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Interview 032 — Fr. Ripperger on the Multi-verse, time, transgenderism, Silence and a modern syllabus of errors

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ripperger_pipeFr. Chad Ripperger joins us again for a wide ranging discussion of topics in Philosophy and Theology ranging from the Multi-verse and Time to transgenderism, Martin Scorsese’s film Silence, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s call for a new Syllabus of Errors to condemn errors in Ecclesiology and the misappropriation of the term “Priesthood of the Laity”.


Fr. Ripperger Links

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Sermons and Conferences given by Fr. Ripperger

NB: The opinions expressed elsewhere on this website are not necessarily those of Fr. Ripperger or of any religious institutions he is affiliated with.

Episode Notes

Dr. Strange and the Multi-verse
Aristotelian notion of Time
Einstein’s letter to Bohr
Kant’s notion of Time
String Theory
Now 58 “genders”
Council of Vienne defines the Soul is the substantial form of the body:
“We condemn as erroneous and opposed to Catholic truth every doctrine and opinion that rashly asserts that the substance of the rational, intellectual soul is not truly and by its own nature the form of the human body.” DZ 481.
Martin Scorsese’s Silence
Martyrs of Nagasaki
First Translation of St. Alphonsus’ Moral Theology into English
Latin Mass Magazine Article on Praying with Non-Catholics
Bishop Athanasius Schneider interview in a Polish daily
Pope John Paul II on why the divorced and remarried cannot receive communion:
“However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.” -Familiaris Consortio, no. 84.
St. John Fisher’s Defence of the Priesthood
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of Pope John Paul II

The god of surprises vs. the Tradition on Feet Washing

Just today, the Congregation of Divine Worship, at the command of Pope Francis, has decreed that women must be included in the Mandatum, that is the washing of the feet for Holy Thursday, effective this year. Thus, the god of surprises has come to visit us just in time for Septuagesima and the beginning of Lent.

There are lot’s of things to say, but the most important thing is to treat it dispassionately and in union with the Tradition. Pope Francis has said that those who resist change are closed to the working of the spirit, who cling to the way things have always been done are closed to the message of the Gospel. In spite of the twisting of the sense of Scripture in that particular discussion (my basis for which is the original Italian of Francis’ words, not some media report), let’s give him that for the moment. He posits a dichotomy of those who only want to do things the way things were, vs. those who want to apply new things. Thus we don’t receive a teaching and a praxis conditioned by the tradition of signs and symbols that lead us to Christ, to the teaching of the Gospel and the very person of Christ, but rather to the whims of this or that age. What is new and hip and inclusive in our age will be outmoded in the next age.

Moreover, the opposition is not comprised of those who say we must do everything as it has always been done, but that there is a reason why things have been done this way. Thus, the onus is on the Pope to explain why something in the traditional signs and symbols is somehow insufficient to express the reality of the Gospel. The problem is, he prescinds from this, and simply characterizes the opposition as a stick in the mud. It is one thing if he were to show how the traditional signs and symbols were insufficient for some reason, this is possible and the Church is in fact always in need of renewal. But can he show the use of men alone is somehow opposed to the expression of the Gospel?

The practice of washing the feet of men is supposed to express the relationship of Christ with his Apostles, not merely with the Christian community. Still, for all that, there is ample testimony of the Fathers that could be applied also to the community of the faithful, including examples where women’s feet were washed by the Bishop, just not during the Maundy Thursday liturgy. But then again, that might be too much the way things have always been done. The teaching of the Fathers on the question is well summarized by Cornelius á Lapide, in his commentary on the relevant passage of the Gospel (John XIII:6-10), which will suffice for our purposes here: [NB: My translation. There is a very good translation of this available from Loretto, but I do not have it at hand]

“St. Bernard understands in this place as if it were a  sacrament, a symbol, a type, a figure, a mystical meaning as he explains a little after, on which we will say more soon.
Symbolicly, Origen and St. Jerome [epist. ad Damasus, de prima visione Isaiae] reckon that Christ washed the feet of the Apostles in order that he might prepare them to preach the Gospel, according to what is said: ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, and that preaches peace: of him that shows forth good!’ [Isaiah LII:7; Rom. X:15].
Secondly, S. Ambrose, [de iis qui initiantur mysteriis, cap. vi] reckons that Christ in baptism washes away actual sins by washing the head, but here by washing the feet, he washed the remnant of original sin, that is, the motion of concupiscence, for in this washing of the feet, it is effected to have fortified them so that they would resist concupiscence.
Thirdly, St. Augustine and St. Bernard [de Cœna Domini] say: “By such feet we tread over the earth, the love of the earth is signified, filth and defects, which, while on earth, that is while we live among earthly affairs, just as the dust or mud on our feet it behooves us to wash by tears and penance, especially before holy communion.
Fourthly, St. Cyprian [de Cœna Domini] and St. Gregory [lib. ix epist. 39]: “Of the feet, which are the lowest and last part of man, the washing means not only that we must scrutinize our exterior works, but that we must descend even to the lowest and most intimate hidden corners of our conscience, and purge them from every secret stain and wicked intention through contrition, tears and groans.
From this washing of the feet by Christ, the custom of Milan, and several other churches, sprung up that the Bishop would wash those who were going to be baptized, and thereafter the priests and clerics in the font, who stood straight for this purpose outside the Church; thereafter the Bishop kissed the feet of those he washed, and they placed the outer part of the foot over the head of the bishop. St. Ambrose relates and defends this custom [lib. III de Sacram. cap. 1] and says that it was begun by St. Peter and Christ, wherefore he marvels that it is not kept in the Roman Church. Moreover, the Council of Toledo [XVII, cap. iii] ratifies that the Bishops and priests should wash the feet of the faithful at the Lord’s supper after the example of Christ, and commands the use which had ceased for a while to be recalled.
St. Ambrose relates the mystical nature of this washing [lib. De initiandis, cap. VI] saying: “Peter was clean, but ought to wash the sole [of the foot] : for he had the sin of the first man by succession, when the serpent supplanted it and persuaded error; therefore his sole is washed so that hereditary sins would be abolished.” He alludes to those words of God to the serpent concerning man: “Thou shall lie in wait for his heal,” [Genes. III:15]. The same Ambrose [lib. III de Sacram., cap. 1] says: “Because Adam was supplanted by the devil, and the poison flowing into him and over his feet, therefore you wash the feet so that in that part, in which the serpent lies in wait, shall come upon a greater sanctification, in which afterward he cannot supplant you. Therefore you wash the feet, so that you wash the poison of the serpent. Moreover, it will effect humility, so that you will not blush in the mystery, that we will not disdain obedience.”
Another reason was more literal, because formerly those to be baptized approached with naked feet, that they would conduct themselves with humility. For that reason, this nakedness of the feet is called humility by St. Augustine [lib. de Symbolo ad Catech., cap. 1]; because they will wash the filth that has been contracted on the feet. This custom began to spread from the Church of Milan to others, as is clear from St. Augustine.”

Now, we could go on at length with many more testimonies to the same thing. What we can see is that the objections of some, that the priest will kiss a woman’s foot at the mandatum, was not a problem for St. Ambrose and the fathers of other churches where this custom spread to. Then again, the culture was not as over-sexualized as it is today where you have foot fetishes and other things of immoderate men. I don’t know if such a thought would occur to most priests, but it may to some laity. So if Francis wanted to overturn the custom prevailing in all Churches of only washing men’s feet, he could appeal to this example in the Fathers, that such washings were done from the Lord’s example for the community (men and women) who were to be baptized, and then he might have some ground to stand on in terms of uniting this symbol at the liturgy with the example of antiquity. But then his notion of mercy, trumpeted so much at the last synod in regard to public adulterers, could be exposed to attack by the same example. Again from á Lapide, on John XIII:10:

“Mark, here Christ alludes to those who wash themselves in a bath, who go out from it with their whole body being cleansed, but because they tread upon the earth with their naked feet, therefore they might say the feet, for that reason alone are washed afterward. Mark secondly, Christ speaks anagogically [that is, in regard to man’s final state] that by his custom they rise from corporal washing to a spiritual one, in other words, one who is washed is done so spiritually through baptism, in which I have washed you, O Apostles, or one who is washed through contrition and penance, here is wholly clean in soul, but still needs that he wash only his feet, that is the affects of the soul, again by reason of earthly things, in which they live, are stained by contagion and contract light filth that they must often purge through contrition, castigation of the body and like virtues (of which this my washing is a symbol), and especially before the Sacred Liturgy and reception of the Eucharist. Thus St. Augustine, Bede, and especially St. Bernard [serm. In Cœna Domini] say: “He who is washed, needs nothing but that he should wash the feet. He is washed, who does not have grave sins, whose head, that is intention, and hand, that is the operation and good life, is clean; but the feet, which are the affections of the soul, while we step in this dust, from the whole cannot be of the world, which at some time tread in vanity, lust or curiosity, it rather more behooves the soul that it should fall even now. For we all offend in many things. But no man scorns or slights. For it is impossible to be saved by those, it is impossible that I have washed except through Christ Jesus, and by Christ.”

Whereas, directly contradicting what Christ said, that he who divorces his wife and marries another (Matt. XIX) commits adultery, can that be said to be a light matter? Not a grave sin?

Nevertheless, picking up in the next paragraph with Lapide, we see the relationship of Christ with the Apostles:

“Therefore, Christ, in this washing of the feet of Peter and the Apostles cleanses sins, especially venial ones, because through that and only through His forgiveness does he goad their minds, and admonished them by making internal washing through contrition in their souls, through which venial sins are expiated.
For this reason, priests in the OT washed their feet and hands before the sacrifice, as I have already said. Likewise, many heathen did the same thing, as Brissonius recalls [lib. I De Formulis Roman., pag. 4]. Formerly the Jews did the same thing, as is clear from Mark VII:4, and they still do the same thing today.
Next, St. Augustine [epist. 108 ad Seleucianum] from “qui lotus est“, probably gathers that Peter and the Apostles were baptized before the Eucharist, then because no man has the capacity for the Eucharist unless he has been baptized, for after His death he baptized no man, it is certain that they were all either immediately or mediately baptized by Christ. Then, the “washing” would probably have been the washing done in baptism.”

Thus, the relationship expressed in the washing of the feet of the Apostles by Christ, is not just of a hierarchical relationship, though that is properly one aspect, but one of the intimate communion that his Apostles, as priests conformed to Christ’s very person, share with him in spite of their human nature. They are washed as preparation for becoming priests of the new and eternal covenant, of which baptism is necessary, that is being put to death to the world, and born anew in Christ Jesus. The mandatum, as preserved and passed down in the sacred liturgy of Maundy Thursday, is intended to preserve this identification of Bishops and Priests as other Christs, being cleansed from sin and made unto him, whereas the early Church (as seen in St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and the Bishops of other Churches, as Lapide mentions) also sought to incorporate the symbol of the Bishop conformed to Christ, the suffering servant who is nonetheless God, in the rite of baptism.

As a side note, Catholics should take note that the practice of blessing themselves with Holy Water when they come into Church derives from this ancient practice, which is why the modern practice in many modern churches of removing the holy water during Lent an replacing it with sand is all the more inexplicable.

Now, as I noted, Pope Francis could overturn this particular tradition in the mandatum under the desire to emulate the Baptism of the faithful, but if that were the case he should give very clear reasons as to why the old symbol were inefficient to this, or why the expression of the priesthood as perfectly conformed to Christ as servants no longer satisfies and should be expressive of who we are today. In fact, the very purpose of liturgical symbols is to remind men of changing fashions what the symbols represent and call them back to the gospel—both clergy and laity—not to correspond to changing fashions. What Pope Francis has done, is to destroy a symbol without any particular reasoning or purpose apart from what seems inclusive for today. And therein lies the very problem. A protestant friend of mine very aptly encapsulated the faulty reasoning of this initiative in the following satire:

“I hereby propose that a reasonably accurate modern equivalent of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet would be Jesus doing their dishes. Harder to fit into the Maundy Thursday service, though.”

Could it be that Pope Francis is the one doing things the way they have always been done—since 1965?

Cardinal Franzelin on the Virgin Birth

Peter_Paul_Rubens_AnnunciationThere is no end of people today who argue that in the text in Isaiah: “Behold, a Virgin will conceive and bear a son,” the term “Virgin” merely means a young woman. This is not a new or clever argument, but is answered in the Church’s tradition. The best analysis I have seen, however, is Cardinal Franzelin, a peritus at Vatican I, whose work I present on this subject:

De Verbo Incarnato
Romae, 1902
Thesis XV, II

1) We ask in what way is the revelation that is consigned to the Scriptures disposed in regard to this chapter of doctrine. The principle place pertaining to this is the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. VII:14): “Behold a Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and his name will be called Emmanuel … which means God is with us,” as is added in Matthew’s Gospel (I:23). In Hebrew this is literally: “Behold a Virgin, herself pregnant and giving birth to a son, and she will declare his name (matter, being) ‘God is with us.’”

a) The prophecy refers to Christ and his Virgin mother; for it is clear from the nature or rather more from the divine and human natures of the son. Emmanuel is certainly a name, which no man in the Scriptures is said to have born, it was not imposed from the will or external circumstances, but denoted by a name through the biblical use of speech and its intimate nature which is preached. (cf. Is. IX:6) Meanwhile this also was omitted, the son Emmanuel (Is. VIII:8) is hence said to be he whose land is Israel, I say the promised messiah. [1] For this reason, the conception and birth of this Emmanuel should be declared to be above the laws of nature, on which we will speak a little later. Therefore, St. Matthew I:22-23, that argument alone suffices which he eloquently teaches that the prophecy pertains to Christ and his miraculous conception and birth. For that reason, both the Holy Fathers and all Christian interpreters understand this prophecy.

b) The mother of the Emmanuel is certainly called a Virgin, and with an article  παρθένος, to which the quality designated by this noun fits in a singular and excellent mode. For in six places, where besides this name is found, and the meaning present is no other than a Virgin: Genesis XXIV:3; Exodus II:8; Ps. LXVII (Heb. 68):26; Cant. I:3; VI:7; Prov. XXX:19.[2] Nay more, lest a very serious matter be reduced to the trifles of grammarians, the determination of the true sense of Isaiah in no way depends from the exclusive meaning of the name considered in itself; for in this place the mode is of a solemn announcement demands a singular prodigy, so necessarily the meaning of a virgin, lest the prayer would be inept. For this reason, the Jews even to the controversies against Christians (as it is clear from the Septuagint and from the manner of citing of St. Matthew), all Christians even to the birth of rationalism, understood the prophecy to be about Christ and his supernatural, miraculous conception from a Virgin. Lastly, again the very interpretation of the Evangelist (Matth. I:22, 23) is sufficient to prove this by itself.

c) With these being fixed already, the words: “Behold, a Virgin will conceive” necessarily must be understood in the sense composed both with Isaiah and most evidently with St. Matthew, where either from the Evangelist or from the appearance of the Angel to St. Joseph the prophecy is declared. But now, if this is conceded, no also the other word “and will give birth” necessarily must be understood in the same sense. Therefore both with Isaiah and Matthew, A virgin remaining a Virgin is said not only to conceive but also to give birth. Therefore, the most holy mother was revealed just as was  παρθένος. A Virgin through excellence before the conception and in the conception of the Emmanuel, so remained in the same integrity even in birth. What we say in the major and minor proposition, is clear in the first place from the words themselves, especially as and what is read in St. Matthew: “behold a Virgin herself (which the prophet looks to in the present) pregnant and giving birth.” Besides these words were advanced by Isaiah after he offered the choice to the king of a sign completed above the order of nature. When the king refused to ask for it, the prophet intended to prophecy a characteristic prodigy: “for that reason (because you refuse to ask) the Lord himself will give you a sign (worthy by his omnipotence and infinite wisdom); behold a Virgin, etc.” After dividing the sense, not only would he announce no miracle, but something common and obvious with solemnity of words, which would be unsuitable for a prudent man, much more a prophet; but in the composed sense, which words alone are advanced, he announces something contradictory according to the laws of nature, “a Virgin, pregnant and giving birth,” which, therefore, could be effected by the almighty alone, and duly is a miracle corresponding to the solemnity of the prophetic oration. Therefore, with Matthew it is thus proved that he was not only conceived, but also born virginally. The Evangelist enunciates two distinct facts, the conception without the work of man through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of a son; both however are said to have come to pass, that the prophecy would be fulfilled about a Virgin pregnant and giving birth. Therefore with the witness of the Evangelist, just as the prophecy foretold a pregnant Virgin by a supernatural mode of conception without the loss of inviolate virginity, so the prophecy foretells the supernatural mode of birth in regard to the Virgin giving birth without wound to the same virginity.

It is certain, therefore, from revelation of a most intact virginity preserved even in birth is from the Scriptures themselves. That the very thing by reason could not be arranged in a dissimilar way from the narration of St. Luke; both because the words of the angel to the Virgin (Luke I:31) “Behold, you will conceive in the womb and bear a son,” are themselves an application of the prophecy of Isaiah, and therefore the name and quality of a virgin ought to be understood, and because solicitude for the blessed Virgin for preserving her virginity (v. 24: “how shall this be?”) is related to the whole thing which preceded “You will conceive and bear a son;” and also therefore, even the power of the Holy Spirit and the overshadowing of the most High (v. 35) in the response of the angel is extended to the preservation of her virginity in both, that is not only in the conception but even in birth.

[1] If we were to give, the son of king Achaz could absolutely be called in these very words: “thy land o Emmanuel,” certainly could not be meant of another among the sons of the king, unless he was going to succeed in rule. But this was certainly Ezechias, and he was not going to be born of time but was still a new adolescent at least in those years, as St. Jerome adverts, or duly more increased with the passing of years.

[2] In the last place some reckon it comes about that the name in Hebrew, in itself does not provide the meaning of virgin, but of any young girl. But even if by chance the noun there will mean abstractly a young girl for the Hebrew as well as for the Septuagint, Syriac and Latin interpreters, certainly it retains the meaning of virgin; for it means an unmarried girl, diligently guarded, to which it is clear no man has gone into her, unless someone procures for himself a very secret way by arts of deception. Thus: “There are three difficult things and the fourth I am altogether ignorant of (The Hebrew has there are three more wonderful things to take, and the fourth I know not): the way of the eagle in heaven, the way of the snake over the rock, the way of a boat in the midst of the sea, the way of a man in adolescence.” (In Hebrew the words can be read: the way of a man to a virgin.).

Why no synod coverage?

From a reader:

“I am somewhat alarmed that you haven’t had any discussion or podcast on the Synod, or on Pope Francis in general. Why is your voice conspicuously absent?”

Even socially people ask me what I think about the synod. My answer: Nothing.

There is a reason for this. Firstly, why am I not covering the synod? Apart from the fact that I am too busy with work and my children, in general I am just not interested in what is little more than a media circus. In the first place, there are many groups with correspondents in Rome, or providing coverage from such people. There is precious little that I can add. You’ve seen Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and they have given scathing commentary on the instrumentum laboris for this Synod. What can I add to it? I’m not there, I don’t have access to sources who know what is going on, and others are doing a good job.

More importantly, I am resisting the trend in the blogosphere and traddom of becoming an “authentic commentator.” In all reality, I am just a guy with opinions, and largely so are others, no matter how correct they may be. I know of people who are losing the faith over this, or less importantly but no less destructively, sleep, increasing stress, becoming angry. There is simply no reason for this. In a just sense, I do get angry over what manifest heretics like Cardinal Kasper are trying to do to the Church. But I do not let it disturb my faith. St. Paul tells us: “Irascimini, et nolite peccare: sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram.” (Be angry and do not sin: Let not the sun set on your anger.) The first part is a quote from Psalm 4, which we sing every night in Compline in the Benedictine breviary. St. Paul is acknowledging that we can be angry, but we need to be in control of it, or we should not be disturbed. St. Thomas observes that anger is a perfection that helps you overcome difficult things, but is disordered after the fall so that it lashes out in all directions, rather than being directed at difficult things.

The fact is, there is nothing I can do to change the Synod but pray. More importantly, however, there is nothing the Synod can do to change the faith.

Firstly, a Synod does not have doctrinal authority, unless the Pope should elevate its status to that of a local Council and promulgate it as part of the ordinary magisterium. Even if Pope Francis were to do this, there is nothing he can do to eviscerate the tradition on marriage, namely what the Church has always and everywhere believed. This is documented in the Fathers, the Medievals, the Schoolmen, the Manuals, and ecumenical Councils (preeminently Trent). The Pope is not able to change these teachings, or abridge them.

Secondly, the Pope cannot affect the moral effect of Catholic teaching, whatever comes out of the Synod in the way of praxis, or the practical effects of his change to Canon law.

Thirdly, as has been revealed in other places, the outcome has already been decided. There has long been a plan to force the Kasperite thesis through. So while others are melting down over the goings on at present, I am already planning the response to the inevitable change in “praxis” that is somehow divorced from “teaching”, which itself is a novelty and frankly impossible state of things. That is to adhere to the Tradition, and treating novelty the same way the Church fathers treated it: as if it were heresy to be avoided. I will adhere to the Fathers, the Schoolmen and the Manuals, and work on translations of what is not already in English, time allowing. The fact is, the ramming through of what is being prepared will probably cause a schism, if not more widespread confusion. The task at hand, is not to let the sun set on our anger, but to prepare and advocate the course of real reform. This is the Traditional Catholic response. In the 15th century, reforming theologians and canonists advocated reforms that would not be realized until the mid-16th century. This means they died and others picked up their torch, and also died, until after the Council of Trent when reforms began to be realized. Will it take 150 more years? Salva nos Domine! Nevertheless, we need to be planting seeds with prayer, not merely reacting. We need to lay down the challenge with truth, and continue to do so while Christ works in His Church.

We can see this in St. John Fisher, who was himself a reforming bishop, and did his utmost to be a true shepherd of his flock. When refuting a Lutheran, Velenus, he made the following remarks:

Perhaps some may say, “Nowhere else is the life of Christians more contrary to Christ than in Rome, and that, too, even among the prelates of the Church, whose conversation is diametrically opposed to the life of Christ. Christ lived poverty; they fly from poverty so far that their only study is to keep up riches. Christ shunned the glory of this world; they will do and suffer everything for glory. Christ afflicted himself by frequent fasts and continual prayers; they neither fast nor pray, but give themselves up to luxury and lust.
They are the greatest scandal to all who live sincere Christian lives, since their morals are so contrary to the doctrine of Christ, that through them the name of Christ is blasphemed throughout the world.” This is perhaps what an adversary might object. But all this merely confirms what I am proving. For since the Sees of other Apostles are everywhere occupied by infidels, and this one only, which belonged to Peter, yet remains under Christian rule, though for so many crimes and such unspeakable wickedness, it has deserved like the rest to be destroyed, what must we conclude but that Christ is most faithful to his promises since he keeps them in favour of his greatest enemies, however grievous and many may be their insults to him?
Convulsio calumniarum Ulrichi Minhoniensis quibus petrum numquam Romae

Fisher was martyred by the tyrant Henry VIII, not knowing what reform would befall the Church. This is the path for the true reformer, to stay united to truth, passed on by Christ to His apostles, which they passed on to their successors, even to us. God’s providence cannot leave the Church without a remedy.

[The Quote was taken from “St. John Fisher: Humanist, Reformer, Martyr“, a reprint of EE Reynolds’ in depth historical treatment of the saint, now back in print from Mediatrix Press.

See also another helpful discussion in this vein from Boniface at Unam Sanctam.

On Islam and ISIS

When attempting to address Islam in modern politics, there are two trends that have to be fought. The first is the secular reaction, which, while swallowing a certain discomfort over Islamic culture, they freely admit they should be able to do as they like so long as they don’t harm us, immigrate and do whatever, since Islam is a “religion of peace”, which is simply not true if we critically examine its history and doctrine. I will speak of this another time. Then there is a second view, expressed often by conservative and traditional Catholics, who support the current wars the US and its allies are engaged in throughout the Levant, which they use to harken back to the Crusades. One of the greatest errors of this view, is to treat Islam as though it is socially and intellectually the same as it was in the 13th century, or in 1683. The problem with this view, is it overlooks 350 years of cultural and philosophical development, as well as the influence (either positive or negative) of the modern secular west on Islam.

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Much ado about nothing…

Four years ago, I wrote a series of articles for the Distributist Review, called “Navigating the Electoral Milieu”, where I criticized more or less every candidate, with some praise for Ron Paul among my severe criticism of him.

Having briefly reviewed the Republican debates, I can only come to the conclusion (which I have maintained for a very long time) that our national political life is all a sham. There may indeed be sincere individuals who think they can accomplish some good, but the reality is they don’t.

The Republican milieu is not much different from the last time around. First off, we have Jeb Bush, if we want a replay of 8 years of W. He makes gaffes just as bad as his older brother (though not as puerile) and waffles frequently, knowing that the base is increasingly anti-war while all his backers are the military industrial complex. A lot of people think he is great because he is Catholic, as if that lessons the positive evil he will unleash as president.  Then there is Huckabee, for what the third time now? He nicely invents himself as a true, prayerful conservative, nearly every time. Then there is Carson—what exactly is he running for again? Oh, the economy, right. Then we have Carly Fiona, we need a republican alternative to Hillary! Rubio talks a good game, but them he is open borders. Moreover he has no experience. He is a first term senator. Then again there is Obama—exactly. Do we want another one of those? Then there are a bunch of people I recognize, don’t know much about, except that when they talk they sound like everyone else.

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Pope Leo XIII on the relics of St. James at Compostella

St. James the Moor slayer

Today is the feast of St. James, the brother of St. John the Evangelist, who evangelized Spain and was martyred by Herod Agrippa. His relics were transferred back to Spain and are today preserved in Compostella. Here I am providing Pope Leo XIII’s document Deus Omnipotentis, where he verifies the relics interred there are in fact of St. James the Apostle. This document is not on the internet anywhere (including the Vatican), but I found it on the Acta Sancta Sedis. It is entirely in Latin, for now, and it may contain some OCR errors (the Vatican did the OCR, not me!) I will return to this at some point and make a translation, when I am less bogged down.


Deus Omnipotens, qui mirabilis est in Sanctis suis, providentissime voluit, ut, quum eorum animae caelo receptae gaudio perfundantur sempiterno, corpora condita terris singulari observantia colantur ab hominibus et religionis splendore honestentur. — In his vero Dei providentia et misericordia luculenter apparet, qui cum multa sinat per ea divinitus accidere, simul et utilitati consulit nostrae, et gloriae, quam sancti sui consequuntur in terris. Haec enim caelitum beatissimorum pignora, quae nobiscum manent, quoties invisimus, toties admirabilem praeclarissimarum virtutum seriem, quibus illi in mortali vitae cursu in exemplum ceteris praeluxere, memoria repetimus, et ad eas imitandas vehementer adducimur. Sunt autem , teste Ioanne Damasceno, sanctorum corpora perennes in Ecclesia fontes, ex quibus tamquam rivuli salutares effunduntur in populos christianos dona caelestia, et ea omnia quibus maxime indigemus. — Quapropter non mirum est si providentis Dei consilio nonnulla sanctorum corpora, quae antea in oblivion posteritatis velut in tenebris delitescebant, bis potissimum temporibus in lucem prodeant, quibus et Ecclesia maximis agitatur fluctibus, et egent christiani acriori ad virtutem incitamento. Hoc nostro vertente saeculo cum a potestate tenebrarum teterrimum indictum fuerit bellum adversus Dominum et adversus Christum eius, auspicato quidem et divinitus inventi sunt sacri cineres sancti Francisci Assisiensis, sanctae Clarae Virginis Legiferae, sanctorum Ambrosii Pontificis Doctoris, Gervasii et Protasii martyrum, Philippi et Iacobi Apostolorum. — Horum in numerum adsciscendi sunt sanctus IACOBUS MAIOR Apostolus et discipuli eius Athanasius et Theodorus, quorum corpora nuper in templo principe civitatis Compostellanae reperta sunt.

Ex constanti et pervulgato apud omnes sermone, iam inde ab Apostolorum aetate, memoriae proditum est, publicisque Decessorum Nostrorum litteris confirmatum, sancti Iacobi corpus, postquam ille ab Rege Herode capitis damnatus martyrium fecerat, a duobus discipulis eius, Athanasio et Theodoro clam fuisse subductum. Hi cum valde metuerent reliquias sancti Apostoli nullas futuras, si Iudaei corpore potirentur, eo in navim imposito solverunt ex Iudaea, deinde sospite transmissione attigere Hispaniam, eamque circumvecti ad extremas Gallaeciae oras appulerunt, ubi, uti pia et antiqua traditio habet, post Christi in caelum ascensum sanctus Iacobus divino consilio apostolico munere functus erat. Ibi quum Hispaniensem civitatem quae Iria Flavia nominabatur, accessissent , in praediolo quodam manere decreverunt, mortalesque Apostoli exuvias, quas secum avexerant, in crypta saxo defossa intra loculum romano opere constructum condiderunt, parvumque super erexerunt sacellum. Sed exacto vitae cursu cum Athanasius et Theodorus naturae concessissent, christiani, qui ea loca incolebant, tum propter eximiam de duobus viris opinionem, tum ne hi a corpore quod in vita sancte asservaverant post mortem seiungerentur, ambos in eodem sepulcro composuerunt unumquemque ad Apostoli latus. — Vexatis paullo post caesisque christianis, ubicumque terrarum Romani Imperatores dominabantur, sacrum hypogeum delituit aliquandiu. Verum ubi, tranquillitate parta, apud Hispanos homines, qui praecipua sancti Iacobi religione tenebantur, de translato eius corpore fama percrebuit, ad sepulturae locum concursus fieri coepit, haud minori fortasse pietatis studio quam quo Romae et alibi sepulcra Principum Apostolorum, et Hieromartyrum coemeteria visebantur. Labentibus vero annis cum barbari primum. deinde Arabes imperio ductuque Muzae invasissent in Hispaniam, et eas praesertim regiones, quae mare adiacent crebris incursionibus divexarent, sacer sepulcri loculus, exciso et everso sacello, sub ruinarum mole in obscuritate latuit diuturna. — Non tamen vetustate obliterata est apud Hispanos sacri pignoris memoria. Ineunte enim saeculo IX cum Rex Alfonsus, qui dictus est Castus, Hispaniam obtineret, et Iriae Fla viae Ecclesiae datus esset Episcopus Theodomirus, super cryptam, quae sancti Iacobi et duorum discipulorum reliquias contegebat, constans fama est veluti refixam caelo stellam splendidissimam apparuisse, quae suo fulgore indicium faceret loci, ubi sacri cineres conditi fuerunt. Episcopus Theodomirus tanto felix auspicio auctori Deo supplicationes indixit, deinde submotis reiectisque veteris sacelli ruderibus, eo investigando pervenit, ubi, tamquam in cognato sepulcro, tria sanctorum corpora distinctis loculis iacebant. Tunc ut locus ille religione sanctus humanis esset praesidiis munitior, murum in circuitu eduxit, sacrumque thesaurum firmis substructionibus circumsepsit. Quae res ut ad aures Regis Alfonsi pervenerunt ad sanctum Apostoli sepulcrum venerabundus statim accessit, vetus sacellum in novam formam a solo reficiendum curavit, iussitque, fundi illius possessionem terminis ad tria millia prolatis, in templi tuitionem perpetuo adtribui. Urbs interea cryptae propinqua, quae hactenus Iria Flavia vocabatur, ex visu elucentis stellae potioribus auspiciis Compostellae sibi nomen imposuit. — Sed ad illustrandum Apostoli sepulcrum, praeter illud caeleste signum, non pauca divinitus facta sunt, ita ut non modo ex finitimis civitatibus et oppidis, sed a longinquis etiam locis ad sacros cineres supplicatum populi venirent. Quare Rex Alfonsus III Decessoris sui exemplum imitatus exaedificata nem amplioris templi aggressus est, tamen ut antiquus loculus intactus maneret, et illud properata molitione absolutum regio sumptu exornavit.

Exeunte saeculo X efferatae Arabum copiae, rursus in Hispaniam irruptione facta, oppida complura diripuerunt, ac magna civium edita strage, omnia ferro et incendiis vastarunt. Nefandissimus Emirus Almansor, quem sepulcri sancti Jacobi cultus non latuerat, ad direptionem et eversionem animum iam intenderat; quod si perficere potuisset, maximum Hispanorum praesidium, et in quo erat eorum spes omnis, sese expugnaturum arbitrabatur. Quapropter iis, quos praedonibus suis praefecerat, imperat Compostellam recta proficiscantur, urbem adoriantur, templum et sacra Omnia dedant igni delenda. At Deus exortum iam et dilapsum incendium ad presbyterii limen restinxit, et Almansorem eiusque copias foedis terminibus percussit, quibus divexati Compostella discesserunt et fere omnes cum Almansore subita morte perierunt. — Extabant adhuc sparsi circa hypogeum cineres hostilis ferocitatis reliquiae, divini praesidii documentum. Quibus e malis ubi se emersit Hispania, Compostellae Episcopus Didacus Pelaez, in ipsis ruderibus veteris templi ampliorem aedem ab inchoato excitavit, quae a posteriori Episcopo Didaco Gelmirez, splendidiore cultu et maiestate aucta Basilicae nomine et iure donata est. Huius Episcopi praecipua cura fuit sacras reliquias sibi traditas recognoscere, et educto in sublime pariete loculum inaccessum reddere. Quae inter agenda ex sacris ossibus particulam quamdam dissociare non dubitavit, eamque sancto Attoni Pistoriensi Episcopo adiectis litteris dono misit. Partem hanc ex hodierna peritorum inspectione compertum est demptam fuisse ex capite: ea enim est, quae apophisis mastoidea vocatur, sanguine adhuc respersa, utpote quae gladii ictu, quum caput cervicibus abscindentur, percussa est. Hae reliquiae prodigiorum fama et avita civium religione sanctae singulari pietatis studio coluntur adhuc ab Ecclesia Pistoriensi.— Interea Hispaniensis Sanctuarii fama longe lateque per vulgata, innumerabiles peregrinorum cohortes ex universis fere terrarum partibus illuc confluebant, et adeo crevit frequentia, ut ingentibus peregrinantium catervis ad sancta Palestinae loca et limina Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, merito compararentur. Ac proinde Romani Pontifices Decessores Nostri dispensationem voti de peragenda Compostellana peregrinatione suscepti, Apostolicae Sedi reservarunt.

Saeculo XVI nondum exacto, cohorta est foeda et atrox tempestas, qua per Hispaniam fere totam saeviente, sacrum Apostoli sepulcrum in periculo fuit non tam communi, quam proprio. Indicto enim bello Hispanos inter et Britannos, hi, qui a catholica fide ad haeresim desciverant, praedari et diruere catholicorum templa, et sacra omnia violare et delere sibi constituerant. Quapropter in Gallaecia, regione mari eitima, exposito exercitu, sacras aedes everterunt, caelitum beatorum imagines, reliquias et quae omnia sanctiora habentur, haeretico furore combusserunt, deinde ad perniciosam, ut aiebant, superstitionem extinguendam, Compost eliam versus castra moverunt. — Praeerat id temporis Compostellanae Ecclesiae piissimus Archiepiscopus Ioannes a sancto Clemente, qui collatis cum Canonicis consiliis de sacris Sanctorum reliquiis tuto in loco recondendis, hanc ^praecipuam de sancti Iacobi exuviis curam sibi suscepit. Sed cum iam hostes instarent, tumultuario opere ab eo clanculum tria corpora condita sunt : cavit tamen ut novus loculus ex veteris illius, romano more constructi, ruderibus constitueretur, ut aliquod superesset posteris earum identitatis testimonium. Postquam recessum ab armis et belli pericula propulsata sunt, cives Compostellani, et peregrini qui ea loca frequentes adiverant pro certo habebant sacros cineres eodem esse adhuc in loco ubi primitus composita requieverant. Posteri autem in ea opinione fuerunt qua maiores, ita tamen ut temporibus nostris censerent christifideles in abside sancti sacelli maioris eadem sacra pignora servari, quapropter illuc ad adorandum propius accederent, et Basilicae Clerus quotidianae supplicationi ibi cum antiphonae cantu finem poneret.

Cum vero Venerabilis Frater Noster S.R.E. Cardinalis Paya’Rico hodiernus Archiepiscopus Compostellanus aliquot abhinc annis restituendae Basilicae operam aggressus esset, consilium cepit, quod iamdiu agitabat animo, investigandi locum ubi sancti Iacobi, et discipulorum eius Athanasii et Theodori reliquiae sitae essent. Quare ad opus tanti momenti viros peritissimos delegit in ecclesiastica dignitate constitutos, qui operarios dirigerent. Sed praeter opinionem omnium res ceciderunt. Explorato enim toto hypogeo et latebris quotquot extant adhuc circum altare maximum nihil repertum est. Demum quo maior cleri et populi ad orandum ferebatur devotio, in centro scilicet absidis post altare maius, et ante aliud altare interius effossum est pavimentum, et cum opus ad duo cubi ta processisset, occurrit operariis arca, cuius in operculo crux insculpta videbatur. Arca erat lapidibus et lateribus confecta ex antiquiori crypta ac sepulcro excerptis. Remoto coram testibus operculo, ossa reperta sunt ad tria sceleta sexus virilis pertinentia. De iis omnibus Venerabilis Frater Cardinalis Archiepiscopus Compostellanus, secundum sacri Concilii Tridentini sanctiones, auditis doctorum piorumque virorum consiliis, et lectissimorum peritorum sententiis, processuales condidit tabulas, inquisitumque est, constaret ne in repertis reliquiis de identitate corporum sancti Iacobi Maioris Apostoli et duorum discipulorum eius Athanasii et Theodori? Haec omnia ad ecclesiasticae disciplinae praecepta perpendens, adhibitoque intelligenti iudicio, annuit et approbavit. Deinde idem Venerabilis Frater Archiepiscopus Compostellanus acta omnia et sententiam suam ad Nos misit, petiitque supplex, ut sententia eadem supremo Nostrae Apostolicae auctoritatis iudicio confirmaretur.

Nos admotas Nobis preces benigne excipientes, cum probe noverimus venerabile sancti Iacobi Maioris sepulcrum inter celeberrima sanctuaria iure posse censeri, quae in toto orbe terrarum a christianis coluntur, sacrisque celebrantur peregrinationibus ad suscepta vota persolvenda: idemque a Decessoribus Nostris Paschali II, Callisto II, Eugenio III, Anastasio IV et Alexandro III datis constitutionibus fuisse privilegiis et honoribus ornatum et auctum, voluimus ut ad tantum negotium ea conferretur diligentia, quam semper Apostolica Sedes adhibere consuevit.

Quamobrem ex Sacro Concilio sacris tuendis Ritibus praeposito, aliquot S. R. E. Cardinales destinavimus, nimirum Dominicum Bartolini Praefectum, Raphaelem Monaco La valletta, Miecislaum Ledochowski, Aloisium Serafini, Lucidum Mariam Parocchi, Angelum Bianchi et Thomam Zigliara ; nec non eiusdem S. Congregationis praesules Officiales dilectos Filios Magistros Vincentium Nussi Protonotarium Apostolicum, Laurentium Salvati ab actis, Augustinum Caprara Quaesitorem de honoribus caelestium, una cum Aloisio Lauri Assessore ; quibus idem negotium examinandum commisimus. Conventu habito ad Vaticanas Nostras Aedes die XX Maii vertentis anni, omnibus ad trutinam severa disquisitione vocatis, responsum datum est u dilata, et ad mentem ». Mens vero fuit ut nonnullae animadversiones gravioris momenti accuratius diiudicarentur. — Quae res ut expedite ad exitum perveniret, iussimus dilectum Filium Magistrum Augustinum Caprara, Sanctae Fidei Promotorem Compostellam proficisci, ut ibi singula quaeque inspiceret, inquireret, referret. Ille testibus, quos prius iusiurandum adegerat auditis; compositis nonnullis contradictionibus, quae in eorum relatione subesse videbantur; examinatis archeologiae, historiae et anathomiae peritis Matriti et Composteliae, qui de re sententiam ferrent ; inspectis vetustioris loculi ruderibus et cum his, quibus arca reliquias continens constituitur, comparatis, nec non inspecto loco sub abside ubi hae inventae sunt, demum quum rursus percontatus esset peritos physicos de singulis sacrorum ossium partibus, Romam reversus accurata relatione demandato sibi munere perfunctus est. — Quare iisdem collectis comitiis ad Vaticanum die XIX Iulii huius anni dubitationum discussa caligine et veritatis lumine clarius exorto ad propositum dubium u. An sententia lata a Cardinali Archiepi» scopo Compostellano de identitate reliquiarum, quae in centro abn sidis sacelli maximi Metropolitanae eiusdem Basilicae repertae » sunt et sancto Iacobo Maiori Apostolo, eiusque discipulis Athanasio et Theodore tribuuntur, sit confirmanda in casu, et ad effectum de quo agitur? » Dilecti Filii Nostri Cardinales itemque Praesules Officiales considerantes omnia, quae proposita erant, ita vera et probata esse, ut refellere nequis posset, ideoque cognitionem rei certam adesse, quae secundum sacros canones et Summorum Pontificum Decessorum Nostrorum Constitutiones in hisce negotiis desideranda est ita rescripsere: «Affirmative, seu sententiam esse confirmandam n.

Quae cum Nobis a dilecto Filio Nostro Dominico Cardinali Bartolini, eiusdem sacrorum Rituum Congregationis Praefecto, relata fuissent, non mediocri Nos laetitia affecti sumus; et toto ex animo Deo Optimo Maximo gratias egimus , cui placitum est ut Ecclesia sua, in tanta praesertim temporum iniquitate, novo hoc thesauro ditesceret. Propterea supra dictam peculiaris sacrorum Rituum Congregationis sententiam, libenter in omnibus ratam habuimus et confirmavimus. Insuper mandavimus ut die XXV Iulii sancto Iacobo Apostolo sacra Nostrum confirmationis decretum in Ecclesia Nationis Hispanicae sanctae Mariae de Monte Serrato in Urbe dicata, post Evangelii lectionem ex ambone publicaretur, praesentibus dilecto Filio Nostro Dominico Cardinali Bartolini, Sacrorum Rituum Congregationis Praefecto, et dilectis Filiis Magistris Laurentio Salvati ab actis, Augustino Caprara Quaesitore de honoribus caelestium, una cum Aloisio Lauri Assessore et Ioanne Ponzi pro tabulario.

Nunc vero ea, quae per supradictum decretum constituta sunt solemniore Apostolicae auctoritatis documento, novoque Nostrae confirmationis actu communire volentes, Decessorum Nostrorum vestigia persecuti, nempe Benedicti XIII, Pii VII et Pii IX, qui de identitate corporum sanctorum Augustini Pontificis Doctoris, Francisci Assisiensis, Ambrosii Pontificis Doctoris, Gervasii et Protasii martyrum iudicium tulerunt; Nos quoque quibuscumque dubitationibus et controversiis diremptis, Venerabilis Fratris Nostri Cardinalis Archiepiscopi Compostellani sententiam de identitate sacrorum corporum Beati Iacobi Maioris Apostoli, et sanctorum discipulorum eius Athanasii et Theodori, ex certa scientia, atque etiam motu proprio Apostolica auctoritate approbamus et confirmamus et in perpetuum firmam et validam fore decernimus. Praeterea volumus et iubemus, ne cui fas sit sacras Reliquias, quae iam in veteri conditorio repositae sunt et sigillo super obsignatae, vel earum particulas dissociare, demere vel adsportare sub poena excomunicationis latae sententiae, cuius absolutionem Nobis et Nostris Successoribus omnino reservamus. Quamobrem committimus et mandamus universis et singulis Venerabilibus Fratribus Nostris Patriarchis, Archiepiscopis, Episcopis ceterisque Ecclesiarum Praelatis praesentes litteras in sua unumquemque provincia, dioecesi et civitate solemniter publicare, ea meliori ratione, quam expedire censuerint; ut auspicatissimus huiusmodi eventus ubique innotescat, atque aucto pietatis studio illum christiani omnes celebrent, sacrasque peregrinationes ad sacrosanctum illud sepulcrum, quemadmodum maiores nostri facere consueverunt, suscipiant. — Et quo efficacius pro Ecclesia Stancta .Dei et pro universa christiana republica sancti Iacobi Apostoli et eius discipulorum patrocinium impetrare valeamus, omnibus et singulis christianis utriusque sexus, qui vere poenitentes die per locorum Ordinarios seligenda confessi, et Christi corpore refecti in templis ubilibet sancti Iacobi Apostoli Deo dicatis, et iis deficientibus in quolibet templo ab Ordinariis designando, pro instantibus gravissimis Ecclesiae necessitatibus eiusque exaltatione, pro haeresum improbarumque sectarum extirpatione, sancti Iacobi suppetiis imploratis, pias apud Deum preces effuderint, plenariam omnium peccatorum Indulgentiam ac remissionem quae per modum suffragii etiam animabus piacularibus flammis detentis applicari possit, benigne in Domino tenore praesentium concedimus. Et quoniam nobilissima Hispanica Natio mirifica sancti Iacobi ope fidem catholicam integram inviolatamque servavit, ut Deus misericors ei gratiam impertire velit, propter quam in tanta errorum colluvione, Patrono suo apud Deum medio et sequestro ad sanctitatem religionis avitae et ad pietatis studium firmet animum, amplissimum privilegium ab Alexandro III Decessore Nostro ei concessum, lucrandi scilicet plenarium Iubilaeum eo anno quo festum sancti Iacobi XXV Iulii incidat in Dominicam diem, etiam pro venturo anno concedimus cum ea ipsa die sancto Iacobo sacra festa solemnia inventionis et elevationis corporis eius agenda erunt, ea servata methodo, et cum iisdem facultatibus in Constitutione ipsius Summi Pontificis data die XXV Iulii anni MCLXXIX contentis. Has quoque litteras et quaecumque in eis contenta nullo unquam tempore de subreptionis vel obreptionis seu nullitatis aut invaliditatis vitio seu intentionis Nostrae, vel alio quovis defectu notari, impugnari, sed semper et in perpetuum validas et efficaces esse et fore, suosque plenarios et integros effectus sortiri et obtinere ; sicque ab omnibus cuiuscumque gradus, ordinis, praeeminentiae et dignitatis censeri volumus; mandantes, ut earumdem praesentium transumptis etiam impressis manu tamen alicuius publici Notarii subscriptis, et sigillo Personae in ecclesiastica dignitate constitutae munitis, eadem prorsus fides adhibeatur, quae ipsis praesentibus adhiberetur, si forent exhibitae vel ostensae. Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam Nostrae approbationis, ratificationis, reservationis, concessionis, relaxationis, commissionis et voluntatis infringere, vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si quis autem hoc attentare praesumpserit, indignationem Omnipotentis Dei et beatorum Petri et Pauli Apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum.

Datum Romae apud Sanctum Petrum anno Incarnationis Dominicae millesimo octingentesimo octuagesimo quarto, Kal. Novembris, Pontificatus Nostri anno septimo.





Loco illius Plumbi Reg. in Secret. Brevium.


More of the Francis Effect: Bad Satire

Readers may recall my article dissecting a fake news piece that got linked to the Drudge Report and other sites as “actual news”. There is, sadly, a good deal more of that going on. There is an ever increasing proliferation of fake news, attempting to copy the Onion, some of it decent, some of it in bad taste. And of course, there is a lot of proliferation of Pope Francis fake news.

Admittedly, Francis is an easy target, and I am not uncritical of the Pope. Unguarded and careless statements, made off the cuff or otherwise, have become almost legendary. We have had, to name a few, “Who are you to judge”; “We don’t have to be like rabbits”; “The Reform of the Reform is a mistake”; “We need a one world political authority”; “We need a miracle for the Family to accept scandalous things” etc., all verified and true statements that have caused great concern and consternation among Catholics. Then we can add his actions, appointing an open manifest heretic, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., to a pontifical council, giving a platform to pro-abortion UN divines for his encyclical, inviting lesbians to the Vatican or apologizing for sharing the faith in Latin America, have likewise caused such scandal that, one can almost believe Francis would say anything. Increasingly, I find this sentiment amongst friends who go to the Novus Ordo. It’s not a Trad thing anymore.

Still, the latest is completely absurd: “Pope Francis says unwed mother’s must be forcibly sterilized to stop climate change.” The website is obviously fake, and it cites the source as Francis’ encyclical, where the Pope actually said the opposite (no. 50). This did make the rounds and in spite of it’s absurdity, some news sites and people, particularly on facebook, did accept it as fact, even though a quick google search would have pulled up an easy snopes article showing it is false (which is less work than verifying through the Vatican website, as I suggested the last time I wrote on this topic).

Now, the fake news article in itself is not particularly of interest to me. Rather, I have several observations.

1) That people could or would accept this is evidence of how poorly team Bergoglio has managed the Pope’s message. The frequent gaffes and off the cuff statements referenced above, combined with instant clarification from Fr. Lombardi, and the use of the Pope’s words by the media, whether in context or not, are evidence of the complete failure of the Vatican Press Office and others to use media to present what the Pope wants to teach, and as a result, people are prepared to believe anything. One can only blame the media so much, as it is obvious the secular media has an axe to grind against the Church, and poorly made and ill-prepared statements only give them the perfect opportunity. It doesn’t exculpate the media, but at the same time, the Vatican clearly needs to control how it presents info. All we need to do is turn back to John Paul II’s pontificate to witness an efficient and well run press office. Those who know me, or followed the old incarnation of this website, know I was no fan of that pontificate, nevertheless, John Paul II’s messages were carefully prepared and crafted, he never made off the cuff remarks that could be easily misinterpreted and taken miles in another direction by the media, let alone things disparaging to Traditional Catholics, though he no doubt strongly disagreed with them (e.g. Francis’ many pejorative terms for those cultivating traditional spirituality).

2) There is a wider critique here than Francis, which is the credulity our culture places in news, and it’s lack of discernment in regard to sources. Too often we read headlines, and take that to be true without any further question. The Drudge Report is an obvious example. Only crazy news junkies click on every single link and discerningly read every story. In reality most people skim and click on the more interesting stories. On top of that, Drudge then has a lot of power to manipulate headlines to his particular point of view. For example, one time he linked an article and wrote the headline: “Organic food contains ecoli”, but when you went to the article it was organic food sent to a packing plant that was contaminated with ecoli originating with conventional food. Such is the power of headlines. Not to say Drudge is evil, but it would be foolish to think he didn’t have his own agenda, and he would certainly admit to it, unlike the MSM.

3) This website is but one of many proliferating fake news under the guise of satire. The success of websites like The Onion has spawned a legion of fake news sites, well produced, tolerably written that are supposed to be “satire”. There are two problems with this.

a) A lot of these news outlets hire out writers and accept nearly anything, which is just stuff re-written from other news articles, and can include many false or incorrect things. I know this because I’ve earned money doing this on various contracting websites for writing, though I never wrote anything I knew to be false. Others did and it was clear. The goal is to get content with buzzwords that brings more clicks and increase advertising revenue. This doesn’t help inform the public, or provide any beneficial service. Internet has provided us with an easy way around the Main Scream Media, to reach out and provide news, find news, and in another word, form alternative media without them. The problem comes in with the fact that anyone can do this, and create nonsense. Alternative media needs to be self policing and adhere to strict standards itself, to prevent the proliferation of fake news.

b) Just as importantly, the proliferation of fake news occurs under the guise of  “satire”. It would be helpful if we reviewed what satire really is. According to the Oxford English dictionary Satire is: “the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” It uses irony, juxtaposition, oxymoron, humor and other things to mock something else.

 There are several modes of satire, and it has been realized differently by different peoples. For the classical culture, i.e. Greek and Roman culture, satire could be a poem or prose that makes a mockery of social movements or peoples. It is often only understood by context (which is why St. Jerome famously burned his copy of Juvenal, saying “If you weren’t written to be understood, to the fire with you.”), and makes play of contemporary things. One of my favorite verses of Satire is from

Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Parturient montes, et nascetur ridiculus mus. (Ars Poetica,  139)
The Mountanins will labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be born.

The point of this is to poke fun at great labors which produce meagre results. In Fr. Vincent McNabb’s biography of St. John Fisher, he applies this verse to Cromwell’s great labor to open the safe in the Rectory of the Bishop of Rochester, thinking there was some great treasure inside. Cromwell employed several blacksmiths to get it open, and when it was done they found—a hair shirt!

Or Again:

Non satis est puris versum perscribere verbis.
It is not enough to lay out refined words in verse. (Satira, bk 1 Satire IV, line 54)

Here he means that some poets think they’re clever by literary devices, but there is no content being applied to them, similar to a history book name dropping all sorts of books but failing to provide a unified narrative to make the history intelligible. And so on and so forth. I could talk much more about classical literature, but this will do for now.

More recent satires can be seen in the 19th century with the British magazine Punch. While putting down a revolt in India, General Sir Charles Napier took the province of Sind, and he sent a dispatch back: “I have Sind.” Punch displayed the headline in Laitn: Peccavi. Today that would fall on deaf ears, but in an age where all the readers of Punch could be counted on to have classical educations, they would know that meant “I have sinned”, and thus the pun.

Or in another mode, Chesterton declared: “Politicians and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason.”

Or more recently, after the Pope used a “burger king” as his sacristy in Bolivia, the Onion ran a satirical photoshop of Pope Francis flipping burgers on the balcony of St. Peter’s. This is amusing and useful satire, it draws attention to Francis condemning international capitalism, while using a creation of that for his mega liturgy in Bolivia. Now, in fairness to Francis, that might have been the only facility suitable for this purpose, who knows. The point remains.

All these are examples of satire to bring attention to cultural or political events. They make good satire, within the contexts they were written in. Part of today’s problem is that the culture is just so weird, it is almost impossible to satire. I wonder if Wodehouse or Waugh would be able to satire today’s culture? Perhaps not. The overarching point is that the proliferation of this fake news is not truly satirical, and frankly dangerous, because we are approaching a point where we can’t really know anything. When you read about a place called Russia, to which you have never been, you are taking it on natural faith that it is there, because people tell you or show you satellite photos or pictures purportedly from there. What if someone was to tell you that there is no such place, that it is a hoax produced in a studio with photo and video and the whole history is manufactured? If you have never been there, normally such while possible would not be plausible, for so many books could not be written, or a whole language created, so many people certain about a country that does not exist. Potentially, the endless proliferation of fake news makes such scenario somewhat plausible.

Review: The Rending of Christendom from Cruachan Hill Press

Presbyterians reject the book of Common Prayer in the Kirk, 1636

Presbyterians reject the book of Common Prayer in the Kirk, 1636

What is History? This is actually a more difficult and debated question than it would first seem. To the average mind, particularly having gone through public education, history is what the textbook said and what the teacher tested me on. Boring dates and battles memorized by rote or movies we watched while the teacher was busy. The more banal rendering would be these guys did this to those guys.

In reality history is much more than this. History relies on collecting written documents, archeology, use and nuance of language, art and poetry and weaving it into a narrative of a given people or culture. But how do we know that? For example, have you ever stopped and asked: “How do we know what we’re told about ‘x’ is true?” This is a far more complicated question. When you look at an artist’s conception of what Ancient Rome looked like, how do you know it really looked this way? While it might not be hard to figure out what the Flavian Ampitheatre (Coliseum) looked like, what about a street model or plan of Ancient Rome? In reality these are guesses based on archeology or what few monuments survive form the period. In the end we don’t really know that. So what can we know about history?

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