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Please see preceding page for earlier post today, 3/12/15.

If you still had any doubts as to Jorge Mario Bergoglio's thinking about 'communion for everyone' and priestly celibacy, go to

By Matt Roper In Buenos Aires, Argentina
Published: 12 March 2015

A childhood friend of Pope Francis has claimed that he intends to overturn the centuries-old ban on Catholic priests from getting married and that he told a divorcee 'living in sin' that she could receive Holy Communion.

The Pope considers the law on priestly celibacy 'archaic' and 'not part of the doctrine of the Church', according to the confidante.

The friend also claimed the Argentinian-born pope vowed to reform another Catholic rule which bars divorced people in new relationships from taking the Holy Communion, MailOnline can reveal.

According to Oscar Crespo, Pope Francis said that changing the Catholic law which bars civil divorcees from taking a full part in church life is the 'number one priority' of his papacy.

Left, Crespo with the Pope at the Vatican last October; right, together in Buenos Aires in 2008.

Top left: A high school picture showing Bergoglio and Crespo together (the caption provided by Daily Mail is confusing: "Oscar, fifth from left, and the future Pope, fourth from right" - is the mustachioed man Crespo?); Bottom left, a note written by the Pope a month after his election. It reads, in translation: "Vatican, April 16, 2013 - Dear Oscar and Ruth, Yesterday, your letter arrived. Many thanks for this nearness. I hope you are well. I ask you to pray for me because I need it. The work is much. I am at your disposition. May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin look after you. Affectionately, Francisco". Right, Crespo talking to The Mail in Buenos Aires.

Mr Crespo said that the Pope, 78, also sent a message to a divorced woman 'living in sin' with a new partner assuring her that she was free to confess and receive the Eucharist.

The Catholic church doesn't recognise divorce, considering that anyone who remarries or starts a sexual relationship with another person other than the one they first married is committing adultery.

Taking Holy Communion while in a state of sin is considered an even graver sin.

Argentinian teacher Claudia Garcia Larumbe had sent a message to the Pope via Mr Crespo asking if she really was excluded from confessing or taking communion after moving in with her new partner.

After Mr Crespo reminded the Pope that church law 'forbids' divorcees in new relationships from partaking in the holy sacraments, Francis said: 'Just tell her the Pope said that she can'.

Ms Larumbe, 39, told MailOnline she was 'speechless and emotional' after receiving the Holy Father's personal dispensation to partake in the key Catholic sacraments.

The revelations will bring fresh hope to millions of civilly divorced churchgoers, as well as thousands of clergymen who are increasingly uncomfortable about their lifetime celibacy vows.

But in a sign the pontiff, who will celebrate his second anniversary as pope on Friday, does not intend to force through the radical reforms at the expense of church unity, he told Mr Crespo: 'Changes are made either with time or with blood, and I choose peace.' And JMB's closest clerical associates - Cardinal Hummes of Brazil and JMB's theological brain/alter ego Mons. Fernandez - have both said he thinks he can do what he has set out to do in four years.]

Mr Crespo, 77, the best friend and former secondary school classmate of the Pope, travelled to Rome in October, and spent several hours with him in his private quarters at the Vatican.

The retired food technician, who took with him letters and messages from students and staff of their former technical college, told MailOnline that the pontiff - real name Jorge Bergoglio, was 'serious and passionate' as he talked about what he described as his 'two main plans'.

Speaking to MailOnline, he said: 'He said these were his priorities as Pope. The first of all is to change the rules for divorced couples.

'The second was to eliminate the law of celibacy. He said it was not part of the doctrine of the church. It was started more than 1,000 years ago by a pope, and he considers it archaic, an antiquity which needs to be reconsidered. He thinks God made everyone to live in family, including priests.'

It is not the first time Francis - the first non-European pope for 1,700 years - has expressed his personal softer stance on the Church's traditional views about priestly celibacy.

In May, he told a group of reporters that celibacy is 'a gift for the church, but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open.'

And a few weeks ago, when he was confronted by a campaigner for married priests, he replied that the issue 'is in my diary'.

1000 years of priestly celibacy
The apostles chosen by Jesus were mostly married men, as was Peter, the first pope.

The New Testament implies that women presided at eucharistic meals in the early church, and during the Second and Third Centuries most priests were married.

By the Fourth Century, however, this began to change. In 324 AD the Council of Nicea decreed that after ordination a priest could not marry.

And in 385 Pope Siricius left his wife in order to become pope, then decreed that priest may no longer sleep with their wives.

In 567 the 2nd Council of Tours ruled that any cleric found in bed with his wife would be excommunicated for a year and reduced to the lay state. Even so, documents show that up until the Ninth Century most priests were married.

In 1045, Pope Benedict IX dispensed himself from celibacy and resigned in order to marry. He was followed by Pope Gregory VII [a great reformer] who in 1074 said that every priest must first pledge celibacy in order to be ordained.

By 1095, Pope Urban II had priests' wives sold into slavery while their children were abandoned. [Must check this out!]

In 1123 Pope Calistus II decreed at the First Lateran Council that all clerical marriages were invalid.

Cardinal Bergoglio made similar statements while Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and after his elevation to pope, his secretary of state told a newspaper that 'celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church.'

And last June the Pope abolished a rule which stopped Eastern Rite churches from ordaining married priests in countries where they have emigrant communities, such as the US. [???? I had the impression he allowed it.]

Until then married priests were allowed in countries where Eastern churches originated, but were banned in Western countries to where the churches migrated.

In October, the Pope convened an an extraordinary synod of bishops, where he invited the 150 holy fathers to focus on the family, including the the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

However, the summit, which many hoped would lead to a clear change of direction, ended with a watered-down document calling for further study on the issue after opposition from bishops.

He has been even more outspoken about married divorcees, claiming that excluding them from church life is akin to 'excommunication'.

In December, in an interview with Argentinian newspaper La Nacion, Pope Francis questioned the divorced being excluded from the life of the Church.

He noted that divorcees "cannot be godfathers to any child being baptised, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why can't they be godfathers and godmothers?"

Among the letters and message Mr Crespo had delivered from the Pope's former school in Buenos Aires, the Technical Industrial School No 27, was a question from learning difficulties teacher Ms Larumbe.

The 39-year-old divorcee had decided to ask Francis for guidance after being told she was excluded from confession, communion and other important religious acts after moving in with her new partner.

Remembering the Pope's reaction after he told Ms Larumbe's story, Mr Crespo said: 'I told him how she longed to confess and receive communion, and he told me, 'go back and tell her that she can'.

'I was surprised by his response and I said to him, 'but isn't that forbidden?'. He said, 'Just tell her the Pope says that she can'.'

MailOnline tracked down Ms Larumbe, a devout Catholic since childhood, who explained that after marrying aged 30 she had divorced just a year later because 'things didn't work out'.

After moving in with her new partner two years later, she was told she was no longer able to confess or receive Communion because, according to Catholic teaching, she was considered to be 'living in adultery'.

The Catholic Church teaches that God established marriage as a permanent, lifelong union which cannot be broken, and therefore does not recognise civil divorce.

For Catholics, marriage cannot end until the death of one of the spouses.

In the eyes of the Church, then, people who have obtained a civil divorce are still married to their original spouses, and if they begin a sexual relationship with another person they are committing the sin of adultery.

If you are in a state of sin, the Church teaches that you should not receive Holy Communion, as doing so in itself is a grave sin.

Similarly, if you have brought about the end of your marriage, therefore publicly denigrating the sacred institution of marriage, you are excluded from the life of the Church, whether or not you have started a new relationship. ] [Clearly, the reporter is not a Catholic. This is the first I've read anywhere that just by getting divorced, a person is 'excluded from the life of the Church'!]

Some civil divorcees are allowed to receive communion, for instance, if your husband or wife walks out and divorces you, or if your spouse walks out leaving you with the children and filing for divorce is the only way to protect them. [Really? I plead ignorance about this.]

The only way to remarry within the Catholic church is by obtaining an annulment of your marriage, which is when the Church declares that your first 'marriage' never actually took place and was therefore not valid. [No, a marriage is annulled because a Church tribunal finds that it was defectively contracted for various reasons, including ignorance of Church teaching about marriage or 'lack of faith' on the part of persons who have a church wedding just because of social expectations.]]

This can be granted if one or both spouses didn't intend to enter a permanent, faithful and fruitful union when they took their wedding vows. [There you are!]

She said she eventually stopped frequenting the San Antonio de Padua church she had belonged to.

She told MailOnline: 'I was told I couldn't be with someone else other than the person I had married. I was very confused. I had been part of church all my life.

'I had no idea about this law, but as a good Catholic I accepted it. I didn't feel like I was being treated badly, I felt like the sinner they said I was.

'I knew that God sees everything and didn't want to fall out with God, so I felt it was better to obey the rules and stop being part of my church.' [But 'the rules' don't say RCDs 'stop being part of the Church'. Only that they cannot receive communion as long as they are in a chronic state of sin. They can even go to confession if that will help 'unburden' them, even if they cannot expect absolution until they can regularize their situation, i.e., stop living in a state of chronic sin, if it has to mean abstention from the marital act. Tough - impossible, many will even say - but every transgression has its consequences.]

When Ms Larumbe heard that the Pope's old schoolmate Mr Crespo was going to visit him at the Vatican, and had offered to deliver letters from students or staff, she decided to send a message.

She said: 'When I heard it was already too late for me to write a letter, so I called Oscar and asked if he could mention my situation to the Pope.

'I said I wanted to be part of the church, I wanted to be able to confess, but I wasn't able to because I had divorced. I just wanted some advice, but I never expected to get an answer back.

'But when Oscar got back he called me and said he had spoken personally with the Pope and that he had given me permission himself. I was speechless and so emotional, I couldn't believe I'd got a message directly from the Pope.'

But she claims she kept Francis's message to herself, for fear of offending her priest and fellow churchgoers.

She said: 'I still haven't done them yet. I don't feel comfortable, because of what other members of the community might think.

'I've decided to wait until it's official for every Catholic, not just for me. I don't want it to be allowed just for me, I want it to be allowed for everyone.'

In April last year, media reports claimed Pope Francis phoned an Argentinian woman from whom he had received a letter, Jaquelina Lisbona, telling her she may receive Communion despite being married to a man who is divorced.

However, in a statement released by the Vatican, the pope's spokesman said that, while the phone call had taken place, media reports about its content 'cannot be confirmed as reliable'.

He added that 'the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences.'

In a sign that Pope Francis faces a tough battle to bring about reforms, Ms Lisbona's priest, Fr. Jose Ceschi, later told a local radio station he didn't believe the Pope would have given her permission to receive communion.

He said: 'The pope would never do that, is impossible. If the husband is coming from a previous sacrament, and they are living together - it is absolutely impossible [for the Pope to allow communion]".

On Mr Crespo's comments on the Pope's view on divorce, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: 'If the Holy Father did have this conversation it forms part of his personal relationships and was a private conversation which does not have any bearing on the teaching of the Church. [What the Pope says in private may not 'have any bearing on the teaching of the Church', but why would he even make statements in private that are contrary to Church teaching? Should he not be more discreet - even with his personal best friend? Surely he knows that anything he says cannot be separated from the fact that he, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, happens to be the Pope, and in the public mind, anything 'the Pope' says is considered part of his 'teaching' and therefore, to many Catholics, 'binding'.

Moreover, he should never take it for granted that what he says in private - especially if they are inherently 'sensational' as his 'communion for everyone, and now, his intention to dump the norm of priestly celibacy - is bound to be made public. For someone who continually claims that, in effect, he has 'the odor of the sheep' ingrained in his marrow, he seems to have a most unrealistic view of human nature.]

'The Synod on the Family is in course so the issue [of the divorced in new relationships] is being addressed. The Pope has already said what he has to say on the divorced - remarried at the Synod last October and the issue will be discussed again at this year's Synod,' Lombardi continued.

On the issue of priestly celibacy, he said: 'We don't know what the Pope may have said as part of a private conversation. We only know what he says in public. Since such conversations do not form part of the Pope's public activities, no comments from the press office should be expected. Such conversations should be seen in the context of personal pastoral relationships.' [Still, Fr. Lombardi, though you would never, of course, point this out to JMB, the Pope is not an ordinary pastor whose words do not leave a near-indelible mark - once reported, all his words, public or private, petty or otherwise, have consequences. If, for instance, what he told Mr. Crespo was that he would never ever, under any circumstances, consider altering the rule of priestly celibacy, and the world learned about it, would you be so eager to cop out in the same way, and not take the occasion to crow, "See, the Pope has absolutely no intention on reopening this issue which St. John Paul II had declared closed and settled"?]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/13/2015 3:46 AM]
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3/13/2015 1:10 AM
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The Great Divide

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I think I really am beginning to understand what Pope Francis is trying to do: he recognises the Church is already deeply divided and there are two ways of healing it. The first, is what Cardinal Burke spoke about to the CCC on Tuesday, he recognises the Church is divided but insists he is 'calling the Church to unity' around what has been revealed and what has been the Tradition.

The second way of healing division, is what I believe Pope Francis is doing by recognising what has been happening in the Church for the past century, maybe since before the Reformation: Rather than being doctrinally united we doctrinally divided or diverse. He is recognising that we are disunited, the difference is that he is the first Pope (ever?) to seem to accept the status quo as a given, rather than call the faithful to obedience and into communion.

At the heart of everything is the question "Who is Catholic?" For Cardinal Burke, it is those who believe the entire Catholic faith; for the Pope, it seems to be anyone of goodwill who identifies himself as Catholic. [I don't see where and how he makes the distinction 'of goodwill'. This is an open-arms-anything-goes Pope, for everyone, that is, who does not happen to be a Catholic guilty of the wide variety of peccadilloes he inveighs against in his homilettes (even as he would give Communion to Catholics living in a chronic state of sin). He does not seem to think his targets are men of 'good will', nor does he even bother to ask them to 'convert' - he uses them as convenient (if often largely imagined) illustrations to preach against, and if that is not instrumentalization, what is?]

One could caricature the Cardinal's position as one which excommunicates those who neither believe or act according to the Church's teaching, whereas the Pope's position could be caricatured by the stance of the German bishops: "We accept any and everybody, the only people who are beyond the pale are those who don't pay Church Tax." [Except 1) the Church does accept anyone and everybody, but it only asks that they accept what the Church asks of all the faithful and not expect to get any concessions that all the others do not get. And 2) I don't think, even in caricature, it would be fair to say that JMB/PF is with them on the church tax issue!]

Cardinal Burke might be an idealist and Francis might indeed might be a realist, but the role of a Pope, as that of any cleric, is to set before us the ideal of faith. Sociology is not a substitute for Jesus. The Successor of Peter, is "the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity" (Lumen Gentium, 23) - not unity for unity's sake but for Christ's sake.

The Petrine Ministry, exercised primarily by the Pope assisted by all those who have a role of service in the Church, including all bishops, priests and deacons, is not something low down on that fragile integrated structure, the 'hierarchy of doctrines', but a safeguard of the most fundamental doctrines. Essentially it is about announcing the Incarnation, Resurrection and Redemption.

What is at the heart of next October's Synod is not merely divorce, marriage and the Eucharist, but something touching the very nature of Christianity: Can the Church be trusted to teach? What I find deeply worrying is that if the Church cannot be trusted, can [the faithful trust] Christ? Can [they trust] Revelation? [Since the Church is the mystical Body of Christ, and is the institution that prolongs Christ's presence in the world throughout time, then the two questions about trusting Christ and Revelation come with the question about trusting the Church.]

The gloomy Remnant [US Catholic newspaper considered 'traditionalist') isn't one of my favourite reads but I was sent a link to this, an email it published. I think I could easily find a dozen similar ones from concerned clergy.

All over the world we’re seeing cardinals, archbishops and bishops affirming behaviors which are unequivocally condemned by Popes and Councils in previous centuries.

As I listen and watch these events, in my mind, over and over, I hear the phrase, “the smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary.” Could it be that all that is happening is truly the work of Satan? I’m not ready to affirm that it is, but in my heart I fear that it may be true.

If it is then it may also be true that many members of our hierarchy do not belong to Christ. I’ve had conversations with priest friends about all of this. We are all fearful for what is to come. None of us feels as if we’re standing on doctrinally solid grounds any longer.

We all cringe every time Pope Francis steps in front of a group of journalists. What will he say next? How will he berate those who are faithfully serving Christ? How will he beat up on us this time?

One of my priest friends asked me during a conversation what I would do if the Church does formally approve what it previously formally condemned. I had to confess in all honesty that I’d probably have to leave priestly ministry. He admitted that he’d probably have no choice but to do the same.

My deepest fear is that if Pope Francis continues to push the Church toward heresy that we may experience a war among the faithful that would make Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s opposition after Vatican II appear like a simple objection!

I know you’ll understand why I’m not signing my name to this email. May God preserve His Holy Church from the forces, visible and invisible, within and without, who seek to destroy it. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!

Father Anonymous

I have enormous sympathy for the anonymous priestly author. He is not alone in his anxieties, though 'to leave priestly ministry' is not something most priests would consider, but there is a problem, a very serious problem. [I certainly hope Fr. Anonymous has had time to reconsider what he wrote quite recklessly about leaving the priesthood. If he feels so strongly about the faith as it has been handed down through two millennia, even to this Pope, he should stay and fight for it, and be there for all the orthodox Catholics who will not want to take part in an 'official church' that has betrayed the deposit of faith and Christ himself, by choosing to 'interpret' words he said quite clearly and unequivocally without need for interpretation!]

The Church approving what it previously formally condemned is a serious problem - no one with integrity can go along with that, without a crisis of faith. In the past this was not an issue, now suddenly it is very real.

Rather than healing divisions, I fear that the [second] family synod this year will introduce deeper rifts in the Church, to the point where true Communion becomes a real fiction, and we end up in the same doctrinal mess as the Church of England, or any other Protestant sect, and our Bishops will be left with more and more difficulty to paper over the cracks, with less and less success.

I normally don't bother to post comments to the blogs I post, except singly if the comment is exceptionally outstanding. But the first 16 responses to Fr. Ray's post above yielded quite a few excellent ones, which I am posting as a snapshot in time - on the second anniversary of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope - of what is felt these days by orthodox Catholics who wish to express themselves publicly.

Is it better to have unity with everyone going to hell?
Or is it better to have disunity with as many as possible going to Heaven?

Nicolas Bellord:
Mgr Ronald Knox wrote: "If, per impossibile, the Church should pronounce authoritatively on a question of faith or morals, and her pronouncement was demonstrably wrong, then, per impossibile, I would leave the Church."

But as he says it is impossible that such should happen. Unless that happens he tells us to stick with it and fight on.

The Church is not some club which is for everyone but a means of salvation by loving God and following his commandments.

The quote from Knox tells us that we must retain our Faith even though many of us feel we are passing through very uncertain times. I do feel for that Priest quoted and all those who fear a schism may be inevitable.

The 'Divide' does seem to be getting wider. Today's 'Riposte Catholique' [a French website] has pointed out that although Cardinal Robert Sarah has been in France for the last two weeks and given many conferences, no mention has been made at all on the website of the French Bishops - it is as if he does not exist.

One commenter has added that the daily Catholic newspaper 'La Croix'
has also not mentioned the visit. Another writes that they are frightened that he will take them out of their comfort zone.

Cardinal Sarah said he personally welcomed Summorum Pontificum with 'confiance, joie et action de grace' (confidence, joy and thanksgiving). Sadly many of the French Bishops did not. The divisions are already there and only time will tell whether they are healed or whether they grow ever wider.

Pelerin said: "No mention has been made at all on the website of the French Bishops - it is as if he does not exist."

(“The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered – and they multiplied.” St. Augustine)

No burning tearing
Scourging skin
It’s psychological
All within.

No rotting flesh
Or putrid blood
It’s sterile clean
No rancid crud.

For butchered
Tortured bound up skins
Reveals the Truths
Of Bishops' sins.

They want it nice
They want it hushed
With veins of ice
Good souls are crushed.

The silent cold
Is better yet
Frozen solid
Can’t beget.

For martyred blood
Reveals the Church
Blind souls see Truth
And end their search.

“We can’t have that!”
The Bishops say,
“So let’s ignore…
They’ll go away.

Enlightened men
Don’t scourge the skin
Enlightened men
Keep blood within.”

But they forgot –
The woman bleeds
And monthly makes
A bed for seeds

Where nice and hushed
They’ll grow to men
And seize the oars
From wrists that bend…
On Peter’s Barque
Where blood still flows
From woman’s womb…
The Lily grows!

Susan Conner:
The Bible speaks of the "abomination of desolation" in Matthew and Revelation. Some interpret a change in praxis of admitting adulterers and sodomites (often public acts) to the Eucharist as the abomination of desolation because that will strike at the heart of the priesthood.

Seminaries of the official Church will require young men prepared to do that, while the True, remnant Church goes underground. Society will embrace the official Church because it will be inclusive, blessing the unions of adulterers and homosexuals. Priests and faithful who cannot abide by the new practice will be driven into the latter-day catacombs.

I'm sticking with Pope emeritus Benedict on this one. Should he die, I'm following Cardinal Burke.

Liam Ronan:
"As they led him off, they caught hold of a man called Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and loaded him with the cross, so that he should carry it after Jesus.

"Jesus was followed by a great multitude of the people, and also of women, who beat their breasts and mourned over him; but he turned to them, and said, 'It is not for me that you should weep, daughters of Jerusalem; you should weep for yourselves and your children. Behold, a time is coming when men will say, It is well for the barren, for the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never suckled them. It is then that they will begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us. If it goes so hard with the tree that is still green, what will become of the tree that is already dried up?'" Luke 23:26-31 (The Knox Bible)

Anil Wang:
This is why studying history is so important. What Pope Francis is doing isn't all that unique. Practically every single one of the Christological heresies that threatened schism had a "realistic" Pope that sometimes even supported the persecution of "idealistic" priests and bishops.

History has shown time and time again that "realistic" Popes are despised by future generations, and today's "idealists" are tomorrow's saints...but they must pass through their own personal Calvary before that happens, and like Moses may never enter the promised land this side of the veil. So holding fast to the Cross all the more important.

While I sympathize with the anonymous priest, he need not despair. We're just in one of the several Church crises that appear to happen every 500 years or so. What we must not do is to abandon Jesus when Peter is possessed by "The Spirit of Judas II". We must be like St John and our Blessed Mother, bravely stay by Jesus at Calvary even though Peter and the others abandoned Christ and even at the risk of being caught by the Roman and secular powers of this world.

Father, as one of The Remnant's principal contributors, I would like to thank you for this post. The witness of clergy outside "traditionalist" circles will be vitally important in confronting the reality of the threat posed by a "Synod on the Family" whose purpose, at least so far as its controllers are concerned, is to find a way to abandon the teaching of John Paul II and all his predecessors respecting discipline inextricably connected to the Church's infallible teaching on sexual morality.

As Cardinal Burke has rightly warned: such a change of discipline would mean a change of doctrine. And that would be a catastrophe.

Please do not mistake The Remnant's realism with "gloom," however. It is the situation, not the Remnant, that is gloomy. We know that in the end the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church. But we also know that God deigns to use human instruments to achieve His ends and that Catholics have a duty to defend truth and oppose error.

That "the Holy Ghost is in charge of the Church", as some commentators intone reflexively, does not mean that the Church is on autopilot, immune from human error and in no need of defense by her human members. If the Faith were mere a zero sum game whose outcome is always appropriately adjusted by the Holy Ghost regardless of what we do or fail to do, there would be no risk to souls from the negligence or deliberate misdeeds of pastors. In which case, there would be no need to condemn heresy and insist upon orthodoxy, and thus no need for the truths of the Faith as opposed to what we are seeing now: "accompanying," "welcoming," "inclusion" and a "mercy" without reference to justice, with condemnations reserved only to Catholics who are zealous for orthodoxy and orthopraxis. This is a development we have not quite seen before, even in the midst of all the confusion of the past fifty years.

Deacon Augustine:
"He is recognising that we are disunited, the difference is that he is the first Pope (ever?) to seem to accept the status quo as a given rather than call to obedience and call into communion."

As his campaign managers included a prelate whose favourite mantra was the vacuous: "Unity is more important than truth.", it is quite likely that the Pope drinks the same Kool-Aid.

The reality is that there can never be unity without truth, and hence there can never be unity between those who follow Christ and those who follow Belial.

It is a natural process of growth in any organism's life cycle that it should intermittently slough off dead flesh, or drop off dead wood. It has to happen to keep the rest of the organism healthy.

It seems that in the life of the Church, such events happen in roughly 500 year cycles and we are heading towards another tipping point now. Schism from the cancerous polyps and ecclesiastical parasites which risk overwhelming the rest of the body seems to be the only logical course for survival. [Fine. But who secedes from what? Are we orthodox Catholics to surrender the one true Church to the new 'official church' into which she is being transformed? And why should we presume that a future Pope will uphold the 'church of Bergoglio' rather than the Church of Christ?

If and when, God forbid!, Bergoglio decides to impose 'communion for everyone' on the universal Church - with or without the blessings of the family synod next October - then I know I will seek out a parish or a priest who will, per impossibile, not accept such a directive, and go on practising his ministry as Christ taught. And if no diocesan priest will do that in New York City, I shall simply seek out the nearest church where the SSPX or FSSP or even an Anglican Ordinariate practises its ministry, while praying that the next Pope will reverse any heterodox and heretical 'disciplines' that this Pope may impose.][dim]

The answer is not to "leave priestly ministry" as the correspondent suggested, but rather to stand firm and "not be blown about by every wind of doctrine" that emanates from the tempter's orifice. That would give Satan everything he wants to achieve without him even having to break a sweat. No, fight it by teaching the truth, fight it by doing what is right and fight it by refusing to co-operate with evil. Fight it on our knees with our Rosaries in our hands.

The price of remaining faithful in the face of rampant apostasy will be long, painful suffering, constantly bearing the contempt and ridicule of the backsliders, and perhaps loss of office and ministry because of persecution by corrupt bishops. But if Our Lord could endure His Passion and Cross for us, so what? This is the chance for our own salvation. Let the enemy bring it on.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/13/2015 1:20 AM]
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Week before last, when the Holy Week liturgical program for the Pope was announced, the Mass of the Lord's Supper was omitted - obviously because it had not yet been decided where JMB/PF would say it this year, only that it would not be at his Cathedral as Bishop of Rome. I said I would re-post a commentary made by Fr. Scalese back in 2013 explaining the whys and wherefores of the post Vatican-II Ceremonial Manual about the Paschal Triduum and how JMB, since he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, has chosen to disregard the indications for the Mass of the Lord's Supper (thereby downgrading its significance and reducing it to focus on the footwashing ritual which is simply an accessory aspect of that Mass).

The Vatican has now announced that the Pope will say his 'Mass of the Footwashing' in Rebibia, Rome's largest prison, where he will wash the feet of male and female prisoners.

Relativism in the Church?
Translated from

by Fr. Giovanni Scalese
March 24, 2013

Until a few years ago, I was involved more or less directly with the 'formation' of priests within my religious order. During which I often lamented the 'multiplicity of formations' because in practice, there seemed to be as many ways of training priests as there were formators.

Despite the existence of appropriate Constitutions, the Ratio institutionis [statement on the reasons for the establishment of a religious order], the deliberations in the Chapters-General and homegrown traditions, each novice or student was in fact trained according to the personal whims of the Father-Teacher to whom they happened to be assigned. You can imagine what consequences it has had for the unity of the Congregation!

In all the meetings among the 'formators' and of the Chapters-General, I always insisted on the need for a unity in the formatiVe process, and I must admit that this met with approval even in the Chapter meetings. But i have the impression that despite all that, the situation has remained virtually unchanged.

But what I lamented about the process of formation in my Order really constitutes a general problem that touches every aspect of Christian life and which has become widespread across the Church. Especially after Vatican II, when it seemed as if everyone believed he was authorized to do as he pleases.

Let me not be misunderstood. I am not criticizing Vatican II - I accept with conviction all the reforms it promoted some of which were subsequently realized - reforms which were made necessary by changing times.

In the years after the Council, the Popes and the dicasteries of the Roman made an enormous effort of 'aggiornamento' - bringing up to date - in all sectors of the Church, leaving room for the possibility of further adaptations to local situations, but always within the limits set by the new standards.

The problem is that such norms are often almost completely ignored by the 'base', where the common opinion is that the Council had swept away all legalisms and that the only criterion for action would now be to heed the Holy Spirit, whose urgings would seem to be identical to the personal goals of those who invoke his name! [But if only they were! Instead, the 'spiritists' invoke a 'spirit of Vatican II' - as if the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the Council (ditto for the 'spirit of Assisi). Why do the progressivists invoke an amorphous undefined spirit, a secular phantasm, instead of the Holy Spirit himself?Perhaps because even they feel it would be sacrilege to invoke the Third Person in support of ideas that are not that of the Church he created at that first Pentecost.]

Why this long introduction, you might ask: What is Fr. Scalese leading to? It is the reflection that came to mind when the other day, I read the news that left me somewhat perplexed: the Pope, on Maundy Thursday, would celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo in Rome.

So how could that be a problem? Is it not a most beautiful gesture decided on by Papa Bergoglio? Isn't visiting those in prison one of the corporal works of mercy? And can the Pope not freely decide where to celebrate the evening Mass of Maundy Thursday?

I would like to start by responding to the last question, because I believe that all the rest will depend on a correct answer. It is true that the Pope can decide as he wishes - he is the supreme legislator in the Church.

But he can so decide, in fact, by legislating. If there is any law that he dislikes, he may change it. Until then, if there is an existing law, made by him or his predecessors, in my opinion, I do not think he can simply choose to ignore it.

I am not a canonist, but I do not believe the Pope can apply the principle “Princeps legibus solutus” (The sovereign is above the law). It would not be correct at all with respect to those who are held to observe a law. This, as a general principle.

In this case, it is not really about laws, but of pastoral instructions which nevertheless, in my opinion, are binding in nature. Some thirty years ago, the Ceremoniale Episcoporum was published - which I do not think was intended primarily for the diocesan liturgical masters but above all, for the bishops themselves.

I would point out that I am not referring here to the Ceremonial of 1600 (after the Council of Trent) but to that of 1984, “ex decreto Sacrosancti Œcumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum, auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatum” - as decreed by the Second Vatican Council to build the sacred, and as promulgated by the authority of John Paul II.

So what does this Ceremonial Manual say with regard to the rites of the Paschal Triduum?

"Bearing in mind the special dignity of these days and the great spiritual and pastoral importance of these celebrations in the life of the Church, it is supremely fitting that the Bishop, presiding in his cathedral church,`celebrates the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the liturgical acts of Good Friday recalling the Passion of the Lord, and the Easter Vigil, especially if the latter will include the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation" (No. 296).

Specifically, regarding Maundy Thursday, the Ceremonial Manual proceeds: "The Bishop, even if he has already celebrated the Chrismal Mass in the morning, must also take to heart the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper with the full participation of priests, deacons, ministers and the faithful around him" (No. 298).

These are not in any way compulsory norms, but instructions that are urgent, and from which, in my opinion one can deviate only for the most serious of reasons. According to the report, Pope Francis would only be continuing a practice he began as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, which implies that he intends to do the same thing every year as Pope.

It is clear that the problem has not emerged only now that Cardinal Bergoglio has become Pope, but that it began when he was an Archbishop. I can imagine his reason for doing so: "I already celebrated the Chrismal Mass this morning with all my clergy. This evening, the Mass of the Lord's Supper will be said in the various parishes. So who will I be celebrating with in the Cathedral? Even the seminarians will not be there because they are ordered to serve in their respective parishes. So I will go and celebrate the Mass for the sick, those in prison, and I shall also be carrying out a work of mercy".

It is a reasoning that is quite understandable, if not outright praiseworthy, but which also risks 'dismantling' in one act everything that Vatican II authoritatively stated:

"The Bishop must be considered as the high priest of his flock. In a certain way the life of the faithful in Christ derives from him and depends on him. That is why bishops are dutybound to give great importance to the liturgy of the diocese which takes place around the figure of the Bishop, principally at his 'cathedral' church (i.e., the church where he occupies the cathedra), in the belief that the Church manifests herself in a special way in the full and active participation of the People of God in the same liturgical celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, the same prayers, the same altar at which the Bishop presides, surrounded by his priests and ministers" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 41).

The text is reprised in the Ceremoniale which says: "Therefore the sacred celebrations presided over by the Bishop, manifest the mystery of the Church in which Christ is present, and are not just a simple matter of ceremonial... At certain times and on the most important days of the liturgical year, this full manifestation of (each) local Church is called for, to which shall be invited all the people coming from different parts of the diocese, and as much as possible, its priests"(Nos. 12-13).

"The principal manifestation of the local Church takes place when the Bishop, as the high priest of his flock, celebrates the Eucharist, most especially in his cathedral church, surrounded by his priests and ministers, with the full and active participation of the entire holy People of God. .. This Mass, which is called 'stational' [i.e., referring to a specific location, or 'station'], manifests the unity of the local Church and the diversity of the ministers around the Bishop at the sacred Eucharist. Therefore, as many faithful as possible should be invited to the Mass, the priests concelebrate with their Bishop, the deacons lend their particular service, and acolytes and readers exercise their functions" (No. 119).

"This form of the Mass shall be observed most especially at the major solemnities of the liturgical year, when the Bishop prepares the sacred Chrism and in the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, in the celebrations of the holy founder of the local Church and the patron saint of the diocese, on the anniversary of the bishop's ordination, in the large assemblies of the Christian people, and in his pastoral visits" (No. 120).

The Vatican statement on March 21 about the decision of Pope Francis to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper in a Roman detention center for minors, said, "As we all know, the Mass of the Lord's Supper is characterized by the announcement of the commandment of love and the ritual gesture of 'washing feet'."

With this, too, the Ceremonial Manual for Bishops is more complete and precise: "With this Mass, therefore, we commemorate the Eucharist, in memory of the Lord's Passover, through which the sacrifice of the New Covenant is made perennially present among us under sacramental signs. It also commemorates the institution of the priesthood, through which the mission and sacrifice of Christ are made present in the world. And finally, it commemorates the love with which the Lord loved us to the extreme of dying for us. The Bishop must concern himself with taking the opportunity to propose all these truths to his faithful through the ministry of the word, so that the faithful in their piety may penetrate more profoundly these great mysteries and may be able to live them more intensely in their actual lives". (No. 297) [Nothing there about the 'washing of the feet'! And one might be led to conclude, after being given chapter and verse of the Bishops' Manual and Sacrosanctum Concilium, that Cardinal Bergoglio never really read these injunctions, or if he did, decided he could well ignore the parts he chooses to ignore.]

The washing of the feet is certainly a significant feature in the celebration of Maundy Thursday but it would be a mistake to consider it an essential element. Indeed, it is not an obligatory rite - it is to be carried out only "when pastoral reasons make it advisable" (No. 301). Unfortunately, in recent years, and in various places, it has been loaded with meanings that far exceed its original value.

Some will say that I am making a mountain out of a liturgical molehill, some will accuse me of fussiness, if not of outright rubricism or legalism. And some will certainly liken me to the Pharisees, who accused Jesus of not observing the Law when he healed on the Sabbath. While some will protest that I am trying to tell
the Pope how to be Pope.

Let them say what they want.But no one can certainly hinder me from thinking that some decisions, apparently innocuous, could have devastating consequences.

a. First of all, in ignoring existing norms in the Church - even those that may seem merely secondary - there is a risk of placing some fundamental values into question, values that Vatican II has shed light on and which it intended to become the common patrimony of the Church.

b. In the second place, the thought could be encouraged that yes, certain norms exist, but it is not that important to respect them. So if the Pope considers that it is possible to ignore them, it means they cannot be all that important. And if he can do it, why can I not do the same?

c. That, in turn, would give the impression that there are no objective and stable standards that are valid for everyone and for always, but that everything depends on personal discretion of the person who happens to be the responsible authority.

d. Finally therefore, there is the risk that relativism, so much opposed in words by today's society, does indeed become the supreme standard even within the Church.

A year has gone since Fr. Scalese's article, and unless we have not been informed, I don't believe Pope Francis has legislated anything that supersedes the provisions of Sancrosanctum Concilium and the Ceremoniale Episcoparum with regard to the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper... What follows are the remarks I posted after Fr. Scalese's article - it just happened to be Good Friday this day last year...

An inopportune reflection
on Good Friday

To add to Father Scalese's argument about the inevitably slippery slope opened up by discretionary flouting of canonical rubric and eventually canon law itself - Fr. Scalese doesn't say so outright but clearly implies it is an act of arrogance rather than humility to do so ("See how much better I am!") - I take the opportunity to illustrate the dilemma I face regarding Pope Francis, a holy man the sole of whose shoes I am certainly not fit to even touch, and whose personal virtues will obviously neither be diminished nor enhanced by what anyone says or thinks about him.

I am increasingly troubled by the very aspects of his personality - and I emphasize the word 'personality', namely Jorge Bergoglio, who has been front and center since March 13, even with the papal name of Francis - which have earned him universal accolades as the embodiment of all virtues. Especially, as the media gloatingly do, in comparison to his predecessor who was certainly never 'defined' by his external gestures nor ever sought to define himself thus. He always receded into the background in the most natural way possible, and without calling attention to his self-effacement because that would have been a contradiction of his intention. I have therefore been haunted since March 13, 2013, by the parable of the Pharisee and the publican.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.' But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you [Jesus says], the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18,9-14).

Obviously, one immediately identifies a holy man like Pope Francis with the humble publican. What disturbs me is that I can just as easily find elements of his 'persona' - namely, of the Jorge Bergoglio who is now Pope Francis but who continues to be distinct from the figure of Pope - in the Pharisee.

He has been telling the world, in effect, "Look at me! I am not like the other Popes before me. I am humble and simple, I only want to serve, and serve the poor especially. So I will not be doing what the other Popes did because I am different from all of them. I will be an example who will show the world how and what a Pope [Excuse me, 'Bishop of Rome'] ought to be".

It is a presumptuousness, pardon me, that I never sensed in any of the other Popes in my lifetime, who simply became Pope with all the attendant consequences thereto, including what some derisively call 'the trappings' - and no one, not even the media, thought them any less for it. Once again, think John XXIII, who was 'il Papa buono' even for the media though he gladly and obediently - and therefore, humbly - took on all the customary trappings of his unique office.

The obvious answer to what amounts to faithlessness on my part is, of course, "But what's wrong with a Pope who sets the example? Not so much for other Popes who will follow him but for the bishops and priests now?" To which I would say that the loss of faith within the Church is great indeed if bishops and priests needed the Pope to remind them by token headline-generating gestures that each of us is called on to imitate Christ. If their daily Mass, recreating the supreme sacrifice in persona Christi does not already remind them daily and call them to true imitation of Christ, nothing will - certainly not the fleeting example of self-deprivation and self-abasement by other humans like them, even if he happens to be the Pope.

Francis of Assisi himself, the alter Christus - who visited the Pope in Rome at least twice in his lifetime - never called on the Popes of his time to despoliate themselves and the Church, and live like the Franciscans did, begging for a living. As a good Catholic, he knew what function the Pope plays and that he carries out his office within and according to a tradition that had developed over centuries - more than a millennium already, in Francis's time - a tradition not tarnished but re-burnished even after a Pope like Alexander Borgia.

Nor was St. Francis made so giddily mindless by his self-mortification to forget that there are other ways - including that of the Popes - to live Christ's Gospel.

What disturbs me further is that Cardinal Bergoglio is no naive bishop who is unaware of the overwhelmingly disproportionate media influence on global public opinion by all the attention he is generating. Where does he draw the line between genuine humility and allowing the onslaught of adulatory commentary to build up about his persona, not about Christ and the Papacy?

Even if he may think that all the attention he is getting is "all the better to spread my message", it is not the message of Christ that is being spread by all the media hullaballoo, but their 'shock and awe' over the never-ending novelties from someone who happens to be their celebrity du jour. It is about him as a person - Jorge Bergoglio as Pope - not about the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. The effect of all the novelties is the very opposite of self-effacement.

And with that, I will gladly put on sackcloth and ashes once again. and seek to make my personal amends, as the Act of Contrition says, for even thinking as I do and expressing my thoughts, especially on Good Friday.

P.S. 2014 In his last wide-ranging media interview - given to the editor-in-chief of Corriere della Sera three weeks ago - Pope Francis was asked, rather disingenuously and in a leading way -

You have said that the Francis-mania will not last long. Is there something in your public image that you don’t like?
I like being among the people. Together with those who suffer. Going to parishes. I don’t like the ideological interpretations, a certain ‘mythology of Pope Francis’. When it is said, for example, that he goes out of the Vatican at night to walk and to feed the homeless on Via Ottaviano. It has never crossed my mind. If I’m not wrong, Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there is an aggression. Depicting the Pope to be a sort of superman, a type of star, seems offensive to me. The Pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone. A normal person.

The interviewer egregiously failed to ask the obvious follow-up question: "So how do you feel that there is now a weekly magazine dedicated exclusively to you?" - considering he is the first celebrity in history ever to have a 'fanzine' dedicated exclusively to him [the Francine fanzine, we might say).

This is, of course, one of the developments I failed to note on this thread, since the announcement came during one of my AWOL days. And yes, CHI - Italy's answer to PEOPLE magazine - now has a new sister publication called IL MIO PAPA, dedicated exclusively to news, commentaries and photographs of Pope Francis, and it debuted to mark the first anniversary of his Pontificate.

Mondadori, the Italian publishing giant responsible for this new publication, must have solid statistics about the potential success of this venture to support their decision. Going by PF's answer to Corriere della Sera, shouldn't this initiative be 'offensive' to him? Yet one imagines Mondadori would have cleared this with the Vatican, if only for courtesy, before going ahead with the venture. {Was there no papal remonstration at all of "Oh, please no! Don't do it! Don't do it! My being Pope is not about me - it's all about Jesus and his Church! It's all about Jesus and his Church!", with his characteristic emphasis by repetition!)

Speaking of personality cults, Kim Jong-un in North Korea must be gnashing his teeth that no one in his Court of the 'Serviles' ever thought of such a magazine. No one ever thought of doing it for Barack Obama, either, who preceded Pope Francis as the celebrity supernova phenomenon of all time. And even Mao Tse-tung only had his Little Red Book of teachings printed in all the known languages (or maybe the Communists circulated comicbooks about his life and achievements by the hundreds of millions - though I do not think so because I never saw one and I was quite a collector of Mao memorabilia - just because he had become such a legend - during visits to China back in the days when that country was still mostly closed to the rest of the world, the first two visits while Mao was still alive)...

P.S. 2015 The above was, of course, first written in 2013, but nothing has changed since then. All my fundamental reservations and criticisms of Jorge Mario Bergoglio acting as Pope are as alive and fervent as ever.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/14/2015 1:35 AM]
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Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but on the major Catholic news-aggregation sites, there is very little hooplah about the second anniversary of this Pontificate, as if somehow the unprecedented tsunami of universal acclamation for Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope has died down to human-scale surf waves occasionally crashing into shore with just enough noise to call attention.

And it seems the highlight of this anniversary was the JMB/PF's nth interview, this one granted to a Mexican TV journalist - newsmaking because he reiterates, more or less, what he states a rather dramatic (or melodramatic) variation on what he has expressed before that he does not rule out resigning as Pope a la Benedict XVI. Cynic that I am, I cannot help seeing something calculated about this new statements. Guaranteed to elicit reactions like, "Oh no! That's not what God wants for you! He wouldn't take you away from us when the Church has waited more than 2000 years for a pluperfect ideal Pope! What would we do without you? Just when the Church is finally changing for the better!"

Francis: My years as Pope will be 'brief'

VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2015 (Reuters) - Pope Francis said in an interview published on Friday he believes his pontificate will be short and that he would be ready to resign like his predecessor rather than ruling for life.

In the long interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa, released on the second anniversary of his surprise election, Francis also said he "did not mind" being pope but would like to be able to go out in Rome unrecognized for a pizza.

"I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief - four or five years, even two or three. Two have already passed. It's a somewhat strange sensation," he said, according to a Vatican translation from Spanish.

"I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time," the Argentine-born pontiff said.

Francis, apparently in good health at 78, said "I share the idea of what Benedict did." In 2013, former Pope Benedict became the first head of the Roman Catholic Church in 600 years to resign instead of ruling until he died.

"In general, I think what Benedict so courageously did was to open the door to the popes emeritus. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution," Francis said.

However, he said he did not like the idea of an automatic retirement age for popes, such as at age 80.

In the 17-page interview, Francis also said the fact he is the first pope from Latin America compelled him to speak out on behalf of migrants and the poor because his ancestors had to move from Italy to Argentina to find work.

"People are being discarded and forced to seek employment elsewhere," said Francis, whose first trip after his election was to the Italian island of Lampedusa to pay tribute to thousands of migrants who have died trying to reach Europe.

Francis, who in the past has called for more regulation of markets, denounced "the injustice of wealth," saying it was a mortal sin to give someone an unjust salary or for the rich to take advantage of the poor.

On the lighter side, Francis said "I do not mind," when asked if he liked being pope.

"The only thing I would like is to go out one day, without being recognised, and go to a pizzeria for a pizza," he said, adding that he missed his days as a bishop in Buenos Aires, when he could move about the city freely.

"In Buenos Aires, I was a rover," he said.

Not too many anniversaries as Pope?

Vatican City, March 13, 2015 (AFP) - Pope Francis marked the second anniversary of his election on Friday by giving an interview in which he says he expects his time at the Vatican to only last for another two or three years.

"I have a feeling my pontificate will be brief," the 78-year-old told Mexico's Televisa channel.

"Four or five years, I don't know. Two years have already gone by.

"It is a vague feeling I have that the Lord chose me for a short mission. I am always open to that possibility."

The first pope from Latin America has hinted in the past that he could retire, emulating his predecessor Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to resign in seven centuries when he stepped down in February 2013.

Francis said Benedict had "opened an institutional door" but stopped short of repeating previous hints he could also resign, which drew criticism from some conservative theologians.

"The idea of fixing an age limit of 80 is not one I like very much," he said, arguing that it would create lame-duck pontiffs.

Francis said he visited and spoke by telephone to Benedict, who lives a monastic life in a former convent inside the Vatican.

"He is happy, satisfied and respected by everyone," he said. "He can be asked for advice and he is loyal to the death."

Intriguingly, when asked if he liked being pope, Francis replies: "I don't not like it," before expanding on his dislike of travelling and his fondness for the comforts and familiarity of home.

Despite that, Francis insisted he did not feel lonely in the top job, although he did confess to sometimes longing for the anonymity enjoyed as the parish priest he once was.

One thing he would really like is to be able to go out of the Vatican one day without being recognised and "go and eat a pizza," he said.

Here is Vatican Radio's English summary-transcription of the Televisa interview:

Pope Francis on his Pontificate to date

March 13, 2015

Migration and drug trafficking, the reform of the Curia, the challenges of the Synod for the Family and the need to make the Church a safe home for all children and vulnerable adults. In a wide-ranging interview with Valentina Alazraki, from the Mexican broadcaster Televisa, Pope Francis has marked the second year of his pontificate by addressing the hot topics that have dominated public discourse since his election to the papacy, revealing details of the Conclave that made him the 265th Successor of St. Peter.

It was the Holy Father’s choice that the interview with the Mexican broadcaster take place in Casa Santa Marta, in the room where the his Council of Nine cardinals hold their meetings and which is dominated by a large image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Indicating the image the Pope explained that the Mexican Virgin is a "source of cultural unity, which leads to holiness in the midst of so much shame, so much injustice, exploitation, and so much death".

The interview begins with the question as to why a stop in Mexico was not scheduled as part of the papal journey to the USA for the World Day of Families in September.
- The Pope replies that he thought of entering the United States through the border with Mexico. But going to Ciudad Juarez or Morelia without a visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe would be perplexing for Mexicans. The Pope also says he cannot pay a fleeting visit to Mexico - any visit to the nation and its people would need at least a week and he promises to pay a visit as soon as possible.

The journalist asks the Pope, as the son of immigrants, for a reflection on what it would have meant to have entered the US via such a significant border for the phenomenon of migration.
- Pope Francis responds by pointing out that not only Mexicans cross that border, but people from throughout Central America, for example Guatemala, cross Mexico in search of a better future.

“Today - says Francis - migration is the result of a malaise in the etymological sense of the word, the result of a hunger. The same happens in Africa, with the Mediterranean crossings, people who come from countries that are going through difficult times because of hunger, wars.

“Today – clarifies the Pope – migration is linked to hunger and lack of work. People are being discarded and forced to seek employment elsewhere. [Isn't there a non sequitur here? In the past, JMB spoke of old and disabled persons as those discarded by society - surely not the ones 'forced to seek employment elsewhere'!]

“Right now the problem of global migration is very painful. Because there are various borders of migration. I rejoice that Europe is reviewing its migration policy. Italy has been very generous and I want to say that. The mayor of Lampedusa, who is a woman, has put herself on the line at the cost of transforming the island from a tourist destination to a place of asylum and welcome. Which means earning less money. This is heroic. But now, thank God, I see that Europe is reviewing the situation. [Lampedusa as a tourist destination? Is that a joke? Let's hear from travel agents about the possibilities - even if the island did not have to harbor the boat people at all!]

"Returning to the migration across the Mexican border, the area also has ​​problems due to drug trafficking. Morelia and that whole area is an area of ​​great suffering, where organizations of drug traffickers are not subtle in the least. They carry out their work of death, they are messengers of death both for drugs, and their 'making a clean sweep' of those who oppose drugs, the 43 students (of Iguala) somehow are asking, I would not say for revenge, but for justice and to be remembered.

"And in this regard I wish to satisfy a curiosity: I wanted to make the Archbishop of Morelia a Cardinal, because he is in the firing line, he is a man who really is in a hot spot and is a witness of Christian life, a great priest. But we will talk later about the Cardinals. [So why didn't he? And on this topic, why didn't he make the Greek Catholic Patriarch of the Ukraine, Mons. Shevchuk, a cardinal, seeing as he has been on the frontlines of a true and proper war of aggression against the eastern Ukraine? Or perhaps Patriarch Louis Sako of the Chaldean Church of Iraq? Especially since for all the hosannahs about his second batch of cardinals and his 'reaching out to the peripheries', he once again did not name any new cardinal from the Oriental Churches.]

The journalist asks the Pope if the fact that he is Latin American makes him feel more responsible for having to give voice to the millions of people who are forced to leave their countries, cross borders and barriers world over.
- The Pope replies in the affirmative. He wants to be the voice of migrants and that his sensitivity towards migrants is not ideological, but it is spontaneous and comes from his personal history and his migrant parents.

The journalist returns to the case of the 43 students of Iguala and asks the Pope how people can react to this difficult situation drawing on their values ​​and cultural resources alone.
- The Pope recalls Mexico’s long history of saints and martyrs and reiterates the importance of committing at an altruistic level to society in order to overcome the country’s ills. The Pope says “we cannot turn away as if the problems did not concern us all and we cannot blame it all on the government or one sector, group or person, because that would be infantile”.

The journalist asks the Pope for a reflection on the proliferation of sects in Mexico and more generally in Latin America and the Churches’ responsibility in the loss of faithful. ...
- The Pope begins to speak of evangelical movements and whether these are these sects or not. What they typically offer is personal contact, the ability to be close to the people, to greet and meet people in person.

He says that in Latin America a strong clericalism creates a certain distance from people. Clericalism in Latin America has been one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of the laity. The laity in Latin America grew only thanks to popular piety, which the Pope says, has given the opportunity to lay people to be creative and free, through worship, processions etc... But organizationally, the laity has not grown enough and has not grown because of a clericalism that creates distance.

Returning to the question, the Pope makes a distinction between honest and good evangelical movements and those that are considered sects. For example, there are proposals that are not religious and Christian evangelicals also reject them. There are sects - some originate from the theology of prosperity - that promise a better life and, although they appear animated by great religious spirit, eventually they ask for money. You cannot generalize - says the Pope - but you have to evaluate each case.

The Pope also speaks of “disastrous” homilies as another reason for the flight of Catholics. "I do not know if they are the majority - but they do not reach the heart. They are lessons in theology and are abstract or long and this is why I devoted so much space to them in Evangelii Gaudium. [Hmmm... I wonder how many priests ever give 'lessons in theology' in their homilies? And one must think very hard indeed whether the Casa Santa Marta homilettes are the kind that 'reach the heart' at all. The totally idiosyncratic Bergoglian interpretations of the Mass readings (i.e,. of Scripture) are often too far-fetched and rather incoherent, so that along with the insulting associations he brings to these interpretations, the mind puts on the brakes quickly, and effectively keeps the words from entering any farther - much less to the heart!]

"Typically evangelicals are close to the people, they aim for the heart and prepare their homilies really well. [Does it look like the Casa Santa Marta homilettes are prepared 'really well'???] I think we have to have a conversion in this. The Protestant concept of the homily is much stronger than the Catholic. It’s almost a sacrament". [Not having listened to any Protestant sermons at all - even if the house I grew up in was next to a Methodist church - I am unable to express an opinion about that sweeping commendation of Protestant homilies. But since JMB/PF is not exactly known for precision and exactness in his speech, I cannot take his word for it either.]

In conclusion, the Pope says that the flight of Catholics is caused by distance, clericalism, boring homilies as opposed to closeness, work, integration, the burning word of God. [I take it we ought to consider the Casa Santa Marta homilettes as 'the burning Word of God'????] And it is a phenomenon that affects not only the Church but also the evangelical communities. [I certainly hope Massimo Introvigne - ueber-normalist, FOF and sociologist of religions - takes on this superficial and again quite idiosyncratically Bergoglian 'analysis' of why Catholics have been leaving the Church!]

The Pope concludes his discussion by citing the importance of the work undertaken between the Church and evangelical pastors in Buenos Aires.

The journalist asks the Pope to speak about what happened that day two years ago when he was elected to the Chair of Peter.
- The Pope replies that he had come to Rome carrying only a small suitcase, as he never believed that he would be elected Pope, and would return to resume duties for Holy Week. He was convinced he would return to Buenos Aires for Palm Sunday, so much so, that he had already prepared the homily, and had arrived with the minimum necessary thinking it would be a very short Conclave.

He was not on any list of eligible candidates and neither had the thought entered his mind. In fact, in London bookies had ranked his name in 42nd and 46th place. Yet an acquaintance as a joke, bet on him and did very well.

As for voting, the Pope said that the journalists only considered him a great elector, at most he would indicate a name, and so they didn’t bother him much. Then there was the first vote, on Tuesday night, then the second and the third Wednesday morning before lunch.

“The phenomenon of a conclave vote is interesting. There are very strong candidates. But many people do not know who to vote for. So six, seven, names are chosen that are a kind of depository, while people wait to see who to definitively vote for. This is how people vote when the group is large. I was not the recipient of definitive votes, but provisional ones, yes”.

The journalist asks if it is true that in the previous conclave he had obtained forty votes...
- The Pope immediately responds no. She insists on the point saying that others say so. The Pope replies: They say so, not me.

A cardinal said so, says the journalist. [She is obviously referring to the much-cited October 2005 article purporting to report an unnamed cardinal's account of the April 2005 Conclave, which was an attempt to 'downgrade' Joseph Ratzinger's election by claiming he was elected by only a few votes beyond the required two-thirds majority.]
- "Well let the Cardinal say what he wants. I too can speak because now I have the authority to speak, but let the cardinal have his say [about 2005]. Really, until that afternoon [March 13, 2013), nothing. And then something happened, I do not know what. In the room I saw some strange signs, but ... They asked me about my health ... and stuff. And when we came back in the afternoon the cake was already in the oven. In two votes it was all over. It was a surprise even for me.

"In the first vote of the afternoon when I realized the situation may be irreversible, next to me - and I want to speak about this because of our friendship – was Cardinal Hummes, a towering figure. At his age, he is the delegate of the Bishops' Conference for the Amazon and is very active pastorally.

"Halfway through the first vote of the afternoon – because there were two - when we saw what was happening, he was right beside me telling me not to worry, this is how the Holy Spirit works. That amused me. After the second vote when the two-thirds majority was reached, there was applause, there is always applause at this point in the conclaves, so he kissed me and told me not forget the poor, and this phrase began to go round in my head, and that's what led me to my choice of name. [I always wondered why Hummes found it necessary to remind his friend about the poor, and now JMB reconfirms that it was the reminder which made him choose his pontifical name - he did have to be reminded then???]

"During the vote I was praying the rosary, I usually pray three rosaries daily, and I felt great peace, almost to the point of insentience. The very same when everything was resolved, and for me, this was a sign that God wanted it, great peace. From that day to this I have not lost it. It is 'something inside’ - it is like a gift.

"I do not know what happened next. They made me stand up. They asked me if I agreed. I said yes. I do not know if they made me swear on something, I forget. I was at peace. I went to change my vestments. And I went out and I wanted to go first to greet Cardinal Diaz, who was there in his wheelchair, and after that, I greeted the other cardinals. Then I asked the vicar of Rome and Cardinal Hummes to accompany me. Something that was not planned in the protocol.

"Then we went to pray in the Pauline Chapel, while Card. Tauran announced my name. Afterwards, I came out and I did not know what to say. And you are the witnesses of everything else. I deeply felt that a minister needs the blessing of God, but also that of his people. I did not dare to ask the people to bless me. I simply said: pray that God may bless me through you. But it came out spontaneously, also my prayer for Benedict. "

Do you like being Pope?
- "I do not mind!"

What do you like or do not like about being the Pope? Or do you like everything?
- "The only thing I would like is to go out one day, without being recognized, and go to a pizzeria for a pizza."

That would be nice
- No, I say this as an example. In Buenos Aires I was a rover. I moved between parishes and certainly this habit has changed... it has been hard work to change. But you get used to it. You find a way to get around: on the phone, or in other ways ... "

The journalist asks the Pope about the fact that he has often said his would be a short pontificate and often refers to the possibility of dying of old age ...
- "I have the feeling that my Pontificate will be brief: 4 or 5 years; I do not know, even 2 or 3. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation. Maybe it's like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won’t be disappointed and if he wins, is happy. I do not know. But I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more ... But it is a feeling. I always leave the possibility (to programs) open ".

You also told us that will follow the example of Pope Benedict ... This changes a bit 'the idea of ​​the papacy, because we used that the pope was an institution created by the Holy Spirit and to the death.
- "There were some cardinals who prior to the conclave, in the general congregations, probed the very interesting, very rich theological problem. I think that what Pope Benedict did has been to open a door. 60 years ago there were no emeritus bishops. And now we have 1400. They came to the idea that a man after 75, or close to that age, cannot carry the weight of a particular church.

"In general I think what Benedict so courageously did was to open the door to the Popes emeritus. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution. Maybe he will be the only one for a long time, maybe he will not be the only one. But an institutional door has been opened. Today the Pope Emeritus is no longer a rarity since a door for him to exist as a figure has been opened".

Can you imagine a situation where a Pope retires at 80 as is the case with bishops?
- "I can. However, I do not really like the idea of ​​an age limit. Because I believe that the Papacy is a kind of last instance. It is a special grace. For some theologians the Papacy is a sacrament. The Germans are very creative in all these things. I do not think so, but I want to say that it is something special. To say that one is in charge up to 80 years, creates a sensation that the pontificate is at it’s end and that would not be a good thing. Predictability.

"I would not support the idea of ​putting an age limit on it, but I share the idea of ​​what Benedict did. I saw him the other day at the Consistory. He was happy, content. Respected by all. I visit him. Every so often I speak with him on the phone. As I said, it's like having a wise grandfather at home. One can seek advice. Loyal to the death.

"I do not know if you remember when we parted February 28 in the Clementine Hall, he said, my successor is among you, I promise loyalty, fidelity and obedience. And he does. A Man of God".

The journalist asks the Pope about the reform of the Curia and whether it is a purely technical process or whether it is more a question of mentality, of heart ...
- The Pope replies that all change begins in the heart, but it is also a conversion in one’s way of life.

And speaking of the Curia he says: "I think this is the last court that remains in Europe. The others have been democratized, even the most classic among them. There is something in the papal court that maintains a somewhat atavistic tradition. And I do not say this in a derogatory way, it is a question of culture. This must be changed, the appearance of a court can be maintained, while being a working group at the service of the Church. At the service of the bishops".

Recalling all the questions that raised moral and ethical issues in the Vatican (Vatileaks etc…) he argues that there is a need for a conversion on a personal level and that it must begin with the Pope himself to remedy the situation. [A classically 'mindless' Bergoglian statement, which implies that the 'Pope of Vatileaks' somehow did nothing 'to remedy the situation' - i.e., the moral and ethical questions raised about the Vatican!]

On the topic of the Synod for the family the journalist asks the Pope whether he will promote changes in the field of communion for divorced and remarried, and on homosexuality.
- The Pope responds by arguing that there are enormous expectations. [Classic sidestepping without answering the question! It's really all playing coy, since we know what he practised in Buenos Aires, and we know he called the 'family synods' to get synodal consensus in favor of specific 'pastorally lenient' practices.]

As for the Synod and the choice of the theme, Francis retraces the steps that led to the formulation of the synod topic, mainly because of the serious difficulties that the family is experiencing in society, and in particular among younger generations. Reflecting on the crisis of the family, the Pope said he believes that the Lord wants us to address some specific problems: marriage preparation, support for cohabiting couples [Isn't it the duty of the Church to lead them into marriage instead of 'supporting' cohabitation???], accompanying newlyweds, support for those who have failed marriages, and new unions. [Note how artfully he has woven in his three pet issues into the statement: cohabiting couples, remarried divorcees (failed marriages), and 'new unions' (which I suppose would describe same-sex coupling!) At least, he is being candid here, even through his dissembling.] The importance of understanding the sacrament of marriage to prevent many marriages becoming more a social event rather than one of faith.

On the issue of child abuse and zero tolerance of the phenomenon.
- The Pope replies that the Commission [for the Protection of Minors, which he set up in 2013] is not about abuse but for the protection of minors. That is, prevention. The problem of abuse is a grave one, with most cases of abuse occurring in the family sphere or involving other people who are known to them. Even one priest committing abuse is sufficient reason to mobilize all structures of the Church to confront the problem. Indeed, it is a priest’s duty to nurture a little boy or girl in holiness and in their encounter with Jesus, and what they [abusers] do is destroy this encounter with Jesus.

Francis talks about the importance of listening to victims and speaks of his experience of meeting with 6 survivors of abuse in the Vatican. [And Benedict XVI met with victims in the USA, Malta, the UK, and Germany.] The Pope says the interior destruction that they experience is devastating, and even one priest who is guilty is enough to make us all ashamed and commit to doing all that is possible.

Pope Francis also acknowledges Benedict XVI’s courage in publicly stating it is a crime to destroy an innocent creature with such actions and Pope Saint John Paul II’s in having started the work of reporting such crimes. [Quite a striking minimalization of Benedict XVI's pioneering, seminal, groundbreaking and foundational work to combat this shameful scourge in the Church! I certainly hope JMB said more about B16's work in the full interview!]

3/14/2015 8:51 PM
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The big story yesterday on the second anniversary of this Pontificate was the Pope's announcement of an Extraordinary Jubilee Year next year as the Holy Year of Mercy. The Church generally observes a Holy Year every 25 years - the last one was the Great Jubilee Year in 2000 to mark the 2000th anniversary of Christianity and the start of its third millennium... I still think that a Decade of Faith to carry out the fundamental objectives of the Year of Faith would be far more appropriate and effective. The faith itself is in crisis, and until something systematic, widespread and long-range is done about it, no Holy Year can remedy that crisis. Especially if the catechesis on mercy is as deficient and defective as catechesis on the faith is, in general. And such catechesis will always be deficient and defective for as long as the Pope himself chooses to preach only what seems easy.

At Lenten penance service,
Pope announces Holy Year of Mercy


VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2015 (CNS) - Pope Francis announced an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, to highlight the Catholic Church's "mission to be a witness of mercy." ['Mercy' as defined by JMB, or mercy as it has always been taught before now, i.e., as inseparable from truth and justice, not merely a charitable dole-out?]

"No one can be excluded from God's mercy," the Pope said March 13, marking the second anniversary of his pontificate by leading a Lenten penance service in St. Peter's Basilica. [Note the formulation of that statement - 'No one can be excluded from God's mercy': As if it were within anyone's capability to do that! The correct statement is "No one is excluded from God's mercy", which as Christians, we are all taught, only it does not stop there: we have to do our part after seeking and receiving God's mercy.

But JMB's formulation seems to me to be pointedly intended for those who insist that Catholics living in a chronic state of sin may not receive communion, as if their objection was nothing more than their personal bias rather than consistent with what Jesus taught. It is part of his ongoing campaign to sway the next family synod to grant pastoral leniency, as he wishes the universal Church to do, to such Catholics.

In keeping with his 'theology of mercy', it is merciful to give communion to unqualified remarried divorcees, practising homosexuals, and unmarried cohabiting couples, apparently before, or seemingly even without, seeking to put them on the right path away from their chronic state of sin, in effect, creating class exemptions from sin. Which is, of course, the fundamental fallacy of the 'communion for everyone' practice that he promoted and encouraged in Buenos Aires.]

"I frequently have thought about how the church can make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy," he said during his homily; that is why he decided to call a special Holy Year, which will be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2015, until Nov. 20, 2016.

The biblical theme of the year, he said, will be "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," an admonition that applies "especially to confessors," the Pope said with a smile. [And how does he define mercifulness on the part of confessors? To absolve everything and everyone even those who are living in a chronic state of sin and are unwilling to amend their lives?]

Traditionally, every 25 years the popes proclaim a holy year, which features special celebrations and pilgrimages, strong calls for conversion and repentance, and the offer of special opportunities to experience God's grace through the sacraments, especially confession.

Extraordinary holy years, like the Holy Year of Mercy, are less frequent, but offer the same opportunities for spiritual growth.
The doors of the church "are wide open so that all those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness," Pope Francis said at the penance service, which featured individual confessions. [Is that not putting the cart before the horse? One attains a state of grace after seeking forgiveness and doing appropriate penance and amends, not before! Though it has to be a kind of grace to know that one must confess and to do it.]

It was part of a worldwide celebration of "24 Hours for the Lord," in which Catholic churches were staying open for prayer, eucharistic adoration and confession.

At each of the dozens of confessionals in St. Peter's Basilica, as well as in simple chairs scattered along the walls, priests welcomed people to the sacrament. The Pope removed his liturgical vestments and went to confession before putting on a purple stole and hearing a few confessions.

"God never ceases to demonstrate the richness of his mercy over the course of centuries," the Pope said in his homily, which preceded the confessions. God touches people's hearts with his grace, filling them with repentance and a desire to "experience his love."

"Being touched by the tenderness of his hand," people should not be afraid to approach a priest and confess their sins, he said. In the confessional, one has "the certainty of being welcomed in the name of God and understood, despite our misery."

"The greater the sin, the greater the love which the church must express toward those who convert," Pope Francis said. [Does this apply to RCDs, practising homosexuals and unmarried cohabiting couples who just want to receive communion without necessarily 'converting', i.e., turning away from their chosen lifestyles of chronic sin?]

The Gospel reading at the penance service was the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Every time one goes to confession, the Pope said, "we feel the same compassionate gaze of Jesus" that she did.

Jesus's love, he said, allowed her to draw near, to demonstrate her repentance and to show her love for him. "Every gesture of this woman speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakable certainty in her life, that of having been forgiven."

"Love and forgiveness are simultaneous" in the story of each person, just as in the story of the sinful woman, he said. "God forgave her for much -- for everything -- because he loved her much."

Through Jesus, the Pope said, God took the woman's sins and "threw them over his shoulder, he no longer remembers them."

[When I first saw the headline about the Holy Year of Mercy, my immediate hope was that JMB/PF was finally going to preach the full gospel of divine mercy - which does not simply consist in us sinners asking for God's forgiveness, but of doing our part afterwards 'to do penance and to amend my life' as we say in the Act of Contrition - but his homily yesterday was no different from all the times he has preached his partial 'gospel of mercy'.

As I have remarked almost ad nauseam - though it cannot be said often enough - he chooses not to preach the second part of Jesus's act of forgiveness which is the exhortation "Go and sin no more". When he says, as he did yesterday, that "God took the woman's sins... and no longer remembers them", it is as if he were saying that all we need to do is confess, get absolution, and period! Well, then, what about his favored 'chronic sinners', who would not properly get absolution (assuming they feel they need to confess) unless they proactively choose to leave their chronic state of sin? If they are to be given communion regardless, it means that they are also exempt from the sinner's resolve 'to do penance and to amend my life' which is every Catholic's obligation after confession.

'Amending one's life', for most Catholics, means avoiding the further commission of mortal sin (from murder to missing Sunday Mass) and trying hard not to commit the same repetitive venial sins that all humans are guilty of and that only the truly saintly would not be committing again and again. How about the chronic sinner who, under the Bergoglio-Kasper idea of pastoral mercy, is given communion without requiring him to fundamentally amend his chronically sinful life?

I read yesterday's homily very carefully - and in vain - to see if JMB/PF had added the 'Go and sin no more' part to his gospel of pastoral mercy. For a Penance Service held in Lent, he used the word 'penitential' only twice: At the beginning, to refer to the service as a 'penitential liturgy', and in his last sentence, referring to 'il nostro cammino penitenziale' (our penitential journey) during the coming Year of Mercy, followed by "il nostro cammino con il cuore aperto, durante un anno, per ricevere l’indulgenza di Dio, per ricevere la misericordia di Dio" (our journey with an open heart, during one year, in order to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God). Not one does he stop to say what 'penitential' means, both in the context of the sacrament of confession and that of Lent. As if to spell out what penance and penitence mean would be too negative and off-putting.

It is obvious that JMB's idea of attracting others (lapsed Catholics and potential converts) to the faith is to make it sound as if the way of Christ were nothing but 'nice and easy', nothing 'negative'. Which means, in effect, downplaying by omission that Jesus showed us how the way of the Cross is the price of saving our souls. As if suffering, including material and physical, were not part and parcel of our lot as human beings after the Fall, and that we must each bear our share of suffering as our part in the Cross of Jesus.

Instead, JMB wants to even condone whatever emotional or social suffering comes to those sinners who choose to be in a chronic state of sin, condoning in a way that is tantamount to condoning their sin. We could well say, instead - analogous to his fallacious formulation "No one can be excluded from God's mercy", but logically in this case: "No one can be exempted from the consequences of sin", whether these consequences are canonical (as in refusing communion to Catholics living in a chronic state of sin) or actual, in terms of damage to the soul of the chronic sinner who is not made to change his life.]

Jesus's encounter with the woman took place in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. Unlike the woman, the Pope said, Simon "isn't able to find the path of love. He remains stopped at the threshold of formality. He is not able to take the next step to encounter Jesus, who brings salvation."

The Pharisee is concerned only with following God's law, with justice, which is a mistake, the Pope said. [A prime example of JMB's seemingly mindless statements. When anyone is 'concerned with following God's law, with justice', isn't he necessarily concerned with God's commandments - the Decalogue as well as the Great Commandment of love? As convenient as it is for JMB to use 'Pharisee' as an all-purpose condemnation of anyone, not all Pharisees are condemnable - even if it happens that the particular Pharisees mentioned in New Testament episodes were fallible, i.e., as human as the sinners Jesus forgave. But is false humility or bookish adherence to doctrine or hypocrisy any worse a sin than the serial adultery of the women sinners Jesus forgave? Are not these fallible and sinning Pharisees just as worthy of divine mercy as others once they recognize their sin and make amends for sinning?

In general, Jesus strongly denounced the Pharisees of his time - those who held sway in Jerusalem and would eventually demand that Pilate condemn him to death - for their hypocrisy, for not living up to what they taught. But as one Biblical scholar points out, "The literature of the Pharisaic tradition in no way sanctions hypocrisy. In fact, it is in agreement with Jesus, yet there can be no doubt that hypocrisy existed among the Pharisees during the time of Jesus. But we must not make the mistake that the Pharisees and those who wrote down their oral tradition were all corrupt and blind". One must not forget, BTW, that St. Paul was the son of a Pharisee, and was raised and trained as a Pharisee; and Gamaliel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were all Pharisees.]

"His judgment of the woman distances him from the truth and prevents him from understanding who his guest is." [Ultimately, of course, the greatest blindness that afflicted the Pharisees - and all other Jews - was to fail to recognize their long-awaited Messiah in Jesus.]

Jesus scolds Simon, pointing out how the "sinful woman" has shown nothing but love and repentance, the Pope said. "Jesus's rebuke pushes each of us to never stop at the surface of things, especially when dealing with a person. We are called to look deeper, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity the person is capable of." [Your Holiness, do you apply that to all those Catholics you periodically castigate mercilessly, with no iota of compassion, from your Casa Santa Marta bully pulpit?]

Pope Francis said he asked the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization to coordinate preparations for the Holy Year so that it would be "a new stage in the church's journey in fulfilling its mission of bringing the Gospel of mercy to each person."

I must translate the full homily for the record, to underscore the points I have been raising about JMB's 'gospel of pastoral mercy', which seems to be a distortion of the idea of divine mercy.

I realize I must sound like the most sanctimonious prude in the world for raising these points again and again, but sin is sin, and we are all bound by its definition, and as Catholics, by what we must do to overcome sin and to make up for the sins we commit. No Catholic should be exempt from any category of sin, and that is what the Bergoglios and Kaspers are trying to do.

It turns out Vatican Radio has an online English translation of the homily, so here it is. I only fisked the part not cited in the CNS report - that "God's love goes beyond justice" - which is a point that I respectfully question.

Pope's Homily at Penitential Liturgy
St. Peter's Basilica
March 13, 2015

This year as last, as we head into of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we are gathered to celebrate the penitential liturgy. We are united with so many Christians, who, in every part of the world, have accepted the invitation to live this moment as a sign of the goodness of the Lord.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, in fact, allows us with confidence to draw near to the Father, in order to be certain of His pardon. He really is “rich in mercy” and extends His mercy with abundance over those who turn to Him with a sincere heart.

To be here in order to experience His love, however, is first of all the fruit of His grace. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, God never ceases to show the richness of His mercy throughout the ages. The transformation of the heart that leads us to confess our sins is “God's gift”, it is “His work” (cf. Eph 2:8-10).

To be touched with tenderness by His hand and shaped by His grace allows us, therefore, to approach the priest without fear for our sins, but with the certainty of being welcomed by him in the name of God, and understood notwithstanding our miseries. Coming out of the confessional, we will feel God’s strength, which restores life and returns the enthusiasm of faith.

The Gospel we have heard (cf. Lk 7:36-50) opens for us a path of hope and comfort. It is good that we should feel that same compassionate gaze of Jesus upon us, as when he perceived the sinful woman in the house of the Pharisee. In this passage two words return before us with great insistence: love and judgment.

There is the love of the sinful woman, who humbles herself before the Lord; but first there is the merciful love of Jesus for her, which pushes her to approach. Her cry of repentance and joy washes the feet of the Master, and her hair dries them with gratitude; her kisses are pure expression of her affection; and the fragrant ointment poured out with abundance attests how precious He is to her eyes.

This woman’s every gesture speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakeable certainty in her life: that of being forgiven. And Jesus gives this assurance: welcoming her, He demonstrates God’s love for her, just for her! Love and forgiveness are simultaneous: God forgives her much, everything, because “she loved much” (Luke 7:47); and she adores Jesus because she feels that in Him there is mercy and not condemnation.

Thanks to Jesus, God casts her many sins away behind Him, He remembers them no more (cf. Is 43:25). For her, a new season now begins; she is reborn in love, to a new life.

This woman has really met the Lord. In silence, she opened her heart to Him; in pain, she showed repentance for her sins; with her tears, she appealed to the goodness of God for forgiveness. For her, there will be no judgment except that which comes from God, and this is the judgment of mercy. The protagonist of this meeting is certainly the love that goes beyond justice. [This statement is distressing. Does God's love really go 'beyond justice'? God is just in his mercy - he does not simply bestow mercy and forgiveness blindly to anyone and everyone. If he did, he would not have punished all of mankind because of the sin of Adam and Eve - and we would still all be in Paradise. He would not have sent the Great Deluge, nor destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And he would not have needed to send his Son to save men's souls! But the Fall doomed us all to sin and suffering, so Jesus came to bring eternal salvation to all men of goodwill, and to teach us how to live with the suffering that is man's lot.

God loves everyone, but we must show him we reciprocate his love by seeking not to offend him. The worst sinner is not excluded from this love, but he cannot expect mercy if he does not ask for it because he thinks he does not need it.]

Simon the Pharisee, on the contrary, cannot find the path of love. He stands firm upon the threshold of formality. He is not capable of taking the next step to go meet Jesus, who brings him salvation. Simon limited himself to inviting Jesus to dinner, but did not really welcome Him.

In his thoughts, he invokes only justice, and in so doing, he errs. His judgment on the woman distances him from the truth and does not allow him even to understand who his guest is. He stopped at the surface, he was not able to look to the heart.

Before Jesus’s parable and the question of which a servant would love his master most, the Pharisee answered correctly, “The one, to whom the master forgave most.” And Jesus does not fail to make him observe: “Thou hast judged rihtly. (Lk 7:43)” Only when the judgment of Simon is turned toward love: then is he in the right.

The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable.

No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love that the Church expresses toward those who convert.

Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord's words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”

This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy.

I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, that [the dicastery] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.

I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment, we entrust this Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: [our penitential journey, our journey with an open heart, during one year, in order to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.].

[ Curiously, the RV translation omits the last part of the statement that I enclosed in brackets - thus leaving out the one mention of 'penitential'.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/14/2015 9:52 PM]
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And now, a delightful treat of a story to take away the lingering sour aftertaste of the preceding post about Bergoglian mercy...

'Ratzingerian' Cistercians of Heiligenkreuz
flourish in the desolate Church landscape of Austria

by Andrea Galli
Translated from the March 2015 issue of

Between June and July 2014, the historic and prestigious Benedictine abbey of Melk in Austria held spiritual exercises. Preaching to the community of monks was Eugen Drewermann, a name which may mean little these days, but was very prominent in the German-speaking world and elsewhere in the West in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly for his book published in Italian as Funzionari di Dio. Psicogramma di un ideale – purporting to explain why the Catholic clergy suffers from an endemic neurosis about doctrinal aspects such as the Cross or the Trinity, and about disciplinary aspecits such as priestly celibacy. [Hard to imagine why any Catholic priest should have any neurosis about the Cross and the Trinity, which are about as fundamental as one can get about Christianity.]

Drewermann’s permission to teach in Catholic institutions was revoked [by the CDF], followed by suspension a divinis, and in 2005, he himself left the Church.

The rather incredible story of how he came to be invited to preach the Lenten exercises in Melk might have taken place unnoticed had it not been reported by an Internet site, on the basis of which a group of faithful decided to write the CDF to denounce the happening and other facts about the abbey at Melk.

Among the other complaints was the harshness of Abbot Gerhard Wilfinger towards the monks who had criticized the Drewermann initiative, the worldly lifestyle of Wilfinger himself, and his tolerance of scandalous behavior within his community.

The episode is one of many that could be cited to illustrate the condition of the Church in Austria, one of the worst afflicted – to use a strong but hardly excessive term – among the historically Catholic nations of Europe.

And we chose to cite it because it makes the perfect counterfoil to another abbey in Austria: an oasis of crystalline spirituality, of orthodoxy and of liturgical zeal in the light of the growing dissolution of Catholicism in the world.

It is the Cistercian abbey of Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross), located in the little town known by the name of the abbey, just a few kilometers outside Vienna.

It was founded in 1135 by the noble Leopold III of the Babenberg dynasty. His son had joined the Cistercian community of Morimond, in France, and asked his help to translate that experience in other lands. Leopold is now venerated as a saint and a patron of Austria. His son Otto became Bishop of Freising – and is considered the father of German historiography. He has been beatified, and his relics are kept in Heiligenkreuz.

Between 1938-1945, under Nazism, the monastery was almost entirely expropriated, and many religious were forced to go elsewhere. After the war, it fell to Abbot Karl Braunstorfer to re-forge the links of a millennial history and to orient the monastery towards the future.

He took part in the Second Vatican Council, and returned with the heavy responsibility of complying with aggiornamento [keeping up-to-date] without eroding the particular charism of the order and the delicate equilibria within the abbey.

Among other things, he dedicated himself to details such as a Cuistercian draft of a new breviary in Latin, and an application of the post-Vatican II liturgical reform that would not minimize the use of Gregorian chant, which is central to the life of the Cistercians.

“Abbot Braunstorer was a blessing, a true man of God,” says Cistercian Fr. Karl Wallner. “Thanks to him, the turbulences in many sectors of the Church in the 1970s did not affect us at Heilgenkreuz, or only minimally. Today, he is a Servant of God and the cause for his beatification has been opened.”

To have been immune to that chaotic time, and thus saved its consequences, has borne fruit in Heiligenkreuz, and borne it in abundance. Today, it is the largest Cistercian monastery in Europe. In the past 30 years, as other communities aged and found themselves dramatically reduced in number, its monks have doubled, from 42 to 86, with an average age of 46.

Since 1802, the abbey has also housed a theological institute which formally became a pontifical academy in 2007 named after Benedict XVI. It currently has 274 students, male and female, of which 190 are from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the rest are from Eastern Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America.

Of these students, 160 are seminarians or religious novices, which makes the Hochschule Papst Benedikt XVI the center of theological formation with the greatest number of candidate priests in the entire German-speaking world. [Probably in the whole world – where seminaries, even in major dioceses, typically have a few dozen students altogether, ordaining no more than 15-20 new priests a year.]

The Hochschule also houses one of the most comprehensive theological libraries in Austria, and is under pressure to enlarge its campus to accommodate the growing number of students.

But why would these young men choose to come from Germany, Switzerland and other countries when they could choose schools much closer to them and in prestigious dioceses? Fr. Wallner, director of the Hochschule, says, “It is because of the environment that has developed over time, in a harmonious relationship between the natural and the supernatural. Every year, some 5,000 young people visit the abbey and the school, and they are struck by the simple but vital life of the community.

"We are not traditionalists. We celebrate the liturgy with great care, but in the Novus Ordo. And although we were once criticized by progressivist circles, after Summorum Pontificum, we have also been criticized by the traditionalists. We are not traditionalists, but we strive to give breathing space to Tradition, and to a theology that is authentically Catholic and faithful to the Magisterium in all its beauty and profundity.

"So many seminarians, who had been in ‘exhausted’ seminaries or found themselves in sterile theological circles, find stimulus here for their growth, and vital lymph for their life of faith”.

One other fact about the Hochschule is singular. Its professors – among whom are two names of absolute prestige in European Catholic culture, Remi Brague of France, and the German Hanna Barbara Gerl-Falkowitz – do not get paid. They render their services for free, says Fr. Wallner, much gratified by the motivated and enthusiastic audience which they find in Heiligenkreuz. [Prof. Brague, is, of course, a Ratzinger Prize winner; and Mme. Gerl-Falkowitz is a longtime friend of Joseph Ratzinger, who once shared a hilarious anecdote about his arrival to give a lecture at a seminar of which she was one of the organizers.]

Indeed, another factor which has contributed to the flourishing of Heiligenkreuz in the past two decades is Joseph Ratzinger himself. In the 1980s, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he made many visits to Heiligenkreuz, establishing a link that has never been interrupted.

In 2007, on his apostolic visit to Austria for the 800th anniversary of the Marian shrine in Mariazell, he visited Heiligenkreuz – an unexpected gesture that was little understood.

He wished to pay homage to “the oldest Cistercian monastery in the world which has remained active without interruption”, as he said at the time, but above all, for its exemplariness in keeping alive today the spirit of the original Benedictine monasteries – that of St. Benedict and his Rule, and that of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who, the Pope recalled, raised great enthusiasm and provided much encouragement to many young people in his time who had been called to the monastic life by God because he was inspired by a special Marian devotion” – and “wherever Mary is, there is the original image of total self-giving and following Christ”.

Benedict underscored that “a monastery is, above all, a place of spiritual power”, and so, when one comes to a place like Heiligenkreuz, one has the feeling that after a hard and sweaty trek though the Alps , one can finally refresh himself by a brook of spring water”.

Needless to say, the abbey’s theological school which bears the name of the Emeritus Pope dedicates special attention to his theological work.

The current abbot of Heiligenkreuz, Fr. Maximilian Heim, was one of three recipients of the Ratzinger Prize for Theology when it was first awarded in 2011.

He was honored as being “one of the most brilliant representatives of the new generation of theologians who were inspired by the work of Joseph Ratzinger”.

And the president of the theological institute, Fr. Karl Wallner, has worked closely with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, editor of Joseph Ratzinger’s Complete Writings, and who now carries on, we might say, as the custodian of Ratzinger’s work at the CDF.

It's a good opportunity to post the homily delivered by Benedict XVI to the Cistercians of Heiligenkreuz. It was the first of three major meditations he delivered about monasticism when he was Pope (this was followed by the lectio magistralis at the College des Bernardins in Paris in September 2008, and the third, a homily on his visit to the Charterhouse of St. Bruno in southern Italy in 2011).

Address of the Holy Father
Visit to Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Sunday, 9 September 2007

Most Reverend Father Abbot,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Cistercian Monks of Heiligenkreuz,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Consecrated Life,
Distinguished Guests and Friends of the Monastery and the Academy,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

On my pilgrimage to the Magna Mater Austriae, I am pleased to visit this Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, which is not only an important stop on the Via Sacra leading to Mariazell, but the oldest continuously active Cistercian monastery in the world.

I wished to come to this place so rich in history in order to draw attention to the fundamental directive of Saint Benedict, according to whose Rule Cistercians also live. Quite simply, Benedict insisted that “nothing be put before the divine Office”.

For this reason, in a monastery of Benedictine spirit, the praise of God, which the monks sing as a solemn choral prayer, always has priority. Monks are certainly not the only people who pray; others also pray: children, the young and the old, men and women, the married and the single – all Christians pray. Or at least, they should!

In the life of monks, however, prayer takes on a particular importance: it is the heart of their calling. Their vocation is to be men of prayer.

In the patristic period the monastic life was likened to the life of the angels. It was considered the essential mark of the angels that they are worshippers. Their very life is worship. This should hold true also for monks.

Monks pray first and foremost not for any specific intention, but simply because God is worthy of being praised. “Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus! – Praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy is eternal!”: so we are urged by a number of Psalms
(e.g. Ps 106:1).

Such prayer for its own sake, intended as pure divine service, is rightly called officium. It is “service” par excellence, the “sacred service” of monks. It is offered to the triune God who, above all else, is worthy “to receive glory, honour and power” (Rev 4:11), because he wondrously created the world and even more wondrously redeemed it.

At the same time, the officium of consecrated persons is also a sacred service to men and women, a testimony offered to them. All people have deep within their hearts, whether they know it or not, a yearning for definitive fulfilment, for supreme happiness, and thus, ultimately, for God.

A monastery, in which the community gathers several times a day for the praise of God, testifies to the fact that this primordial human longing does not go unfulfilled: God the Creator has not placed us in a fearful darkness where, groping our way in despair, we seek some ultimate meaning
(cf. Acts 17:27); God has not abandoned us in a desert void, bereft of meaning, where in the end only death awaits us. No!

God has shone forth in our darkness with his light, with his Son Jesus Christ. In him, God has entered our world in all his “fullness”
(cf. Col 1:19); in him all truth, the truth for which we yearn, has its source and summit.(2)

Our light, our truth, our goal, our fulfilment, our life – all this is not a religious doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ. Over and above any ability of our own to seek and to desire God, we ourselves have already been sought and desired, and indeed, found and redeemed by him!

The roving gaze of people of every time and nation, of all the philosophies, religions and cultures, encounters the wide open eyes of the crucified and risen Son of God; his open heart is the fullness of love.

The eyes of Christ are the eyes of a loving God. The image of the Crucified Lord above the altar, whose romanesque original is found in the Cathedral of Sarzano, shows that this gaze is turned to every man and woman. The Lord, in truth, looks into the hearts of each of us.

The core of monasticism is worship – living like the angels. But since monks are people of flesh and blood on this earth, Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard added to the central command: “pray”, a second command: “work”.

In the mind of Saint Benedict, part of monastic life, along with prayer, is work: the cultivation of the land in accordance with the Creator’s will. Thus in every age monks, setting out from their gaze upon God, have made the earth live-giving and lovely. Their protection and renewal of creation derived precisely from their looking to God.

In the rhythm of the ora et labora, the community of consecrated persons bears witness to the God who, in Christ, looks upon us, while human beings and the world, as God looks upon them, become good.

Monks are not the only ones who pray the officium; from the monastic tradition the Church has derived the obligation for all religious, and also for priests and deacons, to recite the Breviary. Here too, it is appropriate for men and women religious, priests and deacons – and naturally Bishops as well – to come before God in their daily “official” prayer with hymns and psalms, with thanksgiving and pure petition.

Dear brother priests and deacons, dear brothers and sisters in the consecrated life! I realize that discipline is needed, and sometimes great effort as well, in order to recite the Breviary faithfully; but through this officium we also receive many riches: how many times, in doing so, have we seen our weariness and despondency melt away!

When God is faithfully praised and worshipped, his blessings are unfailing. In Austria, people rightly say: “Everything depends on God’s blessing!”.

Your primary service to this world must therefore be your prayer and the celebration of the divine Office. The interior disposition of each priest, and of each consecrated person, must be that of “putting nothing before the divine Office”.

The beauty of this inner attitude will find expression in the beauty of the liturgy, so that wherever we join in singing, praising, exalting and worshipping God, a little bit of heaven will become present on earth.

Truly it would not be presumptuous to say that, in a liturgy completely centered on God, we can see, in its rituals and chant, an image of eternity. Otherwise, how could our forefathers, hundreds of years ago, have built a sacred edifice as solemn as this?

Here the architecture itself draws all our senses upwards, towards “what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined: what God has prepared for those who love him”
(1 Cor 2:9).

In all our efforts on behalf of the liturgy, the determining factor must always be our looking to God. We stand before God – he speaks to us and we speak to him.

Whenever in our thinking we are only concerned about making the liturgy attractive, interesting and beautiful, the battle is already lost. Either it is Opus Dei (the work of God), with God as its specific subject, or it is not.

In the light of this, I ask you to celebrate the sacred liturgy with your gaze fixed on God within the communion of saints, the living Church of every time and place, so that it will truly be an expression of the sublime beauty of the God who has called men and women to be his friends.

The soul of prayer, ultimately, is the Holy Spirit. Whenever we pray, it is he who “helps us in our weakness, interceding for us with sighs too deep for words”
(Rom 8:26). Trusting in these words of the Apostle Paul, I assure you, dear brothers and sisters, that prayer will produce in you the same effect which once led to the custom of calling priests and consecrated persons simply “spirituals” (Geistliche).

Bishop Sailer of Regensburg once said that priests should be first and foremost spiritual persons. I would like to see a revival of the word “Geistliche”. More importantly, though, the content of that word should become a part of our lives: namely, that in following the Lord, we become, by the power of the Spirit, “spiritual” men and women.

Austria (Österreich) is, in an old play on words, truly Klösterreich: a realm of monasteries and a land rich in monasteries. Your ancient abbeys whose origins and traditions date back many centuries are places where “God is put first”. Dear friends, make this priority given to God ever more apparent to people!

As a spiritual oasis, a monastery reminds today’s world of the most important, and indeed, the only decisive thing: that there is an ultimate reason why life is worth living: God and his unfathomable love.

And I ask you, dear members of the faithful: see your abbeys and monasteries for what they are and always wish to be: not mere strongholds of culture and tradition, or even simple business enterprises. [s[Structure, organization and finances are necessary in the Church too, but they are not what is essential. A monastery is above all this: a place of spiritual power.

Coming to one of your monasteries here in Austria, we have the same impression as when, after a strenuous hike in the Alps, we finally find refreshment at a clear mountain spring… Take advantage of these springs of God’s closeness in your country; treasure the religious communities, the monasteries and abbeys; and make use of the spiritual service that consecrated person are willing to offer you!

Finally, I have come also to visit the Academy, now the Pontifical Academy, which is 205 years old and which, in its new status, the Abbot has named after the present Successor of Peter.

Important though it is that the discipline of theology be part of the universitas of knowledge through the presence of Catholic theological faculties in state universities, it is equally important that there should be academic institutions like your own, where there can be a deeper interplay between scientific theology and lived spirituality.

God is never simply the “object” of theology; he is always its living “subject” as well. Christian theology, for that matter, is never a purely human discourse about God, but always, and inseparably, the logos and “logic” of God’s self-revelation. For this reason scientific rationality and lived devotion are two necessarily complementary and interdependent aspects of study.

The father of the Cistercian Order, Saint Bernard, in his own day, fought against the detachment of an objectivizing rationality from the main current of ecclesial spirituality.

Our situation today, while different, nonetheless has notable similarities. In its desire to be recognized as a rigorously scientific discipline in the modern sense, theology can lose the life-breath given by faith.

But just as a liturgy which no longer looks to God is already in its death throes, so too a theology which no longer draws its life-breath from faith ceases to be theology; it ends up as a array of more or less loosely connected disciplines. But where theology is practised “on bent knee”, as Hans Urs von Balthasar (3) urged, it will prove fruitful for the Church in Austria and beyond.

This fruitfulness is shown through fostering and forming those who have vocations to the priesthood or the religious life. Today, if such a vocation is to be sustained faithfully over a lifetime, there is a need for a formation capable of integrating faith and reason, heart and mind, life and thought.

A life devoted to following Christ calls for an integration of one’s entire personality. Neglect of the intellectual dimension can give rise all too easily to a kind of superficial piety nourished mostly by emotions and sentiments, which cannot be sustained over a lifetime.

Neglect of the spiritual dimension, in turn, can create a rarefied rationalism which, in its coldness and detachment, can never bring about an enthusiastic self-surrender to God.

A life devoted to following Christ cannot be built on such one-sided foundations; half-measures leave a person unhappy and, consequently, also spiritually barren. Each vocation to the religious life or to the priesthood is a treasure so precious that those responsible for it should do everything possible to ensure a formation which promotes both fides et ratio – faith and reason, heart and mind.

At the advice of his son, Blessed Otto of Freising, who was my predecessor in the episcopal see of Freising, Saint Leopold of Austria founded your abbey in 1133, and called it Unsere Liebe Frau zum Heiligen Kreuz – Our Lady of Holy Cross.

This monastery is dedicated to Our Lady not simply by tradition – like every Cistercian monastery – but among you there burns the Marian flame of a Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard, who entered the monastery along with thirty of his companions, is a kind of patron saint of vocations.

Perhaps it was because of his particular devotion to Our Lady that he exercised such a compelling and infectious influence on his many young contemporaries called by God. Where Mary is, there is the archetype of total self-giving and Christian discipleship. Where Mary is, there is the pentecostal breath of the Holy Spirit; there is new beginning and authentic renewal.

From this Marian sanctuary on the Via Sacra, I pray that all Austria’s shrines will experience fruitfulness and further growth. Here, as at Mariazell, I would like, before leaving, to ask the Mother of God once more to intercede for all of Austria.

In the words of Saint Bernard, I invite everyone to become a trusting child before Mary, even as the Son of God did: “Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary … in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart … If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination”. (4)

(1) Regula Benedicti 43,3.
(3) Cf. HANS URS VON BALTHASAR, Theologie und Heiligkeit, an essay written in 1948, in Verbum Caro. Schriften zur Theologie I, Einsiedeln, 1960, 195-224.
(4) BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, In laudibus Virginis Matris, Homilia 2, 17.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/23/2015 8:50 PM]
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The day after the Mercy Jubilee was announced, the poster above was shown as an illustration in the PewSitter news roundup. My first reaction was that the poster seemed to be all about Pope Francis - which would make sense if the people who prepared it believe that JMB/PF is the very embodiment of mercy, rather than God (all 3 Persons)! I have tried to trace the origin of the poster in vain. Could it be the official poster for the Jubilee of Mercy? How does one illustrate Divine Mercy after all, if not with the famous image of Jesus that St. Faustina saw in her vision? (It's something else, of course, if the intention is to supplant St. Faustina as the principal Apostle of Divine Mercy in our time, in which mission she was always supported by St. Karol Wojtyla long before he became Pope, and thereby became the Pope of Divine Mercy.) But as I point out below, I am not at all sure that the Jubilee is about 'Divine Mercy' as much as it is about mercy according to the gospel of Bergoglio.

And when JMB is called 'pope of mercy' by his admirers - where St. JPII as the 'Pope of Divine Mercy' - the 'mercy' referred to by those who would give him that appelation is really his personal brand of mercy: Bergoglian pastoral mercy, divorced from doctrine (truth) and justice, which is the inseparable corollary to God's mercy. Perhaps I misunderstand the very concept of divine mercy, but my understanding is based on the fact that Christ himself said that at the end of the world, he would come back to judge the living and the dead, as we proclaim in our creed.

If divine mercy has nothing to do with justice, then the Last Judgment would be totally unnecessary, and man has really nothing to doubt or fear at all about his salvation. We were taught that no matter how evil we were in life, if we repent and seek God's forgiveness before our last breath, then we would be saved. Yet the logical consequence of Bergoglian mercy is that we don't even have to worry about that last-breath conversion, that, no matter what, we are all saved by God's infinite 'unconditional' mercy and we shall all go to Heaven.

Jubilee of Mercy:
A political rather than spiritual endeavour?

by Lawrence England

March 14, 2015

A Jubilee of Mercy sounds wonderful. In previous pontificates I would be very happy about it. But this is no ordinary time.

Was this Cardinal Baldisseri's idea? Cardinal Kasper's clever idea? After all, he's the expert on mercy, isn't he?

I can only speak for myself. I have had two years of this strange 'mercy nullifies God's law, so there' weirdness streaming from the Vatican. That's two years in which my cynicism has matured.

Faithful Catholics don't - won't - say "hurrah" to what amounts to a blanket betrayal by the Hierarchy of Christ's own teaching by distributing communion to unrepentant adulterers and other unrepentant sinners in mortal sin.

They won't say "huzzah" to treating the Holy Eucharist as if it were unchanged bread and wine, so now we are going to be made to feel really guilty to the point of pariah status for resisting the cunning plan made apparent by the manipulation at the Synod by the even more shrewd institution of a Jubilee Year of Mercy.

"You can't disagree with us on Kasper's proposal. It's the Year of Mercy, don't you know! And - and - he wrote a book about mercy! So there! If you don't go along with this, you're unmerciful!"

As I say, I've become quite cynical but I am sure that others feel the same. My good faith in this pontificate with its peculiar 'agenda' has been exhausted. I now expect the worst.

It is bizarre that suddenly, when it suits the Pope, a Church custom venerated by his predecessors - a custom of incredibly ancient origins, origins that precede even the Traditional Latin Mass he has publicly dismissed - is suddenly seen as a positive - rather than a negative. The cynic might say that this is because, suddenly, an ancient custom suits a personal 'agenda'.

Still, a Year of Mercy. Let's go with that. Traditionally, according to Wikipedia, a Jubilee is a year 'in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest'. about lifting all those restrictions on the Franciscans of the Immaculate? No?

In a Jubilee Year of Mercy, how about teaching the Faithful and others the Truth through proper catechesis so that we may be convicted of our sins and seek Divine mercy? [This was the main argument that came to my mind when reading about the Jubilee of Mercy! That, and the corollary question, whose mercy? Divine Mercy or Bergoglian mercy? Or just individuals made to feel merciful? When he made the announcement of the jubilee, JMB/PF said, "I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord's words: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful'(cf. Lk 6:36)”. From his preaching of mercy, however, he consistently - i.e., deliberately, omits the justice that comes with God's mercy, even saying in the homily to announce the jubilee that "God's love goes beyond justice". Which, in addition to the arguments I made against it earlier, seems to completely negate the idea of the Last Judgment.]

How about granting the Sacraments to German Catholics of good faith and good will even if they haven't paid their Church Tax?

How about a cessation of all insults and a hostile atmosphere of recrimination directed at faithful Cardinals, Bishops and priests whose only crime is to wish to hold fast to the Magisterium and promote traditional liturgy?

Yes, the Jubilee Year of Mercy does strike me in the year of Our Lord 2015, as being a somewhat political, rather than a spiritual endeavour, because of what has preceded it, but of itself it is laudable.

Despite my cynicism, I hope that, towards those faithful to the Magisterium and who celebrate the Mass of Ages, and to those who vigorously oppose the direction laid out at the first part of the Synod on the Family, that the mercy comes quick and fast.

I hope and pray also that it brings many people closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Divine Redeemer, Who is so rich in mercy and compassion for sinners.

Antonio Socci had a stronger, far more comprehensive commentary on the Jubilee of Mercy, which I will post as soon as I have translated it. In which he makes the point about the coming Jubilee Year as I made in commenting on the HYOM 'poster' that I reproduced above.

The first Holy Year in history
that will not celebrate Jesus but
will have Bergoglio as its focus

Translated from

Will the Holy Year that has just been decreed center on Jesus Christ, as all other Holy Years before, or on Papa Bergoglio?

The Pope and the Church must be very decisive in clearing up the equivocation because yesterday, the major Italian newspapers – all secular but enthusiastically Bergoglian – were unanimous.

Corriere della Sera: ‘The Jubilee of Pope Fracnis’
Repubblica: ‘The Holy Year of Pope Francis’
La Stampa: ‘The Jubilee of Francis’

An absurd idea because it is not the Pope that we celebrate in a Jubilee Year but the Lord. The Pope ought to be the ‘servant of the servants of God’ and cannot set himself in the Lord’s place. [To be fair, of course, it’s the newspapers cited who fashioned those headlines – the Pope himself is probably wondering how ‘mercy’ got dropped in the process!]

It will be said that it is the media who have misunderstood. In part, that is true, but no one has protested [certainly not the Vatican] these newspapers which, curiously, are linked to powerful banks, major financiers and multinationals, but are all wild about the so-called ‘pope of the poor’ who fulminates periodically against capitalism.

Moreover, not just the secular media, but also the pontifical court alongside them, are contributing to the transformation of the Pope into a divo (mega-star/celebrity, in this sense).

So much so that Bergoglio himself, in one of his early interviews, deprecated ‘Francismania’, saying: “I do not like ideological interpretations, a mythology of sorts about Pope Francis. Sigmund Freud said, if I am not mistaken, that in every idealization, there is an aggression. To paint the Pope as some kind of superman, a kind of star, seems offensive to me”.

So, at the beginning, Bergoglio understood that the fanatical ‘divo-ization’ of his person was a danger for him.

But instead of ‘decentralizing’ the Church with respect to himself and center her on Christ alone, he soon manifested a certain condescension and finally, a great deal of complacency [in his celebrity].

Indeed, today, his court [One must note that in a recent interview, JMB/PF characterized the Curia as ‘Europe's last remaining royal court in the world’. So he thinks about the Curia as a court (made up of courtiers). I don't think, for instance, Benedict XVI ever thought of the Curia in those terms but as what it is and ought to be - offices by which the Successor of Peter seeks to govern the universal Church through appropriate guidance transmitted to all the local Churches via their respective bishops.] is a locus of adulatory triumphalism, and the Catholic media, like the secular MSM, are navigating the waters of fanatical Francismania.

Worse, in the Church, such Francismania is being imposed (even on bishops and cardinals) as the pensee unique [the ‘one thought’ that must prevail] which one must adopt if one is not to risk being ‘bludgeoned’ or being blacklisted.

Here is where a problem arises with this Holy Year.

One hopes that it is not Bergoglio who intends ‘a Jubilee of or for Pope Francis'. He himself, once in the early weeks, asked the faithful in St. Peter’s Square to cry out “Viva Gesu” instead of “Viva Francesco”. But he said that only once, and thereafter, has simply allowed Francismania to flourish. [And I remarked on when he made the statement then, that it would be very strange indeed for the crowds to cry out ‘Viva Gesu’ when they acclaim him because it would sound like they were acclaiming him as Jesus himself. Yet there is an abyss – and a major logical contradiction - between celebrating Christ and celebrating his Vicar on earth, who is supposed to be, in the words of St. Gregory the Great, ‘servant of the servants of God’ - who was not elected Pope in order to be celebrated for himself, but to point to everyone, always and in every way, towards Jesus Christ (and therefore the Trinitarian God) as the only subject/object of our veneration, celebration and worship.

Today, the Pope [Socci uses the third-person singular form of the verb, and the only third-person antecedents before this statement are the Church and the Pope, but the rest of the sentence makes it clear his subject is the Pope, not the Church] does not support diversity of viewpoints and emphases, he bestows appointments and recognition on those who applaud him, he punishes the dissidents and allows his court to impose on the Church a leaden papolatry.

The newspapers yesterday were led into the error of describing the Jubilee Year as ‘of Francis’ or ‘for Francis’] because Bergoglio chose to announce the news on the day he marked the second anniversary of his election, when all the newspapers had celebratory pages about him.

Moreover, there was also the interview in which he says that he thinks he will have a brief Pontificate (after all, he is 78) [But Socci seems to forget – how could he? – that Leo XIII lived up to 93 and if JMB lived as long, his Pontificate would have at least another 15 years to go!], thus ensuring that he would be the center of attention for the media. So it was natural for the newspapers to fashion their headlines about the Jubilee by focusing on him.

It will be said that was not Bergoglio’s wish at all. I hope so. But now, let us ask, why an extraordinary Holy Year in 2016? [Being rather hardboiled where JMB is concerned, I have, of course, always thought – since he called the ‘extraordinary’ synodal assembly in 2014 - that JMB likes taking the initiative for extraordinary events since his aim is to be as extraordinary as he possibly can with respect to all other popes before him (though he’s not likely to want any association with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass).]

The Jubilee Year (more commonly known as a Holy Year) – from its very beginning, in 1300 – was always decreed on dates which refer back in milestone terms to the birth or death of Jesus, even the Extraordinary Jubilees (of which there have been very few).

So the Holy Year of 2016 will be the first in the history of the Church that will not focus on the historical event of Jesus’s earthly existence.

Inasmuch as a reason had to be found to mark it in 2016, Bergoglio decided it would mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council. But a Holy Year had never been celebrated before for a Council. Besides, Vatican II ended on December 8, 1965, so the jubilee year that follows that anniversary is really the 51st year since Vatican II ended.

It therefore seems like a pretext, above all ideological, and even self-referential in that it centers on an ecclesiastical event rather than on Christ (after all, if we had to consider similar occasions in the history of the Church, then every year could be declared a Holy Year).

And so the first Holy Year in church history that is not a Christological commemoration will have Papa Bergoglio as its undisputed media protagonist, the Pope who does not greet the faithful with the traditional expression “Praised be Jesus Christ!” [Not, Mr. Socci, that, that any Pope in my lifetime has started his public statements that way, so why would JMB?] but with “Good morning” or “Good evening”, for which the media have acclaimed him as the ‘affable Pope’. [Well, it’s a Bergoglian idiosyncracy that one can’t really carp about, but if he means to show by starting out with the appropriate time-of-day greeting that he has good manners, surely he cannot mean to imply thereby that other Popes who did not do it were less well brought up or less courteous than he is, though none of them were ever less than proper and correct!]

It will therefore be a year of Bergoglian triumphalism – because even the fact that it will be a Year of Mercy has a similar orientation. Corriere writes writes: “It will be dedicated to mercy”. But that is a pleonasm because all Holy Years, by their nature, are dedicated to mercy. [Weak point, Mr. Socci. All Holy Years are dedicated to God, which means the infinite goodness that constitute his nature, and therefore, all the ‘virtues’ (if we may call God’s inherent traits ‘virtues’) including mercy. So why shouldn’t JMB/PF pick out his preferred virtue, even if it is ‘self-referential’ - the self in this case being himself in all His Narcissistic Holiness? The only question is: are we celebrating God’s mercy, in its authentic and full meaning, or just ‘mercy’ as JMB/PF conceives it?]

The cathedral of Siena has an inscribed stone tablet in its portal which records the words with which Boniface VIII decreed the first Holy Year in history, in 1300, in which the key word was mercy.

So why is the Holy Year of 2016 expressly focused on mercy and is characterized by it?

Is it the intention to proclaim and bestow – as in all other previous Holy Years – the mercy of God, or is it rather to celebrate the mercy of Papa Bergoglio, which, in the eyes of the media, is greater than God’s mercy?, [Not perhaps that it is ‘greater’ but that as virtual ignoramuses of the Catholic religion, media people think that Bergoglian mercy is the ‘best possible’ projection of divine mercy!]

The question has burning relevance, considering that during all of 2014, Pope Francis, through Cardinal Kasper, has sought to effect a revolution by allowing communion to unqualified remarried divorcees precisely in the name of his idea of ‘mercy’.

But the Argentine Pope was substantially relegated to the minority both at the secret consistory of February 2014 [for which he expressly chose Kasper to present his progressivist ‘Gospel of the Family’ which he praised effusively at the end of the consistory as ‘theology on bended knee’ which had kept him awake reading it all night] and at the subsequent synodal assembly on ‘the family’ - because the Church, through a majority of the bishops and cardinals attending both events, reminded him that mercy cannot possibly imply negating the law of God and the words of Christ on the sacrament of matrimony.

But we shall have a return match at the second ‘family synod’ next October. Some think that decreeing a Holy Year of Mercy could be a form of pressure to have that assembly pass the Bergoglian innovations [which also includes practising homosexuals and unmarried cohabiting couples].

But there are those who think that it would serve to relegate to the background a synod from which he already knows he cannot expect to carry out the ‘revolution’ he wishes.

Therefore, it is a great diversionary tactic to dispel the disappointment from his fans including the secular media.

So there are various hypotheses. But the problem that imposes itself – and which is amslified by this extraordinary Holy Year – it this above all: Should the Church be centered on Jesus Christ or on the reigning Pope? [An unprecedented question because, before this Pope, it never had to be asked!]

John Paul I, in his 33-day Pontificate, was surrounded by great affection from the faithful. But the phenomenon was not even remotely comparable to the current planetary Francismania (most especially, in the secular world).

Nonetheless, the warmth he felt from the faithful was enough for Papa Luciani to warn everyone against the risk of papolatry: “I have the impression,” he said, “that the figure of the Pope is much too lauded. There is a risk of falling into a personality cult, which I absolutely do not desire. The center of everything is Christ, the Church. The Church does not belong to the Pope – it belongs to Christ… The Pope is just a humble servant of Christ”.

Jesus himself, in the Gospels, warns the apostles about the applauses of the world and praises whoever risks the hatred of the world but seeks instead God’s approval.

Popes today, the popes of the media age, face the most dramatic choice between bearing heroic witness to the Truth and seeking worldly approval. God or Mammon.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in his eulogy on the death of Paul VI, said in 1978: “Paul VI resisted telecracy and demoscopy – the two dictatorial powers of today. He could do that because his parameters were not success and approval, but conscience which measures itself with the truth, with faith.”

And that, too, was what John Paul II and Benedict XVI did, even at the risk of media lynching [dim=9pt[which was quite real, for the latter. Up till now, Francis has done the opposite.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/19/2015 2:31 AM]
3/18/2015 12:44 AM
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Among the commentaries that have come out on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Bergoglio Pontificate, this one took a rather different tack, even if his conclusions about this Pope and his Pontificate mirror those of most orthodox Catholics. I would have added a parenthetical to his title '(scolding them yet again'), since in his March 13, 2015, homily announcing the Holy Year of Mercy, JMB saw fit to intone "No one can be excluded from the Church" fallaciously and needlessly (because it is in no one's capacity to do so).

But the statement appeared to be pointedly directed at those whom he wrongly accuses of wishing to exclude others from the Church (not that they can do so), just because they believe the Church should not lift the communion ban on persons living in a chronic state of sin or actively encouraging mortal sin like abortion. A none-too-subtle bit of stagecraft by JMB with a view to the family synod in October, at which he still hopes to get synodal consensus behind his 'communion for everyone' bedrock conviction.

To equate the orthodox insistence on sacramental discipline to excluding anyone from the Church is sheer, perverse and uncharitable bias unworthy of the pope. But why should I be surprised when his Casa Santa Marta homilettes are often verbal illustrations of lack of charity, compassion, and yes, mercy, for those Catholics he dislikes or disapproves of? (He never targets non-Catholics, of course.)

Pope Francis enters his third year
of scolding introverts...

Deputy Managing Editor

March 13, 2015

He preaches mercy for everyone except them, when the Church needs them more than ever.

‘I want the Church to go out into the streets,” Pope Francis told a cheering crowd gathered for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, four months after he was elected pope. “¡Hagan lío!” he exhorted them, in the spirit of creative destruction: Make a mess! Take care, he added, not to become “closed in on” yourselves. On other occasions, he has urged priests to leave “the stale air of closed rooms” and has characterized traditional Catholics as “self-absorbed.”

An extrovert, Francis attaches a positive moral value to extroversion — and, as if it followed, by some logical necessity, a negative moral value to extroversion’s complement, introversion. “Pope Francis has said that he does not want a church that is introverted,” Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, describing the pope’s “achievements,” explained bluntly last July in an article for the Catholic News Agency.

[I have remarked more than once on the contradictions inherent in JMB/PF's facile carrying on about the Church being 'closed in on herself' (The Church has never been so - otherwise, she would never have spread worldwide)and 'self-referential' (he means this as the Church being too obsessed about her affairs - but she ought to be, because the Church ought to be run well, as JMB/PF himself is seeking to achieve through his structural reforms - and she ought to look after her own members, making sure they know the doctrinal essentials and orthodox practice of the faith, re-evangelizing nominal and lapsed Catholics even as she seeks to evangelize non-Catholics); and his indiscriminate obsession with 'going out to the peripheries' (he means this primarily for bishops and priests, but if everyone went to the peripheries - and he primarily means the geographical peripheries of a parish, a diocese, or the attention map of the media and the world - what happens to those left behind? It's not as if, in today's context, the faithful at 'the center' did not need as much spiritual care as those at the peripheries. That is the fundamental fallacy of the 'peripheries' fixation: it divides the faithful into favored and less favored classes - just like the fallacy of the Bergoglian 'gospel of poverty' in which he makes it appear that Jesus came to earth only for the materially poor, and therefore his present vicar on earth would consign all the non-poor (like all those who are not at the peripheries or margins of society) to an ecclesial limbo in which neither their Pope nor his bishops and priests ought to spare them any attention other than to use them as scapegoats for all the miseries of 'the poor'.]

Two weeks later in the Los Angeles Times, an admiring Amy Hubbard included in her list of lessons that we should take from Francis: “Do not be an introvert. That’s just putrid.” [Whoever Ms. Hubbard is, is she saying that most of the great saints, the mystics and contemplatives are 'putrid'? And BTW, Jorge Mario Bergoglio did not exactly have a reputation for being the extrovert he now is when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Was he putrid then? Or, if she is quoting from JMB himself, well, was the pot calling himself black?...]

“This is no century for introverts,” Kathleen Parker remarked on the occasion of Francis’s elevation to the papacy two years ago today. In our age, yes, “introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology,” as Susan Cain writes in "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking".

To “disappointment” and “pathology” we should add - if we follow Pope Francis on this question - “character flaw” and “moral failing.” More grandly than any other figure on the world stage today, Francis, entering the third year of his pontificate, exemplifies what Cain calls “the Extrovert Ideal”:

We like to believe that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual — the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” . . . Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends.

Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent — even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.

In fairness to Pope Francis, we should remember that, though he is quick to chastise introverts, they have been quick to reciprocate. The primary reason that he disappoints many Catholics who delight in cultivating their interior life is not that he leans left in his politics and theology but that he’s shallow or at least presents himself as such. He has little apparent interest in the life of the mind. He lacks the patience to think slowly. [That's one way to look at it. Personally, I think that he speaks out his mind so readily, volubly and seemingly recklessly, because his mind has been made up for quite some time about the things he says. His certitudes have all been locked into those grooves of his brain that his mind taps reflexively when the appropriate topic comes up, and the readymade thoughts gush forth as his now-all-too-familiar platitudes. He is simply articulating those certitudes as he has convinced himself about them over the years - incoherent, half-baked and/or fallacious as some of them may be (the ones that orthodox Catholics find issue with). He has said more than once since he became Pope that "I am too old to change, and I am not going to change now". We should take him at his word. That is the frightening aspect that no one must under-estimate about JMB and his Pontificate.]

Cain quotes a venture capitalist telling her, “I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas.” Bingo. Francis tends to speak in platitudes, sometimes strung together rhetorically when they don’t cohere logically.

Consider more closely his “Make a mess” speech at World Youth Day in 2013:

I want the Church to go out into the streets. I want us to defend ourselves against all worldliness, opposition to progress, from what is comfortable, from what is clericalism, from all that means being closed in on ourselves. Parishes, schools, institutions are made in order to go out. . . . If they do not do this, they become a non-governmental organization, and the Church must not be an NGO.

What a brain-bruising knot of contradictions: Go out into the streets — that is, the world — to defend yourself against worldliness. Church institutions must go out into the world! Many already do, such as Catholic Relief Services, arguably the Church’s premier NGO. If other Church institutions don’t do likewise, they’ll become NGOs. They must not become NGOs!

In the original Spanish, the key word in Francis’s phrase “what is comfortable” is instalación, derived from medieval Latin. A “stall” was a fixed place, and “installation” was, and remains, an ecclesiastical term for the assignment of a prelate to his place — of a bishop, for example, to his cathedra, or “chair.”

A bishop should be stable, like a tree, rooted in the soil of his diocese. Episcopal “absenteeism” (a bishop’s failure to reside in the diocese where he has his chair) was once common, but the Church has condemned it since the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

Francis himself has disparaged “airport bishops,” although in doing so he seems to contradict his message that the Church’s missionary (Latin: “sent out”) or apostolic (Greek: “sent out”) character is preeminent. The word “missionary,” of course, is now associated with colonialism and has fallen out of fashion. And “apostolic” sounds churchy and formal.

In contemporary Catholicism, the new word for the Extrovert Ideal is “evangelical,” as in “the New Evangelization.” You know the drill: Leave the fortress and sally forth into town. Drop that sourpuss, Counter-Reformation stance contra mundum. Engage the world with a smile. Let’s dialogue. That’s the music, from circa 1965, to which the lyrics of the New Evangelization have been set.

The term originated during the pontificate of John Paul II, and Benedict XVI formally recognized the concept in 2010, when he created the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. [Not that either Pope followed the 'lyrics' described in the previous paragraph!]

Benedict charged it with “the specific task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first proclamation of the faith already resounded, and where Churches are present of ancient foundation, but which are going through a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” It was a serious objective nobly articulated.

In the Francis era, sadly, the New Evangelization is sometimes made to sound like a program for shaming introverted Catholics into leaving their conversation with the Lord so they can go help in the kitchen. Concern with liturgy, for example, the public prayer of the Church, is dismissed as “the Church . . . being obsessed with itself.” Martha, Martha! Remember, Mary chose “the better part” and “the one thing necessary.”

Jesus’s teaching in Bethany stands in obvious creative tension, however, with his instruction to his disciples to go forth, teach all nations, and baptize them. All Christians are called to contribute to the Great Commission, but the nature of the contribution will vary from individual to individual, as the body of Christ has many members, each with a different function.

[In fact, one must ask where and how the New Evangelization is manifest at all in this Pontificate. For all the supposed evangelii gaudium preached by this Pope, has he made any special effort at all to re-evangelize the European countries that have been most de-Christianized, or for that matter, what has he done to further the 'continental mission' whose proclamation he was so proud to have drafted in Aparecida in 2007, when Catholics continue to leave the Church in Latin America by the millions? And what has he done to strengthen the Church's missionary efforts when he openly preaches that he does not want to convert anyone to Catholicism, and that all non-Catholic Christian denominations are just as valid as the 'one true Church' that Christ established? What we are getting instead is a New Secularization, in which the priorities of the Successor of Peter are secular utopian concerns like eliminating poverty, hunger and war, and dabbling in dubious climate-change ideology. And yes, in case anyone is interested about the 'church' he leads, rest assured he will make it all nice and easy for you, paint you a rose-colored, rose-scented world in which you literally never have to do anything but ask God's 'mercy' and you will have it. The devil exists, but there is no Last Judgment because God's infinite mercy means everyone will go to heaven and not have to do anything to earn it.]

“Are all apostles?” Saint Paul asks rhetorically (1 Cor 12:29). Saint Thérèse of Lisieux wanted to “go forth” in the obvious way, by traveling to far-off lands where she could bring the good news to people who had never heard it. Her health prevented her, as did her religious superiors, but no problem: From her convent, she joined the work of the missionaries by praying for them. She did so at first as a Carmelite nun and does so now in her capacity as their patroness.

To the naïve observer, intercessory prayer appears to be a form of talking to oneself. Those who know better recognize that no act is more profoundly social, or other-directed. And no act requires more concentration, which usually benefits from apparent solitude — I say “apparent” because communion with God or the saints, whether still on earth or already in heaven, is the most extreme form of relatedness and intimacy. [Exactly what Benedict XVI is doing - much more so now than before he retired because he no longer has to attend to the burdens of office.]

Concentration requires stillness as well, and hence the monastic virtue of stabilitas, or stability not only in one’s moral and spiritual affairs but in the literal sense of standing still in one place. “Monastics have to become ‘lovers of the place,’” Sister Mary Catharine Perry, O.P., a cloistered nun, explained in her interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez earlier this week.

The Dominican sister belongs to a long line of holy and intentionally obscure individuals who have dedicated their lives to contemplative prayer, which supports the Church. To support them in return, the Church since at least the fourth century has set aside cloisters — from the Latin claustra, meaning exactly “closed spaces.”

From the gospels, we know that Jesus in his own life integrated solitary prayer with the busyness of his public ministry. The pattern was for the former to precede the latter. He fasted in solitude for 40 days in the desert before beginning to preach. Before he gathered his disciples to choose from their number the Twelve, his inner circle, he spent the night in prayer on a mountain. Before the ordeal of his blood sacrifice of himself — his trial, torture, and crucifixion under Pontius Pilate — he spent the night in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Private prayer was never an add-on for Jesus; it was the foundation on which he built his most momentous undertakings. Prayer of that depth is the breath and the blood, the very life of the Church, which in the West, at least (Africa is a different story), is clearly winded and anemic.

I will go out on a limb and say that it’s not as palpably holy as it was for our grandparents. We may not be able to define holiness, but if you have ever felt its presence, you would know when it’s absent from places where and from occasions on which you had come to expect it.

The body of Christ needs among its members some reservoir of introversion if it is to create a culture — sacred architecture, sacred music, lectio divina — capable of expressing holiness, and if it is to sustain a congregation capable of slowing down long enough to discern it. Michelangelo, Gregory the Great, John of the Cross — these were not exactly party animals.

In our drive to conform to the Extrovert Ideal, the spiritual fruits of their labor have become invisible to us, inaudible, unintelligible.

Godspeed to Pope Francis in his mission to draw people to the Church — but not in his attempt to discourage those who are only laboring to keep the oil burning in the sanctuary lamp. The flame is guttering. [And in churches where the tabernacle has been literally sidelined, probably they don't even bother to light the lamp! It just occurred to me - can the Pope not issue a universal directive that the tabernacle ought to be in the center of the main altar of any church or chapel and that the sanctuary lamp should always be lit? And compel all those who have sidelined the tabernacle as nothing more than an altar accessory to treat it as the repository of the Eucharist that should be there for anyone who wishes to pray, venerate and adore?]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/19/2015 1:39 AM]
3/19/2015 3:45 AM
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I am certainly very happy that a Jesuit theologian has written the following essay about mercy and justice - expressing in far more elegant language and with far more formal arguments what I have been remarking, in a purely instinctive and unlettered way, about the fallacy of the concept of mercy that JMB/PF has been purveying since he became Pope - and which doubtless will gain further ascendancy during the Holy Year of Mercy.

Fr. McTeigue, of course, does so without making any references at all to JMB/PF, and I do admire his determined prudence not to 'personalize' his arguments in any way. Because if he did, this essay would amount to a scathingly unconditional denunciation of this Pope and his facile but fallacious, if not downright erroneous, concept of mercy.

Lent as a time of blood-soaked mercy:
While mercy is free, it's not cheap


March 18, 2015

Mercy is a gift freely given. Does that make it cheap? (Pause for a moment and consider Bonhoeffer’s classic meditation on “Cheap grace.”)

Does mercy blunt justice, or does mercy burnish its majesty? There has been much talk lately, especially since the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, about mercy.

And now that Pope Francis has announced a Holy Year of Mercy, I think we would do well during this season of Lent, with the Cross of Christ at its center, to reflect on the meaning of mercy. I think we must have a proper understanding of mercy, or we shall miss out on the (truly) awesome and glorious graces of both Lent and Easter.

Very often, I hear folks speak of mercy as if it were a cancellation of justice. On this view, “justice” means, “you have to pay off your debt — or else.” “Mercy”, then, says, “About that debt—never mind!” And who wouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief when told that one’s debt has been dismissed, made irrelevant? That’s an appealing, even tempting image of justice and mercy, especially if you’ve ever been deeply in debt.

Unfortunately, such a view tragically distorts justice and mercy. If left uncorrected, such a view runs the risk of making us unable to see or feel what is, to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, “the weight of glory.” In other words, the roots of human dignity and the very character of God may be obscured by such a facile, beguiling, and impoverished view of mercy and justice.

To dismiss the demands of justice with a casual, “Never mind!” is not an exercise of mercy but is instead a dismissal of the moral order. To act as if mercy is a cancellation of the demands of justice is to act as if good and evil do not matter. But God is not glorified and man is not dignified by an erasure of the moral order.

If the obligation to do good and avoid evil is not an ineradicable absolute, then God’s character and wisdom cannot be discerned in His creation. At the same time, that man is made in the image and likeness of God is made irrelevant.

But surely no sane person could intend to bleach out the moral order with such a thoughtless propagation of such a casual and meaningless view of mercy as amoral and justice as dispensable. So, let’s try to recover the proper friendship between mercy and justice.

Mercy, as we have seen, simply cannot mean that the demands of justice have been made irrelevant. In a true moral order, justice demands that good be named as good and rewarded as good; likewise, justice demands that evil be named as evil and punished as evil — but we must say more than that.

In our present culture, we tend to think that reward and punishment are arbitrary; rewards and punishments are associated with actions according to the whim of whoever is in charge. That view represents a misunderstanding of the moral order.

The moral good is good because it reflects the moral character of God; the moral good done by humans humanizes them — that is, it leads to their flourishing by enhancing their likeness to God as rational and free.

Moral evil is evil because it contradicts the goodness of God; moral evil done by humans dehumanizes them — it frustrates the vocation of their nature to imitate (and ultimately unite with) God as rational and free.

Justice simply acknowledges our proper use or our actual misuse of our freedom to move towards or away from God. Mercy, on this view, does not say, “You moved away from God by choosing evil — but it’s okay because that doesn’t matter.” No!

True mercy says, “You moved away from God, and you cannot return to God on your own — but someone else will do what is necessary to restore you to God’s friendship.” Doing what is necessary for us to be restored to God’s friendship — that is the essence of mercy. And that, while free, is never cheap. God’s mercy is rooted in the Cross.

I once saw a three-year-old boy spill grape juice on a white carpet. As his mother screamed in horror, he said, “Don’t worry Mommy, I’ll just magic it away!” Couldn’t God do that with our sin? Couldn’t He “just magic it away”? Couldn’t He just snap His fingers or wiggle His nose or pull on His ear lobe to wipe away all of the sin of the world? Wouldn’t it just be easier, wouldn’t anything be easier than Calvary? Couldn’t God have picked a simpler, cleaner, less violent, less bloody way to be our Savior?

I suppose He could have. I don’t want to be seen putting limits on God’s absolute power. But God always gives His best. And in choosing to save us through the Passion and Death of the Christ, He saved us the best way of all.

Here’s an illustration of what I mean. In 2009, I found myself sitting in the sanctuary of the Oratory of Ave Maria on Good Friday, listening to a homily. During the homily, I looked down at the color of my vestments — red. When I returned home, I wrote the following:


I used to be a son.
One day, I slapped my father’s face,
took what I thought was mine,
and left.

Far from my father’s home,
but never far from his sight,
I found what I thought I wanted.
Gladly, I sold myself into slavery
to get what I thought I wanted.
Gladly, I filled myself
with what always left me empty.

Eventually, even I,
the great self-deceiver,
could not deny
my hunger and my grief.

I wanted to stop living as a slave.
Even if I could not go home again
to my father’s house,
I wanted to leave the pit
I had dug for myself with my own hands
and had paid for with my own soul.

But I could not leave.
I could not break the chains that I had made,
and my freedom required a price
that I could not pay.

I had sold myself into slavery forever.

Now I am back in my father’s house.
I have shoes on my feet.
I have a ring on my finger.
I have more than enough to eat.

I know that I did not break
the chains that I had made.
I know that I did not pay
the price that I could not pay.

But someone broke my chains.
Someone paid the price.

Today, I looked at myself
and began to see
the cost of my freedom.

Now I know that I am a ransomed man,
for now I see that I am covered in blood.

The mercy at work at Calvary, and its message of hope revealed at Easter, will be triumphant only if we accept the full horror and glory of its blood-soaked nature. Only the Cross of Christ could prove decisively that treating it as divine permission to persist in sin and the illusion that sin can ever be without consequence, but only when we treat this undeserved second chance as our opportunity to love the goodness of God and hate our own evil that would separate us from Him.

Divine mercy, expressed at the terrible cost of the violent death of God’s Only Begotten Son, is worthily received when we choose to repent of the sin we could not get free of on our own. The proof that God’s mercy was not wasted upon us is shown when we live our gratitude for mercy by striving after holiness with zeal and joy.

When I next write, I will consider how the fruition and perfection of God’s mercy in us is seen when we extend mercy to others. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.

Father Robert McTeigue, S.J. is a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. A professor of philosophy and theology, he has long experience in spiritual direction, retreat ministry, and religious formation. He teaches philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and is known for his classes in both Rhetoric and in Medical Ethics.
3/20/2015 3:55 AM
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Thursday, March 19, 2015 - Fourth Week of Lent

March 19 is a double gala for our beloved Benedict XVI - the monthly anniversary of his election as Pope falls in March on the Solemnity of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

It is one of many name days for Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger throughout the year, since St. Joseph has another major feast day in the liturgical calendar, May 1, when he is honored as the Patron of Laborers, and St. Benedict has two feast days - March 21, anniversary of his birth in heaven, still observed in local churches and by the Benedictines, and July 11, to which the Memorial was transferred after Vatican II, because March 21 falls in Lent. The feast of Benedict XVI's other name saint, Aloysius Gonzaga, is June 21.


on April 19, 2005,

Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope.




During his Pontificate, Benedict XVI had a number of occasions to speak about St. Joseph - the first Angelus he led as Pope fell on May 1, St. Joseph's feast day as Patron of Laborers. Perhaps the most powerful statements he delivered about his patron saint was in this homily that he delivered in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on March 19, 2009.

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Praised be Jesus Christ who has gathered us in this stadium today that we may enter more deeply into his life!

Jesus Christ brings us together on this day when the Church, here in Cameroon and throughout the world, celebrates the Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Virgin Mary. I begin by wishing a very happy feast day to all those who, like myself, have received the grace of bearing this beautiful name, and I ask Saint Joseph to grant them his special protection in guiding them towards the Lord Jesus Christ all the days of their life.

I also extend cordial best wishes to all the parishes, schools, colleges, and institutions named after Saint Joseph. I thank Archbishop Tonyé-Bakot of Yaoundé for his kind words, and I warmly greet the representatives of the African Episcopal Conferences who have come to Yaoundé for the promulgation of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

How can we enter into the specific grace of this day? In a little while, at the end of Mass, the liturgy will remind us of the focal point of our meditation when it has us pray: “Lord, today you nourish us at this altar as we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph. Protect your Church always, and in your love watch over the gifts you have given us.” We are asking the Lord to protect the Church always – and he does! – just as Joseph protected his family and kept watch over the child Jesus during his early years.

Our Gospel reading recalls this for us. The angel said to Joseph: “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home,”
(Mt 1:20) and that is precisely what he did: “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Mt 1:24).

Why was Saint Matthew so keen to note Joseph’s trust in the words received from the messenger of God, if not to invite us to imitate this same loving trust? Although the first reading which we have just heard does not speak explicitly of Saint Joseph, it does teach us a good deal about him.

The prophet Nathan, in obedience to God’s command, tells David: “I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins”
(2 Sam 7:12) David must accept that he will die before seeing the fulfilment of this promise, which will come to pass “when (his) time comes” and he will rest “with (his) ancestors”.

We thus come to realize that one of mankind’s most cherished desires – seeing the fruits of one’s labours – is not always granted by God. I think of those among you who are mothers and fathers of families. Parents quite rightly desire to give the best of themselves to their children, and they want to see them achieve success.

Yet make no mistake about what this “success” entails: what God asks David to do is to place his trust in him. David himself will not see his heir who will have a throne “firm for ever”
(2 Sam 7:16), for this heir, announced under the veil of prophecy, is Jesus. David puts his trust in God.

In the same way, Joseph trusts God when he hears his messenger, the Angel, say to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her”
(Mt 1:20).

Throughout all of history, Joseph is the man who gives God the greatest display of trust, even in the face of such astonishing news.

Dear fathers and mothers here today, do you have trust in God who has called you to be the fathers and mothers of his adopted children?

Do you accept that he is counting on you to pass on to your children the human and spiritual values that you yourselves have received and which will prepare them to live with love and respect for his holy name?

At a time when so many people have no qualms about trying to impose the tyranny of materialism, with scant concern for the most deprived, you must be very careful. Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular, place themselves at risk if they do not recognize the True Author of Life!

Brothers and sisters in Cameroon and throughout Africa, you who have received from God so many human virtues, take care of your souls! Do not let yourselves be captivated by selfish illusions and false ideals! Believe – yes! – continue to believe in God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – he alone truly loves you in the way you yearn to be loved, he alone can satisfy you, can bring stability to your lives. Only Christ is the way of Life.

God alone could grant Joseph the strength to trust the Angel. God alone will give you, dear married couples, the strength to raise your family as he wants. Ask it of him! God loves to be asked for what he wishes to give. Ask him for the grace of a true and ever more faithful love patterned after his own. As the Psalm magnificently puts it: his “love is established for ever, his loyalty will stand as long as the heavens”
(Ps 88:3).

Just as on other continents, the family today – in your country and across Africa – is experiencing a difficult time; but fidelity to God will help see it through. Certain values of the traditional life have been overturned. Relationships between different generations have evolved in a way that no longer favours the transmission of accumulated knowledge and inherited wisdom.

Too often we witness a rural exodus not unlike that known in many other periods of human history. The quality of family ties is deeply affected by this.

Uprooted and fragile members of the younger generation who often – sadly – are without gainful employment, seek to cure their pain by living in ephemeral and man-made paradises which we know will never guarantee the human being a deep, abiding happiness.

Sometimes the African people too are constrained to flee from themselves and abandon everything that once made up their interior richness. Confronted with the phenomenon of rapid urbanization, they leave the land, physically and morally: not as Abraham had done in response to the Lord’s call, but as a kind of interior exile which alienates them from their very being, from their brothers and sisters, and from God himself.

Is this an irreversible, inevitable development? By no means! More than ever, we must “hope against all hope”
(Rom 4:18). Here I wish to acknowledge with appreciation and gratitude the remarkable work done by countless associations that promote the life of faith and the practice of charity. May they be warmly thanked! May they find in the word of God renewed strength to carry out their projects for the integral development of the human person in Africa, especially in Cameroon!

The first priority will consist in restoring a sense of the acceptance of life as a gift from God. According to both Sacred Scripture and the wisest traditions of your continent, the arrival of a child is always a gift, a blessing from God.

Today it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created “in the image and likeness of God”
(Gen 1:27). Every person must live! Death must not prevail over life! Death will never have the last word!

Sons and daughters of Africa, do not be afraid to believe, to hope, and to love; do not be afraid to say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that we can be saved by him alone.

Saint Paul is indeed an inspired author given to the Church by the Holy Spirit as a “teacher of nations”
(1 Tim 2:7) when he tells us that Abraham, “hoping against hope, believed that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Rom 4:18).

“Hoping against hope”: is this not a magnificent description of a Christian? Africa is called to hope through you and in you! With Jesus Christ, who trod the African soil, Africa can become the continent of hope!

We are all members of the peoples that God gave to Abraham as his descendants. Each and every one of us was thought, willed and loved by God. Each and every one of us has a role to play in the plan of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If discouragement overwhelms you, think of the faith of Joseph; if anxiety has its grip on you, think of the hope of Joseph, that descendant of Abraham who hoped against hope; if exasperation or hatred seizes you, think of the love of Joseph, who was the first man to set eyes on the human face of God in the person of the Infant conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Let us praise and thank Christ for having drawn so close to us, and for giving us Joseph as an example and model of love for him.

Dear brothers and sisters, I want to say to you once more from the bottom of my heart: like Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home, that is to say do not be afraid to love the Church.

Mary, Mother of the Church, will teach you to follow your pastors, to love your bishops, your priests, your deacons and your catechists; to heed what they teach you and to pray for their intentions.
- Husbands, look upon the love of Joseph for Mary and Jesus;
- those preparing for marriage, treat your future spouse as Joseph did;
- those of you who have given yourselves to God in celibacy, reflect upon the teaching of the Church, our Mother: “Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes and confirms it. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with his people”
(Redemptoris Custos, 20).

Once more, I wish to extend a particular word of encouragement to fathers so that they may take Saint Joseph as their model. He who kept watch over the Son of Man is able to teach them the deepest meaning of their own fatherhood. In the same way, each father receives his children from God, and they are created in God’s own image and likeness.

Saint Joseph was the spouse of Mary. In the same way, each father sees himself entrusted with the mystery of womanhood through his own wife. Dear fathers, like Saint Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God where they must be
(cf. Lk 2:49).

Finally, to all the young people present, I offer words of friendship and encouragement: as you face the challenges of life, take courage! Your life is priceless in the eyes of God! Let Christ take hold of you, agree to pledge your love to him, and – why not? – maybe even do so in the priesthood or in the consecrated life! This is the supreme service.

To the children who no longer have a father, or who live abandoned in the poverty of the streets, to those forcibly separated from their parents, to the maltreated and abused, to those constrained to join paramilitary forces that are terrorizing some countries, I would like to say: God loves you, he has not forgotten you, and Saint Joseph protects you! Invoke him with confidence.

May God bless you and watch over you! May he give you the grace to keep advancing towards him with fidelity! May he give stability to your lives so that you may reap the fruits he awaits from you! May he make you witnesses of his love here in Cameroon and to the ends of the earth! I fervently beg him to give you a taste of the joy of belonging to him, now and for ever. Amen

No announced were announced for Pope Francis today. But last year, the Feast of St. Joseph fell on a Wednesday, and he chose to give a brief catechism about the Patron of the Universal Church. On this day in 2013, the Pope celebrated the Mass that formally inaugurated his Petrine ministry. His homily then had been dedicated to St. Joseph. Here is the Vatican's English synthesis of his catechism last year:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the universal Church.

Saint Joseph is venerated as the "guardian" of the Holy Family, and in this role he serves as a model for all fathers and educators. Joseph watched over Jesus’s human development – his growth, as Saint Luke tells us, "in wisdom, age and grace" (2:52).

We think of how Joseph, as the carpenter of Nazareth, taught the young Jesus his trade and the value of work. Joseph also quietly imparted to Jesus that wisdom which consists above all in reverence for the Lord, prayer and fidelity to his word, and obedience to his will.

Joseph’s paternal example helped Jesus to grow, on a human level, in his understanding and appreciation of his unique relationship to his heavenly Father. With Our Lady, Joseph guided the young Jesus as he responded to the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life.

By his example and prayers, may Saint Joseph be a sure guide to all parents, priests and teachers charged with the education of our young.

P.S. 3/20/15
Saw this little item one day late...

Popes exchange greetings
on St. Joseph's Day

Rome, March 19, 2015 ( - This morning, Pope Francis called his predecessor to congratulate him on the feast of St. Joseph, his name day.

According to the Holy See Press Office, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in turn congratulated the Holy Father on the 2nd anniversary of the Mass that inaugurated his Petrine Ministry in 2013.

Pope Francis chose to inaugurate his pontificate on the feast of St. Joseph [who is the Patron of the Universal Church].

Benedict XVI lives a quiet life at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, located within Vatican City where he lives a life of prayer. The Pontiff Emeritus is seen rarely in public.

"I am simply a pilgrim who begins the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth," he said on the final day of his pontificate from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/20/2015 5:55 PM]
3/20/2015 4:16 AM
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Sorry for yet another lapse in my postings. I had to spend 36 hours in a hospital emergency room watching over a very ill 92-year-old member of the family.

The big news in the Church yesterday was the formal announcement of a miracle attributed to the Blesseds Louis and Marie Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, thereby paving the way for their canonization. The news had been circulating for weeks in the Catholic media.

Canonization of St. Therese's parents
to take place during the October 'family synod'

March 18, 2015

Pope Francis has approved a miracle so that, for the first time, a married couple will be canonised together.

The canonisation ceremony for Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, is likely to take place during the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October.

Pope Francis signed the decree today, the Vatican said, although it provided no details about the miraculous cure said to have taken place through the couple’s intercession.

However, the promoters of the sainthood cause said the miracle being studied involves a little girl in the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain. Born prematurely and with multiple life-threatening complications, Carmen suffered a major brain hemorrhage, which could have caused irreversible damage. Her parents prayed for the Martins’ intercession. The little girl survived and is healthy.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, had said in late February that “thanks be to God, in October two spouses, parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, will be canonised.”

Blessed Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin were married in 1858. The couple had nine children, but four of them died in infancy. The five who survived — including St Thérèse — all entered religious life. Zelie Martin died of cancer in 1877, at the age of 45; her husband died when he was 70 in 1894.

The couple was beatified in 2008. They are believed to be the first parents of a saint to be beatified, highlighting the important role parents play in their children’s human and spiritual upbringing.

The next step toward canonization is for the pope to hold a consistory with cardinals present in Rome to announce the decision to proceed with the ceremony during the world Synod of Bishops on the family on October 4 to 25. A Vatican official said that consistory probably would be in June.

Before opening the October 2014 meeting of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis venerated the relics of St Thérèse, her parents, and another couple, Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi; the relics were brought to Rome specifically for prayers during the bishops’ discussions about family life.

Pope Francis also promulgated decrees of heroic virtue for seven individuals who are on the path to canonisation. The Servants of God whose heroic virtues were recognised include Mary Aikenhead, born in Cork, Ireland in 1787. She was the Founder of the Institute of the Religious Sisters of Charity in Ireland and St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. She died in Dublin in 1858.
3/20/2015 5:03 AM
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Is it possible that even sites like Father Z and Rorate caeli knew about a new editorial about Pope Francis by Eugenio Scalfari and so far have not noted it at all? Has the Catholic blogosphere developed a deliberate attitude to ignore Scalfari? Personally I would too, except that he does not seem to tire - in his utter besottedness about Jorge Mario Bergoglio - to sing his praises, and in the process, attribute more outrageous anti-Catholic statements to him - which, unfortunately, the Vatican allows to stand unchallenged. This time, Scalfari makes much of Bergoglian mercy and sees it not just as a possible come-on to non-believers but also as an initiative to counteract the de-Christianization of the West. In both of which his arguments are, as usual, outrageously fallacious and even pathetic in their ineffectual tendentiousness. Unfortunately, he is Scalfari, and Repubblica is one of Italy's largest and most influential media outlets, so I for one cannot ignore the outrageous things he passes off as analyses...

What Pope Francis can say
to the Europe of non-believers

Translated from
March 15, 2015

“We must avoid losing the good ones and do everything possible to save those who are lost”.

The mercy to which Pope Francis has dedicated the next Holy Year has this objective - the prodigal son of the parable whose father welcomes as a feast of life [???], forgiveness among men, and God’s infinite forgiving of his creatures. It is the pentimento whereby mercy descends on the soul and illumines it with light.

It’s not accidental that this Pope took the name of Francis, something completely unusual in the Church of Rome: The saint of Assisi saw and loved the creatures of God, all of God’s creatures, because they all carry in them a glimmer of divinity. The good shepherd is himself a glimmer who has a duty to uncover and nullify with his love all the sludge accumulated in a life that has pushed it into the abyss and suffocated its light.

But the issue of sin and repentance remains. Suppose there is no repentance? If that glimmer of divinity has been extinguished or never existed? Pope Francis has never thought that that glimmer could be extinguished or that any nature, for that matter, could be deprived of it from birth, and that is why the care of souls should never stop or be interrupted – and this is the task of the missionary Church.

One day, in one of our meetings, he spoke to me of this mission which includes even non-believers. [Excuse me, Signor Scalfari! For someone like you who has studied the Bible quite thoroughly in order to discredit it, I would imagine that should not be news to you at all! As if it was something only Jorge Bergoglio has perceived about the mission of the Church. Didn’t Jesus - in his incomparably universal view of humanity - tell his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations”? Did he ever say anyone was to be excluded from this mission of the Church?]

“The missionary Church,” he told me, “does not proselytize. It seeks to awaken in persons the desire to find the goodness in their soul”. [And how does she awaken that desire? She has to preach it to all who have never heard the message or who have forgotten and ignored it. And that is proselytizing - converting others to your convictions. Why treat it as if it were something evil? Or 'boring', I think the Bergoglian adjective was... In the light of events following that interview, apparently Bergoglio thinks that ‘the goodness in their soul’ includes the desire to go on living in chronic states of sin on the part of some Catholics!]

“Holiness”, I replied, “I don’t believe the soul exists. He answered, “You may not believe in it, but it exists”. This is the faith which sustains him and lights his way. Love for others is the passion that impels him. [Right! No other Pope believed in the soul, or loved his fellowmen, nor was impelled by this.]

I also recall telling him that I think there will never be another Pontiff like him, and his reply was that the Lord knows the future and has infinite mercy. [That was an answer? One might have expected the humblest of all Popes to have replied, “I am not different from previous Popes who sought to promote the faith of the Church, and future Popes will do the same”.]

Going back over the history of the Catholic Church, there were two among his predecessors who made mercy the principal theme of their Pontificate: Lambertini (Benedict XIV) in the 18th century and Roncalli (St. John XXIII) half a century ago. Almost everyone else, from the Council of Nicaea forwards, exercised both the preaching of the Gospel and management of temporal power, emphasizing one of the other according to the time in which they lived and the character of their personality. [Who, among the modern Popes, has emphasized the management of temporal power after the Vatican lost such power in 1860? Isn’t it Bergoglio, with his pro-active incursions into secular concerns – from immigration to poverty and war and climate change - who is now seeking to actively assert his influence in temporal affairs and project himself as a political statesman nonpareil in a way none of his predecessors after Alexander XVI Borgia has done?]

Francis also said, in an interview with a Mexican newspaper that he has the feeling his Pontificate will be brief, four or five years maybe, and media attention focused on this statement – Is he sick? Does he intend to resign from such a burdensome office? [Hey, Signore Scalfari – it was a Mexican TV channel, not a newspaper! You have been typically cavalier about misreporting small details which is certainly unusual in a journalist of your standing. But then you also take the liberty to ‘synthesize’ what your interlocutors tell you in a way that sometimes projects your ideas instead of theirs, or seeks to interpret what they say to conform with what you want them to say. How reliable a journalist are you, when all is said and done? – And I do not recall that the Pope's statement provoked any fresh speculation about his health or possible resignation. Many took it as Cardinal Dolan did, “Oh please! Don’t leave us! We need you! How could you say such a thing?]

He has belied both hypotheses. A year ago, returning from a trip to Korea, he already said the same thing. It is possible that he was merely reminding his interlocutor – and himself – that his chronological age corresponds to ‘old age’ and old people are always closer to death. He does not fear death which is merely a passage to the true life hereafter. [Which Scalfari does not believe in!] He fears suffering yes, and he has said so many times, but not death. [I cannot recall that he ever said he fears suffering – that would be an awful thing to say for the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter – but he did say jestingly in recent days, relative to the threat of ISIS, that he does not fear death, as long as they don’t make him suffer because he is really quite cowardly in that sense! Well, how nice to hear yet another admission of human failure from the pluperfect super-Pope, but at a time when Christians are being tortured and killed in unprecedented ways from Muslim African and the Middle East to India-Pakistan and Indonesia, how could he even say that as a joke?] Death is a celebration and must be faced as such by anyone who has faith in the Father who awaits him in heaven.

And what about those who do not have this faith? His answer is that anyone who has loved others at least as much as he loves himself (possibly a little more than himself) will be welcomed by the Father. Faith helps but it is not the criterion of the God who judges - it is a man’s whole life. Sin is part of life, and so is repentance – which is remorse, a sense of guilt, a desire to be redeemed., the abandonment of selfishness. [Really? Scalfari has never read or heard of criminals and sinners who do not repent at all, in part because they think they have not committed any crime or sin????]

Whoever has had the gift of meeting Pope Francis knows that he considers selfishness the most dangerous enemy for our species. [And narcissists, of course, are never aware of their self-centeredness???] The animal is selfish because he is prey to his own instincts, the main one of which is the instinct for survival. But man is also animated by sociableness, and therefore, he feels love for others, for the survival of his species. If selfishness subverts and suffocates love for others, the divine glimmer within man is obscured and he condemns himself.

What happens to that soul which has been extinguished? Will it be punished? How? Francis’s answer is plain and clear: There is no punishment but rather the nullification of that soul. [Really? But the soul is immortal, or so all Christians are taught. Scalfari ought to know that. How can a soul be ‘extinguished?]

Everyone else will take part in the beatitude of living forever in the presence of the Father. Those ‘annulled’ souls are not part of that celebration – their course ends with the death of the bod0y.And this therefore is the motivation of the missionary Church: to save the lost souls. It is also the reason that this Pope is a Jesuit to the very core. [Isn't the mission of the Church to save all souls by bringing the Word of God to as many persons as possible?]

The Society of Jesus founded by Ignatius Loyola taught and teaches its members that the premise of mission is to be in tune with others, to be on their wavelength, otherwise dialog would be impossible. And that is why the missionary Church should update herself with the passage of time and according to place. [I’d like Fr. Schall or some reputable Jesuit to reply to this Scalfarian statement of the Jesuit mission!]

When dialog finally becomes possible among different persons, different cultures, different civilizatioNS, and even different religions, only then can the missionary Church stimulate the vocation to goodness and limit her self-love.

This teaching of Pope Francis makes a lot of sense even for non-believers because it touches a profoundly human aspect independent of faith in God and Christ his son. It is a teaching that underscores the difference between man and animals, from which he evolved, of man who has a mind that can think for itself and to judge himself with the bridle of his own narcissism while lifting his head to look at the stars.

Now Francis must face many arduous problems which have till now been barely touched on.

The first of these, which no one has yet formulated, but which is nonetheless plainly evident, concerns the priests who administer sacraments and have the power to absolve or punish those whom they consider to be sinners. [As a Jesuit-raised former Catholic, Scalfari knows very well that it is not the priest by himself who has the power to absolve but it is the priest acting in persona Christi. All absolutions are in the name of the Lord, and the priest can and does impose penance on the sinner – even if most of the time, the penance is rather token.]

Priests - and the hierarchy into which they are constituted – exist only in the Catholic Church and are prohibited from marrying.

No other religion has celibate ministers, and no other religion has its doctrine transformed into a ‘code’. [Are you kidding? What are Jewish Scriptures and their strict laws on diet and other aspects of daily life; the Muslim Quran, all its auxiliary authoritative citations, and the Sharia law derived therefrom; Buddhist scriptures and rules, etc, but ‘codes’ – i.e. codified teachings by which their faithful are supposed to live?]

The Jews have their Scriptures and their precepts, but their rabbis are only teachers, they have no sacrament [dim=9pt[??? Aren’t they authorized to conduct Sabbath and other services, officiate at marriages and the many Jewish rites of passage, and at funerals?] nor any obligation to be celibate. They explain and interpret Scriptures – that is their task and nothing more. [They are also consulted by members of their congregation on their problems, spiritual or otherwise, much like Catholics consult their parish priests or spiritual directors!]

Muslims also have their Scriptures and doctrine, but no priests or ministers at all. But the various Muslim denominations have teachers who interpret the Koran [My understanding is that the Koran has already been interpreted in the many auxiliary doctrinal documents that Islam has, and that imams or other Muslim teachers do not offer their independent interpretation of Islamic doctrine but simply point to the interpretation that they think applies best to a particular situation, because there may be more than one official interpretation, all of which are equally ‘authorized’.] But they also have tribunals which indicate the enemy who must be struck down – anyone considered an infidel (i.e., who does not profess Islam and refuses to do so).

Potentially, Islam has theocracies, sometimes directly as in Iran, and sometimes indirectly, since the temptation to fundamentalism is strong and often nefarious.

So it is that even among Christians, all the various Protestant confessions have pastors but not priests. [Scalfari appears to ignore the Anglican Tradition completely, which is almost as close to the Catholic Church in its concept of the priesthood and its hierarchy as are the Orthodox Churches, except of course, that both Orthodox and Anglicans allow their ministers to marry, even if the Orthodox will not make any married priest a bishop but the Anglicans do… All in all, Scalfari the Wannabe-Omniscient, is doing a great disservice to his gullible and uninformed readers by peddling inaccuracies about the religions, Catholic or not!]

Pastors resemble rabbis in a way – they can have families, they administer the sacraments that the various confessions have kept, but the contact between man and God is not obligatorily mediated by bishops who have the care of souls but by priests. It is a direct contact. This was Luther’s great revolution: a believer reads Scriptures, the Bible, the Gospels – and his faith allows him direct contact with God. [Scalfari makes me froth at the mouth with his non sequiturs. What ‘direct contact’ with God does all that allow, which any other believer does not have by living an intense prayer life along with a life of good work?]

So the question is this: Will the Church of Rome succeed in keeping the priestly order with its duties and rights which are almost caste-like? [But priests are a ‘caste’ apart – hence the Levites of ancient Israel, and the priesthood as Melchisedek defined it! Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican priests receive their priesthood through the sacrament of Holy Orders.]

The problem has become much more relevant in that some non-Catholic confessions are coming close to the Church of Rome and could even decide to unify with her. [Really??? And who might these confessions be? The only ones who have come back to Rome so far are the Anglicans who have joined the Ordinariates. Certainly, none of the Orthodox Churches, and not even JMB/PF’s favored ‘evangelical' Protestants, whom he has told more than once to stay where they are because they are more useful to the Church that way!] This has already happened with some Anglicans and could happen with Orthodox priests. [Scalfari omits to mention, of course, that the conversion of ‘some Anglicans’ – in groups, and not just individually – was made possible by Benedict XVI. And I am not aware that individual Orthodox priests have sought to convert to Roman Catholicism, especially because Orthodox priests generally submit to the discipline of their respective autocephalous churches, none of which at the moment, is remotely ready or willing to ‘unite’ with the Roman Church, and who continue to denounce as ‘Uniates’ the few orthodox churches that chose in the early 20th century to unite with Rome, such as the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church now headed by Patriarch Schevchuk.]

But those Protestant pastors who may decide to become Catholic bring with them families that they created legitimately, as it has been for centuries with the Oriental churches which were always Catholic but not bound by priestly celibacy. [That may be so, but in current practice, I don’t believe that married priests are all that common in the Oriental Churches, which the advocates of optional celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, love to cite as a precedent. I must check out numbers.][dim]

Then there is the other major topic of the family, to which Pope Francis has dedicated a great part of the synodal assemblies which conclude later this year. [For Scalfari to say that the Pope ’has dedicated a great part’ of the synodal assemblies to the family, is conceding that the synods were not all about the family. In fact, though ‘the family’ is the ostensible topic of the assemblies, no one is deceived as to the use of ‘the family’ as the pretext for discussing the question of remarried divorcees, practicing homosexuals and unmarried cohabiting couples, with a view to giving them a status equal to that of the traditional, normal family.]

Finally, there is the Second Vatican Council – the contact with modern culture which has its roots in the Enlightenment. That intellectual movement that had its major development in 18th-century England and France, and had in Diderot, Voltaire, Hume and Kant its greatest representatives did not believe in absolute truth but in relative truth which excludes the existence of God, or if at all, saw him as the motor for the creation of life which subsequently developed through autonomous evolution according to itsown autonomous laws.

The god of the ‘theists’ has absolutely no attribute that resembles the Christian God. He is not merciful nor vengeful [The God Christians believe in is ‘vengeful’??? He is just, not vengeful] nor generous – he does not intervene in history and destiny, and he is not concerned about good and evil. He is a motor, a cosmogonic force who lit the flame of life somewhere in the universe and has since then gone to sleep, or has concerned himself with other creations.

The Enlightenment was the basis of Europe’s modernity. The question about Vatican II which is closest to the heart of this Pope is to understand the wavelength on which he must speak to this Europe (and North America) which have become strongly de-Christianized and have therefore become missionlands once again. It is very probable that his Holy Year of Mercy is the start of a missionary action, with all its other-worldly consequences but also terribly actual in a tide of terrorism, local wars and tensions, growing violence, shattered families and desperate children, but most of all, of that most grievous of sins which is that of inequality, of poverty that is ignored, of the supremacy of power and war over love and peace.

In short, the theme of mercy is that which is most appropriate not just religiously but socially and economically in order to recover love, peace and hope out of power, war and despair.

May Pope Francis live many more years!

Frankly, I do not see how preaching Bergoglian mercy – to believers or unbelievers, it does not matter – could possibly attenuate social and material inequality (too multifactorial in its causes to be remedied by altruism), poverty, the human penchant for power, or the existence of conflicts which can lead to war. The rebellion of Lucifer and his cohort of fallen angels took place before God created man – since Satan was already there in the Garden of Eden. If angels could make war against God, how can we expect fallen men to ever avoid conflicts that lead to war?

Scalfari is so besotted with Bergoglio that he seems to believe this Pope can effect a hypothetical secular conversion to goodness of non-believers simply by preaching mercy. If non-believers buy his message of mercy, then it will be because it has nothing to do with God, nor with asking forgiveness for one’s sins. Non-believers profess ‘relative truths’, i.e., ‘truths’ which happen to be convenient to them, and could always claim they have no sins to ask forgiveness for, since they can relativize everything they do to be right by their individual standards, so they do not need mercy from anyone, least of all a God they claim does not exist.

What then is the ‘mercy’ that Scalfari thinks this Pope can sell to non-believers? Mercy with each other? With what motivation? Just because Bergoglio tells them it is good to be merciful? Non-believers recognize no divine commandment of love that obliges them to be merciful to others because 1) they do not believe there is a God, much less one who would dictate commandments to them; and 2) to be altruistic because a Pope tells them to think of their less fortunate brothers violates their absolute ‘freedom’ to be themselves and to do as they please and deem right .

Is there no one in Italy who can be honest enough to expose Scalfari’s mind for the pretentious muddle that it is and say to the world, “This emperor has no clothes!” ? His arguments, exemplified in this editorial, can be torn apart by a freshman student in logic, or by any Catholic who knows the essentials of his faith.

Scalfari must be rebutted because Repubblica is one of Italy’s most widely circulated newspapers, and its influence cannot be dismissed or minimized. How many of those who read Scalfari are not sold on the myth of the journalist-par-excellence and of an intellectual so confident and audacious in his pontifications that he has come to be called ‘the secular pope’? And now, here he is approvingly trumpeting religious views he attributes to the actual Pope, while still claiming to be an atheist! He certainly sounds as if he has been ‘ideologically colonized’ by the Pope, to use an expression introduced by Bergoglio.

Well, it’s been five days since the new Scalfari editorial, and the Vatican has not issued any statement about it, despite Antonio Socci’s rightful indignation, expressed in behalf of all Christians who are being told that the pope does not believe all souls are immortal, that some souls self-destruct because of sin so no one goes to Hell (and, the ultimate Scalfari reductio ad absurdum: there could not be any Hell because there is no need for it, or if there is, it is completely empty and will forever remain empty)…

Now, the Vatican must belie Scalfari
Translated from

March 16, 2015

He’s done it again! Clearly, Eugenio Scalfari has a special curiosity (perhaps even a certain disquiet) about our eternal destiny. [[But since he does not believe there is a soul, what eternal destiny could possibly concern him?]

On Sunday, March 15, in an editorial for La Repubblica, the newspaper’s founder attributed once more to Pope Francis – of whom he is friend, confidante and interviewer – embarrassing hypothesis which one might even say are explosive.

He wrote:

Whoever has had the gift of meeting Pope Francis knows that he considers selfishness the most dangerous enemy for our species… If selfishness subverts and suffocates love for others, the divine glimmer within man is obscured and he condemns himself. What happens to that soul which has been extinguished? Will it be punished? How? Francis’s answer is plain and clear: There is no punishment but rather the nullification of that soul. Everyone else will take part in the beatitude of living forever in the presence of the Father. Those nullified souls are not part of that celebration – their course ends with the death of the body.

He had written something similar in an editorial published in Repubblica on Sept. 21, 2014:

The pope maintains that if a person’s spirit is closed in on itself and stops being interested in others, that soul no longer radiates any force, and it dies. It dies even before the body dies – as a soul, it ceases to exist. Traditional doctrine taught that the soul is immortal. If it dies in sin, nothing is left after the death of the body. But for Francis, that evidently is not the way it is. There is no hell, nor even a purgatory.

Such a theory does not just contradict a fundamental pillar of the Catholic faith – the immortality of the soul (all souls). But it also denies another element of the faith – namely, the concrete possibility of eternal punishment in Hell, of which Jesus spoke many times and quite clearly in the Gospels [“Then he will say to those to the left of him: Begone, away from me, you who are condemned to eternal fire” (Mt 25,40). “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8,12)].

In effect, Scalfari has once more attributed to the Pope a thesis that denies two doctrines of the Faith – a very serious matter which, if this had been truly formulated by Bergoglio, would have colossal consequences.

Since the founder of Repubblica is not just some nameless Joe, since he boasts of being a friend and confidante of this Pope and has been repeatedly given credibility by him, having been received for long conversations that have been published as interviews, it is the duty of the Vatican to reject in some way the heresies that Scalfari attributes to the Pope.

Indeed, I do not want to believe that Bergoglio thinks what Scalfari has reported about this. But it must be affirmed clearly by rejecting Scalfari’s claim. Because a journalist of his standing who repeatedly attributes heterodox theses to the Pope creates a scandal for the faithful, and he should be promptly, clearly and definitively belied.

If the Vatican fails to do this, one might conclude that the Vatican deliberately uses a double standard in which it allows certain ideas and teachings attributed to Pope Francis to circulate outside the Church. [But high-profile commentaries and reportage like Scalfari’s do not just circulate outside the Church – they resonate with far greater impact among Catholics who are hearing statements that directly oppose Catholic teaching but are not just attributed to the Pope, as Scalfari does, but said directly by him in ways fully documented on multimedia!]

But I hope that no one would wish to be counted among those who scandalize those of simple faith, bearing in mind what Jesus said of them…

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/20/2015 5:49 PM]
3/20/2015 4:40 PM
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Proposed French law regarding end-of-life:
The OR is all for it, but Avvenire opposes it
as 'euthanasia in disguise'

Translated from

March 20, 2015

‘A balanced response’. With this very prominent headline, the March 19, 2015, issue of L’Osservatore Romano positively greeted the approval by the French National Assembly (436 against 34) of a proposed law on the end of life which takes its name from the two senators who presented it, Jean Leonetti and Alain Claeys.

“We are quite far from euthanasia”, explains the Pope’s newspaper, in an editorial by Ferdinando Cancelli, “and the polemics raised in recent days therefore appear decisively counter-productive and often superficial”.

What polemics, and by whom?

On the other hand, Avvenire], the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, sees the proposed French law (it still must be approved by the Senate) completely opposite from the Vatican newspaper’s view.

'End-of-life law – euthanasia the French way’ is the headline to the full-page article by the newspaper’s correspondent in Paris, Daniele Zappala, who did not fail to underscore “the ardent chorus of voices in civilian society who, for some time, have shown themselves skeptical or frontally opposed to the law in question” – and that the opposition includes the French bishops’ conference and representatives of Judaism and Islam.

“I share the fears of those who consider this as euthanasia in disguise”, says Prof. Denys Pellerin, a medical luminary of international repute who was president of both the French National Academy of Surgery and the National Academy of Medicine, considered the ‘parliament’ of French physicians, which has always been extremely vigilant on questions of bioethics and professional obligations”.

But that is not the view of L’Osservatore Romano. “French legislators,” says the article, “have looked at reality with lucidity and courage and after attentive reflection, have come up with a text that is one of the most evolved laws on end-of-life issues”. Now, the law “must be acknowledged and applied. And to do that, polemics serve no purpose”, it continues.

In fact, the proposed law still has to be approved by the French Senate But the Pope’s newspaper has already cast a vote in its favor. And to announce its approval, it used the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s description of the proposed law as ‘balanced’.

To begin with, why would the OR lead off with an article like that cited by Magister above if indeed the proposed French law is simply 'euthanasia in disguise', in the judgment of a prestigious bioethicist who was president of both the French Academy for Medicine and Academy for Surgery? Apparently, that would explain the opposition of the French bishops conference, along with Jewish and Muslim religious representatives in France.

What is it about the proposed law that makes it acceptable to the OR commentator, and why would the OR run only the side of the argument that is apparently that favored by its editor(s)? Especially since anything that comes out in the OR - even the reviews of pop culture - are inevitably reported as "The Vatican says..." or even "The Pope says...", should the OR not be more circumspect about presenting anti-Catholic practices like euthanasia, about which its seeming approval would effectively be projected in the public mind as the Pope's view as well?

There's already too much confusion about JMB/PF's position on many of these thorny socio-ethical issues for the Vatican newspaper to further exacerbate it. Euthanasia is one issue on which this Pope has not so much as given the slightest hint of approval. Why would the OR contribute in any way to muddle the issue?

Speaking of muddling the issues - or seeking to clarify some of them in some way - Sandro Magister, on his main outlet, www.chiesa, has in the past three days written two articles that he seems to present as a counterweight to the predominance of critiques of Pope Francis in his regular output.

Taking issue with Magister

In both articles Magister seems to take back all his implied criticisms of the Pope for his progressivist tendencies and preferences, to say that JMB/PF is really the 'son of the Church' he says he is and that his views on most of the thorny socio-ethical issues of the day are really very much what Catholic doctrine teaches; and is even drawing close to a couple of conservative cardinals known to oppose his 'communion for everyone' leniency.

In the first of the two articles
he cites 21 instances over the past 5 months in which the Pope spoke about these issues 'correctly', i.e., according to orthodox doctrine. I have a few comments to make:
1) That the Pope makes statements in accordance with Catholic doctrine should not be news - he is the Pope, after all, so even for appearance's sake, he cannot possibly say nothing but the headline-making heterodox ideas he freely expresses in off-the-cuff remarks and formal interviews.
2) For Magister to expect that the Pope's statements of orthodox Catholic doctrine ought to get just as much media play as his heterodox ideas is quite unrealistic - the media have no interest in reporting material of the 'dog bites man'/'the Pope is Catholic' kind. (Besides, many of the JMB/PF statements he cites were well and sufficiently reported at the time they were made. Just not eye-poppingly so!)
3) Considering that the Pope makes statements or issues messages almost every day, 21 instances in 5 months (150 days) ought not to be exceptional, even given that the Pope addresses many other subjects besides these issues.
4) Most of the 21 passages Magister cites to demonstrate the Pope's orthodoxy are not all that clearcut and are inferences at best. A few of them are also related to each other like a chain reaction - such as the statements he made in the Philippines and the walking back he had to do about his remark on Catholics breeding like rabbits (Together, these statements in themselves account for 6 of the 21 passages Magister cites).
5) Finally, the last passage he cites, from the interview with the Mexican TV journalist, reprises what the Pope told an Argentine newspaper a few months ago about Eucharist-disqualified remarried divorcees: that, in effect, it is not enough just to allow them to receive communion -"it does not resolve anything" is his formula - but that they must be fully re-integrated into the life of the Church. The fallacy here, of course, is that, in general, other than the communion ban, they have not been excluded from every other aspect of the life of the Church - and nothing in canon law does so - especially since most of them who do want to receive communion probably have been receiving communion from priests who do not know or care what their status is. So this is another one of those strawman arguments JMB/PF likes to use. [Magister surprisingly cites the line "Giving them communion does not resolve anything" to mean that JMB is giving up on 'communion for everyone'. Well, watch him (JMB/PF)!]

Magister's second article today draws equally rash conclusions from a few isolated facts in an effort to show that JMB/PF is 'distancing himself' from the Kasper proposal.
Consider Magister's title:
The Synod Market Index: Kasper Down, Caffarra Up
Even Pope Francis is distancing himself from the former and taking sides with the latter. And staying on good terms with Cardinal Müller. And promoting the African Sarah. All unyielding defenders of the Catholic doctrine on marriage

Yet read the article and
1) Nothing in it substantiates the statement that JMB has been distancing himself from Kasper.
2) The four 'instances' Magister cites - a) distancing from Kasper, b) taking side with the latter (Caffarra); c) staying on good terms with Cardinal Mueller; and d) promoting the African Sarah - are too few and far from definitive.
3) How exactly has JMB/PF taken sides with Caffarra lately?
4) Other than distancing himself from Kasper, for which Magister does not cite any illustration, whatever apparent good will the Pope has towards Cardinals Caffarra, Mueller and Sarah are prudent political choices on his part. What favors are these after all?

On Caffarra, now Archbishop of Bologna, whom John Paul II chose to head the Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family when he created it in 1981, how has JMB/PF taken sides with him recently? He did appoint him as a delegate to the October 2014 family synod, but who can say that was not a politic and political choice at the time (since he also named Cardinals Burke and Mueller, two of the four cardinal co-authors with Caffarra of the Five Cardinals book) to show that he was hardly 'stacking the deck' in favor of his pastoral leniency, and that he was playing fair and open by appointing three known opponents of his initiative.

For all that, JMB/PF did not appoint anyone from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family to the October 2014 synod. Magister points out that last March 14, the Pope named the current VP of the John Paul II Institute to be one of the advisers to the Synod Secretariat for the October 2015 synodal assembly. So, he was making up for an egregious oversight in 2014 - not that the new appointment is such a major one!

Magister points out that Caffarra was not one of the delegates to the October 2015 synod elected by the Italian bishops' conference, and he surmises that JMB/PF will probably appoint him as one of the 20-25 delegates the Pope is allowed to name. It's possible, and even probable, but it hasn't happened yet. How does a non-occurrence constitute 'taking his (Caffarra's) side'?

Let's take 'staying on good terms with Cardinal Mueller'. Of course, he would. For now, Mueller is the card he plays if anyone should question his, Bergoglio's, discipline in the faith. "Hey, my Prefect of CDF was appointed by the Grand Inquisitor himself, so you better believe I am playing by the rules!" He even allows Mueller to publish his orthodox positions in the OR, so isn't that proof of his, JMB's, openness, though not necessarily his orthodoxy?

Lastly, "promoting the African Sarah", referring to the surprise appointment of Cardinal Sarah to head the Congregation for Divine Worship. The Pope clearly wanted Sarah out of Cor Unum, because JMB's ideas on Catholic charity are those of Cardinal Maradiaga who will likely head any new super-dicastery that integrates the work of Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Whereas Sarah advocates Benedict XVI's view that faith and charity must always go hand-in-hand, and the Church's charitable work and social initiatives, while not limited to Catholics only, must nonetheless bear the hallmarks of the Catholic faith and not be beholden to donors whose beliefs contradict Catholic teaching.

But the Pope could not possibly dismiss Sarah, one of the most outstanding of the African cardinals, from the Curia altogether. So why not give him CDW, where he can serve the same purpose Mueller has at CDF - to trump critics of the Pope, in this case, those who believe he really has no use for the traditional Mass. But he can now say to them, "Look, I appointed an outspoken cardinal who is orthodox and who supports Summorum Pontificum. Isn't that enough proof of my bona fides?"

Sure! What, after all, can Cardinal Sarah do, on his own initiative, to discipline continuing abuses of the Novus Ordo? The initiative has to come from the Pope. And what can Sarah do to promote the EF Mass in dioceses where the bishops themselves are putting every obstacle they can to discourage the EF? CDW has no authority over diocesan bishops in this respect. Win-win-win for JMB all the way on this!

Lastly, this could all be interpreted as part of the Bergoglian strategy to keep everyone guessing. Showing apparent 'favor' to some prominent conservative cardinals doesn't necessarily mean that he has repudiated his ideological pets like Kasper, Baldisseri et al.

Magister is not naive. He is surely aware of all the above considerations. But he, too, must play politics. He cannot risk losing all his inside sources at the Vatican if all he does is to relentlessly criticize the Pope. So, IMHO, once in a while, he steps back and makes these pro forma 'concessions' - in the name of fairness, even - as dubious as they may read to a cynical observer like me.

So, Mr. Socci, the Vatican apparently does not
intend to rebut Scalfari for saying that
JMB/PF thinks sinful souls simply 'die'
and no one will be left to go to Hell

Six days since the Scalfari editorial, and I have been looking, looking, looking... for any reaction to the latest 'Bergogliata/Scalfariade', but other than the blog site THE EPONYMOUS FLOWER from which I picked up the felicitous term (which could also be Bergogliade/Scalfariata) for infelicitous sallies), no one has taken it on. Not Magister, nor Father Z nor Rorate caeli. And certainly, the Vatican has not made any statement at all to deny the ideas attributed by Scalfari to Pope Francis about the 'nullification' of a soul that remains in sin - such a soul dies even before the body dies, apparently - contradicting Christian belief that 1) the soul is immortal; and 2) those whom Christ judges unworthy at the Last Judgment will go to Hell.

Oh, and does this mean that a body whose soul has 'died' will also not be resurrected at the Last Judgment? What for, if it no longer has a soul! What a logical/theological tangle Scalfari poses for the Pope!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/21/2015 4:20 PM]
3/21/2015 1:16 AM
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Here is one view of 'bleeding heart' sociology applied to the Church and the mantra of 'being with the poor' from a parish priest of Madrid who has had at least thirty years experience in various parishes. He has also been a professor of pastoral theology, the spiritual director of a Catholic college, a member of his diocesan presbyteral council, and an 'internaut' who blogs on the Spanish website infocatolica. Thanks to Carlota on Beatrice's site for the link.

The terrible demagogy of 'being with the poor'
Translated from

March 12, 2015

There is nothing more demagogic than the line "One must be with the poor". Experience tells me that those who are truly with the poor respect them so much that they would never use them as a battle standard. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is the best example.

On the other hand, those who speak of nothing but the poor here and the poor there are generally those who only know them from afar. You know how it goes: Tell me what you presume... [And I'll know you do not know!]

To be with the poor is a statement full of falsehood and a great deal of manipulation, starting with the concept of poverty, which is so much more than not having money. After all, one can say "He was so poor that all he had was money".

The great poverty is sin and estrangement from Christ. To convert to Christ, to convert the heart, presupposes a new form of living - away from all selfishness, so that we become capable of sharing our faith and our life as brothers. Consequently, social inequalities will be levelled out and the most weak and needy will find support, solidarity, and above all, Christian charity, in their stronger brothers. And in turn, how often and how much the strong have been evangelized by the weak!

We know from experience that lip service to the poor is often no more than a form of obtaining carte blanche to do exactly what one wants to do - all is forgiven provided one is 'with the poor'.

All too often and too much have we seen Christian communities where the Eucharist is hardly celebrated, and if it is, they do so, having suppressed confession, in which prayer is juxta modum [limited to just what is required], obedience to the Church is 'creative', morality is circumstantial and adaptable, principles are mutable - but all is forgiven to those who are 'with the poor', though we may not see any proof. There are no projects, no connections to Caritas, but yes, considerable expenses about which no one knows the whys and wherefores.

In the same way, nothing happens even if Sor Veremunda justifies abortion or Don Fulano gives communion indiscriminately. As long a they are 'with the poor', that's enough.

Conversely, in communities where the liturgy is celebrated attentively, there are regular confession hours, there is catechetical formation and liturgical training, the least whiff of being conservative - striving to conserve what there is to conserve of the faith - and they are reproached for not wanting to have anything to do with the poor, even if they have a thriving local Caritas.

Yet often, behind this supposed 'being with the poor', how much unnecessary expense! It is usual in the parishes, and even in the diocese, that the more there is lip service to the poor, the higher are the costs for administrative operations. It's a mystery that economists will have to explain. As they will have to explain how communities who 'despise' money as vile can finance themselves, unless they do so by being 'with the rich'.

Let us not be with the poor or with the rich or with the middle class. We are with Christ and will all men, especially those around us, our fellow parishioners, to announce the Gospel, the conversion of hearts to Jesus Christ, and the new life of all who have been baptized - and we do so humbly, as the Church asks as to do.

And the poor? A converted community does not have to be reminded. It will do what it has to do.

But even if you do not neglect conversion or faith, none of it matters apparently if you do not have 'love' for your fellowmen as some prelate understands it and as his claque applauds, even if their practice of charity constantly tramples on the faith of the Church. Not only can they do so with impunity, but they are seen to constitute the latest prophetic group of a new springtime. For themselves.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/21/2015 4:18 PM]
3/21/2015 5:23 PM
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Thanks to Anne on Beatrice's site for having picked this up and sharing it:

When a 'tweet' says volumes

In behalf of all those who love and admire Benedict XVI, I thank Cardinal Sarah for a most creative use of Twitter to express in 146 characters not just his affection, admiration and esteem for Benedict XVI and for reminding his followers of B16's abiding faith and wisdom. But also because these messages constitute tweet-length commentaries on the situation in the Church today that do not have to spelled out for anyone who has been following the course of Peter's Barque in the past 24 months.
3/21/2015 7:34 PM
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It is good that more and more commentators are speaking out - directly or indirectly - on Bergoglian mercy because it would be such a travesty to observe a Holy Year of Mercy if much of the Catholic world gets a distorted or at best, partial, concept of mercy - divine or human, supernatural or pastoral. In the first essay, Spanish journalist Juan Manuel de Prada, who wrote for L'Osservatore Romano during the Benedict XVI years, and whose pieces I have translated nad posted on this forum, chooses an indirect way of commenting on the misleading idea of mercy that the Pope and his adulators are purveying. It is no less effective and corrective - and perhaps more so - than the direct hard-hitting commentary that follows it.

In defense of the family,
Dolce&Gabbana show the face
of authentic mercy

Translated from

March 19, 2015

G.K. Chesterton said that the modern world is infested with Christian virtues which have become folly. And that’s what happens to justice when it is detached from mercy, and becomes cruelty. Likewise, mercy when detached from justice becomes a pious mask for sentimentaloid complacency.

But we live in a time when mercy without justice – virtue-turned-folly par excellence – is served up to the applause of the world, with the caramel of patently demagogic condescension.

The Mute Ox [appellation given to Thomas Aquinas in his student days because for all his girth, he never asserted himself]] that to be merciful is “to have misery in your heart, because the misery of others saddens you as if it were your own, and therefore you wish to get rid of it as if it were your own”.

It has now become fashionable to say "who am I to judge?" – but it does not mean that we cannot morally judge the conduct or behavior in which our neighbor is immersed in order to help him make a moral discernment, because this is what constitutes authentic mercy.

It is completely false that our miseries, in themselves, make us deserving of special favor in the eyes of God, if we go by the current half-cocked version of mercy that is being imposed on us.

In the parable of the vineyard workers, we are told that each one got paid for a full day’s work whether they began working at the start of the day or towards its end. But we are not told that a full day’s work was paid to those who did not work at all. Nor are we told, in the parable of the prodigal son, that the father embraced the son while he was in the pigsty, eating the carob beans meant for the pigs. [The son had to leave the pigsty and return to his father’s home.]

And yet the half-cocked devalued mercy being preached to us would pay a full day’s wage to those who do not do what they must do; it would go out of the way to embrace someone in the pigsty, still rolling about in the mud.

When this half-cocked version of mercy comes from mitered heads who then posture and rattle off cloying blarney in order to look good in the eyes of the world, then we must start to tremble! Yet, as we read in the Gospel, “If they keep silent, the stones will cry out”. [Jesus’s reply to a Pharisee who said he must silence his disciples.]

In keeping with this terrible words, Italian couturiers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, known homosexuals and geniuses in their field, who have balls of steel, have ‘cried out’ - in authentic mercy (which starts by being just, acknowledging to each one his virtues) - what needs to be said by those who must do so but don’t out of [conformist] ‘fear’.

Gabbana said that “the family is not a fleeting fashion” and that “it implies the sense of supernatural belonging”.

To which Dolce added in plain words: “We did not invent the family, whose icon is the Holy Family. Nor is this a question of religion or social status. No one is turning a new page: You are born, and you have a mother and a father. Or, at least, that’s the way it ought to be.

"That is why I am not convinced about those whom I call 'chemical babies', synthetic children, with wombs for rent, and sperm donors chosen out of a catalog. Try and explain afterwards to such children who their parents are!

"Procreation should be an act of love… I am a homosexual and I cannot have children. But one cannot have everything in life. It can also be beautiful to deprive yourself of something. Life follows a natural course, and there are things that should not be changed. One of those is the family”.

But there are things that must be changed. In a world that has become invested with virtues made folly, it would be appropriate, for instance that two homosexuals like Dolce and Gabbana wear miters, and that some mitered heads turn couturiers so they may completely fulfill their most intimate and hidden vocation on the runway of vanities.

The theatrical metaphor that came to my mind when Pope Francis announced a Holy Year of Mercy obviously struck this commentator, as well, writing for the conservative Italian website Riscossa Cristiana (Christian revival). This is probably the strongest reaction I have come across so far about the HYOM - but much of what she writes, I do find justifiable, some of it even congenial. I do have reservations about her use of the word 'putsch' in the title. Its primary meaning is 'a violent and sudden uprising', usually political, but it comes from a Swiss dialect word meaning 'a sudden push or thrust' which is probably the sense she meant...

The Pope's mercy putsch
by Patrizia Fermani
Translated from

Finally, the grand coup de theatre! By a consummate and expert theatrical master, one with an iron will and an outsized ego.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was brought to the Loggia of the Benedictions on March 13, 2013, by those who thought that the time was ripe to definitively sink the Barque of Peter. For the people of God, it seemed enough to toss them the kernels of gratuitous demagoguery, that same demagoguery which after 1968 has motivated the bourgeoisie seduced by the cause of 'poverty'.

The masochistic love of post-conciliar priests for the official enemies of the Church of Christ could finally be rewarded. Thus every maitre a penser [guide to thinking) in Repubblica and similar media was suddenly screaming out to the world that "the Church is dead, long live the new church", which by definition is something other than what preceded it. One Pope having retired, a new church is being created.

But what is this new church that is no longer Roman Catholic? It is the church that aims to conquer primacy in today’s world, surpassing Protestantism itself in placing herself at the service of this century, virtually in tow. In other words, at the service precisely of the wave that is sweeping away a civilization and its religion, after the negation of philosophy and aesthetics. Only morality survived a bit more after philosophy and aesthetics because it is naturally linked to the survival of society and of individuals.

The ‘official’ Church, with her Magisterium, sought to keep alive Christian morality, as weakened as it had become. Benedict XVI had warned: If you abandon Christian principles, and replace it with the freedom of the void, and its horror, no one will be saved. He launched the last alarm before the 'war' broke out. Principles have been abolished, replaced by the freedom of the void - by the void itself and the horror of it.

The synodal assembly on the family was instituted by Bergoglio as a constituent assembly with the task of decreeing the end of the Catholic Church by repudiating her teaching on the family. The program for this pre-announced death is all written down in Paragraph 9 of the Relatio finale of the synod in October 2014, which constitutes the baseline agenda for the definitive synodal assembly next October. It deserves very attentive reading.

In it we read that above all, the following must be kept in mind:
"...people in many parts of the world are feeling a great need to take care of themselves, to know themselves better, to live in greater harmony with their feelings and sentiments and to seek to live their affectivity in the best manner possible. These proper aspirations can lead to a desire to put greater effort into building relationships of self-giving and creative reciprocity, which are empowering and supportive like those within a family [the Italian original reads 'come quelle famigliari' - which translates better to "like familial relationships"]... The challenge for the Church is to assist couples in the maturation and development of their affectivity..." [The sentence continues with "...through fostering dialogue, virtue and trust in the merciful love of God. The full commitment required in marriage can be a strong antidote to the temptation of a selfish individualism"].

Farther on, paragraph 10, which pro forma even mentions conjugal love, laments that “many tend to stay in the first stages of their affective and sexual life“.

The weight and reach of this passage is such that it represents the true manifesto of the new church of Bergoglio, which no longer has anything to do with theology and with Catholic morality – in short, it is the true manifesto of a revolution that has to be made official. A revolution that abolishes the soul and consecrates matter as the idol. [Fermani wrote this essay before Scalfari's latest editorial claiming that JMB believes that souls which persist in sin simply 'die off', implying that the soul is not immortal, after all, and there will be no Last Judgment or Hell for sinful souls... But I would not go so far as to say that the would-be Bergoglian revolution 'consecrates matter as the idol', even if JMB/PF appears obsessed by material utopian goals.

And with reference to the paragraphs she cites from the Final Relatio of the October 2014 synodal assembly, I have to admit that I never did bother to read the entire document, being turned off by any official jargon. In this case, the language used sounds like psychobabble to me to justify, in effect, that individuals must give in to their emotions and instincts in seeking to achieve the 'proper aspirations' to establish 'meaningful reciprocal' relationships. In order words, please yourself - even if the framers sought to dress it up with a token reference to the 'merciful love of God' in the penultimate sentence.]

When Jesus had his encounter with the adulterous woman, he did not ask her what was the psychological process that had led her to betray her husband, nor what were the impulses and emotions that she allowed to lead her into this betrayal. He did not conduct a psychological investigation but simply told her, “Go and sin no more”. He enjoins her by appealing to her will in order to orient her towards the way of goodness.

Jesus speaks of sin as transgression of divine law. And he speaks to the spirit of the woman adulterer, because man, made in the image and likeness of God, has the capacity to recognize what is good and is able to follow it.

Man has the wisdom given by God and the will to make that wisdom fruitful. Transgression happens when man, out of pride, thinks he can achieve wisdom superior to that which God has given and to be able to orient his will in a direction contrary to what our Creator God wills and which Jesus has instilled in the conscience of every individual.

Thus, Jesus entrusted his Church with the task of perpetuating the Christian paideia [rearing and education] toward the salvation of man’s soul through seeking goodness which leads to virtue and lasting happiness, in spite of temptations and the tyranny of matter. The Church has been dedicated to this task for centuries, despite the inadequacies and failings of her ministers.

But in the vision of the synodal program, there is none of this. There is no indication of the good to be realized and of the bad that must be avoided by the direction that each individual will chooses to take. One does not see a concern for the salvation of souls, but only for the wellbeing of bodies and minds.

There is no appeal to human reason conformed to the divine Logos revealed by Christ, only an obsequious attention to the irrational which, left to itself, becomes anti-reason capable of generating monsters.

In short, the new church would teach what her disciples already know ho to do by themselves: follow their impulses, and emotions, replace what is good with ‘wellbeing’ (scambiare il bene col benessere), set aside reason to make way for the irrational as the Sophists advocated before the time of Socrates, and as modern relativism would have it.

Moreover, even beyond the religious viewpoint, it is well to remember with Jaspers that “by rebelling against the rational, one evades the dialectic element of reflection and one becomes a barbarian in the Greek sense of the word – namely, men who speak a language that makes no sense."

This kind of irrationality is what was meant by the words of Mephistopheles: “Despise knowledge and reason – man’s supreme faculty - and allow the spirit of lying to entangle you more and more in works of deception and bewitchment, and I already have you in my hands”.

Certainly, post-modern barbarians do not need ‘pastoral’ encouragement. Already working fulltime for them are homsexualist movements, pornography and blasphemy, Marco Pannella and Bill Gates, Elton John and the United Nations, abortionists of any color, the culture of death. The most recent additions are those unnameable fans of the gay Italian who through artificial insemination caused his mother to be pregnant [with his own semen, presumably]. And both without the impulse, which would have been beneficial for both, to tear out their own eyes and blind themselves as did the guiltless Oedipus.

And yet, despite all this, according to the worldview propagated by Bergoglio and his fellow ‘Martians’ (those who live in Casa Santa Marta as well as those who live by the pontifical words emanating therefrom), the church should not teach what is objectively good, man’s behavior does not have to be oriented, towards that which would be good for all and which everyone could radiate to others, but such behavior should be directed towards the satisfaction of everything that belongs to man’s irrational subjectivity, to the world of impulse and emotion – the only lens to view reality in order to adapt it to one’s own specific exigencies. [Despite the language of Paragraphs 9 and 10, I don't think that Bergoglian preaching has openly reached that point yet.]

It is obvious that in this context, there is no room for any other norm to guide human actions nor to offer any objective criterion of judgment.

And the celebrating masses ever avid for any demagogic goodies – between the clamorous media frenzy and the persuasive voices of those priests who now feel themselves to be happily liberated - 0seem to be totally unaware of what is happening and incapable of foreseeing what would happen as a result.

But some in the Church and among the faithful have seen this betrayal of the Gospel and of the bimillennial Church and do not want to be part of it. Some have not been afraid to speak out loud and clear. They are those who are not intimidated by the arrogance of their masters nor the ignorance and unawareness of their fellow Catholics, much less by the propaganda of the current clerico-communist regime in the church. [Not a term I find appropriate, though I think 'clerico-' for clericalism applies to a Pontificate that is clerical, for all its denunciations of clericalism (the use of the priesthood to impose arbitrary authority). But 'communist'? 'Socialist' perhaps, or better yet, 'utopianist'.]

Thus, the outcome of the next family synod could be less definite and predictable than what one has been led to believe.

And therefore, the latest coup de theatre – a formidable idea - to clothe in sacred vestments the political-revolutionary program of the new church: simply clothe it in the solemn form of a Holy Year. Which would dissemble even to those who are confused or foolish the subversion of the mission of the Church under a weight of religious pathos. Bergoglian mercy – general amnesty with retroactive nullification of sin – must have a theological and sacred vestment capable of annulling every resistance.

For the primitive religions, mystical exaltation represented the sublimation of the irrational and of carnality. Bergoglio’s Holy Year of Mercy aims to sublimate the rites of modernity that have been taken up as rites in his new church, in a third millennium that is ecumenically atheist and popular, and would therefore impose their definitive consecration. Some evangelical Protestant could well fashion a statue of the new mercy to replace that of St. Peter giving his blessings.

Amid general indifference, the papal monarchy has been replaced by a papal dictatorship. After the constituent assembly of the October 2015 synod ends, we shall see. Bergoglio claims that he has little time [to do what he wants to do]. But not because, as one might think, because he is no longer young. He thinks he has little time because in order to be effective, a revolution must rely on the effect of surprise and perhaps, on the need to tame and accustom everyone to the ‘revolution’.

The element of surprise has been quite abused, to the point of boredom. And there is little time because the resistance – which is already prepared for the worse – is perhaps getting organized, while the fruits of the Vatican nouvelle vague] (new wave) have apparently started to weigh down even on some of its initial enthusiasts.

If this resistance is not hastily neutralized, then with the ‘mercy’ that liberates everyone, which opens wide the doors of Christian morality to the creativity of the present, everyone will feel intoxicated with freedom. One could even raze St. Peter’s Basilica as the Bastille once was, and there will be hardly anyone left to defend her.

Meanwhile, the Holy Year of Mercy announces itself as a declaration of new rights a la 1789 [the French Revolution], the very same that have since become, under false vestments, the suicide note for a civilization.
3/21/2015 10:16 PM
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I was preparing to make a post about two prelates in the news - the first one, the now ex-Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland who has taken the rare step of deciding to give up all the rights and privileges of being a cardinal as a consequence of sexual indiscretions with adult men that he committed decades ago as a young priest. Let us pray that he may make full amends in his life hereafter as an ordinary priest. (The article below makes a reference to O'Brien's renunciation of his cardinal rank and privileges.)

The second prelate is the infamous Mons. Williamson, formerly of the FSSPX, expelled for insubordination in 2012, who took the audacious and totally invalid step the other day of consecrating as bishop a Brazilian priest who had likewise been expelled from the Lefebvrian order.

But a passionate article by Patheos Catholic editor Elizabeth Scalia on yet another bishop in the news takes precedence, for what it means in terms of the Church's battle against clerical sex abuse, including the perception of anything less than zero tolerance of this scourge, and of bishops who have covered up abuses by their priests or even tolerated them.

It is all the more significant that this protest comes from someone who, as a normalist par excellence, has been more than 100 percent behind Pope Francis... Which perhaps explains why she frames her title as a question, rather than as a declarative statement, "...Francis should reconsider Barros appointment".

For the credibility of the Church,
should Francis reconsider Barros appointment?

by Elizabeth Scalia
March 20, 2015

I never write about these stories because they make me physically ill, so I leave it to others. But it seems like this story is dying on the vine, and I’m not sure it should. And it’s Lent, when we’re supposed to do difficult things, so here goes.

Pope Francis has appointed Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to a Bishopric in Southern Chile, and Barros is set to be installed there tomorrow, March 21.

This may be a problematic appointment, one that blows up in the Holy Father’s face, because it conflicts with his own “zero tolerance” policies in matters of sexual abuse.

There have been several news reports on the controversial nature of the Barros appointment, but for whatever reason, not much reaction. I can’t help but be surprised. It seems to me that if Pope Benedict were making this appointment, it would be front-page and above-the-fold, and leading every newscast, and the punditry would be unrelentingly interested.

CBS News (online):

Pope’s views on pedophiles put to the test in Chile
Juan Carlos Cruz recalls that he and another teen boy would lie down on the priest’s bed, one resting his head at the man’s shoulder, another sitting near his feet. The priest would kiss the boys and grope them, he said, all while the Rev. Juan Barros watched.

“Barros was there, and he saw it all,” Cruz, now a 51-year-old journalist, told The Associated Press...

The Guardian:

Pope’s promise to tackle abuse tested by appointment of Chilean bishop
[. . .] The case has consequences far beyond Chile, given Pope Francis’s repeated promises to confront the abuse scandals. Victims’ rights activists are calling for the pontiff’s intervention in the case following an outcry by parishioners in the region.

So far, however, Barros appears to have the full weight of the Vatican behind him...


A Chilean diocese is in an uproar over a bishop who defended an abuser
[...] Barros is one of four bishops mentored by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a longtime point of reference for Catholic clergy in the country. In 2011, the Vatican sentenced Karadima to a life of “penitence and prayer” after finding him guilty of pedophilia and abuse of his ecclesiastical position...

Read them all, although some details will turn your stomach.

Apparently no one is making a direct accusation of abuse by Barros, himself, but three of Karadima’s victims have testified that Barros was present for and witnessed abuse and did nothing which, if true, would make him an accessory. The Vatican is being mum.

Look, I supported Pope Francis when he gave that first airborne interview and — when asked about a homosexual priest who had been accused of wrong-doing — famously replied: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Well, I’m all for mercy, and for all any of us know, Barros has confessed to whatever culpability he may (or may not) have had in these ugly incidents, and has been absolved and done penance. For all I know his soul is now pristine as the snow falling outside my window, and he is more fit for heaven than I am at this moment.

But what is just, in this case? Some of the details reported in those articles will, at best, give scandal to the church and further erode her moral authority in the eyes of a world already inclined to distrust her. At worst?

At worst, they discredit Pope Francis in the eyes of many, and cast a jaundiced eye toward his pronouncements about “zero tolerance,” and his mercy for the victims of sexual abuse around the world.

His Holiness is being called the Pope of Mercy. Just today Pope Francis proclaimed that the death penalty is always “inadmissible”, and seemed to suggest that even life imprisonment is problematic in his study of mercy. Is the Barros appointment about mercy, too? Is it a show of trust from the Holy Father toward a priest who had strayed and then returned to the fold?

[This, of course, is what I have always hypothesized as the only possible rationale for JMB/PF's unshakeable decision to appoint Mons. Ricca the 'spiritual director' or prelate of the IOR and his 'eyes and ears' in that institution. An egregious illustration of human forgiveness and mercy that would be exemplary were it not that even Caesar's wife - in this case, a close confidante of the Pope - should be 'above suspicion'. If Barros and Ricca have the kind of questionable past that has been attributed to them, reliably from all accounts, surely there are other prelates the Pope could have named in their place. What is so special and indispensable about Barros and Ricca that this most righteous of Popes would stand by them contra mundum? The alternative question sounds terrible: Is JMB/PF one of those persons so sure of themselves about everything that he is unable to step back when it appears he has made a mistake or miscalculated somehow? No incident comes to mind. Let us hope he decides better in the case of Fr. Barros (perhaps by now, a fully consecrated bishop).]

Who knows? All we can know for sure is this: Today Francis accepted Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s renunciation of all of the rights and privileges of being a cardinal. O’Brien, who admitted to, and apologized for, inappropriate sexual behavior with adult men, actually resigned his office as Archbishop in 2013, under Pope Benedict, who accepted his resignation on February 18, ten days before he stepped down from the papacy. This action prevented O’Brien from participating in the papal conclave that elected Francis.

I don’t get it. If it was appropriate for a Cardinal Archbishop to resign for his sexual activity with grown men, how can it be appropriate for a priest named as an accessory to the abuse of minors to be given the responsibilities of a diocesan bishop?

If the accusations against Barros are not true, why not make a full-throated statement of his innocence, for the sake of the flock he is being sent to shepherd? And if they are true, then even if he has made the greatest confession in the world and done penance worthy of Rodrigo Mendoza, in The Mission, should he be given such a public position in the face of so much pain, so many still-open wounds amid the faithful, so much cynical disgust among the watchers?

Mercy matters. Justice does too. [I didn't think I'd have to tag any statement of principle by Ms. Scalia, but in this case, I must: Harking back to the Bergoglian fallacy of what mercy is - mercy without justice (and truth) is never authentic mercy.]

Even if this priest is wholly innocent, he is attached to enough scandal for there to be doubt about this appointment. Can fomenting doubt and distrust about the church, and her commitment to so many victims, ever be just?

I hate this story and I hate writing about it. But I am about to take the rest of the month off, on a mini book-writing-sabbatical, and I couldn’t leave without writing about this, and asking the question...

I am adding the story on ex-Cardinal O'Brien for the record. I think he deserves acknowledgment, and our prayers, for owning up to past misconduct, apologizing duly to everyone he offended by that misconduct, and doing the honorable thing that few prelates in his position would have done - formally give up the title and all prerogatives of being a cardinal.

Pope Francis accepts Keith O'Brien's
renunciation of his cardinalate

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2015 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a rare move, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of disgraced Scottish Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien from the rights and duties of a cardinal, the Vatican announced on Friday.

“As most people are aware, Pope Francis is a good and prayerful man whose character embodies justice and mercy. I am confident therefore that the decision of the Holy Father is fair, equitable and proportionate,” Archbishop Leo Cushley of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh in a March 20 statement.

“Cardinal O'Brien’s behaviour distressed many, demoralised faithful Catholics and made the Church less credible to those who are not Catholic. I therefore acknowledge and welcome his apology to those affected by his behaviour, and also to the people of Scotland, especially the Catholic community.”

Cardinal O'Brien stood down as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in March 2013 at the age of 74 amid media claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour with other men which allegedly took place in the 1980s.

After the claims surfaced that February, the cardinal's request for retirement – originally submitted to Benedict XVI in November 2012 for reasons due to age and health – was accepted immediately by Benedict, going into effect Feb. 25, 2013.

O’Brien subsequently admitted that “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”

Following today’s announcement by the Vatican, Cardinal O'Brien will now remove himself from the key duties that pertain to the office of cardinal: the election of any future Pope and the assistance of the Holy Father in the governance of the Universal Church. He will also be reduced to a strictly private life with no further participation in any public, religious or civil events.

Only a Pope can approve a cardinal resigning his official status, and today's announcement is extremely rare in Church history.

The closest parallel to today's events came in 1927 when French Cardinal Louis Billot resigned from the Sacred College of Cardinals following a stormy meeting with Pope Pius XI. His resignation was accepted by the Pope eight days later.

The ruling by Pope Francis stems from his decision last year to send a personal envoy, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, on a fact-finding mission to Scotland. It is on the basis of that investigation – the content of which is fully known only to Pope Francis and Mons. Scicluna – that Francis accepted O'Brien's formal resignation of his cardinalate. .

O'Brien's decision followed a private discussion with Pope Francis. This was preceded by a period of prayer and penance in the past two years since he admitted to inappropriate sexual behavior in the past.

“For my own part, I would like to express sorrow and regret to those most distressed by the actions of my predecessor,” added Archbishop Cushley, who was nominated by Pope Francis in July 2013, shortly after his election to the papacy.

“I hope now that all of us affected by this sad and regrettable episode will embrace a spirit of forgiveness, the only spirit that can heal any bitterness and hurt that still remains.”
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/23/2015 11:12 PM]
3/22/2015 12:05 AM
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It's hard to comprehend how an ostensibly intelligent person like Richard Williamson, expelled from the FSSPX for insubordination, could be so arrogant and presumptuous as he has once again proven himself to be. Once excommunicated automatically for having been ordained a bishop illicitly in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the FSSPX, against the explicit order of Pope John Paul II, his excommunication and that of the three bishops consecrated together with him was lifted by Benedict XVI in 2009, who was chastised by the Jewish world and by many in the Catholic hierarchy because, unknown to Benedict XVI, Williamson happened to be a Holocaust denier (which has nothing to do, of course, with why he was excommunicated to begin with). Now Williamson himself has performed an illicit, if not completely invalid, episcopal ordination, and has thereby excommunicated himself all over...

Mons. Williamson dares to
consecrate a bishop...

On March 16, Rorate caeli reported an exclusive story:

It was only a matter of time. Ever since Bishop Richard Williamson eventually caused the Fraternal Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX) to force his own expulsion from that Society in 2012, the watch has been on for him to consecrate one or more bishops. This became even more inevitable as he has failed to recruit any significant number of clergy or faithful away from the FSSPX in a so-called "Resistance" attempt.

Rorate can now report at least one consecration will occur on March 19 (Feast of St. Joseph). According to our sources, Bishop Williamson plans to consecrate Fr. Jean-Michel Faure at the monastery of Santa Cruz (that also broke with the SSPX in 2012) in Nova Friburgo, a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fr. Faure, who is 73, entered the SSPX seminary of Ecône in 1972 and was ordained a priest by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1977. He had previously been Superior of the SSPX District of South America and Rector of the Seminary of La Reja in Argentina. He openly manifested his disagreement with Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX, and left the Society in 2013... [NB: As a 'bishop', Faure will now be able to ordain priests, assuming there are candidate priests who will want to be ordained by a questionably ordained bishop!]

Note that the SSPX is absolutely and completely unrelated to any activities of Williamson since his removal from that Society in 2012.

The penalties eventually related to the 1988 consecrations on those who were then the four bishops of the SSPX (currently three, after the expulsion of Williamson) were lifted by the Holy See on January 21, 2009, by order of Pope Benedict XVI. It was in fact the specific inclusion of Williamson in the list of those whose penalties had been lifted that ended up causing great anguish and pain to Benedict XVI.

Now, in case of violation of Canons 1013 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, a new penalty of excommunication will fall upon Williamson (just Williamson, who is not anymore a member of the SSPX) and those priests he consecrates...

The French blog Riposte Catholique later pointed out that that the Consecration of Fr. Faure was to have been kept secret - until Rorate revealed it to the world. Riposte Catholique also said that the
Apostolic Nunciature in Brazil informed those involved of the canonical penalties that will be applied as a consequence of the act.

Since then, the event has taken place, confirmed with text and photo coverage on a Spanish-language blogsite of Williamson's 'Resistance' followers, and the FSSPX headquarters in Meiningen, Switzerland, issued the following communique:

Communiqué of the General House of the Society of St. Pius X
concerning the episcopal consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure

On March 19, 2015, Bishop Richard Williamson performed the episcopal consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.

Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure have not been members of the Society of St. Pius X since 2012 and 2014, respectively, because of their violent criticisms of any relations with the Roman authorities. According to them, such contacts are incompatible with the apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre.

The Society of St. Pius X regrets sincerely that this spirit of opposition has led to an episcopal consecration. In 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre had clearly indicated his intention to consecrate auxiliary bishops who would have no jurisdiction, because of the state of necessity in which the Society of St. Pius X and faithful Catholics found themselves at that time. His sole goal was to make available to the faithful the sacraments which priests ordained by the bishops would offer.

After having done everything conceivable to gain permission from the Holy See, Archbishop Lefebvre proceeded with the solemn consecrations on June 30, 1988 before several thousand priests and faithful and hundreds of journalists from around the world.

It was abundantly clear from all the circumstances that, despite the lack of authorization from Rome, this action done in the most public manner was for the good of the Church and of souls.
[A self-serving statement, considering that Lefebvre had signed an agreement with Cardinal Ratzinger not to perform the ordinations, and then reneged on it. 'The good of the Church' would have been to live up to the agreement which would have regularized the canonical status of the FSSPX.]

The Society of St. Pius X denounces this episcopal consecration of Fr. Faure, which, despite the assertions of both clerics concerned, is not at all comparable to the consecrations of 1988. All the declarations of Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure prove abundantly that they no longer recognize the Roman authorities, except in a purely rhetorical manner.

The Society of St. Pius X still maintains that the present state of necessity renders legitimate its action throughout the world, without denying the legitimate authority of those for whom it continues to pray at every Mass. The Society intends to continue its work of priestly formation according to its statutes.

It has every intention to keep the deposit of the Faith and the purity of the Church’s moral teaching, in opposition to errors, from wherever they may come, in order to pass on such Faith and morals in the traditional liturgy, and by preaching, in accordance with the missionary spirit of its founder: Credidimus caritati (We have believed in charity) [1 John 4:16].

Menzingen, March 19, 2015

I hope this is the last we have to hear about Richard Williamson.
3/22/2015 1:19 AM
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So, has JMB/PF finally crossed the line into heresy - over the death penalty, of all things? First, here's the Vatican Radio report on a letter written by the Pope that has brought things to a head.

Pope Francis says no crime
ever deserves the death penalty

March 20, 2015

Capital punishment is cruel, inhuman and an offense to the dignity of human life. In today's world, the death penalty is "inadmissible, however serious the crime" that has been committed.

That was Pope Francis’s unequivocal message to members of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty who met with him on Friday morning in the Vatican. [Who constituted this Commission, and what makes them different or more 'authoritative' compared to any other special-interest international lobby/pressure group like SNAP, for instance?]

In a lengthy letter written in Spanish and addressed to the president of the Commission, Pope Francis thanked those who work tirelessly for a universal moratorium, with the goal of abolishing the use of capital punishment in countries right across the globe.

Pope Francis makes clear that justice can never be done by killing another human being and he stresses there can be no humane way of carrying out a death sentence. For Christians, he says, all life is sacred because every one of us is created by God, who does not want to punish one murder with another, but rather wishes to see the murderer repent. Even murderers, he went on, do not lose their human dignity and God himself is the guarantor.

Capital punishment, Pope Francis says, is the opposite of divine mercy, which should be the model for our man-made legal systems. Death sentences, he insists, imply cruel and degrading treatment, as well as the torturous anguish of a lengthy waiting period before the execution, which often leads to sickness or insanity.

The Pope also condemns the use of the death penalty by “totalitarian regimes” or “fanatical groups” who seek to exterminate “political prisoners”, “minorities”, or anyone seen as a threat to political power and ambitions.

But he makes quite clear that the use of capital punishment signifies “a failure” on the part of any State. However serious the crime, he says, an execution “does not bring justice to the victims, but rather encourages revenge” and denies any hope of repentance or reparation for the crime that has been committed.

I won't bother to comment on the statements reported - I wish to see the whole letter in the original - because others far more knowledgeable about Catholic history and doctrine than I am have since weighed in. A brief overview of the problem is given by the blogger at 'Restore DC Catholicism':

Did the Pope utter heresy
in regard to the death penalty?

March 20, 2015

We know that several of the previous pontiffs have personally opposed the death penalty. Pope Saint John Paul II was one. He wrote about it in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

However, he acknowledged that the state still had the right to legitimate use of the death penalty. He never tried to abolish it outright. He couldn't, for the legitimacy of the death penalty has been established Church teaching for the past 2,000 years.

I will link to two blogging colleagues who wrote pieces in response to the erroneous efforts by a number of Catholic press outlets. One is 'From Rome' and the other, One Peter Five. In my post two weeks ago I also presented some Catholic truth on the matter. I think all this supports the premise of 'From Rome' that it is a heresy to claim that capital punishment is wrong.

That makes the pope's words, released this morning by Vatican news outlets (the RV report posted above), to be quite troubling.

He stated today that the death penalty is "inadmissible, however serious the crime". Ladies and gentlemen, that is not Catholic doctrine - and thus not the teaching of Jesus Christ. Will this pope declare that his predecessors and many Doctors of the Church to be in error?

He rails against "punishing one murder with another". His statement does not do justice to the definition of "murder" according to Catholic moral theology, as I explained in my March 6th post.

No pope can contradict the perennial teaching of Holy Mother Church - but that is precisely what Pope Francis did this morning! St Thomas Aquinas defines heresy as "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith in Christ, corrupt its dogmas."

So does this blanket condemnation of capital punishment constitute heresy?

Here is Steve Skojec's comprehensive review of the Catholic position on the death penalty:

Getting it wrong
about the death penalty


March 20, 2015

The ongoing debates about the authentic Catholic position on the death penalty have grown particularly exasperating. Perhaps the worst thing of all is that we’re wasting time arguing over teaching that is incredibly well-established throughout the majority of Church history.

The Church’s stance on capital punishment has always been more than merely permissive; the idea that “rendering harmless” those criminals deserving of capital punishment is sufficient to eradicate the need for such a sentence is simply not consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture, the understanding of popes, doctors of the Church, and various apostolic pronouncements.

Adding fuel to the fire, today we have a report from the Vatican’s own news service indicating that Pope Francis has attempted to proclaim that there is no circumstance whatsoever in which the death penalty is warranted. [He quotes from the RV report cited above.]

This is why I use the word “attempted” in describing the pope’s desire to eradicate capital punishment: because he lacks the authority to make such a change. Shocking, I know, but I said it before and I’ll repeat it again: the teaching on this matter is settled.

In order to advance his position, Pope Francis would have to declare several of his predecessors as well as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More (who prosecuted heretics in an England where that was a capital offense), a papal decree, an apostolic constitution, and also St. Paul’s own divinely-inspired writing in the New Testament to be in error.

Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. We’ll start with the New Testament:

“If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death.” (Acts 25:11)

“Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

We may also examine papal and magisterial pronouncements:

It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority. - Pope Innocent 1 Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, 20 February 405, PL 20,495)

Condemned as an error: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” – Pope Leo X Exsurge Domine (1520)

The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives. In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8). Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4

Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.” - Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328

And finally, some teachings from the doctors of the Church:

The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time.

The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason. – St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21

It is written: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex 22:18); and: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land” (Ps 100:8).

…Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away.

Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2

In Iota Unum, Romano Amerio cites St. Thomas on the expiatory nature of accepting a death sentence: “Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment for those crimes in the next life, or at least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation, and contrition; but a natural death does not.” (Cf. Romano Amerio Iota Unum, 435)

In his apostolic constitution, Horrendum illud scelus, Pope St. Pius V even decreed that actively homosexual clerics were to be stripped of their office and handed over to the civil authorities, who at that time held sodomy as a capital offense. He wrote: “We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.”

These are, to borrow words from the New Testament, “hard sayings.” But as Catholics, we are obligated to wrestle with these teachings – especially the ones we don’t understand or find ourselves interiorly opposed to.

Taking it upon ourselves to condemn what we disagree with is to challenge the authority and doctrinal orthodoxy of those who proclaimed them true in the first place. The burden is on us to prove, if we really believe it, why some prior teaching was wrong – and how to reconcile that with infallibility and authentic doctrinal development.

The above citations alone should be sufficient to prove that the death penalty was traditionally viewed by the Church as more than just morally permissible in certain circumstances. It seems clear that the traditional view was that, when carried out justly, the execution of criminals deserving of such penalties by the legitimate authority of the state actually served the common good and even had the power to expiate temporal punishment on the part of the guilty.

This is something that more recent papal statements — like those found in Evangelium Vitae — fail to address. (More on that in a minute.)

No less contemporary an ecclesiastical authority than Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict, admitted at the very least that Catholics had room to disagree on this issue. He stated, as pertains to the question of capital punishment and the worthiness of an individual who supports it to receive Holy Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.

While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

As a student of Church history, it’s no surprise that Ratzinger clarified this. We see why, in an article published by Dr. Steven Long, professor of theology at Ave Maria University, on the website Thomistica (run by the Aquinas Center of Ave Maria). In the piece — which specifically addresses the recent joint statement in favor of abolition of the death penalty by four ostensibly Catholic journals — Long demonstrates that acceptance of the right of the state to levy this penalty was a requirement for the restoration of the heretical Waldensians to full communion:

Wholly unobserved is the high theological note characterizing the profession required of the Waldensians in 1210 in order to re-establish ecclesial communion. The Waldensians were required to acknowledge among other things the essential justice of the death penalty for grave crime.

Cf. Denzinger, #425 — “Concerning secular power we declare that without mortal sin it is possible to exercise a judgment of blood as long as one proceeds to bring punishment not in hatred but in judgment, not incautiously but advisedly.”

Clearly to require this oath for the re-establishment of ecclesial communion at one moment, and then to imply the absolute necessity of the opposite — where what is at stake is not prudential application and limit but the principled possibility of just penalty of death — would constitute not a development of doctrine, but rather a mutation.

Note, again, that the oath required of the Waldensians directly refers to the death penalty in principle and that it indicates that as such it cannot be a malum in se (evil in itself). Nor is it listed as such in ]g]Evangelium Vitae, which provides a list of such intrinsic evils from which the death penalty is omitted.

Are the editors of the journals involved – or the bishops who so commonly describe the death penalty as contrary to human dignity as though it were a malum in se – familiar with the work of the late Eminence Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, on this question? Or the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church?

Hundreds of years of Catholic teaching in conformity with the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors has acknowledged that implementing the penalty is a prudential matter and that the penalty is essentially valid.

Pope Pius XII taught that the penalty is valid across cultures. The wisdom of applying this penalty is essentially a prudential matter. But as prudential, there is no such thing as “de facto abolition” since circumstances change, and – again, contrary to the journals and the new enthusiasm – deterrence is a necessary and essential part of criminal justice.

The reason for this last is that we are not free to impose penalties in this life without considering the common good, and an essential part of this consideration is (contrary to Kant who thought that the justice of the death penalty made its application to be absolutely necessary) the issue of deterrence.

The same place at different times may require different penalties; and different places at the same time may require different penalties. Many penalties might be essentially just that in particular circumstances do not conduce to the common good and so ought not be applied.

Thus it is altogether fitting that – given the overriding circumstance of the rejection of higher law and the widespread determining circumstance of the culture of death – there be a prudential reservation in applying this penalty.

But this is an entirely different thing from the joint editorial’s barely concealed anathematization of the penalty, which itself proceeds from a failure to understand, and a lack of due theological regard for, the transcendence of the common good.

The editorializing journals fail to understand that Evangelium Vitae does not reduce penalty to defense, but adverts to defense largely because of the failure of states to subject themselves to higher law and to acknowledge their subjection to the common good,

In the presence of the widespread circumstance of the failure of the penalty to manifest a transcendent norm of justice owing to the omnipresent culture of death, the other medicinal aspects of penalty – in particular deterrence (which includes keeping the particular criminal from killing again) – become even more important inasmuch as the major medicinal purpose of punishment (manifesting a transcendent norm of justice) is impeded.

Yet the journals fail to acknowledge that deterrence is essential to criminal justice, a remarkable view simply contrary to Catholic tradition. But we are not free to impose penalty without care for the common good, and the consideration of deterrence is part of such care. Enthusiasm suppresses such distinctions.

The journals use the term 'violation' to describe the penalty. But just penalty does not “violate” the rights of the guilty. And there is no absolute “right” of the guilty to immunity from justice for grave crime. It may be better not to impose some penalties, and this is largely true of the death penalty today. But contrary to the formulations of the journals in question it is precisely not a universal truth, nor is the penalty as such “abhorrent”.

That is the language of the Waldensians, language which they were required to renounce to re-establish ecclesial communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Those who embrace such language should realize that they are crossing over from the Church’s prudential reservations regarding the penalty – which then-Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the CDF insisted that no Roman Catholic was obligated to share – toward assumption of the Waldensian view of the matter (prior to their return to the Church, that is).-

So how did we get here? The problem seems to begin for us with the language of Evangelium Vitae itself:

Among the signs of hope we should also count the spread, at many levels of public opinion, of a new sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument for the resolution of conflicts between peoples, and increasingly oriented to finding effective but “non-violent” means to counter the armed aggressor.

In the same perspective there is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of “legitimate defence” on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform....

This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”. Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.

It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

Aside from ignoring the Church’s previous views on capital punishment as serving a legitimate good and taking place through an exercise of God’s own authority and justice, one of the principle issues EV glosses over in its assertion that criminals are rendered “harmless” by “steady improvements in the…penal system” is the absolute epidemic of modern prison violence – assault, rape, and murder.

It’s difficult to find exact statistics on prison homicides nationwide, since they are broken down by federal and state jurisdictions. I found 77 murders in Federal prisons over the course of a decade with five minutes of Googling; I was unable, on an initial search, to get accurate data on state facilities.

Taking the focus away from the relatively more-difficult-to-get-away- with crime of murder, and onto prison rape, however, we see a vastly different and more horrifying picture. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that somewhere between 86,000 and 200,000 cases of sexual assault happen in our prisons every year.

This is hardly evidence of the “steady improvements in the organization of the penal system” that Pope John Paul II spoke about when declaring the need for executions “practically non-existent.”

Another common argument flows from the admonition in EV about not “definitively denying them [criminals]the chance to reform.” This argument typically takes the form of a statement along these lines: “If criminals are executed, what chance do they have to repent and convert? The longer we keep them alive, the more opportunities there are for God’s grace to reach them.”

And yet, no less a moral theologian than St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this claim specifically. He wrote:

The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.

They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil. – (c)Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, chapter 146

There are unquestionably prudential aspects to the application of the death penalty that need to be worked out by competent civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Foremost among these, I think, is the question of whether (and which) governments in the modern world could be trusted with carrying it out justly.

The Church certainly never demanded that the death penalty always be carried out in certain cases. It was always a decision relegated to a legitimate civil authority. This was affirmed by no less than our Divine Savior Himself, who said to Pontius Pilate — knowing full well he was about to be sentenced to an unjust death — “Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” (Jn. 19:11)

Christ didn’t say that what Pilate was doing was right in that given circumstance. But he did affirm that the authority rested with him to do it.

Catholics who advocate the Church’s moral teaching on this issue are not craven, bloodthirsty monsters. Neither are they rebels against Church teaching – they in fact are choosing, despite popular opposition from their fellow Catholics and now, even popes, to be submissive to it.

For my part, I personally find the idea of executing someone exceptionally distasteful. Even so, I’ve written about my personal run-in with the death penalty following the murder of my mother-in-law. That I experienced something like this doesn’t objectively make me any more or less of an authority on the matter. Emotional arguments for or against capital punishment aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

But being in a position where my opinion on this issue (and how it impacted my wife) could have affected the outcome of sentencing in a murder trial — and thus, the lives of two killers — it absolutely did give me cause to consider it carefully under the weight of a more grave moral responsibility than most people will ever be burdened by.

We don’t always understand or even feel comfortable with why the Church did things differently in the past, but it doesn’t give us the right to simply discard those things. We need to look for continuity, for exercises of apostolic authority, for scriptural precedent, for consistency of teaching, etc.

Even the pope, despite the authority of his office, lacks the power to change teachings so well-established as this. He is the guarantor of doctrine, not the author of it. Rest assured, therefore, that despite the fervor of Pope Francis’s condemnation of capital punishment as never just, this is his personal opinion, and nothing more.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/22/2015 3:49 AM]
3/22/2015 4:49 AM
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Benedict XVI's 'papal-name' day comes two days after his 'birthname day'. Even if it is not 'celebrated' universally every year according to the prescribed (and rotating) calendar of saints, March 21 is the feast day of St. Benedict (480-547), or as his Benedictines were the first to use the term, his birthday in heaven, the day of his death, and the day they celebrate his feast day, as well as on July 11, to which the feast was moved in the liturgical calendar so as not to be superseded in Lent. And so...


Saturday, March 21, 2015, Fourth Week of Lent

BLESSED GIOVANNI DA PARMA [John of Parma] (Italy, 1209-1289)
7th Minister-General of the Franciscan Order, Papal Legate, Hermit
One of the second generation of great Franciscans who emerged after the death of St. Francis,
John was a philosophy professor before he joined the Franciscan order around 1233. He was
sent to Paris for further studies, then assigned to Bologna, Naples and Rome, where he caught
the attention of Pope Innocent IV. At the first Council of Lyons in 1245, he represented the
ailing Minister General of the Franciscans. Two years later when thiss superior died, Innocent
supported John to replace him. It was a position he would hold for 10 years, during which he
sought to bring back the order to its early days of poverty and humility under the founder.
He visited almost all the Franciscan convents in Europe on foot, and was received by Louis IX
in France and Henry II in England. Innocent then sent him to Constantinople to win back Greek
Christians who were in schism. He succeeded, but on his return, he decided to retire and urged
the order to elect Bonaventure of Bagnoregio as his successor. John went to a hermitage near
Greccio, where Francis had first instituted a living Nativity tableau. Some time during his 32-
year retirement, he underwent canonical trial under Bonaventure himself for advocating the
theology of Joachim of Fiore. It was said that he may have shared some of Joachim's apocalyptic
views but not his dogmatic errors; and that he retracted during the canonical process. In the year
he was to die, the Greeks in Constantinople threatened schism again and he volunteered, at age 80,
to mediate once again. However, he died along the way in Italy. He was beatified in 1797.

[It is puzzling to me that the Franciscan sites that turn up most frequently online do not even
include include him in their list of 'Franciscan saints and blesseds'. I found the images on an Italian
and a Spanish site.]

The Pope made a pastoral visit to Naples. Vatican Radio has the reports:

Here are some of the headlines about the visit:

A reminder of St. Benedict's legacy:

Benedict of Europe:
His Rule continues to be valid today

ROME, March 21, 2009 ((Translated from SIR) - "Messenger of peace, realizer of unity, teacher of civilization, and above all, herald of the religion of Christ and founder of Western monasticism". These are the exaltatory tiles of St. Benedict, abbot, principal Patron of Europe.

"With the collapse of the Roman Empire, even as some regions of Europe seemed to fall into darkness and others were still 'uncivilized' and devoid of spiritual values, it was he who with constant and assiduous commitment, brought the dawn of a new era to the continent of Europe.

"Mainly, he and his spiritual sons brought Christian progress - through the Cross, the book and the plow - to diverse peoples from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, from Ireland to the plains of Poland."

Thus did Paul VI write in his Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius (Messenger of peace), in proclaiming, on October 24, 1964, St. Benedict of Norcia as "the principal patron of all Europe".

He and his patrimony are remembered today on the anniversary of his 'birth in heaven' in the three Benedictine cities of Norcia, his birthplace; Subiaco, where he lived for 30 years, and where he founded his first monasteries; and Montecassino, where he first drafted his Rule and where he died.

Traditionally linking them is the annual Benedictine Torch 'pro Europa una', which was lit last March 4 in Malta and blessed by Benedict XVI at the General Audience last March 14.

What remains of Benedict's patrimony today? Is his message still relevant for the Old Continent that has become secularized and relativistic?

For the Abbot of Subiaco, don Mauro Meacci, "The relevance of St. Benedict rests on the advice that pervades all his teaching - Never put anything before love for Christ - which implies love and respect for man as as a creature of God". A lesson that is necessary in the Church's ongoing battle in defense of life and the family.

"We are witnessing a decomposition of society," the abbot said, "which is being drained of its natural human values. Man, forgetting his derivation from God, becomes ever more manipulated by the economy, by politics, a manipulation that leads to frustrations, dissatisfaction and disappointment.

"The rule of St. Benedict helps man to recover his soul, to regain his heart. It transposes the Gospel to reality, and invites us to a complete and full life, even in a time of grave material crisis".

In the rediscovery of the Cross that Benedict brought to early medieval Europe, Benedict also brought 'the book and the plow', to use the words of Paul VI.

"The book is the Bible, but also, culture, intelligence, creativity, while the plow represents commitment, responsibility, sacrifice and work," said Mons. Renato Boccardo, Bishop of Spoleto-Norcia.

"Personal and communal responsibility, in the light of Revelation, can generate a Christian humanism that places man at the center and object of our attention", he said.

"We have lost sight of the richness and beauty of man. But re-establishing humanistic values, following the example of St. Benedict, we can give a new spirit to Europe. Christian humanism gives a vision of society that is inspired by wisdom, that makes us look at man, at the family, at service for the promotion of the good of each human being. Benedict places the accent on man as 'the union of body and spirit' that should not be broken up according to changing interests and convenience."

The abbot of Montecassino, dom Pietro Vittorelli, says of Benedict's Rule: "In a time when society is as fluid as it is today, the Rule can help re-establish the correct rules of relationships witnin the family and in society. 'Ora, labora, lege' - pray, work and study - which is the basis of the Rule, has attracted young people in every era and every generation. Today, you can see how many young people choose to have retreats in monasteries where they can rediscover such a harmonious order of life that can orient their own lives. Monastic spirituality welcomes every man without prejudice or exclusion. The world is always present in the prayers of the monks who are not detached from the world in that sense".

And of course, in the Vatican today, we have Benedict of Bavaria living the ora-labora-lege rule of his beloved namesake.]

From RORATE CAELI today, a homily on St. Benedict's Day:

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
and Administrator of St. Paul of Wisques
Wisques, March 21, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

We celebrate today the day on which our Blessed Father St. Benedict was called to God, and we give thanks for the blessings that this life has brought, and for the gift that through him and his sons has been granted, and is still granted, to mankind.

St. Benedict’s undertaking has by far gone beyond the limits of the houses that he founded and of the times in which he lived. By the network of monasteries that were sown in our Old World countries, St. Benedict has made a major contribution to the foundation of Europe on the rock of Christian values. Come hell or high water, the Old World has stood fast and has even spread this civilisation, especially to the African and American worlds.

St. Benedict does indeed deserve the title of “great confessor”. We have just sung: "Blessed is the man that fears the Lord, that delights greatly in His commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon the earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed." (Ps 111:1-2)

How can we explain such an influence? The sequence of the Mass calls him magni ducis, a great chief. Monks call him their Blessed Father. More than a chief, St. Benedict has been a Father. If he is the Father of Europe, it is because he has been first Father of his monks.

What is then this fatherhood that is not derived from the bonds of the flesh, and yet seems to hold fruitfulness, as can be seen in the monastic Order? The Apostles have forsaken all to follow Jesus. The same applies to monks. Monastic fatherhood is a living relationship, which conversely entails a living “sonship”. If St. Benedict has become the Father of Europe, it is because he had sons who passed on the heritage that they had received from their Father.

The very first word in the Holy Rule contains the whole spirituality of St. Benedict. A monk who would merely put it into practice would not have to worry about anything else. Ausculta, listen! Listen to him who speaks to you, and who is a master because he himself listens to another Master. Listen to him who speaks to you, and who is a father because he himself listens to another Father,

Who is also your own Father. Listen in order to follow, and to come into possession of the heritage, so that you too pass it on, listen in order to serve. The monastery is a school of listening, schola servitii Dei, the school where you learn to listen to God, the school where you learn to serve God. To serve God means to make one’s own the design of God, a design of happiness for each person.

Monasteries have converted Europe not by dint of laws that were revolutionary or going against nature, but merely because they existed and were attractive, because they were striving for man’s happiness. Monks would first arrive in some place, they would clear the land and settle in this place. The neighbours would wonder, consider, become interested, and eventually become steeped in the values of charity, self-sacrifice, peace, that would emanate from the monastic society. The face of Europe has thus changed in fifteen centuries.

Today’s new civilisation is, to quote the Holy Father, “the throw-away culture”. Everything that can no longer be used is thrown away. On the reverse, the Benedictine monk pronounces a vow of stability!

Family, children, elderly people, couples, everything is called into question. All of them become throwaway, disposable, interchangeable… The umbilical cord that ensures the passing on of life and love may be severed. The cords that link the child to his family, man to his wife, elderly people to their children, the child to his mother, all of them may be severed. The world that promotes human rights becomes a world of silence, loneliness and death, a world laid waste. The monastery, a place of silence, remains a place of listening.

The beginning of this twenty-first century will remain in history as marked by destruction: destruction of the remainders of pre-Christian civilisations in the Middle East, which causes such a turmoil in the international community, but also destruction of the foundations of European civilisation, welcomed with great satisfaction by the liberally-minded set.

Whereas we speak quite readily of sustainable development, of waste recycling, how long will it take until mankind understands that sustainable development has no interest whatsoever except if there should remain a sustainable civilisation, namely a civilisation founded on a stable pattern that unconditionally ensures the respect due to every human being and family?

Responsible fatherhood means more to serve than to rule. The State has long since forgotten this maxim. St. Benedict reminds the Abbot of it. Those who cross the threshold of the monastic house are often tainted with an individualistic spirit, selfcenteredness, the pursuit of pleasure, all of which corrupt human society. Inside the monastery they find a Father and brothers. As they humbly listen to their neighbour, as they generously practise obedience and mutual love, they rebuild themselves, and they strive, where they belong, to rebuild the world.

Before clearing lands and building roads, monks had first listened to God, followed and sought Him. Benedict magnetised the human compass towards a safe and unchanging North. His has been a major contribution to the recovery of human dignity and freedom.

The French thinker and writer Paul Valéry (1871-1945) would not gainsay this, for he wrote: "It will soon be necessary to build rigorously secluded cloisters where neither radio broadcasting nor newspapers will enter, where ignorance of all political life will be secured and safeguarded. There, men will spurn speed, numbers, effects due to mass, surprise, contrast, repetition, novelty, and gullibility. There we shall on appointed days go and contemplate through a grille a few specimens of free men." (Paul Valéry, Regards sur le monde actuel, « Fluctuations sur la liberté » [Considerations on Today’s World, “Fluctuations on Freedom”], 1938, Pléiade, t. II, p. 969.)

Let us apply to nations the words that St. Benedict addresses to his disciple: Where is the nation that desires life and loves to see good days? Listen, O Europe, as thou once didst, to the precepts of thy master, and “incline the ear of thy heart”, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father… And then thou shalt with God’s help attain at last to the greater heights of knowledge and virtue which we have mentioned above.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/25/2015 6:29 PM]
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