Mister McCarrick

McCarrick has been “laicized”, that is, stripped of the clerical state.  While Holy Orders leaves an indelible mark on the souls (meaning that even death doesn’t remove the sacramental character – a priest is a priest forever, even in heaven or… *shudder* in the other place) he may not function in any priestly capacity for the rest of his life.

The Catholic Herald writes:

Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered this week the laicization of Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, and a once powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles in the U.S. and around the world.

The decision followed an administrative penal process conducted by the CDF, which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” according to a February 16 Vatican communique.

The conviction was made following an “administrative penal process,”which is a much-abbreviated penal mechanism used in cases in which the evidence is so clear that a full trial is unnecessary.

Because Pope Francis personally approved the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicization, it is formally impossible for the decision to be appealed.

According to a statement from the Vatican on February 16, the decree finding McCarrick guilty was issued on January 11 and followed by an appeal, which was rejected by the CDF on February 13.

McCarrick was notified of the decision on February 15 and Pope Francis “has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse.)”


While I take little pleasure in any of this, I find it grimly pleasing.  I had long held McCarrick as one of the most loathsome people at large in the Church, based on what I had heard of him decades ago, and on his blatant lying about Ratzinger’s letter to US bishops and about what Arinze said in a presser when I was present.

Good riddance.  The barque is a little less grimy today.

What remains to be determined is to what extent McCarrick was involved with Francis and Team Francis before and after the 2003 conclave.

That will come out.  After all, the Devil makes good frying pan, but he doesn’t make covers for them.  Eventually, things come out.

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Archbishop Viganò Strikes Again, Targets 1960’s as Start of Abuse Crisis

And we all know what took place during the 1960’s, don’t we?

Five days ago, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò contributed the following statement to the National Catholic Register, which had invited him to be part of a symposium in anticipation of next week’s Vatican summit meeting on the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

Some of Archbishop Viganò’s more vocal traditionalist critics enjoy pointing out that, since His Excellency has been part of the post-conciliar Church, he must be considered part of the problem rather than the solution.  From the moment we reported on the first Viganò letter, we have pushed back against this myopic point of view.

It is interesting to note now, in this latest Viganò letter, that the good Archbishop highlights the years leading up to and including the Second Vatican Council as when sexual abuse in the clergy became a massive problem. The Archbishop also takes a very pre-conciliar position on the admittance of homosexuals to the priesthood. I’d say if we were to scratch the surface of Archbishop Viganò just a bit, we’d find a traditionalist.

You’ll want to read this!

We’ve reproduced the statement below in its entirety:

Despite Grave Problems, the Lord Will Never Abandon His Church

I thank you for inviting me to take part in this symposium on “Abuse and the Way to Healing” in anticipation of the upcoming bishops’ summit at the Vatican. My contribution will draw on my personal experience of 51 years of priesthood.

It is evident to all that a primary cause of the present terrible crisis of sexual abuse committed by ordained clergy, including bishops, is the lack of proper spiritual formation of candidates to the priesthood. That lack, in turn, is largely explained by the doctrinal and moral corruption of many seminary formators, corruption that increased exponentially beginning in the 1960s.

I entered a pontifical seminary in Rome and began my studies at the Gregorian University when I was 25 years old. It was 1965, just months before the end of Vatican II. I couldn’t help but notice, not only in my own college but also in many others in Rome, that some seminarians were very immature and that these houses of formation were marked by a general and very serious lack of discipline.

vigano pull 1

A few examples will suffice. Seminarians sometimes spent the night outside my seminary, as the supervision was woefully inadequate. Our spiritual director was in favor of priestly ordination ad tempus — the idea that ordained priesthood could be a merely temporary status.

At the Gregorian, one of the professors of moral theology favored situation ethics. And some classmates confided to me that their spiritual directors had no objection to their presenting themselves for priestly ordination despite their unresolved and continual grave sins against chastity.

Certainly, those who suffer from deep-seated same-sex attraction should never be admitted to seminary. Moreover, before any seminarian is accepted for ordination, he must not only strive for chastity but actually achieve it. He must already be living chaste celibacy peacefully and for a prolonged period of time, for if this is lacking, the seminarian and his formators cannot have the requisite confidence that he is called to the celibate life.

Bishops have the paramount responsibility for the formation of their candidates to the priesthood. Any bishop who has covered up abuse or seduction of minors, vulnerable adults or adults under a priest’s pastoral care, including seminarians, is not fit for that responsibility or for any episcopal ministry and should be removed from his office.

vigano pull 2

I am praying intensely for the success of the February summit. Although I would rejoice greatly if the summit were successful, the following questions reveal that there is no sign of a genuine willingness to attend to the real causes of the present situation:

  • Why will the meeting focus exclusively on the abuse of minors? These crimes are indeed the most horrific, but the crises in the United States and Chile that have largely precipitated the upcoming summit have to do with abuses committed against young adults, including seminarians, not only against minors. Almost nothing has been said about sexual misconduct with adults, which is itself a grave abuse of pastoral authority, whether or not the relationship was “consensual.”
  • Why does the word “homosexuality” never appear in recent official documents of the Holy See? This is by no means to suggest that most of those with a homosexual inclination are abusers, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of abuse has been inflicted on post-pubescent boys by homosexual clerics. It is mere hypocrisy to condemn the abuse and claim to sympathize with the victims without facing up to this fact honestly. A spiritual revitalization of the clergy is necessary, but it will be ultimately ineffectual if it does not address this problem.
  • Why does Pope Francis keep and even call as his close collaborators people who are notorious homosexuals? Why has he refused to answer legitimate and sincere questions about these appointments? In doing so he has lost credibility on his real will to reform the Curia and fight the corruption.

viganoo pull 3

In my third testimony, I begged the Holy Father to face up to the commitments he himself made in assuming his office as Successor of Peter. I pointed out that he took upon himself the mission of confirming his brothers and guiding all souls in following Christ along the way of the cross. I urged him then, and I now urge him again, to tell the truth, repent, show his willingness to follow the mandate given to Peter and, once converted, to confirm his brothers (Luke 22:32).

I pray that the bishops gathered in Rome will remember the Holy Spirit, whom they received with the imposition of hands, and carry out their responsibility to represent their particular Churches by firmly asking for, and insisting on, an answer to the above questions during the summit.

Indeed, I pray that they will not return to their countries without proper answers to these questions, for to fail in this regard would mean abandoning their own flocks to the wolves and allowing the entire Church to suffer dreadful consequences.

Despite the problems I have described, I continue to have hope, because the Lord will never abandon his Church.

Archbishop Carlo Viganò is the former apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

[Source: Michael J. Matt at THE REMNANT]

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Duties and Limits of the Papacy

The crossed keys symbolise the keys of Saint Peter

Happy Catholics Don’t Make the Pope More than He Is

By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski


Pope Benedict XVI  said in a homily in 2005:

The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the Faith. The pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism. … The pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage. Thus, his power is not being above the Word of God, but at the service of it. It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.

This is what everyone had always believed to be the role of the papacy. The pope was expected to make his magisterium conform to a Tradition that already existed as a God-given measure for all believers. This view furnishes the basis on which the Third Council of Constantinople saw itself as competent to issue a crystal-clear condemnation and anathematization of the deceased Pope Honorius, a judgment Pope Leo II endorsed and indeed repeated in his own right. It explains the shadow that lies over the name of Pope Liberius in the West, as a vacillator who gave encouragement to enemies of the Faith.

Pope Pius IX

The original ultramontanists of the 19th century could be forgiven for their enthusiasm. The popes of the Counter-Reformation and post-revolutionary period in Europe were generally as committed to traditional dogma as can possibly be imagined; the popes from Gregory XVI to Pius XI in particular were anti-modern(ist) to the core. They were the heroes fighting the drift into total secularism.

We are, regrettably, in a very different place. One who reads Pope St. Pius X’s Pascendi Dominici Gregis today would find it difficult not to see the opinions he is condemning in the very words of Pope Francis and his supporters.

Note how carefully Benedict XVI, in the quotation above, chooses his every word. He says: “The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the Faith.” In other words, it is not involuntary, like the reflex motion of a knee struck with a doctor’s rubber mallet. Each bishop, including the bishop of Rome, must make a voluntary submission of mind and heart to the Faith, and he can fail to do so in the vast realm of statements, decisions, and actions that fall outside the confines of papal infallibility as defined by Vatican I. If a pope’s failure to submit himself to Sacred Tradition and to defend it strenuously is notorious enough, it merits blame and condemnation.

Pope Benedict continues: “He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.” Implied in this “must” is an “ought”: he ought not to proclaim his own ideas, but bind himself and the Church to what is true, regardless of the pressure of progressive elites, with their humanistic opposition to the death penalty or their utilitarian view of marital permanence or their perverse enforcement of “sex education.”

As for “not tearing to pieces the Word of God by continuous changes in usage,” it seems that the current Roman pontiff never received the memo. In almost every area of the Church’s life, he has attempted to change what his predecessors — including the popes immediately before him — had established. Humanae Vitae? Courageous for its time, but we’re beyond that now. Veritatis Splendor? Oh, scholastic moral theology no longer corresponds to the new needs of today. Familiaris Consortio? Never mind…

In the fourth century, during the Arian crisis that swept through the Church, most of the bishops stopped defending Catholic Tradition. To put it bluntly, they were heretics, borderline or blatant. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and just a few others whom we now revere as confessors of the Faith claimed that their brother bishops — in the hundreds — were renegades. Did this mean that all of those bishops ceased to be successors of the apostles? No. Did they lose their authority to govern? No. They remained what they were divinely ordained to be. But they were not living up to the demands of their office; they were not living by the charism of truth entrusted to them.

If a pope or bishop is automatically trustworthy, where is the room for free will — his or ours? Where is the room for collaboration with, or stubborn resistance to, God’s grace? St. Athanasius was faithful to the office that Christ gave him, but he was hounded out of his see multiple times by his opponents and died from maltreatment at the hands of Arians and Semi-Arians who had the backing of “successors of the apostles.” The laity supported Athanasius because they recognized in his doctrine the truth of the Faith proclaimed immutably at Nicaea.

Having an apostolic office makes a bishop worthy of honor and obedience — but he still has to work out his own salvation in fear and trembling, like everyone else. He still has to profess the Faith by an act of free will supported by God’s grace. He still has to submit to the same tradition to which every other Catholic from the day of Pentecost to the Second Coming has to submit. And, if I may be allowed to lapse into slang, he can blow it big time, just like the rest of us. As it says in Scripture, the mighty, if they fail, shall be mightily tormented (Wis. 6:6). It’s not for nothing that Dante puts popes and bishops in his Inferno.

Catholics who protest the novelties of Francis are not setting up their “private interpretation” against “God’s interpretation.” We are looking at the witness of 20 centuries, 21 councils, and 265 popes preceding this one and seeing contradictions on any number of points, using our God-given gift of reason, which can indeed tell us infallibly that two plus two equals four and cannot equal five.

“What good, then, is having a pope?” someone might be tempted to ask.

This frustration occurs only for those who have an exaggerated notion of the pope’s role. For the most part, Catholics throughout history have been able to ignore what the pope is doing, because they already knew their faith — what they had to believe, pray for, do, and shun. For its part, Vatican I is clear about the specific circumstances within which the Church’s infallibility is engaged by her earthly head. The pope is supposed to be “where the buck stops” when there is a dispute that cannot be otherwise resolved. He is meant to be, as Cardinal Newman says, a remora or barrier against doctrinal innovation, not an engine for doctrinal development, let alone a chatterbox sharing his personal opinions. In fact, the gravity of the papal office is such, and so great the responsibility, that a pope should be characterized by saying rather less than most bishops or priests do, rather than more. He should be a man of few and serious words.

We are duty-bound to pray for our shepherds — and then, with a cheerful countenance and a jaunty step, get on with our daily lives as Catholics. For most of her history, the Church has bustled along in her mission, without waiting to hear the latest homily or address (much less airplane interview) by the pope, or counting the votes of the bishops at the latest synod. What we need to believe and to do has been laid out for us for a long time, with no possibility that it will ever be changed.

The city of Rome houses the bones of at least a hundred popes, most of whom are forgotten by all but historians. Visitors to St. Peter’s basilica walk past one sarcophagus after another as they proceed toward the confessio to pay homage to the Prince of the Apostles. Soon, the wretched papacy under which we now suffer will be past, as we draw closer, step by step, to the final confrontation of Christ with Antichrist. Let the dead bury the dead; let modernists bury modernists. “As for you,” says the Lord to each of us, “follow Me.”

[Source: 1Peter5]

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Did Benedict really resign? Gänswein, Burke and Brandmüller weigh in

Franco Origlia / Getty Images

ROME, February 14, 2019, LifeSiteNews:

Archbishop Georg Gänswein has reaffirmed the validity of Benedict’s resignation, insisting that he did resign the Petrine office.

“There is only one legitimately elected and incumbent [gewählten und amtierenden] Pope, and that is Francis,” Benedict’s longtime private secretary said, adding simply: “Amen.”

His definitive affirmation, communicated to LifeSiteNews on Feb. 11, 2019 — the six-year anniversary of Pope Benedict’s abdication — comes at a time when increasing numbers of bishops, canonists, theologians and lay faithful are questioning its juridical validity.

Clergy and laity alike are concerned that Benedict’s remarks about the “forever” of the papacy — and those of Archbishop Gänswein about an “expanded petrine ministry” — indicate that Benedict intended to bifurcate the papacy, as if he intended only to resign the ministerium (active ministry) of the papacy and not the munus (office) itself. If this were the case, the argument goes, his resignation would be invalid, for Christ intended for there to be only one successor to Peter, one Vicar of Christ on earth.

Presenting these concerns to Archbishop Gänswein, we asked him: “Did Pope Benedict intend to resign the Petrine munus as named in canon law (canon 332.2), or just the public actions that pertain to that munus?”

“I have already cleared up the ‘misunderstanding’ several times,” he responded. “It makes no sense at all, no, even more, it is counterproductive to insist on this ‘misunderstanding’ and to quote me again and again. This is absurd and leads to self-harm [Selbstzerfleischung]. I have clearly said that there is only one Pope, one legitimately elected and incumbent Pope, and that is Francis. Amen.”

LifeSite investigated the arguments and claims surrounding this aspect of the debate over the validity of Benedict’s resignation. We then sat down with Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller to hear their views.

Questioning the juridical validity of Benedict’s resignation

Concern over the juridical validity of Benedict’s resignation has exercised many theologians and has increased in recent months and years.

Last October, Monsignor Nicola Bux, a respected theologian and former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during Benedict XVI’s pontificate, called for an investigation into this resignation.

In a forceful interview with Italian Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli on the doctrinal and moral crisis in the Church, Msgr. Bux, now a theological consultor for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said it would be “easier” to examine the question of the “juridical validity of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation” than to face head-on the “practical, theological and juridical difficulties to the question of judging a heretical pope.”

“The idea of a sort of collegial papacy seems to me decidedly against the Gospel dictate,” he said. “Jesus did not say, in fact, ‘tibi dabo claves…’ addressing Peter and Andrew but only said it to Peter!”

Msgr. Bux’s reference to a “collegial” papacy was an allusion to a concern over the background to Benedict’s resignation that has been circulating in curial and theological circles for some time.

The scruple was triggered by a discourse Archbishop Gänswein delivered on May 20, 2016, during a book launch at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Benedict’s personal secretary said of him: “He has left the papal throne and yet, with the step made on February 11, 2013, he has not at all abandoned this ministry. Instead, he has complemented the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, as a quasi-shared ministry (als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst).”

Archbishop Gänswein continued:

Since the election of his successor Francis, on March 13, 2013, there are not therefore two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member. This is why Benedict XVI has not given up either his name, or the white cassock. This is why the correct name by which to address him even today is “Your Holiness. […]

“He has not abandoned the Office of Peter — something which would have been entirely impossible for him after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005,” he said.

Archbishop Gänswein’s “expanded papacy” speech provoked deep concern, and appeared to shed new light on Pope Benedict’s own remarks during his last Wednesday general audience on Feb. 27, 2013, one day before leaving the Vatican by helicopter for Castel Gandolfo.

Reflecting on his acceptance of the papacy on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict said: “The real gravity of the decision [to resign] was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy.”

Pope Benedict continued: “The ‘always’ is also a ‘forever’ – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this,” he said [emphasis added]. “I am not abandoning the cross but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to say, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.”

Then, some four years later, reflecting on his abdication in a book-interview with Peter Seewald titled Last Testament, Benedict XVI said: “My step was not one of taking flight but was precisely another way of remaining faithful to my ministry.”

The nature of the doubt

The concern to which Monsignor Bux alluded in his Oct. 13 interview arises from the fact that the papacy is by divine law monarchical and cannot be held by more than one person at any time.

An error popular among Protestants and liberal Catholic theologians after Vatican II held that there was no monarchical papacy in the first or early second century but that monarchical episcopacy was introduced there some time after St Ignatius of Antioch (d.108) and before St Irenaeus of Lyons (fl.180).

Moderately liberal Catholics who hold to the above error but still feel the need to uphold the divine origin of the papacy try to claim its monarchical character has been and could be changed from aristocratic to monarchical and vice versa. That is, they imagine a council of presbyters ruled the Roman Church rather than a bishop after the death of St. Peter until sometime in the second century, when this council was replaced by a Bishop of Rome, or Pope. As this happened in the past (they imagine), they see no reason why it could not happen in the future and two or three or a dozen or more collectively might exercise the papal primacy.

It is alleged that in some writings in the 1970s onward Joseph Ratzinger at least gave consideration to these ideas without clearly rejecting them.

When he resigned the papacy, Benedict XVI spoke (in the Latin text) of the burden of the papal munus and of abdicating the papal ministerium. Given that in his final Wednesday audience, Benedict XVI spoke of somehow “always” and “forever” being the Pope, and Archbishop Georg Gänswein spoke of the new situation having arisen since the abdication, whereby there are now not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member,” whispers have spread that Pope Benedict attempted partial resignation on the basis of a false understanding of his own office and therefore, perhaps, he resigned invalidly.

Benedict XVI has, since his resignation, increased these doubts by retaining his papal name and dress and form of address.

Some have inferred from this that Benedict XVI distinguished between a papal munus of divine origin and a papal ministerium of human origin which may be split or bifurcated and otherwise altered by ecclesiastical authority — and intended in his abdication to retain the munus while sharing it with his successor to whom the bulk or all of the ministerium would have passed.

This is not possible as the monarchical nature of the papacy is of divine law. But if it was the basis of Benedict XVI’s abdication then he acted out of substantial error, and thus Benedict XVI remains the Pope. According to Can. 188 of the Code of Canon Law: “A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.” That is, Benedict XVI attempted to resign an aspect of the papacy he falsely supposed to be separable from the office itself and did not intend to resign the office as such (but asked the cardinals to give him a colleague in the office) and thus his resignation is invalid.

This, the argument goes, accounts for the many errors taught by Pope Francis. Not actually being the Pope (it is said), he does not enjoy the graces of state of a Pope.

Doubting the doubts

While the thesis has aroused interest in many quarters, even theologians who find the arguments worthy of consideration are often unconvinced.

A theologian who spoke to LifeSite on condition of anonymity argued that supporters of this opinion need to show that Pope Benedict understood the munus and the ministerium as referring to two different realities. “If you think that ministerium means only acts of teaching and governance, then it would indeed seem to be different from the munus, which normally designates an office, that is, a kind of state,” he said.

“But ‘ministerium’ doesn’t have to mean acts,” he explained. “The first meaning given to it in the Latin dictionary (Lewis and Short) is ‘office.’ I would say that its basic meaning is ‘an office by reason of which one must perform acts to help others.’”

The theologian noted further that ‘munus’ doesn’t only mean a state. “According to the Latin dictionary, it can also refer to the performance of a duty,” he said. “It was used in this sense by Cicero and there is no more authoritative writer of Latin prose than him.”

He said the main difference between the words appears to be simply that ‘munus’ connotes more “the burden which the office puts on its bearer,” and ‘ministerium’ connotes more “the reference to other people which the office establishes.”

“But that doesn’t prevent them from referring to one and the same office or state,” he added.

Why then did Pope Benedict say munus at the start of his Latin declaration and ministerium at the end, if he understood them to refer to the same reality? The theologian suggested two possibilities.

“One is simply that people who want to write elegant prose often avoid frequent repetitions of the same word,” he said. “Another is that the word ‘ministerium’ has perhaps a more humble sound to it, since it refers more directly to the papacy in its relation to other people, than as a charge placed on oneself. So having begun by using the official word, ‘munus,’ Benedict moved on to the more humble sounding word.”

The theologian went on to note that while Benedict was aware of theological writings from the 1970’s onward that proposed the Petrine munus could be divided, he is “not aware of any place where Joseph Ratzinger endorses this thesis.”

He said the lack of clarity about Ratzinger’s position is aggravated by the fact that translators have mistranslated Ratzinger and presented him as endorsing heterodox ideas when in fact he was reporting someone else’s thought rather than expressing his own.

The theologian acknowledged that it is possible that Pope Benedict thought there might be a real distinction between munus and ministerium but was unsure. In that case, he said, Benedict’s abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: “I only want to resign the ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the munus.”

But he said it would be equally possible that, being unsure whether there was a distinction, Benedict could have had in mind the thought: “I want to resign the ministerium whether or not it is distinct from the munus.” In that case, the theologian said he believes the resignation would have been valid.

“In any case,” he said, “I don’t think there is convincing evidence that Benedict thought there was a real distinction between the two things.”

“Again,” the theologian continued, “since according to Canon 15.2, error is not presumed about a law, the presumption must be that he validly renounced the papacy.”

He said that people who insist Benedict’s resignation was invalid “therefore seem to be in a position similar to that of a Catholic spouse who is personally convinced that his or her Church marriage was invalid.”

“However convinced the person is of this, he or she is not free to marry again until an ecclesiastical court has declared that there was never a marriage,” he said. “So even if someone is convinced that Benedict XVI is still Pope, he or she should wait for the judgement of the Church before acting on this belief, e.g. a priest in that position should continue to mention Francis in the canon of the Mass.”

As for the argument that Pope Francis can’t be Pope because he clearly has no graces of state, the theologian said this forgets that “grace is normally offered in such a way that it can be refused.”

“You might as well say that a man who beats his wife obviously can’t be validly married to her,” he said.

Other theologians see Benedict’s use of the title “Pope emeritus” as a point in favor of the resignation.

Can. 185 of the Code of Canon Law (on the loss of ecclesiastical office) says: “The title of emeritus can be conferred upon a person who loses an office by reason of age or of resignation which has been accepted.”

As one theologian explained, every bishop when he retires becomes bishop emeritus. He is the emeritus bishop of the last diocese of which he presided. By creating the “pope emeritus” title (it is argued), Benedict is saying “what every bishop does, I’m doing too.”

LifeSite also asked noted Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei for his thoughts on arguments invoking “substantial error.” Seconding the first theologian’s line of thought, Professor de Mattei noted that: “The Church is a visible society, and canon law does not evaluate intentions, but concerns the external behavior of the baptized. Canon 124, §2 of the Code states that: ‘A juridic act placed correctly with respect to its external elements is presumed valid.’”

“Did Benedict XVI intend to resign only partially, by renouncing the ministerium, but keeping the munus for himself? It’s possible,” he said, “but no evidence, at least to date, makes it evident.”

“We are in the realm of intentions,” he added. “Canon 1526, § 1 states: “Onus probandi incumbit ei qui asserit” (The burden of proof rests upon the person who makes the allegation.) To prove means to demonstrate the certainty of a fact or the truth of the statement. Moreover, the papacy is in itself indivisible.”

Bringing Msgr. Bux’s argument in favor of examining the juridical validity of the abdication full circle, de Mattei said: “If it were proven that Benedict XVI had the intention of dividing it, of modifying the constitution of the Church willed by Our Lord, he would have fallen into heresy, with all the problems that would ensue. Isn’t the current situation of the Church already serious enough without complicating it further?”

Certainty from Cardinal Brandmüller

In comments to LifeSite, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, former president the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, insisted: “The resignation was valid, and the election was valid.”

“Enough,” he added.

A respected Church historian, Brandmüller was one of the four cardinals who signed five dubia which sought clarification from Pope Francis on the moral teachings contained in the Pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. 

In our conversation with the German Cardinal, he cited two Roman legal dictums which he said are important to keep in mind: de internis non iudicat praetor (a judge does not judge internal things) and quod non est in actis, non est in mundo (what is not in the acts [of the process], is not in the world).

In judging the validity of any juridical act, Cardinal Brandmüller said we need to consider the “facts and documents” and “not what the people in question might have been thinking.”

“You always have to keep in mind that the law speaks of verifiable facts, not of thoughts,” he said.

What sort of substantial error could invalidate a papal resignation, we asked Cardinal Brandmüller?

“If a Pope decided to resign because he thought Islamic troops were invading the Vatican, the resignation would be invalid if the Islamic troops weren’t in fact invading,” he said in a modern-day version of Venerable Pope Pius XII’s contingency plan to step down in 1944 to avoid being arrested by the Nazis.

Cardinal Brandmüller has been a critic of Benedict’s resignation, as well as his decision to keep the white cassock and his papal name.

In 2016, he wrote an article calling for a law to define the status of the ex-pope and concluding that the resignation of the Pope “is possible, and it has been done, but it is to be hoped that it may never happen again.” (An extended version of the article appeared in the periodical, The Jurist.)

Then, in a 2017 interview critical of Benedict’s resignation, the German Cardinal told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the “Pope Emeritus” title never existed “in all of Church history” and that Benedict’s resignation had “knocked us cardinals sideways, and not only us.”

Soon after, the German newspaper Bild published two letters from the Pope Emeritus to Cardinal Brandmüller, in which the Pope Emeritus defended his decision to resign but also revealed his awareness of the pain it had caused.

In the first letter, dated Nov. 9, 2017, Benedict writes: “With ‘Pope Emeritus,’ I tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely not accessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one Pope. If you know of a better way and believe that you can judge the one I chose, please tell me.”

Despite his criticism of Benedict’s abdication, his creation of the title “pope emeritus,” and his keeping the white cassock and papal name, Cardinal Brandmüller unwaveringly maintains the validity of the resignation.

“There’s no doubt that Francis is the legitimate Pope,” he said.

Cardinal Burke weighs in

LifeSite also sat down with US Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Prefect of the Holy See’s Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican equivalent of the Supreme Court), to discuss his views on the juridical validity of Pope Benedict’s resignation in light of the aforementioned concerns and Cardinal Brandmüller’s remarks.

Having considered various aspects of the issue, including the relevant canons, the Latin text of Benedict’s resignation and his final general audience, Cardinal Burke said: “I believe it would be difficult to say it’s not valid.”

Regarding Benedict’s Latin declaration, Cardinal Burke said “it seems clear he uses interchangeably ‘munus’ and ‘ministerium.’ It doesn’t seem that he’s making a distinction between the two.”

Concerning Benedict’s final Wednesday general audience, he said while he finds it “disturbing,” he doesn’t believe Benedict’s “always and forever” comments constitute substantial error (according to can. 188 and can. 126) with regard to his abdication “because it’s clear from the declaration that he was renouncing the munus.”

“We can say that these are mistaken notions,” he said, “but I don’t think you can say that they redound to a non-abdication of the Petrine office.”

“That’s where the dictum ‘de internis non iudicat praetor’ comes in,” he explained, echoing Cardinal Brandmüller. “The Church would become completely destabilized if we couldn’t depend upon certain juridical acts which carry effects.”

“Whatever he may have theoretically thought about the papacy, the reality is what is expressed in the Church’s discipline. He withdrew his will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, and therefore he ceased to be the Vicar of Christ on earth,” the former head of the Vatican’s highest court explained.

“He abdicated all the responsibilities that define the papacy (cf. Pastor Aeternus) and therefore he abdicated the papacy.”

Cardinal Burke called the notion that the papacy could be bifurcated or expanded “fantasy.”

“The office has to inhere in one physical person,” he said.

“The munus and the ministerium are inseparable,” he also explained. “The munus is a grace that’s conferred, and only in virtue of that grace can one carry out the ministry.” Therefore, “if one no longer has that grace because he has withdrawn his will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, then he can’t be exercising the Petrine ministry.”

The Cardinal went on to note that “the papacy is not a sacrament in the sense that there’s an indelible character.”

“If you said you can no longer carry out the ministry of the priesthood, you could still be a priest offering your life in a priestly way. With the episcopal consecration, there is also an indelible mark imprinted upon the soul by which a man becomes the true shepherd of the flock, exercising the priesthood in its fullness.”

“The inauguration ceremony of the Petrine ministry is a symbolic rite but it does not confer anything new upon the person,” he explained. And so “with the papacy, when you renounce the office, you simply cease to be Pope.”

Cardinal Burke is convinced that the use of papal titles and of papal dress after a Pope has resigned is juridically and theologically problematic and does not help the faithful to understand the true sense what has happened — something he raised in the General Congregations just before the last Conclave. “Once you renounce the will to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, then you return to what you were before,” he said.

But regarding the abdication itself, His Eminence said: “It seems clear to me that Benedict had his full mind and that he intended to resign the Petrine office.”

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Adam and Eve on Valentine’s Day

By Fr Mark White 

Leave it to the good Lord.

By pure happenstance of the Lectionary: We read at Holy Mass on Valentine’s Day about God putting Adam and Eve together in the garden. Because “it is not good for man to be alone.” God told us: be fruitful and multiply. Which means men and women falling in love, exchanging Valentines, getting married, and having families.

Which came first? Mankind or the other animals?

Holy Scripture does not exactly answer this question. But the order in time matters much less than the order in being.

We human beings, alone among the animals, can conceive of the world as a whole, as God does. We alone can give distinct names to all the various parts of the world, the creatures that make up God’s creation. Alone among the animals, we form a spiritual bridge between the earth and the mind of God. The marriage of a man and a woman gives us a visible image of the union between God and mankind brought about by the God-man, Jesus Christ.

We know that the pro-abortion, “pro-choice” position betrays the truth. One way you can tell: the very euphemism that the pro-abortion movement chooses for itself. “Reproductive rights.”

Algae “reproduce.” Plants, bugs, other animals—they “reproduce.” Human beings marry. Human beings have families.

If you use words that apply to lower creatures to defend your position when it comes to human beings, you can be sure that you have strayed into a territory where violence reigns. “Reproductive rights” is a phrase from Orwell’s 1984, a mask to cover over systematic bloodshed.

On the other hand: Love. Marriage. Family.

That is the way that God gave to mankind, in the garden, before the Fall. The original gift of God—love, marriage, and family–makes Valentine’s Day happy.

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Investigation finds Covington students did not instigate confrontation

Soon after the Mainstream Media first reported on this incident, blaming and vilifying the Covington students, it became abundantly clear that this was fake news. A totally independent investigation has now vindicated the students from all the false accusations.

Participants at the 2019 March for Life. Credit: Christine Rousselle/CNA

.- An independent investigation into the interaction last month between Covington high school students and a Native American man has exonerated the students, the Diocese of Covington has announced.

In a Feb. 11 message to Covington Catholic High School parents, posted on the diocesan website, Bishop Roger Foys said a third-party inquiry had determined that “our students did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”

“In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” he said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”

The investigations’ report was released nearly a month after controversy first erupted following video emerging on Twitter showing a confrontation between a Native American elderly man with a drum – later identified as activist Nathan Phillips – and a group of students from Covington Catholic High School.

The incident took place as the students were waiting at the Lincoln Memorial to meet their bus on their way home from the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

A team of investigators, which Bishop Foys said “has no connection with Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington” reviewed 50 hours of internet activity, interviewed 43 students and 13 chaperones, and attempted repeatedly to contact Phillips through multiple venues, with no response.

As the students arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, they encountered Black Hebrew Israelites, who were yelling offensive statements at anyone who walked by, the report found. “We see no evidence that students responded with any offensive or racist statements of their own.”

“Some of the students asked the chaperones if they could do their school cheers to help drown out the Black Hebrew Israelites,” the investigators said, however they added that they did not find evidence that any students chanted “Build the Wall.”

Phillips then approached the students, the report said. Most of the students thought he was coming to join in their cheers, and many said they were confused by what he was doing, but none felt threatened.

“We found no evidence of offensive or racist statements by students to Mr. Phillips or members of his group. Some students performed a ‘tomahawk chop’ to the beat of Mr. Phillips’ drumming and some joined in Mr. Phillips’ chant.”

The investigators concluded that the statements they had obtained from students and chaperones were “remarkably consistent,” both with one another and the video footage reviewed. In contrast, they said, “Mr. Phillips’ public interviews contain some inconsistencies, and we have not been able to resolve them or verify his comments,” due to their inability to get in touch with him.

Controversy over the Jan. 18 encounter began after footage posted online showed one student, a junior at Covington, standing in close proximity to Phillips with an uncomfortable expression on his face while the students around him chant and do the “tomahawk chop.”

As the video went viral, it was roundly condemned by media commenters and some Catholic leaders as racist and antagonistic on the part of the students. However, more footage was subsequently released, showing the Black Israelites, and also appearing to show Phillips approaching the students, which contradicted prior reports that the students had surrounded him.

The Covington diocese and high school had initially responded to the incident by saying the students’ behavior was “opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

As additional information emerged, the Diocese of Covington removed its initial statement and released a new one on Monday, Jan. 22, announcing both the temporary closing of Covington Catholic High School and a third-party investigation into the events at the Lincoln Memorial.

In his Feb. 11 letter, Bishop Foys voiced hope that the students can now move forward with their lives and education.

“These students had come to Washington, D.C. to support life. They marched peacefully with hundreds of thousands of others – young and old and in-between – to further the cause of life…Their stance there was surely a pro-life stance. I commend them.”


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British cardinal John Henry Newman to be made a saint after Pope recognises miracle

From The Telegraph online:

Pope Francis has approved a miracle needed to make Cardinal John Henry Newman, a prominent Anglican convert to Catholicism, a saint, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, beatified Newman during a visit to Britain in 2010.

In the Catholic Church’s saint-making process, one miracle is necessary for beatification, and a second miracle, occurring after the beatification ceremony, must be certified by Vatican experts for sainthood to be conferred.

The Vatican didn’t give details in announcing Francis’ approval on Tuesday of this second miracle. But Catholic media last year reported that a pregnant woman’s recovery, with no scientific explanation, from a life-threatening illness, had been confirmed by church officials and attributed to Newman’s intercession.

The London-born Newman, who died in England in 1890, had been hailed by Benedict as a model for ecumenism.

Newman renounced an illustrious academic career at Oxford University to convert to Catholicism in 1845, convinced that the truth he sought could no longer be found in the Church of England.

Anglicans split from Rome in 1534 when the English monarch Henry VIII was denied a marriage annulment.

No date was immediately announced for a sainthood ceremony.

The Vatican on Wednesday also said that Francis had approved the “heroic virtues of God’s servant” Hungarian Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, a staunch foe of Communism who spent more than seven years in prison in his homeland and several years in asylum at the US Embassy in Budapest. He later was granted permission by Hungarian authorities to live in exile in Vienna.

Mindszenty pointedly denied he had retired voluntarily from those posts, attributing that decision to the Vatican alone.

Papal recognition of “heroic” virtues is an early step toward possible sainthood.

Mindszenty died in 1975 in Vienna, Austria.

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A “Sick Society In The Nets of Evil” Allows Church Vandalism – Cardinal Sarah

From Gloria TV yesterday 

Church vandalism reflects a “sick civilization that gets carried away in the nets of evil” – Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote on Twitter (February 10).

Only last week several French Catholic churches were ransacked. Although this has been going on for a long time the French government and the oligarch media keep mum.

Among the most recent cases is Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nîmes where on February 6 the tabernacle was broken open. The hosts were mixed with excrements and smeared on the wall.

On February 9 the hosts were taken out of the tabernacle in the church Notre-Dame in Dijon and thrown around.


BREIBART has also reported on this despicable profanation of the Blessed Sacrament and vandalism in Catholic Churches in France:

Vatican Cardinal Condemns Spate of Church Vandalism in France

The head of the Vatican’s liturgical department has denounced last week’s wave of church vandalism in France, while others decry the “shameful” government silence surrounding the affair.

“The acts of desecration and vandalism in the churches are highly reprehensible,” tweeted Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation of Divine Worship. “They are the sad reflection of a sick civilization that lets itself be swept away in the nets of evil. The bishops, priests, and the faithful must keep up their strength and courage.”

Meanwhile, a priest from the diocese of Albi in southwest France expressed his astonishment at the silence of the French government as well as the mainstream media over the desecration of five Catholic churches over the course of five days.

“Can we know why the Minister of the Interior and Worship is so silent after the wave of church degradation all this week??” wrote Father Gaël Raucoules in a Tweet. “Not a word in the national media and radio silence from the government! Shameful!!!”

The priest added that all the bishops responsible for the vandalized churches have issued statements and have celebrated Masses in reparation for the profanation of sacred spaces, but nonetheless, the government has kept silent.

The five profaned Catholic churches spanned across the country, occurring in the cities of Dijon, Nîmes, Houilles, Maisons-Laffitte, and Lavaur. Several commentators were quick to notice that several of the acts of desecration took place where the Muslim population is particularly concentrated.

The vandalism included smashing statues, crucifixes, and tabernacles, burning altar cloths, smearing walls and floors with excrement, and throwing consecrated hosts on the floor. At the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants in Nîmes, the vandals drew a large cross on the wall with human feces.

Church vandalism in France

“Among so much violence that is agitating our society right now, we also have this: the desecration of a number of our churches in these days. This violence is serious: it reaches places of worship, places of peace for all; it deeply wounds many believers in their faith,” said another priest, Father Grosjean, from the diocese of Versailles, on Twitter.


Some omments and questions asked on BREIBART’s post:

Who are culprits? Could they be the same people who burn down churches and murder Christians in the countries they have come from? And who the Pope defends and welcomes into Europe?”

“When the Government is quiet it speaks volumes.”

Horrifying, but if the church had not been so welcoming to the Mohammedans, this might have been avoided. If a mosque were vandalized every voice in the media and every politician would be screaming. The hypocrisy is disgusting.”


UPDATE A more detailed report of the recent desecration of at least ten Catholic churches in France can be read HERE.

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A picture paints a thousand words

From the blog Vincit Qui Se Vincit, where pictures paint a thousand words:

Do I have this correct?


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Praying for the sick

Yesterday, 11th February, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in our local church for the sick of the parish. Before the Offertory they came up to receive a special blessing from the priest with the sign of the Cross marked on their forehead in holy oil, whilst the congregation sang out the lovely Lourdes hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I found it incredibly moving to witness the lines of people suffering from all sorts of illnesses and disabilities, some in wheelchairs, others on crutches or helped by family members, others with different types of sicknesses, slowly moving up the aisle in a long queue, hope shining in many faces, to receive their blessing. It was not a physical cure most of them were seeking, but the blessing from the priest acting in ‘persona Christi’, to help remind them that their names were inscribed in letters of love on ‘the palm of the Lord’s hand’ (Isaiah 49:16), and that their suffering, generously offered up, had value and meaning. 


The Comfort of the Mystical Body
Nearly every day people write to us or come to the monastery asking us to pray for the sick. This is a request that we take to heart. I know well that, apart from physical discomfort, weakness, and pain, sickness often brings fear, a sense of foreboding, and the impression of being useless, or even a burden to others. I know, too, that when one is sick, one may have the desire to pray. but the incapacity to do so. It becomes difficult to concentrate. One experiences an aching need for God and, at the same, one has the impression of being totally incapable of reaching out to Him. At times like this, the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ becomes immensely comforting; while one member of the Body suffers, another prays, and this, in such wise, that suffering and prayer are united in each.

Temptations of the Sick

Three days before she died, I saw her in such pain that I was heartbroken. When I drew near to her bed, she tried to smile, and, in a strangled sort of voice, she said: “If I didn’t have faith, I could never bear such suffering. I am surprised that there aren’t more suicides among atheists.(Saint Thérèse, as reported by Sister Marie of the Trinity)

The sick are especially vulnerable to temptations against hope; the sick are often tempted to despair, to blasphemy against the Will of God, and to disbelief. For this reason it is important to pray for the sick — not only for their physical healing, but also that, in their weakness, they may be protected and sustained by the loving hand of God. Pray for the sick! So often they cannot pray for themselves, or have the impression of being unable to pray, which is itself a terrible suffering.

It is important not to assault the sick with pious recommendations to say this prayer or that. Although this may be done with the best intentions, it often has the effect of oppressing the sick person with yet another experience of the inability to measure up to unrealistic expectations. The intemperate zeal of the pious can, unwittingly, push a sick person over the edge into a kind of despondency. It is better to pray quietly and peacefully, while offering the comfort of a gentle and compassionate presence.

Our Lady
I know of no better way of praying for the sick than by entrusting them to the care of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Her maternal Heart overflows with tenderness for all who are weak, diminished, and fearful in the face of suffering. There is no suffering with which she is not familiar. The resources of her compassion are inexhaustible.

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Fulton Sheen’s Clear Warning About the Anti-Christ


During his Jan. 26, 1947, radio broadcast, Venerable Fulton Sheen spoke as if he were peering into the 21st century. During that same talk, he also described what he believed the anti-Christ would be like.

It might not at all be what many will be expecting the anti-Christ would be like, especially at first.

But as we’ve seen in this same talk not long after the end of World War II “From now on the struggle will be… for the souls of men,” he warned. People would begin dividing into two religions as absolutes — “the God Who became man and the man who makes himself God; brothers in Christ and comrades in anti-Christ.”

During the talk he described what he saw the anti-Christ being.


Setting the Stage

Far-seeing Archbishop Sheen said that the anti-Christ will not be called by that name, “otherwise he would have no followers.” Same for the way he, the devil, is depicted such as in cartoons because he “will wear no red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrow tail as the Mephistopheles in Faust.” Nowhere does Scripture give us this idea of his appearance, Sheen emphasized. But it twists into an unlikely instrument.

“This masquerade has helped the devil convince men that he does not exist,” Sheen revealed, setting the stage. The devil “knows that he is never so strong as when men believe that he does not exist. When no man recognizes, the more power he exercises.  God has defined Himself as I am Who am and the devil as ‘I am who am not.’”

Has the masquerade worked since 1947? Let’s look at what the Center for Research on the Apostolate (CARA) noted in 2017 by looking over past and then current studies. CARA reported that in 1968 Gallup asked adults if they believe there is or is not a devil. 60% believed, 35% didn’t, and 5% weren’t sure. By 1982, Gallup carried on the survey at CARA’s request. Then 70% believed. Same for 2007.

But CARA asked what they believed, and a survey four years later shockingly found that overall, 69% of all who believed in God believed the devil was only a symbol, while breakdowns showed even more shockingly that it appeared 83% of Catholics thought Satan was a symbol. (Of Catholics considered conservatives, 53% believed the devil was real, while of Catholics considered moderates only 49% thought so.)

In a 2017 newspaper interview in Spain, the new superior general of the Society of Jesus said, “We have formed symbolic figures such as the devil to express evil. Social conditioning can also represent this figure, since there are people who act [in an evil way] because they are in an environment where it is difficult to act to the contrary.”

But Sheen knew the devil is not a symbol. “Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, and as ‘“the Prince of this world’ whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world,” he said, referring to Scripture. “His logic is simple:  if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge, and if there is no judgement then evil is good and good is evil.”

Stepping aside for a moment, we should also remember Our Lord’s words. Jesus made it perfectly clear when he described him: He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

Sheen then reminded that Our Lord told us that this devil, the anti-Christ, “will be so much like Himself, that he would deceive even the elect — and certainly no devil we have ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect.”

St. Paul wasn’t fooled either. He warned the Corinthians about those false ones infiltrating their numbers that (2, 11:14) “even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.”

So how might the anti-Christ look and get followers to his “anti-religion”?


False Front

“He will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves,” Bishop Sheen warned.

“He will write books on the new idea of God to suit the way people live; induce faith in astrology so as to make not the will but the stars responsible for sins; he will explain guilt away psychologically as inhibited eroticism, make men shrink in shame if their fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal; he will be so broadminded as to identify tolerance with indifference to right and wrong, truth and error; he will spread the lie that men will never be better until they make society better and thus have selfishness to provide fuel for the next revolution; he will foster science but only to have armament makers use one marvel of science to destroy another; he will foster more divorces under the disguise that another partner is ‘vital’; he will increase love for love and decrease love for person; he will invoke religion to destroy religion; he will even speak of Christ and say that he was the greatest man who ever lived; his mission he will say will be to liberate men from the servitudes of superstition and Fascism, which he will never define.”

Much sounds familiar today, doesn’t it? That word “tolerance” blankets society. Pew Research reported last October that, by denomination, that 33% of Catholics believed in astrology, 36% in reincarnation, 46% in psychics.

Also last October Pew reported that 76% of Catholics wanted the Church to allow birth control, 61% wanted to allow cohabiting couples to receive Communion, 62% to allow those divorced and remarried without an annulment to receive Communion, 46% to recognize gay/lesbian marriages. Love has deteriorated to Hollywood-record-television definitions. Match them up with what Sheen just described.


Same Old Temptations

Far-sighted Bishop Sheen showed how we servants are like the Master as he described the anti-Christ’s using the three temptations with which he tried to tempt Christ in the desert. By the way, Jesus was not tempted in the desert by a symbolic figure as some have come to believe.

First, “the temptation to turn stones into bread as an earthly Messiah will become the temptation to sell freedom for security, as bread became a political weapon, and only those who think his way may eat.” Some dictatorships have laid the groundwork with this. Or, we will help your country if you accept these immoral means, systems, ways. Or turning to the government to supply everything.

Second, “the temptation to work a miracle by recklessly throwing Himself from a steeple will become a plea to desert the lofty pinnacles of truth where faith and reason reign, for those lower depths where the masses live on slogans and propaganda.”

The anti-Christ “wants no proclamation of immutable principles from the lofty heights of a Church, but mass organization through propaganda…Opinions not truths, commentators not teachers, Gallup polls not principles, nature not grace — and to these golden calves will men toss themselves from their Christ.”

Third, asking Jesus to adore the tempter so that all the Kingdoms of the world would be his, “will become the temptation,” Sheen explained, “to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a city of man without a city of God, a religion to invoke a religion, or a politics which is a religion — one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s.” How many look for salvation today in and through politics? Did Herod help the Magi to find the Jesus the Messiah? Or even want to?



Bishop Sheen saw the anti-Christ setting up a counter-Church “which will be the ape of the Church because, he the devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the anti-Christ that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.”

Because people, lonely and frustrated, desperately need God but refuse to adore him, they will hunger for a larger purpose in life and, ironically, accept the counter-Church. “The Church was critically spurned in the last few centuries because it claimed that it was Catholic and universal, uniting all men on the basis of one Lord, one faith and one Baptism,” the saintly bishop explained.

“But in the new era, what the modern lost soul will take particularly about the counter-Church, is that it is catholic or international.  It breaks down all national boundaries, laughs down patriotism, dispenses men from piety to country which the Christ enjoined, makes men proud that they are not Americans, French, or British, but members of a revolutionary class under the rule of its Vicar who rules not from the Vatican, but the Kremlin.”

Just as St. John tells us, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared” (1 John 2:18), “and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:3), Sheen linked to the Kremlin seeing the diabolical Communism as one of the antichrists already present. (Our Lady of Fatima had something to say about this too. And how to avoid it.)

Sheen continued: “in the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality,” the anti-Christ “will have one great secret which he will tell to no one; he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God…”

Already in 1947 Sheen saw the signs of the times and how the disorder would tie into “the wages of sin.”


Trials and Unwavering Hope

Sheen repeated Christ’s words on the way to Calvary: Weep not over me; but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:28). But the saintly bishop was firm in hope, never leaving and letting us wallow in hand-wringing anguish and inaction. He told us not to think that in speaking of the “emergence of the anti-Christ against Christ” that he feared for the Church.  “We do not,” he stressed.

“It is for the world we fear. It is not infallibility we are worried about, but the world’s lapse into fallibility. We tremble not that God may be dethroned, but that barbarism may reign. It is not Transubstantiation that may perish, but the home. Not the sacraments that may fade away, but the moral law.”

He said this in the days of sounder morals, respectability, politeness in most families and circles, as he envisioned what was to come.

“The Church has survived other great crises” along the centuries “and she will live to sing a requiem over the evils of the present,” he said. The Church has its Good Fridays “but these are only preludes to its Easter Sundays, for the Divine Promise shall never be made void: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against itBehold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

The anti-Christ coming with his anti-Church will never win although the Church will face hard times and seem in eclipse as the Catechism teaches. So Sheen cautioned, “St. Peter told the Romans in the days of delirium: ‘Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11)

As we’ve seen, the good bishop advised keeping in the state of grace, getting faith if you had none, and praying because the “most important problem in the world today is your soul, for that is what the struggle is about.” And beseeching St. Michael and Our Lady for help.

Because “the time is nearer than you think.”

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Our Lady’s Apparitions at Lourdes to St Bernadette Soubirous

This is the feast of the first of the eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a little fourteen-year-old French girl in southern France, in 1858. The name of the little girl was Marie Bernadette Soubirous. The first of Our Lady’s apparitions to her was on 11th February. The last was on 16th July, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The greatest was on 25th March, the feast of the Annunciation. The Mother of God, on 25th March, said to Saint Bernadette, in keeping with the doctrine defined four years before by Pope Pius IX, affirming that she had been immaculately conceived, not “I was immaculately conceived,” but  “I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION,”thereby letting us know that she was God’s very notion of this grace from all eternity.

The first appaition of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous

On Thursday, 11th February 1858, a week before Lent would begin that year on Ash Wednesday, a fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was out gathering firewood with her sister Toinette and a friend at the grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes. There, she had the first of 18 visions of what she termed “a small young lady”, not in French but in the regional Occitan: uo petito damizelo, standing in a niche in the rock. Her sister and the friend stated that they had seen nothing.

On realising that she alone, and not her companions, had seen the apparition, Bernadette asked her sister not to tell anyone what had happened. Toinette, however, was unable to keep silent, and told their mother, Louise Soubirous. Because their mother had suspected the children were lying, both girls received a beating, and Soubirous was forbidden to return to the grotto again. A few days passed and Soubirous asked for permission to go again with her siblings and the permission was granted.

Our Lady’s following four apparitions to Bernadette

Our Lady did not speak to Bernadette until the third appearance, and therefore her identity was a matter of considerable speculation among the townspeople. On her third visit, she said that the “beautiful lady” asked her to return to the grotto every day for 15 days. At first her mother had forbidden her to go, but Bernadette persuaded her mother to allow her. She related that the lady told her that she did not promise to make her happy in this world, but in the next.

At the fourth apparition, and instigated by the townsfolk who continued to be uncertain of the provenance of the apparition, Bernadette carried a lighted candle. This originated the custom of carrying lighted candles to the grotto.

But at the fifth apparition on 20th February Bernadette reported later that the lady had taught her a prayer, which she said every day of her life, but never wrote down or repeated to anyone. By this time the news was spreading further afield and many people now assumed that Bernadette’s lady was the Virgin Mary.

Our Lady’s following three apparitions to Bernadette

Over 100 people were present at the sixth apparition the next day, and the lady said to her: “You will pray to God for sinners.” At the seventh apparition Bernadette said later that the lady had told her a secret, which was only for her alone; this secret was never revealed to anyone.

The message of the lady at the eighth apparition on 24th February was: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners! Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!” This plea from the Mother of God for our penance and prayer for sinners is one of the most fundamental messages of Lourdes.

The ninth apparition on 25th February

In Bernadette’s own words:

“The Lady] told me that I should go and drink at the fountain and wash myself. Seeing no fountain I went to drink at the Gave. She said it was not there; she pointed with her finger that I was to go in under the rock. I went, and I found a puddle of water which was more like mud, and the quantity was so small that I could hardly gather a little in the hollow of my hand. Nevertheless I obeyed, and started scratching the ground; after doing that I was able to take some. The water was so dirty that three times I threw it away. The fourth time I was able to drink it. She made me eat grass growing in the same place where I had drunk; once only; I do not know why. Then the Vision disappeared and I went home.”

Bernadette was interrogated again. The spring reportedly began to flow a day later.

 The following three apparitions to Bernadette

Increasingly large crowds were gathering at the grotto. There were almost 1,500 people present at the twelfth apparition of Our Lady on 1st March, but the lady had still not revealed her identity to the young girl. Local housewife Catherine Latapie, nine months pregnant, who had a paralysis of the ulnar nerve in one arm following an accident, reported regaining full movement after bathing her arm in the spring that day.

The thirteenth and fourteenth apparitions 

“Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and to build a chapel here”, the lady told Bernadette on  2nd March. Accompanied by her two aunts, she went to ask the parish priest, Father Peyramale; he forbade her to go to the grotto, and dismissed her. Peyramale had ordered the priests to have nothing to do with the grotto, for it was the general practice of the clergy to discourage religious visionaries. Bernadette was determined and returned with one of the priest’s friends to ask again. After she was questioned before the parish clergy and dismissed, the parish priests could not agree on what course to take.

Previously, Father Peyramale had told Bernadette that the requests for the procession and chapel could not be fulfilled unless and until the lady’s name was known. At the fourteenth apparition on 3rd March she asked for the lady’s name, but the lady only smiled at her.

The fifteenth appearition on 4th March

Over 9,000 people were present this day. In Bernadette’s own words:

The third time I went to see M. le Curé to tell him that a Lady had ordered me to go and say to the priests that they were to have a chapel built there, he looked at me for a moment, and then he said to me in a rather gruff tone, ‘Who is this lady?’ I answered that I did not know. Then he commissioned me to ask her name and to come and tell him. The next day when I arrived at the grotto I recited my Rosary and then asked her, from M. le Curé what her name was, but all she did was to smile. When I got back I went to M. le Curé to tell him that I discharged his commission, and her only response was her smile; then he said she was laughing at me and that I would do well not to go to her again. But, I could not help going.

I came back for a fortnight. The vision appeared every day, except one Monday [22nd February] and one Friday [26th February]. She repeated to me several times that I was to tell the priests they were to build a Chapel there, and I was to go to the fountain to wash, and that I was to pray for sinners. During this fortnight, she told me three secrets which she forbade me to tell anyone. I have been faithful until now.

The sixteenth apparition on 25th March, feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Finally, on this day, the Feast of the Annunciation, “the lady” revealed her identity to Bernadette, and thus to the whole world. Bernadette later recounts:

I went every day for a fortnight, and each day I asked her who she was–and this petition always made her smile. After the fortnight I asked her three times consecutively. She always smiled. At last I tried for the fourth time. She stopped smiling. With her arms down, she raised her eyes to heaven and then, folding her hands over her breast she said, ”I am the Immaculate Conception”

Then I went back to M. le Curé to tell him that she had said she was the Immaculate Conception, and he asked was I absolutely certain. I said yes, and so as not to forget the words, I had repeated them all the way home.

The seventeenth apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette

Dr. Pierre Romaine Dozous, the town physician, originally watched the apparitions from a scheptical viewpoint. He believed Bernadette Soubirous, whom he knew well, was in her right mind aside from the apparitions. He reported:

Bernadette seemed to be even more absorbed than usual in the Appearance upon which her gaze was riveted. I witnessed, as did also every one else there present, the fact which I am about to narrate. She was on her knees saying with fervent devotion the prayers of her Rosary which she held in her left hand while in her right was a large blessed candle, alight. The child was just beginning to make the usual ascent on her knees when suddenly she stopped and, her right hand joining her left, the flame of the big candle passed between the fingers of the latter. Though fanned by a fairly strong breeze, the flame produced no effect upon the skin which it was touching. Astonished at this strange fact, I forbade anyone there to interfere, and taking my watch in my hand, I studied the phenomenon attentively for a quarter of an hour. At the end of this time Bernadette, still in her ecstasy, advanced to the upper part of the Grotto, separating her hands. The flame thus ceased to touch her left hand. Bernadette finished her prayer and the splendour of the transfiguration left her face. She rose and was about to quit the Grotto when I asked her to show me her left hand. I examined it most carefully, but could not find the least trace of burning anywhere upon it. I then asked the person who was holding the candle to light it again and give it to me. I put it several times in succession under Bernadette’s left hand but she drew it away quickly, saying ‘You are burning me!’. I record this fact just as I have seen it without attempting to explain it. Many persons who were present at the time can confirm what I have said.

On 8th June 1858, the mayor of Lourdes barricaded the grotto and stationed guards to prevent public access. Visitors were fined for kneeling near the grotto or talking about the grotto.

The eighteenth and final apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at the grotto of Massabielle

On the Marian feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel the grotto was barricaded by the local government, Bernadette knelt outside the fence by the riverbank. “I thought I was at the Grotto, at the same distance as I was the other times. All I saw was Our Lady … She was more beautiful than ever.”


Soon afterwards Bernadette left Lourdes in 1866 to join a religious order in central France, where she died after several years of illness and terrible suffering in 1879. By the time of her death, a basilica had been built and consecrated at the apparition site, under the leadership of Fr Peyramale.

Bernadette never saw herself as anything more than Our Lady’s instrument, her messenger. She shunned all attempts of people to bring her into the limelight after the events, and accepted with heroic patience and courage the great suffering, both physical and mental, to which she was subjected throughout the remainder of her life. She was put through intense interrogation by Church authorities as she neared death, but remained totally calm as she confirmed her testimony of Our Lady’s appearances to her at Lourdes. She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16th April 1879 (Easter Wednesday), while praying the holy Rosary. On her deathbed, as she suffered from severe pain and in keeping with the Virgin Mary’s admonition of “Penance, Penance, Penance,” Bernadette proclaimed that “all this is good for Heaven!” Her final words were, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner”.

Coming so soon after the 1854 dogmatic definition of her Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary’s appearances at Lourdes turned the town into a popular travel destination. Thousands of people say their medical conditions have been cured through pilgrimage, prayer and the water flowing from a spring to which Bernadette was directed by the Blessed Virgin. Experts have verified around 70 cases of miraculous healing at Lourdes since 1862, but there are unverified reports of thousands more, both miraculous bodily healings and, far more importantly, healings from atheism and doubts of faith. Many religious vocations have been discovered at Lourdes, and countless young people have met their future spouses at this blessed shrine, going on to form long, happy and holy marriages.


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“Expel the wicked person from among you.” (St Paul)

From Fr George W. Rutler’s ‘Weekly Column’

The stepbrother of William the Conqueror, Bishop Odo, was meticulous in observing canon law. Since a cleric was not allowed to “wield the sword,” he used a battle club. In the Bayeux Tapestry under the scene of him forcing his men into a hail of arrows, are the abbreviated Latin words: “Hic Odo Eps [Episcopus] Baculu[m] Tenens Confortat Pueros” which means: “Here, Bishop Odo, holding his club, comforts his boys.” Our altar servers might not find such comfort comforting, but the word—from which we get “fortress”—means to strengthen.

Thus, the Holy Spirit, sent by God to strengthen us with the seven spiritual gifts intensified in the sacrament of Confirmation, is called the Comforter. The equivalent, Paraclete or Advocate, means “one who stands by the side of another” to plead on his behalf in a court of justice (cf. John 14:16, 14:26; 15:26; 16:7, and 1 John 2:1). Note that this teaching comes from the Beloved Disciple, the object and bestower of singular tenderness. But he was not sentimental, for sentiment is love without sacrifice. John was strong enough to stand with Our Lady when the older apostles had fled the crucifixion.

Saint John says in his second letter, and reiterates in his third, that those who are not faithful to the truth should be separated from those who are. By so saying, he does not slip into sentimentality, and he foreshadows the dictum of Saint John Paul II in a general audience of 8 November, 1978 that “there is no love without justice.” Bishop Fulton Sheen earlier paraphrased it when he wrote: “Justice without love could become tyranny, and love without justice could become toleration of evil.”

Few words in all literature match Saint Paul’s hymn to love (1 Corinthians 13). But to cherry-pick Paul’s mailbag to the exclusion of what he says earlier is to caricature his exaltation of sacrificial love: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). Had Paul demurred from telling truth to Caesar in hopes of bringing him to a happier frame of mind and parading with him on days festal, he might not have been beheaded.

These things came to mind as the Governor of Virginia was attacked from all sides for allegations of racism, an offense against human dignity, while his publicly avowed permission to kill babies born as well as unborn, has been nervously ignored. That governor, who is a pediatric neurologist, spoke with clinical detachment of “comforting” babies who have survived abortion until they are killed. He did not mean to comfort in the sense of Odo comforting his troops. Christians who are reluctant to invoke canonical disciplines against this, would not have happy conversations with the apostles Paul and John.

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Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time-Cycle C

Image result for fishers of men painting

FIRST READING       Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8

In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.  Seraphim were stationed above.  They cried one to the other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!  All the earth is filled with his glory!”  At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!  For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  He touched my mouth with it, and said, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

SECOND READING       1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand.  Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  After that, Christ appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.  Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.  Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

GOSPEL       Luke 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.  He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.  Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.  Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them.  They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.  Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.


My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Jesus calls people to follow Him– and we also recognize that He is calling us.  The call of the Lord comes in many ways:  through dramatic inner visions as in the call of Isaiah or through the simple actions that we hear in the Gospel today–which are still miraculous–or through the preaching of others as we hear in the second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians.  The call of God to his people is persistent and perennial.

Jack London wrote about another compelling call in his 1903 novel The Call of the Wild.  Multiple film adaptations of the book follow the adventures of a dog, Buck, that is kidnapped and then brought north to Canada to be exploited as a sled dog.  Buck is loyal and heeds the call of his final kind and trustworthy owner, John Thornton.  But, ultimately, Buck follows the call of his primordial instinct and learned experience as a sled dog to emerge as a leader in the wild among a pack of wolves.  Calls are powerful in animals and humans.  Within the monastery monks discern calls, too, and understand that the most awesome call is the one from God.

The Prophet Isaiah describes how God touched his mouth. The call of this prophet begins with a heavenly liturgy.  It is not clear whether this is an inner vision of Isaiah or a strong dream or some other way of perceiving the reality.  On the other hand, it is clear that Isaiah takes it as God reaching into his personal life and cleansing him so that he can proclaim God’s word to others.  Because of this awareness of being cleansed and purified, Isaiah feels that he can be a mouthpiece to be sent by the Lord to His People.

We can note three things about this Divine call: it comes from God, there is a purification and cleansing, and, finally, there is a willingness on the part of the one who is called to respond with assent.

Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians speaks about his personal call to serve the Lord.  It also comes directly from God (Even knocking him to the ground!), it purifies him (making him aware of God’s plans in a way he had never thought of before) and Paul becomes willing to follow the Lord.  To this is added: “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

We can sometimes feel unworthy of the call from God, but that’s okay!  When a person becomes keenly aware of his utter dependence on God, his unworthiness, and God’s infinite mercy, he is on a holy path to a greater intimacy with the source of his life. God called and continues to call some unworthy characters:  King David, Mary Magdalene, the penitent thief at Our Lord’s Crucifixion, Dismas, you, and me.  Doesn’t this give us all hope for our salvation, the ultimate reunion with God the Father?  Or, do you doubt the call?

Peter doubts the words of Jesus commanding him to drop his nets, but, nonetheless, does Jesus’ bidding.  It is because Peter obeys that he discovers the presence of God, is humbled, and then follows Jesus. James and John seem to display little resistance to the call of Our Lord.

We are called by our baptism to follow the Lord.  We are purified, regularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  And, yes, we will have doubts.  But, in obedience to the Word, we can encounter the Living God.

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Cardinal Müller issues Manifesto: A quasi correction of Pope Francis’ pontificate

February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope.

The cardinal’s intention was to release the manifesto on February 10. That date is the eve of the anniversary of Pope Benedict’s announcement in 2013 that he would abdicate his papal office, as well as the eve of the cardinal’s own ordination to the priesthood. However, a Polish website broke the embargo and thus the document is being released today.

Pope Francis removed Cardinal Müller from his post as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2017 after he had served in that capacity since he was appointed by Pope Benedict in 2012.

In the manifesto, Cardinal Müller does not mention the Pope but says that he was asked to make a public testimony of the truth “in the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith.”

The manifesto was released in the wake of Pope Francis’ highly controversial joint document with an Islamic leader which says that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom” – a statement many believe contravenes the Catholic Faith.

Cardinal Müller takes a contrary stand when he says in the Manifesto:

The distinction of the three persons in the divine unity (CCC 254) marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions. Religions disagree precisely over this belief in Jesus the Christ. … Therefore, the first letter of John refers to one who denies His divinity as an antichrist (1 John 2:22), since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is from eternity one in being with God, His Father (CCC 663).

The cardinal is releasing his manifesto to a worldwide audience, in seven different languages, thus allowing for a widespread affirmation of the orthodox Catholic faith.

To this end, LifeSite is hosting a petition at its LifePetitions platform so the Catholic clergy and faithful of the world, in all language groups, can make a visible sign of their support for the full and unvarnished faith and for the Cardinal’s initiative.

Read the full Manifesto in English at the bottom of the article, or in PDF form here. Download PDFs of the other languages here: ItalianSpanishPortugueseFrenchGermanPolish.

Support Cdl. Müller’s doctrinal manifesto amid Pope Francis’ confusion. Sign the petition here.

Providing clarity on the Church’s view of Islam, Cardinal Müller rejects the Muslim view that sees Christ as a prophet, rather than the Messiah. “We are to resist the relapse into ancient heresies with clear resolve, which saw in Jesus Christ only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist,” the Manifesto says.

The Manifesto also addresses several other points which can be seen as corrections of Pope Francis including the impermissibility of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics as well as that for Protestants; the eternity of hell; the ban on female priests; and priestly celibacy.

The Manifesto says “divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church” are “not disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (CCC 1457), because it does not bring them to salvation.”

The Manifesto adds, “Therefore, the Holy Scripture admonishes with regard to the reception of the Holy Communion: ‘Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord’s cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord’ (1 Cor 11:27).”

In his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis wrote “no one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel” and in interviews he went so far as to suggest that those who want no part of God are annihilated rather than in hell.

Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Müller attests, “He who dies in mortal sin without repentance will be forever separated from God (CCC 1033).” The Manifesto says, “The eternity of the punishment of hell is a terrible reality, which – according to the testimony of Holy Scripture – attracts all who ‘die in the state of mortal sin’ (CCC 1035).”

“To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns,” says the Cardinal. “It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, ‘the price of their apostasy’ (CCC 675); it is the fraud of Antichrist.”

The Pope’s recent opening to a non-celibate priesthood and winking at female ordination also seems to be covered, as the Manifesto says, “priests voluntarily opt for celibacy as ‘a sign of new life’ (CCC 1579).” The Church, says Cardinal Müller, is “bound by the choice made by the Lord Himself. That is why it is not possible to ordain women (CCC 1577).”  The Cardinal adds: “To imply that this impossibility is somehow a form of discrimination against women shows only the lack of understanding for this sacrament, which is not about earthly power but the representation of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.”

Furthermore, Cardinal Müller also restates the inseparable link between the Faith and the moral law which needs to be followed “to do good and reach this goal [of promised blessedness],” and he points to certain parts of the Church’s moral teaching “which are often ignored today.” Here, he references several parts of the Catechism’s moral teaching “which may not be relativized” without quoting them explicitly. Among them are such statements as “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception” (no. 2270) and the explicit rejection of the following  grave sins: abortion (no. 2271), contraception (no. 2370), euthanasia (no. 2277), suicide (no. 2280), cohabitation outside of marriage (no. 2350), masturbation (no. 2352),  fornication (no. 2353), pornography (no. 2354), and adultery (no. 2380-2381). Cardinal Müller also explicitly references those parts of the Catechism (no. 2357-2359) which describe “homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered” and which call upon homosexual persons to live in “chastity.”

While he never mentions Pope Francis by name, the Manifesto’s criticisms are so pointed they leave little doubt about the identity of at least one of the intended members of the hierarchy Cardinal Müller hopes to correct. “The admonition of the Apostle is still valid today, that cursed is anyone who proclaims another gospel, ‘even if we ourselves were to give it or an angel from heaven’ (Gal 1:8),” the Manifesto reads. “The mediation of faith is inextricably bound up with the human credibility of its messengers, who in some cases have abandoned the people entrusted to them, unsettling them and severely damaging their faith.”

Read Cardinal Müller’s entire Manifesto in English below. Download a PDF of the seven language versions here: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Polish.

Manifesto of Faith

“Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1)

In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation. It is the shepherds’ very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves. The words of the Apostle here apply: “For above all I have delivered unto you what I have received” (1 Cor. 15:3). Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the peoples (see LG 1). In this situation, the question of orientation arises. According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” (Fidei Depositum IV). It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the “dictatorship of relativism.”[1]

1. The one and triune God revealed in Jesus Christ

The epitome of the Faith of all Christians is found in the confession of the Most Holy Trinity. We have become disciples of Jesus, children and friends of God by being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The distinction of the three persons in the divine unity (CCC 254) marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions. Religions disagree precisely over this belief in Jesus the Christ. He is true God and true Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The Word made flesh, the Son of God, is the only Savior of the world (CCC 679) and the only Mediator between God and men (CCC 846). Therefore, the first letter of John refers to one who denies His divinity as an antichrist (1 John 2:22), since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is from eternity one in being with God, His Father (CCC 663). We are to resist the relapse into ancient heresies with clear resolve, which saw in Jesus Christ only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist. He is first and foremost the Word that was with God and is God, the Son of the Father, Who assumed our human nature to redeem us and Who will come to judge the living and the dead. Him alone, we worship in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Only and True God (CCC 691).

2. The Church

Jesus Christ founded the Church as a visible sign and tool of salvation realized in the Catholic Church (816). He gave His Church, which “emerged from the side of the Christ who died on the Cross” (766), a sacramental constitution that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved (CCC 765). Christ, the Head, and the faithful as members of the body, are a mystical person (CCC 795), which is why the Church is sacred, for the one Mediator has designed and sustained its visible structure (CCC 771). Through it the redemptive work of Christ becomes present in time and space via the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Holy Mass (CCC 1330). The Church conveys with the authority of Christ the divine revelation, which extends to all the elements of doctrine, “including the moral teaching, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, and observed” (CCC 2035).

3. Sacramental Order

The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation in Jesus Christ (CCC 776). She does not reflect herself, but the light of Christ, which shines on her face. But this happens only when the truth revealed in Jesus Christ becomes the point of reference, rather than the views of a majority or the spirit of the times; for Christ Himself has entrusted the fullness of grace and truth to the Catholic Church (CCC 819), and He Himself is present in the sacraments of the Church.

The Church is not a man-made association whose structure its members voted into being at their will. It is of divine origin. “Christ himself is the author of ministry in the Church. He set her up, gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal (CCC 874). The admonition of the Apostle is still valid today, that cursed is anyone who proclaims another gospel, “even if we ourselves were to give it or an angel from heaven” (Gal 1:8). The mediation of faith is inextricably bound up with the human credibility of its messengers, who in some cases have abandoned the people entrusted to them, unsettling them and severely damaging their faith. Here the Word of Scripture describes those who do not listen to the truth and who follow their own wishes, who flatter their ears because they cannot endure sound doctrine (cf. 2 Tim 4:3-4).

The task of the Magisterium of the Church is to “preserve God’s people from deviations and defections” in order to “guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error” (890). This is especially true with regard to all seven sacraments. The Holy Eucharist is “source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ includes us in His Sacrifice of the Cross, is aimed at the most intimate union with Him (CCC 1382). Therefore, the Holy Scripture admonishes with regard to the reception of the Holy Communion: “Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord’s cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion” (CCC 1385). From the internal logic of the sacrament, it is understood that divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church, just as all those who are not disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (CCC 1457), because it does not bring them to salvation. To point this out corresponds to the spiritual works of mercy.

The confession of sins in Holy Confession at least once a year is one of the Church’s commandments (CCC 2042). When the believers no longer confess their sins and no longer experience the absolution of their sins, salvation becomes impossible; after all, Jesus Christ became Man to redeem us from our sins. The power of forgiveness that the Risen Lord has given to the Apostles and their successors in the ministry of bishops and priests applies also for mortal and venial sins which we commit after Baptism. The current popular practice of confession makes it clear that the conscience of the faithful is not sufficiently formed. God’s mercy is given to us, that we might fulfil His Commandments to become one with His Holy Will, and not so as to avoid the call to repentance (CCC 1458).

“The priest continues the work of redemption on earth” (CCC 1589). The ordination of the priest “gives him a sacred power” (CCC 1592), which is irreplaceable, because through it Jesus becomes sacramentally present in His saving action. Therefore, priests voluntarily opt for celibacy as “a sign of new life” (CCC 1579). It is about the self-giving in the service of Christ and His coming kingdom. With a view to receiving the ordination in the three stages of this ministry, the Church is “bound by the choice made by the Lord Himself. That is why it is not possible to ordain women”(CCC 1577). To imply that this impossibility is somehow a form of discrimination against women shows only the lack of understanding for this sacrament, which is not about earthly power but the representation of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.

4. Moral Law

Faith and life are inseparable, for Faith apart from works is dead (CCC 1815). The moral law is the work of divine wisdom and leads man to the promised blessedness (CCC 1950). Consequently, the “knowledge of the divine and natural law is necessary” to do good and reach this goal (CCC 1955). Accepting this truth is essential for all people of good will. For he who dies in mortal sin without repentance will be forever separated from God (CCC 1033). This leads to practical consequences in the lives of Christians, which are often ignored today (cf 2270-2283; 2350-2381). The moral law is not a burden, but part of that liberating truth (cf Jn 8:32) through which the Christian walks on the path of salvation and which may not be relativized.

5. Eternal Life

Many wonder today what purpose the Church still has in its existence, when even bishops prefer to be politicians rather than to proclaim the Gospel as teachers of the Faith. The role of the Church must not be watered down by trivialities, but its proper place must be addressed. Every human being has an immortal soul, which in death is separated from the body, hoping for the resurrection of the dead (CCC 366). Death makes man’s decision for or against God definite. Everyone has to face the particular judgement immediately after death (CCC 1021). Either a purification is necessary, or man goes directly into heavenly bliss and is allowed to see God face to face. There is also the dreadful possibility that a person will remain opposed to God to the very end, and by definitely refusing His Love, “condemns himself immediately and forever” (CCC 1022). “God created us without us, but He did not want to save us without us” (CCC 1847). The eternity of the punishment of hell is a terrible reality, which – according to the testimony of Holy Scripture – attracts all who “die in the state of mortal sin” (CCC 1035). The Christian goes through the narrow gate, for “the gate is wide, and the way that leads to ruin is wide, and many are upon it” (Mt 7:13).

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675); it is the fraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice; for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess 2:10).


As workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we all have a responsibility to recall these fundamental truths by clinging to what we ourselves have received. We want to give courage to go the way of Jesus Christ with determination, in order to obtain eternal life by following His commandments (CCC 2075).

Let us ask the Lord to let us know how great the gift of the Catholic Faith is, through which opens the door to eternal life. “For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: The Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when He shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). Therefore, we are committed to strengthening the Faith by confessing the truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.

We too, and especially we bishops and priests, are addressed when Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, gives this admonition to his companion and successor, Timothy: “I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming, and His kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.” (2 Tim 4:1-5).

May Mary, the Mother of God, implore for us the grace to remain faithful without wavering to the confession of the truth about Jesus Christ.

United in faith and prayer

Gerhard Cardinal Müller

Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 2012-2017

[1] The numbers in the text refer to the Catechism of The Catholic Church.

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