Pope Francis has warned an influential, Vatican-based theological commission against “going backward” in “Tradition,” instead urging them to promote the Gospel by consulting non-Catholic “experts.”
The 85-year-old Pontiff made the comments Thursday to the International Theological Commission, a body of theologians set up by Pope Paul VI in 1969 to advise the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
Francis first highlighted how the Commission was to fulfil its task “in the wake traced by the Second Vatican Council, which – sixty years after its inception – constitutes the sure compass for the journey of the Church.”
Don’t go ‘backward’ with Tradition
Re-iterating his oft-repeated remarks against devotees of Tradition and the traditional Mass, Francis called the commission’s 30 members to practice a “creative fidelity to Tradition.” By doing so, said Francis, the theologians could work “for the progress of the apostolic Tradition, under the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
“Tradition, the origin of faith, which either grows or dies out,” said Francis. “Tradition – I want to emphasize this – makes us move in this direction: from down up, vertical.”
#PopeFrancis warned the International Theological Commission (which advises the CDF) against "indietrists," saying traditionalists "remain fixed in time." He also urged them to continue "inculturation of the Gospel" by "the consultation of experts, including non-Catholics." https://t.co/AdlP3qhNPbpic.twitter.com/TkFua1g1aL
The Argentine Pontiff continued by making his trademark comments against traditional Catholics: “Today there is a great danger, which is to go in another direction: ‘indietrism.’ Going backward. ‘It has always been done this way’: it is better to go backward, which is safer, and not to go forward with tradition.”
Such a position, said Francis, “has moved some movements, Church movements, to remain fixed in a time, in a backward. They are the indietrists.”
He made reference to un-named movements which emerged after Vatican I which he observed had been “trying to be faithful to tradition, and so today they develop in such a way as to ordain women, and other things, out of this vertical direction.”
Francis criticized those who promoted “indietrism” which, he argued, “leads you to say, ‘That’s the way it’s always been done, it’s better to go on like this,’ and doesn’t let you grow. On this point, you theologians think a little bit about how to help.”
This is by no means the first time that Francis has made such remarks, appearing to single out Catholics devoted to the traditional Mass and criticising them for it.
On one such occasion the Pope suggested that those clerics who opt to don more traditional clerical garb, such as cassocks and clerical hats, possess a “rigid clericalism,” behind which there are “serious problems.”
However, while Francis has used the texts of St. Paul on one occasion to make such an attack on “rigidity,” it was St. Paul himself who wrote: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14)
Then, in his letter to Titus, St. Paul stipulated that bishops must faithfully adhere to the doctrine of the Church: “Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine, and to convince the gainsayers.”
Pope Francis with members of the International Theological Commission, Nov 2022. Credit: Screenshot/Vatican News
Promote Catholic faith by seeking opinion of ‘non-Catholics’
Offering a second guideline to the members of the Commission to continue their studies, Francis advised them to promote the Catholic faith by seeking the advice of those outside the Church.
The Pope spoke of the “appropriateness – in order to carry out with pertinence and incisiveness the work of deepening and inculturation of the Gospel – to open prudently to the contribution of the different disciplines through the consultation of experts, including non-Catholics, as provided for in the Statutes of the Commission.”
In this manner the theologians could practice “transdisciplinarity,” he said, suggesting that by consulting non-Catholics the theologians could draw from their knowledge as it comes from the “Light and Life offered by the Wisdom streaming from God’s Revelation.”
While he urged catechists to “give the right doctrine,” Francis told the ITC to “go further” than the “solid doctrine” as the magisterium will assume the role of informing the theologians when they have gone too far.
Catholics question wisdom of Pope’s advice
Reacting to yet another of the Pope’s attacks upon Tradition, Catholics were swift to rebuff his comments online. Henry Sire, a former Knight of Malta and author of The Dictator Pope, highlighted an apparent contradiction in the Pope’s words.
Regarding Francis's idea of "backward-looking" as opposed to genuine tradition:
Definition of tradition: following the 2,000 year teaching of the Church.
Definition of backward-looking: insisting on a Council that took place between 1962 and 1965 as the only guide to doctrine. https://t.co/TNnB8C5o2x
In comments to LifeSiteNews, U.K. catechist Deacon Nick Donnelly responded to the recommendation to consult “non-Catholics” by questioning its wisdom.
Pope St John Paul II’s statutes for the International Theological Commission allowed for consultation with experts, including non-Catholics (Apostolic Letter, Tredecim Anni, 10). Whilst this allowed for a broad consultation, the wisdom of such a provision is questionable under the pontificate of Pope Francis where such ‘consultation’ is being given primacy.
Continuing, Donnelly summarized Francis’ increasingly heterodox activities with regard to Catholic doctrine. “Since 2013, he has appointed non-Catholic experts who, among other things, advocate eugenics, contraception, and abortion.”
“Pope Francis’ enthusiasm for non-Catholic experts goes so far as him advocating that the Church learns from pagan religions and ‘spiritualities’,” Donnelly said, before warning against such a practice:
The problem with drawing on the expertise of non-Catholic experts to help the Church proclaim the Gospel is that they have, de facto, rejected our Lord Jesus Christ’s institution of the Catholic Church as the ‘sacrament of salvation.’ Such a fundamental antagonism against the Church, and the intentions of our Lord Jesus Christ, surely taints any knowledge or advice they propose to the International Theological Commission.
So, first, let’s get our dates straight. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) and ends on December 24th. Christmas begins on December 25 and continues through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day).
Advent, from the Latin adventus, means coming or arrival. In ancient Rome, Adventus was a technical term for the “glorious entry” of an emperor into his capital city. In addition to celebrating conquest on the battlefield, the birthday of the royal leader was also commemorated in an Adventus.
Advent then is a most fitting word to describe the period leading up to Christmas; what we celebrate is the coming of our King and Emperor, one who is both fully man and fully God. The Church drives this point home for us in setting the Feast of Christ the King right before the start of Advent. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays of Advent, and the weeks between them, to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
THE ADVENT WREATH
One of the most familiar external signs of Advent is the Advent Wreath. Advent candles readily demonstrate the strong contrast between darkness and light, which is an important biblical image. Jesus referred to himself as the “Light of the World” that dispels the darkness of sin: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
It also reminds us that, as Christians, we’re meant to shine the light of Christ in this world. As Jesus tells us: You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
So Much Symbolism!
The circular shape of the wreath, without beginning or end, symbolizes God’s eternity. God has no beginning and no end. It also symbolizes His unending love for us—a love that sent his Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. Furthermore, it represents eternal life which becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Advent Wreath traditionally holds four candles which are lit, one at a time, on each of the four Sundays of the Advent season. Each candle represents 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the world’s Savior—from Adam and Eve to Jesus, whose birth was foretold in the Old Testament. Some Advent wreath traditions also include a fifth white “Christ” candle, symbolizing purity, that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Many circular wreaths can incorporate a white candle by adding a pillar candle to the wreath’s center.
Purple is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice and is used during both Advent and Lent. Advent, also called “little Lent,” is the season where we spiritually wait in our “darkness” with hopeful expectation for our promised redemption, just as the whole world did before Christ’s birth, and just as the whole world does now as we eagerly await his promised return. We can literally feel the room illuminate as we progress through this season of spiritual preparation!
The use of evergreens reminds us of our eternal life with Christ; pointy holly leaves and red berries represent the crown of thorns from the Passion of Jesus and His Precious Blood; and pine cones symbolize Christ’s Resurrection.
BUT THERE IS EVEN MORE…
Not only is the Advent Wreath itself replete with symbolism and meaning, but each of the Sundays carry a theme all its own. In this article, we will explore the first Sunday of Advent and watch as the entire Christmas story unfolds for us each and every year—if we are paying attention.
Toward this end, we will explore the three “helpers” to an advantageous Advent—penance, fasting and prayer. Included in this will be a clear explanation of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the necessity of this counter-cultural approach to preparing for the birth of Our Savior.
Lighting the First Advent Candle
We embark on our Advent journey as we light the first purple candle. If there are children in the house, you can feel the excitement mount as they clamor to see who gets to light it! As the first candle is lit, the following prayer may be said by a leader or all gathered:
Before lighting the candle, pray—
O God, Rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, Brightening our way and guiding us by His truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, And to us as we wait for His coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Adding the following invocation according to week:
O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, Desire of every nation, Savior of all peoples, Come and dwell among us.
This candle has traditionally been referred to as “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming. The theological virtue of HOPE is at the center of the first week of Advent. This is the virtue practiced by the prophets and the entire Jewish race for 4,000 years, as they waited in expectation for the promised Savior. And it is the virtue each Christian must practice throughout his or her lifetime and is so well defined in the Act of Hope: “…I hope to obtain forgiveness of my sins, the help of Thy grace and life everlasting.”
Hope’s “helper” — Penance
Throughout the ages the Catholic Church has encouraged us to do penance in anticipation of Christ’s coming. As sinners, we all know instinctively that we need to do penance for our sins and once these are performed, we are again filled with hope in the promise of salvation.
“Advent is also a season of penance — we don’t think of that, but that’s why the color is violet because it is a season of penance and preparation,” said Fr. Kleczewski, from the diocese of Phoenix, AZ. “Advent is also a recognition of kind of our distance from God, still more a season of anticipation and rejoicing but there’s a penitential nature to it.”
To live out the penitential spirit of Advent, Fr. Kleczewski offered several tips. In addition to going to confession during the season, like they do during Lent, Catholics can give something up, take on extra prayer, or perform acts of charity, such as participating in a parish “Angel Tree” program where parishioners buy presents for a child in need.
Fr. Kleczewski compared the expectation of Advent and Christmas to a child waiting for a parent to come home. “We’re waiting, and we’re waiting, and we’re waiting for them to come home — we can’t wait for them to come home. Well that’s what Advent’s about — it’s about that waiting and building of the longing, again both for the coming kingdom, but also for the celebration of the birth of Christ,” he said.
Hope is that virtue we practice to fuel and sustain our waiting.
THE SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS—THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Let’s face it—to talk about penance in the month of December, when everyone is rushing around eagerly buying gifts, is pretty counter-cultural. But so is obedience to a higher authority and it is this authority – the Catholic Church – to which we now turn.
Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence
A STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS NOVEMBER 18, 1966
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…. If we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8-10).
Thus Sacred Scriptures declare our guilt to be universal; hence the universal obligation to that repentance which Peter, in his sermon on Pentecost, declared necessary for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). Hence, too, the Church’s constant recognition that all the faithful are required by divine law to do penance. As from the fact of sin we Christians can claim no exception, so from the obligation to penance we can seek no exemption.
Forms and seasons of penance vary from time to time and from people to people. But the need for conversion and salvation is unchanging, as is the necessity that, confessing our sinfulness, we perform, personally and in community, acts of penance in pledge of our inward penitence and conversion.
For these reasons, Christian peoples, members of a Church that is at once holy, penitent, and always in process of renewal, have from the beginning observed seasons and days of penance. They have done so by community penitential observances as well as by personal acts of self-denial; they have imitated the example of the spotless Son of God Himself, concerning Whom the Sacred Scriptures tell us that He went into the desert to fast and to pray for forty days (Mk 1:13). Thus Christ gave the example to which Paul appealed in teaching us how we, too, must come to the mature measures of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13).
Of the many penitential seasons which at one time or another have entered the liturgical calendar of Christians (who on this point have preserved the holy tradition of their Hebrew spiritual ancestors), three have particularly survived to our times: Advent, Lent, and the vigils of certain feasts.
Changing customs, especially in connection with preparation for Christmas, have diminished popular appreciation of the Advent season. Something of a holiday mood of Christmas appears now to be anticipated in the days of the Advent season. As a result, this season has unfortunately lost in great measure the role of penitential preparation for Christmas that it once had.
Zealous Catholics have striven to keep alive or to restore the spirit of Advent by resisting the trend away from the disciplines and austerities that once characterized the season among us. Perhaps their devout purpose will be better accomplished, and the point of Advent will be better fostered if we rely on the liturgical renewal and the new emphasis on the liturgy to restore its deeper understanding as a season of effective preparation for the mystery of the Nativity.
For these reasons, we, the shepherds of souls of this conference, call upon Catholics to make the Advent season, beginning with 1966, a time of meditation on the lessons taught by the liturgy and of increased participation in the liturgical rites by which the Advent mysteries are exemplified and their sanctifying effect is accomplished.
If in all Christian homes, churches, schools, retreats and other religious houses, liturgical observances are practiced with fresh fervor and fidelity to the penitential spirit of the liturgy, then Advent will again come into its own. Its spiritual purpose will again be clearly perceived.
A rich literature concerning family and community liturgical observances appropriate to Advent has fortunately developed in recent years. We urge instruction based upon it, counting on the liturgical renewal of ourselves and our people to provide for our spiritual obligations with respect to this season.
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, The mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’S mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, The tribes of the LORD.
According to the decree for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper! May peace be within your walls, Prosperity in your buildings.
Because of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you!” Because of the house of the LORD, our God, I will pray for your good.
Letter to the Romans13,11-14a.
Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew24,37-44.
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In (those) days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Blessed Guerric of Igny (c.1080-1157) Cistercian abbot 2nd sermon for Advent, 2-4: PL 185, 15-17
“The Son of Man will come when you least expect him”
We are waiting to celebrate Christ’s birthday; and, according to the Lord’s promise, we will soon see him. The Scripture demands from us that we rejoice to the point of raising our spirit above itself and of, in a way, leaping for joy at the coming of the Lord…For, even before his advent, the Lord comes to you. Before appearing to the whole world, he comes visit you personally, He who said: “I will not leave you orphaned; I will come back to you” (Jn 14:18).
In fact, according to the merit and fervor of each one, there is a frequent and familiar advent of the Lord that, in this intermediary period between his first and last coming, models us on one and prepares us to the other. The Lord comes to us now so that his first coming to us may not be vain and that the last one may not be that of wrath. Through his present coming, in fact, he works at reforming our pride in the image of the humility of his first advent, to then remodel our humble body in the image of the glorified body he will show us when he will return. This is why we should desire and fervently ask this personal coming that gives us the grace of this first advent and promises us the glory of the last. …
The first was humble and hidden, the last will be resounding and magnificent; the one we are talking about is hidden, but it is also magnificent. I say it is hidden, not because it is ignored by whom it concerns, but because it happens secretly in him. … He comes without being seen and he leaves without being noticed. His simple presence is light for the soul and for the spirit: by it you may see the invisible and get to know the unknown. This coming of the Lord puts the soul of who contemplates it in a gentle and happy state of admiration. Then, from the inmost depths of man, the cry may burst out: “O Lord, who is like you!” (Ps 34:10).
Those who have experienced it know; please God, that those who haven’t yet done this experience may feel at least the desire it!
A new documentary called “Died Suddenly” has received almost 6.8 million views in the last 72 hours.
This powerful, full documentary released a few days ago, also ties World Economic Forum and its Great Reset to what strongly appears to be a global mass depopulation program using Covid injections deliberately intended to kill.
The documentary was produced by the Stew Peters Network and was released on Rumble.
Throughout the film, the viewer is shown various testimonials of embalmers from around the English-speaking world who all attest to a proliferation of fibrous clots found in the veins of numerous deceased individuals who were vaccinated with an experimental COVID jab.
One of the embalmers profiled in the film, Robert Hirschmann, will be familiar to viewers who have followed the mounting testimony about the strange clotting. Hirschmann has been public about his experience with the fibrous growths in the deceased for months.
As well as explaining the types of clots he has found, he also showed his collection of the clots he has removed from bodies, and the images are striking.
One of the reasons he became curious about what might be found in vaccinated individuals was his discovery that it was often the case that vaccinated blood had a sand-like texture to it, which he discovered while draining patients for burial.
It “looks like the blood is dirty,” he said, “almost like it has little fine grains of sand.”
Another embalmer with over a decade of experience echoed Hirshmann’s thoughts, saying that it looked like “blood on beach sand, it was sticking to the table.”
When Hirschmann was asked why he and so many other embalmers decided to come forward, he explained that if they didn’t, then no one could, given that after they have been buried, there can be no investigation. “The dead can’t speak for themselves,” he said.
One American embalmer said that, although he risked losing his business by doing so, it was important to speak out in some way. “We’re connecting dots here,” he said. “It certainly appears that there’s some relationship to the vaccine and these obstructions that we’re seeing.”
The film also profiled various whistleblowers from the U.S. military who expressed concerns about what might happen to troops in the long term given the jabs that have been mandated for most soldiers.
Whistleblower Lt. Col. Dr. Theresa Long stated, “In my 15 years as a doctor taking care of soldiers, I have never seen this litany of debilitating and potentially deadly medical conditions in soldiers. These conditions included strokes, transient ischemic attacks, pericarditis, myocarditis, erratic heart rates, arrhythmias, rapid onset and progression of various cancers to include testicular cancer, esophageal cancer, brain tumors, neuroendocrine tumors, spinal tumors, thyroid dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, cognitive impairment, persistent severe insomnia, suppression of the immune system, unprovoked blood clots in the splenic and portal vein, vascular necrosis, liver dysfunction, menstrual irregularities and miscarriages.”
Long also opined that she thought that within five years there could be a shortage of soldiers for a standing army if the worst-case scenario came true.
The film also presented the opinion of the film makers about why it could be that dangerous jabs that cause strange clots have been thrust on the population writ large.
The producers showed clips of Bill Gates opining about lowering the world’s population with the help of vaccines, as well as various clips from mainstream media sources that seemingly promoted the population control ideology of British philosopher Thomas Malthus.
In addition, it seems that the producers attempted to present a possible narrative to explain how the jabs are part of a larger attempt to depopulate the world.
LifeSiteNews is not taking an editorial stance that endorses all the claims from the film, but much of what was presented about dangerous COVID-jab reactions is consistent with information that LifeSiteNews has been reporting since the jabs were rolled out.
Ultimately, the reader can view the film in order to assess the information presented by the film makers.
VATICAN CITY — In light of the controversy stirred up by the working document for the next stage of the multiyear Synod on Synodality, questions have arisen over who prepared it and how it came into being.
The 45-page “Document for the Continental Stage” (DCS), published Oct. 28, attempts to summarize discussions with the lay faithful, clergy and religious who participated in the synod’s first stage of “listening and discernment” and aims to be the basis of the work for the second — or continental — stage, which runs until next spring.
Much of the document, officially entitled “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” (Isaiah 54:2), focuses on “listening as openness to welcome,” which, it says, should derive from “a desire for radical inclusion.” The phrase “no one is excluded” is often mentioned in the text.
But the text controversially includes explicit calls for the transformation of Church structures and content that dissents from the Church’s magisterium, as well as placing an emphasis on welcoming, without a clear mention of amendment of life, groups who feel excluded from the Church such as the divorced-and-civilly remarried, “LGBT” people, and even people living in polygamous marriages.
As a consequence, the document has received some trenchant criticism. In a blistering commentary, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Mutsaerts of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands, said he believed the synod’s listening process has led to a document that acts as a “megaphone for non-Catholic views” and that the process resembles more of a “sociological experiment” than the Church’s mission to proclaim the truth.
For Bishop Mutsaerts, the process gave space “to a little too many defenders of gay marriage, folks who don’t really think abortion is a problem and never really show themselves defenders of the Church’s rich creed, wanting above all to be liked by their secular surroundings.”
“One thing is clear to me,” he said. “God is out of the picture in this wretched synodal process. The Holy Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Writing in the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, journalist and author Luisella Scrosati said those whose views are mostly reflected in the document have been reached “not by the preaching of the Gospel, but by the typical phrasing of pseudo-Christian ideology.” She said their responses were then “amalgamated with the dominant ecclesial ideology” so that what emerges “is not at all the sensus fidei [sense of the faith] as the document suggests” — that is “the consensus of the faithful, by virtue of the theological virtue of faith, infused in them in Baptism” — but rather a consultatio fidelium [consulted faithful] ideologically conducted and reported.”
As with other synods of this pontificate, the Synod on Synodality is being managed and run by personnel with distinct ideological backgrounds and similar perspectives, especially when it comes to sociopolitical issues and doctrine. Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the synod secretariat, called for the Church to be “more accepting of LGBT members” when he was bishop of Gozo, Malta. He was also the primary author of the Maltese bishops’ contentious guidelines on Amoris Laetitia that opened up admission to Holy Communion for civilly remarried divorcees if they were “at peace with God.” For Cardinal Grech, the DCS is part of a process of “growing increasingly into a synodal mindset” and shows the “People of God are converging in calling for a profound renewal of the Church.”
Arguably most relevant to this stage in the synod is Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, head of the synthesizing task force who worked with 26 experts to prepare the DCS for two weeks in Frascati, near Rome, over the summer. Last year, Father Costa caused indignation for saying Italian anti-homophobia legislation (called the “ddl Zan” bill) “was needed,” as the “priority is the defense of the person against all violence and against all discrimination.” Italian bishops and the Vatican opposed the bill, which, among its measures, would have mandated that Catholic schools and other institutions celebrate an annual anti-homophobia day. The legislation was later defeated in the Italian Senate.
Working under Father Costa’s guidance were 26 experts, most of them with similar heterodox visions for the Church. They included Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, dean of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family. In 2015, the theologian appeared to dissent from Humanae Vitae’s teaching on artificial contraception and last year approved of liturgical blessings for same-sex couples under certain conditions.
Another was Church polemicist Austen Ivereigh, who recounted his experience in Frascati in America magazinelast month, saying he believed the document “harvested the fruits of the greatest-ever exercise in listening and consultation the Catholic Church has ever carried out.”
Ivereigh, who wrote The Great Reformer, an authoritative biography on Pope Francis, is well known for his progressive opinions and support for leftist politics, which he often shares on Twitter. A former deputy editor of the British liberal Catholic weeklyThe Tablet, he is now coordinator of the project “The Path to a Synodal Church” and a fellow in contemporary Church history at the Jesuit-run Campion Hall at the University of Oxford.
Also among the experts are Jesuit Father Paul Béré from Burkina Faso, professor of Old Testament exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, who was awarded the Ratzinger Prize for his work on faith in the contemporary world and African theology; and Jesuit Father David McCallum, who, since 2020, has served as the founding executive director of the Program for Discerning Leadership in Rome.
Another of the experts is Father Ormond Rush, a professor of dogmatic theology at Australian Catholic University, who is regarded as an expert on Vatican II and praised by dissenting theologians such as Father Peter Hunermann, whom Benedict XVI criticized for leading “anti-papal initiatives,” and Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University who is often critical of orthodoxy and tradition.
Other experts are Christina Kheng, a planning consultant with the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. Kheng has remarked that the “sensus fidei of the People of God” comes from listening to the word of God “and to the world around us so as to read the signs of the times.”
Pope Benedict XVI appointed her in 2012 to be a theological expert at the Synod on the New Evangelization.
Sister Anne-Béatrice Faye is a member of the Association of African Theologians from Burkina Faso who, since 2021, has been an editorial board member of Concilium. The journal, founded after Vatican II by progressive theologians Yves Congar, Hans Kung, Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx, aims to “reinterpret and re-apply” the Council’s vision “to changing social and religious realities.” Former editors have included dissenting theologian Leonardo Boff and Church historian Alberto Melloni, a member of the Bologna School, which believes in a hermeneutic of rupture after Vatican II.
One bishop was among the experts: Bishop Timothy Costelloe, president of the Australian bishops’ conference.
During the 2018-2022 plenary council of the Church in Australia, he highlighted care for Indigenous people, the abuse crisis and the role of women in the Church. On the latter, he said “a lot of work” remains to be done.
According to the synod secretariat, all the experts were personally chosen or approved by Cardinals Grech and Hollerich, and most were selected from three commissions for the synod established in July 2021. Others, such as Ivereigh and Anna Rowlands, an associate professor of Catholic social thought and practice at the University of Durham, England, were chosen because of their skills in communication, but the secretariat stressed it did not endorse any of the experts’ personal views. Cardinal Grech told the Register Nov. 18 the experts’ names were published to be as transparent as possible, and no “formal accusations” have been made regarding their choice.
Asked why they did not include experts known for their orthodoxy and knowledge of Tradition and Church history, a synod source, who was not authorized to speak to media and requested anonymity, told the Register, “We wanted a group able to work together and not include people who think totally differently, who’d force us to stop because they’re not open to listening.”
Ivereigh told the Register they were looking for “a good balance of men and women, a mix of ecclesial status (lay, religious, clerical) and a balanced representation from the seven regions (Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Oceania, Middle East). We all had to have either English or Italian.”
And rather than possessing the same ideological visions, Ivereigh contended that he and his fellow experts had “the large mix of backgrounds and perspectives” that “made it easier to ensure that you didn’t get unconscious bias.” He said they were “all there to do one thing, and that was to be faithful to what we heard.”
“We were paying attention to what was consistent over the reports, but not just to majority views,” he continued. “We also paid attention to minority views where they were consistent across the reports.” But he added that consistency and a majority view received most attention, and in particular he cited the issue of women, saying he found it “amazing how the topic of the role of women came up in virtually every report.”
But the synod organizers seem keenly aware that many on the orthodox side of the Church are not being given adequate exposure, neither in the local and national stage nor within the synod’s leadership. “Most of the people on the other side haven’t said anything to us,” said the synod source.
“They started to be more present after the local stage, but only to criticize, and this isn’t a proper approach, as then there’s no possibility for dialogue.”
The source added: “If they think we’re totally wrong, they must have arguments to share, so why don’t they do that?” The synod organizers stress they can still participate through the bishops during the continental stage, which runs until next spring.
Another suggestion would be to appoint a clearly orthodox-thinking prelate to help Cardinals Grech and Hollerich lead the synod, perhaps Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo or Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk. Although Cardinal Grech told the Register this is “not within the competence” of the synod secretariat, the synod source said it is something they may consider.
For the moment, however, the synod coordinators are trying to allay fears by stressing that the synod is in a listening phase and that it is the bishops, not the baptized so far consulted, who will make the final decisions — decisions which, given other recent synods, many believe have already been made.
Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, recently defended the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) from detractors who continue to insist the Society is “in schism.” This is not the first time that Schneider has come to the SSPX’s defense nor will it likely be the last.
During a September 2022 Q&A hosted by the Ohio-based Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop Schneider reiterated what the SSPX has always maintained, namely that it is not outside the Catholic Church. The bishop also rejected the claims that the Society’s members were excommunicated and highlighted the fact that the Society upholds the Church’s traditions as they were exhibited up until the Second Vatican Council. Schneider likewise noted that the alleged excommunications of the Society’s bishops were long contested and that the matter was finally put to rest in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Importantly, Bishop Schneider assuaged concerns about attending Masses offered by the SSPX. Although Schneider believes that the Society and other groups founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre “are [in an] irregular canonical situation,” that is not a barrier to Catholics receiving sacraments from SSPX clergy.
In an October 2022 interview with the Catholic journalist John-Henry Westen, Schneider again stated that the SSPX was not in schism and that Catholics may attend Society chapels. He noted that only “a very narrow, legalistic view of the reality of the Church” could lead one to believe the SSPX is schismatic and that those who state as much are “putting the letter of the Canon Law above the importance, the primary importance of the fullness of the Catholic faith and of the traditional liturgy.” Additionally, Schneider highlighted that the SSPX continually exhibits “canonical community with the Pope” by praying for Pope Francis during Mass and offering other public prayers for him.
The bishop’s conclusions should surprise no one. As he recalls, “Pope Francis granted…habitual, ordinary, universal faculties of confession to the priests of the” SSPX and that Society priests can witness marriages with the approval of the local bishop. While the SSPX has held firm to the position that its clerics can grant valid absolutions and witness marriages independent of special permission due to the ongoing crisis in the Church on the basis of supplied jurisdiction, the fact that the Pope has exercised extraordinary jurisdictional powers on the Society’s behalf in recent years militates strongly against any accusation that it exists outside of the Catholic Church.
Some may recall that Bishop Schneider made official visits to two SSPX seminaries in 2015 and declared in an interview with Adelante la Fe that “there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are. This was indeed Archbishop Lefebvre’s petition to the Holy See: ‘Accept us as we are.’” Furthermore:
When the SSPX believes, worships and conducts a moral life as it was demanded and recognized by the Supreme Magisterium and was observed universally in the Church during a centuries long period and when the SSPX recognizes the legitimacy of the pope and the diocesan bishops and prays for them publicly and recognizes also the validity of the sacraments according to the editio typica of the new liturgical books, this should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See.
For the SSPX and those faithful who receive the Church’s sacraments at its chapels, Bishop Schneider’s words confirm what they already know. However, that has not stopped fellow Catholics from spreading misinformation about the Society, including the falsehood that the SSPX is in schism and that its priests do not offer valid sacraments. While it would be a cause for joy if the Bishop of Astana’s words put to rest this needless controversy, that is unfortunately unlikely to happen for the time being.
At a point in history where the Catholic Church continues to suffer from the aftermath of Vatican II and must brace herself against new radical onslaughts such as the “Synod on Synodality,” the faithful are in desperate need of Tradition. The SSPX continues to hold Tradition out for the Universal Church, for the good of souls. As Bishop Schneider points out, the faithful have no reason to be concerned that they would be putting themselves outside of the Church or doing anything sinful by entrusting their souls to the ministrations of SSPX priests. For those who are seeking a safe haven at a time of great crisis in the Church, Bishop Schneider’s words of clarification are most welcome.
(Sources: LifeSite News/Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima – FSSPX.News)
COMMENT. My own experience is that you can always rely on the SSPX priests to preach each and every Catholic doctrine, just as the Church has taught them since the Apostolic teachings were first consolidated by the early Church Fathers. Where else can one affirm such a statement? All the Church’s beloved.pious practices, her traditions and customs, in fact the whole, undiluted TRUTH of our Catholic Faith is found in the churches and chapels of the Fraternity of the SSPX. There the faithful are nourished by the timeless Mass of the Ages, the Holy Sacrifice of the Traditional Latin Mass. None of the shenanigans, disrespect or banal, boring niceties one frequently finds in Catholic churches elsewhere are permitted to cross their thresholds. Once discovered (or rediscovered) this outstanding treasure, “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven” (Fr. Faber on the TLM), makes returning to the community-centred New Mass so heartbreakingly difficult.
“Never miss an opportunity to shut up” was a common saying in our region when I was growing up. The act of ‘shutting up’ was simply being forbearant.
Forbearance is neither a cardinal nor a theological virtue, but it is a virtue. And it sometimes seems to be in short supply in these querulous times.
Forbearance is a crucial element in another second-tier virtue: that of tolerance. Not that tolerance is not mentioned and talked about; it is. But it is all too often misunderstood or misrepresented.
To tolerate something is to think it wrong (or to be in disagreement with it) but for whatever reason or reasons, to forbear from acting on that discernment. All too often in modern discourse, tolerance practically means to adopt a previously rejected position or belief. To be considered tolerant it is sometimes not enough to avoid expressing vehement dissent; one must endorse, or appear to endorse, the thing one rejects.
Paradoxically put, the world is sometimes intolerant of old-school tolerance. The bitterness and hyper-partisan nature of our current political culture is an unhappy example of this. At our political extremes, there is no tolerance on one side without some degree of surrender from the other side.
That this is unhealthy almost everyone seems to agree. What we can do about it is less clear.
Forbearance might help. If we think about forbearance as arising from tolerance, it would seem to be too much to ask. But if we think about tolerance as being a product of forbearance, then suddenly we discover we have an active way forward to reach that goal of tolerance.
As is true of many things, forbearance is easier said than done, especially when it comes to guarding our tongues. Inertia and the general distaste most people feel for physical confrontation make it easier to forbear physically than verbally. The distance between thought and bodily movement seems greater than the distance between thought and word. A neurologist might quarrel with this, but it certainly seems that way to me.
Years ago, First Lady Nancy Reagan promoted an anti-drug program with the slogan “Just say no.” Ridiculed in some quarters, it proved relatively effective (especially when compared to “I didn’t like it and I didn’t inhale.”).
When it comes to a practical approach to forbearance, a good start is a paraphrase of the former First Lady’s advice: “Just don’t.”
Don’t say it. Don’t do it. Forbear.
There is an exception. In some cases, anger and intolerance leads us toward silence and inaction. In those cases, forbearance means we must push ourselves to greet the obnoxious party guest politely (if not necessarily cordially). We shake hands out of courtesy if not affection or friendship. In such cases, forbearance leads to courteous action.
So far I have written about human forbearance. But God is forbearing, too. In Romans 2:3-4, St. Paul writes:
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?
More than once St. Paul chides people impatient for the return of Jesus with the warning that in doing so they invite judgment on themselves sooner rather than later. Paul attributes the delay to God’s generosity and mercy in giving everyone in the world time to hear the good news and repent. This is forbearance on a grand scale indeed.
We ourselves are called to forbear on a much smaller scale, which is a great relief for me, at least.
A Fine Line
It is worth noticing that forbearance puts us in a good position to forgive. It provides a stopping point for an emotional rush to anger, resentment, and a lasting grudge. A time of forbearance can move us past a moment and into a time where a greater perspective and some emotional distance make it possible to forgive without falling into a deep pit of anger, a pit that can be difficult to climb out of once it has been occupied.
Forbearance also allows us time to consider the problem of a godly, loving reproach should the situation require it. It also allows us time to find someone to both validate our concern and to accompany us if reproach is actually called for (as described in Matthew 18:15-16).
Forbearance can almost be characterized as good manners. But it is much more than that. Classifying forbearance as merely mannerly reduces the meaning of the discipline being exercised. It also makes it more difficult to discern when and where forbearance is no longer appropriate.
We forbear from action when we decide that the results of word or deed will be more damaging than inaction. But there are times when we cannot forbear; times when we must stand and make our witness. We may be witnessing against injustice or we may be witnessing against depravity, or cruelty, or immorality, or anything which exceeds the appropriate boundaries of tolerance. We cannot allow tolerance to be weaponized for use against moral rectitude.
It can be a fine line. Even so, we must walk it as best we can. But when in doubt, “Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.”
Jesus Christ is King of Thieves, though he never stole. He is Savior of Sinners, though he never sinned.
Today’s Gospel presents Jesus as reigning from the cross. Nothing could be more paradoxical.
Let’s look at it from four perspectives:
Today’s Gospel presents Christ, crucified, between two thieves. We are all sinners and have used the gifts and things that belong to God in a way contrary to his will. To misuse things that belong to others is a form of theft. Consider some of the things we claim as our own and how easily we misuse them: our bodies, our time, our talents, our money, the gift of our speech, and the gift of our freedom. We call them ours, but they really belong to God, and if we use them in ways contrary to his intention, we are guilty of a form of theft.
Consider, also, that the two thieves were very different.In the Church we have saints and sinners, and in the world there are those who will turn to Christ and be saved and others who will turn away and be lost.
1. The “Bad Thief” derides Jesus and makes demands of him: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
2. The “Good Thief” reverences Christ and rebukes the other, saying, “Have you no fear of God?” The Good Thief recognizes his guilt: “We have been condemned justly.” He asks, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom,” but he leaves the terms of it up to Christ and places his life under the authority of Christ the King.
Christ came to call sinners — thieves, if you will. Yes, we are all thieves, but pray God that we are the good thief, the repentant thief, the thief who is now ready to submit himself to the authority of Christ, who is King of all creation. Heaven is a real steal, something we don’t deserve; but it is only accessed through repentance and faith. The Good Thief does open the door of his heart and thereby is saved.
A king has authority. Does Christ have authority in your life?
Consider whether you acknowledge that everything you call your own really belongs to God and think about how well you use those gifts.
How do you use our time? Are you committed to pray and to attend Mass every Sunday without fail? Are you chaste? Do you reverence life? Are you generous enough to the poor and needy?
It is one thing to call Christ our King, but it is another to be truly under his authority. The Lord is clear enough in telling us that he expects our obedience: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord” but do not do what I tell you?’” (Luke 6:46). Is Christ your King?
The thief who asked Jesus to remember him manifested repentance, faith and a kind of baptism of desire. In so doing, he moved into the victor’s column and claims the victory through his choice for Jesus Christ.
Will you have the victory? That depends on whether you choose the prince of this world or the King of the Universe, Jesus.
Some think that they can tread some middle path, choosing neither Jesus nor Satan. But if you do that, you’ve actually chosen the prince of this world, who loves compromise. Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: “Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.'” When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, and they anointed him king of Israel.
I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, The tribes of the LORD.
According to the decree for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.
Letter to the Colossians1,12-20.
Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke23,35-43.
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407) priest at Antioch then Bishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church Homily on the Cross and the criminal, 1, 3-4; PG 49, 403
“Above him there was an inscription that read: ‘This is the King of the Jews’”
“Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” The criminal did not venture to make this prayer before he had laid down the burden of his sins with his confession. So you see, O Christian, the power of confession. He acknowledged his sins and paradise was opened; he acknowledged his sins and gained confidence enough to ask for the Kingdom in spite of his deeds of robbery …
Do you want to know the Kingdom? What can you see here that is like it? You have the nails and cross before your eyes but this cross, said Jesus, is itself the very sign of the Kingdom. As for me, when I see him on the cross, I proclaim him king. Isn’t it the duty of a king to die for his subjects? He himself has said that: “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep,” (Jn 10:11). This is no less true for a good king; he, too, lays down his life for his subjects. So I will proclaim him king on account of the gift he has made of his life: “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
Do you understand now how it is that the cross is the sign of the Kingdom? Here is yet another proof. Christ did not leave his cross on earth but took it up and bore it with him into heaven. We know this because he will have it with him when he returns in glory. To teach you how much this cross is worthy of veneration, he has made it a sign of glory. … When the Son of Man comes: “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” Then shall reign a light so bright that even the brightest stars will be eclipsed. “The stars will fall from the sky. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,” (Mt 24:29 f.). Do you understand the power of the sign of the cross? … When a king enters a city, soldiers take up their standards, hoist them onto their shoulders and march in front of him to announce his arrival. In the same way, legions of angels and archangels will go before Christ when he comes from heaven. They will bear this sign on their shoulders announcing the coming of our king.
The report also wrote about a lack of media coverage and awareness stemming from self-censorship. Former devout Catholic nations, notably Ireland, are now, in only the last few decades, considered to be no longer Catholic. Europe, the cradle of Christianity, is undergoing a growing scourge of violent anti-Christianity.
Hate crimes against Christians are on the rise in Europe, according to a new report published this week.
The Observatory for the Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians (OIDAC) in Europe documented more than 500 anti-Christian hate crimes — including four homicides — in Europe in 2021.
Since 2005, the Vienna-based organization has tracked cases of discrimination and other hate crimes against Christians. These range from vandalism to homicide. The data collected is on public record, and anyone can check the figures and see the source of the incidents. The report denounced a “chilling effect among victims” and a lack of media coverage.
The new report runs 65 pages long and is filled with case histories as well as two expert commentaries and a testimony. The report also provides some final recommendations.
According to the new figures, in 2021, OIDAC documented anti-Christian hate crimes in 19 European countries. There were 14 cases of physical assault, and four Christians were murdered.
Out of 500 anti-Christian hate crimes documented in 2021, approximately 300 were acts of vandalism, such as graffiti, damage to property, and desecration. There were about 80 cases of theft — ranging from religious objects and consecrated hosts to church equipment.
Beyond that, there were approximately 60 arson attacks or cases of intended arson.
Underpinning these numbers is the concern that hate crimes against Christians may often be downplayed or overlooked, while it is common to acknowledge cases of Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.
Part of the problem, the report noted, lies in one typical objection that says: “Christians cannot be discriminated against in Europe because they are in the majority.”
On this question, the report noted that “while minorities can be more vulnerable to discrimination, it is a wrong and unsubstantiated belief that majority groups cannot be discriminated against, as history shows.”
“Rather than numbers, it depends on which groups have more power to shape the political discourse, to discriminate, insult, or attack a certain group without facing the consequences. At the same time, it is important to differentiate between cultural Christianity, which is still a majority in Europe, from those practicing Christians.“
The report also wrote about a lack of media coverage and awareness stemming from self-censorship. This was identified in five areas of life: education, the workplace, the public sphere, private social interactions, and on media platforms.
Among the stories that did not grab the wider media headlines were attacks against two public Catholic processions in France: one by an extremist left-wing group of activists on May 13 and another in December by a group of radical Islamists.
In August 2021, a Christian preacher was questioned by U.K. police for reading the Bible out loud, in a calm tone, outside a railway station in London. It was one of several cases of street preachers running afoul of authorities in public streets for preaching Christian values.
According to the report, these incidents happen because “ambiguously-worded hate speech laws and public order legislation have undermined the right to Freedom of Speech.”
In 2021, media and political groups subjected Christians to increased stereotyping, the report added. Christian-led organizations were banned from social media platforms for expressing dissenting beliefs, while insulting and violent speech against Christians was permitted on the same platforms.
An OIDAC press release noted that “in journalistic articles, Christianity was described as a ‘dangerous ideology’ and believers were called ‘stupid religious fanatics.’ For example, a Spanish politician described a Catholic procession as a ‘Taliban’ event, and another politician commented that the 7,000 murdered Catholics during the Spanish Civil War ‘should have been more.’”
Germany, Spain, and the U.K. saw the push for “safe access buffer zones” around abortion facilities. This “criminalizes activities including prayer vigils, conversations with the public, and other forms of peaceful activism,” the report said.
The report also included two well-known cases: that of the former Finnish minister Päivi Räsänen, who was charged with “hate speech” for tweeting a passage from the Bible on homosexuality.
The other case concerned two Swedish midwives who refused to perform an abortion and, for that reason, were allegedly denied employment.
“Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed the case, setting a precedent for future cases and prompting legal scholars to urge for a formal examination of the case,” the report said.
The report also covered new laws that impose sexual education, often including gender theory. According to the authors, these infringed on the rights of parents to decide how to educate their children.
Further areas of concern identified in the report were rules that gave minors autonomy to undergo an abortion and gender transition and “unjustifiable and discriminatory treatment” against churches in anti-COVID-19 legislation.
In its concluding list of recommendations, the report called on “politicians, journalists, and other public figures” to support “building a more tolerant society.”
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us. God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Virgin Immaculate, pray for us. St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us. Beloved of God, pray for us. Imitator of Jesus Christ, pray for us. Good shepherd of the people, pray for us. Model for priests, pray for us. Light of the Church, pray for us. Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us. Faithful son of St. Francis, pray for us. Marked with the stigmata of Jesus, pray for us. Patient in suffering, pray for us. Helper of the dying, pray for us. Director of souls, pray for us. Heart of gold, pray for us. Apostle of mercy, pray for us. Worker of miracles, pray for us. Consoler of the afflicted, pray for us. Lover of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us. Helper of souls in doubt and darkness, pray for us. Comforter of the sick, pray for us. Example of humility, pray for us. Source of wisdom, pray for us. Mirror of the divine life, pray for us. Lover of Jesus Crucified, Resigned to the will of God, pray for us. Doing good upon earth, pray for us. Filled with the spirit of self-sacrifice, pray for us. Our help and hope in all our needs, pray for us. Vessel of the Holy Spirit, pray for us. Leading us to Christ, pray for us. Our spiritual father and advocate, pray for us. Crowned with glory in Heaven, pray for us.
God our Father, You helped St. Pio of Pietrelcina to reflect the image of Christ through a life of charity and self-sacrifice.
May we follow your Son by walking in the footsteps of St. Pio and by imitating his selfless love.
The saint today is one of the patrons of Hungary, Elizabeth (+1320), the niece of Saint Hedwig of Silesia, (+1243) whom we celebrated in October. Elizabeth belongs to the ’24’ club – saints who died at that youthful age, or thereabouts – Saint Therese, Pier Giorgio, Gemma Galgani – all having fulfilled a long space in a short time. And Elizabeth certainly did. In 1221, at the age of 14 (still the minimum in canon law), she was married to Ludwig IV, Landgrave of Thuringia, and they lived a happy conjugal life until her husband’s untimely death six years later, while she was pregnant with their third child. He himself had been quite content with his wife’s devotional life: Her strict regime of prayer, her generous almsgiving and feeding of the poor, although it is told that he drew the line at coming home and hearing his wife had placed a leper in their marriage bed – and we might sympathize with the man. But when he drew back the covers in indignation, there instead was Christ crucified on the Cross. Strange things happened in that age of Faith, and who are we to gainsay?
There is also the story of her husband – or perhaps her uncle, who was not so well-disposed towards her – meeting Elizabeth as she was bringing food to the poor. To ensure in the presence of his nobles that she was not stealing riches from the treasury, he asked to see what was in her apron, and when she opened it, beautiful and miraculous red and white roses fell to the ground, reminiscent of the future miracle of Juan Diego.
Hearing of her husband’s demise on September 11, 1227, she lamented: He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today. After that, Elizabeth threw herself fully into religion and a preparation for eternity.
She made a vow of obedience to her spiritual director, Konrad von Marburg, who seems to have been inordinately strict with her – but one wonders who was the stricter, he with her, or Elizabeth with herself. Like the little seers of Fatima, she seems to have ‘seen’ eternity close-up, and the vanity of this passing world, with all its pleasures and fancies, so ethereal and unreal. She made a promise of celibacy – hindering her family’s dynastic ambitions – and moved out (or was kicked out, depending on which version) of her castle, moving to Marburg, where she built a hospital, in those days well before public medicine, and tended to the sick, the suffering and the poor, amongst whose number she soon counted herself, going peacefully to her eternal reward a few years later, on this November 17 in 1231 after a full life, at the age when most young women – and, yes, young men – in the Western world are still wandering and wondering what to do with themselves.
Such was Elizabeth’s reputation for holiness, along with the abundance of miracles through her intercession, that she was canonized just shy of five years later, by Gregory IX on May 27, 1235. Her tomb was a very popular place of pilgrimage for many years, and a grand church built in her honour by the Teutonic Knights. Alas, devotion has faded of late, but Elizabeth does seem to be interceding for her native Hungary, which is more sane, and hence doing better, than most places descending into madness.
One wonders how many know her story. The magnificent Elisabethkirche still stands as a wonderful testament of her life. Elizabeth is amongst the heavenly host in heaven, waiting for our prayers and requests.
So send them along – you never know what miracles might be sent your way.
St. Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093), the granddaughter of an English king, was born in Hungary due to her father’s exile there as a child. Her early years were spent in the Hungarian court, among pious and observant Catholic royals.
Her great-uncle, St. Edward the Confessor, who had succeeded her grandfather, was near death in 1057, and Margaret’s family returned to their native England since her own father was considered a possible successor to his childless uncle. Hardship struck the family yet again when her father died immediately upon arriving back to the land from which he had been exiled years before.
Through a succession of battles and shifts of power, her family lost the English throne, and Margaret’s family fled for safety to Scotland. There, in 1070, Malcom III, King of Scots, married Margaret, desiring a bride who was a descendant of the Anglo-Saxon throne. Together they had eight children, three of whom would succeed their father on the Scottish throne.
The comfortable and lofty life of royals was undesirable to St. Margaret in many ways, and she sought with all her ability to use her status as a means to better the lives of others spiritually and materially.
Her noble and royal status was not, after all, what constituted St. Margaret’s saintliness. Rather, she was canonized in 1250 on account of a life of holiness. Regarded as a strong woman of valiant character, St. Margaret was convicted intensely in the Faith and was a devoted wife and mother. She knew hardship and suffering, and she embraced them with great virtue.
St. Margaret’s piety was evident in the considerable amount of time she spent in prayer. The saint also illustrated the importance of silence and solitude when she would often retreat to the cloister of a cave for occasions of prayer and quiet reflection. St. Margaret was a voracious reader, particularly of spiritual material. Her husband, who was illiterate, greatly admired his wife’s appetite for books.
The sacraments, especially the celebration of the Mass, was most important to the queen. It is said there were days when she attended as many as six Masses.
St. Margaret would perform charitable acts for the poor. In loving and honoring them, she was loving and honoring Christ. These included washing their feet and serving them food.
St. Margaret was always quick to make a connection between her acts of service to the lowly as an act of sacrifice and worship. She often would be found going to the church so that she could offer up her service in praise of God. The Scottish royal couple set an example for their guests when typically they chose to serve guests before they would eat themselves.
Although her husband was not particularly religious, St. Margaret was unafraid to effectively use her clout with him to advance several projects for the service of the Church. She was instrumental in establishing a ferry for the transportation of pilgrims, and she advocated for a more dedicated observance of the Sabbath throughout the realm.
St. Margaret was a great supporter of Benedictine life in Scotland. She knew the importance of monasteries and their contributions to society, and so she invited the Benedictines to establish a new monastery and was also instrumental in bringing reform and new life to another.
St. Margaret’s husband and eldest son were killed in a siege attack on 13th November, 1093. The widow learned of the news on her own death bed. It is believed that a life of austerity and fasting took a toll on her body, and the grievous news had broken her heart. She died three days later.
St. Margaret of Scotland is a patron saint for service to the poor and her feast day is 16th November.
ST MARGARET, WIFE OF MALCOLM III, PATRON OF SCOTLAND; MEMORIAL: NOVEMBER 16
Merciful God, you gave the holy Queen Margaret of Scotland great love for the poor. Lend your ear to the intercessions of this holy woman and help us to live after her example so that your goodness and mercy becomes visible in today’s world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
‘A pope could become a heretic as a private person and thus automatically lose his office if the contradiction to the revelation and the dogmatic teaching of the Church is evident,’ affirmed the eminent cardinal.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig MüllerElke Wetzig / Wikimedia Commons
Cardinal Gerhard Müller said in a recent interview that a pope loses his office if he becomes a heretic and “if the contradiction to the revelation and the dogmatic teaching of the Church is evident.”
Müller made the remarks about a pope possibly losing his office while answering a question about papal infallibility in an interview published on the German Catholic news site kath.net.
“Dogmatic declarations may have the quality of infallibility if their content derives from Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Word of God, and if they are formally presented to be believed by the proper authority of the Magisterium of the Pope and the Bishops, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, as a truth revealed by God,” the German cardinal explained.
However, “a new public revelation they [the Pope and the bishops] do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith (Lumen Gentium 25),” Müller continued.
“It is therefore erroneous to think that a council or a pope could annul an earlier dogma or stipulate, for example, that the nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders does not include the requirement of the male sex of its recipient,” the German cardinal said, adding that it would also be wrong to think that the pope or a council could introduce marriage between two people of the same sex.
“In an extreme case, a pope could become a heretic as a private person and thus automatically lose his office if the contradiction to the revelation and the dogmatic teaching of the Church is evident,” Müller stated.
The position that a Pope could become a heretic and lose his office was also held by St. Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, who wrote about the issue in the second book of his work “De Romano Pontifice” (“On the Roman Pontiff”). According to Bellarmine, “the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.” (“De Romano Pontifice,” Book II, Chapter 30)
“This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers,” Bellarmine continued, “who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: ‘He would not be able to retain the episcopate, and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.’”
“According to what St. Cyprian affirms in this passage, even had Novatian been the true and legitimate Pope, he would have automatically fallen from the pontificate, if he separated himself from the Church,” Bellarmine stated, adding that “[t]he foundation of this argument is that the manifest heretic is not in any way a member of the Church, that is, neither spiritually nor corporally, which signifies that he is not such by internal union nor by external union.”
Furthermore, Müller noted in the same interview that “every Pope must distinguish precisely between his task and himself as a private person,” and that a Pope “must not impose his preferences on other Christians.”
“A pope or bishop or any other ecclesiastical superior must also not abuse the trust that is readily placed in him in a fraternal atmosphere in order to provide his incompetent or corrupt friends with ecclesiastical sinecures,” the German prelate continued.
Müller mentioned the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Jesus by St. Peter before the Passion as proof that “Church officials in history and the present can also fail and abuse their office selfishly or narrow-mindedly.”
The “best way” that the faithful “can support the Pope and the bishops is through prayer,” Müller stated, referencing Jesus Christ’s words directed at St. Peter: “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)
The German Cardinal and former head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has been a staunch critic of recent heterodox developments in the Church, especially the German Synodal Way and Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality, which he called a “hostile takeover of the Church.”