Further Thoughts on Papal Silence

 from Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB


Recently I made use of Frank Sheed to suggest that the cloud of papal silence over the Amoris Laetitia crisis, and in particular the dubia of i quattro cardinali, might perhaps carry with it a silver lining. In a nutshell, Sheed explained that papal infallibility can be secured by the Holy Spirit in a positive way, definitive teaching for example such as that on Our Lady’s assumption, or in a negative way, in that even the most scandalous of popes were preserved from teaching error ex cathedra. In that case, their silence was at least silver, if not golden. So too now, papal silence might not be as bad as we think.

For we do well to remember that the papacy does not exhaust the teaching authority of the Church. Historically popes have not been doctrinally very active, save as courts of final appeal. The dubia were presented to Pope Francis precisely in his capacity as the final and magisterial arbiter of doctrinal contention. It would be wonderful if he answered them by reaffirming the teaching of Christ.

However his silence is not the end of the world, nor grounds for his deposition as a heretic as some commenters have suggested.

Bishops are also teachers of the faith, with magisterial authority especially when they teach as a college. The first responsibility for teaching and defending the faith and practice of the Church is the local bishop’s. If the pope is silent, nothing is stopping the bishops of the world from reaffirming the teaching of Christ. As we have been seeing, many have been doing so, while a few are temporising. There is nothing like a crisis to sort the sheep from the goats.

So while we should be praying for the pope, and praying that he bring to an end the current fractious debate, we can be also praying that our local bishops step up to the plate and start hitting some doctrinal home runs. Pope Francis has expressed esteem for collegiality. So the bishops can start employing it to a good end, teaching clearly and with charity what Christ has revealed as the truth on marriage and family life, and human sexuality. The combined weight of their positive teaching will itself encourage the strengthen the pope to do the same. This presents at least one positive aspect to the often problematic conception of collegiality.

And instead of searching out scandal like bloodhounds—and if we have to search for it then there is probably little scandal in the proper canonical sense of the word—let us examine the Church’s teaching and the current situation in western society and what how we might both uphold Christ’s teaching and deal with real pastoral care for those who have entangled themselves, or been entangled, in complex and morally problematic relationships.

To that end, may I recommend you all go and read an article by Christopher Altieri, recently of Vatican Radio and now of Vocaris Media. He parses the controversy, and very helpfully, by identifying two basic camps and doing so without casting one or other of them as agents of darkness. Rather he identifies what the motivating principle is for both of them. Then he sets about trying to reconcile them in light of the teaching of Christ and the Church.

The article is long but lucid, and I need to reread it to comprehend more adequately the lineaments of his argument. He raises pertinent issues such a motivation, firmness of intent in repentance, and other categories of sinner who, it might reasonably be argued, get off much lighter than some remarried divorcees of goodwill.

Mr Altieri also implies that the role of conscience needs to be more fully and adequately taught. For many conscience is little more than a manipulable inner voice that we invoke to get us off hooks we find too uncomfortable. But when we invoke personal conscience we must remember it comes inevitably with personal responsibility. Are we truly confident that we can stand with heads held high before the Judgment Seat of God with the various decrees of our personal conscience in hand? Are we truly sure that God will see it our way? Are we truly sure, indeed, that we see it God’s way?

Therein lies what should always be our first prayer, or first quest: Lord, what is Your will? Let Your will be done, not mine.

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Monks of Norcia to Move Permanently Outside the City Walls

Since moving to Norcia from Rome in the year 2000, the traditional community of Benedictines in the birthplace of St. Benedict had been living in the middle of the town in the old diocesan chancellory, and praying the office in the basilica built over the house of SS. Benedict and Scholastica. Since the destruction of the basilica by the recent Umbrian earthquakes, however, they have been living at an old monastic grange on a hill above the city. Now they have announced on their website that the move is to be permanent:

For 16 years, the monks acted as guardians over the historic birth home of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica. The monks are grateful to the many who helped them restore the basilica to great beauty over the course of those blessed years. Now, the European Union and the Italian state have pledged to restore the basilica and monastery. The Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, which owns the buildings, has decided that the spaces will have to be used by the diocese since all the other churches in town were also destroyed. Throughout the many years needed for the massive work of reconstruction, while the monks work to build the new monastery in Monte, their hearts will remain there in the ancient crypt of the basilica, the birth home to their great founder and father, St. Benedict.

Unfortunately it seems that the Bishop of Spoleto wants to restore the basilica in a modern style. The monks, however, see in this new development the hand of Divine Providence. In his Easter Message, the prior, Fr. Benedict, writes as follows:

For the monks it is a time to focus on new building projects at our home in the Norcia mountains, following the request from the archdiocese asking us to free up space in our buildings in town (which belong to the diocese) for their own needs. The archdiocese has hundreds of damaged properties and the buildings in town were among the least damaged. We see their request as a sign of God’s will as we too can begin a new chapter of our community’s life on the mountainside.

The monks will need support in order to build a new Abbey on the site of the old grange.

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Gender Ideology Harms Children

from: Tradition In Action – http://www.traditioninaction.org

 by Margaret C. Galitzin

Unusually helpful guidelines on “gender ideology” were recently released by the American College of Pediatricians (ACP). Unusual because today’s media generally loses no opportunity to promote the LQBT agenda, encouraging every type of sexual deviation at ever younger ages.

For this reason, it is refreshing to find an American pediatrician society taking a strong stance opposed to today’s gender perversion: “The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals, educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.”

kerriMcFadyen is promoting confused thinking by promoting her son’s ‘feeling’ that he is a girl

To see how early this deviant behavior is being encouraged, consider this aberrant case: An ”enlightened” Scottish mother Kerri McFadyen is being praised and promoted for encouraging her three-year-old toddler Daniel to live as a girl (Danni). The “with-it” family pediatrician told the mother that it would “benefit Daniel to live as a girl” and prescribed drugs to postpone puberty.

Kerri boasts that she chose to go public with “Danni’s story” to encourage other transgender parents and their children “who are suffering in silence.” She is also trying to raise enough money so Daniel can have gender reassignment surgery as soon as possible. Otherwise, “poor” Daniel will have to wait until he is 18 when UK’s national health service will pick up the costs for this “vital” procedure.

‘Beyond he or she’

Recently Time magazine dedicated its cover story “Beyond He or She” to bolster the revolutionary movement that wants to redefine the meaning of gender. Contrary to the recommendations of the American Pediatrician College, which clearly states that “everyone is born with a biological sex,” we are told that today’s youth should have unlimited choices in deciding who and what they are.

time beyond he or shePromoting ‘choice’ of gender for youth

Youth are being told they are free to choose their identity. They can be strictly male or female (renamed “cigender”), bi-sexual, transgender or even reject the fact that they have a gender in the first place. Time quotes the suspicious survey from the LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD to say that 20% of millennials – as the generation born after 2000 is called – say they are something other than male or female, as God made them. Instead, they are choosing from the 60+ options offered by Facebook.

Further support for rejection of God-given genders comes from the screen. There are more than 200 LGBTQ (Q for Queer) characters on cable TV and streaming series. Even commercials are promoting the gender perversion: a recent Bud Lite commercial declares beer is for “people of all genders.” IKEA shows an interracial same-sex “couple” lounging on a sofa with a caption that reads “All homes are created equal.”

Parents, please be aware that this is what is being promoted in the public arena: in the schools, secular clubs and sports activities, the movie, television and music worlds. How do you defend youth from this onslaught?

The once-considered-radical advice to throw out the television and strictly monitor any computer use does not seem so outlandish anymore.

‘Gender Revolution’

gender revolution‘The best thing about being a girl is now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy,” reads the caption

On the cover of its January 2017 special issue titled “Gender Revolution,” National Geographic put a boldly defiant 9 year-old transgender “girl” from Kansas City, Mo.

Inside we find lots of advice for parents: “All children need the opportunity to explore different gender roles and styles of play.” “Ensure your young child’s environment reflects diversity in gender roles.” “When your child discloses an identity to you, respond in an affirming supportive way.” “Be non-judgmental.”

In a shocking photo below that seems to come from an alien hellish underworld, we find a “portrait of gender today: youth who call themselves androgynous, transgender, straight, bi-gender, trans male, transgender female, trans boy, intersex non-binary person, non-binary gender queer, black trans activist, non binary. All are approvingly and “non-judgmentally” displayed as the new reality that should be accepted.

explore gendersA grouping of youth in the National Geographic article who each ‘chose’ a different gender for himself or herself

We are told to consider all these identities as normal as we approach the new godless, genderless frontier of the future. Everything depends on feelings not facts – “She has always felt more boyish than girlish;” “Hunter felt ‘himself’ to be a boy since fifth grade.”

henry‘Henri’ role-playing with his parents’ support

Feminists like Gloria Steinem are featured, announcing that “the most pressing gender issue of today is getting rid of the idea of gender.” In the articles we meet these confused youth – some very young – who are already in a full revolution against what God made them.

For example, on page 68-69 of National Geographic we are introduced to “Henry” who calls himself “gender creative.” He expresses himself, we are told, through his singular fashion sense. His parents have enrolled him in the Bay Area Rainbow Camp, so he can find the vocabulary to explain his feelings.

Then, the final outrage: “At six years old, he is already very sure of who he is.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. We are dooming children like this to a life of hell on earth and, then, to one in eternity as well for their supreme revolt against God and nature.

Refreshing Guidelines

Here are the main points of the January 2017 report by the American College of Pediatricians:

1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of male and female, respectively – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident. …

2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. … People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women.

HunterThis 16-year old girl had her breasts surgically removed, a procedure the ACP strongly opposes

3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.

4. Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous. Reversible or not, puberty-blocking hormones induce a state of disease – the absence of puberty – and inhibit growth and fertility in a previously biologically healthy child.

5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.

6. Pre-pubertal children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence. This combination leads to permanent sterility. These children will never be able to conceive any genetically related children even via artificial reproductive technology. In addition, cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to cardiac disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

blockersA boy waiting for his puberty blocker treatment, a practice ACP calls child abuse

7. Rates of suicide are nearly 20 times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBTQ – affirming countries. What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88% of girls and 98% of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?

8. Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse. Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to “gender clinics” where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This, in turn, virtually ensures they will “choose” a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.

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“Predestined Yet Free to Choose” – St Fidelis of Sigmaringen

Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned captain

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577-1622) was born with the name Mark Rey in what is today Germany. He studied and taught law and became known for his charity, austerities, and great devotion to God. He gained a reputation for being “the poor man’s lawyer” because of his concern for the helpless. He eventually left his profession to become a Capuchin Franciscan friar and priest, taking the religious name “Fidelis,” meaning “faithful.” His work as a friar was fraught with danger. He lived during the Counter-Reformation, a time of great religious, cultural, and political upheaval in Western Europe. He zealously defended the teaching of the Catholic Church against the Protestant heretics. He wrote many pamphlets against Calvinism and Zwinglianism, and even travelled to Switzerland to preach against the Calvinists both in the pulpits and the public square. His untiring efforts to bring souls back to the Church was so successful that he became a threat to the heretic preachers. One day his preaching provoked a mob that confronted him and demanded he renounce his Catholic faith upon pain of death. He replied, “I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it,” after which he was bludgeoned to death.

So St. Fidelis, German Cappuchin Franciscan preacher and martyr, died at the hands of fanatic Calvinists for his faithful witness to the Catholic truth. In contrast to their false doctrine on “predestination”, he preached with great success and fruits of conversion, that though God knows everything that we will do and what will be the eternal consequences (and therefore whether or not we will choose eternal life in His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ), He does not predetermine any of our actions, but always conserves in us the freedom to choose.

Many miracles led to the canonisation of St. Fidelis in the following century. His feast day is 24th April.

Podcast homily by Fr. Maximilian Warnisher (FI) for the feast of St. Fidelis:

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Mater Si, Magistra No: Renewal of Tradition in the Catholic Church

By Paul Ingrassia on American Thinker

It has been over a half-century since the closure of the Second Vatican Council, which ran in multiple sessions from 1963 to 1965 under the papacies of Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Vatican II, as the ecumenical council is colloquially known, is considered the defining moment of the Church in the twentieth century. The council brought forth historic change to the Roman Catholic Church, fundamentally altering the liturgy and dispensing with centuries of tradition to appease a world society that had freshly emerged from the two deadliest conflicts in human history.

The council, which sought to rigorously examine the challenges that had long plagued the Church in the modern era, was the impetus behind the liberalization of the Catholic Church. The Council Fathers sought to transfer the focus of the liturgical movement from the priests to the laity, ascribing renewed significance to the congregation. This coincided with a movement away from Latin to the vernacular. The way the documents of Vatican II were written allowed practitioners of the Novus Ordo Mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, to replace Gregorian Chant with secular religious hymns, thus making the latter the predominant musical tradition.

This and other reforms accelerated the overhaul of traditional customs and likewise reflected the Church’s growing aloofness to such things as doctrinal orthodoxy and traditional morality. In keeping with the stylistic changes of the liturgy and the theological approach of aggiornamento, a “bringing up to date,” Church architecture, particularly over the past half-century, has been compromised by the spirit of Vatican II. Grandiose cathedrals that once towered over cities and reached toward heaven have been replaced by pedestrian structures devoid of the Romanesque and Gothic elements that in years past fostered the allure and mystique of the Catholic Church. The interiors underwent a similar transformation: tabernacles were, in many cases, relegated to side alcoves, and the centerpiece crucifix was replaced by a resurrected Christ or a barren cross, indistinguishable from Protestant symbolism.

In addition to the liturgical alterations, the rites of the seven sacraments were subject to considerable revision. Traditional vestments were dispensed with, and the regalia of the papal coronation, such as the sporting of the papal tiara, last worn by Pope Paul VI in 1963, was indefinitely retired. Priests have also moved away from the Tridentine custom of celebrating Mass ad orientem (facing “liturgical east,” or toward the high altar), instead opting for the more personalized versus populum (facing the congregation), which was consistent with the Church’s pivot toward personalized morality and emphasis on self-fulfillment over set dogma.

Perhaps the most salient change is the Second Vatican Council’s commitment to ecumenism. Keeping in line with its desire to democratize and reconcile longstanding theological rifts in a rapidly globalizing world, the ecumenical reforms were met with varying degrees of success. In this respect, the Council Fathers had hoped to reorient the Church’s perspective to highlight the shared orthodoxies between the Catholic Church and other faiths, a departure from its former practice of highlighting the deviations among other denominations. Some traditionalists viewed these unprecedented measures with horror, believing the Church to have completely abandoned centuries of tradition. But the Council Fathers reiterated that no doctrinal changes had been made; the Council’s chief aim was to democratize and appease a modernizing world, not surrender to it.

Over a half-century later, it remains unclear just how successful the Council was in achieving its goals and to what extent the ensuing history of the Church is incumbent upon Vatican II reforms. Some traditionalists cite the vibrant state of the Church prior to the Council’s formation in many parts of the world – notably, the United States, Canada, and many parts of Eastern and Southern Europe. Today, Mass attendance in all these regions – particularly those bereft of a prevailing Protestant subculture – has dropped precipitously, suggesting a failure of the Council to deliver on its goals. Incidentally, Mass attendance in the United States has declined as well – approximately three in four practicing Catholics attended Mass on a regular basis prior to Vatican II, whereas now, participation hovers around twenty to twenty-five percent. To some, this is vindication that the Church must restore many of its former traditions or risk annihilation altogether. And while it would be unwise to ascribe a cause-and-effect relationship between Mass attendance and Vatican II, it is nevertheless indisputable that Christianity in the Western world is currently experiencing an existential crisis as people everywhere – particularly the young – abandon organized religion in droves.

Perhaps the most disheartening case of this is the devitalized state of the Irish Catholic Church, which, for centuries, had provided the cultural foundation of one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. Today, Mass attendance barely exceeds thirty percent and remains in decline. This figure is less than a third of its 1950 participation rate and, by some estimates, is markedly lower than in countries that do not have a traditionally Catholic heritage, such as the United States. The long-term results of this wholesale secularization are not yet fully understood. However, the fact that Ireland redefined marriage in 2015 by popular referendum in an attempt to include same-sex couples suggests a certain permanence to these trends, at least for the foreseeable future. Granted, the Catholic Church remains an integral part of Irish society, but its influence has waned considerably in the past few decades, setting the stage for a renewed debate of once untouchable issues like abortion and euthanasia.

The problems facing the Catholic Church in Ireland are very much interrelated with the problems affecting the Catholic Church globally; the former is a concrete derivative of a systemic issue whose origins trace back to the fallout of the Council itself. Some, including Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI, maintained that it was not Vatican II, strictly speaking, that caused the crisis of the modern Church, but rather how the Council was subsequently misconstrued by the burgeoning news media and leftist academicians. Considering the liberal climate of the late 1960s, there is little doubt that the cultural changes of that era impacted the interpretation of the Council. This, in conjunction with the evolving media climate, in which biased journalists labeled the Council Fathers as winners and losers depending on their philosophy, furthered the confusion about the Council’s implications. In recognizing this, some blame can still be accorded to those who backed the Council for haphazardly calling for its creation without accounting for the cultural changes that would invariably dint its rollout, regardless of whatever the actual outcome was.

Ultimately, whether or not the Council accelerated today’s lack of religiosity is secondary to the larger premise that the modern Church was, in fact, greatly shaped by Vatican II reforms. Knowing this, it would be wise for Church officials to gradually roll back many of the liturgical changes and work toward implementing a more traditionalist platform. Pope Benedict XVI appeared to sympathize with traditionalists in expressing during his papacy that liberals had wrongly interpreted Vatican II by objecting to such reforms as pushing back against local suppression of the Latin Mass, in addition to smaller reforms, like reviving several papal garments that had fallen into disuse. Although these efforts were rather diminutive in theological significance, they nevertheless signaled that the Vatican was at least open to the idea of bringing tradition back to the Catholic Church.

So where left to go for the surviving religious hoping for a grand awakening of their faith?

Some, like Rod Dreher (who left the Catholic Church for Eastern Orthodoxy), believe that a new “dark ages” have befallen contemporary civilization and that the best way to manage the situation is for the remaining few Christians to organize into monastic communities of believers removed from the moral decay of modern times. This so-called “Benedict Option,” named for St. Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-537), is tailored for Americans who wish to preserve genuine Christian culture by displacing themselves from a society that is in its current state outwardly hostile to the Christian faith. Essentially, the debauchery of American civilization has reached a point of no return, forcing the few devout remaining to withdraw from the world, if not physically, then at least spiritually, into true communities of faith that will uphold the principles of the Church and form a “living spiritual relationship with God.

Others have advocated for less drastic measures, though a common pessimism about the degraded state of Western civilization appears to unify many traditionalists. Indeed, there is a clear metaphysical crisis working to dismember any form of objective truth or attach genuine significance to the human person. Above all, the effects of modernity have reduced the dignity of the modern man into nothing beyond a baseless social construct contingent on no substantive higher moral truth. The horrible eventualities that might result from such spiritual lethargy are, at present, unknown.

Christians should hope that at some point in the future, the truths embedded in the writings of such distinguished theologians as Benedict XVI may ignite an awakening of the Logos and a renewal of faith founded in the memoria Ecclesiae, the memory of the Church. Tracey Rowland, writing for the Catholic Herald, put it this way:

When a new generation arises in full rebellion from the social experiments of the contemporary era, craving a human ecology that respects both God and nature, and wanting to be something more than rootless cosmopolitans, Ratzinger’s publications will serve as Harry Potter-style Portkeys, giving creative young rebels access to the missing cultural capital – indeed, access to what Ratzinger calls the memoria Ecclesiae.

So long as current trends continue, traditional Catholics may ultimately become the Church’s most prominent voice, if for no reason other than that they will be the only ones remaining, thereby forcing it into this direction by default. Naturally, Catholics should hope it doesn’t reach this point, but considering that the updated papal idiom of Pope Francis did not usher a wave of disaffected Catholics back into the Church, it seems that a reversal of course might actually be a good thing. The Church would be well advised to stop pandering to lapsed Christians, and instead to strengthen its resolve on doctrine and tradition, especially given the alarming trend of moral relativism among younger people in particular, which is grossly incompatible with the objectivism espoused by Catholic doctrine. A more reverend, disciplined, and ordered Church might ultimately precipitate a rekindling of the Catholic faith and shift the emphasis away from the material and personal and toward the metaphysical and divine.

[Our emphasis]

CP&S Edit. – S. Armaticus from The Deus Ex Machina Blog, in referring to this post by American Thinker, draws this conclusion:

“This post contains several key DATA POINTS, which is why I am bringing it to your attention. Among those key DATA POINTS are:

1. The Restoration is real, taking place and a good thing.
2. The “Francis” as well as the entire “new springtime” experience has been a complete bust. (last paragraph)
3. Only way forward is to return to Tradition.
4. Catholicism (Tradition) will become the largest movement within the Catholic Church in the not too distant future.

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Consecration prayers to the Divine Mercy



Jesus, the Divine Mercy, I consecrate my entire life, from this day on, to You without reserve. Into Your hands I abandon my past, my present, and my future. From this day forward, make me a true follower of Your teaching. Let Your Divine Mercy Image protect my home and my family from all the powers of evil in this world today. May all who venerate it never perish, may it be their joy in life, their hope in death, and their glory in eternity. Amen.


God, merciful Father, in your Son, Jesus Christ, You have revealed your love and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We entrust to You today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman. Bend down to us sinners, heal our weakness, conquer all evil, and grant that all the peoples of the earth may experience Your mercy. In You, the Triune God, may they ever find the source of hope. Eternal Father, by the Passion and Resurrection of Your Son, have mercy on us and upon the whole world! Amen.

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Cardinals’ Dubia and Papal Silence: The Silver Lining

from: Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB (https://hughosb.com)

The five questions, or dubia, submitted by Cardinals Caffarra, Burke, Meisner and Brandmüller to Pope Francis regarding his Apostolic Exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia, have been mentioned here before. Many commentators have expressed frustration that the pope has yet to answer them. Plain rude, some say. Probably quite a few liberals also would like Pope Francis to answer the dubia, and make the de facto practice in many places de iure: that divorcees who have entered into a subsequent civil remarriage might be allowed to receive Holy Communion.

So far the pope has been silent, and his defenders—not a few of them self-appointed and self-serving—have taken it upon themselves to attack i quattro cardinali, and even to advocate what it is said the pope thinks but has never quite said: that civilly-remarried divorcees should receive Holy Communion, as part of the Church’s “accompaniment” of them. There is a supremely strong case that the Chief Shepherd of the Flock should answer the dubia and clarify once and for all the Church’s teaching.

However, if Pope Francis really does think remarried divorcees should be admitted to Holy Communion, do we really want him to say so? If it is contrary to revelation and the consistent teaching of the Church, why would we want him to commit himself definitively to error? What a crisis it would provoke in the Church, and crises are not something to be sought.

The papal silence, especially if it is true that Pope Francis thinks this teaching should be changed (and that is still a big if at the moment), is surely not to be lamented but embraced. Why?

My new “crush” (well, an old crush actually, but the flame has been rekindled), Frank Sheed, has given me the answer. Sheed, a lay Australian apologist and publisher, got me my STB in Rome summa cum laude, but that is another story. I am reading, as relief from pressing work work and life’s stresses, his ecclesial autobiography, The Church and I. I just chanced upon something in it that made me stop and think of the dubia. Sheed was writing about the objections raised to papal infallibility when he was preaching on the soapbox in Hyde Park. I quote:

…we came upon the illustration used by the Jesuit Father Rickaby. It seems he would put to his students the question—if the Pope were infallible in algebra, how many marks would he get in an algebra exam? They all said 100, whereupon Father Rickaby gave them 0. He explains: For the rest of men there are three possibilities—we can give the right answer, the wrong answer or no answer. Infallibility means that the Pope cannot (in the appropriate circumstances) give the wrong answer—the Holy Spirit will not let him. That leaves him with two possibilities as against our three—he can give the right answer, or no answer. What decides? Whether he knows: infallibility does not in itself mean inspiration. The Holy Spirit might in a given situation enlighten the Pope’s mind, but that is now what infallibility is about. In the general way what a Pope does not know he must find out, like anyone else. (pp.59-60)

You see what Sheed is revealing. Infallibility is a gift that works negatively, as it were: it does not guarantee that the pope will always teach the right thing, but it does guarantee that he will never teach the wrong thing. If a pope holds a personal opinion that is contrary to revelation, then the Spirit will never allow him to teach it magisterially, ie infallibly.

So, if Pope Francis really does believe that remarried divorcees should be admitted to Holy Communion, despite the implications of our Lord’s explicit teaching and the unchanging doctrine of the Church, then it is better that he keep silent. It is not ideal, of course, but in the world of fallen human nature the ideal is rarely realized. Sometimes we have to settle for the sufficient.

So, if the ideal is not yet achievable (but are we praying for it?), then let us settle for the sufficient. Let the pope keep silence. If it is the best we can hope for, let it be done. We can cope for now.

Could I ask for your prayers at this time? On the one hand I have a looming deadline; on the other a sort of existential crisis. I could with some grace for both!


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Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter. (Divine Mercy Sunday)


“Doubting Thomas” is a term often used to describe someone who refuses to believe something without direct, personal evidence: a skeptic. It refers of course to Thomas, one of the Twelve, whose name occurs in all the gospel lists of the apostles. Thomas is called Didymus, the Greek form of an Aramaic name meaning “twin.” When Jesus announced his intention of returning to Judea to visit Lazarus, Thomas said to his fellow disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). It was Thomas who, during the great discourse after the Last Supper, raised an objection: “Lord, we do not know where you are going; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

Little else is recorded of Thomas the Apostle in the New Testament; nevertheless, thanks to John’s Gospel text for today (John 20:19-31), his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. Thomas would have listened to Jesus’ words, and he certainly experienced dismay at Jesus’ death. That Easter evening when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not present. When he was told that Jesus was alive and had shown himself, Thomas stated: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Eight days later, Thomas made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus – “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).

The real Thomas

Thomas the Apostle is one of the greatest and most honest of the lovers of Jesus, not the eternal skeptic, nor the bullish, stubborn personality that Christian tradition has often painted. This young apostle stood before the Cross, not comprehending the horrors of what had happened. All his dreams and hopes were hanging on that Cross. Thomas rediscovered his faith amidst the believing community of apostles and disciples. This point must never be forgotten, especially in an age when so many claim that faith and spirituality are attainable without the experience of the ecclesial community. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through our baptism, we become members of this great family of the Church. It is precisely the faith professed by the ecclesial community we call Church that reinforces our personal faith. Each Sunday at Mass, we profess our faith either in the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed. In doing so, we are saved from the danger of believing in a God other than the one revealed by Christ.

Faith is not an isolated act

Let us not forget #166 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Faith is a personal act – the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbour impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the merciful love of God shining through the Easter Triduum and the whole Easter mystery. The feast recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called “the days of mercy and pardon,” and the Octave Day itself “the compendium of the days of mercy.”

Pope John Paul II’s interest in Divine Mercy goes back to the days of his youth in Krakow when Karol Wojtyla was an eyewitness to so much evil and suffering during World War II in occupied Poland. He witnessed the round-ups of many people who were sent to concentration camps and slave labour. In his hometown of Wadowice, he had many Jewish friends who would later die in the Holocaust. During that time of terror and fear, Karol Wojtyla decided to enter Cardinal Sapieha’s clandestine seminary in Krakow. He experienced the need for God’s mercy, and humanity’s need to be merciful to one another. While in the seminary, he met another seminarian, Andrew Deskur (who would later become Cardinal), who introduced Karol to the message of the Divine Mercy as revealed to the Polish mystic nun, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who died at the age of 33 in 1938.

The Pope of Divine Mercy

At the beginning of his pontificate in 1981, Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical dedicated to Divine Mercy – Dives in Misericordia (“Rich in Mercy”) – illustrating that the heart of the mission of Jesus Christ was to reveal the merciful love of the Father. In 1993 when Pope John Paul II beatified Sr. Faustina Kowalska, he stated in the homily for her beatification Mass: “Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvellous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world, and gaining so many human hearts!”

Four years later in 1997, the Holy Father visited Blessed Faustina’s tomb in Lagiewniki, Poland, and preached powerful words: “There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy […] From here went out the message of Mercy that Christ Himself chose to pass on to our generation through Blessed Faustina.”

In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina – making her the first canonized saint of the new millennium – and established “Divine Mercy Sunday” as a special title for the Second Sunday of Easter for the universal Church. Pope John Paul II spoke the following words in his homily: “Jesus shows His hands and His side [to the Apostles]. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.”

One year later, in his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001, the Pope called the message of mercy entrusted to St. Faustina: “The appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies […] Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity at the dawn of the third millennium.”

Again in Lagiewniki, Poland in 2002, at the dedication of the new Shrine of Divine Mercy, the Holy Father consecrated the whole world to Divine Mercy, saying: “I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through St. Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth, and fill their hearts with hope.”

In his Regina Coeli address of April 23, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “The mystery of God’s merciful love was at the centre of the pontificate of my venerated predecessor.” That same Providence desired that eight years later, on Divine Mercy Sunday, three years after his beatification on the same feast, Pope John Paul II, the great apostle and ambassador of Divine Mercy, would be declared a saint.

Mercy is our hallmark

We must ask ourselves: what is new about this message of Divine Mercy? Why did Pope John Paul II insist so ardently on this aspect of God’s love in our time? Is this not the same devotion as that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Mercy is an important Christian virtue, much different from justice and retribution. While recognizing the real pain of injury and the rationale for the justification of punishment, mercy takes a different approach in redressing the injury. Mercy strives to radically change the condition and the soul of the perpetrator to resist doing evil, often by revealing love and one’s true beauty. If any punishment is enforced, it must be for salvation, not for vengeance or retribution. This is very messy business in our day and a very complex message – but it is the only way if we wish to go forward and be leaven for the world today; if we truly wish to be salt and light in a culture that has lost the flavour of the Gospel and the light of Christ.

Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate, where war brings suffering and death to the innocent, abuse has destroyed countless innocent lives, the grace of mercy is needed in order to settle human minds and hearts and to bring about healing and peace. Wherever respect for human life and dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being. Mercy is needed to ensure that every injustice in the world will come to an end. The message of mercy is that God loves us – all of us – no matter how great our sins. God’s mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon him with trust, receive his mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Essentially, mercy means the understanding of weakness: the capacity to forgive.

Apostle of Divine Mercy

Throughout his priestly and episcopal ministry, and especially throughout his pontificate, Pope John Paul II preached God’s mercy, wrote about it, and most of all lived it. He offered forgiveness to the man who was destined to kill him in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope who witnessed the scandal of divisions among Christians and the atrocities against the Jewish people as he grew up did everything in his power to heal the wounds caused by the historic conflicts between Catholics and other Christian churches, and especially with the Jewish people.

Today, the same day that the Church proclaimed “blessed” and “saint” this great apostle of mercy and peace, I remember with affection and deep gratitude the stirring words that Saint John Paul II spoke at the concluding Mass of World Youth Day 2002 at Downsview Park in Toronto. These words keep us focused on the importance and necessity of mercy in the Church today:

At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit…

Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.

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Fr. Murray, Prof. Royal on “Deaconettes”, ‘Amoris laetitia’, Liturgy, Communion in the hand

From Fr. Z’s blog

My good friend Fr. Murray was on EWTN the other day along with Prof. Robert Royal.


They react to Card. Sarah, Bp. Morlino, Thomas Reese, SJ, James Martin, SJ, Card. Schoenborn, etc.

Oh boy!


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Niece of Fatima visionaries reflects on her remarkable family

We couldn’t resist offering our readers one more “Fatima” post today. This one by Elise Harris on CNA describes an endearing interview with Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto’s niece, daughter of their brother Joao who, at 11 years of age in 1917, was two years older than Francisco. 

Jacinta Pereiro Marto, niece of Francisco and Jacinta, in Aljustrel-Fatima, Portugal. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/EWTN.

The niece of Blessed Franciso and Jacinta Marto has voiced excitement for the coming canonization of her relatives, sharing stories of the time of the Fatima apparitions and personal memories of what it was like growing up in a family that had saints among its members.

“My family, my grandparents, my parents, all of us always accepted it as a gift from God,” Jacinta Pereiro Marto told CNA in an interview.

“God chose my uncle and aunt because this is what he wanted, so much that my grandfather used to say that the Virgin wanted to come to Fatima and she chose his children, but that we didn’t deserve anything,” she said.

Because of this attitude instilled in the family by her grandfather – father to Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto – “we always lived very simply because God chose, and he chooses who he wants. We don’t deserve anything.”

Marto, 74, is the daughter of Joao Marto, the brother of Fatima visionaries Bl. Francisco and Jacinta, and she shares the exact same name as her saintly aunt.

Just two years older than Francisco, Joao was the closest in age to the two out of the many Marto siblings.

Bl. Francisco and Jacinta this year will become the youngest non-martyrs in the history of the Church to be canonized after witnessing apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as the Our Lady of Fatima, alongside their elder cousin Lucia dos Santos in 1917.

In her interview with CNA, Marto said that she had “the joy” of being born in the same family home as Francisco and Jacinta, and to grow up there, since her father Joao continued to live in the house with his elderly parents.

“They always instilled in me a great love for God and for the Virgin, a life of simplicity, of belief and of religiosity,” she said, speaking of her grandparents.

Their home remains the property of the family, but is now open for visitors and pilgrims to see where the visionaries grew up. Across the street, Marto runs a souvenir shop and a small museum-of-sorts containing original photos and artifacts belonging to the family, including shawls used by Jacinta, the rosary Francisco prayed with before dying, and the bed he passed away in.

Marto said that it is thanks to her grandmother Olimpia Marto, mother of Franciso and Jacinta, that she received the same name as her aunt. Olimpia had wanted a grandchild that shared the exact same name as her saintly daughter, and was told by Joao’s wife that the next girl they had would get the name.

So when Marto was born, her grandmother, who was also asked to be her godmother, chose to call her Jacinta.

“I feel very happy to be Jacinta,” Marto said, explaining that “I feel a very strong presence and a great protection from my uncle and aunt. I think that Jacinta and my uncle are protecting me.”

“I am no one, I sin like the whole world,” she said, “but I believe they are protecting me, I feel that they and Our Lady protect me.”

Recalling memories shared by her father, Marto said Joao had been present with Francisco and Jacinta at the apparition of Mary in Valinhos, which took place in August, “but he didn’t see anything.”

“It was only Francisco, Jacinta, Lucia and my father, but he said that even though he opened his eyes and looked, he saw nothing,” she said.

Around the time Mary was to appear, Jacinta wasn’t there at first, she said, explaining that when Lucia asked him to go find her, Joao “didn’t want to, because he wanted to see.” He eventually went to find Jacinta, and when she arrived Mary appeared, but even though he waited with them, Joao couldn’t see anything.

Two months later when the “miracle of the sun” took place Oct. 13, 1917, Marto said her father, who was only 11 at the time, stayed behind that day because rumors were spreading, likely from other children, that “if the miracle of the sun didn’t happen the whole family would die.”

In order to help the people believe in the authenticity of the apparitions, Lucia had asked Our Lady during the apparition of July 13, 1917, to perform a miracle so people would see that they were true.

However, on that occasion Mary responded by saying that should the children continue to come each month until October, the miracle would occur. So on Oct. 13, the last apparition of Mary to the children, 30-100,000 people gathered to witness the miracle.

News reports and witnesses from the time said the miracle took place when the formerly cloudy sky parted and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disk in the sky. Multicolored lights flashed across the landscape and those present before the sun then spun toward earth and then zig-zagged back to its normal position in the sky. Additionally, clothes and mud previously wet from the rain had dried.

But while many members of their family were present for the miracle, Marto said her father “stayed at home (because) he was afraid to die” if the miracle didn’t happen, as the rumors had stated.

At just 11 years old, Marto said her father didn’t understand everything that was going on, but that after Francisco and Jacinta died, “my father said that he cried a lot, a lot. Because he saw that everything they said was happening.”

Speaking of her grandparents, Marto said her grandfather Manuel, father of Francisco and Jacinta, didn’t initially understand some of what was happening either, but had always believed his children were telling the truth.

Jacinta was the first one to tell her parents about seeing Mary after coming home from the first apparition, Marto said, explaining that when people began to say the children had made everything up, her grandfather would respond saying: “My children are not liars. I taught them, so if they say they saw, I think they saw.”

After the first appearance Manuel accompanied his children to the following apparitions, and although he didn’t see anything, “he said that he heard a sound, like a bee inside a jar.”

He was also present for the miracle of the sun, Marto said, explaining that “if he believed before, he continued to believe” after.

Marto said that for her, this belief was extraordinary, because “my grandparents weren’t at the beatification, none of it. When their children died they were known, but not with the fame of sanctity.”

“So they thought their children were a little different from the others, but they didn’t know how it was going to be. It was a question every day,” she said, but noted that her grandfather in particular “always believed.”

Referring to news of the acceptance of a second miracle allowing for the canonization of her uncle and aunt, Marto said she feels “a big joy” knowing they will be proclaimed saints. The two will be canonized May 13, during Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Portugal.

However, she stressed that the news “is not only for the family, it’s for Portugal and the whole world. Because Our Lady came for the world, and they were a message for the world.”

“I sometimes ask myself how two children that were seven and nine years old managed to capture and respond to the message of God. They had a message and assumed this message,” she said, noting that Francisco was all about “praising God, adoring God, worshiping God.”

Jacinta, however, was primarily concerned with conversion, and wanted that “everyone return to God, that everyone convert, that everyone went to heaven.”

“She lived this in anguish,” Marto said, explaining that she often asked herself: “we who have all these means of communication, we know what is happening in the world, all the suffering in the world, we see it on television…and what do we do?”

At just 7-years-old Jacinta had visions of wars, famines and persecutions, and as a result she “assumed the responsibility” of offering and making sacrifices so that everyone could be saved.

“And us? What are we doing?” she said, stressing that with television and social media it’s not necessary to have a vision of the suffering and tragedy in the world, but “we are part of this humanity and we are a bit responsible for everyone. Sometimes we don’t think well about this.”

Marto said that for her, she believes the core of the Our Lady of Fatima’s message is that she came “that we might return to God. That we don’t forget that God loves us, but that we have to praise him and must give thanks to him.”

In addition to this, “we must pray for each other,” she said, explaining that in her instructions to the children, Mary “didn’t ask many things that we can’t do.”

Pointing to the rosary, she said that according to Lucia, Mary asked that people pray it because “it’s an easy prayer,” and can be recited at church, in the car or while walking.

If someone isn’t able to pray the rosary, Marto suggested at least trying to pray one Hail Mary and Our Father a day, to honor Mary and give thanks to God “for being our friend.”

“God loves us very much and at times sends us his mother to refresh us a bit in order continue,” she said, explaining that “God wants us to be a bit better every day. Because we are always sinners, we are not perfect, but try to be a bit better every day.”

Marto said that she hopes to be present for Pope Francis’ visit to Fatima for the centenary of the apparitions in May. Having attended the beatification of her uncle and aunt in 2000, she said she also hopes to be present for the May 13 canonization of the visionaries.

She received communion from Bl. Pope Paul VI when he became the first Pope to visit Fatima in 1967, and was also present for the visit of St. John Paul II in 1982, but was farther away.

Although she wasn’t able to attend Mass when Benedict XVI came in 2010, she hopes to have a good seat at Mass with Francis, and “to be close to him.”

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Fatima is the solution to the mayhem in the Vatican today

By John Henry Westen on LifeSiteNews

(Editor’s note: The following is a slightly edited version of the editorial of the April issue of LifeSite’s Faithful Insight magazine.)

Mayhem. That’s the only word to describe what is taking place in the Church today. Remember the archbishop who released a scandalous Vatican sex-ed program at World Youth Day in Krakow? He was appointed as the new head of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Rome’s John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. Both institutions have now been stripped bare – the Academy of all its members and the Institute of its most conservative faculty.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia recently gushed praise for one of Italy’s leading proponents of abortion, same-sex “marriage” and restriction on religious freedom. More than that, prior to his Vatican post he commissioned a homoerotic mural in his cathedral church in which he had included an image of himself.

Another Vatican bishop in charge of two Pontifical Academies is responsible for bringing into the Vatican, to speak at his conferences, some of the most anti-life, anti-family people in the world. Those supporting forced abortion and forced sterilization are finding themselves at home in a new Vatican where the lovers of life and family are increasingly alienated and ostracized. A Vatican where fear among the orthodox rules and in the words of retiring Archbishop Luigi Negri – the only Italian bishop to go to the Rome March for Life – those who are normally papal critics, “for a time have become hyper papists for their own ends.”

[CP&S Comment – Nor should it be overlooked the lie this treacherous Archbishop told his congregation in Dublin on Good Friday, without a single reprimand from the Vatican afterwards! Christ’s Church has been overrun by Illuminati and Freemasons right up to the top. It is in dire need of a strong purge.]

The only solution to this mess is Divine intervention. And in this year of the 100th anniversary of Fatima, it is time to beg for that intervention and to do what we can to bring it about.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI himself hoped that such an intervention would happen shortly. “May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity,” he said in a homily on May 13, 2010. “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete,” he said.

The October 13, 1917 Fatima miracle of the dance of the sun was witnessed by 70,000 people with coverage in all the secular papers at the time. It was the most spectacular public miracle of all time. What was it that heaven was trying to communicate with this stupendous event?

Our Lady showed the three shepherd children hell. “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go,” she told them. “To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”

What did Our Lady ask for to bring about the triumph of her Immaculate Heart? First prayer, most particularly the Holy Rosary, and the devotion of the Brown Scapular. Second, she called for us to make reparation for the sins and outrages perpetrated against God’s Grace and blasphemies against the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Thirdly, she asked for consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, both on a personal basis and, publicly, that of Russia by the Pope and all the world’s bishops.

Our Lady warned that if Russia was not consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. We have seen atheistic communism spread throughout the world. But most don’t realize that legalized abortion began in Russia and this global atrocity has cost more lives than all wars combined.

Our Lady warned specifically that if Russia was not consecrated there would be “wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”

She predicted the Second World War, and it happened. She predicted “fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. Woe to women lacking in modesty.” And it happened like never before in the history of the world. She predicted wars, and there have been more wars in the last 30 years than ever before. We have not yet seen whole nations annihilated.

Many have said her wish for the consecration of Russia was accomplished in 1984 when Pope St. John Paul II entrusted the world to Our Lady. Let’s skip the debate over it and do it again, but this time mentioning Russia specifically, as was requested by Our Lady. Poland was blessed greatly each time they consecrated their nation to Our Lady.

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she promised. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” We await that peace eagerly both in the world and in the Church.

But Our Lord warned Sr. Lucia in a vision in 1931, expressing dismay that the Pope would not carry out the consecration of Russia as requested. “Like the King of France, they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will already have spread its errors in the world.” He added, “Make it known to My ministers, seeing that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My demand, they will also have to follow him into misfortune.”

That warning has a severe implication for our days. The mention of the King of France by Our Lord refers to the request He made of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. On June 17, 1689, He asked her to have the King of France consecrate France to the Sacred Heart. For 100 years, the Kings of France failed to make the consecration.

On June 17, 1789, 100 years to the day of the request, the King of France was stripped of his legislative authority and four years later executed.

Let us play our part in hastening the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Let us pray the Rosary, wear the Scapular, make the First Saturdays devotion and request the explicit consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

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Prayer of St Anselm of Canterbury (feast day April 21)

A Prayer from Anselm of Canterbury

O my God teach my heart where and how to seek you,
where and how to find you…

You are my God and you are my All and I have never seen you.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know you…

I have not yet done that for which I was made….
Teach me to seek you…

I cannot seek you unless you teach me
or find you unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you.


St. Anselm (1033–1109) was born into a noble family in the Lombardy region of Italy. The example of his pious mother led him to great faith, and he sought to enter the monastery at age 15. However, the abbot refused him due to Anselm’s stern father. After his mother’s death Anselm left home and settled in Normandy to study under the direction of a famed monk named Lanfranc. Upon the death of his father, Anselm became a Benedictine monk at the age of 27. Due to his brilliance, Anselm became a teacher at the abbey’s school and prior of the monastery. He went on to become the most learned theologian, philosopher, and mystic of his generation, the greatest since St. Augustine of Hippo. Anselm’s fame led to his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in England, succeeding Lanfranc in this office, where he went on to correct abuses against the Church at the hand of the English kings. Twice he was banished from the island while appealing to Rome for assistance, and twice he returned to Canterbury to carry on his duties until his death. His abilities as an extraordinary theologian, negotiator, and statesman greatly supported the cause of the Church. As archbishop he continued his monastic lifestyle and intellectual pursuits. He composed several philosophical and theological treatises, as well as a series of beautiful prayers and meditations, which led him to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720. His feast day is celebrated on April 21st.

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Abortion Harms Women Too

From the Facebook page of ‘Ending Abortion’ comes this heart-rending video below. Countless women are mentally, morally and physically destroyed forever after they have aborted their babies. Their guilt and remorse haunts them the rest of their lives.  Even those who have fallen on God’s loving mercy and begged forgiveness for the sin, find it hard to forgive themselves. This is a horrific fact of what abortion, killing infants in the womb, does to their mothers. It is an embarrassing secret the wealthy Abortion Industry tries its best to cover up.

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Fatima seers to be declared saints on May 13

by Junno Arocho Esteves on the CATHOLIC HERALD, posted Thursday, 20 Apr 2017

Portuguese shepherd children Lucia dos Santos, centre, and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto pictured around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima (CNS)

The canonisation ceremony will be held exactly 100 years since the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions on May 13.

The date was announced during an “ordinary public consistory”, a meeting of the Pope, cardinals and promoters of Causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, addressing the assembly noted that of the future saints considered at the consistory, five were children or young teenagers.

“In our time, where young people often become objects of exploitation and commerce, these young people excel as witnesses of truth and freedom, messengers of peace [and] of a new humanity reconciled in love,” the cardinal said.

At the same consistory, the Pope set on October 15 as the date for the canonizations of two priests and two groups of martyrs, including Blessed Cristobal, Blessed Antonio and Blessed Juan – also known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala” – who were among the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people’s ancient traditions.

Pope Francis will preside over the canonisation ceremony of the Fatima visionaries during his visit to Fatima on May 12-13.

The pilgrimage will mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until October 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died on April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness on February 20, 1920, at the age of 9.

Francisco and Jacinta’s Cause was stalled for decades due to a debate on whether non-martyred children have the capacity to understand heroic virtues at a young age. However, in 1979, St John Paul II allowed their Cause to proceed; he declared them venerable in 1989 and beatified them in 2000.

The children’s cousin entered the Carmelites. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her Cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.

The other canonisations set to take place on October 15 include:

— The “Martyrs of Natal,” Brazil, including: Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists.

— Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and member of the Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys. While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came to him from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses.

— Blessed Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defence of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.


See also “Fatima seers are holy because of virtue, not visions, cardinal says” on 12th April 2017 on the Catholic Herald.

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Cardinal Sarah and the Innovators

Robert Cardinal Sarah

by Fr. Gerald E. Murray on The Catholic Thing 

Robert Cardinal Sarah recently gave an address that bears the image of a prophetic warning about the nature of the Church’s present crisis of faith. He says plainly and without hesitation numerous things that are certain to inspire many – and to annoy many others. I am sure he aims at both effects. His indictment harkens back to the title of his first book, God or Nothing. Catholics inflict great harm upon the Church when they exalt themselves and put their own theories above God and his revealed doctrines.

This attitude, seen in all areas of the life of the Church, is most plainly manifest in the liturgical realm. Cardinal Sarah states:

As Benedict XVI often emphasized, at the root of the liturgy is adoration, and therefore God. Hence it is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its CENTER is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to ‘do’ something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations.

The concepts of adoration, worship, reverence, homage are unknown to vast numbers of Catholics, including many Mass-goers. A priest friend of mine recently described a large new church as not being a place “where you can pray.” I have been in such “spaces.” They are best described as sets for performances for a comfortably accommodated audience. The tabernacle may be found using Google Maps.

Cardinal Sarah continues:

Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through: relativism in doctrinal, moral, and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission.

Many believe and declare, loud and long, that Vatican Council II brought about a true springtime in the Church. Nevertheless, a growing number of Church leaders see this “springtime” as a rejection, a renunciation of her centuries-old heritage, or even as a radical questioning of her past and Tradition. Political Europe is rebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-Conciliar Catholic Church.

As a student priest in Rome, I was informed that the interiors of her numerous magnificent churches had been preserved from destructive “renovations” due to the fact that the Italian government had to approve any changes affecting these national artistic treasures, which their artistic curators were loathe to do.

Alas, the liturgical and doctrinal innovators were not constrained by any equivalent external or internal restraint. Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., for instance, has recently written a stunning rejection of Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder… and I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.” (Mt.19:6-9)

Fr. Reese, not convinced by the Church’s clear and unambiguous teaching that Our Lord meant exactly what he said, observes: “Jesus said a lot of things that we do not observe literally without exception. . . .Jesus does not list any punishment for divorce and remarriage. . . .I look upon Jesus’ teaching on divorce as the first feminist legislation because a divorced woman was kicked out on the street with no assets or alimony. Today we live in a different world. How can we be so certain that Jesus would respond in the same way to divorce today?”

The Church has taught indissolubility in many different ages and circumstances, in every part of the Earth, ever since Jesus laid down that teaching. How is Fr. Reese so sure that modern conditions give him and those who agree with him a license to change what has been taught always and everywhere?

Cardinal Sarah sees this kind of insidious subversion for what it is, and is not afraid to speak plainly:

Many refuse to face up to the Church’s work of self-destruction through the deliberate demolition of her doctrinal, liturgical, moral, and pastoral foundations. While more and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God, while the bark of the Church furrows the stormy sea of this decadent world and the waves crash down on the ship, so that it is already filling with water, a growing number of Church leaders and faithful shout: “Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise!” [Everything is just fine, Milady,” the refrain of a popular comic song from the 1930’s, in which the employees of a noblewoman report to her a series of catastrophes].

For some in the Church today, Catholic doctrine is subject to rewriting, liturgical worship of God is primarily a chance for people to assemble and express themselves, Catholic moral teaching is now to be considered an example of outmoded rigorism, and pastoral care of the faithful means telling them to do whatever they want as long as it makes them “happy.”

But are we really happy when we reject Our Lord’s teachings and try to convince ourselves that that is what Our Lord would want us to do? Is it not rather the case that any such manipulation of the truth of Christ produces a spirit of anxiety and bitterness that inexorably manifests itself in a frenzied attempt to tear down the rest of Catholic teaching and practice?

It really does come down to God or Nothing.


Father Z calls this article “a sobering, withering and yet salubrious piece” by Father Murray.

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