Category Archives: Articles

Septuagesima Sunday

Edited and revised from what was published on the old Athanasius Contra Mundum 12 February, 2006.

Today marks in the Traditional Church what is known as Septuagesima, or 70 days. On the Traditional calendar this does not mark the beginning of Lent, but it does mark pre-Lenten preparations. At the Holy Mass, the Gloria is omitted, as is the Alleluia, and the priest wears purple vestments to symbolize repentance and prayer.
It is one of the many sad and unfortunate losses since Vatican II that the 3 Sundays prior to Lent are suppressed, and we hear no more of them. For indeed they provide us with much to meditate on so that when we arrive at Lent we are prepared to enter the period of fasting and penance with our minds fixed on God. For if we are not centered on God, our fasting is in vain. Continue reading

The Perpetual Virginity of the Deipara

The Annunciation -Fra Angelico

The Annunciation
-Fra Angelico

As we approach the Nativity of our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, it is good to take up the doctrinal realities and teachings on the Virgin Birth, as it is the second great jewel in the crown of the Deipara. (NB: Deipara is the classical Latin theological term which translates the Greek Θεοτόκος, and is used in theology as opposed to Dei genitrix, which is normally used in Liturgy). We will proceed by unfolding three Theses of this doctrine and their proofs, namely that Our Blessed Lady was a virgin a) before birth  b) during birth  c) after birth. While c was historically denied by many protestants, in modern times both a and b are denied, even by some claiming to be Catholic.

Thesis I
Maria purissima virgo ante gignentem Christum fuit. (De fide)
(Mary was a pure virgin before the birth of Christ)

This part of the doctrine holds that the Mary was a virgin from her beginning and through the moment when the archangel St. Gabriel was sent to announce to her the mystery of the incarnation. This should be logical, since in terms of effects if this were not the case, it would be very hard to prove that Jesus was the incarnate God as opposed to having his origin in some man. Therefore it is one of the first and obvious places to attack if one were going to disprove the Incarnation, validating the principle that authentic Mariology lays the foundation for authentic Christology.

Scriptural Proof Continue reading

The Immaculate Conception and the Orthodox Tradition

The Immaculate Conception -Peter Paul Rubens

The Immaculate Conception
-Peter Paul Rubens

The Immaculate Conception was formally declared as a dogma of the faith by Bl. Pope Pius IX in 1854 by a Solemn Definition with his document “Ineffabilis Deus“. Some people have gotten the idea that this came out of the blue, as it were, and elevated an old dispute into an article of faith, or created the liturgical celebration of it. This is actually not the case. Continue reading

Now is the hour to rise from sleep

I will salvage something from the Advent and Christmas sermons of St. Robert Bellarmine, which I announced just the other day will not be out this year, due to focusing on his other works. What follows is his sermon from the first Sunday of Advent, posted today to give place to the celebration of St. Andrew yesterday (as well as that I would rather not post on Sunday). NB: When he says briefly in the first line, that is to be taken in a 16th century sense of “brief”.

Sermon on the Epistle for the First Sunday of Advent
Given at the university of Louvain, 1571 (to the students)
Concio II (Opera Omnia)
St. Robert Bellarmine,
Doctor of the Church
Translated by Ryan Grant (see creative commons license for all questions about copying and citing)

Now is the hour we rise from sleep: now indeed, our salvation is nearer than when we believed. -Rom. XIII.

St.Robert-Bellarmine-2We will briefly explicate this beginning of today’s Epistle, by the Lord’s help: that which, in fact, is lead into one end according to the sense of the Apostle, but is adduced to another end by the Church; to be sure it has been proposed and also fittingly established. But what was proposed by Bl. Paul when he wrote, “Now is the hour we rise from sleep: now indeed, our salvation is nearer than when we believed”? The blessed Apostle wrote to the Romans, and also wished to wake them from the sleep of sin and from negligence, but he uses two arguments to carry this out, the second of which is from a due season; the other was taken up from the proximity of the end. How, indeed, if we should wish to wake someone, wouldn’t we say to him, “Hey you! Wake up!, it is time. For the dawn appears.” But what if he should be such a man from that lot which does not care much whether dawn should appear, but rather gladly sleeps until noon, then wouldn’t we say to him: “Hey you! Get up! The time is at hand to carry out a great business – namely lunch.” The Apostle Paul first exhorts the Romans in the same manner, that they should rise, because it is the hour of rising, for “Night has passed, and moreover, day approaches.” Therefore, because the time of that great meal, which is made in heaven, is near,: “Now indeed, is our salvation nearer, than when we believed.

Continue reading

What did Francis really say?

Mideast PopeI have broken my ignore all Pope Francis news rule, to observe a few of the more interesting, yet less salubrious quotes (with respect to doctrine) of the Pope of late. One of the most irritating things, is when those who insist the Pope can do no wrong and we must get with it, will always look at something extremely damaging, and say “Oh, its a translation error.”

Being possessed of the ability to fact check this (provided he is speaking in Italian and not Spanish), I decided to look back at a few quotes. Let’s start with the most recent one.

Continue reading

St. Robert Bellarmine on judging a Pope

There are a lot of comments going about the internet attacking Cardinal Burke for his criticism of Pope Francis. Now in reality, Cardinal Burke’s criticisms have been mild, always minimizing Francis’ damage. Some have gone so far as to call Cardinal Burke Schismatic.

I wonder what they would have said about St. Robert Bellarmine, saint and Doctor of the Church, who said the following (to my knowledge, this has never been rendered into English before.

St. Robert Bellarmine makes an interesting comment in the famous chapter of De Romano Pontifice where he discusses the question of the loss of Papal office. It is in the article immediately before the one sedevacantists frequently use, namely in De Romano Pontifice, Bk II, Chapter 30:

“The third opinion is on another extreme, certainly, that a Pope cannot be deposed either through secret heresy, or through manifest heresy. This recalls and refutes Bishop Turrecremata (loc cit) [Bellarmine is noting in the previous point, citing this Bishop, where he rejects that a secret heretic can be judged] and certainly is an improbable opinion. Firstly, that a heretical Pope can be judged, is expressly held in Can. Si Papa dist. 40, and with Innocent III (serm. 2 de consec. pontif.) And what is more, in the 8th Council, (act. 7) the acts of the Roman Council under Pope Hadrian are recited, and therein contained, that Pope Honorius appears to be justly anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, which is the only reason permitted for inferiors to judge superiors. It must be noted, that although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II was deceived from corrupt examples of the VI Council, and Honorius was reckoned falsely to be a heretic, nevertheless we cannot deny, in fact Hadrian with the Roman Council, nay more the whole 8th general council had sensed, in the case of heresy a Roman Pontiff can be judged. Add, what would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she would be compelled to acknowledge a manifestly prowling wolf for a shepherd.”

Celibacy, challenging the myths

 Originally published on the original Athanasius Contra Mundum, 10 October 2010.

Epigonius, Bishop of the Royal Region of Bullas, declares “With the rule concerning continence and chastity [which] was already discussed in a previous council, let the same be taught with more emphasis. Namely that there are the three ranks that by virtue of their consecration, are under the same obligation of chastity, i.e. the bishop, the priest, and the deacon, and let them be instructed to keep their purity.

Bishop Genethlius declares: As was previously said, it is fitting that the holy bishops and priests of God as well as the deacons, those who are in the service of the divine sacraments, observe perfect continence, so that they may obtain in all simplicity what they are asking from God; what the apostles taught and what antiquity itself observed, let us also also keep. 1

-Council of Carthage

In the midst of the clerical abuse scandal, one finds increasingly the call for an end to clerical celibacy. According to those claiming that celibacy should be optional, they argue that it is unnatural to be celibate and the requirement is too hard and that’s why we have the problem. Or, that celibacy psychologically unbalances the priest, and that is why he cannot keep away from young boys or women.

Of course we know at a purely natural level, these arguments are false since the percentage of those who molest children are as high (though under-reported) in religions where the clergy are married, and double or triple in education, law, medicine and social work, places where people can get married and there is no requirement which could psychologically unbalance them with respect to marriage. Now in law there are things which would psychologically unbalance anyone, but that is for another day. Thus it is not the mere fact that priests are as a class unmarried.

That however only illuminates what is not the problem. It tells us nothing of its source or its solution. There is something which you will find in common with teachers, lawyers and doctors who molest children and priests, namely it is an unmortified body, or more particularly addiction to sexual sin. The people who commit heinous acts like this are not suffering from a lack of sex, but from too much involvement in it!

There is a false belief today, that once you are married you can have at it and it is perfectly fine. Of course it is true that once married acts ordered toward the procreation of children, which are conducted with due regard for the end (i.e. no heterosexual sodomy) are good, but the failure to commit adultery does not constitute the virtue of chastity. Chastity is rather an interior virtue that mortifies your interior desires and frees one from the attachment to sexual pleasure. It doesn’t mean it is bad, but it means you are not attached to it, as should be the case with other things. The reason for this should be understood by any man who gets married, the desires don’t stop for other women just because you are now lawfully able to engage with one. Neither do attractions, affections, or the potential to be caught in pornography and self abuse. This is because the concupiscible appetite (that part of us that desires food and sexual relations) continues to move the will in that direction, until we have brought that part of us into line by mortification and detachment. When one does not engage in any sexual activity that is called continence, not chastity. Even spouses are required to remain chaste. Chastity simply has a different meaning for them because of their state in life.

Due to the fall, our concupiscible appetites are out of control. As Chesterton said, after the fall we are like a man who jumps on a horse and runs in all directions. Concupiscence, the inclination of our body toward sin, dwells objectively in the body. Grace may remedy it over time, if we are faithful, but it is not automatic. This is the principle error of Mr. West’s Theology of the Body, it gives one the idea that grace will conquer nature through the act of license with one’s spouse and constantly focusing on sexuality, in reality it is the opposite, we conquer concupiscence in this area by focusing on this only when it is proper and suitable. It does not mean you must live a Josephite marriage, but that you must be detached from the goods of marriage. The secondary end of marriage in the old manuals and catechisms was called “The Remedy for concupiscence”, and this did not refer simply to being able to engage in relations, because by itself that does not solve the problem. Rather, it refers to the whole course of married life which serves to mortify the senses of the spouses and move them toward holiness. A man in a state of matrimony is just as capable, if not more so, of committing heinous and evil sins against the 6th and 9th commandment. Now that you are allowed to consider your spouse under this aspect, it becomes tempting to judge someone who is not your spouse by this aspect. If the man is disordered, then this becomes a real problem. That the majority of sex abusers in history have been male should also serve to tell us something.

Now if we look to the clergy abuse crisis, let us also apply this. They say that the priest who has been chaste will not struggle in this area, because he does not have material in his imagination to fuel the flames, that is the fomes peccati. If he fails in this regard, he is going to have problems. If he has already come in with disorders, such as homosexuality or pedophilia, he is going to tend toward disordered behavior even if it never manifests itself. Due to the breakdown in the piety of the faithful prior to Vatican II and the lowering of standards even before the Council, plenty of unhealthy men entered the seminary. They were unhealthy for more than one reason, it is not just the abusers, but those who married their housekeepers and asked to be returned to the lay state (as in the case of one particular ex-priest I knew). The problem that caused the clerical abuse scandal, as well as all the scandals in this regard within and outside the Church, is too much sex, rather than not enough.

Rather, celibacy and clerical chastity are the crowning virtues of a priest by which he is conformed in body as well as the mark of ordination to Jesus Christ, who was perfectly chaste in this life. This is why the western discipline is superior to that of the other Churches, it more perfectly conforms the priest to Jesus Christ than a man who is married but abstains for a period before the liturgy. It can also be looked at in this way, the priest of the old testament is a type of the priest in the New Testament, and the fulfillment of biblical types is superior to what is in the old. In the old testament, the priest would be selected in a certain year to offer sacrifice in the temple, and a year prior to that he had to live apart from his wife. This is so he will be set apart to take part in the things of God. If that is true in the old law, how much more so in the new where the priest offers sacrifice every day (though in some traditions every week), that he should be continually set apart? In the Early Church, while converts who were married were ordained, the general witness is that they had to leave their wives and make a vow of continence. (a more complete treatment of the subject than can be produced here can be seen in The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, by Cochini).

Many Patristic writers note that the one Apostle who was held in higher esteem than the others was John. Peter is higher than John because of his office, but John is held higher by his purity of life. The Fathers particularly saw a close relationship between Jesus and John based on his virginity:

St. Jerome declares:

“Yet John, one of the disciples who was said to be the youngest among the apostles, and whose faith in Christ started when he was a virgin, remained a virgin, and this is the reason that he was preferred by the Lord and leaned on Jesus’ breast.” (Adversus Jovinianum, PL23, 246b-c)

St. Augustine tells us:

“Among the commentators of the Holy word, several-and those were not men whose opinions we can hold in contempt-think that if Christ loved the Apostle John with a special love, it was because he had never been married and that from his earliest childhood he practiced the most delicate purity. There are no conclusive proofs in canonical Scripture; nevertheless, what seems to support such a feeling and demonstrate its aptness is that John was a figure of the heavenly life, during which no wedding would be celebrated.” (Tractatus in Evangelium Joannis, 124, 7

St. Paulinus of Nola

“Among his disciples he chose the youngest one so as to entrust his mother, as was fit to a virgin apostle.” (PL 61, 416a)

Proclus of Constantinople

The Apostle John received the principle and most eminent gift from God, virginity. And this is why the two sons of Zebedee were called ‘sons of thunder’. (PG 65, 730b, quoted in Patrology, study of the Greek Fathers)

Lastly, chastity is called by scholastic theologians the crown of all virtues, because without it you cannot attain to clarity in this life. Even the demons who tempt men to impurity are ashamed, because they remember how beautiful their natures were and themselves cannot stand the affront to them by tempting men to such low sins. Chastity orders the other virtues to a clarity devoid of carnal affections and it is easier to attain in one who is not married than one who is. This does not mean of course that everyone who is celibate is chaste, we have the obvious example of the 15th century, pre-Revolution France or of the last 40 years, and other periods where the lack of morals of the clergy are notable. One time St. Augustine appeared with St. Thomas, I believe it was to John of St. Thomas but I’m not sure (if someone who knows can enlighten me I’d appreciate it) to give a testimony to the importance of St. Thomas’ works, and he said that they were equal in glory except that in the splendour of virginity, St. Thomas was the greater.

In a certain sense, it is true that a certain aspect of celibacy is not a doctrine, that it is something that can be modified by the Church. This however does not mean that the Church ought to, or even can get rid of a discipline simply because the world or other elements think it should. St. Basil, witnesses for us that

Among the “doctrines” and the definitions kept in the Church, we have received some from the written teaching and we have obtained the other ones, secretly transmitted, from the apostolic Tradition. They all have the same validity with regard to piety as no one would doubt if he has any experience of ecclesiastical institutions; because if we attempt to do away with unwritten customs, by claiming that they have no great validity, we would unknowingly hurt the Gospel on its very essential points. (On the Holy Spirit)

Just because it can be changed doesn’t mean that it should, as Traditionalists well know. Who now are the agents of change? The world. Everyone in society thinks that the only ones who need to get married are priests. Yet, the stuck on stupid generation as I have termed it, will pass away and what then? As we see from the quotes from the Council of Carthage which head this post, the Early Church ordained married men but required of them perfect continence. It was a time when most who came to the faith were converts, or not all who came to the priesthood were unmarried and it was necessary for some years to ordain married men. Yet the early Church maintained celibacy. The Church has always insisted on it, as a means for chastity. Not the sole means of course, because by itself it is insufficient, but as the state in life combined with interior chastity in the soul to lead the priest to true clarity and true conformity with Jesus Christ. The end to the sex scandal is two things then, the double crown of charity and chastity. Chastity as has been said above, is necessary to attain to any vision in this life. Charity however, is among the faithful, and the priest who will love God above all the things in this world. Why among the faithful, that is the laity? Their prayers and mortification will lead to holy priests. There is a quote from St. John Eudes, though I’m still tracking down the source, which says “There is no surer sign that God is displeased with His people than to send them unholy priests.” Well, with the sacrilegious communions, rampant heresy, apostasy, moral failings and hypocrisy, is it no surprise? Or as the ancient maxim goes, we get the leaders we deserve. We need charity to offer to God fitting sacrifices for worthy priests. We need celibacy, to keep the priests separate from the things of this world so they can be holy priests. We do not need more priests, we need more holy priests especially in this time. Ending celibacy does not make one move toward that goal, in fact given our culture, it will move us further away from this goal. What is needed is for the Church to stay true to her age old traditions.

1: Epigonius episcopus Bullensium Regionum dixit: Cum praeterito concilio de continentia et castiate tractaretur, gradus isti treas qui constrictione quadam castitatis per consecrationem annexi sunt, episcopus inquam, presbyter et diaconus, tractatu pleniori, ut pudicitiam custodiant, doceantur.  Genethilius episcopus dixit: Ut superius dictum est, decet sacros antistes ac Dei sacerdotes nec non et levitas vel qui sacramentis divinis inserviunt, continentes esse in omnibus, quo possint simpliciter quod a Domino postulant impetrare, ut quod apostoli docuerunt et ipsa servavit antiquitas, nos quoque custodiamus.

Franken-Church: The managed Synod’s betrayal of Jesus Christ

"..and wuv, twue wuv..."

“..and wuv, twue wuv…”

We all knew this Synod was going to be bad. I have warned people privately that it would be a watershed moment of Francis’ pontificate. Lately I’ve been given to creating similes to correctly encapsulate Francis, and this latest one I think is the most apt, as we shall see. “Francis is to the Church, what Yoko Ono was to the Beatles.”

It was clear from the beginning that this synod was rigged to produce the effect that Francis wanted. A source I have, who is actually in Rome, told me that the African Bishops as a block loudly protested many of the Synod proceedings, but were shut down Ottaviani style. There is little better that I could say than what Chris Ferrara has said on the Synod:

Let us call this Synod what it is: a secretive, manipulated, progressive-dominated cabal, led by septuagenarian and octogenarian diehards of the conciliar “renewal,” who are rushing to finish their “work”—so rudely interrupted by Pope Benedict—lest death release the Church from their clutches before they are quite done.

So where are we at now? Let’s look at what is a synod, what this document actually is, its contents and then consider where all this is going.

What the heck is a synod?

A Synod is a gathering of bishops to discuss matters of faith or discipline, which can range from advisory to being part of the ordinary magisterium, such as some early synods. They fall short of an ecumenical council in their substance, and their authority is more or less what a Pope chooses to give them. Historically it was an easy way to discuss difficulties without recourse to an ecumenical Council, which in the early Church were called by the emperor, or by the Pope who then pushed for the Emperor’s consent, as was the case with Pope St. Leo the Great, who pushed the Roman empress Pulcheria for an ecumenical council at Chalcedon. Since Vatican II, however, the Synod has been little more than a mini-council continuing Vatican II, where all the Bishops get together and pat themselves on the back for what a wonderful job they are doing in the Church [sic]. Michael Davies, I think, correctly described this process as the abandoning of the Ecclesia Docens (Teaching Church) for the Ecclesia loquens (talking Church).

Typically after a Synod, the Pope commissions a document to more or less summarize what took place, and then writes  a post synodal exhoration, like Pope Benedict’s Charitas in Veritate.

What is the document making the headlines?

The current document which we are talking about is the Relatio post Disceptationem, literally, the report after the debate, although, per what Pope Francis declared prior to the Synod’s opening, the original is Italian rather than Latin, which leaves me reading with my dictionary since my Italian, though decent, is not pitch perfect. However, I have noticed that the Vatican translators have done a good job, showing that when a document is to their liking, they will happily and promptly translate, unlike in Benedict’s pontificate. It is not infallible, nor is it an official act of the magisterium. It does, however, reflect the Pope’s thinking, and constitutes the direction which he would like to go. Which, moreover, begs the question, how did a 6,000 word document get written by 6 men and get translated very well into multiple languages that quickly? Unless, as many analysts reckon, it was preplanned.

The betrayal

Liberal groups are hailing this document as a wonderful step forward, while conservative and pro-life groups, even the head of the Polish Bishop’s conference, have called this document a betrayal. These are strong words against the document from groups that normally eschew the slightest criticism of the Pope, and we shall see why.

The Relatio, declares:

From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption. (no. 13)

What is this “Gradualness”? It would appear, the Relatio is saying juxtaposing two entirely contrary things. Continuity, and Novelty, which do not go together, at least in the same respect. How can marriage be interpreted in terms of both continuity (i.e. faithfulness to God’s commands) and novelty (changing them to suit man?). One might argue it means dealing with new novelties, but the next paragraph makes it abundantly clear that they mean novelties to suit man.

Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross. (no 14., my emphasis)

Notice the demonic inversion. They take what, in the clear meaning of the Gospel, is a rebuke against the Pharisees, and they turn it into “understanding”. Tolerance. This is just an act of poisoning the well, for, they are positing as a starting point the “tolerant”, “non-judgmental” and “pastoral” Jesus, like unto that creature we call the average post Vatican II bishop (at least the ones who don’t get fired, or receive Apostolic Visitations!). Moreover, no. 13 above quotes John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, itself a document following a family synod. Let’s see what his notion of “Gradualness” is:

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 34).

So you see, what the manipulators of this Synod have done, before we even get to the troubled sections on homosexuality, is to twist the previous teaching of John Paul II, to make it look like they have a saint in their camp. This is for the obvious reason that the goals outlined by the “Synod Party”, as I have called them, are explicitly contrary to John Paul II.

There is a lot of irony in this. It is Francis who canonized John Paul II, and now it is he and his regime who are discarding the late “sainted” Pontiff’s teaching, because it is inconvenient to the “new Gospel”. What was the point in canonizing JPII except to baptize his personalist and phenomenological writings? Well, that gets sticky as well. The point of canonizing JPII had nothing at all to do with the glory of the Church, or his sanctity, or any other consideration. It was purely a canonization of Vatican II, whose spirit, according to Cardinal Kasper, is alive and well at the Synod.

So the “official” Synod language has moved to gradations of following God’s commands. Just as was declared in the first week “We must not talk about living in sin, that is harsh language.” The teaching of John Paul II, on that rare occasion it was clear, namely on life and family issues, is cast aside for the emotive feeling of those who disobey Christ’s commands, amplified by the media presentation and the pet beliefs of the minority of cardinals handling these things.

What I want to do, however, is avoid the scandalous passages on homosexuality. There are numerous other websites doing that. Anyone with a clear sensus catholicus knows there is a great difference between treating homosexuals with respect in a civil and public sphere, and at the same time to welcome them into our homes and communities as though their behavior were perfectly acceptable in light of the Gospel.

The real problem is that no one is talking about the fact that the “homosexual identity” is a completely modern creation. People who engaged in homosexuality in antiquity, or the middle ages, or the renaissance, did not identify as “gay” or anything like it. They were often married (to women), and homosexual acts were something they engaged in on the side in limited circumstances. This is more or less how sodomy occurred, and its enforcement historically was sporadic based on how public the business became, not only in Europe, but even in Medieval Islamic societies. There was no such thing as a “gay identity”. The emergence of that said identity, apart from any question of the orientation (which the Catechism teaches in unity with the tradition are disordered) has been something totally different from how homosexual activity affected society in the past. The “identity” has arisen with an animus against western tradition, the institution of marriage and the Church.

What is clear about the “homosexual passages” of the Relatio, is that the man who wrote the document, Cardinal Edö, is scrambling to show how he didn’t write it, didn’t know anything about it! Maybe that’s true, but there is someone who did know something about it, and approved it, as he approved the 6 commissioners who wrote the document, that is Pope Francis himself. Anyone who would do anything but lay the blame for this debacle at the feet of the Pope is simply delusional. Those responsible for the Relatio, are canonically speaking modernists. They are actually trying to harm the Church. As some have noted, the purpose of the homosexual clauses are not to force them into the final document or make them binding somehow. The clear majority of the Synod will not allow it.  What they want to do is wound the Church’s unity, and push the majority who are opposed to them on the defensive. This is exactly the tactic followed at Vatican II in the rejection of the preparatory schema. For, all opposition to those passages in the Relatio document (a novelty because usually you don’t release anything until the end) will be read in light of what already came out, and appear reactionary or damage control. The spirit of the world has already seen the first, and it will be treated as doctrine when it has as much weight as a fart during a sermon. (Sorry for being crass, but the analogy is nice given the contents of this document).

Moreover, not only will they put pressure on the Synod Fathers, but it will aid in overlooking the debate on communion for the divorced and remarried (i.e. those who, by the words of Christ Himself, are committing adultery), or to be used to force a concession on the matter. The fact is this synod is an act of manipulation, and a very obvious one at that.

Demonization of Africa

In any other context, the attack on Africa and Africans would be held as racist, unacceptable, immoral, etc. But when it is coming from the Cardinal patron of homosexual and the divorced and remarried, namely Kasper the friendly wolf, it is perfectly acceptable.

Indeed, in an interview today, Cardinal Kasper said:

Cardinal Kasper: The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.

ZENIT: But are African participants listened to in this regard?
Cardinal Kasper: No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].

ZENIT: They’re not listened to?
Cardinal Kasper: In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.

ZENIT: What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?
I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do. (Source)

If that is not one of the most arrogant and condescending remarks from a Churchman, I don’t know exactly what is. Further, it is proof that what the modernists most criticize they are the most guilty of. You have seen it in Francis, warning people not to be obsessed with themselves, then he goes out of his way to get a biography of himself published. He lashes out about not judging, and judges all the time! The modernists criticize the pre-Vatican II Church for being closed minded, unwilling to look at other opinions, and though this is false, it is exactly true of the modernists post-Vatican II. Why must the Africans “shut up”? Because they are more orthodox and faithful to the gospel, at the very least on these points.

The Francis regime and their manipulators knew that coming in. This is why the beginning of the Relatio declares:

Some cultural and religious contexts pose particular challenges. In African societies the practice of polygamy remains, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. (Relation, no. 7)

Now, is that strictly true? Is it true amongst Christians in Africa? Here I know several people from Nigeria and Kenya, who are in a position to know about a lot of these issues. The fact is amongst Christians in Africa, this is a minority problem. Polygamy in particular, is more of a problem among the Muslims, since it is permitted by their religion. Many African cultures have a latent cultural Islam left over from the middle ages, even though they are pagan rather than Islamic.

Nevertheless, it is a preemptive strike against African bishops. You can’t tell us what to do, you have these problems! This should shatter the myth of openness and inclusion.

I could go on, but this has already exceeded what I intended, and it is probably wearisome. I have several other posts coming on these topics soon. To wrap it up however, it is worthwhile to revisit prophecy. Bishops will oppose Bishops, and Cardinals will oppose Cardinals. Here we are.

 

The Battle of Lepanto

The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin.  -Peter Paul Rubens

The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin.
-Peter Paul Rubens

For the great feast celebrating Our Lady’s intercession at Lepanto, I offer the following:

This is a good talk on the battle.

Then there is dramatic video, which starts slow but gets better.

Lastly, here is a talk on G.K. Chesterton’s poem Lepanto. None of it produced by me. I would do more, but I have too much on my plate to do this topic justice. Please pray for me and my family.

New developments on the SSPX

fellayThere is a fascinating development last week in the ever unfolding saga of the Society of St. Pius X. Firstly, however, in the name of full disclosure, I need to point out that I worked in a Society school for 4 years, and I am well disposed towards them, albeit I do not agree with all of their positions. So whether you love the SSPX or hate them, at least appreciate the value of their position in the continuing crisis in the Church. People of good faith can disagree about them, and I do not agree with all of their theological positions, but that is another matter.

Now, we are often told that the SSPX is schismatic, disobedient, that they are not in communion, and one priest even argued they are worse than the satanists who offered a black mass in Oklahoma City [!]. I really wish I was making the last one up, but, alas. It is one of those curious things, even if we were to grant that the SSPX priests commit a sin when they say Mass (which I don’t), we need to ask how is a sin which the priest incurs personally, worse than the sacrilegious action that desecrates the host to offer it to the devil and curse everyone publicly? There is simply no comparison. Obviously, the Vatican does not see it that way, or else they would not have invited Fellay for another round of talks. It has long been patently obvious that the Holy See does not consider the Society “schismatic”, but merely disobedient, which in the post-Vatican II world, is nothing new.

Nevertheless, this interesting detail came out of Rome last week. Bishop Fellay met with Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation on Doctrine and the Faith, and moreover, with several other prelates. That a meeting happened doesn’t surprise me, but what was said on Rome’s side was quite surprising. The Communque from the Vatican Press Office said: “The SSPX are in a state of imperfect reconciliation.” The language has shifted from 2011. Then it was imperfect communion. Now its imperfect reconciliation, which implies they are in full communion (though in fairness the Vatican press release did not say that). I’m not sure what “imperfect reconciliation” is meant to mean exactly, though seemingly it would suggest a lack of formal faculties. On the, frankly, amazing website Rorate Caeli, there is an article where a French commentator opined:

“The canonical recognition of the SSPX, in case it took place in the times ahead, would not have anymore the appearance and interest of an earthquake that it would have had within the Church at the end of the Benedict XVI pontificate. On the other hand, it has paradoxically become much easier to accomplish, from the moment the current pope – it’s the least we can say – does not have the reputation of traditionalism that his predecessor did.” (Source).

It is a fascinating irony, that Francis, being more progressive to say the least, might be better able to reconcile the Society than Benedict was. It has also been suggested that Müller is trying to find common cause with his erstwhile opponents and seek aid in the clear division with Cardinal Kasper on marriage questions. It is amusing, that when Müller was chosen to be the new prefect of the CDF, there was widespread outcry amongst Trads and conservatives that he was a big liberal, that he had denied our Lady’s perpetual Virginity, and that he was another Tubingen modernist. Now, however, Francis has shifted the paradigm so far to the left, that Muller is the new conservative. The irony. Is Müller looking for friends amongst the SSPX? Is Francis more likely to reconcile the Society than Benedict? It is an interesting argument, but I find it lacking in a number of areas.

The last round of SSPX-Rome talks occurred while I was out of the Catholic internet world. I will say now what I would have said then: I’ll believe it when I see it. In the year 2000, being largely new to the Traditional movement and unaware of a lot of the wider history, there was talk of an SSPX reconciliation by Easter. The SSPX superiors were buzzing about it (particularly Fr. Schmidberger), insiders in Rome were talking about it, then it fell apart, entirely on Rome’s side. Then it was talked about heavily under Benedict’s reign, in 2006, 2009, and fatefully 2011. This last time was not just on Rome’s side, though there were clear machinations in that direction, rather on the Society’s side it provoked a small breakaway group which still operates today. Apart from those particular dates, there was constant buzzing on the subject about the SSPX making an agreement with Rome. It never came to pass.

Frankly, I do not believe it will come to pass under Francis either, for many reasons. Firstly, although Francis has left Summorum Pontificum largely intact (except for the FIs), he is obviously opposed to the restoration of traditionalism. When I was in Rome recently a priest told me that Francis was leaving Traditionalism alone because he feared giving a new impetus to it by attacking it outright. Whatever the truth of that, he has attacked traditional spirituality as “Pelagian”, “backward”, and a number of other things that I find personally offensive. If, in fact, I were to say that those who attend the Novus Ordo were “Pelagian” or modernist, or whatever demeaning name for their particular spirituality, there would be a chorus (of the handful who actually read me!) decrying the judgmentalism and arrogance of such a thing. We might say to Pope Francis “Who are you to judge”, but as we know that is a one way street. Not only will Francis not be very keen on “reconciling” a group he considers to be Pelagian, for the crime of offering a spiritual gift of rosaries, but even more, he would find serious opposition from his friends and advisers.

Moreover, Müller has been strongly opposed to the Society in the past, and there is no evidence that he has shifted his position. In fact, as Fellay noted in an interview following the meeting, “There is nothing new, in the sense that both our interlocutors and ourselves, we realize that doctrinal differences still exist—which had been made quite clear during the theological discussions in 2009-2011—and that because of this we were unable to sign the Doctrinal Preamble that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has proposed to us since 2011.” (Source) So, really nothing has changed. Like in past meetings, they still want to ring from the Society a positive confirmation of Vatican II, which is not going to happen. Even if Fellay were inclined to do so (I don’t think he really is) the Society would fall apart.

This brings us to our next point. A serious discussion of “fully reconciling” with Rome provoked such an outcry in the Society in 2011, that several priests broke away and tried to form their own “traditional SSPX”, or “resistance” or whatever they call it. Generally it goes by the latter name. They did this before Fellay actually signed anything, and before there was any real talk about accepting the doctrinal preamble. In some countries there was a very marked anger toward it, such as in France, but also in Asia. The resistance is interesting, having left their local SSPX churches, they meet in basements and community centers, and celebrate the exact same 1962 Missal that is celebrated in SSPX Churches (alas! if only they’d go back to the ’44), the preaching is more or less the same, there is no discernible difference from the SSPX. The Society didn’t even sign anything! There were rumors in that process that the main movers of the resistance in this country, Fr. Pfeiffer, would start a new society with Bishop Williamson as its head. The problem there, of course, was most did not know that Fr. Pfeiffer and Bishop Williamson do not get along. And I predicted that Williamson would just go to quiet retirement, which at the present he has done. Whether the resistance will fizzle out or not I don’t know, but a new round of discussions over the doctrinal preamble will open up the old wounds, and Fellay knows, better than anyone I think, that such a move would threaten the unity of the Society. That is largely the reasoning behind his clear statement that “we cannot sign”. So in the end it will not happen, at least under present conditions.

Don’t believe the media hype if anything should be suggested. We just need to pray that in God’s time, this all gets sorted out.

Correction: Above I had originally said: “The Holy See Press Office said the SSPX are in full communion but imperfect reconciliation.” That was the gloss from a priest in one of my sources, it was not what the Holy See Press office had in fact said. I corrected the paragraph above to reflect this.