The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima October 13, 1917

Today is the day of World Reparation for ALL the horrible sacrileges, indifferences and hatred, by which Our Lord in the Eucharist, is outraged. Let us make fervent HOLY Communions with Our Eucharistic Lord, offering Him all the Love of His Eternal Father, of His Eternal Spirit, of His Purist Mother, of His most chaste foster Father, St Joseph and of all the angels and the saints, the souls in Purgatory, and the just on Earth, in loving reparation, and thanksgiving for His infinite Love and Mercy.

Tell many others. Let us make this a HUGE act of loving reparation, and cry out with ALL our hearts:

Viva Cristo Rey

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Synod Manipulators Reach New Low: Silencing the victims — then taunting and bullying them

from: Rorate Caeli

Isn’t this “the age of the laity”?… Yet, if the laity, the faithful laity — the laity who believe in what Christ and His Church have always taught about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, Family, Penance, the Blessed Sacrament — want a little tiny bit of more information from what these hyperclericalist Modernists are trying to manipulate behind closed doors at the Synod, and they find the occasional ally at the occasional good and faithful bishop, then they are humiliated.
Take the example of the poor President of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, Archbishop Gadecki, who tried to provide to his faithful some information of what was being discussed, before being told to remove all information by the Synod Secretary-General, Cardinal Baldisseri.
The pope’s personal friend, occasional unofficial spokesman (the pope often makes use of him to send indirect messages), and director of the Holy See official journal, Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, had the gall earlier this Sunday to make fun of the relentless rule-changing of the Synod (rules changing every single day), and the permanent climate of fear, censorship, and information control by saying the others were trying to mummify the Synod. Which was a sign that the “Synod works”.

Of course, this makes as much sense as saying that a medical treatment is successful because the patient is complaining incessantly of searing and unbearable pain caused by the medication — if he dies from the treatment, then, it is the ultimate sign of success! Those are the geniuses in charge of the Holy Roman Church these days…


P.S. Deacon Nick Donnelly did not have to go far away to reveal the true meaning of Father Spadaro’s image: it is the faithful Church, that is being muzzled and suffocated.

Embedded image permalink

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Synod, week 2 begins: 9-Cardinal Letter Rejected by Pope – Plus, Pell Appeal Ignored

Today’s blog post by Sandro Magister over at chiesa espress online ends with these words:

…Cardinal Tagle, a prominent representative of the innovators, … said at the press conference on October 9, with visible satisfaction:
“The new method adopted by the synod has definitely caused a bit of confusion, but it is good to be confused once in a while. If things are always clear, then we might not be in real life anymore.”

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for this update on the confusion:

The letter sent by thirteen (eleven?* ten? * nine?* [Update: now the story is the denial of the signatures]) Cardinals, all of whom are present at the Synod (this is important, since so many Cardinals were deliberately excluded or as kept away as possible from the Synod body because they disagree with the German view that is clearly favored by the Pope), contained specific complaints about the suffocating procedure put in place in order to ensure a specific result.
The letter was signed by Cardinals Caffarra (Bologna), Collins (Toronto), Dolan (New York), Eijk (Utrecht), Erdö (Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe and Synod Relator-General), Müller (Prefect of Doctrine for the Faith), Napier (Durban, President-Delegate), Pell (Secretary for the Economy), Piacenza (Penitentiary Major)*, Sarah (Prefect of Divine Worship), Scola (Milan*), Urosa (Caracas), Vingt-Trois (Paris, President-Delegate *).

The text was the following:

Your Holiness,
As the Synod on the Family begins, and with a desire to see it fruitfully serve the Church and your ministry, we respectfully ask you to consider a number of concerns we have heard from other synod fathers, and which we share.
While the synod’s preparatory document, the “Instrumentum Laboris,” has admirable elements, it also has sections that would benefit from substantial reflection and reworking. The new procedures guiding the synod seem to guarantee it excessive influence on the synod’s deliberations and on the final synodal document. As it stands, and given the concerns we have already heard from many of the fathers about its various problematic sections, the “Instrumentum” cannot adequately serve as a guiding text or the foundation of a final document.
The new synodal procedures will be seen in some quarters as lacking openness and genuine collegiality. In the past, the process of offering propositions and voting on them served the valuable purpose of taking the measure of the synod fathers’ minds. The absence of propositions and their related discussions and voting seems to discourage open debate and to confine discussion to small groups; thus it seems urgent to us that the crafting of propositions to be voted on by the entire synod should be restored. Voting on a final document comes too late in the process for a full review and serious adjustment of the text.
Additionally, the lack of input by the synod fathers in the composition of the drafting committee has created considerable unease. Members have been appointed, not elected, without consultation. Likewise, anyone drafting anything at the level of the small circles should be elected, not appointed.
In turn, these things have created a concern that the new procedures are not true to the traditional spirit and purpose of a synod. It is unclear why these procedural changes are necessary. A number of fathers feel the new process seems designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.
Finally and perhaps most urgently, various fathers have expressed concern that a synod designed to address a vital pastoral matter – reinforcing the dignity of marriage and family – may become dominated by the theological/doctrinal issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. If so, this will inevitably raise even more fundamental issues about how the Church, going forward, should interpret and apply the Word of God, her doctrines and her disciplines to changes in culture. The collapse of liberal Protestant churches in the modern era, accelerated by their abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation, warrants great caution in our own synodal discussions.
Your Holiness, we offer these thoughts in a spirit of fidelity, and we thank you for considering them.
Faithfully yours in Jesus Christ.
[Letter and signatories revealed by Italian journalist Sandro Magister, formally excluded as a correspondent by the Holy See Press Office by papal orders since June 15, 2015]
The letter, delivered on October 5, was, of course, completely ignored by the Pope. But it is a powerful witness. We will return to it in the future. The great division has never been more palpable.
Despite that, Cardinal Pell insisted on several procedural points. We know that thanks to the summary notes made by the Polish bishops, later suppressed due to the censorship imposed by Secretary-General Baldisseri. Still on the same day of the letter delivery he complained of the very composition of the committee charged with writing a final report for the Synod, clearly slanted:
Card. George Pell (Vatican), Prefect of the Economy Secretariat – It is convenient to start it all not from sociology, but from the Word of God. We appreciate the value of free debate, yet there must be a clear distinction between modi and propositiones [made by the small language groups]. Can the three-part current presentation of the 2015 Instrumentum Laboris be kept? Why was the Committee [charged with] writing the final Relatio of the Synod named in this composition?
Pell’s appeal on that day also went unanswered.
Perhaps he need not have worried, since we do not even know anymore if there is going to be a final Relatio at all: as soon as it became unclear to the manipulators whether, despite all manipulation, they could find clear majorities in favor of heterodox or at least highly ambiguous inclusions in the final Relatio, then this final report came into question as well: rules are being changed every single day.
* Scola: after publication, spokesman denied his signing of the letter; Vingt-Trois also denied signing letter. Piacenza denied afterwards as well. / Erdo also denied it afterwards.


Update: Journalist Edward Pentin reveals that Cardinal Pell fully confirms his signature, and despite saying the content of the letter should have remained private, all his reservations on several issues remain.

Statement from Spokesperson for Cardinal George Pell

Monday 12 October 2015

A spokesperson for Cardinal Pell said that there is strong agreement in the Synod on most points but obviously there is some disagreement because minority elements want to change the Church’s teachings on the proper dispositions necessary for the reception of Communion.

Obviously there is no possibility of change on this doctrine.

A private letter should remain private but it seems that there are errors in both the content and the list of signatories.

The Cardinal is aware that concerns remain among many of the Synod Fathers about the composition of the drafting committee of the final relatio and about the process by which it will be presented to the Synod fathers and voted upon.

Journalist John Allen Jr. also says that Cardinal Napier confirms his signature in general terms: “Napier acknowledged signing a letter, but said its content was different from that presented in Magister’s report. The letter he signed, he said, was specifically about the 10-member commission preparing the final document.”


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The Elephant in the Room

Thanks to Torch of the Faith for this revealing and disturbing article:


This image, apparently showing Pope Francis and Cardinal Godfried Danneels at the Synod, has been doing the rounds on the internet.
And why wouldn’t it be them; given that Danneels is the second name on the list of 45 prelates that Pope Francis personally chose to attend the Synod in Rome?
We have consistently pointed out that:-
1. Danneels has been recorded attempting to silence a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of one of his friends in the episcopate.
2. Danneels attempted to get King Baudouin of Belgium to vote for abortion.
3. Danneels enforced a horrifically paedophile ”catechism” on the children of his diocese, refused to listen to the complaints and protests of concerned parents, was able to influence the papal nuncio to ignore these parents too; and that this nuncio had sufficient influence to get the local police-force to threaten the parents with a water cannon.
4. Danneels has spoken out in favour of sodomitical relationships.
5. Danneels recently boasted, on a video interview and in his written biography, about being part of a ”mafia” that was opposed to Pope Benedict XVI; and which wanted to ”modernize” the Catholic Church. When this story first broke, Danneels was quoted as saying that this ”mafia” wanted Jorge Bergoglio to head the Church. Another key player, who Danneels identified as part of this ”mafia,” was none other than Cardinal Walter Kasper.
6. And on Wednesday, we drew attention to the fact that Danneels had attended the Belgian Masonic Lodge, given a talk there dressed in Masonic ritual garb, taken part in a public ”dialogue” with the Grand Master of the Grand Orient in Belgium, received from him a Masonic handshake, publicly agreed to concepts at odds with Catholic Truth and purchased books on how to join the Grand Orient of Belgium.
Can no-one see the elephant in the room?
How the heck can it be possible that this is not the central discussion taking place at the Synod. Or even in the mainstream media? Where are even the Catholic media on this?
We don’t read much of Damian Thompson’s stuff, but he has just made some good points in his column at The Spectator.
Calling for a thorough investigation, Thompson notes: ”Pope Francis must explain why a man who concealed sex abuse within a family is a leading participant in a synod discussing the pastoral care of families… So far the media have shown no interest in this story. That wouldn’t be the case if Benedict XVI were still pope.”
It is beyond us, how the Synod Fathers can go along with all of this. Even the more orthodox amongst them, who are defending the Faith from the blasphemous attempts to invert Jesus for Moses and so forth, seem to be fighting a rearguard action, if this is not addressed first of all.
Ask youself this question: Would you take part in a meeting about families with a known paedophile-protector? If you would not do it in your own locality, why should we not be standing up and shouting from the rooftops when this is happening right in the very House of God – right before the Throne of St. Peter?
Both divine and natural justice demand an investigation into all that has being going on. And yet, all the media will talk about is the fact that Pope Francis is on the shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize, because of his work for the environment.
What the Synod Fathers could learn from Blessed Alan of Tewkesbury 
Two years ago, we visited the ancient Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Tewkesbury. We were travelling to many of the English sites of Catholic Christendom, to pray for the reconversion of England back to the Catholic Faith.
Formerly a major Catholic abbey, this wonderful construction only survived the revolution of Protestantism, because King Henry VIII allowed the locals to purchase the building back, to be their parish church.
Even then, the Lady Chapel was demolished, the Sedilia was mutilated and, two centuries later, the original High-Altar – which the last monks had buried for safety – was cut-up to make benches for the porch.
Long before any of that, Blessed Alan of Tewkesbury was abbot of the Benedictine community between 1188 – 1202 A.D.
Blessed Alan is perhaps most famous for his painstaking work on restoring into some chronological order, the 600 pieces of correspondence, between the great St. Thomas Becket and King Henry II.
He was also a strong defender of Catholic orthodoxy and the rights of Jesus Christ. Although he was very compassionate towards those who fell into sin, Alan of Tewkesbury was also strong against the obstinate.
One day, the infamous and licentious Abbot Roger Norreys, of Evesham, came to take part in the Sacred Liturgy in the presence of Archbishop Richard of Dover and Blessed Alan of Tewkesbury.
As Norreys was under interdict, Blessed Alan reminded the archbishop that he could not be permitted to take part in the liturgy with the rest of the monks. Archbishop Richard temporized and failed to take any action.
When the Sacred Liturgy began with Norreys illicitly present, Blessed Alan stood up, closed his liturgical books and processed out of the church with all of his monks. They would not offend God or abuse the offices of the Church in this sinful and scandalous manner.
Where are the men today?
We must ask: are there any men taking part in the Synod, of the spiritual stature of Blessed Alan of Tewkesbury? Every day that Danneels takes part in the Synod, with no protest from anyone else: God is offended, the Church is besmirched and scandal is given to the little ones.
This goes too, for every day that blasphemy, heresy and error are tolerated without someone standing up and asking why Pope Francis is tolerating and even encouraging this. Whilst so many of the world’s bishops are gathered together, someone needs to have the courage – the ”bottle,” as we say around here – to get up and ask how far the men leading the Church today believe in the Deposit of Faith; and whether or not they believe it in the way it has always been believed, everywhere. In short, are they really Catholics?
If Pope Francis were to deal with Danneels and all of this sinful scandal, then more Catholics at the grassroots level might start to believe that he actually cared about Catholicism and the Family.
It would be nice to know that more of the bishops did too.
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Superficial synod reports give green light to attacks on life and family

entering-synod_810_500_55_s_c1On October 11th Voice of the Family writes:

Last week cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod on the Family separated into thirteen small groups to discuss the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris and propose amendments to the document. The reports of their work, made public yesterday, reveal a striking failure to protect the family from the serious threats contained within the first part of this heterodox preparatory document.

It is important to note that these reports are not the only documents that will be submitted to the commission that will write the final report of the synod (if such a report is written). The small groups are also submitting suggested amendments to the text of the Instrumentum Laboris. There are no plans however to make these texts public. This ensures that there will be little pressure on the mostly heterodox commission to incorporate them into the final document.

The reports published on Friday were the last chance for the synod fathers to publicly protest against the attacks on life and family contained in the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris. The almost complete failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences for the family if these errors make their way into a final document.

The subordination of God to history

Paragraph 3 of the Instrumentum Laboris states that the principle “describing the synodal experience and indicating the task at hand” is “to read both the signs of God and human history, in a twofold yet unique faithfulness which this reading involves.”  This “interpretative key” of the document proclaims that the task of the synod is to be faithful to two different sources of authority (1) “the signs of God” and (2) the signs of “human history”. It is in accordance with this principle of dual fidelity that many synod fathers wish to bring the Catholic Church into conformity with the modern world. If man must be faithful both to God and to “human history” it follows that whenever there is a clash between their mutual demands a compromise must be found. When this approach is adopted, the natural moral law is no longer regarded as immutable but rather as subject to change over the course of time. A fuller account of our argument, and analysis of the historical roots of this approach, can be found in our Analysis of the Final Report of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.

Unless this false approach is corrected any final document of the Ordinary Synod will necessarily be unacceptable to faithful Catholics. Yet twelve out of the thirteen small groups do not even address this issue in their reports. One group “Circulus Anglicus ‘C’” did engage in “a larger consideration of the engagement of the Gospel and culture, the Church and history.” Unfortunately their report, far from rejecting the erroneous approach, would tend to confirm it by stressing the fact that the Church does not “inhabit a world out of time” or “a world outside human cultures” without recalling the eternal and supernatural aspects of the Church and her teaching.

Homosexual unions

Paragraph 8 of the Instrumentum Laboris opens the door to ecclesiastical approval of same-sex unions when it acknowledges the necessity of “defining the specific character of such unions in society” and calls for “a more thorough examination of human nature and culture which is based not simply on biology and sexual difference”. This is particularly dangerous given the rapid proliferation throughout the world of laws permitting homosexual civil unions and so called “same-sex marriage”. The majority of “developed” nations now have such laws and there is much pressure being placed on “developing” countries to adopt such legislation. This pressure is often tied to aid; the needs of some of the poorest populations are being manipulated as a means of promoting the radical homosexual agenda. Pressure from the “LGBT lobby” is also leading to the homosexual agenda being promoted in schools in many parts of the world including in Catholic schools.

None of the thirteen reports makes any reference to the grave threat contained in paragraph 8. Only one report, “Italicus Circulus ‘A’”, makes any reference to homosexual unions, and then only indirectly by stating that “since the beginning the only model of the family that corresponds to the doctrine of the Church is the one founded on marriage between a man and a woman” (VOTF translation).

“Emancipation of women”

Paragraph 30 of the Instrumentum Laboris adopts uncritically modern secular notions of “gender equality”. The paragraph asserts that “many quarters are witnessing an emancipation of women which is clearly indicating a woman’s role in the growth of the family and society.” There is no awareness shown here of the suffering caused to many women and many families as a result of the economic and social pressure which forces women out of the home, often leaving children to be cared for by others. The document also asserts that “in western countries, the empowerment of women requires a rethinking of the duties of the spouses”. In the absence of any clarification to the contrary it seems this should be interpreted as a call for the Church to embrace the continuing dissolution of traditional family structures and the abandonment of the different but complementary roles of men and women.

Twelve of the thirteen reports make no mention of these threats to the family and the authentic role of women. “Italicus Circulus ‘B’”, which contains a brief criticism of feminism, is the one exception.

Artificial methods of reproduction

Paragraph 34 of the Instrumentum Laboris discusses the “so-called bio-technological revolution” that has made possible the separation of “the act of human reproduction” from the “sexual relationship between man and woman.” It notes that such methods are “gaining increasing popularity”, are “having a profound effect in relationships, in society and in the judicial system which intervenes in an attempt to regulate a variety of different situations and what is already taking place.” The paragraph contains no moral judgement on these procedures. There is no reference to any previous Church teaching, such as the CDF instructions Donum Vitae and Dignitatis Personae The Instrumentum Laboris fails to mention that these methods which are “gaining increasing popularity” have led to the deliberate destruction of many millions of human beings.

This paragraph, by speaking of artificial methods of reproduction as if there was doubt about the Church’s position, is a direct threat to the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, the human embryo.

All thirteen reports are silent on this point. It should be noted that “Gallicus Circulus ‘C’” does make reference to dangers inherent in other procedures such as human cloning.


Paragraph 36  of the Instrumentum Laboris states: “Many request that the group of persons referred to as ‘far from the Church’ not carry the connotation of ‘excluded’ or ‘rejected,’ since such persons are loved by God and are at the heart of the Church’s pastoral activity.”

Pro-life, pro-family advocates working in the political arena, especially at the international institutions, know well that the language of “rejection” and “exclusion” is political code for resistance to the homosexual ideological agenda, as in the following examples:

“Many of the people we work with are excluded from development opportunities specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender expression, contributing to the staggering levels of inequality around the world.” (Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme)


“I am outraged that we still have to fight prejudice, stigma, discrimination, exclusion, criminalization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, not only in their homes, but in their streets, police stations and court rooms.” (Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme)


“LGBT young people too often face rejection by their families and communities who disapprove of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can result in high rates of homelessness, social exclusion, and poverty.” (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations)

None of the reports of the small groups rejected this language of “exclusion” or protested against the implication that the Catholic Church has previously practiced forms of unjust “exclusion”.

“Gallicus Circulus ‘C’” embraces the use of this language: “[Our final text] must avoid making certain people feel excluded from our concern, because all families participate in the mission of the Church! Let us remember that the families depicted in the Bible are often dysfunctional; nonetheless, the Word of God was realized in them and by them” (VOTF translation).

There is a great danger that such phrases are used to undermine the true definition of the family and to promote structures, such as homosexual couples who have adopted children, with no consideration for the harm caused to the children involved.

The family is under attack. This week’s events at the synod have signaled to the enemies of the family that the time is ripe for them to intensify their assault.

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Echoes of Vatican 2

From Rorate Caeli:

Synod, Day 6 – Final Relatio in danger; Rules changed by the hour – Microphone denied to Erdo, as to Ottaviani in Vatican II

Since before the Synod, there were doubts about a specific post-synodal papal exhortation, but there were never any doubts that there would be a final Relatio voted by the Assembly. Not anymore! The votes must be in doubt on the side of the manipulators, because since Cardinal Tagle first mentioned the possibility that there might be no final document at all in yesterday’s press conference, that has been the general talk.
Plus, there is complete disarray in the order of works. While Cardinal Erdo, formally the Relator-General, should be presenting his reports on the second and third parts of the Instrumentum Laboris, the floor has simply not been yielded to him anymore. Not at all! The third part of the Instrumentum, with its most controversial portions (on “remarried” divorcees and homosexuals) is now being openly debated without so much as a clear order of works. As we indicated on Day 2, the Estates-General have become the National Assembly, and the Jacobins are running the show.
Italian journalist Sandro Magister has the details in his Italian-language personal blog:

But this is not all [that is: the news about the new denial of the Final Relatio]. Because on October 10, Father Lombardi gave the news of another change occurred in this work in progress.
According to the Synod calendar, the discussion in the Hall and in the small groups were to follow the order of each of the three parts of the basic document, the Instrumentum Laboris, with each of them introduced each time by a “presentation of the Relator-General”, Cardinal Peter Erdo.
Instead, Cardinal Erdo — author on October 5 of a remarkable introductory general report that sowed panic among the innovators — was not given the microphone to return to present the three parts of the Instrumentum, and the interventions in the Hall went ahead on their own. With the result that, on Saturday, October 10, the [debate on the] Third Part [of the Instrumentum], has already begun in the Hall, the most attractive [part], with the strong dishes of divorce and homosexuality, while in the language groups the discussion should have still been centered on the Second Part of the document until Wednesday 14.
On October 10, Father Lombardi said in seraphic tones that an account of the interventions in the Hall ahead of time, those dedicated to the Third Part of the Instrumentum, would be given to reporters a few days later. In order for them not to be confused.
That the microphone has been denied to Cardinal Erdo so that he could have early direction of the presentation of each part of the Instrumentum Laboris by the direction of the Synod (let us be clear, by Cardinal Baldisseri, certainly directed by the Pope himself, it could be otherwise, it could simply not be otherwise), recalls one of the most tragic events in Vatican II, when Cardinal Ottaviani, the Prefect of the Holy Office had his microphone cut by Cardinal Liénart. It set the whole tone for a revolutionary council.
Vatican III is here, and the rules are changed at whim.
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Lectio Divina: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

To Follow the Truth That Makes Us Free Forever



By Archbishop Francesco Follo


Roman Rite

Wis. 7, 7-11; Ps 90; Heb 4.12 to 13; Mk 10.17 to 30
1) The road.

In the Gospel passage of this Sunday we see once more Christ on the way to Jerusalem, and today we read of a meeting of the Messiah with a man that does not want to enter into controversy with him. This man is rich but, although young, knew that soon or later he had to abandon his riches. “I think he was called in a kind of judgment by the fear of death and gnawed among his delights, thinking about having to leave his property. He had collected them, without knowing on behalf of whom, and wanted something eternal “(St. Augustine). Seeing that what he had was slipping from his hand, he asks to the Lord “Good Teacher, what good do I have to do to achieve eternal life?” It is as to say “I’d be fine, but I know that what I have can easily disappear. Tell me how I can take possession of what will be forever; tell me how I can come to the possession of what I will never lose “(St. Augustine)

This rich young man runs to meet Jesus, kneels before Him and to Him, who is the Way, asks the way, the direction of life.

Christ replies citing some of the Ten Commandments, the ones that have meaning in the social dimension and that concern love of neighbor, the test for the love of God. “Know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not false witness, do not defraud, Honor your father and mother … “.

To the young man who answers him that he already follows the commandments, Jesus proposes to go further and to make his love for God more radical and profound, putting this love at the first place among the values ​​of life. He then suggests “‘Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.”

The key requirement of the following is the primacy of God, the rest is superfluous. You can own or not own, but it is necessary that the heart is not totally linked, absorbed in riches, but wants deeply the “treasure that is in heaven”. The heart of man, as St. Augustine teaches, is made for God, and to Him should aspire, while “using” temporal realities. Let the Lord enters into our hearts with the sword of His word, so that in the light of His wisdom we can evaluate earthly and eternal things, and become poor and free for His kingdom. (Prayer of the today’s Mass)

Jesus invites this young man and his disciples, including us, to follow him at a level that is unprecedented. In a passage similar to that of the Gospel of St. Mark, the Evangelist Luke writes “While he was on the way, on the road, a man said to him ‘I will follow you wherever you go’. Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head ‘… Another said,’ I will follow you, Lord, but first allow me to take leave from my home ‘. Jesus replied: ‘Everyone who looks back, while putting hand to the plow, is not fit for the kingdom of God’ “(Lk. 9, 57-58 … 61-62).

To follow Christ means to be willing to experience something more than the “thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not kill”, etc. In addition to not doing evil we should ask ourselves the question of how to do good and especially how “to be” real people in love.

Jesus had already announced that in order to save his life, one had to be willing to lose it for His sake. To follow him it is necessary to deny themselves and take up the cross (Mark 8.34 to 35).

2) To follow with the eyes, with the steps, and with the heart.

The rich man who came to Christ was genuine and earned a look full of love from Jesus, who seems to say to him “One thing you lack, decisive for you. Renounce your possessions, invest in the treasury of the sky, and your heart will be free and will follow me. “But neither the look nor the words of Jesus had effect. This man, however saddened, preferred to return to the security of his own wealth. He could not or would not understand that he was offered a wealth incomparably more valuable and lasting of all its riches: the love of Christ that communicates the fullness of God (Eph 3.18 to 19). To the proposed fellowship, which was implicit in the request of Christ to follow Him, this man preferred solitude.

Yet Christ had looked at him with love. Jesus looked at the rich man and Jesus’ gaze was like a caress, a kiss …   the kiss that the master used to give to the disciple in Jesus’ time as in the case of Judas (Mk 14,45.). We could interpret this look as did St. Bede the Venerable, commenting on Jesus’ gaze on the publican Matthew (see Mt 9,9) “Jesus saw a publican, saw him being merciful with him, and called him telling him: ‘Follow me!'” (Homilies 21, CCL 122.150). Jesus said “What you do is right, but if you want to do something more, then go and sell your goods …”, but “You lack still one thing, leave everything and follow me” (Mk 10:21). That’s the point to where Jesus had carried the young man with his eye of merciful love. Unfortunately, this man did not believe in this look and in these words, he became sad and pulled back (see Mk 10 22). He did not believe in that look, did not believe in that love and was not able to follow him with the steps of the heart.

This rich young man did not have the courage to embrace Christ and his proposal of evangelical life, and the reason is clearly stated “Because he had great possessions.” Detachment from the goods and poverty are an indispensable condition for discipleship for three reasons:

1. Faith in God who is a provident Father. If He cares for the birds and the lilies of the field, He has even more care for each of us.

2. Need for fraternity: how can we continue to own all that we have, when we realize that all around us there are brothers who lack the necessary?

3. Need for freedom: if we are tied to too many things (and it is not just money) that absorb all of our time and our attention, how can we find the space and the taste for the things of God?

These three reasons can be summarized in one word: virginity, that Jacopone of Todi calls poverty in love.

3) Virginity: Poverty of self for the fullness of God.

Virginity is “poverty in love that makes it possible to have everything in a spirit of freedom” (Jacopone of Todi, “O amor de povertate”). Virginity is how to accommodate the look and love of Christ upon oneself, following him unconditionally, without asking for collateral security or have escape routes. One leaves everything even his own flesh to follow Jesus, without nostalgia and without hesitation for the way that He is. The required detachment is a gain, a bargain, not a loss. This is very true even for a simply human thought: in the sobriety of those goods that the Gospel calls riches  there is the possibility of other goods much more important and human, essential for us like the air we breathe: the time for God, the joy of brotherhood,  the liberation from the anxiety of possession, freedom and serenity.

Those who through virginity put God first in their life, become part of His “family”, where they find brothers and sisters to love, fathers and mothers to worship, houses and fields to work.  They find love. Virginity is not a negation of love, is the fullness and totality of love. For this reason the Ritual of the Consecration of the Virgin prays: “Fervent in love, they prefer nothing to your love” (Prayer of consecration of virgins, in the Roman Pontifical, reformed in accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and promulgated by Pope Paul VI, Consecration of Virgins, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1980, n. 38, page 77).

Patristic reading

Golden Chain

On Mk 10, 28-31

Gloss.: Because the youth, on hearing the advice of our Saviour concerning the casting away of his goods, had gone away sorrowful, the disciples of Christ, who had already fulfilled the foregoing precept, began to question Him concerning their reward, thinking that they had done a great thing, since the young man, who had fulfilled the commandments of the law, had not been able to hear it without sadness.

Wherefore Peter questions the Lord for himself and the others, in these words, “Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

Theophylact: Although Peter had left but few things, still he calls these his all; for even a few things keep us by the bond of affection, so that he shall be beatified who leaves a few things.

Bede: And because it is not sufficient to have left all, he adds that which makes up perfection, “and have followed thee.” As if he said, We have done what Thou hast commanded. What reward therefore wilt Thou give us?

Theophylact: But (p. 206) while Peter asks only concerning the disciples, our Lord makes a general answer; wherefore it goes on: “Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands.” But in saying this, He does not mean that we should leave our fathers, without helping them, or that we should separate ourselves from our wives; but He instructs us to prefer the glory of God to the things of this world.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 64: But it seems to me that by these words He intended covertly to proclaim that there were to be persecutions, as it would come to pass that many fathers would allure their sons to impiety, and many wives their husbands.

Chrys., Cat. in Marc. Oxon.: Again He delays not to say, “for my name’s sake and the Gospel’s” and Mark says, or “for the kingdom of God,” as Luke says; the name of Christ is the power of the Gospel, and of His kingdom; for the Gospel is received in the name of Jesus Christ, and the kingdom is made known, and comes by His name.

Bede: Some, however, taking occasion from this saying, in which it is announced that he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, teach that Jewish fable of a thousand years after the resurrection of the just, when all that we have left for the Lord’s sake is to be restored with manifold usury, besides which we are to receive the crown of everlasting life. These persons do no perceive, that although the promise in other respects be honourable, yet in the hundred wives, which the other Evangelists mention, its foulness is made manifest: particularly when the Lord testifies that there shall be not marriage in the resurrection, and asserts that those things which are put away from us for His sake are to be received again in this life with persecutions, which, as they affirm, will not take place in their thousand years. (ed. note: Certain early Fathers, as, for instance, St. Austin and Irenaeus, held the doctrine of the Millennium; Bede however mentions the Chilliasts (though their name is omitted in the Catena) and thus shews that he means the Corinthians, to whom that name was applied, on account of their shocking doctrine, that after the resurrection the Christians were to reign on earth for a thousand years in sensual pleasures, see Aug, de. Her. 8)

Pseudo-Chrys.: This hundredfold reward therefore must be in participation, not in possession, for the Lord fulfilled this to them not carnally, but spiritually.

Theophylact: For a wife is busied in a house about her husband’s food and raiment. See also how this is (p. 207) the case with the Apostles; for many women busied themselves about their food and their clothing, and ministered unto them. In like manner the Apostles had many fathers and mothers, that is, persons who loved them; as Peter, for instance, leaving one house, had afterwards the houses of all the disciples. And what is more wonderful, they are to be persecuted and oppressed, for it is “with persecutions” that the Saints are to possess all things, for which reason there follows, “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.” For the Pharisees who were first became the last; but those who left all and followed Christ were last in this world through tribulation and persecutions, but shall be first by the hope which is in God.

Bede: This which is here said, “shall receive an hundredfold,” may be understood in a higher sense. (see note, p. 78) For the number a hundred which is reckoned by changing from the left to the right hand, although it has the same appearance in the bending of the fingers as the ten had on the left, nevertheless is increased to a much greater quantity. This means, that all who have despised temporal things for the sake of the kingdom of heaven through undoubting faith, taste the joy of the same kingdom in this life which is full of persecutions, and in the expectation of the heavenly country, which is signified by the right hand, have a share in the happiness of all the elect. But because all do not accomplish a virtuous course of life with the same ardour as they began it, it is presently added, “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first”; for we daily see many persons who, remaining in a lay habit, are eminent for their meritorious life; but others, who from their youth have been ardent in a spiritual profession, at last wither away in the sloth of ease, and with a lazy folly finish in the flesh, what they had begun in the Spirit.

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Letters from the Synod: October 10, 2015


Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy (CNS)

Reports and commentary, from Rome and elsewhere, on the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

As Synod-2015 ends its first week of work, a crucial point of conversation and debate over the next two weeks is coming into clearer focus as other, more mediagenic proposals fade into the background: Should the Synod affirm the proposition that national or regional conferences of bishops have the authority to make pastoral provisions for local churches that differ dramatically from the pastoral practices previously in force throughout the universal Church?

Those arguing in favour of this proposal frequently appeal to the core Catholic social-ethical principle of “subsidiarity.” In an extension of that principle, which they understand to be implied by Vatican II’s theology of collegiality, they further suggest that these national or regional conferences of bishops enjoy an authority “between” that of the Bishop of Rome and the individual, local bishops in communion with him. This latter question will be addressed next week in this space.

In order to further discussion of whether the principle of subsidiarity “works” as a buttress supporting this proposal for pastoral-disciplinary devolution, Letters from the Synod is pleased to present, in this weekend Special Report, an important essay co-authored by Cardinal George Pell and Dr Michael Casey. The essay originally appeared in a volume published in Berlin by Duncker & Humblot, Besinnung auf das Subsidiaritätsprinzip [Reflections on the Principle of Subsidiarity], edited by Dr Anton Rauscher as Volume 23 in the series Soziale Orientierung [Social Orientation]. The full academic apparatus accompanying the essay, offered here with minimal references, may be found in that volume. XR2

Subsidiarity and Organisational Reforms in the Catholic Church

The Principle of Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity is an important “constructive principle” for bringing about coherence and cooperation in “multi-layered” societies. Social life usually comprises a large number of autonomous associations and institutions. There is considerable variation in place and time, both in the level of organisation these different entities attain and in the complexity of relations between them. As Pope St John XXIII observed in Mater et Magistra (1961), the growth and development of society is “the creation of men who are free and autonomous by nature”, and it is “vital” for “the full development of human personality” that these associations and institutions “be really autonomous, and loyally collaborate in pursuit of their own specific interests and those of the common good.” Subsidiarity is an ordering principle for bringing about the right balance “between the autonomous and active collaboration of individuals and groups, and the timely coordination and encouragement by the state of these private undertakings” (#63-67).

The role of the state looms large in subsidiarity, both in discussion and also in practice. For example, in the European Union subsidiarity has been incorporated as a political and legal principle for balancing the powers of the EU and its member states. In the social teaching of the Church, however, subsidiarity is not confined to questions of law and politics. It extends beyond these important considerations to questions about the nature of human community and the meaning of the common good. In addition to the state and its instrumentalities, subsidiarity encompasses “a great variety of forms and expressions of human community” such as the family, unions, clubs, corporations and schools. As Nicholas Aroney puts it, “the basic idea” is that each of these communities “should be allowed to make its own distinctive contribution to the common good without improper interference from the governing institutions of other communities, yet at the same time with appropriate ‘help’ or ‘aid’ (subsidium) from other institutions where assistance is warranted”.

Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931) remain the great milestones in the development of subsidiarity in Catholic social teaching. For both Leo XIII and Pius XI, discussion of the principle also revolved around the proper role and limits of the state. Professor Patrick Brennan has suggested that a further question underlying subsidiarity for these popes and their successors is the place of the Church and the communities it comprises in the social order of modernity. This also goes to whether it is still possible to differentiate the Church from other “intermediary institutions” in modern society, given its special nature. These are important and interesting questions, and they point to a further question.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches “the Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it. It is only ‘with the eyes of faith’ that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine life”. Among the many aspects of the Church as a visible and spiritual reality, it is both a community embodied locally and universally, and a society “structured with hierarchical organs”. The Church is also led by the Successor of Peter, who “by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (CCC, #770, 752, 771, 882). In short, the Church is a unique “polity” and society in its own right. How does subsidiarity apply in this context?

Before turning to this, there is a further point about subsidiarity that it is important to highlight, concerning the appropriate weight that should be given to this principle.

The incorporation of subsidiarity into the legal framework of the European Union does not seem to have helped in clarifying this particular question. Christopher Henckel has suggested that “subsidiarity in its theological context” can “only serve as a political guideline or a mere principle”. In the EU context, however, where subsidiarity is defined variously in legislation as a political principle, as “a narrowly defined legal principle”, and as a “mandated decision making-process” involving “complicated procedural steps and controversial substantive judgments”, it remains “notoriously ambiguous,” according to Henkel.

Professor Ken Endo has also drawn an important distinction has also been between negative and positive concepts of subsidiarity. The negative concept serves as a limitation, either discretionary or mandatory, on the competence of the higher level authority to intervene: a higher level of authority either cannot or should not intervene if “the lower entity” can carry out its functions without assistance. The positive concept of subsidiarity highlights “the possibility or even the obligation of interventions from the higher organisation:” the higher level can, or should, or even must intervene if the lower entity is unable to carry out its functions unaided. The “double meaning of subsidiarity,” as both a limitation on intervention and an obligation to intervene in different circumstances, explains the “wide spectrum” of interpretation and application to which it is susceptible.

In part, this problem arises because the application of subsidiarity is a matter of prudential judgment, and what prudence requires in one situation may vary significantly from what is required in another. The papal magisterium of social encyclicals is very clear that intervention by a higher authority must be limited in time and scope, and must be only for the purposes of enabling communities and protecting “the mutual rights” of groups and individuals. In Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII stipulated that “the rulers of the commonwealth must go no further” than is necessary to “justly and properly . . . safeguard and strengthen” the rights of citizens (#14).

In Centesimus Annus, Pope St John Paul II also underscored that action taken under the principle of subsidiarity is “supplementary.” It must be “justified by urgent reasons touching the common good, [and] must be as brief as possible” to avoid the danger of the state permanently removing the functions or role of important associations and institutions. This also minimises the danger of “enlarging excessively [and permanently] the sphere of state intervention to the detriment of both economic and civil freedom” (#48). As Pius XI emphasised in Quadragesimo Anno, each subsidiary intervention of the state and “every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them” (#79). The positive and negative concepts of subsidiarity arise from its nature as an enabling principle for civil society, which strengthens society as a whole.

A further consideration in assessing the weight that must be given to subsidiarity as a matter of prudential judgment is Pius XI’s description of it “as that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed,” and which “remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy” (ibid.).

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice, and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order, to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organisations can do.

Professor Brennan argues that this language means we should understand and apply subsidiarity “not as a ‘policy’ or a mere political preference, but instead as one among the unchangeable ontological principles of the socio-political order,” along with other principles such as solidarity and the common good.

Subsidiarity and the Catholic Church

Catholic teaching on subsidiarity was developed, especially by Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI, as a response to the anti-religious sentiments and activities of hostile revolutionary governments, which began with the French Revolution of 1789, continued after the 1848 revolutions, and re-emerged with the Nazi, Fascist and communist governments of the earlier parts of the twentieth century.

It remains to be seen whether the substantial freedoms enjoyed by Christian communities in Western Europe since the Second World War are essential components of the future or whether the 19th– and 20th-century forms of harassment and persecution of Christian communities will be resumed here and there, justified perhaps as part of the anti-religious restriction of freedoms likely to be introduced in response to the disaffection and violence emanating from Islamic communities in Europe.

It would be ironic if the governments of the formerly communist Eastern Europe emerged as the new defenders of religious freedom, of the rights of Christian communities to continue to teach and practice publicly their doctrines on sexuality, marriage, family and life issues, especially within institutions which receive government funding.

On a similar but different front we all know of individuals, in (for example) Canada and the United Kingdom, who have been harassed by commissions and courts for giving out Christian teachings on sexuality. We know of the Fortnight for Freedom programme endorsed by the bishops of the United States in 2013. In the ongoing struggles to maintain religious freedom in an increasingly irreligious, superstitious, and childless western world, the argument from subsidiarity to religious freedom will remain important. This, however, is not our theme here.

With the election of Pope Francis in March 2013, the Catholic Church has entered an exciting new phase, with the Holy Father enjoying a worldwide approval level not previously experienced, even in the early days of St John Paul II.

A wide range of expectations, some of them contradictory, has arisen on moral matters such as divorce and remarriage and homosexual practices, while the creation of a regularly meeting Council of Cardinals to advise the Holy Father and an expanded role for the Ordinary Council of the Synod have given new life to aspirations for change to the organisational patterns embodying the authority of the pope as the successor of the St Peter and individual bishops as successors of the apostles.

In the pontificates of St John Paul II and Pope Benedict liberal and radical Christians living in countries with a more “liberal” episcopate were often keen to decrease the authority of the Roman Curia and complained about excessive centralisation of decision making in the Vatican. With the advent of a new pope often estimated (wrongly in our belief) to be a doctrinal liberal, some of these more liberal elements might be more relaxed about Roman leadership, preferring that to a devolution of wider decision-making powers to a national hierarchy of a more conservative hue.

The standing of the Roman Curia in worldwide public opinion was severely damaged by officials in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Partly in response to this, and partly for wider theological reasons, some succumb to the temptation to embrace a negative and simplistic view of subsidiarity, in which the higher level of authority (Rome) either cannot or should not intervene, so that the lower entity can carry out tits functions without interference.

What is of particular interest is that many espousing this point of view envisage a transfer of authority away from the Roman congregations to national or continental conferences rather than to individual bishops.

One unusual characteristic of the Catholic Church is that it is such a “flat” organisation, in which even metropolitan archbishops have little authority to intervene in other dioceses. Unlike a multinational corporation, the Church has no national, much less continental, general managers. Each bishop as a successor of the apostles, with his own authority as priest, prophet, and ruler, and not as a delegate or representative of the pope, is still directly responsible to the Holy Father as the successor of Peter, the rock man of the Church (Matthew 16:8).

While individual bishops have a solemn obligation to cooperate, to strive to enhance communion, to work for a diocese–wide, national, and indeed universal unity (not uniformity), no bishop can be compelled by a national conference of bishops to adopt any particular policy. To what extent might a proper understanding of subsidiarity contribute to clarifying these ancient but evolving challenges?

The definition of subsidiarity offers considerable challenges. We have quoted Pope Pius XI on the one hand, who saw subsidiarity as “that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed” and which “remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy,” while Professor Nicholas Aroney has pointed out that in the European Union at least, and in all other polities where Christian presuppositions are not accepted, the concept remains “notoriously ambiguous.”

Every definition of subsidiarity within a religion flows from the nature of the particular religious community. Groups of evangelical Christians generally have little internal structure, no sacraments, and no intercommunity structures. Orthodox communities are regularly grouped as national churches, often linked to patriarchates, such as Constantinople or Moscow. Anglicanism was originally the Church of England.

The visible and spiritual reality of the Catholic Church as “one, holy, universal and apostolic” can only be accepted with the eyes of faith. But the obligations to maintain a world-wide unity – Christocentric, inspired by the apostolic tradition, nourished by the seven sacraments, and governed by a hierarchy of pope and bishops – define what is meant by the [ecclesial] common good and what is required for the flourishing of the Church and the service of the baptised and the wider “world.”

Only within this specific context, which acknowledges the binding power of the creeds, of baptismal formulae, and of the dogmatic definitions of popes and councils, can one identify the distinctive contributions of various elements. Only within this context can one judge whether right order is being disturbed by a pope and the Roman Curia in the universal Church, by a synod or council of bishops in a nation or continent, and indeed by a bishop in his diocese.

Professor Endo’s “positive concept” of subsidiarity highlights the “possibility or even the obligation of interventions from the higher organisation,” and what is required regularly from the pope and sometimes from individual bishops would be impossible in other hierarchically organised Christian Churches, and unthinkable in the many, unlinked Christian communities. One generally unremarked but extremely important and traditional role of the Roman Curia is to protect the local clergy, religious, and laity against unjust exercise of power by bishops.

Another preliminary clarification is to recognise that the doctrine of subsidiarity was developed to protect the rights of individuals and intermediary institutions in secular society, as they work towards the common good in free and active collaboration. One risks further complications if a theory developed for society generally is applied as such to the Catholic Church, while disregarding the differences between Church, state, and society and especially the supra-natural self understandings of the Church.

Prescriptions for a civil society do not always translate exactly into prescriptions for a Church founded on the New Testament and Catholic tradition. For example, the Catholic Church is not a democracy. However, of course, the principle of subsidiarity is one of the fundamental principles of canon law; and Pope Pius XII, referring to Pius XI’s teaching in Quadragesimo Anno in an address to newly created cardinals in 1946, made clear that the principle of subsidiarity does indeed apply to the Church, but without prejudice to its hierarchical structure.

A comparable confusion has emerged many times over the past 50 years when the rights of individuals and communities to practice their religion without interference from state authorities (except when the common good is damaged), as espoused in the 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom of the Second Vatican Council, have been applied willy-nilly to the internal life of the Church, in order to assert the primacy of the individual conscience to resist New Testament, magisterial and papal teachings, while claiming to remain fully Catholic – asserting a right to so-called “loyal dissent” even in central doctrinal and moral teachings in the hierarchy of truths. Too rarely have local bishops followed their consciences and acted on their duty to maintain and preserve the apostolic tradition by disciplinary action.

Just as one’s faith is defined by belief in, or rejection of, the divinity of Christ, so one’s Catholic ecclesiology is defined by the status ascribed to the papacy, to the pope as successor of St Peter. Sometimes our enemies understand better than we do the importance of the papacy. In every country the communists controlled they attempted to set up a national church independent of Rome. We know also from Hitler’s Table Talk that he intended to set up a pope in every country he conquered.

The most vivid example of this in the English-speaking world was the 16th-century assertion by King Henry VIII that he was head of the Catholic Church in England. Henry dissolved the monasteries, then the only sources of social welfare, and distributed much of this wealth to the local aristocracy, so securing their long- term support. But only one bishop, John Fisher of Rochester, resisted Henry.

Fisher, a fine patristics scholar, devoted years of study to the early history of the papacy and decided that this then 1,500-year-long history was not just a unique and spectacular sociological and historical achievement, but a development, rooted in Christ’s teaching as reported in the New Testament, which represented God’s essential plan for the Catholic community. He believed this, and died for the belief, despite the fact that no pope in his lifetime would today be regarded as a “good” pope.

It was Fisher’s years of study that persuaded Thomas More, writer, lawyer and former Lord Chancellor of England, to adopt a similar position and so suffer a similar fate. We too believe in the traditional Catholic teaching on the role and office of the pope, and this has vast consequences for any theory of subsidiarity in the Church.

If the papacy is seen [primarily] as a spectacularly successful human story, despite the split with the Christian East in 1054 and the Protestant revolt in the 16th century, it is easier to see the pope as Patriarch of the West, whose span of influence has increased with the spread of the Latin Church through the missionary activity that accompanied western conquests in the Americas and Africa and western penetration into Asia. In such a naturalistic perspective, one could argue for a substantially increased role for continental synods, something akin to the ancient patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria and then Constantinople. One would also risk repeating the mistakes, resurrecting national rivalries, as in the first millennium.

We have mentioned that bishops are successors of the apostles, who receive their authority at their ordination, and that while they receive their authority through him, they are not delegates of the pope. The Second Vatican Council developed the notion of collegiality (a term from Roman law and not the New Testament), whereby the whole college of bishops, always with and under the pope, is one expression of supreme authority in the Church. With a little stretching, one could regard the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council as an exercise of the principle of subsidiarity, where the proper functions of the bishops are spelled out to complement the teachings of the First Vatican Council (terminated prematurely in 1870 by the consequences of the Franco–Prussian war), which dealt only with the prerogatives of the pope and defined papal infallibility.

The special role of the pope in appointing or approving the appointment of bishops is also appropriate as a better guarantee of evangelical vitality, doctrinal purity, and Church unity, but recommendations and much information are regularly collected from the dioceses and provinces involved. The rights of German cathedral chapters in the appointment of bishops are not universal.

Modern communications have transformed the work of the Roman Curia and the nature of the papacy. When one of the authors came to Rome as a student 51 years ago, it was impossible for distant bishops to attend regular meetings in Rome. Neither were they appointed to Roman positions. Today bishops from around the world meet regularly as members of Roman congregations and councils, while the internet, email, etc., provide almost instant worldwide communications.

We have claimed that the “application of subsidiarity is a matter of prudential judgement,” and the Church has been organised somewhat differently over the centuries within the framework of papal and episcopal leadership. The traditional style of leadership of the Catholic Church owes much to the ancient Roman Empire, although Gospel values rule supreme.

Ancient Rome was not excessively centralist. Neither should this excessive centralism be the aim of any pope or any of the Roman congregations. It is good, and indeed necessary, that the number of senior or professional officials in the Vatican be limited. In every way the Vatican is a far cry from the Pentagon.

Theologies are many, but essential doctrine is not susceptible to regional differences. People tend to believe as they pray (lex orandi, lex credendi). This leads us to conclude that it is entirely justified and necessary for the Holy Father to take special care to preserve the purity of the Latin rite celebrations, and indeed the proper form of celebration in the other rites. So, for example, it is an appropriate example of subsidiarity for vernacular translations of the common liturgical texts to be prepared within the language groups and only then formally approved (recognitio) by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

In the first centuries, when Christians wanted to be sure they were teaching as Christ taught, they appealed to the churches founded by the apostles as custodians of the apostolic tradition. The church in Rome had a double claim to pre-eminence, being founded by both Peter and Paul. However the principle of subsidiarity might be applied prudentially within the Catholic Church from time to time, this will not change. The role of the papacy as providing the last word, defending the apostolic tradition, will always be unique.

George Cardinal Pell is Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See

Michael A Casey is Senior Adviser, Church Policy, in the Australian Catholic University’s Office of Government, Policy and Strategy

…for the Synod and the Church to hear

“Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.

“Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.

“The understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning, and the same import…’

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Marriage as a Witness to Hope


Here is the full text of the three minute intervention delivered by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia on 7th October during the opening sessions of the Synod on the Family: 

Marriage as a Witness to Hope


Abp_Charles_Chaput_bestThe Instrumentum seemed to present us with two conflicting views: pastoral despair or a decision to hope. When Jesus experienced the pastoral despair of his Apostles, he reminded them that for man a thing may seem impossible, but for God all things are possible.

In mastering nature for the purpose of human development, we human beings have wounded our oceans and the air we breathe. We’ve poisoned the human body with contraceptives. And we’ve scrambled the understanding of our own sexuality. In the name of individual fulfillment, we’ve busied ourselves with creating a new Babel of tyranny that feeds our desires but starves the soul.

Paragraphs 7-10 of the Instrumentum did a good job of describing the condition of today’s families. But overall, the text engenders a subtle hopelessness. This leads to a spirit of compromise with certain sinful patterns of life and the reduction of Christian truths about marriage and sexuality to a set of beautiful ideals — which then leads to surrendering the redemptive mission of the Church.

The work of this synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. And it should honor the heroism of abandoned spouses who remain faithful to their vows and the teaching of the Church.

George Bernanos said that the virtue of hope is “despair, overcome.” We have no reason to despair. We have every reason to hope. Pope Francis saw this himself in Philadelphia. Nearly 900,000 people crowded the streets for the papal Mass that closed the World Meeting of Families.

They were there because they love the Pope, but also because they believe in marriage. They believe in the family. And they were hungry to be fed by real food from the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors. Marriage embodies Christian hope – hope made flesh and sealed permanently in the love of a man and a woman.

This synod needs to preach that truth more clearly with the radical passion of the Cross and Resurrection.”


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Is Satan Leading the Synod?

By Father Dickson from The Catholic Collar and Tie blog:

One of the major ploys of Satan is to take a truth and distort it. In Eden he took the truth that we are made in God’s image and likeness and twisted it to have Adam and Eve seek likeliness to God in the espousing of absolute autonomy: “You can be like God and know right from wrong”. In presenting autonomy to Adam as likeness to God, Satan had Adam follow a lie into suffering and death. Today, Satan is taking the truth that God is merciful to have us accept not simply the sinner but the sin.
Let us be brutally honest: from reports coming from the Synod, many at the highest levels of the Church seem to have been deceived by Satan; they are advocating ‘new directions’ outside of Gospel truth. Having taken on board modern, person-centred psychology in which “what is right for me is right” reigns, they are ditching Gospel Truth as ‘rigid’ and ‘lacking in mercy’, yet the mercy they talk of is one which means not judging the act or situation –which is a false mercy, for true mercy judges the act in order to save the person.

Sadly, Francis is not calling them back but seems to be encouraging their new direction, hinting that their idea of mercy is the work of a ‘God of surprises’. In reality, they are not asking us to be surprised by God; they are asking us to ignore God and His Divine Law. Francis has likened those who defend The Faith to those who wished to stone the woman caught in adultery; he implies they have no understanding of God’s mercy and are like the rigid doctors of the law. But they do understand mercy; they have read that Gospel passage to the end where Our Lord warns to woman, ‘go, and sin no more’.  If this Synod continues to focus on only half of the Gospel; on mercy without repentance and amendment of life (which we all have to engage in) it preaches a distortion of the Gospel and does the work of Satan. Those who promote this false mercy are steering toward the wide road that leads to perdition, and taking souls with them. To be sure, Francis can be read as upholding the Faith, but he does appear to engage in double-speak as a matter of course, for while he affirmed doctrine in his homily at the opening Mass of the Synod, he still asked the Synod Fathers to be surprised by God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into new ways of living out the Faith (labelled as mere ‘disciplinary changes’). The man-in-the-street, however, can see the idiocy and danger of saying we believe one thing yet doing another: “I believe in gravity, but I wish to fly and believe I can fly, so jumping of the Dome of St Peter’s will not harm me”.

Here is a surprise for those advocating a new style of mercy: nothing is impossible to God. A ‘No-thing’, a contradiction, is impossible to God. God cannot draw a square circle, and He cannot unite Himself to sin either. What we need from this Synod is not ways of admitting those in objectively sinful situations to the Holy of Holies, but ways to help marriages and the family stay a stable and strong light in this God-forsaking world. As this Synod progresses we faithful Catholics are called to act as in the days of the Arian Crisis and raise our voices in favour of orthodoxy. As Edmund Burke said, ‘all that is required for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing’. Let us be faithful instruments of the Holy Spirit, who protects the Deposit of Faith given by Christ. Let us raise our voices in defence of The Truth so that Satan does not hoodwink the prelates of the Church and lead them -and us- astray.

Pat Archbold detects another sinister sign in The Scariest Quote of the Synod 

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Leading African cardinal critiques Vatican spokesman Fr Rosica

From LifeSiteNews:

ROME, October 9, 2015

UnknownSouth African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, a leading cardinal on the organizing committee for the Synod on the Family, issued a pointed critique on Twitter of a controversial report on the Synod by the Vatican’s English-language spokesman, Fr. Thomas Rosica, in which the priest emphasized that the Church should “embrace reality” in dealing with sinful situations.

Rosica’s summary of Synod fathers’ addresses at Tuesday’s press briefing was criticized for its emphasis on liberal proposals and the strong language he used to describe them. The remarks fuelled ongoing concerns from last year’s Synod about the manipulation of the message by the Vatican press office and the Synod’s organizing body.

After the press conference, Salt and Light TV, Rosica’s Toronto-based media organization, tweeted out a link to an article about Rosica’s remarks, saying, “Fr. Rosica Speaks on Synod Delegates, The Need to Embrace People Where They Are.”

In reply, Napier tweeted: “‘Meet people where they are’ sounds nice, but is that what Jesus did? Didn’t he rather call them away from where they were?”

Read on here

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A Prayer for the Synod


tumblr_luyuhhu1A81qcjvpvo1_500Dear Lord Jesus Christ, the eyes of all men now look on those who are entrusted in a special way with the care of your Bride as they deliberate in Synod.

Knowing that the gates of hell shall never prevail against Your Holy Church, yet aware of many denials and betrayals by current bishops and their predecessors, we come to you begging that this event give no scandal to the faithful, no compromise to Your revealed truth, no comfort to the enemies of Holy Church and no plausible pretext for those who seek to continue in unrepented mortal sin.

Fill your children with a passionate zeal to cleanse the world of the grievous offenses against human dignity found in polygamy, divorce, concubinage, bastardy, fornication, pornography, promiscuity, sexual obsession, child abuse, the love of violence, relativism and all other forms of idolatry, eugenics and euthanasia in all their many forms, the misguided tolerance of sexual depravity as a behaviour and the most reprehensible of all atrocities, the imposition of sexual depravity as a component of human identity and as a sacrilegious substitute for human families to the extent that those who have fallen into these sins come to repentance; those who advocate the open practice of such evils be debilitated by shame and guilt; those whose minds are unstained by knowledge of such sins remain innocent; those who learn of such atrocities be overwhelmed with contempt, disgust, horror and revulsion at them; and that no human society ever again deem sexual depravity a topic suitable for public mention. Amen.

(With thanks to Gregg the Obscure who posted this prayer in the comments section of Fr Z’s blog)

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Synod Flash – day four

Cardinal Peter Erdö

Cardinal Peter Erdö

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for today’s update:

An English translation of the very conservative opening address by Cardinal Peter Erdo, Relator General of the Synod of Bishops, delivered on September 5, Day 1 of the Synod, has been made available in the past few hours, by the National Catholic Register and the Catholic News Agency.

We appreciate their effort, but it seems that our editorial decision not to waste our scarce resources on this was not wrong: already on the fourth day, the second of the meeting of the “circuli minores” (the small groups of bishops according to general language groups), and in the following press conference, what do we get from Italian Synod Father Cardinal Menichelli? That no one is listening to Cardinal Erdo’s words, they are all going directly to the highly problematic and profoundly liberal Instrumentum Laboris, the document that undermines all Catholic doctrine on family and marriage, from Trent to Humanae Vitae (despite poor Erdo’s best efforts to spin it to a more conservative direction).


As Matteo Matzuzzi, reporter for Il Foglio has just tweeted from the Synod press conference: “Cardinal Menichelli: ‘The Erdo report is his interpretation? One would have to ask him! The debates are [centered] on the Instrumentum.” Instead, as Wall Street Journal’s Francis Rocca mentions, Cardinal “Menichelli says women’s rights and human sexuality are pertinent to theme of family Synod”. As for the Africans? They are also learning their place: Archbishop Palmer-Buckle from Ghana, also present in today’s official press conference, says Africa is growing up: “Africa is growing on subject of homosexuality.”

It was worth the effort, Cardinal Erdo. The show must go on.


The other interesting news of the day is that the sole German-language group, the Germanicus, asked to move out of its meeting place, because its windowless place in the first day smelled bad and had “foul air”. Sulfur, we presume?… Indeed, the group includes luminaries of orthodoxy such as Cardinals Kasper and Marx, and Bishop Bode…

Today, they met in the Palace of the Holy Office, hosted by Prefect Cardinal Müller, who provided much needed light and fresh air.

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Dear Synod Fathers

This Letter from Rachael Marie Collins was published on First Things:

Dear Synod Fathers,

My husband and I were married in April 2008. Despite a lovely courtship and beautiful wedding, the first eighteen months of our marriage were terrible. Although we loved one another, we were unprepared for the daily compromises, negotiations and renunciations of self that a loving and successful marriage requires. Independent and extremely willful, we fought. We fought so ferociously and so often that after we entered couples therapy, our therapist told my husband that he should leave me. It would always be this way, she said. Things would never “change.”

Our marriage is now strong, happy and healthy. We’ve been married for over seven years and have three beautiful children. We hope to have more children and we’re committed to leading hidden, holy lives within the sacrament of our marriage in service of one another and the children given to us by God. How did this change happen? How was our marriage saved and transformed?

Our most steadfast supporter was the Church Herself. The Church’s position on the indissolubility of marriage and Her willingness to stand by this teaching in praxis (and not just in doctrine) strengthened us. She left us with no choice but to try and try again until things improved. She also provided us with the support and help we needed. We attended confession often. Faithful priests counseled and encouraged us. Older Catholic couples joyfully showed us that it was possible to have a happy marriage and how to do so.

When family members and secular therapists were ready to approve us walking away from the commitment we’d made, the Church wasn’t. I don’t know that our marriage would have survived if the Church had wavered in its teaching and practice on marriage, if it had offered us the false hope of a “merciful” way out. Instead, the Church encouraged us to rely on God’s help, to seek answers from Scripture and strength from the sacraments. We slowly learned to practice the Christian virtues of patience and forgiveness. By forcing us to persevere, the Church taught us how to love one another.

Read on here

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Scared of this Synod


By Mark Lambert from De Omnibus Dubitandum Est:

For me, this articulates what is going on with the Synod perfectly.

The scary thing is not that Church teaching will change; it can’t and it won’t (as everyone seems to be repeating ad nauseam, almost like some desperate mantra). The scary thing for faithful Catholics is that there are Ordained men; bishops and priests, who have lost their faith to the extent where they are openly pushing for a sinful agenda. That’s why the media are all in Rome; like vultures awaiting the final expiration of some great beast, they are circling, anticipating the capitulation of the Church to the world. As Michael Voris puts it:

…what is happening here is the appearance at least of the Church giving up the ghost, so to speak, and adopting the ways of the world with regard to divorce and homosexuality. At the end of the day, that’s why the press is here in droves — no other reason. Most of the media outlets are here to chronicle the demise of the Church, its throwing in of the proverbial towel and becoming more worldly. At least, they think that’s what might happen. They aren’t pouring resources into covering this for a month to get the headline at the end of October “Church Teaches Marriage Is a Sacrament” or “Church Condemns Homosexual Acts.”

They already know that and have already reported that kind of thing in a zillion stories. The headline they want and are looking for — probably safe to say even hoping for — is “Church Accepts Divorce” or “Church Blesses Gays.” They have reported on the possibility of all this quite a few times, and that’s what all the interest here is about — nothing else.

This is a scandal to anyone who loves the faith, and the tension for those who are committed to it is palpable. Everyone knows that these are things that do not change; the Pope’s job is not to make up new doctrine, but to hold the teaching of Christ (the deposit of faith) in perpetuity, unchanged, until the parousia (the second coming). That is the function and purpose of the papacy. In the interim period, he is commissioned with preaching anew this Gospel in every age.

This morning, The Catholic Herald carries the story that, In a surprise speech to the synod yesterday, Francis said the ‘Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched or put into question‘. Is the Holy Father beginning to wake up to the scandal and confusion that has been caused by his facilitating what has come to be called “the Kasper proposal”? Think about it: how shocking is it to hear that the pope has had to stand up at a synod held in the Holy See and say that Marriage doctrine will not change. How on earth did we get here?

Meanwhile, this morning, Voice of the Family suggests the Pope has just made it worse!

The Ordinary Synod on the Family moved much closer yesterday to a repudiation of the teachings of the Catholic Church on human sexuality. The hopes of faithful Catholics were raised on Monday by the reassertions of Catholic orthodoxy made in the relazione introduttiva of the General Relator of the Synod, Péter Cardinal Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest. Yesterday Erdő’s report and position were seriously undermined after an intervention of Pope Francis indicated to the synod fathers that the question of Holy Communion for the “divorced and remarried” was still open. Cardinal Erdő was also undermined by remarks made by synod fathers invited to a press conference organised by Holy See press spokesman Fr Lombardi S.J.

Father Hunwicke, that erudite scholar, has several good posts on the synod, (including this one for example) and reminds us that ‘Proclaiming and publicly defending any sin is worse than committing it.‘ These men must have lost their faith, because they display no fear of God (c.f. Matthew 18:6). There is a terrifying responsibility for those who seek to lead us in faith. And it seems that relationship has broken down. It has broken down because of the abuse crisis and the apparent hypocrisy of those who lead us. Especially in this Country I fear, it has broken down because of an attitude that says “oh we don’t believe in that any more…You don’t have to do that any more…”. If it doesn’t matter for them, why should it matter for any of us?

Imagine how hard this now is, under this papacy, for bishops and priests. Each Parish is fairly autonomous in any case. The Church isn’t great at authority, it is more about broad consensus post Vatican II, which is a very adult approach to communion. However, under Pope Saint John Paul II and under Pope Benedict XVI, we had the sureity of the See of Peter behind that authority. It was easier to administrate by pointing to the Holy See and saying, with the Apostle, “not I but the Lord” (1 Cor 7:10). In the current climate, any individual priest might say “Well, Pope Francis says…” or commonly; “Who am I to judge?

With the clergy so at odds over the transmission of the faith, what hope then for the sheep they shepherd? Anything goes.

Father Ray Blake considers this issues in his recent blog post, where he states:

I have been pondering the connection between ‘trust’ and ‘faith’. Because Christ gave us a Church founded on the Apostles rather than a book in order for people to believe in Christ they must first of all trust the Apostles, the bishops are the successors of the Apostles. Perhaps the saddest development in the Church has been the break down in trust between the faithful and their bishops and maybe equally important the paralleled break down in the trust between the world and the Church, to the point, in the West at least, where the idea of the Church was on the verge of becoming toxic….

The centrality of Peter is essential to the Church, it is Dr DeVille points out at the service of ‘unity’. After the lio Pope Francis has to re-establish trust not just in himself but in but in the bishops in the Church as he has done outside it in his Papacy, because trust is an essential to faith and mistrust of the Pope and Bishops is seriously damaging to the Church’s integrity and ultimately to individuals’ faith. Unitatis Redintegratio is clear that not only is disunity a scandal but it is also detrimental to faith. Speaking for myself the shifting sands of the build up to the Synod has hardly strengthened my faith.

These words should be reflected on by those who are creating such a mess in Rome at the moment, scattering the sheep, confusing the faithful, opening up the solid sureity of the tried and tested message of Revelation to interpretation and ignorant mis-interpretation.

In yesterday’s report on the Synod, Michael Voris tells an anecdote from the Press Briefing after the morning sessions:

…in one particular episode right at the very end of the press conference, one last question came up from the press gallery, and on stage was the archbishop of Gatineau, Quebec, Paul-André Durocher, who was asked, “What about this question of the discipline versus the doctrine of administering Holy Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics? Is it safe to say that this issue is still under debate? And if so, what does that say about the question of the dogma and the discipline?”

And he gave an answer that stunned a number of us inside the press room. He said, ‘If you want dogma, go read Denzinger. The Synod will be deciding and talking about whether this is a discipline or it’s a dogma.”

That caused one priest who was sitting very, very close to us to sort of go into a rage. He actually confronted the archbishop on the way out of the door and said, “All you bishops, everything you’re doing here, is this conciliarism, which is destroying the Church! You are confusing the faithful. You don’t know the Faith.”

What is really scary is when someone says one thing and does something else. We don’t follow any man, we follow Christ and always will, but the lack of humility before the spiritual reality of the Church is stunning and sad. The worst part for me is the effect it is having, right now, on the little ones who look to these men as the great and the good; as those who are to lead us in faith, and the longer this goes on, the sad look of hurt, betrayal and disappointment on their trusting faces.

When I look at the dossier built up by Cardinal Nichols for the Synod, and the quote he has included I quoted in this postand repeat again here:

“…To the younger generation the Catholic Church is a medieval irrelevance. While I, myself, believe in Jesus – I am appalled at what the institution He founded has become. A tyrannical power structure, stuck in a medieval culture and unable to bring itself into the modern world. One good example of this is the so called New Translation of the Mass. A backward step from language that ordinary people understood to a ridiculous artificial so-called sacral language which is no more than a mixture of garbled English, medieval theological vocabulary and transliteration from Latin…”

it seems self-evident to me that no amount of pandering to people like this will bring them to Christ. No amount of watering-down or giving way will make any difference to them. What it will do is betray those who are so faithful they would lay down their lives for the faith. Those who have heroically lived with same sex attraction or after their spouse has deserted them. If only Cardinal Nichols had the courage to see that if he only stood up for Christ, if he only stood for what he says he does, he would engender such loyal support as he could scarcely imagine at present!

Lord save us from the wolves who would ravage your Bride!

Let us continue to pray for the Synod Fathers.

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