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PopeWatch: That 70’s Show

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

 

 

USCCB spokesman, Bishop Roger Belvedere confirmed this week that any Catholic organization attempting to make themselves appear current will be suppressed, as “anything that appears technologically modern is directly contrary to the Holy Spirit.”

“Everything from websites to event flyers to marketing materials will be monitored and under careful scrutiny beginning this week,” Belvedere told the press. “In addition, we will soon begin the process of purging the world of the small amount of visually appealing Catholic publicity that already exists. We estimate that this process should take us no more than about half an hour to complete.”

Going on to give instructions for Catholic web designers and graphic artists, Belvedere said that the mandate will seek to make sure that all design work, whether in media or in print must have a distastefully low white-space-to-text ratio, a mandatory rosary border on all print materials, and a reversal of any design changes made after 1996.

“If we see a single Catholic logo that does not include the color navy blue, let that organization be anathema. Also, flowers—we need to see more flowers. Web designers, bonus points if flowers appear to fall from the top of a web page when opened.”

One Vatican insider told EOTT this morning that he was excited with the USCCB’s decision, and hoped that other countries would soon follow suit.

“To be honest, I’m relieved that they finally said something. Catholic organizations need to be better about distinguishing themselves from Protestants, who for the most part, have excelled in respect to design work. And since our Church has been around a lot longer than theirs, everything we do needs to look that much older.”

At press time, USCCB officials estimate that the new requirements are expected to affect less than one percent of Catholic groups. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: His Answer

George Orwell would have found Pope Francis fascinating:

 

One year ago to this day, four Cardinals submitted five yes-or-no questions to Pope Francis asking him if his 2016 exhortation on marriage and the family — Amoris Laetitia — conforms to perennial Catholic teaching on marriage, moral absolutes, conscience, and the sacraments. 

The Pope has refused to answer their questions, despite the moral and pastoral chaos that ensued throughout the whole of Christendom as priests, bishops, and cardinals interpreted his teachings in completely contradictory ways. Some allowed civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in habitual adultery to receive Holy Communion. Some did not. 

Today, on the first anniversary of the dubia, has the Pope finally given his answer? It would seem so, though certainly not directly.

Let me explain. 

While the body of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the four dubia signers, has hardly been in the ground more than a week, the pope today announced he is abolishing the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and replacing it with a new institute focused on implementing Amoris Laetitia.

Cardinal Caffarra was the founding president of the institute, overseeing it from its launch in 1981 until 1995. The institute was founded to be a center for scientific study in the fields of anthropology and Christocentric thought so as to address the crisis of marriage and the family within the Church. 

The institute has been faithful to perennial Catholic teaching. It even produced an excellent book titled Marriage: Theological and Pastoral Considerations in the lead-up to the recent Synods on the Family that faithfully and clearly put forward Catholic teaching on marriage and the sacraments.

Caffarra outlined what he called the “institute’s DNA” in a 2016 graduation address to the John Paul II Institute in Washington D.C. 

He said that the institute was founded to address a crisis where “the human person had lost awareness of himself, of the truth of his being a person, so that he no longer understood the truth of marriage; not only in the intellectual sense, but in the existential sense.”

“John Paul II establishes the relation between marriage and the human person by means of the philosophy and the theology of the body. This is the most precious heritage that he entrusted to the Institute. The Church lacked this theology and philosophy, and she still has not fully assimilated the wealth of insights contained in these teachings,” he said at the time. 

I was studying for a Ph.D at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Australia a few years ago, before it was closed. I selected this school knowing that I would be formed in authentic Catholic teaching on all the hot-button issues of the day, including contraception, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, etc. My dissertation topic was on the morality behind using the naked human body in art and media. It was an intellectually rich time in my life for which I will be forever grateful. I, and many other faithful Catholics, have always viewed the institute as a lighthouse of orthodoxy. 

Caffarra outlined in his Washington D.C. talk how the institute was originally founded to especially reflect on the Church teaching against contraception as found in Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. 

“The Apostolic Constitution Magnum matrimonii sacramentum, the document which founded the Institute canonically, assigns as a specific task of the Institute the reflection on this Encyclical. This is the great theme of the truth about human procreation,” he said. 

“The Institute’s DNA, if we can say that, is therefore as follows: to discover the truth about marriage and the family, on the basis of an adequate anthropology, in order to help the husband and the wife to live fully their conjugal vocation,” he said.

Caffarra has not been dead two weeks and Pope Francis has already issued a Motu Proprio (by his own command) that destroys the John Paul II Institute’s DNA and replaces it with a DNA foreign to the institute’s original aim. That foreign DNA can be precisely summed up in the dubia submitted to the Pope by Caffarra and the other three Cardinals. 

What I find especially disturbing in this matter is that the Pope has gutted the institute while essentially keeping the institute’s name the same. All I could think of was George Orwell’s novel 1984 in which institutes are set up with beautiful-sounding names like the ‘Ministry of Truth,’ but which are actually agents of the ever-changing politically correct propaganda of the day. 

Pope Francis, in his Motu Proprio, says the newly reformed “John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences” will be used as a platform to implement his teachings in Amoris Laetitia.  Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: The Pope Luther Was Looking For?

America, the Jesuit rag, published a fan letter from a liberal Lutheran who loves Pope Francis:

 

Dear Pope Francis,

Maybe you have heard: 2017 is a big year for Lutherans. Many are giddy with excitement as we commemorate the audacity of a certain 16th-century Augustinian monk, who on Oct. 31, 1517, nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Fingers flutter across keyboards feverishly extolling or disputing Martin Luther’s contributions and flaws. But I—one who has marinated in American Lutheranism most of her life—find myself writing to you, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps it is an odd moment for Lutheran fan mail. Yet, ever since you became the Bishop of Rome in 2013, I have become increasingly convinced that you are the pope that Luther was looking for 500 years ago. Here are four reasons why.

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Trump UN Speech

 

President Trump was very undiplomatic in his speech at the UN:  he told the truth:

 

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates, welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city as a representative of the American people to address the people of the world. As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8. The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth, the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time, and it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.

Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today, but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed. We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve. But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terror but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances, that prevented conflict and tilted the word toward freedom since World War II. International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, threaten our borders and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens. To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair. We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars, to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity. It was in the same period exactly 70 years ago that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those these beautiful pillars, they are pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity. The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As president, Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.

The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members. To overcome the perils of the present, and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world. We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties, to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.

This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect. Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God. In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.

This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution, the oldest constitution still in use in the world today. This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law. The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are “We the people.” Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country and of our great history.

In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens, to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition. But making a better life for our people also requires us to with work together in close harmony and unity, to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all. For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.

We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideologies. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goal, interests, and values. That realism forces us to confront the question facing every leader and nation in this room, it is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face, or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow.

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.

And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threatens us with chaos, turmoil, and terror. The score of our planet today is small regimes that violate every principle that the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans. And for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America, only to die a few days later.

We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother, using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country, to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies. If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.

No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more.

It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. We face this decision not only in North Korea; it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people. Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian live, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.

This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East. We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance, and in Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and, indeed, to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nation. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries whose support and fi — who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people. Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. We seek the deescalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of the United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict. The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process. For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.

Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach. For decades the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.

We have learned that over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries. For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms. For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their home. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflict in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief, in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief, the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Health Security Agenda, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, and the Women Entrepreneur’s Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — we also thank the secretary general for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble end have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it. Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell, but the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems. The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.

In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own region. That is why in the Western Hemisphere the United States has stood against the corrupt, destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.

My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms. We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation — prosperous nation, by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives, to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal — that goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people. The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors. I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, including their prosperity. In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of goodwill, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules, and our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government, the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today. If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the independent strength of its members.

If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substantive for strong, sovereign, and independent nations, nations that are rooted in the histories and invested in their destiny, nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer, and most important of all, nations that are home to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain. Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, our minds, and our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

This is the ancient wish of every people and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul. So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world. We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all. Thank you, God bless you, God bless the nations of the world, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

 

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PopeWatch: Rodolfo Kusch

Sandro Magister gives us one of the intellectual fathers of the Pope:

 

 

Halfway through the first chapter, Jorge Mario Bergoglio also gives for the first time the name of the anthropologist who inspired his conception of “people”:

“There is a thinker that you should read: Rodolfo Kusch, a German who lived in northwestern Argentina, an excellent philosopher and anthropologist. He made one thing clear: that the word ‘people’ is not a logical word. It is a mythical word. It is not possible to speak of people logically, because that would mean making only a description. In order to understand a people, to understand what are the values of this people, one must enter into the spirit, into the heart, into the work, into the history, and into the myth of its tradition. This point is truly at the basis of the theology called ‘of the people.’ That is to say, to go with the people, see how it expresses itself. This distinction is important. The people is not a logical category, it is a mythical category.”

And a few pages later, Francis comes back to the subject to scold “L’Osservatore Romano” for having distorted his thought:

“I have said and have repeated: the word ‘people’ is not a logical concept, it is a mythical concept. Not mystical, but mythical. [. . .] I once said ‘mythical’ and L’Osservatore Romano involuntarily erred in the translation, speaking of ‘mystical people’. And do you know why? Because they did not understand what mythical people means. They said to themselves: No it is the pope who made a mistake, let’s put ‘mystical’.”

In effect, that’s precisely what happened. On the way back from the journey to Mexico, during the usual in-flight press conference, on February 7, 2016 Francis said precisely – speaking in Italian – that “the word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it is a mythical category.”

The video of the press conference, which is still available, is irrefutable proof of this. At the 52:29 mark, the word that comes from the pope’s mouth is “mythical” and not “mystical.”

The next day, however, “L’Osservatore Romano” changed the word to “mystical.” And the same thing happened with the official transcription of the press conference in multiple languages, the one that can still be read today on the Vatican website.

Francis quickly found out about the word change. And in an interview the following July 6 with the trusty Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” – an interview that ended up in a volume with the homilies and discourses of Bergoglio from when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, published that same summer – he did all he could to put things back into place:

“There is a word that is very mistreated: there is so much talk about populism, about populist politics, about populist platforms. But this is a mistake. People is not a logical category, nor is it a mystical category, if we understand it in the sense that everything the people does is good or in the sense that the people is an angelic category. No! It is a mythical category, if anything. I repeat: mythical. People is an historical and mythical category. The people is made in a process, with the sights set on a common objective and project. History is built by this process of generations that succeed each other within a people. It takes a myth to understand the people. When you explain what a people is, you use logical categories because you have to explain it: they are needed, of course. But you do not explain in this way the meaning of belonging to the people. The word people has something more that cannot be explained in a logical manner. Being part of the people is being part of a shared identity made of social and cultural bonds. And this is not an automatic thing, on the contrary: it is a slow, difficult process toward a shared project.”

Curiously, “L’Osservatore Romano” – on November 11, 2016, in presenting the book with the homilies and discourses of Bergoglio – reproduced this clarification in its entirety, perhaps without realizing that it had been the cause of it.

But even those who manage the official publication of the pope’s texts did not bat an eye, leaving the word “mystical” in place of “mythical.”

And this brings us up to the book-length interview of this year with Dominique Wolton, in which Bergoglio lets loose.

Once again without anyone correcting the error, in the official collection of the pope’s discourses.

In any case, this “qui pro quo” has brought one benefit. It has given Pope Francis an opportunity to clarify further the meaning and roots of his populism. Where between “myth” and “mystique” the difference is not so great, as has been understood for some time:

> Bergoglio, Politician. The Myth of the Chosen People

As for his inspiration, Rodolfo Kusch (1922-1979), it is interesting that the pope should have named him.

An author of both anthropological and theatrical works, Kusch took his inspiration from Heidegger’s philosophy to distinguish between “being” and “dwelling,” describing with the first category the rationalistic and domineering vision of Western man and with the second the vision of the indigenous Latin American peoples, in peace with nature and animated by none other than a “myth.”

For Kusch, the first of the two visions, the Eurocentric one, is intolerant and incapable of understanding the second, which he instead wanted to accentuate and to which he dedicated his most important studies. For this reason too he found himself at the margins of the culture of the dominant elites and instead found an admirer in Bergoglio. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Humanae Vitae

 

The next shoe to drop in this Pontificate?

 

Father George Woodall, who teaches moral theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, outlined what he called “grave” concerns about a papal commission recently set up by Pope Francis that will, he says, “re-examine Humanae vitae (HV) in the light of Amoris laetitia.” The article was published on the National Catholic Register September 12. 

Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae taught that “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of human life,” calling the use of contraception (including the pill, condom, withdrawal, and other methods) “intrinsically wrong.” The encyclical celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. 

Woodall listed the “precise points of doctrine” in the encyclical that he suspects the commission will re-examine. These include: 

  • “The principle of the inseparability of the unitive and procreative meanings of the conjugal act (HV, n. 12), stated by Paul VI to be the basis for the condemnation of contraception (HV, n. 14).”
  • “The teaching that each and every conjugal act must remain open to procreation (HV, n. 11).”
  • “The condemnation of contraception as intrinsically morally disordered and hence incapable of being justified even for a good intention in pressing circumstances on the basis either that it might be the lesser evil or that it might partake of the goodness of those conjugal acts before and/ or after, during the whole of the married life, which had been or would be open to procreation, the reason being that what is intrinsically immoral may never be done even for a good intention (HV, n. 14).”
  • “The fact that this teaching, as the constant teaching of the Magisterium on this matter, is unchanged and unchangeable because the Magisterium has no power to decide what should be true, but only to proclaim what is true (HV, nn. 6, 18).”

Woodall predicted that if the commission were to use the moral principles and language found in Pope Francis 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, it would recommend that Humanae vitae “should be rejected or, more likely, should not be interpreted legalistically.”

The commission would likely say, he said, that the encyclical should not be “imposed as burdens on couples unable to bear them by those wishing to cast stones at people in difficulties, but should be presented to them as mere ‘ideals’, which married couples should seek to fulfill, but which they might not be able always to fulfill in pressing circumstances and which, for a good intention — and perhaps through discernment, assisted by a pastor in the light of their unique circumstances — they might violate, set aside, or interpret creatively,” he said. 

Just as the “pastoral approach” in Amoris Laetitia was used to suggest that the 6th commandment against adultery does not apply to some couples in “irregular” situations, so too in this case, said Woodall, a similar approach would be used to suggest that Humanae vitae does not “really apply to some couples because, in their circumstances they could not be expected to abide by them.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Punched by the Holy Spirit

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

 

 

Days after the Pontiff sustained injuries after hitting his head in a popemobile accident in Colombia, Pope Francis has now condemned his own motu proprio, Magnum Principium, allowing bishops’ conferences control over the translation of liturgical texts.

Pope Francis had originally published the motu proprio, which shifted control over liturgical texts from Apostolic See to diocesan bishop, before hitting his head against a bar during the accident.

According to one adviser to the pope, Monsignor Alberto Pico, Pope Francis began acting “odd” not long after the accident.

“On the plane back to Rome, he was reading a copy of Magnum Principium and began calling it a bunch of crap, before opening the door to the plane and throwing it out. He wasn’t aware that he was the one who wrote it. When we told him that it was his own writing, he became extremely angry and would not believe us.”

Pico went on to say that moments after landing in Rome, Francis demanded to go to a chapel located just miles from the airport, where he began preparations to say the Latin Mass, saying, “Dammit, Pico, hand me my chasuble…now!”

“It was all quite surreal. After the Mass, he asked those close to him to begin the processes of reversing nearly everything he has said and done since his election, including demoting nearly all of the bishops and cardinals that he had created. In this way, His Holiness added, he would be able to retire in one year, and would be able leave the Church as it had been before his election.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Fifty Shades of Gray

Pope Francis continues on his course of ensuring that traditional Catholic moral teachings is watered down into useless pap:

Pope Francis told a group of newly ordained bishops that “authentic discernment” cannot be reduced to repeating “rigid” moral formulas to persons whose situations “can’t be reduced to black and white.”Discernment, the pope said, “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas such as ‘high clouds send little rain’ to a concrete person, who’s often immersed in a reality that can’t be reduced to black and white.”

He cautioned bishops against being “imprisoned by nostalgia for being able to give just one answer to apply in all cases,” adding that discernment is an “antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions aren’t valid everywhere.” 

Pastors must have “the courage to ask themselves if yesterday’s proposals are still evangelically valid,” he said. 

Pope Francis’ made his comments Thursday morning to newly appointed bishops from around the world. They met at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace as part of an annual training program offered by the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. 

During the meeting, Pope Francis advised the bishops to consult three specific groups — his brother bishops, his own priests, and the lay faithful — when discerning. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Murderous Monks

This should be instructive:

 

After remarking on the need for a consistent pro-life approach on immigration in the US, Pope Francis might have to clean house on that topic with religious brothers closer to home. The Belgian Brothers of Charity issued a defiant statement today after a Vatican order to stop offering euthanasia, especially in non-terminal cases, for their psychiatric patients. Rather than comply, the monks insist that they have plenty of room within Catholic teaching to assist in suicides when patients request it:

 

Go here to read the rest.  So here we have Catholic Monks killing people in defiance of Church teaching and the Vatican has been having “talks” with them.  Compare and contrast the draconian treatment of the friars and sisters of the Immaculate who committed the appalling offense of being more Catholic than the current Pope.  Stay tuned and we will see how the Vatican deals with an Order committing the minor offense of being complicit in the slaying of the innocent.

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PopeWatch: Anti-Catholicism

Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing notes that anti-Catholicism is on the rise:

 

But anti-Catholicism did not and still has not gone away: witness the outrageous grilling of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett last week in a Senate judiciary hearing by Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, and Dick Durbin.

I will pass over the slimy details, which you may read here, except to say that “orthodox Catholic” may be about to become a political term for someone whose religious beliefs disqualify him or her from public office. Perhaps even make them unwelcome in polite society.

You can’t be surprised that the Democrats – even the nominally Catholic Durbin – attacked. They are wedded to the belief that contraception, abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights (even for very young children) not only define our “deepest values” as Americans, but must be embraced by any faith that wishes to remain a respectable presence in American society.

 

Go here to read the rest.

 

 

 

In 2012 the Pope Emeritus warned of a rising threat to American religious liberty:

 

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

 

And Pope Francis?  PopeWatch is simply grateful that he is not cheering on the anti-Catholic bigots–yet.

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Hello, my name is Bob, and I’m a climate change denier.

Pope Francis, in an interview to the press (9/11/17) opined that “Humanity will ‘go down’ if it does not address climate change”.   Now, despite the title of this post, I don’t deny that climate changes.   It has changed and will change.  There was the Medieval Warm Period, when the Viking colonized Greenland, and there have been glacial and inter-glacial changes.    I will deny that man-made production of CO2 has much to do with such climate change, and I’ve justified that in a number of blog posts (see here, for example), as have other scientists.

What concerns me is that the Church, in the person of the Vicar of Christ,  takes a  position on unsettled science;  and, despite some of Pope Francis’s statements–the verdict, in terms of model predictions being empirically justified, is not proven at all.

Let me go to a different case, where the science was more established.   Abbe LeMaitre (and the Russian mathematician Friedmann) had shown that Einstein’s General Relativity Field equation yielded  a time dependent solution with a singularity at the beginning of time, t=0, an expanding universe.  And lo, and behold, the galactic red shift relations shown by Hubble were in accord with that expanding universe.    And thus we knew about the “Big Bang”.    Supposedly Pope Pius XII wanted to use this science as evidence for the doctrine,  Creatio ex Nihilo, but was dissuaded from doing so by Abbe LeMaitre, who argued that science changes but faith does not.  (The incident is discussed in much greater detail here.)

My point is that the Church is not competent to judge whether science is good or bad, and science can not say whether Doctrine or Dogma are true or false.  The Church can certainly weigh in on the morality of  applications of science–for example, Designer Babies, fetal cell research–but it can’t and shouldn’t make judgments on what science is true and what is not.

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PopeWatch: DACA

 

 

 

Well, the Pope has put his uninformed two cents in on DACA:

 

During the interview, Francis admitted that he’s unfamiliar with the particulars of DACA, or with Trump’s decision. But he is confident about one thing: Separating children from their families doesn’t align with a pro-life attitude, because it “isn’t something that bears fruit for either the youngsters or their families.”

Francis said he hopes Trump rethinks the decision.

“I believe that this law comes, I think, not from Congress but from the executive branch of the government,” he said, according to a translation by Crux. “If it is so, I have the hope that it’s re-thought, because I heard the president of the United States introduce himself as a ‘pro-life’ man.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Cardinal Caffarra

Two of the four cardinals who requested clarification from the Pope of Amoris Laetitia have now died while waiting for an answer.  Sandro Magister brings us the letter that the late Cardinal Caffarra sent to the Pope on April 25, the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist:

 

 

Most Holy Father,

It is with a certain trepidation that I address myself to Your Holiness, during these days of the Easter season. I do so on behalf of the Most Eminent Cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and myself.

We wish to begin by renewing our absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the “sweet Christ on earth,” as Saint Catherine of Siena was fond of saying. We do not share in the slightest the position of those who consider the See of Peter vacant, nor of those who want to attribute to others the indivisible responsibility of the Petrine “munus.” We are moved solely by the awareness of the grave responsibility arising from the “munus” of cardinals: to be advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry. And from the Sacrament of the Episcopate, which “has placed us as bishops to pasture the Church, which He has acquired with his blood” (Acts 20:28).

On September 19, 2016 we delivered to Your Holiness and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five “dubia,” asking You to resolve uncertainties and to bring clarity on some points of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.”

Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like. We attach, as is the practice, an Audience Sheet in which we present the two points we wish to discuss with you.

Most Holy Father,

A year has now gone by since the publication of “Amoris Laetitia.” During this time, interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages of the post-synodal Exhortation have publicly been given that are not divergent from but contrary to the permanent Magisterium of the Church. Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening – how painful it is to see this! – that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: “Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.”

Numerous competent lay faithful, who are deeply in love with the Church and staunchly loyal to the Apostolic See, have turned to their Pastors and to Your Holiness in order to be confirmed in the Holy Doctrine concerning the three sacraments of Marriage, Confession, and the Eucharist. And in these very days, in Rome, six lay faithful, from every Continent, have presented a very well-attended study seminar with the meaningful title: “Bringing clarity.”

Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.

May Your Holiness remember us in Your prayers, as we pledge to remember You in ours. And we ask for the gift of Your Apostolic Blessing.

Carlo Card. Caffarra

Rome, April 25, 2017
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Jonathan Pryce

Well this is interesting.  Actor Jonathan Pryce is going to portray Pope Francis:

 

Add Pope Francis to Netflix’s continually growing TV and movie roster names. The streaming service is moving forward with the feature film The Pope, with Jonathan Pryce tapped to play the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and Anthony Hopkins in talks to play his predecessor Pope Benedict. The film will be directed by City of God helmer Fernando Meirelles, has a script by Anthony McCarten, who wrote The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawking and the upcoming Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.  McCarten adapted his stage play. Dan Lin is producing with Jonathan Eirich, and Tracey Seaward. Filming will begin November in Argentina.

Go here to read the rest.  Intriguingly Pryce also has portrayed the religious figure, and true believer, High Sparrow in Game of Thrones:

 

 

 

In 1996 he played Juan Peron in Evita:

 

A religious figure with a good deal of Juan Peron in him.  That sounds unpleasantly familiar.

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PopeWatch: Cracking Down on the Orthodox

It has long been a scandal in the Catholic Church that dissenters from Church teaching are welcomed with open arms in Catholic academia.  Under the current pontificate orthodox Catholics are now being tossed out of  Catholic academia:

A renowned Catholic philosopher has been removed from a Catholic university in Spain by a local archbishop after publishing a critique of Pope Francis’ exhortation on marriage and family. 

Dr. Josef Seifert, an intimate friend of the late Pope St. John Paul II, was removed last week from his post at the International Academy of Philosophy in Granada by Archbishop Javier Martínez Fernández. 

In an article published online last month, Seifert called the Pope’s 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) a ticking “theological atomic bomb” that has the capacity to destroy all Catholic moral teaching. 

In his article, the philosopher argued that if Pope Francis believes that adultery — to quote the exhortation — “is what God himself is asking” of couples in “irregular” situations, then there is nothing stopping any other intrinsically evil acts from eventually being justified.

“If this is truly what AL affirms, all alarm over AL’s direct affirmations regarding matters of changes of sacramental discipline refer only to the peak of an iceberg, to the weak beginning of an avalanche, or to the first few buildings destroyed by a moral theological atomic bomb that threatens to tear down the whole moral edifice of the Ten Commandments and of Catholic moral teaching,” Seifert wrote. 

Archbishop Fernández related in an August 31 public statement that Seifert’s removal was spurred precisely by his recent article. He said the article “damages the communion of the Church, confuses the faith of the faithful, and sows distrust in the successor of Peter, which, in the end, does not serve the truth of faith, but, rather, the interests of the world.”

Fernández also said that while Seifert was removed from his teaching duties last year after his “first critical writing” on the exhortation, he is now being entirely dismissed from the university. 

“And right now, concurring with the precise and fuller reasons for it, his retirement from the above-mentioned International Academy of Philosophy is now being processed,” the archbishop wrote. 

Last October, the archbishop stated that his archdiocese would adopt the Buenos Aires interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, endorsed by Pope Francis, that allows Communion to be given to couples living in habitual adultery.  Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Rigid

The Pope really hates “rigid” priests:

 

The pope also speaks of his state of mind now.

“I feel free,” he said. “Sure, I’m in a cage here at the Vatican, but not spiritually. Nothing makes me afraid.”

What bothers him, he ventured, are people with straitjacket point of views. He singled out “rigid priests, who are afraid to communicate.”

“It’s a form of fundamentalism,” the pope said. “Whenever I run into a rigid person, especially if young, I tell myself that he’s sick.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Statues

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

 

SAN ANSELMO, California, August 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic school in California has removed around 162 icons and statues in an effort to be more “inclusive” and avoid “alienating” non-Catholic students.

San Domenico School, a K-12 boarding and day school, is the oldest independent school in California. It was founded by Dominican sisters, who remain involved in its operations today. It is in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The Marin Independent Journal reported last week that parents are concerned the statues being removed is the just the latest incident that demonstrates the school’s declining Catholic identity.

“In our time here, the word ‘Catholic’ has been removed from the mission statement, sacraments were removed from the curriculum, the lower school curriculum was changed to world religions, the logo and colors were changed to be ‘less Catholic,’ and the uniform was changed to be less Catholic,” Shannon Fitzpatrick wrote in an email to school officials. The MIJ published some of her complaints.

The head of San Domenico’s board of trustees, Amy Skewes-Cox, said the school isn’t doing this because of the recent push to remove Confederate statues from public places.

There is “absolutely no connection other than it is change, and people have a hard time with change,” she said. 

“We didn’t want to further that feeling” of “alienation” non-Catholic students might have if they see statues, said Skewes-Cox. 

The statues were apparently “pitched in the basement,” according to the parent of a former student. According to the MIJ, there were 180 statues around the school. There are now only “at least 18” left.

Sister Maureen McInerney, the prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, said it “really isn’t my place” to be involved with the school’s day-to-day operations. 

“If there has been a reduction in the number of statues but there are still many statues around the campus, I think that would be fine,” she said. San Domenico is just “making an effort to be inclusive of all faiths.” 

The school, which costs anywhere from $29,850 to $58,350 annually, says its students “tend to our garden, learn interconnectedness through our ecological literacy program, and reflect on their place within the sacred community of nature.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Formal Correction

Cardinal Burke has outlined what a formal correction of Pope Francis might look like:

 

The cardinal told The Wanderer newspaper Aug. 14 that such a formal act of correction has not been invoked “for several centuries” and until now it has never been used “in a doctrinal way.”

But he said it would be “quite simple” and involve presenting on the one hand the “clear teaching of the Church” and on the other “what is actually being taught by the Roman Pontiff.” The teaching in question in particular relates to doctrinal matters published in the Pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia. 

“If there is a contradiction, the Roman Pontiff is called to conform his own teaching in obedience to Christ and the Magisterium of the Church,” the cardinal explained, adding that a “formal declaration” would be submitted to the Holy Father to which he would be “obliged to respond.”

The cardinal stressed that the dubia, five questions which he and three other cardinals (Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner) issued nearly a year ago, aimed to give the Holy Father the occasion to clarify these aspects of Church teaching.

They were issued in a “very respectful way and not in any way aggressive,” he said, but as the Pope has “chosen not to respond” to them, “so it is now necessary simply to state what the Church teaches about marriage, the family, acts that are intrinsically evil, and so forth.”

“These are the points that are not clear in the current teachings of the Roman Pontiff; therefore, this situation must be corrected. The correction would then direct itself principally to those doctrinal points,” he said. 

The cardinal, a former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court, did not give a timeframe for the correction, but hinted at its urgency by stressing that the Church is “being torn asunder right now by confusion and division” and that unity is at stake.

“The Holy Father must be called on to exercise his office to put an end to this,” he said.

Cardinal Burke first suggested a possible formal correction of the Pope in an interview with the Register last November, saying it is “clearly quite rare” but if there was no response, then it would be a “question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.” He spoke then of “tremendous division” that is “not the way of the Church.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia

Pope Francis continues to let others “clarify” Amoris Laetitia, and Sandro Magister gives us the details:

 

 

“The writing is very good and fully explicates the meaning of chapter VIII. . . There are no other interpretations.” With these words Pope Francis, in a letter dated September 5 of last year, approved a note from the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires who in interpreting the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” admitted the possibility of Eucharistic communion for the divorced and remarried who continue to cohabit “more uxorio.”

But this was a matter of a private letter to an Argentine monsignor employed in the secretariat of that group of bishops. And even the note approved by the pope was not initially intended for publication and does not bear the names of the signers. Too little and too poorly done to clarify in a definitive way the authentic meaning – that is, attributable with certainty to its author – of “Amoris Laetitia.”

An attempt has been made in recent days by the theologian closest to the pope, the Argentine Víctor Manuel Fernández, to settle this question, with the tepid assistance of “L’Osservatore Romano.” But without success.

And it could not have been otherwise. Because the confusion is at the origin. It is within the very text of “Amoris Laetitia,” which never says fully, in a clear and incontrovertible way, what Pope Francis limits himself to hinting at.

The passage that gets closest to it is in paragraph 305:

“Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, 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, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.”

And in the connected footnote 351:

“In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak’ (ibid., 47: 1039).”

As is very well known, Francis has been asked in various forms and a number of times to bring clarity on such a confused and bungled text. In particular on the part of four cardinals, to whom the pope did not want to give a response or even grant an audience.

But here comes Fernández to sermonize that the letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires is enough and then some for those who “want to know how the pope himself interprets what he has written.”

And to those who object that a letter of that sort is too little, Fernández makes his rebuttal by dusting off a precedent concerning the interpretation of Vatican Council I, when Pius IX, in 1875, clarified a controversial point by endorsing a letter from the bishops of Germany to chancellor Bismarck.

“If the pope has received a unique charism in the Church at the service of the correct interpretation of the Word of God,” Fernández writes peremptorily, “this cannot rule out his capacity to interpret the documents that he himself has written.” It does not matter how and when he does so, the important thing is that it should be known that the “war” against him is over.

“What is left after the storm:” this is the title that the pope’s trusted theologian decided to give to the essay that he published in the latest issue of “Medellín,” the theology journal of the Latin American Episcopal Council, in the run-up to Francis’s journey to Colombia in September and to Chile and Peru next January:

> El capítulo VIII de “Amoris Laetitia”: lo que queda después de la tormenta

Since the author of the article is not only very close to Jorge Mario Bergoglio but also the de facto architect of much of “Amoris Laetitia,” to such an extent that it contains entire sections of articles of his from a decade or so ago, this statement of his was immediately interpreted as inspired by the pope himself.

Whose intention would have been to clarify once and for all – through Fernández as his chosen spokesman – two things above all.

The first is that the interpretation of the Argentine bishops is also his, and is the right one.

The second is that if Francis preferred to make way for communion for the divorced and remarried not in the body of “Amoris Laetitia” but only in skimpy footnotes, it is because he wanted to do so “in a discreet manner,” because he does not consider this the center of the document, but rather the capitals “dedicated to love.”

But the question remains: what level of authority can be attributed to an article like the one that appears in the journal “Medellín,” signed by a theologian universally considered less than mediocre? Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Halting the Tides

 

King Canute Pope Francis called a halt to liturgical change from Vatican II for all time:

 

Today, Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.”

The Supreme Pontiff insisted, “After this magisterial, and after this long journey, we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Criticisms

The Pope’s leftist agenda is drawing fire not only within the Church but from without the Church according to Sandro Magister:

In this month of August, Pope Francis has found himself facing opposition on two of the best-known points of his preaching. And opposition in an unusual form: because the critiques have not come from inside the Church, but from outside, from authoritative voices of secular opinion; and also because he has never been explicitly named in the controversy, although it is evident that the criticisms were aimed against him as well.

*

The first point concerns the phenomenon of migration. In recent days, a ruling from the Italian judiciary and an appeal signed by a certain number of intellectuals of the far left have compared the reception centers for immigrants sailing from Libya for Italy to “concentration camps,” and the rejection of their indiscriminate admittance to a “mass extermination” analogous to that of the Jews on the part of the Nazis.

These comparisons are not new. Frequent recourse has been made in recent times to words like “lager,” “extermination,” “holocaust” to denounce the treatment reserved for immigrants by those who do not want to accommodate them without reservation.

But this time, in conjunction with the joint decision of the Italian government and the Libyan authorities to put the brakes on the shipments of migrants carried out until now by criminal organizations at the expense of many lives, and in conjunction with the resolute support for this decision from the president of the Italian episcopal conference, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, the aberrant association of the “non-welcome” of immigrants with the extermination of the Jews has not passed by in silence, but has generated a healthy flare-up of criticisms.

Properly speaking, none of the critics has mentioned Pope Francis by name. But he too not long ago had referred to as “concentration camps” the camps for receiving immigrants in Greece and Italy.

He did so in a homily given on April 22 at the Roman basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, during a ceremony commemorating the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries.

And this sally of his reinforced even more the standard storyline on Pope Francis when it comes to immigration: as a pope of unlimited welcome for all, always and at all costs.

Because it is true that Francis, in this regard, has also occasionally said the opposite. For example, during one of his inflight press conferences, on the way back from Sweden last November 1, he praised the “prudence” of leaders who put limits on accommodation, because “there is not room for all.”

Just as it is true that Cardinal Bassetti spoke with the prearranged approval of the pope – who had himself just come from a private meeting with Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni – when last August 10 he supported the hard line of the government of Rome against “those who exploit the phenomenon of migration in an inhumane manner” by organizing crossings from Libya to Italy.

But the fact remains that these correctives have not made a dent in the image of Francis that has been built up in the media, as a champion of indiscriminate accommodation. And one may wonder if this is the work of the media alone or his as well, considering the overwhelming preponderance of his appeals for welcome full stop, compared with the paltry number of his commendations of “prudence” in governing the phenomenon of migration.

*

The second point of the preaching of Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio that has ended up under fire from criticism has to do with his overall political vision, hostile both to globalization, in which he sees the perverse effects prevailing, and to free market policies, which he has often branded as “economy that kills.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Open Borders

I answer that, Man’s relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful, and hostile: and in directing both kinds of relation the Law contained suitable precepts. For the Jews were offered three opportunities of peaceful relations with foreigners. First, when foreigners passed through their land as travelers. Secondly, when they came to dwell in their land as newcomers. And in both these respects the Law made kind provision in its precepts: for it is written (Exodus 22:21): “Thou shalt not molest a stranger [advenam]”; and again (Exodus 22:9): “Thou shalt not molest a stranger [peregrino].” Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 1). The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people. Hence it was that the Law prescribed in respect of certain nations that had close relations with the Jews (viz., the Egyptians among whom they were born and educated, and the Idumeans, the children of Esau, Jacob’s brother), that they should be admitted to the fellowship of the people after the third generation; whereas others (with whom their relations had been hostile, such as the Ammonites and Moabites) were never to be admitted to citizenship; while the Amalekites, who were yet more hostile to them, and had no fellowship of kindred with them, were to be held as foes in perpetuity: for it is written (Exodus 17:16): “The war of the Lord shall be against Amalec from generation to generation.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Question 105, Article 3

 

 

 

 

The Pope is in favor of open borders as he made very clear in this statement issued yesterday:

 

Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).  The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.[1] This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.  This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.

In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.[2]

Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.  At the same time, I hope that a greater number of countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programmes, and open humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees.  Furthermore, special temporary visas should be granted to people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring countries.  Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.[3]  Once again, I want to emphasise the importance of offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.  “More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success”.[4]  The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI,[5] obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.  It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.  The situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services.  For the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.[6]

The second verb – protecting – may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.[7]  Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices.[8]  This must be ongoing, as far as possible, in the country of migration, guaranteeing them adequate consular assistance, the right to personally retain their documents of identification at all times, fair access to justice, the possibility of opening a personal bank account, and a minimum sufficient to live on.  When duly recognised and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.[9]  This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity.  For those who decide to return to their homeland, I want to emphasise the need to develop social and professional reintegration programmes.  The International Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a universal legal basis for the protection of underage migrants.  They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education.  Equally, when they come of age they must be guaranteed the right to remain and to enjoy the possibility of continuing their studies.  Temporary custody or foster programmes should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families.[10]  The universal right to a nationality should be recognised and duly certified for all children at birth.  The statelessness which migrants and refugees sometimes fall into can easily be avoided with the adoption of “nationality legislation that is in conformity with the fundamental principles of international law”.[11]  Migratory status should not limit access to national healthcare and pension plans, nor affect the transfer of their contributions if repatriated.

Promoting essentially means a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.[12]  Among these, we must recognize the true value of the religious dimension, ensuring to all foreigners in any country the freedom of religious belief and practice.   Many migrants and refugees have abilities which must be appropriately recognised and valued.  Since “work, by its nature, is meant to unite peoples”,[13] I encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship, together with sufficient information provided in their mother tongue.  In the case of underage migrants, their involvement in labour must be regulated to prevent exploitation and risks to their normal growth and development.  In 2006, Benedict XVI highlighted how, in the context of migration, the family is “a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values”.[14]  The family’s integrity must always be promoted, supporting family reunifications – including grandparents, grandchildren and siblings – independent of financial requirements.  Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities must be granted greater assistance and support.  While I recognize the praiseworthy efforts, thus far, of many countries, in terms of international cooperation and humanitarian aid, I hope that the offering of this assistance will take into account the needs (such as medical and social assistance, as well as education) of developing countries which receive a significant influx of migrants and refugees.  I also hope that local communities which are vulnerable and facing material hardship, will be included among aid beneficiaries.[15]

The final verb – integrating – concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees.  Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.  This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”.[16]  This process can be accelerated by granting citizenship free of financial or linguistic requirements, and by offering the possibility of special legalisation to migrants who can claim a long period of residence in the country of arrival.  I reiterate the need to foster a culture of encounter in every way possible – by increasing opportunities for intercultural exchange, documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, and developing programmes to prepare local communities for integration processes.   I wish to stress the special case of people forced to abandon their country of arrival due to a humanitarian crisis.  These people must be ensured adequate assistance for repatriation and effective reintegration programmes in their home countries.

In line with her pastoral tradition, the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed above.  Yet in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities. Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: It’s Not Just Converts!

 

Friends of PopeWatch, Paul Zummo and Jay Anderson, dealt last week with the convert bashing that has become the latest line of defense by the acolytes of the current pontificate.  That some of the more ardent defenders of every jot and tittle of the current pontificate, Mark Shea that is your cue, are themselves converts, was not addressed by the convert bashers.  Of course the simple truth is that many Catholics, cradle and convert, are alarmed by Pope Francis.  Dan Hitchens at Catholic Herald points this out:

This brings me to Austen Ivereigh’s latest piece suggesting that the epicentre of current anxiety is neither priests nor the laity, neither Westerners nor Africans, but converts. Ivereigh diagnoses “convert neurosis” in a range of writers, from “elegant commentators such as Ross Douthat” all the way down to “ex-Anglicans in my own patch such as Daniel Hitchens of the Catholic Herald.” Our neurosis reveals itself in disproportionate anxiety at the state of the Church; a horror of doctrinal development beyond our favourite period of Catholic history; and a failure to trust that “the Holy Spirit guides” Pope Francis. In sum, “their baggage has distorted their hermeneutic”.

I’m wary of this kind of psychologising: it is hard, even with those we know best, to say how their psychological issues affect their opinions. And in this instance the psychoanalysis seems needless, since there are at least as many cradle Catholics who have the same worries as us converts. An obvious example is Cardinal Raymond Burke, who learnt the faith from his mother and father as a farm boy in 1950s Wisconsin. Again, there are many cradle Catholics among the theologians who have expressed concerns: for instance, Dr Joseph Shaw, the spokesman for the 45 priests and theologians. And so on.

Converts and cradle Catholics have the same worries. I’m sorry to go over this again, but it seems worthwhile, since there is a determined effort in some quarters to change the subject. The concerns are about the sacraments and about doctrine. Nothing on this earth is more beautiful and precious than the sacraments, and it is natural for Catholics to be alarmed about the abuse of them. Scarcely anything is as necessary for our happiness as sound doctrine, and it is normal for Catholics to worry that doctrine is being contradicted or confused. There have been as many saints who were relaxed about heresy as there have been saints who despised the poor.

So of course converts and cradle Catholics will be dismayed by sacramental abuses and doctrinal confusion. And it is hard not to use such terms when we read Malta’s bishops claiming that avoiding adultery may be impossible; when we hear of priests, bishops and even cardinals abandoning the Church’s practice on Communion; when papal teachings are used – without contradiction from Rome – to justify novel approaches to divorce, euthanasia and extramarital relationships. (I have chosen a few examples here out of many, which together form a pattern.)

Catholics are living through a serious – not wholly unprecedented, but serious – doctrinal crisis. We all have psychological issues; as Samuel Johnson observed, “Perhaps, if we speak with rigorous exactness, no human mind is in its right state.” But as Johnson elsewhere remarked, there is one indispensable remedy: “The mind can only repose on the stability of truth.”

A favorite tactic of the old Soviet Union was to label dissidents as insane and lock them up in insane asylums.  It surprises PopeWatch not a whit that a similar mode of looking at Catholics who dissent from FrancisChurch, is becoming popular among those who view Pope Francis as ordained by the Holy Spirit to lead us to a New Light that somehow escaped the Church for twenty centuries.

 

6

PopeWatch: Denzinger

 

 

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

 

 

The largest cross-boarder Lefeverist smuggling tunnel to date was discovered in a midnight raid earlier today by Swiss Guards.  The smugglers fled, abandoning contraband with a street value of over 3 million euros.

Smuggled goods found included pirated copies of “Teach Yourself Latin” software, DVD’s of “The Cardinal,” as well as thousands of copies of Familiaris Consortio and the Decrees of the Council of Trent.

Lead detective on the case Giovanni Verde told EOTT this morning that all of the items seized were street ready.

“From here they would have gone out and been available in the Vatican colleges and back rooms by sunrise,” noting that the tunnel terminated in a small subterranean chapel under one of the Vatican buildings.  “See how the chapel is set up ad orientem?  This is a site of a clandestine Tridentine Mass.”

Rumors have been circulating for years that undocumented Lefeverists were responsible for the countless tunnels undermining the Vatican since the early 1970’s.  According to Verde, his goal is not simply taking down the powerful Lefeverist “cartel,” but also “the numerous groups inside the Vatican supporting them.”

Verde told reporters that he has been tracking a “shadowy figure” who is considered the true leader of the cartel.

“We only know him as “Denzinger,” but he is highly respected in some circles, and his writings are quoted like the Bible. It’s not a secret in the Vatican that the recently terminated the head of the CDF, Gerhard Cardinal Muller, was an admirer of Dezinger.

“It was clear for a number of years that the Cardinal had been Denzinger’s man inside the halls of the Vatican, and now we finally have hard evidence of a conspiracy. Denzinger’s influence over the CDF and the Church will finally be broken.” Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Something to Keep in Mind

 

During the current Pontificate, PopeWatch has found comfort in this passage on the entry under Alexander VI at New Advent:

 

An impartial appreciation of the career of this extraordinary person must at once distinguish between the man and the office. “An imperfect setting”, says Dr. Pastor (op. cit., III, 475), “does not affect the intrinsic worth of the jewel, nor does the golden coin lose its value when it passes through impure hands. In so far as the priest is a public officer of a holy Church, a blameless life is expected from him, both because he is by his office the model of virtue to whom the laity look up, and because his life, when virtuous, inspires in onlookers respect for the society of which he is an ornament. But the treasures of the Church, her Divine character, her holiness, Divine revelation, the grace of God, spiritual authority, it is well known, are not dependent on the moral character of the agents and officers of the Church. The foremost of her priests cannot diminish by an iota the intrinsic value of the spiritual treasures confided to him.” There have been at all times wicked men in the ecclesiastical ranks. Our Lord foretold, as one of its severest trials, the presence in His Church not only of false brethren, but of rulers who would offend, by various forms of selfishness, both the children of the household and “those who are without”. Similarly, He compared His beloved spouse, the Church, to a threshing floor, on which fall both chaff and grain until the time of separation.

 

Go here to read the entire entry.

7

PopeWatch: Letter to the Pope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evangelical minister who specializes in helping Christians facing persecution writes to the Pope:

 

August 3, 2017

Your Holiness,

I am writing to request a meeting between Catholic and Evangelical leaders from the United States at a place and time of your choosing. Though, I’m hoping we can meet quickly.

I speak for many Evangelicals when I say that we have looked upon your appointment with great gratitude to God and with great optimism for the new spirit that you have brought to the Catholic Church. Your commitment to the poor and to pastoral ministry and your efforts to build bridges and to spread the doctrine of mercy around the world have been a light and hope to us all.

As you know more than most, all of this has also come at a time of historic Christian persecution in more places than perhaps at any time in Christian history. Together, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical Christians throughout the entire world have shared – as you’ve said – “an ecumenism of blood.”

It’s in this moment of ongoing persecution, political division and global conflict that we have also witnessed efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals. We think it would be of great benefit to sit together and to discuss these things. Then, when we disagree we can do it within the context of friendship. Though, I’m sure we will find once again that we agree far more than we disagree, and we can work together with diligence on those areas of agreement.

I have to confess what prompted this request were articles published in the La Cattolica Civilitas recently and in the New York Times.  

We feel like this conversation is an urgent one, and I will bring a half dozen or so of our denominational heads and significantly influential Evangelicals for our time together.

We would also like to use the time to meet with various other high level officials throughout the Vatican to find ways in which we can cooperate on matters of great concern to us all, especially as it relates to refugees, the poor and the persecuted.  

I might add that when God put it on my heart to write you directly, I immediately reached out to a mutual friend of ours. He has recounted to me the warm experiences that he’s had with you, and they are what prompted me to write you, knowing that you would receive this letter in kindred spirits. 

With all the respect in the world and with love for Christ’s Church and every corner of it, I’ll earnestly await your reply.

Sincerely,

Rev. Johnnie Moore Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Bishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Barinas

 

 

Bishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Barinas, vice president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, speaks on the dire situation in Venezuela:

 

 

The representative of the bishops’ conference also addressed the Vatican-facilitated dialogue process that took place in Venezuela between the government and the opposition in 2016.

The bishop denounced the result, which, in his view, was “a feigned dialogue on the part of the government without any result.”

“Whenever this government has been at a disadvantage, it has asked to dialogue; but it is always the same script: dialogue is used to gain time and advance in the hegemonic project of totalitarianism and greater power of domination,” Bishop Azuaje stated.

“The Holy See has always been aware of what is happening in the country. Both Pope Francis and the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, are well informed of the country’s problems. They have always been willing to mediate, and we thank them for that. But experiences teach. The failed dialogue from October to December has taught that governments like this should have something more than goodwill,” he said categorically.

 

He also explained that the Vatican “has reminded the government that to return to the table, they must meet what was agreed in October of last year, and recorded by Cardinal Parolin in the letter addressed to President Maduro on December 1, 2016.”

This agreement states that the government must commit to “setting an electoral calendar, the release of political prisoners, the opening of a humanitarian channel to let food and medicines enter the country, and return power to the National Assembly.”

 

In the bishop’s view, the real solution involves a “total change of government through general elections,” perhaps beginning with a “possible transitional national government.”

However, he noted that “we can not forget justice” because “there has been a lot of corruption and violence” and “those responsible for this can not be left uninvestigated.”

Regardless of how the political situation in Venezuela ends, however, Catholics must live and react to the crisis facing the country.

“A Catholic in the circumstances in which we live must be a permanent promoter of the common good, solidarity, and justice,” the bishop advised. “It is not a time of adornment, but of going to the essential, to what gives meaning to life.”

“We know that nothing will be easy when working for the good of the community, but Christians have a fundamental belief that the power of the Holy Spirit not only animates us, but enlightens us in walking the narrow way. It offers us challenges, but it gives us its strength, ” Bishop Azuaje said.

“I want to go to the extreme of saying that a Catholic can not bend to exclusionary policies, much less the voracious corruption that exists in the country, nor raise his hand to strike the dignity of anyone,” he added.

“A committed Catholic should demand justice and work for the people with the sole interest of developing processes that lead to greater human development,” the bishop urged. Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Venezuela

 

Events are quickly coming to a head in Venezuela, as Father de Souza at Crux tells us:

 

The Holy See declared itself on Friday against the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro, capping an extraordinary few months of masterful maneuvering by the bishops of Venezuela. They have preserved the integrity of the Church’s witness in the face of a tyrant that has starved his people and refused to permit foreign aid to help them.

The statement of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State calls on Maduro to abandon his plans to hold a “constituent assembly” to rewrite the constitution in his favour. It calls again for human rights to be respected, and refers to earlier calls for political prisoners to be released and new elections to be held – which, presumably and hopefully – would lead to the end of Maduro’s regime.

Venezuela has been plunged into a lethal crisis by a communist government that has doubled down on totalitarian measures to tighten its grip on power. The collapse of petro-communism in Venezuela is now more severe than the Great Depression in the United States, or the economic decline of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

But it’s wrong to blame falling oil prices, which in any case have recently stabilized. There are no other petro-states in which the citizenry is without food or toilet paper, fleeing as refugees without papers because the government no longer has the capacity to print passports.

Venezuela has descended rapidly into starvation poverty because during the boom years the regime of Hugo Chavez ran up record debts to plug the holes in its failed, corrupt economic policies. Now under his successor, Nicolas Maduro, there is nothing left in the exchequer and little new borrowing to be had. The economic catastrophe has undermined the regime’s support, which is why Maduro has resorted to lethal violence, rampant thuggery and totalitarian measures to change the constitution to preserve his hold on power.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s vote for Maduro’s new constituent assembly – boycotted by the opposition – the government seized opposition leaders and continued its killing of protesters in the streets. The Venezuelan bishops stood with the opposition, and with the protesters. Indeed, one extraordinary photo shows Venezuelan priests facing armed government forces in the streets, pleading for them to allow medical care for a young man they had shot. The government forces let him die.

The country’s bishops made clear by name the cause of Venezuela’s agony, tweeting on Sunday a prayer to “free our homeland from the claws of communism and socialism.” It is not a matter of a clumsy bureaucracy, or of squabbling factions, or unfortunate economic shocks; Venezuela has been brought low by a failed ideology.

The Venezuelan Church now stands squarely in solidarity with the opposition and the people in the streets against the Maduro regime. In the weeks ahead, we might hope for something like the happy ending of the People Power revolution of 1986 in the Philippines, when the Filipino Church was at the forefront of the protests that brought down the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

However matters play out in Venezuela, the leading bishops of the country have ensured that the Church’s witness will not be ambiguous. Even a few months ago, the role of the Church was confusing in Venezuela, with the astonishing phenomenon of Maduro repeatedly insisting that the bishops drop their opposition to him out of obedience to Pope Francis, who called repeatedly for dialogue but would not clearly criticize the Maduro regime, as he did yesterday.

Defenders of the previous papal strategy considered it an attempt to keep the lines of communication open, preserving the capacity of the Church to act as a mediator. Critics of the strategy thought it foolish to call for dialogue as between the predator and his prey, when the only path ahead for Venezuela was for Maduro and his socialist/communist regime to go. Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: Beanies

 

 

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

 

It was announced today that the Swiss Guard’s uniform will be changed to a more modern hipster look.

Pontifical Swiss Guard Commandant Daniel Anrig told Guards gathered at the annual When Do We Get To See Some Action Jamboree that the traditional “uniform” worn by the Knights will be replaced so as to be more appealing to millennials.

Instead of the well-known European Renaissance-style uniform, the average member of the Swiss Guard will be wearing a pair of skinny jeans, a beanie, and a leather jacket “no matter how hot the temperature gets in Rome,” Anrig said. Anrig did not specify whether swords would be replaced with scarfs or whether they would be replaced with pens in case “the muse strikes and gives them the inspiration to write the next Infinite Jest.”

“I have decided that the time is right for a modernization of the Swiss Guard Uniform,” Anrig said. “From now on, along with skinny jeans, beanies, and leather jackets, the preferred dress for the Guard will include v-necks or flannel shirts, vintage sneakers, bow ties, and black squared frames for glasses whether Guards wear prescription glasses or not.”

Swiss Guard David Adank told EOTT via a shrug of the shoulders this morning that, though a little bit nervous and hesitant about the change, he welcomes it with open, sarcastic arms.

“Whatever,” Adank went on to say before departing to an undisclosed coffee shop.

Another member of the Swiss Guard, Toby Caspari, told EOTT that he was worried that he would be expelled from the Guard since he struggles growing a proper mustache.

“I guess it’s the mandatory mustache that I’m most afraid of,” Caspari said. “I’ve never really been able to grow one, and all everyone’s talking about is what type of “stache wax” to use. Whatever, maybe I’ll use a fake. I trust the commandant’s judgment. I think skinny jeans really helps to show a striking, imitative image of Christ because he was kind of a hipster in his own way. He too didn’t care what people thought. But at the same time, he wanted people to notice him, but at the same time not notice him, if you know what I’m saying. You know what I’m saying? Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Sheer Incompetence

 

 

George Weigel at The Catholic Report notes that the powers that be at the Vatican are not noted for their competence:

 

On occasion, however, that can be a journey through the looking glass and into Wonderland.

Last month, Civilta Cattolicà featured an article co-authored by its editor-in-chief, Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, and Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, who edits the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. The article purported to analyze a startling “ecumenism of hate” in the United States, forged by ultra-conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants, and creepy-dangerous for its indulgence in a new Manicheanism that distorts the Gospel and divides everything in the world into rigid and narrowly-defined categories of good and evil. This bizarre screed generated weeks of controversy in the blogosphere, during which Father Spadaro tweeted that the article’s critics were “haters” whose vitriol confirmed the article’s hypothesis – a Trumpian outburst ill-becoming a paladin of “dialogue.”

My friends and colleagues R.R. Reno, Robert Royal, and Fr. Raymond de Souza have ably replied to the comprehensive inanities of the Spadaro/Figueroa article: its ill-informed misrepresentation of American religious history; its surreal descriptions of 21st-century American Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism; its obsessions with marginal figures in contemporary American religious life like R.J. Rushdoony and Michael Voris; its misreading of the dynamics of religiously-informed public moral argument in American politics; and its weird description of the premises of current Vatican diplomacy, which will give comfort to the likes of Vladimir Putin, Raul Castro, and Nicolas Maduro. Those who care to sift through this intellectual dumpster can consult Dr. Reno’s article, Dr. Royal’s, and Fr. De Souza’s. The questions I’d like to raise here involve Civilta Cattolicà’s relationship to its putative overseers in the Vatican Secretariat of State.

What kind of vetting did this misbegotten article get? Were any knowledgeable experts on U.S. Catholicism or American evangelical Protestantism  consulted on what the overseers must have known would be an incendiary piece? Does the Spadaro/Figueroa article really represent the views of the Secretariat of State about today’s debates at the intersection of religion and politics in the United States? If the answer to the last is “Yes,” then what does the Secretariat of State make of the American situation as described by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, in his addresses to the U.S. bishops – a description that bears no resemblance to the wasteland of madcap pseudo-theology and hatred described by Spadaro and Figueroa? If the answer is “No,” then why was the Spadaro/Figueroa article cleared for publication? Continue Reading

8

Hmmm

 

 

The Spadaro-Figueroa American Catholic conservative bashing article came out two weeks ago, go here to read about it, but suddenly today it receives coverage all over the secular press.  Is this merely an example of how slow the mainstream media generally is to cover Catholic news, or is this a ramping up of the Pope’s war, and let us be honest that is precisely the term that should be used, against American Catholic conservatives?  Go here to look at some of the stories published today.  The New York Times article is driving the coverage, and why did they suddenly decide to cover this now?  For the present, American Catholic conservatives should assume that our enemies in the Vatican are working hand in glove with our domestic enemies.

14

PopeWatch: Padre Pio

 

Hattip to commenter Greg Mockeridge.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register reminds us of just how far we have fallen:

 

The decision to have the notorious abortionist Emma Bonino speak about immigration in an Italian church last week drew widespread condemnation.

But it also led some to argue, including the local Caritas representative who sponsored her talk, that Bonino’s atrocious abortion record, of which she has never repented, could be set aside to focus on this other aspect of Catholic Social Teaching. 

Yet effectively sidelining the gravity of abortion in favor of bringing a radical secularist to form a common front on immigration perhaps signifies how much the West, and some in the Church, have become numb to abortion and the gravity of the sin.

St. Padre Pio, for example, believed abortion was not just the murder of an innocent human being, but also a true suicide.

In a now famous story, Father Pellegrino Funicelli, who assisted Padre Pio for many years, once confronted the saint on the sin, asking him:

“Today you denied absolution to a woman because she had voluntarily undergone an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate?” (Padre Pio would sometimes refuse to give absolution to a penitent if they showed insufficient contrition; often they would return and he’d give absolution if they were sincere).

Padre Pio responded: “The day that people lose their horror for abortion will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only a homicide but also a suicide. Shouldn’t we have the courage to manifest our faith before those who commit two crimes within one act?

“Suicide?,” asked Father Pellegrino.

“The suicide of the human race will be understood by those who will see the earth populated by the elderly and depopulated of children: burnt as a desert,” Padre Pio replied.

Bonino, who boasts of performing more than 10,000 abortions in 1975, vacuuming the unborn child from the womb with a bicycle pump and putting the mangled remains into a glass jar, ironically noted in her talk the population decline in Italy. Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Clear Sighted Atheist

 

 

Some atheists see more clearly these days than many Catholics:

 

 

An atheist philosopher friend of Benedict XVI has strongly criticized Pope Francis, accusing the Holy Father of not preaching the Gospel but politics, fomenting schism, and issuing secularist statements aimed at destroying the West.

In a fiery interview published July 10 in Mattino di Napoli, Marcello Pera, who co-wrote the famous 2005 book Without Roots with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said he cannot understand the Pope who, he said, goes beyond the bounds of “rational comprehension.”

A philosophy professor, member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, and a former president of the Italian Senate, Pera said he believes the reason why the Pope calls for unlimited immigration is because he “hates the West” and is seeking to do all he can “to destroy it.”

He added that he does not like the Pope’s magisterium, saying it is “not the Gospel, only politics,” and that Francis is “little or not at all interested in Christianity as doctrine, in its theological aspect.”

“His statements appear to be based on Scripture,” he said, but “actually they are strongly secularist.”

Immigration has become a highly sensitive topic in Italy in recent months as thousands of refugees arrive every month, mostly from north Africa, placing considerable strain on local communities and services. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Triumvirate

 

Sandro Magister tells us of three men who are the closest to the Pope:

 

The classic communist parties had their “organic intellectuals.” But Pope Francis has them, too. Their names are Antonio Spadaro, Marcelo Figueroa, Víctor Manuel Fernández.

The first is an Italian and a Jesuit, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica.” The others are Argentine, and the latter is not even Catholic but a Presbyterian pastor, and in spite of this Francis has put him at the head of the Buenos Aires edition of “L’Osservatore Romano.”

Spadaro has turned “La Civiltà Cattolica” into the organ of Casa Santa Marta, meaning of the pope. And together with Figueroa he put his name to an article in the latest issue of the magazine that slammed into the United States like a hurricane, because it accused both Catholic and Protestant conservative circles of acting in that country “with a logic not different from that which inspires Islamic fundamentalism,” none less than that of Osama bin Laden and the Caliphate.

And on what are these Catholics and Protestants supposed to have come together to fight as “neo-Crusaders”? On “issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in the schools,” in other words, on “a particular form of defense of religious freedom.” With the result – according to the two authors of the article – of fomenting an “ecumenism of hatred,” nostalgia for “a state with theocratic features.” The exact opposite of the ecumenism of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a pope “of inclusion, peace, encounter.”

The trouble is that the defense of life, of the family, of religious freedom have been at the forefront of the American Catholic Church’s agenda for more than a decade. It therefore could not help but react at seeing that “believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true.”

The highest-level protest came from the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, who rejected the article by Spadaro and Figueroa as “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequate.” But other comments have been much harsher and have had an easy time pointing out a series of colossal historical and logical blunders in the article.

Any other magazine would have tossed out such an article, the Canadian Raymond J. de Souza for example wrote on “Crux,” the most important and balanced website of Catholic information in the United States.

But at Santa Marta, on Francis’s desk, it didn’t end up that way, and on the contrary the article by Spadaro and Figueroa was passed with full marks and made an even bigger splash in that it was correctly interpreted by everyone as expressive not only of the pope’s thoughts but also of his management style: in this case, an attack of unprecedented forcefulness on the “Ratzingerian” leadership of the Catholic Church in the United States, launched through middlemen.

In the doctrinal camp Fr. Spadaro is fairly nonchalant, theorizing that “in theology 2 + 2 can make 5,” and is infallible in prognosticating Bergoglio’s revolutions big and small. But among the counselors and confidants is one who is even closer to the pope than he is. And it is none other than the Argentine Víctor Manuel Fernández, a theologian whose first and revealing work was, in 1995, a volume entitled: “Heal me with your mouth. The art of kissing.”

It comes as no surprise that after this debut and after his other no less questionable literary productions Rome would veto Fernández’s appointment as rector of the Universidad Católica Argentina, only to have to bend, in 2009, to the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires, who fought tooth and nail to get the nulla osta for the promotion of his protege.

In 2013, just after he was elected pope, Bergoglio even made Fernández an archbishop. And since then this figure has almost spent more time in Rome than in Argentina, swamped as he is with acting as counselor and ghostwriter for his friend the pope.

Whole paragraphs of chapter eight of “Amoris Laetitia,” the document of Pope Francis that has most shaken the Church, have been found to have been copied wholesale from articles by Fernández of a decade ago. Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Humor?

 

 

Father Z has an interesting anecdote about the Pope:

 

It seems that the site Messa in latino picked up on an anecdote recounted by a French site Benoit etmoi.  Here’s my translation from the French, which seems to be the original of the anecdote.  I’m cutting out the first part, just to get at the core of the anecdote itself.   Mind you, we are dealing with something that happened recently, after this spring or early summers traditional round of diocesan ordinations to the priesthood.  However, we are also dealing with something that it second hand at best.

A group of young priests from the same diocese, who were just ordained, made a pilgrimage together to Rome. They were not traditionalists, but young priests of today, white shirt with discreet collar, [in some European countries you will see during the summer priests in a white clerical shirt with “tab” collar] classic, pious, normal, very happy with the gift of Christ they had just received. Naturally, they asked and obtained (the chance) to have dinner at Santa Marta and to be presented to the Pope, and also to concelebrate with him at Mass the next day.

They arrived at Santa Marta at the designated time, and went to the place indicated. A secretary pointed them out to the Pope who was approaching. The Pope: “Where are you from?” They, proudly: “Of the Diocese of X”.  And he, with a sour expression [avec la mine des mauvais jours]: “Ah, X, there are still many priests there. That means that there is a problem, a problem of discernment.” And he continues his journey.

The young priests, dismayed, looked at each other, conferred, and left without eating.  And the next day, they spared themselves the concelebration at Santa Marta.

Okay… what to do with this.  And, mind you, I’m doing this here because I’ve had a lot of requests.

It could be that these young men mistook the Pope’s expression.  Some people’s default face isn’t always cheerful looking.

It could be that these young men mistook the Pope’s words.  There could be a language difference.

However, since there were a few of them, they probably were not all mistaken in their interpretation and it drove them to leave and not come back.

Popes kid around with seminarians and priests.  John Paul II sure did.  Here is one of my own anecdotes with John Paul.  I’ve never told this one here before.

Since my seminary in Rome was named after JPII, we seminarians were often called to serve his Masses.  Hence, I had quite a few opportunities as a seminarian and as a deacon.  I was a deacon often enough that the Holy Father got to know me.  One day, as deacon, I brought the thurible into the small sacristy tucked away near the altar of the Pietà (they laid our our dalmatics, etc., on the altar beneath the Pietà – that wasn’t cool or anything…) for the Pope, as celebrant, to “charge”.  As I approached he said in Italian, “You again!”  As I held it up he said, “Which seminary are you from?”  Of course he knew.  He asked every time.  “The John Paul the Second International Seminary, Your Holiness.”  With clearly mock dismay, he almost bellowed, “Terribile! Terribile!”  Everyone was amused, including myself.  Then he became very grave.  Leaning in almost nose to nose, he repeatedly pounded me hard on the chest with his finger and said, punctuating every word, “Tu… deve essere serio.  You… have to be serious.”  “Serio” means “serious”, but also “focused, earnest”.

That experience was a little frightening, to be frank.  First, that was the POPE.  Also, that was Pope Wojtyla.  It is a bit cliché to speak of what it felt like when he came into a room, but I guarantee you he was like no one else I’ve seen.  Seeing him come in or meeting him briefly is one thing.  Having him pound you repeatedly on the chest nose to nose is another.

Clearly the saint was trying in an extremely personal moment to inspire a man to something more than mediocrity.  After all, my seminary had his name.  Ergo, we reflected him, in a way.  We had to live up to that.

Let’s just say that I have not forgotten that moment.

It could be that Pope Francis was trying to do something similar with these young priests, but missed the mark. Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Debt

 

 

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

 

Total catechism student loan debt in the U.S. has officially topped $1.8 hundred dollars.

In March, the Francis administration announced a series of changes to the Free Application For Federal Catechism Aid (FAFCA), the form for prospective catechists applying for church financial aid.

This measure was taken in the hopes of making the burden of learning the fundamentals of Catholicism more manageable. EOTT has found in a recent study that cradle Catholics ages 30 to 55 owe nearly as much money on past catechism classes as do converts to Catholicism even after years of payments, and that loan payments have become a major portion of their monthly expenses, crippling many households.

Head RCIA financial aid expert Devin Bolero recently told EOTT that more than 37% of borrowers are graduating with debt that can take them days if not weeks to pay off, significantly impacting their lives.

“I found that new Catholics who graduate with catechism debt are about 17% more likely to wait an extra week to pay off their debt before getting married and having kids,” Bolero said. “It’s an issue the USCCB seriously needs to look into.”

Bolero estimates that America’s catechism student loan debt is growing at a rapid rate, rising nearly $2 every week. Continue Reading

9

PopeWatch: Memory Lane

 

Father Z takes a trip down Memory Lane:

 

Here is something to ponder.  HERE

On this day in 2013 I posted:

Over at First Things I saw a piece called Five Myths About Pope Francis by William Doino Jr.

What are those myths?

1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.”
2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.”
3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.”
4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.”
5. “Francis Loves the World.”

I think it would be interesting to reread the article in question and see how things are going now…. with some perspective. Continue Reading

16

PopeWatch: Summorum Pontificum

 

Summorum Pontificum bye bye?

 

 Sources inside the Vatican suggest that Pope Francis aims to end Pope Benedict XVI’s universal permission for priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. While the course of action would be in tune with Pope Francis’ repeatedly expressed disdain for the TLM especially among young people, there has been no open discussion of it to date.

Sources in Rome told LifeSite last week that liberal prelates inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith were overheard discussing a plan ascribed to the Pope to do away with Pope Benedict’s famous document that gave priests freedom to offer the ancient rite of the Mass.

Catholic traditionalists have just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the document, Summorum Pontificum. Pope Benedict XVI issued it in 2007, giving all Latin Rite priests permission to offer the TLM without seeking permission of their bishops, undoing a restriction placed on priests after the Second Vatican Council.

The motu proprio outraged liberal bishops as it stripped them of the power to forbid the TLM, as many did. Previously priests needed their bishop’s permission to offer the TLM. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: An Authoritative Churchman

 

Sandro Magister publishes this from a source he describes as “an authoritative Churchman”:

 

 

*

EVERYONE IS RESPONDING TO THE “DUBIA” EXCEPT FOR THE POPE. THIS TIME IT WAS SCHÖNBORN’S TURN

by ***

On July 13, 2017 Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, spoke for four hours in two conferences and a question-and-answer session at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland.

The Austrian cardinal spoke in the context of the event “Let’s Talk Family: Let’s Be Family,” which is part of a series of assemblies organized in preparation for the world meeting of families (1), under the direction of the dicastery for the laity, family, and life, which will be held in Dublin from August 21 to 28, 2018.

After reading the reporting on the event offered by the main specialized media outlets (2), I cannot help but note that when it comes to the “dubia” submitted to the pope by four cardinals, everyone is answering them except for him; and that in this way to the chaotic chorus of the most disparate comments and interpretations of “Amoris Laetitia” – which do anything but clarify for the faithful and confessors the problems raised by the document – there has been added a new voice, or better, a new fog.

This because the arguments offered by the archbishop of Vienna – at least according to how they have been reported by the most reliable media – are anything but convincing. Let’s take a look at the main ones. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Hostility

 

Good news:

 

On the heels of one controversial Vatican article alleging an “ecumenism of hate” between conservative Evangelicals and Catholics in America, another potential eyebrow-raiser emerged Saturday claiming that the “main obstacle” to implementing Pope Francis’s vision is “closure, if not hostility” from “a good part of the clergy, at levels both high and low.”

The term “high and low” suggests the author had in mind clergy ranging from senior bishops to ordinary parish priests.

“The clergy is holding the people back, who should instead be accompanied in this extraordinary moment,” said the article by Italian Father Giulio Cirignano, a native of Florence and a longtime Scripture scholar at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy.

The piece appeared in the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, under the headline of “The Conversion Asked by Pope Francis: Habit is not Fidelity.”

It comes a little over a week after the publication of an essay by Italian Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Argentine Protestant Marcelo Figueroa, two close friends of Pope Francis, in the Jesuit-edited journal La Civilità Cattolica. In it, Spadaro and Figueroa described what they see was a “Manichean vision” underlying growing closeness in America between Evangelicals and “Catholic Integralists.”

Cirignano’s piece didn’t focus on the United States, and appeared to be more concerned with Italian realities, though he didn’t specify which country or region he was addressing.

“The main obstacle that stands in the way of the conversion that Pope Francis wants to bring to the Church is constituted, in some measure, by the attitude of a good part of the clergy, at levels high and low … an attitude, at times, of closure if not hostility,” Cirignano wrote. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Down Argentine Way

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis is still popular in Argentina, but not quite as popular as he used to be:

 

More than four years since his election, although most Argentinians, Catholic and non-Catholic, still celebrate Pope Francis’ style and message as a blessing, enthusiasm has dimmed in some sectors of the population. A poll published in the mass-circulation Clarin newspaper in March last year suggested that his popularity had dipped to its lowest point, of 75 per cent. A recent poll taken in Buenos Aires and its province lifted the figure to 82 per cent. However, this was still lower than the approval ratings of well over 90 per cent that he enjoyed in the first months after his election.

The fact that a global spiritual leader is a fellow countryman was always bound to be a refreshing experience, as well as a source of genuine pride, for a country that previously counted football stars – Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi – as its most popular international exports.

Francis’ many admirers see a reassuring familiarity in the humility that characterised Jorge Bergoglio’s years as their archbishop and his devotion to the poor and those on the “peripheries”. They have warmed to his readiness to reform the Church and to open up the discussion of controversial issues. However, he also faces criticism.

Politically conservative and traditionalist Argentinian Catholics see him as too radical and as unsound in theology. Over dinner in fashionable restaurants, they whisper about his reliance on instinct and charisma, like his childhood political idols, General Juan Perón and his wife, Evita. Social media is sometimes excoriating.

More measured doubts are aired in conservative parishes or in informal conversations at which government officials or business executives are present. Occasionally, a sceptical journalist or politician gingerly advances their views in public, as did Elisa Carrio, a conservative Catholic ally of the current centre-Right government of President Mauricio Macri.

After Milagro Sala, an indigenous community activist in northern Argentina, was arrested last year on charges of fraud, extortion and illicit association, Carrio described Francis’ gift of a rosary to her as a “grave error of judgement”. As Jose Maria Poirier, editor of the Catholic magazine Criterio, commented: “The waters are rather divided. There seems to be two perceptions of the Pope Francis: an international, and a national one – and they are very different.”

Concern that Pope Francis is being unwittingly drawn into Argentina’s politics as the nation gears up for mid-term congressional elections in October recently led Jorge Lugones, Jesuit bishop of the densely populated Buenos Aires diocese of Lomas de Zamora, to lament that Francis “was so valued and loved around the world yet so questioned in his own country”. Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Let God Sort ‘Em Out

 

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

 

VATICAN––The Vatican this morning is announcing that every pope that has ever lived, including ones still living, is to be canonized by the end of the year, sources are confirming.

The news comes just a week after John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized, and a day after it was announced that Paul VI was to be beatified later this year.

A Vatican insider told EOTT today that Pope Francis awoke earlier this morning shouting, “Canonize them all! Canonize them all!”

“He woke up in hysterics, telling everyone he passed that he wanted to canonize all the popes who came before him,” the insider said. “He said that by knocking out all the popes at once, that it would give him time to focus all his energy on the Church Militant.”

Speaking from his grave this morning, Pope Alexander VI, known by many historians to be the worst pope of all time, said that he couldn’t believe the news when he heard it. “Get the hell out of here! Oops, sorry about that. But seriously?”

Although the date of the canonizations has yet to be announced, Vatican officials said that since the requirement for miracles had been waived, they hope to canonize everyone by November. Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Dictatorship of the Zeitgeist

 

There has been a lot written about the message sent by the Pope Emeritus in regard to the funeral of Cardinal Meissner.  Archbishop Georg Gänswein, former personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus, has denied that the statement was in way aimed at Pope Francis.  Here is a translation of the entire statement.  You be the judge:

 

In this hour, when the Church of Cologne and believers further afield take their leave of Cardinal Joachim Meissner, I am with them in my heart and thoughts and am pleased to accede to Cardinal Woelki’s wish and address a word of reflection to them.

When I heard last Wednesday by telephone of the death of Cardinal Meissner, I could not believe it at first. We had spoken to each other the previous day. From the way he spoke he was grateful to be on holiday now, after he had taken part the Sunday before (25th June) in the beatification of Bishop Teofilius Maturlionis in Vilnius. His love for the neighbouring Churches in the East, which had suffered persecution under Communism, as well as gratitude for endurance in suffering during that time left a lifelong mark on him. So it was certainly no accident that the last visit of his life was made to a confessor of the faith.

What struck me particularly in the last conversations with the Cardinal, now gone home, was the natural cheerfulness, the inner peace and the assurance he had found. We know that it was hard for him, the passionate shepherd and pastor of souls, to leave his office, and this precisely at a time when the Church had a pressing need for shepherds who would oppose the dictatorship of the zeitgeist, fully resolved to act and think from a faith standpoint. Yet I have been all the more impressed that in this last period of his life he learned to let go, and live increasingly from the conviction that the Lord does not leave his Church, even if at times the ship is almost filled to the point of shipwreck.

There were two things which in this final period allowed him to be increasingly happy and assured:

– The first was that he often related to me that what filled him with deep joy was to experience, in the Sacrament of Penance, how young people, above all young men, came to experience the mercy of forgiveness, the gift, in effect to have found life, which only God can give them.

– The second, which again and again touched and made him happy, was the perceptible increase in Eucharistic adoration. This was the central theme for him at World Youth Day in Cologne – that there was adoration, a silence, in which the Lord alone speaks to hearts. Some pastoral and liturgical authorities were of the opinion that such a silence in contemplation of the Lord with such a huge number of people could achieve nothing. A few were also of the opinion that Eucharistic adoration as such has been overtaken, because the Lord wanted to be received in the Eucharistic bread and not be looked at. Yet the fact that a person cannot eat this bread as just some sort of nourishment, and that to “receive” the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrament includes all the dimensions of our existence – that receiving has to be worship, something which has in the meantime become increasingly clearer. So the period of Eucharistic adoration at the Cologne World Youth Day became an interior event that has remained unforgettable, and not only to the Cardinal. This moment for him was subsequently always present internally and a great light for him.

When on the last morning Cardinal Meissner did not appear for Mass, he was found dead in his room. The breviary had slipped from his hands: he died while praying, his face on the Lord, in conversation with the Lord. The art of dying, which was given to him, again demonstrated how he had lived: with his face towards the Lord and in conversation with him. So we may confidently entrust his soul to the goodness of God.

Lord, we thank you for the witness of this your servant, Joachim. Let him now intercede for the Church of Cologne and for the whole world.

Requiescat in pace!

10

PopeWatch: Sorondo

“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

Rex Mottram on Papal Infallibilty

 

 

 

Well, according to the head of the Pontifical Academy of Science there is no human activity that is not subject to the Pope:

 

 

– The head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has again inferred that denial of the controversial concept of manmade climate change equates to flat earth mentality.

“From the scientific point of view, the sentence that the earth is warmed by human activity is as true as the sentence: The earth is round!” said Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo.

The archbishop has been a consistent and zealous promoter of manmade climate change as a non-negotiable Church issue, despite the status of care for the environment as a prudential matter.  

Climate change ideology continues to be contested as a ploy perpetrated with manipulated data by the left to enact environmental regulations and taxes.

Even so, Archbishop Sorondo dismissed deniers of climate change in a recent Vatican Radio interview as “a small, negligible minority.”

The interview conducted in German contained the headline: “Vatican: ‘Climate change is a fact,’” and centered on reception of Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’ two years after its release.

Archbishop Sorondo went on in the interview to say that human-affected climate change was considered science. He added that the pope not only has the right but also the duty to rely on science in addition to doctrine and philosophy in seeking out truth.

If the pope expresses himself on such a subject, then this was not arbitrary, he said, as the pope’s words are not restricted to the area of ​​”doctrine of faith and morals.” 

The pope makes use of the truths of science or philosophy to not only explain to man how to get to heaven, said the archbishop, but also what he must do on earth. 

All human activities have to do with ethics, the Argentinean archbishop said, so they are already within the jurisdiction of the pope.

Archbishop Sorondo is a close adviser to Pope Francis and the Chancellor of both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. He has repeatedly welcomed pro-abortion and population control advocates to the Vatican for conferences under the pretext of the climate issue.

Last month, just before President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the controversial Paris Climate Agreement, the archbishop likened climate ideology skeptics to flat-earthers as well.

Withdrawal from the Paris accord “would not only be a disaster but completely unscientific,” he said.

“Saying that we need to rely on coal and oil is like saying that the earth is not round,” Archbishop Sorondo stated. “It is an absurdity dictated by the need to make money.”

He has also repeatedly made the claim that those who don’t subscribe to the manmade climate change theory are in some way subsidized by the oil industry. He did so again in the Vatican Radio interview. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Dan Brown

 

Carl Olsen at The Catholic World Report gives his look at the Spadaro and Figueroa diatribe which appeared in La Civilta Cattolica :

 

My good friend Sandra Miesel, with whom I co-authored The Da Vinci Hoax years ago, was fond of starting out her talks about the mega-selling novel The Da Vinci Code by saying: “Dan Brown does get some things right: London is in England, Paris is in France, and Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter.” That quote came to mind over the weekend, while I was Facebooking with Dr. Chad C. Pecknold, who teaches systematic theology at Catholic University of America, about the recent essay “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism” by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., and Marcelo Figueroa. Spadaro, who is editor of La Civiltà Cattolica (which published the piece) and is a close confidant and advisor to Pope Francis; Figueroa is “a Protestant and a close friend of Pope Francis” and editor of the Argentinian edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Dr. Pecknold flatly stated that the two authors “have written an incendiary diatribe against an almost Dan-Brown-level caricature of the kind of politics they disdain.” And he is, I think, quite correct in that assessment. Recall how Brown’s novel was not and is not famous because of great writing or fascinating, current-day characters but because of audacious claims, clumsy but appealing conspiracy theories, and a veneer of sophistication. (For much more on that, see my March 2005 article “The ‘It’s Just Fiction” Doctrine’”.) Spadaro/Figueroa’s essay isn’t fiction, of course—which only makes its errors, dubious claims, hyperbolic criticisms, and hypocritical double standards all the more appalling. While several other authors—including Dr. Samuel Gregg here at CWR—have written some excellent responses, I want to highlight a few points I think are notable and worthy of consideration.

Spadaro/Figueroa’s essay seeks to impress with an air of learnedness, but sloppiness undermines it from the start. For example:

The term “evangelical fundamentalist” can today be assimilated to the “evangelical right” or “theoconservatism” and has its origins in the years 1910-1915. In that period a South Californian millionaire, Lyman Stewart, published the 12-volume work The Fundamentals. The author wanted to respond to the threat of modernist ideas of the time. He summarized the thought of authors whose doctrinal support he appreciated. He exemplified the moral, social, collective and individual aspects of the evangelical faith. His admirers include many politicians and even two recent presidents: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

No, Stewart did not “summarize” the thoughts of authors; he didn’t even edit the 12-volume sets of books. They were edited by A. C. Dixon and Reuben Archer Torrey, and consisted of 90 essays written by 64 authors from across a fairly wide spectrum of Protestantism—Calvinist, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, etc.— including scholars who taught at Ivy League schools. The term “fundamentalist” was coined a few years later, and the break between what we now call “Fundamentalism” and “Evangelicalism” was both protracted and complicated, eluding broad strokes or simple explanations. What is important here, however, is that the “fundamentals” in question consisted of the following: the inerrancy of Scripture, the Virgin birth of Christ, substitutional atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the authenticity of miracles, and the second coming of Christ. There were also essays against Catholicism, socialism, Mormonism, evolutionism, and other belief systems.

The essays marked a significant line in the cultural and religious sands of the time, which were characterized by a combination of progressive politics, technocratic aspiration, bureaucratic growth, eugenics, racism (not only against blacks, but also Catholic immigrants), the social gospel, forms of Darwinism, and, in the realm of theology, the flood of historical-critical methodologies (mostly coming from Germany). It’s important to note that most of the radical politics and racial eugenics of that time flowed from liberal Protestants or former Protestants; put another way, the “social gospel” of the time reflected a use of religion for a very “this world” type of political project. All this to say that Spadaro/Figueroa don’t seem to understand that politics in the U.S. have always, in many and often bewildering ways, been shot through with forms of Christian rhetoric and appeal, and that seeking to isolate any one form and make it the Rosetta Stone for understanding American politics is doomed to be simplistic and sophistic. Continue Reading

15

PopeWatch: A Telling Incident

 

PopeWatch finds this incident from 2013 absolutely chilling:

 

The first step of Müller’s Calvary was a disconcerting episode in the middle of 2013. The cardinal was celebrating Mass in the church attached to the congregation palace, for a group of German students and scholars. His secretary joined him at the altar: “The pope wants to speak to you.” “Did you tell him I am celebrating Mass?” asked Müller. “Yes,” said the secretary, “but he says he does not mind—he wants to talk to you all the same.” The cardinal went to the sacristy. The pope, in a very bad mood, gave him some orders and a dossier concerning one of his friends, a cardinal. (This is a very delicate matter. I have sought an explanation of this incident from the official channels. Until the explanation comes, if it ever comes, I cannot give further details.) Obviously, Mūller was flabbergasted. Continue Reading