Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 26 years. Small town lawyer. President of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center.

PopeWatch: Is He Pope?






Throughout the history of the Church, whenever a Pope proves less than congenial to groups within the Church, often times the argument is eventually made that the Pope has been invalidly elected and is not therefore Pope.  PopeWatch thinks that Catholics on the wrong side of a Pope find this thought comforting.  They are not in disagreement with Peter, because the present incumbent is not a true Pope.  Popewatch finds these arguments on an intellectual par with those who contend that some amendment to the Constitution is not valid because of an alleged infirmity in the process.  It is a disagreement over substance masquerading as a procedural argument.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has comments by a Canon Law Professor, Geraldina Boni, regarding the election of Pope Francis:
I would like to add a few strictly canonistic remarks on a question that has been the object of extensive attention, above all on the web.

I observe that the journalist Elisabetta Piqué, in the book “Francis. Life and revolution,” reported concerning the election of Pope Francis (and this leak is said to have been confirmed by several cardinals):

“After the voting and before the reading of the ballots, the cardinal scrutineer, who first of all mixes up the sheets placed in the ballot box, realizes that there is one too many: there are 116 and not 115 as there should be. It seems that, by mistake, one of the cardinals has placed two sheets in the box: one with the name of his choice and one blank, which had stuck to the first one. These things happen. It can’t be helped, this round of voting is immediately cancelled, the sheets will be burned later without having been seen, and a sixth round of voting will come next.”

It is not worth it to dwell over the conjectures that unfailingly follow the conclusion of every conclave, based on presumed revelations on the part of subjects bound to strict secrecy. In any case, on the basis of this report Antonio Socci, in the volume “He is not Francis. The Church in the great storm,” has backed the idea of the nullity of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election. […]

Even supposing that the electoral operations took place as they are depicted, Socci’s reconstruction has no juridical foundation.

According to paragraph no. 65 of John Paul II’s apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis,” which regulates the conclave, the ballot must be rectangular in form and must bear on the top half, printed if possible, the words “Eligo in summum pontificem,” while the bottom half must leave room to write the name of the candidate. So the ballot is made in such a way that it can be folded in two. The compilation of the ballot must be done secretly by each cardinal elector, who must write clearly, in handwriting as unrecognizable as possible, the name of the one he chooses, taking care not to write more than one name as in this case the vote would be nullified, and then fold the ballot twice. It therefore appears (and from other instructions of the aforementioned apostolic constitution as well) that the ballots are not placed within an envelope, but are simply folded.

According to no. 66, then, the scrutiny includes: 1. the placement of the ballots in the box provided; 2. the mixing and counting of these; 3. the tally of the votes. It is therefore absolutely plausible that it was precisely at the moment of counting and not of the tally (as attested to by Piqué, who moreover is held to be perfectly credible by Socci) that the hands of the scrutineer encountered the two ballots, the only ones that were actually opened – but not obviously perforated – with the confirmation of a blank ballot inadvertently attached to the one marked with the name.

It was therefore entirely correct to apply scrupulously to the letter no. 68 of the constitution [which prescribes that “If the number of ballots does not correspond to the number of electors, the ballots must all be burned and a second vote taken at once”]. Moreover, no. 5 of the same constitution explicitly rules out the possibility of interpreting the act of election, requiring the norms to be applied just as they appear. Even if the scrutineer opened those two ballots with the reasonable intention of confirming the accidental attachment of a blank sheet to a marked one, this would certainly not constitute a problematic irregularity, nor would it turn the counting phase into that of the tally, each of these being disciplined by its own norms guided by specific “rationes.” […]

It is only after the counting that one must move on to no. 69 [the tallying of the ballots]: it is undeniable how the additional ballot that slipped through the counting phase and went on to that of the tally was in any case due, intentionally or not, to a single cardinal, and an extra ballot is always, apart from the person to whom it can be attributed, an irregularity. But if such an irregularity, according the norms of John Paul II, is always problematic in the preliminary phase of the counting (no. 68), it is no longer so in that of the tally, in particular when the ballots are folded in such a way as to appear to have been compiled by a single elector. […]

Even if it is true that the scenario that took place during the conclave of 2013, at the moment of the counting, meaning that of two ballots folded together, partially corresponds to the one considered in no. 69 that regulates the tally, this does not mean that one can apply a norm set down for another phase of the electoral procedure (and with another “ratio”). It is precisely the rigidity of the apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (emphasized by Socci himself), enhanced when it comes to the act of election – cf. the aforementioned no. 5 – that categorically excludes it. If on the contrary no. 69 were improperly applied, violating the obligation to adhere to what no. 68 rigorously imposes, this could possibly create a problem of the validity of an election.

So since no. 68 was applied completely legitimately, from the juridical point of view this fourth round the voting is incontestably “tamquam non esset,” and it was not to be included and numbered among those that actually took place that day, meaning juridically valid and complete, arriving at the point of the tally. This also eliminates the objection that the maximum number of four rounds of voting per day was exceeded. […]

Nor is it idle to point out that the constitution of John Paul II does not sanction even a simoniac election with invalidity. […] And neither does it do so if the election is the result of pacts, agreements, promises, or other commitments of any kind between cardinals (see the other conjecture of a team of four cardinals thought to have planned Bergoglio’s election as advanced recently by Austen Ivereigh in the book “The Great Reformer. Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope”).

Antonio Socci finally argues: “Even if only one doubtful judgment were to be expressed about the validity of the procedures followed that March 13, 2013, it can be maintained that the conclave must be redone because doctrine teaches that ‘dubius papa habetur pro non papa’ (a dubious pope is to be considered as not a pope), as the great Jesuit cardinal and doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine writes in the treatise ‘De conciliis et ecclesia militante.’”

On the contrary, even if it really happened as depicted, the procedure followed, as has been shown, would have been entirely “ad normam iuris.” The election of Pope Francis, having reached the stipulated majority at the fifth scrutiny (the first, of course, took place on May 12), would be valid, there would be nothing to “correct,” there would be no doubt, much less “positive” and “insoluble” (as the law postulates), over its validity.

Given the complete lack of juridical foundation for such suppositions, even if the information on which they are based is to be given credit, there also disappears the bugaboo – recklessly agitated – of the current occupancy of the chair of Peter by a dubious pope. In any case, canon law has constantly and unanimously taught that the “pacifica universalis ecclesiae adhaesio” is an infallible sign and effect of a valid election and of a legitimate papacy. And the adherence of the people of God to Pope Francis can in no way be brought into doubt. Continue reading

January 12, 1865: Davis Note to Blair

Lincoln v. Davis


Go here to read about the peace initiative of Francis P. Blair who travelled to Richmond to meet with President Davis.

Jefferson Davis was a very shrewd man, much shrewder I think than most historians have given him credit for being.  He realized that little could be expected from negotiations with Lincoln because Lincoln would never agree to Confederate independence, the one non-negotiable issue as far as both Lincoln and Davis were concerned.  Additionally, he regarded a joint Union Confederate war against the French in Mexico, the core of the Blair initiative,  to be a fairly bizarre proposal.  However, he was eager to negotiate.  The Confederate military situation was beyond dire.  If the negotiations led to Confederate independence, victory would be snatched at the last instant.  If, as Davis expected, the negotiations led to nothing, he could tell his people that he had attempted negotiations and the Union would not negotiate in good faith, and all that remained was a last ditch struggle to secure on the battlefield what the North would never concede on the negotiating table.   Here is the note that he gave to Blair to take back to Lincoln:  Continue reading

The Wile E. Coyote of Liberal Catholic Pundits



Among the born again ultramontanists so much in fashion on the Catholic Left in this country since the advent of Pope Francis, is Michael Winters of the National Catholic Fishwrap Reporter.  Robert George has designated him the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal Catholicism in a root and branch take down at First Things:

For reasons I cannot fathom, Michael Winters of the National Catholic Reporter seems determined to cast himself as the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal Catholicism. His elaborate efforts to capture his prey—his roadrunners are those “culture warrior” bishops (such as Charles Chaput of Philadelphia) and Catholic intellectuals who are too zealous for his taste in defending the Church’s teachings on life, marriage, and sexual morality—inevitably backfire, usually comically and sometimes humiliatingly. But he intrepidly keeps at it, hoping against hope, I suppose, that his next effort will finally bring success.

Earlier this week, I was the roadrunner, as from time to time I am. I had offered four points to bear in mind about the teaching authority of the papal magisterium as we await the encyclical letter Pope Francis is preparing on our moral obligations concerning the natural environment. They were drawn from the teaching of the Church herself (in Lumen Gentium and the Catechism) about magisterial authority. But Wile E. Coyote perceived in my stating them a nefarious purpose:

Professor George . . . set[s] out a nearly pitch-perfect set of talking points for minimizing the impact of whatever it is the Holy Father will say, that is, advancing his own conservative political agenda.

And, he thinks, he can prove it!

He quotes this sentence from my post:

The pope has no special knowledge, insight, or teaching authority pertaining to matters of empirical fact of the sort investigated by, for example, physicists and biologists, nor do popes claim such knowledge, insight, or authority.

Now anyone who knows anything about Catholic teaching on papal authority knows that this proposition is, not to put too fine a point on it, undeniable. If the pope wants to know whether it is going to rain tomorrow, he has no hotline to the Holy Spirit on the subject. Weather patterns are (to hew closer to the Church’s understanding of its authority) no part of the deposit of faith, complete at the death of the last Apostle, which the Pope and the bishops with him are protected from error in formally defining and clarifying over time. When it comes to meteorology, the pope has to do what you and I and everyone else must do: Consult the meteorologists. 

But Wile E. Coyote nevertheless thinks he’s finally got the prey in his grip. So he goes for it.

The sentence, he labors to explain, “suffers from several difficulties. First, the pope does have knowledge that you and I do not have, and that I suspect Professor George does not have: He listens to the bishops throughout the world and knows what concerns they have regarding the environment and other matters of moral concern.”

Let’s hit the pause button for a chuckle. I had pointed out that popes have no special knowledge regarding matters of empirical fact of the sort investigated by natural scientists. Mr. Winters tries to contest the point by saying that popes “listen to the bishops throughout the world and know what concerns they have regarding the environment and other matters of moral concern.” Thus does Wile E. Coyote’s explosive go off in his hand. Continue reading

Homily of Pope Benedict on the Baptism of the Lord


From 2013:

Dear brothers and sisters!
The joy arising from the celebration of Christmas finds its completion today in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To this joy is added another reason for those of us who are gathered here: in the Sacrament of Baptism that will soon be administered to these infants, the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested, enriching the Church with new children, enlivening and making them grow, and we cannot help but rejoice. I wish to extend a special greeting to you, dear parents and godparents, who today bear witness to your faith by requesting Baptism for these children, because they are regenerated to new life in Christ and become part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism, which we have heard today according to St Luke’s account, shows the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father, to be obedient to His loving will for mankind in all things, even to the sacrifice on the Cross. Having reached adulthood, Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John the baptism of repentance and conversion. What happens may appear paradoxical to our eyes. Does Jesus need repentance and conversion? Of course not. Yet He Who is without sin is placed among the sinners to be baptized, to fulfil this act of repentance; the Holy One of God joins those who recognize in themselves the need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion – that is, the grace to turn to Him with their whole heart, to be totally His. Jesus wills to put Himself on the side of sinners, by being in solidarity with them, expressing the nearness of God. Jesus shows solidarity with us, with our effort to convert, to leave behind our selfishness, to detach ourselves from our sins, saying to us that if we accept Him into our lives, He is able to raise us up and lead us the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to speak, a mere exercise of the mind and will. Jesus was really immersed in our human condition; He lived it to the utmost – although without sin – and in such a way that He understands weakness and fragility. Therefore He is moved to compassion; He chooses to “suffer with” men, to be penitent together with us. This is the work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and to cure those who are sick, to take upon Himself the sin of the world.
What happens at the moment when Jesus was baptized by John? In the face of this humble act of love on the part of the Son of God, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifested in the form of a dove, while a voice from on high expresses the pleasure of the Father, Who recognizes the Only-begotten Son, the Beloved. It is a true manifestation of the Holy Trinity, which gives testimony to the divinity of Jesus, to His being the promised Messiah, the One whom God has sent to free His people, so that His people might be saved (cf. Is 40, 2). Thus is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the first reading: the Lord God comes with power to destroy the works of sin and His arm exercises dominion to disarm the Evil one; but keep in mind that this arm is the arm extended on the Cross, and the power of Christ is the power of the One who suffers for us: this is the power of God, differing from the power of the world. Thus God comes in power to destroy sin. Jesus truly acts as the good shepherd, that feeds His flock and gathers it together so that it will not be scattered (cf. Is 40, 10-11), and offers His own life that it might live. It is through His redemptive death that man is freed from the dominion of sin and reconciled with the Father; and through His resurrection that man is saved from eternal death and is made victorious over the Evil one.
Dear brothers and sisters, what happens in Baptism, which will soon be administered to your children? What happens is this: they will be united in a profound way and forever with Jesus, immersed in the mystery of His power, that is, in the mystery of His death, which is the source of life, in order to share in His resurrection, to be reborn to new life. See the miracle that is repeated today for your children: receiving baptism, they are reborn as children of God, partakers of the filial relationship that Jesus has with the Father, able to turn to God and call upon Him with full trust and confidence: “Abba, Father!” On your children, too, the heavens are opened, and God says: “these are my children, with whom I am well pleased.” Inserted into this relationship and freed from original sin, they become living members of the unique body which is the Church, and are enabled to live fully their vocation to holiness, so as to inherit eternal life, obtained for us by the resurrection of Jesus. Continue reading

January 11, 1865: Mission to Richmond


Francis P. Blair


Francis P. Blair, patriarch of the politically powerful Blair family of Missouri, had spent virtually all of his life politically well-connected.  In the 1820’s he had been an ardent supporter of Andrew Jackson.  He had taken over the failing paper The Washington Globe, and transformed it into a political powerhouse, the chief organ of the Democrat Party.  From the wealth he amassed as a result, he built his Blair House in Washington, and made it a site for the powerful to dance attendance upon him, in search of advice and the use of Blair’s immense influence.  In spite of owning slaves himself, in the 1840s he became convinced that the expansion of slavery into new territories had to cease.  In the 1850’s he was instrumental in the foundation of the Republican Party and he became a supporter of Lincoln.  With his son Montgomery Blair as Postmaster General, and his son Frank as Congressman and Union general, along with the immense influence he had not only in Missouri but also in Maryland, when Blair spoke Lincoln listened. Continue reading

Ferrara v. Shea



Break out the popcorn!  The latest in the longstanding Ferrara v. Shea feud:



The “Francis effect” appears to be driving Mark Shea over the edge as he doggedly stays the neo-Catholic course of defending the indefensible no matter how indefensible it becomes. Given a Pope who has just cooperated with the Abortion President to sell out the oppressed Catholics of Cuba, with thanks from both Obama and Cuba’s communist dictator, and who approved a synodal document calling for appreciation of the “positive elements” in concubinage and “valuing” the “orientation” and the “gifts and qualities” of “homosexual persons,” Shea is now faced with a growing army of messengers that have to be shot, including a few cardinals and bishops.

Shea is beside himself over a searing critique of this pontificate by Maureen Mullarkey that appeared in—oh the horror!—First Things. He cannot believe it: “This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs.  It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement.  This was published by First Freakin’ Things.” Yes, First Freakin’ Things, the preeminent journal of “moderate” Catholic opinion that could never be accused of “rad trad” leanings.A bewildered Shea wants to know: “First Things: What happened to you guys?” Francis happened, that’s what. Now, if Shea were a reasonable man he would recognize that there just might be a serious problem with this pontificate when even First Things begins voicing objections to such elements of the Bergoglian program as “his clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba” and his “sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements”—a reference to Francis posing between two environmental activists while holding an anti-fracking T-shirt.

Continue reading

PopeWatch: A Big Raffle



From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

As spiritual leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis has received hundreds of gifts from devotees and world leaders since his election in 2013. But now Pope Francis is cleaning out his closet and raffling off items that range from a Fiat to the papacy to raise money for the poor, according to the Holy See.

The pope’s raffle of items that not only include the papacy, but will also reportedly include every item in the Vatican Library, as well as every member of the Curia, will end this Thursday when the winning numbers will be announced on the Vatican website.

Among the 13 items Francis is giving away are a leather suitcase, a Homero Ortega Panama-style hat, an espresso coffee machine, the Chair of St. Peter, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and Cardinal Burke. Continue reading

Battle of New Orleans-The Song


Something for the weekend.  On January 8, 2015 we reached the 200th anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, so Jimmie Driftwood’s Battle of New Orleans seems appropriate.  Driftwood, when he was a teacher, wrote the song in 1936 to help his students differentiate between the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War.  After Driftwood became a full time singer and composer, he often sang the song.  Johnny Horton made it a mega hit in 1959 with his rendition.

After it became a hit, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, visited Newfoundland.  The song was banned for the term of her visit by the provincial government.  My sainted mother who loved the Queen, but also had to the full the Irish rebel spirit, used to regale me with tales of the lengths that Newfies went to make sure that the song was played continuously during the Queen’s visit as a result!

Newfies were hanging record players out of their windows, the volume cranked up full blast playing the song. Her comment on this fiasco is that if the idiots in government hadn’t attempted to ban it, no one would have been playing it. I think my attitude towards government began to be forged by this example of folly related to me at a very young age at my mother’s knee!


Continue reading

Donohue Continues to Beclown Himself

I especially enjoyed his attempted analogy of this situation with a woman who is beaten for twenty years and then blows her husband’s brain out.  Any of you who have ever contributed a dime to Donohue’s worthless organization should demand every cent back.  Discrimination against Catholics and general anti-Catholic bigotry are serious issues and Donohue, in exchange for a burst of publicity, has made certain that no one is ever going to take him seriously again.  Time for Donohue to find another means to earn his daily bread.

PopeWatch: Pessimism







Rorate Caeli posts an absolutely fascinating interview that French Catholic historian Odon Vallet gave with Le Journal du Dimanche.  Vallet, a liberal, is very pessimistic that Pope Francis can achieve his goals:


INTERVIEW – Historian Odon Vallet interprets pope Francis’ very harsh words for the Curia, the group of influent personalities in the Vatican. On Monday [December 22, 2014], the Pope presented a list of the 15 “infirmities” that affected the interior of the Holy See, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “existential schizophrenia”. Odon Vallet is a historian of religions and the author of “God and religions in 101 Q & As” [Dieu et les religions en 101 questions-réponses], [published by] Albin Michel, and he sees a pope who is isolated and weakened.

[Le Journal du Dimanche] How to explain such harshness of Pope Francis towards the members of the Curia?

[Vallet] His words are indeed very harsh. Pope Francis speaks of “mental petrification” within the Curia. After the last Synod (editor’s note: on the family), the Pope sees that his adversaries are at the heart of the government of the Church. In particular, without naming them, the American, African, and Italian bishops.

Do these words express a difficulty in achieving the reforms he set out to do?

Nothing allows us to assume that he will be able to accomplish his reforms. I gather that he has an under-50% chance of accomplishing them. The reform of the Council of Trent (16th century) took 18 years, and required six popes… Pope Francis is 78, his undertaking in the renewal of the Church will be very difficult. Even more so because he has 90% of the Curia against him.

On the other hand he is very much appreciated by the faithful…

He is just as popular in Europe as he is in difficulty with those who are near him. Popularity can give rise to jealousy. Remember the crowd that applauded Jesus at Palm Sunday, and that spat on him on Good Friday.

Do you see in this speech a pope who is cornered, or a chief who is trying to affirm his authority?

Pope Francis comes from the Jesuit school. They advocate discernment and moderation. Today, the supreme pontiff resembles above all an intensive-care physician. I recall that he has already compared the Church to a hospital. Maybe he should have the interest of having his speeches read [beforehand] by more diplomatic persons, because those who approve of them in substance disagree with their form.

But who is he fighting against? Why is he this isolated within the Vatican?

When he was elected, he understood the problems of the Curia poorly. That which he found out went beyond his fears. Even if he has named people close to him, he would need 10 to 12 years to turn the bishops to his side. The problem of the curia is the same of that huge cruiser that ran aground the Italian shores. We can imagine that the cardinals and the bishops set up such a strong inertia in the Vatican machinery that Francis can do nothing about it. His worst enemies are those who praise him in the crowd.

Has he already lost the battle against his internal adversaries?

At this moment, he is in the process of losing it. Silence is gold…and he sets up a whole [new] category of persons against himself each day with his declarations. If I were pope Francis, I would put a cardinal in charge of saying good things about people and of putting oil in the cogwheels, instead of throwing it into the fire.

Can you see pope Francis resigning?

Yes. Even though he can still reverse the trend. His speech is perhaps a way of saying, “I will die standing.” Continue reading

January 9, 1815: Report to Monroe

Battle of New Orleans 2


The day after the battle of New Orleans, Jackson wrote his report to James Monroe, Secretary of War.:

Sir: 9th Jan: 1815

During the days of the 6th. & 7th. the enemy had been actively employed in making preparations for an attack on my lines. With infinite labour they had succeeded on the night of the 7th in getting their boats across from the lake to the river, by widening & deepening the Canal on which they had effected their disembarkation. It had not been in my power to impede these operations by a general attack: Added to other reasons, the nature of the troops under my command, mostly militia, rendered it too hazardous to attempt extensive offensive movements in an open Country, against a numerous & well disciplined army.- Altho my forces, as to number, had been increased by the arrival of the Kentucky division – my strength had received very little addition; a small portion only of that detachment being provided with arms: Compelled thus to wait the attack of the enemy I took every measure to repell it when it would be made, & to defeat the object he had in view. Genl. Morgan with the Orleans Contingent the Louisiana Militia, & a strong detachment of the Kentucky troops occupy an entrenched Camp, on the opposite side of the river, protected by strong batteries on the bank erected & superintended by Commodore Patterson.

In my encampment every thing was ready for action, when early on the morning of the 8th the enemy, after throwing a heavy shower of bombs & congreve rockets, advanced their columns on my right & left, to storm my entrenchments. I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the firmness & deliberation with which my whole line received their approach:-more could not have been expected from veterans, inured to war. For an hour the fire of the small arms was as incessant & severe as can be imagined. The artillery too, directed by officers who displayed equal skill & courage did great execution. Yet the columns of the enemy continued to advance with a firmness which reflects upon them the greatest credit. Twice the column which approached me on my left was repulsed by the troops of genl. Carrole – those of genl. Coffee, & a division of the Kentucky Militia, & twice they formed again & renewed the assault. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Breck Girl Jesus


Don’t discount how much those of us truly strong women are turned off by the effeminate and emasculated liturgies and priests we have encountered in the post Vat II parishes. They remade Christ in their image and neither a manly man nor strong woman would want to follow the lisping, limp wristed Breck girl Jesus they fashioned.

A commenter over at Father Z’s blog

Every era attempts to remake Jesus in its own image.  What has been done to the image of Christ since 1965, with a few honorable exceptions like the video clip above from Jesus of Nazareth (1977), says ghastly things about us.  Forgive us Lord!

PopeWatch: Cardinal Burke




Well, this is interesting.  Father Z has an excerpt of an interview which appeared in The Wanderer with Cardinal Burke, and Father Z supplies some commentary:


At my old stomping ground The Wanderer (I had a weekly column for 11 years) there is an interview with His Eminence Raymond Leo Card. Burke.  Read the whole thing there, but here is a sample of Part One of the interview, with my patented treatment.


Q. Returning to a point you previously mentioned [about the last, controversial Synod of Bishops], you noted that even though three contentious paragraphs [on divorced, civilly remarried and homosexuals] failed to garner the required two-thirds majority, they were included in the final relatio. You subsequently called for these “hot-button topics” to be removed from consideration. Do you think there is a legitimate possibility that they will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod?
In the meantime, how can faithful Catholics respond to questions regarding the perception of many that the Church is on the verge of changing her teaching? What positive steps can be taken by the laity?

A. I trust that there is a possibility that these topics will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod — that is precisely why I have insisted upon it. But it will not happen easily because those insisting on their consideration are in positions of great influence with regard to the Synod of Bishops.  [Whom I suspect have strong reasons for those paragraphs to remain at the heart of the final resulting document.]
The Church cannot change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the grave sinfulness of sexual relations outside the matrimonial union and the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts. [Before some nitwit out there says that “Burke is a homophobe!”, note that he speaks of “acts” not “persons”.]
The laity needs to nourish themselves with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium on marriage, with the teaching that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They must also give witness to it in their everyday dealings, not only with other Catholics but with people who are not of the Catholic Faith, to make it clear that the Church is not changing her teaching — indeed, that she cannot.  [That’s right.  And it is even more important, by factors of hundreds, for priests and bishops to do this in the clearest possible language.  We must not rest or be complacent, because the … other side is not going to be!]
I am hopeful that there will be opportunities for the lay faithful to take part in days of study with regard to the Church’s teaching on marriage and its beauty. I also hope that there might be demonstrations and other public manifestations in support of the truth about marriage.

Q. “Who am I to judge?” continues to be a phrase that is used and misused by the media and is a source of confusion among many of the lay faithful. In your opinion, what steps need to be taken by the Church’s Magisterium to correct misperceptions of this statement? When is it acceptable to make judgments and when is it not?

A. The phrase “Who am I to judge?” is one that I have to understand according to sound Catholic teaching and practice, namely, “Who am I to judge the individual?” We have always withheld judgment on an individual because to be in grave sin, one must have knowledge and full consent of the will. The Church has always taught that we love the sinner, but we hate the sin.
On the other hand, a person is bound to judge evil acts as evil. We cannot pretend — tolerance cannot fly in the face of truth. We are held to judge if we see an act which is objectively disordered — to make that judgment. For instance, if people are involved in extramarital activities, one must be charitable to them, loving the sinner but at the same time being very clear that the acts they are committing are gravely immoral.


And then…


Q. Please comment on the connection between the Sacred Liturgy and the New Evangelization. [A good question!  I think there is a straight line between them, so much so that without a renewal of our sacred worship, using what Summorum Pontificum has given us, no of “New Evangelization” can succeed.] Is the Sacred Liturgy a peripheral matter to the preaching of the Gospel? Or does the Sacred Liturgy play an essential role in the Gospel imperative to proclaim Jesus Christ? If the two activities of the Church are in fact essentially connected, how can this connection be shown more clearly and lived more compellingly within the ordinary parish setting? Does a wide celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass have any part to play in the efforts of the New Evangelization?

A. The Sacred Liturgy is absolutely the first act of the New Evangelization. [YES!  I recently heard another Cardinal speak about various challenges we face and the issue of liturgy didn’t come up until about 47 minutes into the presentation.] Unless we worship God in spirit and in truth, unless we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy with the greatest possible faith in God and faith in the divine action which takes place in Holy Mass, we are not going to have the inspiration and the grace to carry out the New Evangelization.
The Sacred Liturgy shows us the form of the New Evangelization because it is a direct encounter with the mystery of faith: Christ’s redemptive Incarnation for the sake of conquering sin in our lives and winning for us the grace of the divine life, a share in the life of the Holy Trinity through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
The first three commandments all have to do with the worship of God. It is the Sacred Liturgy which establishes a right relationship with God and with one another which we are called to live in our daily lives.  [Exactly what I am always harping about.]
The way this connection can be more compellingly lived in parish life is by celebrating the Sacred Liturgy in such a way that all of the faithful understand that the priest is acting in the person of Christ. They must understand that it is Christ Himself Who is descending to our altars to make truly present His sacrifice; that they must unite their hearts to His own glorious pierced Heart to cleanse them from sin and thus strengthen them for love of God and love of neighbor.
If the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in an anthropocentric way, in a horizontal way in which it is no longer evident that it is a divine action, it simply becomes a social activity that can be relativized along with everything else — it doesn’t have any lasting impact on one’s life.  [Alas, the Novus Ordo lends itself, through its structure, wordiness, options, etc., to this horizontality.]
I think the celebration of the Extraordinary Form can have a very significant part to play in the New Evangelization because of its emphasis on the transcendence of the Sacred Liturgy. In other words, it emphasizes the reality of the union of Heaven and earth through the Sacred Liturgy. The action of Christ through the signs of the sacrament, through His priests, is very evident in the Extraordinary Form. It helps us, then, to be more reverent also in the celebration of the Ordinary Form. [And, I’ll add, it is good to use it not just because it helps reverence in the Ordinary Form.  The use of the Extraordinary Form is good in itself and not just because there are other practical knock-on effects.]


Regarding both issues I excerpted for this post, I remind the readership that …

… if we are not on offense, we are on defense.

We must not be complacent.

We cannot forget about what happened at the last Synod of Bishops and then imagine that everything is going to be smooth and perfect at the next meeting in October 2015.  The “hot button” issues are not going away.  They are not going to die out.  On the contrary.

Also, we have Summorum Pontificum.   USE. IT.  Those of you who have obtained what you want… don’t just sit complacently and imagine that everything is fine now and that you don’t have to do anything else.  In fact, some of you may simply be benefiting from the efforts and sacrifices of others.   GET TO WORK.   Get involved.  Make the use of the older, traditional use of Holy Mass and sacraments spread.   Form an “action item” group.  Develop some projects and goals.   Help priests who want to learn to learn.  Advertise, invite, persuade.  Take out ads in papers. Continue reading

January 8, 1815: Battle of New Orleans


The War of 1812 had been one with little glory for Americans.  The invasions of Canada all failed, often the officers in charge displaying shocking military incompetence.  Although the American Navy performed valiantly, the Royal Navy maintained control of the waves, and with the fall of Napoleon, veteran British troops from the Peninsular War were shipped across the Atlantic and inflicted such humiliations as the burning of Washington.  On January 8, 1815 Major General Andrew Jackson and his rude frontier army of regulars and militia, confronted a British regular force twice their size.  What followed was an amazing American victory.  One of the finest accounts of the battle was written by Theodore Roosevelt:


Battle of New Orleans



Packenham had under him nearly 10,000 fighting men; 1,500 of these, under Colonel Thornton were to cross the river and make the attack on the west bank. Packenham himself was to super intend the main assault, on the east bank, which was to be made by the British right under General Gibbs, while the left moved forward under General Keane, and General Lambert commanded the reserve. Jackson’s position was held by a total of 5,500 men. Having kept a constant watch on the British, Jackson had rightly concluded that they would make the main attack on the east bank, and had, accordingly, kept the bulk of his force on that side. His works consisted simply of a mud breastwork, with a ditch in front of it, which stretched in a straight line from the river on his right across the plain, and some distance into the morass that sheltered his left. There was a small, unfinished redoubt in front of the breastworks on the river bank. Thirteen pieces of artillery were mounted on the works. On the right was posted the Seventh regular infantry, 430 strong; then came 740 Louisiana militia (both French creoles and men of color, and comprising 30 New Orleans riflemen, who were Americans), and 240 regulars of the Forty-fourth regiment; while the rest of the line was formed by nearly 500 Kentuckians and over 1,600 Tennesseeans, under Carroll and Coffee, with 250 creole militia in the morass on the extreme left, to guard the head of a bayou. In the rear were 230 dragoons, chiefly from Mississippi, and some other troops in reserve; making in all 4,700 men on the east bank. The works on the west bank were farther down stream, and were very much weaker. . . . Continue reading

Blaming the Victims

Fan of Free Speech

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is fuzzy on this whole free speech thing:

Bill Donohue comments on the killing of 12 people at the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo:

Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses. Continue reading


Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus


An interesting picture of the Pope and the Pope Emeritus.  Let’s have some fun with it!  Time to write thought balloons.  An example:

Pope Francis:  I wonder if he is jealous about the slobbering media coverage I receive!

Pope Benedict:  I wonder if he is jealous that I no longer have to care a fig about the media!


Contribute your thought balloons in the comboxes.

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