3

PopeWatch: The Meeting

 

 

 

 

Well the meeting occurred.  I would note that Ivanka and Melania were properly attired wearing black with veils, a fitting display of respect for the Vicar of Christ:

 

The meeting turned out not to be about Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, taking the American president to the woodshed about building a wall or closing borders to refugees.

Diplomatically speaking, they met as equals – as Heads of State.

There is a huge clash of styles between the two men: the pope, a model of humility; and Trump, more of a showman-businessman combo.

But Francis is all about finding common ground. And while Trump is known for his “Art of the Deal,” Francis has the divine calling for the Art of Persuasion. In that vein, a key exchange of the meeting was his gift to the president: copies of his three major writings.

The first is his encyclical, “Evangelii Gaudium” — The Joy of the Gospel.  This is about finding the core of Christianity. It’s about real faith. It will speak to Francis’ reason behind his statement, “No true Christian would build a wall.”

Next is “Amoris Laetitia” — The Joy of Love. This is about family, about sexual mores, divorce, communion and all those thorny issues the church is dealing with as the meaning of “family” in a secularized world has changed. The key here is that it is neither conservative nor liberal. It was Francis’ unique way of speaking the truth in love.

And finally, “Laudato Si” — On Care of Our Common Home. This is the major encyclical on the environment and climate change. It had a big release in 2015, with many seeing this as a central focus of Francis’ papacy. It is an issue they may disagree on, but again, Francis is about persuasion. He’s letting his writing do the talking.

President Trump said, “Well, I’ll be reading them.”

Most of the real diplomacy work took place during the president’s brief meeting afterwards with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher.

Reports called them “cordial discussions” that included talks about a joint commitment in favor of life,  freedom of worship, and  freedom of conscience – all issues the Catholic Church is concerned about. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Separated at Birth

In anticipation of the grand meeting in Rome of Pope and President:

The leader can be described thusly:

  1. He is impulsive.
  2. He insults enemies.
  3. He uses twitter daily.
  4. He loves media attention.
  5. His most ardent supporters resemble a cult.
  6. He is autocratic.
  7. He is sometimes inarticulate when he goes off script.
  8. He is a source of division.
  9. His statements are frequently factually challenged.
  10. He believes in conspiracy theories.

Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Justice

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Mathew 7: 14

 

 

Pope Francis continues with his mercy uber alles theme:

 

 

Pope Francis says Catholic leaders do a “great injustice” when they say God judges sinners when in fact he forgives sinners with his mercy.

At an evening prayer service Friday in Fatima, Portugal, Francis said: “Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in light of his mercy.”

Francis has riled the more doctrinaire wing of the church with his mercy-over-morals priorities, particularly after the last two doctrine-minded papacies. He recently concluded an entire Holy Year on trying to show the more merciful side of the church.

 

Francis delivered the mercy-trumps-judgment message on the first day of a two-day visit to the shrine at Fatima, where three shepherd children reported having visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Francis will declare two of the children saints on Saturday, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Council of Jerusalem

 

 

The Pope takes a look at the Council of Jerusalem to accuse those who oppose him of trying to impose ideology rather than doctrine:

 

 

The Holy Father was commenting on the First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles. He noted that even in the first Christian community “there were jealousies, power struggles, a certain deviousness that wanted to profit from and to buy power.” There are always problems, he said: “We are human, we are sinners” and there are difficulties, even in the Church. But being sinners leads to humility and to drawing close to the Lord, as Saviour who saves us from our sins. With regard to the gentiles who the Spirit called to become Christians, the Holy Father recalled that, in the reading, the apostles and the elders chose several people to go to Antioch together with Paul and Barnabas. The reading describes two different kinds of people: those who had “forceful discussions” but with “a good spirit,” on the one hand; and those who “sowed confusion”:

“The group of the apostles who want to discuss the problem, and the others who go and create problems. They divide, they divide the Church, they say that what the Apostles preached is not what Jesus said, that it is not the truth.”

The apostles discussed the situation among themselves, and in the end came to an agreement:

“But it is not a political agreement; it is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that leads them to say: no things, no necessities. Only those who say: don’t eat meat at the time, meat sacrificed to idols, because that was communion with the idols; abstain from blood, from animals that were strangled, and from illegitimate unions.”

The Pope pointed to the “liberty of the Spirit” that leads to agreement: so, he said, the gentiles were allowed to enter the Church without having to undergo circumcision. It was at the heart of the “first Council” of the Church: the Holy Spirit and they, the Pope with the Bishops, all together,” gathered together in order “to clarify the doctrine;” and later, through the centuries – as at Ephesus or at Vatican II – because “it is a duty of the Church to clarify the doctrine,” so that “what Jesus said in the Gospels, what is the Spirit of the Gospels, would be understood well”:

“But there were always people who without any commission go out to disturb the Christian community with speeches that upset souls: ‘Eh, no, someone who says that is a heretic, you can’t say this, or that; this is the doctrine of the Church.’ And they are fanatics of things that are not clear, like those fanatics who go there sowing weeds in order to divide the Christian community. And this is the problem: when the doctrine of the Church, that which comes from the Gospel, that which the Holy Spirit inspires – because Jesus said, “He will teach us and remind you of all that I have taught’ – [when] that doctrine becomes an ideology. And this is the great error of those people.”

These individuals, the Pope explained, “were not believers, they were ideologized,” they had an ideology that closed the heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles, on the other hand, certainly discussed things forcefully, but they were not ideologized: “They had hearts open to what the Holy Spirit said. And after the discussion ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.’” Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Catholic Education

 

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

 

 

Facing financial ruin due to the high cost of trying to provide their son with a good Catholic education, sources confirmed Thursday that parents of high school freshman Johnny Irving, Tom and Lisa, are quite impressed with their son’s growing knowledge of every tenet of every religion, but Catholicism.

According to the freshman’s parents, Irving has gained an immense amount of knowledge about the Koran, The Analects of Confucius, and the Book of Mormon in his class Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine 101.

“It’s breathtaking the amount of non-Catholic knowledge he’s learning in his Catholic Doctrine class,” Lisa Irving told EOTT. “We’re about a paycheck or two away from filing for bankruptcy just so Johnny can learn about everything but Catholicism at a Catholic school, but it’s so worth it. He always comes home telling us interesting things about Catholic teaching like how according to the Church the most important doctrine is coexistence. And how the Church teaches that it’s pointless to evangelize since a person’s own consciousness, being infused by a higher spirit, stirs within him or her at birth and sanctifies every belief, whim, or desire that person has. I didn’t know that. Probably because I went to Catholic school when classrooms had crucifixes and whatnot in them.”

 

Lisa went on to say that, though her son still has never heard of the Nicene Creed, that he had memorized several verses from the Koran that incidentally mention Jesus, and that through Buddhist teachings, he has come to learn about Christ the bodhisattva.

“Listen, some people might think $40,000 for a four-year high school education seems absurd, ” Lisa Irving went on to say. “But tell that to me when my son graduates summa cum laude, which of course he will graduate with since every student in that fine scholastic institution graduates with that honor.”

At press time, Johnny is studying for his midterms in one of the school’s mandatory classes, Advanced Being Nice. Continue Reading

16

PopeWatch: Maduro’s Buddy

 

 

Father Raymond de Souza calls out Pope Francis in regard to Venezuela:

 

On the return flight from Cairo, the Holy Father was asked about Venezuela and appeared to depart from his neutrality – against the opposition:

Part of the opposition does not want this [dialogue]. Interesting, the opposition itself is divided and, on the other hand, it seems that the conflicts are increasingly escalating.  But there is something happening.  There is something moving forward, and I’ve been informed of this, but it’s still very much in the air as yet. Everything that can be done for Venezuela must be done.  And with the necessary guarantees.  Otherwise we are just playing childish games that lead nowhere.

What that answer meant was unclear, except that the pope appeared to be blaming the opposition. It did not take long for that response to be heard in Venezuela and the dismay to be heard in Rome.

The next day the Regina Coeli address lurched toward restoring some kind of balance, with Pope Francis appealing “to the government and all the members of Venezuelan society to avoid any further forms of violence, to respect human rights and to negotiate solutions to the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population.”

The Maduro regime, having lost the delaying tactic of mediation, proposed instead a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution for Venezuela.

This would have the benefit of dissolving the National Assembly, which has been controlled by the opposition since 2013.

Earlier this year, Maduro had his allies on the supreme court strip the National Assembly of its powers, until an international protest forced a reversal.

The opposition has rejected the constitutional reform tactic, as have the Catholic bishops. On Saturday, Maduro denounced the bishops for taking a harder line against him than Pope Francis. He publicly called for the Venezuelan bishops to agree to his proposals in obedience to Pope Francis.

Vatican diplomacy has now stumbled into a place where Maduro considers Pope Francis an ally against the bishops of Venezuela.

It is a repeat of Vatican fumbling in Ukraine, where local Catholics felt that Pope Francis was siding with the Russian invaders. The Russia-Ukraine situation was fast-moving and great power politics – not to mention the delicate ecumenical situation with the Russian Orthodox – were at play.

Nothing of the sort is at play in Venezuela. It is the pope’s backyard. If the Holy See is positioned on the side of tyranny in opposition to her own bishops, it would be an inexplicable catastrophe. So much of the Holy Father’s defense of the suffering and exploited would ring hollow. Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Que?

 

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture notes that Pope Francis uses Jesuit doublespeak when he wishes to avoid endorsing Catholic teaching:

As the question-and-answer session was coming to a close, a Portuguese journalist was given the opportunity for a final question. He asked the Holy Father to comment on the fact that in Portugal, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, the political trend is favorable to recognition of same-sex marriage, acceptance of abortion, and now perhaps even euthanasia. Here is the Pope’s reply:

I think it’s a political problem. And that also the Catholic conscience isn’t a catholic one of total belonging to the Church and that behind that there isn’t a nuanced catechesis, a human catechesis. That is, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of what is a serious and nuanced thing. I think that there is a lack of formation and also of culture. Because it’s curious, in some other regions, I think of the south of Italy, some in Latin America, they are very Catholic but they are anti-clerical and ‘priest-eaters’, that … there is a phenomenon that exists. It concerns me. That’s why I tell priests, you will have read it, to flee from clericalism because clericalism distances people. May they flee from clericalism and I add: it’s a plague in the Church. But here there is a work also of catechesis, of raising awareness, of dialogue, also of human values.

So, given an opportunity to comment on the collapse of Catholic moral principles in a Catholic society—it could easily be described as a softball question—the Pope said… What?

Read that answer again, and tell me what the Pope thinks of Catholics who, in public life, betray Catholic principles. Good luck. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Pontius Pilate

 

 

Sandro Magister wonders why the Vatican is silent on the persecution by the Venezuelan government against the Church:

 

The number of dead is now around forty, the wounded number a thousand. It is the price of a month of popular demonstrations, even of only women dressed in white, against the presidency of Nicolás Maduro, in a Venezuela on the brink.

A Venezuela in which a new factor has recently taken the field, and this is the growing, systematic aggression against properties and personnel of the Catholic Church.

Vatican sources – starting with “L’Osservatore Romano” – as detailed as they are in covering the developments of the crisis, are sparing with news about aggression against the Church.

There is not a single reference to this even in the letter that Pope Francis wrote on May 5 to the Venezuelan bishops, who on the same day published a vibrant declaration against the announcement made by Maduro of a “constitutional convention” to reform the state for his use and consumption, meaning in practice – the bishops charge – to impose “a totalitarian, militaristic, violent, oppressive police state system” even worse than the “21st-century socialism” set up by Maduro’s predecesssor, Hugo Chávez, a leader still praised by many leftist populist groups in Latin America and elsewhere.

For Sunday, May 21, the bishop have called a “Day of prayer for peace in Venezuela.” But meanwhile, here is an initial survey of the aggression against the Catholic Church, published by the Venezuelan journalist Marinellys Tremamunno in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of April 2:

> Venezuela, inizia la persecuzione della Chiesa

Nothing is off-limits. Death threats and blasphemous graffiti on the walls of churches. Masses interrupted by incursions of Chavist “colectivos.” Caracas cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino silenced during the homily and forced to leave the church. The venerated image of the Nazarene in the cathedral of Valencia smeared with human excrement. The chanceries of the dioceses of Guarenas and Maracay plundered. Thefts of consecrated hosts in Maracaibo. The headquarters of the episcopal conference devastated. One priest killed in Guayana and another abducted.

But it doesn’t end there. On May 4, the doors of the cathedral of Caracas were damaged and its walls were covered with graffiti in praise of the government. That same day, a crowd of students from the Catholic university marched on the episcopal residence, as a sign of solidarity.

Because by now the bishops too are an “enemy” against whom the Maduro presidency is lashing out with vehemence. Especially after the failure at the outset of the attempt at mediation between the government and opposition groups supported at the end of last year by pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio through his envoys:

> Venezuela, a Nation on the Brink of the Abyss (7.11.2017)

The stance adopted by the Vatican authorities to foster a reconciliation among the parties was that expressed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, formerly the nuncio in Caracas before his appointment as secretary of state, in the letter he sent to the parties in mid-December, “in the name and at the behest of the Holy Father.”

In it, he identified four conditions for the opening of dialogue:

– humanitarian channels to guarantee the population food and medicine;
– restitution to the parliament (in which the opposition groups are in the majority) of the prerogatives stipulated by the constitution;
– the liberation of political prisoners;
– new free elections.

But the Maduro presidency has not wanted to meet any of these conditions. On the contrary, it has made additional decisions that have ramped up the repression.

And Pope Francis has been punctually informed about everything. Also through direct conversations with Venezuelan bishops, including the president of the episcopal conference, Cardinal Baltazar Porras Cardozo, archbishop of Mérida, who met with the pope in Rome on April 27, on the eve of his journey to Egypt.

So one can understand the disappointment and anger of many Venezuelans, including bishops, when two days later, on April 29, during the customary press conference on the flight back to Rome from Cairo, Francis said this about the crisis in Venezuela:

“There was an effort by the Holy See, but this did not produce results, because the proposals were not accepted, or were diluted with a ‘yes, yes, but no, no.’ We all know the difficult situation in Venezuela, which is a country that I love very much. I know that now there is insistence – I believe on the part of the four former presidents [of Colombia, Spain, Panama, and Santo Domingo – editor’s note] – to restore this facilitation. I believe that conditions have already been presented. Very clear conditions. But part of the opposition does not want this. Because it is curious, the opposition is divided. And, on the other hand, it appears that the conflicts are intensifying all the time. There is something astir, I am informed about it, but it is very much up in the air. But everything that can be done for Venezuela must be done. With the necessary guarantees. If not, we are playing ‘tintìn pirulero’ [where everyone wants to get out of paying the pledge – editor’s note], and this is no good.”

The next day, Sunday, April 30, speaking at the “Regina Caeli,” Francis moderated somewhat the dismissive words he spoke on the plane against the Venezuelan opposition groups, practically blamed for being the ones who ruined the agreement. He addressed “a heartfelt appeal to the government and to all the components of society that every further form of violence be avoided, human rights be respected, and negotiated solutions be sought for the grave humanitarian, social, political, and economic crisis that is devastating the population.” But this correction has by no means calmed the waters. Twelve hours later, in fact, the opposition groups wrote a letter to the pope in which “not divided but unanimous” they said that they agree to the conditions set by Cardinal Parolin – unlike the government, which has always rejected them – and indicated free elections as the only way out of the crisis.

The fact is that between Pope Francis and the Venezuelan bishops, concerning the crisis that is ravaging the country, there is an abyss. The bishops stand with the population that is protesting against the dictatorship, and are respected and listened to as authoritative guides. While Bergoglio is judged on a par with Pontius Pilate, unforgivably reckless with Maduro and Chavism, in addition to being incomprehensibly reticent on the victims of the repression and on the aggression that is striking the Church itself. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Offensive Catholics

 

 

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

 

A Catholic university is under fire this week after school administrators accidentally hired 37-year-old Todd Alguire, a practicing Catholic, to head their Department of Theology.

Diocesan bishop Kevin Sterling  has now demanded an investigation into the ‘offensive’ hiring after rumors spread that students would need to “brush up on the fundamentals of the Catholic  faith” before beginning this upcoming semester.

Ryan Gurley, a sophomore who described himself as ‘devoutly spiritual,’ told EOTT that his refusal to participate in any further religion classes might lead to his suspension.

“I understand that I’ll eventually either be suspended, or I won’t ever be able to graduate, but I have to stand my ground. I’ll never cave when it comes to my faith. I’m a spiritual zealot, which means I faithfully believe in every religion – so long as it isn’t Christianity, of course.  And that’s why I now stand on my rights as an American citizen and Catholic to not be forced to have to learn the tenets of Catholicism in a Catholic school. What next, having to learn the fundamentals of analytic geometry in Calculus class?”

School officials say that the accidental hiring of Mr. Alguire came after someone in the administration’s office neglected to perform a competent background check.

“This is a major oversight and, as you can probably imagine, a very embarrassing moment for the university,” said one school official. “The background process is pretty simple and straight forward. As a proud Catholic university, we do not ask for resumes or any other official documents proving competency. The only thing we do is to make sure that the applicant is either an anti-Catholic Protestant, an atheist, or an agnostic, and that if the applicant does happen to be a Catholic, that he attends no more than two masses a year, preferably none. When it comes to nearly all other departments outside of History and a couple of others, the door is wide open to practicing Catholics. That’s what makes us a Catholic university. Also, we just put up some bland, random crosses around the university so that parents of potential students may feel proud and comfortable not only sending their children here, but for paying the outrageous tuition we charge to do so.” Continue Reading

13

PopeWatch: Fatima

 

The Pope is going to Fatima:

 

Pope Francis heads to Fatima on Friday, May 12, on a pilgrimage that will see him canonize two child shepherds who reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.

Some 400,000 pilgrims from around the world will welcome the Argentine pontiff on the giant esplanade that faces the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima as he arrives in his “Popemobile”, while countless others will follow proceedings on television.

The Virgin is said to have appeared 6 times in Fatima, north of Lisbon, between May and October 1917 to 3 impoverished, barely-literate children – Jacinta, 7, Francisco, 9, and their cousin Lucia, 10.

She apparently shared 3 major prophesies with the trio at a time marked by the ravages of the First World War and Church persecution in a relatively new Portuguese republic.

According to interpretations of what Lucia revealed much later on, the first secret gave a vision of hell, while the second warned of a second devastating war and the rise of communist Russia.

The third secret, which Lucia kept to herself for years, is believed to have been a prediction of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

His successor Benedict XVI, however, later said she had foreseen the “suffering” of the Church, which at the time was racked by pedophilia scandals. Continue Reading

21

PopeWatch: Dialogue

 

 

Dialogue:  our contemporary equivalent of a shaman waving his enchanted sticks:

 

Pope Francis sent a message to Venezuelan bishops, amid a wave of protests across the country, against the government of President Nicolás Maduro, which has left more than 30 dead.

“I assure you that I am following with great concern the situation of the beloved Venezuelan people in the face of the grave problems that afflict it,” said the Pontiff in his letter Friday. “I feel a deep sorrow for the confrontations and violence of these days, which have caused numerous deaths and injuries, and which do not help to solve the problems, but only cause more suffering and pain.”

The Catholic leader called on Venezuelan church leaders to warn against”any form of violence,” adding that “the serious problems of Venezuela can be solved If there is a will to establish bridges, to dialogue seriously and to comply with the agreements reached.”

The Pope, who has repeatedly urged dialogue between sectors in Venezuela, recently criticized a section of the opposition for not being disposed to talks.

Despite Pope Francis’ calls, Venezuelan opposition leaders said they would not participate in the National Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the constitution.

“(The process) is not a Constituent, we could hardly go to an absolutely fraudulent process, we Venezuelans will not be part of a fraud,” leader of the opposition MUD coalition, Henrique Capriles, said Sunday. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Mother

 

 

Never let it be said that Pope Francis ignores the really important issues:

Pope Francis has criticized the naming of the U.S. military’s biggest non-nuclear explosive as “the Mother of All Bombs”, saying the word “mother” should not be used in reference to a deadly weapon.

The U.S. Air Force dropped such a bomb, officially designated as the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on suspected ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan last month. The nickname was widely used in briefings and reporting on the attack.

“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Pope Francis told an audience of students on Saturday. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?”

Continue Reading

15

PopeWatch: Rigidity

 

 

The Pope things too many young people in the Church are too rigid:

 

 

Pope Francis said Saul’s early life reminds him of “many young people in the church today who have fallen into the temptation of rigidity. Some are honest, they are good and we must pray that the Lord help them grow along the path of meekness.”

Others, the Pope said, use rigidity to cover up their weaknesses, sins and personality disorders and to assert themselves over others.

They are the rigid with the double life. They show themselves as beautiful, honest, but when no one is looking, they do bad things,” he said.

Saul, on the other hand, was rigid, but honest, the Pope said, and he let himself be led by the Lord, who spoke to him on the road to Damascus with “a language of meekness: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’”

Saul was called with “the force of the meekness of the Lord” to become Paul, preach the Gospel and suffer and die for the Lord, the Pope said.

Saul’s conversion shows dialogue between condescending rigidity and meekness, a dialogue between “an honest man and Jesus who speaks with kindness.”

“This is the path of a Christian: going forward following Jesus’ footsteps,” which is “a trail of preaching, a trail of suffering, the trail of the cross” and resurrection, the Pope said.

The Pope asked people to pray to Saul for those Christians who are rigid — “for the honest-rigid like him, who have zeal, but get it wrong, and for the hypocrite-rigid, those with a double life.” Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Circle the Date

PopeWatch is looking forward to this:

Pope Francis will receive US President Donald Trump at the Vatican on May 24, the Holy See said Thursday, ahead of a G7 summit meeting in Sicily.

Trump’s audience with Francis in the morning will be followed by meetings with his Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

 

 

An interesting letter from the Pope Emeritus:

 

Benedict XVI
Pope emeritus
Vatican City
15 April 2017
Distinguished Mr. President of the Republic of Poland!
Eminences and Excellencies!
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen!
With great and profound emotion, gratitude and joy, I learned the news that, on the occasion of my 90th birthday, with the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, high representatives of the state and ecclesial authorities of Poland will meet for a scientific conference on the theme: “The concept of the State in the perspective of the teaching of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI”.
The chosen theme brings together state and ecclesial authorities to dialogue about an essential question for the future of our Continent. The clash between radically atheistic conceptions of the State and the emergence of a radically religious state in the Islamist movements, leads our time into an explosive situation, the consequences of which we experience every day. These radicalisms urgently demand that we develop a convincing conception of the State that sustains the clash with these challenges and can overcome them.
In the travail of the last half century, with Bishop-Witness Cardinal Wyszyński and with Pope Saint John Paul II, Poland has given humanity two great figures, who not only reflected on this question, but have brought to it their own suffering and lived experience, and thus they continue to point the way to the future.
With my cordial gratitude for the work that their Excellencies propose in this circumstance, I impart to them all my paternal blessing,
Benedict XVI​
11

PopeWatch: Low-Intensity

 

Sandro Magister explains our “low-intensity” Pope:

 

The most updated diagnoses of the religious phenomenon in the West converge in defining it as “low-intensity.” Fluid, with no more dogmas, without binding authorities. Highly visible, but irrelevant in the public arena.

Even Catholicism is reshaping itself this way. And the pontificate of Francis is adapting in a spectacular way to this new phenomenology, in its successes and in its limitations.

As a good Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio instinctively goes along with the signs of the times. He is not even trying to stem the growing diversification within the Church. On the contrary, he is encouraging it.

He is not responding to the cardinals who submit “doubts” to him and ask him to bring clarity.

He is giving free rein to even the most reckless opinions, like those of the new general of the Jesuits, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, according to whom it is not possible to know what Jesus really said “because there were no recorders.”

And he himself has been telling some whoppers, without any fear of toppling the fundamental articles of the Creed.

Last March 17, during an audience at the Apostolic Palace, to explain what he means by “unity in difference” he even said that “inside the Holy Trinity they’re all arguing behind closed doors, but on the outside they give the picture of unity.”

On April 19, in a general audience Saint Peter’s Square, he said that the death of Jesus is a historical fact but his resurrection is not, it is only an act of faith.

On April 4, in a homily at Santa Marta, he said that on the Cross “Jesus made himself devil, serpent.”

And these are only the latest of a not-small collection of reckless statements, which however glide away like water on marble, without effect on public opinion both Catholic and not, for which this pope continues to be popular in part because he will say anything, with tranquility. Continue Reading

13

PopeWatch: Esther Ballestrino de Careaga

 

PopeWatch has long been convinced that the key to understanding Pope Francis is looking at his life in Argentina.  George Neumayr looks at one part of his life in Argentina;

 

 

The “boss” to whom Pope Francis referred is Esther Ballestrino de Careaga. He has described her as a “Paraguayan woman” and a “fervent communist.” He considers her one of his most important mentors. “I owe a huge amount to that great woman,” he has said, saying that she “taught me so much about politics.” (He worked for her as an assistant at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aires.)

“She often read Communist Party texts to me and gave them to me to read. So I also got to know that very materialistic conception. I remember that she also gave me the statement from the American Communists in defense of the Rosenbergs, who had been sentenced to death,” he has said. Learning about communism, he said, “through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church.” As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he took pride in helping her hide the family’s Marxist literature from the authorities who were investigating her. According to the author James Carroll, Bergoglio smuggled her communist books, including Marx’s Das Kapital, into a “Jesuit library.”

“Tragically, Ballestrino herself ‘disappeared’ at the hands of security forces in 1977,” reported Vatican correspondent John Allen. “Almost three decades later, when her remains were discovered and identified, Bergoglio gave permission for her to be buried in the garden of a Buenos Aires church called Santa Cruz, the spot where she had been abducted. Her daughter requested that her mother and several other women be buried there because ‘it was the last place they had been as free people.’ Despite knowing full well that Ballestrino was not a believing Catholic, the future pope readily consented.”

These biographical details throw light on the pope’s ideological instincts. Yet many commentators have ignored them, breezily casting his leftism as a bit confused but basically harmless.

“I must say that communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian,” he said in 2014. Such a comment would have startled his predecessors. They didn’t see communism as a benign exaggeration. Continue Reading

13

PopeWatch: More Catholic Than The Pope

 

 

The Pope is busily dispensing some of his patented mercy again to faithful Catholics:

 

 

 Pope Francis spoke critically again of the faithful who have a strong embrace of Catholic doctrine, resorting to pejorative terms he has often used such as hypocritical and phariseeism.

“You cannot be more restrictive than the Church herself,” he told a lay association gathered Thursday morning at the Vatican, “nor more Papist than the Pope.” 

Addressing the Congress of the International Forum of Catholic Action in the Synod Hall, the pope told participants he wanted them to be out among the people and that there is a need for “active mercy.”

The theme for the association’s three-day gathering was “Catholic Action is mission, with all and for all.”

“Do not be border police,” he told the conference. 

“Please, open the doors,” Pope Francis stated, “don’t administer Christian perfection tests because you will only promote a hypocritical phariseeism.”

The pope has spoken several times as though the idea of a Christian ideal is something unattainable.

He also warned Thursday against trying to clericalize the laity.

Compelling laypeople into a vocation because they perform valued service to the Church instead leaving this to the Holy Spirit “worries me,” Pope Francis said, according to the Catholic Herald. “Do not clericalize!”

The pope spoke negatively as well about “proselytism or coercion,” the Herald report said, “which goes against the Gospel.”

“It makes me really sad to see people who are in ministry – lay, consecrated, priests, bishops – who are still playing the proselytism card,” he stated. “No! It is done through attraction. That is the genius phrase of Pope Benedict XVI.”

The notion of working to convert others to the faith is something he has repeatedly criticized previously.

In interview last month with the German newspaper Die Zeit, Pope Francis condemned proselytizing in a discussion about Germany’s vocations crisis.

“That has nothing to do with proselytism,” he said of low priest numbers in Germany. “By proselytism, you will not gain vocations … ”

He defined proselytism as “the poaching of those with a different faith, like with a charity organization who poaches members. Then many young people come, who do not feel called, and ruin the Church.”

The pope stated in October that “there is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytize the Orthodox!” Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Ad Orientem

 

 

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

 

After conducting his first symphony since being named Maestro of the New Mexico Philharmonic, Chinese-born Li Wei Chen has been under heavy scrutiny from longtime patrons for conducting Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony while facing the orchestra.

Season subscriber Lance Humphrey told EOTT that he was offended that Chen did not conduct facing the audience like their old maestro.

“Look, I understand that the symphony is still the symphony no matter what, but I just think that turning his back toward us while conducting just takes us back to an archaic time.”

Many have reportedly labelled Chen a “Symphonic Rad Trad,” saying that he was out of touch with mainstream music.

New Mexico Symphony donor Cecilia Cotes told EOTT that it reminded her of times when she would be in music class and would be “whacked on the knuckles with a violin bow.”

“It’s completely outdated. What we want is Maestro Chen to turn and face us so that we can feel like we’re participating in the orchestral movements. Does that make sense?”

At press time, Chen has said that he would not turn to face the people, but would consider allowing a number patrons on stage to turn the pages of the sheet music during concerts. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Egypt

 

The Pope faces a situation on the ground far different from the view of Islam as a religion of peace that he has repeated ad nauseum:

 

Pope Francis is facing a religious and diplomatic balancing act as he heads to Egypt this weekend, hoping to comfort its Christian community after a spate of Islamic attacks while seeking to improve relations with Egypt’s Muslim leaders.

Security has been tightened, with shops ordered closed and police conducting door-to-door checks in the upscale Cairo neighborhood where Francis will stay Friday night. His only public Mass is being held at a military-run stadium.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis wasn’t overly concerned and wouldn’t use an armored car, as his predecessors did on foreign trips. Francis insisted on going ahead with the trip even after twin Palm Sunday church bombings killed at least 45 people and a subsequent attack at the famed St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai.

“We’re in the world of ‘new normal,'” Burke said. “But we go forward with serenity.”

The highlight of the two-day trip will be Francis’ visit Friday to Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference.

Francis has insisted that Christian-Muslim dialogue is the only way to overcome Islamic extremism of the kind that has targeted Christians and driven them from their 2,000-year-old communities in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. While condemning extremist attacks against Christians, he has said he is traveling to Egypt as a messenger of peace at a time when the world is “torn by blind violence.”

But his message of dialogue and tolerance has been rejected as naive by even some of his fellow Jesuits, for whom Islam remains “a religion of the sword” that has failed to modernize. Even ordinary Egyptian Christians see his visit as a nice gesture but one that ultimately won’t change their reality.

“He has been saying the same words for years, which is all about love and tolerance, but political Islam ruined the world and the most important change should come from Al-Azhar,” said John, a 24-year-old Coptic Christian student from Cairo who declined to give his last name because he feared reprisals. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Ted Talk

 

PopeWatch guesses this was inevitalbe:  The Pope gives a TED Talk.  TED Talks are videos by individuals with ideas that the TED media organization  (Technology, Entertainment, Design) deem worthy of being spread.  Started in 1984 in Silicon Valley, the first videos were technical in nature.  Now, most of the videos seem to convey ideas viewed as non-threatening by the global chattering classes.  Apparently the Pope is clearly in that category.  Here is the transcript of the Pope’s address: Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Venezuela

 

The Pope has gone silent on Venezuela where a low level civil war is underway as desperate people take to the streets against their Castro wannabe government.  Father Raymond de Souza wonders why:

 

 

For a brief period, the Vatican was involved as a mediator in talks between the Maduro regime and the opposition. The government was happy for the Vatican role, for it believed that it gave them added legitimacy. The opposition trusted the Church because of the longstanding criticism of Chavismo by the Venezuelan bishops, led by Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas.

The mediation role required the Vatican to maintain general neutrality its public diplomacy. However, the mediation talks were short-lived due to the Maduro regime failing to meet the conditions for the talks to continue, which included release of political prisoners and respect for democratic norms.

As the locus of activity has moved to the streets, the Venezuelan bishops have become pointedly critical of the Maduro regime and more clearly allied with the opposition, which has the people on its side against Maduro, who controls the courts and the military.

Maduro has thus unleashed government goons against the Church, entering parish churches to disrupt Masses. On Wednesday of Holy Week, Maduro’s men burst into the Chrism Mass of Cardinal Urosa, shouting threats and physically assaulting the cardinal.

It would therefore seem time for a thunderous denunciation from Francis against the Maduro regime. Certainly, the government has brought to Venezuela an “economy that kills,” with people dying for lack of food and medicine, to say nothing of protesters dying in the streets. The path of dialogue has long been abandoned by a regime that sends armed men into churches to intimidate the Church by threatening people at prayer.

So why has the Vatican gone quiet? Why no strong statement of solidarity with Cardinal Urosa, attacked in his own cathedral in Holy Week? Why no mention of the suffering people of Venezuela in this Easter’s Urbi et Orbi?

It may be a genuine uncertainty about the best path forward, though it is quite clear that Venezuela’s bishops have lost confidence in the Maduro regime. It may be thought that strong words from the Holy See might further inflame Maduro’s violence against the Church.

Or it may be that such a step would require Francis to direct criticism at a Latin American leftist, which he heretofore has not done. To the contrary, Latin American leftists have enjoyed favour under this pope, with both Raul Castro of Cuba and Evo Morales of Bolivia getting unusually warm receptions on visits to the Vatican.

The Holy Father has yet to visit his native Argentina, but chose Cuba and Bolivia for significant moments in his papal travels. To come out against the Maduro regime would require a break with Castro and Morales specifically, and the militant Latin American left more generally. Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: Maradiaga

 

Carl Olsen at The Catholic World Report  demonstrates why Cardinal Maradiaga, who is very close to the Pope, is an insult to all sentient Catholics:

 

The three key remarks are as follows:
I think in the first place they [the four cardinals] have not read the Amoris Laetitia, because unfortunately this is the case! I know the four and I say they are already retired. How come they did not say anything in regard to those who manufacture weapons? Some are in countries that manufacture and sell weapons throughout the genocide that is happening in Syria, for example. Why? I would not want to put it – shall we say – too strongly; only God knows people’s consciences and inner motivations; but, from the outside it seems to me to be a new pharisaism. They are wrong; they should do something else. …

I think the car of the Church has no gear to go in reverse. It pulls itself forward because the Holy Spirit is not accustomed to go backwards. He always brings us forward. I am not afraid because I know it is not Francis, it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, and that, if He has allowed this Pontiff to come, it is for some reason, and we certainly ought to look to the future with hope because, more and more, the Church is God’s, it is not our own. We are only servants. …
Let us look above all at reality, because to see also if there aren’t many cases of those who are in a second union–we will not enter there because there are many reasons– but that they in a healthy conscience [feel] that their first marriage was not valid and that they have found a new family, they are living in conformity to the law of God, why throw stones? why? Instead of saying, “How are we doing with the new generation because they could prepare themselves better to have a good family. And this is Amoris Laetitia… It happens that so many times the methods that these four brothers [the four cardinals] only look at, who think that they are the bosses [or masters] of the doctrine of faith [pensano che sono i capi della dottrina della fede], they don’t look at the the very great majority of the faithful who are happy with Amoris Laetitia.” [translations courtesy of Andrew Guernsey]

 
Although relatively short, these remarks speak volumes. Some thoughts:
1) It is revealing, to put it mildly, how often those who criticize the four cardinals—Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner—do so in such a personal, rude manner. This is to be expected of course in the woolly thickets of blogs and personal sites, but this is often the case coming from high-ranking prelates and others who are close to Pope Francis. That said, they may simply be emulating the Holy Father himself, who has a, well, colorful way of addressing those he disagrees with or thinks need to be put in their place. To say, as Cardinal Maradiaga does, that Cardinals Burke, Caffarra, Brandmüller and Meisner, have not actually read the controversial Apostolic Exhortation is the sort of low, embarrassing pot shot best suited for teenagers. That he says with such obvious disdain is bothersome, even scandalous.

 
2) It is a further example of how some of those close to Francis, and even the Holy Father himself, refuse to seriously address pressing, thoughtful, cogent, and important questions regarding marriage, morality, the sacraments, and a number of related matters. Put bluntly, it reveals either a sad superficiality or a dismissive disdain. Neither possibility engenders much trust or peace of mind.

 
3) The sorry attempt to change the subject by referring to the manufacturing of weapons (a popular theme with Francis, who in June 2015 denounced those who manufacture weapons and then criticized the Allies for not bombing trains during World War II) and the use of the tired—and rather ludicrous—descriptive “pharisaism” not only reveals disdain, but a consistent strategy: to isolate, label, and destroy. The focus (shrewdly, from that perspective) is on the alleged, if vague, faults of critics, who are routinely dismissed as pharisaical, rigid, dogmatic, and so forth.

 
4) If the four Cardinals are wrong, as Cardinal Maradiaga states, then simply show it. It’s starting to remind me of the kid in junior high who claims to have a football signed by Terry Bradshaw but never shows it to anyone because it’s in storage, it got lost, and so forth. But he keeps bragging about it. At some point you realize the football doesn’t exist.

 
5) The appeal to the Holy Spirit—also used in equally vague and sloppy ways by Cardinal Farrell back in October 2016—is a red herring; it is meant to suggest that nearly everything the Holy Father says and does is directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. In fact, Cardinal Farrell stated: “Do we believe that he didn’t inspire our Holy Father Pope Francis in writing this document?” In fact, speaking with some needed precision, papal and conciliar texts are not “inspired” by the Holy Spirit; rather, the Holy Spirit protects the Magisterium from formally teaching error in matters of faith and morals. The language of “inspiration”, strictly speaking, is almost always (if not always) confined to the deposit of faith; that is, divine revelation as transmitted through Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Which is why the fathers at Vatican II noted, in Dei Verbum, that “we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (DV, 4). Insinuating that the Church can change teachings simply because Pope A or Pope B decides he wishes to is problematic, to say the least; this is especially the case when the matter at hand has to do with the very nature of the sacraments, the proper role of conscience, and the life of grace (as I’ve discussed elsewhere). Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: National Suicide

The Pope recently made two observations about the mass Islamic migration to Italy that he has cheered on.  One observation is getting all the attention but the second is much more significant:

Speaking in Italian he said: ‘I don’t know if he was able to get out of that concentration camp because the refugee camps – many – are concentration (camps) because they are crowded with so many people.

The American Jewish Committee soon after urged the pontiff to ‘reconsider his regrettable choice of words,’ Reuters reported.

AJC CEO David Harris said: ‘The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not.

**************************

Pope Francis also urged northern Italy to take more migrants and hoped that the generosity of the south of the country could ‘infect the north a bit.’

He added that Italy had one of the world’s lowest birth rates and said: ‘If we close the doors to migrants, this is called suicide.’  Continue Reading

9

PopeWatch: Hopeful Shack Up

 

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

 

 

Local Catholic Becky Donaldson confirmed this week that she is absolutely confident that her live-in boyfriend of eight years, Kevin Reynolds,  will soon be proposing.

“I’m just so excited,” a teary-eyed Donaldson told some of her girlfriends gathered at a local restaurant last night. “We’ve been waiting until we’re in a financially comfortable situation. I mean, we were financially comfortable a few years ago, and then he bought the jet skis, so we’ve been working on getting financially comfortable again since then.”

Donaldson went on to say that after eight years of living with Kevin, not counting the other four years they were dating while living separately, she couldn’t wait for the wedding so that their life could finally begin.

“I imagine our lives are going to be totally different after we’re married. I mean, we’ve been living together for eight years and dating for four, and we bought this house together five years ago. We’re pretty much done having fun and I think we’re ready to settle down and start having children. I guess that’s why it’s been taking him so long to propose, you know? We just needed to live our lives before we had kids.”

Donaldson was heard later in the evening advising her younger, single friends to not get married and have children until they had done all their travelling and fun activities since “once you have children all fun stops and you die inside.”

“Not saying that living with him has all been fun and games, of course. He has annoying little quirks, but those will obviously be transformed by the magical powers of the sacrament. We don’t go to church, but I’ve heard about all the magic that the sacrament of matrimony does for a relationship, so I expect his snoring and his leaving the toilet seat up to stop soon after the wedding. Not to mention him leaving dirty dishes and empty beer bottles on the coffee table, putting his dirty clothes on the floor next to the hamper instead of inside the hamper, putting the toilet paper roll on the holder backwards, so that the tail end is against the wall and so on.”

At press time Kevin has been spotted sneaking out of the house to go shopping for jet ski trailers. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: The Meeting

 

 

 

It’s on:

 

 

Contrary to earlier reports, President Donald Trump will meet with Pope Francis when he travels to Italy next month for meetings with the G7 leaders, U.S. and Vatican officials said Wednesday.

When asked about a possible meeting, White House press spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that officials would be contacting the Vatican to arrange a meeting between Trump and the Pope during the latter’s visit to Italy at the end of May

“Obviously, we’d be honored to have an audience with His Holiness,” he said.

 For his part, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican equivalent of a deputy prime minister, confirmed to the Italian news agency ANSA that “Pope Francis is always ready to receive heads of state who request an audience.”

Continue Reading

12

PopeWatch: O’Reilly

 

 

 

 

An interesting tidbit:

 

Embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly briefly met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, according to a New York Times report.

The report says O’Reilly, who was in a VIP section in St. Peter’s Square during the pontiff’s weekly general audience, shook hands with the religious leader as a Vatican newspaper photographer snapped a photo. 

The Times noted the “special section beside the stage holding the papal throne, where Mr. O’Reilly sat, is exclusive and entered only with special tickets distributed by the prefecture of the papal household, according to the Vatican press office.”

Tens of thousands of worshipers fill the square for the weekly event.

The Vatican had stated last week that no official audience with O’Reilly was scheduled.

Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Global Tolerance Initiative

 

 

 

One aspect of this Pontificate is how many odd events have occurred during it.  A recent example:

 

 Just two months after Pope Francis faced intense backlash for his reforms when critical posters were plastered around Rome, a new set went up around the city over Easter, this time praising the pope for his commitment to mercy and inclusion.

“Thank you Pope Francis! For your true Christian engagement with love and mercy, as demanded by Jesus so often in our Holy Bible.”

This was the phrase written on some 300 posters that were hung April 14 around Rome’s city center and near the Vatican, which will remain until April 22.

RELATED: Rome wakes up to find city full of anti-Pope Francis posters

Sponsored by The Global Tolerance Initiative, the posters referred to a website called “Love is Tolerance,” which explained that Francis had been named by the organization as their “Global Champion of Tolerance Easter 2017.”

Written in both Italian and English, the posters call on all cardinals, priests and bishops to follow with love the “wise advice” of the pope, and to “read our Holy Bible with open eyes, hearts and minds.”

The posters conclude with an appeal for everyone to “pray for you and the Church with a ‘thinking heart and loving mind.’” Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Frogs

 

 

I hope that the Pope is paying attention to what the Orthodox Metropolitan of Mosul is saying:

 

Security and the rule of law are what Christians most need in Iraq, but it seems no one wishes to offer them, says Metropolitan Nicodemus Dauod Matti Sharaf, the Orthodox Syriac Archbishop of Mosul.

Speaking to the Register last month in Erbil, Metropolitan Nicodemus, who was the last bishop to leave Mosul when ISIS invaded the city in 2014, had strong words for the West: he said, citing an example, that the developed world places the welfare of frogs ahead of Christians, that the West needs to wake up to the threat of Islamism, and blamed past U.S. leaders and their allies for ruining his country. He likes President Trump, saying: “Let’s try the crazy one because we tried the normal one, and he destroyed our lives.”  

The 40 year-old Orthodox prelate, who Britain banned in December despite being formally invited to meet Prince Charles, also shares his views on Islam and why he greatly values the example set by Hungary for the respect its leaders have shown for Christians. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Jesuits

 

One feature of this pontificate that is striking is how the intellectual and spiritual decay that has infested the Jesuits for more than half a century has suddenly become the guiding force within the Church.  Sandro Magister gives us a recent example:

 

Among the priests born in the diocese of Carpi, that Pope Francis will visit on Sunday, April 2, there is one who is giving him a tough nut to crack.

His name is Roberto A. Maria Bertacchini. He was formed in the school of three Jesuits of the first rank: Frs. Heinrich Pfeiffer, an art historian and professor at the Gregorian, Francesco Tata, former provincial of the Society of Jesus in Italy, and Piersandro Vanzan, a prominent writer for “La Civiltà Cattolica.” A scholar of Augustine, he is the author of books and of essays in theology journals.

Last week Fr. Bertacchini sent to Francis and to Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, a six-page “memorandum” highly critical of the ideas presented in a recent interview with the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, who is very close to the pope.

They are ideas, writes Fr. Bertacchini, “of such gravity that they cannot be passed over in silence without becoming complicit in them,” because they threaten to “result in a Christianity without Christ.”

The complete text of the “memorandum” is on this other page of Settimo Cielo:

> Promemoria…

While an abridgment of it is presented below.

The interview with the general of the Jesuits criticized by Fr. Bertacchini is the one given to the Swiss vaticanista Giuseppe Rusconi and published on the blog Rossoporpora last February 18, after the interview subject himself reviewed it word by word.

Settimo Cielo gave an extensive account of it in several languages.

*

MEMORANDUM
On the interview with the general of the Jesuits on the reliability of the Gospels

by Roberto A. Maria Bertacchini

In February the general of the Jesuits gave an interview in which he insinuates that the words of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage are not a point of theological stability, but rather a point of departure for doctrine, which must then be appropriately developed. This – taken to the extreme – could even lead to supporting the exact opposite, or the compatibility of divorce with Christian life. The initiative has in my view primed an explosive situation.

Of course, Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ is very careful not to fall into outright heresy. And this, in a certain sense, is even more grave. It is therefore necessary to retrace the thread of his reasoning.

The question that he poses is whether the evangelists are reliable, and he says: it is necessary to discern. So it is not a given that they are [reliable]. Such a grave statement should be reasoned out at length and in depth, because it is indeed possible to admit error in a narrative detail; but to call into question the veracity of doctrinal teachings of Jesus is another matter.

However it may be, our Jesuit does not get involved, but – very deftly – appeals to the pope. And since Francis, in dealing with couples that are separated etcetera, up to the time of the interview had never cited passages in which Jesus referred to the indissolubility of marriage, the implicit message of our Jesuit was glaring: if the pope does not cite those passages, it means that he has done discernment and maintains that they are not of Jesus. So they would not be binding. But all the popes have taught the opposite! What does it matter? They must be wrong. Or they must have said and taught things that were correct for their time, but not for ours.

Let it be clear: the eminent Jesuit does not say this “apertis verbis,” but he insinuates it, he lets it be understood. And so he gives a key of interpretation for the pope’s pastoral approach to the family that departs from the traditional teaching. In fact, today “we know” that very probably, or rather almost certainly, Jesus never taught that marriage is indissoluble. It is the evangelists who misunderstood.

A Christianity without Christ?

The question is of such gravity that it cannot be passed over in silence without becoming complicit in it. The danger is that this could result in a Christianity reductive of the message of Jesus, or a Christianity without Christ.

In the Gospel for the Mass of last February 24 there was the passage from Mk 10:2-12 on repudiation. So is it acceptable to think that it is not known if Jesus uttered those words, and that they are not binding?

The “sensus fidei” tells us that the evangelists are reliable. However, our general of the Jesuits rejects this reliability, and in addition takes no interest in the fact that Saint Paul had also received this doctrine from the Church as being of Jesus, and handed it on as such to his communities: “To the husbands I order, not I but the Lord: the wife may not be separated from the husband, and if she separates, let her remain without remarrying or let her be reconciled with the husband, and the husband may not repudiate the wife” (1 Cor 7:10-11).

The consistency of this passage with the texts of the synoptic Gospels on repudiation and adultery is perfectly clear. And it would be absurd to imagine that these depend on Paul, and not on pre-Paschal traditions. Not only that. In Eph 5:22-33, Paul revisits the same teaching from Jesus and even reinforces it. He revisits it, because he cites the same passage of Genesis that is cited by Jesus; he reinforces it, because Christ loves the Church in an indissoluble way, to the point of giving his life, and beyond earthly life. And Paul makes this fidelity the model of conjugal fidelity.

Thus it is entirely clear that there is an evident continuity of teaching between pre-Paschal and post-Paschal preaching; and also clear is the discontinuity with Judaism, which instead kept the institution of repudiation. But if Saint Paul himself founds this discontinuity on Christ, does it make sense to bring the Gospels into question? From where comes that leap which inspired the practice of the ancient Church, if not from Christ?

It should be noted that divorce was also admitted in the Greco-Roman world, and in addition there existed the institution of concubinage, which could easily result in a subsequent conjugal union, as attested to for example by the experience of Saint Augustine. And in historiography the principle applies that cultural inertia does not change without cause. Therefore, the change being attested historically, what could be the cause if not Jesus? If this then was Christ, why doubt the reliability of the Gospels?

Finally, if Jesus did not speak those words, what is the source of the drastic comment from the disciples (“But then it is better not to marry!”) in Mt 19:10? Matthew was one of those disciples, and they do not come across well: they show themselves slow to understand and attached to the traditions that Jesus challenges. So from a historiographical point of view, the pericope of Mt 19:3-12 is entirely reliable: and as much for reasons of internal criticism as of external.

The dogmatic context

Moreover, to state that it is not known if Jesus actually uttered those words and that, in essence, they are not binding is “de facto” a heresy, because it is a denial of the inspiration of Scripture. 2 Tim 3 is very clear: “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, convincing, correcting, and training in righteousness.”

“All” evidently also includes Mt 19:3-12. Otherwise it is attested that there is an “other” word that prevails over Scripture itself and over its inspiration. In fact, affirming the unreliability of some words of Jesus is like opening a fissure in the dam of “fides quae,” a fissure that would lead to the collapse of the entire dam. I illustrate:

a) If Jesus did not say those words, the evangelists are not reliable. And if they are not reliable, they are not truthful; but if they are not truthful, neither can they be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

b) If Jesus did not say those words, must he really have said all the others that we take as good? Someone who is unreliable on one innovative question can be likewise on others, like the resurrection. And if, to give the priesthood to women, “La Civiltà Cattolica” does not hesitate to bring into question a solemn magisterium invoked as infallible, will there not be chaos? To what biblical authority can one appeal, if the exegetes themselves are perennially and ever more divided? This is the sense in which the dam collapses.

And that is not the end, because in following the doubts of the Jesuit general it is not only Saint Paul who is trodden underfoot, but also Vatican II. In fact, this is what it states in “Sacrosasnctum Concilium” 7:

“Christ is always present in His Church [. . .] He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.”

Since the passages on the indissolubility of marriage are read at Mass, and to be precise: Mk 10:2-12 on the Friday of the 7th week of ordinary time and on the 27th Sunday of year B, Mt 19:3-12 on the Friday of the 19th week of ordinary time, and Mt 5:27-32 on the Friday of the 10th week, it follows that Vatican II in a certain way attributes those words to the authority of Jesus.

Thus those who follow the doubts of the Jesuit general not only disavow Vatican II, and moreover in a dogmatic constitution, they also doubt Tradition to the point of making abstract and unattainable the very authority of Jesus as teacher. So we are facing a genuine carpet bombing, before which the firmest of reactions is absolutely necessary. Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Checkmate

 

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

 

Society of St. Pius X chess grandmaster Larcel Mafebvre has turned four of his pieces into bishops without approval from the World Chess Federation, officials have confirmed.

“Mr. Mafebvre has, without approval from the Federation, created bishops out of pawn pieces,” said World Chess Federation head Antonio Salamanca. “After speaking with Mr. Mafebvre regarding abiding by the new chess rules, wherein players are given the freedom to concelebrate the match, and to say the words of ‘checkmate’ in the vernacular, he has sadly decided to ignore our requests.”

Salamanca went on to tell reporters that Mafebvre had automatically incurred excheckommunication because of his disobedience.

“I must do what is in my conscience to preserve the dignity of the game,”  Mafebvre told EOTT in an exclusive interview. “Therefore, I have decided to consecrate four of my pieces into bishops to help my depleted side, for, from some Fischer, the smoke of Satan has entered the chessboard of God.”

At press time, one time follower of Larcel Mafebvre’s, Bavid Dawden, told EOTT that he has decided to become head of the World Chess Federation, though he only has three pawns to play with. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Separated at Birth

 

Carl Olsen at The Catholic World Report something that has frequently struck PopeWatch:  how similar Pope Francis and President Trump are:

 

As I’ve stated before, Francis often seems more comfortable being a politician than a pope. And, I would argue, he does indeed seek popularity; that is, I think, blatantly obvious. He follows a very simple and consistent course: he seeks to win over certain people or groups of people while lashing out at those he perceives as enemies, almost always resorting to a rather astounding list names and, yes, labels rather than any sort of arguments—that would be the “firm stance regarding critics.”

Giangravè concludes by asserting: “Populism is not so much a phenomenon as a utility belt, one that Pope Francis is well equipped to use. But when it comes to what to use it for, the pope chooses to focus on the root causes of the problem, such as poverty and inequality, rather than its symptoms.”

And how is this different, say, than what Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders did in the recent presidential election? Both of them continually, in their own ways, reached out to those on the margins, claimed to the champion of the poor and those barely making it, and campaigning for the votes and support of the blue collar workers ignored or scorned by the elites. Pope Francis presents himself as a champion of the poor and ignored; Trump and Sanders presented themselves as the champions of the poor, the blue collar, and the disenfranchised. There are some differences, of course, as Francis is not campaigning for votes. Yet he reaches out to the nameless, downtrodden masses—and often does in political, “us vs. them” terms. And, besides, does anyone doubt that Trump and Sanders (among others) don’t use such their populism in calculated, utilitarian ways? And didn’t both men, whatever their respective policy positions, address poverty and inequality in many different ways (answer: yes).

The spate of recent pieces about Francis as the “anti-Trump” fixated, naturally, on differences over immigration and economics, but ignored the striking similarities in both methodologies and personalities. Both men are scolding or even verbally abusive, emotive, crafty but not interested in nuance or careful distinctions, impatient with details, pragmatic in an often superficial fashion, confusing or ambiguous in language and action, temperamental, autocratic, and—I would suggest—rather incompetent. Such characteristics aren’t uncommon in populists, who use their appeals to certain groups to cover up serious deficiencies or contradictions. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Conspiracy

 

 

Sandro Magister discusses the conspiracy that was launched to make Pope Francis Pope:

 

There is however one key factor that meets the expectations of a historic turning point of the Church capable of making up for its emblematic lag of “two hundred years” with respect to the modern world that was denounced by Carlo Maria Martini, the cardinal who loved to call himself the “ante-pope,” meaning the anticipator of the one who was to come. And it is the factor of “time.” Which for Bergoglio is a synonym for “initiating processes.” The destination matters little to him, because what counts is the journey.

And in effect it is so. With Francis the Church has become an open construction site. Everything is in movement. Everything is fluid. There is no longer dogma that holds up. One can reexamine everything and act accordingly.

Martini was precisely the sharpest mind of that club of St. Gallen which engineered Bergoglio’s rise to the papacy. It took its name from the Swiss town in which the club met, and included the cardinals Walter Kasper, Karl Lehmann, Achille Silvestrini, Basil Hume, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Godfried Danneels. Of these only two, Kasper and Danneels, are still at the forefront, rewarded and treated with the highest regard by Pope Francis, in spite of the fact that they represent two national Churches in disarray, the German and the Belgian, and the latter even fell into discredit in 2010 for how he tried to cover up the sexual misdeeds of one of his protege bishops, whose victim was a young nephew of his.

Bergoglio never set foot in St. Gallen. It was the cardinals of the club who adopted him as their ideal candidate, and he adapted himself perfectly to their plan.

Everyone in Argentina remembers him very differently from how he later revealed himself to the world as pope. Taciturn, withdrawn, somber in expression, reserved even with crowds. Not once did he let slip a word or a gesture of disagreement with the reigning pontiffs, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. On the contrary. He praised in writing the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” very severe against the permissive “situational” ethics historically attributed to the Jesuits. He had no qualms over condemning Luther and Calvin as the worst enemies of the Church and of man. He attributed to the devil the deception of a law in favor of homosexual marriage.

But then he sent back home, “to avoid mixed messages,” the Catholics who had gathered outside of parliament for a prayer vigil against the imminent approval of that law. He knelt and had himself blessed in public by a Protestant pastor. He forged friendships with some of them, and also with a Jewish rabbi.

Above all he encouraged his priests not to deny communion to anyone, whether they be married, or cohabiting, or divorced and remarried. With no fuss and without making this decision public, the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires was already doing what the popes at the time prohibited, but he would later permit once he became pope.

In St. Gallen they knew and were taking note. And when Bergoglio was elected, the world learned to recognize him right from the first moment for what he really was. With no more veils. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Missed This One

Apparently a new papal exhortation was issued on April 1:

Pope Francis issued an unexpected apostolic exhortation today titled Merdae Cumulus. The exhortation may be the most momentous action coming from the Seat of Peter in recorded history.

Beginning with Church appointments and new canonizations; after the Holy See’s most recent debacle with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Pope Francis decided to remove Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager from his position as Grand Chancellor of the Order in favor of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who Francis referred to as “a true warrior, a worthy heir for a position occupied by great Christian knights of old.” In addition to this appointment, Francis revealed the future pronouncement that Joel Olsteen is to be declared a Doctor of the Church upon his death, and that the seat of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will be relocated to Lakewood Church, known for it’s awe inspiring architectural style and it’s past function as the home of the Houston Rockets.

The bulk of the exhortation is composed of a string of admissions, concessions, apologies, and affirmations composed by the Holy Father. Perhaps the most exciting is an admission of the superiority of the Protestant movement started in the 16th century by the newly canonized Martin Luther. In the document, Francis states: “Saint Martin Luther was correct in stating that the holy fathers have erred, that the apostles have erred, that the magisterium has erred, and that the whole church has often erred. That error ends now. The saying that the Protestant churches are where heresy goes to thrive is false; it is actually the case that the opposite is true.” In the same vein was a statement regaling that Thomas More died for nothing, and that King Henry VIII was completely justified in his legal actions and formation of the Church of England. In the same spirit of humility and unity, Francis made full concessions of past Roman Catholic assertions regarding theological differences and papal authority to all Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs; this was quickly followed by Francis’ submission to all the demands of the Society of Saint Pius X, and the return of their status to full communion with the Roman See. Both the Orthodox churches and the Society of Saint Pius X have yet to respond to our requests for comment.
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PopeWatch: Diplomatic Jesus

 

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

Cincinnati, OH––Catholic book publisher and distributer St. Clare Press announced today that their new non-confrontational translation of the Bible will be released sometime this September. St. Clare executive Roger Hammond told the press this week that he hopes the new translation helps to appease the minds of critics that have long called the Bible violent and judgmental. “It took close to a decade to complete this ambitious translation, and we’re confident it’ll help people better understand the all-encompassing compassion contained within the scriptures. Hammond goes on to explain one of the most riveting scenes in the New Testament where Jesus, after having overturned the tables of the money changers, goes back to help clean up, apologizing profusely as he does so. Another scene in which the compassion and kindness of Jesus shines forth is Matthew 16:23 where, after having been asked by Peter to not enter Jerusalem and eventually into the hands of the Pharisees, Jesus asks Peter to “hold that thought for a moment,” before addressing Satan; “Satan, if you wouldn’t moving just a tad bit behind me? I’d really like to get this little point across to Peter. I feel so rude asking you this, but…I mean don’t go out of your way or anything…” Hammond went on to tell reporters that the project has become a kind of therapy for all those involved in the project. One employee of St. Clare Press, Beverly Tomas, said that seeing Christ in a new, more tender, and compassionate way helped her get over years of abuse she suffered by “strict and judgmental nuns.” “I remember sitting back just a year ago and reading a newly translated verse in which the old Christ would’ve said something like “Woe to you, Pharisees, you hypocrites,” but now he gently places a hand on the shoulder of a Pharisee, pleadingly, and says,”Come on guys…I was gonna call you a whited-washed sepulchers, but honestly, I don’t think you’re a bad person…I just think maybe you’re hurting,” and lightly tapping the Pharisee on the chest, Jesus said unto him, “Hey, guy…you wanna know what I think? I think you’re hurting inside…hurting right there in that big ol’ heart of yours. Is that’s why you’re acting like this? Wanna talk about it?”

 

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PopeWatch: Judas and the Beggar

 

An interesting difference between the Pope and a Bishop.

 

A month after Pope Francis endorsed giving money to panhandlers, the Roman Catholic bishop in Rhode Island has posted three reasons not to.

Pope Francis was asked last month by an Italian magazine for the homeless “if it is right to give alms to people who ask for help on the street,” according to a transcript of the interview posted on the Vatican website. He replied that there are many arguments to justify not giving money, such as being concerned the person will go buy himself wine. But, Francis said, “Help is always right.”

He added that when people give, they should do so not by throwing coins, but by looking the person in the eye and touching their hands.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, who has previously criticized Francis, posted a Facebook message Tuesday entitled “Three Reasons Not to Give to Panhandlers.” Tobin’s spokeswoman said the post was prompted by recent local debate on the panhandling issue, not in response to anything Pope Francis has said.

Tobin said it can be a safety hazard if someone standing on a curb or roadway is asking for help, and said the practice enables dishonest people to prey upon others’ compassion when they do not have legitimate needs. He also said throwing loose change at a panhandler is demeaning to that person’s dignity. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: They Have the Buildings, We Have the Faith

 

As this Pontificate winds on its merry way my fondness for Saint Athanasius grows.  In writing to Catholics dismayed because Arian heretics had been placed in control of the Church in the Eastern Empire, Saint Athanasius wrote:

May God comfort you. I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith? Good indeed is the place, when the Apostolic Faith is preached there, holy is it if the Holy One dwell there. (After a little:) But ye are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from Apostolic tradition, and frequently has accursed envy wished to unsettle it, but has not been able. On the contrary, they have rather been cut off by their attempts to do so. For this is it that is written, ‘Thou art the Son of the Living God,’ Peter confessing it by revelation of the Father, and being told, ‘Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee,’ but ‘My Father Who is in heaven,’ and the rest. No one therefore will ever prevail against your Faith, most beloved brethren. For if ever God shall give back the churches (for we think He will) yet without such restoration of the churches the Faith is sufficient for us. And lest, speaking without the Scriptures, I should [seem to] speak too strongly, it is well to bring you to the testimony of Scriptures, for recollect that the Temple indeed was at Jerusalem; the Temple was not deserted, aliens had invaded it, whence also the Temple being at Jerusalem, those exiles went down to Babylon by the judgment of God, who was proving, or rather correcting them; while manifesting to them in their ignorance punishment [by means] of blood-thirsty enemies. And aliens indeed had held the Place, but knew not the Lord of the Place, while in that He neither gave answer nor spoke, they were deserted by the truth. What profit then is the Place to them?

For behold they that hold the Place are charged by them that love God with making it a den of thieves, and with madly making the Holy Place a house of merchandise, and a house of judicial business for themselves to whom it was unlawful to enter there. For this and worse than this is what we have heard, most beloved, from those who are come from thence. However really, then, they seem to hold the church, so much the more truly are they cast out. And they think themselves to be within the truth, but are exiled, and in captivity, and [gain] no advantage by the church alone. For the truth of things is judged… Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Ban the Bomb

 

 

Pope Francis has called for banning all nukes:

 

ROME – Pope Francis has called for a “collective and concerted” multilateral effort to eliminate nuclear weapons, telling a United Nations conference working on a treaty to prohibit such weapons that international peace and stability “cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”

The conference took place March 27 in New York, after the UN General Assembly voted in December to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, with the aim of working toward their total elimination.

Such a treaty would make explicit what is implied in the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which calls on declared nuclear powers to aim for complete nuclear disarmament.

The talks seemed doomed from the start, since every state with nuclear weapons – including the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council – boycotted the congress.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. representative to the UN, said she “would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons, but in this day and time we can’t honestly say we can protect our people by allowing bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them,” specifically mentioning the threat of nuclear-armed North Korea.

The pontiff answered these objections directly in a letter to the congress, noting the current “unstable climate of conflict” might not seem the best time to approach the “demanding and forward looking goal” of nuclear non-proliferation, and even nuclear disarmament.

However, the pope said nuclear deterrence is ineffective against the principal threats in the twenty-first century, mentioning in particular terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, and poverty.

“These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space,” Francis writes, adding “we need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.”

The pope said the world needs to go beyond nuclear deterrence: “The international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Peron the Papal Role Model

 

 

John-Henry Westen at Lifesite News conveys some observations of the Pope by an Argentinian priest:

 

For those who knew Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio prior to his election to the pontificate, this is nothing new. I spoke to a few priests from Buenos Aires who worked with Cardinal Bergoglio in different capacities and from them learned that confusion is emblematic of his ministry. One anecdote in particular was very instructive. I was told that people from opposite camps would both come out of meetings with Cardinal Bergoglio believing he supported their position. “He’s with us but can’t say so publicly,” they would relate, as would those who met with him from the opposing camp.

While in an archdiocese this may work for a time, this learned priest told me, in the Vatican where just about everything the Pope says is trumpeted to the world, these kinds of discrepancies become evident more quickly. Francis, the priest told me, is very much a Peronist — named for former Argentina President Juan Domingo Perón. Like Perón, Pope Francis plays with both left wing and right wing factions.  

The priest tells a story about President Peron that helps to understand Francis. Once Peron was in his car and at a fork in the road his driver asked him which way he would like to go, to which Peron replied: “Put the flicker on for a right turn, but go left.” One last note about Bergoglio, related by the priest, is that when pushed, he will go left out of a great apprehension of being labeled a right-winger by the media. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Hmmm

 

 

From Pewsitter:

 

 

Speaking at a March 16th conference in Limburg, Germany, the long-time Vatican correspondent Andreas Englisch has delivered an explosive allegation: In contradiction of public appearances, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI “are in complete disagreement” and “never speak to one another.” The Pope Emeritus has apparently stated that he only appears in public “at the explicit request of Pope Francis.” What is shown on these occasions, Englisch continues, is “only the pretense of friendship.”

No official transcript of the press conference is yet available, but Giuseppe Nardi, another well-known Vaticanist who was in attendance, says that Englisch continued his statements by describing Pope Francis as a “strong personality” who “gets what he wants,” and that he has little in common with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI but “uses him when necessary for the optics.” Englisch concluded his dramatic remarks with a remarkable statement: that, in addition to the pressure put upon the Pope Emeritus to resign, “different ecclesiastical forces” are putting pressure on Ratzinger in a different direction: “to return.”   Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Leaving on a Jet Plane

 

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

 

Roman Curia officials pulled out all the stops this year to celebrate the 4th anniversary of Pope Francis’ accession to the Throne of St. Peter after scrounging together a few hundred Euro to surprise him with an unforgettable one-way ticket to his native Buenos Aires.

“He’s been working so hard lately, we thought he could use an extended, indefinite getaway,” said Msgr. Giuseppe Bernardo, an attaché attached to the Papal Household. “Plus it’s a 14-hour flight…ample time for several meandering in-flight press scrums.”

“He’s going to love this!” honorary prelate Anotonio Vada said, trying to contain his excitement. “We even had his boarding pass printed on poster-board like those giant ceremonial checks diocesan bishops are so fond of.”

 

At press time, the Curia was preparing to clean the universal Church while the boss was away.

“He left behind a pretty big mess,” an unnamed Cardinal prefect whispered.  “This may take a century or more.  Some of the stains might never come out.”

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PopeWatch: Historian

 

 

Professor of History Bronwen Catherine McShea in First Things takes a look at some comments made by Pope Francis regarding history:

Such concerns may help explain the appeal that Martin Luther, with his stark emphasis on the preached Word and a radically spiritualized, ahistorical view of the Church, holds for Pope Francis. So let us turn to the historical claims of the Holy Father with which we began, about Martin Luther and the causes over time of deep divisions between Lutherans and Catholics. (They are remarks that, coming from a Pope of Rome, I cannot help but think would be eye-popping to the reformer himself.)

With respect to the simple assertion that Martin Luther intended only to renew the Church, not divide her, it is indeed the case that the historical consensus today is that the reformer had no intention of leaving the Catholic Church in 1517, when he first presented his Ninety-Five Theses to religious authorities and a wider public in and around Wittenberg. However, even scholars of the Reformation very mindful of contemporary ecumenical stakes do not deny that, very early during his reforming career, Luther became convinced that the international, visible Church as led by popes, cardinals, and bishops was irredeemably corrupt, “judaizing” in its emphasis on laws and rituals, and therefore inherently at odds with the “true,” invisible Church of all persons of sincere “faith” as he defined it.

In other words, from early on, Luther’s Reformation was centrally about separating, promptly—with the help of powerful territorial princes and city magistrates with local influence and armies at the ready—the hidden, faith-filled wheat from the papistic chaff, so to speak. Luther certainly believed in only one, true, Apostolic Church, but he redefined the Church in a direction that was inherently exclusionary of those who deferred to the papacy, affirmed seven sacraments and Christ’s institution of a consecrated priesthood, and acknowledged an active, participatory role for human free will in God’s economy of salvation. Any concern he might have had to preserve unity in the Church in a way any orthodox Catholic bishop or theologian of the sixteenth century would have recognized as such was, at best, a very secondary priority. Much more urgent for Luther was to rally other reform-minded men and women toward full acceptance of the creed his own conscience told him was the true creed—by 1530, that would have been the enumerated articles of the Augsburg Confession—and, in the process, reject communion with groups that departed in any way from that creed.

Scholars very sympathetic to Luther also acknowledge that he was incorrigibly pugnacious as well as deeply convinced his understanding of faith and of the Church was the only correct one. He sought out opportunities, often, to do battle not only with Catholics (or as he put it in 1545, “whatever riffraff belongs to His Idolatrous and Papal Holiness,” whose tongues “we should … tear out from the back, and nail them on the gallows”), but also with followers of the Swiss reformers Ulrich Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger, the more radical Anabaptists and Spiritualists, and Protestants closer to his own mind who nevertheless disagreed with him on this or that creedal article. Luther’s verve for creative name-calling and insults where all these groups were concerned was legendary in his own time, as it remains in ours. (Graduate students in Reformation history will confess to finding amusement in a website called the “Lutheran Insulter” in which real ad hominem attacks from the reformer’s writings are generated at random. While writing this paragraph, I clicked on its “Insult me again” button and was informed by Doktor Luther, as if I were Erasmus just daring to defend free will: “You foster in your heart a Lucian, or some other pig from Epicurus’ sty”—this from Luther’s Bondage of the Will of 1525.)

It is also the case that, during a time when some sixteenth-century reformers were actively engaged in the earliest ecumenical efforts to find common ground across the splintering confessions, and to strive toward the reunification of Western Christendom, Luther was relatively uninterested in such things.

Pope Francis, however, in order to push along the cause of Catholic-Lutheran reunification, casts Luther as someone who had no wish to sow discord among Christians. For the hardening sectarian divisions of the early modern era, Francis blames, instead, others who “closed in on [themselves] out of fear or bias with regard to the faith which others profess with a different accent and language.”

With all due respect to His Holiness, this explanation of what unfolded during and after Luther’s time is not only condescending to the full-blooded, spirited, and hardly faultless reformer himself. It is insulting to the intelligence of numerous theologians, apologists, and preachers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including Robert Bellarmine and other Jesuits who devoted years of life, and heart, to clarifying and defending serious, important Catholic doctrines against serious, important Protestant challenges. And it is cavalier toward the memory not only of countless martyrs and war dead on all sides of that era’s terrible struggles, but also of numerous families, villages, even religious communities in Reformation Europe’s confessional borderlands, which were torn apart, agonizingly—while very much speaking the same language, with the same accents!—over very serious, important, real disagreements about doctrine and praxis.

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PopeWatch: Sophistry

 

One of the defining feature of his pontificate is the endless sophistry deployed as a smokescreen.  Sandro Magister gives us an example:

 

For understanding how Francis acts with his opponents, the archbishop and theologian Bruno Forte is a reliable oracle, especially since he reported in public what the pope said to him during the last synod, at which he acted as special secretary:

“If we talk explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried, you have no idea what a mess these guys will make for us. So let’s not talk about it directly, you get the premises in place and then I will draw the conclusions.”

Francis has drawn the conclusions, as is known, in the postsynodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” but in such an ambiguous form that he has inevitably aggravated the opposition and confusion in the whole Church, and has induced four cardinals to ask him publicly to bring clarity on the “dubia” created by this fluid magisterium of his.

But for Bruno Forte, it is not the words of “Amoris Laetitia” that have generated the doubts, but it is these latter and those who are raising them that are “sowing uncertainty and division among Catholics and others.”

This and more was said by the archbishop and former special secretary of the two synods on the family, who is also one of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s trusted men, at the conference that he gave on March 9, in Rome, at the church of San Salvatore in Lauro, introduced by the auxiliary bishop of the pope’s diocese, Gianrico Ruzza, and as followup speaker, immediately after him, Church historian Alberto Melloni, head of the famous “school of Bologna.”

The main argument that Forte brought out in support of Pope Francis’s position is the concordance between what is written in “Amoris Laetitia” and the propositions voted on by the synod of bishops: a “consensus fidelium” – he added – which has been wrongfully abandoned by those who have raised the “dubia.”

Here are his exact words in this regard, transcribed from an audio recording of his conference:

“The final points of the synod were approved by the representatives of the episcopates of the whole world, with an extraordinary majority: almost all of them unanimously and the more delicate by at least two thirds. Francis had clear ideas, he knew where he wanted to go. When he called on me to be the secretary of the synod, he said to me: ‘For me it is important to arrive there together with all the bishops of the world, because the pope is the servant of the servants of God and I want us to grow together. It doesn’t matter to anyone if a document is written for the Church without the journey we have made.’ This is an aspect that must not be overlooked. Pope Francis has taken collegiality seriously. There are those who have calculated that the 85 percent of the contents of the postsynodal exhortation comes from texts of the final synodal relation. They are texts that ripened collegially, with the episcopate of the world working alongside the successor of Peter. We therefore find ourselves before what is truly a ‘sensus,’ an impressive ‘consensus fidelium.’ This is why the ‘dubia,’ underground, raise doubts over those who have raised them, because some of them were absent from the synod and have not seen what great power of communion there was.”

Of course, Forte didn’t make the slightest reference to how the twofold synod was manipulated from on high, resulting among other things in a sensational incident halfway through the first session – when Forte himself was accused in public by cardinal relator Peter Erdo of having written parts of the “relatio post disceptationem” entirely on his own initiative – and in an even more sensational letter of protest and of appeal to the pope from thirteen cardinals at the beginning of the second session.

Nor did he make any reference to a presumed “collegiality” that produced texts rejected in their most controversial points by almost a third of the synod fathers, and passed by a margin of a few votes only on account of an ambiguity and reticence of language even more pronounced than those afterward put into “Amoris Laetitia.”

Instead, entering into the content of the objections, Forte contested the accusation of “relativism” brought against the pope and his “Who am I to judge?”

And he did so by referring to the “great Jesuit” Karl Rahner and to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in whose footsteps – he said – Francis is going against relativism, since “he combines the absoluteness of the truth with the absoluteness of charity, in a daily effort of discernment, from which no one should feel excluded.”

It can be presumed with a certain surety that what Forte has illustrated is also what Pope Francis thinks about the objections of the four cardinals, and not only about these.

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PopeWatch: Populism for Me and not for Thee

 

Samuel Gregg at The Federalist notes that Pope Francis has a double standard when it comes to populism:

 

Asked in a 2015 interview whether he considered the pope isolated and surrounded by opponents in the Vatican, Fernández answered: “By no means. The people are with him, not his few adversaries. This pope first filled St. Peter’s Square with crowds and then began changing the Church. Above all, for this reason he is not isolated. The people sense in him the fragrance of the Gospel, the joy of the Spirit, the closeness of Christ and thus they feel the Church is like their home.”

“The people.” “Crowds.” “The people.” Such language has very specific meaning in Latin America. When used by figures such as the long-deceased Argentine populist Juan Perón or the more recently departed “twenty-first-century socialist” Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, the purpose of this phraseology is the same. It is to evoke an almost mystical connection between the leader and “the people” as they struggle together against oppression.

This rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with tendencies to caricature real or perceived opponents. The speeches of Perón and Chávez are full of ad hominem rants against “enemies of the people.” Francis himself isn’t shy about applying labels. There’s even a blog that has compiled his more memorable phrases: “rigorists,” “fundamentalists,” “Pharisees,” “intellectual aristocrats,” “little monsters,” “self-absorbed promethean neo–pelagians,” to name just a few. The targets range from younger Catholics with a distaste for 1970s liturgy to theologians who insist that coherently preaching the gospel requires a concern for intellectual rigor.

But Francis’s populist side manifests itself most clearly in addresses he’s given to one particular group that he has clearly supported: an organization called The World Meeting of Popular Movements. The populist edge to Francis’s thought is very evident in, for example, a 2015 speech he gave to this group in Bolivia. At various points, the rhetoric employed by the pope—“tyranny of mammon,” “this economy kills,” “bondage of individualism” etc.—is decidedly charged, even polemical. Some of it isn’t that different from the language used by populist politicians throughout Latin America.

This last point is underscored by the fact that Pope Francis delivered these remarks while seated next to President Evo Morales of Bolivia. A self-described communitarian-socialist, Morales is a quintessential Latin American left-populist. Like all such politicians, he’s steadily removed constitutional restraints on his power in the name of “the people.” Morales’ prominence at the pope’s speech, as one journalist present remarked to me, reinforced the sense that “the whole event had the feel of a deeply political, very left-wing, and somewhat secular rally.”

The pope’s apparent empathy for a type of populism was further underscored when the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences held a conference in April 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” The two heads of states invited to speak were none other than Morales and another left-populist head of state, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa. The event was tilted even further in a left-populist direction by the presence of the then-candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also gave a speech. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Exorcists

PopeWatch agrees with this:

Pope Francis on Friday said confessors “should not hesitate” to refer penitents to exorcists, if they are suffering from “genuine spiritual disturbances.”

The pope was speaking to hundreds of priests taking a course on confession organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court which deals with issues surrounding the sacrament.

Francis said having good confessors “was more useful than ever,” and “even necessary in our times,” and said churches should make confession more available to the faithful.

He said a good confessor must be a true friend of Jesus, a man of the Spirit, and should make the confessional a place of evangelization.

The pontiff said confessors are called to venture to the “peripheries of evil and sin,” and those who approach the confessional may come from the most desperate situations.

“They could also have spiritual disturbances, whose nature should be submitted to careful discernment,” Francis said, “taking into account all the existential, ecclesial, natural and supernatural circumstances.”

Francis was careful to point out priests should work with professionals to make sure a person is not suffering from psychological disorders, and again emphasized “discernment is necessary.”

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PopeWatch: Dirty Money

 

When it comes to Vatican shenanigans, always follow the money.  Details are coming out about the Knights of Malta and potentially dirty money, and it all stinks to high heaven.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register gives us the details:

Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper has reported that the Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta, Baron Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, accepted a 30 million Swiss franc donation ($31 million) on behalf of the Order from what Bild calls “a dubious trust” in Geneva. Boeselager denies any wrongdoing.

The Grand Chancellor told the newspaper that over a seven-year period, the Order would be drawing 30 million Swiss francs from the fund, which Bild calls by its acronym CPVG. So far, the Order has received 3 million francs from the trust, whose existence the Register first brought to public attention in January.

Bild correspondent Nikolaus Harbusch, a well known investigative reporter in Germany specializing in financial crimes, reports that the trustee, whom the newspaper names simply as Ariane S., signed a framework agreement with Boeselager to accept the money on March 1. The agreement came just weeks after Boeselager was reinstated as Grand Chancellor following his dismissal in December by the Order’s former Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing.

Ariane S., who also appears in the so-called “Panama Papers”, denied in a Jan. 6 email to the Register that she or her organization had any connection to the Order of Malta. In her correspondence with the Register, she referenced Swiss law and criminal penalties if the name of the trust or its members, or allegations about the trust, were published.

Boeselager and other members of the Order have had dealings with the trust since 2010, according to documentation obtained by the Register, but Fra’ Festing was unaware of its existence until only recently, after asking Boeselager directly about it.

The Grand Chancellor told Bild he had had lawyers check that the trust, which is now registered in New Zealand, was clean, and subsequently the Order’s government unanimously approved of the fund. He said he did not know details about the donor, Mr. Latour — only that the money came from a wealthy French family, and that the funds had been put into a foundation before the Second World War. “Since then there has been only investment, that’s all that I know,” he said.

“We really do not know the details because our donor is the CPVG trust and not ‘Mr. Latour’ personally,” Boeselager said — adding that the donor, so far only known as Mr. Latour, had “demanded anonymity from the trust and we had to accept that.”

Asked by Bild if it could be dirty money, Boeselager said: “To the best of our knowledge, no.”
According to the donor’s wishes, the Order of Malta was due to receive a quarter of the trust’s assets out of a total fund amounting to 120 million Swiss francs.

Bild revealed that, on the instruction of the Order, the public prosecutor in Geneva had put a freeze on the money in order to determine whether the trustee was guilty of embezzlement. The newspaper’s own investigations, using its own experts, leads them to believe that the assets in France had never been taxed properly.

Boeselager told Bild that the Order has withdrawn its “complaint against the trustee, since the accusation was baseless and no one suffered any harm.” He said the 30 million francs was by far the largest cash donation the Order has received over the past 10 years.

According to Boeselager, the Order has a policy for rejecting “dirty money,” and said it has turned down two donations from Switzerland, and one from the United States. “If money is dirty, we will not take it,” he said.

He said that, in the case of the CPVG trust, the Order carried out a “thorough risk analysis” and sees “no reason to place the order on a money laundering list. “

In the interview, Boeselager rejected the accusation that he wants to turn the Order into a normal non-governmental organization, saying anyone who makes such a charge doesn’t “know me at all” and that “the opposite is true.”

“We are continuing with our mission: evangelization through assistance and charity,” he said.

Boeselager also revealed he would be reducing the autonomy of the Grand Master, who will be “bound in the future to the decisions of the government of the Order.” His comment contrasts with the view of Fra’ Festing, who had privately complained that Boeselager had been pursuing his own policies and activities in the Order independently, without the Grand Master’s full knowledge.

Many questions, however, remain unanswered, including:

why the five-member Holy See commission set up to look into Boeselager’s dismissal was made up of three individuals closely associated with the trust, none of whom wished to speak publicly about it;
why the commission’s work was rushed and completed ahead of schedule, but in time for Boeselager to be reinstated and to withdraw the complaint against the trustee;
what the precise reasons were for Boeselager’s brother, Georg, being appointed to the board of the Vatican Bank in December;
and why the trustee was so threatening and reluctant to have any basic information related to the CPVG trust published, including its name.
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PopeWatch: Bugged

 

 

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

 

The Vatican has refused to say whether an apology was in the works after eavesdropping allegations were made by Francis last week against his predecessor.

Pope Francis’ claim that his confessional was wiretapped by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has yet to be supported by evidence, but the Pontiff isn’t ready to apologize for the accusation just yet.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Director of the Holy See Press Office Greg Burke told reporters on Friday when asked if Francis would apologize to Pope Benedict if his allegations were debunked. “I think it’s important to see where this goes, and I don’t want to prejudge the investigation at this time.”

Pope Francis has alleged in a number of tweets last Saturday that Benedict had let Vatican officials conduct surveillance on his Buenos Aires confessional before becoming pope.

“Terrible! Just found out that Benedict had my ‘wires tapped’ in San Roberto Bellarmino Church In Buenos Aires just before my papal victory. Nothing found!”

 

Go here to read the comments.  PopeWatch attempted to contact the Vatican for comment, but when his phone began to make odd sounds like a Bulgarian singing a Gregorian chant backwards, PopeWatch hastily ended the call.

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PopeWatch: Saint Patrick Weeps

 

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture demonstrates that if you are a faithful Catholic cleric in this pontificate, you have a target on your back:

 

In Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, the great detective Hercule Poirot faces an unusual challenge. There are too many suspects—too many people with obvious motives for committing the crime.

That’s how I feel about the news that Archbishop Charles Brown, the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, is being transferred to Albania.

This is not a subtle move. The Vatican is explaining that it’s just a routine rotation; every now and then papal diplomats are given new assignments. That would make sense, except that:

  • Archbishop Brown is not a career diplomat. Pope Benedict sent him to Ireland, at a time of crisis for the faith, precisely because he trusted his orthodoxy.
  • When nuncios are moved, they are usually sent to assignments of equal or greater importance. A switch from Ireland to Albania is an unmistakable demotion.

Who would have wanted Archbishop Brown removed from Dublin?

– The Irish government, which is working to end the constitutional ban on abortion? Check.

– The Irish bishops, who don’t want pressure to act like Catholic leaders? Check.

– Liberal Irish priests, for the same reason? Check.

– The lavender mafia, always? Check.

– The Secretariat of State, which resented having a non-diplomat appointed as nuncio? Check.

– Pope Francis himself, who’s busy removing all Ratzinger loyalists? Check.

Too many suspects. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Anti-Semitism

 

 

It would take a blind man not to notice that anti-Semitism is growing in strength on the left.  Unsurprisingly with the advent of Pope Francis, definitely a man of the left, anti-Semitic tropes are beginning to emerge within the Church.  Sandro Magister gives us the latest:

 

“Israel, people of a jealous God. Consistencies and ambiguities of an elitist religion.” Already from this conference title wafts an air that is by no means friendly for Jews and Judaism.

But if one goes to read the original text of presentation, there is even worse to be found: “thinking of oneself as a people belonging in an elitist way to a unique divinity has determined a sense of the superiority of one’s own religion.” Which leads to “intolerance,” “fundamentalism,” “absolutism” not only toward other peoples but also in self-destruction, because “one has to wonder to what extent the divine jealousy may or may not incinerate the chosen’s freedom of choice.”

And yet these were the initial title and presentation of a conference that the Italian Biblical Association has scheduled from September 11-16 in Venice.

The statutes of the ABI are approved by the Italian episcopal conference, and its members include about 800 professors and scholars of the Sacred Scriptures, Catholic and not. Among the speakers at the conference in September is the leading biblicist at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Belgian Jesuit Jean-Louis Ska, a specialist in the Pentateuch, which in Hebrew is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. No invitation to speak, however, has been extended to any Jewish scholar.

But the rabbis could not remain silent. And they have made themselves heard with a letter to the ABI signed by one of their most authoritative representatives, Giuseppe Laras, the news of which was first covered by Giulio Meotti in “Il Foglio” on March 10.

An extensive extract from the letter is reproduced further below. But first a couple of notifications are in order.

When Rabbi Laras writes of a “Marcionism” that is now emerging with ever greater insistence, he is referring to the school of thought that from the second-century Greek theologian Marcion until our day contrasts the jealous, legalistic, warlike God of the Old Testament with the good, merciful, peaceful God of the New Testament, and therefore, as a result, the Jewish followers of the former with the Christian followers of the latter.

Not only that. Laras – still remembered for his dialogues with Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini – makes reference to Pope Francis as one who perpetuates this contrast.

And in effect it is not the first time that authoritative representatives of Italian Judaism – like the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni – have criticized Francis for the distorted use of the term “pharisee” or of the comparison with Moses to cast discredit on his adversaries.

This is what Francis did, for example, in the concluding address of the synod of bishops, when he lashed out against “the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases.” Not caring that he was contradicting himself, because one innovation that the pope wanted to introduce into the practice of the Church was the restoration of divorce, allowed by none other than Moses and instead prohibited by Jesus.

But now it’s Rabbi Laras’s turn.

*

Dear friends,

[. . .] I have read, together with my esteemed fellow rabbis and with Prof. David Meghnagi, cultural commissioner of the UCEI [Union of Italian Jewish Communities], the event guide for the ABI [Italian Biblical Association] conference scheduled for September 2017.

I am, and this is a euphemism, very indignant and embittered! [. . .]

Of course – independently of everything, including possible future apologies, rethinkings, and retractions – what emerges conspicuously are a few disquieting facts, which many of us have felt in the air for quite some time and about which there should be profound introspection on the Catholic side:

1. an undercurrent – with the text a bit more manifest now – of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism;

2. a substantial distrust of the Bible and a subsequent minimization of the Jewish biblical roots of Christianity;

3. a more or less latent “Marcionism” now presented in pseudo-scientific form, which today focuses insistently on ethics and politics;

4. the embracing of Islam, which is all the stronger as the Christian side is more critical toward Judaism, now including even the Bible and biblical theology;

 

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