PopeWatch: Missionary Pope

Tuesday, November 12, AD 2013



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 Responses to PopeWatch: Missionary Pope

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

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

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

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

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

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PopeWatch: Homosexuality is Now Mandatory!

Saturday, November 9, AD 2013

9 Responses to PopeWatch: Homosexuality is Now Mandatory!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Before He Became Pope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Janet,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PopeWatch: Pope and Sufferer

Thursday, November 7, AD 2013

22 Responses to PopeWatch: Pope and Sufferer

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

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

  • Karl,

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

  • Kudos Don for bringing some balance to Pope Watch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But Bravo on this post, all the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sorry, if I pause to laugh….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Clearly you are not a lawyer Ez.

    “Sorry, if I pause to laugh….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PopeWatch: Maradiaga

Wednesday, November 6, AD 2013




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

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


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

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

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

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

Go here to read every insightful world.

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

Continue reading...

23 Responses to PopeWatch: Maradiaga

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

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

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

    Thank you for Popewatch.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

  • Ernst, very well put. Thanks.

  • It just keeps getting better and better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is a rather shocking assertion, is it not?

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

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


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

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

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8 Responses to PopeWatch: Frank the Hippie Pope?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PopeWatch: Anthropological Issues?

Monday, November 4, AD 2013



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

> ¿Está la jerarquía española en sintonía con Francisco?

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

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

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

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

> Così il Papa fa cambiare i vescovi

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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35 Responses to PopeWatch: Anthropological Issues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Also, it’s important to note that:

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

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

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


  • Mike Petrik,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Steve,

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

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

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

  • Mike,

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • We are both in complete agreement

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

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

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

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

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

  • Steve,

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

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


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

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

  • Satan quotes Scripture too

  • Steve Phoenix

    Two points

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

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

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

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

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

  • Steve Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Michael Paterson Seymour,

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

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

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

  • Steve Phoenix

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

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

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

    (Note they all treat it as a present perfect)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Kelso

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

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

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

  • Kelso

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

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

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

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PopeWatch: Antje Jackelén

Saturday, November 2, AD 2013



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 Responses to PopeWatch: Antje Jackelén

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

PopeWatch: Archbishop Leonard Blair

Friday, November 1, AD 2013



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

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

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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Archbishop Leonard Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Peace on earth to men of good will.

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

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

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PopeWatch: NSA

Thursday, October 31, AD 2013

5 Responses to PopeWatch: NSA

  • So what exactly does the Regime of liberal progressive Democrats in control have to fear from Jesus Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that it has to resort to spying?

    Two words: Judgment Day.

  • For some reason I’m not that upset.
    Spying on foreign leaders whether hostile or friendly is to be expected. Getting caught is incompetence.
    I’ll bet $20 that previous administrations have spied on the Holy See as well. They would have been foolish not to, especially after John Paul II showed the impact the Church can have.

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  • Thomas Collins, I don’t share your attitude. While this administration and the
    Holy See don’t have anything like the cordial relationship that they had under
    President Bush and Benedict XVI, we are (at least in theory) still allies. While I
    can appreciate that all governments must gather intelligence, what the NSA is
    doing these days will only alienate what few friends we still have out there.

    Imagine you have a business associate, with whom you’ve had a long and very
    cordial relationship. You’ve always assumed that his company kept tabs on what
    yours was up to– who was retiring, how promptly invoices were paid, who your
    purveyors were, etc. Then, you discover that not only was this associate keeping
    an eye on those things you reasonably expected, but he was also having your
    home and business phones tapped, was steaming open your personal letters,
    and hiring people to dig through your trash and follow your wife and children.
    With this discovery, I daresay your relationship with that associate would… change.

    One other unrelated and slightly off-topic thing: with what we’ve come to find out
    about the NSA’s new-ish ability to monitor all email and phone calls in the
    name of national security, why haven’t we seen more concern about the government
    snooping into domestic political campaigns? Couldn’t an amoral administration
    use the NSA to undermine the political campaigns of those it did not like? They
    could make Nixon look like a piker…

  • Perhaps the NSA, like Popewatch, is trying to figure out what the Hxxx this Pope is saying, too.

PopeWatch: Untier of Knots

Wednesday, October 30, AD 2013



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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Responses to PopeWatch: Untier of Knots

PopeWatch: Liberal Christianity

Monday, October 28, AD 2013


Dale Price at Dyspeptic mutterings has an interesting series in which he discusses the problems he has with Pope Francis.  The problems PopeWatch believes boil down to a concern that Pope Francis may turn out to be an advocate of Liberal Christianity, that place where Christianity goes to die:


He was a beloved itinerant shepherd who lived simply, residing in a single spartan room when he wasn’t visiting the flock. Known for his humility and down-to-earth speaking style, he was deeply beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He emphasized ecumenism to an unprecedented degree, and believed that the Second Vatican Council was the watershed event in Catholic history. He encouraged modern biblical study, presenting historical-critical hypotheses from the pulpit, chided Catholics who “looked backward” to older ways, and urged the embrace of dynamic change.

His name was Kenneth Untener, and he was the bishop of Saginaw from 1980 until his death in 2004. The parishes in his domain were my first experience with progressive Catholicism, and they stirred and shaped my–there is no other word for it–hostility to the entire progressive religious project. Now, let me clarify one thing here: there is a distinction between religious progressivism and the political version. For my part, I think one can be a devout Catholic and support what are generally regarded as progressive political policies. The late, great Robert Casey, Sr. of Pennsylvania (but not his wayward, sail-trimming fraud of a son) embodied this possibility–and did so well. But, as with Catholics who align toward the right side of the spectrum, if you’re doing your faith right, you will inevitably conflict with certain political shibboleths of your non-Catholic brothers in arms. Or at least you’d better. And it is clear that getting your hands dirty living and working with the poor, a la Catholic Worker, is wholly, utterly and unimpeachably Catholic.

These are to be distinguished from religious progressivism, which is diagnosed comprehensively here. It is always and everywhere bad news. Which is not to say that people who hold modernist views are to be treated like bad news–they shouldn’t. But you have your work cut out, no question. The contemporary flavor of modernism is fond of emotivism and is less susceptible to, or even interested in, logical argument. And if they’re in power, buckle up and heads to the storm.

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14 Responses to PopeWatch: Liberal Christianity

  • A quibble about these remarks: a social democratic or syndicalist bias is congruent with the orthodox Catholic faith. With regard to contemporary ‘progressives’, that sort of thing is just not where their proverbial g-spots are. Subcultural affiliations, consumer tastes, cues and idioms, social and cultural issues, occupational sectors, and social class all matter a great deal more in differentiating ‘us’ and ‘them’. Even with regard to social democratic and syndicalist measures, contemporary progressives are reliable advocates for bureaucracies of helping and caring and rather less reliable advocates of the economic welfare of impecunious wage earners. You can be a loyal Catholic and be the sort of welfare-labor Democrat common in 1948, but you cannot be the latter and be a contemporary ‘progressive’ because you will advocate too many things that are deal-breakers for contemporary ‘progressives’.

    The problem with the Commonweal crowd and the Sojourners crowd and the ordinary run of mainline clergy, dissenting Catholic priests, and the church-o-cracy in all denominations is that they are contemporary progressives who speak intermittently in a Christian idiom.

    The problem with many peace-and-justice Catholics is that they are so fanatical on the subject of certain political questions that they confound their sometime adversaries with their real antagonists.

  • In short, they’re Liberals first, and foremost, and christians number ten or further down the list.

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  • “For my part, I think one can be a devout Catholic and support what are generally regarded as progressive political policies.”

    Really? What exactly are Progressives progressing towards? The goal – just like the phrase “I have a right to choose” – is unstated. Do progressives in their hubris think that by their good works they can establish a man-made kingdom of God on Earth by government taxation of those who work to benefit those who refuse to? That makes the latter addicted to the teat of the public treasury, forever dependent on Caesar instead of on God.

    2nd Thessalonians 3:10 states:

    “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.”

    BTW, In John chapter 6, after Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes, He and the disciples went around the lake to the other side, and the crowd, awakening in the morning, found Him gone and sought after Him. When they caught up with Him, “…they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.'” (Verses 25-27)

    The crowd did NOT get a second free handout. It ain’t about filling empty bellies. It’s about conversion and repentance. As 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says:

    “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    What the poor to get better? Stop the sin!


    No more liberalism. No more progressivism.

  • Sorry you feel that way, Paul, but you’ll never convince me Bob Casey Sr. was a bad Catholic. And while Catholic social teaching has been greatly misused and misrepresented by those who worship the State, it is impossible to square genuine CST with libertarianism.

  • I remember well Bp Untener, and his leadership and “teaching” was the greatest evidence, as I was recently trying to relate to someone else, of the discontinuity of Vatican II (“V2″) with the previous Church we had.

    Let’s just look at Sacro. Conc (On the Liturgy): no where was the Traditional Latin Mass abolished in the text of SC or any other V2 document—yet it was forbidden by V2! Even by its own document, SC contradicts V2: the liturgy is to remain normatively Latin (no. 36), Gregorian chant is the proper musical form (no. 116), and the pipe organ is the normative liturgical instrument (no. 120). Is that the way the liturgy is celebrated in your parish each Sunday? If so, they must be “radical traditionalists?”

    The theological “experts” who advised the bishops and cardinals —Congar, Rahner, Kung, Chenu, others—quickly formed their own clandestine operations with deliberate efforts, well-documented now in their own personal diaries, to break with “ultramontanism” and in fact to contest the authority of the pope and place all authority in “a council of bishops” (see deMattei, The 2nd Vatican Council, an Unwritten Story).
    Card. Suenens exulted that V2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. ” (1988 address. Chilean Episcopal Conference).
    Yves Congar, one of the V2 periti, remarked with satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus if 1864 said…”
    After decades of this nonsense, and the new Pope claiming “we have to put into effect V2”, forget it for me. The only ones that are making sense and that have a consistently harmonious and undemagogued liturgy are the trad groups, curious as they are: but Untenauer and a certain one-time bishop of Phoenix who was his twin separated at birth have done it for me and a good part of my family.

  • Many of Dale’s commenters urge patience; reading Francis through Bergoglio, so to speak. A hermeneutic of biography?

  • For those who already interpret Vatican II as discontinuous with the whole Catholic Tradition, I can only say that this flies in the face of the actual Documents of Vatican II, the Popes since Vatican II, the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 (precisely on the authoritative interpretation of Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which both quotes Vatican II and interprets it in its Teaching). If an interpretation of rupture were accurate the promises of Christ of the Spirit Paraclete as well as His promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church built on Peter would be empty and futile.

    It is important not to confuse the Extradordinar Form (TLM) with other issues of so called traditionalists groups

    As for the above article concerning Pope Francis as a so called progressive,nthe author actually was stating Pope Francis is a “”Modernist”” (as described by the Magisterium of Saint Pope Pius X). Modernism states that we take Catholic Teaching, empty it of content so as to make the teaching in line with “modern thinking”

    This did not take place in Vatican II, in any magisterial teachings of the popes since Vatican II and has not happened in any preaching/teaching of Pope Francis

    Despite all signs pointing otherwise some still are afraid of this Pope. I find no substantial basis for this anxiety and fear

  • It is not fear of the Pope that motivates many of us, but fear of his exceptionally poorly worded interviews and other public comments. Particularly how they are read and used by others. For example:


    Being in a public institution myself, these are stormy times added to by Pope Francis’s lack of foresight. But it is early in this pontificate and I suspect there has already been a fair amount of fraternal correction of the Pope guided by the Holy Spirit.

  • Fair enough Philip. I had pointed out In a response sometime ago, that it was interesting that there have been no interviews since his meeting with the council of 8 cardinals. I still find this fact interesting. As Cardinal Brogoglio, he did not like interviews. That tells me that he lacked experience in giving interviews. To be honest I felt that the “Jesuit interview” was the best and more insightful into ‘the man’.

  • Steve Phoenix

    Not only Cardinal Yves Congar, but Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (as he then was) called Gadium et Spes a counter-Syllabus.

    “If one is looking for a global diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et spes], one could say that it (along with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-Syllabus …. the text [of Gaudium et spes] plays the role of a counter-Syllabus to the extent that it represents an attempt to officially reconcile the Church with the world as it had become after 1789.” Here is the original French text: «Gaudium et Spes est (en liaison avec les textes sur la liberté religieuse et sur les religions du monde) une révision du Syllabus de Pie IX, une sorte de contre-Syllabus. […] Ce texte joue le rôle d’un contre-Syllabus dans la mesure où il représente une tentative pour une réconciliation officielle de l’Église avec le monde tel qu’il était devenu depuis 1789. (Cardinal Ratzinger, Les Principes de la théologie catholique) »

    I believe the attempts to suggest a discontinuity between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI are misconceived

  • Well thanks be to God that you are hear to clarify the pope’s words for us, given your deep insight into his inner voice and heart. Man, I thought I was lost for a moment.

  • Actually, Michael P-S, I was asserting the discontinuity between the Church prior to V2 and the church after. Ratzinger in his own memoirs recounts how disconcerted he was by news from the V2 newly formed bureaucracies, especially the Consilium on the Liturgy, radically altered what many of the Council Fathers thought they were voting for at V2. Ratzinger spent much of his episcopate “walking back” V2 (just one example: most notably the sacrmental words of institution (“For you and for all” vs. “For you and for many” – If ever there was a prima facie evidence of a rupture, a break with the past just acknowledge that change, not done by the V2 congregation, but by Cicognani’s shadow committee which operated form 1964 to 1969. But for those of you who care to know the truth (other than Botolph,who apparently has a programmed function key to smear people like me as “radicals”, and prefers to remain in the dark), just read Romano Amerio’s Iota Unum, give Roberto de Mattei (The 2nd Vatican Council: an Unwritten Story) at least a reading (he corroborates Amerio’s eyewitness account point-by-point, and finally read Mark Fellows’ Twilight at Fatima, all voluminously researched works with incontrovertible evidence that something went off the rails at V2 (as if you cant tell the tree by its fruits).

  • er. correction. I meant “Ratzinger spent much of his pontificate walking back” V2 (not “episcopate”).

PopeWatch: Obsessions

Friday, October 25, AD 2013

3 Responses to PopeWatch: Obsessions

  • This beautiful quote from Pope Francis reveals his true “position” on the issue of abortion. It also reveals his continuity with the Magisterium of his immediate predecessors. Whatever his original statement on “obsession” meant, there can be no doubt of his pro-life belief nor any doubt that he sees it as part of the Gospel proclamation.

    Thank you Donald for forwarding this statement to the list

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  • Perception is a reality. What one means isn’t sufficient. The Pro-Life Movement has a difficult time as it is, even within the Church. We shouldn’t have to overcome “I didn’t really mean that” comments. Sounds like a particular politician t me.

PopeWatch: Surprise

Wednesday, October 23, AD 2013



PopeWatch would suggest that a good rule to follow in regard to the pontificate is that the tea leaves may not be as easy to read as one would expect.  For example, it has been widely thought that Pope Francis is interested in allowing divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior marriage has not been annulled by the Church to receive Communion.  Based upon an article appearing today, that may not be the case.  Father Z gives us the details:


In tomorrow’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano there is a long essay (4000+ words) by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbp. Müller, on the hotly-debate issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  (I haven’t checked it against the Italian yet.)

I mentioned that I had been hearing rumblings about a piece in L’O for a little while.  This seems to be it.

Müller opposes the various solutions that have been presented for the divorced and remarried.   This is not to say that the Prefect believes it impossible for the Church ultimately to find a solution to the dilemma.  Rejecting some proposed solutions is different from rejecting any possible solution.  (Please, those of you in Columbia Heights, don’t freak out when you read that and dash about like Chicken Little.  Theologians make distinctions.  Rejection of proposed solutions could be part of a process.)

At the core of Müller’s piece there seems to be a dismantling of all the arguments that depend mostly on “mercy” without the concomitant dimension of justice, the Lord’s own teaching, etc.

This is going to be spun by the left as the Bad Guy’s attempt to stop Francis.

Müller won’t be presented as the voice of reason.  No, he will be the Bad Guy.

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14 Responses to PopeWatch: Surprise

  • Guess I am not that impressed. It is not enough to simply restate that divorce and remarriage (sans declaration of nullity) is wrong/sinful, and then compounding the issue by taking Communion. There needs to be action–those who are promoting/allowing the taking of Communion by the divorced/remarried need to be shipped off to a monastery somewhere, under vows of silence so they may study the issue from the point of view of the Church, etc.

    Failure to enforce this will only result in what is currently happening with the contraception/sterilization/abortion issue–yes, we’ve had a couple of Encyclicals. We have study groups about them. We have various groups dedicated to teaching NFP, praying in front of abortion clinics and doing sidewalk counseling, post-abortion healing, etc. We also have Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and the majority of Catholics who have no moral qualms about the use of contraception and sterilization, including those working in the medical field. Many young Catholics are supportive of gay/lesbian “marriage.”

    I’m actually quite sympathetic to the divorced/remarried. Truth be told, this is the one teaching of Christ that I’d like explained away, abandoned, dumped in the trash. Alas, it is a little difficult to do so since the words of Christ were crystal clear.

  • I may be missing something here, but this is my take on this new document. My guess is that this part of the document described by Sandro Magister will prove to be the exception that swallows the rule (there’s that ugly word “rule” again):

    “But Müller also recognizes that in a context like that of the present “invalid” marriages are very numerous.

    “Exactly as Pope Francis had noted, again on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, when he recalled that his predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino, used to say: “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.”

    “But if null marriages are so great in number, how will the diocesan tribunals be able to examine all of them, juridically ascertaining their invalidity?

    “Müller does not pose this question explicitly in his document. However, he cites a 1998 article by Joseph Ratzinger republished in “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011, in which the predecessor of Pope Francis explored the pros and cons of a hypothetical solution: the possible recourse to a decision in conscience to receive communion on the part of a divorced and remarried Catholic, in the event that the lack of recognition of the nullity of his previous marriage (on account of a sentence maintained to be erroneous or because of the difficulty of proving its nullity in the tribunal procedure) should contrast with his well-founded conviction that the marriage is objectively null.

    “It can be presumed that the synod of bishops of October 2014 – to which Pope Francis has entrusted the question – will examine precisely this “Ratzinger hypothesis” in order to innovate in this matter, albeit with the reaffirmation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.”

    In short, the Church will reaffirm the absolute indissolubility of marriage, but will further liberalize the availability of declarations of nullity, as well as the so-called “inner forum” thing that Magister refers to as the “Ratzinger hypothesis”.

    And I’m not convinced that, at least in the short term, this isn’t the correct solution. We know we have at least a generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have gotten married for all sorts of reasons without a proper grounding in the Church’s teachings on marriage. Cardinal Quarracino was probably correct in his assessment that “… half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” Perhaps, in the short term, the Church should be more, for lack of a better word, liberal in its assumptions about how many marriages are in fact sacramentally invalid.

    However, the Church’s position going forward should be this:

    “Okay, going forward, now you’re on notice. To get married in the Church, you’re going to have to go through INTENSIVE catechetical training on the indisolubility of marriage. Converts are going to have to go through that same training as part of RCIA, and once they’re in the Church have their marriages convalidated in a Catholic marriage rite. After that, then we REALLY mean business that those marriages are FOREVER. No declarations of nullity will be granted except in the cases of obvious invalidity.”

  • It is a good essay. I’d be happier if it were linked on the Vatican website, or issued as an actual CDF Note of some kind. As a Vatican guy once said, “it’s not Denziger.”

    I’m inclined to agree with Jay, and say that the necessary medicine of mercy has to be coupled with a reinforcement of the indissoluble understanding. Marriage isn’t simply “One Man, One Woman.” It’s “One Man, One Woman, Forever.”

    Another area for fruitful examination involves cases of abandonment, and the Church needs to mandate a free annulment process.

  • What Dale said (especially the part about agreeing with me 😉 ). And I definitely agree on mandating a free annulment process. Some dioceses already do this – I know the Diocese of Richmond, for example, has a free process.

  • “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” –

    But, wasn’t that pretty much true at the time of Christ? Weren’t marriages pretty much arranged by the parents whether or not the couple (especially the girl/woman) in question really wanted it that way. And would they have had any knowledge “that it is forever”? If they had, would anyone have asked Christ about divorce/remarriage, which appears to have been pretty rampant at that time as well?

  • The annulment process is free in the Archdiocese of Detroit, too.

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  • So just what does all this stuff about “In sickness and in health, richer or poorer .. till death us do part etc” mean ? Or was that also changed after V II ? I remember being quite terrified by the undoubted permanence of the vows when we uttered those words but it gave us such confidence and trust.

    Are Marriage Vows made to be broken ? If so they are not vows, not promises, just empty phrases.

    Marriage is for life, a very short thinking session will lead you to that conclusion, so stop looking for chinks in the Church’s armour with all this muttering about annulment. Talk about the cost of the annulment process is a distraction. If the marriage fails irrevocably, that is it. You are apart and you sleep alone. Chastity reigns for the unmarried and the separated. Equally. Plus, if you are separated, there is always the chance of a reconciliation, a truly wonderful solution.

    OTH, proper, thorough preparation before entering marriage, with emphasis on zero contraception and the thrill and beauty and privilege of children is many years overdue. For a start, it should be explained from the pulpit and shown why it is such an aid to Heaven. It’s a fair guess that this particular sin is leading more people out of the Church than any other.

  • I want to affirm the “rule of thumb” offered by Donald at the very beginning of this article. I have stated in other posts that Pope Francis is very hard to categorize if one uses the oft used ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ ideologies-even if liberals in the media or even within the Church attempt to claim him. I am convinced of his rooted ness in the Gospel (which is the full teaching of the Catholic Church). I am also convinced that those Catholics who desire TLM have nothing to fear. This will be continued (point of fact, the Italians Bishops asked him to pull back on TLM and he refused)

    We are in a major paradigm shift in the history of the Church. The last shift took place when we moved from the Medieval Era to the Modern Era. That shift, resisted at first within the Church-the resulting in the breaking away of the Reformation (actually a reaction to the shift) and certain elements of the Humanist-Scientific forces (who were pushing forward at a rapid pace) eventually gave us the Tridentine Church. Today, however we are moving from the Modern to Post Modern era. Romano Guardini wrote of t his shift in his small but deep The End of the Modern World in 1950. I was at first stunned to see that the ‘end’ was perceived then and not in the more familiar 60’s. Vatican II, like the Council of Trent for its era, sought to enable the Church to continue in Her identity and mission for this new era.

    Each of the popes since VaticanII have attempted to serve and lead the Church further into this era. Blessed John Paul II needed to bring the initial years of ‘experimentation’ with an ethos of almost anything goes, to an end. He also needed to begin adjusting the Church to the new world wide politics emerging at the end of the Cold War. His gifts both pastoral and theological were extraordinary. Pope Benedict brought his theological gifts, especially on the Wor of God, to bear making the Revelation of God as first, foundational and central to the Church. Now Pope Francis seems to want to bring his own gifts to the mission of the Church both in evangelization and the pastoral aspect of the Church. His approach is more radical-rooted in the Catholic Tradition than many suspect.

    As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. These traditional approaches are not the same as Tradition. Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.

    The whole pastoral work of the Church is going through a seemingly drastic evaluation, assessment and adjustments in order to further the mission of the Church-not change in Teachings but change in our response to our post modern world

  • “As we move further into this new historical context, we are going to witness older and seemingly more traditional approaches (I am not speaking here of TLM) lose their power to assist the Church in her mission. … Many are approaches that were considered to be novel and even radical at the beginning of the age of Trent.” – Botolph
    I wish I could approve of this optimism of Botolph, but a reading of a newly published pivotal book, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten History, by Robert De Mattei, shows starkly that Vat2 definitively and deliberately broke with Catholic tradition. The debates and subsequent “anti-schematas” that became the 1st two Constitutions, On the LIturgy (Sacro.Concilium) and Dei Verbum, specifically were formulated as a break with the past, which is why there are all the trap doors in each of them. Augustin Bea, by emphasizing bibilicism alone, intended to completely supplant the long history of Church interpretative meaning and higher authority. With regard to SC (Liturgy), Cardinal Dopfner, Lienart and Leger specifically advocated “a modern liturgy that has meaning for modern man” (an actual quote) and abandonment of the traditional Catholic liturgy entirely. Dopfner actually had the temerity to assert that “the Roman Breviary … is not suitable for priests today, but were for a past time when priests had nothing to do but fill up their day with prayers.” —which was why Breviary of S Pius V, S Pius X, and S Charles Borromeo was thrown on the ash heap. In December 1962, John XXIII inscrutably placed Dopfner, Lienart and Suenens effectively in charge of the commission for guiding all the further documents of V2, with the predictable effect and outcome: a break with the past.

    So, whether it is with regard to any church disciplinary practice (divorce and re-marriage, priestly celibacy, even traditional marriage, and sacraments), Botolph, respectfully, is mistaken. This break represented by the time-bombs of Vatican II as others have called it, this break will continue to whirl madly out of control. One must go back and correct the damage. Read De Mattei’s book: it is an incontrovertible collection of fact.

  • For the sake of brevity as well as clarity, I am going to set aside discussion on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which Steve Phoenix in referring to the radical traditionnalis Robert De Mattei declares broke with the received Tradition (as distinct from traditions) of the Church. I will simply state that the Catholic Church does not accept this hermeneutic of disruption-even in the much discussed area of the Sacred Liturgy.

    More specifically I want to direct our attention to the radical critique of thevDogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Notice the actual title of the document. It is considered and named to be Dogmatic. This means that as authoritative as the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World are, the Constitutions on.Divine Revelation and.on the Church have been elevated further as Dogmatic

    For a second, let us look at this radical critique. It says that this dogmatic constitution on Divine Revellation has contradicted dogmatic teaching of the Church in her Sacred Tradition handed down by the College of Bishops in union with the Succesmsor Peter,, the Pope.. An Ecumenical Council is an extraordinary act of this College of Bishops in union with the pope, and authoritatively promulgated by the success mor of Peter at the time. Trent, Vatican I and Vaticam II all are Exumenical Counsils of the Church ( the latest examples of such precious gifts)

    The question remains can an Ecumenical Council in reality, substantially (rather than simply perceived or misunderstood) break with and/or contradict the received Tradition of the Church ? The answer is a resounding “NO”! If it could happen that means that Christ’s promise of the Spirit Paraclete and that gates of hell shall not prevail against thevChurch busily on Peter are empty. Does anyone really want to say that?

    Protestantism believes that the Spirit andonded the ‘institutional Church’ with the end of the New Testament era, or with the Constantinian era, Orthodoxy believes the last authoritative Council was Nicaeav II in 784 and it holds to the Tradition of the Church up until 1054 zealously. The Old Catholics would not accept Vatican I and broke away stating VaticanI was not guided bt the Spirit. Are we sadly seeing another breek in the Church caused bt those who see Vatican II as a radical break? The difference.here is that both the so called Progressives in. The Church and radical Traditionalists hold to this same hermeneutic of discontinuity pulling at the Church from the two extreme spectrums found in today’s Church

  • I guess persons like Botolph have a programmed function key for the word “radical” and perhaps also “radical traditionalist”: it permits them to negate facts more easily. But, Botolph, it would be best for you to read the monumental fact-gathering of Roberto de Mattei with an open-mind first—or at least just read it, you clearly havent—and you would learn something.

    You would learn that discontinuity is inherent in Vat2’s documents, such as in Sacro.Conc. (On the Liturgy), when the voting members by imposing a new liturgy contradicted both the Council of Constantinople and the Council of Trent, as well as the Code of Canon Law (1918 version, no. 1257), all 3 of which state only the Holy Father can change the Mass of the Catholic church—not even a dogmatic constitution. This is what is meant by a break in continuity. It would be good for you to know that the diaries of Congar, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner, and others, which are now available to us, show there was a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine the Holy See and the Magisterium and tradition, and to replace them all with a purely “biblical” and modern basis of “church”. It would be good for you to know the mind-sets of cardinals like Dopfner, who felt the Roman Breviary should be “discarded” (a quote), disregarded the destruction of Catholic unity that a shared prayer, just as the pre-1962 Mass, provided to the Catholic Church. When Max Thurian, a Protestant observer, asked if now he could “say” the Novus Ordo Mass, one of the periti emphatically affirmed, “Yes,”, a protestant minister can celebrate the same service. That was their goal, a rejection of the Mass of Trent and the ages, for a “modern liturgy for modern man”, according to Julius Dopfner.

    Nor would it be safe to take refuge in the validity of ecumenical councils — just for example, the 2nd Council of Ephesus, and an “ecumenical” council in its day, obviously we now call the “Robber Council” since it affirmed Monophysitism as “catholic” doctrine, in its time. We now know that councils have to be judged by history and St Vincent of Lerins’ rule, “what the Catholic Church has always taught in all places at all times.”

    Or, Botolph, I would be careful: because the argument of people like Kung and Rahner and Congar and their ilk was essentially that “ecumenical councils invalidate the need for a papacy completely.” That is part of the problem we are dealing with — the crippling non-intervention of John XXIII and Paul VI, even when they themselves observed the process of “auto-destruction” (Paul Vi’s own words).

    Finally, if you compare what deMattei’s research corroborates with Romano Amerio’s similar work (Amerio was reputedly the highest non-ordained Catholic peritus present @ Vat2), you see them both document a brazenly deliberate effort to break with the past.

  • Steve,

    It is indeed interesting that you state that my response is “programmed”. You have taken only those who see things with and after Vatican II as a discontinuity, as a disruption. Who is the programmed? You mention the Robber Council as an ecumenical council (at least for a time). At no time was that synod recognized by the pope this is the authority needed for a synod to be considered ecumenical and Catholic

    Where is the Catholic Church today? It is where the people gather with and under the authority of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter

  • Botolph is in fact programmed in his auto-replies (and may have a programmed function key for the following: “radical traditionalist”, 2x’s; “radical critique,” 2x’s; use of “radical” 5x’s in about 200 words) because he demonizes information sources that trouble him (such as Roberto deMattei’s exhaustive history on Vat2, which he clearly has not bothered to read) and thinks he effectively dismisses them.

    To others who may want to know the truth, namely that Vat2 is discontinuous with Catholic tradition, let us just look at the argument that “dogma” was defined @ Vat2 (something Botolph believes). Yet Paul VI affirmed the opposite, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (Paul VI, General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    Benedict XVI affirmed the same: :”The truth is that this particular Council (Vat2) defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council.” (Address to the Chilean Episcopal Conference, according to Il Sabato, 1988) JP2 repeated this same position (Angelus address, Oct. 27, 1985):
    “Pope John conceived this council as an eminently pastoral event,” i.e. not dogmatic.

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

    The theological “experts” who advised the bishops and cardinals —Congar, Rahner, Kung, Chenu, others—quickly formed their own clandestine operations with deliberate efforts, well-documented now in their own personal diaries, to break with “ultramontanism” and in fact to contest the authority of the pope and place all authority in “a council of bishops” (see deMattei, The 2nd Vatican Council, an Unwritten Story).

    Card. Suenens exulted that Vat2 had become “1789 in the Church”, a new French Revolution and specifically a break with the past. Even then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented in 1988: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest. (1988 address, Chilean Episcopal Conference).

    Yves Congar, one of the Vat2 periti, remarked with quiet satisfaction that “The Church has had, peacefully, its October revolution.” Schillebeeckx admitted, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Congar also affirmed that Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty is contrary to the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, saying: “It cannot be denied that the affirmation of religious liberty by Vatican II says materially something other than what the Syllabus if 1864 said…”

    Just look at the deliberate change (apparently by Weakland and Bugnini: see Weakland’s memoirs, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church”) of the words of institution of the Eucharist, “This is the cup of My blood…which will be shed for you and for all.” Again, Ratzinger had to change this back to its original wording (“for the many”) after nearly five decades of error in the Novus Ordo Mass. Why? Because Hans Urs Von Baltasar had influenced the conciliar members with his concept of universal salvation.

    So it is not my “radical” imagination, since even emeritus Pope Benedict agrees with me, that there was in fact a rupture with the past having occurred at Vat2 and there was a deliberate break with the continuous teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.

PopeWatch: Ideology Bad

Tuesday, October 22, AD 2013



Pope Francis thinks it is a bad thing when Christianity becomes an ideology.  PopeWatch believes that throughout History people with ideologies have attempted to use Christianity.  However, Christianity as an ideology is a new one as far as PopeWatch is concerned.  Father Z is also puzzled:

Here is something that the Pope said:

It is, he said, “the image of those Christians who have the key in their hand, but take it away, without opening the door,” and who “keep the door closed.”

Asking those present how a Christian is able to fall into this attitude, the Pope reflected that “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon (people).”

Noting that it is a “lack of Christian witness does this,” he stressed that “when this Christian is a priest, a bishop or a Pope it is worse.”

“When a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology,” urged the Pope, “he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought,” and “the knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge.

Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.

“It is a serious illness, this Christian ideology. It is an illness, but it is not new,” he said, recalling how the Apostle John alludes to this mentality in his first letter.

Pope Francis then emphasized that the attitude of those who lose their faith in preference of personal ideologies is “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness.

“But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”

“The key that opens the door to the faith,” the Pope noted, “is prayer,” and “when a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness.”

The Christian who does not pray, urged the Pope, is “arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble. He seeks his own advancement…when a Christian prays, he is not far from the faith; he speaks with Jesus.”

When we pray, the Pope reflected, Jesus tells us to “go into your room and pray to the Father in secret, heart to heart,” because “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”

Those who do not pray abandon the faith, stressed the Pope, and allow it to become a “moralistic, casuistic ideology, without Jesus.”


The Holy Father’s passion is clear and strong, isn’t it?   It is a little stirring to read this.  I’ll bet it is even more so to hear it in person.   But …

The Pope’s language about ideology is so vague that I can’t for the life of me make out who or what he is talking about.  It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.

Does anyone know what he is talking about?  Really?

Go back and read over the report again and ask yourself if you truly understand what he is talking about.

Does the spanish for “ideology”, which may be behind his thought, have some nuance of meaning that is different from English or Italian?

What did the Pope really say in this short, non-magisterial fervorino?

Continue reading...

19 Responses to PopeWatch: Ideology Bad

  • “Hermeneutic of Rorschachity”. Perfect. Everything the Pope has said so far “can” be interpreted via the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” including this one (e.g. it’s one of the temptations Screwtape proposes in C.S. Lewis’ screwtape letters), but most non-Catholics will interprete it via the “Hermeneutic of Discontinuity”, so his words say a lot about you and your suspicions of the Pope and little about the Pope actually means since no-one really knows that.

  • “means since no-one really knows that.”

    I think that is rather the problem AW.

  • ” . . . about the Pope actually means since no-one really knows that.”

    “Ay, there’s the rub. ” Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, “To be or not . . . “

  • To crib from the Pope, I think the interpretive keys are there, if one chooses to insert them in the door.

    To whit: is there any way this could *naturally* be interpreted as a rebuke to the spirituality of a “Nun on the Bus” or Jesuit university president?

    I’m sure a labored exegesis could be cobbled together to do so, but likewise, one could read Nicholas Sparks through Anthony Trollope.

  • I think the Pope makes perfect sense if you listen to his words. We need to be a people of “prayer” not of ideology. The ‘truth’ rings with his explanation.

  • “Ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people,” he stressed, stating that it is because of this that many are distanced from the Church.

    This is true. It is also incomplete, since the reverse is also true. Turning the Gospel into an ideology could also attract people to the Church for the wrong reasons – that is, if such an ideology radiates from the Church. It would be more likely that such an ideology would come from outside and mask itself as a “modern” form of the Gospel in order to capture and neuter the Church, but that is another story,

  • I have no trouble understanding the holy father, some one who is concerned with rules and regulations might have difficulty.

  • From wiki, but a decent enough definition:

    An ideology is a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a “received consciousness” or product of socialization).

    So, the HF has a problem with someone having a comprehensive vision? The HF himself has a comprehensive vision, even if that “vision” is that there is no comprehensive vision. Was scares people off is that the Church claims its comprehensive vision is true – and they are afraid it just might be, calling into question some of their own beliefs and practices. In other words, reality bites.

  • Everybody has concern with favored rules and regulations, Bill T. It’s just that the Bishop of Rome simply hasn’t gotten around to criticizing *yours* yet.

  • Honestly, Don, it seems pretty clear to me who he’s singling out for castigation here. And this blog post (which approves of the criticism) spells it out:


  • I might very well have agreed with you Dale but for this latest development which will be featured in PopeWatch tomorrow:


    I don’t think there is a chance in the world that Muller wrote this without the Pope’s approval. We shall see.

  • One thing is for sure, ideology is all too often wrapped up in religious tinsel. And this problem exists at the highest levels of the Church. All one has to is look at statements from hte bishops in not just the U.S. but the west in general regarding issues like war, economics, immigration, and capital punishment. And to some extent this problem has been exacerbated in varying degrees by statements of the last few pontiffs.

    I think using Pope Francis’ statement on ideology as an opportunity to discuss this problem would be much better than telling the world how demoralized you are about how he says these things.

  • I am very confused by most everything this Pope says. Pope Benedict was very precise and exact and detail-oriented, and as a nuclear engineer I like that. Pope John Paul II was very deep philosophically and could even talk credibly and accurately about scientific things (my field of expertise). But the current Pontiff demonstrates no logic, no reason, no continuity, just liberal platitudes.

  • I think the section at the end is key, where Francis says that the sign that someone has an ideological rather than a faith approach is that he doesn’t pray. So if you and people like you pray, he’s clearly not talking about you.

    Of course, the only people I can think of who think prayer is no longer needed are way out on the left…

  • I think that the Pope was speaking to each of us individually, presenting the question: Am I, as a Catholic, simply going through the motions and thinking that I have prayed after distractedly or thoughtlessly recited prayers that I have memorized, or am I actually turning my heart to the Lord–alone, in my room or in a chapel, let’s say–recognizing my own sins, my need for His help, my gratitude for all He has given me and recognition of all the prayers He’s already answered, and additional need for guidance as to what I can do to make this world a little better for those nearest to me and those farthest from me–that’s my take on his words.

  • A Wang takes a tried and true approach, which is to blame the critics who are trying to make sense of this pope’s contradictory gibberish. I feel much more for those who are trying to continually pass on his shockingly divisive statements, rhetoric he shows no concern about backing away from.

    Here is the situation: Benedict XVI: top PhD (1953) at a top theologate (Munich), and post-doctoral dissertation. JP2: top PhD at the Angelicum (1948) with post doctoral dissertation at the Jagiellonian U (Krakow). This Bergoglio pope: failed to complete his dissertation and degree at Frankfurt. No apparent advanced work, other than a master’s at a not-well-known S American theologate (Buenos Aires) in the late 1960’s. No other known advanced degrees in other fields. This is the person that now is running the premier spiritual corporation in the world—like dropout being president of and running Harvard or Stanford? (Those institutions wouldnt tolerate that, we can be sure.)

    Francis throws around terms the ramifications of which he clearly doesnt understand and I am sure by now he doesnt care to analyze…because he is an ideologue, too: of Vatican II, something he says has never been tried (???). His contradictory statements don’t matter to him: he’s been able to do it for about 40 years and nobody ever challenged him on it. They all got stars in their eyes and began muttering wonderful accolades when he opened his mouth (a common path to advancement in the modern Society of Jesus). There is a serious problem, and Father Z, to his credit, is trying to justify his gibberish. But a silk purse it is not.

    He doesnt care much about tradition and what happened before 1965 because it was all cancelled by Vatican II. All those wonderful people like Rahner and Congar and Schillebeeckx and Kung (the latter of whom now says he has left the Catholic Church). And I doubt he has read them (I would give him a pass if he said he doesnt understand Rahner, because I dont think anyone really does) and he doesnt understand them. And that is where we are today.

  • Just after reading the first 2 paragraphs of “what the Pope said” it reminded me very much of the criticisms leveled against Catholics by Some evangelical and anti Catholic Christians who think that what Catholics have is “religion” -not a faith relationship with the Person of Christ.

    As I read the rest, I did have hard time following him. I get that he is saying that the way to have that “kindness” and not be “rigid, moralistic or ethical” is to pray. But I don’t see what exactly is the perceived problem he may be talking about. He says humble prayer with the heart is the answer to this “ideology” problem.
    Since I think that as Catholics we do have a certain “world view”: a humble way of looking at things in general, knowing that we were, after all, created Ex Nihilo. And there is nothing wrong with that.
    Just like the anti catholic view of what Some evangelicals call “religion”, This view of Catholic perspective, called ideology seems a bit uncharitable…saying that people are keeping the door closed and walking away with the key , having become disciples of their own thought . At the same time this pope has reminded of the primacy of conscience and the proximity of his own thought with that of an atheist. So the mis-application of terminology, or at least unclear use is tough enough in this reflection without thinking of ot on context with his other reflections.
    Unless I totally misunderstood. He seems more generous in his latitude for the Rest of the World than his fellow Catholics.

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  • Yet another example of a writer with column to fill that is just looking for a fight that does not exist. Plain English: Christ is first, never below or intertwined within an ideology.