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Update on St. Robert Bellarmine

I’m closing in on book one of De Romano Pontifice, but it is turning out to be quite a job. I still need to get to book five.

As such, I need announce, that due to the work on that particular work of Bellarmine, has caused me not to finish a work I had announced over the summer, namely the Sermons of St. Robert Bellarmine for Advent and Christmas. Even before I undertook the major project to translate his dogmatic corpus, I have had too much work to be able to bring the sermons to completion. Even if I had kicked up the pace a few weeks ago, I could not have finished in time for it to be purchased before Advent, as I’m only at the third Sunday of Advent. The work was too lengthy, and sadly, the financial response to the Bellarmine project has been too limited to allow me to get the full time in. So I’m going to make the attempt to render his sermons for Septuagesima and Lent into English now, and have that ready for February. The sermons are rather long, there are two for each Sunday, one on the epistle, the other on the gospel. Its a lot of work, but I will try to work it in amongst Bellarmine’s sparring with Luther and Calvin in the De Controversiis. Therefore, help this work by prayer. Secondly, if you have not already donated, please consider $10 or $20. If you already have, or don’t find you can part with even a small sum, then please spread the project to other people who could:

Donate to the St. Robert Bellarmine Translation project

A light that shall fill a great space…

Five-Saints-detail-of-St-Clare-xx-Simone-MartiniToday is the Feast of St. Clare on the Traditional Calendar. The following, is an excerpt from Candide Chalippe’s “The Life of St. Francis.”

His [St. Francis’] discourses, backed by his example, and his prayers and exhortations, animated by an ardent zeal, were so efficacious, that in the town and county of Assisi a very great number of persons was converted, and the fire of divine love was kindled in every heart. “Then,” says St. Bonaventura, using the words of the Holy Scriptures, “the vine of the Lord spread its branches1 and bore flowers of a most agreeable odor, and produced fruits of glory in abundance.” There were many young girls who made vows of perpetual virginity; amongst whom, says the same holy doctor, the Blessed Clare appeared as the most beautiful plant in the garden of the celestial Spouse, and as a star more brilliant than all the others.

This illustrious maiden was the daughter of a rich and noble family of Assisi.2 The Cavaliere Favorine, or Favarone, her father, was descended from the ancient and powerful houses of Scifi and Fiumi. Her mother, of equal high birth and exalted piety, was called Hortulana. She had the talent of joining the care of her household to the practice of good works, and to regulate her time so well, that she found enough in which to visit, with the consent of her husband, many holy places: she even made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. If this practice is no longer usual in these days, particularly as regards distant countries, it arises from the circumstances of the times being very different, and from there having been a great change in manners. But Christian piety does not permit us altogether to condemn (independently of abuses) voyages or journeys of devotion, since they are sanctioned by the examples of the Saints, have been approved by the Fathers of the Church, and since at one time they were directed as sacramental penances for certain sinners.3

Hortulana had three daughters, Clare, Agnes, Beatrix. Being about to be confined for the first, and praying to God before a crucifix in a church for a safe delivery, she heard a voice, which said to her: “Woman, fear not, thou wilt bring forth, without danger, a light which will illuminate a vast space.” This was the reason she gave the name of Clare4 to the daughter to whom she gave birth, in the hopes of seeing the accomplishment of what it might signify.

Indeed, from her earliest years, her virtue shone as an Aurora, the prognostication of a fine day. She received with docility the instructions of her mother, and her whole conduct was the fruit thereof; the exercise of prayer became familiar to her; she every day recited the Lord’s Prayer a number of times, which she marked with small stones,5 in order to be exact in the daily number she had assigned for herself. In that she resembled the solitary of the desert of Scethé,6 who kept an account of the number of his prayers, offering them to God three hundred times each day. Naturally tender and compassionate to the poor, she aided them voluntarily, and the opulence of her family enabled her to assist them abundantly. But, in order to render her charities more agreeable to God, she sent to the poor, by confidential persons, the nicest eatables which were served to herself. The love of God, with which these holy practices inflamed her heart, inspired her with a hatred of her own body, and showed her the vanity of all the things of this world. Under her own costly dresses, which her situation in society obliged her to wear, she constantly had a hair-shirt; and she cleverly refused a proposal of marriage which her parents wished her to accept, recommending to God her virginity, which she intended to preserve in entire purity. Although she was at that time confined in the bosom of her family, and solely intent on sanctifying herself in secret before the eyes of God, her virtue became the subject of admiration, without her being conscious of it, and drew down upon her the esteem and praise of the whole town.

The great celebrity which the sanctity of Francis gained in the world, could not be unknown to the young Clare. Aware that this wonderful man renewed a perfection in the earth which was almost forgotten, she wished much to see him and to have conversation with him. Francis also, having heard the reputation of Clare’s virtues, had an equal desire to communicate with her, that he might tear her from the world and present her to Jesus Christ. They saw and visited each other several times. Clare went to St. Mary of the Angels with a virtuous lady, a relation of hers, whose name was Bona Guelfuccii; Francis also came to see her, but always taking the necessary precautions to have the pious secret kept. She placed herself entirely under his guidance, and he soon persuaded her to consecrate herself to God. An interior view of eternal happiness inspired her with such contempt for the vanities of the world, and filled her heart with such divine love, that she had a complete loathing for finery, which it was not as yet permitted her to throw aside; and from that time she entered into engagements to live in a state of perpetual virginity.

The holy director did not choose that so pure a soul should continue longer exposed to the contagion of the world. She had herself come to him some days before Palm Sunday to hasten the execution of her intention; he told her to assist at the ceremony of the delivery of palms dressed in her usual ornaments, to leave Assisi the following night, as our Blessed Saviour had left Jerusalem to suffer on Mount Calvary, and to come to the church of St. Mary of the Angels, where she would exchange her worldly ornaments for a penitential habit, and the vain joys of the world for holy lamentations over the Passion of Jesus Christ.

On the 18th of March, being Palm Sunday, Clare, magnificently dressed, went with other ladies to the cathedral church, and as she remained in her place out of bashfulness while the others crowded forward to receive the palms, the bishop came down from the altar, and carried a palm branch to her, as a symbol of the victory she was about to gain over the world.

The following night, accompanied as propriety required, she arranged her flight as her spiritual Father had directed, and according to the earnest wish of her soul. Not being able to get out by the front door of which she had not the key, she had the courage and strength to break open a small door which had been blocked up with stones and wood, and she repaired to the church, where Francis and his brethren, who were saying their matins, received her with great solemnity, bearing lighted tapers in their hands. They cut off her hair before the altar, and after she had taken off her ornaments with the help of the females who accompanied her, she received the penitential habit, consecrating her virginity to Jesus Christ, under the protection of the Queen of virgins, while the religious chanted hymns and canticles.

It was a touching scene to see a young noble lady, only eighteen years of age, in solitude in the middle of the night, renounce all the advantages and allurements of the world, put on sackcloth and a cord, and devote herself to a rigorous system of penitential exercises, solely for the love of God. Similar sacrifices can only be made by a supernatural virtue; they prove that the religion which inspires them is divine; and justly does St. Ambrose consider them to be far above the most heroical pagan virtues.7

It must be remarked, moreover, that the church of St. Mary of the Angels, which was the cradle of the Order of the poor evangelical brethren which Francis had just established, was also the place where Clare made profession of the same poverty, that she subsequently prescribed to the Order of women, which she instituted together with the holy Patriarch. This gives to the two Orders the pleasing consolation of knowing that they belong to the Mother of God from their origin, and that she is specially their mother.

As soon as the ceremony was over, Francis, who was always guided by the spirit of wisdom, took the new bride of Jesus Christ, followed by her companions, to the monastery of Benedictines of St. Paul, there to remain until divine Providence should provide a dwelling for her.

When morning dawned, and her parents learnt what had occurred during the night, they were overwhelmed with grief. They equally disapproved of what Clare had done, and of the manner in which she had carried her intention into execution; and they went in great numbers to the monastery of St. Paul, to compel her to leave it. At first they spoke to her in mild and friendly terms; they represented to her that she was choosing a vile and contemptible state of life, which was disgraceful to her family, and that there was no precedent in the whole country of such an occurrence. After which they attempted by violence to force her from the monastery; which they might easily have done, because in those times the religious females did not keep strict enclosure, besides which her relations were all military men, accustomed to acts of violence.

Clare uncovered her head to show them that she was shorn; and she protested, clinging to the altar, that nothing in the world should tear her from Jesus Christ. Either because they had too much respect for religion to venture to violate so holy an asylum, or that God restrained them by His power, they molested her no farther. She had only to resist the fresh efforts they made to induce her to return to her father. But the love of God gave her courage to resist with such determined firmness, that, giving up all hopes of conquering her, they left her in peace.

A short time after, Francis removed her from the monastery of St. Paul to that of St. Angelo de Panso, of the same Order of St. Benedict, near Assisi, to which she drew her sister Agnes. The conformity of their inclinations and manners, which rendered them tenderly united, had made them sensibly feel their separation.

Clare was greatly grieved that Agnes, at so tender an age, should be exposed to the dangers of the world. She prayed fervently to the Almighty to cause her sister to feel the sweets of His grace, so that she might grow disgusted with the world, and become her companion in the service of Jesus Christ. Her prayer was soon favorably heard, for, a fortnight after her consecration, Agnes came to her, and declared that she was decided to give herself wholly to God. “I return Him thanks,” replied Clare, “for that He has thus relieved me from the uneasiness I was in on your account.”

The indignation of the family was extreme, when it became known that one sister had followed the other. On the morrow, twelve of its principal members hastened to the monastery of St. Angelo. At first they feigned to have come in a peaceful mood; but, having been admitted, they turned to Agnes, for they had no longer any hopes of Clare, and said: “What business have you here? Come immediately home with us.” She replied that she did not choose to leave her sister, when one of the knights, forgetting himself altogether, attacked her furiously, struck her with his fist, kicked her, pulled her down by the hair, and the others carried her off in their arms. All that this innocent lamb could do, thus torn by the wolves, was, to cry out, “My dear sister, come to my aid; do not let them separate me from Jesus Christ.” Clare could give her no assistance, but by praying to God to render her steadfast, and to check the violence of her ravishers. This prayer was followed by a miraculous effect, similar to what the Church records in the Life of the illustrious virgin and martyr, St. Lucia.8

As the relations of Agnes dragged her down the mountain, tearing her clothes, and scattering her hair along the road, because she continued violently to resist, she became suddenly so heavy, that they were unable to raise her from the ground, even with the help of persons who flocked from the fields and the vineyards. They were blind to the finger of God in so extraordinary an event, and they even made a jest of it; for ill-disposed persons, like the Pharisees of the Gospel, do not submit to the evidence of miracles, but carry their impiety to the length of turning all miracles into ridicule. The one which God was pleased to operate in the person of Agnes, threw her uncle, whose name was Monaldi, into such a rage, that he raised his arm to strike her in such a manner as would have killed her, if the Divine power had not arrested the blow by bringing such an excessive pain into the limb as to disable it, and which lasted a considerable time. This is a grand lesson for those parents who prevent their children from consecrating themselves to God in a religious state. If they do not experience in this world the effects of His anger,9 they ought to fear the consequences of the anathema in the next with which the Council of Trent menaces, not only them, but those also who compel their children to embrace a religious state.

Clare came to the field of battle, where she found her sister half dead. She entreated the relations to retire and to leave her in her care, which they regrettingly did. Agnes then rose with great ease, glad to have had a share in the cross of Jesus Christ. She returned to the monastery with her sister, to consecrate herself to God under the direction of Francis, who cut off her hair with his own hands, and instructed her in the duties of the state she was about to enter. Clare, not having her mind quite at ease in the monastery of St. Angelo, removed to the house which adjoined the church of St. Damian, the first of the three which he had repaired, and where he had foretold that there would be one day a monastery of poor females, who should lead a sanctified life, and whose reputation would cause our Heavenly Father to be glorified.

Clare had scarcely fixed herself there, when the fame of her sanctity spread all around, and produced wonderful effects. The influence of grace was so great, that there were many persons of all sexes and all ages, of all states of life, nobles and rich, who took to a religious life. They mutually excited each other in families, as St. Jerome tells us that it occurred in all Africa, when the illustrious virgin, Demetrias, moved by the exhortation of St. Augustine, took the holy veil.10 It was even seen that married persons separated by mutual consent, and entered separate convents: and those who could not do this, strove to sanctify themselves in the world. The virtues of the holy spouse of Jesus Christ, as a precious perfume, attracted pure and innocent souls, who made the house of St. Damian a numerous monastery, and the origin of the Order of the Poor Sisters, or of St. Clare, the second of the three which were established by St. Francis. He appointed Clare abbess of St. Damian, although her humility made her wish to be the servant of the others, and he only overcame her repugnance by enforcing that obedience which she had promised him.

It was there that this holy abbess was enclosed during a period of forty-two years in the practice of the most eminent perfection, and which we shall have an opportunity of referring to, when we come to speak of her rule. life_of_st.francis

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1Is. XXVII:6, and XXXV:2; Eccl. XXIV, 23.

2It has been said that about the year 1487 there were still at Assisi some descendants of the family of St Clare.

3See P. Morin Comment. Hist. de Poenit.

4In Italian, Chiara (Clare) means light. -Editor’s note.

5Heretics only, and bad Catholics can disapprove of the order and arrangement adopted for private and public prayers. The Church has regulated the Divine Office in number and time, and she causes the same words to be frequently repeated to honor God and His Saints. See on this subject the learned Mabillon, when treating of the Crown and of the Rosary or Beads (Chapelet, of the Blessed Virgin. -Act. SS. Ord. S. Bened. sec. 5, Præfet. no. 125, et seq. And Bellarmine, de actu Sanctorum lib. 3, cap. 8.

6Hist. Lausiac. cap. 23.

7St. Ambrose lib. I, de Virginibus, cap. 4.

8Offic. S. Luciæ, Surius, cap. 3, Dec. n. 9.

9Conc. Trid. sess. 23, de Regul. cap. 13.

10Div. Hieronym. Epist. 97, ad Demetriad.

No conversions, really?

“Let, therefore, the separated children draw nigh to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their blood; to that See, We repeat, which is “the root and womb whence the Church of God springs,” not with the intention and the hope that “the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” will cast aside the integrity of the faith and tolerate their errors, but, on the contrary, that they themselves submit to its teaching and government. Would that it were Our happy lot to do that which so many of Our predecessors could not, to embrace with fatherly affection those children, whose unhappy separation from Us We now bewail.
Pope Pius XI
Mortalium Animos
“I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”
Papa Franciscus
Meeting and meal with assortment of Protestant ministers

Of all the silly things Pope Francis has said in his pontificate, this one really takes the cake. Principally, in the realm of prudence, but also because it raises questions about what he believes. In terms of magisterial teaching, it is null, so we don’t need to worry about that.

The greatest difficulty is in this: if you are an apologist, if you are laboring amongst evangelicals, or, whatever you like, working to convince them to return to the Catholic faith, whether you are a priest or a laymen, you may now be greeted with this: “But the Pope said we did not need to convert!” and “Who are you to judge!”

There are many reasons why this statement is fraught with all sorts of problems, but the biggest is that it is contrary to what the Church has always and everywhere believed. It also evinces a lack of the virtue of hope, and a lack of the virtue of charity.

There is a lack of hope, in as much as the Pope has already written off the work of the Holy Ghost, “We’ll never agree anyway.” No, never? What was St. Peter Canisius doing laboring away in Germany and Switzerland? Oh, they’ll never believe anyway, why bother. What was St. Francis de Sales doing, writing tracts and sticking them under doors, and fasting and praying for the conversion of the Calvinists? Oh, we’ll never agree anyway! Not at all. There is another matter, which is the virtue of charity. If the Catholic Church is the true Church, and, at least with respect to the ordinary means of salvation that we can see and know from revelation, there is no salvation outside the Church, then how is it charitable to say “I don’t want to convert you.” That’s like saying “I don’t love you.” It is a false charity to withhold from a man his salvation.

A-Buenos-Aires-le-dialogue-interreligieux-passe-par-l-amitie_article_popinBut is this some random statement from the Pope, off the cuff and without notes? Actually no, this is precisely what he believes. In 2010, a dialogue was published between then Cardinal Bergolio and Jewish Rabbi Abraham Skorka, titled On heaven and earth, on a wide range of issues. In that, Francis said the following [My emphasis in bold]:

“When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; [!] I respect him and I show myself as I am… I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.” (Pgs. 12-13).

Hence the Scalfari interviews. The curious thing about those, of course, is the Vatican Press office is more or less claiming that Scalfari is changing the Pope’s words, yet the Pope goes to Scalfari again and the Vatican website still promotes the interview. But the Pope’s words are being changed.

More problematic is the unqualified way he speaks of these things. It strikes your feelings, yeah we want to treat people with respect, which then eviscerates truth from your dealings. It is one thing to respect the people in your society, and treat them courteously. It is another, to be entirely unconcerned with their eternal salvation, as though God blesses unbelief. What is the Vatican II mantra, always going back to Scripture? That is largely just a vehicle to discard the Tradition. Congar’s argument is that all Tradition is contained in Scripture, so therefore Scripture has the sufficiency and the Tradition is at best an appendage which we don’t need to worry about, because its all in Scripture. It is also a good argument for discarding the Tradition, once one has judged that it is not in Scripture. But then Scripture itself is cast aside when it doesn’t fit in with the Vatican II meta-narrative, or the religion of feelings and good intentions. What does it say in Scripture?

“Si autem tu annuntiaveris impio, et ille non fuerit conversus ab impietate sua, et a via sua impia, ipse quidem in iniquitate sua morietur: tu autem animam tuam liberasti.
Sed et si conversus justus a justitia sua fuerit, et fecerit iniquitatem, ponam offendiculum coram eo: ipse morietur quia non annuntiasti ei: in peccato suo morietur, et non erunt in memoria justitiae ejus quas fecit, sanguinem vero ejus de manu tua requiram.”

If, however, you will have declared to the impious, and he will not have converted from his iniquity, and his impious life, truly he will die in his iniquity, and you however acquitted your soul.
But even if the just man will have been turned from justice, and committed evil, I will place a stumbling block in his presence, he will die because you will not have preached unto him, and he will die in his sin, and the just things which he did will be forgotten, but I will require his blood at your hand. EzechielIII: 19-20 (All translations from the Vulgate are mine)

Or Again:

Et accedens Jesus locutus est eis, dicens: Data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra:
Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes: baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti:
Docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem saeculi.

And coming, Jesus spoke to them, saying: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me; going therefore, teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to keep all things whichever I commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew XXVIII: 18-20(My emphasis)

Or again:

Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.
Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur.

And he said to them: Going into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever will have believed and been baptized, he will be saved, but whoever will not have believed, he will be condemned.
Mark XVI: 16 (My emphasis)

These scriptural references should be clear, even if you are using a “Good News Bible” or whatever edition you can pick up at Barnes and Noble. Even absent the Tradition, where copious resources could be produced from every Church Father, and every Scholastic, every theologian, and every Doctor of the Church on the necessity for membership in the Church, the necessity of Faith for salvation and so many other doctrines implicitly defied by the Pope’s behavior toward atheists, the scripture clearly shows his behavior is contrary to Christ’s commands. So the Pope, is saying he is not at all concerned that the Atheist doesn’t believe, in spite of Our Lord’s very clear and grave words. Now obviously there is prudence, and many times I’ve been at that point, where you know if you push any harder you’ll lose the person, but you did try, and resort to prayer where argument fails. Francis wasn’t even talking about that, he’s talking about shirking the whole question altogether. “Who am I to judge?” Unfortunately there is the dread verse in Ezechiel: “I will require his blood at your hand.” It get’s even worse:

God makes Himself felt in the heart of each person. He also respects the culture of all people. Each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with the culture, and elaborates, purifies and gives it a system. Some cultures are primitive in their explanations, but God is open to all people. He calls everyone. He moves everyone to seek Him and to discover Him through creation. In our case, that of Judaism and Christianity, we have a personal revelation. God Himself encounters us; He reveals Himself to us, He shows us the way and He accompanies us; He tells us His name, He guides us through the prophets. Christians believe, ultimately, that He manifested Himself to us and gave Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Moreover, throughout history, there have existed circumstances that created schisms and constructed diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity, like the Reformation. We lived through a thirty year war and it shaped different faiths. It is very hard to accept and it was a disgraceful time, but that is the reality. God is patient, He waits, and God does not kill. It is man that wants to do so on God’s behalf. To kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” (On heaven and earth, pg. 19; my emphasis.)

Well, where do I start? This simply cannot be read as anything but modernism. For instance, it is one thing to say God uses all cultures to reveal his glory. This is true, and when Catholic missionaries brought the faith, for example, to Native Americans, or into the far East, they preserved the local populations’ culture and tradition, which worked in harmony with the Traditional Latin Mass that they also established. When, however, he says: “each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with their culture”, this is, or at least appears to be, rooted in the modernist opinion that all religions are essentially different visions of God, and we’re all fellow travelers and that sort of nonsense. Yet, that pesky Bible again, says: “Quoniam omnes dii gentium daemonia; Dominus autem caelos fecit.” For all the gods of the nations are demons, but the Lord made the heavens. -Psalm 95 (96): 5.

Where we circle to the relevance with respect to the Pope’s statement to the Protestant ministers, is in the latter part of this quote. It really expresses the metaphysics of Francis’ philosophy of religion. “diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity.” Well, what are we to make of this? In proper Catholic ecclesiology, there is no way of living Christianity, except by being Catholic, in the Latin right, or in one of the Eastern rites. There is only one Church, as is clear in the scriptures. To say that other communities have another way of living Christianity, is to hold that there is an anomalous Christianity, that can be done entirely differently by different groups, who only agree on essentials. What the Church has historically called the essentials is, well, a bit different from that. It might have benefitted the then Cardinal Bergolio to examine what his fellow Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church had said on that subject:

StRobertBellarmine“There is only one Church, not two, that body, both one and true is of men of the same Christian faith with respect to profession, and gathered in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate shepherds, and especially of the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff. It can easily be collected from such a definition, which men pertain to the Church, and those who doe not pertain to her. There are three parts of this definition. The Profession of the true faith, the communion of the sacraments, and the subjection to the legitimate pastor, the Roman Pontiff. By reason of the first part all unbelievers are excluded, as well as those who never were in the Church, such as Jews, Turks and Pagans; and also those who were in and left, as heretics and apostates. By reason of the second, catechumens and the excommunicate are excluded, because these are not admitted to the communion of the sacraments, as these are dismissed. By reason of the third, schismatics are excluded, who have both the faith and the sacraments, but are not subjected to the legitimate pastor, and therefore profess the faith and carry out the sacraments on the outside. All others however are included, even those who might be reprobate, criminal or impious.”1 (De Ecclesia Militante, bk III ch. 2, my emphasis)

Similar statements could be collected from every Theologian until the 1960’s. But no, this was not the religion of Cardinal Bergolio, and it would appear his doctrine has not changed.

Throughout this interview, Francis confesses he is “naive”. This is certainly clear with his historical analysis of the Thirty Years War. This war, from 1618-1648, is often described in popular history as a war between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. This is false, like other pop-history dates, such as assigning 1054 as the date of the Great schism between East and West, even though the Eastern Churches were all reconciled in 1099, and remained so until 1204, and came in and out of union until the 1300’s when the politics in the West caused various worldly Popes from continuing the effort of full reunion. Either way, the Thirty Years war saw Catholics and Protestants fighting on both sides of the conflict. When it broke out, it was when the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick, was invited by the Bohemians (Czechs) who had revolted from the Emperor to become their king. This occurred after the famous “De-fenestration of Prague”. So, Frederick came, and became king, but was put under the Reichs’ ban, which essentially a deposition, that declared all his subjects freed from obedience to him, and made him an outlaw within the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick expected all the Protestant lords and elector’s to come to his aid, but instead they sided with the Emperor, mostly because they  wanted to grab some of his land. He also alienated his subjects by his strict Calvinism, which the Lutherans and Hussites did not accept. Later the conflict widened, with Catholics and Protestants on the emperor’s side, and Protestants on the other side. Then the French entered the conflict, and what’s more, induced Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king, to enter the war on the Protestant side. The French, though Catholic, assisted the Protestants in every way, just as they assisted the Lutherans in 1548 against Charles V, so now they assisted the Dutch against the Spanish, fought the Spanish, and sent troops to fight for Adolphus. Although my expertise in this conflict is more on the military side than the political side, it should be clear to anyone who studies it, that while religious considerations were important, politics and military glory were equally apart of this conflict. The security of states, the prominence of royal houses, these were all considerations at work in this conflict. It was not so much killing in the name of God, but in the name of kings, for worldly glory, and power.

The result, was an agreement for toleration in order to avoid more conflict, and was fully in accord with Catholic principles. It was devastating, it was a scandal, but it did not create “new religions”, or “new ways of being Christian”, it solidified those who had left the Church politically.

Ultimately, then, when the Pope told those Protestants that he didn’t want to convert them, and later, apologized to Pentecostals for the Church preventing their growth, this is not some off the cuff comment that he later regrets to make them feel good, this is really what he believes!

The conclusion, then, is that whenever Francis speaks, it is probably best to run to older works of theology approved by the Church at that time, or to read the Fathers of the Church. Pray, but don’t become despondent over it. Francis cannot change what the Church formally teaches, it isn’t possible. God will judge him, as He promised to judge Ezechiel, and it is our job to pray and refer back to the Church’s perennial teaching as the antidote to all the nonsense.

1  “Ecclesiam unam tantum esse, non duas, et illam unam et veram esse coetum hominum ejusdem christianae fidei professione et eorundem sacramentorum communione colligatum, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum, ac praecipue unius Christi in terris vicarii romani pontificis. Ex qua definitione facile colligi potest, qui homines ad Ecclesiam pertineant, qui vero ad eam non pertineant. Tres enim sunt partes hujus definitionis. Professio verae fidei, sacramentorum communio, et subjectio ad legitimum pastorem romanum pontificem. Ratione primae partis excluduntur omnes infideles tam qui numquam fuerunt in Ecclesia, ut Judaei, Turcae, Pagani; tam qui fuerunt et recesserunt, ut haeretici et apostatae. Ratione secundae, excluduntur catechumeni et excommunicati, quoniam illi non sunt admissi ad sacramentorum communionem, isti sunt dimissi. Ratione tertiae, excluduntur schismatici, qui habent fidem et sacramenta, sed non subduntur legitimo pastori, et ideo foris profitentur fidem, et sacramenta percipiunt. Includuntur autem omnes alii, etiamsi reprobro, scelesti et impii sint.”

Things I’m working on…

I apologize for the hiatus in regular blogging. My plan is normally to have an article every two days and a podcast every week. I had one interview that has to be redone because the program I was using spontaneously deleted all the data, can’t figure out why, thus I’m going back to the free program Audacity since I have never had a problem with that. Sometimes, the best things in life are free.

In any event, as some of you may seen, I am also the managing editor of Mediatrix Press, and I have been working double-time to get some books finished. Right now the big thing is The Life of St. Francis of Assisi, by Challipe Candide, OFM. This is a spiritual masterpiece, not merely a life of St. Francis, it interprets the events in his life in light of the Church Fathers, and also the subsequent history of the Church from St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas, and even the Council of Trent. It is a marvelous work which I have  beautified with open source images from Giotto and other artists depicting St. Francis’ life. It will truly be a beautiful work, but I have to get it done first. Using an OCR, even a professional one, is no picnic, especially when you have children climbing all over you and the original print was not that good. Other works I scanned and OCRed like the Life of St. Peter Canisius, went really quick and easy, and I only fount 3 errors when I proofed it.

The second thing I have been working on is reprinting the entire Opera Omnia of St. Thomas in Latin. This is hugely important for priests and scholars who read Latin to have affordable works of St. Thomas. It is almost impossible for a publisher to reprint major works in Latin because they will not really recoup their investment. So, if you are a print on demand publisher, your investment is time, editing, spell-checking and formatting, plus maybe $10 or $15 per volume, which is much easier. I don’t need to print 1,000 copies, I only need to respond to actual orders. Actually, I don’t even do that, the printing service I use does. Then I have various other devotional works and saints biographies which I am churning out, and Latin educational materials, but those take time. Like my blog articles, I try to get a number of things done at one time.

Third, I am working on translating St. Robert Bellarmine’s sermons on the liturgical year, with the first volume, Advent and Christmas, due out in late October. This has never been translated into English before, and I’m working on getting it done in time for the next liturgical year. That is of course, also time consuming work. What I am also looking at doing, is soliciting money to support me while I translate his entire Opera Omnia, the De Contraversiis, into English, since it is such a good apologetical work. In edition to that, I also have the three catechisms of St. Peter Canisius, and I would like to translate at least the smaller ones, if not the larger one (Summa Christinae Doctrinae) into English. I’m waiting for some of my other translations to come out so I can point out to potential donors, I’ve done these, now help me do this.

I am also still editing my older works on Sedevacantism, which eventually will become a book, but I will post them here first. That is time consuming, because it has required a lot of researching in the manuals. I do hope to get those out soon.

Last, is the finishing touches of my translation of Cardinal Franzelin’s De Divina Traditione (On Divine Tradition), which still needs about 80 pages of editing and some additional formatting before it will be done. The target date for that is for the fall, though it will be printed by another publisher. Thankfully I have two priests working on proofing the English who are proficient both in scholastic theology and Latin.

All in all, lots of work! Keep me and my family in your prayers.

A further look at the Instrumentum Laboris

Here I am continuing the discussion of the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2014 Synod. You can see my first post on that here.
After finishing this document I can only conclude there will be bad things coming out of this synod. Let’s have a look at some of the problematic passages.

In various ways, the responses refer to many instances of the break-up and breakdown of families, the first and foremost being a couple’s divorce and separation which is sometimes caused by poverty. Other critical situations include many relationships which do not coincide with the idea of a traditional nuclear family, i.e., mother, father and children: single parenthood (a mother only or a teen mother), de facto unions and homosexual unions and parenting (specifically mentioned in Europe and North America). (IS no. 65)

Poverty? Has anyone noticed the divorces in Europe and America are primarily amongst the rich? Yes, the poor sometimes do divorce over property. Even there, however, is it really poverty that causes divorce? Or is it selfishness among one or both spouses? The language of poverty entering into this document is rather a feature of the Francis Papacy. Now poverty is a problem in this world, particularly the crippling poverty that western policies have brought to a number of African and Latin American countries. But what does it seriously have to do with divorce? I don’t know enough about Latin America to form any opinion about what their situation is with divorce and remarriage, but I would put good money down it is higher amongst the wealthy than among the poor. Nevertheless, the language of poverty in Francis’ statements and interviews is disturbing for two reasons. One is that he is usually treating it from the Marxist view (i.e. liberation theology), treating only on the poor’s material well-being. The second is his solutions to poverty are not sustainable. These statements range from “redistribute the wealth” (another Marxist concept) to more government programs (guaranteed failure). Now, I like that he has been attacking finance capital, and the high rollers of the west, but he is not making that attack from the standpoint of Catholic social teaching. The fact is we will never eliminate poverty. However, we can alleviate the suffering of the poor in 3 ways: a) beautiful liturgy and true doctrine b) charity offered by religious houses, wealthy Catholics etc. c) getting property for the poor and the means for them to produce. The last is the answer to the crippling poverty we have all over the world. If Francis is expecting a government program to fix it, well, I don’t know what to tell him. They’ll be working up yet another one of these documents in 20 years lamenting the same problem I bet.
Back to Divorce. The root of divorce is materialism, individualism, lack of support for the family, and frankly the spirit of atheistic capitalism that inspires men and women to trade in their spouses like used cars looking for a better deal. It is also the root of fornication and adultery. The Instrumentum, however, does make note of this, but in one of those statements that is just not going anywhere. It is not applying this observation to any one problem. (I.S. n. 74) Another problem with divorce is the problem of faith and what families get in Church, although, as I mentioned above, no one involved in this document thinks there is anything wrong with clown masses.

Later, describing the apparent shortcomings of marriage preparation, the document notes:

According to a large number of responses and a greater number of observations from various parts of the world, preparation for a religious ceremony of marriage should not be limited to catechesis only but also serve as an opportunity to get better acquainted and engage in conversation, something pastors could encourage more. On the other hand, various responses from both East and West mention that some of the clergy experience a certain frustration at often witnessing a failure in their pastoral endeavours, when only a very small number of couples continue some kind of relationship with the parish after the celebration of marriage… The majority of responses see an absolute need for a follow-up programme for couples after marriage with meetings aimed at offering them assistance. (IS 106 and 108)

Are these guys serious? I wouldn’t want some follow up with the priest to have to sit down and “talk” about marriage. Besides, we know how it really goes. Husband says everything is great (because he really thinks it is), wife is silent, so priest concludes everything is okay, when in reality at home the wife won’t say anything until she absolutely melts down. This isn’t going to make anyone who is not going to Church start going back. No, if you want to keep people in Church you need to have liturgy that men can intellectually as well as spiritually respect, and provide good preaching. Moreover the lack of depth in “Church” communities needs to be addressed. There are a combination of things that cause young married couples to simply not participate in Church. Liturgy we mentioned, but also, most people’s friends are made at school and work, not at Church. Most people’s lives revolve around working for the man in order to earn the increasingly decreased necessities, and their friends and acquaintances are made in this activity, rather than in going to Church for an hour for silly hymns and nutty liturgies, or preaching about the weather. Moreover for all the people who attend a given Church, the people who go there lived in diverse areas. The question of making the Church more relevant is an issue that goes to the center of our entire social living. The point of reference for ay Western Society, and it would appear any urban center in Eastern society, is not our eternal end, not our spiritual needs. It is material. Any time these discconects are addressed in this document, it is also treated with respect to the material. What about with regard to the spiritual?

In cases where a couple does not seem to understand or does not agree with the basic teachings of the Church on the benefits of marriage and its related responsibilities, the bishops’ conferences of northern Europe and North America say that the more appropriate course of action would be to postpone the celebration of marriage, fully cognizant beforehand that this proposal could lead to misunderstanding and resentment. Inherent in such a solution, however, would be the danger of a rigorism which is not very merciful. (IS n. 108).

What exactly is rigorism? The Oxford dictionary defines it thus: “extreme strictness in interpreting or enforcing a law or principle. (the Roman Catholic doctrine that in doubtful cases of conscience the strict course is always to be followed.)” !
There we go. The world has already set its preconceived definition, and for 50 years the Church has fallen into it, as we see here, it “is not very merciful.” So if people demonstrate that they are not prepared for the sacraments, we can’t postpone it because it isn’t merciful? Is it merciful to let people who obviously shouldn’t get married, to be married anyway? One thing lacking here is a discussion of the pre-marriage investigation prescribed by Canon Law. Are priests making it? One thing that might be useful would be talking again about publishing the “marriage bans”. This was a process that entailed the Church announcing from the pulpit in the Church where the couple gets married that this couple is going to get married, if anyone knows of a reason why they couldn’t (one or the other has been married before without an annulment) he should see the priest immediately. In fact, it used to be considered before the Council that couples getting married without the bans having been read had an invalid marriage absent some very grave reason. There is another thing here. It is proposed that dealing with people, who are not merely lacking in maturity, but who actually actively dissent from formal Church teachings, should be given the sacrament anyway because to not do so would be rigorist. There are some things that need to be distinguished here:
a) The faithful have the right to the Sacraments, and in the case of marriage, grave cause has to be shown and given to the Bishop in order to postpone a marriage. This is because the Church historically has recognized the danger of being the cause of young people to sin if they are in good standing. If there is no impediment to the marriage, the faithful have a right to get married irrespective of the judgment of the priest. Now, that doesn’t give them a right to be married on their own time-table, but whatever the normal policies are (e.g. 6 months notice) should be followed. He could, if he saw serious problems in two people who otherwise have no impediments and have right faith, bring these concerns to the prospective spouses, or their parents. But if they persist, the law of the Church is he must marry them.
If couples do not believe in Church teachings (and come on, we know which ones, no one is sitting there disputing with the priest whether Christ had three natures or just one), they are essentially public heretics, i.e. they don’t have right faith. This becomes very serious if we are talking about things which will in fact affect the validity of the marriage, such as the intention to use contraception. In a true sense, nobody really understands marriage until they are married, it is a learning curve that lasts,…. well, forever. Those issues will be learned and addressed. If someone intends to use contraception, then what is really going on is that they don’t intend to do what marriage does. The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children, to which the union of spouses is subordinated. If they automatically intend to not have children, then they don’t intend to be married, speaking sacramentally and theologically. It is, in such cases, incumbent upon the priest, for the sake of mercy, to not marry them. Otherwise you are feeding more annulments into the mill.

You see, the document does highlight many true problems with the world, and even explicates them well in many points. But as one gets through this document, especially to nos. 135 to the end, we see why this Synod is going to fail before it even gets off the ground (like every other one!). They prescribe more programs, more training, more education. They talk frequently about using Catholic Schools to transmit the knowledge of Church teaching. Have they ever seen the Catholic schools in action? There are some good ones, or at least ones where their kids will not lose their soul. But in general, if you send your kids to Catholic school, you are sending them to a public school with crucifixes on the wall. They are mixed in with kids who likewise only rarely have faith, who are awash in the sexual perversity of modern culture, who are not going to learn an openness to life but the same individualism they learn in the state school. Catechesis programs are often run by lay people with no training that haven’t the faintest idea of what they are talking about. Altogether, nothing is presented here about living a spiritual life, about living in the world but not of the world. All the “solutions” or points for discussion concern merely material needs. Forgetting something as simple as what we read in Psalm 126 (127): Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum, in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam. “Unless the Lord will have built the house, those who labor on her do so in vain.”

Works on sedevacantism

Many have asked about my old works on Sedevacantism, which have been a source of aid for many people, God be praised.

I am currently re-working them, and when I’m ready to put them back up they I will add a “Sedevacantism” tab to the menu bar.

Thanks to all who have inquired.