Francis Cardinal George
Alas no Cardinal George. Your successor will likely be a chaplain for the persecutors.
On Sunday, the Archbishop joined Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il), a dissident Roman Catholic with a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL on abortion issues, at the Temple Jeremiah synagogue in Northfield, Illinois, to discuss how people can support the cause of immigration reform. Democrats hope reform will translate into largely Catholic Hispanics voting for pro-abortion/pro-gay marriage Democrats in order to gain citizenship.
With his eyes on the 2016 presidential election, Dick Durbin subtly reminded people that the more they organize Hispanic voters, the more likely another pro-abortion, pro-immigration reform Democrat would end up in the White House.
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa notes the proposal of a third way in regard to Catholics in adulterous marriages:
What follows is an extract from a theological essay that proposes precisely to illustrate a possible “third way.”
The author is the Dominican theologian Thomas Michelet, of the theological faculty of Fribourg, Switzerland.
The magazine in which Fr. Michelet published his essay is the prestigious “Nova & Vetera,” founded in 1926 by the illustrious Thomist Charles Journet, who was made a cardinal by Paul VI in 1965, and afterward directed by another theologian and cardinal, Georges Cottier, both Swiss and both Dominicans. Since 2002, “Nova & Vetera” has also had an edition in English, produced and published in the United States.
Fr. Michelet’s proposal is to institute an “ordo paenitentium” for those who find themselves in a persistent condition of divergence from the law of God, so that they undertake a journey of conversion that could last for many years or even for life, but always in an ecclesial, liturgical, and sacramental context that would accompany their “pilgrimage.”
The model of this order of penitents is the sacrament of penance in the ancient Church, in an innovative form. Although they would not be permitted to receive Eucharistic communion, the penitents would not find themselves excluded from sacramental life, because their journey of conversion would itself be a sacrament and source of grace.
Reproduced below is the central portion of the essay by Fr. Michelet, which however is much more extensive and dedicates pages of great interest to two questions that were also debated at the previous session of the synod: the law of incrementalism and spiritual communion.
“Nova & Vetera” has made available to all the complete text of the essay, in French:
> Synode sur la famille: la voie de l”’ordo paenitentium”
It is to be hoped – as Pope Francis has asked – that proposals and reflections like this should become the daily bread of debate before and during the synod, unlike those who proceed and act as if everything were already settled and communion for the divorced and remarried were already an established right.
Because in Germany, for example, this is what is happening. And the recent statements of Cardinal Reinhard Marx have supported this behavior:
“We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we must act here, on marriage and family pastoral care.”
But one can also cite the hasty conclusion “erga omnes” that the theologian Basilio Petrà gathered from the simple fact that at the consistory of February 2014 Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke out – with the pope’s approval – against the exclusion of the divorced and remarried from communion.
Already as of that February of 2014, Petrà in fact maintains, “things have changed.”
And they have changed – he says – because with the Kasper talk “the magisterium has de facto placed in the area of doubt” that which until then had been an indisputable ban.
With the result that now “a confessor can serenely hold the prohibitive norm as dubious, and therefore can absolve and admit the divorced and remarried to communion under ordinary conditions,” without even waiting for the consent of his bishop, which “is not necessary.”
The thesis of Petrà – who is a specialist in Eastern theology and an admirer of the Byzantine practice that admits second marriages, as well as being an author of reference for “La Civiltà Cattolica” – has been published with great emphasis in the latest issue of the authoritative magazine “Il Regno,” published by the Sacred Heart religious of Bologna:
But let’s return to “Nova & Vetera,” which is still taking seriously the synod to come.
SYNOD ON THE FAMILY: THE WAY OF THE “ORDO PAENITENTIUM”
by Thomas Michelet, O.P.
The true difficulty for the divorced and remarried is not Eucharistic communion, but rather absolution. […] If it is not possible to give them the sacrament of penance, this is due just as much to the impediment that is found in them as to the current conditions of the sacrament, which presupposes for admission that the person be ready to receive absolution and to perform the three acts of the penitent: repentance (contrition), the admission of one’s sin (confession), and the reparation of this (satisfaction), with the firm intention to become detached from it, if this has not yet been done, not to repeat it, and to do penance.
These elements are in themselves inviolable, being the object of conciliar definitions. The order in which they take place, however, is not so, in that it is only since around the year 1000 that penance has become the customary follow-up to absolution, as an effect of the sacrament for the sake of reparation, while in ancient penitence it was the precondition, certainly as reparative suffering but also as the predisposition to contrition.
Moreover, the ordinary form of the sacrament has become, so to speak, “instantaneous,” combining all of these elements in a single brief ritual act, while ancient penitence was extended for many years and involved various liturgical phases, from entrance into the order of penitents to the final reconciliation.
So then, this is precisely the case of the divorced and remarried, and in a more general way of all those who have difficulties in detaching themselves completely from their sin, who for this reason need a journey that may take a long time.
In its current form, the sacrament of penitence can no longer integrate this temporal and progressive dimension, which however was characteristic of ancient penitence, was still in use in the Middle Ages, and has never been suppressed. On these two points, the regime of penitence would therefore have the possibility of new enrichment – and it would be good to do this, because it is truly an element that is missing – by integrating, in addition to the sacramental forms already supplied by the ritual in effect, another “extraordinary” form, simultaneously new and profoundly traditional.
Even recent history demonstrates that, in order to initiate such a reform, a simple motu proprio would seem to suffice; but it would probably be opportune to dedicate to it first of all an assembly of the synod of bishops, just as the 1980 synod on the family was followed by that in 1983 on penance.
In addition to the advantage of duration, which was also its weakness in the absence of other forms, ancient penitence conferred a canonical and ecclesiastical status according to a regime established by the canons of the councils, and for this reason it was called “canonical penitence.” […]
This is in the first place a sign of the protection and recognition of a bond that remains valid in spite of everything. In fact, the sinner remains a member of the Church; it was in fact made for him, because the Church is holy, although it is made up of sinners, so that these may receive the holiness that it receives from its spouse, Christ. It must therefore be reiterated without hesitation that the divorced and remarried is not excommunicated as such, even if he is excluded from Eucharistic communion. But he will understand better that he is truly part of the Church if it can be announced to him in an official way that he has his traditional place in an “ordo,” along with the order of virgins and the order of widows, the order of catechumens and the order of monks. And this is no small matter: experience confirms that this simple recognition of his ecclesial existence can in itself reassure him and remove a first obstacle to reconciliation.
But there is more. The “ordo” […] also indicates a finality and a dynamic. So what are called the “states of perfection” are instead, in reality, “ways of being perfected.” […] This is even more clear for the order of catechumens, which prepares in a transitory way those receiving the sacraments of initiation, just as the order of penitents prepares them for reconciliation.
It is clear that the two paths were set in parallel – penitence as a “second baptism” or “baptism of tears” – and that both are present in the liturgical institutions of Lent to which they gave rise: the imposition of the ashes, Lenten fasting, and the public reconciliation of penitents on the evening of Holy Thursday, with the washing of feet; the official reception, the great baptismal catecheses, the examination and illumination of catechumens during the Easter vigil.
In both cases, an identical renunciation of Satan and his pomps, an identical fight against sin even in its consequences, an identical salvation obtained thanks to the final victory of Christ on the cross, gathered up in the blood of the Lamb.
This led to the proposal, formulated at the 1983 synod, to take the new ritual of Christian initiation of adults as the inspiration to create a liturgy of reception and reconciliation for those who return to the Church after a time of separation, […] making a sort of restoration of an institution that dates back to the 3rd and 4th centuries, whose utility was gradually lost in a regime of Christendom but is again becoming necessary in our time.
Nonetheless, this would not be a matter of a resumption without any changes. […] For example, it is not at all necessary to restore the regime of punishments of ancient penitence, whose severity had provoked its abandonment. Besides, the only penalty that has been imposed in all times and all places for any public sin, and which still subsists today, consists in the privation of the Eucharist, which in reality is not a punishment – although it can be experienced as such – but an impossibility inherent in the consistency of the sacraments.
Let us admit that there is one important change in the succession of acts required on the part of the penitent, which is not in itself inviolable.
In ancient penitence, before entering into the “ordo pænitentium,” one had to have satisfied already the condition of renouncing one’s sin and to have put an end to the public disorder generated by it. Afterward there was a certain period of penance, measured by the gravity of the offense and the interior disposition of the penitent. […] The current regime, as has been seen, also demands such a preliminary renunciation of sin, but the penance is pushed back until after absolution.
In the renewed “ordo paenitentium,” it would be a matter of returning to the previous regime in terms of penance, which would again become a precondition for reconciliation; this already corresponds to practice and would not in itself create great difficulties.
Total conversion, instead, would no longer be asked at the beginning of penitence; it would instead be the fruit, the measure of its duration and the condition of forgiveness. In other words, one would no longer wait to be fully converted to do penance, but one would do penance until the moment of full conversion, for the sake of obtaining this conversion as a grace of the sacrament and therefore of being made ready to receive sacramental reconciliation.
The regime of this penance preliminary to reconciliation has already been established by the magisterium: the divorced and remarried (and all sinners referred to by canon 915) should be exhorted “to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 84). […]
The only thing that is still missing here is the recognition that all of this corresponds to an “ordo,” to a canonical regime of penitence; and that such penitence is already sacramental, starting with the acts of the penitent that furnish the material down to the word of absolution that gives it its form to constitute at last the genuine sacrament of penitence and reconciliation.
One would see better that penitence so defined is not detached from the sacrament as a simple preliminary condition, but that it is a constitutive part of it, even at a distance of many years from reconciliation, because it constitutes not only the matter of this but also an anticipated fruit; the grace of the sacrament arriving to take substance and to sustain this penitence, both outer and inner, to transform it at last into perfect contrition.
Thus these penitents would no longer be considered as excluded from the sacramental regime; on the contrary, they would enter, knowingly and willingly, into this great sacrament of the resurrection that, little by little, would transform these “dead” into “living,” that they may have life to the full. […]
Pilgrims of the Covenant
We must not deceive ourselves: penitence has never enjoyed great fame, and it is not suited to draw the crowds. But it should never become that bitter pill which discourages the patient to the point of making him despair of healing.
The fact is that ancient penitence condemned itself with an exaggerated regime that was not connected to its essence, to the benefit of more accessible penitential forms that ultimately replaced it. It would be good to learn from this twofold lesson. Among these replacement forms, the penitential pilgrimage has had its days of glory since the 6th century, as a form of penitence. […]
For a few decades the pilgrimage has found a certain return to relevance. […] One must pay attention to the fact that it is, in many cases, the place of expression of a religious devotion that is not only popular but even “of the fringe,” for a certain number of those who no longer find their place in the Church and in parish churches because of their situation that is out of bounds in terms of faith or morals. It remains for them a place of alternative connection and of informal communion not only with God but also with their forebears in the faith, in whose trail they place their own footsteps. With ashes and palms, it is also part of those religious actions that can continue to be performed even by the greatest sinners and by those who are estranged from the Church, because of which their popularity is undiminished.
For all of these reasons, it can be opportune to present the penitential journey spoken of in these pages as a journey of pilgrimage first of all; the essential point not being to arrive but to depart and persevere in the right direction, as the first psalm teaches when it calls blessed the man who walks on a path of righteousness.
This is the condition of the Christian, “homo viator”; because it is the condition chosen by Christ, but also that of the Church. […] It was once not unusual to remain in the order of penitents for life; today as well there are sinners who remain prisoners of bonds from which they are unable to free themselves, not finding a true solution. May they at least do what they can and be found by the Lord in the condition of those who are walking toward the heavenly Jerusalem. Continue reading
Meeting with his Swiss Guard, Pope Francis gave them advice that all Catholics could benefit from:
Pope Francis said the meeting was an opportunity to “strengthen a [significant] friendship,” noting the words of Christ who said “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“In the history of the Church, many men and women have embraced the call of this great love,” Pope Francis said. “The Swiss Guards who fought during the sack of Rome [on May 6, 1527] and who gave their lives in the defense of the Pope followed this call. And responding with devotion to this call means to follow Christ.”
Pope Francis said a Swiss Guard is “a person who truly seeks to follow the Lord Jesus and who loves in a particular way the Church; [he] is a Christian with a genuine faith.”
The Holy Father called on them to live their vocation through the Sacraments of the Church, regularly participating in the Mass and frequently attending confession. He also urged them to read the Gospel every day, and even to keep a small book of the Gospels on their person, so it is available to read at quiet moments. Continue reading
Well this should agitate some of the Pope’s fans on the Left:
Pope Francis said it was “that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty” which drove the Franciscan Missionary to leave everything he knew and go to the ends of the earth.
The Holy Father said this a challenge to us today, and asked if are able “to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy.”
Pope Francis noted Blessed Junipero wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. The Pope said you cannot “separate her from the hearts of the American people.”
He said this zeal was also true for the many missionaries who brought the Gospel to the New World and, at the same time, defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers. Continue reading
Hilary Mantel, the author of the howling ahistoric, and Catholic bashing, Wolf Hall, has opined, The Catholic Church “is not an institution for respectable people”.
In that she is absolutely correct. Oscar Wilde nailed it long ago:
“The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.” A death bed convert to Catholicism, Wilde understood the essence of the institution he was joining.
When I was a kid I watched way too much TV. How little of those hours I can recall now! However there is one television show that I watched that has always stayed with me. On October 25, 1971, when I was a freshman in high school, a Gunsmoke episode aired entitled Trafton. The guest star of the episode was character actor Victor French, who would make twenty-three appearances on Gunsmoke, usually portraying a villain. The Trafton episode was no exception. He portrayed a gunman known simply as Trafton. A murderer, Trafton had learned the gunman’s trade while riding with Confederate raider “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the War. The episode opens with Trafton and his gang shooting up a town in New Mexico. They attempt to rob the bank, only to find that the vault contains no money. Frustrated, on his way out of town Trafton sees a Catholic Church. He enters the Church and goes up to the altar, and takes a gold cross, a gold communion chalice and a gold paten. The priest appears and tries to stop him, Trafton unhesitatingly gunning down the priest. Seeing a gold cross about the neck of the dying priest, Trafton stoops down to remove the cross. As he does so the priest with his last strength, to the utter astonishment of Trafton, says, “I forgive you.” and with his bloody right hand traces a cross on the forehead of Trafton just before he dies. Trafton uneasily touches his forehead, and then leaves the Church and rides off. Continue reading
Lincoln’s funeral train arrived in Springfield on May 3, 1865. His body lay in state at the Capitol as some 75,000 mourners filed past the casket. Hundreds of people gathered around Lincoln’s house where his horse, “Old Bob”, and his dog, “Fido”, had been brought back for the day. His burial would be conducted the next day. Continue reading
St. Corbinian’s Bear is on fire over the coming climate change encyclical:
The Bear is not claiming to diagnose the Pope. Yet, think back on his papacy, and the way Francis bounces from one scandal to another like a pinball, seemingly unaware of the damage he causes and unable to stop himself. Recall how he seems to consider the papacy as his own personal belonging. That is not humility. Even his acts of “humility” often seem to feature the imposition of his will upon tradition.
What about criticism of those who don’t agree with him? Here is a lengthy collection of his insults. “Rosary counter,” and “self-absorbed, Promethean neo-Pelagian” are just the start. (Who can forget “Bat Christian?”)
Now here we are waiting on a papal encyclical based on the controversial topic of climate change. Once again, Pope Francis can bask in the spotlight. As the Bear pointed out in his last article, Catholics are required to give “religious assent,” i.e. agreement, to such a document. How this is going to work out in practice the Bear has no idea, but it doesn’t matter. On the possibly fraudulent or misguided science of climate change, “Roma locuta est, causa finita est.”
The Church works when grownups are in charge. Frankly, we could add when people who do not exhibit symptoms of mental illness are in charge. Should there be an odd-ball, the sheep can only be unsettled and mistrustful. Even worse, what does this say about the Church? We are expected to swallow an encyclical on dubious science because we believe the Pope has divine assistance to get it right.
The Pope expects assent to his climate change encyclical. The faithful expect a Pope who is not incompetent. We seem to be at an impasse. Continue reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
According to a report out today by the USCCB, some Catholics actually wake up in the middle of the night and go to Holy Hour instead of going right back to sleep and waiting to go some time during the day when they’re not sleeping.
“It was shocking to learn that a very small number of Catholics actually wake up in the middle of the night to go to adoration, or they don’t go to sleep at all until they return from adoration,” said USCCB spokesman Tony Campos. “What’s fascinating is that many of these people signed up for an inconvenient time slot when there were more attractive time slots open to them like 5 or 6 in the evening. It’s one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen.”
Something for the weekend: When Johnny Comes Marching Home. One hundred and fifty years ago as soldiers North and South were returning to their homes this song was being played. Written by composer Patrick Gilmore, bandmaster of the 24th Massachusetts in 1863 to comfort his sister who was praying for her fiancée to return safe from the War, it proved immensely popular both North and South with the troops and was sung and played endlessly by them with varied lyrics, all centered upon their dearest hope: to go home after what they usually called this cruel War was over. Gilmore set the tune to another popular song of the day: Johnny Fill Up the Bowl.
The song retained its popularity in subsequent American wars as demonstrated by these renditions of the song by Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters: Continue reading
Remember the tens of millions who stood against the Communists, many of whom were murdered, their bodies tossed into mass graves, known but to God.
Pope Francis on Communism when he visited Albania in September 2014:
Albania sadly witnessed the violence and tragedy that can be caused by a forced exclusion of God from personal and communal life. When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated. You know well how much pain comes from the denial of freedom of conscience and of religious freedom, and how from such a wound comes a humanity that is impoverished because it lacks hope and ideals to guide it.
When the Pope visits Cuba in September here is one item that he might wish to take up with the Castro regime:
Cuba’s Catholic churches have become battlegrounds against pro-democratic movements, as the Ladies in White, a dissident group composed of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters of political prisoners, insist on practicing their religion publicly. This has resulted in a larger number of arrests every week for the transgression.
This past Sunday, at least 98 people–a combination of Ladies in White and their supporters, according to pro-democracy leader Martha Beatriz Roque–were arrested after walking in line holding the photos of their imprisoned loved ones, which the Cuban government attacked as an illegal protest. Images surfacing from the incident, thanks to journalists who were also beaten and arrested, show members of the Ladies in White group being hauled away from the scene in two large buses. Continue reading
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and Victims of Communism Day. Pius XII instituted the feast in 1955 as an alternative to Communist inspired May Day celebrations and to give workers a saint to look to as they toiled to support their families.
This Victims of Communism Day I would like to recall Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s address at the Harvard Commencement on June 8, 1978. As perhaps the most well know Soviet dissident it was only to be expected that he would attack Communism and he did. What strikes me now however in the address are the pathologies of the West he listed in his speech, his analysis of them and how contemporary to our time they feel. The West in his day was about to experience a new, and and wholly unexpected, burst of good leadership under John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The good work that they accomplished has been to a large extent undone as of late and thus Solzhenitsyn’s critique of 37 years ago might be an editorial tomorrow:
A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.
Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhood, is ironically emphasized by occasional outbursts and inflexibility on the part of those same functionaries when dealing with weak governments and with countries that lack support, or with doomed currents which clearly cannot offer resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.
Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end? Continue reading
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON ATHEISTIC COMMUNISM
TO THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The promise of a Redeemer brightens the first page of the history of mankind, and the confident hope aroused by this promise softened the keen regret for a paradise which had been lost. It was this hope that accompanied the human race on its weary journey, until in the fullness of time the expected Savior came to begin a new universal civilization, the Christian civilization, far superior even to that which up to this time had been laboriously achieved by certain more privileged nations.
2. Nevertheless, the struggle between good and evil remained in the world as a sad legacy of the original fall. Nor has the ancient tempter ever ceased to deceive mankind with false promises. It is on this account that one convulsion following upon another has marked the passage of the centuries, down to the revolution of our own days. This modern revolution, it may be said, has actually broken out or threatens everywhere, and it exceeds in amplitude and violence anything yet experienced in the preceding persecutions launched against the Church. Entire peoples find themselves in danger of falling back into a barbarism worse than that which oppressed the greater part of the world at the coming of the Redeemer.
3. This all too imminent danger, Venerable Brethren, as you have already surmised, is bolshevistic and atheistic Communism, which aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization .
4. In the face of such a threat, the Catholic Church could not and does not remain silent. This Apostolic See, above all, has not refrained from raising its voice, for it knows that its proper and social mission is to defend truth, justice and all those eternal values which Communism ignores or attacks. Ever since the days when groups of “intellectuals” were formed in an arrogant attempt to free civilization from the bonds of morality and religion, Our Predecessors overtly and explicitly drew the attention of the world to the consequences of the dechristianization of human society. With reference to Communism, Our Venerable Predecessor, Pius IX, of holy memory, as early as 1846 pronounced a solemn condemnation, which he confirmed in the words of the Syllabus directed against “that infamous doctrine of so-called Communism which is absolutely contrary to the natural law itself, and if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, property and possessions of all men, and even society itself.” Later on, another of Our predecessors, the immortal Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, defined Communism as “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin.” With clear intuition he pointed out that the atheistic movements existing among the masses of the Machine Age had their origin in that school of philosophy which for centuries had sought to divorce science from the life of the Faith and of the Church. Continue reading