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PopeWatch: More BOMFOG

One of the interesting aspects of the Vatican since Vatican II is the overall poor job that the Popes have done in leading the Catholic Church, with the partial exception of John Paul II, and, to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict, and the attention that the Vatican has paid to matters in which clerics have no special competence.  Nowhere is this more the case that in the area of economics, where Catholics who know something about the dismal science have to blush with shame at most of the droppings from the Vatican on that subject.

These musings usually read as if they were parodies written by someone imitating Saint Thomas More writing about Utopia:  texts to belabor current conditions without containing a clue as to how realistic change for the better could possibly be initiated.  They usually contain genie-like invocations of the power of the State to control the economy, seemingly oblivious to the disasters such control has often led to throughout history and particularly during the last century.  They are usually written in the most cloying, unctuous language frequently deploying BOMFOG at length.  The late Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches that his chief goal was   “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”  To people who know much about his political career, that invocation could be either considered to be a sick joke or a dark comedy.  His aides used to refer to these statements as BOMFOG.  The more high-falutin’ the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within.   Pope Francis has just issued what could almost be regarded as a parody of a parody of these exercises in economic ignorance and baroque and opaque prose.

What PopeWatch wrings from this tortured text is the usual when it comes to this Pope:

  1.  Markets are to be subject to extreme skepticism.
  2.  Government regulation of the economy is a positive good, and the more the better.
  3.  Governmental debts should be made to magically disappear.
  4.  The Vatican believes that it knows how markets operate when it clearly does not.
  5.  The Vatican favors international regulation of the global economy, paying scant attention, as always, of how this would be accomplished and the likely devastating impact on global markets.
  6.  The Vatican never grasps that regulation is always a source of graft, and that the more that governments intervene in markets, the more large corporations will seek to intervene in the political  process.
  7.   Buried in the text is the prediction that a “moderate” tax on transactions in “offshore banking institutions”, one of the chief boogeymen of the Pope, global hunger could be ended.  In that small aside, which PopeWatch suspects was a direct contribution of the Pope to this Sargasso Sea of verbiage, we see both the utopianism of the Pope, his never ending faith in government action, and his steadfast belief that poverty is a problem that could be solved but for these greedy merchants,
  8.  The Vatican casts about a lot the phrase “the common good” without ever pondering that surely a growing economy is good for the majority of people and that many of his prescriptions would strangle that particular common good.
  9.   The Vatican has fallen in love with the buzzword “transparency” when it comes to economic matters, which is rich considering the hidden machinations of the Vatican Bank and the finances of the Church that remain completely opaque.
  10.    This entire text brings to mind the immortal phrase of Hayek:  “The pretense of knowledge.”

Below is the text.  It epitomizes this observation from the first volume of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy:

“The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Holk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications – in short, all the goo and dribble – he found he had nothing left. Everything cancelled out.

Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn’t say one damned thing, and said it so you never noticed.”

 

 

“‘Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones’. Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17.05.2018

 

I. Introduction

1.  Economic and financial issues draw our attention today as never before because of the growing influence of financial markets on the material well-being of most of humankind. What is needed, on the one hand, is an appropriate regulation of the dynamics of the markets and, on the other hand, a clear ethical foundation that assures a well-being realized through the quality of human relationships rather than merely through economic mechanisms that by themselves cannot attain it. This ethical foundation needs to inform a range of persons but especially those working in the fields of economy and finance. In this situation a synthesis of technical knowledge and human wisdom is essential. Without such a synthesis, every human activity tends to deteriorate. But where it exists, it can foster progress towards the integral and concrete well-being of the human person.

2.  The integral development of every person, of every human community, and of all people, is the ultimate horizon of the common good that the Church, as the “universal sacrament of salvation,”[1] seeks to advance. In the fullness of the good, which has its origin and consummation in God and is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, the head over all things (cf. Eph 1:10), lies the ultimate goal of every ecclesial activity. Such well-being flourishes as an anticipation of the Kingdom of God, which the Church is called to proclaim and establish in every sphere of human enterprise[2], and is the special fruit of that charity which, as the bright path of ecclesial action, is expressed even  in the social, civil and political realms. This love for society “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are eminent forms of a charity that affects not only relationships between individuals but also ‘macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones’.” That is why the Church sets before the world the ideal of a ‘civilization of love’.”[3] Love for the integral good, inseparable from love for the truth, is the key to authentic development.

3. The Church pursues this aim with the certainty that in every culture, there are multiple areas of ethical agreement that express a common moral wisdom[4] and form the objective order upon which the dignity of the person is founded. From the solid and indispensable basis of such an order arise the clear and common principles that establish the fundamental rights and duties of the human person without which the control and abuse of the most powerful would come to dominate the entire human scene. This ethical order, rooted in the wisdom of God the Creator, is therefore the indispensable foundation for building a worthy community of persons, regulated by truly just laws. This is all the more evident where human beings, despite striving wholeheartedly for the good and the true, often succumb to vested interests, tyrannies, and iniquitous practices that cause grave suffering for all humanity, and especially for the weak and defenceless.

In order to liberate every realm of human activity from the moral disorder that so often afflicts it, the Church recognizes among her primary duties the responsibility to call everyone, with humble certainty, to clear ethical principles. The shared human reason, that ineffaceably characterizes every person, demands an enlightened discernment in this regard. Moreover, human rationality searches, in truth and justice, for the solid foundation that sustains its operation and maintains its sense of direction.[5]

4. Therefore, the proper orientation of reason can never be absent from any area of human activity. It follows that there can be no area of human action that legitimately claims to be either outside of  or impermeable to ethical principles based on liberty, truth, justice and solidarity.[6] This is true for those areas in which the political and economic laws apply: “Today, with a view towards the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life.”[7]

Every human activity, in fact, is called to bear fruit, to use generously and equitably the gifts that God provides to all, and to nourish with lively confidence the seeds of goodness implanted in the whole of creation as a promise of abundance. The call to bear fruit is a continual invitation to human freedom, even if sin is always ready to undermine the original divine plan.

For this reason, God encounters man in Jesus Christ. Drawing us into the marvellous event of his Resurrection, he “redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between human persons”[8] and works for a new order of social relationships founded on the truth and love, and supplying yeast for the transformation of history. In such a way, he anticipates in the course of time that Kingdom of Heaven which he has come to proclaim and inaugurate in his person.

5. Although global economic well-being appears to have increased in the second half of the twentieth century with an unprecedented magnitude and speed, at the same time inequalities proliferate between various countries and within them.[9] Moreover, the number of people who live in conditions of extreme poverty continues to be enormous.

The recent financial crisis might have provided the occasion to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities that would neutralise predatory and speculative tendencies and acknowledge the value of the actual economy. Although there have been many positive efforts at various levels which should be recognized and appreciated, there does not seem to be any inclination to rethink the obsolete criteria that continue to govern the world.[10] On the contrary, the response seems at times like a return to the heights of myopic egoism, limited by an inadequate framework that, excluding the common good, also excludes from its horizons the concern to create and spread wealth, and to eliminate the inequality so pronounced today.

6. At stake is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being “excluded and marginalized”[11] from  development and true well-being while a minority, indifferent to the condition of the majority, exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth. Therefore, it is time to initiate the recovery of what is authentically human, to expand the horizons of minds and hearts, to recognize faithfully the exigencies of the true and the good without which no social, political and economic system could avoid bankruptcy, failure, and, in the long term, collapse. Selfishness, in the end, does not pay while it makes everyone pay a high price; hence, if we want the real well-being of humanity, “Money must serve, not rule!”[12]

For this reason, the competent and responsible agents have the duty to develop new forms of economy and of finance, with rules and regulations directed towards the enlargement of the common good and respect for human dignity along the lines indicated by the social teachings of the Church. With this document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose competence extends to moral questions, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, offers some fundamental considerations and clarifications in support of such development and in defence of human dignity.[13] It is especially necessary to provide an ethical reflection on certain aspects of financial transactions which, when operating without the necessary anthropological and moral foundations, have not only produced manifest abuses and injustice, but also demonstrated a capacity to create systemic and worldwide economic crisis. This discernment is offered to all men and women of good will.

 

II. Fundamental Considerations

7. Some basic considerations are evident to all who seek to understand the historical situation in which we are now living.  It is beyond the scope of this document to discuss the legitimate disagreements among their diverse theories and schools of thought (apart from the desire to contribute towards dialogue among them). Furthermore this document acknowledges that there do not exist universally valid economic formulas for every moment. Nevertheless, this document intends to offer an interpretation of the situation in which we find ourselves.

8. Every human reality and activity is something positive, if it is lived within the horizon of an adequate ethics that respects human dignity and is directed to the common good. This is valid for all institutions, for it is within them that human social life is born, and thus it is also true for markets at every level, including financial markets.

It must be noted that the systems that give life to the markets—before deploying the anonymous dynamics made possible by ever more sophisticated technologies—are in fact founded on relationships that involve the freedom of individual human beings. It is evident therefore that the economy, like every other sphere of human action, “needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred.” [14]

9. It is evident that without an appropriate vision of the human person, it is not possible to create an ethics, nor a practice, worthy of the dignity of the human person and the good that is truly common. In fact, however neutral and detached from every basic concept one may claim to be, every human action, even in the economic sphere, implies some conception of the human person and of the world, which reveals its value through both the effects and the developments it produces.

In this sense, our contemporary age has shown itself to have a limited vision of the human person, as the person is understood individualistically and predominantly as a consumer, whose profit consists above all in the optimization of his or her monetary income. The human person, however, actually possesses a uniquely relational nature and has a sense for the perennial search for gains and well-being that may be more comprehensive, and not reducible either to a logic of consumption or to the economic aspects of life.[15]

The fundamentally relational nature of the human person[16] is characterized essentially by a rationality that resists a reductionist view of one’s basic needs. In this regard, it is impossible to be silent in the face of today’s tendency to reify every exchange of “goods” as if it were no more than a mere exchange of “things.”

In reality, it is evident that in the transmission of goods among persons there is always something more than mere material goods at play, given the fact that the material goods are often vehicles of immaterial goods whose concrete presence or absence decisively determines the quality of these very economic relationships (for example, trust, equity, and cooperation). It is at this level that one can well understand that the logic of giving with nothing in return is not an alternative to, but rather is inseparable from and complementary to the exchange of equivalent goods.[17]

10. It is easy to note the advantages of a vision of the human person understood as constitutively inserted in a network of relationships that are in themselves a positive resource.[18] Every person is born within a familial environment, enjoying a set of pre-existing relationships without which life would be impossible. The human person develops through the stages of life thanks to pre-existing bonds that actualize one’s being in the world as freedom continuously shared. These are the original bonds that define the human person as a relational being who lives in what Christian Revelation calls “communion”.

This original nature of communion, while revealing in every human person a trace of the affinity with God who creates and calls one into a relationship with himself, is also that which naturally orients the person to the life of communion, the fundamental place for one’s fulfillment. One’s own recognition of this character, as an original and constitutive element of our human identity, allows us to look at others not primarily as potential competitors, but rather as possible allies, in the construction of the good that is authentic only if it is concerned about each and every person simultaneously.

Such relational anthropology helps the human person to recognize the validity of economic strategies that aim above all to promote the global quality of life that, before the indiscriminate expansion of profits, leads the way toward the integral well-being of the entire person and of every person. No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor.[19] These are three principles that imply and necessarily point to one another, with a  view to the construction of a world that is more equitable and united.

For this reason, progress within an economic system cannot measured only by quantitative and profit-driven standards, but also on the basis of the well-being that extends a good that is not simply material. Every economic system is legitimate if it thrives not merely through the quantitative development of exchange but rather by its capacity to promote the development of the entire person and of every person. Well-being and development both demand and support each other,[20] calling for sustainable policies and perspectives far beyond the short term.[21]

In this regard, it is particularly desirable that institutions such as universities and business schools both foresee and provide, as a fundamental and not merely supplementary element of their curricula of studies, a formational dimension that educates the students to understand economics and finance in the light of a vision of the totality of the human person and avoids a reductionism that sees only some dimensions of the person. An ethics is needed to design such formation. The social doctrine of the Church would be a considerable help in this connection.

11. Well-being must therefore be measured by criteria far more comprehensive than the Gross Domestic Product of a nation (GDP), and must take into account instead other standards, for example, safety and security, the growth of “human capital”, the quality of human relationships and of work. Profit should to be pursued but not “at any cost”, nor as a totalizing objective for economic action.

The presence of humanistic standards and cultural expressions that value generosity turn out to be both useful and emblematic here. Thus the discovery and implementation of the true and just as good in themselves, become the norms for evaluation.[22] Profit and solidarity are no longer antagonists. In fact, where egoism and vested interests prevail, it is difficult for the human person to grasp the fruitful interchange between profit and gift, as sin tends to tarnish and rupture this relationship. In a fully human perspective, there is actualized an interchange between profit and solidarity that, thanks to the freedom of the human person, unleashes a great potential for the markets.

An enduring call to acknowledge the human quality of generosity comes from the rule formulated by Jesus in the Gospel, called the golden rule, which invites us to do to others what we would like them to do for us (cf. Mt 7, 12; Lk 6, 31).

12. Economic activity cannot be sustained in the long run where freedom of initiative cannot thrive.[23] It is also obvious today that the freedom enjoyed by the economic stakeholders, if it is understood as absolute in itself, and removed from its intrinsic reference to the true and the good, creates centers of power that incline towards forms of oligarchy and in the end undermine the very efficiency of the economic system.[24] 

From this point of view, it is easy to see how, with the growing and all-pervasive control of powerful parties and vast economic-financial networks, those deputed to exercise political power are often disoriented and rendered powerless by supranational agents and by the volatility of the capital they manage. Those entrusted with political authority find it difficult to fulfil to their original vocation as servants of the common good, and are even transformed into ancillary instruments of interests extraneous to the good.[25]

These factors make all the more imperative a renewed alliance between economic and political agents in order to promote everything that serves the complete development of every human person as well as the society at large and unites demands for solidarity with those of subsidiarity.[26]

13. In principle, all the endowments and means that the markets employ in order to strengthen their distributive capacity are morally permissible, provided they do not turn against the dignity of the person and are not indifferent to the common good.[27]

At the same time, it is clear that markets, as powerful propellers of the economy, are not capable of governing themselves.[28] In fact, the markets know neither how to make the assumptions that allow their smooth running (social coexistence, honesty, trust, safety and security, laws, and so on) nor how to correct those effects and forces that are harmful to human society (inequality, asymmetries, environmental damage, social insecurity, and fraud).

14. Moreover, besides the fact that most of its operators are singularly animated by good and right intentions, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the financial industry, because of its pervasiveness and its inevitable capacity to condition and, in a certain sense, to dominate the real economy today, is a place where selfishness and the abuse of power have an enormous potential to harm the community.

For this reason, it must be noted that in the economic-financial world there are conditions in which some methods, though not directly unacceptable from an ethical point of view, still constitute instances of proximate immorality, that is, occasions that readily generate the kind of abuse and deception that can damage less advantaged counterparts. For instance, to commercialize certain financial instruments is in itself licit, but in a asymmetrical situation it would be possible to take advantage of a lack of knowledge or of the contractual weakness of either counterpart. In itself this amounts to a violation of due relational propriety, which is already a grave violation from an ethical point of view.

The complexity of numerous financial products currently renders such asymmetry an inherent element of the system itself and puts the buyers in a position inferior to those who commercialize these products—a situation that from several aspects leads to the surmounting of the traditional principle of caveat emptor. This principle, on the basis of which the responsibility to assess the quality of the good acquired should rest above all with the buyer, in fact presupposes a parity in the capacity to safeguard the proper interests of the contractors. This actually does not exist in many cases both from the evident hierarchical relationship that comes to be established in certain types of contracts (for example, between the lender and the borrower) as well as in the complex structuring of numerous financial instruments.

15. Money in itself is a good instrument, as are many other things at the disposal of the human person, and is a means to order one’s freedom and to expand one’s possibilities. Nevertheless, the means can easily turn against the person. Likewise, the financial dimension of the business world, focusing business on the access of money through the gateway of the world of stock exchange, is as such something positive. Such a phenomenon, however, today risks accentuating bad financial practices concentrated primarily on speculative transactions of virtual wealth, as well as negotiations of high frequency trading, where the parties accumulate for themselves an excessive quantity of capital and remove the capital from circulation within the real economy.[29]

What was sadly predicted a century ago has now come true today. Capital annuity can trap and supplant the income from work, which is often confined to the margins of the principal interests of the economic system. Consequently, work itself, together with its dignity, is increasingly at risk of losing its value as a “good” for the human person[30] and becoming merely a means of exchange within asymmetrical social relations.

Precisely in this inversion of the order between means and ends, where work as a good becomes an “instrument,” and money an “end”, the reckless and amoral “culture of waste” finds a fertile ground. It has marginalized great masses of the world’s population, deprived them of decent labor, and left them “without possibilities, without any means of escape”: “It is no longer simply the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside, or those on the fringes or its disenfranchised, but rather they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.[31]

16. In this regard, we cannot but think of the irreplaceable social function of credit whose performance looms large to qualified and reliable financial intermediaries. In this sphere, it is clear that applying excessively high interest rates, really beyond the range of the borrowers of funds, represents a transaction not only ethically illegitimate, but also harmful to the health of the economic system. As always, such practices, along with usurious activities, have been recognized by human conscience as iniquitous and by the economic system as contrary to its good functioning.

Here financial activity exhibits its primary vocation of service to the real economy: it is called to create value with morally licit means, and to favour a dispersion of capital for the purpose of producing a principled circulation of wealth.[32] For instance, very positive in this regard, and to be encouraged, are arrangements of cooperative credit, microcredit, as well as the public credit, in the service of families, businesses, the local economies, as well as credit to assist developing countries.

Especially in this context—where the positive potential of money can be best actualized–is it clear that it is morally illegitimate to expose to an undue risk the credit deriving from civil society by deploying it predominantly for speculative purposes.

17. What is morally unacceptable is not simply to profit, but rather to avail oneself of an inequality for one’s own advantage, in order to create enormous profits that are damaging to others; or to exploit one’s dominant position in order to profit by unjustly disadvantaging others, or to make oneself rich through harming and disrupting the collective common good.[33]

Such a practice is particularly deplorable from the moral point of view when the intention of profit by a few through the risk of speculation even in important funds of investment,[34]  provokes artificial reduction of the prices of public debt securities, without regard to the negative impact or to the worsening of the economic situation of entire nations. This practice endangers not only the public efforts for rebalancing, but also the very economic stability of millions of families,  and at the same time compels government authorities to intervene with substantial amounts of public money, even to the extent of artificially interfering in the proper functioning of political systems.

The speculative intention, often in today’s economic-financial environment, risks supplanting all other principal intentions that ground human freedom. This factor is devouring the immense patrimony of values that renders our civil society a place of peaceful coexistence, encounter, solidarity, renewed reciprocity and of responsibility for the common good. In this context, words such as “efficiency”, “competition”, “leadership”, and “merit” tend to occupy the entire space of our civil culture and assume a meaning that ends up in impoverishing the quality of exchanges, reducing them to mere numerical coefficients. 

What is demanded is an initiative, above all, for the renewal of humanity in order to reopen the horizons towards that abundance of values which alone permits the human person to discover himself or herself, and to construct a society that is a hospitable and inclusive dwelling place with room for the weakest, and where wealth is used for the benefit of all—places where it is beautiful for human beings to live and easy for them to have hope.

 

III. Some Clarifications in Today’s Context

18. In order to offer concrete and specific ethical bearings to all economic and financial agents, from whom there come more and more appeals in this regard, we now present some further clarifications, formulated with a view to opening the paths by which human beings can become truly human by promoting both human dignity and the common good.[35]

19.  Thanks to globalization and digitalization, the markets can be compared to a giant organism through whose veins, like life giving sap, flow huge amounts of money. This analogy allows us to speak of the “health” of such an organism when its means and structures are functioning well, and the growth and diffusion of wealth go hand in hand. The health of a system depends on the health of every single action performed. In a healthy market system, it is easier to respect and promote the dignity of the human person and the common good.

Correspondingly, every time unreliable economic-financial instruments are introduced and diffused, they put the growth and the diffusion of the wealth into serious danger creating systemic problems and risks that amount to the “intoxication” of the organism.

We understand the demand, felt more and more today, that public authorities should provide a certification for every product generated by financial innovation, in order to preserve the health of the system and prevent negative collateral effects. To favor economic health and to avoid manipulation are an inescapable moral imperative for all the stakeholders engaged in the markets. Also this demand shows how urgent is a supranational co-ordination among diverse structures of local financial systems.[36]

20. Such well-being nourishes itself on a multiplicity and diversity of resources, which form a kind of economic and financial “biodiversity”. This biodiversity represents an added value to the economic system and needs to be favored and safeguarded through adequate economic-financial policies, with the aim of assuring to the markets the presence of a plurality of persons and healthy instruments with a richness and diversity of characters. When it is positive, it is sustained and, on the contrary, by way of the negative, it hinders those who degrade the functionality of the system that produces and spreads wealth.

In this regard, it must be noted that the task of producing added value within the markets in a healthy way is realized by a unique function of cooperation. A loyal and intensive synergy of agents easily achieves that surplus of value towards which every economic achievement aims.[37]

When human beings recognize the fundamental solidarity that unites them with all of humanity, they realize that they cannot keep only for themselves the goods that they possess. When one habitually lives in solidarity, the goods that he or she possesses are used not only for one’s own needs, but they multiply themselves, also producing unexpected fruits for others.[38] It is here that we clearly notice how sharing may not be “only the distribution but also the multiplication of goods, the creation of new bread, of new goods, of new Good with a capital “G”.[39]

21. Experience and evidence over the last decades has demonstrated, on the one hand, how naive is the belief in a presumed self-sufficiency of the markets, independent of any ethics, and on the other hand, the compelling necessity of an appropriate regulation that at the same time unites the freedom and protection of every person and operates to create healthy and proper interactions, especially with regards to the more vulnerable. In this sense, political and economic-financial powers must remain distant and autonomous and at the same time directed, beyond all proximate harms, towards the realization of a good that is basically common, and not reserved only for a few privileged persons.[40]

Such regulation is made even more necessary in view of the fact that among the major reasons for the most recent economic crisis was the immoral behavior of agents in the financial world, where the supranational dimension of the economic system  makes it easy to bypass the regulations established by individual countries. Moreover, the extreme volatility and mobility of capital investments in the financial world permit those who control them to operate smoothly beyond every norm that does not aim at an immediate profit, often blackmailing by a position of strength even legitimate political authority.

Hence, it is clear that the markets are in need of solid and strong bearings, macro-prudential rather than normative, more shared than uniform; there is also need of continuously updated regulations that can respond to market flux. Similar bearings must guarantee a serious control of the quality and reliability of every economic-financial product, especially of those more structured. In addition, when the velocity of the innovative processes produces excessive systemic risk, the economic operators must accept the obligations and limits that the common good demands, without attempting to bypass or diminish their purpose.

The current globalization of the financial system requires a stable, clear and effective coordination among various national regulatory authorities, with the possibility, and at times, the necessity of sharing binding decisions promptly when required, in the face of the threats to the common good. Such regulatory authorities must always remain independent and bound by the exigencies of equity and the public benefit. The understandable difficulties in this regard should not discourage the search for and imposition of concordant normative systems consolidated among different nations but with supranational scope.[41]

The regulations must favor a complete transparency regarding whatever is traded in order to eliminate every form of injustice and inequality, thus assuring the greatest possible equity in the exchange. Likewise, the asymmetrical concentration of information and power tends to strengthen the more stronger economic agents and thus to create hegemonies capable of unilaterally influencing not only the markets, but also political and regulatory systems. Moreover, where massive deregulation is practiced, the evident result is a regulatory and institutional vacuum that creates space not only for moral risk and embezzlement, but also for the rise of the irrational exuberance of the markets, followed first by speculative bubbles, and then by sudden, destructive collapse, and systemic crises.[42]

22. Systemic crisis can be more effectively avoided if  there were a clear definition and separation among banking responsibilities for the management of credit, of the ordinary daily management of credit, of investment savings, and of  mere business.[43] This is intended as much as possible to avoid situations of financial instability.

A healthy financial system also requires the maximum amount of information possible, so that every agent can protect his or her interests in full, and with complete freedom. It is in fact important to know if one’s capital is used for speculative purposes, and also to know the degree of risk and the adequate price of the financial products to which one subscribes. Much more than the usual savings of the familiar type, it is a public good to protect and search for an adverse optimization of risk. The saving itself, when entrusted in the expert hands of financial advisers, needs to be administered well, and not just managed.

Among the morally questionable activities of  financial advisers in the management of savings, the following are to be taken into account: an excessive movement of the investment portfolio commonly aimed at increasing the revenues deriving from the commission for the bank or other financial intermediary; a failure from a due impartiality in offering instruments of saving, which, compared with some banks, the product of others would suit better the needs of the clients; the scarcity of an adequate diligence or even a malicious negligence on the part of financial advisers regarding the protection of related interests to the portfolio of their clients; and the concession of  financing on the part of the banking intermediator in a subordinate manner to the contextual subscription of other financial products issued by the same, but not convenient to the client.  

23. Every business creates an important network of relations and in its unique way represents a true intermediate social body with a proper culture and practices. Such culture and practices, while determining the internal organization of the enterprise, influence also the social fabric in which it operates. At this level, the Church recalls the importance of the social responsibility of each venture,[44] wherein the ad extra is congruent with the ad intra.

In this sense, wherever mere profit is placed at the summit of the culture of a financial enterprise, and the actual demands of the common good are ignored, every ethical claim is really perceived as irrelevant. This is reported today as a fact and is very much widespread even in the prestigious business schools. Every ethical claim is actually perceived as irrelevant and juxtaposed to the entrepreneurial action. This is very much highlighted from the fact that, in the organizational logic, those who do not adjust to business targets of this type are penalized both at the retributive level and at the level of professional recognition. In these cases, the objective of mere profit easily creates a perverse and selective logic that often favours the advancement of business leaders who are capable, but greedy and unscrupulous, and whose relationship with others is prevalently driven by a selfish and personal gain.

In addition, such logic has often pushed managements to establish economic policies aimed not at increasing the economic health of the companies that they serve, but at the mere profits of the shareholders, damaging therefore the legitimate interests of those who are bearing all of the work and service benefiting the same company, as well as the consumers and the various local communities (stakeholders). This is often incentivized by substantial remuneration in proportion to immediate results of management, but not likewise counterbalanced by equivalent penalization, in the case of failure of the objectives, though assuring greater profits to managers and shareholders in a short period, and thus ending up with forcing excessive risk, leaving the companies weak and impoverished of those economic energies that would have assured them adequate expectations for the future.

All of these factors easily create and diffuse a profoundly amoral culture—in which one often does not hesitate to commit a crime when the foreseen benefits exceed the expected penalty. Such behaviour gravely pollutes the health of every economic-social system It endangers the functionality and seriously harms the effective realization of that common good, upon which is necessarily founded every form of social institution.

Exactly here, the natural circularity that exists between profit, a factor intrinsically necessary for every economic system, and social responsibility, an essential element for the survival of any form of civil coexistence, reveals its full fruitfulness and exposes the indissoluble connection, that sin tends to hide, between the ethics respectful of persons and the common good, and the actual functionality of every economic financial system. Such virtuous circularity is favoured, for example, by the pursuit of the reduction of the risk of conflict with the stakeholders in order to nurture greater inner motivation of the employees of a company.  The creation of added value here, the primary objective of the economic financial system, must demonstrate, with all of its implications, its practicality inside a solidified ethical system founded on a sincere search for the common good. Only from the recognition, and from the realization, of the intrinsic connection that exists between economic reasoning and ethical reasoning, can a good indeed spring forth, that may benefit all of humanity.[45] Therefore, in order to function well, the market needs anthropological and ethical prerequisites that it is neither capable of giving for itself, nor producing on its own.

24. If, on the one hand, credit-worthiness demands a prudent activity of selection for identifying the really worthy beneficiaries capable of innovation, protected from unhealthy collusions, then on the other hand, in order to withstand effectively the risks encountered, the banks must have a suitable management of assets, so that an eventual division of the losses may be limited to a greater extent and may fall above all on those actually responsible for losses.

Certainly, the delicate management of savings, besides appropriate legal regulation, calls for culturally adequate paradigms, together with the practice of careful revisiting, from an ethical perspective, the relationship between the bank and the customer, as well as a continuous defence of the legitimacy of all relevant transactions.

Along these lines, an interesting suggestion that should be tried out, is the institution of Ethical Committees within the banks, to support the Councils of Administration. This is done in so far as the banks are helped not only to protect their balance from the consequences of sufferings and loses, and towards an effective coherence between the collective mission and the financial practices, but also to adequately sustain the actual economy.

25. The creation of titles of credit is extremely risky. They operate under the guise of creating a fictitious value without proper quality control or a reliable assessment of credit, and can enrich those who arrange them, but easily creates insolvency to the detriment of those who then have to withdraw them. This is all the more so if the critical burden of these stocks are passed from the institute that issues them on to the market on which they are spread and diffused (for e.g. security of the subprime mortgages) This practice creates wide ranging harm, and potentially systemic difficulties. Such manipulation of the markets contradicts the necessary health of the economic-financial system, and is unacceptable from the point of view of the ethics respectful of the common good.

Every credit share must correspond to a potentially real value, and not merely to a presumed one that is difficult to verify. In this sense, a need for a public regulation, and an appraisal super partes of the work of the rating agencies of credit, becomes all the more urgent, with legal instruments that make it possible to sanction the distorted actions and to prevent the creation of a dangerous oligopoly on the part of a few. This is even more true in the presence of the system of credit brokerage, in which the responsibility of the credit granted is passed on from the original lender to those who assume them.

26. Some financial products, among which the so called “derivatives”, are created for the purpose of guaranteeing an insurance on the inherent risks of certain operations often containing a gamble made on the basis of the presumed value attributed to those risks. At the foundation of such financial instruments lay contracts in which the parties are still able to reasonably evaluate the fundamental risk on which they want to insure.

However, in some types of derivatives (in the particular the so-called securitizations) it is noted that, starting with the original structures, and linked to identifiable financial investments, more and more complex structures were built (securitizations of securitizations) in which it is increasingly difficult, and after many of these transactions almost impossible, to stabilize in a reasonable and fair manner their fundamental value. This means that every passage in the trade of these shares, beyond the will of the parties, effects in fact a distortion of the actual value of the risk from that which the instrument must defend. All these have encouraged the rising of speculative bubbles, which have been the important contributive cause of the recent financial crisis.

It is obvious that the uncertainty surrounding these products, such as the steady decline of the transparency of that which is assured, still not appearing in the original operation, makes them continuously less acceptable from the perspective of ethics respectful of the truth and the common good, because it transforms them into a ticking time bomb ready sooner or later to explode, poisoning the health of the markets. It is noted that there is an ethical void which becomes more serious as these products are negotiated on the so-called markets with less regulation (over the counter) and are exposed more to the markets regulated by chance, if not by fraud, and thus take away vital life-lines and investments to the real economy.

A similar ethical assessment can be also applied for those uses of credit default swap (CDS: they are particular insurance contracts for the risk of bankruptcy) that permit gambling at the risk of the bankruptcy of a third party, even to those who haven’t taken any such risk of credit earlier, and really to repeat such operations on the same event, which is absolutely not consented to by the normal pact or insurance.

The market of CDS, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, was imposing enough to represent almost the equivalent of the GDP of the entire world. The spread of such a kind of contract without proper limits has encouraged the growth of a finance of chance, and of gambling on the failure of others, which is unacceptable from the ethical point of view.

In fact, the process of acquiring these instruments, by those who do not have any risk of credit already in existence, creates a unique case in which persons start to nurture interests for the ruin of other economic entities, and can even resolve themselves to do so.

It is evident that such a possibility, if, on the one hand, shapes an event particularly deplorable from the moral perspective, because the one who acts does so in view of a kind of economic cannibalism, and, on the other hand, ends up undermining that necessary basic trust without which the economic system would end up blocking itself. In this case, also, we can notice how a negative event, from the ethical point of view, also harms the healthy functioning of the economic system.

Therefore, it must be noted, that when from such gambling can derive enormous damage for entire nations and millions of families, we are faced with extremely immoral actions, it seems necessary to extend deterrents, already present in some nations, for such types of operations, sanctioning the infractions with maximum severity.

27. A central point of the dynamism that rules the financial markets is the level of the taxation of interests relative to interbank loans (LIBOR), whose measurement acts as the guide for the rates of interest in the monetary market, as well as in the rate of the official exchange of the different currencies handled by the banks.

These are some of the important parameters which have significant effect on the entire economic-financial system as they influence daily the substantial transfer of money between parties that approve contracts actually based upon the measure of these rates. The manipulation of the measuring of these rates constitutes a severe ethical violation with wide ranging consequences.  

The fact that this could have happened impunitively for many years shows how fragile and exposed to fraud is a financial system not sufficiently controlled by regulations, and lacking proportionate sanctions for the violations in which its stakeholders often encounter. In this environment, the establishment of real “networks” of connivance, among those persons who were instead predisposed for the correct fixing of those rates, form, by coincidence, a criminal association, particularly harmful for the common good, which inflicts a dangerous wound to the health of the economic system. It must be penalized with adequate punishments and be discouraged from repetition.

28.  Today the principal agents that operate in the world of finance, especially the banks, must be endowed with internal organisms, which ensure a function of compliance, or of self-control of the legitimacy of the major steps in the decision-making process and of the major products offered by the company. However, it is necessary to point out that, at least until the very recent past, the practice of the economic-financial system is often significantly based on a  purely “negative” judgment of the function of compliance, that is to say, on a merely formal respect of the limits established by the law. Unfortunately, from this arose also the frequency of a practice, elusive of normative controls, wherein actions were directed toward bypassing the normative principles in place without contradicting explicitly the norms themselves in order to escape sanctions.

In order to avoid this, it is therefore necessary that the judgement of compliance enter on the merit of various operations from “positive” perspective that seeks verify their effective correspondence with the principles that inform the current norms. According to many, the execution of the function in this manner would be facilitated if it helped the institution of Ethical Committees, operating along with the Councils of Administration, which may constitute a natural interlocutor made up of those who should guarantee, in the concrete functioning of the bank, the conformity of behaviour to the existing norms.    

In this sense, it is important that within the company there would be some guidelines which allow the facilitation of a similar corresponding judgement, so that one can discern in fact, which ones, among the operations, may technically be achievable and practical from the ethical point of view (a question that arises, for instance, in a very relevant way for the practices of tax avoidance). In such a way, one may pass from a merely formal adherence to a substantial respect of the regulations.

Moreover, it is desirable that even in the normative regulatory system, the financial world may foresee a general clause that declares illegitimate, with consequent accountability of the assets, all the persons to whom these are attributable, and whose predominant aim may be predominantly to bypass the existing norms.

29.  It is no longer possible to ignore certain phenomena in the world, such as the spreading of the collateral banking systems (Shadow banking system). These, although well understood within themselves, and also the types of intermediaries whose functioning does not immediately appear disapproved, in fact have led to the loss of control over the system on the part of various authorities of national securities. Hence, they have knowingly favored the use of the so-called creative financing in which the primary aim of the investment of the financial resources is above all speculative in character, if not predatory, and not a service to the actual economy.  For instance, many agree that the existence of such “shadow” systems may be one of the contributing causes that advanced the development, and the global diffusion, of the recent economic-financial crisis started in the USA with subprime mortgages in the summer of 2007.   

30. Such speculative intent, on which the world of offshore finance thrives, while offering also other legitimate services, through the widely diffused channels of tax avoidance, if not directly of evasion and the recycling of money deriving from crimes, contributes to an additional impoverishment of the normal system of production and of the distribution of goods and services. It is difficult to distinguish if many such situations give life to particular instances of proximate or immediate immorality. Certainly, it is by now evident that such realities, where they unjustly subtract vital nourishment from the real economy, can hardly find justification both from the ethical point of view and from the point of view of the global efficiency of the economic system itself.

On the contrary, there seems to be all the more evident a negligible degree of correlation between the unethical behaviors of the operators and the existing bankruptcies of the system in its complexity. It is now undeniable that ethical scarcity exacerbates the imperfections of the mechanisms of the market.[46]

In the second half of the last century, the offshore market of euro-dollars, the financial space of exchange outside every official normative framework, was born. The market expanded from an important European country to other countries of the world, paving way to a real alternative financial network to the official financial system and the jurisdictions that protect them.

It must be noted, in this regard, if the formal reason which is given to legitimize the presence of the offshore sites is that of permitting the institutional investors not to be subjected to a double taxation; firstly in the country of their residence and secondly in the countries where the funds are domiciled, in reality, these places, to a considerable extent, have become an opportunity for financial operations often border line, if not beyond the pale, both from the point of view of their lawfulness under the normative profile and from that of ethics, meaning an economic culture, healthy and free from the intentions of tax avoidance.

Today, more than the half of the commercial world is orchestrated by noteworthy persons that cut down their tax burden by moving the revenues from one site to another according to their convenience, transferring the profits into fiscal havens, and the costs into the countries of higher taxation. It appears clear that all these have removed decisive resources from the actual economy and contributed to the creation of economic systems founded on inequality. Furthermore, it is not possible to ignore the fact that those offshore sites, on more occasions, have become usual places of recycling dirty money, which is the fruit of illicit income (thefts, frauds, corruption, criminal associations, mafia, war booties etc.)

Thereby disguising the fact that the so-called offshore operations do take place in their official financial places, some States have consented to obtain profit even from crimes, thinking however of not being responsible as the crimes did not take place formally under their jurisdiction. This represents, from the moral point of view, an evident form of hypocrisy.   

In a short period, such a market has become a place of major transition of capital, because its configuration represents an easy way for realizing different and essential forms of tax avoidance. Therefore, we understand that the offshore domestication of many important societies involved in the market is very much coveted and practiced.

31. Certainly, the tax system prepared by the various nations does not seem to be always equal. In this regard, it is relevant to keep in mind how such inequity often disadvantages the economically weaker persons and favors the more endowed, and is capable of influencing even the normative systems that regulate the same taxes. In fact, an imposition of the taxes, when it is equal, performs a fundamental function of equalization and redistribution of the wealth not only in favor of those who need appropriate subsidies, but it also supports the investments and the growth of the actual economy.

Tax avoidance on the part of primary stakeholders, those large financial intermediaries, who move in the market, indicate an unjust removal of resources from the actual economy, and this is damaging for the civil society as a whole.

Due to the non-transparency of those systems, it is difficult to establish with precision the amount of assets that are transacted in them. However, it was calculated that a minimum tax on the transactions accomplished offshore would be sufficient to resolve a large part of the problem of hunger in the world: why can’t we undertake courageously the way of a similar initiative?

Furthermore, it has been established that the existence of offshore sites has encouraged also an enormous outflow of capital from many countries of low income, thus creating numerous political and economic crises, impeding them from finally undertaking the path of growth and a healthy development.

For this reason, it is worth mentioning that more often different international institutions have denounced these practices and many governments have righty tried to limit the flow of the offshore financial bases. Many positive efforts have been undertaken in this regard, especially in the last decade. However, they could not successfully impose accords and norms adequately efficient until now. On the contrary, the normative frames proposed even by the international authoritative organizations in this regard have been often unapplied, or made ineffective, because of the notable influence that those bases are capable of exercising towards many political powers, thanks to the large amount of capital in their possession.

All this, while contributing grave damage to the good functionality of the actual economy, indicates a structure that, as it is formed today, seems to be totally unacceptable from the ethical point of view. Hence, it is necessary and urgent to prepare at the international level the suitable remedies to those unjust systems. Above all, practicing financial transparency at every level, (for example, the obligation of public accountability for the multinational companies of the respective activities and the taxes paid in each country in which they operate through their subsidiary groups) along with incisive sanctions, imposed on those countries that repeat the dishonest practices (tax evasion and avoidance, recycling of dirty money) mentioned above.

32. The offshore system has also ended up aggravating the public debt of the countries whose economies are less developed. It was in fact observed how the accumulated private wealth of some elites in the fiscal havens is almost equal to the public debt of the respective countries. This highlights how, in fact, at the origin of that debt there are often economic losses created by private persons and unloaded on the shoulders of the public system. Moreover, it is noted that important economic players tend to follow, often with the collusion of the politicians, a practice of division of the losses.

However, it is good to point out how often the public debt is also created by an incautious, if not fraudulent, management of the public administrative system. These debts, those financial losses that burden the various nations, pose today one of the major obstacles to good functioning and growth of the various national economies. Numerous national economies are in fact burdened by having to cope with the payment of interest, which derives from that debt, and must therefore dutifully undertake structural adjustments to suit this need.

In the face of all of this, on the one hand, the individual States are called to protect themselves with appropriate management of the public system through wise structural reforms, sensible allocation of expenses, and prudent investments. On the other hand, it is necessary at the international level to put every country in front of its unavoidable responsibility to allow and favor the reasonable exit routes from the spirals of debt, not placing it on the shoulders of the States, and therefore on that of their citizens, meaning upon millions of families carrying untenable financial burdens.

So also the effort is mediated politically, by way of a reasonable and concurred reduction of the public debt, especially of the kind held by persons of such economic solidity capable of offering it.[47] Similar solutions are required both for the health of the international economic system in view of avoiding the contagion of a potentially systematic crisis, as well as for the pursuit of the common good of all people mutually.

33.  All that we have been talking about so far is not only the work of an entity that operates out of our control, but that is also in the sphere of our responsibilities. This means that we have within our reach important instruments capable of contributing towards the solutions of many problems. For instance, the markets live thanks to the supply and demand of goods. In this regard, every one of us can influence in a decisive manner by giving shape to that demand.

It becomes therefore quite evident how important a critical and responsible exercise of consumption and savings actually is. Shopping, for example, a daily engagement with which we procure the necessities of living, is also a form of a choice that we exercise among the various products that the market offers. It is a choice through which we often opt, in an unconscious way, for goods, whose production possibly takes place through supply chains in which the violation of the most elementary human rights is normal or, thanks to the work of the companies, whose ethics in fact do not know any interest other than that of profit of their shareholders at any cost.  

It is necessary to train ourselves to make the choice for those goods on whose shoulders lies a journey worthy from the ethical point of view, because also through the gesture, apparently banal, of consumption, we actually express an ethics and are called to take a stand in front of what is good or bad for the actual human person. Someone spoke of the proposal to “vote with your wallet”. This is in reference to voting daily in the markets in favor of whatever helps the concrete well-being of all of us, and rejecting whatever harms it.[48] 

They must also have the same considerations towards the management of their savings, for instance, directing them towards those enterprises that operate with clear criteria inspired by an ethics respectful of the entire human person, and of every particular person, within the horizon of social responsibility.[49] Furthermore, in general, each one is called to cultivate procedures of producing  wealth that may be consistent with our relational nature and tend towards an integral development of the human person.

 

IV. Conclusion

34.  In front of the massiveness and pervasiveness of today’s economic-financial systems, we could be tempted to abandon ourselves to cynicism, and to think that with our poor forces we can do very little. In reality, every one of us can do so much, especially if one does not remain alone.

Numerous associations emerging from civil society represent in this sense a reservoir of consciousness, and social responsibility, of which we cannot do without. Today as never before we are all called, as sentinels, to watch over genuine life and to make ourselves catalysts of a new social behavior, shaping our actions to the search for the common good, and establishing it on the sound principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Every gesture of our liberty, even if it appears fragile and insignificant, if it is really directed towards the authentic good, rests on Him who is the good Lord of history and becomes part of a buoyancy that exceeds our poor forces, uniting indissolubly all the actions of good will in a web that unites heaven and earth, which is a true instrument of the humanization of each person, and the world as a whole. This is all that we need for living well and for nourishing a hope that may be at the height of our dignity as human persons.

The Church, Mother and Teacher, aware of having received in gift an undeserved deposit, offers to the men and women of all times the resources for a dependable hope. Mary, Mother of God made man for us, may take our hearts in hand and guide them in the wise building of that good that her Son Jesus, through his humanity made new by the Holy Spirit, has come to inaugurate for the salvation of the world.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has approved these Considerations adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Dicastery and ordered its publication.

Rome, January 6, 2018, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

 

+ LUIS F. LADARIA, S.I.                                                                        PETER CARD. TURKSON

Titular Archbishop of Thibica                                                                     Prefect of the Dicastery

Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith                         for Promoting Integral

                                                                                                           Human Development

 

X GIACOMO MORANDI                                                                       BRUNO MARIE DUFFÉ

Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri                                                                Secretary of the Dicastery

Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith                    for Promoting Integral

                                                                                                  Human Development

 

_____________________________________

 

[1] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 48.

[2] Cf. ibid., 5.

[3] Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ (24 May 2015), 231: AAS 107 (2015), 937.

[4] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate (29 June 2009), 59: AAS 101 (2009), 694.

 

[5] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio (14 September 1998), 98: AAS 91 (1999), 81.

[6] Cf. International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at the Natural Law, 87:

ttp://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20090520_legge- naturale_en.html.

[7] Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

[8] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 178: AAS 105 (2013), 1094.

[9] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 1: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 6.

[10] Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

[11] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53: AAS 105 (2013), 1042.

[12] Ibid., 58: AAS 105 (2013), 1044.

[13] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis humanae, 14.

[14] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate (29 June 2009), 45: AAS 101 (2009), 681.

[15] Ibid., 74: AAS 101 (2009), 705.

[16] Cf. Francis, Address to the European Parliament (25 November 2014), Strasbourg: AAS 106 (2014), 997-998.

[17] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 37: AAS 101 (2009), 672.   

[18] Cf. ibid., 55: AAS 101 (2009), 690.

[19] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollecitudo rei socialis (30 December 1987), 42: AAS 80 (1988), 572.

[20] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1908.

[21]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 13: AAS 107 (2015), 852; Apostolic Exhortation  Amoris laetitia

     (19 March 2016), 44: AAS 108 (2016), 327.

[22]   Cf. For example the motto, Ora et Labora that recalls the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia, in its simplicity,

      indicates that prayer, especially liturgical, while opening for us a relationship with God who, in Jesus

      Christ and in his Spirit, reveals himself as the Good and True, also offers in this manner the appropriate   

      form as well as the way to construct a better and truer world that is more human.

[23]   Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus (1 May 1991), 17, 24, 42: AAS 83 (1991), 814, 821, 845.

[24]    Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno (15 May 1931), 105: AAS 23 (1931), 210; PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio (26 March 1967), 9: AAS 59 (1967), 261; Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 203: AAS 107 (2015), 927.

[25]   Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 175. On the necessary connection between economy and politics cf.

Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 36: “Economic activity cannot solve all social problems

through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common  

      good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne                   in   mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth             creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.”

[26]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 58: AAS 101 (2009), 693.

[27]  Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World        Gaudium et spes, 64.

[28]  Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno, 89: AAS 23 (1931), 206; Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter   Caritas in veritate, 35: AAS 101 (2009), 670; Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 204: AAS 105 (2013), 1105.

[29]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 109: AAS 107 (2015), 891.

[30]  Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens (14 September 1981), 9: AAS 73 (1981), 598.

[31]   Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53: AAS 105 (2013), 1042.

[32]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 369.

[33] Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno, 132: AAS 23 (1931), 219; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter

    Populorum progressio, 24: AAS 59 (1967), 269.

[34]  Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2409.

[35]   Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio, 13. Some important indications were already offered in this regard (cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 4: L’Osservatore Romano, 24-25 October 2011, 7). We now intend to proceed in the line of a similar discernment in order to encourage a positive development of the economic-financial system and to contribute towards the elimination of those unjust structures that limit potential benefits of them.

[36]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ ,198: AAS 107 (2015), 925.

[37]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 343.

[38]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 35: AAS 101 (2009), 670.

[39]   Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting “Economy of Communion”, Sponsored by the Focolare Movement (4 February 2017): L’Osservatore Romano (5 February 2017), 8.

[40]  Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollecitudo rei socialis, 28: AAS 80 (1988), 548.

[41]   Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 67: AAS 101 (2009), 700.

[42]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice And Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and

     Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 1: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 6.

[43]   Cf. ibid., 4: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 7.

[44]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 45: AAS 101 (2009), 681; Francis, Message for the      Celebration of the 48th World Day of Peace (1 January 2015), 5: AAS 107 (2015), 66.

[45]  Cf. Benedict, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 36: AAS 101 (2009), 671.

[46]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

    [47]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See (8 January 2007):

     L’Osservatore Romano (8-9 January 2007), 6-7.

[48]  Cf. Id., Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 66: AAS 101 (2009), 699.

[49]  Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 358.

 

More analysis next week.

 

0

PopeWatch: Twittering Nuns

Agreed:

 

The Vatican has issued new guidelines for cloistered nuns, reminding them that they’re supposed to live separated from the world and in silence — and therefore shouldn’t be tweeting too much or downloading too much news.

The instructions from the Vatican’s office for religious orders cover a host of administrative and financial issues. Included are norms for when a monastery must be closed because the number of nuns shrinks to the point that the community is no longer viable — an increasingly frequent occurrence.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Presumably the same rules would apply to monks.  Social media tends to have a pernicious impact on quite a few people.  In regard to religious, PopeWatch suspects that social media acts as a solvent, dissolving the desire of many to live apart from the world.  If the world is with you 24-7, the battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil is lost before it begins.  A sobering thought for those of us who live in the world.

7

PopeWatch: A Firebell in the Night

Sandro Magister is sounding the alarm:

 

 

Attention. The conflict that has exploded in Germany for and against communion for Protestant spouses should have exceeded the threshold of alarm for the unity of the whole Church, to judge by the warnings issued in recent days by several cardinals to the pope. Warnings of a severity that has no precedent, in the five years of the pontificate of Francis (in the photo, on the set with Wim Wenders).

The backstory can be found in this post from Settimo Cielo of May 2, just before the encounter between the opposing parties when they were called to Rome by the pope:

> One Cardinal, Seven Bishops, and Four New “Dubia.” This Time on Intercommunion

The meeting between the German cardinals and bishops and the Vatican authorities took place on May 3 in the offices of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. But it concluded without any sort of decision. In the evening, a laconic statement simply revealed that “Pope Francis values the ecumenical efforts of the German bishops and asks them to find, in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a unanimous result if possible.”

And it is precisely this deflection – backed by the pope – to a further encounter among the German bishops, to be resolved by a vote, that has unleashed the reactions of some of the highest ranking cardinals, absolutely convinced that questions of faith cannot be resolved by vote and without the universal Church being involved.

*

The first of these is Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht.

“The response of the Holy Father is completely incomprehensible,” he wrote in no uncertain terms in a commentary published in the United States on the “National Catholic Register” and in Italy on “La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.”

And he explained:

“The Holy Father has informed the delegation of the German episcopal conference that it must discuss again, and try to find unanimity. Unanimity about what? The practice of the Catholic Church, based on her faith, is not determined and does not change statistically when a majority of an episcopal conference votes in favor of it, not even if unanimously.”

And again:

“The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church. He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience. By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered.”

Eijk is referring here to the tortuous response – yes, no, I don’t know, you figure it out – that Francis gave to that Protestant woman and that can be viewed in this video from Centro Televisivo Vaticano, in the original language with an English translation:

> “La domanda sul condividere la cena del Signore…”

And here is the dramatic conclusion that the Dutch cardinal reaches, citing an unsettling passage from the catechism:

“Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: ‘Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth’.”

Go here to read the rest.  Heresy from Germany tore the Church apart five centuries ago.  The Catholic hierarchy in Germany is commemorating this tragedy by attempting to repeat it, with the sly and secret endorsement of our Pope.  God help our poor Church and all faithful Catholics.

1

PopeWatch: China

The Chinese government is suddenly developing cold feet about the proposed agreement between China and the Vatican which is odd considering what a sell out the agreement is to the Communist government.  Cardinal Zen, an 86 year old dynamo and a fierce critic of the agreement, in a recent interview gave his thoughts:

“Some are saying maybe now there are difficulties on the Chinese side, because there are people who think that they don’t need the agreement, they can control everything. Maybe there are voices in China against the eventual agreement,” said Zen.

“You see that there are many actions on the side of the government which show that they are tightening control on religion. And so it’s more difficult to understand how the Vatican can come to a deal at this moment, because obviously they are seen as collaborating with the government.”

For instance, new regulations on religious affairs were installed on February 1, under which minors are banned from entering places of worship.

“There is no reason for optimism,” said Zen. “Any agreement on the side of the Vatican may be seen as collaboration with the government to persecute our own people; that’s terrible.”

The cardinal said China’s recent amendments to the constitution, such as the removal of the presidential term limit, may also have influenced how the Vatican looked at the issue.

 

“Surely they should take into account also these new things – which are not encouraging any agreement. I really hope that a miracle may happen, the Pope may say we need more time to be more cautious, to consider again,” he said. “No deal is better than a bad deal. I really cannot understand how people can say bad deal is better than no deal, I don’t think it’s correct.”

Zen stressed his loyalty to the Pope. Zen travelled to Rome in January to personally give the Pope a letter from the 88-year-old persecuted Chinese Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou.

Zhuang, a priest loyal to the Vatican but not recognised by China, was one of two bishops asked by the Vatican to step aside for priests excommunicated by the Vatican but accepted by Beijing.

“I told him everything. I wrote so many letters,” Zen said. “My last letter was very clear, I have the impression that the Pope now is aware of the worries in the church in China, so I don’t think I need to see him again or say more things.”

“Maybe now there are some other things which may make the Holy Father more aware that he is not receiving good information from people around him.”

 

Zen has been in a war of words with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who he said was considering the potential deal like a diplomat, but not from religious standpoints.

“I can understand that Pope Francis may not be well informed about the real situation in the church in China, because he comes from South America,” Zen said. “But these people like Parolin, they must know very well the situation, so I really cannot understand how are they so enthusiastic to push for a deal, so they may have a wrong objective.”

“Because from the point of view of Catholic faith, they are not going to achieve anything. Maybe they are more interested in diplomatic success. That’s very sad, because they are the collaborators of the Pope, the faith should be the first thing in their mind.”

“It’s very scary. These people – they should understand a lot of things, why do they do this? They are not naive, they are evil.”

Go here to read the rest.  Part of PopeWatch, a part of which PopeWatch is not proud, could understand this sell out of Chinese Catholics if it fit into some vast Machiavellian plan to achieve some cherished goal of the powers that be at the Vatican.  PopeWatch does not see this.  The underground Chinese Catholic Church has proven itself quite resilient in the face of persecution, even while the Communist dynasty of China is clearly unable long term to deal with the problems of an increasingly capitalist economy governed by a Communist oligarchy.  The Vatican is selling out both the Chinese Catholics and common sense simultaneously.  The men behind this deal may be evil as Cardinal Zen says, they most certainly are inept bunglers.

 

0

PopeWatch: Bad Deal

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

Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he will withdraw the Vatican from the Columbia House 8 CDs For A Penny Deal, breaking with European churches, and fulfilling a major conclave campaign promise.

“Today’s action sends a message that the Vatican no longer makes empty threats,” a boastful Francis told the press, going on to attack his predecessor Benedict XVI. “Signing up the Vatican for this was horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. Columbia house gets its money, but we really don’t get anything because no one uses CDs anymore.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement denouncing Francis’ decision while urging Columbia House to “continue to meet its own obligations in bombarding the Vatican with special new offers.”

“Our church remains committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case so that we may ecumenically come together once a month to discuss CDs that we like and those that we disliked.”

Some in the Catholic Church, with one anonymous Cardinal saying, “While I strongly opposed the Columbia House deal, it is a grave mistake to walk away from this deal without a plan for ensuring that [Columbia House] doesn’t launch a barrage of email offers.”

 

Go here to comment.  PopeWatch eagerly awaits the excommunication by Pope Francis of all who initiate robo calls.

0

PopeWatch: Who You Know

Edward Pentin at The National Catholic Register reminds us that in this Pontificate it is never what you do, but who you know:

 

 

Despite serious allegations involving abuse of seminarians and financial misconduct leveled against him, Honduran Auxiliary Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle of Tegucigalpa remains in position, and put in charge of the archdiocese during the frequent times Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga is away. 

Sources in the Honduran capital have told the Register that no action has been taken against Bishop Pineda, even though a papal investigation last year contained accounts of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by Bishop Pineda against priests and seminarians, as well as allegations of extensive financial misconduct and corruption. 

The head of the investigation, retired Argentine Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto, was reportedly shocked by the testimonies, taken from more than 50 witnesses, including diocesan staff members and priests. The Register obtained affidavits from two of the seminarians who accused Bishop Pineda of sexual abuse, and published them last month.

“Everything is kept silent and so everything continues as it always has,” an informed Honduran source told the Register. “Unfortunately, nothing has changed, only threats have been made against those who have revealed themselves.” 

Another source, working for the Church there, also told the Register April 26 that “everything is the same” and that “Pineda remains in his position with the protection of Maradiaga.” 

Investigations carried out by the Register last month, and more recently, show the bishop, who lives in a country where 63% of the population live below the poverty line, enjoys a lavish lifestyle which includes ownership of several expensive cars and frequent air travel. He flew first class on at least two occasions to Madrid last November, including one trip — a week-long Jesuit-run retreat in Spain — that was meant as a sanction following allegations made to the papal investigation. 

Go here to read the rest.  One of the more laughable misreadings of this Papacy is that Pope Francis is, in any sense, a reforming Pope.

 

9

PopeWatch: Vatican Trolling

You know you are living in interesting times when  an ink stained Fleet Street wretch like Piers Morgan is more Catholic than the Pope:

 

 

Why is it deemed unacceptable to wear a red Chinese dress to a prom, but acceptable to lampoon an entire religion at a celebrity gala?

This particular subject is personal to me.

I’m a Catholic.

Not the most devout you’ll ever meet, I’ll admit.

But I was brought up a Catholic – I even received not entirely successful spiritual guidance from nuns as a teenager! – and I still consider myself to be a Catholic.

I know many people don’t believe in any God or religion, let alone Catholicism, and I respect that.

All I ask in return is for my beliefs not to be rudely disrespected.

Just as I always respect other religions even if I don’t believe in what they represent.

To me, this year’s Met Gala crossed a line and was openly, brazenly disrespectful.

By doing so, it confirmed itself as an organisation of rank double standards, because everyone knows they’d have never dared do it to Islam or Judaism.

Apparently – staggeringly – the Vatican gave permission for the Gala to be ‘Catholic-themed’ because it has already provided a variety of clothes and other items for an accompanying exhibition at the Met.

To which my response is: what the hell was the Vatican thinking?

Go here to read the rest.  Let PopeWatch answer that question.  The Vatican is currently controlled by people who hate traditional Catholicism.  It is impossible to imagine this crew associating the Vatican with anything that mocks the sacred cows of the secular elites.  However, mocking Catholicism as practiced by those troglodytes who actually believe what the Church has taught for 2000 years?  Have at it!  We are being trolled by the current crew at the Vatican who have nothing but contempt for the Faith and for us.  May God forgive them and quickly end their misrule of His Church.

 

 

15

PopeWatch: Libertarianism

PopeWatch views libertarianism as the perfect political philosophy for 15 year old nerds, but when Pope Francis engages in yet another diatribe against libertarianism, it almost makes PopeWatch want to turn libertarian:

Finally, I cannot but speak of the serious risks associated with the invasion, at high levels of culture and education in both universities and in schools, of positions of libertarian individualism. A common feature of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is, “living well”, a “good life” in the community framework, and exalts the selfish ideal that deceptively proposes a “beautiful life”. If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships, and so it is only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad, then libertarianism, today in fashion, preaches that to establish freedom and individual responsibility, it is necessary to resort to the idea of “self-causation”. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good because on the one hand it supposes that the very idea of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and the other that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.

The radicalization of individualism in libertarian and therefore anti-social terms leads to the conclusion that everyone has the “right” to expand as far as his power allows, even at the expense of the exclusion and marginalization of the most vulnerable majority. Bonds would have to be cut inasmuch as they would limit freedom. By mistakenly matching the concept of “bond” to that of “constraint”, one ends up confusing what may condition freedom – the constraints – with the essence of created freedom, that is, bonds or relations, family and interpersonal, with the excluded and marginalized, with the common good, and finally with God.

 

Go here to read the rest.  This is a Pope who has no problem with selling out Chinese Catholics to the Chinese Communist government and who has little to say about various squalid Leftist dictatorships around the globe.  Leftist tyrannies are of no concern to this Pope compared to the menace of the hordes of Libertarians descending upon nations to declare upon helpless populations freedom of contract and the limitation of the power of the State.  One of the frightening aspects of this Papacy is how detached from the real world this Pope is, as exemplified last week by his twitter proposal that all weapons be banned.  His ardent distaste for faithful Catholics, who he condemns as Pharisees and Gnostics, is only one facet of what a very strange man now heads the Faith, God help us all.

 

11

PopeWatch: Articles 675 and 676

Hoo boy:

 

A Dutch cardinal has said that Pope Francis’ failure to uphold the Church’s authentic faith makes him think of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s prophecy of a “final trial” for the Church before the second coming of Christ.

Cardinal Willem Eijk, 64, the Archbishop of Utrecht, made the startling comment in an article published today at the National Catholic Register.

Eijk, who was created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, got his medical degree before ordination to the priesthood and went on to complete three PhDs in medicine, philosophy and theology.

In the article, the Cardinal laments Pope Francis’ failure to bring clarity on the question of intercommunion with Protestants during last week’s meeting at the Vatican with German bishops. The Pope told the German bishops to obtain unanimous approval on the issue, but, says Cardinal Eijk, he should have simply reminded them of the Church’s clear doctrine and practice.

“By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered,” he said.

“Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

That article of the Catechism, which he quoted in full, warns of a trial that will “shake the faith of many believers.” It prophesies a persecution that will “unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

Cardinal Eijk warned publicly last year that by failing to clarify Church teaching over divorce and remarriage, Pope Francis was “fracturing” the Church.

Go here to read the rest.  99 year ago Yeats may have summarized our age:

 

       THE SECOND COMING

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Both Articles 675 and 676 may be relevant in this Pontificate:

 

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578

 

 

2

PopeWatch: Saudi Arabia

This could be interesting:

The Vatican has denied making a deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country. 

Reports in Middle Eastern media claimed a historic agreement had been made between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League.

But a spokesperson for the Vatican said the report was ‘false’.  

The reports of the supposed agreement to build churches emerged in Egypt Independent.    

The cardinal has visited Saudi Arabia this year and met the royal family, urging the Muslim country to treat its citizens equally.  

Saudi Arabia’s anti-extremism Etidal centre hosted Cardinal Tauran as the crown prince pushes for inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom.

There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the region without one.  

Go here to read the rest.  Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has emerged as a reformer in Saudi Arabia, by Saudi standards a wild eyed radical, who wants to open up the country to more contacts with the West.  The story about the Saudi government agreeing to allow the building of churches was no doubt planted by an enemy of the regime.  However, the Saudi government has been trying to establish better relations with Christian leaders internationally, and the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia has long been a major concern of the Vatican.  Stay tuned.

 

2

PopeWatch: Robertson Guard

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

 

In an effort to become more inclusive, The Pontifical Swiss Guard announced this morning that it would begin defending leaders of other faiths for the first time in its long history.

Beginning next month, the Pontifical Swiss Guard will be known as the Interreligious Swiss Guard.

“Interreligious Swiss Guard perfectly represents the new, inclusive program to help protect Protestant pastors, rabbis, and other religious leaders, including the security of their megachurches, synagogues and so on,” said Commander of the Interreligious Swiss Guard Christoph Graf.

Graf went on to announce that twenty members of the Swiss Guard have already been ordered to move from Rome and to be stationed at The 700 Club headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia, next week where they will have the duty to protect and defend television personality Pat Robertson.

“As we enter the dawn of a new era for our organization, it is important that no religious leaders feel excluded. We no longer want anyone to think that their religion and leadership is not worthy of protection,” Graff said.

Requirements to enter the Interreligious Swiss Guard will also change to reflect the new standards. Guards must be Catholic or not, single males or females with Swiss citizenship or citizenship from any another country, who have obtain certificates of good to decent conduct.

The official oath that will be sworn in Virginia Beach next week will be as follows:

I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve Pat Robertson and his descendants, and dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to Christian Broadcasting Network executives whenever the Network See is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. I swear to observe all that the honor of my position demands of me.

 

Go here to comment.  The Vatican has refused to confirm or deny that the new Guard will be armed with recordings of the homilies of the Pope.

3

PopeWatch: Marxism and the Cross

Cardinal Reinhard Marx just can’t stay out of the news.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register gives us the details:

 

The apostolic nuncio to Austria has strongly criticized German bishops and priests for their opposition to a regional politician’s mandate to display Christian crosses in the entrances of all government institutions, saying such an objection is a “disgrace.” 

Speaking to an audience at Hochschule Heiligenkreuz, a pontifical university near Vienna (see video below), Archbishop Peter Stefan Zurbriggen said that speaking as a representative of the Holy Father, he was “really sad and ashamed that in a neighboring country, bishops and priests, of all people, have to criticise it when they want to erect crosses. 

“That is a disgrace which mustn’t be accepted!,” he said in a loud voice and to a round of applause. 

The nuncio’s reproach comes after Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, criticized a mandate from Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Prime Minister, that all state buildings should display crosses, though not necessarily in the form of a crucifix, by June 1. 

Söder, a Lutheran, announced the decision on April 24. His office said it is intended to “express the historical and cultural character” of Bavaria and to be “a visible commitment to the core values of the legal and social order in Bavaria and Germany.”

But Cardinal Marx told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the cross is not just a “cultural symbol” but rather “a sign of opposition to violence, injustice, sin and death.” It is not a “sign [of exclusion] against other people,” he added.  

The cardinal, who heads the German bishops’ conference, stressed it is not up to the state to explain what a cross means, and that Bavaria’s government has triggered “division, unrest and adversity” with the move.

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of the Bavarian diocese of Regensburg has taken an opposing view to Cardinal Marx, asserting that: “the cross is the epitome of Western culture.”

 

Go here to view the rest.  This brings to mind what Saint Paul said:

22For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 23but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1: 22-25

 

16

PopeWatch: Marxism

Cardinal Reinhard Marx hearts Karl Marx:

 

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German Bishop’s Conference and among the nine closest advisers to Pope Francis, applauded the teachings of Communist Karl Marx, whose 200th birthday occurs on May 5, claiming that the Communist Manifesto “impressed” him, helped to shape Catholic social doctrine, and was in no way responsible for the Communist atrocities and class-genocide committed by Marx’s followers over the last 100-plus years. 

 

Marxist regimes, starting with the Soviet Union in 1917 and Red China in 1949, have killed more than 100 million people worldwide for political and class reasons, all justified on the teachings of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and his co-author and financial backer Friederich Engels (1820-1895). The Catholic Church has repeatedly condemned Communism, with one of the earliest denunciations pronounced by Pope Pius IX in 1849

 

Despite the Catholic Church’s teaching against Communism, a utopian scheme that was Karl Marx’s sole objective in life,  Cardinal Reinhard Marx told the magazine Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszitung, as translated and reported in Katholisch.de, that the Communist Manifesto “impressed” him and that “without Karl Marx there would be no Catholic social teaching.” 

 

The German cardinal criticized capitalism, claiming there are “enormous social inequalities and ecological damage that capitalist dynamics are answerable to,” and adding that any improvements are “not an achievement of capitalism but the result of a struggle against these excesses.”  Communist China and the predominantly socialist India are two of the most polluted countries in the world, according to the World Health Organization; the United States and Western Europe are among the least polluted nations in the world. 

Thanks to Karl Marx, said the Cardinal, the world knows that the “market is not as innocent as it appears in the textbook of economists, behind which are powerful interests.”

As for the Communist atrocities and class-genocide committed by Karl Marx’s disciples, such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Castro, Cardinal Marx told the magazine that there was no “direct connection” between Karl Marx and those crimes. There is “totalitarian” thought in Marx’s work, but you can’t draw a clear line from Marx to the Gulag, said the cardinal, as reported in Katholisch.de. 

Go here to read the rest.   The Cardinal understands Marx as well as he understands the teachings of the Church.

Karl Marx was a hard core advocate of terror.  The quotations from his works and letters on this point are legion.  Here is a typical statement he made in 1850 in an address to the Communist League:

“[The working class] must act in such a manner that the revolutionary excitement does not collapse immediately after the victory.  On the contrary, they must maintain it as long as possible.  Far from opposing so-called excesses, such as sacrificing to popular revenge of hated individuals or public buildings to which hateful memories are attached, such deeds must not only be tolerated, but their direction must be taken in hand, for examples’ sake.”

From the same address:

To be able forcefully and threateningly to oppose this party, whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the very first hour of victory, the workers must be armed and organized. The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition, and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed. Where the formation of this militia cannot be prevented, the workers must try to organize themselves independently as a proletarian guard, with elected leaders and with their own elected general staff; they must try to place themselves not under the orders of the state authority but of the revolutionary local councils set up by the workers. Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary. The destruction of the bourgeois democrats’ influence over the workers, and the enforcement of conditions which will compromise the rule of bourgeois democracy, which is for the moment inevitable, and make it as difficult as possible – these are the main points which the proletariat and therefore the League must keep in mind during and after the approaching uprising.

Nothing done by the Communist states that claimed Marx as their ideological father in regard to the suppression of adversaries and the use of mass terror to remain in power cannot find full warrant in the works of Marx.

Our Church is currently led by fools and worse.

2

PopeWatch: Professor Claudio Pierantoni

Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register has the reflections of Professor Claudio Pierantoni on the Papal exhortation  Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad);

 

Pierantoni says the document has “beautiful and useful pages about holiness,” but on the passages that equate abortion with other social justice issues such as the suffering of migrants, he reminds readers that abortion is an “intrinsically evil action, monstrously justified” by legalization, whereas issues such as immigration are matters of “prudential judgment.”

On the section on Gnosticism and Pelagianism, he considers this to be “central” to the exhortation and its “weakest and most dangerous” part. He sees it as directed at those who adhere to “orthodox doctrine and commandments” — a “counterattack” against the cardinals who issued the dubia (a requested clarification of parts of Amoris Laetitia) and against those who issued the filial correction last year, accusing the Pope of spreading heresy, especially through Amoris Laetitia and its interpretations.

Pierantoni says such attacks on defenders of orthodoxy serve to “support the error of situational ethics,” which denies the existence of intrinsically evil acts — something he believes is the “principal heresy of our times.”

According to reliable sources, Gaudete et Exsultate was shown to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith only a very short time before it was published, so the dicastery was unable to provide few if any recommendations or amendments to the text. 

Pope Francis says:

“Our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, etc.” (101) 

There is seemingly no theological error in affirming that the life of the unborn is equally sacred as the lives of the poor, the destitute, etc. But the problem I see here is that, when we speak of the unborn, we are referring to a specific action, that is the killing of an innocent human being, i.e., assassination. That is an intrinsically evil action, monstrously justified by the law of so many “civilized” countries. On the contrary, social injustice is something we must certainly strive to overcome, but the positive political actions that really favor the overcoming of poverty are a matter of discussion among different schools of thought. 

In general, positive duties are different from negative ones (i.e. prohibitions), because they are the object of prudential judgment, and there is no positive specific action that absolutely has to be carried out in this regard. For example, it is true that we must be generous towards immigrants, but it is a matter of prudential judgment how many immigrants a country can reasonably receive in a given period of time and under which rules. Now, it is utterly disquieting that, on the one hand, the Pope has been “flexible” on matters that, according to Catholic doctrine, are the object of a specific and absolute prohibition, saying for example that “we must not insist too much on such issues [of abortion]”, or speaking favorably and even inviting hardline pro-abortion personalities such as Emma Bonino while, on the other hand, supporting in an absolute and rigid manner political decisions about immigration, that are clearly the object of a prudential judgement. In this sense, he gives the strong impression that he uses his papal influence to promote his own political ideas rather than affirming Catholic doctrine, as would be his duty. 

 

How would you say this is seen in Gaudete et Exsultate? 

In no. 101 of this exhortation, he laments that a “harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.”

Now, it is true that on some occasions there can be an unjustified suspicion that social action is, per se, “materialist or communist, etc.”. But the fact is that an important school of thought during the last 50 years, especially in Latin America, has been Liberation Theology which has effectively supported an alliance between Catholic social doctrine and Marxism. Therefore, that such a suspicion may also quite correctly arise is more than reasonable. Bergoglio himself had opposed this tendency as archbishop in Argentina. But, as Pope, his criticisms have constantly been aimed against the dangers of capitalism and never against the dangers of Marxism. He has never criticized Marxist regimes like Maduro’s in Venezuela, and recently a stunning and quite scandalous statement was given by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who said the Chinese communist regime is good at applying Catholic social doctrine. His comments went uncorrected by the Pope. Of course, also in the past, some aspects of the capitalistic system had been strongly criticized by Popes, e.g. by John Paul II. But then they were balanced by an equal critique to Communism. So, once again, the Pope is giving the impression of promoting his personal ideologically left-leaning agenda rather than affirming a balanced presentation of Catholic social doctrine. He therefore laments a suspicion that he himself has given very good reason to strengthen. 

 

What fruit have you seen as a result of his wish to criticize those who rigidly adhere to doctrine and the commandments? What do you say to the view that this strategy is aimed at moving away from making “idols” of doctrine, the law and some doctrinal formulations, (an argument of some advocates of Pope Francis’ approach) and a way to “transform the consciousness” of people to become more merciful?

I shall take into consideration these two questions together, because they are two aspects of the same problem.

I think that this is the weakest and most dangerous point in the document. It is important to note that it is not an incidental part of the document, but a central one. Practically the whole of Chapter II — more than 20 paragraphs — is dedicated to denouncing two “subtle enemies of holiness”: Gnosticism and Pelagianism. Now, what is striking in these pages is that all the visible characteristics attributed to people that are supposed to be guilty of these heresies are precisely adherence to orthodox doctrine and commandments (and liturgy), that is, the same characteristics which identify people who have strongly opposed the Pope in recent controversies and which he always calls “rigidity” or “pharisaic” attitude. So, the novelty here is that this supposedly “rigid” attitude is identified with precise heretical doctrines. It looks very much like a counterattack on the part of the Pope against those people who have suggested that he is a heretic or at least have said he has promoted or contributed to spreading heresy (especially through Amoris Laetitia and its interpretations), as did the authors of the Correctio Filialis de Haeresibus Propagatis (Filial Correction of the Pope issued last year) or, in another way, the cardinal authors of the dubia or the authors of other letters and statements, like those of Prof. Seifert, Bishop Schneider, and others, conservative journalists and bloggers, etc. 

Now, it is not the mere fact that he attacks particular persons that is most worrying: still much more preoccupying is the fact that these insults are functional to giving once more support to the error of situation ethics (the doctrine that denies the existence of intrinsically evil actions, not justifiable in any situation) which he has favored, specifically, in the field of rules related to marriage and bioethics. In fact, various passages clearly point to this. For example, in no. 173 the Pope on the one hand correctly states: 

“Naturally, this attitude of listening entails obedience to the Gospel as the ultimate standard, but also to the Magisterium that guards it, as we seek to find in the treasury of the Church whatever is most fruitful for the “today” of salvation.”

But then he goes on: 

“It is nota matter of applying rules or repeating what was done in the past, since the same solutions are not valid in all circumstancesand what was useful in one context may not prove so in another. The discernment of spirits liberates us from rigidity, which has no place before the perennial “today” of the risen Lord. The Spirit alone can penetrate what is obscure and hidden in every situation, and grasp its every nuance, so that the newness of the Gospel can emerge in another light.” (173)

In the abstract, and taken out of context, one could interpret these sentences in an orthodox way: but in practice, bearing in mind the context of the controversies during the present pontificate, especially around the two Synods on Family and AL, it is difficult to deny that a statement like this, under a thin veil, in fact strongly supports the undermining of VS and HV and all the changes, both in praxis and presented as “development of doctrine”, proposed by Card. Kasper, Schönborn, Marx, Fr. Chiodi, Fr. Martin, Mgr. Paglia, and others.

So now the promoters of these changes and errors, that sound heretical and shocking to so many faithful Catholics, are not only reassured of being right, but are now endowed with an aura of fighting a holy battle for orthodoxy against dangerous heretics. 

This is, then, the profound meaning of the Pope’s novel transforming his critics from just “rigid Pharisees” into “sinister Gnostics” and Pelagians.

 

How accurate are these labels of Gnosticism and Pelagianism? 

It is easy to observe that the rationale for such an identification between defenders of orthodoxy and the Commandments on one side, and Gnostics or Pelagians on the other, is very weak, not to say preposterous.

In fact, the “Gnostic” person whom the Pope illustrates has none of the specific characteristics of truly Gnostic doctrine, but has all the defects the Pope supposes to exist in his theological adversaries. For example, he (or they) has a “doctrinal and disciplinary security” (35), “analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.” (35, cit. from EG 94), “absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking” (39), “claim to say where God is not, because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties” (42), “claim that our way of understanding this truth authorizes us to exercise a strict supervision over others’ lives”. (43), “long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance” (43, cit. of EG 40), etc.  

These are, of course, all the characteristics the Pope gratuitously attributes to those who oppose situation ethics, who insist that there are intrinsically evil acts and Divine Commandments that cannot be changed. Now, to attribute to all of them such a violent and inquisitorial attitude, a “narcissistic superiority” and so on, is one more insulting and offensive aggression against so many thousands of serious and sincere Catholics whose only concern is to put Jesus’ words faithfully into practice. This is not to deny that, of course someof them will have such defects or sins. Some will have other defects or sins, but to deduce generally such terrible defects or mortal sins from the mere fact that they are followers of Catholic moral tradition and supporters of Veritatis Splendor is, on the part of the Roman Pontiff, not only gratuitous, but ungenerous and gravely counterproductive. So Pope Francis — feeling himself to be the victim of the (quite reasonable) accusation of supporting situation ethics, and having refused to answer the dubia and many other questions and observations — now formulates the ludicrous accusation that such faithful Catholics would be, for some obscure reason, also “Gnostics.” That means he sees them not just as heretics, but “adherents to one of the most sinister ideologies” (40), without giving one single characteristic that is specific of true Gnosticism, and limiting himself to mentioning some general attitude of “being superior”, or “rationalist”, or “knowing more than the others” —that is, nothing specific at all. It could be just as well, or better, be applied to the learned theologian who supports situation ethics.

Last but not least, it is to be observed that throughout the document the Ten Commandments are never even mentioned, as if their observance were not the essential basis for Christian holiness — except in a cursory passage where he rebukes people who in Catholic media uphold the Commandments, because they supposedly violate the 8th, calumniating others, (no. 115). Now of course there are people that pass the limits of moderation and decency in the internet. But, with this attitude, the Pope does no justice to all those Catholics that sincerely, and with no violence, uphold the Commandments, and reinforces the already strong suspicion that for him they are not so important, especially in the case of the 6th. And this is, by the way, a symptom of truly Gnostic doctrine.

Go here to read the rest.  One way of looking at this Papacy is to think of it as a five year college bull session where you are trapped in a dorm room with a none too bright Sophomore who has endless opinions, is very inarticulate and who tends to converse in jargon that he/she has not a clue how to use properly.

 

 

6

PopeWatch: Twitter Magisterium

Yesterday the Pope tweeted this gem:

 

Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war.

 

PopeWatch will take the Pope seriously on this:

  1.  Weapons are not the causes of wars but rather the means by which they are carried out.
  2.  What about the admonition of Christ to his Disciples to buy swords?
  3.  How would cops enforce the law against armed criminals?
  4.  Presumably the Pope will now disarm the Swiss Guard.
  5.  Would this include knives?
  6.  Wouldn’t banning all weapons put physically weaker individuals at a grave disadvantage?
  7.  How would the ban be implemented?
  8.  Why didn’t Christ call for such a ban?
  9. Will the Pope next call for banning free will, since PopeWatch assumes that is the only way to avoid any wars in the future?
  10.  Remember when we used to elect only grownups as Popes?

 

4

PopeWatch: Cats

News that PopeWatch missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:

 

VATICAN CITY—In a sweeping statement Tuesday, Pope Francis announced his belief that all cats across the world are Christians. Although pundits frequently acknowledge the Pope’s progressive policies, Catholic scholars are calling this a “truly unprecedented” move.

 

“A Pope hasn’t made a declaration like this since Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull against Llamas in 1493,” noted one high-ranking official at the Vatican, who chose to remain anonymous. “One thing is certain: this will change the conversation on whether an individual can truly ‘own’ a cat.”

Several years ago, scholars universally acknowledged that all dogs go to heaven. It is unclear whether or not today’s announcement jeopardizes this previous belief. When asked about any possible conflict, the Vatican’s media specialist responded: “That was a predominantly Protestant perspective. I think it originated with Karl Barkh’s Dog-matic theology.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch would say something pungent, but Cats purportedly have long memories:

 

2

PopeWatch: Alfie Evans

Sandro Magister notes the weasel words and worse used by some high clerics in regard to Alfie Evans:

 

At the Vatican and in the Catholic hierarchy, however, the voices are not unanimous. Pope Francis has spoken out in clear words in defense of Alfie’s life, especially after the audience granted to his father on the morning of Wednesday, April 18. But his protege Vincenzo Paglia, president of the pontifical academy for life – already the author last March 9 of an interview in which he completely agreed with Judge Hayden – issued on Sunday April 22, at the height of the struggle between the child’s parents and the British judicial and medical institutions, a highly ambiguous statement in which the search for consensus, whatever may be the solution adopted, is made to prevail over the truth and justice of the solution itself:

“Considering all the difficulties and possible solutions being considered as circumstances progress, we believe it is very important that everyone work together in the most collaborative way possible. Only by seeking agreement between all parties – a loving alliance of parents, relatives, and medical team – will it be possible to reach the best solution for helping baby Alfie in this dramatic moment of his life.”

Not to mention the holing up of the archdiocese of Liverpool, and – something even more serious – the Pilatesque statement of April 18 from the episcopal conference of England and Wales, headed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, which simultaneously agrees with everyone and no one:

“We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it.”

On Tuesday, April 25, Alfie’s parents presented yet another appeal, this time against the ban issued the day before by Judge Hayden against transferring the child to another hospital. The hearing took place in London, in the afternoon, in front of three judges presided over by the new head of the Family Division of the high court of England and Wales, Andrew McFarland.

In the evening, the court rejected both the appeal of Tom Evans against the ban on transferring Alfie to Italy and the appeal of Kate James for the freedom of movement guaranteed by the European convention on human rights, and confirmed that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital can proceed according to what was decided in the previous rulings:

> L’alleanza tra giudici e medici per far morire Alfie

Meanwhile, “little warrior” Alfie is breathing, he is alive. He has been baptized and anointed. His life and his future, Pope Francis has said, are in the hands of God, not of those who want to replace him. It is the Easter season, and for this child the tomb is empty. Like that of Jesus.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Any Catholic who is not on the side of the parents in their struggle to keep the State from killing their child, needs to take a very long, hard look in the mirror.

7

PopeWatch: Lipstick on a Pig

As the disastrous current Pontificate careens onward we increasingly see its “fruits”:

 

The total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2018, 430, is a lower number from 590 in 2017.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, found that the data gives reason for hope as well as provides areas for future growth.

“Although the overall number of ordinations to the Priesthood is lower this year, the information gathered from this survey and the generosity of those to be ordained continues to inform the important work of vocations ministry for the future. It is essential that we continue to make the conscious effort to encourage young men to be open to hearing God’s call in their life and assist them in the discernment process.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  Stick to wishing Baby nighty-night Cardinal Tobin.  As the Romans said long ago, all the perfume in the world won’t sweeten a piece of dung.

 

 

11

PopeWatch: Alfie Evans

 

 

PopeWatch has usually been highly critical of Pope Francis, but the Pope is deserving of nothing but praise for his efforts on behalf of Alfie Evans:

 

For the time being, Alfie remains at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. Doctors removed his ventilator just after 9:00 yesterday evening. Instead of dying, the baby started to breathe on his own. He was eventually given oxygen as well as hydration. Parents Tom and Kate would like to take their son to a hospital in Italy, but the hospital has refused to comply with their wishes.

It remains unclear how many days Alfie may be expected to live. So far, he has defied expectations of the medical profession.

During the hearing, Mr Justice Hayden criticized Alfie’s parents’ friends, saying they had been giving the young couple false hope. “It’s profoundly depressing to say the least,” he said. He called one of their entourage a “fanatical and deluded young man.”

The judge also “slapped down” Paul Diamond, the family’s lawyer,  “for highly-charged  language” Hayden called “ridiculous emotive nonsense,” according to Josh Halliday of the Guardian.

An Alder Hey doctor told the court of colleagues’ “genuine fear” in the “hostile atmosphere” around the hospital. She claimed it was “heartbreaking we’re here again arguing when all we want to do is the best for Alfie’s family.”

But a friend close to the family tweeted that such a comment lost sight of what is really at stake in the case, namely, Alfie’s life.

“Translation: Heartbreaking that his parents are pleading for his life when we’ve tried to end it and not been successful. Remember what Alder Hey consider the best for this family is: the death of their son,” tweeted Caroline Farrow.

A member of staff, appearing in scrubs, said that moving patients home “does not happen overnight” and only after extensive consideration and discussion.

Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, have fought tirelessly for Alfie to receive treatment from a hospital other than Alder Hey, first in the British courts system, then before the European Court of Human Rights, which finally ruled against their desire to have Alfie treated in Italy.

After Hayden set a date for Alfie to be removed from life-support, the couple began another battle, arguing that their parental rights were being violated and that Alfie was being unlawfully detained. The parents were defeated in the UK Court of Appeal, denied a hearing by the UK Supreme Court and then denied a hearing by the European Commission.

Despite the support of Pope Francis for Alfie and his parents, and the eleventh-hour gift of Italian citizenship upon Alfie by the Italian government, Hayden ruled last night that Alfie’s life support should be removed.

But then Alfie began to breathe on his own. He has now survived without a ventilator since 9:17 BST (British Summer Time) last night. After his parents’ entreaties, the hospital allowed the child oxygen and water. It remains unclear if he is receiving adequate nutrition and hydration. 

Go here to read the rest.  So in the United Kingdom a child may be put to death, and his parents attempting to save his life are insulted by an idiot Judge, with all the power of the State arrayed to make certain that the parents can do nothing.  We can therefore assume that children in the United Kingdom are solely the property of the State, that in the final analysis parents have no rights to act to save their child, and that it is preferable to put an ill or disabled child to death rather than allowing parents to seek alternative means to save the child’s life.  Madness, sheer madness.

 

 

19

PopeWatch: Incomprehensible

One of the keys to understanding Pope Francis is to grasp that much of what he says and writes is incomprehensible.  Case in point from a recent homily:

 

Closeness, dear brothers, is crucial for an evangelizer because it is a key attitude in the Gospel (the Lord uses it to describe his Kingdom). We can be certain that closeness is the key to mercy, for mercy would not be mercy unless, like a Good Samaritan, it finds ways to shorten distances. But I also think we need to realize even more that closeness is also the key to truth; not just the key to mercy, but the key to truth. Can distances really be shortened where truth is concerned? Yes, they can. Because truth is not only the definition of situations and things from a certain distance, by abstract and logical reasoning. It is more than that. Truth is also fidelity (émeth). It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, before categorizing them or defining “their situation”. There is a distasteful habit, is there not, of following a “culture of the adjective”: this is so, this is such and such, this is like… No! This is a child of God. Then come the virtues or defects, but [first] the faithful truth of the person and not the adjective regarded as the substance.

We must be careful not to fall into the temptation of making idols of certain abstract truths. They can be comfortable idols, always within easy reach; they offer a certain prestige and power and are difficult to discern. Because the “truth-idol” imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart. Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.

Go here to read the rest.  A besetting sin of many clerics is a lack of clarity.  With the Pope this besetting sin is constant and produces some of the most muddled and opaque prose to ever emanate from the Vatican, and that is saying something.

5

PopeWatch: Twilight of Catholicism

Sandro Magister has posted a fascinating article that PopeWatch believes is a real help in understanding the current Pontificate:

Much has been written in sketching an appraisal of the first five years of the pontificate of Francis and of his real or imaginary “revolution.”

But rarely, if ever, with the acuteness and extensive scope of the analysis published below.

The author, Roberto Pertici, 66, is a professor of contemporary history at the university of Bergamo and has focused his studies on Italian culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular attention to relations between Church and state.

His essay is being issued for the very first time on Settimo Cielo.

*

THE END OF “ROMAN CATHOLICISM?”

by Roberto Pertici

1. At this point in the pontificate of Francis, I believe it can be reasonably maintained that this marks the twilight of that imposing historical reality which can be defined as “Roman Catholicism.”

This does not mean, properly understood, that the Catholic Church is coming to an end, but that what is fading is the way in which it has historically structured and represented itself in recent centuries.

It seems evident to me, in fact, that this is the plan being deliberately pursued by the “brain trust” that has clustered around Francis: a plan understood both as an extreme response to the crisis in relations between the Church and the modern world, and as a precondition for a renewed ecumenical course together with the other Christian confessions, especially the Protestant.

*

2. By “Roman Catholicism” I mean that grand historical, theological, and juridical construction which has its origin in the Hellenization (in terms of the philosophical aspect” and Romanization (in terms of the political-juridical aspect) of primitive Christianity and is based on the primacy of the successors of Peter, as emerges from the crisis of the late ancient world and from the theoretical systematization of the Gregorian age (“Dictatus Papae”).

Over the subsequent centuries, the Church also established its own internal legal system, canon law, looking to Roman law as its model. And this juridical element contributed to gradually shaping a complex hierarchical organization with precise internal norms that regulate the life both of the “bureaucracy of celibates” (an expression of Carl Schmitt) that manages it and of the laity who are part of it.

The other decisive moment of formation of “Roman Catholicism” is, finally, the ecclesiology elaborated by the council of Trent, which reiterates the centrality of ecclesiastical mediation in view of salvation, in contrast with the Lutheran theses of the “universal priesthood,” and therefore establishes the hierarchical, united, and centralized character of the Church; its right to supervise and, if need be, to condemn positions that are in contrast with the orthodox formulation of the truths of faith; its role in the administration of the sacraments.

This ecclesiology finds its seal in the dogma of pontifical infallibility proclaimed by Vatican Council I, put to the test eighty years later in the dogmatic affirmation of the Assumption of Mary into heaven (1950), which together with the previous dogmatic proclamation of her Immaculate Conception (1854) also reiterates the centrality of Marian devotion.

It would be reductive, however, if we were to limit ourselves to what has been said so far. Because there also exists – or better, existed – a widespread “Catholic mindset,” made up of the following:

– a cultural attitude based on a realism with regard to human nature that is sometimes disenchanted and willing to “understand all” as a precondition for “forgiving all”;
– a non-ascetic spirituality that is understanding toward certain material aspects of life, and not inclined to disdain them;
– engagement in everyday charity toward the humble and needy, without the need to idealize them or almost make new idols of them;
– a willingness also to represent itself in its own magnificence, and therefore not deaf to the evidence of beauty and of the arts, as testimony to a supreme Beauty toward which the Christian must tend;
– a subtle examination of the most inward movements of the heart, of the interior struggle between good and evil, of the dialectic between “temptations” and the response of conscience.

It could therefore be said that in what I call “Roman Catholicism” there are interwoven three aspects, obviously in addition to that of religion: the aesthetical, the juridical, the political. This is a matter of a rational vision of the world that makes itself a visible and solid institution and fatally enters into conflict with the idea of representation that emerged in modernity, based on individualism and on a conception of power that, rising from the bottom up, ends up bringing into question the principle of authority.

*

3. This conflict has been considered in different ways, often opposing, by those who have analyzed it. Carl Schmitt looked with admiration to the “resistance” of “Roman Catholicism,” considered the last force capable of reining in the dissipatory forces of modernity. Others have made tough criticisms of him: in this struggle, the Catholic Church is seen as having ruinously emphasized its juridical-hierarchical, authoritarian, external traits.

Beyond these opposing evaluations, it is certain that in recent centuries “Roman Catholicism” has been pushed onto the defensive. What has gradually brought its social presence into question has been above all the birth of industrial society and the consequent process of modernization, which has opened a series of anthropological mutations that are still underway. Almost as if “Roman Catholicism” were “organic” (to say it the old Marxist way) to a society that is agrarian, hierarchical, static, based on penury and fear and instead could not find relevance in a society that is “affluent,” dynamic, characterized by social mobility.

A first response to this situation of crisis was given by the ecumenical council Vatican II (1962-1965), which according to the intentions of Pope John XXIII, who had convened it, was to effect a “pastoral updating,” looking with new optimism at the modern world, which meant finally letting the guard down: no longer carrying on with an age-old duel, but opening a dialogue and effecting an encounter.

The world was swept up during those years in extraordinary changes and in an unprecedented economic development: probably the most sensational, rapid, and profound revolution in the human condition of which there is any trace in history (Eric J. Hobsbawm). The event of the council contributed to this mutation, but was in its turn engulfed by it: the rhythm of the “updatings” – fostered also by the dizzying transformations in the surroundings and by the general conviction, sung by Bob Dylan, that “the times they are a-changin’” – got out of hand for the hierarchy, or at least for that part of it which wanted to effect a reform, not a revolution.

Thus between 1967 and 1968 one witnessed the “watershed” of Paul VI, which expressed itself in the preoccupied analysis of the turbulence of ’68 and then of the “sexual revolution” contained in the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” of July 1968. So great was the pessimism to which that great pontiff came in the 1970’s that, conversing with the philosopher Jean Guitton, he wondered to himself and asked him, echoing a disquieting passage from the Gospel of Luke: “When the Son of Man returns, will he still find faith upon the earth?” And he added: “What strikes me, when I consider the Catholic world, is that within Catholicism there sometimes seems to predominate a type of thinking that is not Catholic, and it could happen that this non-Catholic thinking within Catholicism could tomorrow become the stronger one.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  One of the striking features of Pope Francis is his frequent outbursts against aspects of traditional Catholicism.  Recall this for example from 2013:

 

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council… One feels in 1940… An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…

Go here to read the rest.  One of the most perilous events that can befall any institution is when a person is in charge who clearly has little fondness for the institution.  Perhaps the easiest way to understand the strong desire of Pope Francis for changing the Church is to understand that traditional Catholicism has little appeal for him.  It has been truly said that no man is a patriot who loves his country only on the condition that it be completely transformed.  Likewise, loving some future hypothetical Church of the future is small substitute for feeling hostility to the Church today.

 

 

Dictator Pope

National Catholic Register has published an interview with the author of Dictator Pope, Henry Sire:

 

 

Edward Pentin gives us the details:

 

Henry Sire says he wrote the book The Dictator Pope because he felt it necessary to uncover the “gap” between what he says is the media “facade” of Pope Francis and the “reality as it is known in the Vatican.”

In a March 26 interview with the Register (see video below), Sire says that Francis is essentially a “politician who relies on public relations,” a “maverick pope” who manipulates the media and falls short of acting in a collegial manner with bishops.  

Pope Francis doesn’t deal with bishops “in a collegial spirit at all,” Sire says, despite the Holy Father’s often stated wish to make the Church more collegial and decentralized.

“They were treated much more collegially under Benedict XVI. No, as I say, Pope France is a dictator,” explains the historian, who is half Spanish and traveled to Buenos Aires to research the book.

 

Go here to read the rest.

7

PopeWatch: Pro-lifers

John-Henry Western at Lifesite News gives a few reasons why pro-lifers have small reason to love this Pope:

 

 

1) From the outset of the papacy has come an overt shift in focus on pro-life to other concerns. (“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods… I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”)

2) The sentiment has remained consistent throughout the papacy and has gone from merely interviews into official Church teaching in the latest apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. In that document, he equated issues such as immigration and poverty with abortion in contrast to statements from previous Popes.

3) The approach explains the seemingly incomprehensible praise that Pope Francis lavished on Italy’s most prominent promoter of abortion, whom he called one of the nation’s “forgotten greats” for her work on immigration. Even though unrepentant and an abortion pusher making Cecile Richards look tame, the Pope’s praise for her has led to her speaking at various Catholic churches despite protests from pro-lifers.

4) Since shortly after the election of Pope Francis there has been a steady stream of population control advocates speaking at the Vatican. These include: Paul Ehrlich, the father of the population control movement; John Bongaarts, vice president of the pro-abortion Population Council; pro-abortion U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon; pro-abortion UN advisor Jeffrey Sachs; and Prof. John Schellnhuber. The head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, who ran most of those conferences, is himself a population control advocate. Sorondo said on camera at one such Vatican conference that limiting births was an obligation of the Church – something he wouldn’t have dared under previous popes.

5) There have been numerous appointments and elevations of bishops and cardinals who are hostile to pro-life, alongside a demotion of strongly pro-life churchmen. Examples include Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago and Cardinal despite his reputation for telling priests not to join 40 Days for Life; Belgium’s Cardinal Danneels; Germany’s Cardinal Kasper; and Belgium’s Josef de Kesel. Demotions and removals of strongly pro-life bishops and Cardinals include Cardinals Burke and Muller, Bishop Finn, and Bishop Nienstedt.

6) He removed the pro-life pledge from the Pontifical Academy for Life. And now appoints pro-abortion members, one of whom recently said the Bible calls for abortion in some cases.

7) Pope Francis pushed for the passage of the Sustainable Development Goals and praised its passage without reservation. Pro-life groups at the UN, including the Holy See Mission, have fought the SDGs for years because Target 3.7 explicitly calls for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services.” The UN defined these terms at the 1994 Cairo conference to mean providing women with “modern contraception” for “family planning” and with “safe abortion” where it is legal.

Go here to read the rest.  Oh, the Pope occasionally makes a verbal condemnation of abortion, and then goes back to giving every indication that the fight against abortion is of little to no consequence to him.  It is no mystery why some of the biggest fans of the Pope have been touting the fake “New Pro-life Movement” since it is quite clear that the Pope is no friend of the Real Pro-Life Movement.

3

I Place Before You St. Augustine and Jorge Bergoglio; Choose The Saint

 

 

St. Augustine had views on marriage, sin, adultery,  and conscience directly contrary to those of Jorge Bergolgio as stated in his proclamation Amoris Laetitia (“AL” below). Passages quoted below from the works of St. Augustine, (henceforth “St. Augustine”) and Jorge Bergoglio (henceforth “Jorge”) show how widely the views of Jorge depart from, and in many instances contradict, Church teaching.

 

  1. Can there be eternal condemnation ?

Jorge:  “The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever” (AL, 296).

St. Augustine:  “The Death of the Wicked Shall Be Eternal in the Same Sense as the Life of the Saints.This perpetual death of the wicked, then, that is, their alienation from the life of God, shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever men, prompted by their human affections, may conjecture as to a variety of punishments, or as to a mitigation or intermission of their woes; just as the eternal life of the saints shall abide for ever, and shall be common to them all, whatever grades of rank and honor there may be among those who shine with an harmonious effulgence.” (Enchiridion, Chapter 113).

 

  1. Can saying Hell is not eternal make it so, even if you are wearing papal white ?

Jorge:  “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel !” (AL. 297)

St. Augustine: “There is No Ground in Scripture for the Opinion of Those Who Deny the Eternity of Future Punishments. It is in vain, then, that some, indeed very many, make moan over the eternal punishment, and perpetual, unintermitted torments of the lost, and say they do not believe it shall be so; . . . at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, . . .there is no reason why they should therefore suppose that there will be an end to the punishment of those of whom it is said, These shall go away into everlasting punishment; for this shall end in the same manner and at the same time as the happiness of those of whom it is said, but the righteous unto life eternal. “(Enchiridion, Chapter 112).

 

  1.  Is there a  Mortal Sin-Loving Adultery-Full Holy Marriage  sacramental matrimony continuum ?

Jorge:  “Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other . . . Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way. “ (AL, 292).

St. Augustine:  “Let us suppose another, a fornicator, unclean, lascivious, covetous, or even more openly given to idolatry, a student of witchcraft, a lover of strife and contention, envious, hot-tempered, seditious, jealous, drunken, and a reveller, but a Catholic; can it be that for this sole merit, that he is a Catholic, he will inherit the kingdom of God, though his deeds are of the kind of which the apostle thus concludes: “Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”  (On Baptism, Against The Donatists, Book IV, Chap 18).

 

Jorge: “Whatever the case, “all these situations  [civil marriage without sacramental marriage; divorced and civil remarriage;  simple cohabitation;  de facto unions;  material poverty] require a constructive response seeking to transform them into opportunities that can lead to the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel.” (AL, 294).

St. Augustine: “Let us therefore not flatter the Catholic who is hemmed in with all these vices, nor venture, merely because he is a Catholic Christian, to promise him the impunity which holy Scripture does not promise him . . .  For, in writing to the Corinthians, the apostle enumerates the several sins, under each of which it is implicitly understood that it shall not inherit the kingdom of God: “Be not deceived,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,  . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  He does not say, those who possess all these vices together shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but neither these nor those: so that, as each is named, you may understand that no one of them shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (On Baptism, Against The Donatists, Book IV, Chap 19).

 

  1. Is marriage a holy “Reality” for some &  loving adultery a holy “Reality” for others ?

Jorge: “ For the Church’s pastors are not only responsible for promoting Christian marriage, but also the “pastoral discernment of the situations of a great many who no longer live this reality.” (AL, 293)

St. Augustine: “We must, however, beware of incurring the prophetic condemnation: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. . . . Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil! For he condemns the work of God, which is the man, and praises the defect of man, which is the wickedness. .” (Enchiridion: Chapter 13).

 

  1. Can we enlist sympathy for innocent children to justify adultery ?

Jorge: “The Church acknowledges situations “where, for se- rious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate” (AL 298).

Jorge:  “I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that “the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal. . . .. This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbring ing of their children, who ought to be considered most important”. (AL 299).

St. Augustine:  “ . . the good sons of adulterers are no defense of adulteries . . “ (On The Good Of Marriage, Section 18).

 

  1. Hirelings Say To The Sinner: You Do Not Sin

Jorge:  “ . . .since “the degree of responsibility is not equal  in  all  cases”, the  consequences  or  effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.”  (AL, 300).

Jorge:  “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists” (AL, 300, footnote 336).

Jorge: “   Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace “ (AL, 301).

St. Augustine: “If the hireling observe anyone indulging in wicked talking, or in sentiments to the deadly hurt of his soul, or doing ought that is abominable and unclean, and notwithstanding that he seems to bear a character of some importance in the Church (from which if he hopes for advantage he is an hireling); says nothing, and when he sees the man perishing in his sin, sees the wolf following him, sees his throat dragged by his teeth to punishment; says not to him, You sin; does not chide him, lest he lose his own advantage. This I say is, When he sees the wolf, he flees; he does not say to him, You are doing wickedly. This is no flight of the body, but of the soul. He whom you see standing still in body flies in heart, when he sees a sinner, and does not say to him, You sin; yea when he even is in concert with him.” (Sermons ON New Testament Lessons, Sermon LXXXVII).

 

  1. Can an individual conscience make evil good ?

Jorge:  “Therefore, while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases. Pastoral discernment, while taking into account a person’s properly formed conscience, must take responsibility for these situations. Even the consequences of actions taken are not necessarily the same in all cases.” (AL, 302).

Jorge:  “ . . . individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage.” (AL, 303).

Jorge:  “ Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. ”(AL, 303; emphasis added)

St. Augustine:   “But however strong may be the purposes either of angels or of men, whether of good or bad, whether these purposes fall in with the will of God or run counter to it, the will of the Omnipotent is never defeated; and His will never can be evil.” (Enchiridion, Chapter 102).

 

  1. Can there be God’s grace & good in the “faithfulnesss” of one adulterer to another ?

Jorge:  “ . . . it  is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace . . . By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God. ” (AL, 305).

St. Augustine:  “ . . .they [married people] owe faith alike to one another.  . . But the violation of this faith is called adultery, when either by instigation of one’s own lust, or by consent of lust of another, there is sexual intercourse on either side with another against the marriage compact: and thus faith is broken . . . But when faith is employed to commit sin, it were strange that we should have to call it faith; however of whatever kind it be, if also the deed be done against it, it is the worse done;. . . . Thus a woman, if, having broken her marriage faith, she keep faith with her adulterer, is certainly evil . . ..” (On The Good Of Marriage, Section 4).

 

 

Conclusion

St. Augustine, over sixteen hundred years ago, warned about those within the Church itself who would proclaim heresy and lead the faithful into sin:

“. . . . Nevertheless, what ought above all things to be guarded against is, that no individual may allow himself to be tempted and deceived by men who are within the Catholic Church itself, and who are borne by it like the chaff that is sustained against the time of its winnowing. . . .. Accordingly, you will have to witness many drunkards, covetous men, deceivers gamesters, adulterers, fornicators, men who bind upon their persons sacrilegious charms and others given up to sorcerers and astrologers, and diviners practised in all kinds of impious arts..  . . . . .. Consequently, when you see many not only doing these things but also defending and recommending them, keep yourself firmly by the law of God, and follow not its willful transgressors. For it is not according to their mind, but according to His truth that you will be judged . . . .Believe these things, therefore, and be on your guard against temptations (for the devil seeks for others who may be brought to perish along with himself); so that not only may that adversary fail to seduce you by the help of those who are without the Church, whether they be pagans, or Jews, or heretics; but you yourself also may decline to follow the example of those within the Catholic Church itself whom you see leading an evil life,. . . But as regards the perverse, even if they find their way within the walls of the Church, think not that they will find their way into the kingdom of heaven; for in their own time they will be set apart, if they have not altered to the better.”  (On The Catechising Of The Uninstructed, Chapter 25, Section 48, emphasis added).

 

Link to Augustine’s Works: (and many other Fathers Of The Church: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/index.html)

 

3

Complex Situations

From Oakes Spalding at Mahound’s Paradise.  I doubt if this would have been a parody if Pope Francis had been Pope during World War II, when Argentinian Dictator Juan Peron was playing footsie with the Third Reich:

 

 

Today, Pope Francis was asked about the pending murders of millions of additional people in the many extermination camps operated by the Nazis across Central and Eastern Europe:

I entrust to your prayer the members of those peoples and nations, living, sometimes for a long period, in situations of restricted movement, involuntary captivity or other potentially fatal circumstances due to the requirements of the war. By these I chiefly mean the Jews, but also Gypsies, homosexuals, Polish professionals and others, and of course Catholics. These are delicate and complex situations. We pray that every group and race is always respected in its dignity and treated in a way adapted to its condition, with the agreement of the relevant parties including local authorities and political and military professionals.

A week earlier, the Pope had “tweeted” his support for those being transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau and destined for its gas chambers:

It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying the Jews and others on their difficult journey made necessary by the current situation, and that the deep suffering of those affected by these measures may be heard. I am praying for the Jews, as well as for Germany and all others that may be involved.


*If you think this parody is unfair, tell that to Alfie Evans.

 

Go here to comment.

6

PopeWatch: Fraternity of the Holy Apostles of Brussels

Marco Tossati at One Peter Five gives us yet another example of the fact that orthodox orders have a target on their backs in this Pontificate:

 

The Pope signs the decree of dissolution of the Fraternity of the Holy Apostles of Brussels, which had been providing a considerable number of priests and seminarians in the ecclesial desert of Belgium. A blow carried out without waiting for the ecclesiastical process to follow its natural course in responding to the recourse presented by parishioners.

Remember the case of the Priestly Fraternity of the Holy Apostles of Brussels? In the disastrous panorama of the Belgian Church, and of the European capital that is perhaps the most de-Christianized of all, the then-Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, André Léonard, had created a priestly fraternity in 2013 inspired by the charism of the French priest Michel-Marie Zanotti-Sorkine. It had grown to include 23 seminarians and 6 priests, an extraordinary development in a national Church which last year did not have even one new seminarian in the French-speaking dioceses. The fraternity was given pastoral care of a parish in the center of Brussels, Saint Catherine, and their presence signaled a new flowering of faith and activity.

Then-Archbishop André Léonard was a man of faith, and for his defense of the values of the Church he underwent many attacks (including physical assault) and humiliations, among which were the fact that he did not receive, as would have been logical, the red hat of a Cardinal, but rather as soon as he turned 75 he was rapidly dismissed by the reigning Pontiff. His post was taken by Archbishop De Kesel, great protégé of the widely-discussed Cardinal Danneels, who was involved in a troubling inquest regarding abuses in his role in protecting an abusing bishop. De Kesel naturally was made a cardinal, and one of his first actions was his decision to no longer welcome the Fraternity, which had taken on care of another parish in addition to Saint Catherine. The officially-stated reason for the decision was that many of the seminarians were French, and thus it was said to be better that they would return to their respective dioceses in France, for reasons of “episcopal solidarity.”

Naturally, the parishioners in Brussels did not believe this vacuous excuse for a moment, and they requested a meeting with the Archbishop in order to express their objections: “Archbishop De Kesel does not want to welcome the Fraternity any longer on the pretext that it includes too many French members. Is he really the bishop of the capital of Europe in the 21st century? The principle of solidarity with the French bishops invoked in the communication of the Archbishop explaining the reason for not continuing the work started by Archbishop Léonard, despite all of the successes of the Fraternity recognized by the same communication, does not make any sense. In effect, out of 80 seminarians in formation in Namur (at the Belgian national seminary), only 25 are Belgian. Will they all be sent back to their home countries? Will all of the African and Polish priests who have come here to help us carry the message of Christ to Belgium also be sent home? Is the Catholic Church no longer universal? Does it no longer transcend national borders?”

 

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch does not believe that Pope Francis is an anti-Pope, but if he were an anti-Pope, what would he be doing differently?

10

PopeWatch: Francis in Hindsight

 

 

 

“This too shall pass.”  As Lincoln noted, that phrase is a comforting thought during periods of trial and tribulation.  How will the current pontificate be recalled in the history of the Church?

 

Ross Douthat, author of a book just released critical of the Francis Papacy, has an idea in an interview in The National Catholic Register:

Do you think it more likely that Pope Francis will be remembered as a “heroic revolutionary” or as an “ambitious pope who overreached”?

The latter, I’m afraid. But what I’m sure of is that he’s put himself in a position where those are increasingly the only two plausible legacies. The Church will either have to tacitly repudiate his innovations in order to restore consistency and continuity, or else follow them further to where they seem to lead, in which case his impact will be genuinely revolutionary. At this point, it’s hard to see a middle ground (unless he changes course dramatically); I may be wrong about the wisdom of his vision, but I’m sure I’m right that the Catholics of the future will remember this pontificate as an exceptionally significant one, for good or ill.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch thinks that the Francis papacy will be either viewed as a big disaster or a little disaster.  If a little disaster is the consensus it will be because his pontificate is followed by a swift reversal.  A big disaster will be if Francis is followed by think-a-like successors who take the Church down the pathway carved out by many mainline Protestant churches that substitute transient current Leftism for Christianity.  Such churches radically shrink in numbers and swiftly become irrelevant.  Ultimately the hard core of Orthodox Catholics would regain control a century or so hence and begin the mission of the Church anew, and Francis would be regarded as a second Judas.

7

PopeWatch: Hmmm

Well this is interesting.  From Oakes Spalding at Mahound’s Paradise:

 

In the Spring of 2014, the Catholic publisher Ignatius Press featured nine books by or about Pope Francis in their catalog, from The Way of Humility: Corruption and Sin & On Self-Accusation by Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) to Francis: Pope of a New World by Andrea Tornielli. Ignatius also advertised a “Pope Francis Portrait,” the “Pope Francis Rosary” and the DVD, Who is Pope Francis: The Life and Message of Pope Francis. Here is the full list:

The Way of Humility: Corruption and Sin & On Self-Accusation by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) 

Education for Choosing Life: Proposals for Difficult Times by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) 

Pope Francis: A short bio of the Holy Father 

Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend: Personal Recollections about the Man Who Became Pope, edited by Alejandro Bermudez 

The Light of Faith (Lumen Fidei) by Pope Francis 

Francis: Pope of a New World by Andrea Tornielli 

Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio by Francesca Ambrogietti and Sergio Rubin 

On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio & Abraham Skorka 

In Him Alone Is Our Hope: The Church According to the Heart of Pope Francis by Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) 

Pope Francis Portrait 

Pope Francis Rosary 

DVD: Who Is Pope Francis? The Life and Message of Pope Francis

As Francis was, of course, then, the Pope, this was par for the course for one of the major Catholic publishers. The first catalog to be created after Francis’ election, Fall 2013, featured many items relating to the new pope. And similar large selections of works by or about Francis continued to be featured in successive catalogs up until recently.

Most of the 2014 items are still available on the Ignatius website, and, as might be expected, there are numerous additional books by or about Francis, published in the interim, also available on the site.
However, something else changed.
Pope Francis, and indeed all references to Pope Francis have almost entirely vanished from Ignatius’ current (Spring 2018) sixty-four page catalog.
Suddenly absent are all the titles listed above as are all other more recent items still available such as the Pope’s four (at the time) encyclicals and exhortations, the book, Pope Francis on the Family, the DVD, Francis the Pope of Renewal, the CD Habemus Papam and so on.
Indeed, as far as I can tell from flipping through the first five pages of a website search, every single item by or about Pope Francis is now on “clearance,” including the e-books and, yes, that rosary.
Go here to read the rest.
1

PopeWatch: Papal Phone Call

PopeWatch was working in his office when he received a phone call.  His secretary reported, “Heavy Hispanic accent, doesn’t sound Mexican.”  PopeWatch took the call.

“Are you the gringo who writes for The American Catholic?”

PopeWatch hesitantly  acknowledged that he was.

“This is the Pope.”

“I recognize your voice now Holiness.  I thought from our last conversation that you wanted me not to call you again.”

“Si, es verdad, but I said nothing about me calling you.”

“I understand, but why are you calling me?”

“I will explain that in my next call in a few days.  Stay healthy gringo.”

The line went dead.  The secretary of PopeWatch observed that the calls get nuttier by the day.

7

PopeWatch: The Francis Effect

Mass attendance in the US is on the decline:

 

An average of 39 percent of U.S. Catholics attended church weekly during the heart of the Francis papacy, from 2014 to 2017, Gallup found in a survey released April 9, which represents a significant drop from the 45 percent of Catholics who attended weekly Mass from 2005 to 2008, in the early years of the Benedict pontificate.

Go here to read the rest.  So much for the Francis Effect of luring people back to the pews.  However the thought occurs that for the Pope the decline in Mass attendance may well be a feature of his pontificate and not a bug.

4

Dictator Pope

One of the iron rules of life is that if Leftists are placed in charge of any institution, the idea of respectful disagreement is taken out and shot.  Case in point from Father Z:

 

Did you read the Catholic Herald story?   It seems that the Sovereign Military Merciless Order of Malta (SMOM) has commanded its members not to say or write anything “offensive” about Pope Francis.

Also, and this is a little creepy, members are instructed to grass on, rat out, any member who does say or write something “offensive” about the Pope.

It isn’t entirely clear what might constitute “offensive”.   But then again, during the Cultural Revolution in China it wasn’t entirely clear what was “offensive” about Mao.

I don’t remember them doing this about John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  Then again, they were under different ownership at the time, weren’t they.

Is saying something like, “The Pope made a mistake about how he handled the situation of the Chilean bishop” offensive?

Is saying something like, “I think the Pope should wear the traditional papal vestments for the Urbi et Orbi blessing” offensive?

Is saying something like, “What the Pope said about women being ‘strawberries on the cake’ was offensive to women!”, offensive?

Do you suppose this is retroactive?   Are Knights of SMOM suppose to tattle on anyone who wrote something “offensive” about Benedict XVI?

 

Go here to read the rest.  Always remember Iowahawk’s accurate description of the mode of operation of the Left:

1. Target a respected institution 2. Kill & clean it 3. Wear it as a skin suit, while demanding respect

 

 

 

 

7

PopeWatch: Grave Errors

Well, it is a start in regard to acknowledging grave errors:

Pope Francis has admitted he made “grave errors” in judgment in a clerical sex abuse scandal in Chile and invited the abuse victims he had discredited to Rome to beg their forgiveness.

In an extraordinary letter published on Wednesday, Francis also summoned all of Chile’s bishops to the Vatican for an emergency summit in the coming weeks to discuss the scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation and that of the Chilean church.

The Vatican orders up such emergency visits only on rare occasions, when Vatican intervention is urgently required, such as when the clerical sex abuse scandal exploded in the United States in 2002.

Francis said the meeting, which comes just a year after the Chilean bishops were last in Rome on a regular visit, would have as its objective “repairing scandal where possible and re-establishing justice”.

Francis blamed a lack of “truthful and balanced information” in his missteps in judging the case of Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev Fernando Karadima. Francis had strongly defended Barros during his January visit to Chile, despite accusations by victims that he witnessed and ignored their abuse.

In Chile and during an airborne press conference returning to Rome, Francis had accused the victims of “slander” for pressing their case against Barros, demanded they present “proof” of their claims, revealed he had twice rejected Barros’s resignation and insisted: “I am convinced he is innocent.”

After his remarks caused an outcry, Francis sent the Vatican’s most respected sex abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna to Chile.

 

Go here to read the rest.  I hope the Papal dentist can deal with the teeth grinding  that Pope Francis is no doubt engaging in.  A very proud man, Pope Francis has rarely admitted to error, unless it is an error decades in his past.  Does anyone believe that the Pope knows more about the sex abuse situation in Chile than he did when he made his initial comments.  No, it is not additional knowledge that causes this confession of error, but because Pope Francis received negative coverage from the media that usually lauds him to the stars.  Pope Francis cares not a whit what Orthodox Catholic media, or conservative media says about him, but if he is criticized by liberal or leftist media, he will come crawling on his knees to seek forgiveness.  PopeWatch is glad that the Pope admitted error in regard to Chile.  Would to heaven he was willing to do do for reasons better than fearing criticism from the Left.

 

13

PopeWatch: Abortion

And the fruits of the current Pontificate keep coming:

 

Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate “blurs lines and causes confusion” about the gravity of abortion, the leader of a pro-life group that majorly influences U.S. politics said today.

Pope Francis wrote that migration shouldn’t be seen as a “secondary” or “lesser” issue to “‘grave’ bioethical questions” and that helping “victims” of “every form of rejection” is just as important as defending the pre-born.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, said it’s “impossible” to give any other social justice issue the same moral weight as abortion. SBA List and its partner super PAC, Women Speak Out, spent more than $18 million in the 2016 election cycle. The group focuses on electing pro-life candidates, especially pro-life women.

“It is impossible to equate the moral weight of abortion – the direct killing of innocent unborn children occurring on a daily massive scale, here in America and abroad – with any other social justice issue,” said Dannenfelser. “The right to live predates or precludes every other right. It is simple logic. Without the fundamental right to life, no debate can even begin on the rights that follow.”

“The Catholic Church has long taught that abortion is an intrinsic evil that must always be opposed,” she continued. “Today’s statement by Pope Francis confirms this when he says ‘Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.’ We all affirm the absolute dignity of the migrants and those suffering from poverty. How we solve these issues are matters of prudential judgment on which Catholics can disagree. Today’s exhortation blurs lines and causes confusion.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  One of the keys to understanding this Pontificate is to pay zero attention to what the Pope says and to focus on what he does.  The Pope regularly verbally condemns abortion, but his actions are completely the reverse.  From kneecapping the Pontical Academy for Life, to celebrating pro-abort politicians and giving papal awards to them to having pro-aborts speak at papal conferences, the Pope has routinely given the impression that he could care less about the fight against abortion.  For the ordinary Catholic pro-lifer the best they can hope from this Vatican is malign indifference.

16

PopeWatch: Seamless Garment Take Two

Pope Francis resurrects the moth eaten seamless garment:

Pope Francis’ remarks on the issue appear in paragraphs 101-102 of the exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate reproduced in full below:

101. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

102. We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mt 25:35)? Saint Benedict did so readily, and though it might have “complicated” the life of his monks, he ordered that all guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed “like Christ”, with a gesture of veneration; the poor and pilgrims were to be met with “the greatest care and solicitude”.

Go here to read the rest.  The Pope thus gives political coverage to his Leftist pro-abort buddies and neuters the fight of the Church against abortion.  May Christ forgive him.

 

9

PopeWatch: Schism

Pope Francis, the Pope of the Great Schism of the Twenty-First Century, may be how he is remembered:

 

 

The recent proposal by Germany’s bishops to allow some Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion under certain conditions is meeting serious resistance in Germany, as well as opposition from some Church leaders elsewhere.

On April 4, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper reported that seven German bishops — including Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne — have written an urgent appeal to the Vatican in protest against the proposal.

According to German media, the seven bishops said in their letter that they believe the proposal contradicts Catholic doctrine, undermines Church unity and exceeds the competence of the bishops’ conference. The letter, leaked to the media April 4, was sent last month to both the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, the president of the German bishops’ conference, sent a letter to Germany’s bishops Wednesday, written and released immediately after the seven bishops’ letter was leaked. In it, the cardinal defended the bishops’ conference’s decision, saying it was consistent with theological and ecumenical texts and canon law.

Cardinal Marx, who according to a prelate invariably invokes the Pope to justify his positions, also said it was the result of “the encouragement of Pope Francis to take further steps in ecumenism.”

At their spring conference in February, Germany’s bishops voted in favor of producing a guide, or pastoral handout, to allow some Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances.

They voted overwhelmingly to offer guidelines allowing a Protestant partner of a Catholic to receive the Eucharist if, after having made a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, the partner “affirms the faith of the Catholic Church,” wishes to end “serious spiritual distress,” and has a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.”

At the time, Cardinal Marx said the guide would only be a “pastoral handout” and that the intention is not to “change any doctrine.” He said the proposal rejects any path for Protestant spouses to conversion, otherwise known as an “ecumenism of return.” It also leaves much discretion of the local bishop who may establish new laws in this area, he said.

 

Go here to read the rest.  A Pope has two main duties:  to defend the teachings of the Church and to maintain the unity of the Church.  Pope Francis has been a grade one disaster as to both/

1

PopeWatch: April Fools

In a little noted meeting with media on April 1, 2018, Pope Francis proclaimed his papacy the April Fools Pontificate:

 

We are all, or should be, fools for Christ.  And in the Spirit of Our Savior who smiled and laughed while He walked among us here on Earth, I have striven to present to the Faithful a minuscule fraction of the mirth that God experiences from watching the pratfalls of mankind as we wend our way through History.  It pains me that many Catholics have failed to get the joke, and have taken many of my humorous asides seriously.  Now, really, who could possibly think, for example, that the Vicar of Christ would ever talk about Catholics breeding like rabbits, except as a joke? My laugh riot “encyclicals” have been mistakenly moved out of the papal joke category and have been taken, incredibly, as actual encyclicals by too many humor impaired of the Faithful.  It is rightly said that when a comic has to explain a joke, the joke is ruined.  To simplify matters, I do here proclaim that in future if I make a statement dressed as Bobo the Papal Clown, the Faithful may assume that I am speaking gravely and seriously.  On all other occasions I am only being my customary Pontiff Fun and jesting with you.  I hope this statement has been an adequate clarification and that the nasty American Catholic blogs will now cease to pursue me as if I were actually serious as to the buffoonish statements and writings that have made my pontificate, I trust, truly memorable, and a source of laughter for intelligent orthodox Catholics.

The Pope then had members of his Swiss Guard spray the members of the Fourth Estate present with seltzer water, and the audience was at an end.

14

PopeWatch: Cardinal Burke Nails It

While almost all our hapless Cardinals sit mute, Cardinal Burke calls a spade a spade.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register gives us the news:

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Pope Francis is not only “refusing to clarify”  the Church’s doctrine and discipline but also “increasing the confusion” on the “most fundamental and important issues.”

In an interview Thursday with the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, the patron of the Order of Malta said the “confusion and division” in the Church on such important issues as marriage and the family, the sacraments, intrinsically evil acts, eternal life and the Last Things “are becoming more and more widespread.”

In spite of this, he said the Pope “not only refuses to clarify things by proclaiming the constant doctrine and sound discipline of the Church, a responsibility inherent in his ministry as the Successor of St. Peter, but he is also increasing the confusion.”

Asked if he was referring to statements coming from some of those who have spoken or met with the Pope (recently an Argentine sister said the Pope told her contraception is permissible in some cases, and a French priest said Francis condoned the blessing of homosexual couples), Cardinal Burke referred in particular to alleged comments the Pope made to the Italian atheist Eugenio Scalfari over Easter. Scalfari replorted in the La Repubblica newspaper that the Pope told him he doesn’t believe in the existence of hell, but that unrepentant sinners simply disappear.

That episode “went beyond what is tolerable,” Cardinal Burke said, adding that to have a well-known atheist speaking on behalf of the Pope in “denying the immortality of the human soul and the existence of hell, has been a source of profound scandal not only for many Catholics but also for many people in the secular world who have respect for the Catholic Church and its teachings, even if they do not share them.”

He also decried the fact that the story came out on Holy Thursday, “one of the holiest days of the year,” and that the Holy See’s response was “highly inadequate.”  

“Instead of clearly reasserting the truth about the immortality of the human soul and hell, the denial only states that some of the words quoted are not the Pope’s,” he said. “It does not say that the erroneous and even heretical ideas expressed by these words are not shared by the Pope, and that the Pope repudiates these ideas as contrary to the Catholic Faith.”

“This playing around with faith and doctrine, at the highest level of the Church, rightly leaves pastors and faithful scandalized,” Cardinal Burke added.

He went on to say the current situation is “further aggravated” by the silence of bishops and cardinals, and that ”the faithful who understand the gravity of the situation” are left feeling “lost” while those who don’t understand the crisis are left “in confusion and possibly victims of errors that are harmful to their souls.”

He also said those who have chosen to come into the Church “suffer intensely” from the situation as they perceive the Church is going down the same road of Protestant ecclesial communities and “abandoning the faith.”

Cardinal Burke alluded to an “apostasy from the faith” taking place within the Church and that in such a situation, bishops and cardinals “have the duty to proclaim true doctrine” and the College of Cardinals in particular must act as a “check against papal error.”

Go here to read the rest.  Never forget that when the clergy refuse to stand up for Catholic orthodoxy, the laity have a duty, not a right but a duty, to do so.  God forgive those Cardinals who by their silence deny Christ just as much as Peter did.

 

 

18

PopeWatch: Contraception

Well, this is unsurprising:

An Argentinian religious sister acclaimed for her work against the trafficking and exploitation of children has said Pope Francis told her responsible parenthood requires contraceptives in some cases.

This, despite the Church’s constant teaching that the use of artificial contraception is always intrinsically evil. 

In an interview on Tuesday with the Argentinian radio program Crónica Anunciada, Carmelite missionary sister Martha Pelloni said Pope Francis “told me three words” about the need for responsible parenthood among poor rural women: “condoms, transitory, and reversible.”

The radio interview covered poverty rates, drug trafficking and the decriminalization of abortion in Argentina.

Sr. Pelloni, who is opposed to abortion, said the Pope told her various forms of contraception could be permissible to prevent poor women from choosing abortion. She included condoms, “a diaphragm, and as a last resort, which is what we advise for rural women that we serve, because I have a foundation for the peasantry, tubal ligation.”

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch begins to suspect that either Pope Francis has a terrible problem with being misquoted, or he is simply a heretic.  Useless Cardinals, where art thou?

 

6

PopeWatch: The Other Side of the Hill

In any conflict it is all too easy to ignore how things might look to your opponents.  From The National Catholic Reporter:

 

Sr. Joan Chittister makes two very important points in her article on the first five years of the Francis papacy.

Sadly, her first point is that it seems only too clear that the momentum of the Francis papacy has stalled. So many of us had such great hopes for what Pope Francis would be able to do, but there is little to show for these past five years.

There is no doubt that Francis dramatically changed the style of church governance. His humble, pastoral approach demands greater compassion, understanding and care for the poor and the migrant. Yet there is resistance even to the most Gospel-oriented actions of this pope. Even in fulfilling Jesus’ command to wash the feet of one another, it was made clear by some that certain people’s feet were not to be washed. We wait for divorced and remarried Catholics to be allowed to share in the sacramental life of the church, but the church remains stingy with its largesse. Are female deacons on the horizon? I doubt many would believe this to be likely.

Francis, of course has flaws. He has been tepid and uncertain on addressing women’s issues in the church. He lacks a complete understanding of what needs to be done to ensure equality for women, and why that is so important for women and the church. His efforts at addressing sexual abuse issues also falter. He sometimes seems strong, and at other times his moves are confusing.

His visit to Chile is a case in point. His strong defense of his friend Bishop Juan Barros is difficult to defend. Francis had to back away, and we are forced to wonder whom he is talking to and just how isolated he may be.

Francis himself seems to have tired of the struggle. It’s almost as if he feels he has gone as far as he can and is discouraged from continuing to push for change. The resistance is winning. The conservative hierarchy is unwilling to relinquish power and seems to have the wherewithal to maintain it. Why is Francis’ council of eight cardinals who were to govern the church not doing more?

 

Go here to read the rest.  Time once again for the favorite poem of PopeWatch:

 

Say not the struggle nought availeth,
     The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
     And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
     It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
     And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking
     Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making,
     Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
     When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
     But westward, look, the land is bright.
Arthur Hugh Clough

 

 

 

6

PopeWatch: The Pope and the Dismal Science

Further evidence that when the Pope talks about economics, he is without a clue:

 

On Palm Sunday and World Youth Day, Pope Francis told youth “not to keep quiet even if others keep quiet.” Young people should take his advice and speak out against Pope Francis’s economic agenda.

In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis said, “Young people call us to renewed and expansive hope, for they represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future, lest we cling to a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in today’s world.”

Those young people should note that Pope Francis clings to outdated structures and customs. He continues to push the high tax, government wealth-redistribution model that undermines market capitalism, which entrepreneurs, young and old, need to thrive.

 

Pope Francis argues that capitalism and globalization lead to poverty and inequality. In a 2015 interview, he said, “It is true that in absolute terms the world’s wealth has grown, but inequality and poverty have arisen.” His antimarket fervor stands at some distance from the facts.

From 1981 to 2013 the percentage of the world’s population living in absolute poverty (with incomes less than $2 per day) fell from 42 percent to 10.7 percent, according to the World Bank. This happened as market liberalization spread, lifting billions of people out of abject poverty over the past two decades alone.

More than 500 million people in China escaped crushing poverty after promarket reforms allowed unprecedented freedom for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, invest capital, innovate with new technology, trade globally, and hire the best employees. The same process has been at work in India.

At the same time, global income inequality has declined noticeably because of liberalizing economic reforms. Economist Branko Milanovic found that the global Gini value, a common measure of income inequality, decreased from 72.2 in 1988 to 67 in 2011. A lower Gini value means less inequality.

By ignoring these achievements of market liberalization and continuing to push for more government control, Pope Francis undermines entrepreneurship and wealth creation. He should heed the consequences of the policies he favors.

 

Go here to read the rest.  That a pope is bone ignorant about economics is unsurprising.  The problem of course is that the Pope is unaware of his ignorance and constantly supports policies that would make people poorer if implemented.  When a Pope tells us not to forget the poor, he is echoing Christ.  When a Pope tells us how to run an economy, his arguments must stand or fall like anyone else’s, since his office clearly gives him no special economic charism.

11

Five Years of Lent

The Pope has said that there is no Hell and that the souls of the damned are simply annihilated.  The Vatican denies that he said it:

 

.- On Thursday the Holy See stated that a reported interview between Pope Francis and an Italian journalist, which claims the Pope denied the existence of hell, should not be considered an accurate depiction of Francis’ words, but the author’s own “reconstruction.”

A recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview,” the March 29 communique stated.

“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist, is the founder and former editor of Italian leftist newspaper La Repubblica. In an article published on the site March 29, Scalfari claims that Pope Francis told him, “hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists.”

Go here to read the rest.  Who to believe?  Well Patrick Henry once noted that “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.”

The same thing was reported by the same elderly Italian atheist journalist three years ago.  Go here to read about it.  The Vatican has often claimed this same journalist routinely misquotes the Pope in his reports of the interviews he has with the Pope.  Riddle me this:  If the Pope is misquoted, why does he keep coming back for additional interviews?  This entire Pontificate has been five years of Lent for faithful Catholics.

2

PopeWatch: Pope Resigns!

In a shocking development Pope Francis has announced his resignation effective Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018.  The Vatican statement is as follows:

 

“His Holiness has announced his resignation which will be immediately after Easter Mass.  Noting that he has accomplished much of what he set out to accomplish, he has said that it was time for a younger man to take on the blessed burden of Mother Church.   He plans to retire to Argentina and to spend his time praying, in good works and blogging.  He assures the faithful that no doubt the Holy Spirit will be as efficacious in the choice of his successor as the Holy Spirit was when he was chosen.  He has enjoyed his time as Pope except for the cruel attacks by some American Catholic bloggers.”

The Pope Emeritus has announced his fond farewell to Pope Francis and has mentioned that in the unlikely event the Conclave were to choose him, he would reluctantly agree to serve.

PopeWatch has been unable to  confirm the rumor that a rainbow out of a clear sky suddenly appeared over Saint Peters at the time  of the announcement of the resignation.

 

Then PopeWatch woke up, and with that PopeWatch will be on Easter hiatus until April 2, 2018.

5

PopeWatch: Petty

One of the hallmarks of the current pontificate is its essential pettiness:

The Knights of Malta say they have suspended historian Henry Sire for allegedly breaching their constitution, following revelations that he is the mysterious author of The Dictator Pope. However, Sire himself maintains the suspension is null and illegal under the Order’s rules.

According to the Order, Sire was notified of the alleged suspension on Wednesday.

Sire’s identity as the author of The Dictator Pope was confirmed on Monday, when Regnery Press posted his name and background on an online description of the book. Sire originally self-published the book under the pseudonym Marcantonio Colonna, a historical figure best remembered for his service as admiral of the papal fleet in the Battle of Lepanto.

On Monday, Sire tweeted from his official Marcantonio Colonna account: “As the French say, l’heure est arrivée. Sometimes a surprise coming-out party is best.”

“I tip my hat to the great Admiral Colonna, whose name I’ve tried to honor,” he added.

Sire released a statement today disputing the Order’s claim to have suspended him. “The proceeding against me (of which I was notified yesterday) is wholly illegal. It has been initiated by the Grand Chancellor, with the consent of the Lieutenant of the Order. The laws of the Order stipulate that such a proceeding has to be initiated by my superior, who is the Grand Commander, and he has not been involved. Moreover, the superior has to initiate the process without communicating with the Grand Chancellor. These requirements have been comprehensively ignored.”

“It is also ironical that these illegalities have been committed by the Grand Chancellor, who ousted the Grand Master a year ago by protesting at the supposed illegalities of his own suspension.”

Go here to read the rest.

 

4

PopeWatch: Scapegoat

 

 

A victim has been found to be sacrificed for Lettergate:

 

Msgr. Vigano read selected passages from the letter at a presentation on 12 March. Then journalists received a doctored image of the letter, which blurred out the lines where Pope Benedict explained he would not be reading the books.

In his letter of resignation (in Italian), Msgr. Vigano told Pope Francis that although it was not intentional, his actions had “destabilised the complex and great work of reform”.

“I think that for me stepping aside would be a fruitful occasion for renewal,” he said.

The Vatican press office has not explained why the picture of the letter was doctored. It told the Associated Press that it was never intended for full publication.

 

Go here to read the rest.  To complete the farce, the Pope in accepting the resignation then promptly appointed Vigano as second in command of the organization he just resigned as head of in ostensible disgace.  The safe course in regard to this Vatican is to assume that everything said or written by them is a lie until proven otherwise.

3

PopeWatch: Cartoon Pope

Left wing loon, cartoonist Ted Rall, finally has found a Pope he likes:

Written from a far-left political perspective, the book calls Pope Francis a refreshing new leader but argues that he isn’t liberal enough.

While entertainingly drawn and sharply written, ultimately the book is too tendentious in its political bias.

Rall, an atheist and Pulitzer Prize finalist, advocates for same-sex marriage, contraception, married priests, female priests and abortion. Acknowledging the unlikelihood of the Catholic Church ever changing its stance on these core issues — the pontiff himself has no power to revise dogma, though the celibacy of the clergy is a matter of practice, not technically doctrine — Rall instead celebrates Francis as the harbinger of a “new tone” in the church.

Go here to read the rest.  By your fan base shall we know ye.

 

1

PopeWatch: Dictator Pope

When The Dictator Pope was first published the Vatican purportedly was engaging in a frantic search to learn the identity of the author.  Yesterday the author has revealed his identity, courtesy of his publisher, Regnery Publishing:

 

About the author

Marcantonio Colonna is the pen name of Henry Sire (H. J. A. Sire), an author and historian. Sire was born in 1949 in Barcelona to a family of French ancestry. He was educated in England at the Jesuits’ centuries-old Stonyhurst College and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained an honors degree in Modern History. He is the author of six books on Catholic history and biography, including one on the famous English Jesuit, writer, and philosopher Father Martin D’Arcy, SJ. The Dictator Pope is the fruit of Henry Sire’s four-year residence in Rome from 2013 to 2017. During that time he became personally acquainted with many figures in the Vatican, including Cardinals and Curial officials, together with journalists specializing in Vatican affairs.
This is a reflection of the ignorance of PopeWatch, but his reaction on learning this is similar to the reaction of Lex Luthor who, while occupying the body of The Flash, decided to unmask him:

 

9

PopeWatch: Lettergate

Father Z brings us the word that Lettergate just got a lot worse for the fools running the Vatican:

 

There is an Italian saying that the Devil makes great saucepans, but doesn’t provide lids for them.  Eventually, people will see what’s cooking: the truth will come out.

Just when you may have thought we had gotten to the bottom of The Letter™, or Lettergate, as Ed Pentin called it, more floats by, like a body face down in a slow moving river.

I have several updates about Lettergate – HERE – but this deserves a separate post.  It seems to me that this whole mess needs to be understood and remembered.  Hence, posts.

First it was revealed that the head of the Vatican’s office for communications (not the Holy See Press Office  – a separate but now subordinated entity) doctored a photo of alleged letter of Benedict XVI about a series of booklets about the theology of Pope Francis in order to avoid the embarrassing revelation that Benedict neither read them nor intended to read them.

I said “alleged” letter.  Now we learn that there was even more in Benedict’s original letter that was redacted out of the version that was read to the press during the presentation of the booklet series.  And again Sandro Magister has the story.  HERE

[…]

Between the paragraph omitted in the press release and the valediction there were, in fact, other lines.

And this much could be guessed just by observing the photo of the letter (see above).

In fact, between the first two lines that were made illegible in the photo, at the bottom of the first page of the letter, and the valediction and signature of Benedict XVI on the second half of the second page, there is a space too big to be occupied only by the last part of the paragraph omitted in the press release.

And what else was written there, that Viganò was careful not to read in public and took such pains to cover up in the photo with the eleven booklets on the theology of Pope Francis?

[NB] There was the explanation of the reason why Benedict XVI had not read those eleven booklets nor intended to read them in the future, and therefore why he had declined to write “a brief and dense theological page” of presentation and appreciation for the same, as Viganò had requested of him.

The reason adopted by Benedict XVI in the final lines of his letter – we are told by an incontrovertible source – is the presence among the authors of those eleven booklets of the German theologian Peter Hünermann, who was an implacable critic both of John Paul II and of Joseph Ratzinger himself as theologian and as pope.

About Hünermann, a professor at the university of Tubingen, it may be recalled that he is the author of, among other things, a commentary on Vatican Council II that is the polar opposite of the Ratzingerian interpretation.

It is therefore clear that, given what Benedict XVI writes in the second half of his letter, the first half also takes on a new significance, entirely different from the one that Viganò wanted to attribute to it in his mangled and biased press release.

[…]

Here’s the English rendering of what Benedict wrote in the last part of The Letter™:

Translated:

[…] all the more so in that I am under other obligations to which I have already agreed. [That’s where it seemed to end, before this new part came out.]

Just as a side note, I would like to mention my surprise at the fact that the authors also include Professor Hünermann, who during my pontificate put himself in the spotlight by heading anti-papal initiatives. He participated to a significant extent in the promulgation of the “Kölner Erklärung,” which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” attacked in a virulent manner the magisterial authority of the pope especially on questions of moral theology. The Europäische Theologengesellschaft, which he founded, also was initially designed by him as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Afterward, the ecclesial sentiment of many theologians blocked this tendency, making that organization a normal instrument of encounter among theologians.

I am certain that you will have understanding for my declination, and I cordially greet you.

Yours,

Benedict XVI

Go here to read the rest.  Oh this is so rich.  The Vatican could simply have ignored the letter of the Pope Emeritus.  Instead they tried fraud, and now have to reveal that the Pope Emeritus points out that one of the pet theologians of Pope Francis is a virulent critic of the magisterial authority of popes on moral questions, at least popes prior to the present one.  Way to make a bad story into a complete disaster.  I doubt it was accidental that the Pope Emeritus signed as Benedict XVI, perhaps a reminder to the powers that be that he is reaching the breaking point of his silence?  Pass the popcorn!