PopeWatch: Down the Memory Hole

Wednesday, November 20, AD 2013

5 Responses to PopeWatch: Down the Memory Hole

  • “Why was it put up?”

    To show the Pope’s outreach and open-mindedness and tolerance and embrace of diversity of opinion.

    “Why was it taken down?”

    Because it is an embarrassment due to the unorthodoxy that appears in the Pope’s alleged remarks.

    I do not think this Pope is detail-oriented. Further, I don’t attribute any deliberate intent on his part to be unorthodox. But he just doesn’t carefully weigh his words when speaking to an atheist, a secularist, a liberal. Both JP II and B XVI were detail-oriented. True, both made mistakes from time to time. But Francis’ mistakes are more blatant and frequent, and almost always seized on by the main stream media as confirmation of imagined Church permission for the modern life style of hedonism and paganism. I cannot believe that the Pope intends that, especially given many of his other remarks about Satan.

  • I’ve been pondering this point since Sunday.

    Might it not be that His Holiness takes Luke 21 and Mark 13 literally and is simply not worrying about how what he says as Pope will be interpreted.

    I have read that he was much more closed and careful before he became pope. Perhaps he is simply trusting that God will inspire? Given the effect his words have had on fallen-away Catholics that I know – people who are far less concerned with the actual text than the general themes of mercy, welcome, and clerical service, perhaps it is my lack of faith that is making me worry too much.

  • I agree! His Holiness needs to mark his words much more carefully. As I always felt about Mary Magdalene. Jesus said,” go and sin no more.” He forgave instantly but the point was made implicitly. He didn’t jump into bed with her. and that all seemed to turn out well. She was the first at the tomb with the other women. If it was ok for Jesus to call a spade a spade then it would be well for the Holy Father to do the same. Give em and inch and they take a mile.

  • First, it is about time that this interview was taken down from the Vatican web site. At first, I thought it was simply the translation that was faulty. While this also was the case, the problem with this ” interview” goes much deeper. The Italian editor ego had the interview with Pope Francis, had no paper or computer to take notes, nor did he have any recording device. That alone should send up flags ( so that I am clear, my ‘ irritation’ is with the Curia-understood in the widest understanding of the word). Further, the man is an atheist- which means he cannot really understand the theological import of his own questions never mind the responses of the Pope.

    There is no question in my mind that the pope was experiencing the euphoria of ” the honeymoon” ( on this level, not something unique to newlyweds-it is a common phenomenon). I believe also that he wanted to communicate ” the vision” of the Church and his ministry (here I am not speaking as if this vision was not consistent with Church teaching: Pope Francis is orthodox, a son of the Church, accepting of her teaching-I am speaking of his particular emphasis). However, those within the necessary but very frequently problematic bureaucracy called the Curia, who know the lay of the land in Rome and Italy, have revealed a new level of incompetency. We have all heard by now of Pope Francis’ complaint to the editor of Osservatore Romano for publishing the interview. We can thank the new Secretary of State, a seasoned diplomat in the school of Cardinal Casaroli ( certainly a great Sec of State of the Vatican)

    Our Holy Father has slowly revealed how he will work in the future. He sees his ministry in the ancient understanding of the Petrine Ministry: Peter’s primary mission is that of being the visible sign of and instrument of unity- communion in and of the Church. This reveals why he emphasizes mercy so much. The foundation of unity is reconciliation, as Christ said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself”

    In John 21, Our Lord asked Peter if he loved Him more than even the other apostles. The Petrine Ministry must embody this love-yes even to speaking an unpopular word of the truth. However, the word he speaks is the word of the Gospel of Christ, this is the Truth, but the Truth with Love.

    Pope Francis, much like Blessed John Paul, has the head of the Congregation of the Faith, archbishop Mueller, a Benedict appointment, dealing with strictly theological issues, and giving theological foundations for approaching issues ( as we have just seen on the issue of divorce and remarriage) although a little early to get the full picture, I believe the new Secretary of State will be another key figure, certainly with the public, international face of the Church, but perhaps with even more responsibility. His taking down this crazy interview might be a sign of what is to come

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PopeWatch: Progressives

Tuesday, November 19, AD 2013



As PopeWatch has noted, Pope Francis is a complicated man.  From a sermon yesterday, November 18, 2013:

God save us from the “hegemonic uniformity ” of the “one line of thought”, “fruit of the spirit of the world that negotiates everything”, even the faith.  This was Pope Francis’ prayer during mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on a passage from the Book of Maccabees, in which the leaders of the people do not want Israel to be isolated from other nations , and so abandon their traditions to negotiate with the king.


They go to “negotiate ” and are excited about it. It is as if they said “we are progressives; let’s follow progress like everyone else does”.   As reported by Vatican Radio, the Pope noted that this is the “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity”. These people, therefore , negotiate “loyalty to God who is always faithful” with the king. “This is called apostasy”, “adultery.” They are, in fact, negotiating their values​​, ” negotiating the very essence of being faithful to the Lord .”
“And this is a contradiction: we do not negotiate values​​, but faithfulness. And this is the fruit of the devil, the prince of this world , who leads us forward with the spirit of worldliness.  And then there are the direct consequences. They accepted the habits of the pagan, then a further step: the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and everyone would abandon their customs. A globalizing conformity of all nations is not beautiful, rather, each with own customs but united, but it is the hegemonic uniformity of globalization, the single line of thought . And this single line of thought is the result of worldliness . “
And after “all peoples had adapted themselves to the king’s demands, they also accepted his cult , they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath .”Step by step”, the moved along this path. And in the end “the king raised an abomination upon the altar of devastation”. “But, Father , this also happens today ! . Yes, because the worldly spirit exists even today, even today it takes us with this desire to be progressive and have one single thought . If someone was found to have the Book of the Covenant and if someone obeyed the law, the king condemned them to death : and this we have read in the newspapers in recent months . These people have negotiated the fidelity to the Lord and this people , moved by the spirit of the world , negotiated their own identity , negotiated belonging to a people, a people that God loves so much that God desires to be like Him . “

The Pope then referred to the 20th century novel, “Master of the World” that focuses on “the spirit of worldliness that leads to apostasy”. Today it is thought that “we have to be like everyone else, we have to be more normal , like everyone else, with this adolescent progressivism .” And then “what follows is history”: “the death sentences, human sacrifices”. “But you think that today there are no human sacrifice s? There are many, many ! And there are laws that protect them .”
” But what consoles us faced with the progress of this worldly spirit, the prince of this world , the path of infidelity, is that the Lord is always here, that he can not deny Himself , the Faithful One : He is always waiting for us, He loves us so much and He forgives us when we repent for a few steps, for some small steps in this spirit of worldliness, we go to him, the faithful God. With the spirit of the Church’s children, we pray to the Lord for His goodness, His faithfulness to save us from this worldly spirit that negotiates all , to protect us and let us move forward, as his people did through the desert , leading them by the hand like a father leads his child. The hand of the Lord is a sure guide”.

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17 Responses to PopeWatch: Progressives

  • The reference to Benson’s “Lord of the World” (the translation mangles the title) is intriguing. That novel still has the power to chill.

  • Thank you- great information.

    I prob should read the book- I hate to read “chilling” stuff 🙁 seems like I’ve got enough of that already

  • Written 100 years ago, it reads like it was written 100 days ago.

  • Read it last year. The antagonist is the American President who becomes world leader. He is described as coming from Vermont with a backgroud that no one really knows. Also describes a radically secular society where religion is a first an oddity and then an evil.

    Yes, it reads like it was written yesterday. (Not to give an apocalyptic meaning to Obama.)

  • “Yes, it reads like it was written yesterday. (Not to give an apocalyptic meaning to Obama.)”

    Obama is far too incompetent to be the Antichrist.

  • I agree. I wrote that as I could see someone starting a useless blog war claiming that I was referring to Obama as the Antichrist. He is liar but not the Father of Lies.

  • It sounds to me like Pope Francis’ handlers have advised him to take an equal swipe at the other end of the religious spectrum in this homily against “progressives”. But at some point, people who try this tightrope walk (Paul VI; John XXIII; or even John McCain and LIndsey Graham) are going to settle into the actual intellectual and spiritual position they are comfortable with, and based on all that is so far available to us on the Bergoglio pope, it is doubtful that he is going to end up a traditionalist.

  • Once again, I think of how God’s kingdom transcends human institutions and values. It is a comprehensive vision, but one rooted in a story that entails Creation and Fall. It is a story that finds its resolution in the cross of Christ, where God’s peace and reconiliation are brought to the world. It is the ongoing story of that kingdom which has come. What we do now and what the future holds results from God’s plan in Christ, and our understanding of progress can never be divorced from that. During the 1960’s, revolutionary thought at times separated itself from the Gospel and its narrative roots, and when that happens, disaster ensues. The Guyana tragedy bore that out.

  • Vermont, Chicago, still the same bo.

  • Thanks for posting this, Don. I’ve gotten way too busy the last couple weeks to keep up with news much at all, but I’m glad that I didn’t miss this sermon. I think you get a really interesting sense of Francis from it.

  • In reading the fuller version of Pope Francis’ words, I realize his words, very much flowing from the Book of Maccabees, has a two pronged approach. He first radically criticizes the hegemony ( dictatorship) of a so called progressive culture (Greek for the Jews at the time; aggressive secularist hegemony of Western democracies) which imposes itself on other cultures but most importantly the People of God, Israel and the Church.

    However, the other prong goes after those within the People of God- at least by birth and/or name-who in what Pope Francis calls, adolescent progressivism, seek to reject or ignore Tradition and seek to move forward, totally acccomodating themselves to the spirit of the age, ceasing to be the People of God in any substantial way.

    Along with the now well known letter to Archbishop Marchetto, this homily reveals Pope Francis’ emphasis on the hermeneutic of continuity and a rejection of the progressivist element within the Church that seeks to change doctrines of the Church in order that the Church be transformed by the culture (which we sadly see in the mainline Protestant communities). The Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world. For the sake of the world and it’s salvation, the Church must remain faithful as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. She must remain distinct from the culture, but not rigid. Note Francis’ gentle invitation to our adolescent progressives in the Church who have taken steps in the wrong direction to return the God Who is faithful and merciful, and return home and be reconciled in full communion with the Church

  • Many progressive-minded people imagine things are reaching a convergence, and that educated, worldly people must come down on the side of history. They view their opponents as reactionary and backward.

  • George Steele Gordon: “Intellectuals, especially in the social sciences, have a nasty habit of thinking that, ‘This is the way the world should be, therefore this is the way the world can be.’

    “Sometimes the mind just boggles.

    “The Atlantic had an article (September or October 2012) with the title ‘Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It).’ I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don’t know what’s good for them (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) or don’t even know what they want.

    “Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.”

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  • To dispel ones “confusion” about Pope Francis read Homily where the Pope explained that a society that nurtures the elderly, is a society that protects its memory and future- referring to the role of grandparents passing on the Faith. Hence the warning about progressiveness (it could have been the same Homily or the one the following day.) The generation of “progressives” (ie. baby boomers), that lost the Faith and didn’t pass it on to their children. Etc etc etc


    Reading things in context, is always a good idea, if you want to gauge the Truth of the matter. As I assume “gauging the truth”, is the intetion here.

  • Calvin Coolidge came from Vermont and became President not long afters the book referred to was published. And Coolidge was a progressive, albeit a Christian one.

PopeWatch: Sarah Palin

Monday, November 18, AD 2013



Sarah Palin and Pope Francis!  Yes, PopeWatch is shooting for a thousand hits on this post!  Last week Sarah ran afoul of what PopeWatch assumes must be a new eleventh commandment:  Thou shalt not criticize Pope Francis!  Here is the offending video:


She actually said that she was taken aback because of a few things she had heard in the media indicating that some of the stances of the Pope seem liberal, but she goes on to state that she has not studied this in detail and that she was not going to trust the media.  PopeWatch thinks that such mild comments might even pass muster with a Francis defender like Mark Shea, who, if the Pope ever decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow, would no doubt only inquire what shade.

So far, so banal.  However, what is interesting is that Palin felt compelled to apologize the next day:

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23 Responses to PopeWatch: Sarah Palin

PopeWatch: Atheists Praying for Pope

Saturday, November 16, AD 2013



PopeWatch has always treasured the line in A Man For All Seasons where Saint Thomas More notes that the World must construe according to its wits.  Alas, looking at such constructions often leaves one assuming that the World, in general, is completely witless.  Case in point an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland that ran in The Guardian, that rag in England that makes Karl Marx appear positively moderate by comparison:

“My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost,” he tweeted in May. A day earlier he denounced as “slave labour” the conditions endured by Bangladeshi workers killed in a building collapse. In September he said that God wanted men and women to be at the heart of the world and yet we live in a global economic order that worships “an idol called money”.

There is no denying the radicalism of this message, a frontal and sustained attack on what he calls “unbridled capitalism“, with its “throwaway” attitude to everything from unwanted food to unwanted old people. His enemies have certainly not missed it. If a man is to be judged by his opponents, note that this week Sarah Palin denounced him as “kind of liberal” while the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs has lamented that this pope lacks the “sophisticated” approach to such matters of his predecessors. Meanwhile, an Italian prosecutor has warned that Francis’s campaign against corruption could put him in the crosshairs of that country’s second most powerful institution: the mafia.

As if this weren’t enough to have Francis’s 76-year-old face on the walls of the world’s student bedrooms, he also seems set to lead a church campaign on the environment. He was photographed this week with anti-fracking activists, while his biographer, Paul Vallely, has revealed that the pope has made contact with Leonardo Boff, an eco-theologian previously shunned by Rome and sentenced to “obsequious silence” by the office formerly known as the “Inquisition”. An encyclical on care for the planet is said to be on the way.

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6 Responses to PopeWatch: Atheists Praying for Pope

  • So is the Pope wrong on any of these issues (except possibly fracking and even a photo op isn’t necessarily an endorsement).

    The wealthy are called to be stewards of what God has given them. Just as we are forbidden to use others as objects of carnal gratification neither should we regard them as profit centers.
    On another Catholic blog I saw an “economic” examination of conscience: do I treat my employees fairly? do I do a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? for everyone, do I put $$$ ahead of acting ethically? Etc.

    Where the leftoids will be terribly disappointed is that His Holiness does not have an agenda. Or his agenda is too simple: everyone needs to be treated with dignity. No calls for Bangladesh ( or any other country) to establish OSHA or raise its minimum wage.
    What is happening with Francis reminds me of ++ Oscar Romero, in both cases misrepresented by the media and lots on the left trying to hide in their shadow. Of course a lot of the Pope’s statements haven’t helped.

  • IYou know, to claim “Sarah Palin denounced him as “kind of liberal” ” is not quite correct, especially in view of her apology later. She said “that Pope Francis has made “some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me.” She didn’t specify her concerns, but she added that “unless I really dig deep into what his messaging is and do my own homework, I’m not going to just trust what I hear in the media.”

    Two days later, she apologised, saying “”It was not my intention to be critical of Pope Francis,” Palin wrote Thursday on Facebook, in reference to an interview earlier this week on CNN. “I was reminding viewers that we need to do our own homework on news subjects, and I hadn’t done mine yet on the Pope’s recent comments as reported by the media.” To me, that is a good apology. No ?

    If truth be told, much of what he is reported as saying has taken me aback, I still cannot quite make up my mind on Papa Bergolio.

  • thomas Collins,

    Pope Francis is wrong on fracking. So are you. Case closed.

  • A picture was taken with the Pope holding a no fracking shirt. He also has at times exchanged his zicchetto (Catholic yalmukah) for another person’s hat, often a sports hat. The hat does not mean he is suddenly going into sports. Standing with the shirt doesn’t mean he is making a statement, or will be making one on fracking.

    As for issues concerning the environment, the Church has had a statement about the environment since Genesis: having stewardship dominion over all creatures (Genesis1), naming all the animals and caring for the Garden (Genesis2) and the saving of the animals in the ark. To be more specific, Pope Francis has said nothing official concerning the environment, but Blessed John Paul, and Benedict did on multiple occasions and in some very authoritative ways. Are they wild eyed progressive tree huggers too?

    What I am about to say does not particularly pertain to Pope Francis or any pope, bishop etc. it pertains to all of us. Catholic does not mean liberal/ progressive. Neither does it mean conservative or traditionalist. Catholic transcends all the categories. Catholic means “universal” it also means ” pertaining to the whole”. It means far more than individual, group, tribal or ideological perspectives and categories

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  • Penguins Fan,

    fracking is a massive issue in Australia, particularly since a large part of our economy relies on agriculture.

    There are families that are fighting local councils because their children are becoming ill. It’s not hard to find such info on the net.

    There are two sides to every coin before you presumptuously accuse anyone of being wrong, it’s worth investigating the health issues of fracking, not to mention the issues it poses to farming land.

PopeWatch: Hermeneutic of Continuity

Friday, November 15, AD 2013




Hattip to Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings.

This is interesting:

All the below is via Rorate, and before them via Sandro Magister.  Apparently, Pope Francis sent a letter to Bishop Marchetto, a former curial official.  He has authored a book that advocates for Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” entitled The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A counterpoint for the history of the Council, which I have never read but is claimed to take a fairly traditional view of the Council and criticizes the progressive interpretation and implementation of Vatican II.

Pope Francis sent Bishop Marchetto a letter that not only calls Bishop Marchetto the “best interpreter” of Vatican II (would it not be preferable had the Council had the precision of a Trent or Vatican I where there was NO interpretation, because it’s meaning was crystalline?) but also thanks the bishop for correcting the Pope on some point.  The letter is below:

Dear Abp. Marchetto,


With these lines I wish to be close to you and join myself to the act of presentation of the book “Primato pontificio ed episcopato. Dal primo millennio al Concilio ecumenico Vaticano II” [Pontifical primacy and epicopate: from the first millennium to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council”] I beg you to consider myself spiritually present [there].


The topic of the book is an homage to the love that you have for the Church, a loyal and at the same time poetic love. Loyalty and poetry are not an object of trade: they cannot be bought or sold, they simply are virtues that are rooted in a heart of a son who feels the Church to be a Mother; or, in order to be more precise, and saying it with an Ignatian familiar “tone”, as “the Holy Mother Hierarchical Church”.  


You have made this love manifest in many ways, including correcting a mistake or imprecision on my part – and for that I thank you from my heart -, but above all it is manifest in all your purity in the studies made on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Abp. Marchetto, and I wish to repeat it today, that I consider you to be the best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.  


I know that this is a gift from God, but I also know that you made it bear fruit. I am grateful to you for all the good that you do for us with your testimony of love for the Church, and I ask the Lord that you be abundantly blessed.


I beg you please not to forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you, and may the Virgin protect you.


Vatican, October 7, 2013
Very interesting.  And perhaps very reassuring. We certainly seem to get widely variant presentations, if you will, of who Pope Francis is and what he believes, sometimes, I must say, even from the Pope himself.  There are denunciations of Pelagian restorationists but then there is more talk of satan than we’ve heard from a Pontiff in decades.  The rhetoric and emphases vary widely depending on who the audience of the moment is.  It could be that Pope Francis is an incredibly complex man with a deep but very subtle theology, or  there are other, less flattering interpretations of this conduct.
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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Hermeneutic of Continuity

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  • would it not be preferable had the Council had the precision of a Trent or Vatican I where there was NO interpretation, because it’s meaning was crystalline?


    I do not believe there has ever been a church council whose meaning was so crystalline that it did not require decades and even centuries of extended interpretation. For example, the interpretation of Vatican I is still a work in progress, especially to those interested in ending the East/West schism. To the rest of us, it is simply too removed from the daily experience of being a Catholic to warrant extended contemplation or interpretation. In fact, given that most everyone now agrees that papal infallibility is, and should remain, a very narrow and constrained sliver of authority, one can legitimately wonder which side of that debate actually won.


    The same goes for the other councils. It is not that they were ever crystal clear, it is simply that other forces came into play that made continued reinterpretation irrelevant. The fact that we are not currently debating with Arians (in their original form, at least) has as much or more to do with political and military issues as with what some council supposedly settled. The cementing of the rift between Protestants and Catholics (and the fact that both are almost equally irrelevant to moderns) is why Trent is no longer a hot-button topic, but I doubt it took less than half a century for the “pre-Trent” forces (or whatever you wish to call the losing side) to admit defeat, except insofar as they were already dying out by the time the council was convened.


    The reason that Vatican II is still an ongoing issue has to do not with its clarity, or lack thereof, but with the fact that outside forces have not superseded the issues it raised. When that happens, it will not make the council any clearer. It will just mean that we will move on to arguing about other topics. And as in the case of Vatican I, I suspect in decades and centuries to come, we may yet have reason to speculate about who really won.

  • I agree that no council is crystalline. At Trent it was decreed, against the Lutherans, that the mass did not necessarily have to be in the vernacular. This was interpreted by the powers that be (mainly Cardinal Boromeo) to mean that it could only be in Latin. Vatican III reiterated that the mass did not necessarily have to be in Latin–which is interpreted: Latin is forbidden.

  • “The money phrase in the last paragraph is that it could be that Pope Francis is an incredibly complex man. PopeWatch believes that Pope Francis is complex.”

    I think Pope Francis is simple and straightforward. It is we who are complex, unable to receive his words and actions without tearing them apart and analysing them to death. Pope Francis is our Papa. Perhaps if we try to be like little children we might understand him better?

  • It is fanciful to describe the teaching of Trent as “crystalline.”

    Try the notorious 3rd canon of the 24th Session – “If anyone says, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus, can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or establish others that may hinder and dissolve it; let him be anathema.” In other words, some of the Levitical degrees are dispensable, but which? The Council does not say (because there was no agreement) and the theologians and canonists have produced wagon-loads of commentary on this canon alone.

    Or, to take a more far-reaching example, the Council’s teaching on grace, free-will, election and predestination was so restricted, confining itself to condemning the more egregious errors of the Reformers, that for nearly two centuries after the council, one had the disputes between the Dominicans and the Jesuits (which the Congregatio de Auxiliis failed to resolve) and the Jansenist controversy that so divided the Church in France in particular. It was still a hot topic in the 18th century, with the old ground being revisited by Berti, Cardinal Norris and the Later Augustinians. Now the controversy has revived with the Nouvelle Théologie.

  • Donald,

    You certainly stirred a lot of interest in this post. The real issue in the Marchetto letter is that Pope Francis, whom Progressives in the Church have attempted to co opt, belongs solidly in the hermeneutic of continuity and reform “camp”. Of course this will not please ultra traditionalists who for different reasons see VII as a disruption in the Tradition of the Church, breaking with what has gone before.

    As to the interpretations of the Councils, I have to agree with what the others have said. However in fairness, I believe I can clear up some misconceptions concerning Trent.
    First, in order to respond to the radical positions of the Reformers, the Council of Trent presented the Tradition of the Church, and the Liturgy, in an ahistorical way. The Reformers had ” left the reservation” so to speak. The Council Fathers wanted to make very clear the Tradition of the Church and to maintain the true Liturgy of the Church against the Reformers’ theological and ritual attacks. However beside transmitting the teaching and making sure the Catholic Mass was protected, they made both as if there had never been development of doctrine ( which is not accurate) or that the Rman Rite itself had not undergone development over the centuries. Thus, for those of us who grew up in the pre VII days, we heard ” the Church never changes”. In matters of substance this certainly is true ( hermeneutic of continuity) but certainly not in the non essential aspects of the Church. Trent left us with the impression that there was no difference between Tradition and traditions.

    Secondly, when Trent ended in 1565 the Pope, I believe it was Saint Pius V immediately set up an authoritative commission to give authoritative interpretations of the Council’s teaching and disciplinary decrees. This left little room for accidental or intentional misinterpretation. The Pope also immediately published the Roman Catechism which really was the Catechism of and a sound interpretation of Trent. When Vatican II closed in 1965 ( a purposeful connection to Trent). Pope Paul VI did not set up an authoritative commission to interpret the teachings in Vatican II or to oversee the Liturgical renewal mandated by the Council. The substantial interpretation of the Council had to wait for the Extraordinary Synod in 1985 ( twenty years later) which called for a new Catechism (Catechism of the Catholic Church) not published until 1992. So much confusion and worse could have been avoided. As to the Liturgy, the Reform of the Reform really discovered by a close reading of the Introduction to the Roman Missal 2003 is still underway ( new translations, thank God). Pope Benedict was responsible for the reassertion of the pre-Tridentine tradition of some diversity of the Latin Rite ( the Ambrosian Rite had never been touched) however he enabled what now is called the Extraordinary From of the Roman Rite to be liberally celebrated. He also established the Anglican Usage Ordinariate (the Anglican liturgical tradition was based on the Medieval English variation of the Latn Rite called the Sarum Rite) Trent had suppressed all variants of the Latin Rite that were less than 200 years at the time.

    You can see how things might have seemed simple after the Council of Trent

  • I’ve said it before and feel once again … most all critiques of our pope’s communications needs to be done through the lens of a Latino and the cultural communication styles from which they sprout. We would be in err to view it from a European bent.

  • Botolph represents “When Vatican II closed in 1965 ( a purposeful connection to Trent (???)), Paul VI did not set up an authoritative commission to interpret the teachings in Vatican II or to oversee the Liturgical renewal mandated by the Council.”

    Huh? This reveals an astonishing ignorance of the history of V2. Paul VI created the ‘Council (Consilium) for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy’ appointing Annibale Bugnini its secretary. We still do not know the deliberations of this “Consilium” and who exactly contributed to the formation of the present Novus Ordo/Mass of Paul VI: but it is a liturgy in clear conflict with the very own documents of Vatican II: Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC—yet it was later forbidden! Even by its own document, SC contradicts “The continuity of reform” of Vatican II: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?” Where and who authorized substitute “canons” or Eucharistic Prayers for the Roman Canon? Where did they derive the sources or the authority for these spurious prayers? Who authorized the changes in the words of institution? That isn’t in Sacrosanctum Concilium: how did this happen? Who authorized the use of traditional Jewish-sourced Berakoth prayers in place of the Tridentine Mass offertory? Where was that authorized at V2 and where is it in the text of SC? And can a “consilium” headed by an archbishop countermand a papal bull (Quo Primum), even? Canonically of course not. These are just a few examples showing the monumental task before this Pope and his admirers before them to represent that there is a continuity with what was prior to 1962 called the Catholic Church and what went into effect after 1965. It is simply not there, to anyone who has eyes to see.

  • At the time of Trent the Protestant Reformers left and operated outside the Church. At the time of VII the protestant reformers remained in the Church and operated within her as opportunists.

    I would be surprised to find evidence that Trent actually denied development of doctrine… what they did was select and impose a uniformity.
    Any confusion of tradition and Tradition was more likely personal; it wasn’t institutionalized.

PopeWatch: Chaput

Thursday, November 14, AD 2013




Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Philadelphia Archdiocese has been unfairly depicted as a critic of Pope Francis.  This stems from an interview he had with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.  (John Allen is a good reporter but PopeWatch wonders about the judgment of any member of the hierarchy who has an interview with any representative of NCR.)  The interview may be read here.  PopeWatch fails to see how any fair minded reading of this interview could be taken as criticism of the Pope.  The bitter comments of the deranged readers of NCR are, as always, a true hoot.

Chaput in an interview with the blog of the Philadelphia Inquirer attempted to set the record straight.



Chaput, 68, made his remarks during a break in a daylong session of the semiannual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Criticism that Chaput had publicly faulted Francis as voicing tolerant views toward homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and artificial contraception, all of which the Catholic Church has long opposed, is “not fair,” he said.

“I was not criticizing the Holy Father,” Chaput said of remarks in June to the National Catholic Reporter.

“What I brought up was that I’m aware there are people who are critical of the Holy Father” for perceived liberalism on some issues, “and that it’s important that he talk to them, too.

“That is the fact,” said the archbishop. “I’ve never been critical of the Holy Father and would never speak ill of him.”

A priest of the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan order, Chaput described as “a great freshness, a great blessing for the church,” Francis’ call for greater care for the poor and openness to those who feel excluded from the church for reasons such as sexual orientation or divorce and remarriage.

As the former cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Francis is “the first non-European pope in a very long time,” Chaput noted, “and the way you see things from South America and the Southern Hemisphere is very different from northern Europe.”

But he cautioned against those who “want to use the pope to further their own agendas, and others [who] want to ignore the pope so they can promote their own agendas.”

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6 Responses to PopeWatch: Chaput

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  • I agree with you Donald. Archbishop Chaput was not criticizing Pope Francis in the interview with John Allen. The only thing I might slightly differ with him in the interview was his comments about the motorcade at TWYD. Pope Francis wants direct and close contact with people in Saint Peter’s Square. In other words, the motorcade in Brazil might not have been such an accident or failure as first supposed. The interview took place really early in the Pope’s ministry, so Archbishop Chaput simply would not be aware of this major shift in Francis’ policy with people.

    As for the Philly paper’s considering Chaput’s “failure” to be elected VP of the USCCB, the media, they only can understand and interpret things within a limited set of paradigms, certainly not ones based on or arising from faith. As you stated in your last comment, the media will indeed most likely seek to find a wedge between the Pope and the American bishops as a whole or as individuals

  • go ahead and criticize him. we are not the North Korean army goose stepping in front of our Dear Leader.

  • Just as with our Holy Father, it is important to read the article with Ttention to what words are in quotation marks and which words have already been parsed by the article’s author

    For example:
    order, Chaput described as “a great freshness, a great blessing for the church,” Francis’ call for greater care for the poor and openness to those who feel excluded from the church for reasons such as sexual orientation or divorce and remarriage.

    My interest is in how much the commonly perceived liberalism effects bishop and laity in understanding day to day application of church teachings. The culture kampf has certainly not ceased. A bishop Chaput’s words and Pope Francis ‘ words will be interpreted with as much as much looseness as people want if the bishop leadership here and around the world does not make it clear there is no hermeneutic of rupture

  • Why is it that we can never voice our opinions. I know exactly what Archbishop Chaput meant. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that unless you speak clearly and with authority the opposition will do everything to rationalize and twist those wordsto fit their agenda. Then again, I wanted Cardinal Burke or a hurry up and make Archbishop Chaput a Cardinal so he could be in the running! Diabolic, Diablo, Babel.

PopeWatch: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui

Wednesday, November 13, AD 2013



PopeWatch has noticed that the closer one pays attention to the day to day operations of the Vatican the more one becomes convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the True Faith.  Why?  Well for the same reason that a Jewish merchant converted to Catholicism in the Renaissance.  He had expressed an interest in converting to a Catholic merchant friend of his.  He announced to his friend that he was going to Rome to see the operation of the curia up close.  His friend who knew the corruption at Rome was aghast and assumed that his friend would lose all interest in converting.  Instead his friend came back and announced that he was being baptized in a month.  His friend was happy, but asked him why.  “At Rome I saw how the curia operates.  If I operated that way I would be bankrupt in a week.  The Church however has been going strong in spite of this for sixteen centuries.  It must be from God!”

An example of the loopiness that one often sees in close observation of the Vatican may be summed up in Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui.

Francesca Chaougiu

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33 Responses to PopeWatch: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui

  • Who hired her to work for the Holy See or Vatican City?

    She looks like she is posing for a Macy’s ad for perfume or Pantene shampoo.

  • Go to the link below, roll down the page and see photo of Francesca with lover. Lovely.

  • Here’s another website on the Pope Francis’ sex kitten aide Francesca, in English:
    The article says, “So who is Francesca Chaouqui? 30 years old & childless & likes to have sex & posting videos of it on the internet. (see above).”

  • Who indeed hired this woman? Certainly, the Pope had little if any knowledge of this woman (and all her baggage) before becoming the Bishop of Rome. If and when the history is revealed, it will be discovered that she (and other appointments) was promoted from within the vast subculture commonly called the Curia. While the Curia in fact is not that large, the vast interconnecting bureaucracy and sub culture connected with it is vast. It is vast, Byzantine (almost impossible to really get to know it and how it works) and divided.

    One of the major pieces of reform and legislation of the Council of Trent was the reform of the Curia-it has been an issue for that long and longer. Of the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries, it was perhaps Pius XII who had some real control. While often seen that Vatican II was a battle between liberals and conservatives in the Church, it is more correctly understood as a battle between the Roman Curia and the international body of bishops at the Council ( both John XXIII and Paul VI led/backed the body of bishops). After the Council Pope Paul VI was both out maneuvered and crushed by the machinizations of the Curial subculture. John Paul I died within a month of a heart attack when faced with the real force in the Vatican. Pope John Paul II chose to outflank the Curia with his teaching (encyclicals, etc), pastoral creativity (World Youth Day, prep for and celebration of Millenium) and of course his pastoral missionary journeys. These were things the Curia could not do. Pope Benedict chose to continue Pope John Paul IIs trajectory, giving his own emphasis: grounding the theological interpretation of all discussion of Vatican II in the hermeneutic of continuity and reform as well as making Dei Verbum (dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation) the true source and foundational document of all the documents of Vatican II. Pope Benedict took on single-handedly, really, the real reform needed in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the world-wide Church-a crisis completely mishandled by the Curial offices for bishops, clergy and seminaries. Pope Benedict also spent a great deal of time on choosing the major episcopal appointments (major cities throughout the world). However both age, temperament and ability prevented Benedict from dealing with the Curial crisis that began taking place toward the end of his ministry: the Curia went into a situation best described as a civil war (between themselves and against the pope) and meltdown. Pope Benedict courageously resigned that another younger man and a man chosen knowing precisely the lay of the land would be elected. Besides electing the new pipe the Conclave had the further strengthening and mission of the Church and the reform of the Curia as the key issues facing the Church.

    Pope Francis has already found some land mines. What ever forces within the Curia had as their agenda, the promotion of this young woman to the Pope’s attention is an example of the need for the reform of the Curia. The Holy Father as described himself as a bit naive in his idealism. He better get “street smart” fast in dealing with the wild forces at work in the Curia

    BTW I object to the title of a link above (pope’s sex kitten). I find it scandalous-as if the woman was an actual concubines or worse of Pope Francis

  • Pope Leo X (1513-1521) once remarked that he hated making appointments and delegated them whenever he could. “Whenever I make an appointment,” he grumbled, “I create nine malcontents and one ingrate.”

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  • This curate does sound like a byzantine bureaucracy. It sounds frightful, in fact. It makes me wonder again why the last pope retired. To my knowledge, no one really every figured it out.

  • Relax. The Curia has nothing much to do with Francesca’s appointment. Pope Francis was aware of everything about her even prior to her appointment. The Pope scolds gossip-mongers but does not say anything of Francesca’s nasty tweets about Cdl. Bertone and Pope Emeritus Benedict.
    She’s so cool, the Pope is not bothered at all with what she does. He’s a cool Pope who approves of everything. Who is he to judge?
    As she said, “I’m not worried because the Holy Father is not worried.”

  • Yeah, his stance is pretty cool. I guess everyone likes that. I think she looks really Italian and pretty attractive, and that probably raises eyebrows. I’m not sure we know why Benedict left though, and it may always remain a mystery!

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour, great quote from Pope Leo X ( not one of the papacy’s best examples himself). BTW nice to have you back

    Jon, while what I have said is accurate, I would be less than accurate or truthful to give the impression that all in the Curia have 666 on their forehead. There are some very good Curial officials who genuinely seek to serve the Church and each pope. However there are nonetheless individual Curial officials, at the higher levels, and some blocks of lower curialists which seek to maintain power and in some cases undermine popes. We all have heard of a so called ‘gay block’ but there are others. For example, at a low level under our Polish Pope but in a full blown mode under our German pope, there was a concerted effort among some Italians in the Curia to regain the papacy. That was part of the background to the Vatileaks as well as the crisis in the Vatican Bank. Only yesterday, there was a serious concern raised for the safety of Pope Francis given the reform of the Vatican Bank given how the reforms clearly disallow the Mafia from their money laundering schemes. It is this problematic (insidious?)

    Marietta, you say that the Curia has nothing much to do with the appointment of this young woman. I would really love to know your sources. For the moment I think we will just agree to disagree

  • Botolph, what you say about the bureacracy has been a part of the Protestant critique for centuries. If the Roman apparatus is that intricate and that fraught with corruption, and if power plays that kind of a role in it, then it is a church in need of reform. And reform in this sense involves reducing its complexity among otehr things. Church polity should be a simple matter. I very much sense things are amiss within the Vatican. I do think people harbor wrong motives there. I think there is a sinister ring to it all. But the Roman Catholic stance has always been that it is wrong for groups to break away and start over. That is seen as unecessarily schismatic. Yet it is a Protestant maxim that the church must reform itself through whatever means necessary, while of course avoiding schism whenever possible. Luther and Calvin left Rome wthi gravity and serious disappointment. They did not ignore centuries of Christianity. They simply did what they felt was required of them.

  • Marietta, that blog I checked out that you linked to was obnoxious. Fr. Z – a demonic infiltrator – only a complete crackpot would write that. Condemning NFP? Dale Price nailed it when he referred to people like this – tradholes.

  • Jon,

    What Donald says of the two Reformers is sad but true. While I have more “love” for Luther than Calvin, by 1520 or so the Augustinian Friar interested in and calling for a true renewal of the Catholic Church, had changed totally, throwing the baby out with the bath water, calling the pope in Rome the Antichrist. This was even more ironic because the new pope was Dutch, a real reformer who was met with opposition from forces within the Curia as well as the gang of Reformers now rallying to Martin Luther’s side

    To your point, the Church is always in need of being reformed. While at her core she is holy, the result of her intimate spousal communion with Christ in the Spirirt and manifested bt the Most Blessedvand Immaculate Virgin Mary and all the saints, She nonetheless is made up totally of sinners who are somewhere in the process of being sanctified. Each of us are at a different level, some moving toward while others sadly moving away from Christ and the core of the Church.

    The fundamental and Christ- given form and structure of the Church: Peter and the college of Apostles, proclaiming (word) and celebrating ( sacraments) and interpreting (magisterium) the Word of God remains. It is manifest in the continued college of bishops in communion with and under the leadership of the pope. The threefold (bishop, priest, deacon) hierarchical nature of the Church remains solid, as does the order of laity an consecrated religious. The reform of such non essential structures as the Curia will always be part of our task at hand. Are things worse now than at other times in history? Today cannot hold a candle to some of the nonsense an sin in “Rome” in mid 1400’s to the early 1500’s. But as bad as they were they do not hold a candle to the bad popes of the 900’s.

    As to the tyre reform of the Church it cannot be done without genuine, deep and life long conversion. Only one who recognizes and grieves over one’s own sin; only one who recognizes within oneself at least potential, the capacity for the same weaknesses, failures, sins and betrayals of Christ that we so readily recognize in others. Only one who really loves the Church cavn even begin to really seek to renew and reform the Church, Christ’s Bride, our Mother. See we really are family. Bthese are brothers and sisters botching things; just as we, perhaps differently, continue to botch things up.

  • “Yet it is a Protestant maxim that the church must reform itself through whatever means necessary, while of course avoiding schism whenever possible. Luther and Calvin left Rome wthi gravity and serious disappointment.”

    Untrue. Luther was almost hysterical in his writings of his hatred of Rome, when he wasn’t ranting against peasants or Jews, and Calvin was more than happy to think up a new religion that had only a passing resemblance to any Christianity that had come before John Calvin explained it all.

  • Donald, I think you overestimate the break not only in reality but in the minds of Luther and Calvin. Even Roman Catholic apologists have come round to the assertion that the two reformers were catholic and sought continuity. Their schism, they felt, was greatly unfortunate but entirely necessary by that time.

    Botolph, I don’t think the Roman machinery works. I certainly believe in the church, but our definitions differ. I’m also at odds with the Roman Catholic position towards Mary. I sense she has assumed a central place in their worship, which I find terribly worrisome. I think it arose early on in history though that doesn’t legitamize it for me. All sorts of new elements crept up early on, even while St. Paul was a missionary. It just strikes me as odd that people adore her. When I see her with a crown upon her head and hear her hailed as the Queen of Heaven, I think to myself that she has undergone a total transformation in the Christian imagination. I would never arrive at a conception like that based upon Scripture. Scripture doesn’t yield that picture. All we see there is the obedient servant, the peasant Jewish girl, who loved God and followed him closely: a chosen vessel for the Incarnation. I’ve said this before and I still feel the same way about it. C. S. Lewis commented insightfully on this. He said that to a Protestant it seems idolatrous to venerate Mary, while to Catholics it seems irreverent not to. But besides the fact that it doesn’t resonate with me, I find it difficult to reconcile veneration of a human being with Scripture. Anyway, veneration and worship really aren’t distinct in my mind. And it is not that Scripture is all we have to go on in life, but that all things must come under its authority. If conflict exists, we must choose the Bible. I try to do this.

  • “Even Roman Catholic apologists have come round to the assertion that the two reformers were catholic and sought continuity. Their schism, they felt, was greatly unfortunate but entirely necessary by that time.”

    Name them. If Roman Catholic apologists have written such tripe they gravely misunderstand the history of that period.

    One among endless examples that I could cite:

    “On the other hand, where the Gospel is not declared, heard, and received, there we do not acknowledge the form of the Church. Hence the churches governed by the ordinances of the pope are rather synagogues of the devil than Christian churches.”

    John Calvin, from Article 18 of The Geneva Confession

  • Jon,

    You are correct that the veneration of Mary began early in the Church. In Luke 1, we find her being referred to as “blessed” four times. There she, the Virgin of Nazareth, is called by a new name “Kecharitomene”. This is not simply a nice greeting but a new God-given name through the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel. Catholics have traditionally translated this Greek new name as “full of Grace”. Now perhaps you do not like the translation, ok, but the word is still her new name just as Sarai became Sarah.

    More to the point however remember the great difference in how Catholics (and Orthodox) worship. We Worship by way of Sacrifice. Sacrifice can never, and has never been offered to Mary, but only to the Most Blessed Trinity. There is a vast gulf between worship and veneration for Catholics. We only worship God; we only venerate the saints

    This was a bit off topic but I really wanted to respond to you, Jon. Hope it was of some assistance

  • One of the things John Calvin did — and indeed had to do–was to define the church. He had a problem with the existing structure and had to formulate an apology. He explained what he was doing. The true chruch, he said, had certain marks. So Calvin explained that wherever Scriptrue is faithfully taught, the sacraments are rightly administered, and church discipline is enforced, there you have the church.

    The Roman apologists I had in mind appeared on EWTN. I used to watch Mother Angelica and the gang and I would especially listen to Marcus Grodi and the Home to Rome series (or somethin like that). It seemed to be the consensus throughout the network, among laity and persons religious who were interviewed, that the Protestant break was not a huge rupture, and that early reformers were catholic and similar to Rome in certain respects when compared with later Protestants and sects. Of course the network hoped Protestants would get back to Luther and Calvin and thereby grow a little closer to Rome, ultimately arriving there. But their point was well-taken. Calvin was modified and misunderstood, too, to the point where Puritanism really changed what it meant to be Reformed. Calvin only reformed what he thought necessary. Of course he found more necessary things to reform than Luther. Neither had the kind of a-historical stance that more recent Protestants have possessed.

  • Thanks for that, Boltolph. But I still fail to see the distinction you assume between veneration and worship. In my mind one either worships or one doesn’t. We are worshipping beings — homo liturgicus. We are first and foremost created by God for himself, as Augustine states. So who or what we worship is more important than anything else. Idolatry is our worse problem. I really don’t know what the statues, the hymns, and the general cult that surrounds her amounts to. Perhaps I don’t totally udnertand it. I can’t say I feel drawn to it. Can you describe for me what it means to pray to her and to sing her praises and to bow before her statues? The language attached to the veneration seems more appropriate for worship. I’m thinking the line is crossed in practice regardless of the church’s position.

  • Donald, this page takes an awfully long time to load. You might want to check into that. It’s been a problem for years.

  • It loads quite swiftly for me Jon. I will pass along your comment to Tito our resident Tech mage.

  • Jon,

    I had been working on a long response but somehow deleted it on my iPad. lol perhaps the Lord was telling me to keep it shorter and simplernlol

    Ok I would agree that there was a Catholic period, in the early years of Martin Luther. It is in those early years that I sense that the Church failed in their response to Luther. However, by 1519-1520 he had begun to reject whole aspects of fundamental Catholic teaching (seven sacraments, Eucharist as sacrifice and with it the ministerial priesthood, separating faith both from reason and from morality- in his faith alone. He rejected the hierarchical nature of the Church and it’s authority in his Scripture alone. He had become a radical Reformer, not a reformer of the Church. John Calvin began where Luther stopped. I cannot find a Catholic Calvin in his writings ( although he of course did begin life as a Catholic). Perhaps neither of the Reformers went so far as two other Catholic priests turned radical Reformers as Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland and John Knox in Scotland. They continue to blow my mind, frankly

    I can never imagine a real Catholic apologist or theologian stating that while sad, the Reformation was necessary. The Reformation tore apart the Catholic Church in western Europe. It separated millions of the baptized down these almost five hundred years from full communion with the Church and from the Eucharist. The Reformation led to the persecution of Catholics in Protestant countries and persecution of Protestants in Catholic countries or regimes such as the time of Mary Tudor in Englanf ( to be honest I think all the Tudors were a plague in one form or another for the Church: Henry, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth). These religious persecutions and wars led to the rapid breakdown of the Christian culture in Europe- which we are now reaping in its harvest.

    It is true, Jon, no side in this division is free from culpability, we all have dirty (bloody) hands. At this point in time when we are all under such pressure to give up our common Christian witness, Catholics and Protestant Christians need to build on what we indeed hold on common- there are foundational common beliefs- and work to be open to the Spirit of the One Who prayed on the night before He died for us, ” Father, that all may be one, even as You and I are one”. Nonetheless, I could never say, that the Protestant Reformation was necessary for the Church

  • Well, a Protestant would say the seven sacraments were a development. We don’t have Scriptural precedent for all seven. We find two sacraments in the New Testament: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The term priest is not an accurate translation but a role foound in the O. T. The N. T. speaks of presbyteros: the bishop/elder/pastor. It was a plurality of presbyters that led the assembly, and these presbyters or elders or shepherds also existed above them ruling in districts. So we a presbyterian form of government at work there. It’s not episcopacy as you have in Rome. The sacrifice from a Pauline perspective was a once-for-all event, and we see that reiterated throughout the book of Hebrews. So we coouldn’t have a sacrifice in any sense now except for this: the sacrifice of worship and service through the priesthood of all believers. That is our spiritual offering in these times. Christ already died and rose again, and so we commemorate that. We don’t separte faith from reason and morality. It is by faith alone that we are justified, through faith in Jesus Christ. We are brought into relationship wtih God through Christ in order that the Holy Spirit might fulfill the law within us. It is what we call sanctification and it is to some extent the inevitable outworking of salvation. It is somewhat automatic in the sense that it is not a grudging duty but a spontaneous response as God works within us. Faith without works is dead and we are justified by a faith that works. If it is faith at all that we are justified by, it will work. James teaches that. We are not saved by works but by a faith that is necessarily accompanied by works. Likewise, we do not divorce faith from reason. We are not fideistic in the extreme sense. We simply recognize that faith always seeks understanding. Understanding comes to us through Scripture as we are guided by the Holy Spirit. There are still times when we fail to comprehend things and faith has to take the upper hand. It is not a simple syntheses of the two, but an uneasy relation that negotiates itself through time. The church really isn’t hierarchical. It should be elder-led, with the congregation serving according to their various gifts through the Spirit. Mutual submission is emphasized in the letters of Paul. Obviously from this standpoint, the Roman church experienced some pretty radical transformations over time. Catholics consider that OK–they cite the role of tradition. Protestants maintain we are obligated to continue in the traditions of the early chruch witnessed by Scripture while resisting serious innovation. It is difficult to see one side of the debate from the position of the other. But the Reformers felt they needed to bring the church under the authority of Scripture so that no conflict remained. Calvin and Luther differed in terms of how they went about that. As far as Eurpe goes, the ideal of a unified Christendom was shattered with the onset of the Reformation. But Protestants through the years have felt rather uninvested in the Constantinian state. In fact, many have seen it as a liability and indeed a large part of the problem. It is true that both sides persecuted the other, bloody wars ensued, and people burned ‘heretics’ at the stake. Such was the nature of the sixteenth century, a time when the best minds focused upon relgiion and interpeted all other things through a theological lens, including politics. Modernity and the enlgihtenemnt arose to coutneract that, and tried to stake out a neutral territory whcih may or may not have worked for the last few centruies. I think of Niebur’s Christ and Culture and wonder about the different viewpoints he explained. I dont’ knwo that an ultimate answer exists to that, and for a Protestant I guess one doesn’t, or at least doesn’t have to. We feel a paradox always exists, that we struggle to some degree or another as we recognize God’s kingdom is not of this world. We are a pilgrim people marching to Zion. But we worship and serve our Lord in our context and we struggle for appropriate ways to do that. Opinions differ but basic convictions are shared. The church is the visible expression that God’s kingdom has arrived. We worship God and proclaim the gospel of that kingdom, seeking to love and serve one another and the broader world around us. We endeavor to do that with creativity, but nevertheless within the parameters set by the scriptural narrative. And if we accomplish this, we live out our calling as God’s people.

  • Jon,

    I had sensed that you were a Proestant brother in Christ from one of your first posts. First let me say that you are very welcome to join in our discussions ( I am not trying to overstep into Donald’s territory here lol) I wanted to respond to you becausevI genuinely thought-and still do- that you had some real questions and were not trying to turn our conversations into debates or diatribes. This has occasionally happened and not from Protestants, which might surprise toy 🙂

    At the same time, we are discussing Catholic things, things associated with the Vatican etc. if you have a question about something I or somebody else has said, that is great. However, if you want to get into a full blown catechesis or apologetics of Catholic teaching etc this might not be the best setting- it breaks the flow of the conversation

    As to the Reformers and the Reformation, I came to a realization on this while speaking with a Lutheran pastor, who told me that the fundamental difference between Luther and the Catholic Church was that Catholics believe that the Church (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) is visible- in the Catholic Church down through the ages, while Luther believed that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was invisible. In the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Church, while answering the question on the use of holy images (icons and statues and paintings) the fundamental question was on sacramentality. Does the visible reveal and convey the invisible? Does the Incarnation of the Son of God continue in His Body, the Church? Do the saving actions of the Incarnate Son continue in the Church today? if so how? ( the sacraments) is the sacrifice of the Cross, an event which happened once for all in any way connected with the Eucharist? Does Christ continue His bridegroom-spousal (Ephesians 5) presence in the Church today? These are just some of the substantial questions raised concerning ” sacramentality”. . The Councils since the Seventh Ecumenical Council began to unpack this profound mystery: in the Middle Ages on the sacraments but especially on the Eucharist, and, in response to the are formation, the Council of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II

    Just something to consider, ponder and pray over. Hope it helps

  • Sorry about the typos. My iPad actually over rides my typing sometimes and I do not realize it until too late 🙁

  • If men worship Mary, Mary, ever faithful, brings our worship to God, through her Son Jesus. Mary points to Jesus. Can anyone fully comprehend the love of Mary for the Son of God? No one has the grace.

  • Thanks, Botolph. Luther retained a rather sacramental udnerstanding of Christianity. The Church of England retained a sacramentalist form. I’m guessing Eastern Orthodoxy is in this general category. Obviously the Incarnation is the greatest example of how much God values his creation. We are anything but gnostic. We value the visible world and know that God redeems it. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, as we say. What we do now matters very much — this world is important. I guess it is appropriate to say we are sacramental since we are Christian. Honestly, I have to say I don’t espouse sacramentalism though. I think the ism is for me a great difference. It implies something about the church’s sacraments that I don’t believe. It also implies something about the clergy’s role in worship that i don’t consider true. Finally, it suggests what I think is a world picture that goes beyond a proper value of matter to attribute to it a potency and signification that is not always inherent in it. Having said that, I have no problem with liturgy and a certain amount of ritual. I think that was a part of Judaism and was probably present in some aspects of early Christianity. All worship, in a sense, is liturgical, and liturgy is something very different. But again, sacramentalism as a philosophy or theological understanding would not be something I would agree with. If gnosticism negated the physical world, paganism embraced it in the wrong spirit. You might say the old pagans worshipped matter — they idolized creation. Christianity is really something quite different from both. Christians worship God and join in his creative and redemptive work, even as we are created and redeemed by him. I appreciate your amicable stance toward Protestants. You seem to harbor no ill-will, neither do you seem to have a bone to pick. I am happy to engage in discussion with you and hope that what I say makes sense. I have argued in the past that Lutherans are systematically sacramental to the point of embracing sacramentalism. I feel it is wrong for Lutheran pastors to adopt a role that dispenses spiritual benefits, whether its the ‘food and drink’ of the sacrament or some kind of rite. I always found that queer. I used to put it down to their ethnic heritage. Now I know it is deeply ingrained in Lutheran theology. It is about more than the old country. Anglicanism never bothered me because I don’t think anyone there ever took the sacramental backdrop that seriously, including the priest. It’s pageantry. I suspect the only ones who were thoroughly sacramental were the nose-bleed high worshippers that sprinlkled the population of the laity. As for Eastern Orthodoxy, I know very little. As I said, Christianity embraces creation. It is life-affirming just as Judaism was before it. But the imagery and iconocraphy within Orthodoxy strikes me as something more than that. I consider that it goes beyond the point. It stresses representation in a way I find troubling. As they so often express, we are each an image of the divine and I feel that ought to be enough. We see Christ in each person among us. God’s creation bespeaks his glory. I think that is sufficient for me. God thought it meaningful to provide us with the sacraments. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper remain. Baptism signifies our entry into the Christian life, while we remember Christ and his meaning for us in the Lord’s Supper.

  • Penguins Fan says: “Marietta, that blog I checked out that you linked to was obnoxious…”
    It’s obnoxious, is it? And Francesca is so immacolata that her after-sex photo should never have appeared on the internet, unless she herself posted it somewhere.
    Pope Francis and Francesca deserve each other.

  • Marietta, the blog you referred to is garbage. The blog owner is a lunatic. Is this where you get your Catholic information? Pope Francis is not my idea of an ideal pope, but he’s no Borgia either.

  • Jon,

    The Byzantine Catholic Churches (Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Melkite) worship the same as the Eastern Orthodox. Iconography is a major part of their worship and prayer lives. Protestants, who use the Martin Luther invented – and thus man made – notion of sola scriptura – are put off by religious art and iconography. On the other hand, the Eastern Christians see Protestantism as a form of heresy against Rome. Honestly, so do I.

    As a result of Vatican II, Bugnini cut and pasted together a new liturgy for the Western Church – one he thought would be palatable to Protestants. It has been a disaster.

    Excuse me while I take my sinful self to the Tridentine Mass – where I know I worship as my Catholic ancestors did.

  • Sola Scriptura is something I continue to believe. All it means is that Scripture is our final authority. I don’t know much about the Eastern Christians. While I have no problem with Christian art, I don’t think it’s needed as an aid to worship. I do not see Protestantism as a heresy. I think heresy is judged on terms other than schism or apostolic succession. I think it’s judged in terms of whether we conflict with Scripture in our beliefs. But I also think the church is marked by diversity and will always reflect that. We do not need to squelch that diversity in order to attain to unity. So I don’t see all this as heretical schism. Some of it is, honestly. But I think each group has to be judged against Scripture. Of course I define the church in terms different from some other Christians. I am not looking for visible continuity. I’m looking for spiritual continiutiy. I ask the question: are we doing our part now?

  • Jon wrote, “I am not looking for visible continuity. I’m looking for spiritual continiutiy.” The problem with judging the church by its teaching or Christians by their tenets is that it can easily lead to a vicious circle – “The true church is that which teaches the true faith” and “The true faith is what the true church teaches.”

    But, as Mgr Ronald Knox points out, ” if you ask a Catholic “What is the Catholic Faith? ” and are told it is that held by the Catholic Church; if you persevere, and ask what is the Catholic Church, you are no longer met with the irritatingly circular definition “the Church which holds the Catholic Faith “; you are told it is the Church which is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. This, at least, is a test and not a tautology.

  • I think tautology is in the nature of fatih. Jesus and the N. T. writers speak like that. Look, for example, at the first epistle of John or the words of Jesus in the gospel of John. Who we are as Christians and how we come to discern that is tautological. I think Jesus’ words ofen frustrated people for that reason.

PopeWatch: Missionary Pope

Tuesday, November 12, AD 2013



Pope Francis wrote a rather long message for Mission Sunday last month.  Go here to read it.  The message was released on May 19, 2013.  Here is an analysis by Father James Schall, SJ:

This letter is rather wide ranging. It strikes me as giving more insight into what Pope Bergoglio is about than almost anything I have previously come across, except perhaps Lumen Fidei.

This Pope’s evident optimism has always puzzled me because he does have, at the same time, a pretty good grasp of the real and growing obstacles to the presence of Christianity in almost every sector of the world and its culture. Near the end of this Message, for instance, Pope Francis tells us:

I wish to say a word about those Christians, who, in various parts of the world, encounter difficulty in openly professing their faith and in enjoying the legal right to practice it in a worthy manner. They are our brothers and sisters, courageous witnesses—even more numerous than the martyrs of the early centuries—who endure with apostolic perseverance many contemporary forms of persecution. Quite a few also risk their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ.

We do not hear of President Obama or other political leaders drawing “red lines” about such persecution of Catholics. Evidently, the persecution of Christians is not a public or world problem. Indeed, for all too many, Christianity, particularly Catholicism, is the world problem, best to marginalize it or, better, to eliminate it.

The Pope does not give any names of those who do the persecuting. I am not happy about this. But I understand that, if you mention persecution, especially in Islamic states, Christians are then persecuted with greater force. You are blamed for it. Very few places can be found in the world where Catholicism can be freely, openly, and legally present. The fact is that also in the so-called democracies, the prevalent mood of the public order is to reduce religion to the exclusively private sphere with no presence allowed in education, health, culture or other normal areas of human life.

The Pope seems aware of these issues but he remains relatively unconcerned about them. He has an approach to the world through worship, community, and joy that is not deterred by what in fact are huge and growing problems that can only properly be designated as persecution. Nevertheless, he even seems to think that the world could change very rapidly and unexpectedly, not unlike the effect of John Paul II as contrasted to all those experts who assumed that Marxism was here for the duration.

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4 Responses to PopeWatch: Missionary Pope

  • Would like to see this latest AP spin addressed. I guess religious freedom is considered an “ideology” today, according to AP. http://news.yahoo.com/popes-rep-us-bishops-shouldnt-preach-ideology-193104802.html

  • The world Christian and especially the world Catholic has been disenfranchised of acknowledgement by the state of his sovereign personhood. The world Catholic has become, in the words of Josef Stalin,: “a statistic.” Being disenfranchised of his sovereign personhood because of his Faith is the ultimate religious discrimination.

  • I agree with Fr. James Schall S,J. That Pope Francis’ message/letter for the recently celebrated (in October) Mission Sunday as a fundamental way of understanding/interpreting the vision or thought of Pope Francis. While giving what could be seen as a typical exhortation to support the missions Ad Gentes (to the nations), it reveals the deep Gospel of Grace, of God’s love, of God’s closeness to humanity through Christ in the Spirit.

    The Pope continues, drawing all listening to/reading his message into the mystery of the mission of the Church-at all levels:the universal, the local Church (diocese), particular Eucharistic communities (parishes and religious houses, monasteries etc), and yes, even the level of the individual- that we are called to be on the road (journey of life) with humanity. This is the important and fundamental image of the Church which Francis calls “synodality” (the word ‘synod’ means ” on the road together”). The image comes from the well known story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus The story begins with disbelief and lack of hope of the two (former?-they are leaving Jerusalem, they are getting out of town, not so much because of fear, but they simply no longer believe and therefore cannot dare to hope). Yet it is precisely at this moment (kairos) that The Risen Lord, not recognizable because they did not believe; in their minds He was dead, in the grave; case closed, draws close to them right where they are. He begins to dispel their disbelief in a dialogue of salvation. He begins to break down their ideology (“we thought that He would be the One Who would restore Israel”) and allow the gift of faith which comes as a gift-grace when someone breaks open the word of God for us, to burn within their/our hearts. It is only by being really evangelized and catechized that the person desires communion with the Lord (“stay with us Lord”) and seeks the sacrament of faith, Baptism ( if not already received) and the Eucharist where, as the Lord takes, blesses and breaks the one Bread (see 1 Cor. 10) in His Body, and passes the Cup of Blessing in His Blood, they/ we rcome to recognize the Risen Lord in “the Breaking of the Bread”. The story does not stop at the Eucharist however. The two disciples themselves go and share the good news that Christ is truly Risen, that their hearts burned within their hearts as He broke open the Word for them, that their eyes were open as He broke the Bread for them.

    The Church does not have a mission, the Church IS the mission of the Son and the Spirit from the Father to the world He loves so much. All together and each of us are sent. This was understood by the Church in the commonly used name for the Eucharist, “the Mass” which comes from the Latin “Missa”: “Ite Missa Est” ( literally, “Go! Be sent forth!”

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PopeWatch: Homosexuality is Now Mandatory!

Saturday, November 9, AD 2013

9 Responses to PopeWatch: Homosexuality is Now Mandatory!

  • I remember someone on MSNBC saying, “Finally, a pope who understands it’s 2013!” Yeah, those guys before Francis always thought it was at least 2012; those first couple were WAY off.

  • This is at least still recognizable as parody– far too much humorous exaggeration has been made obsolete by people actually doing it….

  • During the occupation of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, Herods Temple was also used to facilitate the celebration of certain Roman festivals, two of which were the Hileria and the Magna Mater. These were celebrations of The Cult of Cybele and Attis whose priesthood were homosexual and orgiastic. These celbrations were held in the Courtyard of the Gentiles. Jesus walked right into one of these festivals and blew a gasket, taking a stick or whip or perhaps both and driving them out of the Temple. So it appears that Jesus had dealt with homosexuals and didn’t approve. However, if one had come to him with a contrite heart and asked forgiveness, it would’ve been given to him. So it’s up to the homosexual to make the first move toward healing; not for the Church to give in to their radical demands.

  • When Pope Benedict gave his now very famous Regenburg Address during which he quoted a Byzantine Emperor on the violence of Moslems, I remover defending him against many. So called progressive Catholics wwho thought he made a reckless and insulting comment against Islam and all Moslems. I remember reminding the livid brethren that he was making an academic address and was quoting an ancient Byzantine emperor – he was not directly making this comment himself, and certainly not making anything close to a doctrinal or even policy statement for the Church.

    In the immediate media feeding frenzy that followed, I distinctly remember how shocked both Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials were that such a hurricane developed over an indirect statement (quoting a Medieval Byzantine Emperor) at even more importantly-at a university lecture. While protective of Pope Benedict, I still could not quite get why he couldn’t understand he was no longer a university professor, and now, as pope, everything he says is now at least potentially front page news.

    On the airplane coming back from World Youth Day, which was his first real appearance on the world stage and was considered a great success, an exuberant Pope Francis decided to give a press interview on the plane returning to Rome. As a Cardinal he had stayed away from such interviews as if each media person had 666 on his or her forehead. Now however, he was experiencing a honeymoon with the Churcgh, media and the world, and against all of his past (wise?) misgivings, he jumped into the waters without looking at the water, at potential sharks, or underwater rocks that could prove injurious.

    When asked about a new Vatican appointment who as a relatively high ranking representative of the Vatican in years past had carried on in a gay relationship- but who now ( apparently) had turned his life around, worked through an affective, conversion, and now was in a new and important role in Vatican administration- Pope Francis made his now famous comment, ” if a person who is gay ( here meaning same sex attraction) is searching for the Lord in good will, who am I to judge?”. It was not a university lecture. It was a comment in the middle of a press conference, in which the pope was genuinely trying to show the Church’s care for those with same sex attraction while also attempting to defend/dodge questions about one of his first appointments.

    Both popes made accurate statements-concerning the Moslem tendency (?) to violence, and the Church’s care for people with same sex attraction ( the Church cares for those in active ‘gay lifestyles and relationships’ as well: love the sinner hate the sin- but the issue was about an ecclesiast wh had gone through affective conversion) However both popes did not/could not imagine how their words would take on a life of their own.

    This is the age in which we live -even only a few decades ago, a pope would rarely be the subject of such total and immediate coverage by the media in our growing information/communication age. The popes themselves are still in a learning curve in ” appreciating” this new reality. I love Pope Benedict; he reminds me of some great profs that I have had (even without his incredible theological knowledge an ability to communicate it especially in his writing). I love Pope Francis; he reminds me of one priest I knew who wore his heart on his sleeve, made statements directly from the heart and when time for his funeral came, they had to shift everything from his local parish to our cathedral in order to accommodate the numbers of priests and faithful in attendance.

    Every pope has his strengths and weaknesses. Living in this age, with such coverage of our popes, I think we need to adjust our own perspectives, recognizing that they are going to be (mis) quoted in the media, that their (mis)quotes can and will be used to fit people’s agendas. I think as we move forward, it is important to adjust our expectations and desires accordingly, recognize popes have strengths and weaknesses, but not fall into the cultural/ political habits of our secular lives, whether we identify ourselves as progressives or conservatives, protecting or castigating our popes as we do our political and other leaders, according to our own ideological perspective. Faith is needed, not ideology.

  • A difference will always exist between what we believe and how we treat people. Our example is a God who forgives and loves us even though he is all-righteous. Yet for some reason this pope blurs that distinction. He seems to suggest that our love for our neighbor should override our moral position. I don’t think he has communicated clearly, or perhaps he intentionally obfiscates it to win friends and influence people. I simply don’t know.

  • Jon,

    Good post first let me say that I do not believe Pope Francis is intending to blur the distinction between truth and love-mercy. I put it this way because this is the fundamental “distinction” He is presupposing the truth proclaimed/taught ( this is why it is so important to ‘read’ what he is saying with a ” hermeneutic of continuity”) to be honest any emphasis on love-mercy founders without this foundation of ” the truth proclaimed-taught”. Pope Francis nonetheless emphasizes the love-mercy, there is no doubt about that.

    If I may, an example that might help here is the well known story of the Lord and the woman caught in adultery. Most tend to think that this story is a showdown between those who want to keep the truth (of marriage), the truth of the sixth commandment and are there with their judgments and rocks in hand against the poor “sinner” and Jesus Who is emphasizing love and mercy. But this is a false reading, a false dichotomy.

    Jesus was in agreement with the Pharisees about the truth of marriage, the truth of the commandment. Where He differed was on the “pastoral approach” by which He was/is fulfilling God’s promise in Ezekiel that He Himself would shepherd His People (seeking out the lost etc) and that He does not delight in the death of the sinner but that they turn (convert) and live. This is the deep (not liberal or trendy) pastoral response that I believe Popejk Francis is calling the Church

  • Thanks, Botolph. I hope you’re right. I agree that it would be a very appropriate pastoral approach if that’s the case. Very nice exegesis of the adultery parable!

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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Before He Became Pope

  • Donald this may not be the right place to ask this question, but – Did you see this headline?
    ” Illinois Catholic lawmakers cite Pope Francis in decision to back gay ‘marriage’

    “As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people,” Democrat Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia said. (Lifesite news)

  • Yes I saw it, and it is a predictable outcome of sloppy language by the Pope, a media eager to push the gay agenda and politicians who are only too happy to gain political cover from the popular conception of the Pope’s statements. Needless to say, “Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope” Linda Chapa LaVia is a pro-abort.

  • The interview with the then Cardinal Brogoglio is a good one, Donald. Thank you for bringing it to our attention and sharing it with us. I was struck by Francis’ comparing this Year of Faith which is drawing to a close this month (with the Solemnity of Christ the King) and the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1967 ( which as Francis points out, Pope Paul gave us the beautiful Credo of the People of God). Although obviously two differentt times, and two different feels, both marked the need to once again reflect on The Catholic Faith and to deepen our faith.

    Pope Francis also mentions the almost mystical yet cryptic remark of Pope Paul on June 29, 1972, about the smoke of Satan entering the Church- that despite all the good intention and hard work of the largest and most widely represented assembly of bishops of the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council, preternatural forces had entered the Church, preventing a reception of the Council in segments of the Church and stifling the joy that comes from the Gospel.

    While the interview is given when he was still a Cardinal, the second day of his papacy, Pope Francis mentioned the opposition of the Adversary (Satan) and his work against Christ and us.

    I bring all this to mind because of the similarities I see between Vatican II and Pope Francis ( remembering that I have a fundamentally positive perspective on both and believe both are great blessings to the Church). Both reveal, first of all, a very different mode or style of communicating the Catholic Faith. Instead of the quiet, teaching mode of previous Councils and popes, both VII and Francis are exuberant, almost jumping out of their skin as they communicate cor ad cor, heart to heart. The aim of both are to share a vision. The teachings of the Church are not under question for either VII or Francis (neither can ‘hardly imagine’ Catholics radically questioning or dissenting from the Faith) what both VII and Francis see is the vast panorama of “the world” and want to jump in (yes without looking-remember the impetuous Peter jumping into the water in two different Gospel stories?) and getting on with mission- with evangelizing, bringing the Good (Great) News to the world so much in need of Christ.

    Both VII and Francis desire a Church that engages the world in the dialogue of salvation, proposing, not imposing the Teaching of the Church, loving the sinner while hating the sin. This positive approach however is easily misunderstood by ‘the world’ but worse by segments of the Church that the Church is changing not “merely” Her style or approach but the substance of Her Teaching (which is not accurate)

    In VII and Francis’ irenic and non condemnatory approach, ambiguities seem to appear confusing both the world reporting them and then the Faithful who pick up their information primarily from the media. In both cases, VII and Francis, there is a sizable minority within the Church that takes VII and Francis where neither intended nor wants to go. They are the ones who know the spirit of VII, and although the term is not yet used, the spirit of Francis as well. Another much smaller yet no less vocal portion of the Church resist this perceived change in the Church and seek to counter it as best they can.

    Vatican II is an authentic and authoritative Council of the Church; Pope Francis is a valid, duly elected, Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter. Both are guaranteed by Divine Promise not to subvert the Catholic Faith thus separating us from Christ. Nonetheless both are human: one is obviously a single human being with his own spiritual battle between grace and sin, has his own strengths and weaknesses, light and shadows. The Council too for all is positive dimensions, and I believe that it truly was not only a gift of the Spirit, but the Spirit speaking to the Church of our age, is human- it has it’s strengths and weaknesses, light and shadows.

    Now my question. How can we, as Catholics, in the Bark of Peter truly assist each other at this moment in time, deepening our faith, growing in hope, increasing in charity and resisting this smoke of Satan that has indeed appeared in the Church ( I would make the claim that it always been present just changing appearance and tactics) ????

  • Botolph’s remarks are just fine, well balanced and well measured. ty.

  • I think there is a lot of issues here. This Pope has a very different style and a different approach to the Faith then the last two pope’s. At first I thought he was a revolutionary and even almost heretical. Some of his closest advisors are questionable. His action action against the FFI is to me unacceptable. Still he has not completely abrogated the Latin Mass or the Anglican Ordinariate, and just a week ago celebrated Mass facing East and than on all souls day he said the whole Mass in Latin which usually he does not do. He did mange through his prayer vigil stop an attack on Syria which seemed imminent. He is not the best of speakers and I think he needs to stop Interviews and speaking off the cuff.

  • Janet,

    I know that his decision against the FFI has been unacceptable to some. Given that there has been no other action against the usage of the Extraordinary Form tells me that it had to do with the inner life and unity of the FFI itself that was the real issue. However I freely admit I do not know all that was involved and certainly could be wrong in that opinion. As t,o the Anglican Ordinariate, it seems to be gathering more and more steam and continues to grow. It is one of the greatest fruits of Pope Benedict’s ministry, a fruit of the ecumenical vision of VII, and the first real healing of the wound inflicted on the whole Church in and by the Reformation.

    As to Pope Francis’ “interviews”, I would definitely say they are not among his strengths 🙂

  • “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” So I have faith in Christ’s prayer and His promise to be with the Church ’til the end.

  • The comment which gave me perhaps the the best insight of all, was his comments on pets.

    On the topic of consumerism and spending money in ways which are “unnecessary” he called the spending of money on pets the greatest of unnecessary spending! It’s amazing how much inordinate and unjust spending of ridiculous sums of money on pets there is by people who often refuse to have children of their own. I thought this was confined to secular America, where DINKS frequently engage in this perverse phenomena.

    This insight of the Holy Father’s is quite unexpected & endearing with it’s condemnation of the pop culture.

  • This current pope tries very hard to resonate with the zeitgeist. He really echoes current sentiments, and he sounds strikingly un-Catholic (unless Catholicism is thought to change in spurts). Perhaps he is uniquely strategic.

PopeWatch: Pope and Sufferer

Thursday, November 7, AD 2013

22 Responses to PopeWatch: Pope and Sufferer

  • A week ago I had the priviledge of attending a papal audience. It was scheduled for 10:30; the Holy Father arrived around 10:00 and did multiple weaves through the attendees. He passed our group three times. There was no need for him to do so. Everyone there came away with a deep appreciation of his character.

  • This act is not extraordinary, Don. Please. It is simply an act of kindness. Yes, it is good to see but…..

  • Karl,

    I would love to hear you complete your sentence-“but……”. What?

  • Kudos Don for bringing some balance to Pope Watch.

  • Brilliant! Don, I am so glad you have finally brought a balanced perspective to PopeWatch.

    (I haven’t been reading, since your serving from the “Rottweiler”, in which you did not allow me to respond, because you blocked me from the thread).

    Pinky, I too have a deep appreciation of his character- but maybe, not like your “appreciation”.

    Pope Francis act of kissing this man who has suffered deeply in his life through sickness and I’m sure, indifference from others, is truly an example that reiterates Christ love for us- no matter what.

    I’ve just finished my chemo treatment, and at times witnessed glimpse into what it feels like to suffer (physically through the treatment process of the cancer), but also from other people’s ignorance- which can make one feel on the outside, unable to keep up with a fast moving and functioning society. It can be a lonely road, but nothing compared to what this man would have to endure. Not even close.

    So Pinky, you should be greatful Pope Francis, did for this man, showed him an acceptance and love, that he must definitely would find difficult to get, rather than feeling resentment the Pope past you three times. Be happy for this man- and for those that the Pope greeted on the day you visited- glass half full right?!

    Bravo Don! Keep up the balance, and people “like me”, (those that appreciate our Pope), may get back on and start reading your blog again….and perhaps be allowed to defend themselves when called illiterate and un-intelligent, as your nemesis did, a few weeks back.

  • PopeWatch isn’t about balance. It is about collecting data about this Pope. If the data is good for Pope Francis it will be posted, if it is bad for Pope Francis it will also be published. This papacy is a work in progress and a fairly confusing work in progress it is. Hence the creation of PopeWatch.

  • “PopeWatch isn’t about balance”.
    Got it!

  • So by your statements this is his first positive action, is that right?

  • No, as a reading of all the PopeWatch posts would reveal.

  • PopeWatch reveals what you want it to. You are the author. You choose what data is collected and what is published. You pick and choose. You therefore set the tone.

    I could go onto another blog and see a quasi PopeWatch that shines nothing but positive light on this Papacy. No questioning.

    Or another blog that shows the positive and the negative- equally.

    Dissecting, this “work in progress”, may end up making you regret much of what you say in hindsight. Particularly when you dont have the privilege of insight into the intentions of this Pope- you dont know what the “big picture” is of this Papacy. Different eras call for different actions. Be careful you don’t jump the gun, so to speak.

    I hope you understand this about blogging. And I hope you don’t consider yourself impartial and unbiased. That’s all.

    But Bravo on this post, all the same.

  • “And I hope you don’t consider yourself impartial and unbiased”

    More so than most people. By training and by inclination I examine and weigh evidence before reaching conclusions. PopeWatch is a gathering of evidence in regard to the current pontificate. To understand PopeWatch one must understand that fact.

  • This is stunning, extraordinary, and unexpected. Oh, I don’t mean what Pope Francis did, but that you actually wrote something positive about him!

  • Actually PopeWatch has had several posts pointing out positive aspects of the Pope, but I guess you haven’t been reading them faithfully Anon. Oh, by the way we require people who comment to have real e-mail addresses.

  • The Pope adds to the already doublespeak , and confusion in the world. Why?

  • “By training”…what training is that? Aren’t you a lawyer? A good lawyer collects and presents “data” to suit their argument.

    Definitely not to show an unopinionated viewpoint. And Not necessarily to present the truth.

    Which means you are in fact more biased than most bloggers. By training.

    But I’ll give you one thing- you don’t like being told anything contrary.

    You are adamant PopeWatch is fair.
    (When multiple commenters have told you otherwise. A sign of a good lawyer Don)

    Sorry, if I pause to laugh….

    Perhaps this stems from the fact that lawyers think they are intellectually superior than most of mankind, and most Pontiffs? Or trained to think so…

    PopeWatch seems out to collect data to “prosecute”, in a sense, our current Pontiff.

    More positive “data collecting” of Pope Francis could rid you of this stigma though. But that’s up to you.

    Did you do PopeWatch for Pope Benedict? If no, Why not?

  • “A good lawyer collects and presents “data” to suit their argument.”

    Wrong. A good lawyer understands both the strengths and weaknesses of his case and he achieves this by objectively analyzing the evidence. I am disappointed when I leave a hearing if I do not think that I could have made a stronger argument for the opposing side than my opposite counsel did.

    “Which means you are in fact more biased than most bloggers. By training.”

    Clearly you are not a lawyer Ez.

    “Sorry, if I pause to laugh….”

    Only fair Ez considering the amusement your contributions to the comboxes have given me.

    “Perhaps this stems from the fact that lawyers think they are intellectually superior than most of mankind, and most Pontiffs? Or trained to think so…”

    Some lawyers do indeed think that. I am not among their number. I do think that I am usually better informed than most commenters on most subjects I choose to write about, although other commenters, and my co-bloggers, do often produce new insights for which I am grateful.

    “PopeWatch seems out to collect data to “prosecute”, in a sense, our current Pontiff.”

    Then you have not been reading the posts with care Ez if that is your opinion.

    “Did you do PopeWatch for Pope Benedict? If no, Why not?”

    Nope, because I knew where Pope Benedict was coming from and where he was going, based on his voluminous writings and history. I cannot say the same for Pope Francis. Hence PopeWatch.

  • Such a sad state of a affairs I find at this site of recent. I have enjoyed much and contributed some over the past few years and have liked the economic, political and occasionally the spiritual points …. But the method and madness I find now is way over the top. Your intent may be pure …. Your actions anything but. I’ll spend my limited time elsewhere.

  • Your choice Dave. I deeply appreciated your comments and prayers after the death of my son. We shall continue calling them like we see ’em, which is what we have done since this blog was founded five years ago.

  • Maybe if you explained to us non-lawyers why you don’t understand where Pope Francis is coming from, then you won’t get some cynicism from commenters.

    Why do you not “trust” this Pontiff, that you feel you need to “Watch” him- monitor him? What is it about his actions and words that you don’t like?

    Is it his non-intellectual background? That Benedict was able to articulate theology better? And Francis is not his intellectual equal? If it is, that’s absurd, and you need to look past your nose…it’s actually quite narrow minded, and borders on condescending, to other Catholics that prefer to express their Catholicism through actions, because they aren’t able to do it properly through words. Does it make them less Catholic? I hope not!

    This Pontiff is Latin Anwrican- warmer than his predecessor. Less full of etiquette. Is less judgemental in his approach, yet crystal clear about Church teaching.
    But yet, I can say I still was faithful to Bdnedict and didn’t feel suspicious of his leadership. I wish people like you have the humility to lower yourselves down to our level.

    He isn’t fighting communism, like PJPII, but a world that has lost it’s sanity.

    Benedict couldn’t do it. Which is why he stepped aside. And there was a clear mandate from the Cardinals that they wanted a Francis, a Jesuit, from Latin America.

    I’m really interested to know what you need to monitor about him.

    Cause you’re missing his message of love in the process.

    I don’t see it fruitful to have a “PopeWatch” as a faithful Catholic…and it annoys me. It’s not what our faith is about. Watching our leader- monitoring.

  • Then don’t read the PopeWatch posts Ez, no one is holding a gun to your head. It is not a Catholic position to simply assume that every action of a Pope is wise and every word he speaks comes from the Holy Spirit. History amply refutes such an attitude. The Church has had a very bad last half century. Under John Paul II and Benedict XVI there were clear signs that the Church was beginning a slow recovery. The question now is whether Pope Francis will continue this work or whether he wishes to take the Church in a new tangent. The Pope has not been clear in his utterances. To deny this simple fact is not intellectually honest. PopeWatch is an attempt to discern what the Pope intends to do and why he intends to do it, neither of which is clear at the moment. PopeWatch will continue on and no amount of criticism is going to stop it.

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PopeWatch: Maradiaga

Wednesday, November 6, AD 2013




Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga is the coordinator of the “gang of eight” cardinals that Pope Francis has designated to spearhead the reforms he seeks to implement within the Church.  Some wags have referred to him as Vice Pope.  He gave a, well the diplomatic term to use would be “interesting”, speech at a conference in Dallas on October 25.  Go here to read the speech.  PopeWatch was going to fisk this speech, but learned that two superlative fisks have already been undertaken.

First up is the fisk of Father Longenecker.  PopeWatch would note that Father Longenecker is not a firebrand, but is rather a judicious commentator.  You can get a taste of the fisk from this section:


The first read through sounds like the old “Spirit of Vatican II” stuff warmed up. It’s all about reaching out in mercy and no condemnation to show people what the love of Christ really looks like. Okay, but as many commentators have observed, in the American Church the liberal mainstream have been doing that steadily for the last fifty years and all we have to show for it are plummeting vocations, religious evacuating their orders en masse, churches built in a brutal modernist style, a wholesale abandonment of the rich teachings and traditions of the faith, widespread disregard for the moral teachings of Catholicism, the priest sex abuse scandal, financial abuse and a church in crisis.

So we want more of the same? This is the definition of insanity isn’t it? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

I understand that in Central and South America many Catholics associated with “the right” were also associated with right wing political figures. Those who loved the Latin Mass and church traditions and disciplines were also at the table with the moneyed aristocracy and the right wing dictators. I can understand the egalitarian talk of Cardinal Maradiaga therefore, and I acknowledge the truth of what he says about the church being “the pilgrim people of God” and the need to “get back to Jesus” and the need for the compassionate face of Christ to be seen in the church. I accept and agree with his proposal that the new evangelization is ultimately about meeting Christ through the shining examples of authentic Christians.

I don’t have much of a problem with what he affirms, but I am concerned about what he denies. Maybe the Cardinal needs to remember the life changing aphorism by F.D.Maurice that  a man is right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies. Whenever I hear a pastor say “The truth is X but not Y” I’m suspicious because usually the truth is both-and.

Go here to read every insightful world.

The second fisk is from Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings.  The fisk has just begun but it begins with a bang:

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23 Responses to PopeWatch: Maradiaga

  • Fr. Longenecker makes sense.
    Forgetting our duty to personal holiness to sanctification is placing the cart ahead of the horses.

    I was reading a story on Pope Francis’ polling questions. NBC offered the story and unsurprisingly the thread was washed with “about time the Church listens to the laity.”

    Popewatch has been a difficult read for me, however I see it as vital. Revisiting the errors of misunderstanding VII is not a step forward in the new evangelization.

    Thank you for Popewatch.

  • PopeWatch isn’t easy to write Philip and I sincerely wish there was no need for it.

  • The Pope is generating lovely rumors in the press, which make me slightly twitchy:


    Sure, such rumors always abound, but these are getting very specific. I think I might re-think that Orthodox church if such a thing happened.

  • Cardinal Maradiaga needs a history lesson as does, I think the Pope. The most obvious lessons can be learned from the Cristeros movement in Mexico where the left (communist) decided the Church was a threat and proceeded to kill Layity and Religious unless of course you bought their line and taught if from the pulpit. And of course there were the Vendee of southern France who instead of knuckling under to Robespierre and his modernity, decided to fight to save their Church and way of life. Those who gave us the slogan “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”, massacred at least 400,000 Catholics. If they want to know what crisis the modern familiy face today I suggest they read up on what the Christians faced in Rome under Nero.

  • The idea behind going out to the highways and hedgerows was to bring people inside the house and into the feast, and not to move the party out of doors, right?

    A lot of this liberal happy-talk sounds to me like folks wanting to move the party because that’s easier than making the people out on the highways and lurking in the hedgerows come in.

  • I think you have the wrong link to Dale’s post.

  • Ernst, very well put. Thanks.

  • It just keeps getting better and better.

  • All I wanna know ’bout dis pope is hazzee supprest da Jesuits yet?

  • In order to understand your main point Donald (piece from Dyseptic Mutterings and pictures lead me to this question) the main problem in the Church today is Vatican II itself?

  • Mistaking laxity for mercy. It is not loving to leave people in darkness if we know where the light switch is- but with this current diabolical disorientation leaders and laity seem to be fumbling

  • “In order to understand your main point Donald (piece from Dyseptic Mutterings and pictures lead me to this question) the main problem in the Church today is Vatican II itself?”

    The main problem as ever in the Church is us. The Church is both a divine and a human institution. The divine portion works perfectly. The human portion works about as well as anything else we humans attempt to manage.

  • It was not only in Central and South America that Catholicism was presented as a sort of civic religion, of the kind decried by Maurice Blondel: “A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

    With a social teaching limited, in the words of the (Anglican) hymn, to

    The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.

  • The most comforting words recently heard came from Sydney’s Cardinal Pell (also a member of Pope Francis’s Gang of 8): “You don’t have to accept every jot and tittle of it (Vatican II.)”

  • Thank you for the clarification, Donald. I agree with your statement about the Church being a Divine and human institution and that it is the human dimension that works “about as well as anything else we humans attempt to manage”

    In other contexts I have frequently commented that it has taken us two thousand years to get to this point! There has never been a “golden age” of the Church from which we hae fallen, nor a “golden age” to which we have finally arrived.

    Every era of the Church has it’s grace and sinfulness, strengths and weaknesses, light and shadows. Every Ecumenical Council has its own strength and weaknesses, light and shadows. Every successor of Peter has to struggle in his own life-as do we- in the spiritual battle between grace and sin; each pope has his strengths and weaknesses; each pope’s period in his ministry of office has its light and shadows.

  • In order to understand your main point Donald (piece from Dyseptic Mutterings and pictures lead me to this question) the main problem in the Church today is Vatican II itself?

    I wouldn’t say that, though denying that the ambiguity of the documents is a problem is whistling past the graveyard.

    No, in the excerpted section, I was expressing my (continuing) consternation with Cardinal Maradiaga’s argument that Vatican II was a truce with modernism.

    This is a rather shocking assertion, is it not?

  • In other words, Cardinal Maradiaga’s presentation is an emblematic example of what then Cardinal Ratzinger called turning Vatican II into a “superdogma”:

    “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living
    Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero.
    The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately
    chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat
    it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the
    importance of all the rest.”


  • Dale, thanks for your two responses. The greatly clarified your own post, and I would say I agree that there are elements in the Council documents that need real strenuous exegesis. While always taking Vatican II as an authentic and authoritative General (Ecumenical) Council of the Church, I have also seen it within the much larger history andd Tradition of the Church. It is the Council of and for our age, not the Second Coming

  • Doctrinally I see little to be concerned with in this …. whereas geo-politically the hairs on my neck rise up a bit. Few here, including me, are comfortable with the economic lesson the Cardinal delivers …. but until I am more sure of consequences … let us be respectful and patient. Pope Watch has felt too much like what would have been penned in letters to the media complaining on matters heard immediately after VII was initiated … whereas we ended up having little if no issues with VII doctrinally … the issues where more in how many responded to what they thought they heard. Maybe that is what you are trying to prevent … or maybe that is what you are engaging in?

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8 Responses to PopeWatch: Frank the Hippie Pope?

  • Lutherans love us, with true Christian charity, and want us to be happy.

  • This Utube catches most if not all of the difficulty with Francis. All the Jimmy Akins in the world with their 9 point “pooper scoopers” won’t be enough to undo the damage.

  • Perhaps it is not as important what the pope endorses so much as what he seems to endorse. And this pope is interpreted as being more liberal, I think, than any previous one.

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  • Just had take-out Chinese for dinner and the fortune cookie had this to say: “Do what you love and the resources will follow” I pondered for a moment on who the author of such eyewash might be. And who else? Frank The Hippie Pope!

  • It amazes me that each pope could be so different from the one before it. It seems like Roman Catholic theology has much to choose from. One can draw on a vast heritage of conflicting ideas to advance a unique style. I saw this with each of the three last popes. John Paul was the most thoughtful and creative, I think. He really restored the concept of the human in God’s image with all that that means. Anthroppology is important today, and John Paul explained the human psychologically and sociologically. That was great.

  • the vote for life just failed in albuquerque which has a well known large majority of Roman catholic Voters.

    if only their was a way albuquerque could have watched the satire “pope franky” before the vote was taken.

PopeWatch: Anthropological Issues?

Monday, November 4, AD 2013



Sandro Magister at Chiesa has a new column up which is rather troubling.  Is the Pope about to softpedal Church opposition to abortion, homosexual marriage and contraception, these being relegated to the status of mere “anthropological issues”:

Pope Francis is showing that he has very clear in his mind both the battles that he wants to fight and those for which he sees no need to do so. Both “ad intra,” meaning within the ecclesial body of which he has become the supreme pastor – and in the Roman curia in particular – and “ad extra,” in the world.

With regard to the latter, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio has said loud and clear, in the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica,” that he does not see as a priority the battles over anthropological issues like the questions “connected to abortion, homosexual marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”

This undoubtedly constitutes a change of stance with respect to the  last pontificates: not only of Benedict XVI and of John Paul II, but also of Paul VI, the pope of “Humanae Vitae” and of the strenuous resistance against the introduction of divorce in Italy.

It is a change of stance, this of Pope Francis, who although he has not yet eliminated even one iota of doctrine has nonetheless raised widespread expectations among the more progressive sectors of Catholicism around the world.

But it is also a change of stance that has backed into a corner those episcopates – of Italy, of Spain, of the United States – which in the past were considered models in their way of addressing on the public stage the anthropological challenges present in the contemporary world, but which now find themselves singled out as “scarcely in line” with the new papal leadership.


In Spain, one signal has come from an editorial on the website “Religión Digital” that begins with this rhetorical question: “Is the Spanish hierarchy in harmony with Francis and with the new wind that is blowing from Rome?”:

> ¿Está la jerarquía española en sintonía con Francisco?

“Religión Digital” is a website of Iberian religious information that has always been critical toward the cardinal of Madrid, Antonio María Rouco Varela, for about twenty years the uncontested leader of the episcopate and the bearer of a stance theologically orthodox and  politically opposed to the anthropological revolution decisively introduced above all by Rodríguez Zapatero, as well as being contrary to the pro-independence currents also very strong within the ecclesial body of Catalonia and of other regions.

In the United States, the liberal magazine “National Catholic Reporter” has emphasized the extent to which the words pronounced by Francis against “the current pastoral ‘obsession’ with gay marriage, abortion and contraception” manifest an “imbalance” between the pope and the U.S. bishops that goes so far as to “undermine” also the vigorous campaign for religious freedom undertaken by the latter against the morally unacceptable aspects of the healthcare reform of the Obama administration in relation to American ecclesial institutions:

> Imbalance between Francis, U.S. bishops undermines religious liberty campaign

In Italy, finally, in the newspaper “La Stampa” the vaticanista Andrea Tornielli has presented it as a certainty that with Pope Francis comes “the end of an era: that inaugurated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini and continued by his successor Angelo Bagnasco, now called to open another”:

> Così il Papa fa cambiare i vescovi

This same shift has also been welcomed by the historian Alberto Melloni, who has noted how in his first encounter with all the Italian bishops last May the pope “gave a talk soft in its forms but hard in its substance, and indicated a stance different from those followed until now.” The representative of the “school of Bologna” – which advocates a progressive interpretation of Vatican II – added: ‘In recent decades a pastoral and political project has been proposed by the Italian episcopal conference. Now the pope is placing at the center of attention a model of the bishop. For Italy it is a great leap.”

The Spanish, the American, and the Italian therefore seem to be three episcopates under fire, in this new ecclesial season.

The effects of this new situation, unimaginable until eight months ago, will soon be apparent.


The general assembly of the Spanish bishops will be held November 18-22. On that occasion they will have to vote for the new secretary general of the episcopal conference.

The outgoing secretary general, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino – a Jesuit like Bergoglio, but in full harmony with the hardly “Bergoglian” Ruoco Varela – cannot be reelected. Now it remains to be seen if the bishops will select his successor from among – to use the language of the aforementioned Iberian website – “los candidatos de Rouco” or “los candidatos franciscanos.” How the Spanish bishops will vote, and how strongly the “new wind from Rome” is blowing in Madrid will therefore be seen before too long.

But Pope Francis will also be able to intervene more directly in the leadership of the Spanish bishops when he appoints in Madrid the successor of Ruoco Varela, who has passed the age of 77 and whose mandate as president of the episcopate expires in March.

One strong candidate for the succession, not one of Ruoco’s favorites, seems to be the cardinal of the curia who is the current prefect of the congregation for divine worship, Antonio Cañizares Llovera, more inclined to dialogue in the political arena. The pope will probably make his decision on Madrid after receiving the Spanish bishops on an “ad limina” visit between the end of February and the beginning of March.


The assembly of the bishops of the Unites States, the USCCB, will also meet November 11-14. And this will also be an electoral session. The American prelates, in fact, will have to choose their new president and vice-president for the next three-year term.

Three years ago the bishops, in a surprise break with a longstanding tradition, did not elect as president the outgoing vice-president – the bishop of Tucson, who had been the auxiliary of the deceased cardinal of Chicago, the “liberal” Joseph L. Bernardin, for decades the undisputed leader of the USCCB – but over him chose the combative archbishop of New York, Timothy M. Dolan.

Now the vice-president is the moderate Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, and it remains to be seen if he will be made president or if another will be preferred to him, for example Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston. There are ten candidates currently in the running, almost all of them moderate or conservative.

In the United States as well, Pope Francis will be able to intervene directly in the episcopal leadership. In fact, the moment is drawing near for the selection of the occupant of the important see of Chicago, where Cardinal Francis E. George will turn 77 in January.

But also drawing near is the date of the first consistory of the current pontificate, expected to take place in February, which means that the names of the new cardinals would be announced in January. It will be interesting to see which churchmen the pope will wager on, to verify if there will or will not be a return to the Bernardin era in the United States, as the “National Catholic Reporter” seems to anticipate and hope:

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35 Responses to PopeWatch: Anthropological Issues?

  • No one and certainly not the Holy Father is denying the moral demands of the gospel. No Catholic I know would deny that, even in the temporal order, as Maurice Blondel says “we find only in the spirit of the gospel the supreme and decisive guarantee of justice and of the moral conditions of peace, stability, and social prosperity.”

    But, there is a need to put first things first, One recalls the scathing words of the Abbé Lucien Laberthonnière, written a hundred years ago now, to those French Catholics, who hoped for “the triumph of the Church in society.”

    “The triumph of the Church in society? That would be excellent. But then, it is necessary to examine by what means our religion permits us to pursue it. Moreover, it has not been promised us. And then, it is not, perhaps, the most pressing of our tasks.

    The Church is like Christ. To go to souls, she is, in her own essence, a soul of truth and kindness [bonté]. And, if He needs a body to act in the world, it is by His soul and for His soul that His body subsists. And, if we wish His body to be beautiful and vigorous, if we wish it to be radiant, let us labour to enrich her soul with the faith and love of our souls. Her power does not consist in giving orders, to which external obedience is required, backed up by threats or favours. Her power is to raise souls to the life above. It is to give birth to, and to cultivate in consciences, the supernaturalising obligation [l’obligation surnaturalisante] to live for God and for others, through Christ, and to pass through temporal defeats to a triumph that is timeless [un triomphe qui n’est pas de temps].

    Do not indulge in childish dreams, when you have in your grasp eternal realities that invite you. Understand, all you who would triumph and reign on earth – Et nunc, reges, intellegite.” [To a French audience, instantly recognizable as the text of Bossuet’s funeral oration for Henrietta Maria, widow of the executed Charles I of England]

  • ” One recalls the scathing words of the Abbé Lucien Laberthonnière, written a hundred years ago now, to those French Catholics, who hoped for “the triumph of the Church in society.””

    Today MPS it is not the triumph of Church in society that is at issue, it is rather whether the Church will stand aside and allow those forces in society to take control who wish to destroy her. Many Catholics do not realize what is at stake in what is often called a Culture War, and I greatly fear that the Pope may be among their number. On the other hand Pope Benedict clearly got it:


  • Though it’s important to keep in mind, there’s no papal action or comment cited by Magister in this piece, he’s strictly talking about what progs imagine might happen as they run around talking about the “Spirit of Francis”.

    Sometimes the “Spirit of Francis” runs into the cold facts of reality, and so we recently had the spectacle of Michael Sean Winters wringing his hands and wailing at the appointment of Bishop Blair of Toledo to the see of Hartford CT: “Francis, why can’t you be more like Francis!!!”

    One can only hope that in the end the “Spirit of Francis” has no more to do with Francis than the “Spirit of Vatican II” has to do with Vatican II.

  • “Whether the Church will stand aside and allow those forces in society take control who wish to destroy her…”

    M. Laberthonnière was writing in the wake of laws that had forbidden religious to teach (The Law of 7 July, 1904, which formally declared that “teaching of every grade and every kind is forbidden in France to the congregations;” which had dissolved most of the monastic orders and confiscated their property (Law of 1 July, 1901) and which had cancelled the salaries of the clergy, to the tune of 42,324,933 fr ($8,464,986; current real value is $470,653,221) and which had declared every church and every kind of religious property to be « Les biens nationaux » [the goods of the Nation] (Law of 9 December 1905). Certainly, there were those in society that wished to destroy the Church

    It was against this background that he insisted that “Her power does not consist in giving orders, to which external obedience is required, backed up by threats or favours. Her power is to raise souls to the life above,” a power that is wholly supernatural.

  • Would the Holy Father have regarded the gassing of the Jews in the 1940s as an anthrapological issue not worthy of considering a priority?

  • I had read the original Magister article a few days ago, and came away from it, with a sense of unquiet as well. Unlike other articles in the past which I found to be quite insightful, I sensed, as Darwin writes in his response, that Magister was reporting on conjectures concerning the ‘spirit of Francis’ rather than on the actual substance of Francis. The fact that the reporting of Magister has become more spotty is becoming more evident. Why this is the case remains to be seen.

    The question Donald raises from his reading of the article still needs to be addressed. It is a valid question. Has Pope Francis relegated abortion, so called gay marriage and the issue of contraception to ” mere anthropological issues” ( as Magister phrased it)?

    Can or could Pope Francis, or any post-Vatican II pope, relegate such issues to be “merely anthropological issues”with the sense that all fundamental questions concerning the humanum, the real issues of humanity and what it means to be human” are somehow outside the theological focus of the Church. See, there is a not so subtle split taking place in the very substance of Magister’s question/conjecture between the theological and anthropological issues (Donald did not split the two, his question, questions this split).

    Besides taking the question “Church, what do you have to say for yourself?” very seriously in Vatican II, the Church also rooted all the questions and issues of the humanum within the Gospel vision of the Incarnation of Christ (this is the great gift of Gaudium et Spes which is itself rooted in Dei Verbum, on Divine Revelation). To put this succinctly, because of the Incarnation, we can no longer divide ‘theological’ from ‘merely anthropological issues’. Or as as Gaudium et Spes teaches, “Because of His Incarnation, Christ has identified Himself in a mysterious way, with each man”. And again it teaches, “Man remains a mystery to himself without the revelation of Christ” ( these quotes are by memory; sorry if the are not exact).

    I believe what Pope Francis was actually saying in the Jesuit interview, was exactly this. The questions of the humanum cannot be isolated from the Mystery of Christ, and the proclamation of that Mystery in the Gospel. To see or to “harp” on these issues, isolated from the revelation of Christ is to relegate them to the “merely anthropological”

    This is the change of attitude to which Pope Francis calls the Church. Far from breaking with Vatican II and his papal predecessors, Pope Francis is continuing and deepening this Christological/Incarnational trajectory.

  • Botolph is right.
    Too often, the “anthropological issues” have been addressed with an anthropology that is not Christian – a legacy of the Neo-Scholasticism that Cardinal Henri de Lubac said was destroying Christian though.
    As Maritain says, “Man is not in a state of pure nature, he is fallen and redeemed. Consequently, ethics, in the widest sense of the word, that is, in so far as it bears on all practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality,—ethics in so far as it takes man in his concrete state, in his existential being, is not a purely philosophic discipline. Of itself it has to do with theology…” Or, as Pascal has it, “We do not understand the glorious state of Adam, nor the nature of his sin, nor the transmission of it to us. These are matters which took place under conditions of a nature altogether different from our own, and which transcend our present understanding” and “Thus, without Scripture, which has only Jesus Christ for its object, we know nothing and see only obscurity and confusion in God’s nature and ours.” Any discussion of abortion, SSM and contraception must begin with the proposition that we are miserable, corrupt, separated from God, but ransomed by Jesus Christ.

  • The notion that we must first convert non-believers into believing Catholics before they will appreciate the evil nature of abortion strikes me as dubious. Call me neo-scholastic if you wish, but God does imprint his moral laws on the hearts of men, and those laws are ultimately consistent with reason properly understood. While I applaud any renewed importance being attached to conversion and evangelization, I do not think that such efforts are a substitute for working in this fallen world, with non-believers, to promote positive laws that are more in concert with Natural Law.

    If our Pope truly does not see the battle over abortion as a priority then I think he is flat out wrong, for the same reason as any failure of the Church to combat the Holocaust would have been or was flat out wrong.

    It may be that the Holy Father rightly understands that the horrors of abortion and other moral outrages can be traced to the fall of Christendom and its theological assumptions in favor of a secular world grounded in assumptions that are wrongheaded and dangerous, and perhaps he wants to concentrate on reversing that phenomenon. If so, I certainly cannot argue with that. But there are much better ways of making that point than dismissing abortion as an anthropological non-priority.

  • Also, it’s important to note that:

    – So far as I can tell searching around, the pope himself has called these “anthropological issues” but has not attached the word “merely” to that. Making “anthropological” into a dismissive is something that Magister is supposing based on progressive commentary.

    – The sense of “anthropological” which is being used here is “understanding of what it means to be human”. In this sense, yes Nazi racial theory was an “anthropological error”. The term is not being used to refer to the value neutral (indeed, often explicitly relativistic) academic discipline of “anthropology” which we have in US universities. So, for instance, in an AP story, I find the following Francis quote:

    Gay marriage is “an anthropological step backward. If there’s a private union, then third parties and society aren’t affected. But if they’re granted marriage rights and can adopt, there could be children affected. Every person needs a masculine father and a feminine mother to help them settle their identity.”


  • Mike Petrik,

    If you think I was stating that we must convert non-believers into believing Catholics before they will appreciate the evil nature of abortion, then I am sorry for this confusion. That was not what I was attempting to say. I believe that all three of these so called “anthropological issues” are evidenced by what we have traditionally called Natural Law (available to the whole of mankind with the use of reason). In more recent teachings concerning this subject of natural law, Pope Benedict used the term “human ecology”. I especially like that phrase.

    When Saint Thomas Aquinas, basing himself already spoke of natural law, most especially in his treatise on Law, he was speaking in a Scholastic environment that was working in an Aristotelian, objectivist world view. We however have gone through a completely different philosophical/academic shift, captured in the now well known phrase “return to the subject”. We cannot wish or pretend that this anthropological shift has not taken place, any more than Thomas could wish that the shift from the Neoplatonic/Augustinian to Aristotelian world view had not taken place.

    There are genuinely Catholic responses (as well as those that we have discovered to be less genuine-the whole point of Blessed John Paul’s encyclical, Veritatis Splendor). The whole of creation is dynamic and related to God and to us. To God, in the very fact that all of creation is at this moment.coming forth from God as pure gift (created out of nothing). Related to us as the ones to whom the gift is given-including the gift of ourselves being given to us. This “given ness” is discoverable with the use of reason (the basis of all science). We have discovered that we are all star stuff, that every single ‘thing’ visible and invisible is a cosmic sibling. Ecology, and the care for the entire environment then is even cosmic ( whole different perspective then secularist environmentalism) In a very real sense we have arrived at Saint Francis of Assisi’s vision of “brother sun and sister moon”.

    We are just beginning to really understand the fragile but real human ecology (we would traditionally use the term ‘natural law’). That we emerged “from the clay of the earth” on this third planet with its powerful magnetic field, is significant singular moon literally regulating our time and seasons, after five mass extinctions with our particular and amazing human genome that reveals both our relatedness to our fellow creatures, yet nonetheless singular and unique among all the creatures of planet earth, is nothing short of miraculous.

    My point in the above post, is that the Church in the Second Vatican Council, coming to grips with the scientific/historical epistemology ( the way we come to know what we know), the radical ‘turn of the subject’ of Descartes, Kant et al., has sought to believe, confess and express our ancient and Catholic Faith in this new setting. In Vatican II (arising from genuine development of Catholic philosophy and theology) the Church overcame the old divide between objective and subjective, theoretical and pragmatic, theological and anthropological- united in Christ Jesus, the Mystery of the Incarnation.

    Abortion, so called gay marriage and contraception, among others (remember the stem-cell controversies? The Church was castigated for her protest against embryonic stem cell research-yet in a relatively short period of time- the scientific community discovered that adult stem cells are far more productive) remain revolving around questions of the humanum, human ecology. Since we have received the Revelation of God, first and foremost in creation, in dialogical form (In the beginning was the Word…) we will continue the dialogue of life, of salvation with ” the world”-not blasting others with condemnations, but with the deep, penetrating relational Truth about the humanum we have discovered in Christ.

  • Botolph’s continuing optimism about Vat2 and this Pope can be measured by the number of times that most pro-Bergoglio types have to say now “I believe what Pope Francis was actually saying…” I don’t think this Pope has clue about the ramifications of his speech and his positions, but he is definitely a Martini-change-agent from beyond the grave. I also think that speaking as though Dei Verbum pronounced some new doctrine (it did not, as neither did any of the Vat2 documents, as witnessed by Paul VI, JP2, and Benedict XVI again and again and again) deliberately overlooks the disaster of recommending text- and form-criticism as valid means of interpretation (which of course are a-traditional anyway): (Botolph speaking): “[At] Vatican II, the Church also rooted all the questions and issues of the humanum within the Gospel vision of the Incarnation of Christ (this is the great gift of Gaudium et Spes which is itself rooted in Dei Verbum, on Divine Revelation). ” Because we authorized runaway scriptural revisionists, most notably Raymond A Brown (who gave us the a-scriptural “Hail, most highly favored one!” instead of the literal Greek-based “Hail, Full of Grace”, and who didnt believe in the Virgin birth or the Immaculate Conception) and Edward Schillebeeckx (who deconstructed sacraments, esp. priestly ordination and divided Christ into two beings based on his unique self-validating text-criticism), we are able now to say that the Lord of the Gospels would never have taken a stand on abortion, homosexuality or anything, because it is all now pea-soup.
    And 50 years later, the drift continues, with this Pope not even trying to validate his positions based on traditional Catholic teaching, but on his own peculiarly unique reading of certain isolated scripture passages. Yet let the “Aves” rise from those who think he (Pope Francis) is making some spectacularly scintillating pronouncement that has been hidden from us all for about 2000 years.

  • Steve,

    You continue to reveal a profou nd confusion conce ring the the Second Vatican Council. In your latest reply you even claim the post Vatican II popes against Amy interetation that takes Vantican II as authoritative. It is authoritative, Steve. If it were not there would not be any real duuTancing between such groups as the Society of. piusX and the Catholic Church, a distance which sadly continues. Pope Benedict called for the Year.of faith in which we still livve, precisely to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Council and to further its reception.

    I would invite you to consider the Council as authoritative in the life of the Churnch.and then join us in speaking of the strengths and weaknesses, the lights and, shadows found in this Council, just as we find the same in the other Councils as well.t

  • Botolph,
    My point was simply that Pope Francis’s characterization of the Church’s cultural and political battle against abortion as an “obsession” is disorienting and unhelpful. To understand why just substitute genocide or Holocaust for abortion. It is possible that the phrase “not a priority” might be Magister’s, not Francis’s, but even if so the phrase represents an inference that is being made by all too many people, including secularists and Catholics who do think that abortion should not be a priority.

  • Mike,

    Ahh ok. I see what you are saying. On the face of it, saying that the Church’s cultural and political battle against abortion (and other ‘anthropological issues’) could indeed be disorienting and definitely unhelpful. The fact that many Progressive/liberal forces within and outside the Church took it at this face value and ran with it seems to validate the face value reading.

    My response however is to go beyond the face value reading. Pope Francis has not equivocated at all on abortion in statements he has made since becoming pope. In a post above Darwin has given us what the then Cardinal Broglolio stated about so called gay marriage (“an anthropological step backward”). In the working paper to prepare the bishops of the Church for the Extraordinary Synod on marriage and the family, there is no equivocation on contraception. Therefore I would state that the face value reading of Pope Francis’ words do not ring true.

    In the Gospel vision of Christ, in the light of the Incarnation, there is and cannot be “merely” anthropological issues. They are all issues, questions that ultimately must be answered in the light of Christ. Christ reveals what it means to be God in His Divinity and reveals what it means to be human in His human nature. Vatican II simply applied Chalcedon to the issues facing humanity

  • Botolph, thanks. Yes, I agree emphatically with your (and Darwin’s) understanding of Francis. My concern is about audiences. If the Holy Father wishes to make the rather deep and nuanced (and important) point you suggest, an informal interview to be shared with the popular press may not be the best place to do it. Just google “Francis abortion interview” and you’ll see what I mean.

    Overall, most pro-life Catholics love Francis, and do not remotely think he is somehow “soft” on abortion, etc. But by allowing himself to be so easily misunderstood, he has inadvertently comforted the pro-aborts and discomforted pro-lifers.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care about being discomforted, but I do care about babies being butchered, and I know he does too.

  • We are both in complete agreement

  • Botolph at times holds that Vat2 was definitive of something “new”, yet here are the facts: To others who may want to know the truth, let us just look at the argument that “dogma” was defined @ Vat2 (something Botolph believes). Yet Paul VI affirmed the opposite, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (Paul VI, General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    Benedict XVI affirmed the same: :”The truth is that this particular Council (Vat2) defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council.” (Address to the Chilean Episcopal Conference, according to Il Sabato, 1988) JP2 repeated this same position (Angelus address, Oct. 27, 1985):
    “Pope John conceived this council as an eminently pastoral event.”

    Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC—yet it was forbidden by Vat2! Even by its own document, SC contradicts Vatican II: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?”

    Shall I go further? Yes. Card. Suenens exulted that Vat2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. (1988 address. Chilean Episcopal Conference).
    Yves Congar, one of the Vat2 periti, remarked with quiet satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something different.”

    For Pope Francis and the Botolphites to claim Vat2 is definitive of something new, and that that new doctrine has never yet been tried, as he declared in an October interview, is not so, as declared by 3 prior popes; And yet on the other hand, we know there was a discontinuity in Catholic tradition and thought due to what went on from 1962-1965 simply by looking at the “Novus Ordo” liturgy. Or do we not? It must be hard to be a Pope Francis-Botolphite these days. Nothing makes sense. And I will continue to point it out to them, over and over and over.

  • Steve,

    Wow you have exceeded your already exaggerated comments and positions concerning the Second Vatican Council. However to place me with Pope Francis as well as each of the other post conciliar popes is indeed a compliment. For the record this will be the last response I will be making to you and your extremist positions. I see a growing divide between Catholics who take the Council as authoritative and those sectarian groups that do not. It is very sad. However there have been divisions after almost every Council of the Church

  • Meanwhile, the “Head, Meet Desktop” award goes to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, who cited Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” quote on the floor of the House today as justification for legalizing civil marriage for same-sex couples:


    “Madigan, who rarely speaks on bills on the House floor, spoke in favor of the same-sex marriage bill, invoking Pope Francis to support his position.

    “’Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church was quoted as saying ‘If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge,’ ” Madigan said. “He has articulated the basics of my thinking on this issue. For those who happen to be gay and living in a very harmonious, productive relationship, but illegal, who am I to judge if it should be illegal?”

  • Satan quotes Scripture too

  • Steve Phoenix

    Two points

    1) Κεχαριτωμένη in Lk 1:28 is a perfect middle or passive participle, so it means something like “having been favoured with grace” or “having had grace bestowed.” That is not a question of theology, but of grammar.

    2) As for there being “a discontinuity in Catholic tradition and thought due to what went on from 1962-1965” I can see nothing in VII that was not being affirmed over the previous 50 years. One has only to look at philosophers like Maurice Blondel and Jacques Maritain or theologians like the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Maréchal, Lubac, Daniélou and Mondésert or the Oratorians, Bouyer and Laberthonnière to see that.

    That there was deep-rooted conflict in the Church can be seen from Blondel’s words, written 50 years before the Council: “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.” VII went a long way to resolving that conflict.

  • Michael Patterson-Seymour, I dont know where you studied Koine Greek, but the accurate translation of kekeirtomene is “full of grace”, meaning unequaled in grace. No legitimate translator has rendered it as “having had grace bestowed” or “favored with grace.” Even Raymond A Brown, who advised the current NAB translation editors, put it (wrongly) as “Hail, most highly favored one.” Kekeritomene is unique to the entire NT occurring only once in Luke Ch. 1 You are massively wrong in this translation and by the way, running against Catholic tradition from S Jerome, which translates this as, “Hail, full of grace.” However you illustrate perfectly the text-critical drift by equivalently making Mary equal to others who receive grace, “a saint like other saints”, much like the Anglican tradition. That is one of my points.

    The other issue here is that this Dei Verbum actually tried to supplant the long Catholic history of scriptural interpretation based on magisterial interpretation and standing with tradition. Botolph refuses to acknowledge that there is a break in teaching prior to Vat2, as I guess you wish to also do. But neither of you have chosen ton respond to the contradiction in the Novus Ordo liturgy spawned by Vat2: no where was the Trent Mass to be abolished—yet it was. The norm of music is to be Gregorian chant—but it is not. The organ is to be the preferred normative instrument of accompaniment—and it is not, as I have pointed out between what Vat2 states in Sacro. Concilium about the liturgy, and what we have now. Just look at the change in the words of institution (the “pro multis” controversy) which Ratzinger had to walk back and change to “for many” (another exegetical time-bomb without traditional foundation at all). And since you mention Congar, Congar wanted to have Dei Verbum state that only scripture is the true source of Catholic belief—essentially Luther’s sola scriptura position.
    So, it is fine to deny all these matters, just as trying to “explain what Pope Francis really meant” over and over—because the drift continues from what we taught and believed previously and to where Pope Francis seems to think we need to be taken now—no where which was prescribed in the “non-dogmatic, pastoral council” of Vatican II. And, so, if it is not dogma, why are be bound to follow it?)

  • Steve Phoenix

    What part of speech do you claim Κεχαριτωμένη is? Do you agree that it comes from the verb χαριτόωι meaning “to show grace to”? (reduplicative in the perfect, as here)

    Try Liddell & Scott, id you don’t believe me. It is not only Koine, but Attic and Ionic as well, as every schoolboy knows (or used to know)

  • Yes, I am familiar with Liddell & Scott, and by the way, it is not a Catholic based translation source, so you have proven my point: text-criticism has to be interpreted in the light of Catholic tradition (exactly the problem with Dei Verbum). So you went to look it up and that’s what you found. Good for you, you discovered a Koine Greek past participle, that may also be passive, you are a “good schoolboy”(your words). A valid “safe” traditionally Catholic comparison source would be the Jerome Vulgate (for the ancient language equivalent) and the Douay-Rheims for the modern language equivalent. I am well-familiar with the NT Greek: we can all play at biblical exegete and be DEAD WRONG.

    As for playing semantics on what participle it is (“it is not a matter of theology, but of grammer”), not only am I unimpressed (nor am I phased by this typical attempted linquistic imperialism) because you are flatly wrong: it is the reverse: this is exactly a matter of theology, and the scripture serves the tradition, not the reverse as you have put it. Translating it as “having been favoured with grace” or “having had grace bestowed” is no where in the Catholic traditional translation (not even Raymond A Brown’s, with whom I profoundly disagree) and it accurately reflects the Anglican system. Kekeiretomene only occurrs one time in the NT, in Luke 1: 28 (a fact I doubt you knew before this discussion). It points to the unique “Full-of-grace” title of the Virgin, not a saint as other saints, but a Mediatrix unmatched.

    And you miss my point, as does the retreating Botolph, I think intentionally: Congar, Bea, and the other biblical “experts” in drafting Dei Verbum wanted this type of exegetical reductionism that you are demonstrating (they were first-rate linquistic imperialists whom you would surely admire) so they could undermine hierarchical traditional teaching on every score: whether it be Humanae Vitae, or Jesus Christ as Son of God, an enduring immutable moral basis for church teaching, or the Blessed Virgin’s unique status in the Church: we could go on and on.

    And this brings me back to Pope Francis, who doesnt seem to even care about the received tradition and the whole of scripture and what does it mean in light of traditional understanding. Pope Francis is now diverting us in the direction of a “New Jesus” that he has discovered, and has been lost for most of 2000 years, a new modern Pope Francis-based biblical primitivism, a Jesus who doesnt judge (even tho’ Jesus shows quite dramatically negative moral judgments all the time, a Jesus who says [active] homosexuals will be in heaven (or at least Francis says this), even tho; Thomas Aquinas states “sexus not est in anima”, i.e. the risen body is glorified, not a continuation of this life something Jesus does teach the Sadducees (Mt. 22: 23-46).
    Francis consults with his scriptural oracles and develops a whole a-traditional subjective Bergoglio tradition. The drift continues.

  • Michael Paterson Seymour,

    The continuity of the Council with the Catholic theologians is accurate but even more is it’s continuity with the magisterium of Pope Pius XII (the most quoted of all popes in the documents). Pope Pius XIi wrote a profound encyclical on Sacred Scripture in 1943, in which he backed Catholic scholars in using the historical critical method and called for translations from the original languages oh Hebrew and Greek and not simply translating the Latin Vulgate. This encyclical is the foundation of Dei Verbum, on Divine Revelation. His two encyclicals of 1947, Mystici Corporis and Mediator Dei were foundational to Lumen Gentium. And Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    You are most correct in pointing out the deep split within the Church in France, that while mostly dealt with successfully in the Council, has been exported beyond the borders of France, and sadly remains an issue even to this day. Pope Benedict did all he possibly do to resolve this division, to no avail. The future indeed looks bleak for any real reconciliation. However, for God all things are possible; thus we can continue to hope and pray.

  • Well-done, returning Botolph, you completely misinterpreted what is being said: we are talking about (actually) text-criticism and form-criticism (not historical criticism) which has run amok without any relationship to Catholic tradition. Pius XII would never have stood for what happened to biblical criticism after V2 (and in fact he disciplined Fr Chenu in 1942 for his nascent pre-V2 traditional reinterpretationism).

  • Steve Phoenix

    Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, usually cited as “LSJ,” now in its 9th (1996) edition, published by the Oxford University Press is the standard dictionary of Ancient Greek, recognized by all classical scholars throughout the English-speaking world. It is for Ancient Greek what the Oxford English Dictionary or Webster is for English.

    The translation I offered can be found in every single English translation that is based on the Greek text (as opposed to those like Douay-Rheims that are translations of the Latin Vulgate text). Here are some early examples,

    The Bishops’ Bible (1568) “[thou that art] freelie beloued”
    Geneva Bible (1587) “thou that art freely beloued”
    Authorized Version (1611) “thou that art highly fauoured”

    (Note they all treat it as a present perfect)

    Daniel Mace, who produced a new critical edition of the Greek Textus Receptus in 1729, has “favourite of heaven.”

    It would be a tedious task to cite the modern translations (the New American Standard has “favoured one”) and quite unnecessary. Greek is not Hittite, known only to a handful of specialists and the notion that a false translation of the bible could be foisted on the world is fanciful.

    As Botolph point out, it was Pope Pius XII, who, in Divino Afflatu Spiritu of 30 September 1943, called for new translations of the Bible from the original languages, instead of the Vulgate. “We ought to explain the original text which was written by the inspired author himself and has more authority and greater weight than any, even the very best, translation whether ancient or modern.” Every modern scholar agrees that the original text has Κεχαριτωμένη; it is simply a question of translating χαριτόω. a verb that can be found, not only in the NT, but in other ancient authors, Aristeas, Hephaestion and Libanius.

  • Very informative exchanges in the commentary. Botolph, it appears to me, has not been able to undo Steve Phoenix. Both have done a good job in the debate however. I have learned something for sure. Steve is right both about the non-dogmatic nature of Vatican II — authoritative only in the sense when it does not compromise what is defined — and about “full of grace.” To pretend today’s scripture critics know more than St. Jerome is ridiculous. Anyone knows that who has studied the life and labors of this doctor. We learn much from the admissions of the liberal heretics like Brown, Suenens, Schillebeeckx, and Congar. The last two of these, along with Hans Kung, denied papal infallibility and one reason they gave for the denial was because, as they argued, the Church had changed its teaching on extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.

  • Confusion exists as to our nature, our reason, and what we can attain to before and after becoming a Christian. Neo-scholasticism is, I think, a dead end. And there is no philosophic approach to all this. THere is no state of nature, of course, as someone said earlier. To posit such a thing even for purposes of a thought experiement simply makes no sense. I have come to terms iwht the fact that we are fallen and redeemed in Christ. This is augustinian, too. Certainly there is a moral law written on our consciences, if you will, but I’m not sure that’s adequate. St. Paul seemed to think it merely served to condemn us: at some level we knwo the truth but we suppress that truth in wickedness.

  • And I argue that neither was Adam in a state of nature. Humankind is cultural from the start. We were assigned to cultivate the earth. Created in the image of God, we too are creative, and that means we engage in arts and sciences. In the fullness of the kingdom, I imagine civilization will finally come into its own.

  • The Christian imagination has always been cautious when it comes to what the future resurrection looks like, and rightfully so. But it has been the business of cults to flesh that out. I think of the idyllic depictions on the front cover of watchtower magazines and the ravings of mormons about eternal growth and infinite accomplishment. As one Christian writer has put it, the cults are the unpaid bills of the church. The church needs to address this gap.

  • Kelso

    I find it astonishing that you should describe Cardinal Suenens or Cardinal Yves Congar as “heretics.”
    Cadinal Suenens’ orthodoxy was never questioned; Pope John Paul II conferred the red hat on Cardinal Congar, precisely to vindicate him from rumours of heterodoxy.

    As for Fr Edward Schillebeeckx, although investigated by the CDF in 1976, 1979 and 1984, he was never censured and his writings never condemned.

  • Michael Paterson, all of these liberal “theologians’ went out of their way to deny the “irreformable dogma” of No Salvation outside the Church. See Vatican I’s definition on the issue of ex cathedra pronouncements. They all invented loopholes to escape the literal and “defined” (three times at least) dogma of THE CHURCH on salvation. This is the scandal of all scandals. To give the impression to non-Catholics that they can be saved by “invincible ignorance” etc. etc. is a most grievous scandal. Pius IX did not say this. If you read his encyclicals in Latin you will see exactly what he said pertaining to invincible ignorance; he did not change a negative into a positive. All he said what that no one will suffer torments in the next life (read the Latin, supliciis) for not knowing what they never heard. They will suffer for sins that their conscience accused them of in the moral law. If they follow the “lights of grace” they will come to the truth. (Vatican II, and St. Thomas BTW) This is the error of our day to say ignorance can give a positive reward, ie, eternal life, if one lives by the natural law. Who are these people that defy original sin and can live virtuously in keeping the Ten Commandments without knowing them in word? I know of no missionaries who ever encountered such people. All have sinned! All need Jesus and Baptism! Congar was one of the worst in this regard with his book and his numerous writings on salvation outside the Church. This is the one dogma that cannot be accepted as defined. No way. It is an embarrasment. It simply cannot be true as defined, the liberals say. That is why Father Feeney was persecuted, because he said ‘enough is enough’. Stop this equivocation and circumvention. Let the word stand as defined. Nothing else is worthy of humankind. Poor souls who deny the Church and do not know Jesus, or deny Him, must be challenged by both word and example. To pretend there is salvation outside the Church is the worst possible sin against charity. Where has all this false ecumenism got us. NOWHERE!! The past popes have a lot to answer for, especially for promoting the HERESY of saying that we are no longer trying to CONVERT non-Catholics, rather we are INCLUDING them in the way of salvation as a lesser communion. Vatican II did not say this, albeit Lumen Gentium was pathetically ambiguous. What a scandal!! “If you do not believe in Me,” Jesus told the Jews, “you shall die in your sins.” We may as well throw out the Gospels and Epistles if one can be saved outside the Church and without Baptism, in re or, at least, explicitly in voto (vowed intent, explicit desire to receive the sacrament). Oh, we pathetic creatures can be so much more merciful than God, so much more understanding. Just say the truth and leave the unbelievers to God. Do not put them on the road to salvation without faith in Christ. Who are we,who is the pope for that matter, to give such an impression.

  • Kelso

    If it really all so straightforward, why were not Cardinal Suenens, Cardinal Congar and Fr Schillebeeckx censured, or at least their works condemned by the Holy See?

    On the contrary, it was precisely in acknowledgement of his work as theologian that Yves Congar was honoured with the red hat.

    One could say as much of Bl John Henry Newman: “One of the most remarkable instances of what I am insisting on is found in a dogma, which no Catholic can ever think of disputing, viz., that “Out of the Church, and out of the faith, is no salvation.” Not to go to Scripture, it is the doctrine of St. Ignatius, St. Irenæus, St. Cyprian in the first three centuries, as of St. Augustine and his contemporaries in the fourth and fifth. It can never be other than an elementary truth of Christianity; and the present Pope [Pius IX] has proclaimed it as all Popes, doctors, and bishops before him. But that truth has two aspects, according as the force of the negative falls upon the “Church” or upon the “salvation.” The main sense is, that there is no other communion or so called Church, but the Catholic, in which are stored the promises, the sacraments, and other means of salvation; the other and derived sense is, that no one can be saved who is not in that one and only Church. But it does not follow, because there is no Church but one, which has the Evangelical gifts and privileges to bestow, that therefore no one can be saved without the intervention of that one Church.” (Letter to the Duke of Norfolk)

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PopeWatch: Antje Jackelén

Saturday, November 2, AD 2013



Unless a major news story involving the Pope develops, PopeWatch plans in future that Saturday installments of PopeWatch will normally be lighthearted, however this installment is somewhat darkly humored indeed.  Catholics can often rightly feel that there is much amiss in the Church.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who often has taken up the cudgels to defend the Church, reminds us in a current post at Midwest Conservative Journal that the problems of Catholics might seem trivial to Christians in various sects:


This one’s all yours, partner.  Just keep it clean:

The bookmakers were right. Today it was announced that the Church of Sweden’s new archbishop is Antje Jackelén. But who is the church’s new top leader, who has chosen part of the Muslim prayer call as her motto?

Many have been taken aback by the theological opinions Jackelén revealed during a questioning in Uppsala on October 1. The candidates for the highest position in the Swedish church were asked if they thought Jesus presented a truer picture of God than Muhammed. With her evasive answer Jackelén suddenly emerged as the bishop who couldn’t choose between Jesus and Muhammed. This provoked strong reactions on some editorial pages.

Kyrkans Tidning thought that the bishop’s answer might indicate that Christ is being relegated to the margins of the Church of Sweden and Dagens Nyheter encouraged the candidates to show some theological backbone. The editorial writer at the newspaper Dagen wrote that it is time to accept the idea of a split within the church – between Christians and those who think all religions are equally good. 

The bishop of Lund’s preference for Allah has prompted one of the church’s most preeminent theologians, professor Eva Hamberg, to leave her post as a member of the church’s theological council in protest against bishop Antje Jackelén’s failure to stand behind the Church of Sweden’s profession of faith. As a reaction to what she calls ”the inner secularization of the Church of Sweden”, she has also renounced her position as priest and her membership of the church.

In a number of interviews Hamberg has expressed her disappointment that not even the top leader of the church will clearly profess a Christian faith but wavers between Jesus and Muhammed.

It is not only Jackelén’s motto and her unwillingness to put Jesus ahead of Muhammed that has evoked strong feelings among many committed Christians. During her questioning in Uppsala, the new archbishop also said that the Church of Sweden has more in common with other religions than with other Christian churches, that the Virgin Birth must be understood metaphorically, that hell doesn’t exist and that the Biblical texts should not be taken as truth.

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4 Responses to PopeWatch: Antje Jackelén

  • All I can think of is prayers for professor Eva Hamberg, who has a chance to lead a significant number of people out of the Church of Sweden and to Christ. In an interview after her departure, she gives the impression that she is more of an academic type rather than a bold leader type. I can hope she realizes that other Christians in the Sweden have spoken in her favor and maybe reaches out to them directly. In that same interview, she expressed an intent to join an evangelical or Pentecostal denomination, but that not need be the end of her journey. (In addition to what Christopher Johnson described, professor Hamberg is also concerned that Antje Jackelén is not adhering to the Apostles’ Creed. So, I think there is grounds for genuine hope here.)

    I don’t want to pretend to know more about professor Hamberg than what is in a couple of news items and blog, but she really just might lead Swedes away from secularization and towards orthodox Christian beliefs. Prayers can help.

  • This story chimed in with my own reflections this morning. I had walked to early mass at Saint-Germain-des-Prés and being All Souls Day, the priest requested our charitable prayers for the faithful departed, including, amongst others, “those who lie peacefully here.” After mass I visited a number of the tombs in the church..

    There was René Descartes – his name means “born-again” (Renatus). Strange that we have no English equivalent for that Christian name par excellence. His brain, I recalled, is preserved in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris; the irony would not be lost on the philosopher of dualism.

    I visited the tomb of Chlothar II, King of all the Franks, who died in 629, more than a thousand years before Descartes. Muhammed had three more years to live. Finally the tombs of Childeric II, his wife, Bilichild and their five year old son, Dagobert, all assassinated, whilst hunting in the forest of Livry, one autumn day in 675, all baptized into the same hope as us. I lit a candle.

    Since this church was consecrated in 588, we have had the rise of Islam; the Great Schism; the corruption and disaffection of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance Papacy; the Protestant revolt and the Wars of Religion; Quietism and Jansenism; the Deists and rationalists; the religious nationalism of Gallicanism and Josephism; the Revolution, the Risorgimento, the Ultramontane reaction; and, this morning, a Catholic priest said mass for the Holy Souls in the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

  • …prayers for professor Eva Hamberg, who has a chance to lead a significant number of people out of the Church of Sweden and to Christ.


    Sadly, that would take a miracle on the order of the multiplication of the loaves According to Wikipedia, less than 4% of the Church of Sweden membership attends public worship during an average week; about 2% are regular attendees. I’m not sure if the corresponding figures for Sweden’s Catholics are any better, but they could hardly be much worse.


    In fact, the new bishop seems to be a centrist by local standards, given that putatively 30% of CoS members are either atheists or don’t believe in Jesus, and it is Prof. Hamberg who is pushing the envelope. But even if she doesn’t do a full Sigrid Unset, I do wish her well.

  • Sweden’s Catholics were the subject of some of Marcus Grodi’s The Journey Home programs last year, here’s one with Maria Hasselgren, Stockholm’s Diocesan Press Officer.

    If I remember correctly, there are more Catholics in the Diocese of Salt Lake City than in all of Sweden. The nation’s single diocese, the Diocese of Stockholm, was erected in 1953. The number of Catholics there is growing from both conversions by Swedes and arrival of immigrant Catholics, most of the latter are Poles.

PopeWatch: Archbishop Leonard Blair

Friday, November 1, AD 2013



Few things are more important about a Pope long term than the bishops he appoints.  There are 5,065 of them, and of course any Pope can have personal knowledge of only a fraction of them, and therefore an appointment of an individual bishop usually says little about the views of a Pope.  However, Archbishops and Cardinals tend to come under greater Vatican scrutiny when they are chosen.  That makes the appointment of Bishop Leonard Blair to be the  Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut.  Whispers in the Loggia gives us some background:

A protege of the now-retired Cardinal Edmund Szoka who served as secretary to the Michigan money-whiz during Szoka’s days as head of the prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and Governor of Vatican City, the archbishop-elect is best known on the wider scene as a linchpin player in the Holy See’s controversial doctrinal probe of the LCWR, the principal “umbrella-group” for the superiors of the nation’s religious women. In 2009, Blair was tapped by Rome to conduct the initial inquest into LCWR’s adherence to certain aspects of church teaching, at whose conclusion he became one of two bishop-assistants to the delegate for the CDF’s ordered five-year “reform” process, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle.

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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Archbishop Leonard Blair

  • Bishop Blair is currently my Bishop (until December, when he goes to Hartford). He is an OUTSTANDING Bishop, and the people of Hartford are lucky to get him. When we were deciding whether to move to Ohio 8 years ago, the first thing I did was look to see whose diocese we would be in. If it was Cleveland, with the Bishop they had at the time, then NO WAY. But if it was Toledo, with Bishop Blair about whom I had read some very positive things (including a piece at First Things in which Fr. Neuhaus identified him as among the rising stars of what he called “JPII Bishops”), then I was on board. I thank God that Norwalk is in the Toledo Diocese! Bishop Blair has truly been a blessing to us.

    Bishop Blair is one of those Bishops who uses his column in the diocesan newspaper, not to engage in the sort of navel gazing that we see from many Bishops, but to teach the Catholic faith in a fully orthodox and faithful manner (you can read several examples over at my blog). No sugar coating, but without browbeating. The Catholic faith taught firmly and faithfully, but gently and by a man with a very gentle demeanor (I don’t recognize Mikey Sean’s caricature of an oppressive monster, which bears no actual resemblance to Bishop Blair’s kind smile and gentle nature).

    I knew that we would eventually lose Bishop Blair – I had figured him for the Archdiocese of either Cincy, Detroit, or St. Louis when those seats were vacant, and was much relieved when he wasn’t named for those. I am happy for him now that he will be Archbishop of Hartford, but VERY sad to see him leave us. However, I was cheered up the day the appointment was announced when I read Mikey Sean’s little meltdown at NCR. This is what I posted that day in response:

    “I live in the Diocese of Toledo. I LOVE Bishop Blair, and, though I am happy for him, I have been sad all day at his imminent departure.

    “Until I read this. Thanks for cheering me up. A little schadenfreude goes a long way.

    “God bless Bishop Blair, and may he provide the same solid spiritual leadership for his flock in Hartford as he did in Toledo. (And may that leadership provide cause for Michael Sean Winters to write many more angst-filled diatribes to brighten my day.)”</em"


    The fact that the same folks who've spent the last several days trashing a kind and holy man like Bishop Blair also believe that Pope Francis's papacy means that they are in the ascendance in the Church gives me cause for concern. But it's the fact that, to those folks' dismay, Pope Francis named Bishop Blair the next Archbishop of Hartford that gives me hope that those folks will once again find themselves sorely disappointed to learn that, yes, we have yet another Pope who is indeed Catholic

  • Don, please properly close that italics tag at the close of that quote above. Thanks.

  • One other thing: Bishop Blair will now be Archbishop in an archdiocese in which the Supreme headquarters of the Knights of Columbus is located. Himself, a member of the Knights, Bishop Blair will be a natural ally to them and will work closely with them in their efforts.

    BUT 4th Degree Knights should be aware that Bishop Blair has a STRICT no swords at Mass policy. Please be accommodating to Bishop Blair’s policy and DON’T be confrontational about it, as an idiot (who is on his way to being expelled from the Order) recently did in a face-to-face (literally in the Bishop’s face) confrontation following a Mass at Rosary Cathedral a couple of weeks ago.

  • Anyone who understands the KofC membership imperatives knows that it is virtually impossible to be ejected from the organization, no matter the reason. (Perhaps only after excommunication.) Even death seems to be no obstacle to continued KofC membership. As for the exclusion of swords at Mass – that was probably the brainchild of the same liberal churchmen who decided to excluded the term “Church Militant” from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Perhaps the bishop has a ban on weapons in Church. Where I live the bishop bans guns in church as so many carry.

  • Well, Bishop Blair is hardly a liberal churchman. I’m guessing Phillip is correct here. I believe Ohio is one of those states where the conceal/carry laws are such that if Bishop Blair doesn’t want weapons at Mass he has to have a policy banning them from Mass. He’s probably just being consistent in banning ALL weapons, including KofC swords.

    Doug is correct re: the difficulty of kicking someone out of the K of C. But I imagine getting into a Bishop’s face – especially the Bishop who will soon be Archbishop over the diocese in which the K of C is headquartered – and refusing orders from the ranking officer to “Stand down!” might just be one of those instances that will fast track that guy out of the order.

  • Has any one of the “Nuns on the Bus” come forward to profess a vocation from God to become a priest(ess)? Are the LCWR demanding that God ordain them without a vocation to the Sacrament of Holy Orders? Are these women (poor only in orthodoxy) threatening the Holy Spirit WHO is God. When the government assumes total control of the virtue of charity, it prevents the church (We, the people) from exercising our free will in distributing help to the needy. Poverty control is indeed incumbent upon all people. It is called human compassion.

    Scraping the will of God, the human soul, from the womb is atheism at its worst. Abortion is a preemptive war against God, and the virtue of JUSTICE.

    To disarm the defenseless is hardly the virtue of Patriotism. I believe that it is good for Obama to know that parishioners are “carrying”, even at Mass, might have saved Thomas A Becket, and other priests and bishops murdered while saying Mass. It is time for people to take back their authority over ordnance.

    When a murderer exists in our midst, all people suffer jeopardy of life. When the state allows a murderer to live, all people suffer double jeopardy of life. This limbo rock played by the church and the state will be taken advantage of by our enemies. It will not be long before the murderer enters our church and murders.

    Convicted capital one murderers are now the only protected group. Babies are aborted and die. Old people are euthanized (see Terry Schiavo) and the body of people are subjected to the murderers. Murderers are armed and dangerous and are in our midst.

    The Pope’s body guards use their bodies to protect the Pope. Guns and swords are an extension of their bodies. Is St. Michael’s sword real? “The Word of the Lord is a two edged sword”

    ” refusing orders from the ranking officer to “Stand down!” might just be one of those instances that will fast track that guy out of the order.” Removing the K of C sword emasculates the order.

    Peace on earth to men of good will.

  • “Removing the K of C sword emasculates the order.:

    Well, they’re going to have to live with it in Hartford the same way those of us in the Toledo Diocese have – i.e. realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, and if a holy and orthodox and faithful Bishop who otherwise fights the good fight says “No, not at Mass.”, then so be it.

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PopeWatch: Untier of Knots

Wednesday, October 30, AD 2013



Sandro Magister on his blog Chiesa notes that Pope Francis has a special devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots:




In Augsburg, in the church of the Jesuits, dedicated to Saint Peter, there is a venerated Marian image: the Blessed Mother “untier of knots.”

In it Mary is depicted untying the knots of a ribbon held out to her by an angel, which another angel is receiving from her with no more knots. The meaning is clear. The knots are all that complicates life, difficulties, sins. And Mary is the one who helps to untie them.

Bergoglio was deeply struck by this Marian image. When he returned to Argentina a few months later, he brought with him a good number of prayer cards with the Blessed Mother “untier of knots.”

His doctoral thesis was abandoned at its birth, and even the thought of Romano Guardini did not leave a lasting imprint upon Bergoglio. In the interview with Pope Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica,” in which he dedicates ample space to his authors of reference, Guardini is not there.

But in exchange, thanks to his stay in Germany in 1986, Bergoglio unknowingly brought a new Marian devotion to birth in Argentina.

An artist to whom he had given one of the prayer cards acquired in Augsburg reproduced the image and offered it to a parish of the working-class Barrio de Agronomía, in the center of Buenos Aires.

On display in the church, the image of Mary “desatanudos” attracted a growing number of devotees, converted sinners, and marked an unexpected growth of religious practice. To such an extent that after a few years there was a well-established tradition of a pilgrimage to the image, from all over Buenos Aires and from even farther away, on the 8th day of every month.

“I never felt myself so much an instrument in the hands of God,” Bergoglio confided to a Jesuit confrere who was his disciple, Fr. Fernando Albistur, now a professor of biblical studies at the Colegio Máximo di San Miguel in Buenos Aires.

Fr. Albistur recounts this in a newly released book edited by Alejandro Bermúdez, with interviews with ten Jesuits and ten Argentine laymen who are longtime friends of Bergoglio.

And he is not the only one. In the same book, Fr. Juan Carlo Scannone, the most authoritative of the Argentine theologians and a former professor of the young Jesuit Bergoglio, also relates the same episode.

In Scannone’s judgment, the instance of the Blessed Mother “untier of knots” helps us to understand more deeply the “pastoral” profile of Pope Francis and his accentuated attention to the “people.”

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10 Responses to PopeWatch: Untier of Knots