Reflection for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

from: The Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert. (https://christdesert.org)

Image result for Parable of 5 talents

FIRST READING  Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.  Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.  She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.  She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands.  She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.  She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.  Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

SECOND READING        1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.  When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.  For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.  We are not of the night or of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.

GOSPEL       Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:  “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.  Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five.  Likewise, the one who received two made another two.  But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.  After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.  The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five.  He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.  See, I have made five more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master’s joy.’  Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents.  See, I have made two more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master’s joy.’  Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,  ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.

Here it is back.’  His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?  Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?  Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.  For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today the First Letter to the Thessalonians tells us:  “Let us stay alert and sober.”  This is a strong message at the end of the Church year and as we think of the end of the world and of our own personal death.  We should not fear the end of the world or our own personal death.  Most likely the world will not end in our lifetime, but we do not know that.  On the other hand, we can be completely confident that we ourselves shall die.  True life is always living toward death.

The first reading today comes from the Book of Proverbs, which is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  The selection today tells us the value of a good wife.  In reality, the good wife is a model for all of us, women or men.  Such a person brings good and blessings to all others, knows how to do things wisely, knows how to work, know how to care for the poor and knows how to care for her husband and her family.  One of the points of this reading is that physical beauty can be deceiving and what really counts is beauty of character.  The wife in this reading is clearly a person who knows how to use and invest her talents in the realities that will last forever.  She know how to live towards death with all that truly matters.

The second reading is from the First Letter to the Thessalonians and addresses directly the end of the world.  No one knows what that day will happen.  It will come like a thief in the night.  On the other hand, we should be prepared each day as though it will happen today.  This kind of thinking is not meant to scare us but it is meant to keep us aware that we must be prepared.  Just as the wife in the first reading seems always prepared for whatever happens, so also we must be prepared for all that happens.  Even at this very moment, death could be coming to me soon—but probably not.  It is that “probably not” that allows us to forget death and to live as though death and what is beyond it do not exist.

One of the remarkable aspects of aging is that people come face to face with the reality of death.  Some of us struggle in every way possible to stay young and to pretend that we are young.  Others of us seem to embrace getting old, sometimes before old age has even come upon us.  For most of us, getting older is simply a part of living to be accepted.  The point of the reading today is that part of getting older is being prepared to die and to meet the Lord.  We need to ask ourselves:  “Am I ready to meet the Lord right now?”  If I am not, then I had better begin the work to prepare myself!

The Gospel today, from Saint Matthew, tells us about how to live.  Each of us has been given a personal life.  Each of us has been given gifts and talents and capacities.  What do we do with them?  Are we truly living?  Do we use our lives for others?  Do we seek to be faithful to what the Lord asks of us?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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From Casuistry to ‘Mercy’: Toward a New Art of Pleasing?

Image: Antonio Escobar y Mendoza, a prominent casuist of the 17th century.

From Casuistry to ‘Mercy’: Toward a New Art of Pleasing?

From: OnePeterFive

One might think casuistry is dead and buried, that the controversies of the 17th century should be over once and for all.

Rarely do any of our contemporaries still read the Lettres Provinciales (Provincial Letters) and the authors whom Pascal (1623-1662) attacks therein. These authors are casuists – that is to say, moralists who seek to resolve matters of conscience without succumbing to rigorism. On rereading the famous Lettres, we were struck by the similarity emerging between a controversial document written in the 17th century and the positions today defended by pastors and theologians aspiring to effect radical changes in the Church’s pastoral teaching and doctrine.

The recent Synod on the Family (October 2014-October 2015) has revealed a reforming pugnacity of which the Lettres Provinciales give us a better understanding today. Hence, Pascal comes to be known in an unexpected light.

The treasure of the Church

The Synod on the Family revealed a profound malaise in the Church – a crisis of growth without doubt, but also recurrent debates on the question of “remarried” divorced persons, “models” for the family, the role of women, birth control, surrogate motherhood, homosexuality, and euthanasia. It is futile to close our eyes: the Church is challenged in its very foundations. These are to be found in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, in the teaching of Jesus, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the announcement of the Gospel by the Apostles, in an ever finer understanding of Revelation, in the assent of faith by the community of believers. The Church has been entrusted by Jesus with the mission of receiving these truths, casting light on their coherence, commemorating them.

The Church has not been given by the Lord either a mission to modify these truths or a mission to rewrite the Credo. The Church is the guardian of this treasure. The Church should study these truths, clarify them, deepen man’s understanding of them, and invite all men to adhere to them through faith. There are even discussions – on marriage, for example – that were brought to a close by the Lord himself. It was specifically to conceal these historical truths that descendants of the Pharisees have denied the historicity of the Gospels (cf. Mark 10:11).

The teaching of the Lord has an exacting moral dimension. This teaching certainly urges us to a rational adherence to the Golden Rule, on which mankind’s great sages have meditated for centuries. Jesus brings this rule to its perfection. But the Church’s tradition has its own precepts of conduct, prime among which are love of God and neighbor. “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12). This double-commandment is the fundamental benchmark for the actions of the Christian. The Christian is called to be open to the inspiration of the Spirit, which is love, and to respond to this inspiration through faith, which acts through love (Gal. 5:6). Between the one, love, and the other, faith, the link is indissoluble.

If, in the teaching of the Church, this link is broken, Christian morality sinks into various forms of relativism or skepticism, to the point of contentment with subjective and fluctuating opinions. There is no longer any reference to the truth, nor to the authority that guarantees it. Transgression is ultimately abolished, because the moral reference points imparted by God to man are rejected. Man, it will even be suggested, no longer needs to love God in order to achieve salvation or to believe in His love. Morality is fatally split, and the door is open wide to legalism, agnosticism and secularisation.

In his teaching, Saint Paul urges us to avoid the snares of a morality devoid of roots in revelation. This is how he exhorts Christians:

You must not fall in with the manners of this world. There must be inward change, a remaking of your minds, so that you can satisfy yourselves what is God’s will, the good thing, the desirable thing, the perfect thing. (Rom. 12:2).

And this is my prayer for you: may your love grow richer and richer yet, in the fullness of its knowledge and the depth of its perception, so that you may learn to prize what is of value.” (Phil. 1:9 s.; cf. 1 Thess. 5:19-22)

The return of casuistry

Here one perceives the return of casuistry, believed to allow moralists to examine and resolve matters of conscience. Certain moralists intend to offer solutions that please those who have recourse to their superior knowledge. Among the casuists of yesterday and today, the fundamental principles of morality are eclipsed by the (frequently divergent) opinions pronounced by these grave spiritual advisers. The disinterest with which fundamental morality is now viewed leaves the way open for the introduction of a positive law, which removes standards of conduct from any remaining reference to the fundamental rules of morality.

The casuist, or neo-casuist, has become legislator and judge. He cultivates the art of confusing the faithful. Concern for the truth, revealed and accessible to reason, is now of no interest. Ultimately, the only interest will be in “probable” positions. Through probabilism, one proposition is open to contradictory interpretations.

Probabilism will make it possible to blow first hot, then cold, for and against. Forgotten is the teaching of Jesus: “Let your word be ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from the evil one” (Matt. 5:37, James 5:12; cf. 2 Col. 1:20). However, each neo-casuist will go with his own interpretation. The tendency is toward a confusion of propositions, duplicity, double- or triple-truth, an avalanche of interpretations. The casuist has a divided heart but intends to be a friend to the world (James 4:4-8).

Progressively, the rules of behavior proceeding from the will of the Lord and handed down by the Magisterium of the Church are languishing in decline. The moral assessment of acts can therefore be modified. Not content with toning down this assessment, the casuists wish to transform the moral law itself. This will be the task of casuists – confessors; spiritual advisers; and, on occasion, bishops. All must have a concern to please. They must in consequence resort to compromise and accommodate their arguments to the satisfaction of human passions: no person must be rebuffed. The moral assessment of an act no longer depends on whether it conforms to the will of God, as made known to us by revelation. This depends on the intention of the moral agent, and this intention can be modulated and molded by the spiritual adviser who “supports” his followers. In order to please, the spiritual adviser will have to soften the rigor of the doctrine handed down by tradition. The pastor will have to adapt his words to the nature of man, whose passions are naturally led into sin. Hence the progressive relegation of references to original sin and grace.

The influence of Pelagius (a monk of British origin) is evident: man must save himself and take his destiny into his own hands. Telling the truth forms no part of the role of the casuist, who must captivate, present an engaging line of argument, curry favor, make salvation easy, and delight those who aspire to “have itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3).

In short, the eclipse of the decisive contribution of revelation to morality is paving the way for the investiture of the casuist and creating a space favorable to the installation of a government of consciences. Space is shrinking for religious liberty, as offered in Scripture to the children of God and inseparable from adherence to faith in the Lord.

Let us turn to an analysis of examples of areas in which the actions of the neo-casuists of today emerge clearly.

The government of consciences

With the arrival, in the Church, of governors of conscience, we perceive the proximity of the casuist notion of government of the city, with the notion to be found, for example, in Machiavelli, Boétie, and Hobbes. Without asserting or making themselves accountable for this, the neo-casuists are certainly heirs of these masters in the art of governing slaves. A mortal God, the Leviathan defines what is just and what is good; he decides what men should think and wish for. It is he, the Leviathan, who governs the consciences, thoughts, and actions of all his subjects. He is accountable to no one.

With the three authors cited above, we can see that the neo-casuists have aligned themselves with the theoreticians of tyranny and totalitarianism. Does not the ABC of totalitarian power consist, first of all, in the subjugation, the alienation, of conscience? By this means, the casuists offer a robust guarantee to all who wish to establish a single civil religion that is easily controllable and laws discriminating against citizens.

To adapt the sacraments?

In order to please everyone, it is necessary “to adapt” the sacraments. Let us take the case of the sacrament of Penance. The disinterest with which this sacrament is today viewed can be understood through the “rigorism” demonstrated by confessors in the times of the elders. At least, so we are assured by the casuists. Today, the confessor should learn to make this sacrament please penitents. However, in toning down the severity attributed to this sacrament, the casuist separates the penitent from the grace offered by God. The neo-casuist of today distances the sinner from the divine source of mercy, yet it is to this source that the sinner must return.

The consequences of this deliberate deviation are paradoxical and dramatic. The new morality leads the Christian to render the sacrament of Penance, and hence the Cross of Christ and His resurrection, futile (1 Col. 1:17). If this sacrament is no longer received as one of the major manifestations of the merciful love of God for us, if it is no longer perceived as necessary to salvation, it will soon cease to be necessary to instruct bishops and priests in offering absolution to sinners. The rarity and, ultimately, the disappearance of the sacramental offer of pardon by the priest will lead, and in reality has already led, to other estrangements, including that of the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. And so on for the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism and Confirmation) and the sacrament of the sick, not to speak of the liturgy in general.

At any rate, for the neo-casuists, there is in fact no longer a revelation to be received or a tradition to be handed down. As has already been remarked, “the truth is the new!” The new is the new seal of the truth. This new casuistry is leading Christians to make a clean break with the past. Finally, the obsession with compromise is pushing the new casuists toward a return to nature, as before original sin.

The question of “re-marriage”

The teaching of the neo-casuists calls to mind the spirit of compromise demonstrated to a considerable extent by the English bishops vis-à-vis Henry VIII. This question has relevance today, although the mode of compromise is different. Who are the clerics from all orders who seek to please the powerful in this world? Are they swearers or refusers? How great is the number of pastors of all ranks who wish to make allegiance to the powerful of this world, albeit easily and without the need to swear publicly fidelity to the new “values” of the world today? In pushing to facilitate “re-marriage,” the neo-casuists are giving their backing to all those political players undermining respect for life and the family. With their assistance, declarations of nullity will be easy to obtain, as will be flexible or repeated “marriages.”

The neo-casuists show great interest in cases of divorced persons who are “remarried.” As in other cases, the different stages of their approach provide a good illustration of salami tactics (a phrase coined by Matyas Rákosi), according to which what one would never concede as a whole is conceded slice by slice.

So let us follow the process. First slice: At the point of departure, we find references to the teaching in Scripture on marriage and the Church’s doctrine on this question. Second slice: Emphasis is placed on the difficulties in “receiving” this teaching. Third slice, in the form of a question: Are “remarried” divorced persons in a state of grave sin? The fourth slice consists of the entry on the scene of the spiritual adviser, who will help “remarried” divorced persons to “discern” – that is, to choose whatever suits them in their situation. The spiritual adviser must show himself to be understanding and indulgent. He must demonstrate compassion, but what compassion?

For the casuist, in effect, when one undertakes a moral assessment of an act, concern for compassion must take precedence over the assessment of actions that are objectively wrong. The adviser must be lenient, adapt to circumstances.

With the fifth slice of salami, each individual will be able to discern, personally and with full freedom of thought, what suits him best. In effect, along the way, the word discernment has become equivocal, ambiguous. It is not to be interpreted in the Pauline sense recalled in the scriptural references cited above. It is a matter not of seeking the will of God, but of discerning the right choice, the choice that will maximize the “itching of the ears.”

Homicide

Homicide is another matter that merits our attention. We are now going to focus on a matter of deviation of intention. According to the classic casuistry of the 17th century, homicide could proceed from a desire for vengeance, which is a crime. To avoid this criminal definition, it was necessary to deviate from this criminal intention, the intention to avenge oneself, and assign to the homicide a different, morally permitted, intention. Rather than invoke vengeance as a motive, the casuist invoked, for example, a desire to defend one’s honor, considered morally permissible.

We will now see how this deviation of intention is applicable to a modern matter. The argument runs as follows: Mrs. X wishes to abort the baby she is expecting; the baby is not wanted. Yet abortion is a morally inadmissible crime. The intention is then deviated from, with the result that the initial intention is erased. Not with the intention of freeing oneself from an unwanted baby! Instead of this initial intention, it will be argued that, under certain circumstances, abortion is morally admissible because, for example, its purpose is to save the lives of persons who are ill, by providing physicians with anatomical parts in good condition and to which a price is attached. The intention defines the moral quality of the gift. Hence, it is possible to please a broad spectrum of beneficiaries, whose “generosity” and “freedom of spirit” the casuists lose no opportunity in flattering.

The teachings of the Church on abortion are well known. As soon as the reality of a human being is established, the Church teaches that the life and dignity of that being should be respected. The doctrine of the Church on this question is constant and attested to throughout tradition.

This situation troubles some neo-casuists. They have therefore coined a new expression: humanization of the embryo. There is no – they say – humanization of the embryo unless a community wishes to welcome that embryo. It is society that humanizes the embryo. If society refuses to humanize the embryo, there can be no homicide, given that the human reality of this embryo is not recognized.

In the examples we cite here, salami tactics come to the aid of the neo-casuists. Initially, abortion is clandestine, then presented as exceptional, then rare, then facilitated, then legalized, then habitual. Those who oppose abortion are denigrated, threatened, ostracized, condemned. This is how the political institutions and the law are unpicked.

Let us note that thanks to the casuists, abortion is first facilitated in the Church, and from there in the State. The same now applies to “re-marriage.” Positive law is taking over from the new morality. It finds its inspiration in the neo-casuists. This was observable, in France, during the debates on legislation on abortion. This is a scenario that could spread throughout the world. With the impetus of the neo-casuists, abortion could be declared a new “human right” on a universal scale.

Euthanasia

The question of euthanasia also merits discussion. This practice is becoming more and more extensive in traditionally Christian Western countries. Demographers regularly draw attention to the aging population in these regions of the world. Life expectancy at birth is rising almost everywhere. In principle, aging in itself is good news. For centuries, throughout the world, men have struggled against early death. At the beginning of the 19th century, life expectancy at birth was often thirty years of age. Today, life expectancy is about eighty.

However, this situation will generate problems of all kinds. Let us mention one: who will pay the pensions? To euthanize burdensome and onerous elderly people would certainly make it possible to achieve better economies. It will then be said that it is necessary to help costly elderly people “die in dignity.” Because it is politically difficult to defer the pension age, life expectancy will be lowered. The process has already begun in certain regions of Europe – hence a reduction in health care; pharmaceutical products; and, above all, a reduction in the pension bill. Because politically correct right-thinking people balk at a program so austere, the intention must be modified to be able to pass a law legalizing euthanasia.

How to proceed? By developing a pitiable argument on compassion. It is necessary to please all categories of persons affected by this program. These persons must be persuaded to subscribe to a plan whose objective is to give death “under good conditions” and “in dignity.” Death given in dignity would be the high point in quality of life! Rather than recommend palliative treatment and surround the ill person with affection, his fragility will be abused; he will be misled as to the fatal treatment to be inflicted.

Vigilant neo-casuists will be on hand to verify that the homicidal act “authorizing” the gift of death is in compliance with positive law. The cooperation of carefully primed chaplains will be especially appreciated to authenticate the compassion manifested in death given as a gift.

The party of the casuists

Discussions during the Synod on the Family revealed the determination with which a group of pastors and theologians do not hesitate to undermine the Church’s doctrinal cohesion. This group functions in the manner of a powerful, international, well heeled, organized, and disciplined party. The active members of this party have ready access to the media; they frequently appear unmasked. They operate with backing from some of the highest authorities in the Church. The main target of these activists is Christian morality, criticized for having a severity incompatible with the “values” of our time. We must find ways that lead the Church to please, by reconciling its moral teaching with human passions.

The solution proposed by the neo-casuists starts by calling into question fundamental morality, then obscuring the natural light of reason. The original meaning of the references to Christian morality revealed in Scripture and the teaching of Jesus is distorted. The precepts of reason are regarded as indefinitely debatable – probabilism prevails. Primacy should be accorded to the will of those who are powerful enough to impose their will. Disparate partnerships with unbelievers will be formed without hesitation (cf. 2 Col. 6:14).

This voluntarist morality will have a free hand in placing itself at the service of political power, the State, and also the market, high finance, the law, etc. In concrete terms, it will be necessary to please corrupt political heads, champions of tax fraud and usury, abortionists, manufacturers who deal in pills, lawyers willing to defend the least defensible causes, agronomists enriched by transgenic products, etc. The new morality will hence insidiously penetrate the media, families, schools, universities, hospitals, and courts.

This has led to the formation of a social body that refuses to accord primacy of place to the search for the truth yet is highly active where there are consciences to govern, assassins to reassure, malefactors to free, wealthy citizens with whom to curry favor. Through this network, the neo-casuists will be able to hold sway over the wheels of the Church, influence the choice of candidates for high office, and forge alliances that imperil the Church’s very existence.

Toward a religion of compromise?

The text here produced is not intended to expound an essay on the Synod devoted to the Family. It aims to draw attention to the rift between dogmatic and moral, to the confusion between truth and novelty, between morality and positive law, between truth and action, and to equivocal statements troubling discernment.

What is most troubling with regard to the casuists is their disinterest in the truth. In them, we find a relativism, indeed a skepticism, which means that in terms of morality, one should act in accordance with the most probable standard. One should choose the standard that, in a given circumstance, is regarded as most pleasing to a given person, a given spiritual follower, a given public. This applies to the City as it does to men. Everyone has to make his choice – not in terms of the truth, but in terms of circumstances. The laws of the City also have their origin in circumstances. The best laws are those that please the most and please the greatest number. Hence, we are witnessing the expansion of a religion of compromise, indeed individualist utilitarianism, since the concern to please others does not extinguish the concern to please oneself.

In order to please, casuists must be up to date with current developments, attentive to things new. The Fathers of the Church of previous generations and the great theologians of the past, even the recent past, are presented as not adapted to the current situation in the Church; they are regarded as outmoded. For the casuists, the Church’s tradition needs to be filtered and fundamentally called into question. As we are gravely assured by the neo-casuists, we know what the Church should do today to please everyone (cf. John 9). The desire to please is aimed at the winners in particular. The new social and political morality should handle such people with care. They have a lifestyle to be protected and even improved; they have to maintain their rank. So much the worse for the poor, who do not have the same worldly constraints! Certainly, one must also please the poor, but it must be acknowledged that they are less “interesting” than the people with influence. Not everyone can be a winner!

The morality of the casuists ultimately resembles a gnosis distilled in select circles, a knowledge one might call esoteric, targeted at a minority of people who experience no need to be saved by the Cross of Jesus. Pelagianism has rarely flourished so much.

The traditional morality of the Church has always recognized that there are acts that are objectively wrong. This same moral theology also recognizes, and has long done so, the importance of circumstances. This means that, in the assessment of an act, account must be taken of the circumstances in which the act has been committed and the levels of responsibility; this is what the moralists call accountability. The casuists of today proceed in the same way as their founders: they minimize the importance of traditional morality and overemphasize the role of circumstances. Along the way, conscience is led into self-deceit because it allows itself to be distorted by the desire to please.

Hence, one perceives in the media that casuists are frequently transfixed by a world destined to disappear. Too often, they forget that, with Jesus, a new world has already begun. We recall this central point in human history: “The old world has passed, now a new reality is here” (Apoc. 21:5). We turn again to Saint Paul:

There must be a renewal in the inner life of your minds; you must be clothed in the new self, which is created in God’s image, justified and sanctified through the truth. (Eph. 4:2-3 s.)

The actions of casuists today affect not only the Church’s moral teaching, but also the entirety of dogmatic theology, in particular the question of the Magisterium. This point is frequently insufficiently emphasized. The unity of the Church is in peril where there are suggestions of biased, at times demagogic, proposals for decentralization, largely inspired by Lutheran reform. Better to be answerable to the princes of this world than to affirm unity around the Good Shepherd!

The sanctity of the Church is in peril where casuists exploit man’s weakness and preach a devotion that is easy and neglectful of the Cross. Catholicity is in peril where the Church ventures onto the path of Babel and undervalues the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the gift of languages. Is it not He, the Spirit, who brings together the diversity of those who share the same faith in Jesus, the Son of God? The apostolicity of the Church is in peril where, in the name of exemption, poorly understood, a community, a “party” is exempted from the jurisdiction of the bishop and considered to be answerable directly to the pope.

Many neo-casuists are exempt. How can it be doubted that this exemption weakens the Episcopal body as a whole?

Bibliographic Credits

Cariou, Pierre, Pascal et la casuistique, an essential work, Paris, PUF, Collection Questions, 1993.

Jean-Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, Vatican City, 1993.

Nouveau Testament, TOB, several editions.

Pascal, Les Provinciales, edited by Jacques Chevalier, Paris, La Pléiade, 1954.

Pascal, Les Provinciales, edited by Jean Steinmann, Paris, Armand Colin, 1962.

Pascal, Les Provinciales, Preface by Robert Kanters, Lausanne, Ed. Rencontre, 1967.

Wikipedia: excellent articles on Pascal, Casuistry, Provinciales.

Printed with permission from the author.

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How Long Do Souls Remain In Purgatory? (Three Videos)

Sin has three consequences: Guilt, Debt, and Stain of Sin. Confession can remove the guilt; the sinner or anyone on behalf of the sinner can “pay” the debt, but only the sinner can remove the stain of sin by by amending their life and correcting their spiritual malfunctions. To say of the recently departed that “the dead are no longer suffering” belies a profound lack of charity for those souls. The souls in Purgatory suffer incredibly for even the smallest transgression; we ought to offer indulgences and Masses for the Poor Souls.

How long do the Poor Souls remain in Purgatory? How does Mass remove the stain of sin for souls in Purgatory? How are the Poor Souls focused on the will of God? Learn the answers in these excellent videos in this month of November, dedicated to the Poor Souls.

(Source)

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Now is the time for a “Third Spring” in England

By Dr. Jack Scarisbrick

Famously, in 1852 John Henry Newman, preaching at a celebration of that restoration of our Hierarchy, spoke of a ‘Second Spring’. This yielded a rich harvest. But now we need a third.

Lancaster Cathedral, Lancaster, United Kingdom (Michael D Beckwith/unsplash.com)

In the last 167 years England has produced two very different, contrasting Catholicisms. A third is now urgently required.

To explain.

With the restoration in 1850 of a fully-fledged hierarchy led by the flamboyant Cardinal Wiseman, what had been a small, inward-looking, largely rural and, in the not-so-distant past, harshly persecuted Catholic community finally came into the full light of day. A rich harvest of often ‘spectacular’ converts (like John Henry Newman) had greatly helped to give that community new self-confidence; and then the influx into our burgeoning industrial towns of thousands of Irish families fleeing famine and destitution would soon turn it into a largely urban, working-class and fast-growing one.

Our bishops had therefore to embark on a huge building programme: hundreds of churches and presbyteries, plus cathedrals and seminaries. Dozens of new orders of nuns, friars, and brothers opened hundreds of schools, and then orphanages, teacher-training colleges, hospitals. Before long there would be English priests and sisters hard at work in Africa, India, and beyond.

This was ‘the Church militant’: confident, ultramontane, heroic.

Of course, the Anglican Church was the Established one, the respectable and seemingly unchallengeable one. It influenced national life in a way which is hard for us to appreciate today. It embodied ‘Englishness’. It and the monarchy were natural allies. It informed the Empire. It dominated the older universities. Its glorious medieval cathedrals and country churches dominated the landscape.

It enjoyed such authority that as late as 1938 the then Archbishop of Canterbury could play a decisive part in forcing Edward VIII to abdicate because he was intent on marrying a divorcee.

But we English Catholics knew that it was fundamentally a sham – ‘invented’ in the sixteenth century. The papal bull Apostolicae Curae of 1894 had declared Anglican orders ‘utterly null and void’. We prayed confidently for the re-conversion of England at every Sunday Mass. It was only a matter of time, we knew, before the imposture that was Anglicanism imploded and our country returned to Holy Mother Church. Then, in the words of the famous hymn ‘Faith of our Fathers’, England would ‘indeed be free’; and we would get back those medieval churches and cathedrals which our forebears built.

(I know all this because that is the Catholicism in which I was brought up and in which I lived, confidently, into my ‘forties.)

Then came Vatican II – and with it a bewildering ‘personality change’ of the English Catholic community. Hundreds of priests, monks, friars and nuns just walked out. Seminaries emptied almost overnight, religious houses closed, previously flourishing lay organisations like the Newman Association and Catholic Evidence Guild withered. The church-building stopped.

Pre-Vatican II zeal was suddenly mocked as ‘triumphalism’. ’Conversion’ became, for some, almost a dirty word. The future lay with ecumenism and ‘dialogue’, not ‘mission’.

This was emphatically not what the Fathers of Vatican II had intended; alas, this is what was inexplicably unleashed. The Catholic Church in England and throughout Europe and the English-speaking world was being assaulted by that same pseudo-Christian liberalism which emasculated Anglicanism.

But all was not lost. On the contrary.

Leave aside the immeasurable importance of the influx of ex-High Church Anglican ministers into the Catholic priesthood, which postponed our present vocations crisis by several decades.

The overall collapse of the Anglican Church and the near-disappearance of Methodism and the other non-Conformists from the national religious scene in recent times have left a huge spiritual vacuum at the heart of English society. Ours is indeed a post-Christian one. An increasingly arrogant neo-paganism is engulfing us.

This is lamentable. But is it not also a God-given opportunity for the English Catholic community to come out of its post-Vatican II diffidence, deference, introversion (call it what you like) and resume what our forefathers began again in 1850: that is, to reclaim our beloved country for the true Church?

Famously, in 1852 John Henry Newman, preaching at a celebration of that restoration of our Hierarchy, spoke of a ‘Second Spring’. This yielded a rich harvest. But now we need a third.

How will this come about?

It will be the apostolate of every Catholic priest, deacon, lay woman and man. We all have to take up this challenge.

Above all it will be the responsibility of our bishops. Hitherto unseen and unheard by the outside world, they have to come out from the sidelines – to become the nation’s spiritual leaders, heirs to the likes of Anselm, Becket, and John Fisher.

They must proclaim the good news that God loves us and longs for us to love him; that his Son has re-opened the gates of Heaven for and we can all pass through them if we want to; that the seven sacraments have been given to us to enable us to do so.

They must preach fearlessly about sin, the Devil, Purgatory, and Hell.

They must explain to our befuddled world that marriage can be only between a man and a woman, should precede living together and is indissoluble; that sodomy, fornication, and adultery are sins; that, as Humanae Vitae explains, contraceptionism is debasing and dehumanising; that abortion kills real, living fellow-human beings; that to be prolife is to be truly democratic and enlightened.

They must speak collegially, that is, collectively. The outside world will pay little attention to individuals.

Indeed, the bishops of England, Wales, and Scotland have just issued an admirable, (and unprecedented?) collective statement reaffirming the Church’s teaching on abortion to mark the royal assent fifty years ago to our Abortion Act. Remarkably, it is addressed not just to the Faithful but to the whole of society.

Of course, it has attracted no attention in the secular press. But it could mark the beginning of that new, courageous era in the history of the Church in this land for which we crave.

In proclaiming Catholic teaching on sexual morality in its fullness our leaders will incur outraged fury from all directions: the media, frenetic feminists, the pro-abortion lobby, academia, the liberal intelligentsia, and others galore. Alas, even many Catholics will rebel.

But they must not be intimidated. We must pray for martyrs. As Newman reminded the bishops in that sermon, these are still ‘the seed of the Church’.

Even if only some of all this happens, before too long the seminaries will begin to fill again, new religious communities will appear and old ones revive. We will even be building new schools and churches again. And our society will be on the way to a deep renewal.

There are many good, decent people ‘out there’ who, though without any religious allegiance, will know in their hearts that our ‘counter-culture’ makes sense.

Many strict Moslems in our midst who are rightly shocked by Western decadence and double standards (and are therefore vulnerable to radicalisation) will be assuaged. Yes, a Third Spring is not just possible. It is urgent. Catholics, and perhaps now only Catholics, really know why human beings exist. Most of our fellow-citizens do not even ask the question. Catholics know how the world began and that it will end. Catholics know for certain where true happiness lies. Catholics can laugh and cry wholeheartedly, that is, can fully understand why they do either.

It is our duty to do all we can to deliver our fellow-citizens from their ignorance, their spiritual malnutrition, their false gods, their worldly addictions and fears, their blindness, their spiritual sedatives and placebos. It is our duty to do all we can to help them, as well as ourselves, to get to Heaven.

But a big question confronts us. It is this: given that the Church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality – set out bravely by Paul VI in the encyclical Humane Vitae – is now so at odds with what our society practices and professes (but is of such fundamental importance to every society) are we prepared to proclaim that teaching in its fullness? Have we the courage? To be precise, do we agree that Humanae Vitae is the authentic, binding teaching of the Church? Do we see that, if you are right about it, you are likely to be right about most other moral issues and, if you are wrong about it, you are likely to be wrong about a lot of other things?

Unless the answer to all this is a firm ‘yes’, that Third Spring can never happen. Indeed, none of the above should even be attempted.

(Source: CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT)

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Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

Vilnius (Wilno in Polish) is the capital of Lithuania, which was part of the multi-ethnic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until this was destroyed in 1793 by the Prussian, Austrian and Russian Empires. Lithuania was taken over by the Russian Empire; then, after a brief period of independence between the wars, it was illegally occupied by the Soviet Union until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1989.
In the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn there is a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary which has been venerated by the faithful since the 17th century, and which became a symbol of the national identity that the invaders sought to obliterate. Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros Vartų Dievo Motina, Polish: Matka Boska Ostrobramska, Belarusian: Мац Божая Вастрабрамская) is a major focus of pilgrimage from the successor states of the Commonwealth: Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
Pope John Paul II visited the chapel in 1993.

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

The painting depicts complex personality and devotion to Mary. Her head is gently leaning to her right, her eyes are half closed, her hands are crossed in devotion; this reminds that she is a virgin, humble servant of the Lord, merciful mother and patron of the people. At the same time, her head is surrounded by an aureola with golden rays and her body is usually covered in elaborate gold and silver clothes and crowns; these are the symbols of her divine and majestic role as the Queen of Heaven. The painting also reminds of Tota pulchra es (You are all beautiful), an old Catholic prayer.

Miracles and Votive Offerings

In 1761, the monk Hilarion published a book enumerating 17 miracles attributed to the painting and the Virgin Mary. The first miracle he recorded occurred in 1671, the same year the first chapel was built. A two-year-old child fell from the second floor onto a stone pavement and was badly injured. The parents then prayed to Our Lady and the next day the child was healthy once again.  In 1702, Vilnius was captured by the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War. The Swedes, who were Protestants, mocked the painting, forbade songs and prayers, and caroused around the Gate of Dawn. One soldier even shot at the painting (the bullet hole can still be seen on the right sleeve). In the early morning of Holy Saturday, the heavy iron gates fell and crushed four Swedish soldiers – two died instantly and two later from their injuries. The next day, Easter Sunday, the Lithuanian Army successfully counter-attacked near the gate. The commander, grateful for the victory, bestowed a large silver votive offering upon the chapel. The painting is also credited with other miracles: subduing a city fire in 1706, punishing a Russian soldier for an attempt to steal her silver clothes in 1708, and numerous miraculous healings. Other stories of various miracles were kept by the Carmelite monks, but those books have not survived.

Divine Mercy

The icon of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn has become associated with the messages of Divine Mercy. Eight years after the icon was conferred the title of Mother of Mercy, the first exposition of the Divine Mercy image, painted by Eugene Kazimierowski under the direction of Saint Faustina Kowalska, took place at the chapel on April 1935.  In her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, she writes of a mystical experience involving the icon in the Gate of Dawn chapel. On 15 November 1935, Saint Faustina was at the Gate of Dawn chapel participating in the last day of the novena before the feast day of the icon, 16 November. She writes of seeing the icon taking on “a living appearance” and speaking to her, telling her “accept all that God asked of me like a little child, without questioning; otherwise it would not be pleasing to God.”

The chapel in the Gate of Dawn (Ausros Vartai) with the Icon of the Holy Mother of Mercy
– Vilnius, Lithuania

In the chapel, the residents of Vilnius have prayed for generations for special graces for themselves and their families through the intercession of the Mother of God.
Numerous replicas of the icon of the Holy Mother of Mercy are displayed in churches in other countries, including the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul where a replica of the image is displayed in a chapel.

In 1773, Pope Clement XVI granted indulgences to the Fraternity of the Guardianship of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Vilnius.

By the Pope’s decree of 1927, the painting of the Madonna in the Gate of Dawn chapel was given the name of the Icon of the Holy Mother of Mercy and was crowned with papal crowns. The coronation ceremony became an important national and religious event – the image was crowned by the papal nuncio (the crowns went missing during the World War II).

Religious celebrations take place between November 10 and November 16. The Feast of Our Lady of Mercy is on the 16th.

*****

THE HOLY MOTHER OF MERCY 
By Fr. Michael Sopoćko

“For us, Mary is a Mother of Mercy, and her testimony of mercy began at Calvary. Since then, grace has streamed on people through the intercession of Mary: she strengthened the Disciples in their work; she obtained inspiration for the Evangelists. And particularly, after she was assumed to Heaven, she looks after us and obtains the Divine Mercy for us even more.
Maybe we recognise the numerous sins in our lives; maybe somebody sank into sin – Mary obtained for him the grace of conversion. How many times this was repeated, will remain a secret known only to God, but if many times – then we became the subject of special endeavours of our Mother of Mercy. She was the one who put in our mouths the words: JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU and postponed the moment of eternal and horrendous punishment.
Surely everything comes from the Merciful Jesus, but all the graces we are granted come to us through Mary. (…). This has been proven by numerous, wonderful places where, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, people are cured from illnesses, comforted in sorrows and receive hope in despair. It was not a coincidence that the picture of the Most Merciful Saviour, enjoying worship and granting graces all over the world, was originally displayed at the foot of the Holy Mother of Mercy (April 28, 1935) on Low Sunday – one might say for her to approve and recommend it. Therefore, let us strengthen our ties with Mary, Mother of Mercy and trust her boundlessly”.

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Cunctarum Haeresum Interemptri

The Slow Death of the Novus Ordo in the West

As the numbers of vocations continue to dwindle in the West, where priests are recruited from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the entire experiment of anthropocentric religion in Catholic guise is on the verge of collapse.The new religion of man focused on this present world and getting along with everyone is failing in spectacular fashion. Looking at just the demographics of priests, the collapse will come absolutely unforced, by the mere power of math and statistics. The average age of a Catholic priest in the United States in 1970 was 35. These men would have begun their priestly formation well before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) when vocations were abundantly plentiful under Pastor Angelicus, Pope Pius XII. Today, the average age of a Catholic priest in the USA is 64. The demographics of Catholics themselves are also cascading downward in a breathtaking manner: birthrates in Europe, Canada, the US and even South America have fallen below the replacement rate.

CBS News Report: Catholic Church feels squeeze of priest shortage

Quite apart from any malicious strategy applied by the Church’s enemies from without, the collapse of the Western Church appears to be an inside job. The elevation by Pope John XXIII of theologians suppressed under Pope Pius XII is where the enemies of the true faith were able to come out in the light of day. Pope Angelo Roncalli not only rehabilitated the neoModernist theologians, he tied the hands of every orthodox prelate by announcing that Vatican II (and the orientation it introduced) would condemn no errors (the “medicine of mercy” hermeneutic). So at once we had a condemned theology and no mechanism whereby to oppose it.

Paul VI went further by reforming the Holy Office into the Confraternity of the Doctrine of the Faith, abrogating the Oath Against Modernism, and dissolving the Index of Forbidden Books. His most grievous damage of course was done by suppressing the Missal of St. Pius V and promulgating Fr. Annibale Bugnini’s man-made Forma Normativa as the Novus Ordo Missae. Pope John Paul II reformed the code of Canon Law in 1983 which included the abrogation of 141 canons dealing with the beatification and canonization process, dissolving the function of “devil’s advocate” in the office of the Promotor Fidei. This effectively denuded any attempts to investigate the worthiness of candidates for Sainthood, and in just 25 years John Paul II beatified one-third of all the Blesseds in Church history.

The practice of making it nearly impossible to condemn any errors or apply any canonical standards to contemporary teaching was made even more self-destructive for Catholics by urging the twin-headed spectacle of pan-christian ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. Stripped of all means of determining truth and error and sent blindly into endless ‘dialogue’ with the practitioners of all religions produced a predictable result. What once was the only way to obtain eternal salvation eroded into just one of many ways of praying, believing, of seeing man and the world.

According to Pope Benedict XVI however, the real cause of the crisis in the Catholic Church is the collapse of the sacred liturgy, and in particular, the Mass. The form of the Mass handed down from the earliest Christian centuries and attributed to the Apostles was universally suppressed in 1970, giving the faithful the idea that it was somehow now no longer needed, ineffective, or even worse, something evil that should be shunned and avoided. While indults were permitted for the Tridentine Mass between 1984 and 2006, few Bishops allowed it. By the time Pope Benedict XVI liberated it from the control of hostile prelates in 2007, it had been suppressed for 37 years, effectively wiping out all memory of centuries of liturgical Tradition. To add to the stigma, Pope Paul VI and John Paul II unjustly censored the most fruitful missionary bishop of the 20th century for the ‘crime’ of forming priests for the Traditional liturgy.

Now its all about the demographics. An aging priesthood offering only the man-made Mass of Paul VI on behalf of an aging population of Catholics who contracepted and aborted themselves into fewer and smaller families has amply demonstrated the folly and hubris of the Second Vatican Council’s reformers. The experiment of anthropocentric religion has failed, and the price of adopting its theories and reforming the Church thereby is the collapse of Catholicism in the West. Soon there will simply be almost no priests left to baptize, absolve, and confect the Eucharist.

All is not lost. Those who rebuilt the edifice of Catholic Tradition while covered by the shadow of stigma as “schismatics” and “excommunicates” are enjoying a profound resurgence of health and vitality. The seminaries that form priests for the Traditional Latin Mass are bursting at the seams with new vocations. Again, simply by the math, at some point in the not-too-distant future, they will overtake the aging, graying, and rapidly diminishing Vatican II priests and become the majority. If Christ does not return in the next two or three decades, the conciliar priests will simply die off, fade away into history, and be remembered as those who drove a healthy, vibrant Catholic Church into near-irreversible decline only to be rescued by the very priests they ostracized, marginalized, and oppressed. And with these young priests practicing Tradition come the young families with lots of Catholic babies.

There is a divine lesson to be learned here for those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and can master elementary math.

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Cardinal Burke makes ‘final plea’ for clarity to Pope Francis on dubia anniversary

ROME, November 14, 2017

From LifeSiteNews:

One year to the day after the dubia were made public, Cardinal Raymond Burke today is turning again to Pope Francis and to the whole Church in an urgent and final plea for clarity.

In a new interview, which has been first published by the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke presents the “gravity” of the current situation in the Church, which he says “is continually worsening,” as bishops from Philadelphia to Malta offer “divergent and “at times incompatible” interpretations of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

This mix of interpretations, Cardinal Burke says, is endangering “essential matters of the deposit of faith” and “has led some to propose a paradigm shift regarding the Church’s entire moral practice.” Furthermore, His Eminence adds, the current confusion is “increasingly eroding” the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice, “especially when it comes to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.”

Today’s final plea comes exactly one year after four senior cardinals — American Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and German Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner — went public with five questions, or dubia, which they had sent to Pope Francis, seeking simple “yes” or “no” answers about certain controversial passages of Amoris Laetitia. 

A longstanding method aimed at clarifying certain issues of doctrine or practice, the cardinals submitted the dubia to the Pope and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to ascertain if these passages, particularly paragraphs 300-305 of AL Chapter 8, are consistent with past papal teaching.

The most contentious dubium is whether some remarried divorcees without an annulment and living in an objective state of adultery are allowed to receive Holy Communion.

Hand-delivered to the Holy Father on September 19, 2016, the dubia met with no response. Motivated by pastoral concern, on November 14, 2016, the four cardinals decided to inform the people of God of the initiative, publishing the dubia with a statement entitled: ‘Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia.’

Several months later, having still received no response, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra — founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family —  wrote a second letter to the Holy Father on behalf of the cardinals requesting a private audience. This letter, too, went unanswered.

Cardinal Meisner died on July 5, 2017. Cardinal Caffarra died two months later, on September 6, 2017.

Cardinal Burke told the Register that he intends in this new interview to honor the two deceased Cardinals by underlining the position of the dubia signatories and by giving a summary of the situation.

“The concern was and is to determine precisely what the Pope wanted to teach as Successor of Peter,” he said.

“Clarity provides the light necessary for accompanying families on the way of Christian discipleship,” His Eminence says in a final and urgent plea to Pope Francis that he confirm his brothers in the faith. “It is obscurity that keeps us from seeing the path and that hinders the evangelizing action of the Church, as Jesus says, ‘Night comes, when no one can work’ (Jn 9:4).”

Burke has indicated in previous interviews that a “formal correction” of the Pope from cardinals may become “necessary” so as to provide a “clear presentation of the Church’s teaching on the points at issue.”

Here below is the full interview with His Eminence, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Your Eminence, at what stage are we since you, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, and the two recently deceased cardinals, Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, made the dubia public a year ago this week?

One year after the publication of the dubia on Amoris Laetitia, which have not received any response from the Holy Father, we observe an increasing confusion about the ways of interpreting the Apostolic Exhortation. Hence our concern for the Church’s situation and for her mission in the world becomes ever more urgent. I, of course, remain in regular communication with Cardinal Walter Brandmüller regarding these gravest of matters. Both of us remain in profound union with the two late Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Carlo Caffarra, who have passed away in the course of the last months. Thus, I once again present the gravity of the situation which is continually worsening.

Much has been said about the dangers of the ambiguous nature of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, stressing that it is open to much interpretation. Why is clarity so important?

Clarity in teaching does not imply any rigidity, which would impede people from walking on the Gospel path, but, on the contrary, clarity provides the light necessary for accompanying families on the way of Christian discipleship. It is obscurity that keeps us from seeing the path and that hinders the evangelizing action of the Church, as Jesus says, “Night comes, when no one can work” (Jn 9:4).

Could you explain more about the current situation in light of the dubia?

The current situation, far from diminishing the importance of the dubia or questions, makes them still more pressing. It is not at all – as some have suggested – a matter of an “affected ignorance,” which poses doubts only because it is unwilling to accept a given teaching. Rather, the concern was and is to determine precisely what the Pope wanted to teach as Successor of Peter. Thus, the questions arise from the recognition of the Petrine office that Pope Francis has received from the Lord for the purpose of confirming his brothers in the faith. The Magisterium is God’s gift to the Church to provide clarity on issues that regard the deposit of the faith. By their very nature, affirmations that lack this clarity cannot be qualified expressions of the magisterium.

Why is it so dangerous in your view for there to be differing interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, particularly over the pastoral approach of those living in irregular unions, and specifically over civilly remarried divorcees not living in continence and receiving Holy Communion?

It is evident that some of Amoris Laetitia’s indications regarding essential aspects of the faith and of the practice of the Christian life have received various interpretations that are divergent and at times incompatible with each other. This incontestable fact confirms that these indications are ambivalent, permitting a variety of readings, many of which are in contrast to Catholic doctrine. The questions we Cardinals have raised thus regard what exactly the Holy Father has taught and how his teaching harmonizes with the deposit of the faith, given that the magisterium “is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed” (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, n. 10).

Hasn’t the Pope made clear where he stands, through his letter to Argentine bishops in which he said there is “no other interpretation” than the guidelines those bishops issued — guidelines which left open the possibility of some sexually-active unmarried couples receiving the Holy Eucharist?

Contrary to what some have claimed, we cannot consider the Pope’s letter to the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires, written shortly before receiving the dubia and containing comments on the bishops’ pastoral guidelines, an adequate response to the questions posed. On the one hand, these guidelines can be interpreted in different ways; on the other, it is not clear that this letter is a magisterial text, in which the Pope intended to speak to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. The fact that the letter first became known because it had been leaked to the press – and was only later made public by the Holy See – raises a reasonable doubt about the Holy Father’s intention to direct it to the universal Church. In addition, it would turn out to be quite astonishing – and contrary to Pope Francis’ explicitly formulated desire to leave the concrete application of Amoris Laetitia to the bishops of each country (cf. AL 3) – that now he should impose on the universal Church what are only the concrete directives of a particular region. And shouldn’t the different dispositions promulgated by various bishops in their dioceses from Philadelphia to Malta then all be considered invalid? A teaching that is not sufficiently determined with respect to its authority and its effective content cannot cast into doubt the clarity of the Church’s constant teaching which, in any case, remains always normative.

Are you also concerned that, by some bishops’ conferences allowing certain remarried divorcees living more uxorio (having sexual relations) to receive Holy Communion without a firm purpose of amendment, they are contradicting previous papal teaching, in particular Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio?

Yes, the dubia or questions remain open. Those who assert that the discipline taught by Familiaris Consortio 84 has changed contradict each other when it comes to explaining the reasons and the consequences. Some go as far as to say that the divorced in a new union, who continue to live more uxorio, do not find themselves in an objective state of mortal sin (citing in support AL 303); others deny this interpretation (citing in support AL 305), yet completely leave it up to the judgment of conscience to determine the criteria of access to the sacraments. It seems that the goal of the interpreters is to arrive, in whatever way, at a change in discipline, while the reasons they adduce to this end are of no importance. Nor do they show any concern about how much they put into danger essential matters of the deposit of faith.

What tangible effect has this mix of interpretations had?

This hermeneutical confusion has already produced a sad result. In fact, the ambiguity regarding a concrete point of the pastoral care of the family has led some to propose a paradigm shift regarding the Church’s entire moral practice, the foundations of which have been authoritatively taught by Saint John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

Indeed a process has been put into motion that is subversive of essential parts of the Tradition. Concerning Christian morality, some claim that absolute moral norms need to be relativized and that a subjective, self-referential conscience needs to be given an – ultimately equivocal – primacy in matters touching morals. What is at stake, therefore, is in no way secondary to the kerygma or basic gospel message. We are speaking about whether or not a person’s encounter with Christ can, by the grace of God, give form to the path of the Christian life so that it may be in harmony with the Creator’s wise design. To understand how far-reaching these proposed changes are, it is enough to think of what would happen if this reasoning were to be applied to other cases, such as that of a medical doctor performing abortions, of a politician belonging to a ring of corruption, of a suffering person deciding to make a request for assisted suicide…

Some have said the most pernicious effect of all of this is that it represents an attack on the Sacraments as well as the Church’s moral teaching. How is this so?

Over and above the moral debate, the sense of the ecclesial sacramental practice is increasingly eroding in the Church, especially when it comes to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The decisive criterion for admission to the sacraments has always been the coherence of a person’s way of life with the teachings of Jesus. If instead the decisive criterion were now to become the absence of a person’s subjective culpability – as some interpreters of Amoris Laetitia have suggested – would this not change the very nature of the sacraments? In fact, the sacraments are not private encounters with God, nor are they means of social integration into a community. Rather, they are visible and effective signs of our incorporation into Christ and His Church, in and by which the Church publicly professes and actuates her faith. Thus by turning a person’s subjective diminished culpability or lack of culpability into the decisive criterion for the admission to the sacraments, one would endanger the very regula fidei, the rule of faith, which the sacraments proclaim and actuate not only by words but also by visible gestures. How could the Church continue to be the universal sacrament of salvation if the meaning of the sacraments were to be emptied of its content?

Despite you and many others, including over 250 academics and priests who issued a filial correction, clearly having very serious misgivings about the effects of these passages in Amoris Laetitia, and because you have so far received no response from the Holy Father, are you here making a final plea to him?

Yes, for these grave reasons, one year after rendering public the dubia, I again turn to the Holy Father and to the whole Church, emphasizing how urgent it is that, in exercising the ministry he has received from the Lord, the Pope should confirm his brothers in the faith with a clear expression of the teaching regarding both Christian morality and the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice.

Editor’s note: Cardinal Burke’s full interview was republished by permission of NCRegister.com.

See also: cardinal-burkes-final-plea-to-pope-francis-our-take

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Vatican II: Revolution Under the Guise of Reform

Guest Post by David Martin (11/12/17)

Perhaps the greatest curse of our time has been the misguidance of the flock of Christ under the illusion of divine guidance, a treacherous path that was set in motion at Vatican II. Cardinal Ratzinger even told his friend Fr. Ingo Dollinger—a close friend and spiritual child of St. Padre Pio—that the Third Secret of Fatima spoke of “a bad council and a bad Mass,” presumably referencing the Second Vatican Council. https://onepeterfive.com/cardinal-ratzinger-not-published-whole-third-secret-fatima/

But some will lash out at this, arguing that a dogmatic council cannot err because it is guided by the Holy Spirit. But who ever said Vatican II was dogmatic? The fact is that there was no dogma defined at the Council. Benedict XVI while a cardinal even pointed out the non-infallible status of Vatican II, as we see in his address to the bishops of Chile in 1988:

“The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.” (Cardinal Ratzinger on Vatican II)

Pope Paul VI also cited the non-infallible status of Vatican II when he said that the Council “avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority.” (General Audience, December 1, 1966)

The Holy Father also said in 1970: “In many areas the Council has not so far given us peace but rather stirred up troubles and problems that in no way serve to strengthen the Kingdom of God within the Church or within its souls.”

It was this same pope who lamented the outcome of Vatican II on the ninth anniversary of his coronation, when he declared: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan entered into the temple of God.” (June 29, 1972)

The fact is that Vatican II in many ways dissented from Church teaching. For instance, the Council teaches that “it is allowable, indeed desirable that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren” on the grounds that “The Holy Spirit does not refuse to make use of other religions as a means of salvation.” (Unitatis Redintegratio)

This radically contradicts the Church’s infallible teaching that the Holy Spirit works only through the Catholic Church, outside of which there exists no salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus). Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors condemned the Protestant notion that “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”

The Syllabus of Errors also warned against attempts to revolutionize the Church, yet the conciliar document Gaudium et Spes (in conjunction with the documents on Religious Liberty and Ecumenism) was intended to counteract the Syllabus of Errors and to revive the rebellious principles of the French Revolution of 1789. Cardinal Ratzinger attested to this in his 1982 book, Principles of Catholic Theology:

“We might say that it [Gaudium et Spes] is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-syllabus… Let us be content to say that the text serves as a counter-syllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” (Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 381-382, Ignatius Press, 1987)

Hence, we see Vatican II conniving with the French Revolution of 1789, which was Masonically generated to instigate rebellion against the Faith, just as the Council connived with Luther’s Reformation which was generated for this same purpose. But as with the Reformation, the Vatican II revolution was waged under the pretext of a reform so that people would see it as “magisterial.”

What we are witnessing today is the Magisterium vs. the counter-magisterium, which is precisely what Pope John Paul II while a cardinal was trying to alert us to in his prophetic warning about the rise of an “anti-Church” that would preach an “anti-Gospel.” During his visit to America in 1976, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla delivered this prophetic message in Philadelphia, on the occasion of the bicentennial anniversary of American Independence.

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives…. How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”

A true renewal would mean restoring the Church to its former position of honor as it stood before Vatican II. Such efforts will inevitably bring great persecution and even “blood” upon those who push for this, so great is the modern-day addiction to the conciliar idol of change.

Let’s face it, the new church of man stemming from of Vatican II promises confused Catholics that they can now dispense with ‘archaic’ rules and regulations, assuring them that God accepts them as they are, and that they can even live in adultery knowing that “no one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel.” (Amoris Laetitia, 297)

What we’re really looking at today is a revival of Martin Luther, the culprit who first generated this crack-pot theology. Consider Luther’s famous advice to his disciple-companion Philip Melanchthon:

“Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly… No sin will separate us from the Christ, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.” (From Luther’s letter to Philip Melanchthon, August 1, 1521, LW Vol. 48, pp. 281-282)

Reviving the cause of Luther in fact was a key objective of the Second Vatican Council, as affirmed by Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, a prominent figure of the Council who said: “The accusation of connivance with the Reformation is therefore not without foundation.”

Conniving with the Reformation is something the post-conciliar church officially recognizes, as we read in the 1980 Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commission which grew out of Vatican II: “Among the ideas of the Second Vatican Council, we can see gathered together much of what Luther asked for, such as the following: description of the Church as ‘The People of God’ (a democratic and non-hierarchical idea); accent on the priesthood of all baptized; the right of the individual to freedom of religion.”

Unfortunately, this connivance has now reached the point that the Vatican on October 31 issued a postage stamp on which Martin Luther is depicted kneeling with St. John before Jesus. Shall the Vatican also issue a stamp with Hitler kneeling before Jesus?

The point being that Luther was a heretic and notorious enemy of God, who taught that Jesus was an adulterer, who rejected six books of the Bible, who dubbed the Sacrifice of the Mass “sacrilegious and abominable,” and who utterly cursed the papacy. Should Rome be commemorating Luther and praising him as “a witness to the Gospel?”

It was for reason that Luther was excommunicated in 1521, whereupon the Council of Trent later condemned his Reformation, decreeing that those who hold to its errors are an anathema. How is it then that Rome is now praising a heretic who the Church officially holds to be an enemy of the Christian Faith?

The answer: Vatican II had a key role in infecting the Church with this heresy. There were six known Protestant delegates at the Second Vatican Council who played a significant role in shaping the Council documents. Michael Davies confirms this in his book on the New Mass where he states that “six Protestant observers were invited to advise this Consilium. They played an active part in the preparation of the New Mass.” Their names for the record were: Canon Jasper, Dr. McAfee Brown, Professor George Lindbeck, Professor Oscar Cullmann, Pastor Rodger Schutz, and Archdeacon Pawley.

Cardinal Augustine Bea, who headed the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, boasted of the contribution made by these Protestant delegates in formulating the Decree on Ecumenism, when he said: “I do not hesitate to assert that they have contributed in a decisive way to bringing about this result.”

Professor B. Mondin, of the Pontifical Propaganda College for the Missions, stated that delegates such as Dr. Cullmann made “a valid contribution” to drawing up the Council documents.

This is not to mention people like Gregory Baum, the ex-priest and gay advocate who drafted the conciliar document Nostra Aetate for the Second Vatican Council, or Annibale Bugnini, the suspected Freemason who was the principal architect of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which laid out the design for the new Mass.

Hence Vatican II in the final analysis was neither dogmatic, nor was it magisterial in the ordinary sense, but was a carefully contrived revolution to instigate departure from Church tradition, but in such a way that this is seen as the work of the Holy Spirit.

This is why the Third Secret of Fatima urgently needs to be released, because only then will it shed light on what really happened at Vatican II and how it has caused the Church in our time to degenerate under the illusion of progress.

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Did Saint Francis Predict Pope Francis?

from:

The Remnant

Did Saint Francis Predict Pope Francis?

Traditionalists are often derided by neo-Catholic commentators for relying on supposedly apocryphal quotations from Popes or saints bearing on the current ecclesial crisis.  But these critics never demonstrate that the oft-cited quotations are apocryphal; they merely assert that they must be, as they seem too good to be true.  This is often done in comment boxes or responses to online queries at neo-Catholic websites, wherein the neo-Catholic commentator professes he can find no source for a given quotation—meaning he hasn’t bothered to do any serious investigation beyond a few Google searches.

Take this quotation of Pius XII, for example, speaking in 1931 when he was still Monsignor Pacelli, serving as Pius XI’s Secretary of State:

I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul….

I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.

A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted.  She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “Where have they taken Him?”

When I first cited this quotation some 17 years ago, I was contacted by a very prominent neo-Catholic luminary who demanded a source for it, because he and his friends believed it was “apocryphal.”  I did not receive the courtesy of a thank-you when I pointed him to pp. 52-53 of Msgr. Roche’s biography of Pius XII, Pie XII Devant L’Histoire (Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 1972), an out-of-print French-language work I managed to obtain after an extensive search of used book seller inventory.  The French original text confirms the accuracy of the English translation I had seen before I cited the statement.

A Modernist apostate priest, one Emile Poulet, who left the priesthood and married, attempted to cast doubt on the credibility of Msgr. Roche’s account of the words of the future Pius XII. Small wonder: Poulet, who died in 2014 at the age of 94, belonged to the “worker-priest” movement that none other than Pius XII had condemned, as I note here.  His attempt to debunk the quotation involved nit-picking about what he claimed were factual errors elsewhere in the Roche biography.  But he had no evidence that the quotation as such was a fabrication.  He simply wished that it was so.

Let’s give our neo-Catholic friends another “apocryphal” quotation to dismiss out of hand.  This one pertains to an astonishing prophecy by Saint Francis of Assisi about a future occupant of the Chair of Peter:

A short time before the holy Father’s [St. Francis’] death, he called together his children and warned them of the coming troubles:

“Act bravely, my brethren; take courage and trust in the Lord.  The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase. The devils will have unusual power; the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who obey the Supreme Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal ears and perfect charity.

“At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.

“There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God….

Those who persevere in their fervor and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth…

“Some preachers will keep silent about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them, not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.”  [paragraph breaks added]

This quotation appears in Works of the Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, published in 1882 by the London-based Catholic publishing house R. Washbourne, 1882, pp. 248-250).  It is readily available as a Google book.  The same book, it must be noted, contains an appendix setting forth “Doubtful Works of Saint Francis,” of which the quotation is not part.  Thus, the publisher itself carefully distinguished the authentic prophecies of Saint Francis from what might be apocryphal. Moreover, in 1882 there could hardly have been any “radical traditionalist” motive to circulate phony quotations of the saint.

St. Francis in ecstacy“St. Francis in Ecstasy”, Caravaggio, 1595

Saint Francis’ prophecy is clearly not a prediction of the Great Western Schism (1378-1417), which did not involve a “destroyer” on the Chair of Peter who leads the faithful into error, widespread apostasy, and the persecution of faithful Catholics as “schismatics.”  But it does contain elements very familiar to us today.  And what inference might one draw from the coincidence that Saint Francis’ prophecy of a future “destroyer” in the papal office seems to correspond rather well with the pontificate of the only Pope who has taken Francis’ name as his own?

Something else to consider:  Saint Francis, one of the greatest saints in Church history, one of the few who is known and revered by the whole world, freely revealed his vision of an ecclesial destroyer who usurps the papal office.  That is, Saint Francis did not suffer from the currently reigning papolatry, which holds that the indefectibility of the Church depends upon defending every word and deed of a given Pope as somehow consistent with Tradition and declares absolutely inadmissible the idea that the holder of the Petrine office could be a threat to the integrity of the Faith. Rather, Saint Francis, illuminated by heaven itself, recognized the coming reality of what Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, hypothesized as possible in principle, to cite another “apocryphal” quotation:

Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist by not doing what he orders and by preventing his will from being executed…

De Controversiis on the Roman Pontiff, trans. Ryan Grant (Mediatrix Press: 2015), Book II, Chapter 29, p. 303.

Did Saint Francis predict the coming of Pope Francis?  That is not for us to judge, although the Church may­ well issue a judgment of Francis like that of the posthumous anathema of Honorius­­ I. Would Saint Francis have been horrified by the words and deeds of the Pope who has presumed to take his name?  That question answers itself.

 

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Life in Hidden Light: A Video Inside a Cloistered Convent

Video of life inside an enclosed Carmelite community, including short excerpts of interviews with some of the Sisters. The Discalced Carmelites of Wolverhampton, UK, would like to thank Miranda Tasker and Marcus Nield, who made this film, for their hard work and professional skill. With only basic equipment, they did the filming and put together the presentation with sensitivity and understanding.

[Source]

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On Pastoral Fear

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that servile fear is of the kind that a servant feels before his master — essentially, a fear of punishment. “Accordingly, ” St. Thomas writes, “if a man turn to God and adhere to Him, through fear of punishment, it will be servile fear; but if it be on account of fear of committing a fault, it will be filial fear, for it becomes a child to fear offending its father.” Elsewhere, servile fear is defined as “Selfish fear based on dread of pain to oneself that would follow if another were offended. It is the fear of punishment for wrongdoing, without being motivated by honor or a sense of duty, and least of all by love.” While servile fear “may co-exist with filial fear,” — and indeed, St. Thomas argues that “servile fear is from the Holy Ghost” — it is to be remembered that “purely servile fear, with no love of God but only self-love that fears the divine punishments, is at least in theory, inconsistent with the true love of God.”

In practical terms, servile fear is that fear which is primarily motivated by self-love. It seeks to avoid the loss of some good or goods, position, or status, or even the loss of Heaven out of the love of self — not the love of God.

It is of this species of fear to which many Catholic faithful, exasperated by the failure of leadership they perceive among their priests and bishops, accuse the clergy of falling prey. However, one thing is often overlooked when people discuss “fearful” shepherds — especially when they are quick to call them cowards — is that their first duty — after Loving God above all things and obeying Him no matter the consequences to themselves — is to love their neighbor as themselves, by forming, nourishing, and protecting the spiritual children of their particular flock.

One of the things I have spent much time on as a pastor is giving council to parents over their legitimate fears for their children (and their fears are legion.) Every good pastor has many of the same fears for his spiritual children that biological parents have for their children, and the primary fear is that they will be led astray.

There are, consequently, many pastors who may not speak out publicly in such a way that they are openly challenging the problems in the Universal Church, but this does not mean that they are not speaking out in their parishes — from their pulpits, in the confessional, or in the spiritual counsel they give to the members of their flock. They try to nourish and guide the souls entrusted to their care according to the fullness of the Catholic Faith even when their own bishops — or even the pope himself — are not, and they do so as a direct response to what those bishops and the pope are doing and saying.

They do this in order to keep their spiritual children safe from spiritual harm. And many of them have a legitimate concern that if they raised their voices in protest outside the parish walls, they might well be removed in retribution. The question that haunts them is, “If such a thing were to happen, who would be sent to replace me?” They know that the wolves and hirelings far outnumber the faithful shepherds and that if they are removed for speaking the truth to the whole world, those who would likely take their places would be chosen because they will not speak the truth to the parish, let alone to the world.

It is for this reason — a concern for what will become of their spiritual children — that many pastors of souls remain silent in the ‘press’, while they are anything but silent from the pulpit, the classroom, or the tables of the parishioners who invite them into their homes.

When I reflect on the fears that I have about being removed, excommunicated, or laicized for speaking the truth, I cannot deny that the questions of, “What shall I do? How will I live?”, arise in my mind. These are natural fears, but they are not the most pressing; these are the “servile fears”, and they are usually immediately quelled upon recourse to prayer and an act of spiritual abandonment to God. The fear that isn’t quelled so easily, is: when I am gone, what shall happen to my spiritual children?

Just recently I had several parishioners, at different times, express to me how they hoped that I would be able to stay here past the time of my current assignment because they have grown in their faith and know the wasteland that surrounds them in the various parishes in my small deanery. Their concerns were not because they thought I might be removed for speaking the truth, even though I have told the parishes I serve that this is a real possibility (I have spoken the hard truth several times at diocesan meetings with the bishop, and even with members of the laity present.) They were simply aware that even in the normal course of events, a pastor who gives bread instead of stones has become a rarity.

A priest — especially a parish priest, and most especially a pastor — is, as his title aptly suggests, a father. Thus, his natural place is in his home with his spiritual family. This is why the post-conciliar practice of shuffling the pastoral deck every few years is often so destructive to parish life. What would we say about a natural family that got a ‘new’ father every six or twelve years? Why is it considered a tragedy when an orphan is moved from foster home to foster home? This constant change in the paternal relationship is often a recipe for disaster that often begets chaos and ruin. I have expressed this concern to my bishop, and requested to be allowed to remain in my little parishes until I die, because they are my family and I am a father to them. That is not to say that tending to my spiritual family is always a picnic! Even so, I love them and desire to remain with them so that I can lead as many of them to Eternal Salvation as is possible by the Grace of God.

I have been in my assignment for several years and from the beginning had a parishioner who attacked my character and made life difficult. I prayed for him often and even rebuked him publicly and warned him of hell. After almost eight years he came to me and repented, and I absolved him and he died in a state of grace. Being a priest is the greatest blessing there is, and being separated from one’s flock, even the difficult ones, is the greatest suffering there is for a priest. This is what many of them fear because they know Hell is real and that many of their children will end there if they are not constantly guided and nourished with the Saving Truth of Jesus Christ.

What I always tell parents is what I must hear myself: God is in charge and if your children refuse your good council you must continue to pray, fast and do penance for them to merit actual graces for them so that they may repent and be saved. The vast majority of Faithful Catholics are so, because of Faithful Parents: naturally and spiritually. The fact that there are Faithful Catholics is due to the fact that there are Faithful Shepherds who taught them and nourished them with the Holy Catholic Faith, and much of that was face to face in a parish setting or at a conference or a retreat — in other words, through personal encounters, not through strongly worded essays in the paper or online. There is much to be gained through the Catholic Internet, but the people of God need shepherds of flesh and blood who will feed them the True Faith in their parishes, or they will perish.

It is my plea to you, therefore, that you resist rash judgment when it comes to the priests whom you wish would break their silence and shout the truth about the emperor’s wardrobe malfunction from the rooftops. Do not assume that their public reticence equals cowardice or consent. Please pray for the good shepherds that even now work amongst the Lord’s sheep. Pray that they are not inhibited by servile fear, and that that they will be governed instead by the Fear of the Lord and His Love above all things, but also remember that this does not necessarily mean that all of them need to preach to the whole world via the internet or the media. If, however, that is what God is calling them to, pray that they are able to discern it, and do so with Holy Boldness.

When the time comes for the majority of the good shepherds to be driven into exile — and that time seems to have already begun in some quarters — they will need to be supported by you, the faithful laity. They will need you to take them into your homes, to be succored and sheltered. They will need help with their debts and obligations, as many of them are too old or limited to be truly gainfully employed elsewhere. And they need to hear from you, the faithful laity, those face to face reassurances that, should the day come, you will support in this manner. Without such support, then the message being sent to these priests by the laity who most ardently desire their boldness is that they must go to Calvary alone.

Even Jesus went to Calvary with a faithful few who accompanied Him and remained with Him in His Holy Agony.

It seems to me that the Church at this time finds herself mystically within the following verses of Revelation (12:13-17):

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

The woman, of course, is Mary. But Mary is also the archetype of Holy Mother Church, who has been and is being persecuted by the dragon, who will make war upon the faithful until Our Lord Jesus Christ comes again in glory.

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Reflection for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Image result for ten wise virgins

FIRST READING  Wisdom 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.  She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate.  For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude.

SECOND READING        1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore, console one another with these words.

GOSPEL       Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:  “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.  Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked.  Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

“Wisdom is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.”  As we come to the last Sundays of Ordinary Time, we are invited to seek wisdom and to love wisdom.

The first reading comes from the Book of Wisdom and invites us to reflect this Sunday on wisdom in our daily lives.   Wisdom is not a college degree nor does it require us to read books or memorize things.  Rather, wisdom is a capacity to live well and to make good decisions about things.  Such wisdom is only possible with good judgment coming from experience and everyday knowledge.  There are many people with advanced academic degrees who have very little wisdom and there are lots of people with no academic degrees who are true wisdom figures and reflect the wisdom of God.

Each of us can think in his own heart and mind right now about the people that we might ask for advice in our lives.  Those people are usually wisdom figures for us.  They are people whose practical judgments we would trust and also whose spiritual advice could be helpful.  This first reading reminds us that we need to seek wisdom and once we find some wisdom, we must treasure wisdom.

The second reading today is from the First Letter to the Thessalonians.  In this section of the letter we are reminded that our whole faith is based on the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  If Jesus died and did not rise, then our faith is worth nothing.  Jesus Himself tells us that He is the Resurrection.  Jesus is clear that our death is only a passing to a new life in a new way, with God the Father, with Jesus Himself and with the Holy Spirit.  If we begin to think of our faith as simply good decisions made in the light of the teachings of Jesus, who was an enlightened religious man—then we have no faith at all.  Rather we believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man and leads us to the Father.  We want to live completely the teachings of Jesus so that we have life eternal—Resurrection.

The Gospel from Matthew today brings us back to wisdom.  The parable that Jesus gives to us illustrates the practical nature of wisdom.  All ten of the virgins wanted to meet the bridegroom but five of them did not bring enough oil to keep their lamps burning.  This is the wisdom aspect!  A person who knows about oil lamps will know that extra oil must be taken along if the wait is going to be long.  That is simply a practical piece of knowledge.  But five of the virgins did not have that wisdom.  And so when the bridegroom was delayed, then they ran out of oil.

The whole point of this parable is that we must be ready for the Lord.  To be ready for the Lord, we must be willing to wait for the Lord.  To wait for the Lord, we must be willing to do all the things that will allow us to be ready as we wait.  Probably all of us who are here really want to be with the Lord.  Do we live our lives in such a way that we are always ready for Him?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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“Inter-communion is not allowed between Catholics and non-Catholics”: Card. Sarah

“Inter-communion is not allowed between Catholics and non-Catholics. It is necessary to confess the Catholic faith. A non-Catholic cannot receive communion. This is very, very clear. It is not a matter of freedom of conscience. ” This is how Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Divine Worship Congregation, responds to those who have seen an intercommunion between Catholics and Lutherans in a response given by Pope Francis to a Lutheran during his recent visit to the Lutheran community of Rome. “We give communion to Catholics,” giving communion to everyone is “a nonsense,” says the African Cardinal.

“There is no intercommunion between Anglicans and Catholics, between Catholics and Protestants. If they go together, the Catholic can go to communion, but Lutherans or Anglicans do not. ” Without a union in faith and doctrine, opening the doors to intercommunion “would promote profanation.” “We cannot do it. It is not that we must speak to the Lord to know if we can make Communion. We need to know whether we are in agreement with the rules of the Church. Our consciousness must be illuminated by the rules of the Church that says that, in order to communicate, we need to be in a state of grace, without sin, and have faith in the Eucharist. It is not a desire or a personal dialogue with Jesus that determines whether we can receive communion in the Catholic Church. A person cannot decide whether he is able to receive Communion. Must be Catholic, in a state of grace, properly married [if conjugated] “. The inter-communion does not allow unity because “the Lord helps us to be one if we receive it properly, otherwise we will eat our condemnation, as St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 11: 27-29). We cannot become one thing only if we participate in communion with sin, with contempt for the Body of Christ. ”

[Source: Matteo Orlando, & with h/t to Nick Donnelly]

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The Truth About the Shroud of Turin


Michelle Laque Johnson:

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer SJ

‘A presentation by Fr Robert Spitzer at the 2017 NAPA Institute Conference in California will be aired on EWTN in a six part series from, “EWTN On Location”. It begins at 9 a.m. ET, Saturday, Nov. 11 and ends with “A Remarkable Relic of the Resurrection: The Shroud of Turin and New Scientific Evidence,” which airs at 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 12 *. In this case, last is certainly not least!’

[* Times may vary for EWTN UK/Ireland and other parts of the world.]

“The Shroud of Turin is a 14 foot linen cloth on [which] is etched the figure of a man,” says Fr. Spitzer. “There are blood stains throughout. No other historical document has been examined by scientists in more ways than the Shroud of Turin. There is no other image like it in the history of images. What’s so special is that you have essentially a perfect three dimensional photographic negative image on a non-photographically sensitive linen cloth. This is a most remarkable thing because it not only gives us a very good sense of Jesus’ crucifixion, and historical validation of it, but a very good sense of His resurrection and even an historical validation of that! There is really a supernatural remnant of that resurrection embedded on this cloth.”

Small wonder that it has been examined so thoroughly. But before Father gets into the meat of his talk, he unravels the shocking story behind what was seen as a valid scientific finding that at one time devastated the Christian world. It was 1988, 10 years after a host of scientists had come to Turin, Italy and examined the shroud for nearly a week. They had performed every test imaginable and they let the world know that were convinced it was authentic from a variety of points of view. However, in 1988, two people came to Turin and took samples from the Shroud and sent them to labs to be carbon dated. Father says the two people who went over there “seemed to be good people.” The samples went to three labs whose reputations were academically unstained. Their findings: The Shroud was determined to be from the 15th Century, which meant it couldn’t be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

“Everyone was devastated,” Father said.

So that was that, right? Well, not quite.

“Starting in 2000, the problem of that 1988 carbon dating began to unravel,” Fr. Spitzer said. The team that validated the Shroud in 1978 had sent out scientific protocols for how carbon testing on the Shroud was to be done. Seven samples were to be taken from the Shroud. Before each sample was taken, it was to be analyzed by a materials analyst and a thermochemical analyst to insure it came from the original linen, and these seven samples were to be sent to seven different labs.

Unfortunately, says Father Spitzer, that’s not what happened.

“What happened is that two people took a single strand from a highly controversial patch in the corner of the Shroud [more on that in a moment], divided it into three [pieces] and sent it to three different labs. Every single protocol was violated. The materials and thermochemical experts were there, but they did not look at the Shroud. So strange things happened.”

Fortunately, in 2000, two people named Sue Binford and Joseph Marino examined some “sticky tapes.” These tapes are used by scientists, who press them (in this case) onto the Shroud in an area that was very close to the patch from which the Shroud sample was removed in 1988. They were shocked to discover that their sticky tapes contained cotton fibers since the Shroud of Turin is made of very fine linen — not to mention the fact that there was no cotton in Israel in the First Century. “They threw doubt on the sample taken from the Shroud,” says Father. Their findings were published on the Shroud website.

However, Dr. Ray Rogers, a prominent thermochemist from the 1978 Shroud research project, asked that the Binford/Marino article be taken down. He said it was “absolutely unthinkable that a sample would have been taken from a bad part of the Shroud.” He was asked to disprove the team’s findings and he agreed. After subjecting the sample to four tests, it became clear that not only was cotton embedded in the sample, but that it also contained dye that was only available in Europe in the 15th Century. “Alarm bells were going off,” Fr. Spitzer said. “Dr. Rogers, with his incredible reputation, discredited the sample. This was validated again and again and again by many different fibers from many different sticky tapes. There is no question about it, this was an invalid sample. Don’t ask me why this was utilized … don’t ask me why the material analysist did not examine it, don’t ask me why only one single fabric was taken from this highly controversial patch, don’t ask me why they selected this to send to the lab, but in my opinion, there is something very, very strange going on here!”

So how did cotton fibers get onto the Shroud in the first place? Father explains that after the Shroud was damaged in the “fire of Chambery,” some sisters in the 1400s sewed together the damaged parts of the Shroud. “You can see those patches on the side of the Shroud,” he says. And yes, unlike the original Shroud which is made of linen, the patches were made of dyed cotton fibers. Therefore, “the fiber from the patch taken for dating purposes was completely invalid.”

Of course, Father goes on to cement the authenticity of the Shroud with even more scientific evidence and then helps us see what the Shroud reveals about Jesus’ death and resurrection! You won’t want to miss this!

 

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Superstition, Dissent, and Scandal? A brief defence of Fr. Thomas Weinandy

Some pundits from both progressive and orthodox quarters have been quick to criticize and even condemn Fr. Weinandy and his missive to the Pope. Thus, a brief defense of Fr. Weinandy is in order.

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap., is owed a debt of gratitude for his courage and forthrightness in making public his letter to Pope Francis respectfully criticizing and encouraging the Holy Father to fulfill his principal charge: to secure the unity of Christ’s Church in faith, charity, and holiness.

Weinandy’s letter comes at a time marked by widespread doctrinal confusion in the Church to a degree heretofore unknown in living memory. Ours is a time when the fierce and beautiful truth of Christ’s saving Gospel is being eclipsed and the Church is undergoing balkanizing fissures threatening her very stability. His letter is important because it comes from a man with a distinguished career as a faithful Catholic theologian and a doctrinal guardian for the Church in the United States. In it, Fr. Weinandy identifies five problematic areas, indicates how he thinks the Holy Father is involved in them, and encourages the Holy Father to fulfill his mandate from Christ. After receiving no response of any substance he made the letter public and in doing so has edified the faithful by reaffirming the solemn duty of the papal office, the truth and relevance of Christ’s doctrines to the spiritual life, and the need for the Holy Father to make wise episcopal appointments.

Some pundits from both progressive and orthodox quarters have been quick to criticize and even condemn Fr. Weinandy and his missive to the Pope. The condemnations I am aware of seem unjust and libelous (more on those in a moment). The criticisms seem to come either from an unreasonable eagerness to defend every word and deed of the Holy Father or from a fear of scandalizing the faithful by publicly expressing disagreement with the Pope (on account of his behavior or his non-definitive and problematic teachings). Thus, a brief defense of Fr. Weinandy is in order.

“Superstition” and “dissent”
In his opinion piece in America m agazine online titled “Dissent, Now & Then: Thomas Weinandy and the meaning of Jesuit discernment,” Fr. James Martin, SJ, claims that Weinandy “dissented from Pope Francis’ teachings” – something Martin finds ironic since Weinandy led the committee that scrutinized Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for a Living God and found it wanting, doctrinally. Martin also charges Weinandy with the sin of superstition and he expresses acute fear about the way Weinandy asked for a sign from God before composing his letter.

First, a couple of points on the matter of superstition. The sin of superstition has a very precise meaning in Catholic moral teaching: it is a vice contrary to the virtue of religion in which a person “offers divine worship either to whom he ought not, or in a manner he ought not” (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 92, a. 1). The three classic species of this vice are idolatry, making a compact (explicitly or implicitly) with demons for divination, and performing ritualistic observances contrary to reason, for example, using religious ceremonies not approved by the Church. Weinandy’s account of his prayerful discernment doesn’t fall under any of these species or the genus of the vice of superstition. The prudence in asking God for a sign in particular cases is surely a matter of debate, but a simple act of asking God for a sign is not something immoral per se (see, for example, Isaiah 7, where Ahaz is instructed by Isaiah to ask God for a sign; or the instances of this in the New Testament, such as when the Apostles sought a sign from God in selecting a replacement for Judas in Acts 1:26 or when God himself provided signs for the faithful, such as in Luke 2:34, etc.).

When it comes to dissent, the CDF’s 1990 document, Donum Veritatis (Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, hereafter “DV”), explains that dissent is “public opposition to the Magisterium of the Church” and it “must be distinguished from the situation of personal difficulties treated above” (a. 32). That is to say, “dissenting” is an act distinct in kind from one in which a person expresses difficulties with magisterial teachings. It is clear from a fair reading of his letter that Weinandy has not opposed Francis’ magisterium; rather, he asks the Pope to correct five matters of concern:

(1) the well-known ambiguities in “Amoris Laetita” (hereafter, “AL”) chap. 8;
(2) those statements of the Pope which seem to demean the importance of Church doctrine;
(3) the Pope’s appointment of bishops who have supported and defended those who “hold views counter to Christian belief”;
(4) the Pope’s emerging brand of “synodality” that has resulting in fracturing the unity of faith and praxis in the Church; and
(5) the atmosphere of fear of retribution brought about in no small part by the actions of the Pope and his surrogates.

Say what you will about Fr. Weinandy’s concerns, but not one of them amounts to anything approaching dissent. Asking for clarification of ambiguous statements in a magisterial document hardly constitutes dissent. And his second concern is actually about preserving respect for the teachings of the Magisterium. What magisterial doctrine is Fr. Weinandy even calling into question let alone opposing? In fact, it is precisely his concern for the Church’s doctrine and its importance for the salvation of souls that clearly motivated him to implore the Pope to make a course correction. As the former chief of doctrine for the Church in the United States, Weinandy is a man sensitive to the potential for pastoral disaster caused by the rejection of sound doctrine. So much for Fr. Martin’s preposterous condemnation of Fr. Weinandy’s “dissent” and “superstition.”

Monsignor Strynkowski’s response
Fr. Weinandy has also been impugned by Msgr. John Strynkowski, one of his predecessors at the position of the Secretariat of Christian Doctrine at the USCCB. In an America article (“An open letter to Father Weinandy, from his predecessor, on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and Pope Francis”), Strynkowski attempts to redress each of Weinandy’s five concerns, prefacing his remarks by claiming that AL is “an act of ordinary Magisterium, and thus enjoys presumption as having been guided by the Spirit of the Lord.” To be sure, Weinandy knows that even non-definitive magisterial teachings “are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful” (DV, a. 17). The Church’s indefectibility would be imperiled by a substantive amount of errors in such teaching.

And yet this does not preclude all possibility of error in non-infallible magisterial statements, as the CDF points out in DV, 24: “It could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies.” Some claims found in AL reaffirm infallibly defined doctrine; others are not magisterial in the strict sense. Still others appear to run contrary to infallible dogma. The Holy Spirit guarantees that any error in non-definitive magisterial teachings will not destroy the Church. Situations like these, thankfully, are painful and rare but such is our lot. And publicly identifying problems in non-definitive teachings (such as critical ambiguity) in no way entails a failure to recognize God’s assistance to those who exercise magisterial authority. It is beyond facile for Strynkowski to imply otherwise.

Most of Strynkowski’s criticisms are not worth dwelling on at length as they are brief and dubious and, thus, easily dismissed. The sheer number of articles, open letters, books, episcopal statements, and press releases displaying a conflicting variety of theological interpretations of AL on the pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics living in more uxorio suffices to belie Strynkowski’s bald assertion that most bishops and theologians do not agree with Weinandy’s perception of ambiguity in chapter 8 of AL. The Holy Father frequently signals that he is no fan of dogma which he regularly portrays as antithetical to mercy and pastoral accompaniment. The Pope’s record of episcopal appointments, promotions, and firings speaks for itself. Weinandy charitably exercised restraint by not including a laundry list of well-known problematic bishops and I will follow suit.

For evidence that Pope Francis has promoted a range of problematic “doctrinal and moral options within the Church” under the rubrics of a flawed “synodality” we need look no further than the current balkanization of the Church under his leadership where what is a mortal sin in Poland and Philadelphia is permissible in Germany and Malta regarding Communion for divorced Catholics living in more uxoriowith their civil partner. Finally, while there are plenty of instances of the Holy Father not welcoming but perhaps resenting criticism (some of which are plausibly deniable), the recent humiliation of Cardinal Sarah suffices to show why there is an atmosphere of fear among bishops and theologians who dare to disagree with Pope Francis.

Scandalizing the faithful?
This leaves us with the final and, in my estimation, the most important point of criticism, one shared by Catholics of varying dispositions – lay and expert, progressive and orthodox alike. Some faithful Catholic thinkers have publicly expressed concerns that the publication of Fr. Weinandy’s letter might scandalize the faithful—but without specifying exactly how. For his part, Msgr. Strynkowski closes his letter by warning Fr. Weinandy that “Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urged that dissent from ordinary Magisterium should be disclosed privately to church authority—see ‘Donum Veritatis’ (No. 30).”

Aside from the false suggestion that Fr. Weinandy is dissenting from Church teaching (refuted above), the striking fact in Strynkowski’s parting shot is that Ratzinger and “Donum Veritatis” said no such thing! In his prepared remarks delivered publicly in 1990 at a press conference upon the release of DV, Ratzinger is on the record as saying precisely the opposite. Here is what he actually said:

Taken out of context, in fact, they [namely, articles 29 through 31 of DV] can give rise to the impression that the Instruction allows the theologian the sole option of submitting divergent opinions to the magisterial authorities in secret…. It is quite obvious that the Instruction is not proposing ‘secret’ communications but dialogue which remains on an ecclesial and scientific plane and avoids distortions at the hand of the mass media…. In actuality, the point is precisely to use arguments instead of pressure as a means of persuasion”. (Emphasis added. Cited in the July 5, 1990 issue of the USCCB publication Origins and in the book The Nature and Mission of Theology [Ignatius Press, 1995], p 117.)

This citation comes from a section of Ratzinger’s public address entitled “The Magisterium, the university, and the mass media,” in which he specifies the precise and narrowly-circumscribed limits of the directive regarding the mass media. One should avoid using the media as a means to exert political pressure on the Church; yet one may use media outlets to pursue reasoned argumentation in the light of faith. The entire section of his press release comments are worth reading through carefully several times. It bears emphasizing: The Church and the CDF do not prohibit faithful Catholics from expressing grave concerns about the Church and the Magisterium in public fora. But when using public media, the Church requires the faithful to mount charitable and reasoned arguments rather than rhetoric of political machination, the latter being a hallmark of the kind of dissent that was ongoing from Humanae Vitae up to the publication of DV in 1990. DV explains exactly when and why, “the theologian should avoid turning to the ‘mass media’” by adding this qualification, “for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders service to the truth” (30).

This explains the paradox that puzzles folks such as Fr. Martin: the theologians scrutinized under Fr. Weinandy’s tenure at the USCCB were actually dissenting from Church doctrine and some of them used the media as a tool to manipulate the faithful. Whereas those who publicly express problems with Pope Francis’ pontificate, like Fr. Weinandy himself, are not dissenting but are serving the truth of the Gospel by contributing to the clarification of doctrinal issues. The difference is stark and should be obvious to all.

In his letter to Pope Francis, Fr. Weinandy adheres faithfully to the Church’s directives by expressing cogent reasons for the five principal issues he raises with the Pope. He is clearly concerned for the success of Francis’ pontificate, the Gospel of Christ, and the good of souls. It has been pointed out correctly that letters like Weinandy’s also fall under the duties specified in canon 212 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons. (Emphasis added)

Here we see the Church stating that sometimes the faithful have a duty to make known publicly (“to the rest of the Christian faithful”) their opinions on matters pertaining “to the good of the Church.” When the integrity of Church’s moral and sacramental teachings is threatened, this duty ought to be engaged. For his part, Fr. Weinandy has fulfilled this mandate and has respected the directives of DV and CIC can. 212 “to a T.”

With respect to scandal, in the current crisis what actually scandalizes souls — in the strict sense of providing the occasion for sin — is the sense of many faithful Catholics that the Holy Father is promoting a pastoral policy that no longer requires all divorced and remarried Catholics living in more uxorio to repent of adultery and commit to live in strict continence in order to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion. If this sense is mistaken, it is easily redressed: the Holy Father can simply answer the dubia! The real scandal here is the occasioning of thoughts and desires to commit the objectively grave sins of active divorce and adultery and material sacrilege.

What scandalizes souls is not the reasoned and charitable criticism of the Pope (see Gal 2:11) but the silence of bishops and theologians who do not respectfully, charitably, and publicly express grave concerns about this confusion and who do not reaffirm the Church’s perennial doctrine and practice regarding marriage and reception of the Eucharist. At the very least, the publication of Fr. Weinandy’s letter mitigates these and other scandals. I have treated at length the conditions for a morally licit public correction of a pope in another article, but the bottom line is that subordinates have a duty to fraternally correct their superiors (even the Pope) out of charity and in public when the faith is publicly endangered (see Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 33, a. 4 where he treats of St. Paul publicly correcting St. Peter as recounted in Gal 2:11). In his exhortation to the Holy Father, Fr. Weinandy has met all of the criteria established by the Church’s tradition and by her moral and canonical directives.

A final thought: May courageous bishops support Fr. Weinandy out of true Christian charity for the Holy Father and for the faithful; may they reaffirm Christ’s moral teachings and implore the Holy Father to boldly and unambiguously strengthen the brethren in the fullness of the faith of Christ.

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