Cohabiting couples welcome

From Mahound’s Paradise:

spadaro-marriageAntonio “Sock-Puppet” Spadaro is at it again, this time with a pro-cohabitation tweet.

Actually, in true Spadaro fashion, the tweet is in fact a retweet of his own original tweet. He realized that the first tweet didn’t pick up the evocative photo centered on the “back” of the young women, so he added it on the retweet. I’m not kidding about that.

Take a look at the stream.

Don’t blame me, man. I didn’t even notice it at first. I was looking at the Pope’s welcoming expression.

The picture heads a short article in Spadaro’s CyberTeologia titled (you guessed it), “The welcoming of those young people who prefer to live together without getting married…” The piece seems to classify cohabitation as a sort of potentially benign stepping stone (made all the more pervasive by the uncertainties caused by modern capitalism or whatever):

And this is why he [Pope Francis] asks for the welcoming of those young people who prefer to live together without getting married.

But the Pope has done nothing more than to repeat what the Synod of Bishops 2016 approved with more than an 80% consensus . . . and that is that one realizes that simply cohabiting is often chosen due to a general mentality against definitive commitments, but also because the couple is waiting for existential security (work and a fixed salary).

All these situations must be addressed in a constructive manner, trying to transform them into an opportunity to journey towards the fullness of marriage and family in the light of the Gospel.

Rather, in many circumstances, the decision to live together is a sign of a relationship that needs to be directed to an outlook of stability to which it is important to focus.

In my experience, living together as a sort of stepping stone is how most cohabitating couples view things anyway: “We’re not ready yet.” “We’re going to try it and see what happens.” “He might get transferred.” And so on. Very few couples, again in my experience, would brand cohabitation itself as a permanent arrangement.

So, Spadaro’s novel interpretation of Church teaching appears to be nothing more than the outlook of the average indecisive twenty-seven year-old.

But of course, it’s not simply Spadaro’s novel interpretation, but that of Pope Francis. Spadaro’s article was no doubt written at the direction or blessing of the Pope, and is taken from an address that the Pope gave to priests on the “new matrimonial process” just the day before:

“At the same time, be neighbours in the style proper to the Gospel, in encounter and welcome, to those young people who prefer to cohabit without getting married”, he said, “because on a spiritual and moral level they are among the poorest and the least, for whom the Church, following in the footsteps of her Master and Lord, wishes to be a mother who does not abandon them, but rather who approaches and cares for them. Christ also loves these people with all His heart. Look upon them with tenderness and compassion. This care for the least, precisely because it emanates from the Gospel, is an essential part of your task of promoting and defending the sacrament of marriage”.

Sorry, I meant to give you the more illuminating shortened version:

welcom(ing) those young people who prefer to cohabit without getting married . . . is an essential part of your task of promoting and defending the sacrament of marriage”.

As to whether Francis/Spadaro believes that cohabitating couples should take communion: based on that photo and the texts, what do you think?

There’s a hidden irony here. The photo above is not a recent one. It was taken in the first year of the Pope’s pontificate at a “Valentine’s Day” audience with “20,000 engaged couples” in St. Peter’s Square.

In other words, the unidentified young woman whose un-jacket-covered bum Antonio Spadaro saw fit to appropriate for his religious magazine was not “living together without getting married,” but was instead engaged to the young man holding her hand.

Spadaro wrote a book on cyberethics.

Let me end on an obvious but serious point. The Church has always believed that premarital sex is a grave sin. The proper response to grave sin is not “maybe it will develop into something else” but “stop.”

The Pope clearly does not believe the Church’s teaching. He doesn’t want that couple to believe it. He doesn’t want you to believe it.

Either he’s wrong and this is therefore another example of why he either isn’t or shouldn’t be Pope. Or else, on this subject, what the Church has taught for the last 2,000 years, going all the way back to the words of our Lord, is a lie.

Which do you think it is?

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From A Former Member… Pope’s Overhaul Of Vatican Pro-Life Academy “Heartbreaking”

 

February 26, 2017

By Judie Brown at The Wanderer

(Editor’s Note: Judie Brown is the president of the American Life League and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life)

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3-things-pro-life-blog2xThe Pontifical Academy for Life is undergoing an overhaul by Pope Francis and his political operatives within the Vatican’s hierarchy, and it is one of the most heartbreaking events I have seen in my lifetime. But given the politics of the Vatican, it is not surprising.
For those who are not aware of its history, the Academy was established by Pope John Paul II on February 11, 1994, at the urging of his close friend Dr. Jerome Lejeune to combat the culture of death, particularly on matters relating to abortion, human embryo research, and other threats to the human person. Lejeune was then appointed by the Holy Father to be the first president of the Academy. Sadly he died shortly after the appointment, on April 3, 1994.

The very best piece of historical fact about the Academy and the holy men who gave it such an inspiring start is contained in this tribute to Dr. Lejeune:
“On May 13, 1981 (the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima), when Dr. Lejeune and his wife were visiting Rome, Pope John Paul II invited them to a private audience and lunch afterward. Later that day, John Paul survived an assassination attempt. This news upset Dr. Lejeune so much that he himself was hospitalized on the same day, with painful gallstones….
“In 1994, the Holy Father created the Pontifical Academy for Life, appointing Dr. Lejeune as its first president. By then suffering from cancer, he tried to decline, but when the Pope insisted, he simply replied, ‘I will die in action.’ He immediately got to work drafting the bylaws of the new academy.”
After Lejeune’s death, the Academy moved forward, having begun because of the deep commitment of a remarkable Pope and his devoted friend.

In 1996 it was my privilege to be invited to serve in that Academy. My name was submitted to Pope John Paul II, who confirmed my appointment as a corresponding member. At the time I was asked to sign an oath of fidelity to the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church.

I was blessed to serve two five-year terms under Pope John Paul II and another term under Pope Benedict XVI. During those 15 years it was remarkable to meet with and get to know so many amazing pro-life heroes from around the world. We all worked together and discussed matters pertinent to teaching, protecting, and defending the Magisterium of the Church in matters relating to the defense of the dignity of the human person, with a special emphasis on abortion and other deadly acts against human beings.

In addition, the Academy was involved in the publication of many wonderful statements on the defense of life. For example, in 2005 it clarified Catholic teaching on vaccines containing fetal tissue. In 2008 Academy President Bishop Elio Sgreccia condemned the morning-after pill, clarifying again that the chemical cannot be used by Catholics.

But Bishop Sgreccia’s successor, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, was another matter. In 2009 Fisichella created a firestorm when he suggested that it was acceptable for a nine-year-old Brazilian girl pregnant with twins to have an abortion.
Was that episode the beginning of the end?

Several subsequent occurrences, including statements by the current Academy president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, in support of the Vatican’s version of sex education, do not bode well for the Academy and its future.

So while I was dismayed when I read a report late last year that members of the Academy were no longer required to sign a declaration of fidelity, I was not surprised.
And then just last week it was reported that Pope Francis had dismissed every single member of the Academy. Apparently all terms ended on December 31 of last year.
The more that is revealed about this sad turn of events, the more troublesome it becomes. This is not the place to dig up any suspected dirt that is currently being swept around among the Vatican movers and shakers. That is the task of others. But because this saddens many of us, we must do something.

What can we do? We can pray fervently for the Holy Father and all those involved. We can defend the truth with joy, hope, and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And we can educate ourselves and our children about these truths. With God’s help, we can create a culture of life in our homes, communities, and within the Church.

 

Further reading: 

pontifical-academy-for-life-chief-glorifies-departed-italian-radical-dissent

stream.org/paul-ehrlich-vatican

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Pope Francis, Fatima and the World Order without God

CP&S comment: More and more we are learning about the underlying diabolical plot already well in place to take over the Catholic Church and all world institutions. Awareness of these schemes is the first step towards a counterattack to combat them. Fatima is the key.

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by ANDREA GAGLIARDUCCI on MONDAY VATICAN 

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Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Genoa, strongly addressed the issue many times: there is a plot to build a world order without God. The outgoing President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Bagnasco said this in his capacity as President of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences. In this way, he focused attention on a topic generally overshadowed in public opinion.

However, the topic is one of the most important. Beyond the discussions of legalized abortion, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood – all issues that deeply undermine the human being – it is important to understand where this campaign comes from and where it leads, because this campaign is tirelessly promoted by the media, and subtly advanced through laws, government decrees and reports. Last week Norma McCorvey died. She was the “Roe” of the “Roe vs. Wade” law case that led to legalized abortion in the United States. Her death once more shed light on the campaign of lies that is often used to support the issue. McCorvey herself later countered the campaign, and asked for the reversal of the judgment in the trial. In vain.

What are the deeper problems? Where was this “world order without God” born? What is its aim? A first, partial response can be glimpsed from the Annual Report on the Social Teaching of the Church in the World drafted by Van Thuan Observatory. The 8th edition of the Report, recently released, focused on a topic that Pope Francis cares much about, as does much of the Catholic world: migration.

The Church is strongly committed to migrants. Earlier there was an entire dicastery – the Pontifical Council for Migrants – dedicated to the cause; now within the Dicastery for Integral Human Development there is an entire department dedicated to this issue under Pope Francis’s direct responsibility, and last week the Pope met with the Forum for Migration managed by Scalabrini Fathers.

However, the Van Thuan Observatory Report provides a different point of view. In his paper, Stefano Fontana, Director of the Observatory, explodes some myths, for example, that immigration brings economic benefits. “The expenses to welcome a migrant – he writes – are more than the economic benefit that the migrant can give to the country that welcomes him.” More, “the commonplace that migrants help to pay off the pension system of a country where the population of workers is getting thinner than the retired population is false.” Nor it is true that migrants help to solve the issue of the “empty cradle” because “a migrant does not replace an absent newborn child.”

Other myths to explode: it is not true that “only poor people who would otherwise die of hunger come to Europe,” because “data demonstrate that often those who left are wealthy enough people who wish to improve their situation and not only to survive”, as “the human traffickers’ tariffs are not accessible to just anyone.”

According to Fontana, the cause of migration is “above all geopolitical,” and is strictly connected with the anti-birth policies of big international organizations. “For decades” – Fontana writes – “there has been a strong commitment of bodies and international organizations, of governments, and of big US foundations to discourage family and procreation, to promote abortion and contraception, to value individualistic and sterile lifestyles.”

All of these phenomenon are documented. “If then someone” – he concluded – “maintains that migrations are caused by a need to fill the Western demographic gap, he must know that this demographic gap was perhaps desired with the goal of artificially producing a need for migrations.”

These migrations generate further problems, as integration is “difficult or impossible” because of “the cultural emptiness of the host Western countries. Their lack of identity, which collapsed under the pressure of secularization and nihilist individualism, makes sure that they have nothing to oppose or propose to the new arrivals.”

Fontana sees in the making a “sort of new Kantian project for a perpetual peace, or something that gets closes to the Freemasonic and Gnostic goals of a universal religion to put an end to religious and cultural conflicts, unifying everything in a super-culture and a super-religion of humanity.”

Is this the project to put an end not only to a Christian Europe, but also to a Christian West? Certainly, 2017 is a special year, as it marks three anniversaries that reveal a great deal about the European situation: the 100th anniversary of the Communist Revolution in Russia, the 100th anniversary of Fatima’s apparitions and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. So here we have the 500th anniversary of that enormous movement that helped to put Catholicism in crisis; the 100th anniversary of the establishment and spread of that Communist thought which St. John Paul II identified as one of the biggest dangers for humanity (dangers which the Polish Pope endured as the consequences of Sovietism); and the 100th anniversary of those apparitions that tried to save the Christian heart of the world.

It is probably not by chance that a Masonic rite was allowed in the Anglican Cathedral of Canterbury by the Anglican Archbishop, Justin Welby, on the same day that Cardinal Vincent Nichols consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Catholic Cathedral of Westminster. The consecration took place on the 100th anniversary of the first of the Fatima apparitions, February 17, in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary of Fatima that was crowned before 4,000 of the faithful.

No, it certainly did not happen by chance. In order to obtain permission to use the Canterbury Cathedral for the Masonic service that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Great Lodge of London, the Lodge paid 300,000 British pounds which Archbishop Welby said he accepted because the Church needed some restoration. Certainly, the symbolism behind this choice is huge.

Canterbury is currently the primatial Anglican Church in England, but before it was the “mother church” of England at the time of the first evangelization of the Saxons, that is, from 597 – when the monk, St. Augustine of Canterbury, was sent on a mission to England by Pope St. Gregory the Great – until 1558, when the last Catholic metropolitan archbishop died. St. Thomas Becket is buried in Canterbury. However, the Masonic celebration was also criticized by the Anglican Communion.

Freemasons acted against Fatima. The “Lady” asked the three little seers to go to the Cova da Iria on August 13, 1917, to meet her for the fourth time – Italian journalist Maurizio Blondet reported. They could not go because Artur Oliveira Santos, Mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, got to them with the excuse of accompanying them, kidnapped them, imprisoned them, terrorized and psychologically tortured them and ordered them, with horrible threat, to tell him “the secret” the Virgin had told them. Santos was a Freemason, a member of the Leiria Lodge, who then founded another lodge in Vila Nova de Ourem. The lodge of Santarem, close to Fatima, became the gathering and organizational point of activists that staged militant atheist actions against the apparitions and the faithful who arrived by the thousands. In September 1917, strong men from the two lodges destroyed the small temple the faithful had built on the place of the apparitions.

The Lady also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, which did not take place. Pope Pius XII made the consecration on behalf of the peoples of Russia in 1952, though in an incomplete way, without requiring the bishops from all over the world to join the consecration, and without the solemn act of reparation, requirements made by the Virgin.

Already in 1931, Sr. Lucia, the only surviving seer, told her bishop that she received this message from Christ: “Let my ministers know, that they are following the King of France’s example in delaying the fulfilment of my request, and that they will follow him in disgrace. It will never be too late to make recourse to Jesus and Mary.”

The message hinted at Louis XIV. The seer, St. Marie Marguerite Alacoque, who received the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, asked the King in 1668 to put the symbol of the Sacred Heart on the royal banners. Louis XIV did not do so. As predicted, his dynasty ended with his execution by the guillotine.

What is striking in this is that dark forces are always obliged at one point or another to set their gaze on God. In 1871, after defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, the Republican French National Assembly – a great number of which were Freemasons – decided to build a church consecrated to the Sacred Heart overlooking Paris, and they did so. In more recent times, the flag of Europe is inspired by the miraculous medal of Mary, the 12 stars on the flag represent the 12 stars of Mary. There are never more or less than 12 stars, no matter the number of member States.

This is the sign that the world order without god cannot in the end make less of God. But it is also a sign that the world situation is difficult to decipher, and that the Church is called upon to make her contribution.

Recently, Catholic and Orthodox bishops met in Paris, and their declarations and acts certified once more the Christianity of Europe. As European laws aim constantly more at the eradication of religion from public life – look, for example, at the radical ‘cut’ of religion teachers in Belgium, a nation which is a workshop for European laws and an incubator for Western culture – the Christian world continues to hope.

England asked for Mary’s protection, while everywhere in Europe the pro-life and pro-family movement is growing, as is shown by the pro-family demonstrations in France and Italy, by the referendum to reaffirm the family in the constitutions of Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia, by the activism to banish the liberal abortion law in Poland, and by the Hungarian constitution that claims its nation’s Christian roots.

Hungary is the State that more than any other is opposing this design for a “genetic mutation” of Europe, and it has put in place a cautious policy concerning migrants. The same Hungary finds itself ever more the target of international lobbies, with a media campaign that aims to discredit the country. The campaign takes place despite the fact that Hungary is the only State in Europe that has set up an ad hoc department to tackle the issue of persecuted Christians, and to counter it.

These are the hot topics in 2017. One can bet they will be recurrent. Much attention is focused on what Pope Francis will say and do in Fatima during the upcoming May 12-13 papal visit, the only trip of the year already confirmed. When Pope Benedict XVI went to Fatima in 2010 he put the Church – stricken by the pedophilia scandal – in a state of penance in order to prepare a new beginning. Now with a Pope very strong on dialoguing with the Church’s opponents, it is probably finally the moment to begin a “Catholic Renaissance” in order to counter the world order without God. This Renaissance can begin from Fatima.

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Reflection for Quinquagesima Sunday

CP&S Note:   In the Extraordinary Form the 26th February 2017 is  Quinqagesima Sunday, which, in days before the Council always preceded the Lenten season, and is now I believe celebrated in the Ordinariate Usage. I apologise for ‘coming in’ on the last of the Gesimas, but, as a preparation for Lent which begins next week, it’s message holds particular relevance.

The Gospel of the Mass, while announcing the Passion reminds us at the same time of the cure of the man who was born blind – an example of the gift of faith which takes us from our blindness, from darkness, and from sin. In the Epistle, St. Paul’s fervent hymn in praise of charity also emphasises that supernatural transformation which the redemption wrought by Christ should affect our human souls.

We at CP&S wish you all a holy and blessed Lent.

The readings: Epistle; 1 Corinthians 13, 1-13     Gospel; Luke 18, 31- 43

Image result for Curing blind man from birth

 

Our faith is the measure of the graces we may receive. The blind man in today’s Gospel was made whole to the measure of his faith. Because he believed that Jesus could give sight to his eyes, God was able to give him what he desired. As we believe, so do we receive.

St. John Chrysostom suggests to us that God’s grace is like a fountain of water; and each of us approaches the fountain with various sized vessels. Those with larger vessels receive and carry away more water; and those with smaller vessels receive and carry away less. It is not the fountain that determines how much each will receive and take away. It is the vessels that we bring to to fountain that determines the quantity that we receive.

As we believe, so do we receive. Jesus tells many that He cures, that their faith has made them whole. Many times before they are healed, He asks them if they believe, once this affirmation is made, He then cures them.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has informed His apostles that He is going to suffer and be put to death and will rise again on the third day. The apostles did not understand this, and thought that perhaps Jesus was speaking in parables. They were spiritually blind, and it is on this occasion that Jesus cures the blind man.

This blind man was able to perceive that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Redeemer. Though he was physically blind, he had spiritual vision. The people told him that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing by, but he cried out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me.” He is told one thing, but cries out another. This blind man saw beyond the physical and material realm, to that of true reality of the spiritual world. The apostles with physical sight, saw the material realm and the miracles that Jesus worked, but could not see clearly into the spiritual reality.

In healing the blind man, Jesus instructs us that it is our faith that will enable us to see. We will perceive or understand Jesus and His gifts to us, to the extent that we believe. As the apostles opened up their hearts with ever increasing love, so their faith in Jesus grew; and to the extent that their faith grew, so did the graces that they received. Love nourishes faith, and increasing faith opens our souls to more grace. The more graces we have, the more charity enters our hearts — increasing once again our capacity to receive more graces.

St. Chrysostom gives us another analogy of the light of the sun. The sun shines its light everywhere, but different houses receive various amounts of this life giving light. Some houses have large windows and the light of the sun penetrates and radiates throughout the house. Some houses have small windows which allow very little light to penetrate within. The measure of light entering in is not determined by the sun, but rather by the house or receptacle of the light. Once again, we see that the amount of grace that we are given is determined, not so much by the source of grace, but by the container receiving the grace.

The grace flowing from the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is without measure. It is infinite, because It is God Himself. However, among all those that worthily receive Him, some carry away much grace, and others a very small amount. It is not that God is unfair or holds grace back from some and floods others with His grace. The disparity is caused by us. It is according to our faith that we are healed.

We have been, perhaps, spiritually blind for a long time. With the approaching penitential season of Lent, it is time for us to cry out with the blind man: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon us.” In that plea for spiritual sight, let us firmly believe that Jesus will hear and give to us what we ask — we will only receive to the limit of our faith. We increase this faith, through charity or love. We increase in love through self-denial and sacrifice.

The key to heaven is within reach, we only need to take it in hand. Love God with all our being — making a sacrifice of ourselves to Him through penance and self-denial. Increasing in this true love, we will grow in faith, as we grow in faith we receive ever greater graces. The greater the graces, the greater our love and self-sacrifices become. Our goal is therefore, to ever increase in love, graces, and merit until we obtain the eternal blessedness of the Heavenly Beatific Vision.

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Pope Francis Tears at History’s Ancient Walls against Islam

FrontPage Magazine

Pope Francis continues to argue for two interrelated points that, while seemingly humane, compromise Western nations and expose their citizens to danger.

He reiterated his first point earlier this month when he said, “I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges.”  Francis has made this appeal frequently, both figuratively (when imploring Western nations not to close their doors against more incoming Muslim migrants) and literally (for instance by characterizing Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico wall as “not Christian”).

Francis reiterated his second point a few days ago when he said, “Muslim terrorism does not exist.”  His logic is that, because there are Christians who engage in criminal and violent activities—and yet no one blames Christianity for their behavior—so too should Islam not be blamed when Muslims engage in criminal and violent activities.

In this, the Catholic pope appears unable or unwilling to make the pivotal distinction between violence committed in accordance with Islamic teachings, and violence committed in contradiction of Christian teachings.

But there’s another relevant and often overlooked irony: every morning Francis wakes up in the Vatican and looks out his window he sees a very large and concrete reminder that gives the lie to both his argument against walls and his argument in defense of Islam. I speak of the great walls surrounding Vatican City, more specifically the Leonine Walls.

Context: A couple of years after Islamic prophet Muhammad died in 632, his followers erupted out of Arabia and conquered surrounding non-Muslim lands in the name of Islam.  In a few decades, they had annexed two-thirds of what was in the 7th century Christendom.  They took all of the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain, until they were finally stopped at Tours in central France (732).  By the late 9thcentury, jihadi incursions had transformed the Mediterranean Sea into a Muslim lake; the major islands—Sicily, Crete, Rhodes, Malta, Cyprus—were conquered, and the European coast was habitually raided for booty and slaves.

According to the most authoritative and contemporary Muslim chroniclers—al-Waqidi, al-Baladhuri, al-Tabari, al-Maqrizi, etc.—all this was done because Islam commands Muslims to subjugate and humiliate non-Muslims.

It was in this context that, in 846, Muslim fleets from North Africa landed near Rome.  Unable to breach the walls of the Eternal City, they sacked and despoiled the surrounding countryside, including—to the consternation of Christendom—the venerated and centuries-old basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul.  The Muslim invaders desecrated the tombs of the revered apostles and stripped them of all their treasures.  Pope Leo IV (847-855) responded by building large walls and fortifications along the right bank of the Tiber to protect the sacred sites from further Muslim raids.  Completed by 852, the walls were in places 40 feet high and 12 feet thick.

Further anticipating the crusades against Islam by over two centuries—and thus showing how they were a long time coming—Pope Leo decreed that any Christian who died fighting Muslim invaders would enter heaven.  After him and for the same reasons, Pope John VIII offered remission of sins for those who died fighting Islamic invaders. Such was the existential and ongoing danger Muslims caused for Christian Europe—more than two centuries before Pope Urban’s call for the First Crusade in 1095.

Today, many Muslims, not just of the ISIS-variety, continue to boast that Islam will conquer Rome, the only of five apostolic sees—the other four being Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople—never to have been subjugated by jihad.  Similarly, Muslims all throughout Europe continue exhibiting the same hostility and contempt for all things and persons non-Islamic, whether by going on church vandalizing sprees and breaking crosses, or by raping “infidel” women as theirs by right.

In short, Pope Leo’s walls prove Pope Francis wrong on both counts: yes, walls are sometimes necessary to preserve civilization; and yes, Islam does promote violence and intolerance for the other—far more than any other religion.  This fact is easily discerned by examining the past and present words and deeds of Muslims, all of which evince a remarkable and unwavering continuity of hostility against “infidels.”

Perhaps most ironic of all, had it not been for Pope Leo’s walls—and so many other Christian walls, such as Constantinople’s, which kept Islam out of Europe for centuries, and Vienna’s, which stopped a full-blown jihad as recent as 1683—there might not be a pope today to pontificate about how terrible walls are and how misunderstood Islam is.  And when Francis accuses those who build walls of not being Christian, as he did of Trump, he essentially accuses men like Pope Leo IV—who did so much to protect and preserve Christendom at a time when Islam was swallowing up the world—of being no Christians at all.

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Pope Francis: Jesus Did Not Tell the Pharisees that Divorce is Forbidden

 

February 24, 2017

what-god-has-joined-togetherThere are coming to us now different reports about Pope Francis’ Santa Marta homily of today which are very troubling. He mentions the Pharisees’ question about divorce and whether it is permitted and then comments on the reaction of Our Lord (Mark 10:1-12), as follows:

Jesus does not answer whether it is permitted or not. He does not enter into their [the Pharisees’] classic casuistry. Because they [the Pharisees] thought of faith merely in the framework of “one may not” or “one may” – up to which point one may, up to which point one may not. Thus logic of casuistry: Jesus does not enter into it. And He Himself poses a question: “Now, what did Moses command you? What is written in your law?” And they explain the permission which Moses gave to write a divorce certificate and to dismiss a woman from marriage; and it is they who went into a trap, yes. Because Jesus calls them “hard hearted”: “only because you are so hard hearted, he has given you this law,” and He spoke the truth. Without casuistry, without permissions. The truth. [my emphasis]

Pope Francis also mentions the adulteress with whom Jesus repeatedly spoke and whom He did not condemn. Pope Francis explains that Jesus “puts aside casuistry.” It is in this context that the impression arises that Christ Himself ignored His own teaching.

What is stunning in these comments is the following fact: Mark 10:1-12 does make it very clear that Jesus Christ instructed the Pharisees about the right way. It reads:

He set out from there and went into the district of Judea [and] across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them.  The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” [my emphasis]

Pope Francis claims in his homily that Jesus Christ did not give a clear answer to the Pharisees, but Our Lord did. He did explain this law against divorce later more in detail to His own disciples, but He did not leave the Pharisees’ question unanswered.

Moreover, Pope Francis, in his homily, says that Our Lord “always speaks the truth” and then he mentions that Jesus did tell His disciples about the prohibition of divorce. Francis adds:

“This is the way of Jesus – it is quite clear – it is the path from casuistry to truth and mercy. Jesus leaves aside the logic of casuistry. To those who wanted to test him, to those who thought of this logic of ‘it is possible’, he termed them – not here, but in another passage of the Gospel – hypocrites. Even with the fourth commandment, they denied assistance to their relatives with the excuse that they had given a good offer to the Church. Hypocrites. The casuistry is hypocritical. It is a form of hypocrisy. ‘You can – you cannot’ … which then becomes more subtle, more evil: I? I can up to this point but from here to here, I cannot. This is the deception of casuistry.” [my emphasis]

While there is always a lack of clarity in Pope Francis’ speech that makes it hard to see, distinctly and reliably, what he means, he appears here to demean those faithful who wish to abide by the Law of God with regard to marriage and divorce, implying that these are the real hypocrites. The pope also implies in today’s homily that Our Lord did not give to the Pharisees a clear law. Moreover, this last quote implies that these faithful questions about what is forbidden and what is allowed are already in themselves effectively evil. The simple setting of boundaries and limits is here called a “deception of casuistry.” But, we have to remember that that is exactly what God has given to us in the form of the Ten Commandments and His Moral Precepts – so that we may have, under Grace, a life more abundant. God’s Laws are acts of love.

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Pope Francis helps SSPX take over church, complex, in heart of Rome

From Fr Z’s Blog:

Posted on 24 February 2017 

Il Foglio today as a story about how Pope Francis was a decisive factor in handing over a neo-Gothic church in the center of Rome, Santa Maria Immacolata all’Esquilino, to the SSPX.

It is going to be a center for studies and, perhaps, their HQ.  It is a pretty large complex.

SM_Immacolata_all’Esquilino_01SM_Immacolata_all’Esquilino_02

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What’s Going On in the Vatican? A Timeline

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February 24, 2017

By Andrew Parrish

The Vatican appears to be coming to a boil these days: the pace of strange and alarming announcements from Rome has increased ever since the release of Amoris Laetitia in April of last year. It is easy to lose sight of the overall trend of a news story as individual headlines are released; Pewsitter is releasing the below report, which is a timeline of most directly Vatican-related events since April 2016, in the belief that it clearly demonstrates the unusual nature of these continuing developments. This timeline will be periodically updated with new material.

We encourage other journalists to use this timeline as a resource and encourage the submission of any announcements we may have missed in the comments box below or via email.

 

April 2016: Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” an apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, is released.

 

July 12th, 2016: In a Motu Proprio statement, the Vatican financial accountability office is stripped of much of its power of oversight. The move is criticized as counterproductive in the ongoing effort to reform Vatican finances.

July 28th, 2016: In his remarks to those gathered for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, the Pope called on Poland to “open its borders to refugees” and declared that “religion has nothing to do with war.”

 

September 5th, 2016: An Argentinian blogger leaks the contents of a private letter sent by the Pope to the bishops of Buenos Aires, in which Pope Francis approves their take on Amoris Laetitia’s already-controversial Chapter 8: “There is no other interpretation.” The Buenos Aires bishops have approved communion for the divorced and remarried. The Vatican later confirms that this document is legitimate.

September 19th, 2016: The four cardinals privately send their “dubia” statement to the Pope.

 

October 4th, 2016: During trip to Republic of Georgia, Pope says it is a “very grave sin against ecumenism” for Catholics to try and convert the Orthodox.

October 6th, 2016: Theme for the 2018 Synod announced: Young people, faith and vocational discernment.

October 19th, 2016: Pope calls proselytism “poison” in meeting with Lutheran visitors. “It is not licit that you convince them of your faith,” he declares.

October 24th, 2016: Pope Francis praises the German theologian Bernhard Haering, a prominent dissenter from Humanae Vitae, saying that he found a way to “help moral theology to flourish again.”

October 25th, 2016: Pope is photographed in the Vatican with a chocolate statue of Martin Luther, while receiving an ecumenical delegation from Sweden. In this meeting, the Pope claims that “lukewarmness” is when Catholics “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

October 27th, 2016: Pope opens the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family academic year himself, after announcing that Cardinal Sarah would not give the opening speech as planned.

October 31st, 2016: Pope Francis arrives in Malmo, Sweden, and “heaps praise” on Luther and the Reformation. On this day the joint declaration is published, which says we must “cast off historical disagreements” and “transform our memory of the past.” Lutheran-Catholic intercommunion is explicitly declared to be the goal of dialogue.

 

November 2nd, 2016: On return flight from Sweden, Pope gives interview declaring that John Paul II had “the final word” on ordination of women.

In the same interview, the Pope takes a moderate position on immigration, saying that countries need to be “prudent” and avoid the danger of ethnic ghettos.

November , 2016: High-level, anonymous Vatican source alleges that Pope is “boiling with rage” over the public opposition to Amoris Laetitia.

November 10th, 2016: The Pope holds a private meeting with Cardinal Burke, the Vatican patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, in which, it is later revealed, the Pope is “deeply disturbed” by Burke’s account of contraceptive distribution with the Order’s participation. The Pope orders Burke to “clean Freemasonry out of the Order.”

November 14th, 2016: The four cardinals, Burke, Brandmuller, Meisner, and Caffarra, release publicly their letter of September 19th, asking five yes/no questions about moral ambiguities raised in Amoris Laetitia’s wording, a letter which becomes known as “the dubia” or “the dubia statement.” The letter calls on either the Pope or Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, to respond publicly. The cardinals had previously received an acknowledgement of their letter but no answer from the Pope.

November 15th, 2016: Cardinal Burke gives interview with Edward Pentin in which he declares the possibility of a “formal act of correction” of the Pope if the letter is not formally answered.

November 18th, 2016: In interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Pope criticizes the “legalism” of the four cardinals who have written a letter asking for clarification of Amoris Laetitia. In the meantime, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has published guidelines declaring that the divorced and remarried cannot receive the Eucharist, and Cardinal-designate Farrell has publicly criticized these guidelines.

November 18th, 2016: Pope dismisses the entire staff of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Republished statutes for the organization indicate that the members will no longer be required to sign a declaration of their pro-life beliefs.

November 23rd, 2016: Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Pell officially removed from Congregation for Divine Worship.

 

December 1st, 2016: The Pope writes a letter to Cardinal Burke, in which he reiterates his concerns about the Order of Malta and Cardinal Burke’s duty to see to the “spiritual health” of the order.

December 6th, 2016: Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, grand chancellor of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, is ordered to resign his office at a meeting in which the Order’s head, Fra’ Matthew Festing, accused him of supervising the distribution of contraceptives in Malaysia. Von Boeselager refuses to step down at the meeting, breaking his vow of obedience.

December 7th, 2016: Pope Francis, in a widely publicized interview with a Belgian Catholic newspaper, alleges that media which spread misinformation are guilty of coprophagia, a psychological term for those who are sexually aroused by the act of eating excrement.

December 12th, 2016: According to inside Vatican sources, von Boeselager approaches Cardinal Parolin in the Vatican, and tells him that, according to Burke, the Pope had ordered von Boeselager to be fired. Cardinal Parolin writes a letter on this date to Fra’ Festing in the Pope’s name, saying that the Holy Father requests “dialogue” to resolve “methods and means contrary to the moral law.” Fra’ Festing requests a meeting with Cardinal Parolin; Parolin asks to institute a Vatican investigative committee and Festing refuses, citing the international sovereignty of the Order.

December 13th, 2016: In an internal announcement, von Boeselager is suspended of all his duties in the Order of Malta.

December 14th, 2016: Cardinal Walter Kasper, one of the Pope’s closest advisors, considers intercommunion with mixed-marriage Lutherans to be “inevitable.

December 15th, 2016: Cardinal Parolin appoints von Boeselager’s brother to the board of the IOR, the “Vatican bank.”

December 16th, 2016: Co-founder of LifeSiteNews releases an editorial stating: “The climate of fear at the Vatican is very real”. This corroborates December reports from anonymous sources of Edward Pentin, Marco Tosatti, Steve Skojec, etc.

December 19th, 2016: In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Burke, considered the “spokesman” of the four cardinals, claims there is a timeline for the “formal correction” of Pope Francis and that this will take place some time in January, 2017 (around the Feast of the Epiphany).

December 22nd, 2016: Pope gives customary Christmas address to the Roman Curia on reform, which has been the topic for three years running, and blasts “resistance” which hides behind “self-justification” and takes refuge in “tradition.”

December 22nd, 2016: An independent watchdog, the Lepanto Institute, releases compiled reports indicating that Malteser International, while under von Boeselager’s direct supervision, distributed more than 300,000 condoms in Malaysia as well as oral contraceptives, and was widely recognized by other NGOs for this accomplishment.

December 22nd, 2016: A letter to the Order of Malta, and Burke, indicates that the Pope has appointed a commission to investigate the removal of von Boeselager. The Pope’s instructions in his Dec. 1st letter are to be suspended.

Preliminary investigation into the five members of the committee, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Jacques de Liedekerke, Marc Odendall, and Marwan Sehnaoui, reveals that all five are known allies of von Boeselager and the “German wing” of the Order of Malta. Furthermore, Odendall, Sehnaoui and Archbishop Tomasi are, with Boeselager, connected to a mysterious donation from a French resident deposited in a Swiss bank account, worth at least $118 million. Cardinal Parolin is understood to have been aware of the bequest since at least March 2014.

December 23rd, 2016: Von Boeselager publishes a statement in which he declares his suspension violated the procedures of the Order, that no valid grounds existed for his suspension, and that Fra’ Festing’s attitude was “authoritarian.”

December 26th, 2016: Pope orders Cardinal Mueller to dismiss three priests at the CDF for unspecified reasons. In the leaked letter making this declaration, he states: “I am the pope and I do not need to give reasons… they have to go.”

 

January 3rd, 2017: Von Boeselager’s replacement, Fra’ John Chritien, writes a letter to the Knights of the Order telling them they cannot collaborate with the papal commission because its existence is a violation of the order’s sovereignty.

January 4th, 2017: Archbishop Tomasi, of the Malta investigative committee, responds to the previous day’s announcement and says that the question “is not the sovereignty of the order, but the reasonable claim of questionable procedures and lack of proven valid cause for the action taken,” echoing the statement of von Boeselager himself.

January 5th, 2017: A document is published by the Vatican Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, commanding Catholics to “recognize Luther as a witness to the Gospel.”

January 10th, 2017: Knights of Malta again publicly defend their right to dismiss von Boeselager, for breaking his vow of obedience to Festing.

January 10th, 2017: In daily homily, Pope criticizes “doctors of the law” as incoherent, hypocritical, clericalist, and lacking in real authority.

January 12th, 2017: The Vatican invites notorious abortion extremist Paul Ehrlich, author of debunked 1970s book The Population Bomb, to Vatican conference on “Biological Extinction.”

January 17th, 2017: The Holy See issues a second statement in response, declaring its “faith” in the commission the Pope has appointed.

January 19th, 2017: Pope declares that it was “Luther’s intention to renew the Church, not divide her.”

January 20th, 2017: Pope declares that “every country has the right to defend its borders.”

January 20th, 2017: Pope, in morning homily, criticizes “lazy,” “egotistical,” “constantly condemning,” “parked Christians.”

January 21st, 2017: Pope gives an address to the Roman Rota in which he declares it is “urgent practically to implement that which was discussed in Familiaris Consortio.” The Holy Father calls for parishes to develop programs to help newlyweds grow in faith and remain attached to parish life.

January 24th, 2017: The Pope calls Festing to the Vatican to hold a secret meeting of which no one can know. In this meeting, the Pope tells Festing to write his resignation letter on the spot, and to explicitly declare in the letter that Cardinal Burke had asked for von Boeselager to be dismissed.

January 24th, 2017: Fra’ Festing resigns his position as Grand Master of the Maltese Order.

January 25th, 2017: Cardinal Parolin writes in a letter to the Maltese Order that the Pope has declared all of Fra’ Festing’s actions “null and void” since the Dec. 6th meeting where von Boeselager’s resignation was demanded. Parolin further announces that the Pope will appoint a “personal delegate” to the Order, with “powers that will be defined.” These actions are in violation of the legal sovereignty of the Order.

January 25th, 2017: Pope declares that ecumenism must look to the future, not “fixate” on the past.

January 25th, 2017: Archbishop Scicluna of Malta, infamous for the Communion guidelines he coauthored, declares in a homily that “anyone looking to discover what Jesus wants” should “look to the Pope. Not the previous Pope, not the one before that. This Pope.” He has previously stated that in his guidelines “we are following the Pope’s directives.”

January 26th, 2017: Pope orders review of Liturgiam Authenticam. The text of the current Latin-English Mass translation is alleged by certain bishops to be too “rigid” and “excessively centralized”, according to America Magazine.

January 27th, 2017: The Pope gives a lengthy homily at Santa Marta in which he states that those who focus too much on “obeying the commandments, all of them” commit the sin of “cowardliness”, and are unable to “take risks” and “move forward.”

January 28th, 2017: The Pope, according to a press release of the Knights of Malta, writes a letter to them “stressing their sovereignty.”

January 28th, 2017: The Council of the Knights of Malta votes to accept Festing’s resignation and the Pope’s declaration of nullity.

January 30th, 2017: The Pope, at the Angelus, says “voracious consumerism kills the soul.”

January 30th, 2017: The Pope meets with Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the chair of the Council of Protestant Churches in Germany and with Cardinal Marx. In this meeting Bedford-Strohm expresses the importance of a common communion for interfaith couples.

January 31st, 2017: Cardinal Baldisseri, secretary of the Synod of Bishops, confirmsthat the female diaconate will not be discussed at the 2018 Synod on vocations.

 

February 1st, 2017: Pope calls on local Catholic churches to “mobilize” and fight climate change.

February 1st, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, declares that Communion for the divorced and remarried is “against God’s law.” The Maltese bishops’ bombshell statement that Communion is open to anyone who “feels at peace with God” was released twenty days prior. On this same day, the German council of bishops approves communion for the divorced and remarried.

February 2nd, 2017: The Pope calls on religious not to be “professionals of the sacred.”

February 2nd, 2017: Bishop Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, defends the invitation of Paul Ehrlich by saying that the Vatican is interested in his scientific reputation and not his private opinions: “What matters is the conclusions we will draw.”

February 4th, 2017: Posters appear overnight in Rome naming a group of incidents, including the Maltese case, and asking, “Where is your mercy?” A picture of the Pope is included. The Vatican police, as well as the Roman police, open an investigation into this incident.

February 4th, 2017: The Pope names Archbishop Becciu of the Secretariat of State as his delegate to the Order of Malta.

February 7th, 2017: The Vatican hosts its Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism over two days, inviting the Chinese “organ czar” Huang Jiefu to speak despite ongoing and credible allegations that the Chinese government harvests organs from executed prisoners, and possibly others.

February 8th, 2017: A stunning editorial in La Civita Cattolica opines that ordination of women may be possible in the future. The paper is approved by the Vatican before publication and Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the Pope’s closest confidante, is the editor in chief.

February 8th, 2017: A 51-page booklet is published by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, purporting to explain definitively the meaning of Amoris Laetitia’s Chapter 8. Reviews of the book indicate that it defends an extremely permissive interpretation of the document.

February 9th, 2017: Pope meets with staff of La Civita Cattolica and praises their work, urging them to be “restless” and “stay out on the open sea.” Fr. Gioncarlo Pani, deputy editor and author of the women’s ordination piece, is present. No mention of the question is made.

February 12th, 2017: The Vatican announces its police force is investigating a satirical front page of the L’Osservatore Romano with the headline “Pope Answers the Dubia.” The satirical newsletter was widely circulated in the Vatican via email.

February 13th, 2017: Council of Cardinals issue statement declaring their total support for the Pope. Vatican sends email blast dedicated solely to this announcement.

February 14th, 2017: Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican’s “legal theory” body, declares that a “desire to change” is enough for the valid reception of Communion.

February 14th, 2017: Cardinal Coccopalmerio fails to attend his own press conference for his booklet on Amoris Laetitia, which is generally understood to represent a chance for an official Vatican “answer” to the dubia statement. He states via social media that he had another engagement he had forgotten about. At the conference, the head of the Vatican publishing house says that the booklet is “not an answer” and the “still open debate is encouraged.”

February 15th, 2017: Cardinal Burke sent to Guam to supervise Vatican trial of Archbishop Apuron, involved in a clergy abuse scandal.

February 17th, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, states that bishops cannot give “contradictory interpretations” of Amoris Laetitia.

February 17th, 2017: Pope releases a letter dated February 10th to the Meeting of Popular Movements in California, in which he says, among other things, that we must “defend Sister Mother Earth”, that “the ecological crisis is real… time is running out. We must act now”, “Muslim terrorism does not exist”, and that global capitalism is “gangrenous”.

February 18th, 2017: Speaking to the press about the “highly unusual” public vote of confidence in the Pope, Cardinal Marx says that the support for the Pope is “substantial.”

February 20th, 2017: Cardinal Mueller, head of the CDF, releases a new book on the Papacy. He declares that not even a pope is able to alter the “substance of a sacrament,” marriage being used as the example.

February 21st, 2017: Cd. Coccopalmerio announces that there is “no doctrinal confusion” over Amoris Laetitia in an interview with Crux. He also states that gay couples still cannot receive Communion.

February 21st, 2017: Pope declares it a “moral duty” to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” refugees. The opposition to this duty is “rooted chiefly in self-centeredness” and encouraged by “populist demagoguery.”

February 22nd, 2017: Parolin, Secretariat of State, announces that the Vatican will be using “systematic surveillance” to monitor misuse of the Pope’s image and the official Vatican symbols, “so that his message may reach the faithful intact.”

February 22nd, 2017: The Pope, in his daily remarks, says that “When human pride explodes, it destroys and exploits nature. Think of water.”

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Religion: Thick and Thin

Praying the Holy Rosary at home

Praying the Holy Rosary at home

By David Carlin on The Catholic Thing

I am an old man – old enough to have vivid memories of what American Catholicism was like prior to the end of Vatican II (1965). If I were asked to give a very short summary of the differences between the pre-V2 and post-V2 versions of American Catholicism, I would say the former was a “thick” religion while the latter is a “thin” religion. And I would add that thick religions are “hard” while thin religions are “easy.” So pre-V2 Catholicism was thick and hard, while present-day American Catholicism is thin and easy.

To be sure, the pre-Vatican II religion wasn’t the thickest of American religions. The religion of the Amish was much thicker; and so was the religion of the Hasidic Jews. Nor is the post-Vatican II religion the thinnest of American religions. The religions of mainline Protestant denominations are thinner, and they grow thinner and thinner all the time as they grow more and more liberal.

What made Catholicism thick in the old days?

Doctrine. In the old days Catholics used to believe all the articles of the Nicene Creed plus a few other doctrines (for instance, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist). Now, it’s not that modern Catholics disbelieve in the Creed, and certainly the Church has not officially repudiated a single article of the Creed. But post-V2 American Catholics don’t think articles of belief are especially important. What’s important in religion is being good. As long as you’re good, it doesn’t really matter very much what you believe. And you can receive Communion on a weekly basis without troubling your mind about the vexed theological question of transubstantiation.

Morality. In the old days, a conscientious Catholic, when doing an examination of conscience, had to ask himself or herself questions about many topics. Am I chaste when it comes to sex? Am I temperate when it comes to drink? Do I give my employer an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? Am I honest in paying my taxes? Do I avoid profanity in speech? And more. Today’s Catholics make a much briefer examination of conscience, for there is only a single question: Do I love my neighbor as myself?

Polytheism (or something like it). Catholicism, of course, teaches that there is only one God, the Trinitarian God. But the traditional Catholic veneration of saints, above all the Virgin Mary, bears a resemblance to the polytheism of the ancient Greek and Roman world. The official Catholic teaching has always been that all the saints can do for us is to pray to God on our behalf. But in practice pre-V2 Catholics often believed that saints, if prayed to in the right way and if in the right mood, could work miracles for us; the saints were in effect minor gods. Post-V2 Catholics no longer have much interest in the saints – except of course for Mother Teresa and Francis of Assisi, who can serve as good examples to us even though they are not so godlike as to be able to make miracles.

c.1960

c.1960

Miracles. In the old days, Catholics readily believed in stories of miracles. And not just miracles that happened in famous places like Fatima and Lourdes, but miracles that happened in one’s neighborhood or in one’s family. And Catholics loved to be in close physical proximity to holy pictures, holy statues, holy candles, rosary beads, miraculous medals, holy water, etc.

Laws – lots of them that had to be obeyed, some of them God-made, some Church-made. You had to avoid meat on Fridays. You had to abstain from food and drink (even water) after midnight on a day in which you intended to receive Communion at Mass. You had to go to Confession before receiving Communion.

Chastity. If unmarried, you had to abstain from fornication. If married, you had to abstain from contraception. Of course, the Catholic Church still officially considers fornication and contraception sins –mortal sins. But among younger American Catholics, fornication has been demoted from the rank of mortal sin to the rank of venial sin, if not non-sin. And among married Catholics contraception has been kicked out of the category of sin altogether. It is now a virtue.

Community. And then there was the importance of staying as much as possible inside the Catholic community – the “ghetto” as it was often called. You should go to a Catholic school and college. You should read Catholic magazines and books. You should join Catholic social clubs. Above all, you should marry inside the Church. Don’t marry Protestants or other non-Catholics. And if (God forbid) you do, the wedding won’t take place inside a church; and the non-Catholic will first have to promise to bring up the children as Catholic.

Well, those were the “good old days” – and now they are gone, gone with the wind. Will they ever return? It’s awfully hard to believe they will.

But unless it once again becomes something like the old thick religion, American Catholicism will continue to shrink and shrink and shrink. It will become less and less important in American life. A religion that was once on the verge of becoming the single most important religious factor in our national life will become little more than a hole-in-the-corner religion. It will never be able to flourish if it continues to be what it is now, a “thin” and “easy” religion. If it is ever to flourish in this country, it will once again have to become what all flourishing religions are, both “thick” and “hard.”

Am I hopeful? Yes. One must never give up hope.

Am I optimistic? No. One must be realistic.

—–

CP&S CommentA good comparison, yet there are a few important omissions in David Carlin’s piece in our opinion. One was the pre V2 deep sense of sin and the possible fatal consequences of dying whilst not in a state of grace. There is no longer any talk of the doctrine of Hell in the post V2 Church, and this reason alone has led many to disbelieve in its existence. Dangerously false. Another vitally important change in the post V2 era has been the destruction of the Liturgy, a complete removal of the Ad Orientem Tridentine Mass throughout decades, and its replacement with the paler, Versus Populum, Novus Ordo Mass, with the consequent great falling away of Catholics from Mass attendance.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. We could go on – the list of changes for the worse is very long.

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A prayer request

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Michael Clifton (Fr Mildew), a fine and humble priest, who has passed away this afternoon at the age of 80.

Please see here for a fine account of his most recent birthday.

Requiescat in pace.

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Head of the Jesuits: “Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much”

CP&S comment: What a world of difference between our previous post with Bishop Schneider’s interview and the one below with the head of the Jesuits! The beauty and clarity of authentic Catholic teaching presented in the former makes the confusion and error of the latter all the more sinister. Let us pray for Father Arturo Sosa Abascal and for the Society of Jesus.

 

From  Father Z’s blog:

Yesterday I posted an entry with the title: Has the head of the Jesuits jettisoned doctrine and the words of the Lord in Scripture?

The General of the Jesuits effectively said that doctrine has no fixed meaning and that we must reinterpret everything, from Scripture to dogmas, according to our own exigencies.

Today I’ve read more.

I must now answer my question: Yes, the head of the Jesuits jettisoned doctrine and the words of the Lord in Scripture.

Sandro Magister has the whole exchange at his place. Thus, with my emphases and comments:

Why such adamant silence from the pope on words of Jesus [about adultery] that are so unequivocal? [The Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals are still out there… unanswered.]

One clue toward a response is in the interview that the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, very close to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has given to the Swiss vaticanista Giuseppe Rusconi for the blog Rossoporpora and for the “Giornale del Popolo” of Lugano.

Here are the passages most relevant to the case. Any commentary would be superfluous.

Q: Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, has said with regard to marriage that the words of Jesus are very clear and “no power in heaven and on earth, neither an angel nor the pope, neither a council nor a law of the bishops has the faculty to modify them.”

A: So then, there would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said. At that time, no one had a recorder to take down his words. What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized, they are expressed in a language, in a specific setting, they are addressed to someone in particular.

Q: But if all the worlds of Jesus must be examined and brought back to their historical context, they do not have an absolute value.

A: Over the last century in the Church there has been a great blossoming of studies that seek to understand exactly what Jesus meant to say… That is not relativism, but attests that the word is relative, the Gospel is written by human beings, it is accepted by the Church which is made up of human persons… So it is true that no one can change the word of Jesus, but one must know what it was!

Q: Is it also possible to question the statement in Matthew 19:3-6: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”?

A: I go along with what Pope Francis says. One does not bring into doubt, one brings into discernment. . .

Q: But discernment is evaluation, it is choosing among different options. There is no longer an obligation to follow just one interpretation. . .

A: No, the obligation is still there, but to follow the result of discernment.

Q: However, the final decision is based on a judgment relative to different hypotheses. So it also takes into consideration the hypothesis that the phrase “let man not put asunder…” is not exactly as it appears. In short, it brings the word of Jesus into doubt.

A: Not the word of Jesus, but the word of Jesus as we have interpreted itDiscernment does not select among different hypotheses but listens to the Holy Spirit, who – as Jesus has promised – helps us to understand the signs of God’s presence in human history.

Q: But discern how?

A: Pope Francis does discernment following St. Ignatius, like the whole Society of Jesus: one has to seek and find, St. Ignatius said, the will of God. It is not a frivolous search. Discernment leads to a decision: one must not only evaluate, but decide.

Q: And who must decide?

[NB] A: The Church has always reiterated the priority of personal conscience.

Q: So if conscience, after discernment, tells me that I can receive communion even if the norm does not provide for it…

A: The Church has developed over the centuries, it is not a piece of reinforced concrete. It was born, it has learned, it has changed. This is why the ecumenical councils are held, to try to bring developments of doctrine into focus. Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development.

Q: I seem to understand that for you there is a priority for the practice of the discernment of doctrine.

A: Yes, but doctrine is part of discernment. True discernment cannot dispense with doctrine.

Q: But it can reach conclusions different from doctrine.

A: That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it the Holy Spirit.

Discernment = When you are about to do something you know you shouldn’t do, twist a previously crystal clear teaching of the Church until it means whatever the hell you want it to mean in order to salve your conscience.

We’ve seen dark days in the Church before, friends.  But we haven’t seen anything quite like these dark days.

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EXCLUSIVE BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

Courtesy of Rorate Caeli

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BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

SSPX; Women and foot washing; consecrating Russia; anti-pastoral bishops and much more

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, one of the most visible prelates working on the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass and faith, on numerous topics.
In this wide-ranging interview, His Excellency thoughtfully expounded on issues critical to the Church in this great time of crisis. Read the entire interview so you don’t miss His Excellency’s thoughts on the current status of the SSPX, women’s participation in the Mass and the washing of women’s feet, whether Russia was ever truly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Summorum Pontificum and anti-pastoral bishops and much, much more.
All may reprint/repost this interview — but you must credit Rorate Caeli.

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*NB: words in bold by Rorate for emphasis:
POST-SYNOD CHURCH & UNBELIEVERS IN THE HIERARCHY

Rorate Caeli: In the recent Synod, we will not know the legal impact it will have on the Church for some time, as it’s up to Pope Francis to move next. Regardless of the eventual outcome, for all intent and purposes, is there already a schism in the Church? And, if so, what does it mean practically speaking? How will it manifest itself for typical Catholics in the pews?
H.E. Schneider: Schism means according to the definition of the Code of Canon Law, can. 751: The refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with those members of the Church who are submitted to the Supreme Pontiff. One has to distinguish the defect in belief or heresy from schism. The defect in belief or heresy is indeed a greater sin than schism, as Saint Thomas Aquinas said: “Unbelief is a sin committed against God Himself, according as He is Himself the First Truth, on which faith is founded; whereas schism is opposed to ecclesiastical unity, which is a lesser good than God Himself. Wherefore the sin of unbelief is generically more grievous than the sin of schism” (II-II, q. 39, a. 2 c).

The very crisis of the Church in our days consists in the ever growing phenomenon that those who don’t fully believe and profess the integrity of the Catholic faith frequently occupy strategic positions in the life of the Church, such as professors of theology, educators in seminaries, religious superiors, parish priests and even bishops and cardinals. And these people with their defective faith profess themselves as being submitted to the Pope.

The height of confusion and absurdity manifests itself when such semi-heretical clerics accuse those who defend the purity and integrity of the Catholic faith as being against the Pope – as being according to their opinion in some way schismatics. For simple Catholics in the pews, such a situation of confusion is a real challenge of their faith, in the indestructibility of the Church. They have to keep strong the integrity of their faith according to the immutable Catholic truths, which were handed over by our fore-fathers, and which we find in in the Traditional catechisms and in the works of the Fathers and of the Doctors of the Church.

Rorate Caeli: Speaking of typical Catholics, what will the typical parish priest face now that he didn’t face before the Synod began? What pressures, such as the washing of women’s feet on Maundy Thursday after the example of Francis, will burden the parish priest even more than he is burdened today?


H.E. Schneider: A typical Catholic parish priest should know well the perennial sense of the Catholic faith, the perennial sense as well of the laws of the Catholic liturgy and, knowing this, he should have an interior sureness and firmness. He should always remember the Catholic principle of discernment: “Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus”, i.e. “What has been always, everywhere and from all” believed and practiced.

The categories “always, everywhere, all” are not to be understood in an arithmetical, but in a moral sense. A concrete criterion for discernment is this: “Does this change in a doctrinal affirmation, in a pastoral or in a liturgical practice constitute a rupture with the centuries-old, or even with the millennial past? And does this innovation really make the faith shine clearer and brighter? Does this liturgical innovation bring to us closer the sanctity of God, or manifest deeper and more beautiful the Divine mysteries? Does this disciplinary innovation really increase a greater zeal for the holiness of life?”

As concretely to the innovation of washing the feet of women during the Holy Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday: This Holy Mass celebrates the commemoration of the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Therefore, the foot washing of women along with the men not only distracts from the main focus on Eucharist and on Priesthood, but generates confusion regarding the historical symbolism of the “twelve” and of the apostles being of male sex. The universal tradition of the Church never allowed the foot washing during the Holy Mass, but instead outside of Mass, in a special ceremony.

By the way: the public washing and usually also kissing of the feet of women on the part of a man, in our case, of a priest or a bishop, is considered by every person of common sense in all cultures as being improper and even indecent. Thanks be to God no priest or bishop is obliged to wash publicly the feet of women on Holy Thursday, for there is no binding norm for it, and the foot washing itself is only facultative.

PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF ST. PIUS X (SSPX)

Rorate Caeli: A non-typical situation in the church is the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Why does Your Excellency think that so many Catholics are afraid of the SSPX or anxious about any association with it? From what Your Excellency has seen, what gifts do you think the SSPX can bring to the mainstream Church?

H.E. Schneider: When someone or something is unimportant and weak, nobody has fear of it. Those who have fear of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X ultimately have fear of the perennial Catholic truths and of its demands in the moral and the liturgical domain.

When the SSPX tries to believe, to worship and to live morally the way our fore-fathers and the best-known Saints did during a millennial period, then one has to consider the life and the work of these Catholic priests and faithful of the SSPX as a gift for the Church in our days – even as one of the several instruments which the Divine Providence uses to remedy the enormity of the current general crisis of the faith, of the morals and of the liturgy inside the Church.

In some sectors of the SSPX there are, however, as it is the case in every human society some eccentric personalities. They have a method and a mindset which lack justice and charity and consequently the true “sentire cum ecclesia,” and there is the danger of an ecclesial autocephaly and to be the last judicial instance in the Church. However, to my knowledge, the healthier part corresponds to the major part of the SSPX and I consider their General Superior, His Excellency Monsignor Bernard Fellay, as an exemplarily and true Catholic bishop. There is some hope for a canonical recognition of the SPPX.

THE SYNOD AND PAPOLATRY 

Rorate Caeli: Back on the Synod, while focusing on tradition, does Your Excellency believe that the changes in the Roman liturgy post-Vatican II contributed to the current crisis in the Church, the crisis of marriage, the family and societal morality in general??

H.E. Schneider:  I wouldn’t affirm this in such a way. Indeed the very source of the current crisis in the Church, the crisis of marriage, of the family and of the morality in general is not the liturgical reform, but the defects in faith, the doctrinal relativism, from which flows the moral and liturgical relativism. For, if I believe in a defective manner, I will live a defective moral life and I will worship in a defective, indifferent manner. It is necessary first to restore the clearness and firmness of the doctrine of faith and of morals in all levels and, from there, start to improve the liturgy. The integrity and the beauty of the faith demands the integrity and the beauty of one’s moral life and this demands the integrity and the beauty of the public worship.

Rorate Caeli: Still on the Synod, it is clear to those with eyes to see that Pope Francis caused confusion instead of clarity in the Synod process, and encouraged a turn toward rupture by elevating the role of Cardinals Kaspar and Danneels, Archbishop Cupich, etc. What is the proper attitude a Catholic should have towards the pope in these troubled times? Are Catholics obliged to make their views known and “resist” as Cardinal Burke said in an interview last year with us, even when their views are critical of the pope?

H.E. Schneider: For several past generations until our days there reigns in the life of the Church a kind of “pope-centrism” or a kind of “papolatria” which is undoubtedly excessive compared with the moderate and supernatural vision of the person of the Pope and his due veneration in the past times. Such an excessive attitude towards the person of the Pope generates in the practice an excessive and wrong theological meaning regarding the dogma of the Papal infallibility.

If the Pope would tell the entire church to do something, which would directly damage an unchangeable Divine truth or a Divine commandment, every Catholic would have the right to correct him in a due respectful form, moved out of reverence and love for the sacred office, and person of the Pope. The Church is not the private property of the Pope. The Pope can’t say “I am the Church,” as it did the French king Louis XIV, who said: “L’État c’est moi.” The Pope is only the Vicar, not the successor of Christ.

The concerns about the purity of the faith is ultimately a matter of all members of the Church, which is one, and a unique living body. In the ancient times before entrusting to someone the office of a priest and of a bishop, the faithful were asked if they can guarantee that the candidate had the right faith, and a high moral conduct. The old Pontificale Romanum says: “The captain of a ship and its passengers alike have reason to feel safe or else in danger on a voyage, therefore they ought to be of one mind in their common interests.” It was the Second Vatican Council, which very much encouraged the lay faithful to contribute to the authentic good of the Church, in strengthening the faith.

I think in a time in which a great part of the holders of the office of the Magisterium are negligent in their sacred duty, the Holy Spirit calls today, namely the faithful, to step into the breach and defend courageously with an authentic “sentire cum ecclesia” the Catholic faith.

TRADITION AND ITS ENEMIES FROM WITHIN

Rorate Caeli: Is the pope the measure of tradition, or is he measured by tradition? And should faithful Catholics pray for a traditional pope to arrive soon?

H.E. Schneider: The Pope is surely not the measure of tradition, but on the contrary. We must always bear in mind the following dogmatic teaching of the First Vatican Council: The office of the successors of Peter does not consist in making known some new doctrine, but in guarding and faithfully expounding the deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles (cf. Constitutio dogmatica Pastor aeternus, cap. 4).

In fulfilling one of his most important tasks, the Pope has to strive so that “the whole flock of Christ might be kept away from the poisonous food of error” (First Vatican Council, ibd.).  The following expression which was in use since the first centuries of the Church, is one of the most striking definitions of the Papal office, and has to be in some sense a second nature of every Pope: “Faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith” (First Vatican Council, ibd.).

We must always pray that God provides His Church with traditional-minded Popes. However, we have to believe in these words: “It is not for you to have knowledge of the time and the order of events which the Father has kept in his control” (Acts 1: 7).

Rorate Caeli:  We know there are many bishops and cardinals – possibly the majority – who want to change the Church’s doctrinal language and long-standing discipline, under the excuses of “development of doctrine” and “pastoral compassion.” What is wrong with their argument?

H.E. Schneider: Expressions like “development of doctrine” and “pastoral compassion” are in fact usually a pretext to change the teaching of Christ, and against its perennial sense and integrity, as the Apostles had transmitted it to the whole Church, and it was faithfully preserved through the Fathers of the Church, the dogmatic teachings of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Popes.

Ultimately, those clerics want another Church, and even another religion: A naturalistic religion, which is adapted to the spirit of the time. Such clerics are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, often flirting with the world. Not courageous shepherds – but rather cowardly rabbits.    

ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Rorate Caeli: We hear a lot about the role of women in the Church today – the so-called “feminine genius.” Women obviously have played a critical role in the Church since the beginning, starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary. But liturgically, Christ made His position crystal clear, as have pre-Conciliar popes. Does Your Excellency believe that female involvement in the liturgy, whether it’s women taking part in the Novus Ordo Mass or girl altar boys, has played a positive or negative role in the Church the last four decades?

H.E. Schneider: There is no doubt about the fact that the female involvement in the liturgical services at the altar (reading the lecture, serving at the altar, distributing Holy Communion) represents a radical rupture with the entire and universal tradition of the Church. Therefore, such a practice is against the Apostolic tradition.

Such a practice gave to the liturgy of the Holy Mass a clear Protestant shape and a characteristic of an informal prayer meeting or of a catechetical event. This practice is surely contrary to the intentions of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council and there is not in the least an indication for it in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy.
THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS

Rorate Caeli: Your Excellency is well known for celebrating the traditional Latin Mass in many places around the world. What does Your Excellency find to be the deepest lessons learned from saying the Latin Mass, as a priest and as a bishop, that other priests and bishops may hope to gain by saying the traditional Mass themselves?

H.E. Schneider: The deepest lessons I learned from celebrating the traditional form of the Mass is this: I am only a poor instrument of a supernatural and utmost sacred action, whose principal celebrant is Christ, the Eternal High Priest. I feel that during the celebration of the Mass I lost in some sense my individual freedom, for the words and the gesture are prescribed even in their smallest details, and I am not able to dispose of them. I feel most deeply in my heart that I am only a servant and a minister who yet with free will, with faith and love, fulfill not my will, but the will of Another.

The traditional and more than millennial-old rite of the Holy Mass, which not even the Council of Trent changed, because the Ordo Missae before and after that Council was almost identical, proclaims and powerfully evangelizes the Incarnation and the Epiphany of the ineffably saintly and immense God, who in the liturgy as “God with us,” as “Emmanuel,” becomes so little and so close to us. The traditional rite of the Mass is a highly artfully and, at the same time, a powerful proclamation of the Gospel, realizing the work of our salvation.

Rorate Caeli: If Pope Benedict is correct in saying that the Roman Rite currently (if strangely) exists in two forms rather than one, why has it not yet happened that all seminarians are required to study and learn the traditional Latin Mass, as part of their seminary training? How can a parish priest of the Roman Church not know both forms of the one rite of his Church? And how can so many Catholics still be denied the traditional Mass and sacraments if it is an equal form?

H.E. Schneider: According to the intention of Pope Benedict XVI, and the clear norms of the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae,” all Catholic seminarians have to know the traditional form of the Mass and be able to celebrate it. The same document says that this form of Mass is a treasure for the entire Church – thus it is for all of the faithful.

Pope John Paul II made an urgent appeal to all bishops to accommodate generously the wish of the faithful regarding the celebration of the traditional form of the Mass. When clerics and bishops obstruct or restrict the celebration of the traditional Mass, they don’t obey what the Holy Spirit says to the Church, and they are acting in a very anti-pastoral way. They behave as the possessors of the treasure of the liturgy, which does not belong to them, for they are only administrators.

In denying the celebration of the traditional Mass or in obstructing and discriminating against it, they behave like an unfaithful and capricious administrator who – contrary to the instructions of the house-father – keeps the pantry under lock or like a wicked stepmother who gives the children a meager fare. Perhaps such clerics have fear of the great power of the truth irradiating from the celebration of the traditional Mass. One can compare the traditional Mass with a lion: Let him free, and he will defend himself.

RUSSIA NOT YET EXPLICITLY CONSECRATED

Rorate Caeli: There are many Russian Orthodox where Your Excellency lives. Has Alexander of Astana or anyone else in the Moscow Patriarchate asked Your Excellency about the recent Synod or about what is happening to the Church under Francis? Do they even care at this point?

H.E. Schneider: Those Orthodox Prelates, with whom I have contact, generally are not well informed about the internal current disputes in the Catholic Church, or at least they had never spoken with me about such issues. Even though they don’t recognize the jurisdictional primacy of the Pope, they nevertheless look on the Pope as the first hierarchical office in the Church, from a point of view of the order of protocol.

Rorate Caeli: We are just a year away from the 100th anniversary of Fatima. Russia was arguably not consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and certainly not converted. The Church, while ever spotless, is in complete disarray – maybe worse than during the Arian Heresy. Will things get even worse before they get better and how should truly faithful Catholics prepare for what is coming?

H.E. Schneider: We have to believe firmly: The Church is not ours, nor the Pope’s. The Church is Christ’s and He alone holds and leads her indefectibly even through the darkest periods of crisis, as our current situation indeed is.

This is a demonstration of the Divine character of the Church. The Church is essentially a mystery, a supernatural mystery, and we cannot approach her as we approach a political party or a pure human society. At the same time, the Church is human and on her human level she is nowadays enduring a sorrowful passion, participating in the Passion of Christ.

One can think that the Church in our days is being flagellated as our Lord, is being denuded as was Our Lord, on the tenth Cross station. The Church, our mother, is being bound in cords not only by the enemies of Christ but also by some of their collaborators in the rank of the clergy, even sometimes of the high clergy.

All good children of Mother Church as courageous soldiers we have to try to free this mother – with the spiritual weapons of defending and proclaiming the truth, promoting the traditional liturgy, Eucharistic adoration, the crusade of the Holy Rosary, the battle against the sin in one’s private life and striving for holiness.

We have to pray that the Pope may soon consecrate explicitly Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, then She will win, as the Church prayed since the old times: “Rejoice O Virgin Mary, for thou alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world” (Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo).

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– See more at: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/02/exclusive-bishop-athanasius-schneider.html#sthash.GLGJzh2P.dpuf

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Catholic Priest Speaks Up Against ‘The Francis Effect’

We publish this excellent YouTube video with a H/T to one of our regular visitors from Down Under for bringing it to our attention  🙂 .

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How the Vatican Celebrated the Feast of The Chair of Saint Peter

On February 22nd the Church celebrates the ancient feast day of the Chair of St. Peter. Since early times, the Roman Church has had a special commemoration of the primatial authority of St. Peter and the Chair symbolises the seat from which the Pope exercises this authority.

“We shall find in the Gospel that Jesus Christ, willing to begin the mystery of unity in His Church, among all His disciples chose twelve; but that, willing to consummate the mystery of unity in the same Church, among the twelve He chose one. He called His disciples, said the Gospel; here are all; and among them He chose twelve. Here is the first separation, and the Apostles chosen. And these are the names of the twelve Apostles: the first, Simon, who is called Peter. (Mt. 10, 1-2)” – [Excerpted from The See of St. Peter, Jacques Bossuet.]

Unfortunately, this is how Pope Francis celebrated the feast commemorating Peter’s authority over the whole Church, watching a circus show of skimpily dressed artists…

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Claire Chretien on LifeSiteNews asks: “Whose idea was today’s performance? It seems like a strange way to commemorate a Catholic feast day dedicated to the pope’s authority and sacred duties.” Indeed!

But inside the Basilica of St Peter, he to whom Our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the ‘keys’ to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to safeguard for all time, the statue of St. Peter was decked out in fine robes befitting of this significant feast.

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From The New Liturgical Movement:

“The feast of St Peter’s Chair is not only the commemoration of his ministry as chief of the Apostles, but also the feast of a relic long reputed to be his actual throne. Although it never attained to the popularity of the Veil of St Veronica, the Vatican Basilica’s relic par excellence in the High Middle Ages, it was regularly seen and venerated by the faithful, being first explicitly named “the Chair of St Peter” in 1237. Before the long period of the Popes’ residence in Avignon, (during which many medieval customs of the Papal liturgy disappeared,) the Pope was enthroned on the relic for part of his coronation ceremony, and used it as his liturgical throne in the Basilica on the feast of February 22. Its veneration continued through the Renaissance and the Counter-Reformation periods, but since 1666, it has been kept within Bernini’s Cathedra Petri at the back of the Vatican Basilica, and very rarely brought out. The very magnificence of the sculpture, and its presence as the visual culmination of the church, has overwhelmed its purpose as a reliquary; all the more so since the relic itself cannot be seen within it, and has so rarely been removed from it for viewing. It was last exposed in 1867, at the behest of Blessed Pope Pius IX, during the celebrations of the eighteenth centennial of the martyrdoms of Ss Peter and Paul. A copy (pictured below) is displayed in the treasury of St Peter’s, but with little to indicate the prominence which the original formerly held.”

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Let us pray that Pope Francis will take greater care in fulfilling the mission bestowed upon him.

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How Christian are the Trumps?

This subject has become a major topic of debate today in its necessary far-reaching implications on the decisions that will be made by Donald Trump during his Presidency. Melanie Trump’s welcome and courageous praying of the Our Father at a rally in Florida on Saturday has only led more fuel to the fire of this debate.

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on The Catholic Herald

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump stand together during a rally at the AeroMod International hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport (Getty)

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump stand together during a rally at the AeroMod International hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport (Getty)

Donald and Melania Trump are Christians who seem to occupy a grey area between churches

At Donald Trump’s recent rally in Florida, Mrs Trump was at his side and at one point led the audience in the recitation of the Our Father. This strikes me as unusual, given the American obsession with the so called separation between Church and State. I am guessing that most people at the rally, including the Donald, were delighted, and most of anti-Trump America would have had their prejudices confirmed. Prayer has long been a bone of contention in America. Prayers are banned in American public schools, for example.

Melania Trump is Slovenian, and according to her Wikipedia entry, a Roman Catholic. She is noted for all sorts of reasons, being, for example, on the second First Lady not to have been born in America, and the first to be a naturalised American, and the first not to speak English as her first language. But if it is true that she is a Catholic, that makes her only the second First Lady to be so.

Of course, Melania and Donald’s union is not a regular one from a Catholic point of view, as he has been married twice before, and both previous Mrs Trumps are happily still with us. But there are many people who are in irregular unions who nevertheless strongly identify as Catholics and go to Mass, though not to Holy Communion, and who have had the children of their union baptised. In America great play is often made of politicians’ religious allegiances. Yet with Melania, few details are in the public domain, as far as I can see.

One thing that is common in American public life is the way people can move with some ease between denominations. Mike Pence has been described as a Catholic, but is now an Evangelical. Or so at least it seems, as he is loath to cast off the label Catholic. But the truth seems to be – it is truly hard to be sure one way or the other – that he now attends some sort of Evangelical megachurch and has, therefore left the Catholic Church. But one thing is certain: Mr Pence wants to appeal to both Catholics and Evangelicals, hence the way he has described himself as an “Evangelical Catholic”.

Sarah Palin made the same journey. She was baptised as a Catholic, but in early childhood her family embraced Pentecostalism. Though Mrs Palin has made no attempt to deny her Catholic origins, at no time has she claimed to be a Catholic still. Because she effectively left the Church as a little child, she has not incurred any canonical penalty.

Marco Rubio, another faded luminary of the Republican Party, also has a checkered religious history. He is usually taken to be a Catholic, and it is clear that he has been baptised and confirmed as a Catholic and married in the Catholic Church. However, it is also clear that he was for a time a Mormon, and has at various times worshipped in a Baptist Church. This amount of religious zig-zagging may be the sign of a tender and questioning conscience; there again, it may simply be an inability to stick at one thing, and yet another reason why voters looked at Mr Rubio and decided, after all, that they preferred Trump.

Another Republican with what is called a “complex faith journey” is John Kasich, yet another candidate who failed to dent Trump’s rise to power. Yet Kasich’s journey is not that hard to understand. He is a Catholic who has become an Anglican, as indeed have his parents. However, Kasich’s Wikipedia page contains this gem: “Kasich was raised a Catholic, but considers denominations irrelevant, while stating that ‘There’s always going to be a part of me that considers myself a Catholic.’”

Mr Kasich needs to be reminded that one can never be the member of two churches at the same time, and that Church membership is very important indeed. But he is by no means alone among Americans in trying to give the impression that one can have one’s cake and eat it. And just as there are some who try to belong to more than one Church, there are also those who identify as Christian without actually belonging to any Church at all. My best guess is that Melania, born a Catholic, and baptised as such, is now occupying some sort of grey area between churches. Her husband too seems to be in a similar situation: a generic self-identified Christian without much actual denominational allegiance.

Nevertheless, she led that rally in prayer. She may have been trying to tell us something in so doing. Is it that the Donald, unlike some Republicans, is a proper Christian, a man of fixed and coherent beliefs? Let’s remember that both Catholics and Evangelicals played an important role in getting Trump elected. Perhaps that Our Father was an acknowledgement of that.

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