PopeWatch: Luther Stamp

Thursday, January 19, AD 2017

I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist.

Martin Luther

PopeWatch pities satirists trying to keep up with this Vatican:

The Vatican office charged with issuing stamps, known as the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, confirmed Tuesday to LifeSiteNews that Luther, who broke away from the Catholic Church in a schism 500 years ago, will be celebrated with a postage stamp in 2017. The office is in charge of the annual commission of stamps, coins, and other commemorative medals.

The Vatican regularly issues such memorabilia for special events, including papal trips and holy years. Honoring Luther and the Protestant Reformation is an unlikely choice, trumping other significant events in the Catholic Church such as the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the 300-year anniversary of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.

Major events such as Christmas, Easter, the Holy Year of Mercy, and the World Meeting of Families have also merited a commemorative stamp. In the time before a Papal election, when the seat of Peter is vacant, the Philatelic and Numismatic office issues a “Sede Vacante” stamp.

Usually if individuals are commemorated on stamps they are saints, such as Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II, and Pope John XXIII, who most recently were honored with stamps.

While the Vatican has in the past collaborated with other national post offices to create stamps that are not of explicitly religious content, such as Charlie Chaplain or the fall of the Berlin wall, the Luther stamp has an undeniable religious connotation linked with much hostility to the Catholic Church.

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PopeWatch: Blind Man

Wednesday, January 18, AD 2017

 

 

Sandro Magister brings us an english translation of Cardinal Caffarra’s explanation as to why the Four Cardinals wrote to the PopeL

CAFFARRA: “WHY WE WROTE TO THE POPE”

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We cardinals have the grave duty of advising the pope in the governance of the Church. It is a duty, and duties are obligatory.

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Only a blind man could deny that in the Church there is great confusion, uncertainty, insecurity caused by some paragraphs of “Amoris Laetitia.” In recent months it has been happening that on the same fundamental questions concerning the sacramental economy – marriage, confession, and Eucharist – and Christian life, some bishops have said A, and others have said the opposite of A. With the intention of giving a good interpretation of the same texts.

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There is only one way to get to the bottom of this: to ask the author of the text that has been interpreted in two contradictory ways what is the correct interpretation. There is no other way. Next came the problem of the way in which to approach the pope. We chose a way that is very traditional in the Church, what are called “dubia.” […] This was done in a private manner, and only when we were certain that the Holy Father would not respond did we decide to publish.

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The problem is precisely this: that on fundamental points there is not a good understanding of what the pope is teaching, as demonstrated by the conflict of interpretations among bishops. We want to be docile to the pope’s magisterium, but the pope’s magisterium must be clear.

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The division already existing in the Church is the cause of the letter [of the four cardinals to the pope – editor’s note], not its effect.

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To conceive a pastoral practice not founded and rooted in doctrine means founding and rooting pastoral practice on inclination. A Church that pays little attention to doctrine is not a more pastoral Church, but a more ignorant Church.

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The evolution of doctrine has always accompanied Christian thought. [But} if there is one clear point, it is that there is no evolution where there is contradiction. If I say that S is P and then I say that S is not P, the second proposition does not develop the first, but contradicts it. Already Aristotle had correctly taught that enunciating a universal affirmative principle (for example: all adultery is wrong) and at the same time a particular negative proposition having the same subject and predicate (for example: some adultery is not wrong), this is not making an exception to the former. It is contradicting it.

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Can the minister of the Eucharist (usually the priest) give the Eucharist to a person who lives “more uxorio” with a woman or a man who is not the wife or husband, and does not intend to live in continence? […] Has “Amoris Laetitia” taught that, given certain specific circumstances and after going through a certain process, the faithful could receive the Eucharist without resolving to live in continence? There are bishops who have taught that this is possible. By a simple deduction of logic, one must therefore also teach that adultery is not evil in itself and of itself.

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Conscience is the place where we come up against the central pillar of modernity. […] One who saw this in the most lucid manner imaginable was Blessed John Henry Newman. In the famous letter to the duke of Norfolk, he says: “All through my day there has been a resolute warfare, I had almost said conspiracy against the rights of conscience.” Further ahead he adds that in the name of conscience, true conscience is destroyed.

This is why among the five “dubia” doubt number five [the one on conscience – editor’s note] is the most important. There is a passage in “Amoris Laetitia,” at no. 303, that is not clear; it seems – I repeat: it seems – to admit the possibility that there may be a true judgment of conscience (not invincibly erroneous; this has always been admitted by the Church) in contradiction with that which the Church teaches as having to do with the deposit of divine Revelation. It seems. And that is why we raised the doubt with the pope.

Newman says that “did the Pope speak against Conscience in the true sense of the word, he would commit a suicidal act. He would be cutting the ground from under his feet.” These are matters of breathtaking gravity. Private judgment would be raised up as the ultimate criterion of moral truth. Never say to a person: “Always follow your conscience,” without always and immediately adding: “Love and seek the truth about the good.” You would be putting into his hands the weapon most destructive of his humanity.

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

 

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PopeWatch: Beyond Parody

Monday, January 16, AD 2017

 

 

PopeWatch does wonder at times if this pontificate is a divine practical joke:

 

Life and family experts are calling it “scandalous,” “shocking,” “confusing,” and “perplexing” that the Vatican would invite Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the undisputed father of the modern, pro-abortion population control movement, to present a paper at an upcoming Vatican-run conference.

“The fact that Paul Ehrlich is advertised as a speaker at the Vatican’s ‘Biological Extinction’ conference is scandalous,” Maria Madise, manager of Voice of the Family, told LifeSiteNews.

“Through its choice of speakers, the Pontifical Academies running the event are giving an unmistakable message of sympathy for the radical environmental agenda, despite it going hand in hand with abortion, birth control, and a total lack of compassion for the real poor in today’s world, the unborn children,” she said.

Ehrlich, author of the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, is scheduled to speak in Vatican City during the February 27-March 1 conference that will discuss “how to save the natural world,” a story LifeSiteNews broke earlier this week. 

The Stanford biologist champions sex-selective abortion as well as mass forced sterilization as legitimate methods to curb population growth. It is impossible to calculate the possible millions of deaths globally the man and his population control ideas might indirectly be responsible for over the past five decades — ideas that are forcefully employed in countries such as China, India, Kenya, and many others.

Ehrlich called for “compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion” in his 1977 book Ecoscience, as a way to fight population growth.

He once said that allowing women to have as many children as they desired was like letting people “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”

The conference, jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences (PAS) and Social Sciences (PASS), will address what Vatican organizers call an unsustainable “imbalance” between the world’s population and what the earth is capable of producing.

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PopeWatch: Meryl

Saturday, January 14, AD 2017

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

 

Just moments after being honored at the Golden Globes for her lifetime of work, actress Meryl Streep took the opportunity to make a sustained attack on Cardinal Burke’s dubia.

In her four-minute address while accepting the award, the actress denounced Burke’s traditionalist rhetoric and criticized him for trying to bully the Pope.

“There was one performance this year that stunned me,” Streep said. “It sank its hooks in my heart. It was that moment when the person who once sat in one of the highest seats in the Vatican questioned Pope Francis. It kind of broke my heart when I read about the dubia and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life. This instinct to humiliate and fraternally correct someone who hasn’t the power to answer the questions posed…it filters down into everyone’s spiritual life because it kind of gives permission for other people to dubia the Pope.”

Streep also went on to use her speech to highlight the importance of Catholic culture, pointing out how important it is, especially when it does not “in any way” intrude on the personal lives and choices of others.

“The Church is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, people they call nominals, and if you kick them all out of the communion lines, you’ll have nobody in your churches,” Streep said to huge applause from the room. “When the intellectually powerful use their position to bully others into justifying their actions, we all lose.”

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PopeWatch: Boss

Friday, January 13, AD 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Damian Thompson at The Spectator notes that many of the clerics working at the Vatican are not friends of Pope Francis;

 

Again, this is an opponent speaking. There is no evidence that the Pope is mentally ill. However, plenty of Vatican employees will testify to his outbursts of temper, rudeness towards subordinates and vulgar language.

He can also be genial, funny and compassionate. But this side of his personality is increasingly reserved for his inner circle and his allies.

All popes have inner circles, it goes without saying. What distinguishes Francis from his recent predecessors is the nature of the alliances he forms. He is far more brutal in the exercise of his power than, say, Pope John Paul II, who certainly had an authoritarian streak in him.

‘Bergoglio divides the church into those who are with him and those who are against him — and if he thinks you’re in the latter camp then he’ll come after you,’ says a priest who works in the curia.

 

‘Bergoglio’, note: he doesn’t even call him ‘Francis’. Tellingly, this priest used to be a fervent supporter of some of the Pope’s administrative reforms and he doesn’t look back nostalgically at the reign of Benedict, whom he blames for neglecting his papal duties.

But, like so many Vatican employees, he’s sick of Francis’s habit of telling the entire Roman curia that they are modern-day Pharisees — an analogy that casts the Argentinian pontiff in the role of Jesus.

Clearly Francis believes that relaxing the rules on communion for Catholics in irregular marriages is an act of Christlike compassion. This is also the view of the venerable liberal cardinals who campaigned to elect him. It is often said that he is enacting their agenda — and it’s true that Francis is well disposed to liberal demands for women deacons and married priests.

He is not, however, their instrument. In the words of a Vatican observer who held an important position in Rome for many years, ‘He hasn’t taken on the old progressive mantle so much as created his own personality cult.’ Theological niceties bore him. Personal loyalty obsesses him — ‘and if the cardinal electors had done due diligence they would have discovered that he was an extraordinarily divisive figure among the Argentinian Jesuits’.

It’s not hard to detect a Latin American flavour to the deal-making and settling of scores that has become blatant over the past year. Most Catholic bishops had thought Francis was a plain-spoken and perhaps touchingly naive reformer. Instead, they are confronted by a pope who is simultaneously combative, charming, bad-tempered, idealistic and vengeful.

Does that remind you of anyone? The Trump-Francis analogy has been doing the rounds in Rome for months, and not just among the Pope’s opponents.

‘It’s not meant entirely seriously,’ says a well-placed source. ‘No one is suggesting that Jorge Bergoglio is tempted by the same sins of the flesh as Donald Trump.

‘And there’s another difference. The Americans can kick out their old rogue after four years. Francis doesn’t have to stand for re-election by the conclave. Which, believe me, is lucky for him, because after the misery and nonsense of the past couple of years he’d be eliminated in the first ballot.’

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Our Present Discontents

Thursday, January 12, AD 2017

 

Father James V. Schall, SJ, in a brilliant essay at Catholic World Report, examines the current sickness that afflicts the Church:

 

Vatican II presented itself as a massive effort to retain tradition but also to reconcile the Church with the modern world in such a way that they harmonized with each other. It was not noticed at the time, as Tracey Rowland pointed out in her Culture and the Thomist Tradition, that the word “culture” was not neutral. Modern “culture” already contained some good things, but it also had with in it principles and techniques that could eliminate both faith and even the structure of man as we had known him. In many ways, “to conform oneself to the culture” was a form of religious and intellectual suicide. 

In this mix, the thought of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI stood as a corrective. They carefully sorted out the subtle principles and tendencies motivating the modern mind. They identified where these ideas and customs were leading. Under their guidance, it was clear that the mind of Catholicism knew what it was about. Neither of these two popes had many intellectual peers. Those who were their peers usually recognized their genius. Catholicism understood where it came from in history and tradition. It clarified what it meant in relation to basic modern ideas, ideas that the two popes often defined more clearly than their advocates. 

This papal teaching was profound and incisive. Not a few, however, came to think it was over the heads of most people, even most bishops. There is a kind of clericalism, as Fr. Mark Pilon has pointed out, that assumes that the laity cannot think. The request for clarification, which is their due, is often taken for disobedience. We needed a return to the original Gospels, it is said, to the simple life of faith.

Catholicism did not have to present itself before the world as understanding it. It is better to leave things more open, undefined. In this light, however, with Pope Francis’ more recent emphasis on mercy and the poor, his many off-handed remarks, his hesitancy about explaining doctrine, the Church now, to many, seems confused, unsure of itself. It no longer seems to be a “rock” on which we can build.

The faithful are told that they are too “rigid”. The divorced and the homosexuals are, rightly or wrongly, convinced that the Church has changed its doctrine at least implicitly, if not explicitly. Divine positive law does not seem to hold against what people “do” do. Everything must be discerned. Every act seems an exception, which in a way it is. But there can be no “law” of only exceptions. 

Many recent converts begin to wonder whether the Church is not reverting to positions that they thought, in the name of truth, that they had left. It is difficult to see why anyone should convert or even be preached to. To many, the Church seems to present itself as a kind of modern humanism in culture and socialism in political preference.

In the meantime, some three thousand mosques, with much Saudi money, have been built in the United States, probably more in Europe. They are mostly closed enclaves. The decline of population of European citizens has been often noted. Traditional European  national populations are being replaced by a more fertile group of Muslims who, for the most part, do not assimilate or convert, either culturally or religiously. Some predict that Sweden will be Europe’s first Muslim country; others think it will be England. And if there is a first, there will be a second. 

Islamic thinkers themselves shrewdly seem to opt both for terrorist and for democratic means to expand into Europe and America. The martyrdom and expulsion of so many Christians from the Mideast have gone largely unaccounted for. They appear more as an embarrassment than as objects of justice. Their specific witness seems almost lost. 

It is a rare commentator or politician who notes the connection between Humanae Vitae, the decline of population, and the rise of Islam in Europe and America. “Refugees” fleeing into Europe can probably more accurately be described as “invaders” than immigrants, however sad their tale.

We are now experiencing something new, an incipient reaction. With Pierre Manent and Joshua Mitchell, we see that the nation-state and the family are the heart of true civilization. Globalism and world-state notions constantly reveal totalitarian tendencies. Emphasis on the poor has neglected the old Aristotelian notion of the middle-class, by far the majority in any decent society.

What are we to conclude from these considerations? The title of these opinions, and opinions they are, concerned “confused Catholics”. The conclusion is that the confusion of Catholics about the unity and consistency of their faith has dimmed or even taken out of the public order a firm voice that has connected in our civilization the present and the past, time and eternity.

Few seem certain about where the Church stands on many core issues that once were thought to be settled. Practice does not really replace thought. It merely produces another kind of practice that seeks justification in a different line of thought. Practice, overtly or covertly, depends on thought. The origin of all deviant practice is deviant thought. The knowing why it is deviant is a function of mind based on a standard of reason. It is the steady “knowing why” that, before anything else, we are missing.

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PopeWatch: Liturgy

Thursday, January 12, AD 2017

 

 

Father Z alerts us that ominous changes are afoot:

 

From Sandro Magister:

A Firing, a Demolition: Behold the New Curia

The reform of the Vatican curia that Pope Francis is carrying out is being done partly in sunshine and partly in shadow. [Mostly shadow.  There is a lot that doesn’t reach the light.]

Among the provisions recently adopted in shadow, there are two that are emblematic.

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The veil was lifted on the first by the vaticanista Marco Tosatti, when on December 26 he broke the news of an order the pope had given to a dicastery [CDF] head to summarily fire three of his officials, an order given without explanations and without accepting objections. [He has the power to do that.]

It is now known that the dicastery in question is not second-tier, it is the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. [CDF] And the three officials fired enjoyed the full approval of their prefect, Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, in his turn made the target of repeated acts of humiliation, in public, on the part of the pope.

But which of the three rejects is the official whom Francis personally – as Tosatti has reported – reprimanded harshly by telephone for having expressed criticisms against him, which had come to the pope’s ear through an informant? [True.  One of them was called personally.]

It is the Dutch priest Christophe J. Kruijen, 46, in service at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith since 2009, a theologian of acknowledged expertise, awarded with the prestigious Prix Henri De Lubac in 2010 by the French embassy to the Holy See, unanimously bestowed upon him by a jury made up of the cardinals Georges Cottier, Albert Vanhoye, and Paul Poupard,…

[… read about him there…]

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The second measure taken in shadow concerns the congregation for divine worship, [CDW] the prefect of which is Cardinal Robert Sarah, he too the object of repeated public humiliations on the part of the pope, and now condemned to preside over offices and men who are pulling against him.

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PopeWatch: Knights of Malta

Wednesday, January 11, AD 2017

 

Troubled times for the Knights of Malta:

 

 

Letters seen by English Catholic news weekly The Tablet have revealed that Pope Francis specifically requested the Knights of Malta that no one be dismissed in a dispute that saw its third-in-command, Albrecht von Boeselager, thrown out as Grand Chancellor and then suspended from the Order.  

Boeselager was replaced by Maltese knight John Critien, who now represents the Sovereign Military Order as its foreign and home affairs minister.

Boeselager was sacked on 6 December by the Knights’ Grand Master, Matthew Festing, in the presence of the Order’s patron and prominent conservative critic of Francis, Cardinal Burke.

The reasons for Boeselager’s dismissal primarily date back to when he was Grand Hospitaller from 1989 to 2014 and in charge of Malteser International, the Knights’ large humanitarian aid agency located in 24 countries. During his tenure, the organization is documented to have distributed thousands of condoms and oral contraceptives, mainly but not exclusively to help prevent prostitutes in the Far East and Africa contracting HIV/AIDS.

The allegations were spearheaded by Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute, who presented his findings to Burke in early November.

Boeselager denies the charges.

But now it has emerged that Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote to Festing a few days later, clarifying that the Pope did not want Boeselager sacked.

As a result of the Knights’ decision, the Holy See decided to set up an investigation into the Knights.   

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PopeWatch: Silence

Tuesday, January 10, AD 2017

 

 

Sandro Magister sees resonance from the movie Silence in regard to how the powers that be in the Vatican view the proclamation of Christ.

 

 

On January 12, movie theaters in Italy and other countries will begin showing the latest film by Martin Scorsese, “Silence,” already screened in Rome a month ago for a select audience largely made up of Jesuits, after the audience that the pope held with the famous director on November 30 (see photo).

The plot of the film is taken from the novel of the same name by the Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo (1923-1996). Set in the 17th century, at the height of the anti-Christian persecutions, its protagonists are two Jesuits who go to Japan in search of one of their confreres, Christovao Ferreira, a former provincial of the Society of Jesus, who is rumored to have apostatized. In effect, this is what had happened. And in the end one of the two, Sebastian Rodrigues, would even go so far as to abjure, with the intention of saving other Christians from an atrocious death.

The “silence” of the title is that of God, in the face of the martyrdom of those first Japanese Christians. And in effect the book, even more so than the film, is a tangle of essential questions on the reasons to hold firm to the faith or not in an era of extreme martyrdom. The Jesuits who abjure do so out of mercy toward those ordinary Christians who for their part are ready to sacrifice their lives out of fidelity to Christ. And as apostates, they are repaid with a role of prestige in the Japanese society of the time, to which they submit. The questions raised are of great density and profundity. And they are brought to light very well in the review of Endo’s novel written by the Jesuit Ferdinando Castelli in 1973, republished in its entirety in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica.”

It is striking, however, that such questions should remain closed off within the confines of literary criticism, as admirable as this may be. Because little of them appears in the other facets of the big publicity campaign that “La Civiltà Cattolica” orchestrated for the release of the film.

In the second-to-latest issue of the magazine of the Rome Jesuits – which by statute is printed after inspection by the Holy See and has become the mirror of Pope Francis’s thought – editor Fr. Antonio Spadaro published a conversation he had with Martin Scorsese that takes up a good 22 pages, in which however little more than a page is dedicated to “Silence” and the character the director says is the most “fascinating” for him is Kichjjiro, the companion of the two Jesuit protagonists, “constantly weak” and led to betray them, although at the end he is thanked as “teacher” by none other than the Jesuit who abjures:

> “Silence”. Interview with Martin Scorsese

This neglect of the essential questions underlying “Silence” is the subject of this critical commentary from auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles Robert Barron, in a post on the blog “Word on Fire“:

“My worry is that all of the stress on complexity and multivalence and ambiguity is in service of the cultural elite today, which is not that different from the Japanese cultural elite depicted in the film. What I mean is that the secular establishment always prefers Christians who are vacillating, unsure, divided, and altogether eager to privatize their religion. And it is all too willing to dismiss passionately religious people as dangerous, violent, and let’s face it, not that bright. Revisit Ferreira’s speech to Rodrigues about the supposedly simplistic Christianity of the Japanese laity if you doubt me on this score. I wonder whether Shusaku Endo (and perhaps Scorsese) was actually inviting us to look away from the priests and toward that wonderful group of courageous, pious, dedicated, long-suffering lay people who kept the Christian faith alive under the most inhospitable conditions imaginable and who, at the decisive moment, witnessed to Christ with their lives. Whereas the specially trained Ferreira and Rodrigues became paid lackeys of a tyrannical government, those simple folk remained a thorn in the side of the tyranny.

“I know, I know, Scorsese shows the corpse of Rodrigues inside his coffin clutching a small crucifix, which proves, I suppose, that the priest remained in some sense Christian. But again, that’s just the kind of Christianity the regnant culture likes: utterly privatized, hidden away, harmless.  So okay, perhaps a half-cheer for Rodrigues, but a full-throated three cheers for the martyrs, crucified by the seaside.”

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But getting back to “La Civiltà Cattolica”,” what is most striking is the modern-day application that it makes of the historical events of  “Silence.”

In the latest issue of the magazine there is an article on what “the mission in secularized Japan” should like be today, in which the author, the Japanese Jesuit Shun’ichi Takayanagi, presents as obligatory “a paradigm shift regarding the concept of mission and the ways of exercising it.”

In the judgment of Fr. Takayanagi, in fact, the type of mission also in use in Japan until a few decades ago, which “aimed at visible and concrete results, meaning a great number of baptized,” today not only “is no longer possible,” but is outdated and to be replaced altogether.

He writes:

“Even if ‘mission’ obtained a great result in Japan in the 16th century, it is no longer possible to attain similar success in contemporary times, characterized by rapid progress of material culture and a high standard of living. Precisely for this reason the antiquated conception of mission, which comes from the Western colonial era of the 19th century and survives in the subconscious of many missionaries, foreign and native, must be replaced with a new conception of the people with whom and for whom one works. The new strategy of the proclamation of the Gospel must become an expression of the need for religion among the men of today. Dialogue must deepen our conception of the other religions and of the common human need for religious values.”

According to “La Civiltà Cattolica,” therefore, the “antiquated” concept of mission, or “making proselytes and procuring converts to the Church,” must be replaced with “dialogue.” All the more so in a country like Japan in which it is normal “to go to a Shinto shrine and take part in Buddhist celebrations, and also participate, on Christmas, in a Christian liturgy,” no longer with the “strange obligation to follow a certain religious creed” and “in a vaguely non-monotheistic cultural atmosphere.”

At the end of his article, Fr. Takayanagi emphasizes that the Japanese, although they are very much open to religious pluralism, “remain shaken by a few brutal episodes that can be traced back to religious roots,” Islamic but not solely.

And he comments:

“Of course, religion can help men to grow and mature, but in extreme cases belonging to a religion can also pervert human nature. Is Christianity capable of preventing fanaticism and this sort of perversion? This is an insistent question for us, which we must pose to ourselves in the exercise of our missionary activity. The history of Christianity, in this regard, is certainly not irreproachable. [. . .] In particular, some Japanese intellectuals, although in a vague and almost unconscious manner, and taking inspiration from the polytheistic Japanese culture, are beginning to wonder if the monotheistic religions, in the final analysis, can show themselves to be truly tolerant toward the members of other religions. [. . .] These intellectuals maintain that the polytheistic cultural terrain of Japanese Shintoism can ensure an accommodating haven for the other religions.”

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PopeWatch: Basic Math

Monday, January 9, AD 2017

Carl E. Olsen takes a look at disturbing evidence that basic math, and basic rationality, may not apply in this pontificate:

 

 

 

Jesuit papal confidant and director of La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro S.J., who is considered to be “one of the Jesuits closest to Pope Francis,” has a lively Twitter account. Lively, but not necessarily theologically sound. Granted, there are more substantial news items out there, but this little tempest in a tea pot is not only rather fun, it is rather revealing.

The tweet in question, from earlier today:

Theology is not #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in #Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with #God and real #life of #people

— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 5, 2017

Fr. Spadaro was apparently trying to make a point about certain theologians who are supposedly too rigid, dogmatic, or scholastic in their approaches to complex or difficult moral situations. A number of folks responded to his tweet, pointing out, in essence, that it was wrong, vapid, and otherwise embarrassing. This is Theology 101, the sort of thing junior high students should understand: truth can never contradict truth, even if some truth (theology) is supra-rational. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, quoting from both Vatican I’s Dei Filius and Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes:

Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (CCC, 159)

Dr. Francis Beckwith, meanwhile, proffers this from St. Thomas:

@antoniospadaro True, math’s not #theology, But incoherence is a vice of #reason, including #theology, not just math. See Aquinas SCG.I.84.1 pic.twitter.com/2xn5iAjlxK

— Francis J. Beckwith (@fbeckwith) January 6, 2017

Perhaps sensing that his tweet was not going to successfully buck commonsense, basic theology, and the entire Tradition, Fr. Spadaro tried to find an ally in Benedict XVI: 

“GOD was made flesh and shows us that he is NOT only a MATHEMATICAL reason but that this original Reason is also LOVE” #BenedictXVI (2006)

— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 6, 2017

The quote, in the English translation on the Vatican site, is from an address given by Benedict at Auschwitz in May 2006: “The God in whom we believe is a God of reason – a reason, to be sure, which is not a kind of cold mathematics of the universe, but is one with love and with goodness.”

That quote, however, does not help Fr. Spadaro at all since Benedict—to repeat what I’ve already noted above—is simply noting that God is a God of reason and that God also transcends the limits of reason and human knowledge. In fact, Fr. Spadaro’s simplistic, glaring error—which he seems to think is some sort of great theological insight—was roundly rebuffed in one of Benedict’s most famous addresses, also in Germany in 2006, given at the University in Regensburg:

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Traditional Catholics as Herod

Saturday, January 7, AD 2017

 

We can always depend upon our Pope to disappoint.  He uses the Feast of Epiphany to lash out at traditional Catholics:

 

“Longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation, which makes us think that nothing can change. Longing for God shatters our dreary routines and impels us to make the changes we want and need. Longing for God has its roots in the past yet does not remain there: it reaches out to the future. Believers who feel this longing are led by faith to seek God, as the Magi did, in the most distant corners of history, for they know that there the Lord awaits them. They go to the peripheries, to the frontiers, to places not yet evangelized, to encounter their Lord. Nor do they do this out of a sense of superiority, but rather as beggars who cannot ignore the eyes of those who for whom the Good News is still uncharted territory.

“An entirely different attitude reigned in the palace of Herod, a short distance from Bethlehem, where no one realized what was taking place. As the Magi made their way, Jerusalem slept. It slept in collusion with a Herod who, rather than seeking, also slept. He slept, anesthetized by a cauterized conscience. He was bewildered, afraid. It is the bewilderment which, when faced with the newness that revolutionizes history, closes in on itself and its own achievements, its knowledge, its successes. The bewilderment of one who sits atop his wealth yet cannot see beyond it. The bewilderment lodged in the hearts of those who want to control everything and everyone. The bewilderment of those immersed in the culture of winning at any cost, in that culture where there is only room for “winners”, whatever the price. A bewilderment born of fear and foreboding before anything that challenges us, calls into question our certainties and our truths, our ways of clinging to the world and this life.

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PopeWatch: Papal Nukes

Saturday, January 7, AD 2017

 

 

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

 

Just days after Pope Francis offered a message of hope in his annual “Urbi et Orbi” Christmas day message, the Pontiff has now backtracked, saying that if peace could not prevail, he would be forced to join the United States and Russia in an arms race.

Pope Francis told EOTT in an exclusive interview this morning that “We will outmatch Russia and the U.S. at every pass and outlast them all, both spiritually as well as with our growing stockpile of nuclear warheads.”

The Catholic leader has sparked fears about a global nuclear arms race days leading up to Christmas when he called on the members of the Curia to expand its nuclear arsenal in a Twitter post, which read in part that the Vatican must “greatly strengthen and expand its stock of atomic weapons until the world comes to its senses regarding Jesus Christ.”

He gave no further details about his plans, but his comments triggered fears that he will reverse decades of policy in which the Church, together with the Russian Orthodox Church, sought to reduce its arsenal.

Vatican spokesman Antonio Totti said that Pope Francis is “going to ensure that other countries and religions get the message that he’s not going to sit back and allow them to destroy the world. And what’s going to happen is they will come to their senses, and everyone will be just fine, or else he himself will unleash nuclear bomb showers to get everyone in line and to come together.”

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PopeWatch: 2016

Thursday, January 5, AD 2017

 

John-Henry Western at Lifesite News deems 2016 as the year when Pope Francis showed his hand:

 

2016 marked a dramatic turning point in the pontificate of Pope Francis. It may be called the year of the great awakening, as more and more faithful Catholics and prelates, Cardinals included, came to a frightening understanding that there is a major problem with the current Pope.

For the beginning years of his papacy, most, including LifeSite, gave Francis the benefit of the doubt. They repeatedly told themselves and others not to believe the media; that his words were being taken out of context or mistranslated; that he was just plain poor at doing interviews; that he wasn’t often aware of the consequences of his words; that he wanted to be pastoral and thus overstated things at times; and that off-the-cuff interviews are not official expressions of the Church’s teaching authority.

Many of these hopes were pinned on the outcome of the two controversial Synods on the Family. It was hoped that the final document by the Pope would finally set things straight after he had allowed many bishops to express themselves freely, even in ways contrary to Christ’s own words. In the end, they thought, it would be as it was with Pope Paul VI who, after two years of deliberation and being intensely urged by numerous close advisors to alter the Church’s constant teaching against contraception, nevertheless proclaimed Humanae Vitae and confirmed perennial, authentic Catholic teaching.

However, with Amoris Laetitia it has not been so. The confusion has been allowed to fester and only increase as Pope Francis himself has made known his personal views on the grave matters under consideration. He showed himself to be, at least in hard cases, open to altering the teaching of the Church, or as he would call it, being open to the “surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

While the shift can most clearly be seen in the dubia by the six Cardinals, four of whom went public, it can also be seen in the growing concern expressed by official and powerful Catholic entities such as EWTN. The Catholic media empire founded by the saintly Mother Angelica has in their television programming with Raymond Arroyo, in their newspaper the National Catholic Register with Ed Pentin, and in their UK blog run by Deacon Nick Donnelly, taken to accurately and unapologetically reporting on the controversies caused by Pope Francis.

Other Catholic officials and entities have also begun to express dismay and grave concerns but, after witnessing the demotions of Cardinal Burke, the brutal dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and many other such harsh actions, their dismay has so far mostly been expressed in only whispered tones.

It is instructive to watch what is not being done in order to appreciate the situation. Historically, with some very few exceptions, when a Pope has been openly questioned by Cardinals, a majority of course lept to his defense. However, in the matter of the dubia, we see, in addition to the four Cardinals that have gone public, several others expressing their sympathy and desire that the Pope would answer the questions and end the confusion. Yes, there are a bevy of bishops and a handful of Cardinals that have jumped to the Pope’s defense, many of them with personally derogatory remarks directed at the four Cardinals. However, where are the majority of the 120-strong College of Cardinals leaping to the defense of the Pope?

The gravity of the present situation can best be understood by a look at the evidence. So in order to demonstrate the concern over Pope Francis, LifeSite here presents many of the more disturbing developments in the Francis papacy during 2016.

For brevity, most of the incidents are presented with only a few words of description and a link to a fuller explanation for more careful study. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing for the year, but only the most grave of incidents. We pray this compilation may serve to awaken more Catholics to the need for ardent prayer, sacrifice and productive action for the Church and the Pope at this grave time in the Church’s history of two millennia.

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PopeWatch: Predator Priests

Wednesday, January 4, AD 2017

 

 

 

Michael Brendan Dougherty has a fascinating post at The Week indicating that Pope Francis may be in the process of undoing the get tough reforms of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in regard to predator priests:

 

Two people with direct ties to the Vatican tell me that Pope Francis, following the advice of his clubby group of allies in the curia, is pressing to undo the reforms that were instituted by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI in handling the cases of abuser priests. Francis is pushing ahead with this plan even though the curial officials and cardinals who favor it have already brought more scandal to his papacy by urging him toward lenient treatment of abusers.

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Recently, Pope Francis had the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, request an opinion from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, led by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, regarding the possibility of transferring competence to deal with abuser priests from the CDF back to Clergy and the Rota. Coccopalmerio’s office responded with a positive answer.

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Francis was elected in part to reform a dysfunctional curia. So shifting responsibilities is not troubling in itself. And it is hard not to credit the sincerity of his jeremiads against child abusers. But the CDF’s performance on this issue is miles better than the situation before 2001.

So why revert?

Perhaps because the CDF has taken a tough, rules-based approach to the issue of child abuse, which clashes with the more personal autocratic style of this pope. Or perhaps because reforming the reform would reward his allies, and humiliate an antagonist.

Rumors of this reform have been circulating in Rome for months. And not happily. Pope Francis and his cardinal allies have been known to interfere with CDF’s judgments on abuse cases. This intervention has become so endemic to the system that cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is “with cardinal friends” or “without cardinal friends.”

And indeed, Pope Francis is apparently pressing ahead with his reversion of abuse practices even though the cardinals who are favorable to this reform of reform have already brought him trouble because of their friends.

Consider the case of Fr. Mauro Inzoli. Inzoli lived in a flamboyant fashion and had such a taste for flashy cars that he earned the nickname “Don Mercedes.” He was also accused of molesting children. He allegedly abused minors in the confessional. He even went so far as to teach children that sexual contact with him was legitimated by scripture and their faith. When his case reached CDF, he was found guilty. And in 2012, under the papacy of Pope Benedict, Inzoli was defrocked.

But Don Mercedes was “with cardinal friends,” we have learned. Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, now dean of the Roman Rota, both intervened on behalf of Inzoli, and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to a “a life of humility and prayer.” These strictures seem not to have troubled Inzoli too much. In January 2015, Don Mercedes participated in a conference on the family in Lombardy.

This summer, civil authorities finished their own trial of Inzoli, convicting him of eight offenses. Another 15 lay beyond the statute of limitations. The Italian press hammered the Vatican, specifically the CDF, for not sharing the information they had found in their canonical trial with civil authorities. Of course, the pope himself could have allowed the CDF to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired.

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PopeWatch: Pacifism

Tuesday, January 3, AD 2017

 

 

Pope Francis gave his usual paean to pacifism in his message for World Peace Day.  In his message he made this statement:

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe.  The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action.  Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II.  Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.   This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”.  Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”. 

 

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