heart — which has beat for several thousand years at the center of the greatest civilization the world has ever seen. [And that is about to go down gladly, willingly in abject submission, dhimmitude, to Islam.]

The people of the West are stirring in their slumber. Yes, Europe is coming apart at the seams, but not in the ways the E.U. intellectuals divine. What they call “the bonfire of our freedoms” has already happened, and the people who make and fix things are building a new Europe in the ashes of the old. [From your pen to God's ear!]

John Waters is an Irish writer and commentator, the author of ten books, and a playwright.

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An extraordinary tale about 21 extraordinary 'ordinary men' whom Martin Mosebach presents to us as distinct individuals destined by God for the ineffable grace of martyrdom.
This essay was adapted from his book "The 21: A Journey into the Land of the Coptic Martyrs".



It is a scrupulously made short film, shot with several ­cameras in 2015. Arabic letters dance atop a black background, as if afloat on a whirling current of water, finally coming together and forming a droplet of closely intertwined characters. In Arabic calligraphy—one of Islam’s most refined arts—an entire poem can be written as a single sign, which only a highly trained scribe can decode. This particular sign is the logo of one “Al Hayat Media Center.” In this carefully choreographed film, everything has its place.

Then the name of President Obama appears, his middle name, Hussein, emphasized with capital letters. We are clearly meant to recall this Muslim name as Obama himself appears on the screen. Known for his eloquence, reciting speeches as smoothly as a clergyman or actor, he’s shown in apparent distress, mourning the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus during the Crusades. The message is clear: In all of history, nothing is without consequence. Everything we’re about to see is the answer to the president’s contrite confession.

“A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross”: That’s the title of the film in English. It is elegantly set in a classical typeface, with most letters in black; only the word “blood” is red. We hear the sound of waves and see a sandy beach interspersed with rocky outcroppings. The overcast sky gives the colors intensity and depth. Text appears, informing us that it is the “Coast of Wilayat ­Tarabulus,” west of the Libyan port town of Sirte.

Then, from behind one of the rocky outcrops, a man in a bright orange jumpsuit slowly appears, his head bowed. His hands are tied behind his back and on his neck lies the hand of his companion, a black-clad giant whose face is hidden by a mask that leaves only his eyes visible. The two of them are not alone. They are followed by a long line of similar pairs in orange and black, and the men swathed in black all look to be about a head taller than the men in orange.

The camera then zooms out, giving an overview of the entire scene. The procession unfolds, moving quietly—almost leisurely—forward. When a man in orange hesitates at one of the rocky spots, his companion in black patiently waits until he has made his way over it, marking a shared moment, as if a farmer were helping his donkey over a small obstacle. A caption instructs the viewer, however, that these captives are “followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.”

Now the camera zooms in on the men. They line up beside one another in a tightly packed row; this happens smoothly, as if rehearsed. No one is out of step. The sand is full of footprints—maybe this is where they practiced for the perfectly staged event? Clearly no improvisation was permitted in this film. Its simple script won’t allow for any lulls or blurred takes: Not a single individual can break out of line, and there certainly can’t be any visible resistance. Then, after a short pause, all the men in orange fall to their knees simultaneously, in a grim kind of chorus line. The men in black tower behind them, looking even taller than before, each holding his left hand on his captive’s collar, while his right fondles the handle of the dagger sheathed on his chest. There are twenty-­one men in orange, one of them a dark-skinned sub-Saharan African. So the lineup can be perfectly symmetrical, the sole black man kneels in the middle, and behind him stands the only captor dressed not in black, but in desert camouflage fatigues. His mask is pale yellow, the area around his mouth visibly moist from his breath.

The man in camo now addresses viewers in a speech. His English bears no discernible accent, which will lead many people to presume he is American. But even if he is, he likely doesn’t claim that citizenship any longer, since he is now the member of a larger, worldwide community. Whether the arrest of some of the perpetrators in October 2017 will help clarify his identity remains to be seen. He begins the speech with “all praises due to Allah, the strong and mighty”—words reminiscent of the Greek Orthodox liturgy, which were in turn incorporated into Coptic liturgy: “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us,” a prayer that long predates the Islamic conquest. His voice is calm, though he is fiercely accusatory. He blames Christians for launching one long war against Islam—a battle spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. It is fitting that Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, called the Iraq war a crusade, and that Obama decried the wrongs of medieval Crusaders. The ­spokesman in this video likely knows as little about the historical Crusades as any American president, but he’s obviously more intent on proving the symmetry that justifies his use of this term: On one side stands the American crusade, pitting its Christian vassals against all Muslims; on the other, the answer of all Muslims—yes, really, every single Muslim, since he apparently aspires to speak for the entire community of believers. For him, this is a worldwide conflict, a battle to the very end. When the good side finally wins, the mercy of the All-merciful will be manifest, and he will finally bestow peace upon mankind.

The spokesman pauses now and then, as if trying to remember a well-rehearsed text. “Here we are, south of Rome”—he speaks like a military commander aiming to advance. Rome is the real enemy. The name “Rome” encapsulates everything that has resisted Islam—even though the Coptic Church wasn’t involved in the Crusades and to this day maintains independence from Rome and the Vatican; even though America, which led the Iraq wars, was shaped by Christian sects that consider Rome the Whore of Babylon; and even though Arab rulers also participate—verbally, at least—in the ominous “war on terror.” The speaker points the tip of his dagger at us, the video’s viewers, but despite this threatening gesture, his tone remains calm, unshakeable. “The sea you”—Americans, Christians, Romans?—“have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.” Where there is justice, there is no room for fanaticism, so his conclusion sounds almost peaceful. He has put the dagger back in the sheath on his chest; his fingers play with the strings hanging from its handle. And the camera’s lens now drifts back to the handle and sheath, implying the action is about to shift.

The disciplined speech, clearly articulated through the fabric of his mask, is followed by an eloquent silence. The staging is reminiscent of monks mutely lined up before entering church in procession—an intentional pause for reflection that in Christian monastic practice is known as statio. The camera then scans over the faces of the kneeling men in orange jumpsuits. This clothing is part of the message: It evokes a scene now familiar worldwide—images of bound prisoners kneeling in cages, their heads bent low—a reference to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

The camera lingers on individual faces. On the left you can clearly see twenty-three-year-old Kiryollos with his questioning, almost absent-looking expression. Then comes the face of twenty-two-year-old Gaber, whose brow is furrowed and whose eyes stay closed as his lips move in whispered prayer. Captivity has aged him, he looks like a forty-year-old. Ezzat, thirty-two, bends over as if something on the ground has caught his attention. Twenty-four-year-old Essam, whose fairer skin sets him apart, shifts a bit on his knees and turns his head to ­Matthew, the one sub-Saharan, who kneels beside him but does not return his gaze; he just stares straight ahead. One of the prisoners isn’t kneeling upright like the others, but has sunk back onto his heels: Samuel (Jr.), twenty-two, looks the most like his passport photo, and his youthful face, big eyes, and full lips show a fundamental, unflappable friendliness.

An eerie calm looms over the men. It has been suggested that the video’s directors, who had to ensure nothing interrupted the action, drugged their victims. Essam’s watchful expression and movement, which make it look like he’s ready to jump up, and Gaber’s prayer make me doubt it. Since none of them (save perhaps Matthew) speaks a word of English, they can’t understand the speech. But the speaker’s steady, self-assured voice probably tells them that not even a bullet to the head could change this man’s mind.

Then, in a synchronized wave, the captors push their bound prisoners forward, faces down in the sand. They loom over them, kneel atop their backs, grab their hair, pull their heads up, unsheathe their knives, and hold the blades to their throats. No one screams, only a jumble of soft voices is audible: Ya Rabbi Yasou!—“Oh my Lord Jesus!”—the quick prayer of the dying.

Most versions of the video still available today end here, but the original version posted online was also cut in this same spot—giving the technical film-editing term a gruesome connotation. Cutting the mens’ throats must not have gone as smoothly as hoped; some of the executioners must have had to hack away longer than planned to sever fully the cartilaginous trachea and neck, exposing a lack of professionalism that the propagandists who spread the news of this grisly crime had to hide. Suddenly it becomes clear why Dr. Guillotin and his wretched contraption were once considered ­humanitarian.

But then the result appears: The executioners have set the severed heads on the backs of the ­corpses. At first glance, they look like they’ve sprouted up on the spot, a bunch of cut up and then wrongly reassembled bodies. Their faces, which the camera zooms in on, are disfigured in death. Their features look as if they’re being pulled apart on all sides, and their skin, which had looked deeply tan just a moment ago, is now a deathly pale yellow. Would these men’s mothers still recognize their sons? ­Kiryollos’s head is the only one that hasn’t fully bled out, ­betraying nothing of the horrors that have just taken place.

The leader, who cut off the head of the sub-­Saharan African, ends the brief moment of reverie. He has risen from the corpse and stands up straight. Holding the knife in his bloodied hand, he again points the tip toward the camera, as if to tell ­viewers: It’s coming for your necks, too, until victory is ours.

And then the camera pans back to the sea, which laps as softly as before, but the water is no longer a grayish blue; it’s now reddened by one hundred liters of blood. The stain doesn’t spread quickly, but grows like a cloud, gradually turning blue to red. This is only the beach of Sirte, but we get the message: This is what the sea will look like on countless coasts if the executioners get their way. Many perpetrators of political violence over the last hundred years have hoped that a new world and a new righteousness would emerge from such rivers of blood, but few have celebrated sheer bloodshed as much as these men on the beach of Wilayat Tarabulus.

Not long after the Twenty-One were beheaded, I met with a German cardinal. I asked him why the Catholic Church did not formally recognize the testimony of these men of faith, as the old Church generally had in cases of martyrdom. “But they’re Copts!” he answered. I shall not ­mention this dignitary by name, because I do not believe his helpless words should be heard as an expression of his own personal views. Wasn’t he simply saying ­precisely what many of his peers would have, if given the chance? Right then and there I decided I had to learn more about the Copts, and the Twenty-One in particular.

A few months later, I was on the road to El-Aour, a village along the Upper Nile where sixteen of the martyrs grew up. All around spread a broad plain of verdant fields—modern farms growing semi-dwarf wheat. This green sea was dotted with island-like villages whose tallest points were domed towers topped by crosses. As we proceeded north, mosque minarets became a less frequent sight. We started out following a canal that ran straight as an arrow, which we soon crossed, and then continued down a dirt road. Each village looked the same as the next at first, but then an unexpected sight caught my eye: Amid a cluster of buildings on the horizon, a gigantic, round, white structure stood out. A nuclear reactor, perhaps? As we drew closer, it became clear: This mighty concrete dome, curving from the ground upward, was no reactor, but its massive size dwarfed the many buildings crowded around it. Not just the houses, but even the steeple of the old parish church in the middle of the village seemed small and fragile in comparison.

We looked at the giant dome. Construction was still underway all around it. Egyptian president General el-Sisi had ordered the building of this pilgrimage church to commemorate the martyrs. The general had been forced to give a clear sign of sympathy for the Egyptian citizens murdered abroad, and this building was its manifestation. Precariously positioned between both sides of the civil war, he felt dependent on the approval of the Copts. Might having a magnificent church in which to honor their martyrs help put them at ease?

Meanwhile, the noteworthy structure has gained still greater significance. When it was planned in 2015, the martyrs’ bodies were still missing. “The murderers threw them into the sea, where fish ate their remains,” was more or less how I heard it told by a young deacon. It was a somewhat childish idea, since human bodies aren’t easy to dispose of, but the ongoing civil war in Libya made it impossible to investigate any further. And then, in October 2017, the bodies were finally found. Buried in the desert not far from the scene of the massacre, their hands were still tied behind their backs, their jumpsuits stained with blood.

For the Coptic Church it was immediately clear that the remains must be brought home. Pope ­Tawadros II of Alexandria called on the Egyptian government to lobby Libya for their return. In May 2018, a private jet flew the bodies of the twenty Egyptians to Cairo. (The body of Matthew was not with them.) From there, the martyrs’ remains were brought to El-Aour and laid to rest according to the solemn rites for handling sacred relics. The house of worship built in their memory became a sepulchral church, making it even more exceptional among Egyptian churches.

Copts keep the relics of their saints in heavy wooden cylinders, which the priest holds for the faithful to kiss and also holds to their heads, because Copts believe in maintaining physical contact with their saints. Other churches would certainly want relics of the new martyrs, too, so they might well be divided up and sent to several places. The high dome of their new church now holds a glowing ember, in the form of the martyrs’ sacred bodies, which will radiate the faith far and wide.

I had gotten no farther than the outside courtyard of this church when I came upon a photo­shopped poster, by a designer who will likely remain anonymous but whose work has since spread through the whole of Coptic Egypt. He took the men’s heads from old photo IDs and placed them on other bodies—a process that somehow echoes the theme of beheading—standing ramrod straight, dressed in white liturgical robes, the red stoles of deacons crossing their chests. Each has been granted the honor of this garment, including those the bishop hadn’t expressly ordained as choir­masters—even Matthew, although we don’t know whether he had ever heard a Coptic Mass, or if he first learned Coptic chants during their shared captivity. The martyrs’ hands, which aren’t really theirs, hold crosses of the sort a bishop uses to bless his congregation; on their heads perch regal crowns whose two-dimensionality contrasts with the photographic faces underneath, looking instead like gold paper cut-outs.

I soon discovered countless variations of these martyrs-as-crowned-priests pictures. Some showed all the men together like a royal band, standing before a pale blue sky with little white clouds hovering amid painted angels; others showed them with a ­cut-and-paste, American-style Christ, his head lowered in mourning; still others had a Russian-­looking, enthroned Christ Pantocrator—ruler of all—in the middle.

And for each of these curious variants several sub-variations had been created as well. I saw their crowned photo-ID portraits amid painted angels and saints, but there were also versions that had taken their still images from the video, uniting them as sublime, crowned saints in orange jumpsuits.

So the martyrs’ family members weren’t surprised when people came to visit. Their husbands, sons, and brothers had experienced the most amazing transformation of all: They had left home as poor migrant workers, and would never return, but had become saints and were now more present than ever, albeit in a different form. They now wore crowns, even though they had only done what was expected of them, and what all their brothers were equally prepared to do. Unexpectedly, this natural fulfillment of duty that would otherwise be taken for granted was surrounded by the greatest splendor—but this served only to prove that little more than the thinnest tissue separates earthly life from the heavenly sphere. One must always be prepared for the possibility that this tissue could tear, letting a golden ray of light fall into the realm of everyday life. Precisely by accepting such a cruel fate, their husbands, sons, and brothers were magnificently exalted. The martyrs’ relatives made no pretense of sharing their late loved ones’ glory, but they did take calm pride in the dead.

The sixteen men from El-Aour all lived on the same village lane. Life there was lived in public, without much privacy, as it had been in rural Europe at least until World War II. Countries where such living conditions continue into the present day are regarded with condescension and pity, as if they’ve failed to strive for and reach a prescribed socioeconomic goal. The horror such long-preserved ways of life inspire carries with it a particular kind of prudery, as if what is widely termed “backwardness” also implies some kind of moral failure. So let’s be perfectly clear: The Twenty-One never slept on sheets, so had never experienced the physical benefits of a freshly made bed. It’s entirely possible that they were well-acquainted with fleas and lice; none of them had a bathtub. The fact that their families now live in new houses, and that some of them own a refrigerator, hasn’t much affected their way of life. But in the living rooms of their family homes there’s always a picture of the murdered son wearing a crown and the red stole of a deacon. Much like King David, who once lived in a shepherd’s hut, a king has emerged from each of these families.

All the houses I visited shared one common feature: The household was not in mourning. Condolences and expressions of sympathy seemed out of place. They struck me as somehow elevated to another plane. A scorching flash of violence had fallen upon them, followed by a majestic clap of thunder that slowly faded yet never fully died out. Now, at the end of the lane most of the martyrs had lived on, stood the massive, bare, concrete dome that looked so foreign to this village it might as well have been beamed down from outer space.

Language alone could not do justice to the events—the archdiocese was at a loss when it came to describing the personalities of the individual martyrs for the official martyrology based on sparse biographical ­information.

“He was quick to forgive, argued with no one, and was faithful and honorable” (Magued).
“He served his whole family” (Hany).
“He was friendly and had a kind heart” (Ezzat).
“He slept with the Bible on his chest. He prayed and strictly followed the fast” (Malak).
“His peaceful smile showed how close he was to God” (Luka).
“He gave alms even though he was poor” (Sameh).
“He carefully considered his words before opening his mouth” (Milad).
“He was discreet, respectful, and calm” (Essam).
“He was calm, obedient, and quick to confess” (Youssef).
“He devoted a lot of time to helping the ‘Lord’s brothers’ (the poor)” (Bishoy).
“He was a man of prayer and liturgy” (Girgis Jr.).
“He was a quiet man, even when criticized” (Mina).
“He was an honest worker and treated his parents with respect” (Kiryollos).
“His heart was pure and simple, his words humble” (Gaber).
“He was compassionate and strove to help others” (Girgis Sr.).
The common thread running through all these descriptions is discretion. Pray, serve, stay silent—that’s an apt characterization of a monk. But they weren’t monks, much as Kiryollos might have wanted to become one. He was the only one said to have had such a wish, but hadn’t made the cut; monasteries judged postulants according to strict standards.

Couldn’t one easily conclude that the episcopal registrar had tried to craft an exemplary past for these new saints by distilling their lives into a sententious formula? After my visits to El-Aour and the neighboring villages, however, I suspect that he simply wrote down what he was told. I heard the exact same things he had.

“He was good—a good son, a good husband, a good father.” The words sounded too modest, too ineffectual for men who were now legend. It seemed likely that this trait of discretion was a hallmark not only of the Twenty-One martyrs, but of the entire region and its villages—a shared heritage not in the sense of stubborn omertà or enforced silence, but rather of circumspection that made coexisting in such close quarters, for days, months, years, and decades that all seemed the same, bearable. In a village where everyone knows everything about everyone else, gossip can make life a living hell. The widow of Tawadros—at forty-six by far the eldest of the ­martyrs—who now had to raise their three children on her own, said of her husband, “He was honorable and simple.” Might the Virgin Mary have said the same of Saint Joseph?

The pastor was the only one I heard put a different spin on it: “You have to understand: These were average young men, completely normal guys. I never would have thought they’d become saints!” It still perplexed him—if only he’d known!

Well, if they were indeed your average young men, then the bar for what was average was set pretty high. Tawadros’s widow recalled that in Libya he’d been told to change his Christian name, Theodore, lest it cause him trouble. His reply: “Anyone who starts changing his name will end up changing his faith.”

Just before bidding me goodbye, the widow of Magued—forty-one years old and the second-eldest of the Twenty-One, a coarse-looking peasant with a low brow and dense hair—said with visible embarrassment, as if it were hard for her to confess: “He wanted us all to be angels.”

The young widow of twenty-eight-year-old ­Samuel Sr. showed me a professional family photo in which she, her husband, and their three children posed before a backdrop featuring a futuristic skyline. She added that when her husband called from Libya, he always asked whether the family was praying. It was his last question on every call.

Twenty-six-year-old Milad kept the fast even when working long, hard days in the fields, against the pastor’s advice. His reply: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” That’s how I heard it from his widow, who looked to be not much older than a child, her mourning attire seeming almost costume-like. He had sent her his Bible from Libya, and she always carries it in her pocket. She can’t read, but is preserving this precious keepsake for their children.

Twenty-three-year-old Girgis Sr., newly betrothed to his cousin, would often stay in his room for two hours, praying; his one-eyed, white-turbaned father pointed to the closed door, covered in colorful holy images, as if his son were still behind it. Incidentally, unlike most of the martyrs’ families, his still lived in an old adobe house with umber-colored walls, beamed ceilings, and earthen floors. Sure-flighted swallows darted through the room, and a rat scurried across the adjacent table.

The young widow of twenty-eight-year-old Luka—who never met his own daughter—recalled how he could read minds, including hers: “He always sent me money, even before I could tell him I needed something.” After my visit with her, I learned that these young widows would never remarry, solely because they had been married to a martyr.

The mother of the brothers Bishoy and Samuel Jr., a petite, gaunt woman, held a picture of the latter that portrayed him with the large eyes and gentle face of an icon. He always said, “I am the king’s son.” When he was twelve years old, a stone had fallen from the third floor and struck his head. “He was in the intensive care unit when the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and said, ‘Fear not,’ and soon thereafter he was healed.”

Mina’s mother also listed the accidents from which her son had been saved, echoing a motif found in the lives of so many martyrs of the past. “As a boy, he survived a heavy electric shock; soon afterwards, he plummeted from a third-story window to the street, but was only slightly injured. In the monastery of Saint Samuel he tumbled, head first, down a long flight of steps; it was bad, but even that didn’t kill him.” He had overcome many dangers to meet his final destiny.

Only the mother of Kiryollos, who had given birth to five other sons, had little to say about her son. A cheerful mood prevailed in her home, and a young uncle who was a priest joined us. Wearing his cassock, he leaned comfortably into the big cushions to tell me about his late relative: “He never said much, never thought about the future. He just lived, one day at a time.” Was that what I thought I’d read on his face in the video of his execution—his somewhat lost gaze, his slightly absent expression, the look of someone daydreaming? Even once his head was severed, his face still preserved a touch of that expression.

It had been dangerous to go to Libya seeking work. The Arab Spring had plunged the country into chaos. There had been violence against Christians well before 2015, including several murders. The priests of one Egyptian diocese—the Holy Metropolis of Damanhur, in the Nile Delta—who also looked after the Copts in Libya, ceased their usual trips. But the families of the Twenty-One needed the money, and Libya was both closer and posed fewer formalities than the Gulf States. They were poor, just an inconspicuous little group ­heading out to look for jobs. Who would care about such people?

And yet their departure was accompanied by a few premonitions. Twenty-three-year-old Abanoub, a young man whose unusual features made it look as if he might be from India, said to a friend returning home to El-Aour from Libya in 2014 to get married, “You come here to wed this year, but in 2015 we will all celebrate our wedding.” Might his listeners have been reminded of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” from the Book of Revelation, wherein the blood of the sacrifice cleanses the robes of the righteous to a purified white? After the fact, that’s precisely how his enigmatic words were interpreted.

Girgis Sr. was also twenty-three and, according to his father, always carried a photograph of two Christians killed in a bombing, saying, “I wish I were with them, and like them.”

Sameh phoned his family shortly before being abducted—he had been in Libya for six months ­already—and asked not only that everyone back home pray, but above all that they look after his little daughter.

Essam’s widow showed me a photograph people considered prophetic. During a visit to the Monastery of Saint Samuel, Essam had asked a monk about what his future might hold. Essam kneeled silently before him, the monk put his hands around the young man’s neck, and that’s the exact moment the snapshot recorded. On the night the Twenty-One were abducted, the monk had a dream: He saw Essam and other men tormented by a large hound dog in uniform, and then suddenly a dagger pierced his chest.

Luka’s widow said that once, after hearing a sermon on martyrdom, her husband had said, “I’m ready.” He mentioned having an intuition that martyrdom awaited him. He had often taken walks on the very beach where he was later beheaded. He also clearly had a macabre sense of humor: She showed me a photograph of him lying in a coffin he himself had built. As I left, she gave me a T-shirt with a print of her husband and Essam, both in sparkling crowns.

The miracles didn’t stop after the massacre. Samuel’s little son fell to the street from the third floor, and his arm was broken in several places. When he regained consciousness, he said his father had caught him, and a few days later his X-rays showed not a single fracture. Samuel’s sister, who entered the door barefoot in a stained jellabiya, confessed that for three days following the death of her brother she had fought with God: “I blamed God!” But then a bright light appeared in the heavens, Samuel’s face shining brightly from within. “And then twenty-one crowns appeared surrounding the light. From then on, I didn’t complain anymore.”

And Sameh’s son, who fell ill and began vomiting after his father’s death, also saw him again. Sameh laid his hand on the child’s head and said, “It’s going to be all right,” and the boy immediately felt well again.

Ezzat’s mother—a stout woman who had borne seven other children and had a noticeably spirited eloquence compared to most of the people I met here—suffered a severe stroke a while after her son’s death. Ezzat and St. George came to her in a dream, her son laid his hands upon her, and she was healed.

A childless Muslim woman came to Essam’s mother for help (local Muslims often ask their Coptic neighbors to pray for them): “Your God listens to prayers, and works wonders.” She gave the woman one of Essam’s shirts. Maybe the woman wore it when she lay with her husband? In any case, after fifteen infertile years, she became pregnant twice while in possession of his shirt.

The families didn’t care to remember the grief, pain, and fear they felt during the men’s captivity, nor the tears unleashed by the news of their death. They all went out of their way to avoid leaving me with the impression that the decapitation of their sons, brothers, and husbands had caused them any ­misfortune. Naturally, they were depressed while awaiting news, as they’d been kept in the dark and could only prepare for the worst. But when they saw the video and knew with certainty what had happened, their confidence returned: “We now have a holy martyr in heaven, so must rejoice—nothing can harm us anymore.”

Which explains why the families handled the video with a complete sense of ease. There was an iPad in every household on which one could watch the full-length, uncut, unedited video. Malak’s mother was the only one who refused to look at the screen, while all her family’s young men, cousins, and brothers stared at it, apparently undisturbed, pointing out the men they recognized, as they had often done. There could have been no better place to watch the video—surrounded by the men’s families and runny-­nosed children, in rooms adorned with images of the crowned Twenty-One, while a goat poked its devilish-­looking head through the doorway and a calf next door wauled for its mother.

What would the murderers say about their video being shown like this? Would it surprise them to see how unflappable these simple-minded, poor folk were? Would they be able to see that their cruelty had failed to achieve the intended goal, and that their attempt to intimidate and disturb hadn’t succeeded?

Gaber’s hunched-over, barefoot mother—whose house had rung out with unidentifiable voices singing Hallelujah during his death, as their Muslim neighbors also confirmed—was quick to express her gratitude that her son had become a martyr. Youssef’s family members—his young widow with their little boy, his turban-clad father, his mother holding an icon of her crowned son to her chest—told me, as well as each other, how happy they were when they realized that he was in heaven.

Hany’s mother also readily admitted her joy, especially with regard to her four little grandchildren: Once they’re a bit older, they’ll be so proud that their father is a martyr.

Milad’s parents thanked God for their son’s martyrdom, and the parents of Girgis Sr. recalled how their son had always wanted to become a martyr. During his captivity, they hadn’t prayed for his deliverance, only that he remain strong. He had remained strong indeed, and was now the family’s pride.

All these words were spoken not with fanaticism or willful zeal, but rather serenity and calm. These weren’t Spartan mothers celebrating some rigid ideal, but rather believers whose faith had been forged and strengthened by adversity. Whereas Georg Büchner’s Danton’s Death features Thomas Paine asserting that pain is the touchstone of atheism, in this case it turns out to be quite the opposite: Pain is the touchstone of faith and Christ’s revelation. Ezzat’s mother, who had been cured of stroke by her son’s supernatural intervention, was the only one who still seemed to feel equal cause for both mourning and rejoicing. As she spoke to me, her lively eyes grew moist. Malak’s father, the otherwise cheerful colossus, drew her close and embraced her. He had shown us his son’s Bible; he himself was unable to read it, but he gave it a reverent kiss before putting it away for safekeeping.

He knew many passages by heart, and began quoting from the book of Samuel, where David inquires about his son.

“Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
“You understand? We’ve done just as King David did, or at least we’ve tried,” he concluded. But at that he, too, lost his composure.

In the many conversations I had, not once did anyone call for retribution or revenge, or even for the murderers to be punished. It was as if the families wanted nothing whatsoever to do with them, because the martyrs’ sheer splendor outshone them, leaving them to become immaterial lemures, as the ancient Romans referred to such spirits—the wandering, formless, vengeful ghosts associated with darkness and condemned to be hunted by Satan for all eternity. The martyrs had “fought the good fight,” “finished the race,” and “kept the faith,” as the apostle Paul writes, in a line all of them knew well. Or might this type of surrender be the result of centuries of experience, repeatedly proving that persecution of the Copts never was and never would be penalized? Could turning this inherited defenselessness into a wise refusal to be vengeful constitute a virtue?

When I later asked myself what I had actually learned about the martyrs during my weeks in El-Aour, I was at a bit of a loss. When reworked photo-ID pictures and relatives’ stories are the only thing one has to go on, it’s not easy to get a fully developed impression of a dead man. Malak was the only one I saw a slightly more personal photograph of: It showed him freshly shaven, his cheeks rosy, in a shiny black jacket, white shirt, and loose tie, striking a little pose. Was his right hand on the knot to further loosen the tie, or to tighten it? He gazed straight at the camera, giving the viewer an expectant or perhaps encouraging look. Was he on his way to a dance party or a date? Why was the pastor so emphatic about the martyrs being “average young men”? A vast labyrinth spreads out behind the term “average guy.” What’s “average,” anyway? Might this young man be the village Romeo, a brawling soccer fiend, or a hard partier? Did he like to pick fights, or race around on his motorbike?

It was none other than Malak, the young man in that picture wearing the tie—maybe the photographer had loaned it to him?—who spoke the decisive words for the Twenty-One. The pastor told me about their last conversation before Malak left for Libya. The pastor had tried to say that believers could bear witness not only by dying for Christ, but also by living a long and faithful life. “That’s not enough for me,” Malak answered, “I want to do it through death.”

The Martyrologium Romanum lists August 30 as the feast of the holy martyrs Felix and Adauctus. ­Felix was likely a Roman citizen sentenced to death in 303 during the Diocletian Persecution. On the way to his execution, he was spotted by an unknown man. Moved by the sight of Felix in chains, the man professed his own Christian faith on the spot. He was then executed alongside Felix and, because his name remained unknown, is venerated as Saint Adauctus, “the added man.” The twenty Copts martyred on the beach in Libya also had an Adauctus among them: the young black man, Matthew Ayariga, who was abducted along with them—he came not from Egypt but from Ghana.

The kidnappers, I was told, thought he wasn’t a Christian and wanted to let him go. But he didn’t think it just: Whether he was Catholic, Protestant, or belonged to another Christian sect didn’t matter. The kidnappers had to take his word for it—he was a Christian, and said so, and that was enough for them to kill him alongside the others.

Had Matthew survived and expressed a desire to be accepted as a Copt, he would have had to undergo baptism again. Like many Orthodox churches, the Coptic Church doesn’t recognize baptisms performed by other churches. So is Matthew simply an unbaptized person who somehow became a saint? Not at all. By his willingness to die alongside his Coptic companions, he received baptism on the Libyan seaside. His own blood took the place of both the holy water and the priest’s christening in the sacrament.

This tale is even more amazing in the light of the near-unanimous failure of the so-called Princes of the Church - the cardinals - in fulfilling their duty
to uphold and defend the faith usque ad sanguis effusionem, (even to the shedding of their blood), as they swear in their oath as cardinals.


P.S.
Francis Phillips reviewed Mosebach's book earlier in the Catholic Herald...



What gave the Coptic Martyrs
such steadfast courage?

Martin Mosebach opens up a world unknown to the West -
a Church that has been a persecuted minority for over 1,000 years

by Francis Phillips

February 5, 2019

It wasn’t possible to read the book quickly, or skip sections; this was partly out of respect for the story itself and partly because on nearly every page Mosebach has worthwhile things to say. This is not glib, dramatic or sensational journalism but a sober and insightful investigation into what lay behind the lives of these young men.

Mosebach is essentially asking the question we would all pose when confronting the fact of their martyrdom (it is reported that during their 43-day captivity before their executions they were offered the choice to live if they abjured their faith and embraced Islam but refused): what gave them the courage and the steadfastness to face their gruesome end with such patience and dignity, murmuring “O my Lord Jesus” as the knives were held to their throats?

All this has been captured on video, unedited and uncensored, made by the terrorists in order to inspire fear in those who watched it. That this purpose misfired spectacularly is evident in the behaviour of the martyrs. Mosebach is not interested in investigating ISIS. His purpose is to discover the power of the Coptic Church in the lives of its followers – a power he makes clear is not that of a death-embracing cult but that of a vibrant, joyful Church.

Indeed, reading this account gives the reader a glimpse of what it must have been like to be an early Christian during the persecutions in ancient Rome, singing hymns in the catacombs as they were led into the Colosseum.
- It seems the 21 young men sang and prayed during their captivity before their deaths; daily beatings and torture could not quell their ardent love for their faith.
- Reading their individual character traits in the official martyrology read by Mosebach when he visited their families in the village of El-Aour in Upper Egypt in 2017, is to be confronted by a strange spiritual beauty: “He gave alms even though he was poor”; “He was a man of prayer and liturgy”; “He was quick to forgive, argued with no-one”; “He was an honest worker and treated his parents with respect” – and so on. The migrant workers were clearly men of great and humble virtue.

Some of them were married, with children; some were illiterate; all were poor, which is why they had gone to Libya as migrant workers and stayed on even when its low-level civil war made it extremely dangerous to do so.

Mosebach (an advocate of the Tridentine rite of Mass) intriguingly describes the men as homines liturgi – “men of the liturgy.” The Coptic Church, traditionally thought to have been founded by St Mark in Egypt in the 1st century, is not in communion with Rome but its liturgy and hierarchy are venerable and ancient: Mass lasts for almost three hours with a continual sung liturgy. Some of the martyrs were in the church choir; all of them would have known the prayers of the liturgy by heart.

It is when Mosebach visited the village where many of the young men had come from that their heroic behaviour becomes (almost) explicable. The Copts describe themselves as “the Church of the Martyrs”, a constant succession down the centuries, into which the 21 find their own place; now venerated with crowns of martyrdom, their icons are everywhere.

Whatever grief or sorrow their families must have felt, the author tells us that “the household was not in mourning.” The young widows left behind would not consider remarriage such was their reverence for the dead.

Again, Mosebach emphasises that “These were not Spartan mothers celebrating some rigid ideal, but rather believers whose faith had been forged and strengthened by adversity.” Later, interviewing the Coptic Metropolitan, the author records his impression of his “undisputed greatness” and of his “strength and power”. He drily wonders how Nietszche, who thought of Christianity as the religion of slaves, would “spare off against this particular priest.”

As a German Catholic, Mosebach is forced to make comparisons between the Western Church and this formidable Church which, since the Muslim invasion, has been in the minority in Egypt for over 1,400 years. He reflects that after Constantine, Christians “had to learn to withstand the temptations of pagan culture and engage in intellectual battle with it”. The implicit message is that in the West the pagan culture has won. We are reminded that the first hermits and monks, hermitages and monasteries were established in Egypt, in the desert, far from the cities.

Subsequently the Copts learned to cope with a long history of withstanding oppression and thus gain “an intimate knowledge of martyrdom.” Reading these pages opens up an unknown world; that of a Church, barely known in the West and as little understood.

Mosebach’s final reflection is that we need to become better acquainted with it as western secular society becomes a more hostile environment to those still determined to bear witness to Christ.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/15/2019 6:43 AM]
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All-out effort by Beijing to hide
the regime's persecution of religion

China expends great energy to suppress religion,
and even more energy to hide the suppression.
Closing streets, monitoring media, bullying reporters...

by Jiang Tao

February 10, 2019


On January 30, 2019, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China released their annual report on the working conditions for foreign reporters living in China. The report showed that the journalism environment had worsened in 2018.
- Reporters stationed in China to gather news had been obstructed, followed, and forced to delete data.
- Their communication devices had been monitored and wiretapped, and the e-mail passwords of some had been hacked.
- Some reporters were even deported.
- Of the foreign reporters in China who were surveyed, more than 40% believed that the reporting environment in China had worsened, compared to 29% in 2016.

The crackdown on journalists is only one facet of the increased effort to control information about abuses in China. In particular, authorities are trying to stop evidence of their campaign against religion from reaching the outside world.

The efforts to control information are varied and are being directed by high government officials.

For example, a government worker from Kaifeng city, in central China’s Henan Province, revealed that government departments convened a meeting in June to address the control of information. Officials demanded strict precautions to prevent reporters from gathering evidence of demolished churches, shredded religious couplet banners, and similar embarrassing details. They also established guidelines for prompt reporting to central authorities if any such information should get into reporters’ hands.

The extent to which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to control the spread of information is demonstrated best by real-world examples. On August 25, the cross of an urban church of Xixia county, in Nanyang city in Henan Province, was torn down. Before the demolition, police established a cordon around a wide area surrounding the church and dispersed all individuals and vehicles within it. Police justified their action by falsely claiming that an electrical line had been damaged and was being repaired, and they turned off all lighting in the area.

According to workers who participated in the removal of the cross, all pedestrians were forbidden from approaching. The workers themselves were not allowed to carry cellphones to prevent the incident from being filmed.

In another example, Mr. Zhao (a pseudonym), a Bitter Winter contributor, was discovered by police while filming a church being shut down. An officer took away his phone and used pepper spray on Mr. Zhao. In a bit of luck for our reporter, some pepper spray leaked on the officer’s hand, and he hastily tried to clean it off. Mr. Zhao seized the opportunity and quickly fled the scene of the incident.

But the police did not give up: In order to eliminate the video evidence, they found Mr. Zhao’s family and threatened that if Mr. Zhao didn’t return home, or if he released the video, they would hold him criminally responsible.

Some city residents have reported to Bitter Winter that when crosses were being dismantled at nearby churches, police would videotape pedestrians who were walking around nearby to prevent them from taking pictures. In addition, officials dressed in civilian clothes regularly joined the crowd to monitor what was happening, and police dispatched a remote-control camera drone to observe the entire process.

On Christmas Eve, a Three-Self church in Henan’s Xinxiang city was cordoned off by police, and over 40 police officers and government officials were posted at nearby intersections to intercept believers and stop them from going into the church to celebrate Christmas. At this time, one city resident passed by the church while replying to a message on his phone. The police, however, thought he was taking pictures. Six or seven officers violently beat him for five minutes, leaving him bleeding from the head.

Authorities have also taken steps to protect official documents on religious policy from falling into the wrong hands. These efforts are in response to recent leaks of internal documents related to the CCP’s subjugation of religion.

One Three-Self church leader in Ningde city, in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, reported that government meetings on religious policy are now extremely cautious about confidentiality. Organizers at one such meeting demanded that attendees enter one-by-one, in the order that each attendee was written on their list, and they verified all identities carefully. No one who was not on the list was allowed to enter or exit the meeting premises. All phones had to be turned off, pictures and audio recording were prohibited, and no one was allowed to remove papers from the meeting.

One inside source from Tieling city, in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, stated that when some jurisdictions hold meetings about religion, they do so without using any documentation. Instead, information is only transmitted orally to prevent classified documents from being leaked.

Arrests for uploading or forwarding documentation of religious persecution are still frequent in China. However, it is getting more difficult to publicize materials if you can get them. In mid-August 2018, when one Christian from Henan’s Jiyuan city was using WeChat on his cellphone to forward a picture of a church, he immediately received a message warning him that he was “stealing state secrets.”

CCP authorities seem to be concerned that evidence of their persecution will tarnish their image abroad. But in today’s world, it is very hard to cover up all evidence of human rights abuses, as Bitter Winter documents daily.

UPDATE

Comprehensive crackdowns for 'social stability'
by Wang Anyang

February 11, 2019

Bitter Winter has acquired an 18-page-long internal document issued by the authorities of a city in Liaoning in May 2018. The document details the methods by which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to “maintain social stability.”

Entitled Implementation Suggestions for 2018 Social Stability Maintenance Tasks for the Leading Group for Maintaining Social Stability, it calls for faster development of the “Sharp Eyes” Project, promotion of the “Fengqiao Experience,” and the completion of a digitization system.

Bitter Winter has documented individually some of these programs, such as the 'Fengqiao Experience' to deploy citizen monitors to report on religious individuals; the Sharp Eyes Project which places surveillance cameras throughout the countryside; and use of the Social Credit System to restrict the activities of public intellectuals and dissidents. This new document helps to see how the different social stability control programs fit together.

The document explains that the CCP wants to establish a “safe and reliable inter-departmental big data platform” as quickly as possible, “promoting the modernization of social stability maintenance tasks through intelligence and informatization.”

Over the past year, in particular, an Orwellian surveillance system has taken shape in the name of maintaining social stability.

The document lists many – and growing – potential causes of social instability, including
- the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989;
- poverty and its alleviation issues;
- the lack of employment for university and college graduates;
- poor provisions for retired military personnel; and
- fluctuation of stock and real-estate markets. T
he government believes each of these, or a combination of them, could lead to mass protests.

According to this document, authorities are working to manage these social problems to “prevent and defuse social conflicts, starting from the source” to ensure the prevention of mass uprisings. They aren’t trying to solve these social issues, but merely manage them to keep their grip on power.

For handling problems with retired military personnel, for example, the document states that officials must “do their utmost in handling key mass stability tasks for retired military personnel… enhance educational guidance, and concentrate them [retirees] around the Party and the government.”

“Leading troublemakers” that can’t be “persuaded,” on the other hand, must be “seriously handled.” As for how to solve actual problems for retired military personnel, the document offers no instruction.

Some commenters believe that increasing pressures and conflicts in grassroots society are beginning to fuel public grievances. Mass movements currently underway in Venezuela calling for regime change are putting the CCP on edge. Thus, the resolution of issues in grassroots society has become a priority in social stability maintenance.

As per the CCP, the first step in controlling grassroots grievances is to control ideology, which has always been one of the Party’s core areas of concern, and authorities are only allowing doctrines that protect the current regime to exist.

The document demands, “Clear-cut stands, opposing and resisting the infiltration of western ideology; opposing and resisting erroneous ideological trends and viewpoints against the leadership of the Party or attacking socialism with Chinese characteristics; and maintenance of integrated, society-wide ideologies, as well as the stability of public sentiment.”

Intimately tied to ideological control is the CCP’s control of the Internet.
- The document indicates that officials must “purge the sensitive, harmful information online against the leadership of the Party, the fundamental routes of the Party, and the socialist road with Chinese characteristics.”
- They must also “enhance management of online groups such as QQ and WeChat groups, and shut down activities that threaten state security and social stability.”
- The document also demands to target key online personnel and critical groups.
- It singles out the need to handle mass online and real-world activities, such as going to provincial capital cities or Beijing for assemblies, in a timely matter, and to rank such activities highly among social stability maintenance tasks.
- Reportedly, since the end of 2018, large numbers of internet users in Mainland China who had used Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to breach the so-called Great Firewall have been questioned and detained, and their Twitter messages have been deleted.
- The document also emphasizes that officials must “enhance the blocking of foreign enemy websites, and effectively obstruct the infiltration of harmful foreign information entering our borders.”

Human rights lawyers, dissidents, and “bad” online “Big Vs” (the term in China for influential opinion leaders whose identities are certified and who have large numbers of followers on Weibo, a Chinese social platform) are targets subject to control and supervision. The document demands that officials “take strict precautions to prevent (human rights activists, dissidents, and Big Vs) from
- engaging in activities that disrupt political security and social stability;
- colluding with anti-Chinese western forces;
- absolutely forbid leaders from emerging from among the dissidents; and
- absolutely forbid the formation of an opposing political faction.”

As for human rights organizations and other types of illegal groups and their activities, the document states that
- officials must “promptly persuade those that can be persuaded to disband, and resolutely crack down on those who won’t listen to dissuasion and insist on continuing their activities.”
- The CCP lists Falun Gong, The Church of Almighty God, and other religious groups that are deemed to fraternize with foreign powers as primary targets for “Color Revolution” prevention.

Overall, the push for mass surveillance highlights the challenges facing advocates for religious freedom and human rights in China. But it also highlights the current fear gripping the regime that they could be vulnerable to a Color Revolution of their own.

I suppose if it was that easy for Jorge Bergoglio to dismiss the millions of murders committed by the Communists against their own people as 'things of the past', at the time he was trying to wangle any agreement he could from Beijing, now that he has that agreement - however oppressive and wrong it is for the Church and for the Catholics of China - how much easier it is for him to just ignore the new repressions ordered by his new partners.

It's the same moral relativism that makes him condone and justify Islamist terrorist acts. A relativism that he brings to preposterous heights when dealing with Catholics - in which he claims that 'sins below the belt' are minor sins but 'crimes against the environment' are unforgivable. This is a pope who has gladly exchanged the Ten Commandments for whatever the United Nations dictates.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2019 8:26 PM]
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New statutes for the Vatican's
Office of General Auditor

But there is still no auditor since the very first one, Libero Milone, was sacked in 2017
for alleged embezzlement and espionage, only to be told by the Vatican last year that
the criminal investigation against him was closed and there would be no charges filed

[Yet another duplicitous and highly suspicious operation by the Bergoglio Vatican]


Vatican City, Feb 12, 2019 (CNA) - The Vatican's general auditor has new statutes, conferred recently by Pope Francis, that will bring financial audits of Vatican offices into greater conformity with United Nations agreements.

With a Feb. 9 motu proprio issued the new norms for the Vatican’s Office of the General Auditor; they will become become effective on Feb. 16.

The general auditor oversees an annual financial assessment of each department, or dicastery, of the Roman Curia, the group of offices that assists the pope in his governance of the Church.

Signed by Pope Francis on Jan. 21, 2019, the new statutes describe general auditor’s office as the “Vatican anti-corruption body.”

The former statutes of the office were published on Feb. 22, 2015.

While the auditor had previously been charged with working in “full autonomy and independence,” the new norms call for the auditor to collaborate with the Vatican’s Council for the Economy, which is charged with approving the auditor’s annual audit procedure.

Despite the change, the Vatican has insisted that the new norms do not diminish the authority of the auditor’s office.

In a Vatican News op-ed Feb. 9, Vatican spokesman Andrea Tornielli, said the norms give the auditor more authority to review financial records than he previously had.

What is the guiding principle of the reform, then?

In the first place, the new statutes fulfill the Holy See’s international agenda by placing the auditor in the context of international law governing financial oversight. The statutes describe the auditor as the “anti-corruption authority,” a term that complies with the United Nation’s Mérida Convention, the anti-corruption multilateral legal tool the Holy See signed in 2016.

The Mérida Convention also provides some rules to control public procurements. The Holy See complies with those norms by giving the auditor the task to “review particular situations about: anomalies in the employment or attribution of material and financial resources; irregularities in assigning public procurements or in operating transfers or alienation of goods; acts of corruption and fraud.”

The issue of public procurements is crucial in the Vatican, where there is no market, nor private sector.

The statutes and rules of reporting harmonize the work of various entities involved auditing the Vatican finances. All of these entities are now given a specific and well outlined task.

The auditor is also requested to “inform the Council of the Economy via the review committee of the council, about mishandling it might find out,” and to send “a report to the Financial Intelligence Authority when there are grounded reasons to suspect that funds, goods, activities, economic initiatives or transactions are connected to money laundering or financing of terrorism.”

The auditor must also report the “the Vatican City State’s judicial authority every crime detected during its activity”.

The statutes also commit the auditor to “report every three month to the review committee of the Council of the Economy on its work done and ongoing.”

The statutes also regulate the activities of external auditors and subject them to clear oversight,

The issue of using external auditors has been a point of discussion since 2016. At issue was the question of whether, given that Vatican City is a sovereign state, and not a company, it is appropriate that its financial books undergo external auditing.

The Holy See’s sovereignty insists on the independent, albeit small, territory of the Vatican City State, which like any other independent nation has its internal jurisdiction and legislation, and is involved in international relations.

This sovereignty implies that the Vatican dicasteries are considered on par with the ministries of any other country – which includes a level of confidentiality in handling their budgets.

The discussion was about how to introduce international accountability standards within a state system, finding a balance between the needs of a manager and those of a governor.

This discussion led to the new statutes. In a first phase, the Vatican financial reform marked certain discontinuity, and raised some issues. As a response, the reforming process was not halted, but was rather included in a wider framework, which involves the Curia and the Vatican City State.

The next step will be that of appointing a general auditor. Between 2015 and 2017, Libero Milone was the auditor, but he was fired after grave allegations of espionage and embezzlement.

In 2018, Vatican prosecutors informed Milone’s lawyers that a criminal investigation against him was closed and no charges were going to be filed.
[Does not Milone deserve a public apology for his apparently groundless sacking?]


In the interests of transparency...
By Phil Lawler

February 12, 2019


The Vatican has released new statutes governing the office of its Auditor General. Which would be nice, if the Vatican had an Auditor General.

Sure, there’s an office of the Auditor General, and Vatican officials evidently considered it important to define the rights and responsibilities of that office. But they haven’t yet found it important to fill the office.

The last Auditor General, Libero Milone, resigned in June 2017. He had been appointed to the post in June 2015, as part of the Vatican’s drive to establish transparency in financial affairs. Two years later he was gone, and nearly two years after that he hasn’t been replaced.

If you’re cynical, the Vatican’s tardiness in appointing a successor—while Milone’s old deputy, Alessandro Cassinis Righini, holds the fort—might make you question that professed commitment to transparency. But you haven’t heard the half of it yet.

Milone’s resignation was abrupt, and obviously not voluntary. Leading Vatican officials said that he had abused his office, and criminal charges were likely. Milone countered that he was being framed, probably because he had uncovered evidence of serious wrongdoing. Milone said that his offices had been bugged; other Vatican officials charged that the auditor had bugged their offices.

Clearly, no matter who was telling the truth, there was some sort of skullduggery going on. It would have been interesting—not to mention conducive to the cause of transparency—to investigate those charges and counter-charges and establish the truth. Instead, after months of silence, the Vatican announced that there would be no criminal charges against Milone.

The whole lurid affair was buried. Secrecy, in this case, may serve the interests of the accused, or it may serve the interests of compromised Vatican officials. It sure doesn’t serve the interests of transparency.

When Milone’s resignation was announced, in June of 2017, the Vatican assured the world that his successor would be named “as soon as possible.” Maybe it’s hard to find qualified auditors in Rome. More likely it’s hard to find capable auditors who are willing to play by the Vatican’s peculiar rules.

The wonder of it all is how the Bergoglio Vatican manages to register so many 'own goal' errors - especially when things are so obvious even to a seven-year-old who has just begun to acquire reason.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2019 1:27 PM]
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As a McCarrick verdict looms,
the Vatican still faces rough waters

With just ten days to go to the much-hyped but now officially downplayed 'summit' on sex abuses,
there is no clear statement—because there does not appear to be any clear vision—of its nature or scope
[Moreover there's the pope's personal involvement in some very public instances of episcopal misconduct]

by Christopher Altieri

February 11, 2019

The world waits on tenterhooks for the announcement—expected, according to some sources, as early as Tuesday—of a verdict (and presumably a penal sentence) in the case of the disgraced former archbishop of Washington, DC, Theodore Edgar McCarrick.

That story will dominate headlines for a couple of days, at least, but the truth is: it doesn’t matter very much what Pope Francis decides to do with Uncle Ted. Where and how and in what state of life an 88-year-old pervert lives out his last days are less significant than what happens next.
- Will he carry his secrets to the grave, or will he unburden himself?
- Will there be an investigation worth the name, into who knew what about McCarrick, and when, and where, and at what level of governance in the Church?
- Or will McCarrick be sent out into the desert as a scapegoat?

Patient and disciplined voices have grown strained, and some, strident. Usually as unimpeachably civil as she is forthright, Irish abuse-survivor and victim-advocate Marie Collins took to social media to lambaste McCarrick’s expected penal laicization, saying, “The Vatican believes it will be good publicity, convinced that ‘zero tolerance’ is being implemented when it is NOT and take the heat out of the questions about who knew and when — including the powers that be in the Vatican!”

Collins made her statement on Twitter as she retweeted John Allen’s latest analysis piece, in which the usually circumspect Crux editor bluntly stated, “If Francis and his advisers want the McCarrick case to be wrapped up before the summit later this month, therefore, just laicizing him won’t do the trick... They’ll also need to explain how we got to a point where such a move is necessary—and, of course, offer some reason to believe we won’t be here again.”

That essay followed one from February 7, which Allen closed by eviscerating the Pope’s attempts to deflate expectations surrounding the meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences, on child protection: “Reasonable people likely would agree that expecting the pope to uphold his own public commitments hardly seems ‘inflated’...In less than a month, we’ll find out whether Francis thinks so too.”

Allen’s February 7 analysis was in one respect too generous to the powers at the Vatican.

“Twice now,” Allen wrote, “and with ascending levels of authority, we’ve been cautioned not to expect too much from the summit on clerical sexual abuse Pope Francis has called for Feb. 21-24 for the presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world.” That’s true, as far as the explicit warnings against expecting too much are concerned. However, the work to manage expectations began months ago, and has been transparently coordinated.

The fact is, the papal apparatchiks have been talking out of both sides of their mouths.
[Tried and true m.o. in this pontificate of lies and deception.]

From one side, we hear, “[The February meeting] is a very important start of a global process which will take quite some time to perfect,” as Archbishop Charles Scicluna put it in an interview with America.

From the other, we hear, “[T]his is not a ‘year-zero’ in the fight against abuse, because in the last 16 years many significant and concrete steps have been taken,” as Vatican Media’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, stated in a January 10 editorial for Vatican News. “The rules on how to respond have been established and strengthened by the will of recent popes,” Tornielli said.

“It’s important to note that by calling a global meeting he understands this to be a global issue, and he wants to reinforce our shared commitment as a church to establishing responsiveness, accountability, and transparency,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago—another senior member of the February meeting’s steering committee—told Crux in a November 23 interview.

Just today, the director of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Father Hans Zöllner, SJ, told Crux, “There can be no one-size-fits-all guideline for the whole Church, because our languages do not translate certain concepts, the law systems are completely different, the political and social situations are very diverse.” [Well, DUH! Obviously the coming 'summit' was quickly thought up as a PR move meant to allay the general outrage against the US Church from the serial revelations last year of clerical sex abuse in high and low places and outright episcopal abuse of power largely ignored by the Vatican. But there can have been no realistic expectation that a four-day gabfest couldcome up with anything more than the usual empty gab presented in the sleekest PR package that the Bergoglio Vatican can think of.]

That may be an academic point, since Pope Francis has already let it be known that new policy is not on the agenda at all.

There is no clear statement—because there does not appear to be any clear vision—of the nature or the scope of the meeting.
- The approach of the Vatican—and the Pope—has been almost completely opaque.
- This state of affairs may well serve the short-term purpose of so lowering expectations as to make any movement in any direction look like progress and provide the Vatican with the thinnest of pretexts for declaring the meeting successful.

Meanwhile, the reigning pontiff is personally implicated in the cover-up of gross immorality and other malfeasance—quite possibly criminal—allegedly committed by Gustavo Zanchetta, a man Francis made a bishop in his native Argentina.

Francis quietly accepted Zanchetta’s resignation and created a position for him in a powerful department of the Roman Curia; it has been alleged that he did so after having seen evidence of Zanchetta’s misdeeds, which are said to include sexual impropriety with seminarians.

Before Pope Francis stands an ineluctable fact, with which he will have to reckon sooner or later: credibility—his own, and that of his office—is threatened not only by his heretofore disappointing record of leadership with regard to a crisis he largely inherited, but directly and immediately by his own involvement.

So he'll defrock McCarrick who has long outlived his usefulness to him, and is now nothing but a hugely embarrassing millstone around his neck - as Jesus rightly described sexual crimes - that Bergoglio nevertheless has to drag around until he comes clean on the matter.
- But will he ever admit that, despite Vigano spelling out the facts for him about McCarrick in June 2013, he still went on nevertheless to entrust him with his most delicate diplomatic missions and to appoint his proteges, at the latter's recommendation obviously, to highly sensitive and important positions in the Church?
- And what will he do about Zanchetta?
- Or about his new deputy Secretary of State, Edgar Parra, saddled with plausible charges of sexual misconduct, but protege apparently of
- Cardinal Maradiaga, Bergoglio's Vice Pope, who still has to be made to answer formally for his implied complicity in the sexual and financial misdeeds of his longtime auxiliary bishop in Tegucigalpa, since constrained to resign.

That's just limiting ourselves to Bergoglio's most egregious unaccounted actions as pope on this issue. What about the equally egregious and well-documented cases of tolerance if not outright defense of abusive priests and bishops when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires?

If AP, the New York Times and Der Spiegel had but a fraction of similar facts to slap Benedict XVI in the face with, they need not have wasted their pooled resources and time to find any sex misdeed or cover-up they could directly attribute to Joseph Ratzinger, hoping thereby to force his resignation back in 2009-2010.

The terrible reality is that Jorge Bergoglio, prima facie, from the known facts, is guiltier by far than any of the bishops and priests whose misdeeds his summit is supposed to consider. Any one of the cases mentioned - and who knows how many there are we don't know about - is just as bad, if not probably worse, than the shameless protection and cover-up Cardinal Mahoney gave his bishops for decades, and even - considering Bergoglio's personal claim to holiness devoutly upheld by his disciples, followers and assorted thurifers - worse than McCarrick's litany of abuses.

Yet, despite all that, why all the seenoevil-hearnoevil-speaknoevil armor that the worldwide media have cast around the figure of Jorge Bergoglio???



McCarrick may be sanctioned,
but the cover-up continues

By Phil Lawler

February 12, 2019

According to multiple reliable sources in Rome, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick will soon be laicized—defrocked—in punishment for multiple instances of sexual misconduct.

The Vatican will announce the penalty, apparently, just before the long-awaited meeting of the sex-abuse problem. That’s not a coincidence. The spin-control experts in Rome will say, in effect: “See? Now even a powerful cardinal has been held accountable. We’re really getting serious.”

Not so fast.

The sentence of laicization will be imposed on McCarrick, and McCarrick alone. What about the many other prelates who knew of his misconduct for years, did nothing to curb it, and even advanced his ecclesiastical career? If justice is to be served, they too must be held accountable.

The penalty on McCarrick, as John Allen has observed in his own perceptive handling of the story, “is mostly symbolic.” He retired thirteen years ago, he has already been suspended from ministry and stripped of his dignity as a cardinal; he is now 88 years old, still has many powerful friends, and will undoubtedly live out his remaining years in relative comfort.

More to the point, the crimes of which McCarrick has reportedly been convicted occurred decades ago. According to Archbishop Vigano, the Vatican was aware of those crimes by 2000, Pope Benedict had ordered McCarrick to retire from public life, and Pope Francis was aware of that disciplinary sanction in 2013. Still McCarrick remained in the public eye, and retained considerable influence within the Church.

Since Archbishop Vigano made those shocking disclosures, many people have questioned his motives. But no one has found any substantive error in his testimony. On the contrary, the little evidence that has emerged has supported Vigano.
- Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, who once served with the archbishop at the apostolic nunci
- ature in Washington, remarked simply: “Vigano said the truth.” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who for years headed the Vatican office that handles such paperwork, confirmed that serious complaints about McCarrick had reached Rome at least by 2000.
- Even Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who scolded Vigano for airing his complaints in public, acknowledged that Pope Benedict XVI had “strongly advised” McCarrick to maintain “a discreet style of life, of prayer and penance for his own good and that of the Church.”

So why is McCarrick only facing canonical disciplinary action now, so many years later? Defenders of Pope Francis have argued that some of the blame should fall on Pope Benedict, who chose to act quietly, and even on Pope John Paul II, who raised McCarrick to the College of Cardinals. Fair enough. But the failures of those former Pontiffs do not give Pope Francis an excuse for giving McCarrick a new lease on ecclesiastical influence.

We cannot hope to unravel this scandal until we understand how McCarrick came to power. How did he escape punishment—and even climb up the hierarchical ladder—even when his misconduct was an open secret? Who were his patrons in Rome?

Archbishop Vigano has told us where to look for the answers to these questions: in the archives of the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for Bishops, in the files of the apostolic nunciature in Washington. The relevant documents are safe from subpoena by any American prosecutor; they are under the Vatican’s sovereign control.

But the Vatican could make them available. And until they are examined, by trustworthy independent investigators, please don’t ask us to believe that a symbolic penalty on an aged prelate represents a new commitment to accountability.

The cover-up continues.

Robert Moynihan's commentary on the expected McCarrick verdict is interesting because he is the first to question the process that the Vatican has used to investigate the charges for which he - from all accounts - will be punished by laicization... Whatever one thinks of McCarrick, he is still entitled to due process. Did he get due process? If he didn't, why not? Was it to expedite a verdict returned in time for this month's summit on clerical sex abuse? (Er...'on the protection of minors', I think, is the p.c. name for the meeting.) Or perhaps, the Vatican did ask McCarrick to answer the charges and he refused - to avoid telling further lies and/or to avoid self-incriminating answers, who knows?

McCarrick and after
by Robert Moynihan
February 11, 2019

Insistent rumors have been circulating today that a judgment regarding the sexual abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore "Ted" McCarrick, 88, will be announced by Rome tomorrow.

The rumor is that he will be found guilty of having sexually abused minors, and laicized.

Whether or not this is the case, it is common knowledge that the Vatican would like to bring some closure on the McCarrick case — which was at the center of the August 22, 2018 "bombshell" Testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano of a widespread "coverup by the hierarchy of McCarrick's alleged decades of abusive activity toward or molestation of seminarians — prior to the long-awaited "sexual abuse summit" in Rome from February 21 to 24, summoned by Pope Francis in the fall, after the Vigano "bomb" detonated.

So some decision from Rome prior to February 20, that is, in the next eight days, has for some time been widely anticipated. It may be true that some decision is about to be announced.

I see two areas of questioning in this matter.
- First, the trial of McCarrick himself, and any judgement on the accusations against him.
- Second, the circumstances surrounding McCarrick's career, and his rise in the hierarchy, in the light of allegations that there was some sort of "coverup" in his case orchestrated by specific people in the hierarchy above him.

Regarding the first area:
- Has McCarrick, who has been living for months in Oklahoma, received a fair trial?
- How did this trial unfold?
- Did he himself offer any self-defense? Did he testify under oath regarding the charges against him?
- Did he enter any sort of plea? If so, when did this occur, and in what form?
- Is there any record of this testimony, and if so, will any of his testimony be made public?

Regarding the second area:
This concerns the matter of an alleged hierarchical coverup. For the McCarrick affair is not just about McCarrick.
- It is about how McCarrick was for decades judged and "vetted" by his superiors, how he was, step-by-step, promoted from a rather unimportant bishopric (Metuchen, New Jersey) to arguably the single most important post in the Church in the United States (archbishop of the capital, Washington D.C.).
- And, in this regard, it is not unimportant to ask what type of relationship McCarrick may have had with elements of the United States government, as a bridge between that government and the hierarchy of the Church.
- Who evaluated McCarrick and his character, his work, his possible weaknesses? Who assessed these reports?
- To what extent will this aspect of the case be addressed?
- Was any part of this aspect of the "McCarrick affair" investigated in relation to his trial?
- Were any witnesses questioned in addition to his accusers? If so, is any of this testimony to be made public?

If the Vatican does not address this second aspect of the McCarrick case in a detailed, comprehensive way — despite the fact that Vigano, and others, have alleged that the Church hierarchy in some way facilitated McCarrick's rise — then the announcement of a judicial decision in the McCarrick case, limited to the vindication or the condemnation and consequent laicization of the man, would be insufficient.

It would leave one-half of the McCarrick case unaddressed, one half of the questions in the case -- and the most important half -- unanswered.

It would not bring closure on this matter, nor would it dispense true justice.


Marco Tosatti writes this today for Bussola...

McCarrick: The final act of the drama?
Not so fast. Not until the Vatican explains who covered up
and protected him during his rise to power -
i.e., his patrons before Bergoglio came on the scene

by Marco Tosatti
Translated from

February 13, 2019

Insistent voices say the Vatican will announce its verdict on ex Cardinal McCarrick today, namely his reduction to lay status. But that does not do away with the heavy shadows over this case. Starting with the ‘trial process’ about which no one knows anything, to the deliberate pall that seems to protect ranking members of the Vatican hierarchy who protected and covered up for McCarrick until the Vatican was finally constrained to be seen to nail him for sexual misconduct.

Among those who predicted the announcement today is the para-Vatican website Il Sismografo, alleging that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith closes its administrative inquiry today into some of the charges levelled against McCarrick, and that in fact, the sentence has already been decided: to reduce him to lay status.

It is said that the inquiry proceeded apace because the pope wished that the McCarrick scandal be ‘resolved’ before the coming summit among the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences. Probably the sentence also reflects the need on the part of the pope to enter the summit with an aureole of ‘zero tolerance’ for clerical and episcopal sex abuses – whoever the victims are – considering that he himself is ‘under suspicion’ not just for how he favored McCarrick but also his other questionable proteges (Mons. Barros of Chile, Fr. Grassi in Argentina, Mons. Zanchetta, his spiritual son, for whom he created a special post at APSA, are just the first three that come to mind).

This unusual ‘rush to judgment’ raises important questions, underscored by Robert Moynihan, founder and editor of the magazine Inside the Vatican. [Tosatti here cites the questions raised by Moynihan in the letter posted above.]

But there’s a second area of questioning which is just as important, if not more, than the punishment of someone found guilty of the charges levelled against him. Which is: How was it that for decades, McCarrick was protected and promoted and favored – until Benedict XVI imposed restrictions/sanctions on him in 2008, which were promptly lifted as soon as Jorge Bergoglio became pope.

The inquiry probably did not get into Uncle Ted’s network of enabler friends in the Vatican – which is one of the main causes for the indignation of many Catholics over the McCarrick case, and not just American Catholics.

As John Allen wrote quite rightly – and he certainly cannot be accused of belonging to the ‘conservatives’ or ‘anti-Bergoglians’:

“What’s angered people from the beginning about the McCarrick scandal isn’t simply the pattern of behavior that’s been exposed, which may be especially galling because it involves an ex-cardinal but which, in itself, is sadly familiar.

What’s created the deep sense of frustration one senses at the Catholic grassroots is the perception that senior authority figures in the Church were aware of concerns about McCarrick but continued to move him up the ladder, often for reasons of politics and self-interest… The real demand has been for full disclosure about who knew what, and when - who propelled his rise to power, and what did they know about the rumors and reports concerning McCarrick at the time?”[/dim


Neither Moynihan nor Allen mention him – but this was the whole point of former Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony which has remained unanswered. Who named the names of those in the Vatican who covered up for McCarrick during his ecclesial ascent, and who said he spelled out McCarrick’s misconduct record to Pope Francis in June 2013. Which obviously had no effect on Bergoglio [who instead used McCarrick as his personal envoy on diplomatic missions to China, Cuba and Venezuela and turned to him for advice on US episcopal appointments, whereby McCarrick elevated his proteges to cardinal (Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, to name the most outrageous)].

It took a 2018 archdiocesan investigation in New York of sexual abuses alleged to have been committed by McCarrick on a New York resident when the latter was 16 years old, back in 1971 - whose accusations were found ‘credible and substantiated’ - to finally move the pope to do something about McCarrick. [In announcing the findings in June 2018, the Archbishop of New York also said that the Vatican had ordered McCarrick to withdraw from public ministry. Which is exactly what Benedict ordered in 2008 and which Bergoglio saw fit to ignore. The following month, July, the pope accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.]

But to this day, neither the Pope nor any of the cardinals and other prelates named in Mons Viganò's August 2018 Testimony have denied the ex-Nuncio’s specific charges against them. Indeed, a letter to Viganò from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops – written, he said, with the permission of the pope [more likely, ordered by the pope] – was critical of Viganò but confirmed that Benedict XVI had indeed imposed ecclesiastical restrictions on McCarrick, the veracity of which the pro-Bergoglio press had impugned.

[Meanwhile, the climate was further poisoned by the release at the start of August of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, which detailed clerical sex abuses committed by priests in that state over a period of …, and in which prominently mentioned as a figure in some of the cover-ups was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, another McCarrick protégé who succeeded him as Archbishop of Washington. Wuerl’s subsequent woes are another story. The end of August saw the publication of Mons Vigano’s first Testimony.]

Eventually, in October, a note from the Holy See replied somewhat to the requests for clarity on the McCarrick case that were mounting in the Catholic world. It said, in part:

The Holy See will, in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick. Moreover, with reference to other accusations brought against Archbishop McCarrick, the Holy Father has decided that information gathered during the preliminary investigation be combined with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick, in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively...

The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were made that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead”. Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.


That was four months ago. Since then, silence. But the questions remain, serious and unavoidable. They cast a heavy pall on the credibility of the Church hierarchy.


Explosive new book lifts lid
on gay priests in the Vatican

The author has done 1,500 interviews with dozens of cardinals,
bishops, diplomatic officials, Swiss guards, priests

by Christopher Lamb

February 12, 2019

On the day that Pope Francis’s sex abuse summit is due to start, a potentially explosive book will be published claiming to lift the lid on gay priests in the Vatican and the double lives of senior officials.

The book, “In the Closet of the Vatican”, written by French sociologist and journalist Frederic Martel, reports that around 80 per cent of clerics working in the Roman Curia are gay – although not necessarily sexually active – and details how they adhere to an unspoken code of the “closet”.

After four years of gathering material which took him across the world Martel, a non-believer who is openly gay, spent around a week a month in Rome, sometimes staying in residences inside the Vatican or on Holy See property.

He claims to have completed 1,500 interviews with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignors, 45 papal ambassadors or diplomatic officials, 11 Swiss guards and more than 200 priests and seminarians.

The book is due to be published on 21 February simultaneously in 8 languages across 20 countries and will hit stores as bishops from across the world gather to discuss how to respond to clerical sexual abuse.

Defenders of “In the Closet” say that Martel will reveal the problems of a dysfunctional clerical culture that is in denial about sex, while others argue the timing of the book’s publication will once again unfairly conflate homosexuality with sexual abuse of children and intensify a witch hunt against gay priests.

Sources say that Martel’s research reveals that while some gay priests accept their sexual orientation and a number maintain discreet long-term relationships, others live more extreme double lives through casual encounters and the use of male prostitutes, while others are in denial about their sexuality.

He is said to argue that the intra-church battles of recent decades should be read through a closeted gay paradigm. Those with knowledge of “In the Closet” say the French writer reserves his harshest criticism for senior figures in the Church who have attacked homosexuality yet are secretly gay. One of the “rules” of the Vatican’s closet, Martel argues, is that the more a cardinal or bishop denounces homosexual behaviour or same-sex couples the more likely they are to be gay.

While, sources say, Martel does not focus on the sexual abuse of children, he alleges that the secretive sexual culture among clerics made it difficult for them to denounce priests accused of abuse. “In the Closet” claims that Pope Francis has sought to break up this pattern of behaviour by repeatedly condemning priests living a “double life”. At the same time, Martel argues that in doing so he has made the Church an unstable structure for closeted gay clergy, which in turn purportedly explains some of the opposition that Francis is facing from inside the Church.


One of the most explosive claims in the book, sources reveal, centres around deceased Colombian Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo. Cardinal López Trujillo, a former President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and said to have been for many years the chief obstacle to the canonisation of St Oscar Romero, is presented as both an arch-defender of the Church’s teaching on contraception and homosexuality while also using male prostitutes.

“It is not always easy to tell when Martel is trafficking in fact, rumour, eyewitness accounts or hearsay,” says a source with knowledge of “In the Closet.”

Among those Martel interviewed was German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who agrees that some in the Vatican hide their sexuality but adds that what most worries him is not sexual orientation, but whether the Church is helping people find the way of God. [Oh please! They are surely not being helped by Kasper's laissez-faire 'Catholicism'!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2019 1:35 PM]
2/13/2019 1:18 PM
 
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What joy to see the day that one of my favorite Catholics of all time will finally be declared a saint! I can imagine what joy it brings to Benedict XVI who beatified a man who had been one of his masters of the faith.
And to the Ordinariates of whom he is the patron, particularly to Fr Hunwicke, perhaps one of the greatest scholars in our day on the life of Newman....



Pope signs decree recognising
second Newman miracle

by Christopher Altieri

February 13, 2019

Blessed John Henry Newman is headed for sainthood. Pope Francis on Tuesday authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to issue a decree attributing a miracle to the intercession of the great 19th century convert. The move clears the final hurdle in the cause of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Cause for canonisation.

The development ends months of waiting and speculation that began in November of last year, when Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth announced in a newsletter that he had seen the relatio — an official report — regarding the miracle, saying, “It looks now as if Newman might be canonised, all being well, later next year,” i.e. sometime in 2019.

The relatio attributed to the intercession of Bl. John Henry Newman the medically inexplicable healing, in Chicago, Illinois, of a pregnant woman with life-threatening complications due to her pregnancy. The Archdiocese of Chicago conducted the investigation.

The Catholic Herald confirmed Bishop Egan’s November report with the postulator for Bl. Newman’s cause, Fr Ignatius Harrison, who echoed Bishop Egan’s hopes for a speedy conclusion. “I am praying for next year,” i.e. 2019, Fr Harrison told the Herald at the time, “but there’s no way of knowing.”

The Press Office of the Holy See did not say whether a date had been set for the canonization, but the path is now clear for Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman to be declared a saint.

Pope Benedict XVI presided over the beatification of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman in Birmingham, on 19 September 2010, during his historic visit to the United Kingdom. In his homily on that occasion, Benedict praised Newman’s soaring erudition and commitment to the intellectual life in the service of the Church, as well as his pastoral zeal and sensitivity.

“The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing ‘subjects of the day’,” Pope Benedict said.

“His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world,” Pope Benedict continued.

Pope Benedict also said, “[Newman] lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison.”

In the publication of decrees released on Wednesday, Pope Francis also advanced seven other causes, including that of the Servant of God, Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, recognizing the “heroic virtues” of the churchman, who served as Archbishop of Esztergom (Hungary) for 28 years, from 1945 to 1973, and courageously resisted the encroachments of both Nazism-Fascism and Communism on the rights of the Church and of the faithful all throughout his life.

Mindszenty was arrested on charges of treason and conspiracy in 1948, convicted of treason and espionage in early 1949, and sentenced to life in prison. After serving nearly eight years, he was released during the October 1956 uprising against the Communist regime, and returned to Buda-Pest, where he immediately expressed support for the insurgents. Mere days after his release, Soviet forces moved to crush the uprising, and Mindszenty sought and received asylum at the US embassy, where he spent the next fifteen years of his life.

[One of my earliest memories is of a fascinating 'comic book' presentation of the life and suffering of Cardinal Mindszenty which was published by the United States Information Agency and freely given out in our churches and Catholic schools (and of course, the local USIS library). We discussed him in Religion class, just as we discussed St. Maria Goretti (canonized in 1950) who was held out to us, Catholic schoolgirls, as a model of chastity and sanctity despite her young age.]

On the occasion of the happy announcement from the Vatican today, Rorate caeli reprints what their contributor Fr. Richard Cipolla wrote about Newman at the time of his beatification:

Newman against religious liberalism
by Fr. Richard Cipolla
Reprinted in

February 13, 2019

We cannot let the celebration of the memory of Blessed John Henry Newman go by without recalling his remarkable prescience about the current condition of Western culture and the current situation in the Church, a situation that is itself a continuation of the troubled years since the Second Vatican Council.

The great irony—and Newman always understood irony—is that he has been invoked as the “absent Father” of that Council with respect to the role of the laity in the Church, religious freedom, and collegiality.

Those who invoke him in this way have obviously never read much Newman, for he would understand that the Church today is in the parlous state in which she finds herself precisely because those to whom her ministry has been entrusted have swallowed and digested that noxious weed decried by Newman and are patting their stomachs in self-congratulation, having succumbed to that “liberalism in religion” whose heart is what Newman called the “anti-dogmatic principle”.
- What is the current attempt to reduce doctrine to praxis if not an example of that liberalism against which Newman fought so strenuously in his own day?
- What is the gobbledygook of prelates pontificating about mercy and the "law of graduality", and the lack of true virile fatherhood among the shepherds, if not examples of that sentimentality that Newman detested and that is the acid of religion?

One can never read Newman’s Biglietto Speech in 1879 too many times. This was in a sense his last will and testament, for he who had been shunned in so many ways by the Catholic hierarchy throughout his Catholic life was given the honor of a Cardinal’s hat in the twilight of his life, and what he said in his acceptance of that honor from Pope Leo XIII, is chillingly prescient. And this not only with reference to the current situation of the Church.

Newman knew as few today understand that the creeping papalism of the past century has been and is being enabled not by traditionalism but rather by liberalism. Here is the voice of the prophet for our times from his Biglietto speech:

'For fifty years, I have resisted
the spirit of liberalism in religion'


...In a long course of years I have made many mistakes.

I have nothing of that high perfection which belongs to the writings of Saints, viz., that error cannot be found in them; but what I trust that I may claim all through what I have written, is this —an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve Holy Church, and, through Divine mercy, a fair measure of success.

And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth.

And on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often….

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily.
- It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. - It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion.
- Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous;
- And it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy…


Such is the state of things in England, and it is well that it should be realised by all of us; but it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid of it. I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth.

Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance.

Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.

Mansueti hereditabunt terram, et delectabuntur in multitudine pacis. (But the poor will inherit the earth, will delight in great prosperity.) (Psalm 36,11)


One might almost say it is Newman's voice across the decades speaking to the current 'Vicar of Christ', if we can call him that with a straight face, about his latest apostasy.


Newman’s canonization:
A summons to truth

Towards the end of his life, he saw with prophetic clarity
the unprecedented scale of the general irreligion to come

by Edward Short

February 13, 2019

Once the news came out today that John Henry Newman (1801-90) would soon be made a saint, after the Vatican announced that the pope had formally approved a second miracle attributed to the great convert’s intercession, many around the world will have rejoiced that the Servant of Truth in Newman will finally be given his proper due.

Yet to begin to understand this defining aspect of the man, we have to understand the heroic fight he undertook to combat those who sought to deny or mutilate the Truth.

When Newman was given his red hat by Leo XIII in 1879, the new cardinal made a point in his ‘biglietto speech’ to say two things about his long career, both as a Catholic and as an Anglican.

First, he meant his audience to know that he had never ceased opposing liberalism. “For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism,” he declared.

Since some in the liberal academy have an interest in misrepresenting what Newman meant by liberalism, we should let him say for himself what he meant.

“Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily.
- It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true.
- It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion.
- That revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and
- That it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. …

Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man’s religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society."



Secondly, Newman wished his auditors to appreciate that he had waged this campaign against liberalism against a definite historical backdrop.

Hitherto the civil Power has been Christian. Even in countries separated from the Church, as in my own, the dictum was in force, when I was young, that: “Christianity was the law of the land.”

Now, everywhere that goodly framework of society, which is the creation of Christianity, is throwing off Christianity. The dictum to which I have referred, with a hundred others which followed upon it, is gone, or is going everywhere; and, by the end of the century, unless the Almighty interferes, it will be forgotten. …

As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance. The general character of this great apostasia is one and the same everywhere.[dim]


For Newman, the English Reformation had been a tragedy for the unity of Christendom because it ultimately opened the door not only to apostasy but to the private judgment essential to liberalism. And liberalism gave rise to unbelief, a species of apostasy that was at the very heart of Newman’s apostolate, because it was at the heart of his recognition that there could be no re-evangelization of the English people without proper Catholic education.

Unbelief was also more insidious than the repudiation of Catholicism exacted by more formal apostasy because it was so much more prevalent in a society suffused with No Popery. Moreover, the unbelief that followed apostasy posed formidable problems for the newly reconstituted English Catholic Church. If three hundred years of Protestant Christianity had left the English radically hostile to Catholic Christianity, any attempt at reviving the Church in England would have its work cut out for it

Another ancillary problem, as Newman saw it, was that the English had apostatized twice. If their first apostasy had been from their traditional Catholic faith to the Protestant faith of the Tudors, their second caused them to abandon the Bible Christianity of the Established Church for the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which Newman saw as interchangeable with the liberalism that he spent his life combatting. (One can see this in his excoriating criticism of the Enlightenment historian, Edward Gibbon.) Again, in his ‘biglietto speech,’ there was nothing happenstance about his speaking of his fight against liberalism in the context of what he called “the great apostasia.” They went hand-in-hand.

The apostasy bred of liberalism – what he called “the all-corroding, all-dissolving scepticism of the intellect” — faced Newman throughout his long life. Indeed, it turned his two brothers away from the Christian faith, not to mention many of his dearest friends.

Towards the end of his life, when he peered into the future, he saw with prophetic clarity the unprecedented scale of the general irreligion to come.

“I am speaking of evils, which in their intensity and breadth are peculiar to these times. But I have not yet spoken of the root of all these falsehoods… The elementary proposition of this new philosophy which is now so threatening is this — that in all things we must go by reason, in nothing by faith, that things are known and are to be received so far as they can be proved. Its advocates say, all other knowledge has proof — why should religion be an exception?”


One of the reasons why Newman held such abiding sway over his contemporaries was precisely because he spoke of the character of this new faithless rationalism with such terrible accuracy.

Matthew Arnold’s younger brother, Thomas, who would later teach English literature in Newman’s Catholic University in Dublin, after converting to the Church not once but twice, to the chagrin of his wife, certainly acknowledged his debt to Newman on this score. (His wife Julia was understandably livid that his conversions had left her husband effectively unemployable in Protestant England.) In his very first letter to the Oratorian convert in 1855, he wrote from New Zealand:

My excuse for writing to you and seeking counsel from you, is that your writings have exercised the greatest influence over my mind. I will try to make this intelligible in as few words as possible.

My Protestantism which was always of the liberal sort and disavowed the principle of authority, developed itself during my residence at Oxford into a state of absolute doubt and uncertainty about the very facts of Christianity. After leaving Oxford I went up to London, and there, to my deep shame be it spoken, finding a state of doubt intolerable, I plunged into the abyss of unbelief.

You know the nature of the illusions which lead a man to this fearful state far better than I can tell you — there is a page in your lectures on the University system where you describe the fancied illumination and enlargement of mind which a man experiences after abandoning himself to unbelief, which when I read, it seemed as if you had looked into my very heart, and given in clear outline feelings and thoughts which I had had in my mind, but never thoroughly mastered.


The passage to which Arnold refers, from Newman’s Discourses on the Scope and Nature of University Education (1852), which would later be expanded into his classic The Idea of a University (1873), describes the seeming “illumination” that the mind experiences when it first

“comes across the arguments and speculations of unbelievers, and feels what a novel light they cast upon what he has hitherto accounted sacred; and still more, if it gives in to them and embraces them, and throws off as so much prejudice what it has hitherto held, and, as if waking from a dream, begins to realize to its imagination that there is now no such thing as law and the transgression of law, that sin is a phantom, and punishment a bugbear, that it is free to sin, free to enjoy the world and the flesh…”


For Newman’s part, in the midst of such factitious “illumination,” such antinomian licentiousness, he never lost sight of the fact that:

…Religion has its own enlargement, and an enlargement, not of tumult, but of peace. It is often remarked of uneducated persons, who have hitherto thought little of the unseen world, that, on their turning to God, looking into themselves, regulating their hearts, reforming their conduct, and meditating on death and judgment, heaven and hell, they seem to become, in point of intellect, different beings from what they were.

Before, they took things as they came, and thought no more of one thing than another. But now every event has a meaning; they have their own estimate of whatever happens to them; they are mindful of times and seasons, and compare the present with the past; and the world, no longer dull, monotonous, unprofitable, and hopeless, is a various and complicated drama, with parts and an object, and an awful moral.

And here it is telling that Newman should have chosen to exemplify his point by referring to the case of “uneducated persons” because, while never flagging in his advocacy of proper education – education, that is to say, where faith and reason were in equipoise, not at daggers — he was never of the now prevalent opinion that only the “educated” could somehow access the Truth.

What made Newman’s descriptions of the life of faith so captivating to so many of his contemporaries was that they were honest about the absence of faith amongst the Victorian English. If one looks at his sermons and letters one can see that he had grounds for suspecting that unbelief was much more widespread in his day than many imagined. Indeed, in the National Church, ravaged as it was by the latitudinarianism of liberal divines, unbelief was rampant. For the most part, when it came to the Christian faith, the Victorians tended to be not so much ill-formed as unformed: they were not so much apostate as pagan.

Henry Mayhew, for example, in the course of the interviews he conducted for London Labour and the London Poor (1851), found that ‘‘not three in one hundred costermongers had ever been in the interior of a church, or any place of worship, or knew what was meant by Christianity.”

The upper classes, to whom the National Church primarily catered, may have known very much more, but whether theirs was a genuine, as opposed to merely a tribal faith was highly questionable. Certainly, Newman saw a kind of travesty of Christian faith in what he called, in one of his best Anglican sermons, “The Religion of the Day” (1839),

a religion of the world... built upon worldly principle, yet pretending to be the Gospel, dropping one whole side of the Gospel, its austere character, and considering it enough to be benevolent, courteous, candid, correct in conduct, delicate — though it includes no true fear of God, no fervent zeal for His honour, no deep hatred of sin, no horror at the sight of sinners, no indignation… at the blasphemies of heretics, no jealous adherence to doctrinal truth, no especial sensitiveness about the particular means of gaining ends, provided the ends be good, no loyalty to the Holy Apostolic Church, of which the Creed speaks, no sense of the authority of religion as external to the mind: in a word, no seriousness

[Written 180 years ago ,but what a great description of the church of Bergoglio, aspiring nucleus of the one world religion which is the goal of his vaunted religious indifferentism!]

Newman, in other words, recognized that the Church could be susceptible to a rationalism of her own, which, in some respects, could be even more destructive than the world’s rationalism.

Certainly, rationalism of both the ecclesiastical and the worldly variety is still with us, though our rationalism is infinitely more ruinous than the sort adopted by the Victorians. Victorian rationalists, after all, did not set about trying to redefine something as fundamental to the “goodly framework of human society” as marriage.

What makes Newman such a lively contemporary of ours is the perspicuity with which he saw the import of this God-defying reliance on the human intellect. No one saw the battle-lines forming between Roman Catholicism and its liberal enemies as clearly as Newman.

The late Yale professor Frank Turner, whose attacks on Newman’s integrity have become such a rallying cry for Newman’s detractors, argued that Newman’s very understanding of liberalism was flawed because it was somehow lacking in specificity. My readers can judge for themselves whether Newman is vulnerable on this score.

Certainly, throughout his long life, he took up the evils posed by liberalism with commanding acuity. “I look out, then, into the enemy’s camp, and I try to trace the outlines of the hostile movements and the preparations for assault which are there in agitation against us,” Newman wrote in 1858. “The arming and the manoeuvring, the earth-works and the mines, go on incessantly; and one cannot of course tell, without the gift of prophecy, which of his projects will be carried into effect and attain its purpose, and which will eventually fail or be abandoned.” (The fact that Newman chose an analogy to trench warfare here is striking in light of the fate that awaited the Victorians’ belief in progress on the fields of Flanders.)

Newman delineated clearly enough the main lines of the liberal philosophy that would seek to discredit and dislodge the teachings of the one holy catholic and apostolic Faith from the minds and hearts of men.

”You may have opinions in religion, you may have theories, you may have arguments, you may have probabilities,” Newman portrayed his rationalist liberal arguing, “you may have anything but demonstration, and therefore you cannot have science. In mechanics you advance from sure premises to sure conclusions; in optics you form your undeniable facts into system, arrive at general principles, and then again infallibly apply them: here you have Science.”

But for the liberal rationalists, “it is absurd for men in our present state to teach anything positively about the next world, that there is a heaven, or a hell, or a last judgment, or that the soul is immortal, or that there is a God.”

In capturing the ethos of this anti-Christian rationalism so precisely, Newman captured not only the skepticism of his own age but that of ours as well.

Well, then, if Religion is just one of those subjects about which we can know nothing, what can be so absurd as to spend time upon it? what so absurd as to quarrel with others about it? Let us all keep to our own religious opinions respectively, and be content . . . upon no subject whatever has the intellect of man been fastened so intensely as upon Religion.

And the misery is, that, if once we allow it to engage our attention, we are in a circle from which we never shall be able to extricate ourselves. Our mistake reproduces and corroborates itself.

A small insect, a wasp or a fly, is unable to make his way through the pane of glass; and his very failure is the occasion of greater violence in his struggle than before. He is as heroically obstinate in his resolution to succeed as the assailant or defender of some critical battlefield; he is unflagging and fierce in an effort which cannot lead to anything beyond itself.

When, then, in like manner, you have once resolved that certain religious doctrines shall be indisputably true, and that all men ought to perceive their truth, you have engaged in an undertaking which, though continued on to eternity, will never reach its aim; and, since you are convinced it ought to do so, the more you have failed hitherto, the more violent and pertinacious will be your attempt in time to come.

And further still, since you are not the only man in the world who is in this error, but one of ten thousand, all holding the general principle that Religion is scientific, and yet all differing as to the truths and facts and conclusions of this science, it follows that the misery of social disputation and disunion is added to the misery of a hopeless investigation, and life is not only wasted in fruitless speculation, but embittered by bigotted sectarianism.

Here, one can see the satirical genius with which Newman entered into the liberal prejudices of his opponents, and it is this critical clairvoyance that makes him such an incomparable guide to the rationalism at the heart of liberalism.

At the same time, if in meeting his opponents, he could play the witty barrister, putting their arguments better than they could put them themselves, he was also a redoubtable advocate for the Truth against which liberalism has always warred. Robert Pattison, in his brilliant book, The Great Dissent: John Henry Newman and the Liberal Heresy (1991) nicely encapsulates the upshot of his advocacy. “The great virtue of Newman’s critique of liberalism is that it should exist at all,” Pattison writes.

That there should be one consistent view of the world opposed to liberalism, root and branch, sharing none of its premises and despising all of its works is an inestimable benefit, for no one more than the liberal himself.

Without some honest and unforgiving voice such as Newman’s, the liberal would be lost in the labyrinth of his own ideology. He would smugly assume that the paradoxical tenets of his creed are what Jefferson assured them they were: self-evident truths . . . The poverty of feeling without belief, the politics that is expediency, and the humanism that denies truth - all fall within the scope of Newman’s invective and receive from him no quarter. He treats the ugliest manifestations of liberalism with the contempt they deserve but rarely provoke. Newman is the master of those who dissent.

One can readily corroborate Pattison’s point by looking at Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, which Cardinal Kasper and his liberal friends have gone to such strenuous lengths to misrepresent. There, Newman cannot not have been more categorical about what he refers to as “the dogmatic principle,” his abiding riposte to the clever falsehoods of liberalism.

- That there is a truth then;
- that there is one truth;
- that religious error is in itself of an immoral nature;
- that its maintainers, unless involuntarily such, are guilty in maintaining it;
- that it is to be dreaded;
- that the search for truth is not the gratification of curiosity; - that its attainment has nothing of the excitement of a discovery;
- that the mind is below truth, not above it, and is bound, not to descant upon it, but to venerate it;
- that truth and falsehood are set before us for the trial of our hearts;
- that our choice is an awful giving forth of lots on which salvation or rejection is inscribed;
- that “before all things it is necessary to hold the Catholic faith;”
- that “he that would be saved must thus think,” and not otherwise;
- that, “if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasure, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God,”—
this is the dogmatical principle, which is strength.


In contrast to the dogmatical principle, Newman described the objections to dogma that animates liberals, and here we have no problem understanding what Newman is describing because we encounter such convictions daily in our own lives.

- That truth and falsehood in religion are but matter of opinion;
- that one doctrine is as good as another;
- that the Governor of the world does not intend that we should gain the truth;
- that there is no truth;
- that we are not more acceptable to God by believing this than by believing that;
- that no one is answerable for his opinions;
- that they are a matter of necessity or accident;
- that it is enough if we sincerely hold what we profess;
- that our merit lies in seeking, not in possessing;
- that it is a duty to follow what seems to us true, without a fear lest it should not be true;
- that it may be a gain to succeed, and can be no harm to fail; - that we may take up and lay down opinions at pleasure;
- that belief belongs to the mere intellect, not to the heart also;
- that we may safely trust to ourselves in matters of Faith, and need no other guide
this is the principle of philosophies and heresies, which is their very weakness.


In thus giving such arresting expression to the stark divide between the Truth espoused by the Church and the shibboleths of liberalism, Newman was not simply framing an abstract war of ideas. An inveterately practical man, he was deeply concerned about what the issue of doctrinaire anti-Catholicism would be. “Where men really are persuaded of all this, however unreasonable,” he asks, “what will follow?”

For Newman, liberal relativism would not be inconsequential, and the accuracy of his predictions can be verified by our own increasingly tragic experience: it would issue in “A feeling, not merely of contempt, but of absolute hatred, towards the Catholic theologian and the dogmatic teacher. The patriot abhors and loathes the partisans who have degraded and injured his country; and the citizen of the world, the advocate of the human race, feels bitter indignation at those whom he holds to have been its misleaders and tyrants for two thousand years.”

The upshot of Newman’s assessment of the gains that rationalism had made since the French Revolution was sobering. “Christianity has never yet had experience of a world simply irreligious,” he wrote in 1873.

Perhaps China may be an exception. We do not know enough about it to speak, but consider what the Roman and Greek world was when Christianity appeared. It was full of superstition, not of infidelity. There was much unbelief in all as regards their mythology, and in every educated man, as to eternal punishment. But there was no casting off the idea of religion, and of unseen powers who governed the world. When they spoke of Fate, even here they considered that there was a great moral governance of the world carried on by fated laws. Their first principles were the same as ours.

Even among the sceptics of Athens, St. Paul could appeal to the Unknown God. Even to the ignorant populace of Lystra he could speak of the living God who did them good from heaven. And so when the northern barbarians came down at a later age, they, amid all their superstitions, were believers in an unseen Providence and in the moral law. But we are now coming to a time when the world does not acknowledge our first principles.

In conclusion, if Newman devoted his life to anatomizing and combating the evils of liberalism, he was sensible enough to recognize that such evils would not be either easily or speedily removed.

After all, he was enough of a scholar of liberalism’s progress to know that it had its roots in the heresies of the Primitive Church, especially the Arian heresy, in which men sought to rationalize away the Divinity of Our Lord. Removing any heresy of that durability would not be the work of a day.

Consequently, he clearly recognized that the work he initiated would have to be carried forward by others, and it is precisely because of the necessity for this continuing charge that we should all welcome the news today that Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman will soon be canonized.

Edward Short is the author of Newman and his Contemporaries and Newman and his Family, both published by Bloomsbury, and Adventures in the Book Pages, published by Gracewing. His most recent book Newman and History has just been published by Gracewing. He lives in New York with his wife and two young children.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/14/2019 12:30 PM]
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Not that any sane unbiased person who watched the video(s) of the episode had any doubts at all, but it's a great thing for the Covington
Catholic boys to get a formal 'exoneration' from their bishop who had been among the first to rush to judgment against them the day they
represented the diocese at the annual March for Life in Washington DC....


Diocese of Covington clears Catholic boys
of any wrongdoing and calls their actions 'laudatory'

by Cassandra Fairbanks

February 13, 2019

The Diocese of Covington has exonerated the Covington Catholic students of any wrongdoing in
the viral incident following
the March for Life in January — and added that their actions were “laudatory.”

The Diocese had originally condemned the students and apologized on behalf of the students
after a liberal media mob swarmed to attack the students.



In a statement on Wednesday, Bishop Rev. Roger Foys said that an independent investigation into
the incident found that the boys did not instigate the incident and had not acted disrespectfully
as far-left Native American activist Nathan Phillips had claimed.

Though the boys had been subjected to extreme racist abuse by a group called the Black Israelites,
the investigation found that there was “no evidence that students responded with any offensive or
racist statements of their own.”

“In these past several weeks since the original video went viral, two well-worn and oft-used adages
come to mind,” the Bishop wrote. “‘Seeing is believing’ and ‘Perception is reality.’ The
immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led everyone to believe that our students had
initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became a reality.”

A mother of one of the students seen in the video told the Gateway Pundit that she is happy with
the result of the independent investigation — but wishes there had been an apology.

“I’m happy with the result of the independent investigation, and pleased to see that the bishop
supported the findings. I agree there was NO fault on the part of the kids. However, I didn’t
read an apology for the initial condemnation — that would have been nice!”
the mother
said of the Bishop’s statement.

There are over 50 celebrities, politicians, news outlets, and journalists who may be facing
defamation lawsuits over their claims about the boys in the immediate aftermath of the video
going viral.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/14/2019 5:28 AM]
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Catholics shouldn't make
the pope more than he is

[And what are to do when the present Vicar of Christ refuses
to even mention Christ in the presence of non-Christians?]

by Peter Kwasniewski

February 13, 2019

A one-year-old blog known as “Where Peter Is” — a sort of inverse image of OnePeterFive — features writing from ardent defenders of Pope Francis.

Recognizing that Catholicism is inherently a religion of Tradition, the blog avoids the awkwardness of patent contradiction between earlier magisterial teaching and Francis’s “creativity” by arguing that Tradition equals “what the pope says.” Therefore, Catholics must assent to Amoris Laetitia, the abolition of the death penalty, human fraternity among a plurality of divinely willed religions, and every other kind of novelty “proposed” by the pope.

The heart of the argument is the claim that the pope and bishops are the “interpreters of tradition,” such that we cannot even know what Catholic doctrine is unless we are told what it is by the pope and bishops.
- It has no existence in itself, apart from their acknowledgment and exposition of it.
- And if they say something is Catholic doctrine, or is somehow “part of tradition” — even if it sounds very different from what other popes and bishops used to teach, or even if it’s never been said before by anyone — that’s okay, because tradition is, after all, what the current pope and bishops tell us it is or isn’t.

In this perspective, no one could ever have a legitimate disagreement with a pope, because such a one would be pitting his own “private interpretation” against the interpreter set up by God.
- This brand of ultramontanism elevates all papal statements and policies into authoritative dictates that ought to be trusted on faith as God’s will for us today and, accordingly, should never be criticized.


The basic difficulty with this approach is that it makes a hash out of any claim of consistency of teaching on the part of the Catholic Church.
- If there has been unanimity from the time of the Old and New Testaments to yesterday on the question of the legitimacy of capital punishment, but then Pope Francis can suddenly declare it contrary to the Gospel and to human dignity (as he very clearly does in his October 11, 2017 address), where are we? Where does that leave us?
- This line of argument empties Catholicism of any objective content whatsoever and makes the pope the master rather than the servant of tradition.

Something is wrong if a pope one fine day can make a statement that renders inaccurate or unusable an entire library full of previously approved catechetical, apologetic, theological, and spiritual writings.

See how different the understanding is of Pope Benedict XVI, who said in a homily in 2005:

The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the Faith.

The pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law.
- On the contrary: the pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word.
- He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism. …

The pope knows [not this pope, unfortunately] that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage.
- Thus, his power is not being above the Word of God, but at the service of it.
- It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.


This is what everyone had always believed to be the role of the papacy. The pope was expected to make his magisterium conform to a Tradition that already existed as a God-given measure for all believers.

This view furnishes the basis on which the Third Council of Constantinople saw itself as competent to issue a crystal-clear condemnation and anathematization of the deceased Pope Honorius, a judgment Pope Leo II endorsed and indeed repeated in his own right.

It explains the shadow that lies over the name of Pope Liberius in the West, as a vacillator who gave encouragement to enemies of the Faith.

The original ultramontanists of the 19th century could be forgiven for their enthusiasm. The popes of the Counter-Reformation and post-revolutionary period in Europe were generally as committed to traditional dogma as can possibly be imagined; the popes from Gregory XVI to Pius XI in particular were anti-modern(ist) to the core. They were the heroes fighting the drift into total secularism.

We are, regrettably, in a very different place. One who reads Pope St. Pius X’s Pascendi Dominici Gregis today would find it difficult not to see the opinions he is condemning in the very words of Pope Francis and his supporters.

Note how carefully Benedict XVI, in the quotation above, chooses his every word. He says: “The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the Faith.”

In other words, it is not involuntary, like the reflex motion of a knee struck with a doctor’s rubber mallet.
- Each bishop, including the bishop of Rome, must make a voluntary submission of mind and heart to the Faith, and he can fail to do so in the vast realm of statements, decisions, and actions that fall outside the confines of papal infallibility as defined by Vatican I.
- If a pope’s failure to submit himself to Sacred Tradition and to defend it strenuously is notorious enough, it merits blame and condemnation.

Pope Benedict continues: “He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.”

Implied in this “must” is an “ought”: he ought not to proclaim his own ideas, but bind himself and the Church to what is true, regardless of the pressure of progressive elites, with their humanistic opposition to the death penalty or their utilitarian view of marital permanence or their perverse enforcement of “sex education.”

As for “not tearing to pieces the Word of God by continuous changes in usage,” it seems that the current Roman pontiff never received the memo.
- In almost every area of the Church’s life, he has attempted to change what his predecessors — including the popes immediately before him — had established.
- Humanae Vitae? Courageous for its time, but we’re beyond that now.
- Veritatis Splendor? Oh, scholastic moral theology no longer corresponds to the new needs of today.
- Familiaris Consortio? Never mind…

[Probably the worst Bergoglian offense against Revelation, Tradition and Magisterium is his implicit but obvious dismissal of DOMINUS IESUS, the document that reiterated for the Church and for the world the basis of our faith in Christ is the only Savior...

No matter what he may say or write pro forma, citing Christ and even extolling him, in carrying out his intra-Church functions as pope, he never speaks or acts like he is the Vicar of Christ when he addresses the world and/or in the company of non-Christians. As if the very mention of Christ to them would be offensive and therefore politically incorrect.

It is far worse than if Muslims would omit the second phrase in their ritual formulation of their faith, "there is only one God, and Mohammed is his prophet". Because Christ is God himself in the oneness and of the Trinity, not just his prophet. In his dhimmitude not just to Islam but to the universal secular religion of political correctness, Jorge Bergoglio is not just anti-Catholic but anti-Christ himself. Does being anti-Christ amount to being the Anti-Christ? That is a question history will answer about Bergoglio.]


In the fourth century, during the Arian crisis that swept through the Church, most of the bishops stopped defending Catholic Tradition. To put it bluntly, they were heretics, borderline or blatant. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and just a few others whom we now revere as confessors of the Faith claimed that their brother bishops — in the hundreds — were renegades.

Did this mean that all of those bishops ceased to be successors of the apostles? No. Did they lose their authority to govern? No. They remained what they were divinely ordained to be. But they were not living up to the demands of their office; they were not living by the charism of truth entrusted to them.
- If a pope or bishop is automatically trustworthy, where is the room for free will — his or ours?
- Where is the room for collaboration with, or stubborn resistance to, God’s grace?
St. Athanasius was faithful to the office that Christ gave him, but he was hounded out of his see multiple times by his opponents and died from maltreatment at the hands of Arians and Semi-Arians who had the backing of “successors of the apostles.” The laity supported Athanasius because they recognized in his doctrine the truth of the Faith proclaimed immutably at Nicaea.

Having an apostolic office makes a bishop worthy of honor and obedience
- but he still has to work out his own salvation in fear and trembling, like everyone else.
- He still has to profess the Faith by an act of free will supported by God’s grace.
- He still has to submit to the same tradition to which every other Catholic from the day of Pentecost to the Second Coming has to submit.

And, if I may be allowed to lapse into slang, he can blow it big time, just like the rest of us. As it says in Scripture, the mighty, if they fail, shall be mightily tormented (Wis. 6:6). It’s not for nothing that Dante puts popes and bishops in his Inferno.
- Catholics who protest the novelties of Francis are not setting up their “private interpretation” against “God’s interpretation.” - We are looking at the witness of 20 centuries, 21 councils, and 265 popes preceding this one and seeing contradictions on any number of points, using our God-given gift of reason, which can indeed tell us infallibly that two plus two equals four and cannot equal five.

“What good, then, is having a pope?” someone might be tempted to ask. This frustration occurs only for those who have an exaggerated notion of the pope’s role.
- For the most part, Catholics throughout history have been able to ignore what the pope is doing, because they already knew their faith — what they had to believe, pray for, do, and shun.
- For its part, Vatican I is clear about the specific circumstances within which the Church’s infallibility is engaged by her earthly head.
- The pope is supposed to be “where the buck stops” when there is a dispute that cannot be otherwise resolved.
- He is meant to be, as Cardinal Newman says, a remora or barrier against doctrinal innovation, not an engine for doctrinal development, let alone a chatterbox sharing his personal opinions. - In fact, the gravity of the papal office is such, and so great the responsibility, that a pope should be characterized by saying rather less than most bishops or priests do, rather than more. He should be a man of few and serious words.

We are duty-bound to pray for our shepherds — and then, with a cheerful countenance and a jaunty step, get on with our daily lives as Catholics.
- For most of her history, the Church has bustled along in her mission, without waiting to hear the latest homily or address (much less airplane interview) by the pope, or counting the votes of the bishops at the latest synod.
- What we need to believe and to do has been laid out for us for a long time, with no possibility that it will ever be changed.

The city of Rome houses the bones of at least a hundred popes, most of whom are forgotten by all but historians. Visitors to St. Peter’s basilica walk past one sarcophagus after another as they proceed toward the confessio to pay homage to the Prince of the Apostles.

Soon, the wretched papacy under which we now suffer will be past, as we draw closer, step by step, to the final confrontation of Christ with Antichrist. Let the dead bury the dead; let modernists bury modernists. “As for you,” says the Lord to each of us, “follow Me.”

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As he approaches his 92nd birthday - First photo we have seen so far of the Emeritus Pope in 2019. Thanks to a regional Swiss newspaper and Beatrice's resourcefulness

It's not unexpected that as he advances in age and infirmity - he turns 92 in April - we shall see less and less of Benedict XVI in photographs with persons he receives privately
at Mater Ecclesiae. God willing, we hope to see him at a public event for the canonization of John Henry Newman, one of his early teachers in the faith.


Benedict XVI meets head of
Swiss 'Aid to Church in Need'


February 7, 2019

A personal audience with the pope is a unique experience. In January 2019, Jan Probst, director of the Swiss branch of Aid to the Church in Need based in Lucerne had this honor [meeting wth emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican].

Probst said that during their meeting, it was clear that the Emeritus considers the Church today 'a great family that finds itself in increasingly more difficult straits'. Which is why the former pope thinks it is even more important today for Catholics to live their faith in a consistent manner.

According to Probst, Benedict XVI who, despite his physical infirmities, takes an obvious spiritual interest in the affairs of the world, is astonishingly informed and frank on a huge spectrum of subjects. The situation of persecuted Christians is of special concern to this 91-year-old man, who asks Europe not to forget them.

Thus, he expressed a tribute to the worldwide work of Aid to the Church in Need which, he said, was ‘essential’ to the survival of persecuted Christians in today’s world. He sent his thanks to all who, together with Aid to the Church in Need, work in the interests of all Chritians who are oppressed and suffering.

The Emeritus Pope spent 25 minutes with Probst, who spoke of him as a ‘a man of silent prayer - truly a great sign given to us by God”. Benedict XVI asked Probst not to fail to convey his greetings to the people of der schoenen Schweiz, ‘beautiful Switzerland'.


As Benedict XVI approaches 92 - just one year younger than Leo XIII was when he died (the oldest pope) - expect his critics to become even more vicious about why it was so 'wrong' for him to step down as pope when he did, implying (or more likely, saying so outright) that he could have 'poped' on, despite his age-related infirmities, and perhaps, the Church would have been spared its current ordeal under his successor.

Six years since he stepped down as pope, there is fresh fodder for the futile debate of whether he really resigned - all of which is really and literally, academic, because whether you believe he did or not does not change the fact that a new pope was elected who has gone on to exercise his power and authority as pope to gut out the Church he was elected to lead. All that is undeniable reality - and the unexpected consequence of Benedict XVI's resignation, for which the Emeritus Pope now bears the onus of responsibility, as far as his critics are concerned.


Lifesite News has a lengthy article on this today:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/did-benedict-really-resign-gaenswein-burke-and-brandmueller-weigh-in


Did Benedict really resign?
Gänswein, Burke and Brandmüller weigh in

by Diane Montagna


ROME, February 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Georg Gänswein has reaffirmed the validity of Benedict’s resignation, insisting that he did resign the Petrine office.

“There is only one legitimately elected and incumbent [gewählten und amtierenden] Pope, and that is Francis,” Benedict’s longtime private secretary said, adding simply: “Amen.”

His definitive affirmation, communicated to LifeSiteNews on Feb. 11, 2019 — the six-year anniversary of Pope Benedict’s abdication — comes at a time when increasing numbers of bishops, canonists, theologians and lay faithful are questioning its juridical validity.

Clergy and laity alike are concerned that Benedict’s remarks about the “forever” of the papacy — and those of Archbishop Gänswein about an “expanded petrine ministry” — indicate that Benedict intended to bifurcate the papacy, as if he intended only to resign the ministerium (active ministry) of the papacy and not the munus (office) itself. If this were the case, the argument goes, his resignation would be invalid, for Christ intended for there to be only one successor to Peter, one Vicar of Christ on earth.

[All of this is ABSURD, because if he did not resign the office, why would he call himself EMERITUS POPE? The whole trouble is that his critics object to his even referring to himself as 'pope' of any kind after he resigned, so they even say he is not entitled to calling himself Emeritus Pope.

Since his renunciation and its circumstances were really sui generis in the history of the Church, he had every right to spell out the conditions for what he would be called and what he would wear, for that matter, after he was no longer pope. In the USA, standard journalistic practice is refer to public officials and to address them - even dead or long since retired - by the title of the last office they held. Why is that wrong for the first pope to resign of his own will?

This, along with objecting to Benedict still wearing a white papal cassock - even if minus the sash and cape that only the reigning pope can wear - are petty cavils I had not thought intelligent people would even bring up. But even cardinals supposedly close to him have made an issue of this. Why don't they ask themselves:
- Do what he calls himself and what he wears detract in any way from the position and authority of his successor? NOT AT ALL OBVIOUSLY.
- Do what he calls himself and what he wears confuse the Catholic faithful - or the rest of the world, for that matter - in any way? APPARENTLY NOT. Nobody except the cavilling critics had any problem accepting both the title, Emeritus Pope; the address "His Holiness"' nor the garments he wears.
]


Presenting these concerns to Archbishop Gänswein, we asked him: “Did Pope Benedict intend to resign the Petrine munus as named in canon law (canon 332.2), or just the public actions that pertain to that munus?”

“I have already cleared up the ‘misunderstanding’ several times,” he said. “It makes no sense at all, no, even more, it is counterproductive to insist on this ‘misunderstanding’ and to quote me again and again. This is absurd and leads to self-harm [Selbstzerfleischung]. I have clearly said that there is only one Pope, one legitimately elected and incumbent Pope, and that is Francis. Amen.” [Unfortunately, Gaenswein did complicate the issue a great deal and unnecessarily by the unfortunate remarks he made in May 2016.]

LifeSite investigated the arguments and claims surrounding this aspect of the debate over the validity of Benedict’s resignation. We then sat down with Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller to hear their views.

DIM=9pt][You will forgive me for reducing what follows to 8-pt print because much of it is futile and idle hair-splitting by those who insist that there are hairs to split instead of accepting things as they are, prima facie.]

Concern over the juridical validity of Benedict’s resignation has exercised many theologians and has increased in recent months and years.

Last October, Monsignor Nicola Bux, a respected theologian and former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during Benedict XVI’s pontificate, called for an investigation into this resignation.

In a forceful interview with Italian Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli on the doctrinal and moral crisis in the Church, Msgr. Bux, now a theological consultor for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said it would be “easier” to examine the question of the “juridical validity of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation” than to face head-on the “practical, theological and juridical difficulties to the question of judging a heretical pope.”

“The idea of a sort of collegial papacy seems to me decidedly against the Gospel dictate,” he said. “Jesus did not say, in fact, ‘tibi dabo claves...’ addressing Peter and Andrew but only said it to Peter!”

Msgr. Bux’s reference to a “collegial” papacy was an allusion to a concern over the background to Benedict’s resignation that has been circulating in curial and theological circles for some time.

The scruple was triggered by a discourse Archbishop Gänswein delivered on May 20, 2016, during a book launch at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Benedict’s personal secretary said of him: “He has left the papal throne and yet, with the step made on February 11, 2013, he has not at all abandoned this ministry. Instead, he has complemented the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, as a quasi-shared ministry (als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst).”

Archbishop Gänswein continued: "Since the election of his successor Francis, on March 13, 2013, there are not therefore two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member. This is why Benedict XVI has not given up either his name, or the white cassock. This is why the correct name by which to address him even today is “Your Holiness. […]

“He has not abandoned the Office of Peter — something which would have been entirely impossible for him after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005,” he said.

Archbishop Gänswein’s “expanded papacy” speech provoked deep concern, and appeared to shed new light on Pope Benedict’s own remarks during his last Wednesday general audience on Feb. 27, 2013, one day before leaving the Vatican by helicopter for Castel Gandolfo.

Reflecting on his acceptance of the papacy on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict said: “The real gravity of the decision [to resign] was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy.”

Pope Benedict continued: “The ‘always’ is also a ‘forever’ – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this,” he said [emphasis added]. “I am not abandoning the cross but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to say, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.”

Then, some four years later, reflecting on his abdication in a book-interview with Peter Seewald titled Last Testament, Benedict XVI said: “My step was not one of taking flight but was precisely another way of remaining faithful to my ministry.”

The concern to which Monsignor Bux alluded in his Oct. 13 interview arises from the fact that the papacy is by divine law monarchical and cannot be held by more than one person at any time.

An error popular among Protestants and liberal Catholic theologians after Vatican II held that there was no monarchical papacy in the first or early second century but that monarchical episcopacy was introduced there some time after St Ignatius of Antioch (d.108) and before St Irenaeus of Lyons (fl.180).

Moderately liberal Catholics who hold to the above error but still feel the need to uphold the divine origin of the papacy try to claim its monarchical character has been and could be changed from aristocratic to monarchical and vice versa. That is, they imagine a council of presbyters ruled the Roman Church rather than a bishop after the death of St. Peter until sometime in the second century, when this council was replaced by a Bishop of Rome, or Pope. As this happened in the past (they imagine), they see no reason why it could not happen in the future and two or three or a dozen or more collectively might exercise the papal primacy.

It is alleged that in some writings in the 1970s onward Joseph Ratzinger at least gave consideration to these ideas without clearly rejecting them.

When he resigned the papacy, Benedict XVI spoke (in the Latin text) of the burden of the papal munus and of abdicating the papal ministerium. Given that in his final Wednesday audience, Benedict XVI spoke of somehow “always” and “forever” being the Pope, and Archbishop Georg Gänswein spoke of the new situation having arisen since the abdication, whereby there are now not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member,” whispers have spread that Pope Benedict attempted partial resignation on the basis of a false understanding of his own office and therefore, perhaps, he resigned invalidly.

Benedict XVI has, since his resignation, increased these doubts by retaining his papal name and dress and form of address.

Some have inferred from this that Benedict XVI distinguished between a papal munus of divine origin and a papal ministerium of human origin which may be split or bifurcated and otherwise altered by ecclesiastical authority — and intended in his abdication to retain the munus while sharing it with his successor to whom the bulk or all of the ministerium would have passed.

This is not possible as the monarchical nature of the papacy is of divine law. But if it was the basis of Benedict XVI’s abdication then he acted out of substantial error, and thus Benedict XVI remains the Pope. According to Can. 188 of the Code of Canon Law: “A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.” That is, Benedict XVI attempted to resign an aspect of the papacy he falsely supposed to be separable from the office itself and did not intend to resign the office as such (but asked the cardinals to give him a colleague in the office) and thus his resignation is invalid.

This, the argument goes, accounts for the many errors taught by Pope Francis. Not actually being the Pope (it is said), he does not enjoy the graces of state of a Pope.

While the thesis has aroused interest in many quarters, even theologians who find the arguments worthy of consideration are often unconvinced.

A theologian who spoke to LifeSite on condition of anonymity argued that supporters of this opinion need to show that Pope Benedict understood the munus and the ministerium as referring to two different realities. “If you think that ministerium means only acts of teaching and governance, then it would indeed seem to be different from the munus, which normally designates an office, that is, a kind of state,” he said.

“But ‘ministerium’ doesn’t have to mean acts,” he explained. “The first meaning given to it in the Latin dictionary (Lewis and Short) is ‘office.’ I would say that its basic meaning is ‘an office by reason of which one must perform acts to help others.’”

The theologian noted further that ‘munus’ doesn’t only mean a state. “According to the Latin dictionary, it can also refer to the performance of a duty,” he said. “It was used in this sense by Cicero and there is no more authoritative writer of Latin prose than him.”

He said the main difference between the words appears to be simply that ‘munus’ connotes more “the burden which the office puts on its bearer,” and ‘ministerium’ connotes more “the reference to other people which the office establishes.”

“But that doesn’t prevent them from referring to one and the same office or state,” he added.

Why then did Pope Benedict say munus at the start of his Latin declaration and ministerium at the end, if he understood them to refer to the same reality? The theologian suggested two possibilities.

“One is simply that people who want to write elegant prose often avoid frequent repetitions of the same word,” he said. “Another is that the word ‘ministerium’ has perhaps a more humble sound to it, since it refers more directly to the papacy in its relation to other people, than as a charge placed on oneself. So having begun by using the official word, ‘munus,’ Benedict moved on to the more humble sounding word.”

The theologian went on to note that while Benedict was aware of theological writings from the 1970’s onward that proposed the Petrine munus could be divided, he is “not aware of any place where Joseph Ratzinger endorses this thesis.”

He said the lack of clarity about Ratzinger’s position is aggravated by the fact that translators have mistranslated Ratzinger and presented him as endorsing heterodox ideas when in fact he was reporting someone else’s thought rather than expressing his own.

The theologian acknowledged that it is possible that Pope Benedict thought there might be a real distinction between munus and ministerium but was unsure. In that case, he said, Benedict’s abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: “I only want to resign the ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the munus.”

But he said it would be equally possible that, being unsure whether there was a distinction, Benedict could have had in mind the thought: “I want to resign the ministerium whether or not it is distinct from the munus.” In that case, the theologian said he believes the resignation would have been valid.

“In any case,” he said, “I don’t think there is convincing evidence that Benedict thought there was a real distinction between the two things.”

“Again,” the theologian continued, “since according to Canon 15.2, error is not presumed about a law, the presumption must be that he validly renounced the papacy.”

He said that people who insist Benedict’s resignation was invalid “therefore seem to be in a position similar to that of a Catholic spouse who is personally convinced that his or her Church marriage was invalid.”

“However convinced the person is of this, he or she is not free to marry again until an ecclesiastical court has declared that there was never a marriage,” he said. “So even if someone is convinced that Benedict XVI is still Pope, he or she should wait for the judgement of the Church before acting on this belief, e.g. a priest in that position should continue to mention Francis in the canon of the Mass.”

As for the argument that Pope Francis can’t be Pope because he clearly has no graces of state, the theologian said this forgets that “grace is normally offered in such a way that it can be refused.”

“You might as well say that a man who beats his wife obviously can’t be validly married to her,” he said.

Other theologians see Benedict’s use of the title “Pope emeritus” as a point in favor of the resignation.

Can. 185 of the Code of Canon Law (on the loss of ecclesiastical office) says: “The title of emeritus can be conferred upon a person who loses an office by reason of age or of resignation which has been accepted.”

As one theologian explained, every bishop when he retires becomes bishop emeritus. He is the emeritus bishop of the last diocese of which he presided. By creating the “pope emeritus” title (it is argued), Benedict is saying “what every bishop does, I’m doing too.”

LifeSite also asked noted Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei for his thoughts on arguments invoking “substantial error.” Seconding the first theologian’s line of thought, Professor de Mattei noted that: “The Church is a visible society, and canon law does not evaluate intentions, but concerns the external behavior of the baptized. Canon 124, §2 of the Code states that: ‘A juridic act placed correctly with respect to its external elements is presumed valid.’”

“Did Benedict XVI intend to resign only partially, by renouncing the ministerium, but keeping the munus for himself? It’s possible,” he said, “but no evidence, at least to date, makes it evident.”

“We are in the realm of intentions,” he added. “Canon 1526, § 1 states: “Onus probandi incumbit ei qui asserit” (The burden of proof rests upon the person who makes the allegation.) To prove means to demonstrate the certainty of a fact or the truth of the statement. Moreover, the papacy is in itself indivisible.”

Bringing Msgr. Bux’s argument in favor of examining the juridical validity of the abdication full circle, de Mattei said: “If it were proven that Benedict XVI had the intention of dividing it, of modifying the constitution of the Church willed by Our Lord, he would have fallen into heresy, with all the problems that would ensue. Isn’t the current situation of the Church already serious enough without complicating it further?”

In comments to LifeSite, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, former president the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, insisted: “The resignation was valid, and the election was valid.”

“Enough,” he added.

A respected Church historian, Brandmüller was one of the four cardinals who signed five dubia which sought clarification from Pope Francis on the moral teachings contained in the Pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

In our conversation with the German Cardinal, he cited two Roman legal dictums which he said are important to keep in mind: de internis non iudicat praetor (a judge does not judge internal things) and quod non est in actis, non est in mundo (what is not in the acts [of the process], is not in the world).

In judging the validity of any juridical act, Brandmüller said we need to consider the “facts and documents” and “not at what the people in question might have been thinking.”

“You always have to keep in mind that the law speaks of verifiable facts, not of thoughts,” he said.

What sort of substantial error could invalidate a papal resignation, we asked Cardinal Brandmüller?

“If a Pope decided to resign because he thought Islamic troops were invading the Vatican, the resignation would be invalid if the Islamic troops weren’t in fact invading,” he said in a modern-day version of Venerable Pope Pius XII’s contingency plan to step down in 1944 to avoid being arrested by the Nazis.

Cardinal Brandmüller has been a critic of Benedict’s resignation, as well as his decision to keep the white cassock and his name as pope.

In 2016 he wrote an article calling for a law to define the status of the ex-pope and concluding that the resignation of the Pope “is possible, and it has been done, but it is to be hoped that it may never happen again.” (An extended version of the article appeared in the periodical, The Jurist.)

Then in a 2017 interview critical of Benedict’s resignation, the German Cardinal told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the “Pope Emeritus” title never existed “in all of Church history” and that Benedict’s resignation had “knocked us cardinals sideways, and not only us.”

Soon after, the German newspaper Bild published two letters from the Pope Emeritus to Cardinal Brandmüller, in which the Pope Emeritus defended his decision to resign but also revealed his awareness of the pain it had caused.

In the first letter, dated Nov. 9, 2017, Benedict writes: “With ‘Pope Emeritus,’ I tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely not accessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one Pope. If you know of a better way and believe that you can judge the one I chose, please tell me.”

Despite his criticism of Benedict’s abdication, his creation of the title “pope emeritus,” and his keeping the white cassock and papal name, Cardinal Brandmüller unwaveringly maintains the validity of the resignation.

“There’s no doubt that Francis is the legitimate Pope,” he said.

LifeSite also sat down with US Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Prefect of the Holy See’s Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican equivalent of the Supreme Court), to discuss his views on the juridical validity of Pope Benedict’s resignation in light of increasing concerns and Cardinal Brandmüller’s remarks.

Having considered various aspects of the issue, including the relevant canons, the Latin text of Benedict’s resignation and his final general audience, Cardinal Burke said: “I believe it would be difficult to say it’s not valid.”

Regarding Benedict’s Latin declaration, Cardinal Burke said “it seems clear he uses interchangeably ‘munus’ and ‘ministerium.’ It doesn’t seem that he’s making a distinction between the two.”

Concerning Benedict’s final Wednesday general audience, he said while he finds it “disturbing,” he doesn’t believe Benedict’s “always and forever” comments constitute substantial error (according to can. 188 and can. 126) with regard to his abdication “because it’s clear from the declaration that he was renouncing the munus.”

“We can say that these are mistaken notions,”
he said, “but I don’t think you can say that they redound to a non-abdication of the Petrine office.”

“That’s where the dictum ‘de internis non iudicat praetor’ comes in,” he explained, echoing Cardinal Brandmüller. “The Church would become completely destabilized if we couldn’t depend upon certain juridical acts which carry effects.”

“Whatever he may have theoretically thought about the papacy, the reality is what is expressed in the Church’s discipline. He withdrew his will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, and therefore he ceased to be the Vicar of Christ on earth,” the former head of the Vatican’s highest court explained.

“He abdicated all the responsibilities that define the papacy (cf. Pastor Aeternus) and therefore he abdicated the papacy.”

Cardinal Burke called the notion that the papacy could be bifurcated or expanded “fantasy.”

“The office has to inhere in one physical person,” he said.

“The munus and the ministerium are inseparable,” he also explained. “The munus is a grace that’s conferred, and only in virtue of that grace can one carry out the ministry.” Therefore, “if one no longer has that grace because he has withdrawn his will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, then he can’t be exercising the Petrine ministry.”

The Cardinal noted further that “the papacy is not a sacrament in the sense that there’s an indelible character.”

“If you said you can no longer carry out the ministry of the priesthood, you could still be a priest offering your life in a priestly way. With the episcopal consecration, there is also an indelible mark imprinted upon the soul by which a man becomes the true shepherd of the flock, exercising the priesthood in its fullness.”

“The inauguration ceremony of the Petrine ministry is a symbolic rite but it does not confer anything new upon the person,” he explained. And so “with the papacy, when you renounce the office, you simply cease to be Pope.”

Cardinal Burke is convinced that the use of papal titles and of papal dress after a Pope has resigned is juridically and theologically problematic and does not help the faithful to understand the true sense what has happened — something he raised in the General Congregations just before the last Conclave. “Once you renounce the will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, then you return to what you were before,” he said.

But regarding the abdication itself, His Eminence said: “It seems clear to me that Benedict had his full mind and that he intended to resign the Petrine office.”


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/14/2019 9:23 PM]
2/14/2019 9:41 PM
 
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Can you believe this? The Yiddish call it chutzpah, defined as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to", in the words of a Yiddish lexicographer.

It's as if, before even laicizing Theodore McCarrick (if indeed that is what Bergoglio intends to do), the pope is already ensuring that McCarrick's highest-ranking protege be given yet another signal honor, as he did earlier with Cardinal Cupich, naming him as one of the four organizers of the sex-abuse summit (and this for a cardinal whom two years in a row, the USCCB failed to vote for as one of their official representatives to the so-called family synods, yet who got in nonetheless as a personal appointee of Bergoglio).

Of all the cardinals in the Curia, he has to choose the most junior in terms of seniority to be the camerlengo. The post has been empty since July 5, 2018. If Farrell was his main choice, why didn't he name him then? McCarrick didn't resign from the College of Cardinals until July 28, even if the Archdiocese of New York had announced a 'credible and substantiated' sex abuse allegation againt McCarrick on June 20.

Bergoglio's appointment of Farrell at this time is the equivalent of giving all of us the papal finger! Oh yes, McCarrick may be most disposable right now for Bergoglio, but he has Uncle Ted proteges Farrell, Tobin, Cupich and Wuerl still riding high. Can't tone them down, can he? Nope, doesn't want to - wants to keep the McCarrick flame blazing in the heart of the Church of Bergoglio.


Pope names Cardinal Farrell camerlengo
By Hannah Brockhaus


Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday nominated a new camerlengo, Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, and a former bishop of Dallas.

The responsibilities of camerlengo include overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope's death or renunciation and the election of a new pope.

Farrell was one of several bishops about whom questions were raised last summer regarding prior knowledge of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's misdeeds in the dioceses of Metuchen and Newark.

Farrell had served as an auxilary bishop under the former cardinal in Washington, DC, as well as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role to the disgraced archbishop.

Farrell lived together with McCarrick in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for six years, and many have characterized McCarrick as a mentor to the cardinal.

Last July, Farrell denied having any knowledge of accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick.

A former member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell had also previously denied having prior knowledge of sexual abuse on the part of the Legion of Christ's founder and former general director, Marcial Maciel.

Farrell also caused controversy last summer after he suggested in an interview with the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom that priests lack the necessary experience to provide adequate marriage preparation to engaged couples, saying, "priests are not the best people to train others for marriage." The comment echoed a statement of his from September 2017, that priests have "no credibility when it comes to living the reality of marriage."

The office of camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, which is situated within the pontifical household, has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran last July.

To take office, Farrell, 71, will take an oath before Pope Francis, who will give him a scepter, a symbol of the authority of the camerlengo. The current scepter, covered in red velvet, dates to the papacy of Benedict XV.

Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in 1978 as a member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell eventually relocated to Washington, DC, serving as director of Washington’s Spanish Catholic Center, before becoming the archdiocese’s finance officer in 1989.

In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

He was named Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until his appointment as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016, which put him in charge of the planning of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018 and World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

Farrell became a cardinal in November 2016.

The camerlengo is one of two head officials of the Roman Curia who do not lose their office while the papacy is vacant. The position of camerlengo, which is regulated by the apostolic constitutions Pastor bonus and Universi dominici gregis, administers Church finances and property during the interregnum.

Paragraph 17 of Universi dominici gregis establishes that “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death” and “must also place seals on the Pope’s study and bedroom,” and later “the entire papal apartment.”

The camerlengo is also responsible for notifying the cardinal vicar for Rome of the pope’s death, who then notifies the people of Rome by special announcement. He takes possession of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and Palaces of the Lateran and of Castel Gandolfo and manages their administration.

“During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” the constitution states.

Only the pope may choose the cardinal to fill the position of camerlengo, though he may also leave it vacant, in which case, the College of Cardinals would hold an election to fill the office at the start of a sede vacante.



I am sure the ff item is somehow related...

SODOM: Power and Scandal in the Vatican, by Frederic Martel, 600 pp

An LGBT 'pamphlet' against the Church
Book review
by ROBERTO DE MATTEI
Translated from

February 14, 2019

It is a pamphlet against the Church entitled SODOM by Frederic Martel, a well-known French LGBT acitivist. But the book was born in Italy during a conversation between the author and the publisher, Carlo Feltrinelli (whose publisher father, moonlighting as terrorist, died in 1972 while planting a bomb in an electric pylon of the Italian electric company ENEL).

The book will be presented in eight languages and some 20 countries in the next few weeks. Its official launch will take place February 21 in Rome, tied to the opening of the Vatican summit on clerical sex abuses against minors. [The title should have stopped at ‘clerical sex abuses’ which are not any less sinful if committed against older people.]

Therefore this is a powerful media operation aimed at the Catholic Church. The author of the pamphlet [at 600 pages, it is a hefty book, even if its contents and intention are more rightly those of a propaganda pamphlet] Frederic Martel, who is variously described in the media as sociologist, researcher and historian, reached a certain level of popularity with a book immediately before this, Global Gay, also translated into many languages, dedicated to what has become the triumphal march of the LGBT movement throughout the world.

Directly involved in numerous organizations that are active in disseminating the LGBT agenda, Martel has been in the frontline for years of promoting and ‘normalizing’ homosexuality and other sexual deviancies. His LGBT militancy lef him to be one of the principal promoters of Law 99-994 promulgated in France. in November 1999 which introduced civil unions of every sort. In subsequent years, Martel followed up by writing numerous articles in favor of ‘gay marriage’ until this became legal in France in May 2013.

Now, Martel is targeting sodomy in the Church, claiming to have conducted over 1,500 interviews on the matter in the Vatican and other parts of the world over the past four years. But what his book lacks is precisely any documentation. From his book, we do not know more than we already know in general that homosexuality and its practices are endemic among the ministers of the Church.

This most serious problem – brought out into the open by the testimonies of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò las year – had been previously analyzed in a scientific and documented manner by two Polish scholars, Fathers Dario Oko and Andrzej Kobyliński, whose studies had been simply ignored by the media. But unlike them, Martel is not after the truth – he has an ideological hypothesis to unfold, but fails to demonstrate in this pamphlet, although he suggests, insinuates, calumniates and denigrates.

Mons. Battista Ricca, whom Sandro Magister has called ‘the prelate of the gay lobby’, opened doors in the Vatican for Martel. “He explained to me in detail how to go through the security controls of the Vatican police and the Swiss Guards. I would often meet with this prelate, a sniper close to the pope who has known both glory and the fall from it [more importantly, a return to glory, thanks to the pope]. As you will see, it is to him I owe the fact that I could reside in one of the Vatican residences[while working on the ‘book’].'

MarTel recounts how he would stay in the Vatican one week each month, “lodging regularly inside the Vatican thanks to the hospitality of high-ranking prelates who often eventually revealed themselves to be ‘in the parish’ [i.e., homosexuals themselves]… Some 40 cardinals and hundreds of bishops, monsignors, priests and nuncios agreed to meet with me. Among them, presumed homosexuals who work in the Vatican, allowed me to penetrate their world as Vatican employees”.

He names one of his informants as Fr. Antonio Spadaro, “a Jesuit considered one of the Grey Eminences behind the pope, with whom I regularly held discussions at the offices of La Civilta Cattolica which he edits … It is he who told me that Cardinal Burke is the leader of the opposition against the pope”.

Cardinal Burke, to whom Martel dedicates a chapter of his pamphlet, logically represents one of his targets. His fault? Condemning homosexuality categorically.

Martel believes that behind every ‘homophobe’ is hidden a homosexual, but inasmuch as he could find nothing to discredit Burke in this respect, he limits himself to a munutious and caricaturish description of the cardinal’s very normal apartment. He also comments that “The cardinal evokes a drag queen irresistibly in his way of dressing and the unusual way he walks”.

Nonetheless, Martel concedes, Burke is “one of the few who has the courage of his opinions”, which he also says of Mons. Viganò whom he sees as ‘a reliable witness and whose letter appears irrefutable’. Nonetheless, he adds, "Viganò’s gesture appears more irrational and isolated than people think – it seems to me a desperate act, a personal vendetta that is the result of feeling he has been profoundly wounded”.

And what are the ecclesiastical homosexuals guilty of? Not for having violated moral law, but for being hypocrites for failing to make their vice known publicly. “Let us be clear about this. I don’t think a priest or a cardinal should be ashamed of being a homosexual – I think it is just one of the social status possibilities that are open to all”. Martel thinks these homosexuals should openly say, “We are homosexuals and we are proud of it. Let the Church say she has been wrong to condemn homosexuality”.

Martel then explains why he is a supporter of Bergoglio’s ‘reforms’: He thinks the resignation of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis’s desire for reform helped to liberate some [formerly taboo] words.

This Latin American pope was to first to have used the word ‘gay’ – not just the term’ homosexual [Has Bergoglio ever used the word? He chooses to use ‘clerical’ instead to describe the sin!] and compared to his predecessors, he must be considered the most ‘gay-friendly’ of all modern popes. [As if any of the popes before Francis were ‘gay-friendly’ at all in the way Martel means!]

He has said words that are both magical ad distorted [???] about homosexuality, such as “Who am I to judge?” And one might even say that this pope does not have either the tendencies nor the inclination that have been attributed to four of his recent predecessors. Yet today he is the object of a violent campaign because of his alleged liberalism on matters of sexual morality – a campaign led by conservative cardinals who are very homophobic, and largely, secret homophiles…

What this pope does not tolerate is not so much widespread homosexuality in the clergy as much as the nauseating hypocrisy of those who advocate austere morality even if they have a lover, or indulge in homosexual escapades, often with 'escorts'. That is whom he fustigates incessantly as false devotees, insincere bigots and pharisees. A duplicity and schizophrenia that he often denounces in his morning homilettes at Casa Santa Marta. His formulation deserves to be the epigraph to this book: ‘Behind rigidity, there is always something hidden – in many cases, it is a double life’.

[Oh, could we say that of Bergoglio himself? That the rigidity of his implacable hostility to certain Catholic 'types' hides the double life he himself is leading???]

Martel, like the pope, is convinced that behind every ‘homophobe’ lurks a homophile, a man attracted or obsessed with homosexuality, whether he practices it or not. One can even say, writes Martel, that “there is an unwritten rule which is almost always the case in Sodom – the more a prelate is homophobic, the more probable that he is himself a homosexual. The more a prelate is vehement against gays, the stronger his homohpobic obsession is, the more probable that is himself a homosexual”.

The purpose fo the book? "Fifty years after Stonewall – the start of the gay revolution in the USA – the Vatican is the last bastion to be liberated. Many Catholics have long sensed the lies even before reading about them”.

And the steps to follow would be:
- Support and encourage Bergoglio’s ‘reforms.
- Discredit the men of the Church who are faithful to Tradition.
- Prevent the Church from discussing the plague of homosexuality, especially not at the coming summit.

Yet one must note that
- LGBT support for the pope will certainly not help him in the difficult situation he now finds himself in.
- The cardinals and bishops demonized in Martel’s book will come out even stronger after such an inept attack.
- And if the February 21-24 summit fails to consider the subject of homosexuality, it will be a failure.

For now, it is certainly Martel’s pamphlet that is a fiasco. [Oh, but at 400 pp, you can bet it will be a bestseller - at least initially - for all those who can't wait to flip through all those 600 pages for what they imagine to be all sorts of salacious details about all the names Martel wants to discredit!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/15/2019 3:34 PM]
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