PopeWatch: Lamb of Pope

Thursday, January 9, AD 2014



The Pope Emeritus, what an odd formulation that is, must be gritting his teeth, or laughing out loud, at the type of puff press coverage that his successor is getting.  I think the shark, or rather the lamb, was jumped yesterday:


The title of the story that the picture is taken from is:

“Photos Of Pope Francis And Lamb At The Nativity Scene On Epiphany Make Us So Happy”.

Italy Pope Epiphany

An odd title for a piece on the left wing Huffington Post regarding a Catholic pope to be sure, but fairly typical for the type of glowing press coverage that Pope Francis has been getting.  What a change from the coverage that Pope Benedict got!  If he had snuggled up to a lamb it would have been suggested that he was going to eat it, abuse it or enlist it in the Hitler Youth.

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102 Responses to PopeWatch: Lamb of Pope

  • It appears that Pope Francis is in the process of implementing the other half of the teachings of Vatican II and making such changes within the traditional faith which he perceives to impede the Council’s “reforms”.

    I must concede that I have no idea what these reforms consist of but many Catholics who self identify as progressive are betting that the pastoral initiatives of the Council and its elevation of human dignity will translate into a substantial reform of traditional Catholic morality.

    Returning to the sources, communio, nixing scholasticism all seem to play a role in what is coming. Recall that popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were periti at the Council and were also active in advancing its initiatives. Pope Francis is merely completing what the Council called for…..does anyone really know what that entails?

  • Slainte,

    The liberal press and ultra progressive segment of the Church are going to be bitterly disappointed with the reforms coming. There will be no change in moral teaching or such doctrinal issues as an all male priesthood. There will be because there cannot be. What will be implemented besides the reforms of the Vatican Bank and the Curia will be in the area of the mission of the Church. In ‘the return to the sources’ of Vatican II we return to the source of our identity as Church: The Most Blessed Trinity. The Church is the fruit or the result of the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Church does not (really) have a mission; the Church IS the mission of the Son and the Spirit visible in the world today. Fundamentally that mission is to be “a kind of sacrament” as Lumen Gentium puts it [lest someone misunderstand and think we have declared that there is an 8th sacrament]. The Church “as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world”

    The Church is One> This Unity comes from the unity of the Most Blessed Trinity. It is gift. It is a given. However it is also a task in which each generation ‘must’ participate. In this ‘unitive task’ the Church ‘must’ be ecumenical: seeking such a level of conversion of faith which will bear fruit in unity of all Christians [not however at the expense of losing our identity as “the Church of Jesus Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church”]. This unitive task or mission also necessarily engages us in recognizing the relatedness or “order’ of other religions, most especially Judaism with which we have such a close and unique relationship, since we have been grafted through Christ into the Olive Tree of Israel. Also related to us but in a far more distant way is Islam which worships the Creator [we don’t have to go into this again lol] Other world religions such as Buddhism and Hindhuism reveal the religious nature of ‘man’ and the hunger and longing of the human heart for the Holy and the Transcendent [mentioning the relation with these religions says nothing about ‘universal salvation’. In fact, the fundamental point is that the Church herself is the Sacrament of Salvation for the world. This unity, or fullness of communion comes when one is fully initiated [Baptized, Confirmed and Eucharist (each Sunday)]. It comes with full unity of faith [believing all that the Church teaches] and community [unity with those who are united with their bishop and pope] it finally is unity in the sacraments [believing in and participating in the seven sacraments (those one can participate in; for example marriage is for man and woman; orders are for men)

    The Church is holy. This too is both gift and task. As Paul teaches in both Ephesians 5 and Titus 3, Christ died to make His Bride Holy. She is fundamentally holy thanks to Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Proof of the holiness is the saints at the core of the Church-most especially the Immaculata, “Full of Grace”, the new name for Mary, the Virgin Mother of God.
    Holiness is also a task. Each and every baptized Christian is called to sanctity, holiness of life. Perhaps the most forgotten aspect of Lumen Gentium is its chapter on the universal call to holiness. We are not called to ‘merely’ obey the commandments, as important as this is. We are called to an ongoing conversion of life throughout life to that point in which we can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ living in me” [Galatians 2] Keeping this in mind, there can be no moment in which ‘the reform of the Church’ is completed, since that would mean each and every member had literally become saints. In many ways we have not even begun to discover this fundamental teaching of VII [Lumen Gentium] The world does not understand any of this.

    The Church is Catholic. Catholic has two distinct meanings. First, which most know is that it means “universal”. As salvation is meant for all people [although not accepted by all], so the Church is sent and meant to be the sacrament of salvation for all [although not all are members]. Catholic is not the same as being ‘inclusive’ as the world often portrays it. Catholic means it is indeed intended for all and meant to be in every nation, language etc, but conversion and faith are the way into this Catholicity-so it is not merely a matter of “all come, all are welcome just as you are and expect to remain exactly as you were when you came’. The second aspect of Catholicity: Catholic comes from the Greek: kata hole: pertaining to the whole. First and foremost it means the ‘whole teaching’ and not cafeteria style “Catholicism’ from the left or the right; it also means the whole Church-which can never be identified with one grouping within the Church, whether a nationality, gender etc or even all alive today. The whole Church includes the communion of saints [angelic and human]
    While Catholicity is a gift it is also a task and fundamental to the mission of the Church

    The Church is Apostolic. She is Apostolic in faith, faithfuly believing and teaching all that has been handed down from the Apostles [Apostolic Tradition] which has been passed on to us in Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition [The difference between Tradition and traditions is a key issue and so frequently they are confused by “the left and the right’]. The Church is Apostolic in governance, As Christ formed His college of Apostles with Peter as its head, so apostolic succession is fully passed on only to those bishops in full communion with the college of bishops in union with the pope, the successor of Peter. The Church is apostolic in her mission as well: “Go make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teach them everything I have commanded you and know I am with you until the end of the world” Matthew 28

    Slainte, These are fundamental to the reform and implementation of VII. With the fantastic work of JPII and Benedict straightening out confusion in areas of doctrine and morals [we have enough resources : Catechism, Compendium of Social Teaching, Code of Canon Law of 1983, encyclicals etc to no longer say ‘we are confused’. Neither left not right can say this with any real substance behind it] Now we can really get into the mission of the Church-as sacrament, being missioned, being light salt and leaven in the world.

  • Botolph, Thank you for your very complete and thorough response. I agree with most of what you have written but am concerned with primarily two things.

    i. Salvation Outside the Church. If one reverts to the period prior to Vatican II , the Church was adamant that there was No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church.

    Post Vatican II, we are informed that Truth subsists in the Catholic Church but can be found (albeit less fully) in other Christian (and possibly non-Christian?) faiths, thus suggesting the possibility that Salvation may be found outside the Church. Is this a compromise position to advance a worthy and greater good of healing the rupture in Christian unity that was caused by the Reformation? But when we evangelize as lay people aren’t we obligated to remind those to whom we speak that salvation is only available through the Catholic Church in which the fullness of Truth exists?

    ii. Universal Salvation. Pope Benedict clarified the English language version of Pope Paul VI’s Novus Ordo Mass to state that God came to save MANY, not ALL. While I recognize that Free Will permits us to reject Grace and therefore salvation, I also understand that Catholicism accepts some attenuated version of Predestination (some will be saved but not all) while rejecting Calvin’s Double Predestination. Further, in the period before Vatican II, the Church unequivocally recognized that Sin existed, as did Hell, and that evil was an affirmative force (not merely a passive absence of the presence of God.) The Church no longer preaches the concept of SIN or that some will go to Hell as a consequence of sinful behaviour when Judged by God. These are perplexing issues.

    Over at Crisis Magazine, I have tried to defend Pope Francis’ actions which, at times, seem at odds with the traditional understanding of the faith. I defer to the Pope’s positions because I know that he is informed and guided by the Holy Spirit, but I am troubled by his response to the Franciscan Friars and his statements which appear to minimize the extraordinary importance of the Pro-Life (anti-abortion) movement and the wide ranging issues surrounding homosexuality and marriage. Any insight on these issues is appreciated.

    Thanks for being kind and responding so generously to my queries.

  • All salvation that happens happens somehow through the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ.

  • “…Make Us So Happy” I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an inclusive sweep in any headline ever before. Even when there is a headline with a big statement that assumes how most people feel it is not given in the first person or even theroyal we or us, but third person view …like “America Mourns” or something that shows the newspaper is an observer, not a participant in the news.

  • Thanks Slainte,

    Ok first, Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus [Outside the Church there is no salvation] was first put forward by Saint Cyprian in his wonderful treatise on Church Unity. In context, Cyprian was stating that any member of the Church who leaves the communion of the Church, or any person who knows that the Church is the one true Church but refuses to admit and confess this as true and thus enter the Church-cannot be saved. We still hold this given certain understanding-for example after generations Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church cannot be held responsible for <> the Catholic Church etc. They obviously are not in full communion but not guilty of leaving the Church in schism [lack of charity] or heresy [rejection of truth of faith]

    We fundamentally believe that Christ is the Sacrament of Salvation-there is no other Name given by which a person can be saved. What of people who are not baptized? Can they be saved/how are they saved? The core teaching is this: a person is saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. <> anyone is saved who is not baptized and is outside the Church it is by the grace of Christ [no other way] and this saving grace configures them to be among those ‘whose faith is known to God alone”. Before saying another word, this is a far cry from ‘universalism: all are saved”. All we are saying is confessing the fundamentals of our faith: no one is saved except by the grace of Jesus Christ and that saving grace unites them (even if mysteriously) with the Church. Long before Vatican II there were three baptisms recognized: by Water (the Sacrament) By Blood (martyrdom) and by Desire (now how strict is this to be interpreted? There never has been a de fide answer)

    Slainte you mentioned that before VII no salvation outside the Church was held strictly by the Church (with the implication that it then changed fundamentally in VII) This is not true. I will stick with the period just before the Council with the papacy of Pius XII. A Jesuit priest in Boston did some great work with students at Harvard University. His name was Fr Feeney. However in the process of pastoral zeal he preached an extremely strict interpretation of Extra Ecclesia Nullus Salus declaring all the Protestants etc are going to hell. It became explosive in Boston-to the degree that the Vatican had to step in. Now some will point out that Fr Feeney was excommunicated for disobedience (and strictly speaking this is true) However, he was under obedience to renounce his strict interpretation of Extra Ecclesia. Further, the Vatican Instruction which became the most official interpretation of Extra Ecclesia up until VII, stated that no one may hold an opinion or position or interpretation of Extra Ecclesia nulllus salus that is not in accord and communion with the Church’s interpretation of this doctrine. This is a key point and must be kept in mind when talking about salvation outside the Church or salvation for those not in full communion with the Church. Christ is, remains and will always be the Mediator of Salvation and the Church is and will always be the sacrament of His salvation for the world. What the Church consistently has been saying is that God’s salvific will cannot be confounded by our own preconceived notions of what this or that then means. While emphasizing salvation in and through Christ’s grace in the Church are we also called to be so miserly with the grace of salvation? Sadly, not all people will be saved. But it should be in the heart of every Catholic that we wish, desire and yes work toward the salvation of all people. Otherwise the Church ceases to be the sacrament of salvation.-and of course that is impossible based on Extra Ecclesia nullus salus

  • Slainte,

    Now your second comment “that the truth subsists in the Catholic Church’ actually does not exist [I am <<not denying the truth of the Catholic faith ;-)] The phrase used by the Council Fathers is: "The Church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church". That means this: all the truths [teaching], means of salvation [sacraments] and structure [full hierarchical structure of the Church of Christ subsists, and truly is in the Catholic Church [all in union with pope]. What this statement also gives us is that some [in some cases most, in other cases much less so] elements of the Church of Christ exist in other churches and ecclesial communion. For example, Sacred Scripture, most especially the four Gospels, Creed(s), baptism, prayer, service etc. All have these. Some such as the Orthodox have everything but the pope. We differentiate churches (seven sacraments with bishops, priests and deacons) [Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox churches, Assyrian Church] Communities that came out of the Reformation are called "Ecclesial Communities" because they do not have seven sacraments or full hierarchy of the Church. All of these are indeed elements that facilitate salvation

    You ask about a lay person evangelizing/catechizing. A lay person can be a wonderful vehicle of salvation, most especially by witness of life. However to be more specific, in evangelizing I would emphasize that Christ has come to espouse to Himself His Bride the Church [cannot/must not separate Church from Christ]. That Church is the Church of Jesus Christ which subsists -is manifest in all its fullness in the Catholic Church-how is that? Is that helpful enough?

  • Botolph, when we define the ‘church’ we must be careful to attach the correct understanding to the term. In the New Tesament, the church is the body of Christ: all those who are “in Christ,” to quote Paul. They may or may not belong to a specific organized church structure, but they are part of the spiritual/mystical body. Then the word church is also used to refer to local assemblies, e.g. the church at corinth, the church that meets in so and so’s house, etc. It is impossible for me to believe that the term ‘church’ can be aligned with a specific denomination or church strucutre, however.

  • Slainte,

    On your next issue, I am a bit stunned. What are your sources of these statements/teachings of the Church—or are you hearing them from someone claiming that the Church teaches these things?

    The Church has not changed its teachings on evil, hell and sin-it has not and cannot. Not the teaching-how it is expressed etc is a different manner however.

    Let me make this perfectly clear. Pope Benedict made an intervention on the translation of the Institution of the Eucharist of the Ordinary Form of the Mass changing the word from “all” to “many”. The original context for pushing ‘all’ had to do with inclusive language making sure women felt included-a bit silly-but the original context was pastoral and <> “Many” is the actual word in the original language and needed to be said. However, what does “Many” mean? It means that while Christ died for all men, only ‘the many’ will come to accept it. This is important Slainte. While we readily canonize saints, declaring them in heaven do you realize the Church has never stated any person is in hell, except Satan and his minions? Not even Judas, Hitler etc. We cannot and will not, because we leave judgment up to God. We know sadly, from what Christ taught us, that not all will actually accept salvation. Even sadder, the path to salvation is narrow and tough-through Christ and the Cross, while ‘the road to perdition’ is wide and easy. Nonetheless, what we do know and confess is that through their/our (yikes!) own free will, not everyone will be saved. This is not the same as saying (as some heretical groups in the past have said) that only a few are saved. Keep that in mind.

    Secondly you state that ‘evil is a passive absence of the Presence of God”. This is not Church teaching and never has been. I believe you are combining what we traditionally declare evil to be and how hell is sometimes described. Evil is a negation of the good (like a black hole). Everything that exists, created by God is created good. Evil is the result of one who themselves has been created good (angel or man) negates the good by rebelling against the True, the Good and the Beautiful, twisiting and deforming them into half truths and lies, the bad and the ugly. When evil is done willingly it is sin. Sin ultimately is conversio ab Deo ad creaturem [conversion away from God and toward the creature]. It is expressed as a fundamental distrust and disobedience toward God and a moving away from Him

    The “Church no longer preaches sin”-nor should we. We are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His salvation-which is saving us from sin. Sin isn’t the focus, Christ is. Obviously, sin will be and needs to be incorporated into the proclamation of the Gospel but the proclamation of the Gospel is not a rehashing of the promulgation of the Law. Moral teaching, the Law of God has been subsumed into the Gospel of Christ; it is an element of the Gospel and Gospel teaching but not its core. The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel: the Kingdom, Jesus Christ has broken into our world as pure Gift-grace-only in His light, the light of His truth and that of the Spirit within our hearts, that we can truly come to see the true dimensions of sin [not vice versa] and thus our radical need of Christ’s salvation and our ongoing conversion. Hell is eternal loss of God, Christ, His kingdom willed by the ‘damned’. God will not overwhelm our free will. Some, who have very little experience of life and less wisdom, will say, but who in their right mind would reject God etc and will to be damned. Perhaps in my younger years I might have leaned that way myself, but oh not now. I have seen intended evil in action by people. If you actually catch a view of it, the hair on the back of your neck will stand up. Nonetheless my prayer, that I have learned after many ‘battles’ is “Father forgive them they know not what they do”/”Do not lay this sin against them” (Stephen at his martyrdom).

    As for Pope Francis-Slainte I have commented on him a great deal in here. I refer you to some of those comments. However let me say this. In all my hearing/reading I firmly believe that Pope Francis is as orthodox as JPII and Benedict. He simply expresses himself differently (for a number of reasons; some of which is still in process of a learning curve)

  • Anzlyne

    “All salvation that happens happens somehow through the Church, the Body of Christ-a fantastic Catholic statement in faith and expression!

  • Jon,

    I will attempt to be as delicate, diplomatic and ecumenical as possible. When I am speaking of the Church I am speaking of the Catholic Church as she exists-as you see her. The Church of Jesus Christ in all its fullness resides in her. I am expressing myself as a Catholic on a Catholic blog site. I understand that you are a Protestant, but I/we are Catholics etc

    For you to lecture us about our ‘understanding of the sacraments’ which is sacramentalism or my statement about the Church so that it includes the broadest least common denominator or some Protestant denomination is like an Atheist lecturing Christians to be inclusive during the holiday season and not mention Christ’s birth. You are are welcome here Jon but we are Catholics. Period

  • Well, Botolph, I think the analogy is rather poor. Atheism and full inclusivity during holiday seasons is a terrible paradox with which all Christians must grapple in today’s society. I lament that the problem exists, but we must find ways to deal with it. As many people have said time and again, there are no real atheists. At some deep level we all must know that God exists and that he is righteous.
    Yes, I realize you speak from a Roman Catholic perspective, and that you equate the ‘church’ with the Roman Catholic church hierarchy based in Rome, along with its sacraments. I just think it’s theologically incorrect. I would never equate the church with one denomination or one Christian strucutre. I recognize the terms usage in the New Testament, as I explained before. We must learn, first, how things were udnerstood/expressed in that early first century context before we can apply it today. Otherwise we risk making all kinds of mistakes.

  • Thank you Botolph, I understand and accept your response to Issue 1.

    Regarding a….”Jesuit priest in Boston did some great work with students at Harvard University. His name was Fr Feeney. However in the process of pastoral zeal he preached an extremely strict interpretation of Extra Ecclesia Nullus Salus…”

    I almost fell off my chair on three accounts, (i) a Conservative Jesuit….I didn’t know such a creature existed except for the late (and great) Fr. Francis Canavan of Fordham Univ, (ii) a Catholic priest teaching at Harvard within the four walls of the foundation of Puritanism, and (iii) a Conservative in Boston who had not already been summarily evicted by the Kennedys….quite a feat. : )

    Michael Voris has opined that the Papacy holds the deposit of faith “in trust” with no ability to alter or otherwise expand upon it. I believe he applied this logic to the issue of No Salvation Outside the Church. I believe he would take exception to the ex-communication of a priest if that priest was preaching the faith in accord with Tradition.

    I accept, however, that the Pope, guided by the Holy Spirit, may exercise discretion to clarify the faith relative to specific issues and has the right to expect compliance by the clergy.

  • Slainte,

    I would be especially careful of taking everything Michael Voris states as either Gospel or Church teaching-or me for that matter lol Check out Michael and check what I (or anyone here etc) says with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I know your background; you can easily do that and come to an informed Catholic (and not some variation on the theme lol) position 🙂

  • Jon,

    I do not simply speak from a Roman Catholic perspective. I readily admit I am not either a pope or a bishop but much of what is expressed in here is either actually defined Catholic teaching [not mere theology or opinion] or questions concerning these positions. This is not as such an ecumenical blog so the conversation is based on very different foundations. If it were an ecumenical blog I would have to come to terms that it was ecumenical and not Catholic. You are going to have to come to terms with the fact that this is a Catholic blog and not an ecumenical one. Ask questions. You can even say you disagree-after all that is the definition of a Protestant: a person who does not agree with all that the Catholic Church teaches, if it were otherwise you would be Catholic. However, don’t lecture us as here as if “Catholic” is only one version or opinion etc and very clearly wring in your <> opinion.

    If you want me to begin totally ignoring you that’s fine-just let me know.

  • Jon, you have all the rights in the USA to your opinions, deductions, and cliches.

    But, I quote from Plato, The Republic, “Opinion is not truth.”

    Opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one.

    Hey! (Channeling Uncle Si here) How many thousands of protestant cults are there? Are there thousands of the Truth?

  • Thanks, Botolph. I do think we all have to come to terms with what’s out there, whether it is correct or incorrect. We all have to do something with it–to decide whether it is accurate or not. I guess you are completely convinced of your definitions.

  • Jon,

    Slight but important correction. I am convinced and believe what the Catholic Church teaches in her definitions—certainly not mine

  • Botolph, On the issue of Universal Salvation, I understand your points and thank you.

    On the third and final issue, I was not clear in my communication. I have never heard a homily preached in Church which specifically spoke about Sin or Hell or what constitutes either. I have been privileged to hear many excellent homilies preaching the truth and beauty of the Gospel message and the kingdom of God. But I would suggest that focusing on the Gospel alone is not sufficient to protect God’s flock from the spirit of this world in a society awash in moral relativism.

    You write, “…Sin isn’t the focus, Christ is…”

    If we would not send a soldier into battle without the proper equipment to defend himself from the spears and arrows of enemy combatants, the Church should not send its children into the world without teaching them what evil is, how it manifests as sin. and its consequences.

    Botolph, most Catholic parents today are uncatechized; they do not know the
    Faith. They are raising children who need the wisdom of the Church to discern good from bad and right from wrong. The Church should not assume that children, whose source of learning is often limited to television and internet, know morality and the results of sin.

    Priests MUST teach what constitutes Sin from the pulpit at Sunday mass. Too many children (and parents) get in trouble because they just don’t know any better. I say all of this respectfully.

    With respect to Evil being the absence of God….this statement was made by a priest in my parish during a Sunday Mass homily. I thought about the statement and concluded that evil is not just a passive reality (God’s absence), but also an affirmative presence. We seem to agree on this point. The interaction of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden and its ensuing consequences remain relevent today.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful and caring responses.

  • Jon, To which protestant denomination do you belong?

  • Botolph writes, “…I would be especially careful of taking everything Michael Voris states as either Gospel or Church teaching-or me for that matter lol – …”

    Botolph, I read, watch. and listen to anything and everything (including Voris and some of the Protestant preachers) and at the end of the day my head spins…I still find this all very interesting and I have no idea why. : )

    Slán anois

  • Slainte,

    You make some interesting and necessary ‘practical’ points. Let me see if I can do them justice.

    A person can be talking about sin or something sinful without using the word. For example in confessing that every human life needs to be respected from the moment of conception until natural death-that actually covers a great deal of moral issues of our day: abortion, euthanasia, suicide (as a result of a choice-I am not speaking about tormented souls ‘driven’ to suicide in anxiety episodes etc) It even causes us to at least pause on such issues as capital punishment and just war. See what I mean?

    However to your point, I believe many homilists really fail to engage both the word of God, the word in their own lives and in the lives of their people. Some simply retell in their own words, the Gospel etc. Even Pope Francis is getting after priests about this. I believe this is what many are describing as pablum and not meat. The People of God deserve meat on the table of the word. While Advent lends a certain element of possibility to homilies/catechesis on sin, certainly Lent does. A Lent that does not mention sin is well…………….worse than pablum. If you or anyone is in a parish where that goes on you have the right to go and charitably say to the priest could you get more—-one way of doing this is to ask for an appt during the week and tell him you want to ask him some questions about what he preached. That will get his attention lol.

    The Church Father, Origin spoke of Baptism (properly) as the passage through the Red Sea etc then the spiritual warfare of conquering the seven capital sins as Israel’s coming into the Promised Land and displacing/conquering the seven nations (some lists give six but there are seven) that possessed the land up until that time-with the last one representing the Jebusites (Jerusalem) being Pride. How is that for catechesis?????

    You are correct, that priests need to give their people spiritual food, clothe them in the virtues of Christ, arm them with the spiritual weapons of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6). Lent is “Basic Training” or “Basic Re-training”.

    As to Evil. First, there is no absolute evil (because we do not have two gods, one good and one evil. This is very important to remember and a distinction that needs to be made. Evil is both the absence of and the twisting/perversion of the good. Its source is the free will of angelic beings now fallen. Using analogies from science fiction. They brought their rebellion against God’s rule to earth and manipulated us into siding with them. However it is a cosmic battle in which we find ourselves. if someone says otherwise they are either nuts or ‘asleep at the job’. Wew do not battle flesh and blood but Powers and Principalities. Joseph Ratzinger wrote a very interesting book with this title back in the 60’s I wish they would reprint it. However, this battle in which we are in while cosmic, world wide, takes place mostly right within our own beings. It is not them versus us. It is us versus us. It is from this pitiful condition that Christ has come to save, heal and redeem us.

    Just some more thoughts on what you wrote

  • SLainte, I am a Baptist to be specific. I believe in orthodox Christianity, to which all Christians everywhere and at all times give assent. For me, Christianity is a broad term, whicih covers people who happen to be in the Roman, Anglican and Lutehran churches, as well as Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyteiran ones. I agree wtih C. S. Lewis’ thesis in Mere Chrisitainty that Christians are actually in agreement on essentials and that we should not anathematize people for not subscribing to a certain confession. I believe that salvation is by grace, through faith and that we become a Christian by way of a free-will response.
    Concerning evil, I think it is the absence of good or a falling short of it, as classic thought attests. (Evil departs form God’s intention and so cannot be innovative or creative.) But you’re right: it’s also an affirmative presence as you put it. It’s cosmic and personal and is therefore well personified by the serpent who assumes a guise to deceive humanity.

  • Jon,

    I do not know a great deal about the Baptist tradition except that it is quite prevalent in the southern states, and a group of Baptists from Danbury Connecticut, fearing for their well being from the Congregationalists, wrote to Thomas Jefferson seeking assurances that a state religion would not be re-established in post Revolutionary Connecticut. I credit you for interacting with us Catholics on this website as I am sure it is something of a daunting experience to stand alone.

    Three years ago a friend invited me to join a book reading class at a local Presbyterian Church to read “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” by Diarmaid MacCulloch. I accepted the invitation and joined the group. The book which was written by an English Anglican was, in my opinion, abrasive in its assessment of Catholicism and its rituals. We were all responsible for covering several chapter of this tome-like book and of course my chapters turned out to be the Reformation. How uncool is that?…a cradle Catholic with a lot of faith in Catholicism but not a lot of theological knowledge of the Faith or its Tradition gets to lead a discussion with some very bright Princeton educated Presbyterians about the Reformation.

    As the discussion unfolded, I assumed a position in defense of Catholicism and the injustice that I perceived was visited upon Catholics for seeking to maintain their faith during and after the Reformation. The Presbyterians responded by pointing out Catholicism’s history of corrupt popes, the Inquisition, the sale of Indulgences, idol worship, and flagellation parades….and suggested that there was ample evidence produced to justify a condemnation of Catholicism. I declined to do so arguing that the Church was the mystical body of Christ and only God could make such a determination. In addition, no competing reading material was made available whereby the Catholic Church could refute the questionable allegations raised by Mr. MacCulloch. My response was not well received as my fellow Presbyterian readers oncluded that the case was airtight against Catholicism.

    I left the book club pretty shaken but determined to learn everything I could about my faith so that I could more ably defend it. So along the way, I started to study the faith as an intellectual exercise and in time really began to love it.

    If you are curious about Catholicism, you must know that the epicenter of our faith is the sacrament of Holy Communion. While it is not possible for a non-Catholic to physically partake of the Eucharist, I would respectfully suggest that you consider finding a local Catholic Church that offers “Eucharistic Adoration” and attending for a short period. At a Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance (a sunburst) on the altar making Christ’s physical presence available for all to gaze upon in prayer. As a Catholic when I attend this beautiful ceremony, I am filled with a profound inner peace. I think you might gain a better, more personal understanding of Catholicism, if you merely sat in the presence of Our Lord in that way. It might answer questions that you may have about our very ancient faith.

    You are very welcome among us and I hope you stay and continue to chat. Pax.

  • Botolph,

    Thanks for your valuable recommendations. You deserve a vacation after having responded to my many inquiries. Your responses were generous, clear, and faith filled.

    I feel it incumbent though to inform you that notwithstanding your being named after the patron saint of Boston, I fully intend to offer frequent and unremitting prayers to Our Lord to ensure that the New York Yankees continue to handily defeat the Boston Red Sox a la the Curse of the Bambino.

    As a native New Yorker, I can take no other action. : )

  • Slainte, I’m not familiar iwht the author you mention. I’m sorry to hear the book club took that direction, and it sounds like some people were far more interested in being right than in being Christian. To invite you to a book club and then give you the chapter on the Reformation is condescending. I know that Princeton Theological Seminary is one of the most liberal evangelical seminaries. It was once very conservative, but a stronghold of calvinism, since that’s the Presbyterian theological tradition. I don’t knwo if they’re still calvinistic, but I hear they have a rather low view of the Bible.
    When I try to think through Scripture I have to learn what the writers meant. When St. Paul speaks of the ‘church’, for example, he’s applying it to local meetings or the mystical body of Christ. He’s never referring to some type of overall church structure. Indeed the Roman Catholic church had not yet formed, though churches were meeting at Rome. The sacrament of communion or the Lord’s Supper is also something I try to understand Scripturally. What were they doing and why? Well, they ate a meal together and some aspect of that meal was presumably ritualized in the tradition of Passover. But like so much else in th New Testament, it took on new meaning. What the Old Testament was pointing to became clear and people ate and drank knowing they were a part of that. It was a spiritual meal, in other words. People came to know Christ, their Head, and one another as family–the body of Christ–so that the rite had profound significance for them.
    I think we miss the point if we jump to the conclusion that the bread and wine are physically Christ’s body and blood. The logical outcome to that conclusion would be that you have to be very careful with the elements as the Roman Catholic church probably is. I think the priest still locks it all up when finished. And the wafer is placed in a case of some sort as you desribe. Then you have Eucharistic Adoration. I’m familiar with this because I used to watch the Mass on EWTN where they would remove the cover at the end, or perhaps that was when they covered it up, I can’t remember. Anyway, if one were to judge by aesthetics alone, unless one were an absolute purist or minimalist, they would say the high churches are lovelier overall than most if not all Protestant worship, excepting Anlicanism. As a teenager I would occasionally attend a Mass for that sole reason, and I think that’s what drew Franky Schaeffer to Eastern Orthodoxy; he loves the Divine Liturgy. But I came to the conclusion, a long time ago, that tradition grew increasingly elaborate to the point that many new ideas emerged with time. For me the question becomes: what do you do with all of that innovation? You can hold onto what doesn’t conflict with Scirpture. But if some aspects of tradition cannot be squared with Scirpture, you’re left having to decide which side you will take. I don’t know of anyone who ever concioiusly said: I’m going to side with Tradition where it conflicts with Scirpture. What happens is that people argue that the conflict cited doesn’t really exist. They support that by interpeting Scirpture in ways that are strained and that depart from a straightforward reading. And then there is anachronism, or reading back into the pages of Scirpture ideas that grew up later.
    Your thoughts?

  • Moral teachings of the Catholic Church cannot be altered, because they have been derived from the teachings of the Bible No question of any compromise on the matters of divorce, sodomy ,lesbianism etc.,

  • Jon,

    My experience with the Presbyterians was actually a good one; they were convicted of the perceived wrongs and deficiencies of Catholicism and were able to credibly point to periods where some members of the Church exhibited less than exemplary conduct. On my end, I was woefully unprepared to address their concerns. So I have made efforts to better understand my own faith from both an intellectual and faith perspective. Many have assisted me along the way. I identified with your position of being a stranger among a cohesive group of people bound together by a common tradition, in this instance Catholicism, and wanted to confirm that you are welcome here.

    I agree with your conclusion that, as Christians, we share much in common. But I will unequivocally attest to you that when I eat Christ’s body and drink His blood in Holy Communion within the Catholic tradition, it works within my soul and my entire being a mystical and life affirming miracle that far exceeds any rational explanation of the act itself. I believe that you may be able to experience something of this experience by sitting quietly in the presence of Christ on the alter at Eucharistic Adoration. If you seek Him, He will find you and make Himself known to you.

    Though your eyes may identify what appears to be “a wafer” in a monstrance, your soul, in His presence, will awaken to a reality that is profoundly greater than the senses can apprehend.

    Father Robert Barron shares how the priest in Persona Christi “speaking with the full authority of Christ which is why his words have the power to change the elements” consecrates and transforms the bread and wine into Christ’s body and precious blood. Father concludes that “for Catholics, the only proper response when you are in the presence of those transformed elements is to bow down and worship.”

    See, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJjW3LXuHzo

    I would strongly encourage you to take the next step in your faith journey and go to Eucharistic Adoration. It truly is an ultimate unity with our Creator wherein he provides not only physical food for our body but spiritual food for the everlasting life of the soul. The experience is transformative and it is why so many people for hundreds of years have been willing to become martyrs for the faith.

    I wish you Christ’s peace.

  • Scripture and Tradition – Jon, you might find this useful for your understanding of what Catholicism teaches. It comes form Catholic Answers and save me a lot of time in writing it myself. I did want to point out that I think you are mistaken in your assessment of Paul and individual Churches. For example, he goes back to Jerusalem over circumcision exactly because Paul is helping to build one Church, not many denominations, not what the Judaisers would have, or second citizenship for the Gentiles. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. I believe few if any individual has done more harm to Christianity than the divisions brought about by Martin Luther. The wrong solutions to the problems he saw. Anyway, here is the explanation:

    Protestants claim the Bible is the only rule of faith, meaning that it contains all of the material one needs for theology and that this material is sufficiently clear that one does not need apostolic tradition or the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) to help one understand it. In the Protestant view, the whole of Christian truth is found within the Bible’s pages. Anything extraneous to the Bible is simply non-authoritative, unnecessary, or wrong—and may well hinder one in coming to God.

    Catholics, on the other hand, recognize that the Bible does not endorse this view and that, in fact, it is repudiated in Scripture. The true “rule of faith”—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.

    In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin: “The Word of God”), the relationship between Tradition and Scripture is explained: “Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

    “Thus, by the light of the Spirit of truth, these successors can in their preaching preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence.”

    But Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, who place their confidence in Martin Luther’s theory of sola scriptura (Latin: “Scripture alone”), will usually argue for their position by citing a couple of key verses. The first is this: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The other is this: “All Scripture is
    inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). According to these Protestants, these verses demonstrate the reality of sola scriptura (the “Bible only” theory).

    Not so, reply Catholics. First, the verse from John refers to the things written in that book (read it with John 20:30, the verse immediately before it to see the context of the statement in question). If this verse proved anything, it would not prove the theory of sola scriptura but that the Gospel of John is sufficient.

    Second, the verse from John’s Gospel tells us only that the Bible was composed so we can be helped to believe Jesus is the Messiah. It does not say the Bible is all we need for salvation, much less that the Bible is all we need for theology; nor does it say the Bible is even necessary to believe in Christ. After all, the earliest Christians had no New Testament to which they could appeal; they learned from oral, rather than written, instruction. Until relatively recent times, the Bible was inaccessible to most people, either because they could not read or because the printing press had not been invented. All these people learned from oral instruction, passed down, generation to generation, by the Church.

    Much the same can be said about 2 Timothy 3:16-17. To say that all inspired writing “has its uses” is one thing; to say that only inspired writing need be followed is something else. Besides, there is a telling argument against claims of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants. John Henry Newman explained it in an 1884 essay entitled “Inspiration in its Relation to Revelation.”

    Newman’s argument

    He wrote: “It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle [Paul] requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy.

    “Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood: Some of the Catholic epistles were not written even when Paul wrote this, and none of the books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the scriptures of the Old Testament, and, if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith.”

    Furthermore, Protestants typically read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 out of context. When read in the context of the surrounding passages, one discovers that Paul’s reference to Scripture is only part of his exhortation that Timothy take as his guide Tradition and Scripture. The two verses immediately before it state: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14–15).

    Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has learned for two reasons: first, because he knows from whom he has learned it—Paul himself—and second, because he has been educated in the scriptures. The first of these is a direct appeal to apostolic tradition, the oral teaching which the apostle Paul had given Timothy. So Protestants must take 2 Timothy 3:16-17 out of context to arrive at the theory of sola scriptura. But when the passage is read in context, it becomes clear that it is teaching the importance of apostolic tradition!

    The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).

    This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

    And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit “Christ’s word” to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.

    Further, it is clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. “’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been “preached”—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be
    supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.

    This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.

    What is Tradition?

    In this discussion it is important to keep in mind what the Catholic Church means by tradition. The term does not refer to legends or mythological accounts, nor does it encompass transitory customs or practices which may change, as circumstances warrant, such as styles of priestly dress, particular forms of devotion to saints, or even liturgical rubrics. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different.

    They have been handed down and entrusted to the Churchs. It is necessary that Christians believe in and follow this tradition as well as the Bible (Luke 10:16). The truth of the faith has been given primarily to the leaders of the Church (Eph. 3:5), who, with Christ, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit, who protects this teaching from corruption (John 14:25-26, 16:13).

    Handing on the faith

    Paul illustrated what tradition is: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. . . . Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:3,11). The apostle praised those who followed Tradition: “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2).

    The first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42) long before there was a New Testament. From the very beginning, the fullness of Christian teaching was found in the Church as the living embodiment of Christ, not in a book. The teaching Church, with its oral, apostolic tradition, was authoritative. Paul himself gives a quotation from Jesus that was handed down orally to him: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

    This saying is not recorded in the Gospels and must have been passed on to Paul. Indeed, even the Gospels themselves are oral tradition which has been written down (Luke 1:1–4). What’s more, Paul does not quote Jesus only. He also quotes from early Christian hymns, as in Ephesians 5:14. These and other things have been given to Christians “through the Lord Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:2).

    Fundamentalists say Jesus condemned tradition. They note that Jesus said, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3). Paul warned, “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). But these verses merely condemn erroneous human traditions, not truths which were handed down orally and entrusted to the Church by the apostles. These latter truths are part of what is known as apostolic tradition, which is to be distinguished from human traditions or customs.

    “Commandments of men”

    Consider Matthew 15:6–9, which Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often use to defend their position: “So by these traditions of yours you have made God’s laws ineffectual. You hypocrites, it was a true prophecy that Isaiah made of you, when he said, ‘This people does me honor with its lips, but its heart is far from me. Their worship is in vain, for the doctrines they teach are the commandments of men.’” Look closely at what Jesus said.

    He was not condemning all traditions. He condemned only those that made God’s word void. In this case, it was a matter of the Pharisees feigning the dedication of their goods to the Temple so they could avoid using them to support their aged parents. By doing this, they dodged the commandment to “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12).

    Elsewhere, Jesus instructed his followers to abide by traditions that are not contrary to God’s commandments. “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Matt. 23:2–3).

    What Fundamentalists and Evangelicals often do, unfortunately, is see the word “tradition” in Matthew 15:3 or Colossians 2:8 or elsewhere and conclude that anything termed a “tradition” is to be rejected. They forget that the term is used in a different sense, as in 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, to describe what should be believed. Jesus did not condemn all traditions; he condemned only erroneous traditions, whether doctrines or practices, that undermined Christian truths. The rest, as the apostles taught, were to be obeyed. Paul commanded the Thessalonians to adhere to all the traditions he had given them, whether oral or written.

    The indefectible Church

    The task is to determine what constitutes authentic tradition. How can we know which traditions are apostolic and which are merely human? The answer is the same as how we know which scriptures are apostolic and which are merely human—by listening to the magisterium or teaching authority of Christ’s Church. Without the Catholic Church’s teaching authority, we would not know with certainty which purported books of Scripture are authentic. If the Church revealed to us the canon of Scripture, it can also reveal to us the “canon of Tradition” by establishing which traditions have been passed down from the apostles. After all, Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18) and the New Testament itself declares the Church to be “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

    NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
    presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
    Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

    IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
    permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
    +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

  • Botolp, Slainte and Others: Well, if I did not already have a degree in Theology, I would almost qualify after reading all of the above. I would like to add a few tidbits to the conversation – hopefully not because I am a blowhard but perhaps I delude myself in thinking that my years of teaching science have made me pretty good at reducing big concepts to easily understood fare. Granted, not as technical or impressive, but more accessible to the average person unfamiliar with the technical language.

    Salvation only thru the Christ and His Church: Has anyone ever yelled out your name or called you on the phone and you had no idea of who it was? The call continues and you follow the voice and then you see them, or in the conversation suddenly putting a face to the voice and you almost exclaim, “Oh, I now know who you are!” That to me explains how good people go to Heaven thru Christ and the Church. God calls all of us, everyone who ever existed. People of sincere and good will listen and follow according to their own understanding. Doing their best to understand and follow God’s will does not ensure they will end up “Catholic” for many situations, but if their life was open to sharing God’s love and truth, somewhere between life and death and judgment they will recognize Christ and His Church and exclaim, “Oh, now I know who you are!” Baptism of Desire.

    Evil, the absence of God. A distraught pregnant woman does not want to carry the child within her, so she decides to have an abortion. She does not let the love of God into her decision – it is absent from her will, nonexistent in her actions. Were it present it would be full of life, full of existence, “I came that you would have life (existence, God) more abundant. Healing for any evil takes place when we bring the existence of God’s love back into the void.
    To me, forgiveness is a creative act. It brings God’s life into the world. Not to forgive is to negate or prevent existence of God.
    Satan would not let the existence of God’s love for humanity, the Incarnation, into his soul. Satan actually limited himself by doing so and not letting God’s existence grow within.
    So while the actions we take, the things we do are positive actions, evil itself is nonexistence of God’s love informing our actions.

    Truth does not come from the Bible, it does not come from the Church, but only from God who is unchanging. The Bible and the Church are gifts to help us discover and understand Truth.
    Yesterday they reported a poll that stated that the people against homosexuality said it was because of the Bible. No, if one is opposed to homosexuality it is because homosexuality is wrong, a denial (nonexistence) of God’s design and plan, and the Bible and Tradition help us to see that if we should ignore the obvious natural law. God says so through the Bible and Tradition, aka Church Teaching.

  • Kevin,

    Your teaching and your science come through. Well done.

  • Kevin,

    Thank you for your contribution. Your commentary regarding scripture and apostolic tradition made for an interesting read.

  • “The Bible and the Church are gifts to help us discover and understand Truth.”
    Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church owes the TRUTH to its people. The state owes the TRUTH to its people, too, and inscribed in the Preamble, the purpose of the Constitution are the words: “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity.” The TRUTH will set you free. Congress owes the TRUTH to our constitutional posterity. The TRUTH is WHO we bring forth to our posterity. God has a human face. The TRUTH lives and breathes in Jesus Christ WHO said: “I am the TRUTH, the Life and the Way.” The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Congress must take into account our constitutional posterity, over the gay agenda, simply because the votes from our posterity are our future as these persons are still in the mind of God. The Justice Department must take our Constitutional posterity into account because our Constitutional posterity are innocent and speak for all persons, living and dead and all persons to come, whereas the gay agenda is steeped in selfishness and speaks only for the individual, excluding our Constitutional posterity at the cost of our Constitutional posterity’s citizenship and civil rights. Any one denying civil rights to another person or persons, as is our Constitutional posterity, forfeits his own civil rights, by the very act of conspiring to and giving consent to deprive another person of our Constitutional civil rights.

  • “…simply because the votes from our posterity, and our posterity, are our future as these persons are still in the mind of God.” refinement of thought

  • Well put: “…[The media] assume that Pope Francis, if he does not alter these teachings, will at least soft pedal them.” The secular “news” sources, being masters of spin and programmed silence on various matters, will know how to controvert the message of Catholic teaching.

    However, reading the La Civilta Cattolica summary on PF’s address Nov. 29th, 2013 at the meeting with leaders of men’s religious orders, I am impressed with his effort to try to develop a true conversion of heart for members of religious groups in formation. He was very trenchant about what he called “the novice trade”—where religious orders open foundations in certain nations, then transfer them to supply their works in other countries (he cited the Phillipines as an example of where this is happening): it is wrong for the “host country” and it doesnt address fundamental issues in the “receiving country.” He was specific about something being wrong where a process of formation that seems to “end” when the members finally get ordained, and “formation is ended” (he said), and (my words) people spiritually seem to immediately begin to die. Of course again, he repeated that young men becoming priests should not be planned for positions of “administrators or managers”, but to serve the Gospel and the “People of God”. There is a lot more in 15 or so pages of redacted notes (the original address was given in Italian). I am not a great Pope-Francis fan, but this sounded like a fairly focused address (for
    PF at least), and he is on the march about living the evangelical counsels. Now (I was thinking reading this) what really needs to be done is to get the diocesan clergy everywhere to basically “step-it-up” and begin living poverty (yes, even for diocesan clergy), chastity, and obedience. So, at least in this address, my feelings are: “Go, Francis!”

  • Kevin and Slainte:
    You both present excI’ellent arguemnts and some really good points. Protestants often go overboard to present their side (sola scriptura), thereby undercutting some truths that all Christians should be relying on to defend the Faith. I’ve recognized this for some time now.
    When I think of Sola Scriptura, it’s more in the original sense of the sole final authority. It should be evident that we draw upon the other elements. I simply argue that Scirpture is the final arbiter. Therefore, I have no problem with traditions that are Scripturally inspired and/or derived. So there is a Tradition if you want to call it that. It is not a matter of either/or, which we both recognize. It is a matter of both/and with Scirpture being the ultimate authority. That’s the difference. Once the canon became closed, anything coming after must fully accord with it. And there can be no new revelation. To say Mary never sinned or was bodily assumed into heaven would fall intothat category.
    Cardinal Newman was a very talented and rare figure. It is difficult to judge common debates about Christianity in terms of people like him. There are certain figures that, for reasons of personality and temperament and a kind of sensiblity, move in a more extreme direction than everyone else.
    Arguments about Scirpture, tradition, and the continuation of the church are far less straightforward than the typical ones mentioned. It comes down to definitions, really. The Roman Catholic narrative is pretty consistent if you define the terms a certain way. Once you define them differently it changes the whole scenario. That’s why I’ve always thought it so fundamental that we get the definition of ‘church’ right, particularly since you trace the role of Scripture, Tradition, and their relationship back to the Magisterium.

  • Jon, Slainte, Mary, Shaw, Anzlyne, Botolph and anyone I forgot to mention: It is uplifting to have a discussion on something other than celebrities or sports. Even with believers it can be difficult to change the focus from the inane. So, I thank you.

  • The rupture of the Reformation caused the bishops and the Pope to define the principles of the Catholic faith at Trent and, in essence, clarify the Faith and unify the faithful around core beliefs. I suppose the bishops and the popes realized that in order to counter the competing theological and philosophical ideas put forward by the various protestant thinkers (some of whom were former Catholic priests and monks), unity of thought was necessary for cohesiveness. Once pertinent points of the Catholic faith were clarified and enunciated at Trent, it became necessary to educate the faithful in the Faith to protect them from being misled by competing theologies. The Jesuit priests and the Ursuline nuns joined together to accomplish this worthy task with the Jesuits educating the boys and the Ursulines, the girls.

    So many years after the Reformation, we still find ourselves separated by many of the same theological differences. I surmise that the bishops and popes of Vatican II want to heal this rupture once and for all, and believe they can do so by returning to the sources…..or as Botolph expresses:

    “….What will be implemented besides the reforms of the Vatican Bank and the Curia will be in the area of the mission of the Church. In ‘the return to the sources’ of Vatican II we return to the source of our identity as Church: The Most Blessed Trinity. The Church is the fruit or the result of the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Church does not (really) have a mission; the Church IS the mission of the Son and the Spirit visible in the world today. Fundamentally that mission is to be “a kind of sacrament” as Lumen Gentium puts it [lest someone misunderstand and think we have declared that there is an 8th sacrament]. The Church “as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world….” Source, Botolph posting, Popewatch: Lamb of Pope, January 9, 2014

    The Church’s objective may be more easily accomplished today than ever before because so many Catholics and Protestants alike have fallen away from their respective belief systems and don’t recall or care about faith in God or belonging to what they view as “institutionalized” churches.

    But this new reality is both a blessing and a curse because a de-Christianized population which finds more in common with secular humanism can be very resistant to a Christian message that calls for obedience to a higher power and a dying to self. Are those who belong to the Church of Secular Humanism capable of, or even inclined to, renouncing their core beliefs which include (i) doing good deeds so that one may “feel good”, (ii) embracing tolerance because its easier than preaching Truth, (iii) avoiding the cardinal secular sin of “judging others” because it may offend the other, (iv) embracing “niceness” to avoid being socially ostracized?

    It would seem that the battle of our present age is no longer between Catholics and Protestants; it is now between Christian believers and the culture of death, of the enlightened individual, of pleasure over holiness. But the Catholic/Protestant divide continues and keeps us from uniting to fight a much more significant and holy war against Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. And of course, division is always the entrail of evil perpetrated by the Enemy….so will we continue to cooperate with the Enemy by sustaining the division?

    So Catholics and Protestants…what do we do about this? I don’t think we can spend another 500 years beating each other up because the culture of death is intent on eliminating both of us.

    How do we reach agreement on the issues which go to our Identity in our respective Christian beliefs and thus divide us from the battle which we must fight together? We must mend the wounds of the Reformation.

    Any ideas?

  • Slainte wrote….”But the Catholic/Protestant divide continues and keeps us from uniting to fight a much more significant and holy war against Truth, Goodness, and Beauty…..

    This should read…..

    “But the Catholic/Protestant divide continues and keeps us from uniting to fight a much more significant and holy war “which is being waged” against Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

  • Slainte, you said that all very well. The key points I think the debate centers on are justification and the role of tradition. I could be wrong, but as I udnerstand it these are the two things upon which any other disagreeemnets hinge. If Catholics and Protestants came to an agreement on these matters, I thinkit is very likely there would be no philosophic/theological division. Institutionally, church history brings out the fact htat Christians are always to some degree or another divided–but this is not profound. One thinks of ethnic/linguistic barriers, national churches, local assemblies, and so on. In Roman Cathollicism orders have serv ed to highlight some differences. FOr Protestants, para=church organizations have served that role, in additon to the more obvious example of denominations/movemens, which bear some unique peculiarities. I do not consider these ‘divisions’ necessarily negative by themselves. When people assume a competetive and hostile stance toward one another, and seeds of hate grow, then it becomes so. Otherwise, these are more ofteh than not the way the body of Christ plays out. As you mentioned, it is the Son and SPirit’s mission, and God directs it to meet all kinds of ends.
    As to the matter of justificaiton: Speaking for myself, I believe we are justified by faiht–a one time immediate occurance. Here we are declared righteous, regardless of the precise theory about why. I believe sanctification is separate from that, also. I think sanctification occurs on an ongoing basis throughout life, where we cooperate with God’s grace to become mroe and mroe like Christ. I believe it’s crucial we do not collapse one into the other; justification and sanctificaiton are separate: we are declared righteous because of Christ, and we inevitably “bring forth fruit” if that’s the case, since the one who’s been jsutified is also sanctified. Why? Since we truly believed. Real faith = justification = sanctification. It’s all of a piece.
    The role of tradition: Tradition is Scripture in the sense that the authors past on oral nad written instruction. The church recognized and revealed the canon, which already existed for quite some time—and that’s crucial—they did not decide or create it. There is a period of time where the chruch follows the ‘tradition’ of the apostles. But nothing novel should enter the equation. So anything that’s arising after the apostles died off is only icing on the cake at best, but at worst soemthing that can conflict with what’s already been taught.
    Your thoughts?

  • I would submit as a general proposition that Truth cannot be compromised even for a a perceived desirable end. The foundation of all unity is Truth in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.

    On the first issue of Justification:

    I think Catholics and Protestants agree that we are saved by Faith in Jesus Christ and His unmerited gift of Grace.

    The grace necessary for salvation continues to come from Christ, through his Church.

    “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (CCC 846)

    Togeter with Grace, Catholics understand that Jesus calls us to do and perform Works because Faith without works is empty.

    It appears that we are divided on the issue of whether “Works” constitute a condition precedent for salvation.

    Your thoughts?….and of course anyone else that wants to discuss, please feel free.

  • Jon and Slainte, the topic of Christian unity is so important and was something JPII very much wanted to advance. I’ve got to run but I hope to offer my thoughts on Monday. I would like to preface it by saying that I believe “The Battle” has always been between the Culture of Life, sustained by the Trinity and the culture of Death, led by Satan. Christ has won the spiritual battle but our participation is here on earth. Nothing new there. I do not have the luxury of time in my life right now to offer the impressive and informative documentation that Botolph graciously provides, but I will do my limited best.

  • Kevin,

    We do indeed your imput and Botolph’s and others….these are a very substantial issues that require a lot of thought, intellect, and faith.

    Have a great weekend…will be awaiting your feedback next week.


  • Slainte, I believe that true faith will evince itself in works. If a person truly believes, their life will bear that out. St. James, writing in the wisdom tradition, presents very practical theology. St. Paul said Abraham believed God and this was credited to him as righteousness. St. James says that faith without works is dead. How do we put these two notions together? True faith is active. As others have said, we are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that IS alone, a fine distinction that is nevertheless momentous.
    It is my beleif that the church is the body of Christ. It is not necessary for justification, to be really technical. Indeed many times a person will not be a part of it until they ARE justified (though some will be, such as those who are born into it). But normally the church becomes the placee to which people are always being added on, as we read in Acts. The church is the place we end up belonging to because we are together the body of Christ, our head, to whom we are inseparably united. The church is integral for sanctification. It’s where we meet for mutual instruction, fellowship, etc., and to carry out Christ’s mission in the world.
    The church is entrusted with the Word–the Gospel or Good News–and equipped to preach and evangelize and nurture already existing Christians, and in that sense we can say that there is no salvaiton apart form it–but the Holy Spirit works directly to regenerate each person who believes. So I would always want to qualify it this way.

  • Jon writes, “…The church is integral for sanctification. It’s where we meet for mutual instruction, fellowship, etc., and to carry out Christ’s mission in the world. The church is entrusted with the Word–the Gospel or Good News…”
    I would like to respond to your post in parts as I want to think more on your comment.
    First I want to speak about the Catholic Church and what it means to me…
    The Catholic Church is all the things you mention and more. Through the Church we are gifted with the Holy Mass. At Mass, we receive the “Liturgy of the Word” which is compromised of two readings from the Divine Law, and a reading from the Gospel, a homily by our priest, a recitation by the entire Church body of either the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed, and, then Intercessions.


    All of these parts of the Liturgy of the Word nourish us spiritually. The Liturgy of the Word, though, begins a process which builds toward a profound and great truth….a foretaste of the culmination and fulfillment of the entirety of all Scriptures…a crescendo where all God’s promises to us are made real in His sacrifice which is the “Liturgy of the Eucharist”.

    At the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Priest, as Alter Christi, consecrates mere bread and wine into the Body and Precious Blood of Our Lord, He who is most Divine. Through the consecration and transubstantiation, Our Lord feeds His children His own body….the everlasting bread which sustains the very life which He breathed into each one of us. We knaw on His body, the sacrificed lamb who is God, just as He instructed us to do, and by partaking of the sacrifice of the Word made Flesh, we are made part of Him.


    My words cannot do justice to the beauty and the solemnity of the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist…words are pale approximations of a transcendent holy gift which touches one’s soul intimately and directly. It is for this reason I suggested that you attend Eucharistic Adoration…so powerful is His presence in the Eucharist, you cannot help but be touched in an unexpected and profound way.
    I thought this video might be helpful in understanding what this part of “Church” means to a Catholic…..The Holy Mass. http://youtu.be/jlJlKq422jg

  • Slainte, the liturgy of the Word followed by the liturgy of the Eucharist is a good order of worship. It makes sense given, as you suggest, that the Eucharist embodies what we learn from Scripture. The Eucharist is the climax whereas in traditioanl Protestant worhsip, the Word or Pulpit is at the center. I guess I don’t really care much either way, because that’s style. The part I don’t get, and the video only partially explained it, is: why offer up the eucharist? If Christ died and that’s an unrepeatable act, and we offer ourselves in grateful return (because we are the offering now as we learn in the New Testament–the people of God presented in Christ to God the Father) why not simply state that as it’s expressed, for example, in the Anglican litury, where Christ’s atonement is recounted followed by the offering of ourselves, soul and body? The Catholic Mass seems to say we offer up Christ to God, or do I misunderstand that? As for the traditional practice of facing East, I am all for ordering time and space liturgically. I still don’t grasp why the Eucharist is understood to be the physical body and physical blood of Christ. Is this not an attempt to frame a mystery in scholastic terms, thereby forcing it into a system that cannot but distort the reality whcih lies beyond us?

  • Jon,

    At the traditional latin Mass and Eucharist, the parishioners and the priest who is leading Christ’s flock, all face east toward Gologotha (the place of the Skull) where Our Lord was crucified. When the priest begins the consecration, he is re-presenting the crucified Christ as a sacrifice to the father….time is suspended as we participate in our present age (2014) in the same sacrifice that occurred 2000 years ago. We offer to the Father together with His crucified son all our gifts and sacrifices as well.

    Catholics have an altar; Protestants a table. Sacrifices are offered on altars, meals are presented on a table. There is an important distinction.


    Catholics present a bloody crucifix near or over the altar as a constant reminder of Christ’s passion, sacrifice, and resurrection; Protestants present a clean and empty cross near or over the table or near the pulpit with all signs of Christ’s suffering removed because of their focus on the resurrection.


    I recommend the video “A Meditiation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” which is quite graphic but may be helpful in illustrating what I am saying. The graphics are an important part of the message.


    A Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


  • Slainte, Jon, Kevin and others,

    You invited me into this further conversation and I think it is worthwhile. However, let me put out on the table just two points for consideration:

    1) In your enthusiasm and zeal you have jumped from one major topic to another. Each of these topics is major and needs its own ‘time and space’. Whole more than likely major ecumenical breakthroughs are not going to take place in a blog, given any blog’s limited scope, I believe that such issues as Justification, the Church, Scripture and Tradition, the Most Holy Eucharist in its threefold aspect of Sacrifice, Sacrament and Presence, all deserve their own time and space. Once we begin to see this then the fire will be back in the fireplace, but perhaps we can discipline ourselves not to jump from one subject to another.

    2)IN all of my studies I have come to realize that the fundamental issue underlying the Reformation, and the Schism between Catholic and Orthodox Churches before it, is “the Church”. This naturally arose after the Church had dealt sufficiently with the Mystery of the Incarnation in the Christological Ecumenical Councils [the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth Councils] and had then taken a the step into the sacramentality of icons in the Seventh Council, Nicaea 2 in 787 AD. Once the Church took that step, the question ultimately became the identity of the Church [as it had been the identity of Christ] as “Sacrament”.

    On January 18th we will be entering into the Prayer for Church Unity Octave, something almost forgotten today. It might be worthwhile just to raise our consciousness concerning the fundamental need (not simply practical) for the Church to be One. As Catholics we believe that the Church fundamentally is (already) One. Nonetheless with one billion Christians who by baptism are members but not in fully communion with the Catholic Church, the identity, sacramentality and unity of the Church is a substantial place to start.

    Those are my thoughts. Any responses?

  • Botolph,

    Welcome to what is indeed a broad discussion. I agree with your two points.


    But I also think we need to understand some of the core beliefs of the Catholic faith to dispell misunderstandings about the faith that have arisen since the Reformation. For some, Catholicism is very scary and cloaked in mystery. I am really impressed with Jon’s knowledge and indeed the knowledge of many good and faithful protestants regarding the tenets of the Catholic faith.


    Jon raised the worthwhile inquiry regarding Justification…the short answer is that Catholicism accepts Grace with works for salvation. Grace is dispensed by the Catholic Church through the seven Sacraments. Thereafter the issue of works as condition precedent must be satisfactoriy explained.


    I recall you and Jon may have had an earlier discussion where the term “sacramentals” arose and this seemed to stir up some emotion….this is why started the discussion with the sacraments as the means by which the Church bestows Grace …their mystical and saving qualities rooted in love and unity.


    Notwithstanding I defer to you for the purpose of proposing an orderly and respectful discussion as I think many, many Catholics and Protestants want unity guided by Truth…to bring us back together again so that we may worship as one body


    Thanks for weighing in.

  • Slainte,

    Thanks for inviting me and then welcoming me into this conversation. I do not hold a doctorate in Sacred Theology etc. however, years of praying, growing and struggling with my own faith as a Catholic, study, reflecting and even wrestling with some issues has brought me to this point in my life in which I hopefully can give some ‘perspective’. As you probably have come to realize in my comments in here, for me, ‘being Catholic’ is a far deeper and even mystical experience than most people can even imagine. Although it might shock some who might read this, there are only two real options for me: a deep Catholic faith which resists all ideological and shallow interpretations or atheism. See I believe that the Catholic Church and thus this Mystery we call Catholic faith is a gift from God, a response to the most profound revelation of God Himself in and through Jesus Christ and the gift/grace of the Holy Spirit. I have come to realize and believe with a firm, even an intense conviction that the Catholic Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, founded upon Peter and the college of Apostles now continued in the college of bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter. Her heart is the Most Holy Eucharist [Sacrifice, Sacrament and Presence]. All the other sacraments lead toward and from the Eucharist. I am convinced that the Church is the ‘sacrament of salvation for the world’-that by her proclamation of the Gospel [kerygma]; Liturgy [Leitourgia] and Service to the world [diakonia] She is light, salt and leaven in the world, slowly but steadily transforming the world from within. I believe that the Church is the ultimate expression of the New Covenant sealed in Christ’s Most Precious Blood, long prepared for by God in the first covenants: Adam, Noah, Moses, David. As Jesus Christ fulfills God’s ancient promises, so too does the Church. You cannot separate the Bride from the Bridegroom, the Body from its Head.

  • Botolph,

    I echo your sentiments and reaffirm all that you have said.

    I found it so challenging to verbalize to Jon the mystical component of the Eucharist..the sheer depth of this gift that at once invades and wraps itself around one’s soul and sustains life. That is why I used the videos to express that the Eucharist is not just a utilitarian enterprise that gets the job done, but involves a gift of such magnitude by Christ that one must physically see what He went through as a man out of love for us to fully appreciate the fullness of that Gift. All of the Sacraments tie us to Him and Him to us…they are the foundation of Love and Unity.


    I hope we can collectively as a group start the effort of reuniting what has been divided for so long.


    Pax Christi tecum

  • Slainte,

    See if this makes sense to you. In the Christological controversies of the third through sixth Councils, the question was, as I said, earlier, about the identity of Christ, the Mystery of the Incarnation. The Church found that while all involved believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man, homoousion, consubstantial with the Father, they found that the next question was “how does the Divinity of Christ ‘connect’ with the humanity of Christ? In the course of several Councils the Church found that it had to avoid two extremes: to emphasize His Divinity and humanity in such a way that there was a radical division in Christ between His Divine and Human nature-so much so that there were really two ‘identities’: two “I’s” in Christ [Nestorian tendency]. The other ‘extreme’ was to emphasize the unity of Christ to such a degree that His humanity was absorbed (disappeared) into His Divinity [monophysite tendency]. The Church came to confess her faith in Christ as One Person in two natures [Divine and human] without division (vs. Nestorianism) and without confusion (vs. Monophysitism). In this way Christ can be seen to be the fundamental Sacrament of Salvation truly sign and instrument of the grace of salvation.

    Now as the Church journeyed on through history we find her attempting to avoid both extremes: radical division/fusion, again and again.

    Is the Church radically divided from Christ [a common tendency today-manifested in Luther and the Reformation—an ecclesial nestorianism] OR is the Church fused with Jesus Christ [or should be in peoples’ minds-leading to shock, scandal etc when dealing with the humanity and even sin in the members of the Church-an ecclesial monophysitism?

    How are we saved? Again the two extremes enter in. Justification when seen as a declaration of ‘not guilty’ in which God and Jesus Christ remain ‘transcendent’ and outside ‘the sinner’s life can be seen as a nestorian theology of grace: in which there is a radical division between the sinner and the grace of justification-so much so that Luther called the redeemed sinner, new fallen snow on a dung hill-we look saved but fundamentally are not
    The other extreme is to believe the grace of the sacraments will do everything and that evangelization, catechesis, ongoing conversion and lives lived out in love and service [‘works’] are not really necessary [this is a monophysite theology of grace]

    We can see the two extremes in the Most Holy Eucharist as well. The radical division which is symptomatic of the nestorian tendecy comes out in the interpretation of the Eucharist in which the Eucharist is ‘merely a symbol’. It reminds us of Christ, etc but is not Christ’s real Presence, etc. The opposite extreme (not seen that often) is to forget that the Eucharist is indeed the Sacrament of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. If one were to bear down with one’s teeth on the Host we are not crunching the Body of Baby Jesus, etc. [If you question this read Aquinas on the Eucharist who was fighting off both extremes in the Middle Ages]

    I offer this as a resource in order to give a little direction in a great conversation. I hope you (collectively) find it helpful

  • Really impressive summary of Church theological teachings. Wow, I am awed.

    I accept that the Church is fused with Christ and that Christ redeemed us through His most perfect Sacrifice on the cross; that we still are impacted by the temporal effects of Original Sin and thus experience a tendency toward concupiscience which we are aided in overcoming and thus purifying ourselves of its corrosive effects through the sacrament of Confession and frequent partaking of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. For these reasons, I agree with your statement that:

    “….the Church [is] fused with Jesus Christ [or should be in peoples’ minds-leading to shock, scandal etc when dealing with the humanity and even sin in the members of the Church-an ecclesial monophysitism…”

    I believe that with God’s unmerited Grace, he calls us to do works to be saved and base this conclusion on the following biblical injunction:

    Matthew 25: 31-46

    “…31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal…”

    I accept that the Catholic Eucharist is the actual body and precious blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ made real to us through the priestly consecration of a Catholic priest acting Alter Christi; the Eucharist is not merely a symbol of a far away event in time.

  • Botolph,

    Wee (mostly you) are actually reciting (with further elaboration) the Catholic Nicene Creed:

    The Nicene Creed

    I believe in one God,
    the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.

    I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
    the Only Begotten Son of God,
    born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
    through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven,
    and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
    and became man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
    he suffered death and was buried,
    and rose again on the third day
    in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
    to judge the living and the dead
    and his kingdom will have no end.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
    who has spoken through the prophets.

    I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
    I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
    and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
    and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  • Slainte,

    Thanks for your response. Just a slight course correction. People thinking the Church is fused with Christ can be as problematic as those who make a sharp division between Christ and the Church. Those who believe the Church is fused ‘believe’ that the Church is so totally united with Christ that the humanity of the Church disappears, and with it any ability to realize that the human frailties that are part of all our lives are thus also part of the Church. They fail to allow that even human failure is part of the Church. And then they get scandalized when individuals both ordained and unordained actually sin [I am not excusing sin in any way, but faith here has to go deeper].

    Instead of being deeply divided from Christ or fused to Christ, the Church is deeply united with Christ in a covenant bond like that of a bride with her Bridegroom. In holy matrimony, which is itself a sign and means of making present this union of Christ and His Bride the Church, the couple are not radically separated nor is one fused into the other.Both are deeply united in spirit, soul and body-and the same with the Church and Christ. This is precisely why the Eucharist is so central to the Mystery of the Church. In His sacrificial death Christ has literally said to His Bride: “This is My Body which is given for you”. He shares with His Bride, HIs very Life: Blood signifies life: “this is the Chalice of My Blood,, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant, shed for you” What has separated God from mankind is sin. His Life, is given His Blood is shed for the forgiveness of sins of the many (those ultimately accepting in faith HIs Gift of Self and salvation) Indeed, as we have in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, “Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb” This Supper is the Wedding Feast! Christ has united Himself with His Bride the Church in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

  • Botolph,

    Thanks for the clarification. I conflated the term united (as in united with Christ in the Eucharist) with the term “fused” which, as you state, admits no role for humanity in the Church. I understand your point.

  • Heresy often represents an overemphasis on something. I was thinking about this the other day when I read about gnostic trends in American Christianity. People often stress something overmuch to where an imbalance results. It’s important we have the right understanding of the triune God, of Christ in his dual nature, of the church and its relationship to Christ its head, adn so on. All of htis is crucial. We have to know God correctly, ourselves–our problem and solution–and how that happens by way of Christ. To have a relationship with God we must know him. All kinds of people claim various heartfelt experiences, some of which may be very valid but much of which may be imaginative.

  • Jon,

    You are 100% on target

  • The problem is not jsut overemphases but underemphases, as I forgot to mention. That’s why it’s so crucial that we stick to the rothdodoxy that develped in the first few centuries. The tri-unity of GOd has been eroded in many denominations that purport to be Christian. All of God’s attributes, too, must be held in view. For Christianity to be robust nad healthy, we have to uphold the Word made Flesh and what this means for humanity and creation in Christ. That’s the key. It seems you rely on the visible Roman network of churches but I never considered that workable. Indeed many splinter groups through the ages diverted form orthodoxy, and that’s very unhealthy. But I don’t think the answer lies in throwing your weight behind one institution serving as a bulwark. No church strucutre has ever been without some error.
    God is faithful to his covenant–he sent the Messiah to redeem Israel. He was Israel embodied. And he faithfully kept the promises of God. By faith in him we find life and restoration. Creation waits for us to find itself. The book of Ephesians underscores that the church is the body of Christ and the culminatino of God’s plan. One cannot underestimate that,whcih is why I’ve so often argued against dispensationalism, which I regard as heresy: it undermines the mission of Christ and his body, the church. But once again, for St. Paul, the church is the spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians), not a visible strucutre that emerged later on, though he uses the term church to refer to local assemblies/gatherings.

  • Botolph, Jon and Kevin,


    For the purpose of structuring this discussion, does it make sense to outline the issues, then address each point for an agreed upon period of time?

    Should we use this article comment section and continue on until we conclude all topics? or


    Should we select a topic and request that Mr. McClarey or whomever he designates (if he is in agreement) write a series of articles targeting the theme of Unity in the Church with discussions open to all commenters?


    Sorry if any of the above sounds high handed or presumptuous…I think this theme of unity between Protestants and Catholics is so exciting and so timely. Done right, we can all learn a lot and have fun doing it.

  • If you can here a loud shrieking howling in the winds, it’s me. I just spent a good chunk of my limited time to comment on a few things and lost it when I hit submit. Oh well, perhaps it was Providence as I now must put my kids to bed.

  • Kevin, when I have to rewrite, I find my expression much better. I work in Word or copy what I have written before any computer action.This way it is saved for my great grandchildren of whom I have seven.

  • “God came to save MANY, not ALL” The devil, Saint Lucifer is lost. Lucifer’s loss grieves the heart of God.

  • I, too, thought our discussion had wandering ways but Jon brought up many good questions and Slainte graciously obliged and it provoked good reflection on many big topics. At least enthusiasm sure beats being a lukewarm Christian. Slainte’s idea of assigning a topic within some kind of framework has real merit. I’m in if it can be done. So with that said I will refrain from my responses to the True Presence, the role of Mary, and etc.
    Like Botolph I will make the same confession that after my own struggles and questions I decided it was the Catholic Faith or no faith for me also. Even when I didn’t or don’t fully understand, or when I did not want to accept it, at a very deep level it is strikes me authentic though and through. So I decided to accept all the doctrine – even when I disagreed or did not understand (or frankly did not want to) and lived by it. This led me to an subtle peace, even joy, that has upheld me and is upholding me in some very difficult times. And much understanding has followed. There are some things you can never quite explain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be entirely sure of them. That is how I feel about the Catholic Church. So we have a lot of warts here on earth, but the Church Triumphant in Heaven is our aim.

  • This discussion has been very good. In so many ways I don’t want it to stop. However, being realistic my first response to Slainte’s suggestion that Donald set aside a segment etc of this blog site for conversation on Christian unity-causes me to pause. It is a great idea, understand me on that. I am just wondering how I would feel if a couple of bloggers got into their own conversation on my blog and then sought to change it even slightly. This gives me pause. Now perhaps I am being overly respectful to the nature of this blog and Donald would not mind, but I believe unless Donald says otherwise, our ‘occasional’ conversations on the subject remain just that-occasional. Thoughts?

  • Botolph,

    You have expressed my concerns precisely….I do not wish to be presumptuous. I am concerned. though, that if we discuss several key issues simultaneously, we may cause confusion instead of Christian enlightenment. We have already exceeded 50 comments in response to this article alone.

    Perhaps we can request Mr. McClarey’s thoughts on the matter. It might be ideal if all commenters participated to derive maximum value from this important discussion.

  • Agreed, McClarey’s call.
    I have mulled over this blog for some time wondering what purpose it can serve and its reach. Certainly educative, provocative, supportive and challenging for those who participate. In some ways I view it as a training ground for what we hear “out there” in the “real” world. It is a little piece of what Chesterton had in his time except we are not engaging the wider popular culture. Oh that we could find a way to do so and replace the silliness that occupies so much of society’s discourse.

  • Slainte,

    Agreed. I also firmly believe with you that if and when we continue that we focus on one subject and not jump around. For example, focus on “the Church” or “Justification” or “The Most Holy Eucharist”

    If an when we continue I also believe it is important to raise the consciousness of all participating that while all subjects are open to discussion, there are certain givens. Now Jon and others would claim that those ‘givens’ are relatively few in number and that everything else is nothing more than Roman train of thought etc. However, if it is to be a real dialogue, we need to put on the table that there are more ‘givens’ for Catholics and that it is not helpful for dialogue to hear these as ‘merely Roman train of thought”. True and honest dialogue can indeed happen, but it has to be totally honest. For someone to join with us in dialogue and diminish certain givens for Catholics to ‘mere opinion’ is similar to a Catholic joining a dialogue and declaring anyone not Catholic as a heretic.It is more than simply grating on the nerves.

  • Kevin,

    I agree. On a different note I believe this blog is important for Catholics. Catholics come in all shapes and sizes, from many different backgrounds etc. Sadly what begin as emphases, for example ‘social gospel Catholic’ or “pro-life, pro-family Catholic’ can become isolated from one another [since a Catholic is called to be all of these positions]. With the isolation then comes separation and lack of ability to discuss or even want to discuss. In this day and age it is extremely important for Catholics who participate in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to be able to dialogue with those who participate in the Ordinary Form, and vice versa. Without that ability to dialogue and desire to which ultimately comes from Christian charity, the Church would fragment into countless little tribes-precisely against its Oneness and Catholicity.

    I believe this blog is proving to be more than other blogs, a place where we actually can dialogue and stop the nonsensical and unchristian diatribes found in other so called “Catholic blogs” Eventually, I hope we can come to know how to deal with a real ‘troll’ that shows up as a ‘spoiler’ as well, but I think that is long term.

  • Botolph,

    Charity must govern all discourse. We have been separated brethren for so long that there will inevitably be moments when we will clash as we voice competing ideas about the Faith. If ideas are raised and presented in good faith and not merely to provoke, I think we must address and, where appropriate, counter them based upon reason and Truth. Catholic tradition requires us to do so.

    Botolph, there are many posters on this blog who are intellectual rock stars (including you)…that is why it make sense to request Mr. McClarey’s thoughts on opening the discussion to everyone to allow competing ideas to be heard and the best and brightest to address them.

    Good Faith and Charity, in my opinion, should be the parameters for discussion. Thoughts?

  • Slainte,

    Agreed. I use Paul’s words, “Truth in charity”

  • Okey doke, Monsieur Botolph. : )

    Would you be amenable to approaching Mr. McClarey to plead our case and request his thoughts regarding the feasibility of such an undertaking, and if he is amenable, the best format to accomplish agreed upon goals?

  • Slainte,

    LOL first I am not in charge lol but secondly, I believe Donald watches over the blog very carefully. I have seen him both respond and correct when necessary. We already have presented ‘our case’ to him in a very real sense. He has neither interrupted us [which I take to mean he has no problem with our dicussion] nor responded to our idea [which means I think that he is still thinking it ove or time is not right etc] Other than in here I have no means of speaking with him directly

  • Ok…..I wonder whether ok is derived from okey doke? 🙂

    It probably makes sense then just to wait a bit.

  • Slainte,

    Agreed. Here is when the fire definitely goes into the fireplace.

  • Slainte,

    My gut tells me that Donald was/is waiting to see if anyone jumped on board with this Church unity” theme, or idea. They have not. I don’t think that this means they don’t care, but instead rather like consumers, people come to this blog for a certain purpose-sometimes just to let their frustrations out about ‘things’ and ‘things in the Church’. They might occasionally get involved in a more involved discussion but these kinds of dialogues don’t meet their felt need. Don’t get discouraged. It simply is the way it is.

    But we gave it a good shot Slainte no one can say otherwise 🙂 In the meantime when topics come up we can still talk as we have- and really get into the meat of it. Thoughts?

  • No worries..we just move on.

    I guess we will have to wait for another day to undo the Reformation. : )

    I commend you on the theological summary you provided in our discussions relative to Christological controversies of the various councils, etc. (your January 13 at 11:22 a.m. posting).

    How did you manage to learn and synthesize all that information? Do you have a degree in theology or are you a philosopher?

  • I have a BA in philosophy and a masters in theology. My great love is historical theology: the whole tradition of the Church, and all the saints, characters, and jerks that make up the history of the Church. However historical theology focuses on the development of doctrine. That’s why you will see me push the unchangeableness of Church teaching yet also recognize that her teaching develops under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Church doesn’t change but develops. It seems to almost be a paradox. Some can’t understand why the Church can’t change, while others see development and cry out in fear and anger that the Church is changing

  • Botolph:

    Your fundamental understanding of theology and philosophy as it relates to the topics discussed is very apparent in your communications.

    Isn’t it amazing that one can live one’s whole life as a Catholic and still never fully learn the faith…but I guess that is what eternity is for.

  • Someone pointed out that there are more givens for Catholics, and I think that’s behind much of the disagreement. I previously brought it down to the role of tradition and the understanding of justification, but there are givens that are not assumed by Protestants. Givens that have to do with the nature of the church in particualar. This might be a good place to begin. How do we define the church? What is its nature?

  • Slainte,

    What you are speaking of is the “Mystery”. For many people “mystery” means that you can’t understand it completely……so don’t even try. However, “Mystery” is really like the ocean or ‘deep space’. You can plunge in, through prayer, study, reflection etc., swim around in every direction, try to find ‘bottom’ etc. but you never can.

    I am 63 years old. I was a boy (and altar boy) in the pre-Vatican II Church, and adolescent in the 60’s and have lived my adult years in the post-Vatican II Church and in the post-cultural revolution America. For all I have seen etc I sometimes feel like I am 363 years old. However, in the midst of this ever changing universe is the Church still faithful to the teachings of the Apostles, to the Breaking of the Bread and the prayers, and to the koinonia [life of communion] with the Risen Christ at the very center declaring, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life”; “I AM the Bread of Life…My Flesh is real Food and My Blood is real Drink, he who eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood has life eternal”; “Go make disciples of all nations, Baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teach them everything that I have commanded and know that I am with you until the end of the world”-that is what keeps me going day in day out

  • Botolph and Slainte,
    I actually think there is more interest than you measure by the responses. People raising their family like me find it hard to visit the blogs and then respond. Sometimes we just read. I have more time now because most, most unfortunately the college I was working for is not refunding the program since they lost the building in Sandy and don’t want to put big money in to fix it. So, I have some time and a lot of worry on my hands.
    As to the unchanging Church doctrine, change only takes place in our understanding of it. Of course you know that, but it perplexes me that people don’t realize that we grow also in our understanding of Christ. In many ways we are more knowledgeable than his buddies, the Apostles, because like his family, sometimes the closeness leads to wrong assumptions. What purpose would a stagnate faith serve? You would just have to learn it, take the test and you are done. LOL. But we have an inexhaustible mine of treasures to discover. The Church is our sure guide.

    As to the undoing the Reformation, one big problem our Protestant brethren face that we do not IS the changing doctrine. So the Reformation that was has mutated to more heretical viewpoints over time. I give you Lambeth 31? as a big departure from reason. Sadly, more to come and it makes unity very difficult. Frankly, I see more success in conversion as the others begin to stand for less and less. With that said, we have much we could learn from their experience, especially in the role of families and lay persons.

    My theology degree is in dogma and I love philosophical and theological reading. I’ve
    got into the habit of masking the language and vocabulary of those disciplines in trying to reach my fellow pilgrim in very plain speak. It occurs to me that Pope Frances might be doing the same, but his vantage point and role is much different than mine. I can afford clumsy analogies. However, I think his use of smarmy priests is right on. We, my family, have used it for years especially with liturgists and music.

    I end with my favorite moment from the Lord of the Rings cinema trilogy, Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

  • Botolph, Jon, and Kevin,

    Is it appropriate and respectful to discontinue these discussions?

    Your thoughts.

  • Kevin,

    I will pray for you and your family.

    I am sorry that you are experiencing difficulties; it is not easy being the head of a family with obligations. Please know that God is there for you.

  • Jon, I would have worded it differently but I think you hit the nail on the head. We Catholics do have more “givens.”

    Our approach is built on the shoulders of those who came before us, our starting point. In Protestantism, especially in modern times, it seems to require and certainly allow rethinking all the previous progress made by the saints before us. You have an uncommon grasp of much theology, including some Catholic theology, but can you explain to me how is it that so much of it is up for grabs? E.G. some believe in the real presence and some don’t, (Catholics, of course, don’t believe the real presence is in Protestant services), predestination was a starting point now it is rarely mentioned, the devil or Satan is optional, being gay in now celebrated, contraception a given and so on. You have stated unchanging faith, but where do we find it outside of Catholicism? I am quite sincere in my asking because you sound so sincere yourself.

    Roman Catholic Church .
    a visible society of baptized Christians professing the same faith under the authority of the invisible head (Christ) and the authority of the visible head (the pope and the bishops in communion with him). However this ignores the invisible members of the Church in heaven that far outnumber us on earth. The broader Catholic or Universal Church includes those baptized and following Christ, but separated in communion with the Pope and bishops.
    I will let Botolph or Slainte give you a better description of ecclesia, the Greek that in the NT meant the society or assembly founded by Jesus Christ. Or at least as I remember it in my dusty noodle. I am supposed to be working on a resume. Ugh.

  • Jon,

    I think it is not only a good place to start but THE fundamental question underlying the Reformation. However here goes:

    The English word “Church” derives from the Greek “Kyriake” which means “what belongs to the Lord”. The actual word which we translate as “Church” is “ecclesia” in Latin or “ekkalein” in Greek. This means in generic terms a convocation or assembly. The Greek word was used of the assembly of Israel where the Lord God gave the Torah to Moses. In referring to themselves as the “Ekklesia”, the early Church saw themselves as the successors of the assembly of ancient Israel, now gathered into the New Covenant community by Jesus Christ.
    The Church is fundamentally those whom the Lord has called from all the nations (from the end of the world).

    Catholics recognize the Church has three distinct but interrelated meanings:

    1) the Church as the People God gathers throughout the whole world [universal level or meaning][Paul speaks of this level in 1 Cor. 15.9; Gal. 1.13; Phil.3.6];

    2)the Church is the local community gathered together with her bishop, priests, deacons, religious and laity [the local church-“diocese” -Paul speaks of this level in 1 Cor. 1.2; and 16.1;

    3) the Church is also the particular liturgical assembly gathered by the Lord for the Eucharist [Mass] [Paul speaks of this level of the Church in 1 Cor.11.18; 14.19, 28, 34-35]

    [I wanted to give a succinct and orthodox answer to the question so I relied greatly on the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s statement in CCC 750-752 There is a great deal more to say but I will start with this to begin the conversation and dialogue.

  • Thanks for the intercessory prayers. We need them.
    As to the discussion, going back to the focus I ignored might be a good idea.
    Jon, feel free to answer or not answer me as I know you mean well either way and perhaps this is not the right venue. Now I really am signing off. LOL.

  • Kevin,

    First you gave a great answer. But know you and your family will be in my prayers as well. Saint Joseph patron of workers, pray for us.

  • Kevin, to begin with your comment: Protestants see the past as dispensable. Yes and no. Scriptrue must be beleived and insofar as it’s been practiced and explained through time, we have something to look back to and emulate and perpetuate. The orthodox expressions of the first few centuries are worth upholding. The chruch discerned certain things from Scirpture–but did not create or decide it–and we should uphold those things that were discovered.
    Protestants disagree on many issues. Lutherans have a view of the Eucharist that is somewhat akin to the Roman Catholic view. Some Episcopalianas and Anglicans take a similar view, though others do not. Predestination is believed in by all Christians, but we disagree as to its place in theology–who or what is predestined and what does that really mean? Even Luther and Calvin disagreed on that, though it’s suppressed somewhat in the Reformed narrative. Other differences have arisen due to liberalism’s inroads. The Episcopal Chruch in America is now saying homosexuality is a good thing and that abortions are legitamite choices.
    It is not that truth is up for grabs. In the case of liberalism, this is simply a different worldview creeping into churches. Evangelical or biblical Protestants do not believe this stuff and do not stand alongside these people in supporting it. They may at times exist side by side in the pew, but a real tension remains, and that surfaces in meetings and decision-making processes, and some people eventually leave when it becomes too much of a burden. As for matters like predestination, well that just represents differences of theological opinion, and the PRotestant temperamnet is individual as much as it is collective. Total uniformity would be undesirable, as it would represent a failure to come to terms iwth how the Holy Spirit might work through diversity of people, gifts, and organizations. This is different from the ROman model which I think is based on uniformity. If a bishop says something, everyone has to get on th same page and there isn’t as much room for creative expression or divergence of opinion. If a local pastor decides something, the whol e parish has to jump on board. It’s a different approach. It’s a matter of whether you can feel comfortable with the arrangement. If it’s a loose arrangement as with PRotestantism, you better know what you believe. I do. So it’s not a problem. I know my relationship with God and I know his Word. And I feel the differences are virutally swallowed up in a greaterunity.
    My understanding of ecclesia is that it’s the Greek for the gathering of GOd’s people. I don’t know how you would attach this term to the visible Roman Catholic church strucutre.
    Behind the assumptions about chruch and, to some extent, liberty of doctirne, is at least in part the idea of the voluntary Christian. TO believe soemthing authentically, one must come to it on their own. We have a vertical and horizontal relationship. Vertically to God and horizontally to the chruch. We must uphold both.

  • Yes, Botoloph. It sounds like you correctly define ecclesia. But then you afford three meanings, the first two of whih sound correct, thouh I don’t know what to do wtih the third. THe thrid sounds like it could be subsumed within the other two without warranting a thrid.
    I go at it liek this: the universal chruch–the saints of all times and places, existing in time and in eternity. And then there is the local gathering–a specific church such as the churcdh that meets at so and so’s house or a specific church at colosse, or something like that. I do think of it as everyone included here. In other words, the elders/bishpos/pastors/ and deacons and all the saints that meet there.

  • Jon,

    Thanks for your response. Let me put this out on the table in order to facilitate further discussion. I purposefully began describing the Church at the three levels in order to begin to clarify what we, as Catholics, mean when we say Church. In other words, while fundamentally true it is also primarily descriptive. We haven’t even begun to get into the fundamental elements of what we mean by Church yet.

    I know you do not accept what we mean by Church-as I said in a previous post, if you did you would be Catholic, however that being said, as we move forward, while it might be tempting to rush in and attempt to prove ‘my’/ ‘your’ position as correct, true etc. at this stage it is important simply to clarify what we [Catholics] mean by the word “Church”. Moving forward, it can be assumed that you do not agree Jon, on some points. Now, if I might coach you a bit, since I put out what Catholics means when we say “the Church” why don’t you do the same? You might think you have but it is not clear [not a criticism].

    See my friend, dialogue is slow, because it must attempt to get at and to convey the Logos. If you did not share any aspect of what we mean by Church you would not be Christian. Every Christian ecclesial community does share some common points with what the Catholic Church teaches. we need to get those out and clear then continue on where we do not (yet) agree.

    Make sense?

  • So I understand the church in this twofold sense as I’ve explained. THe chruch is the body of Christ, all those whom Christ has purchased with his blood. People of all times and places, in time and in eternity, together comprise this Chruch. And then we have the local expressions of this church. A chruch that meets in a particualr building, in other words. So we can speak of churches as well as the Church or Ecclesia. Hope that helps.

  • Jon wrote to Kevin,

    “….Scriptrue [sic] must be beleived [sic] and insofar as it’s been practiced and explained through time, we have something to look back to and emulate and perpetuate. The orthodox expressions of the first few centuries are worth upholding. The chruch discerned certain things from Scirpture–but did not create or decide it–and we should uphold those things that were discovered. -…”


    Jon, it was the early Roman Catholic Church that selected and compiled the books of the Holy Bible, and it was the Church Fathers (Catholics) who began to develop Apostolic Tradition from its infancy under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These Fathers recognized a God whose essence was Absolute, Objective, and unchanging; a Being (I AM) whose essence existed independently of our ability to perceive Him. The Fathers also recognized that we creatures yearned for relationship with this God and were restless until we rested in Him (Saint Augustine).


    God exists and His Word is knowable to us through the Divine Law (Old and New Testaments), Natural Law, and Reason.

    An objective, absolute God does not change regardless how, or whether, individuals perceive Him. Truth is not subjective or relative.


    Jon states “The orthodox expressions of the first few centuries are worth upholding…” .


    The “orthodox expressions” worth upholding are the fruit of the early Roman Catholic Church.

    Why should the “orthodox expressions” remain constant and not others. This statement suggests that truth is fungible, arbitrary, and dependent upon subjective opinion, not objective reality.


    Catholicism says otherwise…if God is objective and thus independent of individual perception, then His Law (the Word) is neither fungible or arbitrary. It remains constant and true and does not change or alter based upon the whim of the individual who apprehends it.


    If truth were fungible, all would be chaos and nothing would be knowable or stable. Even the laws of science would be rejected based upon individual perception. Thus, protestantism which rejects an absolute, immutable Truth in favor of individual perception and opinion, by rejecting reality, ultimately becomes unstable and splinters. Hence the many denominations.

  • Slainte, you say the ROman Catholic Church formulated orthodocxy and forged the canon. OK. You see an organic continuation of the Church through time, so that whatever they did in say 300 AD, well, it’s the same church acting centuries and even millennia later. How do you reach this conlucsion? So a church cannot change? It cannot mature or degenerate over time, or morph into something different? I say this because you’re looking at a visible strucutre. I do believe the church made these pronouncements and that they were right. But i don’t see that as buttressing an argument favoring the Roman Catholic church. I and many other Christians recognize teh church did very good things in the first few cnetureis. I think the Roman church did some very good things well after that, too. But you seem to see this continuity where the Roman visible structure is mandated as the truest or only visible expression for all times and places. THIS IS WHAT I CAN”T FIGURE OUT. I CAN”T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU BASE THAT ON.
    Yes, of course God is true and his Word is true. It is true truth, objective, real apart from our perception. That GOd exists is even evident in general or natural revelation, as you say. We’re not debating that.
    THe debate centers on specifics. The debate centers on the defintion adn nature of the church, the role of tradition, and justificaiton. Here’s where we admittedly have a multiplicity of ideas. I don’t, however, assume the Roman or Eastern narrative which tries to equate Protestant attempts at scriptural accuracy with the breakdown of philosphy and the modern/postmodern dilemmas we grapple with. I don’t buy into that arguemnt. I understand it, I’ve studied, it, and I’ll tell you right up front its an incorrect appraisel.

  • “But i don’t see that as buttressing an argument favoring the Roman Catholic church.”
    “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic are the four marks of the Catholic or true Church. These four marks are and must be taken as whole, describing the church. They are found inscribed in the Nicene Creed posted by slainte.

  • Jon, You keep referring to the visible Church and while I first assumed you meant the Christians living on earth, later it began to sound like you mean the actual buildings. If the entire world were vaporized tomorrow the Church would still exist, albeit, Triumphant in heaven. So yes, outwardly it changes, and for every member there is a different expression, and our understanding grows or darkens and so on, however, the teachings of the Church, not made up by Her but the truth entrusted and revealed to Her understanding, are unchanging. “The church of the living God, pillar and foundation of truth.” (Tim) does not degenerate even if her members do. Now there are many quotes that refer to the church, beginning with Peter and the Keys and it is very plain that Christ did establish a particular Church that survived many challenges and divisions. I don’t want to be caught up in text proofing, but it really is clear. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” As to how we progress through the centuries, Christ promised: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” John 16: 12-13 That was not meant for any individual but for His Church.

    Now that does not in any way mean that we jump at what the parish priest or even bishop says as you seem to think. Due respect and yes, obedience, but believe me, I’ve had many a disagreement with some. We can argue on immigration, capital punishment and many other things. However, on official Church doctrine there is no wiggle room as the Holy Spirit protects our faith and morals. So while you may see people in the Catholic Church do wrong things, say wrong things, look as hard as you can and you will not find official accepted doctrine counter to any doctrine we teach today. There is no debate or personal opinion on abortion that can change the teaching. Worldviews may creep into individuals but not into our doctrine.

    I have always been intellectually puzzled that anyone could hold the Church Christ founded that all Christians followed was pretty good for 300, ore even a 1000 years and by about 1500 it was over. Time to fix what Jesus obviously did not protect from corrupt men. And each had their own version that continually changes in what it believes or leaves it optional. And one wanted a divorce so he started a new sect to get one. And the splintering has never stopped nor the deletions and accretions to faith.
    I also don’t quite get the Tradition bugaboo except they had to get it out of the way to justify their departure from Rome. It makes no sense to me because scripture comes from Tradition. So they cut a few books from the Bible, which at first included James, changed a few key words, rightly pointed out Roman abuses and moved in a new direction. No longer could one trust that 2 plus 2 equals 4 (meaning what was learned by the saints preceding us) one had to discover what 2 plus 2 was individually with the aid of scripture but not Tradition. And to me, at least, a hallmark of Christ’s example in word and deed, obedience and not His will but his Father’s will, was an idea slowly pushed out the window. “My will, my understanding, my choice has mostly replaced it throughout every Christian denomination including many a Catholic. Personally, I have a healthy suspicion of my disordered memory, understanding and will which is another reason why I need the Church.
    I hope I made some sense in helping you understand where Romans are coming from. BTW my in-laws are Christians but change denominations when they don’t like things. they frequently distinguish me by saying we’re Christians, he’s Catholic.

  • It’s difficult to say because the New Testament didn’t prophecy what the church would look like exactly. Many set-ups could ahve been imagined and of course we have improvisations of all sorts, the ROman Catholic branch being just one. My argument is that no church is exactly right and none are exactly wrong.
    As to the books being removed, Luther disliked James but wound up leaving it htere. The reformers weren’t sure what to do wtih the Apocolypse at first, and their feeling was that it was so strange it might be useless or harmful, but they kept it. The Apocrypha was taken out (or left in for study) since it was not considered inspired. Sola fide and sola gratia characterize justification. The Joint Declaration written in the interest of Christian Unity by teh Lutheran Federation and Rome asserts this, if I am correct. Is this where the Roman Cahtolic church is at doctrinally? That we are saved by grace alone through faith, apart from works?

  • “That we are saved by grace alone through faith, apart from works?”
    The will to be saved is an act of the free will. This act of the free will to consent to salvation in Jesus Christ is necessary and is one of the “works” that must accomplished for any man to be saved. God does not force anyone into heaven. If God respects the free will of the devil, how much more does God respect the free will of every man made in the image of God? There is no grace unless accepted by man’s free will. As the Blessed Virgin, Mary said: “Be it done unto me according to your will.”

    Kevin: Yours was a very clear and helpful comment. Thank God and Thank you.

  • Jon, The New Testament did not clearly prophesize or explain many things. There are many of Jesus words not recorded but referred to as in, “they were impressed that he spoke with such wisdom and authority.” But we don’t know what Jesus actually said. I think it is because His life and words are to become alive in us, we are supposed to be His posters. But as I mentioned earlier, Christ was quite clear in establishing a Church. He left his apostles and their successors, guided by the Holy Spirit, “bound what they would bound and loose what they would loose.” In other words, you are the Church, GO BE IT. Sure it may have turned out other ways, but it did not and there were not many sects with the Roman branch being just one of them. There was only one “sect” until schisms arose. In the true sense, Roman Catholicism is not a sect at all. The others, choosing to be sectarians, are sects. That is not even to disparage their intentions, I simply believe they came up with the wrong solutions and being vulnerable to personal opinions of the founders, overtime vulnerable to the worldviews knocking down their doors. (That is not to say their are not many fine members who hold to the truth, but as you say coherently sit in the same pew in sects that allow diversity on moral issues.)

    Mary was spot on about Faith and Works. I have always been taught, and the Church has always taught that Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned. She never taught otherwise. However, as you nicely pointed out, and James is quoted on, faith is lived out in our works. A bell that clangs. Historically, if I remember correctly, the problem was the idea that predestination meant that once part of the “elect” it did no matter what you did – you were saved. Several sects preached this. Also, that no matter what you did or believed, if you were not predestined there was nothing you could do to save yourself. Well, technically correct except by accepting Christ, as Mary pointed out, you let Him save you.
    Luther specifically did not like James over the good works issue. He felt saved no matter what he did. (Deep down I am not so sure as his life unfolded.) The Protestant Bible also left out books in the OT because the Jews – I think mistakenly – were looking to purify them from these Christians – and these later books written in Greek they tossed out. Somewhat ignoring that even their Bible, even if written in Hebrew, was translated into Greek and back into Hebrew.
    When I was going through my own doubts I discovered that all the reasoning in the world made little difference, I just had to give up my will and have faith.

  • I don’t find convincing the idea that the apocrpypha was inspired or the Word of God. That it came when it did and was in Greek as you said, during a time when the prophets had ceased from among them, combined with the material itself and the mixed reception it has received through the centuries leads me to believe it’s extra-canonical literature. I believe the disciples and all Christ-followers are essentially told: go and be the church. We are the body of Christ and we fulfill His mission. How we work it out varies, but we should all remain within certain parameters. I do not consider choosing God’s gift of life to be a work–when the man asked what work he must do I don’t hink we’re to udnerstand it in the strict sense–after all it is a gift. But your’e right, we choose it in accordance with free will. And no, I don’t think our standing can be udnerstood in terms of a hidden decree. God’s self-disclosure is through Christ, and in Him we find forgiveness–anyone can if they so choose. The New Testament teaches that God predestined the church as a corporate body. That was pre-ordained in God’s plan.

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PopeWatch: Progressive Inquisition?

Wednesday, January 8, AD 2014


Rorate Caeli has commentary by Italian journalist Antonio Socci, a long time observer of the Vatican:

Libero  January 5, 2014

Does the Pope know what they are doing (in his name) to the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”? Just two days ago Francis rightly stated that “ the Gospel is not proclaimed with beatings, but with love and kindness.”
Yet, without reason or wrongdoing on their part, the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been stormed, thrashed and trashed. They are razing to the ground one of the few religious orders which is orthodox and full of vocations (and which was esteemed and supported by Benedict XVI).
The worst thing is that the destruction is being perpetrated in the name of Francis. But is it possible that the Pope of kindness approves of these methods and persecution?
Moreover, the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” in the all-over disaster of religious orders (without vocations, often in doctrinal and disciplinary crisis, with many well-known errors) should be held as an example: in fact they live radically in poverty – living by charity, they have many vocations, lead a tough ascetic life, they do many works of charity for the poor and outcast, proclaim the Good News with missionary zeal and are obedient to the Church (during these past months of repression they have suffered everything in meekness and silence).
Many of the faithful have been shocked at the great tenacity by which the FFI have been targeted. There are people who are crying because of the forced removal of these good friars from the communities where they had been working up until now.
I have never had anything to do with them [directly] but, as an impartial observer, I admire them. And I wonder: why is there such harshness against religious who represent a great example of life and are a true spiritual reference for the faithful?
And yet, never has there been such great tenacity not even in the cases of religious, priests and theologians where there were great doctrinal or disciplinary problems (and others).
For example, the post- Council era was a catastrophe. Tens of thousands threw away their religious habit: “ideas contrasting the revealed Truth which had always been taught, were scattered around [everywhere]” affirmed John Paul II, “very real heresies were spread, in the fields of dogma and morals, creating doubts, confusion, rebellion and the Liturgy was even tampered with; immersed in “intellectual and moral relativism, and therefore in permissiveness, Christians have been tempted to atheism , agnosticism, vaguely moralistic illuminism, and by a sociological Christianity lacking defined dogmas and objective morality.”
Also the Society of Jesus, as Bergoglio knows well, has been in the eye of the storm too and some of its members have fostered theological confusion. Yet there were no measures taken against them like the ones adopted today against the “Franciscans of the Immaculate”
According to official statistics from 1965 (when the Council ended) to 2005, the Members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) fell by 45 per cent, the Salesians by 45 percent, the Friars Minor by 41per cent, the Capuchins by 29 per cent, the Benedictines by 35 percent and the Dominicans by 39 per cent.
By contrast the “Franciscans of the Immaculate” a religious family founded in the Seventies, by Father Stefano Maria Manelli and Father Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, immediately attracted many vocations.
Continue reading...

5 Responses to PopeWatch: Progressive Inquisition?

  • Thanks for the link to the rest of the article and your post. Full of information about what is apparently an ongoing tug of war on the bridge of our ship.

    John Bosco pray for us! (Remember his dream about our help from Mary and from the Eucharist?)

  • “Under Stalin, the phrase ‘If only Stalin knew’ was fairly commonplace, if only in whispers..” If you read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “In the Court of the Red Tsar”, of course the fact was that Stalin DID know everything that was happening. I think this Pope who commented in one interview that he was “cunning”, does know what is happening to the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, and since we know from Evan. Gaudium more about his prejudices (“self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagianists”) against trads, everything is quite proceeding according to plan.

  • This is certainly difficult to understand. Maybe some clarification will emerge over the next month or so, but if not, perhaps the voice of the Church – the laity – needs to be raised to request – no demand – an explanation – not just on blogs, but to the Holy Father himself, who needs to provide that explanation and justification for this action.

  • I do not have details but my Catholic news services (on line) mentioned a meeting of Pope Francis with members of the Franciscans of the Immaculata in his surprise visit to Santa Maria Maggiore [Saint Mary Major] on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. Of course I doubt that the whole order was there but I cannot find any details, other than the meeting itself. At least “contact has been made” by Pope Francis with the Friars, and apparently initiated by Pope Francis. I read this as positive for all involved. Oremus.

  • Well, this is good news (Botolph’s report of a meeting between the Franciscans of MI and the Holy Father @ St Mary Major in Rome). It has to at least show he is interested in them and wants to address their issue, personally. This shows a bit of courage on his part (because of course it involves risk on his part).

PopeWatch: Inquisitorial Beatings?

Tuesday, January 7, AD 2014

33 Responses to PopeWatch: Inquisitorial Beatings?

  • I take it as another of Pope Francis’s strawmen. Recall a few months ago he said that the confessional should not be a torture chamber:
    “Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.'”
    Where is going to confession like being held in a torture chamber? The pope doesn’t tell us.
    Concerning homilies, Evangelii Gaudium at 38 Pope Francis tells us: “For example, if in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results, and precisely those virtues which ought to be most present in preaching and catechesis are overlooked. The same thing happens when we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God’s word.”
    Not certain which parish the pope is addressing, but none that I know of.

  • I cannot recall a homily that wasn’t a Dr. Phil-type, feel-good treatise.

    I would need to go to see the Baptists to hear a word about temperance, which is one of the human virtues along with fortitude, justice, and prudence. Hey, they should all get equal time!

    And, when was the last time you heard a priest publicly (or in Confession for that matter) exercise the Spiritual Work of Mercy of admonishing sinners? I cannot recall.

    That’s okay. Generally, priests are unqualified to expound on hell and suffering. They have no experience of either. They’re not married.

    ” . . .inquisitorial beatings of condemnation . . .”

    Inquisitorial condemnations resulted from recanted confessions or relapses.

    I misspent some time reading scholarly (pre-revisionist) works on the Inquisition in the Middle Ages. The accused subject of inquisitorial “interviews” was informed that if he/she confessed, he would be shown mercy. If not, he would be condemned. The beatings and rack were used to obtain information/confessions. The instruments were commonly used by civilian authorities from time immemorial up to and including 2014.

    This pope’s uses of inapt cliches is beginning to mirror Obama and his idiotic regime.

    But, that’s okay. Much of their intended audiences consist of information-deficient ideologues. Few of whom would know the truth if it hauled off and punched them in their dense skulls.

  • I learned a new word today “koans” Merriam Webster says: “a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment” Maybe our pope is a koan.

  • Another week goes by and Pope Francis again says something ridiculous. This man has nicer things to say about Muslims than he does about traditional Catholics.

    Well, I consider his order – the Society of Jesus – to be largely heterodox and he doesn’t speak for me in such things.

    Pope Francis has proven himself ignorant and reckless in the use of the term “inquisitorial”. Catholics in the English speaking world have long had to deal with the propaganda of the Black Legend and many suffered persecution at the hands of the perpetrators of the Black Legend and afterward. Any inferences that priests who admonish sinners are condemnational are asinine.

    I certainly don’t deal with my six year old in such a way that I pat him on the head and say it’s okay when he is rude to his parents or misbehaves at school.

    This man makes me miss Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II more and more each time he opens his mouth.

  • Never thought I’d live to see the day when (conservative) Catholics in this country would start casting aspersions about the pope’s catholicity and orthodoxy. Can’t honestly say I’m finding it helpful or impressive. If we didn’t care for the liberal dissenting voices attacking JPII and Benedict XVI, why bother imitating them? What gain is there in undermining Peter’s latest (and legitimately) selected successor?

  • The Pope is playing the progressive left like a fiddle.

    Our Faith is characterized exactly like the Pope says (ie the reference to the inquisitions, etc) in popular media, and more so by the lunkhead “former” Catholics, who whisper tales of strange goings-on in Church and then outright blaspheme our Sacraments as a way to prove they are “independent” thinkers. (Adolescent rebelliousness somehow wrapped up in a mass-media herd mentality is more like it.)

    Much like T. Shaw, I long to see them punched in the head. Probably unlike T. Shaw, I wish I could punch them in the head. However, assault charges being what they are, I guess I better not.

    However, the Pope is right to try to get them back into Church. As much as I like to fantasize that a punch in the head would enlighten them, I know that a Priest is a much better emissary of Truth.

    As far as I can see, the Pope’s charm offensive is working. So, I am all for it. Frankly all the guys who got burned by the Black Legend would rather see the Church win out over the dingbats spreading the lies.

    I do miss Pope Benedict though. I felt like I got a Pope’s blessing when flaming morons when he was Pope. Now, I feel like I have to be nice to them. Not nearly as much fun.

  • “What gain is there in undermining Peter’s latest (and legitimately) selected successor?”

    “There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glossa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2.14), ‘St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometimes they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects.” (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4)

  • “it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother,”
    No. There is no “brother” in the confessional. There is only Jesus Christ in the confessional,

  • Here again I don’t understand the pope. Mercy and morality (sin)
    are inseparable.

  • Thanks for the Saint Thomas Aquinas quote…I fear that my copy of his Shorter Summa may not be adequate in the long run.

  • It never works unless everyone is held to an objective standard, i.e. the Bible. It’s wonderfult that Augustine and Aquinas knew this and can be quoted accordingly.

  • Well since the Pope seems to reflect the silly accusations and excuses that we hear so often, *the confessional one yesterday),perhaps Catholic Rock is onto something. I hope so!

  • Note from management: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    CatholicsRock!: I’ve grown too old to bring to anyone the good news.

  • We have gotten the leaders we deserve just as Israel had gotten King Saul in 1st Samuel chapter 8. Both President Barack Hussein Obama and Pope Francis simply reflect who and what we are as a people.

  • Paul, I respectfully disagree with part of your analogy. While our presidents reflect popular opinion, (important to understand elected for their image over reality), our Popes do not. Could one say that JPII and Benedict reflected popular culture? Oh were it true. We believe the Holy Spirit, if allowed in, has a role in electing our pontiff. That this pope seems so in tune with modern day culture and sentiment may turn out to be just what the Holy Spirit guided us to. Jesus, after all, had an understanding of the Pharisee mindset and obviously connected with the downtrodden class. He basically told the classes to listen to the good things they said but to ignore any bad example. Perhaps in his own way Pope Frances is trying the same approach to our defectors in addressing our the perceived and some real offenses of those in the Church. In any event, I do hope the Holy Spirit had a hand in his election.

  • I have a different take on this. No doubt you are all surprised lol.

    I do not find the Holy Father’s statement concerning homilies disconcerting at all, if one is to understand the nature of homilies versus sermons [although frequently used synonymously they are not the same vehicle of communication within the Church]

    While a sermon can be given on any topic that the preacher desires, the homily is a communication that is dialogical (not literally 99.9% of the time) but in spirit. The homilist reflecting on the readings, the Mystery being celebrated [for example the Epiphany] and or texts of the Mass itself [usually the Propers] leading the People of God into a deeper encounter with Christ present in their midst in the Most Blessed Sacrament, as the Priest of the Holy Sacrifice, as the Word of God encountered in the word of God in the Scriptures proclaimed and finally in the community gathered as the Body of Christ

    The priest homilist can/should take as his model the Lord Himself Who after proclaiming the beautiful text from Isaiah 61 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, therefore He has anointed Me to proclaim Good News to the poor [meaning the disadvantaged, sinners, and the marginalized and exiled]-after which He simply says “This day, in your hearing these words are fulfilled” [see Luke 4] BTW some people didn’t like His homily either 🙂

    The homilist can and should take Paul as another model. In his Letters (Epistles) he first gives the doctrinal teaching then goes into the moral exhortation. What I believe I amhearing from some of you is the absence of this moral exhortation. Pope Francis certainly is not against that.

    However, let me give a few examples, of what did not work despite many who would think they should. One priest got up on Christmas (not this past one) and gave a homily on abortion. Friends, abortion is an important issue, but more important than the Nativity/Incarnation of Our Lord (there is a way of bringing in respect for the unborn here, but abortion? On Christmas?)

    A few years back, a Cardinal will go unnamed took over the Easter Mass of Pope Benedict talking about the pedophilia issue being a hype by the media. Pedophilia in the Church is a very serious issue and needs to be be dealt with. I don’t believe it was a media invention, but instead, the lack of pastoral care of bishops in their oversight of their priests and flocks. But Easter???? When we should be rejoicing that Christ has conquered sin and death and has opened to us the very same offer of Life in the Spirit?????

    Finally, something I experienced and witnessed myself. A missionary priest came to my parish when I was a freshman in HS (it was the fall of 1964). It was a teen mission. The church was packed with my peers. The priest got up, yelling at the top of his lungs for ‘affect’ “Boys and girls, you remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? [How could we forget; it was only two years before this-it was a horrible memory] Well boys and girls (you don’t call teens boys and girls-but that is just ‘style’) the H in the H bomb [btw the Cuban missile crisis was not about H bombs (fusion) but fission nuclear bombs] “The H in H bomb does not stand for Hydrogen it stands for heaven and hell-where would you go if it dropped???”
    The priest paused for dramatic effect-he got it but not what he expected. 2/3 of the packed church stood up and walked out. [BTW I didn’t I was too worried about what my parents would say lol] But seriously, while some believe this is the kind of stuff that is needed-is it???
    The Gospel is life in Christ-unless the issue is brought back to Him and this-then it is left hanging out there, and as important as the issue might be [certainly abortion etc are] they fall flat on their face, with no support without Christ and His grace that comes through faith and the sacraments

    I will finish with this:
    Instead of hammering people over the head about abortion-keep sharing with them the Gospel of Life and how each life is precious and to be respected from the moment of conception until natural death

    Instead of hammering away about birth control-keep reminding people of the beauty of marital love which is both love giving and life giving

    Instead of hammering away about gay marriage etc keep reminding people of marriage being between man and woman in a faithful, exclusive, total and wonderfully human union which is both love giving and life giving.

  • Kevin, let us pray that you are correct.

  • Far be it from myself to appoint myself as a proper judge of papal administration. On the other hand, it’s also far from myself to encourage more of the same ideologically motivated second guessing that’s been a common practice of the past several decades amongst the laity and openly dissenting clerics.
    Let’s give the man our prayers and benefit of the doubt considering the awful mess he was elected to take over and renew both spiritually and administratively. Considering that the Church is the only Divinely-inspired and founded institution on earth, shouldn’t we begin by praying for its quintessential spiritual component first? Asking for the Lord’s discernment and strength to help His human administrators, all-too human administrators, work on putting the Church’s house back into better working order.
    Could Benedict be blamed for asking the Lord to appoint a younger and more vibrant successor to handle what had become under his papacy a rampant case of too many self-appointed “every man a pope and every pope a man” seat of the pants professionalized clericalists? You can’t have a winning team lead by “players’ coaches” because soon you’ll have the inmates running the asylum. And we need to stop listening to and encouraging a culture wherein every pfc thinks he can run an army better than his generals or commander-in-chief. I’m not suggesting boot-clicking allegiance . . . hardly, but what I’m reading up here sounds so unlike the kind of judicious use of conservative caution every kind of governing body needs; a genuine display of what we call “loyal opposition” within our secular governmental bodies, companies, or workplaces, and/or very loyal constructive opinion-offerings within the Church. It’ll sure as heck cut down on so much of the non-constructive dissonance coming from today’s more ideologically polarized “conservatives.”
    What’s next, a “Tea Party” version of our more (conservative) fellow Catholics? Heaven forbid and help us all from that malady.

  • PS, please remember that David called King Saul the Lord’s Anointed. Sometimes the Holy Spirit chooses or allows those whom we deserve.

  • I think someone famously said that -in a democracy- the people get the leaders they deserve. I don’t think we deserve what we got in this American democracy, but I do think that we will deserve what we accept. I am not sure the election was really very democratic, especially the second election of this administration. If we continue to accept such substandard leadership the onus is on us!
    I don’t really know How the Holy Spirit works, but I do know that the spirit of the age seems to carry the day sometimes.. whether Francis was actively personally selected by the Holy Spirit or by the spirit of the age I don’t know. I do believe the Holy Spirit protects and guards His Church and His Vicar so even if the electors made a left turn the HOLY Spirit will still have the last Word.

  • Steven: Note that you are not alone here in your views (though it too often seems so). As a fellow conservative Catholic, I find most of the statements and views expressed in PW in disdain.

  • I do not disdain our Pope. I watch and I listen and I try to discern. I am still growing and learning and trying to be docile to God. Complacency is difficult for me– my mind is always seeking

  • I find the statements and views expressed in PW – Pope Watch – to be right on target and far more diplomatic and palatable than anything I would say.

    I despise and hold in utter disdain and contempt this ingratiation with liberalism, Marxism, and the homosexual movement, whether that is intentional on the part of the Pope or not. But God will protect the Church from his errors just as He protected Her from Popes in the past who were truly wicked. The Pope is not infallible except in a very small and narrow circumstance, and He cannot change dogma and morals.

  • Botolph: Chances are the 2/3rds that walked out did because they didn’t want to hear an admonishing. They don’t want to hear about Hell, just Heaven. They want to be told that they are going to Heaven and not to worry about Hell. Being told that they might actually have to give up sins that they like is not so pleasing to them. They’d rather walk out and not hear it. Will watering things down to what they want to hear save their souls, no. Jesus talked about pruning the branches off the vine if the branches didn’t bear fruit. Those that don’t want to show their love for Him by obeying him will demonstrate this with their self love, and don’t want to hear the message that they actually have to choose to turn away sin. They want their cake, and Heaven too.

  • Tina,

    You are right they did not want to hear what that priest had to say because all he knew was that he had a church full of teens in front of him. That is all he knew of us. Of course no one would be so silly or stupid as to claim all of us were angels etc but neither are adults. Instead of proclaiming Christ, he gave us condemnation -on the basis of what? simply because we were teens?

    “What father among you would give your son a stone if he asked for bread, or a snake if he asked for fish….” “God so love the world that He gave us His only Son that all might believe and enter into eternal life. The Son came into the world not to condemn the world but to save it” [John 3.17-18]

    Instead of opening up the treasures of the Church he shut the church doors shut-as many do even today. We all need to heed Christ’s words about going around making others twice as fit for hell as we are ourselves.

  • Botolph,

    While I appreciate the fact that someone raining down brimstone alone doesn’t make for a convincing argument in favor of the Faith, I would also like to point out the following: distilling Jesus’ message to a non-condemnatory one is also a misrepresentation.

    There’s a popular fallacy that Jesus spoke only comforting words and that the fear of hell began with Saint Paul. The textual truth is the opposite: Jesus uttered many “hell fire and damnation” sermons, while nearly all the passages that offer any hope to the universalist (who believe all men will be saved in the end) are from Paul.

    Now, to be certain, Jesus spoke a message of both salvation (if one was His follower) and of consequences (if one was not). But I think that distilling His message down to just salvation leads to the conclusion of no consequences…just as a message of nothing but consequence leads to a despair about the possibility of salvation.

  • It is hard to know when to speak up and when to stay quiet. Is it loving to not rock the boat or risk sounding inquisitorial when someone’s mortal soul is at stake?
    The confessional compared to a torture chamber when most of us have experienced it as a hospital. Why would Catholics who love and appreciate the confessional repeat these kind of charges against the holy sacrament of reconciliation with God. Giving ammunition to enemies of the Sacraments.

  • John by any other name,

    I believe we are in agreement. I have never said that Christ or the Gospel brings no consequences. Saint Augustine says something to the effect that while God created us without our cooperation He will not save us without our cooperation [that might not be an exact quote]
    However, and I still maintain this: the content of the Gospel is Jesus Christ, He is God’s “yes” to us. We may say “no” to Him, but God says “yes” to us. The Gospel of the Kingdom calls us to the two fold response of faith (doctrine) and ongoing conversion (moral teaching). But the Gospel is the Kingdom, Jesus Christ uniting Himself with His Bride the Church

  • Agreed, Botolph. Probably my misunderstanding or mis-emphasizing some point in your comments.

  • John by any other name,

    No problem. Been there, done that lol

  • Botolph, I love your comment!

    Encourage the good more often, than continually admonishing the bad. But, you stated it more beautifully.

    I guess the old saying “you attract more bees with honey than vinegar” has some merit.

  • devout catholics do not have great problems with teachings about morality, sin and hell.

    also, devout catholics are already completely loyal to the magisterium and avid recipients of the sacraments.

    to me, francis is addressing how to approach lukewarm catholics, non-catholics and the unchurched.

    since most of us who frequent catholic websites are not the primary targets of the new evangelization (we are the implementers and that is what francis is doing, training us implementers), it may be difficult for us to absorb the fact that many others, who are not devout catholics, do have the perception that the church is primarily a condemner, a chastiser and a judge.

    i firmly believe that francis has interiorized the gospel to a much greater extent than almost all others of this generation.

    practice finding the positives in what francis is teaching. realize that francis has NO intention of watering down the gospel we have received through the apostles and their successors. if you find yourselves understanding francis’ words as a watering down of the gospel, realize you are misunderstanding his point.

    if you find yourselves questioning what francis is saying, use that as a motivation to meditate on his worlds until you seen their connection to the gospels.

    you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Jesus did not come for those who are already saved, but to offer salvation to the sinners. to avoid misunderstanding, i am not saying that devout catholics are, necessarily, saved because everyone faces judgment at death. but, i am trying to make the point that living the gospel and helping to make it present to the world proceeds differently for the devout catholic than it does for others.

    of all people, the devout catholic already understands the morality that derives from the nature of our Creator. consequently, further expounding on that morality is completely appropriate for the devout.

    the problem is that emphasizing catholic morality to the lukewarm, the non-catholic and the unchurched may be a stumbling block to their salvation.

    just my two cents worth.

  • I think you are right Eddie too, that he is trying to help us reach lukewarm Catholics, non-catholics and the unchurched with a softer approach, an emphasis on mercy.
    At the same time, in order for people to recognize that they need mercy, they need to see their sin. That’s where their confessor can help by not being afraid to judge rightly according to the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church.
    The Church teaches morality; because Jesus did … and He knew what He was teaching might be a stumbling block for some who did not want to change their ways.

PopeWatch: Sin is Still Sin

Monday, January 6, AD 2014



Well that is a relief!  Pope Francis has not abolished sin.  Father Z gives us the details:

Sometimes the truth is weirder than fiction.

I saw it first at Newsmax and hunted up the links.

On 30 December atheist editor of La Reppublica, Eugenio Scalfari, wrote in an editorial piece entitled  ”La Rivoluzione di Francesco – Ha abolito il peccato … “Francis’ Revolution – He abolished sin” HERE

(You will recall that Scalfari printed an “interview” with Pope Francis, during which he didn’t record anything or make notes and subsequently got a bunch of things wrong, cooked up in his ideologized imagination.  The Holy See, ridiculously, put the interview on the Vatican website as if it were some sort of magisterial document and later took it down.  Bottom line: Scalfari gets it wrong… a lot.)

Fr. Lombardi, the papal spokesman, responded that the Pope really didn’t abolish sin.  HERE

Scalfari responds to the response. HERE  Thus, they sell more newspapers.

Newsmax reports it this way:

Vatican Stresses That Pope Has Not Abolished Sin

The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin”, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.  [In your dreams, Gene ol’ buddy, ol’ shoe.]

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.

“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to PopeWatch: Sin is Still Sin

  • Scalfari has abolished the reality of the human soul, his own. The doctrine of free will is next. Then salvation, mercy and redemption. Atheists have no life in them, only numbness. Perhaps atheists have achieved Nirvana.How does a person love without a human soul? Denying the human soul rejects free will and intellect, not to mention all unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Alienable rights that are fallible, are granted by the state, and the state can remove them. It is obvious that Scalfari has rejected his intellect using his God-given free will.

  • It’s hard to believe that Pope Francis would grant an interview
    with the far-left, atheist and gay activist, Eugenio Scalfari, while
    Francis condemns traditional Catholics and warns Catholics to
    view life from experience and not from ideology.

    Also, Pope Francis, who knows good Marxists, is upset with Scalfari
    for distorting his comments concerning sin.

    I miss Pope Benedict!

  • Too good a Pope we have today ! In spite of his accent on the love and mercy of God he cannot abolish the concept of sin and eternal punishment in hell because , those are things revealed by God through the Scriptures. Jesus Himself has spoken about it very clearly, and the second coming of Christ is precisely for rewarding and punishing the people according to their works !

    Pope is first and for most a jesuit priest. And they meditate upon sin and hell in their annual retreat as taught by the founder of the society of Jesus

  • The same man makes snide comments about being “inquisitorial” and “condemnational” when preaching the Gospel.

    Raymond Cardinal Burke would never talk like Papa Bergoglio. We would all understand Burke.

  • How, then, do we balance our message? We do so by preaching Law and Gospel. The Law condemns, but the Gospel, which is a counterbalance, gives life. Everything we were always taught about sin is true. But the Gospel is the message that God, in Jesus Christ, saves us from our sin, that he does not condemn us if we call on him, but gives us life.

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PopeWatch: Year of Terror

Saturday, January 4, AD 2014

5 Responses to PopeWatch: Year of Terror

  • The phrase that jumps into my mind is “laughing in the face of adversity”. A healthy response!
    What is the adversity? Obviously the increasing terror in the public square, but also there is a current of worry about the pope- that office and that person having always been seen by faithful Catholics as a safe “home base” – a stable refuge , which now seems to be on a fluctuating movable platform. We chide each other: don’t worry! Everything will be all Right! It is imaginary, a misunderstanding! Nothing is moving.
    and waiting, with nervous laughter, for vindication

  • Safety and security are illusory concepts. To become saints, we are called to engage the world even when gripped by fear or shackled with despair. Our comfort is the assurance that God is with us on the journey…firmly holding our hand as a kind father would do with his beloved child.

    We are living in interesting times. I hope that we may live them joyfully.

    The beatific vision awaits.

  • Illusory perhaps. the barque of Peter, has been a place of safety, and now the boat is – or seems to be – rocking.

  • He tells us not to be afraid because He is always with us….

    Matthew 8:23-27

    23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
    24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
    25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
    26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
    27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

    And His voice tells us “Be Not Afraid” in this beautiful hymn…

    “You shall cross the barren desert
    But you shall not die of thirst
    You shall wander far in safety
    Though you do not know the way.

    You shall speak your words in foreign lands
    And all will understand
    You shall see the face of God and live.

    Be not afraid
    I go before you always
    Come follow Me
    And I shall give you rest.

    If you pass through raging waters
    In the sea, you shall not drown
    If you walk amidst the burning flames
    You shall not be harmed.

    If you stand before the pow’r of hell
    And death is at your side
    Know that I am with you, through it all.

    Be not afraid
    I go before you always
    Come follow Me
    And I shall give you rest.

    Blessed are your poor
    For the Kingdom shall be theirs
    Blest are you that weep and mourn
    for one day you shall laugh.

    And if wicked men insult and hate you
    All because of Me
    Blessed, blessed are you!

    Be not afraid
    I go before you always
    Come follow Me
    and I shall give you rest…”

    (Bob Dufford, S.J., a Catholic Hymn)

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PopeWatch: Islam

Friday, January 3, AD 2014



In all the furor over the economic passages of Evangelii Gaudium, other sections of that lengthy document have received short shrift.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has the comments of Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit, on these passages:

1. Muslims “together with us adore the One, merciful God” (No. 252)

I would advise caution here. It is true Muslims worship one and merciful God. However, this sentence suggests that the two conceptions of God are equal. Yet in Christianity God is the Trinity in its essence, plurality united by love: He is a bit more than just clemency and mercy. We have two quite different conceptions of the Divine One. Muslims characterize God as inaccessible. The Christian vision of the Oneness of the Trinity emphasizes that God is Love which is communicated: Father-Son-Spirit, or Lover-Beloved-Love, as St. Augustine suggested.

Moreover, what does the mercy of the God of Islam mean? He has mercy for whom he wants and not on those whom displease him. “Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed” (Koran 48:25). These expressions are, almost literally, in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:19). But never arrive at saying that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), like St John.

Mercy in the case of Islam is that of the rich man who stoops over the poor and gives him something. But the Christian God is the one who lowers Himself to the level of the poor man in order to raise him up; He does not show his wealth to be respected (or feared) by the poor: he gives Himself in order the poor should live.

2. “The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings” (No. 252)

This is true in a sense, but it is somewhat ambiguous. It is true that Muslims retain words or facts from the canonical gospels, such as the story of the Annunciation which is found almost literally in chapters 3 (The Family of Imr?n) and 19 (Mariam).

But more frequently the Koran is inspired by the pious tales of the apocryphal Gospels, and do not draw from them the theological sense they contain, and do not give these facts or words the meaning that they actually have, not out of malice, but because they do not contain the overall vision of the Christian message.

3. The figure of Christ in the Koran and the Gospel (No. 252)

The Koran refers to “Jesus and Mary [who] are the object of profound veneration”. To tell the truth, Jesus is not an object of veneration in the Muslim tradition. Instead, Mary is venerated, especially by Muslim women, who willingly go to the places of pilgrimage.

The lack of veneration for Jesus Christ is probably explained by the fact that, in the Koran, Jesus is a great prophet, famous for his miracles on behalf of a poor and sick humanity, but he is not the equal of Muhammad. Only mystics have a certain devotion to him, as the sol-called “Spirit of God”.

In fact, all that is said of Jesus in the Koran is the exact opposite of Christian teachings. He is not the Son of God, but a prophet and that’s it. He is not even the last of the prophets, because instead the “seal of the prophets” is Muhammad (Koran 33:40). Christian revelation is only seen as a step towards the ultimate revelation brought by Muhammad, i.e. Islam.

4. The Koran is opposed to all the fundamental Christian dogmas

The figure of Christ as the second person of the Trinity is condemned. In the Koran it says explicitly to Christians: ” O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that “(Koran 4:171). These verses against the Trinity are very clear and need no interpretation.

The Koran denies the divinity of Christ: “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” (Koran 5:116). And Jesus denies it!

Finally, the Koran negates Redemption. It even says that Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross, but it was a look-alike: “And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them” (Koran 4:157). In this way God saved Jesus from the wickedness of the Jews. But then Christ did not save the world!

In short, the Koran and Muslims deny the essential dogmas of Christianity: the Trinity, the Incarnation and Redemption. It should be added that this is their most absolute right! But you can not then say that “The sacred writings of Islam retain part of Christian teachings”. You simply must speak of the “Jesus of the Koran” which has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Gospels.

The Koran mentions Jesus because it aims to complete the revelation of Christ to exalt Muhammad. Besides, seeing what Jesus and Mary do in the Koran, we notice that it is no more than apply the prayers and fasting according to the Koran. Mary is certainly the most beautiful figure among all those presented in the Koran: she is the Virgin Mother, whom no man has ever touched. But she can not be the Theotokos; instead she is a good Muslim.

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46 Responses to PopeWatch: Islam

  • Exodus 33:19, “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me,” that Fr Samir refers to is the key text for the Thomist doctrine of Predilection.

    St Thomas teaches that “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another, if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [Ia, q. 20, a. 3]

    Obviously, the person who keeps the commandments is better than the one who is able to do so, but does not. Therefore, he who keeps the commandments is more beloved and assisted by God. In short, God loves that person, to whom He grants that he keep the commandments, more than another in whom He permits sin.

    This principle of predilection presupposes, according to St. Thomas, a decree of the divine will rendering our salutary acts intrinsically efficacious [Ia, q. 19, a. 8]. For, if they were efficacious on account of our foreseen consent, of two people equally loved and helped by God, one would be better in some respect. He would be better of himself alone and not on account of divine predilection.”

    This is why St Augustine says, “God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom He has mercy in the way He knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call.”

    Traditionally, the Jesuits rejected the doctrine of Predilection and followed the teaching of Molina, whilst the Dominicans and the Later Augustinians followed St Thomas

  • It is good that some one with the “credentials” of being both Egyptian and a Jesuit will point out these important distinct differences. We have been talking about these points in our study group and wondered why some well published Catholic sources seem not to recognize them. I think maybe it is just wishful thinking.
    As far as the various approaches to the understanding of mercy pointed out by MPS- yes they are there, but they are well within the walls. Whereas Father Samir is discussing beliefs that are completely outside our understanding of God, Jesus and Mary.

  • Anzlyne

    I was merely pointing out that the doctrine of Predilection is not dissimilar to “Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed” (Koran 48:25) Both stress the absolute sovereignty of God.

    Thus, St Augustine, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? … Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?”

  • Thanks Michael PS. Yes I got that. I wanted to support the points made by the Egyptian Jesuit Father in general and make note that he was trying to point out the gulf between Islam and Christianity, because so many people think we worship the “same god”.
    Your point is also taken and appreciated.
    I didn’t want those finer distinctions to confuse some people. Augustine and Aquinas both admit the sovereign power of God, as does Mohammed. That doesn’t blur, though, the very distinct lines between the heresy of Islam and Christianity.

    On another note, of course the ultimate fate of Esau is very important consideration for all of us who love someone whose will and intellect are not “yoked to the faith in which Jacob was justified” Another tangent would lead me to “who am I to judge?” : ( but I wanted to stick to the point of the larger paradigm of Islam which is not largely about the personal relationship or inner workings of an individual conscience or, as you know, the immanence of God in the human heart.

  • Good point concerning #1. The conceptions of the one God are different. It certainly raises a question as to whether the SAME god is being worshiped. I would argue that the same god is not being worhsiped, unless a Muslim comes to udnerstand and connect with the one true God along the way.

  • In all the furor over the economic passages of Evangelii Gaudium, other sections of that lengthy document have received short shrift.
    Glad you posted the link to Samir Khalil Samir because his analysis seems well-balanced. I have not studied Islam to any great extent, so I depend on these types of discussions to learn about it. He points out theological imprecision of Pope Francis’ words without going overboard (as I’ve seen at other blogs).
    In addition to sections 252 and 253, section 247 troubles me:
    “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked. … As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God.”
    If I were the type to over-react, I might think that Pope Francis believes Jews can be saved by following Mosaic Law and that we need not — indeed, we must not — evangelize to them to accept Jesus as their savior. Section 249 comes to the rescue (I think):
    “God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word.”
    In the middle there he says “the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah”, but he does not say to who. He also caveats the sentence with “certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism”, whatever that means, so his desire for us to evangelize to Jews comes across as a bit muddled here. If you have some good analysis on this point (by which I mean serious without over-reacting), that would be helpful to me.

  • I find the lack of clarity disturbing. If Jesus is Lord and MEssiah of the world, and all people come to God by faith in the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, and this is good Pauline theology, then there really isn’t much sense in saying the rest. It sounds liek the Dispensationalist line that Jews can be saved on different terms because they remain in a rather separate category.

  • Excuse me for asking a very simple question here, however did Pope Francis truly state in his written document that we and Muslims worship the same God?

  • 252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”.[198] The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need.

  • ruh roh its a direct quote from Lumen Gentium 16

    (126) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.

  • Anzlyne

    Thank you for your citation of Lumen Gentium.

    Also, in Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council, declares that Muslims “adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, (cf Pope St Gregory VII’s letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.”

    Many arguments to the contrary strike me as implicitly Marcionite, in virtually denying the identity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • But what about the Trinity? What about Jesus Son of God?

  • Credo in unum Deum. I believe in One God…. Whether we use Latin or English, we all begin our Creed with this confession each Lord’s Day (Sunday). I believe that it is extremely important for each of us and all of us to return to the Creed again and again, not to gain ammunition to debate those who disagree (whoever those who disagree are) but to deepen our own faith in One God in the Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is into this Mystery we literally were baptized, immersed, and we need to learn how to swim in it-in order to be able to dialogue with fellow Christians, with the Jews, Moslems, other world religions and with secularists and atheists. Listening to Saint Thomas Aquinas and not stop with learning, believing and reciting the doctrine, but go further and deeper into the Mystery the words represent.

    To go into a full analysis is both beyond my ability and the space and time given to me right now. However, we can say this: I/we believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty, the Creator. There is a progression of faith found in Revelation (look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is known as “God’s Pedagogy”. He reveals Himself fundamentally in creation as the Creator [remember the “star” of this Sunday-Epiphany]. There is a Covenant of the Gentiles based on the Covenant with Noah, maintaining God’s promise to the nations; on their part they must turn from their idolatry to the One true God and reject evil and do the good following the golden rule. Saint Paul, following Wisdom 13 , says all peoples can come to know the One true God, the Creator, to worship and to give Him thanks, and to do what they ought [Romans 1.18-23] This God is the God of creation, the Creator. He is and can be known by intellect seeking the truth. Is He not the same God Whom we worship? Yes -and yet, no-because this One God has further revealed Himself to Israel as God with us and for us, and now fully revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Islam does not believe we worship the same God. this is why they don’t want Christians in Malaysia using the name “Allah” when they say, “God”. Is He the same God? Yes, since the One God is the Creator. However, after that, we differ. After all, He has revealed Himself to Israel (and no other nation), “salvation is from the Jews’ (John 4.22). Jesus Christ is the ultimate and full manifestation of God’s Self-revelation and His saving will. Islam is the only religion in the world which has as its doctrine, the denial of the Divinity of Christ [I am not saying Jews believe this, I am simply saying it is not a doctrine of theirs].

    Fr Samir’s article was excellent. I believe his ‘critique’ of Pope Francis’ comments are a necessary ‘corrective’ to a somewhat too positive and optimistic assessment that originated in Vatican II-specifically in response to a request of the Eastern Churches in the Middle East who felt that after our genuine and positive assessment/corrective of our vision of the Jews, something positive needed to be said about Islam. What Vatican II said was not wrong, it simply was too optimistic. Pope Francis is continuing that ‘optimism’ knowing full well that ‘the soul’ of Islam right now is at stake. This is Islam’s ‘hour of judgment’ in which they are being judged which aspect of their ambiguous religion they are going to choose: Islamicist fundamentalist fanaticism attempting to drive all Moslems and the world back to the seventh century, wars, persecutions and all, or an Islam that recognizes it needs to wrestle with its own writings, subject them to the “logos” [Logos] and enter into substantial dialogue with Judaism, the Church and the rest of the world. I simply am not as hopeful or optimistic about this outcome as Pope Francis-and neither is Fr Samir.

  • “Islam does not believe we worship the same God. this is why they don’t want Christians in Malaysia using the name “Allah” when they say, “God”.

    Honestly, I think I will take their word for it over Vatican II and Lumen Gentium (and Pope Francis). That fact that Islam has the doctrine that Jesus isn’t Divine suggests that, no, they don’t worship God, but someone else entirely, even if they don’t realize it.

    Folks, Jesus said to go out, preach the word, baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don’t think He would have gone around preaching for 3 years and ultimately dying by crucifixion so that people could come up with their own religion or follow false ideas if they were just going to reach Heaven anyways.

  • Islam is a seventh century based heresy against the Catholic Church. Islam seeks to convert or destroy by the sword.

    Charles Martel, Queein Isabel, Don Juan of Austria and King John Sobieski didn’t need a Vatican II document to tell them what they were up against.

    Peace is best achieved with Islam by defeating it.

  • DJ Hesslius,

    I assume you were speaking tongue in cheek when you said that you will take Moslems’ word on God-whether the God they worship is the same as the God Whom we worship over that of The Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium) and Pope Francis. If it were not tongue in cheek to say that is quite a statement for a Catholic to make would be an understatement.

    Jesus came to reveal God fully: One God in Three Divine Persons; or as Saint John in his First Letter succinctly puts it in three words: “God is love” [that is a statement about God Himself, and not ‘merely’ that He is loving etc toward us.

    Whether one celebrates Epiphany on January 6th or today, the Mystery remains the same. God fundamentally reveals Himself as One and the Creator in all of His creation. This is the fundamental revelation of God, which any and every person can and ought to be able to ‘ascertain’ by their use of their intellect (reason). We have this in our tradition from Wisdom 13 to Romans 1 all the way to Vatican I and confirmed/affirmed in Vatican II. If any person comes to know that God is one and is the Creator to Whom worship and thanks are owed (see Romans 1.18-25) that God is the One God in Whom we profess our faith. This is straight, traditional Catholic teaching.

    What I have just said, has nothing to do with the supposed revelation Moslems receive by way of Mohammed in the Quran. I do not accept the Quran as revelation or scripture, not do I (or any Catholic) accept Mohammed as a prophet, never mind ‘the prophet’. What Father Samir states about what Moslems do say about Jesus is accurate, and shows that the ‘sources’ for Mohammed were gnostic gospels, various and sundry Christian heresies denying both the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery. Worse still is the claim that Christians worship a ‘trinity’ made up of God, Jesus and Mary!

    I am not sure who you meant when you were speaking about ‘people coming up with their own religion’. I will assume you were speaking of the followers of Mohammed. However you also mention the false ideas that everyone goes to heaven. That is obviously heresy. I also assure you that no text in Vatican II teaches that. Ralph Martin does an excellent job on exegeting the texts in question showing that that is not a teaching of VII, despite some misinterpreting it that way.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I agree that Islam is a seventh century Christian heresy. Saint John of Damascus (Damascene) stated this, living as he was in a city, Damascus, Syria, that already was conquered by Moslem forces and living only a century after Mohammed. I also am thankful for such figures as Charles Martel who led a defensive campaign against the Islamic forces pouring into what is now France from Spain. I am one, in the interest of transparency etc. who believes that the Crusades were a defensive and not an offensive campaign.

    While I am thankful for such figures, I am not at all convinced etc that ‘a call to arms’ is the best way to deal with 1 billion fellow human beings. I need to be clear here. I am speaking as a Catholic and speaking of a Catholic response, not what a country like America should or should not do. I am speaking from the Faith, the faith perspective. Jesus says, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword”. While it is ‘common wisdom’ to ‘fight fire with fire’ when did Jesus Christ fight fire with fire? He He not our “norm”? Our ‘weapons’ are spiritual because as St Paul writes. “We do not fight against flesh and blood but against Principalities and Powers…”. Take another look at Ephesian 6, and our ‘spiritual warfare’:

    1) Prayer, especially the Rosary. I do not believe it accidental the Mary appeared at Fatima, asking Catholics to pray the rosary for the conversion of Russia-while not canonizing Putin etc, anyone notice the turnaround that country is doing? Fatima is the name of Mohammed’s daughter, the wife of Ali who is revered by the Shiites. Do we really think this was all coincidence?

    2) Offering up our Masses (no matter what language they are in) for peace in the world, and the conversion of Moslems. This is a time of judgment for Islam. Can we not assist those who are indeed more moderate and open to reason and dialogue over the Islamicist fundamentalists with our greatest weapon, the Most Holy Eucharist?

    3)Dialogue means bringing both sides to a ‘situation’ we commonly call a table, and address issues with ‘reason’ [logos: the Logos]. The more we bring Moslems to ‘reason/logos’ the more open they will be to the Divine Logos made flesh, Jesus Christ. This will not take place with Islamicists-but it can and should with the more moderate forces (they do exist-at least right now). This is what Pope Francis is actually talking about.

    4)Evangelization through witness of life. This is the toughest of them all-always has been. It means for Christians not to leave Middle Eastern countries etc so that Moslems can come in contact with them on a daily basis. This is how we ‘conquered’ the Roman Empire in roughly 300 years-no armies, physicial weapons etc. but the gospel of Christ and the “Sword of the Spirit”. Now that means, sadly some will be martyred-the ultimate witness. Have we forgotten that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith”?

    Christ is constantly saying “Do not be afraid….The Spirit of the One within you is greater than the one in the world”. We really need to take Him at His word.

  • My post seems pretty clear to me: The Muslims (if the quote accurately states what they really do believe–I’m not an expert in Islam and I pulled that quote from you) say that don’t worship the same god as do we Catholics/Christians. And I’m willing to say the Church just might be wrong on Her instance that the deity the Muslims worship is, in fact, God (the real one that we Catholics worship.)
    Do we worship a deity that condones sex slavery? Suicide bombing? Multiple wives? Female gentile mutilation. Stoning? Ethnic cleansing? In looking at the “fruits” of Islam, I have a very hard time seeing how they worship God (the real one that is.)

  • D, J. Hesslius

    It is important in speaking about any religion, even ours, to make the distinction between God and what His followers do. I would not want anyone to describe the Catholic Faith by pointing out the sins of Catholics (past or present), It also is important to recognize that there are many things that are ‘willed by God” or seem acceptable to Him in the Old Testament which I would dare say, we would not agree with or do-yet, we do worship the same God revealed in the Old Testament. We fundamentally recognize that Jesus Christ did not come to ‘destroy the Law and the Prophets’ but to fulfill them” and bring out their deeper meaning: “You have heard it said…But I say to you….”

    I am in no way offering any kind of apologia for Islam or its followers. Nor am I placing them alongside Judaism and Christianity. I do not believe they are a religion of ‘the book’ because they have not received revelation from God I am simply stating that their belief in the One God, the Creator (no matter how poorly understood, etc.), the result of the intellect’s ability to come to know the One God, the Creator, is the One God, “the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth” in Whom we also believe.

  • I hear you DJ. They don’t want us Christians to call God Allah because they see the difference and think calling our Trinitarian God Allah is profane. I don’t know what to think of the statements of the pope and fro Lumen Gentium. Would somebody tell me if Lumen Gentium is considered infallible?

  • Botolph,

    The good people I mentioned needed to resort to arms. I am advocating no such thing at the moment. Islam is waging a stealth war against a weak and wimpy West.
    All that is needed for success in opposing Islam is for the West to grow a backbone – that and the USA being energy self sufficient.

  • Anzlyne,

    Lumen Gentium, [Light of the Nations] has as its ‘title’, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. At the end of the document an appendage was added to assist people in understanding both its content an level of authority. It states:
    “Taking into account conciliar custom and the pastoral aim of the present Council, this holy synod defines as binding on the Church only those matters of faith and morals which it openly declares to be such.”

    Vatican II and Lumen Gentium define no new dogma. That was not the purpose of the Council. The Council was not assembled to define some dogma against misunderstandings or vicious heresy. It was called as a “Pastoral Council”. Now some would hear that and say, “so it means nothing, or next to nothing”, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Council in general was a reorientation of the Church’s self-understanding from Tradition toward mission, the mission of word [kerygma], Liturgy [eucharistia] and service [diakonia]

    Blessed John Paul, in one of his catecheses at the Angelus said this “It is the great merit of Lumen Gentium to have forcefully reminded us that if we want to have a satisfactory understanding of the Church’s identity without neglecting the institutional aspects, it is necessary to begin with her Mystery. The Church is a mystery because she is grafted on to Christ and rooted in the Trinitiarian life. Jesus, the Word, is the Light that shines out visibly from the Church. He has brought ancient Israel’s expectations to fulfillment, inaugurating the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Thus He has gathered all the nations into a new People of God, uniting them to Himself as His Body and His Bride, in the power of the Holy Spirit. A sublime mystery, which binds the baptized together and spurs them to continual conversion, to the very heights of holiness. So this is the Church: a People journeying through history, its gaze fixed on the goal of Christ’s Second Coming.

    This conciliar vision of the Church, faithful to the Word of God, and to the most ancient tradition, was meant to give the Christian community a new pulse of vitality, a renewed spirit of communion and participation

    Pope Benedict, while still Cardinal stated in a symposium on Vatican II in 2000
    “Right now, I want to state my basic thesis: the Second Vatican Council clearly wanted to speak of the Church within the discourse on God, to subordinate the discourse on the Church to the discourse on God and to offer an ecclesiology that would be theo-logical in the true sense….As the rule of Saint Benedict states, “Let nothing be placed before the work of God [opus Dei], the Divine Office. As the second text of the Council, the Constitution on the Church should be seen as inwardly connected with the text on the Liturgy. The CHurch is guided by prayer, by the mission of glorifying God. By its nature ecclesiology is connected with the Liturgy. It is therefore logical that the third Constitution should speak of the Word of God that convokes the Church and renews her in every age. The fourth Constitution shows how the glorification of God is realized in the active life, since the light received from God is carried into the world and only in this way becomes fully the glorification of God…..”

    Anzlyne, I hope this helped. As to the actual statement concerning Islam in Lumen Gentium there are two core aspects, IMHO, to what the Council is saying. Relying on Sacred Tradition but most especially Vatican I, with its wonderful teaching on the ability of the human intellect rising to the knowledge of the truth of One God, the Creator, it is saying that we do share this: we both worship the One God, the Creator. Because of this we have a ‘relationship’ with Islam. That’s basically all it says. The rest is an attempt to place Islam in as positive light as possible-for example the statement about reverencing Jesus and Mary. In no way does the Council say that this is sufficient etc for the salvation of Moslems etc. While mentioning their claim to acknowledge the God and faith of Abraham, that is all it says: it is their claim. Of course there is that aspect of Islam that we cannot just overlook. However many peoples were descended from Abraham, such as the Midianites, or related to Abraham: the Ammonites and Moabites (through Lot and his daughters) but that basically got them nowhere. John the Baptist and Jesus Himself claim that physical descent is not enough for salvation, nor is circumcision, etc.

    Bottom line, the teaching in Lumen gentium concerning Islam is, as part of Lumen gentium authoritative but not an infallible teaching. It is attempting to show the ‘fragile’ relationship between Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church. That relationship is primarily the knowledge of and worship of the One God, the Creator
    Hope this has helped

  • Penguins Fan,

    Ahhh you are speaking about what America/the West needs to do. That backbone of which you speak is what we commonly refer to as Judaeo-Christianity. The West, as the West is built on the synthesis of Judaeo-Christianity and Graeco-Roman culture. The West cannot and does not exist without both foundations. However, the West since the late 60’s has taken up the radical Enlightenment’s mantra attempting to extirpate every last vestige of Judaeo-Christiantity from the Public Square and relegate us back into the ‘catacombs’ of ‘the private life’, reconstructing a ‘city’ without God [think of the last Democratic Convention: the shocking debate about the deletion of two words: “God” and “Jerusalem”. Although originally from different contexts, that was no accidental coincidence]. The ‘elites’ building this new city might as well give the ‘keys of the city’ to the Islamicists, because they do believe in something, the builders/the elite believe in nothing.

    Given the direction of the mainline Protestant churches and denominations, the Catholic Church and Evangelicals and orthodox and conservative Jews, are the ones maintaining this Judaeo-Christian sythesis. However, we are under tremendous pressure to ‘give in’ and ‘to bow before the golden statue’ of the hegemony of the progressive nanny state.

  • This is a fantastic discussion! I clearly see that the god of Islam is analogus to the Christian God in that Islam is monotheistic, Muslims believe their god is the creator & sustainer of all things, & they claim Abraham as their father–but it seems the relationship ends there.

    Judaism has the same analogous relationship with Christianity in that the God of Abraham is also the creator & sustainer of all things, Judaism claims a monotheistic God, & Judaism claims the God of Abraham as their God.

    Both Judaism & Islam fail to recognize Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God-although both religions acknowledge Jesus in another manner.

    I have recently had an IN DEPTH discussion, with someone who professes to be a Christian, who does not recognize the Trinitarian God of the Bible as being 3 Persons in One. She claims vehemently that I believe in polytheism ( which of course is preposterous!) However, my point is that Muslims may view the Christian as being polytheistic & as worshipping 3 gods instead of one. Thinking that Christians are polytheistic would result in Muslims refusing to allow a Christian to call the Islamic god “Allah.”

    Please note: my reference to Judaism is strictly a referral to Orthodox Judaism. We have a Reform Temple here in my area where you are allowed you be a member as long as you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God & have not been baptized in a Christian church. Otherwise, you can be an Atheist or hold any other beliefs & still be accepted into their membership.

  • I think Penguin’s Fan is rather close to the truth when he says that Islam is a seventh century heresy. Of course it depends exactly on how we define heresy.

  • Barbara Gordon,

    I would say that our relationship with the Jews is much much closer than that which we have with Islam. If I could use an analogy (recognizing that all analogies ultimately limp somewhat):
    The Church is the Bride of the Bridegroom. Israel is engaged to the One Who will be her Bridegroom, loves Him but has not experienced the fullness of His Love-she is not yet ready. Islam happens to know He exists but hardly knows Him.

  • Interestingly enough, the professing Christian who accused me of being a polytheist because of my acceptance of the Catholic Trinity was trying to claim that Catholics are worshipping 3 separate gods when we name the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit (vs the false polytheism that anzlyne referenced above that includes Mary as part of the Trinity.) My accuser, who is writing a book about this topic, at one point argued that our Christian God is eternally the same & therefore because in the natural world, 1 + 1+ 1= 3, that the Trinity is equivalent to 3 separate gods. I shared with her that spiritual reality & natural reality are not equivalent in all senses–that spiritually, if God says that 3 persons are 1, then 3 persons are 1 whether it makes physical sense to us or not. My line of argument seemed to infuriate her further as she claimed that polytheists like myself ( her words) always start spiritualizing things when we cannot explain them. Thankfully, my undergraduate degree is in mathematics, & I was required to take 2 semesters of Abstract Algebra before graduating. I shared with her that, by using various definitions and number systems, that it is indeed possible to use logic to show that 1+ 1 does not equal 2. Therefore based upon the given number system & definitions that it could be possible to show that 1+ 1+ 1 = 1 in the natural world in which we live. My accuser promptly took up another line of reasoning. Lol Unfortunately the liberals who author our public school text books have written into them the 5 pillars of Islam & detailed explanations about Muhammad. That means that most of the children in my state will graduate knowing more about the fundamentals of Islam than those students know about Christianity which is briefly mentioned in the same texts. It is those students about whom I was concerned when I asked above if Pope Francis had truly said that Christians & Muslims worship the same God. I am very concerned that many professing Christians do not even understand the basic Gospel of the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of them are sure to be confused by such statements re: Islam from the religious hierarchy.

    Thank you all for this information. I have 2 ordained Protestant ministers in the family with whom I am going to share all of it! One of them writes the youth Sunday School literature for an entire Protestant denomination. 😀

  • God is Love and the three Persons in the Trinity love. God is existence and God exists. God is Justice and the three Persons in God keep the Co-mandments. The Supreme Sovereign Being is three Persons in One God, the Trinity of Persons in One Supreme Sovereign Being.

  • That God is triune makes perfect sense. I could not imagine God if he were not a dynamic, triune being. How can a static and lifeless god be eternal and creative, for example? The doctrine of the Trinity is quite believable, though not altogether comprehensible.

  • “The doctrine of the Trinity is quite believable,” God is love, therefore, God needs someone to love. God the Father’s love for His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Holy Spirit, infinite love. God’s love becomes another Person WHO proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    ” though not altogether comprehensible.” The child on the beach had dug a hole in the sand and was running back and forth to the ocean, filling his hole with the water. St. Augustine came by and asked the child what he was doing. The child answered that he was putting the ocean into his hole. St. Augustine said that it is impossible. The angel in the form of a child said “That is how it is impossible for man to comprehend God.”

  • 1. Muslims “together with us adore the One, merciful God” (No. 252)

    Islam may be the only religion that does not teach the Golden Rule (Qur’an 48:29). It teaches violence and hatred against non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians (50:5).
    Qur’an 4:46, says Allah has cursed the Jews for their disbelief.
    Twenty-six Qur’an chapters cover jihad. All able-bodied believers must join the fight (Surah 2:216). The Quran orders Muslim murderers to “instill terror into the hearts of the unbeliever” and to “smite above their necks” (8:12).
    The test of faith is Allah is not found in good works, but in martyrdom while trying to murder unbelievers (47:4). Murdering unbelievers is the only way to salvation in Islam (4:47; 9:111).
    Murdering unbelievers is the means of obtaining forgiveness of sins for the mohammedan (4:96).
    The reward for murdering unbelievers is sexual delights with virgins and other carnal joys (38:51; 55:56; 55:76; 56:22). St. Alphonsus declared: “The Mohammedan Paradise is only fit for beasts; for filthy sensual pleasure is all the believer has to expect there.”
    Mohammedans are required to give aid and advance the murderers (8:74).
    Mohammedanism requires global conquest and domination (9:29).
    2. “The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings” (No. 252)
    4. The Koran is opposed to all the fundamental Christian dogmas
    Mohammed managed to summarize in one teaching almost every doctrine that was condemned by the Church, with the exceptions of Monophysitism and Monotheletism. We worship the same God; they worship wrongly.
    Geert Wilders Berlin speech, excerpts:
    [T]he renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1985: “Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a ‘religion’; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views.” The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists, too, points out that “Islam is primarily a legal system, a law,” rather than a religion. …
    These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. … Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote – I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar – “Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle … to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.” …

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  • I found a article about a book The Medjugorje Deception. Would like your opinion.
    Let me start by saying that I down to earth, was business man, professional and understand a bit of what it takes to run small enterprise, but never could even image what it takes and the politics behind running something like the Vatican which is the other side that most people want to turn a blind eye to it, simply put, they do not what to know because they believe that it is going to diminish their spiritual growth, to me is simply a matter of survival. No money no church, no Magisterium to keep me inform, no sacrament because there would be no priest, etc…. but the true, what it is the true, this is another question and that is why I am asking my question.

  • I know nothing about Medjugorje and questions about it are not germane to this thread in any case.

  • MPS, You write: “…This is why St Augustine says, “God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom He has mercy in the way He knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call.”

    But does man’s Free Will allow him to resist efficacious grace or God’s call? The Calvinists following Augustine claim that Grace is irresistable.

  • Botolph: “I would not want anyone to describe the Catholic Faith by pointing out the sins of Catholics. ” Nor do I, but while we see multiple wives and slavery as sin, the Muslims don’t. Or at least a lot of them do not. We have a Magisterium we can point to and say “this thing is Catholic” and “that thing is not Catholic.” Even Planned Parenthood knows that the Church doesn’t approve of birth control and abortion.
    I am given to understand that in Islam there is no Magisterium; if true, then one comes into the situation such as exists in Protestantism–one denomination can say homosexual behavior is wrong (Evangelicals), and then the Episcopalians can ordain Gene Robinson to the rank of bishop (yes, I know Episcopal and Anglican “Holy Orders” are void.) Since the Muslims can’t totally figure out what they believe, how can the Vatican say for certain “they adore and worship the one God”?

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  • I saw this article some weeks back on First Things concerning the Christian Origins of Islam. It is interesting.


  • DJ Hesselius, Protestantism is merely a vague term. No magisterium is needed because each church decides its own doctrine. Evangelical Protestants and denominations reflecting protestant evanglicalism believe the Bible is inspired, so that they follow its beliefs. Other Protestant groups may not believe in divine inspiration or may not believe we are obligated to follow the Bible. They decide that within their denomination. The Episcopal Church in America did that, and of course we know Gene Robinson was elected, as was the presiding bishop Schori who condones homosexual practice.

  • D J Hesselius,

    First let me say, in reference to the link from First Things and the Christian origins of Islam, Dante knew his ‘stuff’ when showing Mohammed as one who divided Christianity and not the founder of a new religion. Saint John of Damascus [Damascene] writing from Islamic Damascus only a century after the rise of Islam, stated that Mohammedism is a Christian heresy. BTW I find it fascinating that Islam rose just as Arianism was disappearing. Coincidence? As a further example I had a fascinating conversation with a very friendly and knowledgible Moslem lay person. First thing out of his mouth was that there are only two ‘realities’ the created and the Uncreated. God (He said “Allah” is uncreated-everything else is created. That’s almost a word for word quote from Arius-who was attempting to conform the Catholic Faith to Greek Philosophical categories

    Now in regards to your post/response: it is true that Islam allows/encourages polygamy. They have some very tough laws concerning adultery, stealing etc—–very Middle Eastern. In no way am I excusing any of this, or offering an apologia for Islam in any of its forms. If you read my original post in this series you will see that I am completely in agreement with Father Samir. I have his book on Islam. I keep it close by when discussing Islam. He knows his stuff.

    You are correct that Islam as a whole does not have a Magisterium. No world religion does. Certainly other Christians do not even accept our Magisterium. Only Catholics recognize the “trinity” of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Magisterium [Pope and bishops].

    There are is a major division between Sunni and Shiite Moslems however. I have seen it explained in this way. What would have happened if the Protestant Reformation took place right after Jesus Christ ‘died”? This is what happened in Islam. A huge portion was swept up in the Sunni movement which had each local iman and mosque as its own center of faith. Each iman can interpret the Quran as he thinks best. etc On the other hand the Shiites, who gathered around the ‘martyred’ [by the other side] son-in-law have an organized religious institution. They have both “overseers”: ayatollahs and imans. The Sunnis look to a Caliph to run things for them, while the Sunni look to their ayatollahs.

    As to your comment that we don’t know what the Moslems believe because there is no magisterium, I do not agree. The one thing we do know: they believe that Allah exists, He is One, and that He is the Creator-and that Mohammed is His prophet. The word “Allah” is related to El/Elohim in Semitic languages. El/Elohim is the ‘original Name” for the Creator in the Old Testament. He is the God of the Patriarchs. In our Scriptures, when “El” or “Elohim” is used we say, “God” or “the Almighty”. “The Almighty” actually comes from “El Shaddai” which literally means “God of the Mountain”. In the Exodus, Israel came to realize that the God [El/Elohim} of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob is “The Lord” [Adonai-YHWH] Now in and through Christ we have come to recognize “the Name” as “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and confess in our Creed that we believe in One God Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit [One God in Three Divine Persons]

    Moslems know the One God, the Creator Whom we worship, but do not have His Self-revelation in event and word in the history of Israel as “the Lord”, and certainly do not know, and in fact deny His Full Revelation in and through Jesus Christ, the Son Who reveals Father, Son and Spirit, in and through His Incarnation, His Life, Ministry, words but most especially in and through His Paschal Mystery.

  • “Since the Muslims can’t totally figure out what they believe, how can the Vatican say for certain “they adore and worship the one God”?
    Excellent insight.

  • It was obviously an error to say they (Muslims) worship the same God as Christians. Then again, perhaps it is an example of purposeful obfiscation for the purpose of ecumenical dialogue or conciliatory relations.

  • “Peace is best achieved with Islam by defeating it.”
    Unfortunately that seems to be very true today.

    But things used to be very different.
    I know that, being myself a Lebanese Christian, before the emergence of fundamentalist Islam in the latter part of the 20th century, Muslims and Christians had alot in common when referring to God in every day interactions. For example there is various sayings in Arabic common to both- translated into English-
    – “God have mercy” “Allah yerham” (when a family member died)
    – “Gods-will be done”- “3aniyet Allah” (when referring to planning of ones day)
    – “God forgive me” (when one is in error)
    – “smallah” from “Essem Allah” meaning “In the name of God”- a blessing.
    – “Goodbye” is actually “Allah ma3koun”. To both Christians and Muslims.

    Infact, moderate Muslims and Christians still talk in this manner to each other in everyday conversation. My parents Muslims friends do anyway.

    “Allah” is in fact the Arabic word for God to both Christians and Muslims. I say Allah when talking Arabic to my family. I am a Catholic Arab.

    But other expressions that a Christian would NOT say around a Muslim would be “in the name of the cross” “esmes Salib” (very common in conversations), and “Christ is with you” “el Masih Ma3koon”. You definitely don’t say these to a Muslim! A good one, wouldn’t care, but the strict ones would take offense.

    Anyway, from one perspective, I get what Fr Samir is saying. But before Islamic Fundamentalism, God was God to both. He is understood to be the same Creator, to the everyday person of both religions. He just is God!

  • Slainté asks, “does man’s Free Will allow him to resist efficacious grace or God’s call?”

    Of course, just as free will allows a doting mother, if she chooses, to watch her toddler drown in a paddling pool, without going to its aid. Free will consists in doing what we choose to do. Grace does not, and has no need, to interfere with our power of choice; rather, it affects what we want to do – In other words, it is the delectatio coelestis victrix of St Augustine.

  • As far as human free will goes, Islam does not recognize it beyond doing Allah’s will or not. There is a very strong predestination streak in Islam. In a sense, all Muslims are “slaves of Allah”

    Also, Allah may be the Creator, but it is a different Creator than the Christian God. In Christianity God does not commit evil. In Islam a God who refrains from evil cannot be God, since God cannot be self-limiting. Allah MUST be capable of evil, and MUST be capable of doing two diametrically opposite things at the same time, or he would not be God.

  • thanks Botolph – ah yes I remember I did know that – swiss cheese brain sometimes
    I appreciate all the great input on this post- good for us to air our ideas and concerns and share information. Thankfully on TAC there are so many erudite teachers. I especially like learning (and teaching) by asking questions – thanks everyone

PopeWatch: Malta and Adoption

Thursday, January 2, AD 2014



PopeWatch suspects that in 2014 Pope Francis will lose most of his new found leftist admirers.  The process is underway:

On the heels of a leading gay magazine naming Pope Francis its Person of the Year, the pontiff is reportedly “shocked” over a proposal to legalize adoption for same-sex couples in Malta.

Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta condemned adoption by same-sex couples in his Christmas sermon, according to the Telegraph.

Thing is, Scicluna met Pope Francis on December 12 and told the Times of Malta: “We discussed many aspects… and when I raised the issue that’s worrying me as a bishop [the right for gay couples to adopt] he encouraged me to speak out.”

The Times of Malta said the Pope was “shocked” over the legislation; the Telegraph indicated that Bishop Scicluna’s sermon seemed delivered at Pope Francis’ prompting.

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15 Responses to PopeWatch: Malta and Adoption

  • Lukewarm is not a temp. favorable to Our Lord. Better to choose…and wisely at that.

  • I like Philip’s comment.

  • Why, in God’s good world, do you insist on using the g– word when referring to a putrid abomination? They are trashy perverts – for whom my Queen and I daily pray for.

    Chesterton opined “It’s neither gay nor a marriage.”

    Phil Ferguson, O.P./L

  • “Why, in God’s good world, do you insist on using the g– word when referring to a putrid abomination?”

    Battling over the use of the word “gay” in reference to homosexuals is a waste of time. I actually rather like the irony of the term because if there are less gay people, in the traditional sense of the word, than most gay activists tend to be, I have yet to encounter them.

  • I’m sorry if I sound cynical and critical of the Pope but, he’s shocked? Excuse me? How in the world could he be shocked? What does that say about his level of awareness of the world around him (outside of Argentina)? Or worse, was that statement of “shock” simply phony?

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  • Elizabeth,

    My hunch is that he is/was shocked that Malta. a tiny island but almost completely Catholic, that held out against Moslem invasion, is/was now succumbing to the relativitistic cultural dictatorship that so many other countries have already surrendered.

  • I think you are prob right about that Botolph that the key to “pontiff is reportedly “shocked” over a proposal to legalize adoption for same-sex couples in Malta.” is the last two words – in Malta.

  • Self-styling “American Catholics” (our more left-leaning fellow Catholics) will never be fully satisfied with our teachings on moral issues and questions pertaining to ecumenism. They give themselves away with the very use of the term “American Catholic(s).” On the other hand, it will greatly benefit the very few American conservatives belonging to the Church to remember the Church they sincerely want to support, has a lot more things on its mind, heart and plate to consider than the desires of a small elite.
    The left needs to develop the patience and thick skin it’ll need for the long haul and not to forsake all hope should it not get its way; and worse, use the pulpits of tenured academic leaders to sway much younger minds as a previous generation of like-minded powerfully positioned academics managed to pull off over Birth Control in ’68. The right needs to do likewise in spirit; and forevermore forsake the use of fiscal blackmail. The old feudal days are over. Finito.

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  • It is very shocking that Malta, nearly all Catholic, would want to legalise same-sex “marriage”. Doesn’t make sense.
    Its a slippery slope from here on.

  • Sorry- same-sex adoption. Worse!

  • Some liberals may interpret this green light on the part of Francis as a way to get Scicluna into hot water. The notion that all children have a right to the same kind of family that Jesus had is a pretty lame argument. Francis may not get as much egg on his face over this issue as one might expect.

    BTW, Phil Ferguson’s overt bigotry does not reflect well on his religion. It makes him seem like a hater extraordinaire. There are plenty of Catholics who would be shocked by such vitriol.

  • “The notion that all children have a right to the same kind of family that Jesus had is a pretty lame argument.”
    The notion that all children have a right to the same kind of family that Jesus had is the only argument. The innocent virgin at conception makes a mother of a woman and a father of a man. It is the duty of the state to protect and preserve virginity and innocence to deliver Justice. Gays cannot make family, nor mother nor father nor gaiety. What kind of state would deprive a child of a mother or a father?

PopeWatch: Phil Robertson

Saturday, December 21, AD 2013



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

VATICAN–Just days after Pope Francis removed former La Crosse bishop Cardinal Raymond Burke from his seat on the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops,  Francis today removed Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty and founder of Duck Commander, meaning the conservative patriarch of the “Robertson Clan” will lose his influential role in appointing bishops in the United States. Burke’s removal came soon after he said that Pope Francis’ comments suggesting that church teaching on matters such as abortion and gay marriage didn’t need to be repeated were, “not altogether easy to interpret” and went on to say that, “we can never talk enough about the defense of human life.” Many analysts are now suggesting that the Robertson’s removal was due in part to similar comments he recently made to GQ magazine criticizing homosexuality. Among the many of the explicit comments made, Robertson told GQ that “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.  It’s not right.” The pope on Monday appointed Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl to the 18-member board to replace Burke and Robertson. Robertson, who was the consultant to the Congregation for Bishops, and seen by many in the Church as a conservative ally of Burke, will head back home to Louisiana. A spokesman for Robertson told EOTT that Robertson was sad to leave, and felt that both he and Burke were unfairly targeted for “preaching about the objective truths in the bible.” He went on to say that “In them cases where homo sex unions have been legally recognized or dun been given legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear ‘n emphatic opposition is a duty. We all gotta refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from cooperation on the level of their application and things like that. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

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21 Responses to PopeWatch: Phil Robertson

PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

Friday, December 20, AD 2013




Pope Francis has indicated that he wishes to complete the work of Vatican II.  This is an opportune moment to look at Vatican II which 50 years ago was close to its half way point.


As a practical matter, PopeWatch believes the Church as an earthly institution  has been in decline by most measurements, mass attendance, ordinations, numbers of nuns, sisters and brothers,  since 1965.    The decline is undeniable, but is it fair to blame Vatican II?  Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II?  PopeWatch doubts it.  The Church had thriven in the hostile environment of the first half of the Twentieth Century, when malevolent atheist ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, had launched unceasing assaults on the Church.   Odd that the Church could so well weather this storm and then encounter such difficulties in the relatively calm seas of the latter Twentieth Century.  Plus, the collapse came on so rapidly after the Council that it is hard to resist the temptation to believe that there has to be some link.  It also didn’t help that Paul VI was a very good man, but also a very weak pope.

Of course much, although not all, of the difficulties of Vatican II are caused by misinterpretations of what the Council did and what the Council actually stated.  The “spirit of Vatican II” is often responsible for idiocies within the contemporary Church that most of the participants in Vatican II never, in their wildest nightmares, intended.  This misinterpretation of the Council started even while it was in progress:

PopeWatch would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:

“By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”

This statement PopeWatch finds truly hilarious from the Time article, in light of the experience of the last 50 years:  “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to relevant to real life.”’

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34 Responses to PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

  • What has the Church, if anything, gained by Vatican II that was lacking in the Church prior to Vatican II? What, if anything, is the Church post Vatican II lacking that the Church prior to Vatican II possessed?

    I think Dom Bettinelli offered that the financial arrangements of parishes in effect prior to 1966 (parishes as personal benefices) were invitations to corruption. There was also prior to 1983 or thereabouts a pretty thorough refusal to report sexual misconduct by clergy, a consequence of a hypertrophy or corruption of deference to authority. I have also heard the complaint that Friday sacrifices prior to 1966 were often spurious (though this problem was not remedied by the change in discipline). The seminary system of the time seems to have left many young priests rather embittered. You can see that in Andrew Greeley’s memoirs, though he never does offer an explanation for his change in attitude toward the Church. Between the lines, you can see it happened when he was in major seminary, but his discussion of major seminary was very spare. We can surmise that American seminaries were turning out larger and larger cohorts of troublesome homosexuals from about 1925 to about 1970 and turning out such people in appreciable numbers for the succeeding 15 or 20 years. If any discrete policy repaired that, it was the visitation ordered by JP ii in 1981, not the Council.

    By and large, it was a scarcely mitigated institutional disaster. If you complete the work of Vatican II, religious observance among nominal Catholics in this country will be as vigorous as that among nominal Lutherans in Sweden.

  • Vatican II has the same place in the mindset of a certain strata of Catholic clerics that Woodstock has for baby boomers.

    And both have gotten really, really tedious.

  • To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.

    Consider the remarks of Maurice Blondel in 1904, “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.” Again, in 1907, we find him writing, “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth.”

    Consider the obstacles put in the way by Church authorities to the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Henri Bremond (1865-1933) Joseph Maréchal SJ (1878-1944) Marie-Dominique Chenu O.P (1895-1990), Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ (1896-1991) Cardinal Yves Congar O.P, (1904-1995), Cardinal Jean Daniélou SJ (1905-1974) Louis Bouyer, (1913-2004) Oratorian. I am old enough remember when their works circulated in mimeographed sheets.

    I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    The tragedy is, not that VII created divisions, but that it failed to heal them.

  • “To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.”

    Too bad I wasn’t making that argument MPS. The argument that I am making is that the Church confronted a very stormy first half of the twentieth century and came out stronger than she went in. Compare and contrast with the history of the Church in the second half of the last century.

  • I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    Whatever merit that description has (and there is some) dissolves in its wildly-imbalanced exaggeration, turning it into a vicious caricature. Yes, that is the history written by the victors after the council, who pretended nothing good came from the “establishment” in the years before it, and who consigned the defeated to the dustbin. Goodbye, “Sacred Monster;” to the fires with manualism!

    What the era needs is the perspective of those who are not vested in certain feuding narratives and can assess the participants and the results with objectivity.

  • Dale Price

    The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    Let me add Blondel’s assessment of the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy

    ““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?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it.

  • Donald M McClarey

    In the second half of the 20th century, the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    It was , in some respects, a golden age

  • “It was , in some respects, a golden age”

    Only if Golden Ages are made of Fools’ Gold MPS. By their fruits ye shall know them and French Catholicism is on life support compared to where it was in the first half of the last century.

  • Most of us are familiar with the slur that Catholic conservatives in France were crypto-Nazi’s (“the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy..”–Michael PS), a lie of Blondels which dovetails nicely with the KGB’s eventually successful effort to paint Pius XII as a Nazi-collaborator. So, Catholic conservatives in France (and presumably everywhere else) were deniers of God, Christ, and “soothingly” self-congratulatory aristocrats. Really? Obviously Michael PS agrees with that view point and isnt troubled by its straw-man-esque fabulousness.

  • The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    OK, my bad. But it’s utterly indistinguishable from the triumphalist “goodbye to all that” mentality that arose in its wake, the manichean penchant for making the preconciliar Church into something irredemably evil, stifling and autocratic, and portraying those who opposed it as the Sons of Light. It grates, and quickly.

    the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy
    ““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?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it

    I also have no doubt there are a few such left. The mistake is in assuming they only exist on the right. After all, the field is bereft of states hospitable for integralism. There is no Vichy to join. Not even Franco’s Spain. But there are plenty who prostitute themselves to the secular liberal states of the West, acting as a Patriotic Association married to progressive statism.

    However, I am afraid you are correct, and Pope Francis is, in fact, bent on refighting the last war, or the last couple of them, and rooting out enemies and problems that have almost entirely faded into the past, and is not particularly interested in the new forms Catholic collaborationism takes.

  • I certainly understand the argument/narrative: that since Vatican II ‘everything seems to have gone downhill’, but I am wondering if that is like blaming the sacrament of confirmation for the lack of active participation of so many Catholics after they received confirmation. Their perception is: no more religious education, no more church attendance, I am now an ‘adult Catholic” Isn’t there something similar going on among many many Catholics? Yes, indeed there are all sorts of perceptions running around out there-so many that I believe Vatican II has hardly been ‘heard’ never mind ‘received’ [implemented]

    Real study of the actual texts of the Second Vatican Council are only beginning now-after fifty years! Up until this point we had a great deal of various members of elites declaring what the Council said, maybe quoting one sentence out of context etc and then running with it: aka: ‘the spirit of Vatican II” crowd. In the meantime these inaccuracies and misleading statements and judgments took on a life of their getting into the craw of many local clergy, religious and people in the pew. However, is this Vatican II? No.

    History will look back at th ministries of JPII and Benedict as the time in which they fought, and they had to fight for the correct interpetation of VII. We summarize it with the facile phrase, “Hermeneutic of continuity and renewal” but it is filled with meaning. The course correction began with the publication of the New Code of Canon Law in 1983 and the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 and was finalized with the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its companion: Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Now some who are not familiar with history will say but we never had to do this with other Councils-the fact is in one way or another we in fact did have to do so. The Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople I, in 381 had to augment and complete the Nicaean Council of 325. All hell broke loose after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and had to be complemented (completed) by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. I could give many more examples. If nothing else, Vatican II was needed to close Vatican I [it was never closed in 1870 because revolutionary forces had invaded Rome in the unification of Italy], of course I would give far more to it than that

    While I know what I am about to say might shock some and get others upset, I believe Vatican II unmasked both a declining actual faith in the Church (believing is not the same as conforming-Pope Paul was alarmed by 1967 about the crisis of faith and called for a Year of Faith [Vatican II could not even begin to disrupt things that fast. 1967 was before Humanae Vitae (1968) and the 1970 Roman Missal. I also believe that it was perhaps 10 years or so too early. What we now know as the vast cultural revolution (including the sexual revolution) was not yet cresting. If it had crested, I believe some of what was presented within the Council would have been a bit more nuanced and less optimistic about the way things were going in the world. It is important to remember that a great deal of what we are dealing with right now is actually the cultural revolution wreckage.

    Finally, in America (USA) I believe we cannot underestimate the election of President Kennedy (no matter one’s poltical stripes or ideology). With his election Catholics had finally fully become Americans. With that accomplished what was next-what did it mean to be Catholic except where we happen to go to church on Sunday? [I believe of course it means much more but I am speaking of the common Catholic] With the demise of ‘conformist form Catholicism’ Sunday Mass went out the window.

    George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II. The fact that people like even Fr Hesburgh thought she needed to be ‘more relevant’ simply is a shallow interpretation-whether said in agreement or those disagreeing but thinking that was the MO of the Church

    As an aside I am in the midst of studying both Trent and VII and finding how the second builds on the first and complements it. I actually now believe that Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II form a group of Councils (there are others) that work closely with each other, complement one another and need to be kept in balance. I know that goes against the perceptions of many but the facts are there, nonetheless

  • I think Christianity is stronger now because it’s undergone something like a disestablishment. In the first two decades or so following the war, Christianity was a civic religion. Such a watered-down version was sufficient to tie the coutnry together. It lacked zeal and relevancy to people’s lives, however, as was pointed out by the professor at Notre Dame. Now it is a question of commitment. One would no longer find the American religion, but rather an authentic call to salvation and all that that entails.

  • Rubbish Jon. How anyone in their right mind could view Christianity now as stronger than from 1945-1965 is a mystery to me. Your citation of Hesburgh is a hoot. He was a leader within the Church of those who sought to make Catholic universities into carbon copies of their secular counterparts. He helped found People for the American Way, Norman Lear’s anti-conservative group. He called pro-lifers “mindless zealots”. Rather than making religion more relevant in people’s lives, Hesburgh helped make certain that a radical secularization occurred within the Catholic Church in America that weakened her in the face of the enemies of Christ.


  • Well, I don’t know much about Notre Dame. I only know it has some top professors and academic authors, but that doesn’t say anything about its commitments to Christian morality. Anyway, I was making a point that’s sort of basic knowledge in many circles: that civic Christianity of the fifties and sixties has been gradually replaced by a mroe authentic faith (Billy Graham is the one exception to this either/or approach I know of). I think there’s enough truth to it to go on repeating it. Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller–this brand of practical and shallow Christianity is not terribly popular anymore. People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.
    Perhaps from the perspective of Roman Catholicism the church has in some instances undergone serious changes for the worst. You may be comparing pre and post-Vatican II situations.
    What I get from the ardent adherents of post-vatican–those who read much more change into it than was planned–is that they welcome it as a liberating breath of fresh air. They want to make room for some changes that conflict with Christian morality, which is deeply disturbing, for sure. By the same token, the space created for alternative expressions of worship and styles of outreach is I think rather welcome.

  • George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II.

    I had a conversation in 2001 with a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She told me that 60 women had entered the novitiate in her order 1961 and 1962. She said that about 30 had entered since 1970. She said the median age in her order was as we were speaking 70. The new way of speaking worked out real well for everyone dependent on their services.

  • What doesn’t kill you makes stronger. Not right away, and the numbers are down. The secular culture is seductive, appealing, but I think time is on our side. B16 said something to the effect that the Church might have to be smaller for a while. The Catholics I know are studying the Faith very seriously, even learning to be apologists. I think in the end Vatican 2 makes stronger; smaller but stronger and able to grow again. Yes I think it has knocked us back a bit, but all will be well and all will be well.

  • People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.

    Have you seen some of the social statistics re the contemporary population of Catholics? Somehow, I think when two-thirds of those who shuffle in for Mass cannot be bothered to enter the confessional even once a year, I think the non-committed have yet to be weeded out.

  • the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    These original and prominent sages failed to persuade about 60% of those attending Mass weekly ca 1960 to continue to do so.

    While we are at it, does Marty Haugen qualify as original and prominent?

  • “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger.”

    Like most of Nietzsche’s musings, that was nuts. Most things that severely damage you but do not kill you often inflict permanent debilitating injuries. I hope that Vatican II is not a permanent debilitating injury for Mother Church.

  • I’ve always seen it this way: bad things can either make or break you. We can grow stronger with God’s help or we can allow those situations to paralyze us. We can allow them to ruin us, in fact. Everyone reacts differentlyt to crises. Of course Neitzchean thought is absurd. He was not too stable because he snapped near the end of his life. So no wonder his philosophy is crazy.

  • Botolph

    To continue your theme of one council explaining the last, perhaps the most striking instance is the 5th ecumenical council’s clarification of Chalcedon

    In the 8th canon, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word,” [Μία φυσις του θεου λογου σεσαρκωμενε] unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.” Now, Mia Phusis was the very watchword of the Monophysites, as the name suggests, but the Council recognises that some used it in an orthodox sense, the sense of St Athanasius and St Cyril of Alexandria.

    In the same way, we can see Lumen Gentium complementing Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I

  • Nietzsche!! That guy!! I didn’t know he said that. Oh well even a blind sow may find an acorn once in a awhile!

  • Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II? PopeWatch doubts it. –
    I believe that PoweWatch has this one wrong, but I thank Botolph and a few others for saving me my words, they said much of it. Long before Vatican II the root system for the weeds that were to explosively sprout in the 1960’s were firmly in place. Much of it, if not most, pushed by a wealthy class that wanted easy divorce, contraception, sexual license and condescending intellectual perfidy that was resisted by the “common” classes. A review of how Hollywood promoted painless divorce is but one example. Please forgive me the following analogy, but as others have hit the more intellectual arguments, I will present a more vulgar understanding that struck me with sad humor and truth.
    Think of the wholesome 1940’s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960’s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic. The point here is our culture had been transformed and we Catholics were now fully a part of it. We no longer stood apart and the Catholic ghetto with its values was going, going…gone. Enter Vatican II into a crop strewn with healthy weeds. Back then I am not sure if we asked, how to pluck them out or how to outgrow them, but we may be doing so now.
    Continuing with my vulgar analogy, anyone who thinks we, families and faith, are better off with the predominant Sinatra image over the Crosby one is denying reality. The average 1940 family may not have fully understood it, but they knew what wholesome was and wanted it. So, too, with the average Catholic. They weren’t forced to go to mass, my parents generation loved their Catholic faith as wholesome and good. They knew basic Catholic teaching and believed it. Vat II came into a world that increasingly did not care about wholesome, good or true. We are in a world where most Catholics do not know their faith. Now that some do, like at this site, know it very well and sincerely, that is a wonderful produce, but we’ve lost most of the crop.
    God does give his faithful what they need, and I’m thinking that despite the abuses in promulgating Vat II, it is what the Church needs to eventually overcome the weeds. In which case we would be much worse off without Vatican II.
    (And this is not meant to stir up a Crosby/Sinatra debate. LOL)

  • Think of the wholesome 1940′s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960′s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic.

    James Cagney played gangsters. The midpoint of his career was around about 1940. He was also Catholic.

  • Yes, Cagey is a favorite. But perhaps you miss the point. There were lots of people who played creeps and various other villains on celluloid, but their villainy was not admired – just their ability to portray it. Cagney’s personal image, btw, was of a “square, good guy” and liked by the regular chums. Whether or not he was, Crosby was admired for the wholesome image I described regardless of his acting and singing talent. Sinatra and gang were admired for the negative bad boy images, regardless of their singing and acting talent. It became hip to be a morally bad boy. America had been moving in this direction for some time, where we glorified the naughty things, and now we don’t believe anything is naughty. No need to be nice for Santa anymore. Vat II did not bring this about.

  • Art Deco

    You rightly point out the issue of the radical decline of women religious since 1960 however you have overlooked several important issues which prevent you from arriving at the right diagnosis.

    You are correct that there were far more vocations to the active women’s religious orders in 1960. I differentiate the active ones from the cloistured ones. I believe that there has been little change in their numbers. However, in 1960 our schools were filled with women religious from orders who had education of girls, boys and both boys and girls as their mission. Our hospitals too had many women religious {although nowhere near the totality that our schools did) women who dedicated their lives to nursing and health care.

    Several things happened however in the early sixties. Women, freed from the more mundane aspects of homemaking [with washing machines, gas and electric stove/ovens, vacuum cleaners, even dishwashers] less tedious and time consuming. Some had worked while the men were away during the war. With more time on their hands they had more time to think, imagine and yes yearn for ‘other’ ways of living. Doors were opening up, slowly at first, for the ongoing presence of women in the workplace. More and more women were going to school post HS. Wile earlier womens’ movements had gained them the right to vote etc. now they were yearning to be come more and more part of the mainstream [and in many cases failing to recognize how important their own work at home was esp with the formation of children]. The women’s liberation movement was born-with its strengths and weaknesses. In short, women has other options than marriage, being single and in the Catholic world, the religious life. Womens’ options and vocations were ‘liberated’.

    In America, Sargent Shriver in Pres Kennedy’s administration had formed a totally new movement based on really a religious concept: service. The Peace Corps was born. It caught the imagination of a young generation just growing into maturity (and those right behind them still in secondary school), Instead of their idealism, in the case of Catholics, leading them into religious and priestly vocations, their idealism was secularized and led them into the Peace Corps and then countless other variations of the same movement. In short, they didn’t need the Church in order to serve.

    Now turning to the Second Vatican Council itself, the Council called for the renewal of all vocations. First and foremost, every baptized person is called to holiness of life. While this was not a new idea-it had always been present in some form or another, especially with St Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life, but no other Council of the Church ever enshrined it, canonized it. All are called to be holy, not just the consecrated religious and the ordained. Dare I use this term? Holiness was ‘liberated’; it was no longer for a relatively few. However if this be the case, what is the role of consecrated religious life?

    Further, the Council gave far more weight and time, so to speak, to the vocation of the laity. Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist became fundamental to the Church’s self-understanding, which shifted the Church away from seeing those in religious life and holy orders as the Church, with the laity in the pews not really part of the Church [Besides the media technology, a blog such as this would most likely not have existed in 1960: the laity were not fully part of the Church in the older view of things]. With the Sacraments of Inititation as the key, what happens to the consecrated religious? [Part of the desire of women religious to be ordained is to actually find their place in the Church-misguided as this is]

    Now, the Council also promulgated a declaration on the consecrated religious. It called for each religious order to go back to its founder’s original intentions and charism. It called for, a certain modernization of habits [not their total rejection and absence] [Think that one religious order of women did in fact have head gear like Sally Field’s ‘Flying Nun’–the wings could go, but not the veil]. It was like an explosion. I wonder how many actually read the VII document. Suddenly the history of religious orders were being rewritten: one teaching order rediscovered that their original calling was to treat ‘street women’–that is one massive jump. With this explosion, the veils all but completely disappeared-for most women religious. If consecrated women religious are no longer living in community, no longer in specifically religious missions-how many became social workers, lawyers etc? if they looked and acted just like Catholic lay women {earrings and all] then what does it mean to be consecrated women religious?

    Now it is easy to point to VII. However, nothing really changed for the cloistered orders. And those active women religious orders that maintained a certain discipline, identity, common purpose and common life, are not doing poorly in vocations. Its those orders that completely lost their identity that are literally dying [BTW the history of the Church teaches that most religious charisms die out in time, unless they adapt and or change their mission; i.e. The Trinitarian men’s order were formed to ransom Christians sold into slavery to Moslem sultans etc. I could quip that they might need to return to this, but in fact they continue on with a changed mission]

    I understand seeing things today are very different than things were in say 1950 or 1960. It is true. There is no doubt about it. However the cause is not Vatican II. [FYI I do believe there are weaknesses in VII so I am not saying VII is 100% all the way]

  • JImmy Cagney really is one of my favorites…and his movies had a moral to the story. I take your point about the changing culture and I agree.
    The changes in our culture are hard to resist. Even for parents and parishes who are doing their best to protect and pass on the Faith, that omnipresent cultural pressure makes it difficult.
    I think John XX!!! was right to call the Council then because there was kind of a crisis of culture that was foaming up mid century. And you know the other side has noted that a good crisis should not be let go to waste. Just as the Church made an effort, the spiritual warfare increased.
    Perhaps we learned some lessons we didn’t expect, but we do know Who is the Victor.

  • Botolph

    Another change for women was that many orders even if not exclusively missionary, served foreign missions.

    Now, in the 1960s, the rôle of these orders was questioned; many felt that they had identified themselves too closely with the « mission civilisatrice » of the colonial powers. This was a caricature, of course, but caricature works by isolating and exaggerating real features of the subject.

    In any event, their former work in Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and West and Central Africa became impossible in the post-colonial period.

    PS The “wings” were part of the habit of the Sisters of Charity, established by St Vincent de Paul.. Ironically, it is simply a stylised version of the head-dress of the 17th century French peasant woman’s hat, designed to make them look unlike nuns, whom the Council of Trent had bound to strict enclosure.

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  • i am not convinced that the modern world (since VII) that we experience today developed its anti-christian, relativistic gestalt because of VII.

    john XXII’s vision certainly was motivated by his assessment of the current (at his time) state of the Church and how it was relating to the changes in society.

    VII occurred at a time when, for example in the usa, society was transforming from an agrarian based enviroment where large numbers of people lived on farms or in small communities into a society whose foundations were to be found in the megalopolises that currently confront our evangelization efforts. creating vibrant faith communities in the megalopolises remains, in my opinion, the greatest evangelical challenge going forward.

    of course, that was not the ONLY trend that influenced john’s vision. there were others that he, being a child of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, would have experienced far more acutely than we who were born in the middle of the twentieth century.

    a historian friend of mine, a RC priest, once told me that it took the Church 100 years after every major council to fully reap the benefits of the council. he added that not unlike a pendulum, the council would push the church in one direction vigorously for approximately fifty years and then gradually the Church would start to reap the full benefits of the council as the pendulum reversed its course.

    i would question anyone who believes that the human gestalt, the human experience and the human thought processes that were predominant in 1963 are the same as today.

    the human mind cannot comprehend what is beyond its structure. this structure is not easily definable, but it certainly is influenced by the environment in which it is developed. thus education, as well as current events, can assist a human being in developing one’s ability to comprehend reality.

    in general, our bishops and theologians, because of their education, training, spirituality and intelligence are best prepared to understand what we face as a world going forward.

    at VII, there were bishops and theologians some of whom did not possess the comprehension to fully engage john’s vision. at the same time, there were others who did comprehend what john was seeing and where john was pointing. the numbers are not important, but in the end, there was a consensus that VII was creating a foundation for the Church to interact with the new gestalt that was forming.

    it is a useful exercise, for some maybe most people, to contemplate the fruits of VII so long as they recognize that those fruits are still ripening and will continue to ripen for years to come.

  • It is true that while the worldview has grown increasingly secular, the lines are more clearly drawn in the sand. Those who are truly committed to Christianity are more likely to stand out at a time like this. The ones who merely acquaiesed to civil religion are no longer that visible. Whose side you are on is much more likely to be apparent now.

  • Vatican II was and is a good thing and the right thing at the right time. Vatican II formulated the faith in terms that are accessible to the post-WWII world and reality.

    We must resist the urge to fault the Church with our own -though very real- frustrations.

    If I could give one thing to a random passer-by that I thought might change their minds about the Church or Catholicism, it would probably be a document from Vatican II.

    Vatican II is a powerful resource for Catholics and Catholicism – for defending the faith and for sharing it. If you look at Vatican II as a resource for our times you will find it to be abundantly fruitful. There is a good reason why so many bishops and priests point to Vatican II as a guiding light for these present times. In many respects Vatican II saw ahead or seemed to see ahead and provide for us what we would need, as we expect from a work of the Holy Ghost the ever loving, faithful and abundantly good God.

    God has not and did not abandon us. But as ever, we are free to access Him and make use of His gifts or to refuse Him or them and try it on our home. The latter option has a mixed history; the first God has never failed to reward with spiritual gifts in abundance.

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  • Why is there so much corruption and moral dissolution with members of the Church? Why has Vat II been used to issue in years of confusion and revolt? Where else would Satan go to corrupt and deceive other than to the Good and Faithful?
    I am never surprised about individuals failings of our Church members – in an ironic way it assures me of the Truth Satan wants to point us away from. That is why I agree with Tim and others above.

PopeWatch: Rush

Thursday, December 19, AD 2013



PopeWatch assumes that Rush Limbaugh is viewed as the Devil Incarnate by many Pope Francis fans, for his criticisms of the economic portions of Evangelii Gaudium, but actually Rush has a much shrewder view of the Pope than the empty praise that the Pope is currently getting from many leftists who eagerly embrace the Pope as an unexpected ally.  From the Limbaugh show yesterday:

RUSH:  Back to the pope.  You’ll note that I didn’t spend any time in the first hour on this.  I am not striving to keep this alive.  I’m not striving to make this about me.  But the Drive-Bys won’t let it go.  They can’t turn this loose.  The latest, Piers Morgan on CNN last night on Piers Morgan Live.  He had the noted author and well known conservative raconteur, Ann Coulter.  And during his conversation with Coulter, he wanted to bring up me and Il Papa, Pope Francis.  And to set it up, this is what he said.

MORGAN:  Rush Limbaugh keeps whacking away at Pope Francis, which is, you know, it’s like watching the devil incarnate taking on Mother Teresa. But tell me why the right seemed to have some big issue with a man who appears to be non-bigoted, incredibly humble, a force for good, somebody perhaps revolutionizing an anachronistic church, dragging them kicking and screaming into the real world, why would this enrage the likes of Rush Limbaugh?

RUSH:  Okay, that’s the question.  The devil incarnate.  I am the devil incarnate.  The pope is Mother Teresa.  And you’ll note, folks, look, I don’t want to be subtle about this.  It’s Christmastime.  Can I take a little credit for something here? (interruption) What, you think you know what I’m gonna say?  Here is an avowed leftist who every other day of the week despises the Catholic Church, Piers Morgan.  And he’s no different than anybody else out there on the left.  Every other day of the week, they hate the Catholic Church. They don’t like the pope because of abortion, because of gays, gay marriage, because of no women priests, because of AIDS, you name it. They do not like the Catholic Church at all, except now since I, the devil incarnate, have entered the fray. These people that hate the Catholic Church are now its biggest advocates. 

Is that not amazing?  Is that not a wonder to behold?  I don’t care that he calls me the devil incarnate.  He’s speaking out positively about Christianity now.  He doesn’t know it.  He thinks the pope is modernizing the church in the way the left thinks it should be. See, to the left, a religion is nothing but a malleable, bendable, shapable, flakable, formable thing.  And like anything else, it ought to accommodate whatever the will of the people is at that moment.  So if the people are for abortion, the church ought to be, ’cause the church ought to relate to the people.  It’s a total lack of understanding of what a religion is, what a church is. 

For him to call the church anachronistic shows he has no understanding of religion whatsoever.  The church, Catholic Church, whatever church, is what it is.  And if you don’t like it, it’s your role to get out, not change it.  Christianity is Christianity.  The various denominations are what they are.  If you don’t like it, you move on.  It’s not up to the church to modernize. It’s not up to the church to be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world.  Yet that’s what he thinks Pope Francis is doing, and it’s not what Pope Francis doing. 

Pope Francis is as rock rigid anti-abortion as any pope ever has been.  The same thing on gay marriage, female priests, and all of this.  But I still think, folks, that it is a wondrous thing that because of little old me, the devil incarnate, leftists who would otherwise and do otherwise revile the Catholic Church are now singing its praises.  It is a beautiful thing.  But that whole sound bite is proof that Piers Morgan, incompetence incarnate, hasn’t the slightest idea, slightest understanding of religion.  Religion is timeless. 

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12 Responses to PopeWatch: Rush

  • Heh, well put by Rush. It sort of reminds me of that old joke about the Preacher and Taxi Cab driver getting their houses in heaven. When it comes to evangelizing Francis could be the carrot, and Rush is the stick.

    Actually I’m surprised Shea hasn’t latched onto this with something like “CNN agrees with me! Rush incarnation of Devil on earth!” (seriously some of his complaints started reaching the point where one wondered what his religion was)

  • Piers Morgan again. A third-rate hack who was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror (a left-wing populist rag), for publishing a bogus story. Can the US not refuse him a visa? The downside is that he will spend more time this side of the pond, but at least we will be spared the embarrassment of his posturing abroad and giving the impression that all British journalism (rather than most of it) is crap.

  • Yes, many people have the misconception that the church ought to reflect the culture, that its stance on matters ought to be arrived at democratically in the sense that we have come to understand that politically in the West. This is a misconception. The church cannot change its beliefs where its beliefs solidly reflect Scripture. All the church can do is to engage the culture and adapt to it in terms of outreach. Still, parameters exist as we know.

  • I’ve read a couple things from Piers Morgan now that seem to imply any kind of prejudice, mild or otherwise, is the worst sin in the world

  • [email protected] tacky Advocate photoshop BTW (assuming that’s their original image)

  • The Pope IS ONLY INFALLIBLE WHEN Speaking ex cathedra. Hos pronouncements on economic and social matters are subject to scrutiny by the laity which has the duty to hold church authorities accountable when they are wrong.
    Slavish obedience in prudential matters borders on cultism, the pope deserves our love and respect , we we do not nor should we worship the Pope not the members of the hierarchy.
    JFK said:
    “My church does not speak for me in public matters and I do not speak for my church”
    I was taught to make my own decisions in life matters and seek church guidance on spiritual matters, many people find it easier to follow , thus the apathy that exists or simply ignorance thus we do not denounce the enemy from the pulpit but continue a compromising and conciliatory policy while they advance their agenda.
    I will quote my priest in Cuba and eventually leader of our underground group of Cuban catholic Students upon entering the fight against the enemies of our country, the Catholic church playing a prominent role on it.:

  • Something for “Popewatch” “Two Words That Catholics Need To Stop Using…..Like Now! by Emily Stimpson. CV Catholic Vote. Give me strength O Lord! I mean me, give me strength O Lord! I am going back to making my peanut butter balls.

  • Too bad the world doesn’t revolve around Emily Stimpson’s above it all pose.

    I haven’t had any use for her since her bone headed review of For Greater Glory:


    Her article seems to me to be a self-back slapping for holding political positions that basically align with those promulgated by the USCCB:

    “Or, to get more specific, what about me? I’m a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, Obamacare-hating, free(ish) market-supporting, Gregorian Chant-loving, daily Mass-going girl. I must be a conservative Catholic. Right?

    But wait. There’s more.

    I’m also an anti-torture, anti-death penalty, anti-drone, pro-amnesty, preferential option for the poor-believing, organically grown and sustainably farmed-eating, alternative medicine-using, NPR-listening, Dr. Who-watching, Novus Ordo-going kind of girl. So, mightn’t I also be considered a liberal Catholic?”

    In her own way she confuses religion and politics as much as any committed leftist.

  • Whovians can’t be conservative? Goodness, I hope nobody tells…. hm… 75% of the folks I know who watch.

    About half of the second list just tells me that she’s heavy on emotion and/or gets manipulated a lot.

  • Yep, I would be among the Whovians Foxfier!

  • If you think about it, politics would be the only replacement for religion. It is the religion of this world–to build the City of Man. There’s nothing wrong with the health-life-style, but it becomes idolotrous when done for the wrong reason. Many peopel today are more concerned about their physical health than they are about their spiritual well-being and eternal destiny. And that’s scary. Even if you take very good care of yourself, you’re not going to be around for more than 80 years or so. If you have really good genes, maybe 100 to 110 and that’s about it. I just don’t see the point in getting fanatical about organic foods and juicers. Not to mention the fact that you can do everything right, hop in a car, get hit, and die that day. A point that is readily missed.

A Plea to the Pope

Wednesday, December 18, AD 2013




Pat Archbold has been on fire lately.  I gladly join him in his plea to the Pope:

Dear Holy Father,

I urgently need your help and so do others. I have heard all you have been saying for months and I want to believe it is true. I want to believe the you want to decentralize the authority of the Church. I know that you don’t want us to be hung up rules that limit our worship to just one way of doing things, that you want to do away with arbitrary rigidity. I know that you are concerned about the little guy, those in the Church with no voice.

Well, this is where I need your help. Holy Father, there is a group within the Church that currently has no voice and is being abused by that arbitrary, rigid, and centralized Church that is so destructive of evangelization.

Holy Father, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate need your protection from that very Church. As you know, months ago you appointed Rev. Fidenzio Volpi as special commissioner to oversee the FFI after five priests complained about the traditional direction of the order, with Mass in the extraordinary form a particular concern.

At the time, their ability to say mass in the extraordinary form as guaranteed under Summorum Pontificum was suspended. We were assured at the time that this was simply to make sure that those in the order that did not prefer the EF did not have it unfairly forced upon them. While the move was shocking to me and to many in traditionalist circles, we understood the need for fairness for all in this matter and we took a wait and see approach.

We have waited and we have seen. What we have seen has frightened and scandalized us to no end.

In the past few weeks, Fr. Volpi “has closed the friars’ seminary and sent its students to other religious universities. He suspended the activities of the friars’ lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order.”

Holy Father, we have rarely if ever seen such sanctions even against groups in open defiance of the Church and in open heresy. But why is the Church, this centralized authoritarian Church, dealing so severely with this group? There have been no public accusations of wrongdoing or heresy. Nothing like that.

Fr. Volpi himself has stated, in response to criticism, that the reason for such draconian and disproportionate measures is that “the founder and ex- MinisterGeneral, Father Stefano Maria Manelli, in January 2012, had already evaded constructive dialogue with the religious who had complained of a crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift.

Crypto-lefebrvrianism? A traditionalist drift?

Dear Holy Father, is faithful traditionalism within the Church now a crime? Is becoming more traditional a sign of deficiency within an order? Holy Father, that cannot be!

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28 Responses to A Plea to the Pope

  • Nothing will be done to correct this till the next Pope, assuming the election of a conservative.


    We have gotten the leaders – political and religious – that we deserve: soft, pink totalitarianism.

  • Chastisement Paul?
    Unfortunately your right.
    Which mask will he put on next?

  • Perhaps, the Vatican’s concern is that traditionalists have shown themselves more prone to schism than liberals. One thinks of SSPX, Sede Vacantists and the rest of the Chouannerie. Liberals, like the Jansenists before them, tend to cling on to the barque of Peter like limpets.

    The surest way for a liberal to get himself excommunicated is to participate in the pretended ordination of a woman by some Episcopus vagans, as this represents a breach of communion.

    Schism, even incipient, rather than heresy, appears to be the principle reason for action.

  • May I please echo one of the comments made directly to Patrick’s article on The Register, by recommending the article below by Michael Miller on Catholic World Report.


  • The CWR link is a good one, but it’s not completely satisfactory. The fact is, it does not try to explain the difference in treatment between the FFI and similar, if not worse, aberrant behavior by the likes of the LCs and the Neocatechumenate. The latter two have had much gentler treatment despite similar–or, in the case of Maciel, much, much worse–behavior.

  • The article does shed light. But what still puzzles me is that the sanctions imposed do not seem to be directed at the ills to be remedied. How is banning celebration of the TLM, and forcing an oath about the NO and V II that is questionable at best supposed to remedy possible financial irregularities/property shifting?

  • Ah, it’s the well-defined bane of the Church again, “the crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalists”. This is the age of Bergoglio-minted mouthfuls, like “self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagians”. But I knew it, I knew it, all these years what was killing vocations and depressing sacramental marriages and baptisms and reducing Sunday Mass attendance from over 70 percent prior to dear Vat II to about 30 percent now—it was those damned “crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalists”! Now that we have named the enemy (and s/he is clearly that), let us set out to destroy them, boys!

  • The Holy Father has made a number of off the cuff remarks that poke needles in the eyes of those who embrace the Church teachings and liturgy as taught – and has never been officially suppressed – before the Vatican II crowd took hold. For someone who claims to want a decentralized Church, Fr. Volpi’s actions put the lie to the Holy Father’s words.

    I find it difficult to believe that there wasn’t someone better for the job in the College of Cardinals.

    Jorge Bergoglio shows many of the symptoms so clearly exposed in Mario Vargas Llosa’s book, The Guide to the Latin American Idiot. Vargas Llosa is from Peru, however, Vargas Llosa has an extensive knowledge of all Latin American countries. Vargas Llosa skewers the pseudo-intellects that blame the United States and/or capitalism for their problems and embrace liberation theology or Marxism or caudillos (Chavez, Peron, Castro) for their solutions. These pseudo-intellects can be found in Latin American higher education, politics and especially the Catholic Church. This bunch has a tenuous grasp on reality – if they have one at all.

    Pope Francis is a man who, his personal orthodoxy notwithstanding, has shown little understanding of the Catholic Church or the world outside of his archdiocese. His off the cuff comments about almost any subject show little insight or research and lots of uninformed opinion. He has also shown that he is a man not to be crossed.

    My wife is from Colombia. She learned her Catholicism from Jesuits. My Catholic instruction as a child was shallow and minimal. Hers was often just plain wrong. One of the authors she was encouraged to read was Anthony DiMello, a former Jesuit priest, whose writings were censured in no uncertain terms by Cardinal Ratzinger. Liberation theology and the Jesuits have wreaked havoc on the Church in much of Latin America.

  • “Mario Vargas Llosa’s book, The Guide to the Latin American Idiot.”

    A brilliant book PF. It has an honored place in the Latin American portion of my private library.

  • This pope is a very easy-going one. He really likes to resonate with the cutlural climate and a lot of people are taking to him. Barbara Walters was singing his praises last night on CNN. He comes across as non-judgmental and understanding. People find that refreshing. From my perspective though, it seems the pope is unwilling to speak forthrightly about Christian teaching as it relates to morality. People are interpreting him to mean that he simply doesn’t care about distinctions within that realm.

  • Just to add. That article from Catholic World Report is extremely slanted, and like wreaking of disdain for tradition. The fact is that Pat Archibald is correct, and the CWR article is written by with input by the very wolves in sheeps clothing that are attacking the Church. This onslaught attack is a last gasp attack by the “spirit of Vatican two” crowd that have ruined the faith throughout the seventies and eighties. They see the sharp rise in popularity of traditional Catholicism as s threat to their agenda, and their fangs are showing… we must pray for holy mother church. They will continue to attack the laity with names as “palagian” or “triumphalism” and the orthodox priest’s will either catch bogus charges (see Minneapolis), be attacked as “clericalism” on the pages of dissident wayward Catholic rags like National Catholic Reporter, or continue to be oppressed like the FFI.
    The Gay Mafia fawning over Francis is troubling also, and his and many of the bishops lack of direction adds to our need for extra prayer and action in this sad time of the Church… the worst it has ever seen.

  • Pingback: Rorate Caeli Responds to Catholic World Report on the Friars of the Immaculate | The American Catholic
  • I wonder if the Traditionalists ever see the irony of their own position: the champions of orthodoxy invoking freedom of conscience; the implacable opponents of liberalism appealing for tolerance, replacing their former demands for uniformity with a plea for pluralism.

  • Indeed MPS! How dare those arrogant traditionalists presume to have freedom to practice Catholicism in the Catholic Church!

  • I am not sure that describing the Roman Church as “an arbitrary, rigid and centralized Church” will persuade anyone in Rome in favor of the cause of the Friars.

    I fully agree with you Donald, there needs to be a more transparent, open Church. No doubt about it. However, that goes both ways. Why is it that this is consistently being presented as a move against the EF, with the calculated desire to inflame more traditional Catholics already, if unnecessarily afraid that the EF will be taken away from them.

    Why is it that the real issue that of full acceptance of Vatican II and the validity of the OF, something expected of any Catholic deacon about to be ordained a priest, is not being shown every time someone from the traditionalists wants to complain about what is happening to the Friars? Wouldn’t this be indeed part of this transparency to which Rome is called?

    As I have stated in other posts, there is something very wrong going on within the Friars. Minus the issue of the EF it has all the aroma of what we have already seen with the Legionairres of Christ. I agree that Rome had let them go too long. They were protected by no less than Cardinal Sodano for some very worldly reasons. The Church learned from the LC case. I believe that is the reason Rome is taking the Friars in toe so quickly and completely.

    Again I repeat: the issue is not the EF, it is acceptance of Vatican II as an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Council of the Church and the OF as a valid Liturgy and a licit manifestation of the Roman Rite [likes and preferences not withstanding]. Are the Friars, or those elements within the Friars Catholic or not? Being Catholic means accepting Vatican II as an authentic and authoritative Council of the Church and the OF as a valid liturgy and licit expression of the Roman Rite. Are they in communion with the pope and bishops in communion with him or not?

  • “…that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me…” Jn. 17: 20-23 Confraternity Edition.

  • Mary De Voe,


  • I agree!

  • Donald R McClarey

    But are they Catholics?

    As Cardinal Manning said of the Anglican Ritualists of his day, “Ritualism is private judgment in gorgeous raiment, wrought about with divers colours” and he added, “the more elaborate, the less Catholic; the nearer the imitation, the further from the submission of faith.”

  • Once again we have to look for and thank Botolph for delivering a rational, thoughtful response that is all to missing in TAC of late.

  • Rational and thoughtful . . . I would have posited, “there likely is something very wrong going on within . . . ”

    As ever, the friars are guilty until proven innocent. Thank God, “they” stopped employing instruments of torture.

    Inquisitors’ instructions: “You are to promise them favor and pardon if they confess the truth, but if not, you are to acquaint them that they will be condemned to death.”

  • “Donald R McClarey

    But are they Catholics?”

    If they aren’t MPS the Church faces a very bleak felt bannered immediate future. The real problem for the Friars of the Immaculate is that they were quite successful, and they ran afoul of forces within the Church that like to pretend that the Church began with Vatican II.

  • Rational debate: accusing those who disagree with you of being irrational, in a passive-aggressive manner. Delightful. -.-

  • Make no mistake, this is not just a liberal Pope, he is not stupid or soft. He knows exactly what he is doing and where he is going. The signs are all there. We are in a time when the Church is in grave danger and we must pray and fast; we should fight but knowing that we may not win this battle but Christ will win the war – and war is coming. The powers of evil are reaching their zenith in our time, but we know that Christ will triumph and Satan will be cast into hell for all eternity. We have reached this point because too many Catholics have been complacent and like sheep have just followed whatever their local priest tells them without question. People were less “educated” in the past but they had far more common sense and innate knowledge of human nature, and they recognised false teaching when it was offered to them. Let us prray for each other and for our Holy Church.

  • Foxfire : Rational meaning a good sense of balance. Has there been irrational post? Is the Pope Catholic? (oh wait don’t answer that) Did the Holy Spirit bring this Pope to our church at a time that may be needed? Could PF just be a source of light that this world, this church and society needs? Can good come even if we don’t aspire to his economic experiences and understanding? It sure the hell won’t if the likes of many here have their wish.

  • David W, you make it quite clear that you are not rational– or that you believe the facts aren’t on your side, so it’s time to pound the table– when you try to passively accuse me of thinking the Pope isn’t Catholic.

    Bad enough that you make silly accusations, but you won’t even make them straight out.

  • Foxfire: Please.
    I’m not against disagreeing with a pope’s general statements …. but how and when that is done says much about our priorities. Many seem awfully quick to boil the new shepherd in water.

  • Again, you are attacking with a limp wrist.

    That gives you all the “up sides” of a direct challenge, without any of the down sides of actually having a specific claim that can be countered.

PopeWatch: Burke Out, Wuerl In

Wednesday, December 18, AD 2013



If it wasn’t already clear the way the wind was blowing from the Vatican, the dumping of Cardinal Burke from the Congregation of Bishops this week was yet another indication:

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has been bumped from the influential Congregation of Bishops — a post that gave him say in the selection of bishops.

Some observers of the Roman Catholic Church said the move by Pope Francis is yet another example of his effort to tone down highly publicized stances on divisive social issues such as gay marriage, contraception and abortion, on which Burke has made strong remarks.

The announcement came Monday from the Vatican as Francis reorganizes the Congregation, which has considerable power because it recommends bishop candidates to the pope when vacancies occur. New bishops shepherd their local flocks, but some of them will be promoted down the road to high-profile church leadership positions.

Also gone from the Congregation is another former archbishop from St. Louis, Justin Rigali — though that action was anticipated, because Rigali recently stepped down as archbishop in Philadelphia.

Asked for comment, the St. Louis Archdiocese issued a statement that said: “Although the tangible impact of the Congregation of Bishops to the local Archdiocese of St. Louis, as it relates to Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Rigali’s membership, is difficult to measure, it is without question that the spiritual fruits of their labor will be felt for many years to come throughout our universal Church.”

Catholic news reports have drawn contrasts between Francis and what many regard as the more conservative Burke.

Even so, Burke will retain his position as president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court.

On the same day, Francis named Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who heads the Washington archdiocese, to the Congregation of Bishops, making him the only new member named from the United States.

National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen said in an email that the “face-value reading” of the changes was that Francis wants more moderate bishops, fewer who are “heavily invested in culture wars.”

Even outside of Catholic bubbles, Burke became well known in 2004 when he said he would deny Communion — what Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ — to then-presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry for his stance on abortion.

Burke also dug in his heels over the control of finances at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, a Polish congregation in St. Louis, in a saga played up in national and international headlines.

More recently, Burke, in a radio report, seemed to disagree with Francis’ comments that Catholic dialogue has been too narrow.

“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media,” Burke said in the report, “that (Pope Francis) thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman. But we can never talk enough about that.”

In September, Francis said: “We have to find a new balance. Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

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16 Responses to PopeWatch: Burke Out, Wuerl In

  • Either Cardinal Wuerl is unaware of the precedence set in Sacred Scripture, or he is aware and ignores such precedence.

    1st Timothy 1:19-20

    By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    1st Corinthians 5:1-5

    It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    Revelation 2:20-23

    But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

    Acts 5:1-11

    But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

  • This is all very discouraging.

  • It is, extremely, charitable to simply comment that what is happening is very discouraging.

    Enough said.

  • “Wuerl said he will make no effort to keep Speaker Pelosi from receiving Communion, saying first “there’s a question about whether this canon [915] was ever intended to be used’’ to correct Catholics in grave error.”

    Honestly I have no formed opinion on the prudence of denying Communion to Catholics like Pelosi. That said, to be consistent Wuerl would have to concede that the canon should also not have been used to deny Holy Communion to Catholic Nazis complicit in the Holocaust. I somehow doubt that he would see it that way, but I also doubt that he could articulate a rational explanation.

  • I can speak from experience about Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Pittsburgh native, former co-adjutor of the archdiocese of Seattle (send by John Paul II to control Raymond Hunthausen, who was becoming a lunatic) and former bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

    It was in 2004 when John FARC Kerry was running for President when the Communion controversy began again. As most people know, Kerry is married to John Heinz´widow, who inherited great wealth (but not control of the H.J. Heinz company) from John Heinz. Mrs. Kerry inherited a rather large estate in the North Hills of suburban Pittsburgh and occasionally the Kerry would spend a weekend there. Kerry showed up for communion, and then Bishop Wuerl told the parish priest he was right to give the abortionist Kerry Communion.

    Bishop Wuerl went on a parish closing binge in the 1980s after being named Bishop of Pittsburgh. Many old suburbs and neighborhoods had multiple Catholic parishes with little hope for turning things around. One parish then Bishop Wuerl sought to close was Holy Wisdom Parish in the North Side. PennDOT (translated – Pennsylvania Department of “negligible” Transportation) wanted to level Holy Wisdom. Wuerl sold the parish to PennDOT against the desires of the parishioners and PennDOT was set to destroy it. On a Friday November night five PennDOT officials, after approving the deal, boarded a flight to return to Harrisburg. The plane crashed, killing everyone on board.

    Today, this parish is home to the Latin Mass community of St. Therese of Lisieux.

    Oh, did I mention – after David Zubik returned from Green Bay (where he invited the FSSP to set up shop) seminary enrollment increased in Pittsburgh AND bishop Zubik granted the Latin Mass community a full time priest where the Mass is celebrated daily, not just on Sundays, holy days and First Saturday.

    Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence is from Pittsburgh. Tobin speaks out regularly against abortion and homosexualism. Tobin is what Wuerl is not.

    Either Tobin or Zubik will lead the Chicago Archdiocese when Cardinal George is finally allowed to retire.

    Wuerl is the kind of cleric who will NEVER confront a Democrat. He is blind to what the Democrat Party is and what it will be and what it will do – even after the Washington DC council mandated adoptions by homosexual couples, forcing the Washington DC Archdiocese to end adoption services.

    Cardinal Burke is a man who does not tolerate nonsense – apparently not the Holy Father’s kind of guy.

  • Don

    To put the best light on it; If the Pope is looking for a place to transfer a Cardinal Archbishop out of rome, the Archbishop of Chicago has submitted his resignation.

    Sometimes if we don’t laugh we might cry.

  • I am curious who will get that disaster of an archdiocese Hank. Cardinal George was completely well-meaning, but also completely ineffectual. A tough Cardinal like Burke would actually be a good match for a very tough town.

  • ” A tough Cardinal like Burke would actually be a good match for a very tough town.”

    God works in strange ways.

  • Cardinal Burke in Chicago! That would be grand! Considering he was in St. Louis, Cubs fans would love him.

    Kidding aside, Cardinal Burke is man enough to face down anyone in that town.

  • For weeks we have been wondering about the “political” leanings of Pope Francis. When you dismiss a conservative like Burke and replace him with a liberal like Wuerl, there is no longer any doubt.

  • Having just been to the Our Lady OF Guadalupe Shrine where Cardinal Burke officiated at the Mass, this is very discouraging news. (Even though there has been rumors of it or of it happening). Having worked with Cardinal Burke while he was Bishop of Lacrosse he had already a firing squad of liberal catholics taking pot shots at him. He never minced words. Last week at the Mass he told it like it is(or should be) You cannot be a practicing Roman Catholic and support abortion. He spoke in Spanish and English as there were many Hispanics at this Mass. He spoke of marriage as between one man and one woman. I don’t know how we can put up with the likes of this Cardinal much longer, do you?

  • The Congregation of Bishops handles ALL bishop appointments worldwide, not just those in the United States. Does absolutely everything the Vatican does have to be viewed through American liberal/conservative “culture war” glasses? How much do we know about Cardinal Burke’s track record when it comes to recommending bishops for sees in Africa, Asia and Latin America? Did he perhaps make some recommendations there that turned out to be clunkers? (Not saying he did, just pointing out a possible rational explanation for his replacement) Could it also be that while Wuerl isn’t exactly perfect on the subject of Canon 915, he might have some other skills or knowledge that could be helpful to the Congregation?

    Also, if Cardinal Burke is indeed in line to replace Cardinal George in Chicago, it wouldn’t be the first time that what appeared to be a “demotion” really wasn’t. I seem to recall a lot of traddie-leaning Catholics interpreting his move from St. Louis to the Apostolic Signatura as his being shuffled off to some obscure office in Rome to “get him out of the way”.

  • Cardinal Wuerl has been a great friend of organized labor, particularly the SEIU.

  • “Cardinal Wuerl has been a great friend of organized labor, particularly the SEIU.”

    Considering that he has ever been a friend of pro-abort Democrat pols Kurt, that is certainly not surprising.

    More on his alliance with the thugs of the SEIU:


  • Where did that quote; “Wuerl the girl” come from?

  • Pingback: Christmas Eve Special: Pope Francis | Big Pulpit

PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian

Tuesday, December 17, AD 2013



Perhaps one reason we have never had a Jesuit pope before, is that so many Jesuits write in a jargon-laden fashion that is hard for non-Jesuits to figure out.  Case in point:  self-absorbed promethean neopelagian.  Pope Francis uses this baroque insult in Evangelii Gaudium:


94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.

Now what does the Pope mean by this, other than he is really ticked off by people who do not believe that Vatican II is the be-all and end-all of Catholicism?  I’ll be hanged if I can figure it out.  Father Ray Blake at his blog thinks that he knows:

The term “Prometheism” was suggested by the Greek myth of Prometheus, whose gift of fire to mankind, in defiance of Zeus, came to symbolize enlightenment and resistance to despotic authority, it was the name of an early 20th century slightly anarchic Polish political movement but it drew its inspiration from the enlightenment which is perhaps significant here. Perhaps what the Pope is suggesting is something individualistic, something which is actually contrary to Catholic Tradition. It is the self-righteous or as the Pope would say, ‘self-referential’, pretentious Phariseeism that quotes documents and texts to condemn others but actually refuses to be converted by them.

“Neopelagianism” is an easier term, it excludes the necessity of Grace for salvation, again it is individualistic, again it excludes a dependence on God, which is at the heart of Francis’ preaching on ‘mercy’.
He links the whole phrase to those who, ‘observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past’. He has used ‘neopelagian’ previously to describe certain traditional Catholics, well actually the SSPX. I think what he is saying, which the whole of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be saying is that we have be absorbed into the wondrous life-changing joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than being curators of a museum or experimenters in a laboratory.

Uh huh.  Well moving right along, Father Z has decided to embrace the term:

Are you a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian?

I have just the thing for you!

I added a new section to my Z-Swag store at Cafepress.

There are bumper-stickers, car-magnets, coffee mugs, buttons and few other items.

Here is a view of the smaller coffee mug.  Picture yourself drinking your Mystic Monk Coffee or tea from this fine beverageware.

Don’t like coffee or tea… or Orange Fanta?  Get one anyway and put pencils in it.

You surely need a sticker or magnet for your car!  Imagine the puzzled looks you’ll get when you stop at a light, drive down the road, and then pull into your parish’s parking lot!

Having fun with impenetrably vague labels.

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55 Responses to PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian

  • The Holy Father’s reference to Neo-Pelagianism echoes the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger used during the Spiritual Exercises of 1986 (in the book “Guardare Cristo: esempi di fede, speranza e carità” [Looking at Christ: Examples of faith, hope and charity] – “the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…”

    St Thomas teaches that “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another, if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [Ia, q. 20, a. 3] He also says in article 4 of the same Question and also in Ia, q. 23, a. 4: “In God, love precedes election.”

    This presupposes, according to St. Thomas, a decree of the divine will rendering our salutary acts intrinsically efficacious [Ia, q. 19, a. 8]. For, if they were efficacious on account of our foreseen consent, of two people equally loved and helped by God, one would be better in some respect. He would be better of himself alone and not on account of divine predilection.”

    St Augustine, the Doctor of Grace says, “For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hear or do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, “To you,” said He, “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt. xiii. 11) Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the other to the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, “I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, O Lord.” (Ps. CI: 1) [Praescientia et Praeparatio Beneficiorum Dei 14:35] and, again, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? But if the obstinacy of the will can be such that the mind’s aversion from all modes of calling becomes hardened, the question is whether that very hardening does not come from some divine penalty, as if God abandons a man by not calling him in the way in which he might be moved to faith. Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?” (Ad Simplician, 13-14)

    The scriptures confirm this in many places: “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19); and “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Rom 9:16)

    One cannot get more traditional than that.

  • Please MPS, the strawmen enemies that the Pope erected will collapse under the verbiage you raise in his defense. One of the more annoying features about the current papacy is the lack of correlation between the world and the world as the Pope chooses to see it.

  • Christopher Ferrara has written of ‘the ugly traditionalist’ and you see fragments of it in The Remnant (and the exchange of brickbats between Ferrara himself and Thomas Woods?). The thing is, such people are a tiny sliver the observant Catholic population most places other than France and are generally tolerated and nothing more by diocesan officialdom. (Try to find a bishop in the English-speaking world who had ever offered the extraordinary form at a public mass at any time since 1970).

    You have a stew of corruption in loci like the California province of the Society of Jesus about which nothing is done that anyone knows about and then you have the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate manhandled terribly. The Holy See has its priorities; just not ones that seem at all sensible.

  • I should clarify that “the ugly traditionalists” constitute a tiny sliver of the Catholic population most places and that traditionalists in general are tolerated and nothing more.

  • This statement is exactly how the Pope views conservative traditionalists, and he fails (and refuses) to realize that it is the liberals whom he embraces who are possessed of the narcissistic and authoritarian elitism which he by covert implication ascribes to conservative traditionalists:

    “The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.”

    We have gotten the leader we deserve: liberal, progressive leftist.

  • I think the Pope “sounds” like a liberal democrat.

    To wit, Papa’s uncharitable “self-absorbed”(arrogant), “promethean” (humanist – don’t need God, pagan) “pelageans” (deny existence of Original Sin, but Pelagius merely claimed that Christ had abolished Original Sin) are not THE problem facing Holy Mother the Church.

    Pope Francis may see them as one of his “worst nightmares.” And, that is a problem.

  • Is the Pope a Marxist?

    Worse, a Jesuit.

  • “…but who am I to judge?”

    It is an observation, not a judgment, that this Pope:

    (a) Talks like a liberal progressive leftist
    (b) Writes like a liberal progressive leftist
    (c) Acts like a liberal progressive leftist

    “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Of course, there have been really terrible Popes in the past, especially during the Middle Ages. The gates of hell, however, did not prevail and will not prevail. We have been fortunate in the 19th and 20th centuries to have overall rather good Popes, but good and bad Popes come and go, yet the Church marches on.

    BTW, considering the current Pope’s age, it is unlikely this will be a long Pontificate, not however that we should ever wish for its untimely termination. Nevertheless, God is in control. He has seen it appropriate to give us the political leader we merit – Barack Hussein Obama – and the religious leader we merit – Pope Francis. We really do not deserve any better, but just as God allowed these leaders to assume their authority, He will remove them from such authority in whatever manner He choses when He sees fit and not until He sees fit. We can only rely on His grace and mercy.

  • Why did you have to link to Mark Shea? Yes, he is a fascinating writer: I have seen no one who is more wrong in how he defends stands that are so correct than Shea. He is palatable only in small doses.

  • Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists? Remember the Gospel: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    The rest of us just need to remember that this language does not make leftist progressiveness into the new orthodoxy. Father Z’s phrase “experimenters in a laboratory” would seem to reinforce that view.

  • “Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists?”

    Dialogue and conciliation never converted a liberal progressive leftist. Indeed, those are the very things liberal progressive leftists want, using them to obfuscate, confuse, delay and avoid compliance. What converts liberal progressive leftists is to suffer the abject pain of the failure of liberal progressive leftist policies and programs.

    The prophet Jeremiah did not dialogue nor conciliate with the King and his court.

    John the Baptist did not dialogue nor conciliate with Herod and the religious elite of his time.

    St. Paul did not dialogue nor conciliate with the rebellion at the Church of Corinth, nor did St. Clement later on.

    St. John did not dialogue nor conciliate with the Seven Churches in Asia Minor.

    But this Pope is all about dialogue and conciliation. Liberal. Progressive. Leftism.

  • Pelagius denied the biblical sense of human depravity. He failed to grasp its effects. When pelagianism is accepted as a belief it erodes one’s understanding of how we come to God. Fundamentally, we must be made right with him. This does not happen through human effort. It is a gift. A gift that is completely unmerited and undeserved. God extends this gracious offer to the world and we can accept or reject it, but we cannot earn it.

  • Paul, you are being unfair. I for one never used the word “dialogue”, nor when I wrote of Pope Francis being an “agent for conversion” had I been thinking of the kind of dialogue you have in mind.

    Consider this quote from Pope Francis while at Mass on Thursday November 26, 2013:

    “We can not talk about religion, it’s a private thing, no? Do not speak of this publicly. Religious signs are removed. We must obey the orders of worldly powers. We can do many things, beautiful things, but not worship God. Prohibition of worship. This is the center of the end. And when we arrive at the fullness – the ‘kairos’ of this attitude, when this pagan time has come – then yes, it will be Him: ‘And they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’. Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…We should not be afraid , He only asks us for faithfulness and patience. Faithful like Daniel, who was faithful to his God and worshiped God until the end. Patience, so that the hair of our head will not fall off. Thus the Lord has promised . This week we would do well to think of this general apostasy, which is called the prohibition of worship and ask: ‘Do I adore the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord, or only a little, ‘half and half, I play the game of the prince of this world?” Worshiping until the end, with the trust and faithfulness: this is the grace that we ask this week”

    These are not the words of a Pope destined to be the hero of progressive leftists.

  • Sorry, Tuesday November 26, 2013. Small type for old eyes.

  • Jon sums up the heresy of Pelagius very well, in pointing out that it undermines the sheer gratuity of grace and leads to a “gospel of works.”

    As the Council of Toucy explained, “nothing is done in heaven or on earth, except what God either graciously does Himself or permits to be done, in His justice.” That is to say, no good, here and now, in this man rather than in another, comes about unless God Himself graciously wills and accomplishes it, and no evil, here and now, in this man rather than another, comes about unless God Himself justly permits it to be done.

  • Why does the pope believe there is a war between evangelization and the desire to maintain the integrity of the faith? Both are needed. If you are all evangelization and have no stewards, what exactly are you evangelizing? Mush?

  • Tom D.,

    The Pope says one thing in a homily at Mass and then does another – Cardinal Raymond Burke is now dismissed from the Apostolica Signatura:


  • I am unaware of this Council of Toucy, but it seems to have issued a very nice statement!

  • Thank you Paul Primavera last quote of that article from Card Wuerl:

    “Don’t we have to give this pope time?” he said. I wonder what that means! Time to more completely lessen the Burker effect?

    God bless us

  • Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…

    And he seems to be self-fulfilling that prophecy with the treatment of the FFI.

  • Mr. Primavera, Cardinal Burke is still with the Apostolic Signatura. He is
    no longer a part of the Congregation for Bishops, and his position has been
    given to Cardinal Wuerl.

  • The SAPN’s that Pope Frances speaks of certainly do exist and are only a small sliver of our Catholic population. However, they are a sliver that many, not just the far left, use as their excuse to move away from the faith and sometimes sincerely believe being driven away. Perhaps the Pope is removing this crutch as an excuse by acknowledging it “out loud.” And while the exclusionary, Pharisee Catholic is a problem, certainly not on the scale of the liberal, who knows what they stand for, feeling the love Catholic that want to “unstufferize” our Church if they happen to attend. So why go after the speck instead of the log? Perhaps he is trying to clear our vision before taking on the heavy lifting.
    I understand being alarmed, keeping watch, feeling unsettled right now about this papacy, and it would be uplifting to get a shout out to those of us trying to be faithful to the Magisterium (that we even know the word deserves a clap). However, as an outsider looking in on many of the exchanges here, a very orthodox outsider, it seems some are far to fast to summarily judge this pope in the negative. I share your concerns but he may be just what we need. I don’t think any of us know the answer yet.

  • I believe Kevin is on to something here. He states in his last sentence, concerning peoples’ comments etc on the way Pope Francis is going: “I don’t think any of us know the answer yet”. I believe that to be very accurate, minus the fact that we know he was given the job description of ‘cleaning up the Curia’ [a job that basically has been going on since at least the Council of Trent]

    One paradigm however does come to mind. Now I am stating beforehand-this is just my idea, it is not gospel or teaching of the Church etc. It is simply my taking in all the various factos of what is going on in the Church etc and attempting to make sense of it—-is that even possible lol?

    What if, and I say, what if, Pope Benedict was the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the diverse and hard to describe other than ‘traditionalist’ Catholics who themselves were shocked by what they perceived to be the disruption of Church tradition. While some blame Vatican II itself, others see the problem in the so called ‘spirit of Vatican II’ genre that indeed have a great deal of influence within the larger Church for some time (60’s and 70’s). Many of these people simply wanted their Latin Mass and full Catholic Teachings being passed on to the next generation etc.. Pope Benedict grounded the Church in the hermeneutic of continuity- once and for all banishing ‘the hermeneutic of rupture’ from within the teaching office of the Church [Pope and bishops]. He then began what can be only described as the Reform of the Reform: first within theology of Revelation, maintaining the direction of Dei Verbum with the historical-critical method but now developing that into the canonical method of interpreting Scripture and making Dei Verbum the foundation and fountain of the Church’s reception of Vatican II. With the Liturgy he did likewise, first enabling those who wished to participate in the Latin Mass a full freedom to do so with the hope that the EF and OF of the Roman Rite would learn from each other and grow into a synthesis, and organic reform of the Roman Rite. He drew in very diverse aspects of Catholic Church teaching within the hermeneutic of charity: showing that Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio (loved by ‘liberal’ Catholics) and Humanae Vitae (held if not loved by
    more ‘conservative’ Catholics) were both aspects of Catholic Social Teaching. In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity. Some will be drawn into the mainstream and others will not-still claiming Vatican II to be the problem etc. But that attempt for reconciliation and communion has been and is still being made.

    Now what if, and again I stress, what if, Pope Francis is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to do for the so called ‘progressives’ in the Church what Pope Benedict did for the so called ‘traditionalists’? He is speaking out of the center and mainstream of the Church as Pope Benedict did [although both groups on the right and the left might deny that about the ‘other’ pope] yet he is definitely speaking in a way that is drawing at least the attention of the ‘progressives’. Pope Francis obviously believes in the hermeneutic of continuity, now he is reaching out to those who have believed in the ‘rupture’ from a progressive ‘spirit of Vatican II’ view, those who believe the Church totally rebooted in 1965.

    I believe also that there is an intuitive sense within the mainstream of the Church that ‘the time is short’. No, no, I am not predicting the end of the world and Christ’s Final Coming. What I am saying is is that ‘the time is short’ for the window of opportunity to reach out to the portions of the Church that are either outright alienated from the Church and no longer in full communion with the Church, or to those wandering out there on the fringes. I cannot predict the future, but I do not believe the immediate future of the Church is ‘peaches and cream’ from the point of view of ‘the world’. I believe we are in for some tough sledding, and there will be a time in which we will no longer really be able to reach out to various disparate groups.

    While I am at it, it might be humorous, but I am a bit dismayed that Fr Z has gone in this direction. While all in the Church are responsible for ‘the communion of the Church’, those in holy orders are to be men of communion, not just officially, but actively fostering and increasing it at every opportunity. I like Fr Z’s comments for the most part, so I am not a real critic of him, however, on this one-I do have a problem with what he has done here.

  • In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity.
    Why are they fragmented? Very often, it’s because they are in a situation contrary to Church teachings. With Pope Francis, one of two things are going to happen:
    1) The fragmented go beyond the words and realize the pope is not changing Church teachings. They return to their frustration.
    2) The pope speaks “imprecisely.” It’s interpreted as the pope taking a liberal stand and has given license to continue an illicit situation.
    Neither is desirable. But maybe, just maybe, he is able to get the ear of a disenfranchised person, and the person begins to see their situation needs to conform to the teachings of the Church. More than one way to bring people to Mother Church. We’ll see what Pope Francis can do.

  • Folks, if you want to know why the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been belted with a heavy piece of 4×2 timber, the answer is right here in Evanagelii Gaudium. Their devotion to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass marks them out as being “intransigently faithful” (in the Pope’s words) to “a particular Catholic style from the past”. Go to jail. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $200. Not “humbly faithful” or “heroically faithful” or “devotedly faithful”, you’ll notice. No, “intransigently faithful.”

    Continuing the Pope’s train of thought, we can therefore conclude, as the Pope himself states, that these pitiful priests and brothers must be “self-absorbed promethean neopelagians” who “feel superior to everybody else”.

    Away with them!!

    Note that the Pope does not use the word “tradition” but “style”, as if the Tridentine Rite was some sort of fad, like flared trousers or hula hoops which can be dispensed with on a whim. However, the real kicker in this screed, is his assertion that people attached to these traditions “feel superior to everybody else”. Really? Isn’t this a little …um……judgmental? What happened to the “who am I to judge?” mantra? This sort of language is most unpapal and is little more than internet combox trash talk. In their writings, popes point out the way forward in a positive manner and when things are condemned, it is ideas; e.g. heresy, false theology etc., and not a particular group of people.

    It’s clear from this passage that the Pope is saying that believing in a hermeneutic of continuity is an impediment to accepting the Gospel in its entirety. One must break with the past in a hermeneutic of rupture in order to embrace the Gospel. Moreover, when one examines the “bigger picture” of what has been happening in the Church over the past half-century, can one really say that its mission has been impeded due to it being overrun with “promethean neopelagians”? Quite the contrary. Surely, it has been the rupture from the past which has spread confusion, heresy, trivialization of the sacred mysteries, liturgical improvization, vocational collapse and catechetical disaster.

    Why this animus to a relatively small number of Catholics who still cling to their Catholic heritage?

  • The “fragmentation” is nothing new.

    In 1904, during the doctrinal crisis prompted by the writings of Alfred Loisy, Maurice Blondel published a series of articles, entitled “History and Dogma.”

    In one of them, he says, “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.”

    A century on, little has changed.

  • No, no, Donald McClarey: you are missing something here: tradionals cant be “straw men” but clearly are the new Red Menace. They are also “crypto-lefebvrian and definite traditionalists” (=stated as the enemy lurking around corners and in dark alleys in the Franciscans/Mary Immaculate case). I love these ‘neo-Baroque’ very Jesuit non-judging categorizations, dont you? So COOL! As Paul Primavera points out, though, far be it from this Pope to JUDGE: oh, no, no, no!
    (I laugh at the paranoia PF and the official Novus Ordo Churchdom is exhibiting.
    Clearly part of the Clintonesque “vast right-wing conspiracy” of the Koch brothers.)
    Warning, Will Robinson, danger!!

  • Hmm I thought it was a new Catholic ice cream flavor. Fragmatiscm knows no bounds.

  • Kiwiinamerica,

    Pope Francis does hold to and employ the hermeneutic of continuity. Only yesterday a close friend of Pope Benedict communicated that he is very much at home with Pope Francis’ theological positions etc. There is continuity not disruption.

    I have said many times that the desire to participate in the EF is not a problem, nor should it be. When PF is making these comments he is not speaking of Catholic traditionalists who desire the EF, hold to the teachings of the Church, hold VII as an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Counsel of the Church and recognize the OF as a valid (even if they do not prefer it) Liturgy of the Most Holy Eucharist.

    The issues within the Friars, sadly is far more complicated than simply wanting the EF.

    Now whether or not PF ought to direct comments toward those who do not accept VII or the OF and view everything as a rupture-that is another subject. I myself would rather attempt to keep trying to reconcile as many as possible who are closer to the Church than others. It is already becoming evident, and I say this with great sadness, that there is already a fragmentation within the SSPX taking place. Certainly the SSPV splintered away years ago.
    I desire reconciliation and communion not further distancing. At the same time there comes a point when a segment of the Church that cannot abide with a Council does, sadly become distinct and divided from the Catholic Church-it happened at Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Trent, and Vatican I. I pray that difficulties Catholics are struggling with at this point can indeed be resolved constructively, that reconciliation and full communion and peace can once again reign As the Psalmist says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” I do everyday.

  • typo lol Council not Counsel lol sorry

  • Botolph (as usual) makes an excellent point.

    If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    The flaw in the position of all of them is the same. “We are the faithful, for we hold the true faith,” but when asked, “what is the true faith?” they can only answer, “the faith that we hold.”

    Now, there is only one way out of this vicious circle that I know. As Mgr Ronald Knox insisted, “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome.” It enables us to determine who the faithful are, without the question-begging preliminary of examining their tenets.

    It is a test remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances.

  • Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39) Does this not continue to be our struggle within the Church and greater world? Had Jesus chosen to do it his way, I am sure he would have chosen something fantastically good. But, like we are all called to do, Jesus bowed His will to His Heavenly Father. And as MP-S points out, a la Fr. Knox, a measure of this is our obedience to the See of Rome. I think Botolph correctly points out that the SSPX problems are not with the Rite, but something deeper. And the deeper problem of “doing it my way” (even if is not a bad way) is the ferment for fragmentation and why this world is so fragmented. It is very possible Botolph’s thread that this Pope is trying to reconcile as many as he can in what looks to be very difficult times ahead for our Church. I do not think he is picking on Traditionalists, nor do I think he is trumpeting liberalism. I do think that he understands what Chesterton pointed out: That is conservatives get it wrong when they try to keep things as they were. The fence gets ragged and needs repainting. It is still a fence but the new coat or paint makes it presentable again. PF, I believe, is trying to get us to make our Church look more presentable to the broader population – but we are still The Church with all of Her teachings in tact. And how can we get others to join us in bowing their wills to the Truth of Mother Church if we ourselves refuse to bow our own wills on how to do things? Methinks if people see we do as we say in all things, some will still turn away, but some will come along.

  • Yes Kevin,

    I read someplace, I wish I could remember where, and who said it-in the interest of transparency it was not me-that the Church has Councils of the Church not to change anything but so that She might remain the Catholic Church-with all the vast changes of history and issues arising within and outside the Church. That is exactly why the hermeneutic of continuity is so important. The pre-Vatican II Church is the same Church as the post- Vatican II Church, even with the cosmetic differences. It is the denial of this fundamental truth that those maintaining the hermeneutic of rupture-from either progressive or ultra-traditionalist sides that is the problem.

  • I could not agree more!

  • If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    It was a pastoral council. I am sure you can find Latin traditionalists who say the NO is not a valid Mass (Christopher Ferrara is not among them). The question at had is whether tinkering with the liturgy was at all prudent. As far as many of us can see, there are two answers to that question:

    1. No.

    2. Yes, because the contemporary clergy are so undisciplined they’d have trashed the traditional rite if they still had to use it.

  • The problem is not with the EF. The problem is that the Novus Ordo was created as a liturgy that would be more palatable to certain Protestant churches in the hope that these Protestants might be willing to join the Catholic Church. It has failed.

    Bishops’ conferences and liturgical committees and bad translations (some recently somewhat corrected) have made a mess of the Novus Ordo, which at its best is not as prayerful as the TLM. I am not rejecting it as invalid, as some in the SSPX do, but pointing out the reality of the situation. The NO as often celebrated has set back relations with the Eastern Orthodox.

    PF hasn’t much idea how to relate to the outside world as he has shown his Latin American upbringing and culture and Jesuit background.

  • Art Deco,

    We keep hearing that the Second Vatican Council was pastoral. In the sense that its mission was to focus on the mission of the Church, rather than on some specific doctrine questioned by some personality or group-that is true. However, “ultra-traditionalists” use the word to minimalize the Council so that it is all but non-existant in their eyes. Of course, first, that is living in a dream world. Vatican II was indeed an Ecumenical Council of the Church and now part of the magisterial tradition of the Church, just as Vatican I, Trent, etc. It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity. Nonetheless, it presented and passed on the Tradition of the Church in a way that is very distinctive.

    It is much like the vast shift which took place within the Church when She moved from a Jewish Church to the Graeco-Roman world view, culture and language. It was the same Church but within a major paradigm shift. Some indeed did try to maintain the ‘older paradigm’ but found themselves, in time ‘lost’ and divided themselves.

    Vatican II is an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Council of the Church and the OF is a valid Mass and real manifestation of the Roman Rite-just as the EF is. There can be no ambiguity to this. There is no wiggle room. I am not sure how much more clearly I can express it.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I appreciate what you said. Certainly the way the OF has been celebrated in places, not according to ‘the rubrics’, has been a problem. I do not hold to that ‘belief’ in certain circles that the OF was formed to placate Protestants etc. What I do believe is that the OF as promulgated in the Roman Missal of 2003, is an expression of a two-fold task:

    1)Continuing what the Council of Trent mandated: that the Liturgy be reformed according to the Fathers [as the general Introduction to the Roman Missal states-the difference is that at Vatican II we had a more comprehensive understanding of what the form of the Roman rite was because of the Biblical, Patristic, historical ressourcement that had taken place for a hundred years before the Council

    2) the Principles and directives of the Second Vatican Council Fathers in Sacro Sanctum Concilium. It is true, there are ‘criticisms’ of the Reform, but if the OF were invalid or even so horrible, wouldn’t Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict have suppressed it or, say called it the EF and the commonly called Tridentine Mass the OF?

    FYI My biggest complaint at this point is the use of hymns versus the Propers: Entrance Antiphons etc and the loss of some continuity of the language of the Liturgy. For example, when Mass was translated from Aramaic to Greek, we kept the Alleuia and Amen. When Mass was translated from Greek to Latin, we kept the Kyrie/Christe eleison, but when Mass was translated from Latin into the vernacular we did not keep any Latin: the Agnus Dei would have been very appropriate and easily known what it meant.

    The loss of the musical patrimony of the Church is the biggest loss I believe we experienced and that needs o be rectified [see I can criticize things too. However I accept VII and the OF]

  • You mean you are not thrilled to be singing, “A a baa, you are our pa a pa, give us our ba a ba, and show us your wuv.” This version of Abba was suggested to me and it has never left my mind. I apologize if anyone liked this piece and now will be haunted by these words. I don’t mean to be irreverent about our current state of music, but it is pretty sad.

  • Penguins Fan

    If by “not as prayerful as the TLM,” you mean “often completely inaudible, so that those present could engage in their private devotions undisturbed,” then I would agree.

    I was 24 years old in 1969, when the Novus Ordo was introduced, so I well remember the Tridentine mass and the manner in which it was, for the most part, celebrated.

    I recall Low Mass in Notre Dame de Paris in the 1950s – the choir, from the chancel arch to the high altar is 36m and the transept adds a further 14m, so someone in the front row of seats was 50m (162 feet) from the priest, under a vault 33m high. The nave is 60m long, so someone at the back was about 100m from the celebrant – about the length of a football field. There was no sound system.

    Not a word of what the priest said could be heard and the Sanctus bell served a very practical purpose. When he turned to us, we knew, of course, that he was saying “Dominus vobiscum,” but, had he said « Salut les copains » only the server would have been any the wiser. Sermons were preached from the pulpit in the nave. Without a homily, mass lasted for some 20 minutes.

    That is, perhaps, an extreme case, but even in the typical parish church of the period, the distance from altar to front pew was often a good 20m (65 feet).

  • Kevin

    LOL no nor Cum bay ya or “Take this bread” or even “Gather us in”. This might shock all on this blog but hymns were part of the tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours, not the Most Holy Eucharist. Being mostly from the religious orders, the Reformers introduced the hymns into their services. Actually the hymns only came into the Mass during the 20th century AND in most cases, before the Second Vatican Council-so it can’t be blamed for that either.

  • are we talking about how the pope is handling the diverse opinions? or are we comparing the masses. I like both at different times. I follow along on the translated page and I don’t do my “private” devotions, when I am at that mass, but I do feel a part of something bigger than just the local cathedral when at the old mass. When at the new mass I follow along and try to participate much in the same way — sursum corda – at either and both.
    as far as how the pope is handling it I agree with someone who said Papa Francis could use some more PR saavy help. I like the pope. I like what bishop Conley said

  • Anzlyne,

    I had not seen the article by Bishop Conley. Thanks for passing it along. I agree with his article

  • Mr. Patterson-Seymour,

    I don’t need to hear the priest’s prayers at Consecration. I can follow them in my missal. The priest is praying to God, not performing for me. Silence is something I appreciate at Mass. I was six in 1969 and I cannot remember going to anything but a NO Mass until 1999.

    The TLM should have been translated into the vernacular – parts of it, anyway – for those who wanted it. That should have been the end of it.

    Boltoph, I never said that the NO was invalid and please don’t think that I am saying that. What I am at this point is so fed up with how the NO is celebrated at almost anywhere I have been in my life that I can’t take it anymore – and I won’t.

    I admit to being influenced by Father Z and his blog. The good Father knows much more than I do and I find his insight fascinating and informing. Fr. Z has never claimed the NO to be invalid. Poorly put together and often poorly celebrated, but not invalid.

  • Penguins Fan,

    I never thought you questioned the validity of the OF. I actually don’t believe most if any who regularly post here do question its validity. That’s why I use the term “Ultra-traditionalists”. Sorry if there was any confusion or ambiguity in my earlier post.

  • I am glad that Botolph and I guess Michael PS have agreed now that no new doctrine was defined @ Vat2 (Botolph: “It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity.” But if no new doctrine(s) were defined at Vat2 (as Paul VI, JP2, and BXVI have said) why is it now the sine qua non for “Catholic” faith? What are the occult doctrines that we must believe stemming from a pastoral council, or we are “in schism” as Michael PS likes to throw around. Traditionals believe what we all once believed; worship the way we once worshipped; pray the way we once prayed. If we all were right then, traditional worship is right now. If wrong then, we are all wrong now. Are the above-referenced individuals now admitting what is in fact the case—that what was written in the constitutions and decrees of the Council are quite different from what was subsequently effected under the guise of “The Spirit of Vatican II (Romano Amerio’s “circiterism”). Again, compare what Sacro Concilium actually says, as to what is now the “Ordinary Form” of the Mass: a near-complete contradiction. But that is only one area of the rupture, and we find “Vatican II-Catholics” running to the legal authority of an “Ecumenical Council” which did not prescribe the Novus Ordo Mass, which did not authorize the break in morality and discipline after the Council, which did not authorize universal salvation (it is right there in the Paul VI Mass’ words of institution “for you and for all” and it took 40 years of grinding conflict to drag you Vat2-ers to the facts), which did not set aside unchanging tradition but an “evolving” process of “theological reflection”, which never authorized the setting aside of the traditional Latin Vulgate as the guiding interpretative source of scriptural interpretation, or which never authorized the re-writing and re-defining of the sacraments as has mostly occurred. So, seeing all these things, what are these “new doctines” that must be professed or we are declared by Botolph, Michael PS, and others to be “apostate” (out of a Council which remember, set aside the declaration of anathemas! Ha! a bitter irony!)

  • I think we always have to be on guard against a certain temptation to turn God’s gracious invitation into something self-righteous in nature. St. Paul had to deal wiht the Judaizers, and something like that phenomenon is always around. It is the natural approach. To act the part of the ‘elder brother’ in the prodigal story is forever a tendency we must stand guard against.

  • Jon, well put. I have known some Protestants who have been better Christians than most of the Catholics I have ever met. While I consider Protestantism a heresy, I realize that some of it came about because Catholics behaved badly, starting with Borgia. I struggle with my own sins and temptations and try not to judge others – but often at my advancing age, their words and deeds annoy me.

  • Thanks, Penguins Fan. I don’t think the Roman Catholic/Protestant split should be framed in terms of orthodoxy and heresy, though. When we discussed orthodoxy in anotehr post, I suggested that it was something reached through consensus within the first four centuries. Those were unique circumstances: the church was in a tenuous position and people could gather together and get on the same page. I don’t think that ever happened afterwards.
    FOr me, the real difference with the split concerns justification by faith. I understand that to mean we are ‘made right’ wtih God on the basis of faith alone or beleiving in Christ. Theologians differ about what this (made rigiht) precisely means or entails, of course. But teh general belief is that it is instantaneous and implies sanctificaiton.

  • Never forget that Satan and his dominions believe in both God the Father and Christ. And yet, are not saved.

  • Orthodoxy is not the product of a consensus of opinion..

  • Anzlyne wrote, “Orthodoxy is not the product of a consensus of opinion..”

    No, it is not, but the “sensus fidelium,” what has been believed “always, everywhere and by all” is infallible, for the Church, as a whole cannot err in its belief.

    Bl John Henry Newman’s “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine,” where he makes it clear that he uses “consulting” in the sense of “consulting” a watch or a barometer, rather than asking advice, is very helpful.

  • Kevin raises a good issue. One can believe all of the right things and still be unsaved. How frightening! I recall a remark by St. James: “You believe that there is one God. Good. Even the demons believe this and shudder!” True faith evinces itself in trust and obedience. In fact, that is how we gain assurance that our faith is real. That is how we know we really answered God’s call to salvation. When we see ourselves trusting and obeying God, we know we are his children.

  • Anzlyne, I don’t think orthodoxy is something that can be literally ‘decided’ by a consensus of opinion. We might better say that it was ‘discovered’ as the church grappled with heresy. Truth won out over falsehood as the church had to survive and define itself over against wrong or less than adequate expression of its belief.

PopeWatch: Not a Marxist

Monday, December 16, AD 2013



Yet another interview.  Yesterday Pope Francis gave an interview with La Stampa.  It coverered a fair amount of ground.  Go here to read it.  Here are some of the more interesting portions:

Some of the passages in the “Evangelii Gaudium” attracted the criticism of ultraconservatives in the USA. As a Pope, what does it feel like to be called a “Marxist”?

“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

The most striking part of the Exhortation was where it refers to an economy that “kills”…

“There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

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52 Responses to PopeWatch: Not a Marxist

  • Perhaps, the Pope’s remark about Marxists is merely an example of the old slogan, “No enemies on the Left.” It certainly implies no acceptance of Marxist doctrine. For all we know, from anything he has said, the Holy Father may prefer Proudhon, Sorel and Bakunin – Anti-Marxists to a man.

  • I suspect that the Pope does embrace the slogan “No enemies on the Left” which is precisely the problem MPS. The Pope’s “explanation” of his “trickle down” remark gives me no confidence that he has the slightest understanding of how markets work either in theory or in practice.

  • Donald, William Jennings Bryan once pointed out the two contending ideas. It was his impression that raising the water level would lift everone up. John Paul II was very socially conscious, too. It is hard to express concern without sounding like an economic liberal.

  • Complete and utter rubbish Jon. Citing “Cross of Gold” William Jennings Bryan who had no understanding at all of basic economics does not help your argument. No one does any favors for the poor by seeking to tell them that government intervention is the solution to their woes and that their plight is caused by the rich. That is the path of the demagogue and it never leads to widespread prosperity.

  • “They will not press down upon us this crown of thorns; we will not be crucified upon a cross of gold!” For a speech it was awfully good. I don’t know the answers to this. He was a theologian, not an economist, though he was definately a politician. And he took a stand against business and banking.

  • Oh, Bryan was one of the great orators of American history:


    He spoke economic tripe, but he did so masterfully!

  • Yes, he was a great orator. Unfortantely, since flowery rhetoric was insufficient in a debate like that, it probably did little good for the long term for strict or literal creationists.
    He would have done better to point out the nature of language in general. For example, to this day we say the sun rises and sets. The biblical writers were not intereested in a scientific account as we have come to think of it.

  • Was speaking of the “Monkey Trial.”

  • One conclusion that is self-evident to PopeWatch now is that Pope Francis is absolutely tone deaf to the starboard side of the political spectrum.

    This should not surprise anyone: Pope Francis is not a U.S. national. What you refer to as ‘the starboard side’ is the uniquely American marriage of cultural conservatism with classical liberalism. This is not found in any other country – not even, except in a very incomplete form, in Canada or Australia – for the excellent reason that classical liberalism was never bred into the culture in any other country in the way that it was in the U.S. A classical liberal outside of the U.S. is never a conservative, because the traditions of his country invariably include things like aristocracy, monarchy, or at least a habit of submissive veneration towards ordained authority, which cannot be conserved if liberalism is to flourish. A classical liberal in the U.S. is concerned with conserving the work of the Founding Fathers and the culture that their successors built up. The upshot is that ‘the starboard side’ of U.S. politics does not powerfully resemble any political movement in any other country, and it is only reasonable to expect that the Pope has no particular familiarity with it.

    After months of close observation, I have come round to the view that our new Pope’s problem is neither Leftism nor modernism; it is that he is provincial. He says things that are perfectly correct and understandable within a Latin American context, but are far too easily (and often wilfully) misinterpreted by people who don’t know that culture, its assumptions, or its language. My Spanish is not fluent, but even I can see where his Holiness’s translators simply make a hash of his original statements.

    It doesn’t help, by the way, that ignorance of economics is pandemic in Latin America. I don’t think I have ever heard of an influential economist from that part of the world. In fact, I’m rather afraid that the average Latin American thinks of an economist not as a specialist with useful knowledge, but as a sort of ogre employed by the IMF to exploit the people and countries south of the Rio Grande. With occasional exceptions, the economic policy of those countries could be fairly described as ‘Perónism without Perón’. It would be remarkable indeed if a man who lived his life in post-Perón Argentina had any good understanding of the subject.

  • “Was speaking of the “Monkey Trial.”
    The Monkey Trial was about parental rights to educate their children according to their beliefs.

  • Tom Simon is perfectly right about the unique nature of American conservatism.

    In France, for example, both the dwindling counter-revolutionary, “Throne and Altar” conservatives and the right-wing Nationalists tend to be equally « dirigiste » in economic matters. They tend to be protectionist, not for economic, but for strategic reasons. Indeed, they tend to be remarkably authoritarian. It is the old French belief that, without a strong central power, the secondary powers in society (financiers, organized labour &c, &c) will run riot and oppress.

    Here is a pretty little story: Under the Fourth Republic, Michel Debré at first supported the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance, but defected to the Radical-Socialist Party on the advice of General de Gaulle, who reportedly told him and several other politicians, including Jacques Chaban-Delmas, « Allez au parti radical. C’est là que vous trouverez les derniers vestiges du sens de l’Etat » – “Go to the radical party. It is there that you will find the last vestiges of the meaning of the state.”

  • The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor.

    Donald, this is exactly what I thought when I read that line.
    The Pope’s “explanation” of his “trickle down” remark gives me no confidence that he has the slightest understanding of how markets work either in theory or in practice.

    Perhaps someone should send him the essay “I, Pencil.” It’s a good start in understanding trickle down. You tax the lumberjack or lay heavy unnecessary burdens on him, and those actions have negative effects which trick down through the system. Ditto for any positive actions.

    Did the pope happen to mention if he knew any trickle down economists who are good people? Or, does he just know good Marxists?

    I’m starting to wish he would take a vow of silence for a while. The more he speaks, the deeper the hole he digs.

  • The Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals. Is he infallible ihn matters of assigning complete control of the economy, all property, and fiscal/monetary policy to a tiny elite? Human beings are utterly fallible. So, marxism deifies dictators and, in today’s iterations, central bankers. It gives them vast powers to “mess up” by misallocating economic resources; mal-manipulating markets, imposing ruinous interest rates and prices; and promulgating massive economic disasters. That system has proven to be (Keynes here) dull, illogical, and destructive, not to mention epic genocidal crimes of the past century.

    While the state engages in its victory laps: Fed and income tax 100th anniversaries, I will commemorate a far happier anniversary – the Boston Tea Party.

  • Yes, Kyle M, I am hoping for a self-imposed vow of silence on PF, but I doubt it is in the offing; As equally I have no doubt about my irritating everyone from the start on this pontiff, seeing “stormy weather ahead”, with his un-self-critical, proudly ivory-tower-Jesuit jargon (phrases like “self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagians” you have got to know were thrown around the rec room somewhere with his SJ confidantes), and his sometimes bizarre jingle-like phrases (“Money should serve not rule”; “Time is greater than space”; “Realities are more important than ideas”, all these from Evan. Gaudium). The worst problem is his Montini-esque creation of confusion and contradiction in almost all his communications so far. Economic growth, he says, requires “programs” and “mechanisms” and “better distribution of income” (n. 204), yet he demurrs that he is advocating a new populism (205). He discusses in his interviews the problem of re-married Catholics but he states there will be no change in Church teaching. The evangelizer should evidence “attitudes which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental (165)”, so is there a dialogue between truth and untruth, life and abortion, the culture of life and the culture of death?
    Oh: and watch ahead for how he intends to re-create the semi-autonomy of episcopal conferences(also in EG: 32), undoing all the work of JP2 and BXVI to bring these bandits back into the territorial governance; so we are likely to repeat the contradictions and deviations of the Dutch Schism of the 1960’s (remember the Dutch Catechism, that fine work of Catholic teaching!), when of all people, Pope “Let-it-be” Montini himself had to try to try to be disciplinarian when the inmates were only operating the asylum according to the Vat2 blueprint. Stormy weather ahead.

  • Also: Pope F: “The Marxist ideology is wrong: But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” My, my, this is a faint excoriation of a philosophy that killed a few million under Lenin, 20-50 million (or more) under Stalin, easily 40-70 million (or more) under Mao, and whose present leaders most notably in N. Korea and Cuba execute their own populace with impunity. “All for the cause”, the famous Leninist motto. All for the cause, But free-markets of course kill many millions more. Of course.

  • “The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. “.
    That is his opinion but I don’t think it is true, is it? I thought the relatively poor in an expansive economy had a higher standard of living than the poor in a struggling economy .

  • I dunno if the Communist:fascist analogy is as perfect as you guys’re making it. One can be understood in drawing idealistic, somewhat naïve people to it even if it’s evil…the other, maybe some people’d fit that description, but that’s not usually how we think of it.

    although, Communism:fascism is a closer analogy than Communism:Nazism.

  • “One can be understood in drawing idealistic, somewhat naïve people to it even if it’s evil…the other, maybe some people’d fit that description, but that’s not usually how we think of it.”

    That is correct J.I. because there are active Marxists still out there, sometimes occupying prestigious academic positions throughout the West, while fascism is relegated to the fever swamps of insignificance. One hundred million dead, at least, to applied Marxism in the last century, and our current pope does not regard the term Marxist as an insult because he has known good Marxists. I truly hope Pope Francis is not as clueless, or as callous, as that off the cuff remark would imply if anyone else said it.

  • “The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the ‘trickle-down theories’ which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor.”

    In the 1980 Republican campaign for President, George H. Bush belittled Ronald Reagan’s economic plans for recovery calling it, “Trickle-down economics.” The rest is history. Reagan won the nomination, picked Bush as his running mate and skunked President Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s economic plans set in motion the greatest and longest economic recovery ever experienced, lifting employment, earnings, wages and ended the “misery index” created by Jimmy Carter. Oh, by the way, it also made the Soviet Union President realize they would never be able to compete with the U.S. militarily because of America’s roaring economic engine and lead to the breaking up of the atheist Soviet Union and freeing of hundreds of millions of people. Not bad…that “Trickle-down theory,” and the good Pope should learn a lesson from history, including Pope John Paul II teaming up with President Reagan and Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, another free-enterpriser, causing the Soviet Union to dissolve during George H. Bush first term as President 8 years later.

  • I am not speaking from a technical point of view? Then what the HECK was the point of all those denunciations of policy? Macroeconomic policy reccos are, duh, technical! If you profess to have no competency in technical matters, then when it comes to recommendations about technical matters, please shut up.

    I HATE it when people do this; clergy, the glitterati, the academy, and others who get paid the same whether they are right or wrong – just so long as they keep talking – always do this: “Here is a long list of technical policy suggestions”
    “Hey, isn’t that totally wildly inaccurate?”
    “Oh, well, I wasn’t speaking on technical matters; I was just advocating for justice or some such something [implicitly the same as socialism].”

  • When we consider the implications of Christianity, we are brought to the realization that “no man is an island.” Thatcher was correct in one sense when she suggested there is no such thing as society–there is no society in the abstract, in other words. Society is made up of individuals, all of whom must choose community and justice. We make society. It does not happen by itself. But her policies suggested that each person remains atomized. That, I think, its the troubling aspect with classic economic liberalism. It posits a view where individuals are at war with one another, and each is concerned wtih taking advantage of the other.

  • Thanks stillbelieve. I still remember the disdain in adult voices for the “trickle down” idea. It almost seems like I hear disdain from our pope today…. not only in his use of that phrase, but also “self absorbed promethean neo pelagian”
    Some want to embrace the S-APNp label (on a coffee mug and proud of it) but I don’t accept that label.
    I have journeyed in my faith. It isn’t juvenile, immature, narcissistic, self absorbed and anthrocentric. Those terms really seem to me to be more descriptive of the modern liberal idea of social justice.
    In the movie “Christmas Candle” the young Anglican pastor left the pulpit to dish out soup in the soup line. He was not living out his faith more fully, but he was living out a Lack of faith in the transcendent, all powerful, all loving God.

  • In a post above Jon quoted former and now deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as ‘society’-there is no society in the abstract: society is made up of individuals, all of whom must choose community and justice.

    Before beginning, my arguement is not with Jon, and not even with Ms Thatcher per se. However, is that true? It is how the Western ‘liberal’ philosophy views reality [here ‘liberal’ is that much broader and deeper philosophy of which both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ ideologies in America spring]

    If this is true, that there is no such thing as ‘society’ and only a mass of individuals who must choose both community and justice [whatever those realities would mean if this philosophy were pushed to their logical conclusion] then there is no such thing as ‘the family’? [See where this view of reality takes us, and is taking us even now? (marriage is whatever two individuals want it to be?)] There are no such things as ‘family ties? Any ‘authority’ of parents is based on the consent of the governed [children in this case]? Any member of the family no matter who or what age can opt out of the family [husbands and wives can in divorce-and there is a growing sense of this with children doing this willingly or taken from parents in some cases for questionable reasons]?

    Of course this does not simply effect ‘the family’ which is a ‘community of response’ (one is a member of it then one responds to it) rather than a ‘community of election (one chooses it) The Church is also a ‘community of response’ and not a ‘community of election’. Thus it makes a great deal of sense-from this ‘no such thing as society’ view-that the right people have is freedom of worship (each individual chooses his/her ‘god’ and right to ‘choose’ to worship that ‘god’) but not freedom of religion-since like ‘society’ the Church is therefore, according to this view, an abstraction, and all it really is, is a massive group of individuals choosing to form community [we call this a ‘denomination’] and do ‘justice’ [according to what the group thinks justice is-there is no real justice to be achieved]. And of course, there is ‘no right to govern’ in the Church (according to this view) except with the expressed will of the governed (here is where ideologies have a field day, then, to see who and what ideology gets into the ascendancy, transforming the Church into a carbon copy of American politics)

    See, words count, ‘philosophies’ count-and we often ‘swallow’ before we have chewed and mulled over what it is we are chewing. Do we really believe that there is no such thing as ‘society’? Do we really believe that man is ‘condemned’ to his/her own solitary existence between the womb and the tomb as ‘an individual’? Do we not believe that we are in the image of God: One and Triune~~~~individual and social by nature?

  • Great points, Botolph! Yes, the idea that there is no society is without validity. The classic liberalism from which today’s American liberals AND conservatives spring is at fault here. We are all liberals and that’s unfortunate. We must return to the Bible for our understanding of life. Family is not contractual. However, the church is something to which people are added on as they come to God. We do not find ourselves born into this; it requires a second birth. It is only then that we belong to it in the truest sense, even if our parents were Christian and we consequently found ourselves in that milieu. So I would disagree wtih that. I believe a faith response is required on the part of the individual. You speak of the Trinity. We are made in God’s image. We reflect him individually and in community.

  • We do well to point out that no state of nature exists in the sense posited by Rousseau. Even for philosophic purposes, this was a very bad way to start. People are communal by nature. We exist in families and amidst others in community. We have been cultural from the beginning. There is no ‘state of nature’.

  • It’s again snowing in NYC. Talk to me about frauds: global warming.

    Ann Althouse and a Bloomberg.com op-ed take to task CST types, in general, and Pope Francis, in particular, for promoting sin: envy.

    Here’s the skinny about CST from Instapundit: “Charity is good for the soul. Exercise is good for the body. Forced redistribution is not charity, and will do no more for your soul than making someone else lift weights at gunpoint will do for your biceps.”

  • Jon,

    Ahh yes yet nonetheless the Church is indeed a ‘community of response’ and not a ‘denomination’. This is key to our self understanding and it is one more difference that we have with “Protestantism’:

    The Church has been from the beginning (I know this is difficult to take in but the Church Fathers spoke of this. The whole of creation and the Old Testament point to and reveal in mystery the truth that is present in and through Jesus Christ. As the moon receives her light from the sun and as the first woman came forth from the side of man [not a teaching on biology but theology] so the Church comes forth from the side of the New Adam, asleep in death on the Cross. It is from the Church that we both hear the Gospel in order to believe and are born from above in the womb of the Church: the sacrament of Baptism. The Church is thus a community of response, not a denomination which is a community of election

  • Botolph, you reflect a more intuitive hermeneutical style that capitalizes on some metaphors through which we may attain insight.
    Spiritual rebirth owes itself to the work of the Spirit. God draws people to himself with prevenient grace and we respond to that with free-will. Baptism is a symbol of our death and rebirth in Christ, and our entrance into the community of believers in Christ. I would venture to say that the church is a community of election in the sense that St. Paul explains in his letter to the Romans. He speaks of what we might term the plan of the ages. God called Israel as a corporate entity and he elects the church in Christ. His election is corporate. This is how I understand it. Of course the chruch is not a denomination. The church is comprised of all those who are ‘in Christ’, past, present, and future. It is also a term used to refer to local meetings, assemblies, or gatherings.

  • Botolph is quite right

    It was a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. A person’s relations with others, even if important, are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to one’s being what one is. This principle underlies all their talk about the “state of nature” and the “social contract,” and from it is derived the notion that the only obligations are those voluntarily assumed.

    This is why Yves Simon says that, in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.” To clarify, Simon then adds: “Human communities are the highest attainment of nature for they are virtually unlimited with regard to diversity of perfections, and are virtually immortal.” Simon insists that “Beyond the satisfaction of individual needs, the association of men serves a good unique in plenitude and duration, the common good of the human community” and that “The highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good, brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.”

  • Very well said, Michael.

  • I read the “I’ve known good Marxists” thing as an example of what Tom pointed to, though I’m not sure I’d call it “provincial.” (mostly, not sure WHAT I’d call it)

    There’s places where it’s Marxist or Crony Capitalism– for some forsaken reason, humans tend towards “this or that” and heaven help whoever doesn’t fit.

  • In my online reading today, I stumbled upon an article at Ethika Politika entitled “Pope Benedict defends Francis on Market and Ethics. I was intrigued. This is what I found:

    “In order to find solutions that will truly lead us forward, new economic ideas will be necessary. But such measures do not seem conceivable, or above all, practical without new moral impulses. It is at this point that a dialogue between Church and economy becomes possible and necessary.

    Let me clarify somewhat the exact point in question. At first glance, precisely in terms of classical economic theory, it is not obvious what the Church and the economy should actually have to do with one another, aside from the fact that the Church owns businesses and so is a factor in the market. The Church should not enter into dialogue here as a mere component in the economy but rather in its own right as Church.

    [Noting that Ratzinger went after Smithin economics and in particular a ‘system where voluntary actions contradict market rules and drive the moralizing entrepreneur out of the game’ as a culprit against which the Church must align] he goes on:

    “The great successes of this theory concealed its limitations for a long time. But now in a changed situation, its tacit philosophical presuppositions and thus its problems become clearer. Although this postion admits the freedom of individual businessmen, and to that extent can be called liberal, it is in fact deterministic in its core. It presupposes that the free play of market forces can operate in one direction only, given the constitution of man and the world, namely, toward the self-regulation of supply and demand, and toward economic efficiency and progress”

    Like Pope Francis, the then Cardinal Ratzinger states clearly that Marxism ideology is wrong:

    “In terms of the structure of its economic theory and praxis, the Marxist system as a centrally administered economy is a radical antithesis to the market economy. Salvation is expected because there is no private control of the means of production, because supply and demand are not brought into harmony through market competition, because there is no place for private profit seeking, and because all regulations proceed from a central economic administration. Yet, in spite of this radical opposition, THERE ARE ALSO POINTS IN COMMON IN THE DEEPER PHILOSOPHICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS. The FIRST of these consists in the fact that Marxism too, is DETERMINISTIC in nature and it too PROMISES A PERFECT LIBERATION as the fruit of this determinism. For this reason, it is a fundamental error to suppose that a centralized economic system is a moral system in contrast to the mechanistic system of the market economy. This becomes clearly visible, for example, in Lenin’s acceptance of Sombart’s thesis that there is in marxism no grain of ethics, but only economic laws.

    Ratzinger continues: “Behind [the thirst for power and possessions] lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. it is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God Who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, and even dangerous, since He calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement.”

    “We can no longer regard so naively the liberal-capitalistic system (even with all the corrections it has since received) as the salvation of the world. We are no longer in the Kennedy-era with its Peace Corps optimism; the Third World’s questions about the system may be partial but they are not groundless. A self-criticism of the Christian confessions with respect to political and economic ethics is the first requirement.

    It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the COMMON GOOD depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse. An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group-indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state-but to the COMMON GOOD OF THE FAMILY OF MAN DEMANDS A MAXIMUM OF ETHICAL DISCIPLINE AND THUS A MAXIMUM OF RELIGIOUS STRENGTH. The political formation of a will that employs the inherent laws toward this goal appears, in spite of all humanitarian protestations almost impossible today. It can only be realize if new ethical powers are completely set free. A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practical and socially tolerable.”

    Did Pope Benedict really come out with a statement to support Pope Francis against many critics, but especially against the ones claiming he is marxist? The answer is “yes”-however, it is not a statement made in the last few weeks. It comes from Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings in 1985! Granted, he was not yet pope, but it shows that the statements from Ratzinger and Bergoglio are not way out there somewhere-but arising from the center of the Church. Pope Francis’ statements are in continuity with earlier Magisterial Social Teaching.

  • o man Botolph- that title is a stretch not just because it is anachronistic or just because Cardinal Ratzinger was not speaking in support of the statements made by Pope Francis, but also because what he Was talking about the need for moral prudence and ethics. Sure they both talked about Marxisms failings, but “Benedict” did not talk about the efficacy (or lack of efficacy) of “trickle down” or did I miss that?

  • Anzlyne,

    I don’t blame you; don’t blame yourself. It is there but not obvious:


    Please pardon the caps Anzlyne, I was not shouting aat you lol It seems to be the only way of emphasizing a word or sentence in the blogsphere 🙂

    To your point though: that deterministic view of the liberal economic system as if the only direction it is flowing in or can go in is toward ‘self-regulation of supply and demand, toward economic efficiency and progress’ is a more philosophical way of describing ‘trickle-down economics, IMHO. The then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Francis are radically questioning this ‘deterministic direction in only one direction of what is called liberal economic theory

    Please note that Cardinal Ratzinger went into a long condemnation of Marxism as well-but what even stunned me more were the common points both marxism and ‘democratic capitalism do have in common-per Cardinal Ratzinger. I mean: Pope Benedict is no radical nor ‘provincial’ as some might call Pope Francis.

  • Pope Francis points out things sometimes overlooked, the Imitation of Christ and the Corporal Works of Mercy, and that we should not judge the state of another’s soul. That’s for the Divine Judge. Yet, though we be gentle as doves, we must be wise as serpents. Serpents are rarely stepped upon but we will be, if we put our trust in princes such as most especially the Philosopher Kings of the Left. As to “trickle-down” economics, I recall the phrase as a pejorative appellation of the Left to ridicule the economic policy of the Reagan Administration. So I at last stagger to speculation on Pope Francis’ economic views, which may be favorable to Distributism. If so, he shares the good company of Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton and L. Brent Bozell Jr. Dare I say as well Pope Leo XIII? I understand that Ron Paul is engaging in speculation on Obama’s economic views and tentative concludes him to be a Corporatist. If so, I imagine of the top down variety like Mussolini. Our Lord said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s but did not elucidate as to how much Caesar should lay claim. I think the Widow’s mite is quite enough.

  • “That is correct J.I. because there are active Marxists still out there, sometimes occupying prestigious academic positions throughout the West, while fascism is relegated to the fever swamps of insignificance”

    It’s possible for people to believe that Marx had certain insights, and be drawn to the egalitarianism of Marxist ideology in the abstract, while not being so keen on the “false consciousness” and “revolutionary vanguard” concepts that lead to all the destruction. Yeah it’s an evil ideology taken as a whole but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with recognizing its (one-time) appeal or studying it.

    you could argue the same for fascism, but part of the reason it’s not taken as seriously is cuz it’s not universally aimed in the same way, and arose in particular circumstances where countries felt nationally “humiliated” post-WWI + died after.

  • Please pardon the caps Anzlyne, I was not shouting aat you lol It seems to be the only way of emphasizing a word or sentence in the blogsphere

    Lesser-than symbol, either the letter ‘i‘, ‘b‘ or ‘u‘, greater than symbol; word you wish emphasized; Lesser-than, slash, same letter, greater than.

  • “or studying it.”

    I am confident the Pope Francis was not referring to people who study Marxism. I would be most definitely in that category. He was referring to people who are true believers in Marxism, even after all the blood shed in the last century by Marxists.

  • Botolph,

    I have the greatest respect for Benedict XVI. But I am not sure that his economic analysis is correct either. Here I think is a better definition of Capitalism from Centesimus Annus 42:

    ” Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

    The answer is obviously complex. If by “capit