Saint John Plessington, Priest and Martyr

Stained glass window in St Winifrede’s Church Holywell depicting St John Plessington ministering to a kneeling woman and below with a group at his execution.

St John Plessington, whose feast is today, 19th July, was beatified in 1929. He is one of two Shrewsbury saints to be canonised among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales in 1970, the other being St Margaret Ward. He is also one of six of the 40 martyred after they were accused of treason in the “Popish Plot”, which had been fabricated by Titus Oates, and which led to the deaths of more than 25 innocent Catholics in the late part of the 17th century.

Although he was born in Dimples, near Garstang, Lancashire, St John exercised his ministry in Cheshire and North Wales, and he was hanged, drawn and quartered on 19th July 1679 at Boughton Cross, overlooking the River Dee at West Chester. What is remarkable about his execution is that St John wrote his speech for the scaffold ahead of his death. It was later printed and copies still exist. According to Butler’s Lives of the Saints the speech represents “a particularly clear statement of denial in the face of death of the charges upon which he was condemned”, charges which, had they been true, would have made him a dangerous criminal rather than a martyr.

St John told the crowd that there was not a shred of evidence of treason against him and he was dying solely on account of his priesthood. With great fortitude, he added: “Bear witness, good hearers, that I profess that I undoubtedly and firmly believe all the articles of the Roman Catholic faith, and for the truth of any of them, by the assistance of God, I am willing to die; and I had rather die than doubt of any point of faith taught by our holy mother the Roman Catholic Church.”

St John, who sometimes called himself William Pleasington or John Scarisbrick, had studied for the priesthood at the English College at Valladolid, Spain. He returned to England in 1663 and based himself largely at Puddington Hall, near Burton, Wirral, where he laboured without harassment for more than decade as chaplain to the Massey family and tutor to the children.

But in 1678 the pretended revelations of a conspiracy to assassinate Charles II and replace him with his Catholic brother James created national hysteria. In December that year they claimed their first victim, Edward Coleman, and until 1st July 1681, with the martyrdom of St Oliver Plunkett, Catholics were executed in locations all over England. According to a local tradition, St John was drawn into the plot at the insistence of a Protestant landowner simply because he had forbidden a match between his son and a Catholic heiress. Three witnesses gave false evidence of seeing St John serving as a priest: he forgave each of them by name from the scaffold.

Plessington vestmentsSt John was buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas’s, Burton, after Puddington locals would not allow his quarters to be displayed. Attempts to locate and exhume his body, as recent as 1962, have been unsuccessful but vestments associated with him are kept at St Winefride’s in Neston and a small piece of blood-stained linen is treasured as a relic in St Francis’s Church in Chester.

According to an article published in the Telegraph in 2015: ‘a bundle of bones found in a pub in Wales almost 140 years ago could prove to be the last remains of an English saint, Roman Catholic bishops believe.

The collection of fragments including part of a skull and leg, found wrapped in a bundle of 17th Century children’s clothing and hidden inside an old trunk in a pub in the village of Holywell, Flintshire, have been known locally for more than a century as the relics of “anonymous martyrs”.

But new tests by forensic pathologists have concluded some of the bones could potentially be a portion of the skeleton of St John Plessington.”

Saint John Plessington’s scaffold speech:

Dear Countrymen.

I am here to be executed, neither for Theft, Murder, nor anything against the Law of God, nor any fact or Doctrine inconsistent with Monarchy or Civil Government. I suppose several now present heard my trial the last Assizes, and can testify that nothing was laid to my charge but Priesthood, and I am sure that you will find that Priesthood is neither against the Law of God nor Monarchy, or Civil Government. If you will consider either the Old or New Testament (for it is the Basis of Religion […], St Paul tells us in Hebrews 7:12 that the Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change of the Law, and consequently the Priesthood being abolished, the Law and Religion is quite gone.

But I know it will be said that a Priest ordained by authority derived from the See of Rome is by the Law of Nation to die as a Traitor, but if that be so what must become of all the Clergymen or England, for the first Protestant Bishops had their Ordination from those of the Church of Rome, or none at all, as appears by their own writers, so that Ordination comes derivatively to those now living.

As in the Primitive times, Christians were esteemed Traitors, and suffered as such by National Law, so are the Priests of the Roman Church here esteemed, and suffer such. But as Christianity then was not against the law of God, Monarchy or Civil Policy, so now there is not any one Point of the Roman Catholic Faith (of which Faith I am) that is inconsistent therewith, as is evident by induction in each several point.

That the Pope hath power to depose or give licence to Murder Princes is no point of our Belief. And I protest in the sight of God and the Court of Heaven that I am absolutely innocent of the Plot so much discoursed of, and abhor such bloody and damnable designs. And although it be Nine Weeks since I was sentenced to die, there is not anything of that laid to my charge, so that I may take comfort in St. Peter’s words, 1 Peter 14-16, “Let none of you suffer as a Murderer, or as a Thief, or as an Evil doer, or as a Busy Body in other men’s matters, yet if any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed or Sorry”. I have deserved a worse death, for though I have been a faithful and true Subject to my King, I have been a grievous sinner against God; [others would have lived] in a greater perfection [than] I have done had they received so many favours and graces from him as I have.

But as there was never sinner who truly repented and heartily called to Jesus for mercy, to whom he did not show mercy, so I hope by the merits of His Passion, He will have mercy on me, who am heartily sorry that ever I offended him.

Bear witness, good hearers, that I profess that I undoubtedly and firmly believe all the Articles of the Roman Catholic Faith, and for the truth of any of them (by the assistance of God) I am willing to die, and I had rather die than doubt of any Point of Faith, taught by our Holy Mother the Roman Catholic Church.

In what condition Margaret Plat one of the chiefest witnesses against me was before, and after she was with me, let her nearest relations declare. George Massey, another witness, swore falsely when he swore I gave him the Sacrament, and said Mass at the time and place he mentioned, and [I] verily think that he never spoke to me, or I to him, or saw each other but at the Assizes week. The third witness, Robert Wood, was suddenly killed, but of the Dead why should I speak? These were all the witnesses against me, unless those that only declared what they heard from others. I heartily and freely forgive all that have been or are any way instrumental to my Death, and heartily desire that those that are living may heartily repent.

God bless the King and the Royal Family and grant his Majesty a prosperous Reign here and a crown of glory hereafter, God grant peace to the Subjects, and that they live and die in true Faith, Hope, and Charity. That which remains is that I recommend my self to the mercy of Jesus, by whose merits I hope for mercy. O Jesus, be to me a Jesus.

FINIS

St John Plessington and all the Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

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UK Parliament votes to impose abortion on Northern Ireland

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From the  Society for the Protection of Unborn Children:

18 July 2019

A dark day for democracy and the people of Northern Ireland

MPs voted by a majority of 236 to strip unborn children of protection

Today, MPs have voted to disrespect Northern Ireland’s delicate devolution settlement by imposing abortion upon the region and people of Northern Ireland. The vote, which took place in the House of Commons this afternoon, saw MP’s scandalously support the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill, which would see unborn children stripped of protections by 328 to 65 votes- a majority of 263.

What Next?

The Bill will see the repeal of section 58 and section 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act which are currently the only safeguards protecting unborn children from the threat of abortion in Northern Ireland. As well as imposing abortion on Northern Ireland, pro-abortion MPs are making clear their intention to ensure England and Wales are also facing abortion decriminalisation. Diana Johnson commented to this effect during the short parliamentary debate this afternoon. Unless the Northern Ireland Assembly reconvenes, abortion will be imposed upon the region by the 21st of October 2019.

Michael Robinson, Director of Parliamentary Communications for SPUC said: “The UK has one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world. Since 1967, our laws have permitted the killing of more than 9 million babies and injured countless women physically and psychologically. The Abortion Act has brought only misery and destruction. No society which is genuinely committed to equality and human rights could tolerate such a law. We are now faced with the prospect of an even more extreme situation being imposed on Northern Ireland. The people of Scotland, England and Wales cannot simply stand by and watch as this cruel and unjust legislation is enacted in their name.

Mr Robinson added: “Upon leaving office next week, Theresa May will only be remembered as the Prime Minister who undermined devolution in Northern Ireland and ushered in one of the most ruthless abortion regimes in the world. Anyone who values human life must urge the new Prime Minister to refuse to implement this inhuman and unconstitutional law.”

A Disgraceful Abuse Of Power

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s, Northern Ireland Political Officer said: “What has happened today is a disgraceful abuse of power by Westminster. It is outrageous that MPs and peers from England, Scotland and Wales cared so little for the rule of law that an overwhelming majority were prepared to disregard the right of the people of Northern Ireland to maintain legislation which has saved the lives of over 100,000 children since 1967.

“The speed with which this Bill has been imposed has made a mockery of the parliamentary process. There is a complete lack of clarity regarding its provisions and the government has refused to allow time for any proper consideration of the consequences of the decriminalisation of abortion.

“By ramming abortion on demand down our throats Parliament has torn-up the devolution settlement and is treating Northern Ireland as a colony.

There are very serious questions about the constitutionality of this legislation which the next Prime Minister will have to answer.

Mr Gibson added: “What is most shocking is that all this has been done in the name of human rights. Abortion is not a human right. It is an act of lethal violence directed at an unborn child and is never justified.

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Pray for Poland

By Stephen P. White at The Catholic Thing:

Kraków, Poland

The drama of the past year in the Church in the United States can sometimes distract from the global dimensions of the crisis of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance. Here in Poland, where I’ve been since late June, the Church faces its own scandal of clerical sexual abuse.

A report, released in March by the Polish bishops’ conference, admitted that 382 priests have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors since 1990. These allegations came from 625 different victims.

Most of the victims in Poland were more than 15-years-old, a significantly higher percentage than in the United States. A majority of the victims are male: 58.4 percent of the cases reported by the Polish bishops. [N.B.: The legal age of consent in Poland at the time of the report’s release was 15, the age of majority is 18.]

The handling of these cases has, at times and in ways sickeningly familiar, been grossly inadequate – shuffling accused priests to other assignments, blaming the crisis on anti-Church bias in the media, and so on. In some ways, the Church here is where the Church in the United States was 25 years ago.

The Polish bishops’ responses to the report ranged from sensible and heartfelt, to the dreadfully tone-deaf. Archbishop Wojciech Polack of Gniezno, the Primate of Poland, insisted that each case of abuse should “evoke our pain, shame, and guilt.” Kraków’s Archbishop, Marek Jędraszewski, stepped all over himself in trying to make a point that “zero-tolerance” shouldn’t mean “no mercy.” He chose perhaps the least helpful analogy possible: “When the Nazis fought with Jews, applying a ‘zero tolerance’ mentality, it resulted in the Holocaust.” His point was, of course, not well received.

In May, two brothers – Tomasz (writer and director) and Marek Sekielski (producer) – released a documentary film titled, Tell No One. The film details the stories of abuse survivors and the inadequate response of the bishops in Poland. It includes harrowing footage of abuse survivors confronting their abusers.

The bishops’ report in March was big news, but the release of Tell No One rocked the entire country. The film was released on YouTube, where it received more than a million views in the first six hours. To date, it has been viewed more than 22.5 million times, a staggering number when one considers that Poland has a total population of just over 38 million.

Poland being Poland, the whole drama – and the issue of clerical sexual abuse, in general –quickly took a political turn. Tell No One was released just weeks before an election for European Parliament.

The conservative ruling party, Law and Justice, has close ties to many of the Polish bishops. Some members of the opposition saw the outrage generated by the film and tried to make clerical sexual abuse a wedge-issue. The opposition overreached (including through aggressive promotion of the LGBT agenda) and the strategy backfired.

Poster for Tylko nie mów nikomu (Tell No One), the 2019 documentary film by Tomasz and Marek Sekielski

 

Adding to the spring of unrest were comments made by Pope Francis in a mid-air interview after his visit to Abu Dhabi in February. The Holy Father was defending the record of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in his handling of allegations of sexual abuse, specifically against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Maciel. In defending Ratzinger, Francis implied – at least to the ears of many Poles – that Ratzinger’s efforts had been stymied by the Polish pope himself.

John Paul II’s long-time secretary and the retired Archbishop of Kraków, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, rushed to the defense of John Paul, insisting that the insinuations, based on Pope Francis’ ambiguous remarks, were unjust. When Pope Francis later praised John Paul’s effort to fight abuse  – calling him “brave” and saying “no one can doubt the sanctity and goodwill of this man” – Dziwisz published an open letter thanking Pope Francis “for putting an end to attempts to defame St. John Paul II.”

In June, Pope Francis’ sex-abuse “fixer,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna, met with the bishops of Poland. Many in the Polish press were speculating that a raft of episcopal resignations could be forthcoming. Reports suggest Scicluna was stern, but the Polish episcopate remains intact for now.

Scicluna did take the opportunity, however, to underscore the defense of Pope John Paul II offered by Dziwisz and Pope Francis: “I am an eyewitness of the determination of St. John Paul II to combat sexual abuse of minors when such cases were brought to his attention. I believe that those who question the competence or determination of St. John Paul II in the treatment of this phenomenon should brush up on their knowledge of history.”

Several of the Poles I spoke to said there is a sense that the Bad News on the sex-abuse front is probably not over. The last several months have been a roller coaster ride. Things may settle down, especially if the Polish bishops can avoid compounding their mistakes the way too many of our own bishops have. But the general sense I get from Polish friends – devout and otherwise – is that there is still more reckoning to come.

How such a reckoning might play out in Poland is hard to guess. Poland remains extraordinarily and profoundly Catholic, but Polish Catholicism remains largely on the defensive. Close alliances between the Church and populist politics, however devout, can purchase short-term stability at a terrible long-term price. And as we have learned only too well here in the states, the ecclesial instinct to defend the institution, however piously motivated, can easily lead to actions that have precisely the opposite effect.

My sense is that the Church in Poland is much closer to the beginning of this mess than to the end. How the Polish bishops handle the abuse crisis in coming months and years will go a long way toward ensuring the future of one of the shining examples of a truly Catholic culture. That future is more precarious than many would assume.

Pray for Poland.

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We have shed volumes and volumes of innocent blood and will be held to account for every single drop

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Dear Fr James Martin, why it’s right to call my same-sex attraction ‘intrinsically disordered’

The Prodigal Son

Chris Watkins, LifeSiteNews:

As a reformed same-sex-attracted Catholic male, I would like to comment on the persuasive influence of Fr. James Martin’s pro-LGBT book Building a Bridge, and on the current over-eagerness of Church hierarchy to draw into the fold all those actively involved in the LGBT lifestyle without asking them to leave this lifestyle behind.

Most of my adult life I have struggled with my condition and identity. Since becoming a Catholic 35 years ago the struggle intensified as I tried to reconcile these inclinations with Christ’s teachings. Never, in all that time, was I met with judgment or oppressive severity, nor did I suffer cruel marginalization by Catholic priests – only compassion and thoughtful, helpful counsel. The Church has nothing to apologize for, not in my books anyway.

Long before the Church ventured anywhere near the current threshold of debate, I once walked those familiar corridors of thought which priests and bishops are now exploring: I wanted Church teaching to change, to adjust to suit me and adapt to the mentality of modern psychology. I wanted the Church to understand and believe that men (and women) like myself were “made” this way by God and therefore our desires, needs, our right to take partners and be loved and cherished with intimacy, were every bit as meaningful, as natural, as essential and valid as male/female marriage.

I protested. I smarted. I even left the Church briefly at one stage, incensed by the “red-necked resistance” to the anti-discrimination aspect of Homosexual Law Reform.

Like Jacob, I wrestled with God. For years I wrestled with Him, with Scripture, with Magisterial teachings. And then one day He convicted me in my sins. I repented. I went to Confession and tears poured down my face as I confessed. I was treated with the utmost sensitivity, and when I emerged from the confessional I felt cleansed by my tears and absolution. Over the next 24 hours, I felt renewed, like twenty years had peeled away from me. My soul had “recovered its original innocence through the Sacrament of penance” (to quote Jesus speaking to Sister Josefa Menendez). It is difficult to explain precisely in words but I sensed a shadow had lifted off me, the sin-burden released.

I was a New Creation. Later, in prayer, I completely surrendered my sexuality to God.

Let’s be honest though: the attractions and feelings haven’t totally vanished since that day. There are no illusions in my life. I’m not sublimating things or detached from reality. Rather, I have undergone tremendous healing (my troubles stem back to abandonment as a baby by my mother), and this healing began with my admission that my same-sex attraction has been, as the Church in her wisdom teaches, “intrinsically disordered”.

This truth has increased in clarity over time as order has gradually been restored to my heart and mind. The fall of Adam has left humanity a damaged race, and my condition is an inherent part of that. Recovery, however, is uniquely possible through the living legacy of divine Sacraments of Jesus’ real presence which He has left His Church. Every time I receive Him in Holy Communion I am strengthened; daily Mass and prayer, especially the Rosary, along with fasting and regular confession – these are all part of the armor to maintain chastity and grow in grace.

Like St Paul I can say, “I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling”, but I am a happier and freer, more integrated person nowadays, no longer governed by my appetites – more content, at peace, something which others notice.

When I recently read that a leading Cardinal declared that “living up to Christian ideals these days requires heroic virtue”, and then added, “the average Christian cannot aspire to such high ideals”, I felt stirred to write and refute his words because they deny the extraordinary help of the Sacraments. I am nobody special; the changes which have taken place in my life I can only attribute to God’s grace, and this is available to anyone who asks with a sincere heart.

In welcoming into the Church those immersed in the LGBT lifestyle, the sinner and the sin, the Church is stepping onto dangerously thin ice – especially if same-sex couples, for example, are welcomed like those in adulterous relationships to share the Communion Cup. This is official sanction of sacrilege and do we not bring “judgment and condemnation” upon ourselves with this? When Jesus told the religious leaders of His time that prostitutes and tax collectors were entering heaven before them, He meant repentant ones.

Being “inclusive” is commendable, and we are all called to an outreach of love, but to consider soft-washing the Church’s so-called “harsh” language to condone same-sex behaviour, can only result in excluding “the excluded” even further from salvation and the real benefits Jesus has to offer!

Sadly, Fr James Martin and his advocates, who complain about the LGBT community being marginalized by the Church, are now guilty themselves of the same act of marginalization when they speak disparagingly and intolerantly of people like myself, labeling us as “ex gays” and traitors to the cause, while we are simply devoting ourselves to embodying the traditional teachings of Christ.

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Eastern Europe’s ‘Subconscious Fear’ of Islam: The Siege of Vienna

”Jan III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna” painted in 1686 by Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter, (1660 – 1711)
Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw

“Austria acts against Muslims almost every day because of their subconscious fear of Turks,” writes Turkish historian Erhan Afyoncu.  “Austrians have not forgotten the fear and their emperor’s escape in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. When Turks were defeated in the Battle of Vienna, Europeans were so happy…”

This is true.  As such, a brief refresher on the Siege of Vienna—the anniversary of which is today—is in order:

The largest Islamic army ever to invade European territory—which is saying much considering that countless invasions preceded it since the eighth century—came and surrounded Vienna, then the heart of the Holy Roman Empire and longtime nemesis of Islam, on July 15, 1683.

Some 200,000 Muslim combatants, under the leadership of the Ottomans—the one state in nearly fourteen centuries of Islamic history most dedicated to and founded on the principles of jihad—invaded under the same rationale that so-called “radical” groups, such as the Islamic State, cite to justify their jihad on “infidels.”  Or, to quote the leader of the Muslim expedition, Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, because Vienna was perceived as the head of the infidel snake, it needed to be laid low so that “all the Christians would obey the Ottomans.”

This was no idle boast; sources describe this Mustafa as “fanatically anti-Christian.” After capturing a Polish town in 1674 he ordered all the Christian prisoners to be skinned alive and their stuffed hides sent as trophies to Ottoman Sultan Muhammad IV.

Such supremacist hate was standard and on display during the elaborate pre-jihad ceremony presaging the siege of Vienna.  Then, the sultan, “desiring him [Mustafa] to fight generously for the Mahometan faith,” to quote a contemporary European source, placed “the standard of the Prophet…into his hands for the extirpation of infidels, and the increase of Muslemen.”

Once the massive Muslim army reached and surrounded the walls of Vienna, Mustafa followed protocol. In 628, his prophet Muhammad had sent an ultimatum to Emperor Heraclius: aslam taslam, “submit [to Islam] and have peace.”  Heraclius rejected the summons, jihad was declared against Christendom (as enshrined in Koran 9:29), and in a few decades, two-thirds of the then Christian world—including Spain, all of North Africa, Egypt, and Greater Syria—were conquered.

Now, over a thousand years later, the same ultimatum of submission to Islam or death had reached the heart of Europe.  Although the Viennese commander did not bother to respond to the summons, graffiti inside the city—including “Muhammad, you dog, go home!”—seems to capture its mood.

So it would be war.  On the next day, Mustafa unleashed all hell against the city’s walls; and for two months, the holed-up and vastly outnumbered Viennese suffered plague, dysentery, starvation, and many casualties—including women and children—in the name of jihad.

A drawing of Kara Mustafa Pasha leading the Ottomans

Then, on September 12, when the city had reached its final extremity, and the Muslims were about to burst through, Vienna’s prayers were answered.  As an anonymous Englishman explained:

After a siege of sixty days, accompanied with a thousand difficulties, sicknesses, want of provisions, and great effusion of blood, after a million of cannon and musquet shot, bombs, granadoes, and all sorts of fireworks, which has changed the face of the fairest and most flourishing city in the world, disfigured and ruined [it] . . . heaven favorably heard the prayers and tears of a cast down and mournful people.

The formidable king of Poland, John Sobieski, had finally come at the head of 65,000 heavily-armored Poles, Austrians, and Germans—all hot to avenge the beleaguered city.  Arguing that “It is not a city alone that we have to save, but the whole of Christianity, of which the city of Vienna is the bulwark,” Sobieski led a thunderous cavalry charge—history’s largest—against and totally routed the Muslim besiegers.

Although a spectacular victory, the aftermath was gory: before fleeing, the Muslims ritually slaughtered some 30,000 Christian captives collected during their march to Vienna—raping the women beforehand.  On entering the relieved city, the liberators encountered piles of corpses, sewage, and rubble everywhere.

It is this history of Islamic aggression—beginning in the fourteenth century when Muslims first established a foothold in Eastern Europe (Thrace), and into the twentieth century when the Ottoman sultanate finally collapsed—that informs Eastern European views on Islam.  As one modern Pole, echoing the words of Sobieski, said, “A religious war between Christianity and Islam is once again underway in Europe, just like in the past.”

Whereas Western nations cite lack of integration, economic disparities, and grievances to explain away the exponential growth of terrorism, violence, and sexual assaults that come with living alongside large, unassimilated Muslim populations, Eastern nations tend to see only a continuity of hostility.

Note: The above account is excerpted from Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West — a book that CAIR and its Islamist allies did everything they could to prevent the U.S. Army War College from learning about.

 

The Battle of Vienna

John III Sobieski

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Purity

Impurity is plastered everywhere today: Movies, TV, billboards, music, entertainment, books and magazines.

We must fight back.

To that end the following collection of quotes – many of which from Doctors of the Church – provide the support and encouragement we need to stand our ground and fight for purity.

1.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
— Matthew 5:8

2.  “Holy Purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh.”
— Saint John Bosco

3.  “We must be pure. I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses. We must observe great purity in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.”
— Saint Peter Julian Eymard

4.  “Those whose hearts are pure are the temples of the Holy Spirit.”
— Saint Lucy

5.  “We must practice modesty, not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.”
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

6.  “In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as do thoughts that concern the pleasure of the flesh.”
— Saint Thomas Aquinas

7.  “In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advise us, not so much to contend with the bad thought, as to turn the mind to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object. It is useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face, but not thoughts of impurity.”
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

8.  “Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.”
— Saint Augustine

9.  “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
— Our Lady of Fatima

10.  “Filthy talk makes us feel comfortable with filthy action. But the one who knows how to control the tongue is prepared to resist the attacks of lust.”
— Saint Clement of Alexandria

11.  “The man of impure speech is a person whose lips are but an opening and a supply pipe which hell uses to vomit its impurities upon the earth.”
— Saint John Vianney

12.  “Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.”
— Saint Jerome

13.  “A pure soul is like a fine pearl. As long as it is hidden in the shell, at the bottom of the sea, no one thinks of admiring it. But if you bring it into the sunshine, this pearl will shine and attract all eyes. Thus the pure soul, which is hidden from the eyes of the world, will one day shine before the Angels in the sunshine of eternity.”
— Saint John Vianney

14.  “The pure soul is a beautiful rose, and the Three Divine Persons descend from Heaven to inhale its fragrance.”
— Saint John Vianney

15.  “Chastity is the lily of virtues, and makes men almost equal to Angels. Everything is beautiful in accordance with its purity. Now the purity of man is chastity, which is called honesty, and the observance of it, honor and also integrity; and its contrary is called corruption; in short, it has this peculiar excellence above the other virtues, that it preserves both soul and body fair and unspotted.”
— Saint Francis de Sales

16.  “Humility is the safeguard of chastity. In the matter of purity, there is no greater danger than not fearing the danger. For my part, when I find a man secure of himself and without fear, I give him up for lost.  I am less alarmed for one who is tempted and who resists by avoiding the occasions, than for one who is not tempted and is not careful to avoid occasions. When a person puts himself in an occasion, saying, I shall not fall, it is an almost infallible sign that he will fall, and with great injury to his soul.”
— Saint Philip Neri

17.  “Your good resolutions must not make you proud, but humble and diffident; you carry a large sum of gold about you, take care not to meet any highwaymen. In this life there is nothing certain: we are in a continual warfare, and, therefore, ought to be on our guard day and night. We sail in a tempestuous sea that threatens us on every side, and in a poor leaky vessel: the devil, who aims at nothing less than our destruction, never ceases to increase the storm, to overwhelm us thereby, if he can; hence it was that the Apostle gave this precaution, even to the virtuous: ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall’ (1 Cor. x.12).”
— Saint Jerome, Epistle to Saint Eustochium

18.  “The state of grace is nothing other than purity, and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it. Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity, exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults; purity will make saints of you! Everything lies in this!”
— Saint Peter Julian Eymard

19.  “Chastity, or cleanness of heart, holds a glorious and distinguished place among the virtues, because she, alone, enables man to see God; hence Truth itself said, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’”
— Saint Augustine

20.  “There is no remedy so powerful against the heat of concupiscence as the remembrance of our Savior’s Passion. In all my difficulties I never found anything so efficacious as the wounds of Christ: In them I sleep secure; from them I derive new life.”
— Saint Augustine

21.  “God bestows more consideration on the purity of the intention with which our actions are performed than on the actions themselves.”
— Saint Augustine

22.  “He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.”
— Saint Bede the Venerable

23.  “You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment.”
— Saint John Chrysostom

24.  “Let your modesty be a sufficient incitement, yea, an exhortation to everyone to be at peace on their merely looking at you.”
— Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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Reflection for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time–Cycle C

Image result for Good Samaritan painting

FIRST READING  Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Moses said to the people:  “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.  “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.  It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’  Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’  No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

SECOND READING  Colossians 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

GOSPEL  Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  He said in reply, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”  But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.  Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.  But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.  He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.  Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him.  If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’  Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”  Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

My sisters and brothers in the Lord, 

Within this monastery of monks ranging in age from 93 to 21 and from 13 different countries, you see much of the dynamics within the monastery played out on the daily faces of the monks.  Older monks sometimes quietly pause and stare at the awkwardness of younger monks and think to themselves, “If only he would not do that, it would be so much better for him.”  Younger monks, a bit more vocal in their frustrations, say “If only he would not do that, it would be so much better for me!” The urgency to detect that a change is required plagues all of us, no matter wherever we are in the world or in whatever stage of our life.  Hopefully, we are humble enough to ask for help when undertaking an important, eternal change.

Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  This is the theme for our readings today.  All of us want to know what we must do for eternal life.  The way the question is posed is as important as the answer.  If I am looking only for the things that I am prescribed to do, my question, and its answer, may curtail me as to all that I could do by following the Law.  If I am asking how to follow the Teacher, the Lord Jesus, then all shall be well.  The former question’s intent infers a checklist.  The latter question’s intent can be best answered by the foundational attitude whereby everything must be subservient to authentic love of God and neighbor according to the truth.

The first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy repeats today’s Gospel:  heed the voice of the Lord and keep His commandments and statutes.  Sure, there is something a bit more concrete in this advice than that of the Gospel, but it implies an ongoing listening to the voice of the Lord–and that is the same as loving God and neighbor.  God’s message to us, His people, has been consistent throughout all ages:  listen to His voice, love Him and others, follow Him in every moment of life.

The second reading, from the Letter of the Colossians, again contains this same type of teaching, but is now specific that God is in Jesus and it is Jesus, our Teacher, that we must follow.  Paul affirmed that Christ is indeed the one God, the Creator, and, therefore, the “fullness of God.”  The divinity of Christ is stated unequivocally in the Nicene Creed: “God from God, Light from Light, /true God from true God, / begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; / through him all things were made.”  Jesus is God and Jesus is encountered now in His Church. A fellow monk quipped once:  The surest way to experience instant gratification is to desire and to pray for those things which you already have.  We already have Jesus as Our Savior!  He is God! He is our doorway to eternal life.

St John Chrysostom in his 63rd Homily on this passage from Luke’s Gospel said: “It was no small forwardness that the young man had shown; he was a man with great desires. While others were coming to Jesus to put him to trial or to ask him to cure their diseases, or those of other people, this young man comes to him to talk about eternal life.” The young man knows well the first part of the Shema which begins with one of the best-known, most fundamental expressions of Jewish belief, and the one from which this prayer gets its name: Shema Yisra’el… (Hear, Israel) Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  But Jesus, in response to the young man’s prodding, elaborates on how love toward neighbor is expressed. And who is my neighbor, the young man and we ask?  My neighbor is everyone who comes into my life in any way.  My neighbor is every person I treat with mercy for love of the Lord Jesus, my Teacher.  My neighbor is each person who needs my help or asks my help or who enters my life in any way.  We can see quickly that this answer makes us leave aside any book of good deeds that I must do and instead I must serve each person according to that person’s needs.  An incredible commandment!  It demands everything of us, just as it demanded everything of Jesus, even unto death.

My sisters and brothers, we are invited to walk the way of the Teacher, the Lord Jesus, and serve all others and to give our lives up completely in the love of others.  Let us walk in the way of the Lord. And, by His grace and mercy may we one day enjoy eternal life.

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The World over with Damian Thompson

Soon after Raymond Arroyo’s frank and revealing interview was aired, Damian Thompson sent out the following tweet:

The new owners of the

and I do not agree on the future direction of the company (for my stance, see

’s show last week). Therefore I’m moving to the

where I will be free to tell you what I really think 🙂

He’d become increasingly vocal on social media in his criticism of current Church affairs and the Francis papacy.

Roughly an hour after his announcement, Thompson subsequently tweeted that Pope Francis is “deeply implicated in terrible scandals” and is a “corrupt pope.”

“My first tweet as a free man,” he said. “It’s now obvious that Pope Francis is deeply implicated in terrible scandals.”

“My concern isn’t theological,” Thompson said; “it’s the spectacle of a corrupt pope, something I never expected to see in my lifetime.”

 

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Adding P to LGBT

I don’t want to write about pedophilia. You don’t want to read about it.  But the threat of pedophilia becoming acceptable isn’t going away. The sudden embrace of transgenderism didn’t come from nowhere. And it isn’t going to stop there, as I argued in this space not long ago.

Targeting children comes in two general phases. The first involves bombarding them with LGBT messaging in schools. Or now, on public television (PBS) cartoons in which an 8-year-old Aardvark named Arthur and his peers are portrayed as pleased that his male teacher is “marrying” another male.

Other offenses in this category include Drag Queen Story Time at public libraries, which now seem to be cropping up all over the country. Scary to say, but chances are your local librarian may also be a monster-enabler – or at least too feeble a frog to jump out of water that is now well past the boiling point.

Drag Queen Story Time typically gives a platform to gay males (some are even convicted sex offenders) to abuse children by encouraging them to flout reality and to explore gender “fluidity.” Who thinks that is a good idea? Relatively few, in all likelihood.  But that doesn’t tell us how many otherwise decent people are unwilling to draw a line in the sand.

Appeals to “tolerance” show their true colors when they are enlisted to support the blatant grooming of children – grooming being a term we used to be happily unacquainted in this abusive context.  Such grooming also presents some commonality with certain elements in Islam; I refer to authorities in the UK willfully ignoring the systematic rape of local girls by Muslim “grooming” gangs for decades.

In short, a great many people in positions of authority are so keen on protecting both Islam and homosexuality that even the grotesque abuse of youngsters must be swept under the rug.

Sure, one could say that not all LGBT folks are on board with pedophilia.  But a larger point is in play: when the goal is rationalizing LGBT behavior, the very innocence of children must be targeted. Concepts of normality, morality, and virtue must be radically inverted because they stand as a rebuke to the depravity we must now esteem with “pride” – or else!

The second phase involves attempts to accommodate or actually espouse pedophilia. This can take the form of classifying it as a clinical condition, which amounts to a plea for exculpation; after all, no blame is attached to the person who comes down with Parkinson’s or pneumonia.  But it can also be couched in terms of advancing “rights,” breaking down barriers, and allowing “love” to win out.

Indeed, influential medical bodies seem to be biding their time to classify pedophilia not as a disease but as just another sexual orientation.  One that is unchangeable, you understand – because according to current dogma, anything that goes against human nature and common decency is unchangeable.


*Image: Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Doré, c. 1862 [National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia]

This would essentially amount to adding a P to LGBT.  Another P, I should specify; not Pansexual, which is already included in the ever expanding LGBTQIAP+ acronym. (Look it up – and ask: what does the “+” exclude?)  We all know what that would mean: “hate” would be the only thing standing in the way of legitimizing pedophilia.
So which is it: a disease one haplessly contracts, or a legitimate orientation that is unjustly oppressed? Who cares; doesn’t matter; whatever “argument” will do. Innocence will be targeted.
Pedophilia-friendly messaging can be found on TV and on stage; a recent play appearing in Chicago and London portrays pedophilia in a sympathetic light.  It can be found on social media and even in academic journals; one such journal published in 2018 a convicted pedophile’s contention that “child-adult sexual relations” should be seen as virtuous.
Benedict XVI recently asserted that, “Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ‘68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.” He sheds a bright light on the disturbing developments during this past half-century.  But this matter goes all the way back to the confrontation between Christianity and the paganism of antiquity, which was fine with treating children as sexual objects.
Christianity reversed the prevailing approval of such practices, which makes our current crisis even more troubling because it entails the paganization of the Church and not just the de-Christianization of Western society.
So we now contend with bishops (in the UK) actively endorsing curricula developed by gay activists, while dodge ball is derided by some educational authorities on the grounds that it inappropriately treats kids as “human targets.” As if kids throwing balls at each other on the playground is of more concern than insidiously targeting them via perverted indoctrination.
It’s curious that, even on the heels of revelations that some of the Catholic hierarchy are in the business of perpetuating homosexual predation, there are nonetheless actors out there saying that maybe such targeting, grooming, and abusing of youngsters is not really such a bad thing after all.  
Apparently the task for those in the driver’s seat of our post-decency culture is to strike the right balance: condemn Christianity for its views on sexuality, and also for the violation against those norms by its pastors, while promoting such transgressions in the wider world – in just the right doses as the timing of our ongoing collapse permits.We are not just dealing with a simple or abstract disagreement here.  We are dealing with dangerous people and disastrous ideas.  Perhaps the ever more brazen attempts to target children will lead people to see how one transgression logically leads to the next, and reject the sexual revolution outright.

But our degradation runs so deep, our divide is so unbridgeable, that talk of some sort of pending civil war is not rash. Nobody wants that, but if we can’t push back against the ongoing – indeed accelerating – targeting of children, we’ll have lost without firing a shot.

 

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Cardinal Müller: Vatican Amazon Document Contains Heresy and Stupidity ‘That Has Nothing to Do with Christianity’

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, attends a press conference. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)

By Debra Heine at PJ Media:

 

Cardinal Gerhard Müller has joined his German colleague Cardinal Walter Brandmüller in condemning the Vatican’s much-debated working document for the upcoming Synod of the Amazon in the strongest possible terms, calling it a work of not only heresy, but of stupidity.

The conservative cardinal has been ringing alarm bells about the controversial Oct. 6-27 synod, warning that its stealth purpose is to modify the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and open its doors to “eco-theology.”

This Vatican Instrumentum Laboris (or working document) “represents the total opening of the doors of the Magisterium to ‘Indian theology’ and to ‘eco-theology,’ two Latin American derivatives of liberation theology, whose cheerleaders, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure of ‘real socialism,’ now attribute the historic role of revolutionary force to the indigenous peoples and to nature, in a Marxist key,”” Chilean author José Antonio Ureta recently opined.

Former editor-in-chief of The Catholic Herald Damian Thompson bluntly called the document “garbage.”

In his interview with the Catholic journal Gridatelo Dai Tetti, Müller seemed to concur, saying the document has “an ideological vision that has nothing to do with Christianity.”

“The Synod of the Amazon is a pretext to change the Church, and the fact that it is done in Rome wants to emphasize the beginning of a new Church,” said Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The German prelate said that supporters of the pope have already attacked him and others for criticizing the document in an effort to squelch their criticism.

But the Instrumentum Laboris, he pointed out, “has no magisterial value,” therefore “only ignorant people can say that those who criticize him are an enemy of the Pope.”

Müller continued:

Unfortunately this is their trick to avoid any critical dialogue, if try to make an objection you are immediately labeled as an enemy of the Pope. Clarification more than appropriate because the text of theInstrumentum Laborisit is disconcerting in describing the Amazon and the peoples who inhabit it as a model for all humanity, an example of harmony with nature, a perfect synthesis of what is meant by integral ecology.

It is a document that presents an idyllic picture of the Amazon, including indigenous religions, so much so as to render Christianity useless, if not for the “political” support it can give to keep these peoples unspoiled and defend them from predators that want to bring development and “steal” resources.

The cardinal added the pope and his allies “want to save the world according to their idea, perhaps using some elements of Scripture,” but  their ideas are “profane” and “have nothing to do with Revelation.”

Not surprisingly, although we are talking about Revelation, Creation, sacraments, relations with the world, almost no reference is made to the texts of the Second Vatican Council which define these aspects: Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes. There is no mention of the root of human dignity, of the universality of salvation, of the Church as the sacrament of salvation. There are only profane ideas, which can also be discussed, but they have nothing to do with Revelation.

He cited one section of the document where it speaks of “a broad and necessary field of dialogue between the spiritualities, the creeds and the Amazonian religions that requires a friendly approach to the different cultures.”

The sincere openness to the other, as well as a corporate attitude that reserves salvation exclusively for one’s own belief, are destructive of that very creed.

They treat our Creed as if it were our European opinion. But the Creed is the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, who lives in the Church. There are no other beliefs. Instead, there are other philosophical beliefs or mythological expressions, but no one has ever dared to say, for example, that Plato’s Wisdom is a form of God’s revelation. In the creation of the world, God manifests only his existence, his being a point of reference of conscience, of natural law, but there is no other revelation outside of Jesus Christ. The concept of Lógos spermatikòs (the “seeds of the Word”), taken up by the Second Vatican Council, does not mean that Revelation in Jesus Christ exists in all cultures independently of Jesus Christ. As if Jesus were just one of these elements of Revelation.

When asked whether he agreed with Cardinal Brandmüller’s assessment that the document is a work of “heresy,” Müller replied: “Heresy? Not only that, it is also stupidity. The heretic knows the Catholic doctrine and contradicts it. But here there is only a great deal of confusion, and the center of everything is not Jesus Christ but themselves, their ideas for saving the world.”

In the document the “cosmovision” of indigenous peoples is a model of integral ecology, which would be a conception in which spirits and deities act “with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature.”

Müller explained why “cosmovision” is incompatible with church doctrine.

The “cosmovision” is a materialistic conception, similar to that of Marxism, in the end we can do what we want. But we believe in Creation, matter is the form of the essence of nature, we cannot do what we want. Creation is for the glorification of God but it is also a challenge for us, called to collaborate with God’s saving will for all men. Our task is not to preserve nature as it is, but we have the responsibility for the progress of humanity, in education, in social justice, for peace.

This is why Catholics build schools, hospitals, this is also the mission of the Church. Nature cannot be idealized as if the Amazon were an area of ​​Paradise, because nature is not always loving towards man. In the Amazon there are predators, there are infections, diseases. And even these children, these young people are entitled to a good education, to benefit from modern medicine. One cannot idealize, as is done in the synodal document, only traditional medicine.

He also blasted the document’s hippy-drippy language, such as “ecological conversion” and “mother earth.”

“We must absolutely reject expressions such as “ecological conversion,” Müller argued. “There is only conversion to the Lord, and as a consequence, there is also the good of nature.”

We cannot make ecologicalism a new religion, here we are in a pantheistic conception, which must be rejected. Pantheism is not just a theory about God but also contempt for man. God who identifies himself with nature is not a person. God the creator instead created us in His image and likeness. In prayer we have a relationship with a God who listens to us, who understands what we mean, not a mysticism in which we can dissolve personal identity.

He continued:

Our mother is a person, not the Earth. And our mother in faith is Mary. The Church is also described as a mother, as the bride of Jesus Christ. But these words must not be inflated. It is one thing to have respect for all the elements of this world, another to idealize or deify them. This identification of God with nature is a form of atheism, because God is independent of nature. They totally ignore the Creation.

Müller also felt strongly about the document’s critique of anthropocentrism — the view that human beings are the most important entity in the universe — calling it “a heresy against human dignity.”

“It is an absurd idea, to pretend that God is not anthropocentric,” he argued. “Man is the center of Creation, and Jesus became man, he did not plant himself.”

This is a heresy against human dignity. On the contrary, the Church must emphasize anthropocentrism, because God created man in his image and likeness. Man’s life is infinitely more worthy than the life of any animal. Today there is already a reversal of this principle: if a lion is killed in Africa it is a world drama, but here children are killed in the womb of the mother and all is well. Stalin also argued that this centrality should be removed from human dignity; so he could call so many men to build a canal and make them die for the sake of future generations. Here is what these ideologies are for, to make some dominate over all others. But God is anthropocentric, the Incarnation is anthropocentric. The rejection of anthropocentrism comes only from a hatred of oneself and other men.

Another concept promoted in the Instrumentum Laboris is the idea of inculturation, which it closely associated with the Incarnation, or “the Word was made flesh.” According to Church doctrine, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity,  was both “truly God and truly man.” He was conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, thus, the divine nature of the Son was united but not mixed with human nature.

Inculturation is the adaption of  Christian liturgy to mostly non-Christian, cultures. The fact that the document apparently uses the words interchangeably bothered the cardinal immensely. “Using the Incarnation almost as a synonym for inculturation is the first mystification,” he fretted.

The Incarnation is a unique, unrepeatable event, it is the Word that is embodied in Jesus Christ. God did not incarnate in the Jewish religion, he did not incarnate in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ is unique. It is a fundamental point, because the sacraments depend on the Incarnation, they are the presence of the incarnate Word. Certain terms that are central to Christianity cannot be abused.

Let us return to inculturation: from the synodal document we understand that we must adopt all the beliefs of indigenous peoples, their rituals and their customs. A reference is also made to how early Christianity was inculturated in the Greek world. And it is said that as we did then we must do today with the Amazon people.

But the Catholic Church has never accepted the Greek and Roman myths. On the contrary, he rejected a civilization that despised men with slavery, rejected the imperialist culture of Rome or the typical pederasty of the Greeks. The Church’s reference was to the thinking of Greek culture, which had come to recognize elements that paved the way for Christianity. Aristotle did not invent the ten categories: they already exist in being, he discovered them.

As it happens in modern science: it is not something that concerns only the West, but rather the discovery of some structures and mechanisms that exist in nature. The same applies to Roman law, which is not any arbitrary system. Instead, it is the discovery of some legal principles, which the Romans found in the nature of a community. Certainly other cultures have not had this depth. But we do not live in Greek culture, Christianity has totally transformed Greek and Roman culture. Certain pagan myths can have a pedagogical dimension towards Christianity but they are not elements that found Christianity.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Instrumentum Laboris is its rereading of the sacraments, especially with regard to sacred orders, under the pretext that there are few priests in such remote areas.

Müller complained that the approach “has nothing to do with Christianity.”

“The Revelation of God in Christ becomes present in the sacraments, and the Church has no authority to change the substance of the sacraments,” he argued. “These are not some rituals that we like, and the priesthood is not a sociological category to create a relationship in the community.”

Any cultural system has its rituals and its symbols, but the sacraments are means of divine grace, so we can change neither content nor substance. Nor can we change the rite when this rite is constituted by Christ himself. We cannot do baptism with any liquid, we do it with natural water. At the Last Supper Jesus Christ did not take any drink or food, he took grape wine and wheat bread.

When asked who he meant when he referred to those “who want to change the Church,” Müller said it wasn’t any one person or group of people, but a “system” comprised willfully blind people who believe they are improving the church, but are in fact destroying it.

“We want to adapt to the world: marriage, celibacy, women priests, everything must be changed in the conviction that in this way there will be a new springtime for the Church,” he explained.  “They do not see that instead they destroy the Church, they are like blind men who fall into the pit. But if someone says something, he is immediately marginalized, branded as an enemy of the Pope.”

Update:

More on this at LifeSiteNews

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By Their Fruits: Sts. Louis And Zélie Martin

by Claire Dwyer

Editor’s note:  The 12th July marks the feast day of the first married saints of modern times and the only married couple to be canonised together: the parents of St. Thérèse, Louis and Zélie Martin.

One of the most saintly love stories in history began on a bridge.

It was April 1858. Zélie Guérin was walking over the bridge of St. Léonard in Alençon, France when she observed a striking, dignified man also making his way across. An interior voice, which she recognized as coming from the Blessed Virgin, spoke: “This is he whom I have prepared for you.”

The pretty young woman had been noticed by Louis Martin, too, and it didn’t take long for them to be introduced, probably by his mother, who was taking a lacemaking class with Zélie.

The two had much in common. Both had desired religious life but had been turned away at the door of both monastery and convent. He, for an inability to master Latin, and she, because, as the Superior of the local order of St. Vincent de Paul mysteriously told her, “It was not the will of God.”

They had both set about to learn intricate arts. Louis learned the careful craft of clockmaking. Zélie’s art was lacemaking, specifically, Point d’Alençon, a complicated and highly-prized lace the region was known for.

Most importantly, they had a deep devotion to God and to the Catholic faith. They had long since set their hearts on fulfilling perfectly God’s will for them. When He revealed that they were called to marriage, they embraced their vocation and wished for many children “to bring them up for heaven.” Perhaps, they openly hoped, some of them would be given the religious vocations they themselves had not received.

Married on July 13, 1858, the Lord heard their prayers and soon the home was filled with the gentle joy of children. Marie-Louise, Marie-Pauline, Marie-Léonie, and Marie-Hélène followed each other in quick succession. And then, finally, a son arrived, and the family rejoiced, hoping that Marie-Joseph-Louis would grow up to be a missionary priest! But he was called home to heaven just a few months later, ushering in a period of deep grief for Louis and Zélie. Another son was born and died, and then they suddenly lost little Hélène shortly after Marie- Céline was born. “I thought,” wrote Zélie, “I would die myself.”

Another daughter, Marie-Thérèse-Mélanie was born in 1870, and as Zélie was unable to nurse her babies, had to be sent to a wet nurse in town. Tragically, incomprehensibly, the nurse had let the little girl starve, and she died in agony on Zélie’s lap. It was another bitter cross and one which could only be borne with a faith deeper than death. But that was, of course, exactly the kind of faith they had.

It was the next child who would bring this family into the light of the whole Church, little Marie-Françoise-Thérèse, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was a fresh joy, a “little winter flower” who appeared on January 2, 1873, and she was encircled in a family rich in love. Together they attended Mass daily, prayed, served the poor, and fulfilled their duties with attention to every detail. Zélie continued to work as she raised her daughters; in fact, her business became so successful that Louis sold his own in order to help her manage the lacemaking.

Her many remaining letters are filled with the joys and sorrows of daily family life, and themselves laced with faith in a God who works all things for good.

But the warm circle would be broken by another suffering. This time the sacrifice the Lord asked for was Zélie herself, who died after an excruciating battle with breast cancer when Thérèse was only four years old.

Broken hearted but determined to do his best for his five daughters, Louis sold the lace-making business and their home and moved to Lisieux to be near Zélie’s brother and his family. It would be a move designed by Providence.

In Lisieux was the Carmelite convent where four of the five girls would find their calling. Louis surrendered them to God, generously but not without a bittersweet grief. First Pauline, then Marie, then Thérèse, his “Little Queen,” when she was only fifteen.

Céline’s entrance would have to wait, for a final sacrifice was asked of Louis – in the form of an illness that slowly stole away his mind. At his final visit with his Carmelite daughters, barely able to speak, Thérèse would emotionally remember his final gesture to them: his hand raised, his finger pointing upward, and a single, wrenching word: “Heaven!”

Céline and Léonie alone remained to help care for him until his death in 1894. Then they both would enter the convent: Céline joined her sisters in Carmel and Léonie became a Visitation nun.

For decades, it was Thérèse, canonized in 1925, who would capture the hearts of the faithful. One of the most loved saints of all time, “The Little Flower” and her way of staying spiritual childhood spread like wildfire over our spiritual landscape.

But the Church slowly realized that this Flower bloomed on a burning bush, a family itself ablaze with love. Perhaps it was she, this time, pointing us upward to heaven, revealing those who had opened her little-girl heart to Jesus and made Him the King in their home and their lives.

Louis and Zélie Martin were canonized in 2015, the first married saints of modern times and the only married couple to be canonized together. Their 19 years of marriage was rich in suffering but richer still in love, a love which gave birth to a [profound] spirituality. Thérèse’s “way of confidence and love” really was a rediscovery of the deeper meaning of her own beloved childhood.

The Church, by raising them to the altars, urges us to find hope in their story. Now we are encouraged to call on them for help – in finding a spouse, perhaps, or for a happy marriage, or holy children, or strength in the bitterest sufferings. Certainly, the lacemaker and the clockmaker will help us faithfully fulfill the millions of tiny details in our daily duties – to the last stitch and the final screw.

On July 12, their feast day, we remember that divinely-orchestrated meeting on the bridge. How good is God, who guides our steps that we encounter such saints as we make our own way across this life! May Louis and Zélie pray for all of us, that we safely, faithfully, cross the bridge into heaven and join them there.

 

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Our Lady, Queen of France, Save our Country!

France belongs to the Virgin Mary; She is its patron and protector

In 1636 Jesus asked Mother Anne-Marie that France be consecrated to Him. He said to Mother Anne-Marie: “I want the King to honour my Mother and his kingdom in the way that I will make known to him; I will make his kingdom, through the intercession of my Mother, the happiest country in heaven.”

Consequently, on 10th February, 1638, Louis XIII published the Official Edict which solemnly consecrated France to the Virgin Mary to obtain “a good peace”, and the fidelity of the French people in the service of God. No other motive, not even the desire to have an heir to the throne, was contained in the Royal Declaration: “For these causes we declared and we declare that, taking the most holy and most glorious Virgin as the special protector of our Kingdom, we consecrate especially to Her our person, our country, our crown, and our subjects.”

The King formed the solemn and perpetual vow to renew this consecration every year on the feast of the Assumption, so that, by the aid of this powerful patronage, “France will always be safeguarded so that the All-good and Almighty God may be so honoured in this act, and that sovereigns and subjects may strive to attain the celestial end for which we are all created.” By this act of consecration, through the intercession of his most holy Mother,  Jesus pours His love over France: the borders are saved, invasions repulsed, internal revolts disbanded and, on 5th September, 1638, France now has an heir [Dauphin], the future Louis XIV. This consecration of Louis XIII remains valid today even if the majority of our contemporaries are indifferent to God.

The 11th July is the anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance in France

As patron of France, the Blessed Virgin has many sanctuaries in Her honour. Let us linger a while at the oldest one of all, the sanctuary of Notre Dame de Puy, which celebrates a jubilee year (when the Annunciation falls on Good Friday.)

Le Puy en Velay is surrounded by a volcanic landscape of rocky peaks made of former volcanic vents. The Cathedral of Notre Dame du Puy (Our Lady on the Hill), dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, stands on Mount Anis. This diocesan cathedral is also one of the most ancient Marian shrines in Europe.

 

“At the beginning of the Christian era, Puy was a small, unimportant city. For thousands of years, there existed a kind of dolmen or stone slab, supported by three or four lateral raised stones. In the first century the Gallo-Romans had built a pagan temple around it, but this was later destroyed.

In the fourth century, a paralyzed Christian woman begged God to heal her. Suddenly one day she saw the Virgin Mary on the top of the dolmen. An angel appeared and told her: “The Queen of Heaven has chosen this place to make it her domain, to receive and to answer prayers.” The woman was then healed on the spot. She went immediately to her bishop to tell him what had happened. After an investigation, the bishop ordered the construction of the requested shrine over the foundations of the old temple. The consecration of this oratory in honour of the Virgin took place on 11th July, the anniversary of the apparition, and the day we still celebrate its dedication today. Inside the oratory is a statue of the Virgin Mary who became the “Lady of the shrine”, replacing the previous pagan deity.” (1)

Throughout the centuries, Puy has been one of the most visited shrines in the world: Six popes, fourteen kings, two emperors, heads of state, princes, soldiers, bourgeois, but also and especially the poor, have come to the Puy-en-Velay to pray and to implore the Virgin for favours. It remains an important Marian shrine that still today attracts many visitors . Le Puy en Velay is also one of the principal departure points for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Saint James’ Way).

 

(1)  Mother Anne Marie of Jesus Crucified, a stigmatized religious (1599-1653)

Source: In Altum  and Marie de Nazareth. Translation from the French by CP&S 

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Freedom of Speech, under a Cloud

By  at The Catholic Thing:

I have heard many inspiring lectures about the heroes of freedom of speech – great men like Thomas More, Vaclav Havel, George Orwell, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. After one such lecture, a questioner asked the speaker whether he thought we had similar problems today. “Well, yes, I think we do.”  With that, he stopped and said no more. A friend turned to me and said, “He dodged the question.” Of course, he had to. This speaker speaking about freedom of speech knew the topics he wasn’t allowed to speak about in the modern university.

Talking about freedom of speech at a conference in a modern university is like talking about the freedom of religion at a conference in the old Soviet Union. Many inspiring phrases may be uttered, but no one wants to point out the 300-pound gorilla in the room. We’re talking about a certain freedom as though we possessed it, when everyone present knows we don’t. And the fact that we can’t say openly that we lack the freedom is the most obvious evidence of its absence.

I don’t blame this lecturer.  He was an invited speaker giving at talk at someone else’s university.  Why make trouble, especially if the trouble would come down on the heads of others?  He would leave the next day. And what kind of mess would he be leaving behind for others to have to clean up?

But in his famous essay “The Power of the Powerless,” Czech writer and dissident Václav Havel uses the example of a greengrocer who refuses to put up a sign in his store window that says, “Workers of the world unite” as a model of a crucial form of resistance to ideological totalitarianism.  The state functionaries will punish this man, says Havel, not because they care about the workers of the world. They will punish him because of his refusal to show obedience to the reigning ideology. It is for this reason, says Havel, that ideology is a “specious way of relating to the world.”

Notice, however, that the anger expressed against this man is likely to come not only, and perhaps not primarily, from state authorities – but also from his neighbors, either those who are eager to show their solidarity with the ideological elites, or those who simply wish not to have “trouble.”  And so this one grocer who refuses to put up the required sign, the one who is “living the truth,” in Havel’s words, will be asked repeatedly, even by some of his closest friends and neighbors, “Why are you making trouble?”

I have no wish to compare the courage it would have taken to be this greengrocer in a communist country with the courage it would take to exist in a modern university.  The comparison I wish to make is between the greengrocer’s neighbors and the colleagues of that one person in the university who refuses to use the approved pronouns or the gender-neutral language according to which “she” must be referred to as “he,” “xe,” or “they.” Or of that one cranky colleague who says publicly that the “inclusion and diversity” training required by the administration is silly and a fraud.

We all know such people.  They are an irritant.  We might admire them, but they cause trouble.  We fear for them.  We want to protect them.  And yet, we want them not to make trouble for the rest of us who have resolved to “go along and get along.”

*Image: Václav Havel (1936-2011) waves to supporters in Prague in 1989. Havel, who had been jailed by the communists, led the “Velvet Revolution” and became the Czech Republic’s president in 1993. [Photo by Petar Kujundzic/Reuters]

I can imagine the friends of Havel’s greengrocer asking him, “Is this really the hill you want to die on – this business with the sign about the workers? Look, we will sacrifice with you,” they will likely say, reasoning calmly, “but when the time is right; not on something silly like this.  Let’s wait for the right thing.” What the “right” thing would be is rarely clear.

How often are people like Havel’s greengrocer told by friends and confidants – sometimes sternly, usually under the pretense that the person scolding them is “caring for their welfare” – that they should “stop making trouble” or that their comments were “not helpful” and that it would be best to deal with these matters “quietly,” “in negotiations through the proper channels”?

If there is one touchingly naïve faith that you can guarantee will be shared by nearly all those associated with a bureaucratic system, it’s that petty injustices by those in power are best handled “quietly,” “behind the scenes,” despite repeated evidence that people in power have little patience or use for “dialogue.”

And what if Havel is right, that the power of the powerless must come from insisting on speaking the truth and living in the truth in numerous small ways every day? Perhaps we ourselves don’t have the courage, but if someone else does, what should be our response? All it takes for evil to dominate is for good people to do nothing.

Perhaps we must finally face up to the fact that the ones really “making trouble” are those who insist on forcing everyone to live a lie, and that we have the responsibility to protect the people with the courage to do what should be done. Will we choose to “live in the truth” or remain quislings?

Speaking of quislings, the major guilds of the academic disciplines – groups like the Modern Language Association, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Academy of Religion – have done their part to enforce the fads of the new linguistic fascists, but they have yet to do anything serious to bring about basic justice for adjunct faculty or to stem the tide of the corporatization of the academy, bloated bureaucracies, ever-increasing tuitions costs, and the ever-increasing use of non-tenure track faculty.

This makes them worthy of the sort of contempt with which we now view the bureaucracies of the former Eastern European communist governments. The sooner they are dissolved in favor of something like Poland’s Solidarity labor union, the better.

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Cdl. Zen to Pope Francis: Vatican directives for China church may lead to ‘death of true faith’

HONG KONG, July 5, 2019

The Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong has spoken out forcefully against the Vatican’s newest “pastoral document” for the Chinese Church which gives reasons for why priests should register with the communist government. Cardinal Joseph Zen presented nine criticisms to Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin on a recent trip to Rome, July 1, that outline his concerns about the document.

“A text is signed against the faith and it is stated that the intention is to promote the good of the community, a more suitable evangelisation, and the responsible management of Church assets. This general rule is obviously against all fundament[al] moral theology! If valid, [it] would justify even apostasy!” stated the Cardinal in his criticisms which were published on his website today.

“This document has radically turned upside what is normal and what is abnormal, what is rightful and what is pitiable. Those who wrote it hope perhaps that the pitied minority will die a natural death. By this minority I mean not only underground priests, but also the many brothers in the official community who have worked with great tenacity to achieve change, hoping for the support of the Holy See,” he stated later in his criticism of the pastoral document.

Cardinal Zen had been deeply involved in the recent protests that opposed the Chinese State imposition of extradition laws in Hong Kong. Many believe these laws would continue the methodical takeover of the former British colony, now acting as an independent “Special Administrative Region”. His absence, however, was noted in the recent protests. In his statement, issued this morning, His Eminence explained what caused him to remain silent until this week.

“On the evening of June 28, I received notice (that) the Holy See (had issued the newest pastoral document for the Church in China). As a bishop and a cardinal, I cannot accept this quietly. I must raise my doubts. It was (for this purpose) that I boarded a plane to Rome on the evening of the 29th.”

He continues: “At noon on Sunday (June 30th), I handed a letter to the Pope, to the security guard at Santa Marta dormitory (the Papal Residence) asking the Pope to let me (and the author of the statement) discuss the (document) in front of him. As I had not received a response by 4 pm on Monday, (July 1) I wrote another letter to the private secretary of the Pope, where I also attached my ‘dubia’. The secretary confirmed that my initial letter to the Pope had been received.”

Cardinal Zen finally received a response from the office of the Secretary of State, the evening of Tuesday, July 2. His Eminence was told by an official that “the Pope said my question could be discussed with the Secretary of State. I said, ‘Then it is (lost). I have absolutely no confidence that meeting him (Cardinal Parolin) will have any impact.'”

Wednesday evening, however, Cardinal Zen received an invitation by Pope Francis, to have dinner with him and with Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

He writes: “It is impolite to argue at dinner. We spoke (only) about the situation in Hong Kong. As for the pastoral document and my statement, I only mentioned it to the Pope in the last few minutes. The Pope said several times, ‘I will pay attention to this matter.’ This is the only sentence I (have) brought back to my people. I also handed my ‘dubia’ to the Secretary of State, who did not say anything at the dinner.”

In his criticisms, listed below, Cardinal Zen provides commentary on why, section by section, the newest Sino-Vatican “pastoral document” falls well short of any real pastoral care of the members of Holy Mother Church, in China.

“When brothers from China ask me what to do, I have always given the answer: respect the choices of others and to remain firm in the conviction of one’s conscience. This is because I have no authority to impose my views on others about what is right or wrong. But doesn’t the Holy See have the authority and therefore the duty to clarify precisely this to the members of the Church? Are the Pastoral Guidelines doing that?”

Zen ends his criticisms with the following exhortation, “May the Lord not allow the fulfilment of the wishes of those who want the death of the true faith in my dear homeland.”

The following are the English translation of the nine criticisms presented by Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong to Pope Francis. The English translation, Italian, and Chinese may be found on his website.

LifeSite has reached out to Cardinal Joseph Zen, and will report on any developments or statements from him.

***

“Dubia” by Cardinal Zen on the pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of the clergy in China

First of all I find strange that the document is issued by “The Holy See”, without specifying which Department and no signature of the responsible Officer.

In paragraphs 1 and 2 the document explains the problem and the general solution.

1. The problem is that the government has reneged on its promises to respect Catholic doctrine. In the civil registration of the clergy, it almost always requires the clergy to accept the principle of self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation of the Church in China (this could be completed with what the letter from Pope Benedict XVI says in point 7.8: “to adopt attitudes, make gestures and undertake commitments that are contrary to the dictates of their conscience as Catholics.”

2. Faced with this complex situation, which is not always the same everywhere, the Holy See provided a general outline on how to behave: on the one hand, it says it does not intend to force people; hence calling (but omitting to explicitly say “the government”) for respect for the conscience of Catholics. On the other hand, it states as a general principle that “The clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life”, that is, it is normal for her to come out of it.

With respect [to] the quotation from Pope Benedict XVI’s letter at 8.10, I took the liberty of taking almost the entire paragraph:

(a) “Some of them, not wishing to be subjected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine consecration.”

(b) “The clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life,”

(c) “and history shows that Pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith,”

(d) “and to resist interference from State agencies in matters pertaining intimately to the Church’s life.”

Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx and Card Parolin like to cite only part (b); Pope Francis also adds part (c); but it seems to me that parts (a) and (d) are also important.

The paragraph clearly shows that non-normality is not the choice of the underground clergy, the choice is inevitable. It is the situation that is abnormal! Has this situation changed now?

3. The third, long paragraph tries to prove that which is suggested in par. 5.

First test: the Constitution which guarantees the religious freedom.

What does the long history of persecution tell us, the Constitution notwithstanding?

Second test: After the Agreement, “independence” logically should no longer be understood as absolute independence, but …

First of all, if I cannot see the text of the Agreement, it is difficult for me to believe that they have really recognised the “particular role of the successor of Peter”.

Is there something logical in totalitarian systems? The only logic is that, according to Deng Xiaoping, a white cat is the same as a black cat, as long as it serves the purposes of the Party.

In the immediate post-agreement period, nothing has been changed. Everything has been officially restated and the facts prove it.

Third test: The context of the “consolidated” dialogue

Does the document not acknowledge that the government has reneged on its promises, as noted in both in the first and ninth paragraphs of this document?

Fourth test: All bishops are legitimised.

This only proves the unlimited generosity of the pope or perhaps the all-powerful pressure of the government, but we see no change on the part of the forgiven and “rewarded”; no sign of repentance; only clear acts of bold triumph, laughing at others who have bet on the losing horse.

4. Paragraph 4 states that the aforementioned reasons justify a new attitude. Here at least there is the honesty of saying that what is proposed is something new, and that it is thus not in continuation with the past, but a denial of the past as something already bygone, something no longer valid.

It is also said that the Holy See is trying to agree with the government on a formula(and have it both ways).

But our question is: “A formula“? What is being asked and accepted is not the statement of a theory: it is an entire system, a regime in which there will be no pastoral freedom, in which everyone will follow orders of the Party, including minors under 18 banned from taking part in any religious activity.

5. In par. 5 we find the pastoral guidelines proper. In short: It is alright to sign everything the government requires, possibly with a written clarification that denies what is signed. If the written clarification is not possible, let it be done verbally, with or without a witness. As long as there is the intention of conscientiously not accepting what was actually signed.

A text is signed against the faith and it is stated that the intention is to promote the good of the community, a more suitable evangelisation, and the responsible management of Church assets. This general rule is obviously against all fundament[al] moral theology! If valid, [it] would justify even apostasy!

6. In par. 6 it is said that the Holy See understands and respects those who, in good conscience, do not accept the aforementioned rule. Obviously, this is compassion towards a “stubborn” minority that still fails to understand the new rule.

7. Par.7 speaks of certain duties that fall on bishops, citing a document that has nothing to do with our issue.

8. In par. 8 it is said that the faithful should accept the decision of their pastors. What does that mean? That they do not have the individual freedom to choose? Mustn’t their conscience be respected?

When brothers from China ask me what to do, I have always given the answer: respect the choices of others and to remain firm in the conviction of one’s conscience. This is because I have no authority to impose my views on others about what is right or wrong. But doesn’t the Holy See have the authority and therefore the duty to clarify precisely this to the members of the Church? Are the Pastoral Guidelines doing that?

9. In par. 9 it is said that in the meantime the Holy See asks (and omits again the word “the government”) that unofficial Catholic communities not be placed under undue pressures, like in the past.

The decision not to use the word “government” is almost like the traditional reverence in not mentioning the name of the emperor.

Finally, it is recommended that everyone discern God’s will with patience and humility. I wonder though: did the steadfastness of the faith get lost somewhere?

Then it says that “the journey of the Church in China, [is] marked, …, by much hope in spite of enduring difficulties”. It seems to me instead, that the facts have destroyed every foundation of human hope. As for hope in God, it can never be separated from the sincere desire to suffer in accordance with His will.

This document has radically turned upside what is normal and what is abnormal, what is rightful and what is pitiable. Those who wrote it hope perhaps that the pitied minority will die a natural death. By this minority I mean not only underground priests, but also the many brothers in the official community who have worked with great tenacity to achieve change, hoping for the support of the Holy See.

May the Lord not allow the fulfilment of the wishes of those who want the death of the true faith in my dear homeland.

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