Cardinal Pell appeals verdict to be livestreamed August 21

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VICTORIA, Australia, August 14, 2019

From LifeSiteNews:

The three judges in the Appellate Court of Victoria, Australia, will hand down their verdict in Cardinal George Pell’s appeal on August 21 at 9:30 a.m. local time, according to Australian media. The verdict will be live-streamed, as before, on the Supreme Court’s website.

The appeal was heard over the course of two days in June, with Justices Anne Ferguson, Chris Maxwell, and Mark Winberg presiding. Justices may choose to order a retrial of the case, overturn it, or uphold the guilty verdict.

A synopsis of the appeal Cardinal Pell’s legal team made includes three main points for overturning the conviction. The first was the exclusion, by Judge Peter Kidd, of a 19-minute video that displayed in detail where individuals would have been located in the cathedral during the time of the alleged sexual assaults. The second argument was that Cardinal Pell was not arraigned directly in front of a jury – a “fundamental irregularity” in legal proceedings. The third cited that the jury itself reached an unreasonable verdict.

READ: Cardinal Pell awaits verdict after prosecutor stumbles in appeal hearing

Questions continue to mount about whether Cardinal Pell’s attempted clean-up of Vatican finances – including a deep-diving external audit of the Vatican Bank by Price Waterhouse Coopers – is connected to the sudden, unsubstantiated investigation (“Operation Tethering”) of his person, and the later charges of sexual assault.

Click here for a timeline of events, compiled by Edward Pentin, leading up to this appeal and here for background information on the financial scandals still plaguing the Vatican.

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Meditations on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Assumption of the Virgin – by CABEZALERO, Juan Martín – from Museo del Prado, Madrid

Mary dies; but how does she die? She dies entirely detached from any affection for created things, and dies consumed with that divine love with which her most holy heart was always and entirely inflamed. Oh holy mother, thou hast already left the earth; do not forget us, miserable pilgrims, who remain in this valley of tears struggling against so many enemies, who desire to see us lost in hell. Ah, by the merits of thy precious death, obtain for us detachment from earthly things, pardon of our sins, love to God, and holy perseverance; and, when the hour of our death shall arrive, assist us from heaven with thy prayers, and obtain for us to come and kiss thy feet in paradise.

Mary dies, and her most pure body is carried by the holy apostles, and placed in the sepulchre, and is guarded by angels for three days, after which it is transported to paradise but her beautiful soul entered, as soon as she expired, the kingdom of the blessed, accompanied by innumerable angels and by her Son himself. Having entered heaven, she humbly presents herself to God, adores him, and, with unbounded love, thanks him for all the graces which she has received from him. God embraces her, blesses her, and constitutes her queen of the universe, exalting her above all the angels and saints. Now, if the human mind, as the apostle says, cannot arrive at the comprehension of the great glory that God is preparing in heaven for his servants who have loved him on this earth, what must be the glory that he gave to this his most holy mother, who on earth has loved him more than all the saints and angels, and has loved him with all her power! So that Mary alone, when she entered heaven, could say to God: Oh my Lord, if I have not loved thee on earth as thou dost merit, at least I have loved thee as much as I could.

Let us rejoice with Mary in the glory with which her God has enriched her; and let us also rejoice for ourselves, for Mary, at the same time was made queen of the world, and appointed our advocate. She is so merciful an advocate, that she consents to defend all sinners who recommend themselves to her; and she is so powerful with our Judge that she gains all the causes which she defends. Oh our queen and advocate, in thy hand is our salvation; if thou dost pray for us, we shall be saved. Say to thy Son that thou dost wish us with thee in paradise. He denies thee nothing that thou dost ask. Oh our life, our sweetness, and our hope! Mary, pray Jesus for us.



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Devastating Latest Results from Pew Research on Catholics’ Belief in the Real Presence

But are we really surprised? Haven’t the last 50 plus years of bad catechesis and community-focused, badly celebrated Novus Ordo Masses been a consistent undermining of the Real Presence of the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ’s Presence in the Blessed Sacrament? The shameful results of the survey made by Pew Research simply reflect the sad state of faith in the doctrinal teachings of the Church since the centre of people’s “lex orandi“ (the God-centred reverent Traditional Latin Mass) altered their “lex credendi”. It really is not rocket science.

by John Hirschauer on the NATIONAL REVIEW

Of Course Most Catholics Don’t Believe in the Real Presence

Mahatma Gandhi is often reported to have said something like: If Catholics really believed that God Himself were present in the Eucharist, they would crawl toward the altar on their stomachs. Long pants and a collared shirt would be a start.

The Catholic Mass, delicately constructed over the centuries and gradually ornamented with what the late Michael Davies called liturgical “accretions,” was rebuilt wholesale in the 1960s at Vatican Council II to better include (as if they had ever been excluded) The People.

The scene at the consecration in Novus Ordo Parish, USA in Year of Our Lord 2019 astounds in its portability. It proceeds like a ritual of perfect disregard: Father Bob, in the name of anti-clericalism, conscripts a lay army of “extraordinary ministers” to distribute the Host in their Sunday Mediocrities (Barb’s jeans and white blouse will no doubt suffice for Sunday brunch at the country club after Mass). Jan, Susan, Barb, and Gregg ascend the altar without genuflection or bow — this is The People’s house! — as Father Bob hands them what would, in a faraway time, be considered the Body and Blood of Christ. But this is The People’s feast, and the greatest threat to their unity as such is the One who brings not peace, but a sword.

No swords in The People’s house.

Like clockwork, The People (save one or two holdouts burdened by their “rigid” doctrinal formation) line up for Communion. Five of them — six, if you count the priest — have been to confession in the last calendar year, and one — priest inclusive — can recite the Act of Contrition without visual aid. Some third-rate hymn written in 1994 is played on the acoustic guitar in the background as one by one, the Blessed Sacrament is transferred from one unconsecrated hand to another. The Prince of Peace has been tried and found divisive; they’ll take peace instead. All the while, the Church continues Her interminable “dialogue” with modernity and her princes: pluralism, The Market, conscience, Patriarch Bartholomew, feminism, Pride &c.

Seventy percent of Catholics, per Pew Research’s latest figures, don’t believe in the Real Presence. Why are you surprised?

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Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!

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Through the Blessed Sacrament St Clare Repelled the Invading Saracens

by Elaine M. Jordan

St. Clare Repelling the Saracens

This Eucharistic miracle was written by a Franciscan friar who lived at the time of St. Francis, Tommaso da Celano (1200-1255). It describes how St. Clare of Assisi succeeded, with the Blessed Sacrament, in turning away Saracen troops that were surrounding the city.

Regiments of Saracen soldiers and bowmen were stationed there (in the Convent of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy), massed like bees, ready to devastate the encampments and seize the cities. Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, a city beloved of the Lord, and while the army was approaching the gates, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the convent and even the very cloister of the virgins. The women were in terror, their voices trembling with fear as they called out to their Mother, St. Clare.

Miracle of St. Clare

St. Clare puts the Saracens to flight

With a fearless heart, St. Clare commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory case in which the Body of the Saint of Saints was kept with great devotion. And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke plaintively to her Christ: “Behold, my Lord, is it possible that Thou wouldst deliver into the hands of pagans Thy defenseless slaves, whom I have taught out of love for Thee? I pray Thee, Lord, protect these Thy slaves whom I cannot now save by myself.”

Suddenly a voice resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: “I will always protect you!”

“My Lord,” she added, “if it is Thy wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Thy love.’

Christ replied, “It will have to undergo many trials, but it will be defended by My protection.”

Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters: “I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.”

Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of the sister whom they saw praying. And Clare immediately warned those who heard the voice I spoke of above, ordering them sternly: “Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.”

Prayer to St Clare

St Clare, pray for the conversion of the world to Christ and His Church–and for Christians to realize the immense gift Jesus gave us in the Eucharist. It is precisely because the world has lost its faith in Jesus and the Eucharist that we now face the suicidal depopulation of the West and the ensuing invasion of Islam. Only through the eating of the flesh of the Son of God will we carry Jesus life within us and bravely command every evil to flee our midst.


(From Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

ST. CLARE, Abbess.

ON Palm Sunday, March 17, 1212, the Bishop of Assisi left the altar to present a palm to a noble maiden, eighteen years of age, whom bashfulness had detained in her place. This maiden was St. Clare. Already she had learnt from St. Francis to hate the world, and was secretly resolved to live for God alone. The same night she escaped, with one companion, to the Church of the Portiuncula, where she was met by St. Francis and his brethren. At the altar of Our Lady, St. Francis cut off her hair, clothed her in his habit of penance, a piece of sack-cloth, with his cord as a girdle. Thus she was espoused to Christ. In a miserable house outside Assisi she founded her Order, and was joined by her sister, fourteen years of age, and afterwards by her mother and other noble ladies. They went barefoot, observed perpetual abstinence, constant silence, and perfect poverty. While the Saracen army of Frederick II. was ravaging the valley of Spoleto, a body of infidels advanced to assault St. Clare’s convent, which stood outside Assisi. The Saint caused the Blessed Sacrament to be placed in a monstrance, above the gate of the monastery facing the enemy, and kneeling before it, prayed, “Deliver not to beasts, O Lord, the souls of those who confess to Thee.” A voice from the Host replied, “My protection will never fail you.” A sudden panic seized the infidel host, which took to flight, and the Saint’s convent was spared. During her illness of twenty-eight years the Holy Eucharist was her only support and spinning linen for the altar the one work of her hands. She died in 1253, as the Passion was being read, and Our Lady and the angels conducted her to glory.

Reflection.—In a luxurious and effeminate age, the daughters of St. Clare still bear the noble title of poor, and preach by their daily lives the poverty of Jesus Christ.

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Cardinal George Pell’s Letter from Prison to his Supporters

Comment:  Two days ago we received a copy of this Pastoral Letter below – written by Cdl. George Pell to his supporters – from one of CP&S’  faithful Australian blog followers. At the time we were asked to keep the Letter private because it had not yet been cleared for general publication. As this is no longer the case, and it is now being diffused over the web, we publish it here for your information. Some interesting thoughts from the Cardinal on the upcoming Amazon Synod.

Pastoral Letter from George Cardinal Pell.
Friday, 9 August 2019 ·
Melbourne Assessment Prison

Dear ***** and brothers and sisters in Christ of the Support Cardinal Pell group,

First of all, let me thank you for your prayers and messages of support. These bring immense consolation, humanly and spiritually.

A word of explanation. I have received between 1500-2000 letters and all will be answered. So far, I have only responded to letters from my fellow prisoners (to nearly all of those who wrote) and a few other special cases. Your kindness is not forgotten and will always be fondly remembered.

My faith in Our Lord, like yours, is a source of strength. The knowledge that my small suffering can be used for good purposes through being joined to Jesus’ suffering gives me purpose and direction. Challenges and problems in Church life should be confronted in a similar spirit of faith.

We must always remember that the Church is one, not just in the sense that good families stick together whatever their differences, but because the Church of Christ is based in the Catholic Church, which constitutes the Body of Christ. One ancient saying teaches that there must be unity in essentials (Jesus’ essentials), while there can be diversity in non-essentials. But everywhere and in everything, we must have charity.

I agree that we have reason to be disturbed by the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazonian Synod. This is not the first low-quality document the Synod secretariat has produced. Cardinal G. Muller, formerly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written an excellent critique. I am no expert on the region, but I have been to Iquitos in Amazonian Peru, where a Sydney priest, Fr John Anderson runs a parish of exemplary piety, pastoral activity and orthodoxy. As in the Amazon, a lot of water has yet to run before the Synod.

One point is fundamental. The Apostolic Tradition, the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, taken from the New Testament and taught by Popes and Councils by the Magisterium, is the only criterion doctrinally for all teaching on doctrine and practice. Amazon or no Amazon, in every land, the Church cannot allow any confusion, much less any contrary teaching, to damage the Apostolic Tradition.

The Spirit continues to be with the Church. You have every right to make your voices heard, reasonably and in charity. We need not expect the worst.

Yours in the Lord,
Your grateful brother,
+ George Card. Pell

The new concern now is, Will Cardinal Pell Be Persecuted for His Prison Letter?

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An Unusual Delivery

Comment  This is a reblog from the website of our old team-mate and friend, Brother Burrito. It is an account of an event that happened to him some time ago as a young doctor, and the challenging circumstances he had to confront in which the “Hand of God” can be clearly seen. It is also an amazing story of the love, courage and sacrifice of a young Irish mother who put the life of her unborn baby before her own.


It is not uncommon for middle grade anaesthetists to be overwhelmed by simultaneous calls upon their time, especially out of hours. Thus it was in the early 90s that I was busy in A&E with some critically ill punter who needed admission to ITU, when I got urgently bleeped to labour ward for a top-urgent caesarean section.

Such cases are always of the highest priority. The mother, the baby, or both are at risk of losing their lives, or suffering life-long disability in consequence. However, I couldn’t just leave the super-sick guy in the resus’ room to take his chances with the very junior doctors present there. What was I to do?

My junior colleague was busy in theatre, and was not experienced enough to relieve me anyway. My Consultant was 20 minutes away. I let labour ward know that it would be at least 20 minutes until I got there, and that they should move the mother into theatre and prep for immediate operation. I dispatched my technician ahead of me to get everything ready for a rapid sequence induction of general anaesthesia. Meanwhile, I awaited the arrival of my boss, pacing up and down like an expectant father.

She arrived running. Very little time was wasted on hand-over, thankfully. I really had to be elsewhere. I scooted out of the casualty department, crossed two car parks, negotiated some builder’s shuttering and the obstetric block’s security door, then rode up four floors in the lift. I still had to run 3/4 of the way around the labour ward floor to get to the  theatre, and then I saw what I saw.

A caesarean section operation was in progress: the mother was supine upon the operating table, screaming and sobbing. The baby was screaming too, but healthily, lying upside down upon its resuscitaire, with a paediatrician in attendance.  Two surgeons and a scrub nurse were standing by the mother’s lower abdomen, and a surgical pack was being firmly pressed into the wound there.

The most obviously wrong thing about this picture was the presence of a man, dressed in the style of Bob the builder, whose unconscious body was slumped insensate over the mother’s chest, with his arms dangling to the floor.

I must admit to being a bit surprised by all of this.

The seemingly seven foot tall African surgeon, of very dark skin and a gleaming pearly-white smile let me know the score with his kindly deep bass voice (and I paraphrase from memory):

“This mother was so concerned for the well-being of her unborn child that she demanded that I perform the caesarean without anaesthetic, which I did. Her husband held her down, in accordance with her wishes. I infiltrated local anaesthetic into the wound as I went, but there was not perfect analgesia.  I delivered Baby safely, but have since awaited your arrival”.

This was a scenario I had never encountered before, nor since.

The only practical option then was to put mum to sleep and let the operation be finished safely and well. The first step was to remove her husband’s prostrate body from across her ribcage so that she could breathe properly. We placed his fainted form upon the floor in the recovery position and tasked a spare midwife to recover him.

Then I did the needful. Mum woke up about half an hour later in the usual pain and confusion that follows an operation under general anaesthetic.

I told her about her healthy baby son, and her eyes lit up joyously.

What I didn’t say was how I had just witnessed the greatest possible act of courage by a woman: She had been willing to sacrifice herself, her comfort and her very life, for the sake of her unborn child.

This is a true story, and I am willing to endure torture in defence of its veracity. So much nonsense is bandied about nowadays about how little worth an unborn child has. This mother’s practical witness demonstrates how much hogwash that presumed worthlessness is.

The mother and father were both Irish Catholics. The surgeon was a Ghanaian Catholic too. No coincidence, I suggest.

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Reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C.

Image result for Where your treasure is painting


FIRST READING            Wisdom 18:6-9
The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.  Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.  For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.  For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.

SECOND READING                  Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Brothers and sisters:  Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.  Because of it the ancients were well attested.  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.  By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.  By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.  So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.  All these died in faith.  They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now
they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”  He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

GOSPEL                Luke 12:32-48
Jesus said to his disciples:  “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your belongings and give alms.  Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.  Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.  And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.  Be sure of this:  if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  Then Peter said, “Lord,  is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”  And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.  Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property.  But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful.  That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.  Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. —  The Letter to the Hebrews gives us a good sense of the readings for this Sunday.  Faith is the dominant theme and believing in what we have not seen underlines our faith in the Lord.

The first reading is from the Book of Wisdom and gives us insights into how to believe:  God will save us and we must trust in God.  For many of us, it is a challenge to believe that God is always with us and that in whatever happens, He is present.  Yet our faith must bring us to that point over and over.  We cannot expect God to be a magician who makes everything wonderful.  That is not the promise of our God.  Our God promises to be with us and to help us in the struggle against our foe.  We will prevail, always, but only at the spiritual level.  If we keep our lives and lose our faith, we are lost.  If we lose our lives and keep our faith, we are blessed.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and gives us an account of the faith of Abraham, who we call “our father in faith.”  Abraham becomes a model for us to go on trusting.  Abraham trusted over and over and eventually all that the Lord promised to him was completed.  God invites each of us to follow Him in the foolishness of faith, believing that loving and servicing God and our neighbors will bring us true happiness and also salvation.  If we can be still in the presence of God and hear His voice and follow Him, we too will have happiness in this life and in the next.

The Gospel of Luke brings us back to the struggle to obey God.  Luke tells us “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  We can ask ourselves:  “where is my heart, what is my treasure.”  Answering that will give us immense knowledge about ourselves and we will also see the direction of our lives.

We can find ourselves like the servant who decides that God is not going to come any time soon and so begins to live a life not in accordance with the word of God.  Or we can be prudent servants who know that God can come at any moment and who then strive to be faithful.

The readings invite us to commit ourselves again to the Lord and to His word.  We may not be perfect yet, but we know the road and can keep walking, no matter how often we fail.  Just as our ancestors knew that God loved them, so we also know that God loves us.  Walking in faith, we allow this love to shape our lives.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Mary’s August message at Fatima should hit us hard, given the state of things

By Donal Anthony Foley

In expectation of Our Lady appearing at the Cova da Iria on August 13, 1917, a large crowd had gathered that morning and was waiting for Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia to arrive. When news came that the mayor had kidnapped the children, Maria Carreira, better known as Maria da Capelinha, (“Mary of the Chapel”), who later became the custodian of the apparition chapel, said “everyone began to talk at once and I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t heard a clap of thunder.”

They all saw a little white cloud come down on the holm oak tree where Our Lady had previously appeared, before rising and disappearing. Then the people saw everything around them reflecting different colours, an anticipation of what would happen during the miracle of the sun two months later. The Blessed Virgin had come even though the children had not been there.

But the children were not to be deprived of seeing her, since, on their release from the custody of the mayor a few days later, after being threatened with martyrdom by being boiled in oil, she appeared to them at a place near their homes called Valinhos, on a little holm oak tree as at the Cova.

As usual, Our Lady asked them to continue praying the Rosary every day. At the end of the apparition, she looked very sad, according to Lucia, and said, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

Obviously, these words had a profound meaning for the children, who had seen the terrifying vision of hell only the previous month. Our Lady taught the children a prayer at that time: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Even though they only saw hell for a moment, it was a vision that left them almost in a state of shock, and one that had a huge impact on how their lives unfolded, particularly in the case of Jacinta.

Lucia related, “The vision of hell filled her with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.”

Lucia also tells us that later on, when one day the children had taken their sheep to pasture, Jacinta, sitting on a rock, refused to play because she was “thinking.” She said, “That Lady told us to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners.”  Lucia had explained to her as best she could that heaven and hell are eternal – they never end – which made a huge impression on Jacinta, who, even in the middle of a game, would stop and ask: “But listen! Doesn’t hell end after many, many years, then?”

Or again: “Those people burning in hell, don’t they ever die? And don’t they turn into ashes? And if people pray very much for sinners, won’t Our Lord get them out of there? And if they make sacrifices as well? Poor sinners! We have to pray and make many sacrifices for them!” Then she went on: “How good that Lady is! She has already promised to take us to Heaven!”

The vision of hell moved Jacinta so strongly that she actively thought about it, pondered its implications and really meditated on it; whereas, most of us tend to think very little about hell or heaven. And it really hit home to her when Our Lady revealed “many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.” These words should strike us, too, because, as Lucia said, this was not a message just for three little shepherds, but for all people. It is all too easy to assume that somebody else will be doing the necessary praying and sacrificing. The present state of the world and the Church would indicate, this is probably not the case.

Somehow, in the Church, we need to regain the spirit that animated the young seers and the first pilgrims to Fatima, who willingly embraced the penances involved in their daily lives. Quite often, it meant walking long distances to the Cova in inclement weather and sleeping under the stars, walking on their knees to the site of the apparitions and being part of all-night vigils.

Even if we can’t make sacrifices such as these, we should at least start by offering up our daily trials and sufferings, as Mary requested in the very first apparition, commit to saying the Rosary every day, do the First Saturdays devotion, fast on certain days and encourage others to do likewise. These offerings could help souls in need avoid the awful eternity of hell. Jacinta believed this, not just because she saw hell, but because Mary said so. Would that we believe as well and embrace this spiritual mission, even though we have not seen hell with our own eyes.


Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at

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Marked out for Holiness – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (9th August)

Adapted from an article by Patrick Kenny (founder of the blog, REMEMBERING FR WILLIE DOYLE SJ)

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Co-Patroness of Europe

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)  would have thoroughly concurred with this piece of wisdom from Fr Willie Doyle below. It was written by Fr Doyle to one of his spiritual directees, but it could equally well have been written for the benefit of St Teresa Benedicta who knew only too well the path of suffering in her journey towards God.

You must bear in mind that, if God has marked you out for very great graces and possibly a holiness of which you do not even dream, you must be ready to suffer; and the more of this comes to you, especially sufferings of soul, the happier it ought to make you. . . . Love of God is holiness, but the price of love is pain. Round the treasure-house of His love, God has set a thorny hedge; those who would force their way through must not shrink when they feel the sharpness of the thorns piercing their very soul. But alas! how many after a step or two turn sadly back in fear, and so never reach the side of Jesus.

This is classic Fr Doyle. But it is also utterly representative of the message of Christ Himself who tells us:

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

The way to holiness is hard. It is true that it may be filled with many consolations and the help of God’s grace, but the pursuit of sanctity itself is a hard road. This is seen in the life of every saint, from the martyrs to the hidden contemplatives to those living apostolic lives in the world, whether religious or lay. This suffering isn’t always physical, it can entail a suffering of the soul, similar, for instance, to that darkness experienced by St Teresa of Calcutta for most of her life. Today in the West, and very especially in Ireland, it is becoming increasingly clear that our suffering as Catholics may involve scorn and insults because of our faith. But for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and elsewhere, we see a hard road that now leads to actual martyrdom, and even crucifixion.

Progress in the spiritual life requires effort, just like progress in a sport or a career requires effort. Those who win medals do not do so by accident – their success is based on many years of training and effort. But the fact that effort is required is not a sufficient excuse to stay still; as Fr Doyle says, we may have been marked out for a holiness of which we do not even dream. What a tragedy, for us and the world, if we do not strive to reach the level of holiness God has planned for us. Imagine if Fr Doyle had settled for a life of average sanctity, if he turned “sadly back in fear”? He could have lived a comfortable life; he could have managed to get a relatively easing posting at home. But how much more difficult would life in the trenches have been for some of those soldiers as a result? The same can be said for all the saints – if they had turned back sadly in fear, how many religious orders with all their works would remain unfounded; how many works of charity or of apostolate would remain undone?

And the same can be said of us. If we turn back out of fear of suffering, how many people will be worse off? That’s why the universal call to holiness is so remarkable, and exciting, and why we must not forget the implications of this spiritual truth for all of us.

But we must not give way to fear, for Christ has promised His grace, and this will help carry us forward, for without it we can do nothing. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He will help us. As St Benedict tells us in his Rule:

For as we advance…in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love.

Finally, we can turn today to St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross for help. She is one of the patron saints of Europe, where the Church suffers so much today. St Teresa Benedicta surely did not imagine what God had in store for her – from Jew to atheist to brilliant scholar to Catholic convert to enclosed Carmelite mystic to martyr of the Nazi holocaust. She did not turn sadly back when she felt the pain of the thorns, but trusted in God each step of the way. How richer the world, and the Church, is for her holiness.

St Teresa Benedicta, pray for us.


Short biography of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891–1942) was born as Edith Stein in Prussia, the youngest of eleven children from a devout Jewish family. She was a bright and gifted child, but as she matured she became an atheist. She went on to receive a doctorate in philosophy, studying under the famous philosophers Heidegger and Husserl. Despite her atheism, she was impressed by several friends who displayed a great passion for the Catholic faith. One day, while staying at a friend’s home, she saw the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. She read it from cover to cover, and after finishing it she exclaimed, “This is the Truth.” Edith was baptised in Cologne, Germany in 1922. From there she taught for a time at a Dominican school and studied St. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic philosophers. When the rise of anti-semitism forced her to resign from a teaching post, she wrote to Pope Pius XI asking him to publicly denounce the Nazis. Discerning a call to the religious life, she became a Carmelite nun in Cologne in 1934, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross after her special devotion to the Cross of Christ. When the Nazi threat grew in Germany, her Order transferred her to a convent in the Netherlands for safety. There Edith grew in her desire to offer her life for the salvation of souls. The Nazis eventually came for her, and she, along with her sister Rose, who was also a convert, were sent to the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. They were both killed in the gas chamber. St. Edith Stein is the patroness of martyrs and Europe. Her feast day is August 9th.

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Polish archbishop vows to resist ‘LGBT ideology’

People in Warsaw, Poland, gather outside the apostolic nunciature Aug. 7, 2019, to demand the resignation of Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Krakow. The protesters were upset that the archbishop had likened the LGBTQ community and the rainbow flag to a “communist plague.” The placard reads “Love of a neighbor? What’s this?”
CNS photo/Dawid Zuchowicz, Agencja Gazeta via Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service:

August 8, 2019

“People belonging to so-called sexual minority circles are our brothers and sisters for whom Christ gave his life,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan said in a statement Aug. 8.

“But respect for specific people cannot lead to accepting an ideology which aims at a revolution in social norms and interpersonal relations. This revolution in custom and morals, as Pope Francis stresses, often brandishes a flag of freedom, while in reality inflicting spiritual and material devastation,” he said in response to ongoing disputes between church leaders and LGBTQ groups.

Supporters of LGBTQ rights are planning a series of “equality parades” across the country in upcoming weeks.

Archbishop Gadecki said the “worsening polemic” was linked to the “offensive by LGBT-plus circles,” as well as to related plans by some local authorities to introduce “a new approach to sex education” beginning in September.

LGBTQ groups frequently have complained of discrimination in Poland, where the predominant Catholic Church has vigorously rejected same-sex marriage and backed the exclusion of LGBTQ staffers from Catholic schools.

In July, gay rights campaigners accused Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda of Bialystok of inciting violence against an LGBTQ march in the eastern city during which police used stun grenades and pepper spray to hold back aggressive counter-protesters.

Meanwhile, in an Aug. 1 homily, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Krakow told Catholics that those demanding tolerance had in reality supported “violence, humiliation and sneering against the most sacred symbols.” He said the “red pestilence” of communism had been replaced by “a rainbow one,” which also sought “to conquer spirits, hearts and minds.”

Poland’s Catholic Radio Maryja said Aug. 6 it had been ordered by Google to remove Archbishop Jedraszewski’s homily from its YouTube channel on grounds it “promoted hatred.”

A day later, about 200 protesters, including LGBTQ Catholics, demanded the dismissal of Archbishop Jedraszewski and other church leaders during a demonstration outside the Vatican’s Warsaw nunciature.

“Respect for specific people cannot lead to accepting an ideology which aims at a revolution in social norms and interpersonal relations.”
– Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan

In his statement, Archbishop Gadecki said he was appealing to local officials not take decisions “concealing an ideology which denies natural sexual differences,” and to parliamentarians not to support LGBTQ efforts to push through laws allowing “homosexual marriages” and child adoption.

He added that criticism of Archbishop Jedraszewski and the hostile reaction of some employers to staffers voicing disapproval of “LGBT+ ideology” indicated the spread of a “totalitarianism of outlook,” which sought to “banish people thinking differently from the sphere of freedom.”

“I appeal to all people of goodwill to defend the principle of non-discrimination not just for supporters of this ideology, but also to allow equal rights to its opponents,” he said.

For those with a strong stomach, here are some of the sinister effects of the LGBT ideology

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Feast of St. Dominic 8th August


Image result for St. Dominic


Blessed Cecilia, one of the early nuns to put herself under the guidance of St. Dominic, described him thusly:

He was of medium height: his figure supple, his face handsome and slightly sanguine, his hair and beard blond with a slight reddish tinge, his eyes beautiful. From his brow and eyes there emanated a certain radiant splendor which won the admiration and veneration of all. He always appeared joyous and smiling except when moved with compassion at some affliction of his neighbor. His hands were long and handsome and his powerful voice noble and sonorous. He was not in the least bald and wore the religious tonsure entire, sprinkled with a few white hairs. (Relation of Sister Cecilia, no. 14)

St. Dominic’s cheerfulness and joyousness are characteristics remarked upon by a number of people who knew him. And yet, some of his biographers, Bede Jarret, O.P. among them, present him as a rather serious sobersides when he was a boy, not given to sports or play. That is hard to accept . As a boy, there had to be in him the same cheerfulness and joy that marked him as man. There had to be a certain liveliness and vivacity of spirit that we see in the adult. Personalities just do not change that radically in the course of our lives. Certainly, he must have loved games and playing in the fields around his home. He was a real boy and showed something of the leadership ability he had as a man.

He was born in the year 1170 in the small town of Calaruega in Old Castile about a hundred miles north of Madrid. His father was the lord of the surrounding area. To know how he got that position you must remember that in 711 the Moors from North Africa had conquered all of Spain except for one corner in the rugged mountainous area in northwestern Spain known as the Asturias. From there the Spaniards began a long and bloody reconquest of their country, known in Spain as the Reconquista. It did not end until 1492 with conquest of Granada, the last Moorish outpost in Europe.

About 200 years before the birth of St. Dominic the Spaniards had pushed their way as far south as Calaruega. One of his ancestors was given the land around where the town is now with the provision that he set up a fortification in case of inroads of the retreating Moors. Part of that fortification was to be a tower to serve as a lookout. The remains of many of these towers can still be seen throughout Old Castile. In fact, the territory is called Castile because of these towers or castles. Sentries were posted on the top to keep a lookout for hostile troops. If any were sighted the alarm was given so that the local knight and his retainers could take defensive action. The enemy, incidentally, was not always the Moors; it could be a neighboring knight who wanted to expand his territory or a detachment of soldiers of one of the several kingdoms that made up Spain in those days bent on plunder and loot.

The tower built by St. Dominic’s ancestral knight — we do not know his name — is still there and has been maintained in good condition. It is about five stories high. If you climb to the top of it you can look out over the vast plain that stretches to the south and east. One can see 30 to 40 miles so the sentry could spot an enemy force coming long before it got there. But how about the north and east? It is extremely rugged country in those directions so that no effective force could get through. As you stand there, you can imagine the boy Dominic running up the stairs and looking out over the same scene that you can see. It has changed very little since then.

Dominic’s family name was Guzman. A Spanish Dominican who taught me at St. Albert’s when I was a student there had a most interesting and plausible explanation for it origin. In his opinion it was originally Goodman, an English name, which in Spanish would quickly be transformed into Guzman. But how would an Englishman get to Spain? In the Europe of that time, the eldest son inherited the title and estate of the father. The second son was destined for the Church. There were few opportunities for any other sons. Very often what they did was to join in some military campaign going on in the hope of getting a title and estate of their own. The Crusades were one possibility and Spain was another for there Christians were also fighting the infidel, the Moors being Islamic. Thus, according to this priest’s theory, the third or fourth son of an English nobleman joined the Spaniards and did get a title and estate of his own. He became the lord of Calaruega and ancestor of St. Dominic.

By the time St. Dominic was born the Spaniards had pushed the Moors so far south that there was no longer any danger. The area was quiet and peaceful. St. Dominic’s father, Felix Guzman, had married a woman from another noble family of the area, Jane D’Aza and they had three sons and perhaps one daughter, for we read that two nephews of St. Dominic also joined the Order. It was an extraordinary family. Felix has been declared a Venerable by the Church, the first step toward canonization. His mother is Blessed Jane D’Aza. His older brother, Mannes, who joined the Order, is also a Blessed. The oldest brother, Anthony, became a priest and Canon of St. James, devoting himself to the service of the poor and sick, but he has not been beatified. Here in this one family you have one saint, two blesseds and one venerable. We do not know who inherited the title and estate of Felix, for the Guzman line, as far as we know, died out with this family.

The story is told that while Blessed Jane was carrying St. Dominic she had a dream in which she bore in her womb a dog who broke away from her and ran through the world setting it on fire with a torch he carried in his mouth. She was troubled by this dream and went to pray at the Benedictine abbey of San Domingo de Silos which lies in a pleasant valley about 20 miles north of Calaruega. The answer was, of course, that her son would set the world on fire by his preaching. That abbey, incidentally has become famous recently because of a record of their Gregorian chant that has become a best seller throughout the world. At any rate, when her child was born she named him after the founder of that monastery, St. Dominic de Silos. Another extraordinary sign occurred at his baptism when his godmother saw a bright star shining on his forehead as the water was being poured.

These two incidents have become a part of Christian art. Usually, statues and pictures of St. Dominic show him with a star over his forehead and a dog with a torch in his mouth which is often shown with the saint.


He spent his earliest years, the most impressionable ones, in this atmosphere of love of God and neighbor, good works for the poor and needy, deep piety and high moral standards provided for him by his parents. His two older brothers were studying for the priesthood so it was only natural that at an early age the idea of being a priest himself would be formed in his mind. His parents were willing so at the age of seven he was sent to his uncle, his mother’s brother, who was the parish priest of Gumiel d’Izan, a small town about ten or twelve miles to the west, for his primary studies which included Latin. This may strike us as rather heartless, this sending of a child so young away from home. But this was common in those days and it was not as bad as it may sound at first. He went to the house of his uncle, a man who must have had many of the qualities of his mother, so that he would be a loving and kind guardian and teacher. Besides, there was no other alternative, there being no schools in his native village. Besides, Gumiel d’Izan was close enough so that he could return home or his parents go visit him from time to time.

We are told, however, that he was an apt student so that by the time he was fourteen years old, he was ready to go to the University at Palencia, the first university in Spain. There he studied was known as the Trivium, consisting of grammar, rhetoric and logic. After learning them he passed on to the Quadrivium, which consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. This was the common course of studies in medieval times. All of this took six years, which means he was twenty when he started his study of theology. It was during this time, to balance the dryness of his studies, that he increasingly turned to prayer to set the divine truths he was learning on fire with divine love. This would be a characteristic with which he would endow his Order in later years.

He lived very simply in those days, his only extravagance being books which he carefully annotated in his own writing. But he sold even those to help the refugees of war that poured into Palencia. He explained this drastic action in these words: “I could not bear to prize dead skins when living skins were starving and in want.” Undoubtedly, this compassion for the poor and suffering was instilled into him by the example of the good works done by his father and mother during his childhood. This would be a quality that would stay with him all his life.


At about the age of twenty-four or twenty-five he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Osma in which Calaruega was located. He then became a canon of the cathedral. Canons were priests who lived a religious life under the rule of St. Augustine. They recited the Divine Office daily in the Cathedral, did some priestly duties such as caring for the religious needs of the people of the parish and going out to neighboring parishes who did not have priests (there was a shortage in those days too) or were too poor to support a pastor. This what St. Dominic did for nine years. It was a quiet life, affording him ample opportunity for study, prayer and contemplation.

He was elected subprior of his chapter in 1199. When the prior, whose name was Diego d’Azevedo, became bishop in 1202, Dominic was selected to succeed him as prior. This would provide him with administrative experience which would stand him in good stead in the years ahead.

We want to keep the name of Bishop Diego in mind for he will play an important role in the next stage of St. Dominic’s life, which we will be talking about in our next section.

II. Laying the Foundations

Bishop of Osma, Diego D’Azevedo. was responsible for catapulting Dominic into a whole new sphere, radically different from the peace and quiet of the cloister of Osma where he had intended to spend the rest of his days. In 1203, the king of Castile sent Bishop Diego to arrange a marriage of his son, Ferdinand, with “a noble lady of the Marches.” Scholars agree that the “Marches” were what is now known as Denmark. The identity of the noble lady is not certain, but it seems probable that she was the niece of King Vademar II of Denmark, the daughter of his sister, Sophie, and Count Siegfried of Orlamünde, Since Prince Ferdinand was only 15 years old she probably was at least as young. The bishop asked Dominic to go with him. After they had crossed the Pyrenees, or, what is more likely, gone around them, they had to cross the district of Toulouse in southern France. The first night they spent in an inn whose owner had rejected his Catholic faith and joined a a great heresy that was raging in the Toulouse and had practically taken over the entire area. It was called the Albigensian heresy.

It was based on the very ancient idea that matter was evil and spirit was good. It has been around for a long time and is still with us in the form of theosophy, Christian Science and those who go in for Buddhism and other Eastern religions. It appeals to people who have vague and hazy minds and do not want to do any serious thinking. Albigenianism had the additional twist in that it did develop a logical and clear theological system. Marriage was evil, sex was sinful, flesh meat was forbidden, austerities were the in thing, and suicide was the preferred way of death. This would not, of course, appeal to many people, but Albigenianism had an answer for this. Only a few, the perfect, were obliged to this form of life. The rest were free to live as normal human beings. They were required only to renounce the Catholic faith and the Sacraments.

The lords, of course, were all in favor of this approach for it meant that they could have the lands and income of the Church, which was the same tactic Luther used in Germany and Henry VIII used in England. The result was that it was a deep-seated heresy and difficult to eradicate.

Dominic was appalled that anyone could fall for this nonsense. He and the innkeeper got into an argument that lasted the whole night, but in the morning the innkeeper fell on his knees and asked to be reconciled to the Church. This experience changed Dominic’s life forever. He could never go back to the cloister at Osma. He did, however, have to continue on the journey to the Marches, return to the court of the king of Castile with the result of their successful negotiations, and then go back to the Marches to escort the young princess back to Castile. But on they were on this last leg of their mission, word came to them the bride-to-be had died, or, as some think, entered a monastery. In either case, she was dead to the world and marriage was out of the question. The retinue of courtiers broke up to return home in any way they wanted. Diego and Dominic decided to go by way of Rome.

Diego shared with Pope Innocent III some ideas close to his heart. One was the situation in southern France, another was a desire to resign his see so he could go and convert the Tartars or Tatars, a warlike Mongolian people who had invaded what is now Russia and were threatening to move further westward. St. Dominic would adopt the same dream and grow a beard so he could be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Monks and friars were usually clean-shaven so this made the saint distinctive. The Pope, however, refused Diego’s requests and told him to go home for there was greater work to be done there.

In obedience, the bishop and his prior started back home but the Albigensian heresy was always in the back of their minds. On their trip they stopped at Citeaux, the great monastery founded by St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the mother abbey of inumerable others of the Cisterian Order throughout Europe. The Pope had entrusted the mission of preaching to win back the heretics to the Church to the monks of Citeaux. Diego was so impressed with the Cisterians that he received their habit and persuaded a group of monks to return to Spain with him.

On their journey, they met at Montpellier the Abbot of Citeaux and two other monks, Pierre of Castelnau and Raoul of Fontefroide who had been preaching in southern France with no success. The monks were discouraged and frustrated, for the heretics proved to be unmoved by their efforts. Bishop Diego quickly pointed out the reasons for their failure. They had gone there as papal legates surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance that attended papal legates, fine horses, splendid regalia, impressive robes, comfortable living quarters and good food. The Cisterians actually lived very austere lives, but they felt they had to take on all the trappings of papal legates. As Diego made clear, this was no way to impress people whose leaders led lives of extreme austerity. Actually, the Cisterians would have been more successful if they had gone there as simple Cisterians, living their own austere lives.

They took Diego’s words to heart as did Dominic. In fact, he went them one better. He was even more austere than the most austere of the leaders and he let it be known how much he denied himself. He would not sleep on a bed, but on the floor; one Lent he lived only on bread and water; he had the discipline given to him — in other words, he was whipped. In all of these he made sure that everyone knew the extent of his penances. They may have been done for show, but the hard floor was real, the emptiness of his stomach was real, the lashes he received were real. They impressed even the heresy’s leaders who wondered at his physical endurance that they could not equal.

At the same time he engaged in public debates with the heretical leaders and won one after another. One common way of deciding the winners was to throw the resume of their arguments into the fire. In every case, the resumes of the heretics were burned but Dominic’s were thrown back out of the fire intact. In one case, the charred beam of the fireplace that his document hit as it flew out of the fire can still be seen. In other words, it was so hot that it could char a wooden beam but miraculously it was not consumed by the heat as great as it was.

One evening in 1206, outside the north gates of the village of Fanjeaux, St. Dominic sat reading about St. Mary Magdalen whose feast day it was. As he reflected on the life of the saint he was moved to ask God for guidance in what he should do. He also asked for a sign from the Blessed Virgin to help him. Just then a globe of fire came out of the heavens, hovered a bit and then in a blaze of glory settled over the forlorn and desolate church of Prouille which was nearby. The saint could not believe his eyes. He came back to the same spot the next evening and the sign was repeated. He returned again on the third evening and sure enough the vision appeared again. He took this as the sign he had prayed for and determined that the church at Prouille was the place God wanted him to begin his work. This vision is known as the Seignadou, “the sign of God” in the language of the place and time.

The way he began his work was to collect a group of women at Prouille and form them into nuns. This was not just a gathering of a group of pious women. Rather it was a daring tactic to counteract a strategy of the Albigensians who used similar groups of women who had attained the rank of “perfect” to teach the children of impoverished Catholic nobles and raise them in the heresy. These convents also served as apostolic centers where people could go for instruction and help. This is exactly what St. Dominic intended to do, but only for Catholic women, specifically, those who had been heretics but had returned to the Church. The initial group was nine in number. He gave them a simple white habit with a black veil. They were cloistered but not in the strict sense that our present day cloistered nuns are. Rather they were more like the Religious of the Sacred Heart or as the Ursulines used to be. They could not go out of the cloister but people could freely come to them for instruction, encouragment and assistance.

Bishop Diego highly approved of this move as did the bishop of Toulouse who in addition gave the sisters title to the church and land as well as the tithes and first fruits due to it. Thus, the financial security of the new foundation was assured. In addition, St. Dominic moved the little band of men who were working with him on to the property so it became a kind of “double monastery” which was not uncommon at the time.

The following year, 1207, Bishop Diego decided it was high time for him to return to his diocese of Osma with the intention of returning as soon as possible. But this was never possible for he died the following year. Upon his departure, Dominic was left in charge of the mission. He became a close friend of the Bishop of Toulouse, Foulques, a most apostolic pastor who saw in Dominic a kindred spirit who could be of great help to him in fulfilling his pastoral duties.

The situation would be greatly complicated the following year, 1208, when the papal legate in charge of the preaching mission to the Albigensians, was killed by the heretics. This brought on a bloody crusade led by Simon de Montfort, an English nobleman. Dominic was highly respected by Simon but he never expected the saint to participate in the battles that went on nor did he serve as an inquisitor. In fact, he saw that war was no way to overcome a well-established heresy so he wanted nothing to do with the so-called crusade.

In February of 1213, the bishop of Carcassonne went to France to see if he could get more troops to help in the Crusade. He appointed Dominic as his vicar general during his absence which lasted several months. This gave him an insight into the working of a diocese and administrative experience. It was in this position that he realized that the parochial system alone was inadequate to handle situations such as those of Southern France. Something more was needed.

All during this time Dominic continued to preach, engage in debates with the heretics and give lectures. His cheerfulness and joyousness of spirit never deserted him even in the face of threats against his life. He was fearless. Once, he walked alone through a village that he knew was bitterly against him singing at the top of his voice so that if they wanted to harm him they had their chance. Another time a group of heretics asked him, “Have you no fear of death? What would you do if we siezed you now?” Dominic laughed and said, “Oh I would just ask you not put me to death all at once; but gradually limb by limb to make my martyrdom a slow one, so that hardly human in form, blinded and a mass of blood, I should have a really much finer place in heaven.” What can you do with a man who wants to be a martyr? Bodily harm or even a cruel death would play right into his hands. The result was that they left him alone.

In 1215, a wealthy merchant of Toulouse, Peter de Seila, gave St Dominic and his companions some houses in the city. Later on he was to join the Order as a brother and took care of finances. He used to say that it was not the Order that received him but it was he who received the Order. This was his little joke that he used repeatedly. As soon as the brethren had moved into the house Dominic took them to the lectures of Alexander of Stavensby, a distinguished theologian who was teaching in Toulouse at the time.

It was during this period that Dominic began to realize that that something more that was needed over and above the parochial system was a world-wide Order that would be devoted to preaching divine Truth. Its members would have to be learned, live a life of austerity and be contemplative. He saw that the problems of the Church were not confined to Southern France but were universal.

In that same year, 1215, he attended the Third Lateran Council in Rome as canon theologian for Bishop Foulques. There he had a chance to talk with Pope Innocent III about his ideas for a preaching Order. His basic problem was that the idea of a world-wide Order under one head was radical. It had never been done and Dominic had no models to build on. Another difficulty was that Rome and the bishops were wary of a group of preachers because they had had bad experiences with other groups such as the Humiliati. The major obstacle was that the Lateran Council had forbidden the founding of new Orders. New religious rules were out. There were to be no more of them.

The upshot was that Pope Innocent III told St. Dominic to go back to his little community of six brothers and select which one of the approved rules they would follow. He hurried back only to find that his group of six were now sixteen. There was really no problem in the selection. The Rule of St. Augustine, which St. Dominic and most of his other brethren had lived by for years was the obvious choice. It was a rule writen by a cleric for clerics. They also adopted some customs in regard to eating, fasting, sleeping and wearing wool. These were the beginning of what would develop into the Dominican Constitutions.

One other obstacle remained. Despite the houses of Peter de Seila they had no real religious house. It so happened that a priory was vacant in Toulouse, dedicated to St. Romain, with a hospital attached. Bishop Foulques and his canons gave it to St. Dominic and his companions. Although it was small it was remodeled ( a practice which Dominicans are still used to) and was made into a serviceable house.

In 1216, Dominic set out for Rome with everything in proper order for papal approval. When he got there he found out that Pope Innocent III had died and a new Pope, Honorius III, was the man to deal with. How that turned out we must leave to the next section.

III. The Building of the Edifice

At the end of our last session, we saw that when St. Dominic arrived in Rome in 1216 with everything all in order for papal approval of his new foundation, he found that Pope Innocent III had died. This meant that he would have to go all through the process of persuading Innocent’s successor that his Order would be good for the Church. As it turned out, the man elected to succeed Innocent was Honorius III who was even more supportive of Dominic than his predecessor had been.

The first thing Honorius did was to give a bull of approval of the Order on December 21, 1216. On the following day, he issued a second bull of confirmation in which are the words so dear to the hearts of Dominicans, “We, considering that the brethren of the Order will be the champions of the Faith and true lights of the world” and so on. On January 26th. of 1217 he issued third bull which called the Dominicans “preachers” This was the one St. Dominic really wanted. That title given by the Holy See was a radical one. It meant that now priests, and not just bishops, were authorized to preach the Word of God. This was completely new in the Church.

Dominic was eager to return to Toulouse, but the Pope held him in Rome. He was made the theologian to the Pope, the office of Master of the Sacred Palace, an office that has been held by a Dominican since that time. The present one is Cardinal Chiapi. Finally, in May he was allowed to return home. On August 13th., 1217 he summoned his brethren to Prouille, the place where he had begun to found the Order. There he took another radical step. On the Feast of the Assumption, he dispersed his small band of followers, some to Spain, others to Bologna, but the largest number to Paris, the greatest center of learning in the west at that time. There were those who thought this was a foolish move, but he said, “Do not oppose me, for I know very well what I am doing.” Usually, St. Dominic deferred to the wishes of his brethren, but in this case he was insistent and he was right. The Order grew tremendously as a result. Upon the suggestion of the saint, the brethren chose Matthew of France to be Abbot in case he was incapacitated. But as time would show, the title just did not fit so Matthew was the first and last abbot in the Dominican Order. Then Dominic set off again for Rome.

He arrived there in January of 1218. The Pope gave him the ancient church of San Sisto Vecchio, which is right across the street from the baths of Caracalla and down a short way from the Circus Maximus. The Pope, however, had another project in mind involving Dominic. He wanted to bring together all the nuns of Rome who were living in various monasteries all over the city. Their discipline was lax and they needed to be brought back to a stricter way of life. He saw Dominic as the man who could persuade them to leave their various places and take on a more rigorous rule of life. This was a big order but somehow or another the saint was able to bring it off. As soon as the remodeling of San Sisto was complete the nuns were to be brought there. This meant that the Dominican Fathers and Brothers had to have some place to move to. The Pope came through again and gave the Friars the magnificent basilica of Santa Sabina on the Avelline Hill overlooking the Tiber River. It had been built in the fifth century and is certainly one of the most beautiful churches in Rome. It is still the headquarters of the Order. Sometime after their arrival there St. Dominic planted some lemon trees in the courtyard of the cloister. Cuttings from those trees were planted in the courtyard of St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland and they are flourishing.

Since the dispersal of the brethren there were houses of the Order all over Europe and the numbers would continue to grow, for vocations came in great abundance. Many of the men entering were distinguished scholars already. One of the most notable was Reginald of Orleans who held the chair of canon law at the University of Paris. He was the one to whom the Blessed Mother appeared and gave him the white scapular that we all wear and is the most important part of the Dominican Habit. He also was a most eloquent preacher and attracted a great many young men into the Order. One of those was Blessed Jordan of Saxony, who would succeed St. Dominic as General of the Order. He would attract over a thousand novices into the Order, among them two future popes, two canonized saints, numerous blesseds and countless intellectual giants of the time, one of whom was St. Albert the Great. Entering during this period were also St. Hyacinth, who preached not only in his native Poland but in other countries of northern Europe as well, and his brother, Blessed Celaus, who worked in Bohemia and Silesia.

The Order grew very quickly then. St. Dominic began visiting the various houses to insure that all these new members understood his ideals and purposes, to encourage them in their work and inspire them to greater apostolic zeal and regular observance. Keep in mind, he walked every step of the way. There was no public transportation or good roads. He would not ride a horse or a mule or even a donkey. He walked thousands of miles, to Spain, all over France as far as Paris and to Rome and other cities of Italy. He never stayed long anywhere. When he got outside of town he would take off his sandals and go barefoot even over rocky ground. He carried with him a staff and a little bundle on his shoulder. In it, among other things, of course, were the gospel of Matthew and the epistles of St. Paul which he read constantly. Every where he went he preached and drew great crowds to hear him. He always lived an austere life no matter where he was, fasting, praying most of the night, and scourging himself. He did have one weakness in the line of food. He loved turnips, which most of us might consider a penance.

One fact quickly became obvious. There was a urgent need for a written rule of Constitutions. The Friars had already chosen the Rule of St. Augustine as the basic law of the Order and had adopted a few regulations, but the Rule needed to be made more specific and applied to the purpose and spirit of the Order. For this reason, a General Chapter consisting of delegates from the various houses of the Order was called to meet in Bologna on May 17, 1220. We do not know the names of those who were present with the exception of Jordan of Saxony who has left us a brief account of the chapter proceedings. This is the only record we have of it. Jordan, incidentally, had been in the Order only two months when he was selected as one of the four delegates from Paris.

From his account we know that several characteristics were built into the Order’s legislation. The first was a democratic spirit that was totally unheard of at that time. Every superior was to be elected, even the Master of the Order, for definite terms of office. Poverty was to be observed with the brethren living on alms. We still do it that way. Even the work we do in the St. Jude Office and on our mission band is a form of begging. Instead of going from door to door asking for food and money as they did in the Middle Ages, we write letters to people or preach asking for money to educate our students for the priesthood. The capitular fathers also re-affirmed that preaching was the primary work of the Order hand in hand with study, for ignorant preachers were causing problems. Both preaching and study were so essential that a superior could grant dispensation from regulations of the Rule if they would interfere with either one. One piece of legislation was that Chapters were to be held every year alternating between Bologna and Paris. This had to be abandoned later on when the Order grew so large that it became impractical.

We do not know how long the Chapter lasted for Jordan does not tell us. We do know that on May 24th., a week later, St. Dominic was on the road again travelling all over northern Italy.

In May of 1221, the second General Chapter was held once again in Bologna. We know even less about it than the first for Jordan was not there. By this time he was the Provincial of the Province of Lombardy in northern Italy. We do know that the Order was divided into eight provinces each with its own Prior Provincial. They were Spain, Provence, France, Lombardy, Rome, Germany, Hungary and England. Further refinements were made in the Constitutions, but we are not certain what they were for the records of it have not come down to us.

In June, Dominic was in Venice, conferring with Cardinal Ugolino, his close friend, the one who as Pope Gregory X was to canonize Dominic. In July, the saint returned to Bologna feeling tired in body but tireless in spirit. It was a unusually hot summer and on top of it, he had a fever. It was decided to move him to higher ground in the hills above Bologna where it was cooler. He talked about his life’s work to the brethren present. He made a public confession to them and admitted that although he had preserved chastity all of his life he had taken more pleasure in conversing with younger women than with older ones. He then made his last will and testament: “These are, beloved ones, the inheritances I leave you as my sons: have charity among you, hold to humility, possess voluntary poverty.”

It was now obvious that the end was near. He requested to be taken back to Bologna to die among his brothers. They had to carry him back very slowly for it seemed as though he would die on the way. They finally made it, his body burning with fever. He told the friars around his bed not to weep for him for, in his words, he was going to where he could serve them better. They wanted to begin the prayers of the dying, but he told to wait. A little later on, he said “Begin.” At the words “Come to his help, you holy ones of God; come out to meet him, you angels of the Lord, taking his soul, and offering it in the sight of the Most High.” He repeated the words, opened his eyes, sighed and died at six o’clock on Friday evening, August 6, 1221. He was only fifty -one years old.

In five short years, from 1216 to 1221, St.Dominic had accomplished the almost incredible. He had founded a religious Order with just six followers at the beginning. When he died they were in the thousands. It was a totally new form of religious life made up of highly educated men whose mission was to preach the Good News of salvation. Yet he intended that they should follow what we call the monastic observances — Divine Office said in choir, silence and penance. Oh yes, he met with opposition. Those who consider themselves conservatives who never like anything new and they were the ones who attacked the whole idea of a world-wide Order under one head who were itinerant preachers, but learned men who roamed all over Europe helping the bishops to fulfill their office of preaching. One critic complained that “they have the world for their cell, and the ocean for their cloister.” Dominicans gleefully seized upon this statement as an apt description of their way of life.

We may well ask: how faithful are present day Dominicans to this ideal? In the opinion, of most, very well. We are certainly are faithful to our office of preaching. The Order has produced some of the greatest preachers in the history of the Church. Names that come to mind are Savanarola, Lacordaire, Tom Burke and Ignatius Smith, whom Life Magazine selected as the only great Catholic preacher in American history. In our own Province there have been men like Reggie Lewis and Stan Parmisano. We have had a mission band for as long as I know about, one that is still active and doing great work in the Western States and Canada. They are itinerant preachers and it is a hard life but those called to it love it. Over the years many people say that the quality of preaching in Dominican churches is higher than in other churches. That is something we should be proud of.

As far as learned men are concerned, all of us have a thorough theological education and we have produced many outstanding theologicans, men like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, Cardinal Cajetan and John of St. Thomas. But they are not just in the past. Many of the top theologians of today are Dominicans, men like Chenu, Congar and Schillibex. In our own Province, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley is probably the most distinguished faculty in the country. St. Dominic, as you recall sent his men out to universities. We are still doing that. Our province has more student centers or Newman clubs than any other province in the Order. It is something to be proud of.

We still celebrate Office in choir every day. Our living conditions are not luxurious. In fact, I think most people would consider them unacceptable. Community life is a reality. We love to be together and find our strength and spirit coming from the community of our brothers. We are still a democratic Order and we have proof of that as we elect a new Provincial every four years. St. Dominic would be happy with his sons of this day and age, seven hundred and fifty years later.

Let us close with this tribute by the poet Dante in his Paradiso:

With Apostolic sanction guaranteed,
Equipped with doctrine and zeal as well,
Like some high torrent thundering down at speed

On briars and brakes of heresy he fell
Uprooting them, and still was swift to go
Where opposition was most formidable.

From him, unnumbered rillets took their flow
To irrigate the Catholic garden-plot
Thenceforth, whence all its bushes greener grow.

(Canto VII, nn. 97-105, Translation of Dorothy L. Sayers)

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Monsignor Livio Melina dismissed from JPII Institute speaks out

Msgr. Livio Melina speaks at the Rome Life Forum, May 18, 2018

ROME, August 5, 2019, LifeSiteNews:

Is Catholic thought still possible today? Or will those who seek to interpret Pope Francis’s pronouncements in line with his predecessors be persecuted solely for explaining the meaning of his words in harmony with Tradition?

In his first interview since his dismissal from the restructured John Paul II Institute in Rome (see full text below), former president and chair of fundamental moral theology, Monsignor Livio Melina, has said the fate of the Institute will be “decisive for the Church,” and that what is at stake is not just the institute and legacy of John Paul II, but also the freedom to engage in “Catholic” thought.

“If the decisions taken by Archbishop Paglia are not revoked, then what they are saying is: ‘The interpretation of the magisterium of Pope Francis in continuity with the previous Magisterium is intolerable in the Church,’” Msgr. Melina told the Italian daily La Verità on Aug. 3.

In the interview, Melina responds to accusations levelled one day prior by journalist Luciano Moia of Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, that he and other prominent professors at the John Paul II Institute “corrected the Pope” by interpreting his words in continuity with Tradition.

Readers will recall Moia’s name from his recent interview with controversial figure, Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, in which the Italian moral theologian (who has been invited to teach at the restructured John Paul II institute) said that it may be morally good for a person to remain in an active homosexual relationship in some circumstances.

Interestingly, Moia claims in his Aug. 2 article that Msgr. Melina and the former chair of special moral theology, Fr. José Noriega, were removed not only for the reasons stated by institute chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, in his dismissal letter, but also for the content of their teaching, i.e. for “minimizing the scope of the change wanted by Pope Francis.”

Moia accused Melina of seeking to “demolish the many points of originality present in Amoris Laetitia,” by suggesting that these new ideas have to be interpreted in light of Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals on the family, Familiaris Consortio, and the Church’s moral teaching, Veritatis Splendor.

Painting Msgr. Melina as “a theologian correcting two Synods and a Pope,” Moia also criticized him for openly saying that “even after Amoris Laetitia, admitting the divorced and ‘remarried’ to Holy Communion outside the situations stipulated in Familiars Consortio 84, and Sacramentum Caritatis 29, goes against the discipline of the Church.”

In his Aug. 3 response in La Verità, Melina suggested that Moia “offer arguments” rather than accusing him of “correcting” the Pope. Otherwise, he said, “what the accuser [Moia] is doing is absolutizing his own interpretation, as if it were the only obvious reading of the text.”

According to Melina’s line of thought, the clash is therefore not between “bergoglians” and “wojtyłians” but between an ideological, revolutionary and totalitarian interpretation of Pope Francis’s thought, and simple “Catholic” thought which seeks to interpret his pronouncements within the whole of Tradition.

In his Aug. 2 article, Moia also accused Msgr. Melina and other long-time professors, such as Polish philosopher and friend of John Paul II, Stanislaw Grygiel, and former institute vice-president, Fr. José Granados, of betraying the Gospel by putting doctrine before pastoral care.

Dismissing Moia’s charge, Melina said that “this approach, which separates Christ the ‘Teacher’ from Christ the ‘Shepherd, as if there were two Jesuses, is quite common today.” He noted, however, that “the mercy of Jesus and his pastoral care passed by way of his doctrine, as Mark’s Gospel says: ‘He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things’ (Mk 6:33-34).”

Melina described what has been done to various professors at the John Paul II Institute in Rome as a “conviction without a trial.”

“There is a paradox in all of this,” he said. “Some dissenting theologians from Catholic moral theology, who clearly opposed the Magisterium, have been banned from teaching, but this happened after a regular trial.”

“But what happened in the case of the professors of the John Paul II Institute?” Melina continued. “The accusation is not that of denying Catholic doctrine, but only of not following a particular interpretation of the Magisterium of Pope Francis.”

“But, above all,” he said, “we have been deprived of our professorship without any possibility of defending ourselves, without us even having heard … what we are really accused of. The newspaper Avvenire had the merit of highlighting the real reasons for our dismissal, which had not been communicated to us, and thus unmasked the manoeuvre that is to be carried out at the Institute founded by St. John Paul II.”

If Moia’s claim that Msgr. Melina and Fr. Noriega were dismissed because of the content of their teaching, and not solely for the reasons stated by Archbishop Paglia, it could well open up a Pandora’s box of legal problems for the Vatican.

An informed source in Rome told LifeSite: “If Moia’s argument were right, and Melina was dismissed on account of the content of his teaching, then Melina should immediately be reinstated.”

“If the grounds are indeed the content of his teaching, he would have the right to a process analogous to that of Charles Curran in the 1980s. Until the results of that trial are out, Msgr. Melina would have to be allowed to teach,” he said.

In 1986, after due process, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stripped Father Curran of his right to teach theology at The Catholic University of America, for his obstinate and public dissent against a long line of moral teachings.

The source also noted that “if Moia is right, and these are the grounds, then there will be a real scandal.” He explained:

Moia is admitting that an obvious violation of academic freedom has taken place. Paglia and Sequeri, for their argumentation to work, would have to distance themselves radically from Moia and emphasize that they hold nothing against Melina’s teaching and agree with Melina that Moia is guilty of slander. If they side with Moia, instead, they openly admit a rampant violation of academic freedom.

“Moia’s article is in a way rather revealing in that it shows the extent of the scandal,” he said. “It lays open that the reasons given for the dismissals of Melina and Noriega were just argumentative fig leaves to avoid having to go through a due process in order to dismiss Melina and Noriega, because such due process could never have led to their dismissal.”

Here below we publish the official English translation of the full interview with Msgr. Melina which first appeared in edited form in La Verità.

Someone has written that at the John Paul II Institute you and other colleagues, who now in various ways have been removed from the “restructured” institute, have had the habit of “correcting the Pope” about the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Is that so?

Those who speak in this way probably do not know the difference between two different words: “to correct” and “to interpret.” Every text needs to be interpreted, as contemporary philosophy in particular has taught us. But the interpretation that seeks to be faithful to the text is not a correction. One part of theological work is precisely this interpretation, which in the case of the Magisterium, uses the key of a reading in harmony with the rest of magisterial texts. Amoris Laetitia, one might say, is not a book in itself, but one chapter in a larger book containing all the texts of the Magisterium. Those who think that another’s interpretation is not true must offer arguments and not accuse them of making a “correction,” because in this case what the accuser is doing is absolutizing his own interpretation, as if it were the only obvious reading of the text.

Furthermore, in the case of Amoris Laetitia, many people have taken the path of interpreting it as if it “surpassed” or even “corrected” other magisterial texts, such as Familiaris Consortio, the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Sacramentum Caritatis. They read the chapter and forget the book where the chapter is inserted. To speak of “rupture” and “revolution” in the Magisterium is not Catholic language. In reality, there is great freedom in interpreting texts; the only real norm is that of respecting the “rule of faith.” In other words, the essential thing asked of the interpreter is that he reads the text in continuity with the rest of the previous Magisterium.

Cardinal Newman was well aware of this when he specifically identified, as one of the notes [criterion] of a true development of doctrine (as opposed to its corruption), the “conservative action upon its past.” Moia thinks that we are forcing the text of Amoris Laetitia in order to adapt it to the rest of the Magisterium. What Moia does not explain to us is the way in which he must force (or correct?) the rest of the papal Magisterium in order to adapt it to his reading of Amoris Laetitia.

On the topic of disputes, there is much talk of freedom of theological reflection (which is widely practiced in disagreement with Humane vitae and Veritatis splendor), but in your case do you feel censored?

What has been done at the Institute with various professors is a conviction without a trial, starting with the suspicions sown over the years by people like Moia. There is a paradox in all of this. Some dissenting theologians from Catholic moral theology, who clearly opposed the Magisterium, have been banned from teaching, but this happened after a regular trial in which they were assigned a defender and there was the possibility of responding to the accusations. And even so, they continued to accuse the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of unjust and abusive behavior.

But what happened in the case of the professors of the John Paul II Institute? The accusation is not that of denying Catholic doctrine, but only of not following a particular interpretation of the Magisterium of Pope Francis. But, above all, we have been deprived of our professorship without any possibility of defending ourselves, without us even having heard (Kafka comes to mind) what we are really accused of. The newspaper Avvenire had the merit of highlighting the real reasons for our dismissal, which had not been communicated to us, and thus unmasked the maneuver that is to be carried out at the Institute founded by St. John Paul II.

This is why the defense of the John Paul II Institute touches everyone, and the fate of the Institute is decisive for the Church. If the decisions taken by Archbishop Paglia are not revoked, then what they are saying is: “The interpretation of the magisterium of Pope Francis in continuity with the previous Magisterium is intolerable in the Church.” Indeed, those who offer this interpretation even lose the right to defend themselves in a trial and are simply dismissed according to a special version of that “throwaway culture” so often condemned by Pope Francis.

Luciano Moia writes in Avvenire that your mistake in “correcting the Pope” is to give priority to doctrine over pastoral care, while it seems that the journalist [i.e. Moia] believes the Gospel says the opposite. What are your thoughts on this?

This approach, which separates Christ the “Teacher” from Christ the “Shepherd,” as if there were two Jesuses, is quite common today. But the mercy of Jesus and his pastoral care passed by way of his doctrine, as Mark’s Gospel says: “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things” (Mk 6:33-34). In this passage, mercy, the shepherd and doctrine appear together. Jesus’s doctrine is the concrete form that his mercy and pastoral care takes towards men who, lost without light and direction, live in darkness. To think that one who offers light is a rigid man is a great mistake. It is precisely when we are in darkness that we cannot move, and it is the light that, by allowing us to move, energizes us and leads us home.

The John Paul II Institute has demonstrated a vision of man — learned through research and study lived in communion — that is capable of creating fruitful programs for authentic pastoral care. The doctrinal-pastoral relationship was studied in the tradition of the John Paul II Institute from the perspective of the relationship between truth and love. Truth, contained in doctrine, is the truth of a love, and love needs truth to overcome mere emotion and endure over time, as Pope Francis taught us in Lumen Fidei. To speak of the priority of pastoral care over doctrine, by placing them in contrast, is to oppose (or “correct”) the magisterium that Pope Francis gives us in the first of his two encyclicals, which are the highest-ranking magisterial documents that he has written.

It is repeated with insistence that the old institute and the pastoral work that sprang from the Magisterium of John Paul II (and, I might add, from the first president of the Institute, Carlo Caffarra), were sterile, cold, and far from the wounds of man. What is your point of view on this?

The whole vision of St. John Paul II comes from an extreme closeness to the human situation. And that certainly means closeness to man’s wounds. But, above all, it means a closeness to the most original experience of man, which is not that of being wounded, but of being loved by God and made capable by him of a loving response. That is why John Paul II, before seeing the wounds, saw the greatness of man thanks to the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ. It was in this light that he spoke of his “faith in man.” The distinction is not between those who see wounds and those who see only cold doctrines. The distinction instead lies between those, on the one hand, who only see wounds and, given man’s impotence to go it alone, try to justify it; and those who see, together with and before the wounds, God’s great call to man, and man’s capacity to be redeemed by God and to build a great and beautiful life, the one that God has always wanted for him.

Two radically different ways of engaging in pastoral work flow from these visions. The first, seeing only insurmountable wounds, tries to tolerate them: it measures man according to his weakness and his fall. The other way, seeing God’s great call, tries to help man to mature so that he might be capable of responding in love. The supporters of the first vision, because they do not understand the capacity of the Gospel to regenerate man, believe that others are rigid, cold, and distant; in the same way as those who see people dancing but do not hear music think that they are crazy, making useless and meaningless movements.

In order to understand the logic of true pastoral care, one must hear and perceive the music of redemption: this is what St. John Paul II spoke about in the final part of the encyclical Veritatis splendor. Instead, the “anti-pastoral” choice of adapting the divine commands — which are inscribed in the plan of creation and express the original call to love — to the weakness of fallen man, is an inverted form of that “moral Pelagianism” so often condemned by Pope Francis. It is a lack of faith in God, but also in man, because it rejects proposing conversion to him and has no confidence in the renewing power of grace.

According to what some call the “new paradigm” of moral theology arising from Amoris Laetitia— we hope that even discussing this is not considered an attack on the pontiff — it opens up to the so-called “possible good.” To enable readers to understand what it is about, could you offer a concrete example?

I will take the example used by Professor Maurizio Chiodi a few days ago, in an interview with Luciano Moia. There it is said that life within [the relationship of] a homosexual couple could be a possible good for a person in certain circumstances. The doctrine of the Church teaches, instead, that it is an evil, something that damages the person who does it and leads him more and more towards evil. It is not a question of a contrast between two visions, one pastoral and the other doctrinal. Rather, they are two diagnoses of a situation, two diagnoses that open up to very different cures. According to the first, it could be said that this person, although performing homosexual acts, is living according to the will of God, who does not ask us for more than we can do. The acts he engages in would be humanizing, they would even lead to the Gospel, even if at some point he will have to realize that they are not perfect acts, and that there is a better way.

Catholic doctrine, which teaches that these are intrinsically evil acts, proposes a different diagnosis and consequently a different cure. Homosexual acts cannot be ordered to God and therefore do not lead to the good of the person. Jesus, the divine physician, who knows the heart of man, says: every time you engage in this act, you are damaging love, your humanity, and the humanity of the other. At the same time he says: but the call to true love always resounds in you, and you can follow this love, and I am here to accompany you on the way of conversion, which asks you to leave evil behind and embrace the good. This is why it is necessary for you to abandon false loves, which in reality are an adoration of yourself, and for this you have the strength that comes from the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus.

Allow me to recall a passage from Veritatis Splendor, 103. It deals precisely with the possible good, inasmuch as John Paul II asks, “But what are the ‘concrete possibilities of man’? John Paul II writes: “It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an ‘ideal’ which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a ‘balancing of the goods in question.’ But what are the ‘concrete possibilities of man’? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit.” *

*Address to those taking part in a course on “responsible parenthood” (March 1, 1984), 4: Insegnamenti VII, 1 (1984), 583.

Translation by Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews. 

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In the Aftermath of the Mass Killings in the US, a few thoughts.

Comment: In an ideal world there would be no need to fear we may be gunned down as we go about our lives. There would be no discussion on whether we have the right, or not, to carry weapons with which to defend ourselves and our loved ones from hate-filled murderers who shoot, stab and kill at random. But this is not an ideal world, as we all well know. At the same rate as greed, selfishness, intolerance and aggressive pride increase, so do evil acts of mass killings and violence explode all around us.

Whilst the rest of the world (notably Europe) blames the USA for the ongoing mass shootings of innocent bystanders by crazed assassins due to its tolerant gun laws, perhaps we should take a look at the “beam in our own eye” first. Nor should we forget these important points below when considering if we should continue to allow ourselves and our families to be vulnerable targets to any would-be assassin:

(1) From Luke 22:36:

“36 But they said: Nothing. Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a purse; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword.”

(2) From the CCC:

2263 The legitimate defence of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing…..

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow….

2265 Legitimate defence can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defence of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”

(3) Gun prohibition in Europe, for instance, has done nothing to put a stop to rising crimes of extreme violence and murders in our cities in recent times. (Example: Last year crime rates for such acts of violence in London, notably knife attacks, surpassed that of New York, and continue to increase!)

(4) The crux of the matter is… Donald Trump, guns, immigrants, racism, etc., in fact, everyone and everything is getting blamed for the recent killings except the real culprit – ungodliness. Yet have we not also abandoned God and our Christian heritage in Europe through our making of increasingly ungodly laws and our worldliness? Without the cornerstone of Christendom on which “the house” (the West) was built, strong and upright, it will corrode, topple, and eventually fall. Before our very eyes!


Why Is America Killing Itself? God Knows!

by Michael J. Matt, Editor at THE REMNANT 

In the aftermath of the El Paso shooting. (Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre)

It’s mourning in America again.  Two mass shootings within 24 hours over the weekend—one in Texas and the other in Illinois. The death toll has risen to 31, with dozens more in hospital.

Murdered Americans lying in the streets mean one thing to too many unprincipled American politicians: A political opportunity.

Democratic presidential hopeful, Beto O’Rourke, didn’t miss a beat.  Hours after the shooting in El Paso, he took it upon himself to unleash a televised tirade against Donald Trump—the “racist” who, according to O’Rourke, is personally responsible for the murder of 20 Americans in El Paso:

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Since we posted this article yesterday, the following video was taken down from YouTube. It is my hope that this might mean Beto has had a run-in with the Secret Service in the wake of his inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric against the President of the United States.  Here in a nutshell, is what Beto said, as summed up by Patrick Buchanan in his excellent new article “Exploiting Massacres to Raise Poll Ratings”:

Railed Beto, Trump “is a racist and he stokes racism in this country … and it leads to violence. … We have a president with white nationalist views in the United States today.” He called Trump’s language about Mexican immigrants “reminiscent of something you might hear in the Third Reich.” Asked on Sunday by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he believes the president is a “white nationalist,” Beto eagerly assented: “Yes, I do.”

If dangerous rhetoric incites violence, one wonders why this dog whistle to every psycho Trump hater with a deer rifle didn’t land this irresponsible buffoon in jail.

I guess anything goes on CNN these days. They’ve been broadcasting a 24-hour rant against Trump and the NRA ever since the shootings. It’s almost as if this is tailor made for them, since the deranged shooters in both cases were white. They say they care about the victims of gun violence and I’m sure some of them do, but they also seem positively fixated on the skin color of the shooter.

For them, these brutal acts of senseless violence seem to serve a political agenda, which may explain the comparative silence over at CNN when a rash of shootings in Chicago over the very same weekend left 66 shot and 12 dead.

Do all black lives matter to CNN, or just those taken by white killers?

Some 260 murders in Chicago so far in 2019, and nothing from CNN or Beto about the rise of hate crimes in the Windy City and how it’s all Trump’s fault.  Perhaps this is because in the Chicago massacres the black-to-white shooter/victim ratio doesn’t fit their racist narrative.

Regardless, these acts of violence are more than deplorable. And I disagree with President Trump when he suggests mental illness is the problem. Something far worse than any illness of the mind would seem to be at work here, and it has little to do with guns and everything to do with a sickness of the soul.

mikes pull quote guns

I have been a gun owner and a hunter all my life. I have a permit to carry. I worked as an armed guard for a couple of years out of college and carried a gun to work every day. I believe in the Second Amendment.

That said, guns will not fix the problem, any more than guns are its cause.

Arming America will not stop the hate and violence any more than disarming America will.

Fifty years ago, everyone had easy access to guns. We got them as gifts at Christmas and birthdays. They were part of our lives, our culture, our way of life—and yet nobody was out shooting up schools or slaughtering innocent people at Wal-Mart.

Why not?

Well, that’s the question every serious journalist and commentator should be asking. But they’re not. Why not? Because they’re not allowed to bring God or logic into the national conversation, at least not over at CNN.

Blame the guns. Blame the president. Blame the cops. But never ask the obvious questions:

Why did gun violence explode into our lives only after God had been banished from public schools?

Why did gun violence explode into our lives only after abortion was legalized? (In the state of Illinois alone, nearly 40,000 abortions take place every year; that’s an average of over 100 babies per day.)

Ya think there might be a connection between the alarming loss of respect for life on the streets of Chicago and the loss of respect for innocent life in the womb a long time ago?

Again, don’t ask that question. Half the country will call it hate speech and the other half will dismiss it as the unenlightened babble of the Dark Ages. We’re a progressive society. Can’t you tell?

Broken families, war on morality, abortion, ubiquitous pornography, violent video games, violent movies, violent music, banishing God — none of this has anything to do with gun violence in America. Nothing! Nada! And to suggest otherwise is probably against the law or will be soon enough.

Just blame the guns, play the race card and duck your head.

Sheer insanity!

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The following letter from Dr Robert Moynihan is a continuation of ‘A Surprise Encounter’ in which he describes a meeting with Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano who has been in hiding since publishing his testimony of papal cover ups and calls for the pope’s resignation:

“Pope Francis is always in my intention. Of course I pray for him, in praying the Rosary, and in celebrating Mass. And I also pray for Pope Benedict, and believe he has a spiritual role in protecting the Church from the devil.” —Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, today in a private conversation

“English Catholics are indignant that the Anglican Church authorities have agreed that Rochester cathedral — the second oldest cathedral in the country, taken from the Catholics at the time of the Reformation… the cathedral of St. John Fisher — will be turned into a mini-golf park.” —Archbishop Vigano, reading a news report today. He suggests that it symbolizes the trajectory of much of the Church in the western world

“I am looking for the truth. I spoke to him (Francis) with all the transparency that I knew. Should I have not said the truth to the Pope?” —Archbishop Vigano

Man and holiness

The essential questions facing the Church today remain the great questions of all time:

1) The Transcendent and the Immanent; What is real? Does anything metaphysical (supernatural, partaking of the eternal, things like divine grace and stunning, sudden miracles) truly exist, or is everything metaphysical and supernatural just, as the materialists say, unreal, illusory, the product of false hopes for “something more” than the changing, ever-fleeing-away productions of time?

2) Anthropology: What is man? Does the being and mind of man, the “person” that each human being is as a conscious entity (and perhaps it is right to speak in this context of the “soul” that each person possesses, or is) also truly exist, or is personhood, and the soul, illusory and unreal? Are we just a complicated collection of chemicals, or is there something in us (the image and likeness of God?) that transcends the chemicals, something which cannot be accounted for by that “scientific” chemical analysis?

3) Theology: What or Who is God? Does God truly exist and, if so, what is His nature and what does that mean for the life of men?

It is on this last point that the question of holiness arises.

Persuaded that the nature of God is to “be holy” (“hallowed be Thy name”) and that (as an axiom, not as a judgment) no thing that is un-holy, or that has not been made holy (sanctified, consecrated) may be (exist) in the presence of God, Christians are persuaded that some agency or power is needed to bring the human into closer, more intimate and more lasting contact with the divine.

Hence… the sacramental system of the Church, to fill with grace and divine life (the life of Christ) the core, the essential being, of men and women.

The “divinization” (“theosis“) of man through holiness, through the movement “into God” of what is mortal, fallible, sinful… human.

From this, the love of the Church, the mystical body of Christ, as that which mediates life and grace to mankind.

But also from this, in equal measure it seems, the hatred of the Church, on the part of those who think all that is written above is nonsense, or worse, harmful propaganda which warps minds, limits personal freedom and induces neuroses, rather than mediating life and grace to men.

And by this roundabout way, I come to the controversial and (I think) holy Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, with whom I am meeting during these days in a quiet place.

The Jesuits and the Long Plan

Vigano is 78 and will soon turn 79.

His health is good, he walks well, there is a skip still in his step, but he has been through a period of considerable stress, and time takes its toll on all of us.

So he seems a bit weary, in comparison to how he was in 2010, or 2015, when I knew him in Rome and in the United States, where he was the papal nuncio (2011-2016).

We have spoken now for many hours, and his central concern is for the safety, freedom and doctrinal purity of the Church — the mystical body of Christ, the people of God, which he has served throughout his life, and still wishes to serve with all his being.

I am struck as we speak by the contradictions of this soft-spoken man. He has been branded by some as the most heroic “truth-teller” in this age of the Church, but in Rome he has been branded by many as “Judas” for his alleged betrayal of Pope Francis.

In the style of Frederic Martel (whose rambling and, at times, obsessive book In the Closet of the Vatican speaks about Vigano on almost 50 occasions, and seems to be written in part out of a fixation to understand who Vigano is and who he represents), one may well ask: Who is Vigano, really?

A courageous soul, balanced between piety, prayer, and professional competence, willing to risk his reputation to speak out on behalf of all believers, especially the weak and the abused?

Or someone far less appealing, a coward, not a hero, as some venom-tongued monsignors in Rome are saying?

History will have to judge, of course, but perhaps these letters can merit to be the first draft of that history which will tell us whether we are in the presence of a saint hated by proud men with an agenda, or a little man who is the unworthy antagonist of noble and saintly powers attempting to fulfill Christ’s noble vision for His Church.

The question is dramatic, especially because this small, gentle man seems completely miscast to play either role.

Would anyone ever have cast him as a courageous hero? Doubtful!

He is a small man with intelligent eyes, exquisite manners, studious, hardworking, uncomplaining amid the rigors of travel, not dashing, not evidently heroic.

At the same time, he is a type of living reservoir of Roman curial knowledge, meaning that he knows the Curia with mathematical precision from end to end, from one office to the next, and his memory ranges back over more than 50 years. He is “Mr. Roman Curia.”

So this man is an archetypal “servant of the Pope.” Every Pope!

He has served Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis.

So how could the archetypal papal servant suddenly have become the archetypal papal betrayer, the “Judas” of the Curia in the early 21st century? The very thought causes one to shake one’s head with puzzlement. It cannot be!

Here we have a soul whose entire life has revolved around the unquestioning service of the leadership of the Catholic Church — traveling on a dozen occasions throughout the night across the deserts of Iraq toward Syria from Bagdad, all night rides alone in a car (one might almost refer to him as “Vigano of Arabia”)… traveling to almost every diocese in tribal war-torn Nigeria over six years in that country in the 1990s… traveling all over the United States during five years as nuncio in that vast country. What an astounding story!

And yet, now, as the October Amazon Synod draws near, and Catholic theologians increasingly find its working document a text based not on Christo-centric Christian revelation, but on observation of and respect for nature without any direct mention of Christ and his saving mission of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, this same Vigano is deeply troubled.

“Where is the Christian message here?” Vigano asks me, fixing me with his intense gaze under bushy eyebrows.

And he gives his own answer: “In fact, the figure of Christ is absent. The Synod working document testifies to the emergence of a post-Christian Catholic theology, now, in this moment. And this is very troubling. It is against everything I have worked for and believed for all my life.

“Let’s consider the history of the Jesuits,” Vigano continues. “That is something I am studying now with great care. In fact, if you would like to know the synthesis of my thought, it is this: What we are now seeing is the triumph of a 60-year-old plan, the successful execution of a well-thought out plan to bring a new sort of thinking into the heart of the Church, a thinking rooted in elements of Liberation Theology containing strands of Marxism, little interested in traditional Catholic liturgy or morality or theology, but rather focused on ‘praxis’ in the field of social justice. And now this plan has achieved one of its supreme goals, with a Jesuit on the See of Peter…”

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