PopeWatch: Miscellania

Tuesday, March 3, AD 2015





Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has brief reports on various stories swirling about the Vatican:


When Sant’Egidio upstages the secretariat of state

On Saturday, February 21, German chancellor Angela Merkel spent 40 minutes with Pope Francis and a full hour with cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher. She talked with them about the next G7, Ukraine, and more.

Afterward Angela Merkel went to the headquarters of Sant’Egidio, and in this case as well the visit lasted a little more than an hour. But thanks to the effective management of communications for the event, the meeting with the organization founded by Andrea Riccardi trounced the one with the heads of Vatican diplomacy, media-wise. Suffice it to say that “Corriere della Sera,” the major Italian newspaper read in all the corridors of power, gave much more space to Merkel’s visit with Sant’Egidio than to the one at the Vatican, not even making reference to the meeting with Parolin and Gallagher. No small letdown for the heads of Vatican diplomacy, who traditionally see as a smokescreen the encroachments of the lauded “parallel diplomacy” of Sant’Egidio:

> Vatican Diary / Sant’Egidio in supervised freedom (20.12.2011)

On the other hand, however, this coveted media exposure of their competitors may not be unwelcome to the churchmen who work with the pope on his diplomatic initiatives, seeing how the pontiff himself stigmatized this in the homily on Ash Wednesday:

“When something good is achieved, almost instinctively the desire is born within us to be esteemed and admired for this good action, to get some sort of satisfaction out of it. Jesus invites us to perform these works without any ostentation, and to confide solely in the recompense of the Father ‘who sees in secret.’”


Malleus (aliquorum) cardinalium

Hard times for the cardinals who are seen as”dissenters” with respect to the guidelines of the current pontificate. An example of this are the three beatings that the ultra-Bergoglian portal “Vatican Insider” has handed out to three cardinals on its blacklist, in the span of a few days.

On February 14 it featured, emphasizing the name of the target, a post from the blog of Washington cardinal Donald Wuerl in which, without naming him, he blasted his fellow cardinal Raymond L. Burke for lèse-majesté toward the pope:

> Cardinal Wuerl’s response to Burke (and dissenters)

On February 16 it reported, with an abundance of exclusive details, on the moves that the pontifical council for legislative texts, with pontifical mandate, has put into action to limit the powers that Cardinal George Pell would like to attribute to himself as prefect of the secretariat for the economy, in the statutes that they are preparing:

> Ma sopra Pell c’è uno “zar” più potente di lui

On February 19, finally, it gave great emphasis to the criticisms, even sarcastic, that a Chinese priest and blogger has lodged against Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, accusing him of boycotting every hypothesis of “appeasement” between Beijing and the Holy See:

> “Cardinal Zen, don’t you believe in miracles?”


Big hunt for the “kangaroo” Pell

After the pontifical council for legislative texts (see above), the Vatican pension fund has also taken the field against Australian cardinal George Pell. It has done so with a statement on February 20 in which it offers reassuring data on the situation of the fund itself, to oppose the “alarming data” circulating “for several months” and “even amplified by news in the press”:

> Comunicato…

The statement delves into the figures to demonstrate this assumption. But beyond the accounting aspects, what is important is the “political” side. For some time, in fact, Cardinal Pell has been sounding the alarm on the stability of the medium-term accounts of the Vatican pension fund. He did so in July of 2014, when he announced the creation of a committee of experts – crammed with big names – to study the question. The announcement came in an article published in the “Catholic Herald” in December, and was picked up on February 13 by the website “Crux” of the “Boston Globe”:

Continue reading...

PopeWatch: Libertine Atheism

Thursday, April 3, AD 2014


Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has an interesting post examining an intellectual influence on the Pope:


His name is Alberto Methol Ferré. An Uruguayan from Montevideo, he often crossed the Rio de la Plata to visit his friend the archbishop in Buenos Aires. He died in 2009 at the age of eighty. A book-length interview of 2007 has been reprinted in Argentina and now also in Italy, of capital importance for understanding not only his vision of the world but also that of his friend who went on to become pope:

In presenting the first edition of this book in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio praised it as a text of “metaphysical profundity.” And in 2011, in the preface to another book by a close friend of both men – Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, the Uruguayan secretary of the pontifical commission for Latin America, the highest ranking layman at the Vatican – Bergoglio once again offered his gratitude to the “brilliant thinker of the Rio de la Plata” for having laid bare the new dominant ideology after the fall of the Marxism-inspired forms of messianic atheism.

It is the ideology that Methol Ferrè called “libertine atheism.” And that Bergoglio describes as follows:

“Hedonistic atheism and its neo-Gnostic trappings have become the dominant culture, with global reach and diffusion. The constitute the atmosphere of the time in which we live, the new opium of the people. The ‘sole form of thought,’ in addition to being socially and politically totalitarian, has Gnostic structures: it is not human, it recycles the different forms of absolutist rationalism with which the nihilistic hedonism described by Methol Ferré expresses itself. It dominates the ‘nebulized theism,’ a diffuse theism without historical incarnation; even at its best it produces Masonic ecumenism.”

In the book-length interview that has now been republished, Methol Ferré maintains that the new atheism “has radically changed its face. It is not messianic, but libertine. It is not revolutionary in a social sense, but complicit with the status quo. It has no interest in justice, but in all that permits the cultivation of radical hedonism. It is not aristocratic, but has transformed itself into a mass phenomenon.”

But perhaps the most interesting element of Methol Ferré’s analysis is in the answer that he gives to the challenged posed by the new hegemonic thinking:

“This is what happened with the Protestant Reformation, with Enlightenment secularism, and then with messianic Marxism. An enemy is defeated by taking the best of his intuitions and pushing them further.”

And what is his judgment of libertine atheism?

“The truth of libertine atheism is the perception that existence has an intrinsic destination of enjoyment, that life itself is made for satisfaction. In other words: the deep kernel of libertine atheism is a buried need for beauty.”

Of course, libertine atheism “perverts” beauty, because “it separates it from truth and from goodness, and therefore from justice. But – Methol Ferré warns – “one cannot redeem libertine atheism’s kernel of truth with an argumentative or dialectical procedure; much less can one do so by setting up prohibitions, raising alarms, dictating abstract rules. Libertine atheism is not an ideology, it is a practice. A practice must be opposed with another practice; a self-aware practice, of course, which means one that is equipped intellectually. Historically the Church is the only subject present on the stage of the contemporary world that can confront libertine atheism. To my mind only the Church is truly post-modern.”

There is a stunning harmony between this vision of Methol Ferré and the program of his disciple Bergoglio’s pontificate, with his rejection of “the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be imposed with insistence” and with his insistence on a Church capable of “making the heart burn,” of healing every kind of illness and injury, of restoring happiness.

Continue reading...

18 Responses to PopeWatch: Libertine Atheism

  • Other than the moderation that Epicurus enjoined, what substantive difference is there between the libertine atheism of the 21st century AD and the Epicureanism of the 4th century BC ? Didn’t St. Paul at one time confront these people at the Aeropagus in Athens ? (Acts 17:18-34)

    These new ideas seem more and more to be regurgitated philosophies of a bygone era, albeit without the intellectual thought that the originators put into what they set forth.

  • Beauty must be personified. Truth and Justice must be personified. God is beauty Personified. Jesus Christ is Truth and Justice Personified.
    In the conversation about being divinized: Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is given to man in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. The human being becomes divinized as children of God, as brothers of Jesus. Not by man, not by himself is man divinized, and that is blasphemy. Man is divinized by God. Without God, man cannot ever realize his divinity. In hell man can only see what he has lost. In heaven man can embrace the Beatific Vision of God.

  • The bias in this small sets of citations is overwhelming – loaded imagery, straw men, etc. Maybe it is because Ferre is from South America where neo-Marxism is more present than in other countries, but his characterizations of atheism would not hold true in the US or in western European countries with a primarily atheist perspective.

    Most atheists are far from nihilistic or hedonistic or epicurean. To claim this as the “state of modern society” is an unsupportable overgeneralization. What has happened is a conflict between conservative catholic morals and modern society. Most countries are taking a consequentialist approach to morals and ethics. This is true of things like gay rights and marriage equality. While many members of the church continue to oppose these things, most people have come to realize that the state of being gay is neither moral nor immoral since it harms no one. Similarly, the use of birth control is actually a way to relieve suffering in places where poverty and over-population are rampant. Without going point by point, many elements of church doctrine are statements of belief rather statements of good or evil based on consequences.

    The elephant in the room is that many portions of conservative catholic doctrine actually increases suffering in the world rather than making anyone happier or “closer to god.”

  • “Most atheists are far from nihilistic or hedonistic or epicurean.”

    Atheism is by definition nihilistic. As for hedonistic most atheists embrace, as you, do homosexual “rights” and contraception. By our definition that is hedonistic.
    “The elephant in the room is that many portions of conservative catholic doctrine actually increases suffering in the world rather than making anyone happier or “closer to god.””

    55 million infants have been slaughtered in this country by abortion since Roe v. Wade, something that Catholicism views as a crime that cries out to God. I will debate morality with you when you condemn that.

  • Libertine and atheism are both negative … the negative atheism modified by the negative adjective libertine— both expressing the same thing— rejection of authority. Doubling down. Not a good bet to make. They think they are rejecting authority but they are rejecting Authority. And He doesn’t take that forever.
    Yes, we can recognized this recycled rebellion.

  • Chris, are you seriously promoting consequentialism?

  • Chris said the state of being gay is neither moral nor immoral… hurts no one.
    Same sex attraction, the state of being gay, is not a sin. Living in the gay lifestyle is. Don’t kid yourself Gays and lesbians are hurt.

  • I would like to know any facts that justify this comment:
    “…many portions of conservative catholic doctrine actually increases suffering in the world”

  • Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Chris Weiss’s comment rather proves the point.
    It seems to me at any rate that his argument is based on a new, or newish, sort of knowledge, presumably one that supercedes the Tradition conservative Catholics cling to in the face of modern society.
    As for Mr. Ferre, he

    maintains that the new atheism “has radically changed its face. It is not messianic, but libertine. It is not revolutionary in a social sense, but complicit with the status quo. It has no interest in justice, but in all that permits the cultivation of radical hedonism. It is not aristocratic, but has transformed itself into a mass phenomenon.”

    Again, speaking for myself, I suspect that he underestimates both the extent that messianic Marxism’s social revolutionary sense was libertine, and also the aristocratic tendency of hedonistic neo-gnosticism/libertine atheism.

  • “Libertine Atheism” seems not dissimilar to the Positivistic Atheism of Auguste Comte.

    As Jacques Maritain points out very perceptively, Comte’s atheism, unlike that of Marx or Feuerbach is not revolutionary, but “as conservative as the theism of Hegel”: “it is neither militant nor argumentative, nor wishful of self-proof — so surely and comfortably installed that it is not even conscious of an adversary (its Adversary has disappeared). It has a quality of ease and naturalness, of proud tranquillity, which makes it unique in its kind. It has no need for Prometheus, it does not insult the gods, and does not raise against God the claim of the enslaved or alienated man.”
    Quite simply, “in the generative movement of Comtian atheism, it is not mankind that is the concern, but Comte himself. And Comte does not feel the need of being God, it is enough for him to be Comte. What happened in him when he became conscious of himself was a simple phenomenon of internal shiftings. He “spontaneously” and “naturally” recognized that the central place which God was thought to occupy really belonged to himself, Comte, and he slipped into that place as into the hollow of his bed, never to move from it. It was a psychological operation which could be accomplished with such irreproachable assurance only through that infinite self-esteem he indulged in from the very moment of his reaching the use of reason…”
    Comte was astute enough to realise that this required banishing every trace of causality and meaning from science. For him, metaphysics seeks causes, whereas science seeks laws – invariable relations between phenomena, rising above simple empirical observation only in order to foresee facts or phenomena in a deductive manner. Natural laws are “nothing else than the general expression of the relations observed in their development” Only the measurable is real and measurements can be combined as variables into differential equations, where they are functions of each other.
    Comte, not coincidentally, wished to replace history with “sociology”; he is the inventor, both of the name and the discipline.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis & Queen Elizabeth - BigPulpit.com
  • This article and the people in it make a fascinating study. We need to go much deeper into the thinking that is cited here.

    This is largely on the money. Think about it: every time a libertine atheist is presented with the Church’s teachings his reaction is ‘This is a dogma, and the strictures of dogma make people unhappy’. This thinking is an axiom, a basic unquestioned postulate. It is reflected in the bumper sticker ‘My karma ran over your dogma’. It has a hideous strength.

    This thinking is so embedded in our culture that there are only two alternatives for the Church.

    The first alternative is to circle the wagons against the culture. Convince Christian families to give up the television. Hold tight to the teaching of the Church. Be confident. Get ready to survive the eventual collapse when war, changing demographics, or an asteroid strike push the current society over the edge. And pray, pray, pray.

    The second alternative is to do an end run around the culture. Proselytize. Hold tight to Christian happiness and hold it up. Be happy. Show the world that its happiness is weak and shallow by comparison. And pray, pray, pray.

    Actually these alternatives are not exclusive. It is simply a matter of which to put first. It is obvious which Pope Francis puts first.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour on Friday, April 4, A.D. 2014 at 3:44am

    “Libertine Atheism” seems not dissimilar to the Positivistic Atheism of Auguste Comte.

    As Jacques Maritain points out very perceptively, Comte’s atheism, unlike that of Marx or Feuerbach is not revolutionary, but “as conservative as the theism of Hegel”: “it is neither militant nor argumentative, nor wishful of self-proof
    – “

    And again,

    “It has a quality of ease and naturalness, of proud tranquillity …”

    A very well stated review of an extremely significant, and often overlooked, angle.

    You might even compare some of Rorty’s stated views with the implications that can be drawn from Comte’s perspective and predicates.

    Causality as well as intrinsic teleology are as you say abolished. Any appeal to essential natures – assumed as the connotative plasm within the cell of a real universal – is ruled out of court.

    Every internal attribute other than appetite, that is.

    Yet, through some sleight of hand, or sleight of rhetoric, the value-free existential conditions of this or that existent thing, or “person”, are presented by the consequentialists endorsed by Mr. Weiss, as if they were still value bearing entities in the traditional sense, and therefore entitled to the benefits of deductions formerly drawn.

    And even more bizarre, is the term “good” as used by the consequentialist in regard to his outcomes: as if it had an objectively ascertainable public meaning, rather than merely functioning as a contentless variable used to cover any variety of supposedly self-justifying subjective preferences or pleasures.

    In order to convince you to care for a reason, you have to be convinced that X is entitled by Y value bearing attribute; or is a value bearing entity itself is some persuasive sense. But on their own values nihilist analysis, no single attribute is defining, and no material expression (a thing or a person for example) can be said to imply a moral value in itself.

    So then, why should those granting the consequentialist’s framework for the sake of argument, care what kind of consequences these non-value bearing others experience, much less how it is supposedly decided, and by whom, whether the particular end is “good” or not?

    How can any supposed ought claim, made within such a nihilistic interpretive framework, be rendered both logically coherent and morally imperative once the very enabling universals and essential attributes once thought to objectively exist have melted away?

    Well, given their own values nihilist metaphysical and logical assumptions, no such claim can be made or taken as existing on the basis of anything other than as the expression of a desire by a thing reduced in definition to a transient appetite.

    Which is probably why advocating solidarity, inculcated through emotional brainwashing, is such a big deal with ironists and hedonic utilitarians and the like; as they have in fact no intellectual grounds for asserting any objective commonality of substantive human interests; no way of arbitrating tastes or preferences; and, no real way of establishing membership in logically useful classes, other than by what are on their own terms arbitrary stipulations.

    For if in this atheist default assumption “gays” really are fundamentally different, and not just broken normals, then the trivial seeming but important immediate inference is that they are not existentially the same. And then on what logical class membership basis is their claim on the forbearance, or tolerance, or even worse, on the self-sacrificial solidarity one may choose grant to the like-minded within a community of interests, to be established as applying to them on any intellectually defensible basis?

  • I noticed Chris Weiss decided not to deride the slaughter of 55 million unborn humans, a figure that not only would “Amaze Charles Darwin”, as SS General Reinhard Heydrich said at the Wansee Conference where the Final Solution was drafted, but would humble and amaze Heydrich, Himmler and Hitler himself. One of the horrifying sacraments of the Secularists is abortion. They celebrate it. And they will die defending it. Oddly enough, all of the defenders of Abortion have been born. Catholics who say they are pro-choice or pro-contraception fool only themselves. The Current Pope in addition to the last 2 say “Pro-Choice Catholic” is an oxymoron. You can be Pro-Choice or be a Catholic. When our Spirits leave our body, one is done fooling themselves. Another instance of how hard it is to be a Catholic. Don’t mess with God’s creative process. If it was easy to be a Catholic, there would be no Protestants.

  • I have deliberately not responded to any of the comments made until now, but I will say that a society cannot be pro-life and anti-contraception. You must have one to have the other. Currently, abortion in the US is at its lowest rate since 1973, and teen pregnancies are at a 40 year low as well. These two numbers have one and only one root cause: better contraception, including better sex ed.

    The Catholic doctrine of pro-life and anti-contraception is antithetical to a balanced and moral society that tries to decrease human suffering.

    Similarly, the Catholic church’s standards around sex and relationships also results in pathological behavior. The pedophilia and perversion of clergy is clear evidence that creating imbalances around human sexuality only creates negative consequences. As a child I went to Catholic school, and unlike some young men, I had a very positive experience. My favorite priest who was a family friend and very much like a caring uncle, and my favorite nun, who was one of my teachers, eventually left the church to marry. Of course, they were excommunicated for breaking their vows. How can the normal, healthy and devoted love of two adults ever be a sin the eyes of god? Really?

  • “but I will say that a society cannot be pro-life and anti-contraception.”

    Rubbish, The Church is against artificial birth control and society is drenched in it. To use that to attempt to justify 55 million innocent deaths is deranged.

    “pedophilia and perversion of clergy is clear evidence that creating imbalances around human sexuality only creates negative consequences.”

    Like all anti-Catholic bigots you have no idea what you are talking about. The rate of sexual abuse among Catholic priests is no higher than in other professions and quite a bit lower than among some, teachers for example. The vast majority of priests involved in abuse were homosexual priests going after teens rather than pedophilia. Their attraction to this perversion is all the rage in the larger society today, as we see in the effort, for example, to push gay scout masters on the Boy Scouts, something I am sure you are all in favor of. The abuse scandal for you is merely something to belabor the Church, and you care about the innocents harmed in that scandal just as much as you do about the 55 million innocent lives snuffed out in abortion in this country since Roe.

    Atheist and bigot is no way to go through life son.

  • DNW

    Yes, for a positivist, who denies the intellect can know or understand being, the consquentialist position is incoherent.

    One solution, often adopted, is a form of Neo-Kantianism. There are truths of (empirical) fact and there are truths of value and they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. This is the underlying principle of Liberal Protestantism, Catholic Modernism, Existentialism &c: there are truths of faith and truths of (empirical) science that can never conflict with each other, for they have no common subject matter.

    Comte himself saw that there was no source of unity in a world, reduced to a mere succession of phenomena, but that the intellect, of its nature, demands unity. Accordingly, he located it in the subject and, especially, the universal subject, Humanity. As Maritain explains, “intellectual unity could not have its source in the object, or in the “objective synthesis.” It is in turning to the subject — the universal subject, humanity — that Comte claims to have discovered the hierarchy of the sciences, and, in general, the possibility of regulating scientific research and unifying the work of the intellect.”

    Altruism became for Comte the equivalent of Kant’s categorical imperative and egoism the equivalent of Original Sin; hence, his Religion of Humanity, with its feast days and festivals and with Comte himself (of course) as the High Priest of Humanity.

  • Marine Doc wrote, “One of the horrifying sacraments of the Secularists is abortion.”

    If one cares only for humanity, this is inevitable. One will certainly be a eugenicist and, almost certainly, a Malthusian. “Breed ‘em, feed ‘em and weed ‘em” is every stock-breeder’s motto and pity for the individual is cruelty to the species.

PopeWatch: The General Who Wants to Win Without Fighting

Tuesday, March 11, AD 2014


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

1 Corinthians 14:8

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was one episode that exemplifies Bergoglio’s approach:

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


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

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

For example, on the following points.


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

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

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

Continue reading...

10 Responses to PopeWatch: The General Who Wants to Win Without Fighting

  • Perhaps, Pope Francis is taking a leaf out of St Peter’s book.

    According to C H Dodd’s analysis of Acts, St Peter’s preaching followed a pattern that always included one or more of just six topics:

    1. The Age of Fulfilment has dawned, the “latter days” foretold by the prophets.
    2. This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    3. By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel.
    4. The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ’s present power and glory.
    5. The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ.
    6. An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation.

    If people are moved to faith (“Faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17)), the rest follows, for scripture also says, “the just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17)

    When the Church talks too much about philosophical questions or about the natural law, it is presumably doing so in order to be able to dialogue on moral issues with the nonbelieving world.”
    Alas, as Miss Anscombe pointed out in her 1958 paper, Modern Moral Philosophy, “In present-day philosophy an explanation is required how an unjust man is a bad man, or an unjust action a bad one; to give such an explanation belongs to ethics; but it cannot even be begun until we are equipped with a sound philosophy of psychology. For the proof that an unjust man is a bad man would require a positive account of justice as a “virtue.” This part of the subject-matter of ethics, is however, completely closed to us until we have an account of what type of characteristic a virtue is – a problem, not of ethics, but of conceptual analysis – and how it relates to the actions in which it is instanced: a matter which I think Aristotle did not succeed in really making clear.” Fifty years on, we are no nearer solving that particular problem, as anyone familiar with moral philosophy today will recognize.

  • Always place the mission first.

    Never accept defeat.

    Never quit.

    This rule sets some apart. It is, to many, as alien as the promises of Christ and His Gospel.

    Suppose the Pope doesn’t care to lead. Or, maybe it’s a diversity of tactics.

    The Holy Spirit will guide.

    Last, but not least: Never leave a fallen comrade.

  • This commentary by Sandro Magister with input from Bp. Victor Manuel Fernandez’ book confirms a sentiment I had about P. Francis: he thinks that any “fighting” for a cause is misguided (“the Church does not need crusaders”) and is actually damaging—this all the more amazing because of all the progress we have made in 35 or so years on the pro-life issue!

    P F appears to want to be “on the sidelines” in a fight (Bp. Fernandez implies this was the Nuncio Bernardini’s sharp criticism of him and Bergoglio’s non-support of P. Benedict) and it was illustrated just as sharply when Bergoglio wouldnt show up at a pro-marriage demonstration in front of the Argentine parliament building (story above). His appearance alone would have created a swell of support for legislators who were hemmed in by the political opposition.

    Now it appears PF is willing to let Card. Kasper take over the reins on the potentially explosive issue of divorce and re-marriage (it really is “marriage and re-marriage”) and even tho Card. Muller has spoken out in defense of the traditional teaching of Catholic marriage, there is no certainty he (Muller) will fight for that and no evidence that PF will support Muller if he does. The best analysis I have seen in my opinion on this matter is a letter by Fr. Brian Harrison, OS of St. Louis, MO, posted in St. Louis Catholic blogspot (linked by Rorate Caeli).

  • Letter of Fr. Brian Harrison to Dr. Robert Moynihan (Inside the Vatican, Feb. 2014)

    Dear Dr. Moynihan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The part of Fr. Harrison’s letter that particularly struck home like a churchbell gong at midnight:

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

  • I think Fr. Harrison’s letter is dead-on. And the consequences of a change that functionally denies indissolubility will be catastrophic.

  • Recognising the indissolubility of marriage does not resolve the question of how the fact of a marriage is to be proved.

    There is a world of difference between these two propositions: (1) A and B are married and (2) the court “found and hereby find that the said A has failed to instruct facts and circumstances relevant to infer marriage betwixt her and the said B.” There is no logical contradiction between (1) and (2).

    There are inevitably cases where the truth cannot be established and there, as Paulus says, “si id non apparat, non ius deficit, sed probatio” – If it does not appear, the fault is not with the law, but with the proof [D 26.2.30]

    Whether the rules of procedure and evidence in consistorial cases need to be reviewed, I leave to the wisdom of the Holy See.

  • I think I understand your position (the need for juridical evaluation to decide marital validity/nullity), MPS, and agree: but the German bishops’ conference and Kasper himself have ben the ones who have floated an idea where marriage tribunals will cease to effectively operate, and decisions will be made by a priest alone apparently without a review process.

    In the Feb. 20th consistory address by Kasper, he mentioned at least the possibility of bishops being able to entrust the entire process to an individual priest (I have not found the official text still yet to be available: dont hold your breath, about that appearing soon. Now, just yesterday (3/11/14), Kasper was in full retreat in an interview synopsized @ the Vatican Radio site (see:


    This is why Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, asks the question, “Will tribunals cease to exist?” Kasper and the sideline-style Paul VI-type present pontiff have created a situation in immense flux and with an expectation of great change. Kasper has been quite petulant that his address was released at all to the general public. Sandro Magister notes this at his blog Settimo Cielo 3/10/14 (Magister Kasper fa il bis. O si fa come dico, o niente sinodo”: “Kasper makes an encore appearance, or: “Do as I say or no synod at all.” My translation). Magister notes that Kasper sounded vexed in a 3/1/13 followup interview, annoyed that his comments were released, and then saying, “:. ‘The synod on the family will produce a change, or you might as well not even call it.’ (again my translation.) I see this as pushing a forced change on a weak pontiff who might not act to re-instate the clear traditional Catholic teaching of marriage. Muller cant be the only voice in this matter.

    Well, Herr Kasper (which I am sure it has been pointed out in colloquial German means “joker”, “clown”), be careful what you push for. Maybe people really are listening.

  • Not to sound contrary, but I do not see Pope Francis as ‘weak”. I do not see him even like Pope Paul VI who seemed to hesitate at crucial moments in a Hamlet-esque manner. I see Pope Francis as having a certain vision of the direction the Church needs to go in- a vision fundamentally given in the few days leading up to the Conclave one year ago, in which all the Cardinals heard addresses concerning what the fundamental needs of the Church were and where we needed to go from that point on.

    Pope Francis is orthodox. The teaching of Christ on the indissolubility of marriage will be preserved. It is important to remember however that right within Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, there is an ‘exception clause’. That exception clause needs to be carefully studied etc but it reveals within Christ’s own teaching and that of the Apostolic Church that the Doctrinal and Pastoral dimensions cannot be divided. Jesus excoriates the hardness of heart that had watered down the teaching to its diminutive form in the Book of Deuteronomy. In an earlier teaching he made clear in His teaching on the 6th commandment that His disciples would realize just how deep a dimension lust is in peoples’ lives and that it gave no excuses for obfuscating the meaning of marriage or conjugal charity. However, as we see with the woman caught in adultery, while holding to the truth of the teaching on marriage, neither did He condemn (and agree to having her stoned). He desired in mercy to separate sinners from their sin.

    As to the style of Pope Francis, I am convinced of two things. He had Cardinal Mueller make his doctrinal statements on marriage. He wanted the theological foundations to be there as the Church prepares for the two synods on marriage. At the same time he wanted those who are seeking a ‘pastoral solution’ to also have a hearing-that was Cardinal Kaspar. Now the Cardinals at least have both sides of the argument. They go back home reflect, pray, study about this themselves and prepare for the two Synods themselves.

    In the end truth and charity (mercy) will be and remain united as they ought.

  • Pingback: 25% Christendom Stdnts Skip Sprng Break 4 Mission Work - BigPulpit.com

PopeWatch: Pressure

Friday, February 21, AD 2014



One of the biggest mistakes thus far of the current pontificate is those idiotic questionnaires which were ordered in preparation for the synod on the family in October, at least, judging from what Sandro Magister at Chiesa is reporting, that might well be the private assessment of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri:

Finally, on Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th of February there will be a meeting of the council of the general secretariat of the synod of bishops, coordinated by the new cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

That assembly will begin to evaluate the responses to the questionnaire concerning the upcoming extraordinary synod in October, also dedicated to the pastoral care of the family.

The episcopal conferences of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already seen to spreading all over the world, through detailed press releases, the responses that have come to them, tipped very much out of balance toward the progressive side.

But this diffusion has been judged as a “unilateral initiative” and “not correct” by Baldisseri, who reiterated in an interview how the publication of these materials, which were supposed to have been sent “confidentially” to the Vatican, were by no means authorized.

Not only that. The new cardinal – also in the same interview published in the “Quotidiano Nazionale” on February 11 – also defined as “a possible interpretation” that which sees the release of the data as a form of pressure for influencing the work of the synod.

Continue reading...

19 Responses to PopeWatch: Pressure

  • “The Catholic Church is a faith based upon revelations from God. If the Church is going to be swayed by questionnaires and opinion polls, then the Church is on the path of being like the Anglican Church, a dying shell of a religion that reflects the zeitgeist of the dominant elites in Western societies. One can imagine what the Church would have looked like she had “adapted” the Gospels to the beliefs of the elites who governed the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. Nothing is more permanent than a revelation from God, and nothing is more ephemeral than popular opinion.”
    Very well said. Very well said. Helter skelter into the progressive mind set is what this synod on the family in October is called to avoid.

  • There is zero chance that the Church will alter dogma based on questionnaires. To be concerned otherwise is not compatible with Church teaching. Now, could the sense of the faithful inform certain practices of discipline and prudence? Certainly, that is possible, but I cannot see how these questions (I’ve responded to them, have others?) can work that way except perhaps in adjusting certain practices and procedures relating to annulments, which we all know are imperfect as they are. Are progressives assuming the questions will operate to adjust Church teaching on matters of life and sexual morality? Sure, but they are delusional. One can argue of course that the illuminatory value of these questionnaires will prove to be outweighted by the mischief caused by the predictible misunderstanding of their purpose, but I’m not sure that argument will prove to be right. I actually read the questions as very clearly reaffirming by assumption Church teaching, and therefore a two-way communication.

  • Bl John Henry Newman, who had a high view of the Consensus Fidelium, explains that “consulting the faithful” does not mean conducting an opinion poll – “It includes the idea of inquiring into a matter of fact, as well as asking a judgment. Thus we talk of “consulting our barometer” about the weather:-the barometer only attests the fact of the state of the atmosphere. In like manner, we may consult a watch or a sun-dial about the time of day. A physician consults the pulse of his patient; but not in the same sense in which his patient consults him. It is but an index of the state of his health. Ecclesiastes says, “Qui observat ventum, non seminat” we might translate it, “he who consults,” without meaning that we ask the wind’s opinion. “

    He adds, what I suppose no one ever disputed, “I think I am right in saying that the tradition of the Apostles, committed to the whole Church in its various constituents and functions per modum unius, manifests itself variously at various times: sometimes by the mouth of the episcopacy, sometimes by the doctors, sometimes by the people, sometimes by liturgies, rites, ceremonies, and customs, by events, disputes, movements, and all those other phenomena which are comprised under the name of history. It follows that none of these channels of tradition may be treated with disrespect; granting at the same time fully, that the gift of discerning, discriminating, defining, promulgating, and enforcing any portion of that tradition resides solely in the Ecclesia docens [The teaching Church or Magisterium]

    He quotes Peronne – “ Some are accustomed wrongly to urge silence on the part of the Fathers as impugning the existence of some tradition … But what if that silence is compensated in some other way? … by the exertion of an active ministry, by usage and practice, and established rituals, so as to implant a Catholic and apostolic doctrine in the community of the Church.” I am sure that Peronne was not thinking in terms of questionnaires and focus groups.

  • Well, depending on your perspective one should worry very much, or not at all: What can be done is what was done at Vatican II:

    The massive number of interrogatories sent to bishops, cardinals and archbishops all around the world in 1960-1961 asking for their input for the schemata of the coming council were received and collated by the Roman Curia. The results? Their single largest area of concern was the need for the Catholic Church to officially condemn communism/socialism, as bishops and other episcopal leadership were seeing Leninist principles invading their seminaries and universities world-wide. Changing the liturgy or a redefinition of the theology of the Church was a minimal priority, if mentioned at all.

    And what resulted: This schema and all the other truly “collegial” schemas gathered from these questionnaires @ V2…were simply set aside at the first plenary session, shortly after the opening address by P John XXIII Oct 11, 1962. And if these arent set aside, one can always turn the microphone off, too, like Card. Alfrink of Utrecht (where now the Catholic population has dropped from 50% pre Vat2 to 15% today) did to Card. Ottaviani, during Ottaviani’s fiery speech objecting to the radical takeover of the council by the Congar-Kung-Rahner party (Oct. 30, 1962).

    So, either way, nothing to worry about here. I think.

  • I honestly don’t understand how the Pope choosing over 50 years ago to ignore responses to questionnaires serves to predict that the Pope will choose today to rely on responses to questionnaires to change Church teaching. Again, the questions were obviously aimed at determining the degree to which Catholics are out of step with the magisterium, not determining the degree to which the magisterium is out of step with with Catholics — an important distinction. Steve, did you complete the questionnaire?

  • As a convert, I find it very difficult to believe that the priests and bishops (and yes, the Pope) didn’t know ahead a time what the responses would be. (No, I haven’t seen the questions; I am basing this statement upon hearing that most Catholics disagree with Church teaching of family, sex, divorce, etc.) Before I was Catholic, before I really knew any, I actually believed that
    1) Catholics all used NFP [Scott Hahn was so simple and understandable in his and his wife’s tape series about contraception/sterilization/NFP, etc. Crystal clear. How could anyone argue with it, and why would anyone want too?]
    2) Catholics didn’t get divorced.
    Halfway through RCIA, I knew something wasn’t right. Something didn’t jive. By the time I was confirmed, I realized I was in the minority of people willing to use NFP, or even knew what it was.

  • The doctor must always get a full picture of what ails the patient before diagnosing the illness and then pointing the patient toward health through prescription, more intense medical care and or surgery.

    There have been ‘questionairres before all the Synods in fact, it is just that this one obviously is ‘hitting Catholics closer to home’ and the media sees it as a ‘hot topic’. This will only intensify and we will be hearing all sorts of conflicting reports. First because the media has no idea (or interest etc) in Revelation-the word of God. Secondly there will be those forces in the Church who believe they can organize and pressure the Synod Fathers. By the way, this is not a new tactic. Even in the days of the First Ecumenical Councils laity and monks assembled at the sites of the Councils to pressure the assembled bishops for their position and against the opposite side. The pressure often came from the supreme layman-the Emperor or King or princes-but it happened in every Council. No Council was without this-it is actually part of ‘synodality’ (having a ‘council’)

    The Sensus Fidelium is not, I repeat not, the result of a poll, a vote etc. The sense of the faithful is that portion (hopefully most) of the Church which adheres to the truth of the Catholic Faith, even in the midst of a great deal of turmoil etc. An example of the sensus fidelium are those Catholics who hold to the teaching on the meaning of conjugal charity as stated authoritatively in Humanae Vitae [most would be familiar with this in terms of ‘birth control’, however that is only one dimension of the teaching] Those faithful found in the hierarchy (pope and bishops), priests, deacons, consecrated religious and laity who hold and believe that marital (conjugal) love is both unitive and creative. love giving and life giving, today are those among the faithful who recognize that ‘marriage’ cannot take place between two people of the same sex. Same sex marriage cannot be life-giving by its very nature. Polls might say that these faithful are a minority, but they do represent the sensus fidelium-united with the pope and bishops who teach this truth.

    This Synod however may mark another significant turning point for the Church. That portion of the Church which is frequently named ‘liberal, ‘progressive’, ‘spirit of Vatican II’ in actuality has a very specific foundation and name going right back to the days of Vatican II. They are called “Concilium” after the (now defunct) publication that at first furthered Vatican II but shortly after the end of the Council took a more distinct and more radical direction-what many would call ‘progressive’ or ‘the spirit of VII’. Eventually they saw no limits to ‘reform’ in the Church because in their eyes little or nothing was based on Revelation nor did they see any real limitations to the nature, construction of the Church and thus of her mission. Everything was fluid, maleable etc Some notable names in this group were Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeecks, Karl Rahner

    In contra distinction to the Concilium group grew the Communio group, faithful to Vatican II and its real reforms but maintaining the Catholic Tradition, nature of the Church, etc. This group in its early days was led by such lights as Josef Ratzinger, Henri De Lubac, Hurs Von Baltazar, and others. It is from this theological powerhouse that the Church maintained stability in the first decade and a half after the end of Vatican II. From this the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 set forth the six principles of Interpreting Vatican II [the main one being the hermeneutic of continuity, set forth even more clearly by Pope Benedict in 2005]

    The Concilum group’s base is in Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries. Not al Germans etc belong to this mindset, but many do. Austria is almost in complete rebellion against the Church and one German diocese seems to be following suit. We might be witnessing the end of this seemingly endless tension between the Concilium model and Communio model now completely established in the mainstream of the Catholic Church. This may be the ‘setting sun’ for those who dream of a church that not only does not exist but cannot exist and call itself Catholic.

    The Church cannot and will not compromise on the Revelation received from Christ Himself Who taught that from the beginning marriage was meant to be between one man and one woman for life. Where the Church will probably look for pastoral solutions is to its canonical structures vis a vis divorce, annnulments. Since the first century the Church has had to deal with the reality of marriages that end for any number of reasons, and Christians who are less than ideal for any number of reasons. After all who among us can say we are ‘ideal’? (lol)

  • Botolph,
    Since you mention Concilium and Fr. Hans Kung, Carl R. Trueman recently reported in “First Things” that:
    “Hans Kung is planning to take his life. Or so he said in an interview last week in the British Catholic weekly, The Tablet. Kung is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, and polyarthritis in his hands. Determined not to go gentle into that good night, he has apparently decided that he will at some point travel to Switzerland in order to be assisted in committing suicide. His reasoning is threefold: he does not wish to live when there is no quality of life; his life is a gift from God and he intends to give it back to God; and death, like birth, is “our own responsibility.”


  • Slainte,

    Yes, indeed, a sad last chapter to Hans Kung’s life and legacy. In his early days, he was faith filled and brilliant, but soon after the Council led the Concilium in a direction that the Church did not follow, thanks be to God. If he had stuck with his real life’s work, which was the study of Luther, the Council of Trent etc, we might have seen the unification of Lutheran and Catholic Churches, however, he went off the rails and in many ways, became not just like Luther but far more radical.

  • Fr. Hans Kung could radically redeem himself if he spoke out against Euthanasia in favor of a better, more sacrificial way; this might alter public opinion in Belgium regarding child euthanasia.
    There is a selfishness and a self-centeredness associated with members of the progressive movement. They think of themselves first.

  • Slainte,

    You are absolutely on target concerning his witness about euthanasia. Instead he is witnessing to the anti-word, and the anti-gospel (as Pope John Paul II called it). The Concilium was totally taken by the Enlightenment. I remember how struck I was when I received that ‘summa’ of Fr Karl Rahner which was entitlted “the Idea of Catholicism”. It seems that everything was, could be, and even should be a ‘mental construct’. For a time he and the others had a wide readership in the Church bit not anymore, their time has passed. That’s why I believe this will be the ‘final showdown’ for the Concilium crowd. They were hoping Pope Francis was one of them but he is not. With these two approaching synods, the main focus will be the family and marriage, yes, but with that will be the Catholic vision and teaching on human sexuality and on the human person (Christian anthropology). This is why there will be two synods: and Extraordinary Synod in October 2014, the (regularly scheduled) Synod of 2015 [both on the family, et al] and then the meeting of world wide Catholic families in Philadelphia-which Pope Francis will attend in 2015 as well. It is a threefold move.

  • I actually took the survey and found myself incredulous as I answered one question to the next. It suggested to me that either they were completely out of touch with reality, or were simply putting on a show by the questions asked. If they did not know the answers already then we are really in trouble. And another element was the unfounded and ridiculous assumption that the average Catholic would have read certain documents, or even be vaguely familiar with them. I wish they were but know they are not. It was in my estimation an exercise in futility and clearly demonstrates the wrong people- as usual – are conducting what should be a very important endeavor.

  • Kevin,

    What you say is disturbing. If that is the case then no wonder there is so much divergency in the various episcopal conferences’ responses. One more reason that we have in calling for a real reform of the Curia.

  • It seems there’s a wide agreement that the curia needs to be reformed, which might really only mean changes in personnel, with perhaps a possible additional office to be set up. Is that it?
    I would like to know how the pope sees the rationale for the existence of the curia— what it Should be and how the current situation could change for the better if it were “reformed”. I’d like to know what we are hoping for, what is the goal here?

    I hope it is not just changing out personnel (Burke, Rigali, etal ) to strengthen a more progressive agenda.
    I would hope the curia would be catholic or universal in its make up and in the way it addressed the many functions of the Church with a well rounded approach. Including transcendence, dogma and moral teaching, reaching out to the poor and needy, protecting the unborn etc.

  • The modern curia is the creation of Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) who, through his reforms, created the first modern bureaucracy in Europe. It was part of his genius that nothing more than assiduous mediocrity was needed for the system to function; its disadvantage was that it gave no scope to real talent.

    Now, as Walter Bagehot points out, “It is an inevitable defect, that bureaucrats will care more for routine than for results; or, as Burke put it, “that they will think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms of it.” Their whole education and all the habit of their lives make them do so. They are brought young into the particular part of the public service to which they are attached; they are occupied for years in learning its forms—afterwards, for years too, in applying these forms to trifling matters. They are, to use the phrase of an old writer, “but the tailors of business; they cut the clothes, but they do not find the body”. Men so trained must come to think the routine of business not a means, but an end—to imagine the elaborate machinery of which they form a part, and from which they derive their dignity, to be a grand and achieved result, not a working and changeable instrument.”

    In this connection, he notes the old proverb that “Frederic the Great lost the battle of Jena”. It was the system which he had established—a good system for his wants and his times—which, blindly adhered to, and continued into a different age, put to strive with new competitors, brought his country to ruin.”

  • Botolph: “conjugal charity” the perfect phrase to express true love of one’s spouse.
    slante: “”His reasoning is threefold: he does not wish to live when there is no quality of life; his life is a gift from God and he intends to give it back to God; and death, like birth, is “our own responsibility.” ”
    Man, the human person, gives consent, free will consent, to his life and existence from the hand of God. The only ” responsibility” of man to God for his life is religion, man’s response to the gift of faith from God. The chasm between “consent” and “responsibility” is telling. “Consent” as in the “fiat” of Blessed Mary is allowing God to tell us how to live, to live and let live according to the will of God. “Responsibility” is taking unauthorized authority from God and telling God how to tell us how to live. In short “playing God”. All human sacrifice, abortion, euthanasia and indiscriminate killing usurps God’s sovereignty over mankind and mankind’s human, rational, immortal existence, mankind’s soul.
    The devil, human sacrifice in the form of euthanasia, suicide and abortion is the chief form of worship of the devil; the devil wants Hans Kung’s soul. Let us pray for Hans Kung’s soul. The devil did not create Hans Kung’s soul. God is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.

  • “The devil, human sacrifice in the form of euthanasia, suicide and abortion is the chief form of worship of the devil; the devil wants Hans Kung’s soul. Let us pray for Hans Kung’s soul. The devil did not create Hans Kung’s soul. God is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier”
    Amen Mary De Voe

  • Collecting relevant data points, information and reference material is rarely an issue. Only how that information is utilized .

PopeWatch: Cash Cow

Tuesday, January 21, AD 2014



Sandro Magister at Chiesa draws attention to the enlistment by Pope Francis of some rather expensive firms in his efforts to revamp Vatican operations:

It may be “poor and for the poor,” the Church dreamed of by Pope Francis. Meanwhile, however, the Vatican is becoming the cash cow of the most exclusive and expensive firms in the world of management and financial systems.


Another big name recruited by the Vatican is Promontory Financial Group, based in Washington. Since May, a dozen of its analysts have been set up in the offices of the IOR sifting through the accounts of the institute one by one, hunting for illicit operations. And they are doing the same with the accounts of the APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Not only that. Top-level managers of Promontory have become part of the permanent leadership of the IOR. One former Promontory officer is Rodolfo Marranci, the new director general of the Vatican “bank.” And the senior advisers of the IOR include Elizabeth McCaul and Raffaele Cosimo, who at Promontory were respectively the heads of the New York and European branches. Also coming from across the Atlantic is Antonio Montaresi, called in to manage the risk office, a role that did not exist at the IOR before.

A similar multiplication of roles and personnel at the Vatican also concerns the Financial Information Authority, created at the end of 2010 by Benedict XVI, today directed by the Swiss René Brülhart, an expensive international star in this area who will soon be doubling his staff.

The balance sheets of the IOR are certified by Ernst & Young, to which the Vatican has also entrusted the verification and modernization of the finance and management practices of the governorate of the tiny state.

And another renowned multinational, KPMG, has been called to bring up to international standards the accounting practices of all the institutes and offices based in Vatican City.

In spite of the boasts of transparency, no information is coming out about the costs of this recourse to external contractors, costs that are presumed to be enormous, particularly those charged to the IOR.

As if this were not enough, the Vatican “bank” has had to spend 3.6 million euro to cover part of the debt of 28.3 million, calculated by Ernst & Young, for the world youth day in Rio de Janeiro.

And it has had to use roughly ten million euro to cover half of the chasm left in the diocese of Terni by its former bishop Vincenzo Paglia, the current president of the pontifical council for the family.

Continue reading...

3 Responses to PopeWatch: Cash Cow

  • Can the Vatican really purchase an appearance of propriety vis a vis financial auditing of its institutions?
    It would seem that habitual practice of the virtues is a better and less expensive way to acquire a reputation for propriety, honesty, and fair dealing…intangibles that an audit cannot measure.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis and President Obama - BigPulpit.com
  • I doubt any of us here can pass judgement on what needs to occur to modify internal systems to meet today’s needs … yes, consulting firms can spend and at times waste money … but with that comes some level of expertise in what they were hired to do. At other times one needs the voice and influence of outsiders to act as change agents. In the end, it will be the ability to feed and manage consultants that ensure a successful result.

PopeWatch: Three Errors

Tuesday, November 26, AD 2013




Sandro Magister is noting that Pope Francis seems to be correcting three errors:

ROME, November 22, 2013 – In the span of a few days Pope Francis has corrected or brought about the correction of a few significant features of his public image. At least three of them.

The first concerns the conversation that he had with Eugenio Scalfari, set down in writing by this champion of atheistic thought in “la Repubblica” of October 1.

The transcript of the conversation had in effect generated widespread dismay, because of some of the statements from the mouth of Francis that sounded more congenial to the dominant secular thinking than to Catholic doctrine. Like the following:

“Each one has his idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he understands them.”

At the same time, however, the interview was immediately confirmed by Fr. Federico Lombardi as “faithful to the thought“ of the pope and “reliable in its general sense.”

Not only that. A few hours after it was published in “la Repubblica,” the interview was reproduced in its entirety both in “L’Osservatore Romano” and on the official website of the Holy See, on a par with the other discourses and documents of the Pope.

This gave birth to the idea that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had intentionally chosen the conversational form of expression, on this as on other occasions, as a new form of his magisterium, capable of reaching the general public more effectively.

But in the following weeks the pope must also have become aware of the risk that this form entails. The risk that the magisterium of the Church might fall to the level of a mere opinion contributed to the free exchange of ideas.

This in fact led to the decision, on November 15, to remove from the website of the Holy See the text of the conversation with Scalfari.

“It was removed,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “to clarify the nature of that text. There were some misunderstandings and disagreements about its value.”

On November 21, interviewed at the Roman headquarters of the foreign press, Scalfari nonetheless revealed more details of the matter.

He said that the pope, at the end of the conversation, had consented that it should be made public. And to Scalfari’s proposal that he send him the text beforehand, he had replied: “It seems like a waste of time to me, I trust you.”

In effect, the founder of “la Repubblica” sent the text to the pope, accompanied by a letter in which he wrote among other things:

“Keep in mind that I did not include some of the things that you said to me. And that some of the things that I attribute to you you did not say. But I put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.”

Two days later – again according to what Scalfari claims – the pope’s secretary, Alfred Xuereb, telephoned to give the go-ahead for  publication. Which took place the following day.

Scalfari commented: “I am perfectly willing to think that some of the things that I wrote and attributed to him are not shared by the pope, but I also believe that he maintains that, said by a nonbeliever, they are important for him and for the activity he is carrying out.”


But even the calibrated and thoroughly studied interview with Pope Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica” – published on September 19 by sixteen magazines of the Society of Jesus in eleven languages – has in recent days been taken into the shop of things to be corrected.

On a key point: the interpretation of Vatican Council II.

This has been made clear by a passage of the letter written by Francis himself to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto on the occasion of the presentation on November 12 of a volume in his honor, against the solemn background of the Campidoglio. A letter that the pope wanted to be read in public.

The passage is the following:

“You have demonstrated this love [of the Church] in many ways, including by correcting an error or imprecision on my part – and for this I thank you from my heart – but above all it has been manifested in all its purity in your studies of Vatican Council II. I have said this to you once, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and I want to repeat it today, that I consider you the best hermeneut of Vatican Council II.”

The definition of Marchetto as “the best hermeneut” of the Council is striking in itself. Marchetto has in fact always been the most implacable critic of that “school of Bologna” – founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo and today directed by Professor Alberto Melloni – which has the worldwide monopoly on the interpretation of Vatican II, in a progressive vein.

The hermeneutic of the Council upheld by Marchetto is the same as that of Benedict XVI: not of “rupture” and “new beginning,” but of “reform in the continuity of the one subject Church.” And it is this hermeneutic that Pope Francis has wanted to signify that he shares, in bestowing such high appreciation on Marchetto.

But if one rereads the succinct passage that Francis dedicates to Vatican II in the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica,” one gets a different impression. “Yes, there are hermeneutical lines of continuity and of discontinuity,” the pope concedes. “Nonetheless,” he adds, “one thing is clear”: Vatican II was “a service to the people” consisting in “a reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture.”

In the few lines of the interview dedicated to the Council, Bergoglio defines its essence this way three times, also applying it to the reform of the liturgy.

Such a judgment of the grandiose conciliar event immediately appeared so summary to many that even the pope’s interviewer, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” Antonio Spadaro, confessed his amazement in transcribing it from the pope’s spoken words.

Meanwhile, however, this judgment has continued to garner widespread consensus.

For example, in receiving Pope Francis at the Quirinale on a visit on November 4, the president of the Italian republic, Giorgio Napolitano, thanked him precisely for making “resonate the spirit of Vatican Council II as a ‘reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture,’” citing his exact words.

And praise for these same words of the pope has come – for example – from the foremost of the Italian liturgists, Andrea Grillo, a professor at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, according to whom Francis has finally inaugurated the true and definitive “hermeneutic” of the Council, after having “immediately put in second place that diatribe over ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ which had long prejudiced – and often completely paralyzed – any effective hermeneutic of Vatican II.”

In effect, it is no mystery that “service to the people” and a reinterpretation of the Gospel “brought up to date” are concepts dear to the progressive interpretations of the Council and in particular to the “school of Bologna,” which has repeatedly declared itself to be an enthusiast of this pope.

But evidently there is someone who has personally pointed out to pope Bergoglio that reducing the Council to such concepts is at the least “imprecise,” if not “mistaken.”

And it was precisely Marchetto who took this step. There has always been great trust between him and Bergoglio, with mutual esteem. Marchetto lives in Rome at the residence for clergy on Via della Scrofa, in room 204, next to room 203 where the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires stayed during his trips to Rome.

Pope Francis not only listened to the criticisms of his friend, he welcomed them. To the point of thanking him, in the letter he had read on November 12, for having helped him in “correcting an error or imprecision on my part.”

It is to be presumed that in the future Francis will express himself on the Council in a way different from that of the interview in “La Civiltà Cattolica.” More in line with the hermeneutic of Benedict XVI. And to the great disappointment of the “school of Bologna.”


The third correction is consistent with the two previous ones. It concerns the “progressive” tone that Pope Francis has seen stamped upon the the first three months of his pontificate.

One month ago, on October 17, Bergoglio seemed to have confirmed this profile of his once again when in the morning homily at Santa Marta he directed stinging words against Christians who turn the faith into a “moralistic ideology,” entirely made up of “prescriptions without goodness.”

But one month later, on November 18, in another morning homily the pope played a completely different tune.

He used the revolt of the Maccabees against the dominant powers of the age as the point of departure for a tremendous tongue-lashing of that “adolescent progressivism,” Catholic as well, which is disposed to submit to the “hegemonic uniformity” of the “one form of thought that is the fruit of worldliness.”

It is not true, Francis said, that “in the face of any choice whatsoever it is right to move forward regardless, rather than remain faithful to one’s traditions.” The result of negotiating over everything is that values are so emptied of meaning as to end up merely “nominal values, not real.” Even more, one ends up negotiating precisely over “the thing essential to one’s very being, fidelity to the Lord.”

Continue reading...

9 Responses to PopeWatch: Three Errors

  • “…reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture…”

    What we need is reinterpretaion of contemporary culture in light of the Gospel.

  • “…reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture…”

    What we need is reinterpretaion of contemporary culture in light of the Gospel.

    I was not scared until now.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis 24/7 - BigPulpit.com
  • Today’s Richmond paper reprinted a Washington Post article, “Pope blasts ‘trickle-down’ economics” which had quotes from the pope’s apostolic exhortation of Tuesday. As written it was not positive about the US.
    Reporting on religion in general is usually inaccurate and the Post is the worst. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  • AT LEAST these are small steps in the right direction to correct the many malaprops of Bergoglio: but he has a long way to go to get on the Ratzinger-Wojtyla track. And he has a huge disadvantage: besides his limited theological educational background, he is a Jesuit, and most that I have met in recent years are way too full of themselves. And remember: his true self is as an self-proclaimed admirer of truly schismatic-bound late Cardinal Martini.

  • This man is just getting warmed up. He knows what he is doing and is not stupid, even though he appears that way. The verbal ambiguities and heretical statements are feelers to see how far he can push the envelope. His intentions are becoming oh so clear. Let us pray for Holy Mother Church.

  • I disagree, Barbara. I do not think Pope Francis is being deliberately heterodox. I think he believes he is being authentically Catholic. He simply brings with him all the social justice baggage of a Latin American cleric. He is not perfect. But the gates of hell will not prevail. The Holy Spirit preserved the Church from Popes who were really evil, and Pope Francis is NOT evil. I have been reading Evangelii Gaudium. I am about 1/3rd of the way through. There are some things (particularly on economics) that I disagree with (but that may be due to poor translation). Overall, it seems to be an excellent document – not perfect, but certainly better than what I could write.

  • Paul, you have every right to your opinion of this pope, as do I. We do not have to agree. Please know I will be praying for our Church and for Francis as well. The Truth never goes away, and, as time unfolds, Truth will be revealed. I ask God to bless you.

PopeWatch: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui

Wednesday, November 13, AD 2013



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

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

Francesca Chaougiu

Continue reading...

33 Responses to PopeWatch: Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Pingback: Pope Francis Celebrated Mass Ad Orientem - BigPulpit.com
  • This curate does sound like a byzantine bureaucracy. It sounds frightful, in fact. It makes me wonder again why the last pope retired. To my knowledge, no one really every figured it out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    One among endless examples that I could cite:

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

    John Calvin, from Article 18 of The Geneva Confession

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PopeWatch: 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.”

Continue reading...

10 Responses to PopeWatch: Untier of Knots

PopeWatch: Keep Smiling!

Thursday, October 17, AD 2013



Father Z, here, links to an interesting story at The Eponymous Flower blog:

Magister Effected Polite but Harsh Criticism of Decisions in the Liturgy by Pope Francis

Finally, Sandro Magister gave his contribution as a lecture on which  Katholisches.info already reported (see separate report Pope Francis and the Liturgy – “Pure Functional Access” Reservations to Tradition, weakness in the knees before the Lord ). Master analyzed in a critical manner, the previous decisions of Pope Francis in the Liturgy: The ban for celebration in the old rite by the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the dismissal of all five consultants for the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, who were close to the liturgical understanding of Benedict XVI., the refusal to genuflect in the Holy Mass at the words of consecration, although from papal Mass to papal Mass always newly   master of ceremonies Guido Marini always included the two relevant points and finally the halting by CDF, that they no longer check the bizarre special forms in the Mass of the Neocatechumenal Way, as Benedict XVI. had ordered. Magister has also expressed the opinion that the Pope is “friendly” to everyone, “except with the traditionalists.”

“Scandal Currently The Dominant Characteristic of Climate in Rome”

The lecture finally came to a scandal. Magister so openly expressed his criticism of Pope Francis, that Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Pozzo had to  leave the room. “The response of Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Pozzo is indicative of the currently prevailing climate in Rome,” the website Chiesa e Postconcilio (Church and Post-Conciliar). “Was it because of the  time for both of them or was it simply a precaution, because of the polite but harsh criticism by Magister of Pope Francis? The withdrawal of a Cardinal during a major event is something glaring. All interpretations are allowed, “said the Spanish Catholic blogger Francisco de la Cigoña.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to PopeWatch: Keep Smiling!

  • Fr. Z received a LOT of responses in his combox about this story. As I wasn’t there, I don’t know why Cardinal Burke got up and left.

    It goes without saying that I was a big fan of Pope Benedict. Some hard core traddies still didn’t like him, but then, I am a trad who watches sports on my 58 inch big screen. I let my kids watch TV and my wife is not forced into long skirts. My 5 year old goes to the public school kindergarten (which I monitor closely).

    Pope Francis comes off at times as petty. His views on the liturgy are obvious to everyone. He does what he wants, which I have seen far too many priests do on far too many Sunday Novus Ordo masses for most of my life.

    Fr. Z rightly has pointed out that Pope Francis has changed nothing about Catholic doctrine or Catholic teaching. True, but….it isn’t his emphasis.

    The Church will survive Bergoglio. She survived Borgia and the antipopes of the 14th century.

  • Over the years, I have come to realize that t,he term ‘orthodox’ is not as unambiguous as those who use it would like it to be. I include myself in this, having described myself and/others as orthodox Catholics. What I came to realize actually was that the ‘measuring line’ or ‘rule’ I or others used was based on what I or others thought/felt was orthodox.

    I did come upon a much more objectively complete (perfect) and satisfying ‘measuring line’ with the Church’s own teaching in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, when it explicates what it means to be in full communion with the Catholic Church-a communion begun in the waters of Baptism and expressed in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharismt, the Sacrament of Unity. For the Church, there are four ‘markers’ of full Communion: 1) communion of faith (believing all that the Catholic Church teaches) 2) communion of sacraments (belief in and participation in full sacramental life of the Church. 3) communion of governance ( belief in and communion with bishops in communion with the pope 4) perseverance in charity. While the first three are readily discernible, the fourth is known really by God alone. However, this places before us a much deeper awareness of the high calling we have received in being called to faith in and living the fullness of the Catholic Faith.

    It is so easy, in this post-modern world to go with the flow of the age into fragmentation and tribalism. We can actually see it evidenced in our own country. However, the call to and meaning.of what it really means to be Catholic goes way beyond what ‘the world’ offers or desires.

    I am not sure what prompted Cardinal Burke and the Archbishop to leave that forum. From what I know of Cardinal Burke it was not fear. I have spoken in this forum of the recent “turn” of Magister, but as of this date, I still read him. However, picking up on Fr Z’s point and expanding it a bit, it might be high time for all of us to do some self-evaluation, asking ourselves whether my/ our own perspectives on things of the Church are leading further into or away from full communion with the Church of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church

  • If a guy like Cardinal Burke walks out of the room when you’re talking bad about Pope Francis, the takeaway shouldn’t be, “this is going to be a rough papacy for orthodox Catholics,” but rather, “I should probably shut up because I said something offensive and I obviously don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.” Because when it comes to liturgical traditionalism, Cardinal Burke is like the Rottweiler to Benedict’s Chihuahua.

    Listen, it’s getting to the point where I can’t even read most of the articles on BigPulpit.com and New Advent anymore. The tone they’re taking, and the nastiness they’re showing the Pope (for no substantive reason), just turns me away.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis Frenzy - BigPulpit.com

PopeWatch: A Liquid Message

Wednesday, October 9, AD 2013



On Sandro Magister’s website, Chiesa, he has a post by Professor Pietro De Marco who analyzes the messages being communicated by the Pope:

Pope Francis shows himself to be the typical religious of the Society of Jesus in its recent phase, converted by the Council in the years of formation, especially by what I call the “external Council,” the Vatican II of militant expectations and interpretations, created by some episcopates, by their theologians, and by the most influential Catholic media outlets. One of those churchmen who, in their conciliatory and pliable tone, in their undisputed values, are also the most rigid “conciliars,” convinced after half a century that the Council is yet to be realized and that things should be done as if we were still in the 1970’s, in a hand-to-hand with the “pacellian” church, neoscholastic theology, under the influence of the secular or Marxist paradigm of modernity.

On the contrary: that which the “conciliar spirit” wanted and was able to activate has been said or tried over the decades and today it is a question in the first place of making a critical assessment of the results, sometimes disastrous. Even the tenacious proclamation in Pope Francis of the divine mercy corresponds to a pastoral attitude now widespread among the clergy, to the point of that laxity which the pope moreover censures. Not only that. The theme of sin has almost disappeared from catechesis, thereby liquidating the very need of mercy. Rather than promoting generally merciful behaviors, this is a matter today of reconstructing a moral theology less made up of words and again capable of guiding clergy and faithful in concrete cases. Also in moral theology the road to the true implementation of the Council has been reopened by the magisterial work of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger.

Some maintain that Francis could be, as a postmodern pope, the man of the future of the Church, beyond traditionalism and modernism. But the postmodern that most thrives in him – as liquidation of forms, spontaneity of public appearance, attention to the global village – is superficial. With its pliability and aestheticism, the postmodern is hardly plausible in a bishop of Latin America, where until recently the intelligentsia was dominated by the Marxist Modern. Bergoglio’s solid core is and remains “conciliar.” On the road undertaken by this pope, if confirmed, I see first of all the crystallization of the dominant pastoral conciliarism in the clergy and in the active laity.

Of course, if Bergoglio is not postmodern, his worldwide reception is. The pope pleases right and left, practicing and nonbelievers, without discernment. His prevalent message is “liquid.” On this success, however, nothing can be built, there can only be remixed something already existing, and that not of the best.

There are worrying signals of this “liquid” appearance for anyone who may not be prone to the relativistic chatter of this late modernity:

a) the concession to set popular phrases like “everyone is free to do…” “who says that things must be this way…” “who am I to…” allowed to slip out in the conviction that they are dialogical and up-to-date. Presenting himself as a simple bishop to justify hardly formal behaviors, do not cover up and cannot cover up the different weight and different responsibility that instead belong to his words, any word, since the bishop of Rome and the pope are one and the same;

b) the lack of scrutiny on the part of persons of trust, but wise and cultured, and Italian, of the texts destined to be circulated, perhaps in the papal conviction that there is no need for this;

c) a certain authoritarian inclination (“I will do everything to…”) in singular contrast with the frequent pluralistic propositions, but typical of the democratic “revolutionaries,” with the risk of imprudent collisions with tradition and the “sensus fidelium”;

d) moreover, there remains incongruous in Pope Francis this constant taking of individual public communication initiatives and this wanting to be without filters (the symptomatic image of the papal apartment as a bottleneck), which reveal the unwillingness to feel himself a man of governance (something more difficult than being a reformer) in an eminent and “sui generis” institution like the Catholic Church.

His is, at times, the conduct of a modern and informal manager, one of those who concede a great deal to the press. But this clinging to persons and things on the outside – collaborators, friends, press, public opinion, even the apartment in Santa Marta is “outside” – as if the man Bergoglio were afraid he would not know what to do once he were left alone, as pope, in the apartment of the popes, is not positive. And the thing could not last. Even the media will get tired of supporting a pope who needs them too much.

Continue reading...

17 Responses to PopeWatch: A Liquid Message

  • Pope Francis’ always wanting to be in the limelight with the media, never wanting what he says to be filtered by the theologians in the Church, always being at that special place and time for all those photos showing his great humility, never wanting to consult with Tradition and the vast corpus of Church documents before he shoots his mouth off – are those examples of real humility.

    And indeed, if he doesn’t want to consult with his fellow clerics before he shoots his mouth off, is he being conciliar?

    Benedict thought long and hard before he said something. And so did JP II. They wrote well-reasoned documents, and what they said was generally precise theologically. There was no wiggle room.

    It was a sad day when Benedict stepped down.

  • De Marco notes, “The theme of sin has almost disappeared from catechesis, thereby liquidating the very need of mercy.”

    The call to proclaim “Jesus Saves!” requires us to be ready with answers to the questions “From What?” and “For What?”

    From hell? For heaven? Or would that be coming on too strong?

  • This is discouraging. I want to be positive but I am feeling dismayed.
    Catherine of Sienna help!

  • Professor DeMarco was also critical (hyper-critical?) of Pope Benedict. I remember several commentaries written by Sandro over the last few years. I have not read any of his works (not sure if they are translated into English) however my sense is Dr DeMarco has some very strong reservations of the Council and not merely interpretations of it. I would be glad to discover that I have come to the wrong conclusion on his position.

    Pr ofessor DeMarco’s actual criticisms of Pope Francis are as vague as the positions he claims that this post modern pope has. He criticizes Pope Francis for being a solid Conciliarist (man of the Council). Why would/should he or we expect or want otherwise? While the Council was not a rupture in the Tradition of the Church, it marks a turning point within the history of the Church (marking the transition from the modern to post-modern age) just as Trent marked the transition of the Church from the Medieval to Modern eras.

    I am convinced that basically all we are witnessing with Pope Francis ( with the exception of his interviews perhaps) is precisely what the Cardinals in that conclave had clearly discussed, prayed, reflected, discerned and then elected.

  • Fantastic (and really sad and worrying) article by De Marco.

    What can you do despite praying for the Holy Spirit?

  • Make a lot of noise. Dissenters within the Church have gone from victory to victory over the past half century as too often orthodox Catholics have done nothing but pray. Prayer is essential, but rarely is it sufficient. We are God’s tools in this world and it is up to us to take action.

  • Yes, Donald, you are right.

    If noise is also to publish De Marco article in diverse languages, I translated part of the article to my blog written to Portuguese readers (thyselfolord.blogspot.com).

    Marana tha!

  • I just try to follow the best bloggers: you, Edward Peters, Edward Feser and Pat Archbold.

    I am missing some consideration on Pope Francis from people like Peter Kreeft or Dale Alhquist (Chesterton Society). And I am disappointed with people like Jimmy Akin.

  • Why? Because those “voices” have the patience to hold their tongues till more is learned? A noble gesture indeed.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis Prattle Fusion - BigPulpit.com
  • Don’t we have enough crises in 7 months (bad words and phrases)?

    Or, as Donald said, don’t we need “noises”?

  • The Church is hardly in crisis in these last seven months of Popejk Francis’ ministry. Have we forgotten the uproar within the Church over Pope Benedict’s interview when he made a comment concerning the possibility of using condoms by men already infected with HIV? (This in fact was a genuine position put forward by a moral theologian of Opus Dei, by no means a liberal). Have we forgotten the uproar and expressions of both anger and hurt from the worldwide Jewish community when Pope Benedict speaking at the Holocaust Memorial in Israel asked ” Where was God?” (a very legitimate and profound theological question). Have we forgotten the severe uproar in the Islamic world when Pope Benedict, giving a phenomenol lecture at Regensburg, quoted a Byzantine Emperor concerning the turn of the Islamic world from logos and toward the irrationality of violence. The uproar stunned the pope who thought it was a university address and not listened to by the whole world. Finally, have we forgotten the meltdown within the Vatican not only concerning Vatican-leaks but the horrendous in-fighting within the Curia and preventing the Holy Father from fulfilling his projects.

    I honestly do not understand the handwringing, the catastrophic thinking and the chicken little expressions of fear we hear now. It simply is too early to evaluate Pope Francis for weal or woe

  • I want to add to this my concern about Pope Francis’ surprising lack of learning, especially when compared with the last two popes.

    A little comparative theological background might help:

    Cardinal Ratzinger’s doctoral dissertation was on Augustine’s ecclesiology, directed by Munich professor and scholar Gottlieb Soehngen; BXVI’s postdoctoral dissertation was on S. Bonaventure’s theology of history. Cardinal Wojytla’s 1st dissertation (after phenomenological studies in Edmund Husserl) at the Angelicum in Rome about 1948 was on divine-human relationship and personal encounter in the mystical doctrine of S. John of the Cross. JP2′s 2nd dissertation was @ Krakow on the thought of Max Scheler, also a phenomenologist, and a successor to Husserl. JP2 also was a distinguished theology teacher at the Jagiellonian University at Krakow, so lecturing and refining his writing and engaging in controversy literately was a habit for years with him, just as with Ratzinger.

    And now we get to the present pope? Bergoglio didnt finish his dissertation at Frankfurt’s Sahnkt Georgen. At all. (Tauber Zeitung, April 12, 2013). He previously had some psychological education (eg. the word “obsession” about abortion, contraception, homosexuality) but did not obtain either a Masters or a Ph.D. in psych either. (He has Masters degrees in theology, but from Buenos Aires’ Jesuit theologate, not known as a major school in its field). Rather unusual for a Jesuit, no Ph.D. My point is: Bergoglio is not well-trained in systematic theology. He hasnt been a lecturer, a theology teacher. It shows in his statements. I will be more forward: he is the least educated pope, theologically speaking going back far beyond Leo XIII. (It is true that Pius X did not have a doctorate, but he was awarded honors with distinction at his seminary, and he was known to be a top teacher later in a seminary setting.) And this pope? I find his statements quite incomprehensible, and I am coming to the conclusion that he doesnt comprehend what he is talking about, sorry.

  • There is no question that in John Paul II and Benedict we had brilliant popes. In many ways, we have been spoiled as well as blessed in having them. As you pointed out, Pope Francis’ academic background is not the same. Nonetheless, a doctorate in theology is not required for episcopal ordination, the elevation to the Cardinalate, nor a prerequisite for election to the papacy.

    To call into question, Pope Francis’ academic background is a veiled criticism of the pope who called for his ordination to the episcopacy; to call into question the pope who called him to be archbishop of Buenos Airies, and the pope who elevated him to the Cardinalate, never mind all the Cardinals who elected him.

    However, he knows exactly what he is doing. His whole program up until this moment at least has been to bring about the ‘agenda’ which all the Cardinals had discerned in conclave.

    I am sorry Steve, if you cannot understand him/this.

  • Dear Botolph, it seems to me that you are discussing a different subject, and you do not even read Dr. Pietro de Marco’s article (or understand Steve’s argument).

    But, you are right in one important point: popes must be more rigid in choosing their cardinals.

    I did not say nothing about the Conclave, because I have faith in the Holy Spirit, despite many bad popes in history.

    Let’s pray for Pope Francis and do a lot of noises.

  • I understand that people like Botolph will dismiss these serious comparisons I have made so that he doesnt have to confront himself with their implications, For those who will try to appreciate what I am saying, it is this, and disregard it. Botolphites, at your peril: Pope Francis has not had years of profound study and training like JP2 nor BXVI, years of refining and studying Catholic theology at a profound level. He had a weak training in the late 60’s at a middling theology school in Buenos Aires. He failed to complete his dissertation and PhD at Frankfurt—that speaks volumes. The last pope who had a such a lacuna in systematics and dogmatic theology was Paul VI (he studied systems at the MIlan seminary and obtained a PhD at the Gregorian in Canon Law, but mainly he was in the Vatican diplomatic corp) and he was at a marked disadvantage in defending Humanae Vitae to its chorus of “New Theologians” like Hans Kung and Charles Curran. Yes, the last pope without a doctorate was Pius X, Giuseppe Sarto: but Sarto was an outstanding student at his seminary, and was from limited financial means, so he couldnt obtain a PhD for that reason alone. He was nonetheless appointed as a teacher in dogmatics and systematic theology, in which he was outstanding, at the Treviso seminary—so again, it is important to have a pope who deeply comprehends Catholic theology. It is important that a pope be able to literately and effectively teach the faith and to comprehend the meanings of his words–just for example, as Pietro de Marco observes, Francis confuses words [“to judge” (“Who am I to judge?” speaking about (are we to presume active) homosexuals) with “to condemn.”] Francis says “proselytism is solemn foolishness, it makes no sense,” rather dismissing great Jesuits before him like St Francis Xavier and Bl. Peter Faber (Faber he says he models himself upon). Is the Great Commission over (Matt. 28:16-20, Go teach all nations..) ? Francis says “Each of us has his vision of the good” … “we must incite him to proceed toward what he thinks to be the good.” Well, we know that Kinsey, Fidel Castro, and Lenin certainly had visions of ‘the good’—-are there no objective elements and standards that the Church teaches is a single objective good? Of course there are. Bergolio/Francis confuses all these. The fact is, that the numerous ambiguous messages and contradictory statements seem to be increasing, and I can predict that soon, in a year or two years, there will be a serious crisis of faith he will have precipitated in the Church (He already did so to a great degree when he called morally committed Catholics “obsessed” about “homosexuality, abortion, and contraception.”) So, quo vadis, Francis?

Sandro Magister on the Gap Between Pope Francis and Popes Benedict and John Paul II

Thursday, October 3, AD 2013

Pope Francis


My go to guy when it comes to analysis of what is going on at the Vatican has always been Italian journalist Sandro Magister.  In a column today he explains the great gap between Pope Francis and his two immediate predecessors on the Chair of Peter:



There is nothing in this program of the pontificate that could turn out to be unacceptable to the dominant secular opinion. Even the judgment that John Paul II and Benedict XVI did “very little” in opening to the modern spirit is in line with this opinion. The secret of the popularity of Francis is in the generosity with which he concedes to the expectations of “modern culture” and in the shrewdness with which he dodges that which could become a sign of contradiction.

In this he decisively separates himself from his predecessors, including Paul VI. There is a passage in the homily that then-archbishop of Munich Ratzinger pronounced at the death of Pope Giovanni Battista Montini, on August 10, 1978, that is extraordinarily illuminating, in part on account of its reference to conscience “that is measured by the truth”:

“A pope who today would not undergo criticism would be failing in his task in the face of these times. Paul VI resisted telecracy and demoscopy, the two dictatorial powers of the present. He was able to do so because he did not take success and approval as the parameter, but rather conscience, which is measured by the truth, by the faith. This is why on many occasions he sought compromise: the faith leaves very much open, it offers a wide spectrum of decisions, it imposes as the parameter love, which feels obligated toward everything and therefore imposes great respect. This is why he was able to be inflexible and decisive when what was at stake was the essential tradition of the Church. In him this toughness did not derive from the insensitivity of one whose journey is dictated by the pleasure of power and by disdain for persons, but from the profundity of the faith, which made him capable of bearing the opposition.”


In confirmation of that which distances Pope Francis from his predecessors has come precisely the letter with which Ratzinger-Benedict XVI – breaking his silence after his resignation – responded to the book “Dear pope, I write to you” published in 2011 by the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

Both of the past two popes have dialogued willingly with professed atheists and secular opinion leaders, but they have done so in very different forms. If Francis dodges the stumbling blocks, Ratzinger instead emphasizes them.

It should be enough to read this passage of his letter to Odifreddi:

Continue reading...

15 Responses to Sandro Magister on the Gap Between Pope Francis and Popes Benedict and John Paul II

  • Pingback: Priest Resigns from Mater Hospital over Abortion - BigPulpit.com
  • Someone needs to inform Sandro Magister that he’s relying on a “bad translation” from Italian.

    Oh … wait …

  • I have long been a reader of Sandro Magister, and will remain so. I had read the full version of this article Wednesday. Sandro has been a “fan” of Joseph Ratzinger for a long time, predating Joseph Ratzinger’s election to the See of Peter. Having said this however, I have found his accuracy not up to his usual snuff. He has got several things wrong ( hey, he/we are all human lol) I share this as just a precaution in taking everything he writes as gospel.
    One thing I have noticed is that he has found it very difficult,ult “to let go” of Pope Benedict and his ministry. This is not unlike parishioners finding it hard to let go of the former pastor and embracing the new one. It is a very human response.
    What Sandro has done in this article is to try to show how Pope Francis is so different from his predecessors. For example in giving us the wonderful comments about the papal ministry that Ratzinger preached at the death of Pope Paul’s death, Sandro has left an inference that what motivates Pope Francis is desire for acclaim and fear of rejection. Concerning the prohibition of the Extraordinary Form for that particular Franciscan Order (a very complex issue in itself), Sandro mentions that Pope Benedict has told visitors basically that that decision was a slap in the face. I would be stunned if a man of the caliber of Ratzinger would make such an utterance ( even IF he indeed felt that way) given the potential harm that this could bring to the peace and communion of the Church

    Sandro needs to return to Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity and dispense with his ” spirit of Benedict” interpretations

  • “I share this as just a precaution in taking everything he writes as gospel.”

    Which applies to Popes as well.

  • I was troubled by Pope Benedict’s abdication. I could see no good coming out of it.

  • No less than Dante himself was upset when an old and ‘monkish’ pope of his time, Celestine, resigned. So upset was he that he put him in hell in his Inferno. Thankfully, history and the Lord were more merciful. He is now a canonized saint.
    On an even more fascinating note, Pope Benedict had a special love for him, making a special visit to the place oh Celestine’s tomb and made a poignant address there. This leads many to believe that Benedict had ‘resigning’ from the papacy much earlier than his announcement of resignation.

  • @Botolph,

    You state that Sandro Magister “has got several things wrong” (which implies factual mistakes) but then you don’t mention a single such error. If you consider his opinions “wrong”, it only means that it is your opinions against his. And we don’t know for sure that Pope Celestine V is the nameless figure in Dante’s “Inferno” who made “the great refusal” – it is only a guess.

  • I thought not to mention that. Celestine V is not named in Canto III, the “vestibule of Hell: the opportunists.”

    Some scholars alternately opined that that shade is Pontius Pilate.

    In addition to the deadly sins, betrayal of Jesus, Dante (allegory/fiction) places “poor damned souls” (Kipling) in Hell based on his ideas about their guilt for Church corruption, harm to Florence and affronts to his family’s and his political faction’s interests.

    John Ciardi is fairly convinced it’s Celestine. Here his footnote, N.B. the last sentence:

    “12. •who, in … Denial: This is almost certainly intended to be Celestine V, who became pope in 1294. He was a man of saintly life, but allowed himself to be convinced by a priest named Benedetto that his soul was in danger since no man
    could live and die world without being damned. In fear for his soul he withdrew from all worldly affairs and renounced the papacy. Benedetto promptly assumed the mantle himself and became Boniface VIII, a pope who became for Dante a symbol of all the worst corruptions of the church. Dante also blamed
    Boniface and his intrigues for many of the evils that befell the city of Florence. Celestine’s great guilt is that his cowardice (in selfish terror for his own welfare) served as the door through which so much evil entered the church.”

    Will any good come out of Benedict’s resignation?

  • Sygurd,
    Although Dante and his family were Guelphs, the party favoring the pope over the Holy Roman Emperor, there is no doubt about Dante’s abhorrence of Npope Boniface, the pope at the time of his writing the Divine Comedy. Boniface, not one of the papacy’s greatest examples, became pope when Saint Celestine resigned the papacy.

    As to Sandro, there have been a couple of his columns that have proved off target over the last months- considering how on target he is, Ibdon’t believe that is a bad record. I was just saying be aware of this. More to the point is his love and devotion to the person and papacy of Pope Benedict. I kind of feel for him. As I wrote above is that he reminds me of a parishioner having difficulty letting go of the former pastor and really welcoming the new.

    Devoted to Benedict he needs to keep both Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic ( way of interpteting things) as well as Benedict’s non-imposing manner in mind

  • @Botolph,

    “Although Dante and his family were Guelphs, the party favoring the pope over the Holy Roman Emperor, there is no doubt about Dante’s abhorrence of Npope Boniface, the pope at the time of his writing the Divine Comedy. Boniface, not one of the papacy’s greatest examples, became pope when Saint Celestine resigned the papacy.”

    True but how does this relate to my correction of your statement? If anything, it only reinforces my doubts – if Dante was an enemy of Pope Boniface (which he undoubtedly was), why would he place his victim – as you know, Boniface practically jailed Celestine after his election – in Hell? I also find your explanation of Sandro Magister’s supposed “errors” very subjective and unconvincing. If you can point out his objective mistakes, go ahead and do it. Mere innuendo won’t do.

  • Sygurd, now two have responded concerning Dante and Celestine. These are comments and scholastic dissertations.

    As for Sandro, his columns are available. Go back over the past year and you will find some of his stories that did not pan out or in one case, he misinterpreted. Again these are comments and not scholastic discourse or a debating society. If you take the time to pour over his columns you too will see the few difficulties

  • @Botolph,

    I see that you prefer to be stubborn insyead of looking objectively at the issues at hand. I’ve met this kind of response at other Catholic sites many times and my answer to it is “good-bye”.

  • Pingback: Cardinalis Bergoglio contra Pontificum Ioannes Paulus II et Benedict XVI | perspectivas
  • Pingback: Cardinalis Bergoglio contra Pontificum Ioannes Paulus II et Benedictus XVI | Portuguese Pundit
  • Pingback: PopeWatch: A Liquid Message | The American Catholic


Thursday, April 9, AD 2009

As we enter into the Holy Triduum, I’d like to invite a reading of Pope Benedict’s catechesis given during yesterday’s general audience, appropriately deemed by Sandro Magister “A Handbook for Holy Week”:

Dear brothers and sisters, Holy Week, which for us Christians is the most important week of the year, offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith. Beginning tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass “In Coena Domini,” the solemn liturgical rites will help us to meditate in a more lively manner on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord in the days of the Holy Paschal Triduum, fulcrum of the entire liturgical year. May divine grace open our hearts to comprehend the inestimable gift that salvation is, obtained for us by Christ’s sacrifice. [Read the rest]

(The homilies of Pope Benedict XVI for Holy Week 2009 will be made available here, on the Vatican website).

Continue reading...