Pope Francis

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

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Sandro Magister reveals at his blog Chiesa the ongoing contact between Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus:

In his latest interview, with “Corriere della Sera,” Pope Francis has revealed that he has struck a deal with Joseph Ratzinger on a new role for the “pope emeritus,” unprecedented in the history of the Church:

“The pope emeritus is not a statue in a museum. It is an institution. We have not been accustomed to this. Sixty or seventy years ago, the bishop emeritus did not exist. It came after the Council. Today it is an institution. The same thing must happen for the pope emeritus.  Benedict is the first, and perhaps there will be others. We do not know. He is discrete, humble, he does not want to be a nuisance.  We have spoken about it and have decided together that it would be better that he see people, get out and participate in the life of the Church. [. . .]  Some may have wished that he would retire to a Benedictine abbey far from the Vatican. I have thought of the grandparents who with their wisdom, their advice bring strength to the family and do not deserve to end up in a nursing home.”

No sooner said than done. A few days ago a book came with a previously unpublished text by Benedict XVI.  And this is not a matter of just any sort of text.  But of a judgment that  the last pope – under the reign of his successor – is pronouncing on his predecessor, John Paul II. A veritable public judgment not only on the person but on the central features of that memorable pontificate.

With accents that cannot help but be juxtaposed with the current situation of the Church.

Some media, in covering the news of this text by the “pope emeritus,” have emphasized the passage in which he recounts how the question of liberation theology was addressed in the first phase of Karol Wojtyla’s pontificate.

But there are other significant passages. Two in particular. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Charisma Skipping

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Pope Francis has received the type of press coverage from the media during his year as Pope that I have only seen Obama during 2008-2009 get.  Primarily this is because most of the media is certain that Pope Francis will reverse or neuter the position of the Church on key moral issues where the media is in lockstep opposition to the Church.  However, this is not the only reason for the positive press coverage.  Pope Francis has the mysterious quality called charisma that is so important for any public figure in an age of mass communications.

Since the death of Pope Pius XII the Church has experienced an interesting pattern of a charismatic pope being followed by a non-charismatic pope, being followed by a charismatic pope.  Pope John XXIII, who Pope Francis seems to modeling himself on, had a charisma not seen in the papacy since Pio Nono.  Paul VI, poor tortured man, had not an ounce of charisma to his name.  Pope John Paul I died so swiftly that I do not include him in the pattern.  Pope John Paul II, until his last illness afflicted years, might well have been the most charismatic pope in the history of the Church.  Pope Benedict was doubtless one of the most brilliant, and least charismatic, pontiffs ever to grace the throne of Peter. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Clowns

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

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Sacramento, CA––Sources say that just minutes after a Circus Mass at St. Pius X Catholic Church concluded earlier this morning, Church Pastor and Ring Master Fr. Reggie Smith reprimanded a clown deacon for having honked the horn several seconds after the consecration. “The GIRM clearly states that ‘a little before the Consecration, when appropriate, a server honks a horn as a signal to the audience. According to local custom, the server also honks the horn as the priest and ringmaster shows the host and then the chalice,” An infuriated Smith told EOTT as he kissed and hung up his ringmaster whip. “And our local custom is to honk the horn at this point. After all, what’s the point in using the Sanctus Horn if it’s not used to alert the faithful of the consecration.” Smith added that not even the Pope himself had the right to change the rubrics of the Mass, and that doing so was in complete contradiction to the spirit of obedience. At press time, Smith says that he will consider administering disciplinary action should this type of negligence happen again in the future. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Congress

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Well this strikes PopeWatch as a very bad idea:

 

House Speaker John Boehner wants Pope Francis to come to Washington D.C. and address the entire Congress. It would mark the first time the head of the Catholic Church personally spoke before Congress.

“Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral manner and servant leadership, challenging all people to lead lives of mercy, forgiveness, solidarity, and humble service,” Boehner said in an email announcing that he had invited the Holy Father. “His tireless call for the protection of the most vulnerable among us – the ailing, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the impoverished, the unborn – has awakened hearts on every continent.”

Boehner, an Ohio Republican who is Catholic, expressed admiration for the Pope’s success in getting people in the United States from all ideological and religious walks of life to examine human rights and social justice.

Boehner appeared to take a swipe at the Obama administration when he bemoaned “crony capitalism” and the “ongoing centralization of political power in the institutions of our federal government, which threaten to disrupt the delicate balance between the twin virtues of subsidiarity and solidarity.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Jesuit Love

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Father James Martin, SJ, editor at large of the Jesuit rag America, practically breaks his arm slapping his order on the back for all the good qualities he perceives in Pope Francis in an article for CCN.  A sample:

Openness. Jesuits are asked to “Find God in all things.” Again, this is not simply a Jesuit virtue but a Christian one. Yet that brief motto is the most commonly cited way of summing up Jesuit spirituality. And “all things” means all people.

This includes those people who have felt excluded, or unwelcome, in the church. So although his message is based on simple Christian mercy, the world has witnessed the Pope repeatedly inviting the church to experience God in places that some other Catholic leaders may have overlooked or even ignored. Atheists, divorced and remarried Catholics, and gay men and lesbians, have all seen the Pope reach out to them.

Francis is not so much trying to find God there — because he knows that God is already there — as he is reminding others to look for God in the lives of all these people.

Other Jesuit hallmarks could be added to the list, such as flexibility, freedom and an emphasis on social justice. But overall, when Jesuits watch the Pope, we often nod our heads and say, “That’s very Jesuit.”

Over the past year, Jesuits have been accused of being too proud of Pope Francis. I’m guilty myself. So at the risk of pride, I’ll say that I think he’s a great Pope, a great priest and a great Jesuit. And I’ll bet St. Ignatius would be proud — or as proud as he would allow himself to be. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Father Brian Harrison

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Hattip to commenter Steve Phoenix for bringing to the attention of PopeWatch the following letter of Father Brian Harrison to Dr. Robert Moynihan of Inside Vatican:

 

 

Dear Dr. Moynihan,

In your latest Letter from Rome, commenting on the new appointments to the College of Cardinals, you report rather nonchalantly that “[Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig] Müller is also known for having said that the Church’s position on admitting to divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacrament of Communion is not something that can or will be changed. But other German Church leaders, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, have recently gone on record saying the teaching may and will be changed.”

Your brief, matter-of-fact report on this controversy reminds me of the tip of an iceberg. It alludes to, but does not reveal the immensity of, a massive, looming threat that bids fair to pierce, penetrate and rend in twain Peter’s barque – already tossing perilously amid stormy and icy seas. The shocking magnitude of the doctrinal and pastoral crisis lurking beneath this politely-worded dispute between scholarly German prelates can scarcely be overstated. For what is at stake here is fidelity to a teaching of Jesus Christ that directly and profoundly affects the lives of hundreds of millions of Catholics: the indissolubility of marriage.

The German bishops have devised a pastoral plan to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, whether or not a Church tribunal has granted a decree of nullity of their first marriage. Cardinal-elect Müller, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has not only published a strong article in L’Osservatore Romano reaffirming the perennial Catholic doctrine confirmed by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio; he has also written officially to the German Bishops’ Conference telling them to rectify their heterodox pastoral plan. But the bishops, led by their conference president and by Cardinal Kasper, are openly defying the head of the CDF, and predicting that the existing doctrine and discipline will soon be changed!

Think of the appalling ramifications of this. If German Catholics don’t need decrees of nullity, neither will any Catholics anywhere. Won’t the world’s Catholic marriage tribunals then become basically irrelevant? (Will they eventually just close down?) And won’t this reversal of bimillennial Catholic doctrine mean that the Protestants and Orthodox, who have allowed divorce and remarriage for century after century, have been more docile to the Holy Spirit on this issue than the true Church of Christ? Indeed, how credible, now, will be her claim to be the true Church? On what other controverted issues, perhaps, has the Catholic Church been wrong, and the separated brethren right?

And what of Jesus’ teaching that those who remarry after divorce commit adultery? Admitting them to Communion without a commitment to continence will lead logically to one of three faith-breaking conclusions: (a) our Lord was mistaken in calling this relationship adulterous – in which case He can scarcely have been the Son of God; (b) adultery is not intrinsically and gravely sinful – in which case the Church’s universal and ordinary magisterium has always been wrong; or (c) Communion can be given to some who are living in objectively grave sin – in which case not only has the magisterium also erred monumentally by always teaching the opposite, but the way will also be opened to Communion for fornicators, practicing homosexuals, pederasts, and who knows who else? (And, please, spare us the sophistry that Jesus’ teaching was correct “in his own historical and cultural context”, but that since about Martin Luther’s time that has all changed.)

Let us make no mistake: Satan is right now shaking the Church to her very foundations over this divorce issue. If anything, the confusion is becoming even graver than that over contraception between 1965 and 1968, when Paul VI’s seeming vacillation allowed Catholics round the world to anticipate a reversal of perennial Church teaching. If the present Successor of Peter now keeps silent about divorce and remarriage, thereby tacitly telling the Church and the world that the teaching of Jesus Christ will be up for open debate at a forthcoming Synod of Bishops, one fears a terrible price will soon have to be paid.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S. St. Louis, Missouri Continue reading

PopeWatch: The General Who Wants to Win Without Fighting

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For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

1 Corinthians 14:8

PopeWatch has commented on how Pope Francis seems very reluctant to champion Church teaching under attack by elites throughout the West.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa in a post entitled Bergoglio, the General Who Wants to Win without Fighting, explains why this is the case:

ROME, March 10, 2014 – Víctor Manuel Fernández is the first Argentine to be made a bishop by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, two months after his election as pope.

He was and continues to be the rector of the Universidad Católica Argentina, a role he took on after the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires overcame the hostility of a formidable group of opponents outside and inside the Church.

But for years he has also been Bergoglio’s most trusted collaborator in the writing of his major texts, from the Aparecida document in 2007 to the 2013 “Evangelii Gaudium,” the action plan of the current pontificate.

The book-interview “Il progetto di Francesco. Dove vuole portare la Chiesa” – recently released in Italy – in which Fernández explains and comments on the papal program is therefore a good guide for understanding it more thoroughly.

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There is a passage in the book in which Fernández refers to the metamorphosis that Bergoglio went through before and after his election as pope:

“When he was archbishop he was gradually withdrawing and preferred not to appear in public very much. Moreover, there were too many campaigns of persecution orchestrated by some very conservative sectors of the Church, and I believe that this worried him a great deal. Now that he has become pope, with the new gift that the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon him, he has abandoned those fears and has allowed his best features to emerge. This has renewed his enthusiasm and his energy.”

In another passage Fernández explains the reserve of the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires:

“There were sectors that were putting a strong emphasis on doctrinal certainty, on the honor of the Church and its self-preservation, and that felt that they were represented by a few ecclesial authorities. The sectors that had a plan even slightly different from these latter, like Cardinal Bergoglio and many others, were very respectful of these choices, or at the very least met them with silence.”

Fernández does not say any more. But to find out more about that tormented period of Bergoglio’s life there is another book, released a few months ago in Argentina and Italy, written by the vaticanista Elisabetta Piqué, who is the best informed and most reliable biographer of the current pope: “Francesco, vita e rivoluzione”.

On the side opposed to Bergoglio were the prominent Vatican cardinals Angelo Sodano and Leonardo Sandri, the latter being of Argentine nationality. While in Buenos Aires the ranks of the opposition were led by the nuncio Adriano Bernardini, in office from 2003 to 2011, with the many bishops he managed to get appointed, almost always in contrast with the guidelines and expectations of the then-cardinal of Buenos Aires.

 On February 22, 2011, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Bernardini delivered a homily that was interpreted by almost everyone as a harangue in defense of Benedict XVI but in reality was a concerted attack on Bergoglio.

The nuncio placed under accusation those priests, religious, and above all those bishops who were keeping a “low profile” and leaving the pope alone in the public battle in defense of the truth.

“We have to acknowledge,” he said, “that there has increased year after year, among theologians and religious, among sisters and bishops, the group of those who are convinced that belonging to the Church does not entail the recognition of and adherence to an objective doctrine.”

Because this was exactly the fault charged against Bergoglio: that of not opposing the secularist offensive, of not defending Church teaching on “nonnegotiable” principles.

And to some extent this was the case. The then-archbishop of Buenos Aires could not bear the “obsessive rigidity” of certain churchmen on questions of sexual morality. “He was convinced,” writes Elisabetta Piqué, ” that the worst thing would be to insist and seek out conflict on these issues.”

There was one episode that exemplifies Bergoglio’s approach:

“In 2010, at the height of the episcopate’s battle of to block the legalization of marriage between persons of the same sex in Argentina, there emerged the idea of holding a prayer vigil [in front of parliament]. Esteban Pittaro, of the ‘Università Australe of Opus Dei, sent an e-mail to the chancery of Buenos Aires, telling them about the event. The following day he saw that he had missed a phone call and realized that it was a number of the archdiocese. Esteban called back and Bergoglio answered in person. ‘It seems like a wonderful thing to me that you should pray. But the fact that you want to spend all night in the plaza . . . It will be cold, go home, pray at home, as a family!” the cardinal told him. ‘He supported the march, but he was right to discourage the vigil, because the following day there were demonstrations in fa for of homosexual marriage. And he wanted to avoid the contrast,’ Pittaro recounts.”

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If these are the precedents, it comes as no surprise that Bergoglio, as pope, should dictate this same line of conduct  for the whole Church.

It is the line of conduct that “Evangelii Gaudium” has laid bare to the world. and that the book-interview of Bishop Fernández makes even more explicit, with the showy confidence of one who demonstrates that he thoroughly understands the pope’s thinking.

For example, on the following points.

“NONNEGOTIABLE” PRINCIPLES

Pope Francis is not naive. He is asking us to immerse ourselves in the context of today’s culture in a very realistic way. He is inviting us to recognize that the rapidity of communication and the selection of content proposed by the media present a new challenge for us. [. . .] When the Church talks too much about philosophical questions or about the natural law, it is presumably doing so in order to be able to dialogue on moral issues with the nonbelieving world. Nonetheless, in doing this, on the one hand we do not convince anyone with the philosophical arguments of other times, and on the other we lose the opportunity to proclaim the beauty of Jesus Christ, to “make hearts burn.” So those philosophical arguments do not change anyone’s life. Instead, if it can be managed to make hearts burn, or at least to show what there is that is attractive in the Gospel, then persons will be more willing to converse and to reflect also with regard to a response concerning morality. [. . .]

For example, it does not do much good to speak out against sexual marriage, because people tend to see us as if we were resentful, cruel, persons who have little sympathy or even exaggerate. It is another matter when we speak of the beauty of marriage and of the harmony that is created in the difference resulting from the covenant between a man and a woman, and in this positive context it emerges, almost without having to point it out, how inadequate it is to use the same term and to call “marriage” the union of two homosexual persons. [. . .]

There are two factors that are driving the pope to ask us not to speak “always” and “only” about certain moral principles: in order not to wear others out, overloading them and obtaining an effect of rejection, and above all in order not to destroy the harmony of our message. Continue reading

PopeWatch: The Catholic Left Loves “Their” Pope

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Well after  a year as Pope, it is clear that Pope Francis has excited two groups:  the mainstream media and the Catholic Left.  In a long article yesterday, CNN highlighted various denizens of the Catholic Left who cannot contain their joy over a Pope they are certain is one of them:

He wears a blue flannel shirt and work boots instead of priestly black. He’s 52 but looks 35 — the kind of guy you might see on one those TV reality shows about home remodeling.

A clerical collar is nowhere in sight. His cellphone buzzes like a drunk bumblebee.

Several years ago, Unni’s parish, St. Cecilia in Boston’s Back Bay, merged with a predominantly gay church nearby as part of the archdiocese’s plan to deal with a lack of funds and priests.

Unni made a point of welcoming gays and lesbians to St. Cecilia, even scheduling a special service during Gay Pride month.

Conservative Catholic bloggers went ballistic, accusing him of watering down church teachings.

“They crucified me!” Unni says.

It was a different time in the church, Unni says, when doctrinal conformity was the order of the day. People who stepped out of line could expect to get smacked down.

The Archdiocese of Boston forced him to cancel the LGBT service, but Unni preached about homosexuality anyway, telling the congregants he doesn’t know anything about the “gay agenda,” all he knows is Jesus’ agenda — a. k. a. the Gospel.

Unni’s been known to take that love-your-neighbor vibe to extremes.

Stories abound about him arriving late to dinner dates with parishioners because he was buying homeless men meals. He cut short a recent interview to dash into an immigration center.

A book sits on a table at Unni’s office in St. Cecilia, a redbrick church overshadowed by hotels and office buildings. It’s called “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way he Leads.”

As he thumbs through it, Unni looks like a kid who’s got his hands on “Harry Potter.”

Unni quotes liberally from the pontiff’s speeches and sermons in his own homilies, mentioning the trickle-down criticism, for example, during a recent Mass.

A satirical cartoon in which Francis is criticized for making the same “crazy impractical mistakes” as Jesus greets visitors from a table in St. Cecilia’s vestibule.

“I almost feel vindicated in a way,” Unni says, “that someone, namely the Pope, has the same approach to the complexities of life and relationships and the church and the poor as I do.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Who Does This Jesus Guy Think He Is?

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

Novi, MI––A new poll out today shows that about half of Catholics in America still disagree with the Second Person of the Trinity’s stance on gay marriage. The automated poll, commissioned by the USCCB, asked 10,000 Catholics whether they agreed with Jesus’ objection to gay marriage. Of those polled, half said they disagreed with Jesus’ stance because they believed an objection to someones’s freedom of choice was unchristian. When one man polled was asked to rectify the apparent disparity between his belief in the inerrancy of God’s word with his objection to the the inerrancy of God’s word in regards to homosexual unions, he asked, “What does inerrancy mean?” Another woman was asked whether she believed Jesus was unchristian in his stance on gay marriage; “Oh you mean Jesus, Jesus…like as in Jesus Christ,” she responded. “I thought you were talking about that nice Mexican man who sits in the back of church with his family. I was gonna say…he doesn’t seem like the judgmental type.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Who Am I to Judge?

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PopeWatch is old enough to recall when Democrat politicians would not cite a pope prior to betraying Catholic moral teaching.  Father Z gives us the details:

We have seen antinomianism rear its dangerous head in many scenarios now: those who are bound to uphold and enforce the law simply deciding sua sponte that they won’t uphold law X or Y because the law conflicts with a pet position.

But this is downright disgusting.  From TIME:

Kentucky’s Attorney General Explains Why He Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway tells TIME [A willing accomplice in this Act of Dumb.] why he decided not to defend his state’s ban on same-sex marriages, saying he ‘knows where history is going on this’ despite the complications the decision could have for his potential gubernatorial bid  [And you don’t want to be “on the wrong side of history”, do you!  – [POUNDING HEAD ON DESK] – ]

Calling laws against same-sex marriage the last vestige of widespread discrimination in America, [Last vestigate? HA!  It is to laugh.  Will he crusade next against anti-Catholicism?  You would think that a man in this position would be smart enough to distinguish this special interest group’s agitprop from the legitimate claims of black people in the civil rights movement.] Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway told TIME Tuesday he refused to continue defending his state’s ban on gay marriage because he feared he’d regret it for the rest of his life. “I know where history is going on this,” he said. “I know what was in my heart.” [Ahhh! It’s “in his heart”.  Well, then, I guess it’s okay then.]

“Where we are as a country now, this really seems to be the only minority group that a significant portion of our society thinks it’s still okay to discriminate against.”  [So long as you exclude the Little Sisters of the Poor and, I dunno, tens of thousands of others who object to the HHS mandate.]

[…]

A Catholic and a Democrat [What a surprise.] considering running for governor in 2015, Conway said he knew the decision could put him at odds with voters and with church leaders in his hometown. [Get this….] His thinking was shaped partly by statements from Pope Francis that encouraged openness toward gays. “Our new pope recently said on an airplane ‘Who am I to judge.’ The new pope has said a lot of things that Catholics like me really like. I have, as someone who grew up as a Catholic listened to some of the words of the new pope and found them inspirational.”  [This quote again.  Gosh, thanks, Holy Father, for that one.  That said, its use here is a LIE.  HERE]

[…]

We have lurched more deeply into the Age of Stoopid, I”m afraid.

The Left’s education system in these USA, which infected Catholic schools as well, has left at least one whole generation without the tools to think, or the basic catechism points that allow Catholics to figure out nearly instantly that some MSM reportage doesn’t pass the smell test Continue reading

PopeWatch: Yet Another Interview

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Well, PopeWatch guesses things were just too quiet.  The Pope has given yet another interview:

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope said, but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.” Asked to what extent the church could understand this trend, he replied: “It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

Bishops around the world have differed in their responses to civil recognition of nonmarital unions. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said in February 2013 that some legal arrangements are justifiable to protect the inheritance rights of nonmarried couples. But until now, no pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions.

In the interview, Pope Francis praised Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which prohibited the use of contraception.

In contradicting contemporary pressures for population control, Pope Paul’s “genius was prophetic, he had the courage to side against the majority, defend moral discipline, put a brake on the culture, oppose neo-Malthusianism, present and future,” Pope Francis said.

But he also noted that Pope Paul had instructed confessors to interpret his encyclical with “much mercy, attention to concrete situations.”

“The question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said birth control, like the predicament of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, would be a topic of discussion at the Vatican in October at an extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. He said the synod would approach all such problems “in the light of profound reflection,” rather than casuistry, which he described as a superficial, pharisaical theology focused exclusively on particular cases.

The pope said he had welcomed the “intense discussion” at a February gathering of cardinals, where German Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a talk suggesting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics might sometimes be allowed to receive Communion even without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages.

“Fraternal and open confrontations foster the growth of theological and pastoral thought,” he said. “I’m not afraid of this; on the contrary, I seek it.”

Asked if the church’s teachings on sexual and medical ethics represented “non-negotiable values,” a formulation used by Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said he had “never understood the expression ‘non-negotiable values.'”

“Values are values, period,” he said. “I cannot say that, among the fingers of a hand, there is one less useful than another. That is why I cannot understand in what sense there could be negotiable values.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Lent

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The Lenten message of Pope Francis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich’. The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean to us today?

Christ’s grace

First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: ‘though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …’. Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things. God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus ‘worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin’.

By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says ‘that by his poverty you might become rich’. This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptised by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’, that he is ‘heir of all things’.

So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the road. What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us. Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him. Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his ‘yoke which is easy’, he asks us to be enriched by his ‘poverty which is rich’ and his ‘richness which is poor’, to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the first-born brother.

It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Bishop Olson

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Well, one clear aspect of the pontificate of Pope Francis is that groups associated with the traditional latin mass had better watch their six.  Father Z gives us the latest details:

 

The source of these reports seems to be the blog Rorate Caeli, which provides a copy of the letter that Bp. Olson sent to Mr. Michael King, who is the President of Fisher More College.

Here is the letter, which I found at the aforementioned blog:

None of us are privy to the conversation, mentioned by the bishop in his letter, that took place on 24 February.  I have no idea what the tone of that conversation was or how many conversations took place.

However, I am appalled at the tone of the Bp. Olson’s letter to Mr. King.  Frankly, it reminds me of a note an authoritarian seminary rector would pin on the mailroom bulletin board about student attire or lights-out time, rather then gentle pastoral solicitude of a diocesan bishop in the era of Pope Francis.  I am shocked at the suggestion that this decision is taken for the sake of the souls of the students and the president himself, as if the Extraordinary Form were somehow spiritually harmful.

That said, what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes.

For example, I discern in the bishop’s second point, the one about his granting faculties, the possibility that the priest who had been saying Mass at Fisher More on a regular basis may not have had any faculties at all, from any bishop or religious superior.  I suspect that there is more to that poorly phrased second point than meets the eye.

Also, while some Catholic college and university chaplaincies also have the canonical designation as a parish (e.g., St. Paul’s at the University of Madison), Summorum Pontificum doesn’t seem to apply as clearly.  The Motu Proprio doesn’t seem to apply to college chapels and chapels on military bases.  That said, the spirit of both Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae communicate something far different from the tone, at least, of the bishop’s letter.

Again, what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes.  I, at least, don’t know who the priests were who were saying that Mass for the students at Fisher More.  Were they of the SSPX or some independent group?  Were they preaching things that were improper (e.g., attacking Pope Francis from the pulpit, directly attacking the Novus Ordo as invalid)?

More will come out, and soon.

In the meantime, it is hard to imagine why a letter with such a menacing tone would be sent to a layman about something which soon-to-be St. John Paul II described as a “legitimate aspiration”.  You will recall that Bl. John Paul asked, nay rather, required by his apostolic authority, that respect be shown to those who desire the traditional forms of the Roman Rite (cf. Ecclesia Dei adflicta, 6c).

 

 

My first hope and prayer, and petition to the Guardian Angels of those involved, is for cool heads and a positive resolution to this conflict so that the students and staff of Fisher More will be able to have their legitimate aspirations respected according to the will of St. John Paul and Benedict XVI.

The Moderation Queue is ON.

UPDATE:

A priest friend forwarded information from HIS priest friend in Dallas.  Thus, I will edit a great deal and use bullet points. These things either happened or they didn’t and can be verified one way or another:

  • In May a prof of FMC (Fisher More College) gave a talk and denied aspects of Vatican II
  • The FSSP priests withdrew their services at FMC some time ago.
  • Taylor Marshall, married with several children, resigned his job at FMC without another job.
  • At Thanksgiving, 2013, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, the suspended Fatima Priest, said Mass at FMC.
  • These things took place when the Diocese of Fort Worth was vacant.
  • “This is NOT about hatred for the TLM.”

All of these points (except the last, which was an opinion) suggest dysfunction which the new bishop needed to address.

It may indeed be that this is not about “hatred for the TLM”.  If that is the case, then Bp. Olson will surely want to make that clear in some way.

One commentator, below, observed that the bishop said that students could go to a parish, off-campus, where the TLM is offered, thus suggesting that he doesn’t have a problem with the TLM itself.

I hope that is the case.  The tone of the bishop’s letter certainly fueled that suspicion.  Getting some of the details out will help diffuse some of this tension about an “attack by a bishop on the TLM”.  It may not be that at all, though I still scratch my head about this. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Crusaders Not Wanted

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On February 27, 2014 the Pope met with the Congregation for Bishops.  The Pope discussed the type of Bishops he is looking for:

“Since faith comes from proclamation we need kerygmatic bishops. … Men who are guardians of doctrine, not so as as to measure how far the world is from doctrinal truth, but in order to fascinate the world … with the beauty of love, with the freedom offered by the Gospel. The Church does not need apologists for her causes or crusaders for her battles, but humble and trusting sowers of the truth, who know that it is always given to them anew and trust in its power. Men who are patient men as they know that the weeds will never fill the field”. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Prank

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

 

Pope Francis is apologizing this morning after it was revealed that a video of the Pontiff calling for “communion” with Protestant communities was actually a prank. In a candid video taken from an iPhone earlier this morning, Francis expressed regret for the video sent to a recent gathering of Charismatic and Pentecostal ministers hosted by Kenneth Copeland, in which he stated that he desired “Christians to become one again.”

“No joke, Benedict and I were having a couple glasses of wine, and I remember saying, ‘You dare me? Let’s make a bet on it.’ I said there’s no way they fall for it,” Francis said in his video. “So I bet him that there was no way in a million years that you guys would fall for it. And that line about Catholics and Protestants being brothers and that we should all give each other spiritual hugs? Honestly? Benedict literally spit out his wine. I’m sorry and all, but come on…you actually fell for the whole ‘The miracle of unity has begun stuff?’ Seriously…now I’ve lost the bet and have to wear his red shoes all of Lent.

Francis also went on to say that he was utterly flabbergasted that the Pentecostals believed that they could truly become one with the Catholic Church despite the little fact that they are not even close to being in the same vicinity of agreement on core issues like the Canon of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, Clergy, Confessions, Eucharist, Contraception, and so on.

Francis did end his video on an positive note, though, saying that, “Other than that long list of Church teachings that you all disagree with, as well as your rejection of papal authority and the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, yes, we are one. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

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John Allen, from his new perch as a Boston Globe columnist, notes recent actions taken in support of Pope Francis by the Pope Emeritus:

 

First, his closest aide and confidante, German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, gave an interview to the Reuters news agency on Feb. 9 in which he insisted there’s “a good feeling” between Francis and Benedict, and that the two men see one another often.

Second, Benedict XVI made a surprise appearance at a Feb. 22 consistory ceremony in which Francis elevated 19 new cardinals into the church’s most exclusive club, sitting in the front row and beaming during the event.

When Francis made his way over to wrap Benedict in a hug, the pope emeritus removed his white zucchetto, a skullcap that’s one of the symbols of the papal office — a small gesture that told insiders he was acknowledging Francis as the new boss.

Third, Benedict responded in writing to questions by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli concerning speculation that he’d been pressured to step down and therefore his resignation was invalid under church law. Following that reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Francis isn’t really the pope.

Benedict dismissed the hypothesis as “simply absurd.”

“I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit,” Benedict wrote in comments published Feb. 26. “Loving the church also means having the courage to make difficult, painful choices, always keeping the good of the church in mind and not ourselves.”

Fourth, Gänswein, who still acts as Benedict’s private secretary and who lives with the former pope in a monastery on Vatican grounds, gave another interview to the Washington Post in which he said the two pontiffs didn’t know one another well at the beginning but are becoming steadily closer. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pope of Silence?

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Sandro Magister has some riveting commentary at his blog Chiesa:
But one morning, on November 18, instead of the devil he  took aim at the “single form of thinking that is the fruit of worldliness,” that wants to subject everything to “hegemonic uniformity.” A single form of thought, he continued, that already dominates the world and even legalizes “the death penalty,” even “human sacrifices” complete with “laws that protect them.” And he cited one of his favorite novels, the apocalyptic “Lord of the World” by Robert H. Benson.

When early this February he leafed through the sixteen pages of the UN report,  which peremptorily enjoin upon the Catholic Church that it “correct” its teaching on abortion, on the family, on sex, Francis must have become even more convinced that events were proving him right, that the prince of this world was really at work and by heaping praise on his vaunted “openness” wanted to associate even him, the pope, with the enterprise of making the Church conform to the hegemonic school of thought, in order to annihilate it.

It is not easy to enter into the mind of pope Bergoglio. His words are like the tiles of a mosaic whose design is not immediately apparent. He also makes tough and biting remarks, but never at a moment in which they could generate conflict.

If he had pronounced that tremendous homily of his against the single form of thought that intends to hegemonize the world the day after the publication of the UN report and explicitly in response to it, the event would have entered into the “breaking news” of global information. But it was not to be. Delivered on an arbitrary day, that same homily did not cause the slightest chagrin. It was ignored.

And yet it is precisely there that the concealed thought of the Jesuit pope is to be found, his judgment on the present era of the world.

“The view of the Church is known, and I am a son of the Church,” Francis says and says again. His thought is the same as that which is written in the catechism. And sometimes he recalls this combatively for those who expect him to change doctrine, as in the least-cited passage of his “Evangelii Gaudium,” where he has the harshest of words against the “right” to abortion.

But he never proclaims Church teaching out loud at a moment when the dispute over an issue has become heated.

He has kept quiet now that the euthanasia of children has been permitted by law in Belgium. He keeps himself apart from the millions of citizens of every faith who in France and in other countries are opposing the dissolution of the idea of the family made up of father, mother, and children. He has remained silent after the unprecedented affront of the UN report.

With this he intends to blunt the weapons of the adversary. To defeat him with the immense popularity of his figure as pastor of the mercy of God.

There is a Jacobin-style attack against the Church, not only in France, that simply wants to exclude it from civil discourse.

But there is also a more subtle attack that cloaks itself as a consensus for a Church refurbished and new, up to date, in step with the times. There is also this in the popularity of Francis, a pope “like never before,” finally “one of us,” molded through a copy-and-paste of his open, adaptable statements. Continue reading

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