Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is Pope Francis rolling back Summorum Pontificum? Assessment by Rorate

IMPORTANT: Pope Francis severely restricts the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, imposes the Novus Ordo on all their priests UPDATE: FULL TEXT OF THE DECREE that abrogates Summorum for the FFI (Rorate Caeli, July 29, 2013):
Rorate note: A clear attempt to minimize the importance of this decree is taking place here and there in the blogosphere, as expected. We are being told that this isn't really something to worry about; that this is just a particular situation, limited to a particular religious institution, and has nothing to do with how Pope Francis views Summorum.

Against these manifestations of the spirit of denial that we have come to know so well since February 28 of this year, we raise the following points.

1) First, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are not just a small religious Order or congregation occupying a tiny niche of the Traditional Catholic world; with more than 130 priests, they are the second largest canonically-regular religious congregation or society among those that primarily or de facto exclusively offer the Traditional Latin Mass. (The FSSP is the largest.) The family of female monasteries and convents under the spiritual care of the FFI have no other parallel in the Traditional Catholic world outside the SSPX. Anything that restricts the ability of the FFI to offer the Traditional Latin Mass will of necessity be deeply felt by the Traditional Catholic world.

2) One justification now being raised is that the FFI's application of Summorum Pontificum had caused discord in many communities and that the Traditional Latin Mass was "imposed" brutally on priests who did not want it. On the contrary, we in Rorate, who have been closely observing the FFI since 2008, can affirm that the opposite is the case: Summorum was applied in a very gradual manner by the FFI, the Novus Ordo was never forbidden in their houses and sanctuaries, and in many parts of the world the FFI continued to offer the Novus Ordo predominantly. It ought to be noted as well that the FFI, in their promotion of the "Forma Extraordinaria", have been remarkably free of polemics and public attacks on the Novus Ordo.

3) Yet another justification now being used is that this action is acceptable because the FFI were not founded with the TLM as an essential part of their charism. This excuse is incomprehensible as it completely ignores the rights given by Summorum Pontificum to religious priests. Furthermore, if the dissatisfaction of a few is enough to get a whole religious congregation or Order restricted from making use of Summorum Pontificum, this opens an easy way by which the opponents of the old Mass can eventually expel the TLM from all non-"Ecclesia Dei" institutes.

4) Lastly, and most importantly, the decree -- by specifically restricting the Traditional Latin Mass -- is a clear indication that it is seen as something problematic, something that must be excised from the life of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. If this whole crisis in the FFI is not really about the Traditional Latin Mass, then why is it the target of exclusion and of restrictions, and why does the decree devote so much space to it, and why does the decree take the trouble of noting that this restriction was personally commanded by the Holy Father himself? If the crisis in the FFI is due to the misbehavior of some, then why is the deprivation of the Traditional Latin Mass extended to all?
This is a much longer post with added updates. Read more >>

Update: Fr. Z bends over backwards to offer a detailed sympathetic Brick-by-Brick-Bund analysis (WDTPRS, July 29, 2013)

Update (8/6/2013):
  1. For the record: Franciscans of the Immaculate - three official responses to Vatican Insider and other official statements
  2. IMPORTANT: Pope Benedict XVI did not order the FFI visitation, PCED supported FFI norms on use of Vetus Ordo in 2012
  3. Texts and commentary from Rorate (Rorate Caeli, August 6, 2013).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bishop Ronald Fabbro Elevates Windsor Tridentine Association to Community Status

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News (July 14, 2013):
Twenty one and a half years after its founding, the first Tridentine Mass community in metro Detroit and Windsor has become the first one in the region elevated to independent Community status, with the right to maintain its own sacramental records.

“In order to provide in a stable manner for those members of the faithful who adhere to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, that is, the Tridentine liturgy, in the city of Windsor and the surrounding region”, and citing Canon 516 §2, Diocese of London Bishop Ronald Fabbro has established the St. Benedict Tridentine Catholic Community, effective July 11, 2013. The full decree may be read on the Diocese of London web site, in the Decrees area of the Parishes section. The name St. Benedict was chosen in consultation with members of the community, both because of the monastic example he set as well as for the Benedictine motto of Ora et Labóra, prayer and works. Fr. Peter Hrytsyk has been appointed Priest-Chaplain.

A transition such as this prompts an FAQ:
What exactly is changing?

The canonical form of the Windsor Tridentine Community is changing from a Private Association of the Faithful (the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association) to a Community (St. Benedict Tridentine Community).

What is a Community?

A Community, much like the Quasi-Parish established in Lansing, Michigan by Bishop Boyea for the Tridentine community there, is an entity which has much the same structure, rights, and obligations as a full parish, albeit to serve a smaller congregation.

Why not make it a “real” parish?

Relative to most parishes, the Windsor Tridentine Mass group is relatively small. A Community is the appropriate canonical structure given our size, age, and financial situation.

Are there other Communities?

Yes. There are several Communities in the Diocese of London serving ethnic congregations, for example the St. Philippe and St. Anne Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Community, which serves a congregation of approximately 300 and recently acquired Windsor’s St. Patrick Church.

What are the advantages of being a Community? Sacramental preparation becomes our own responsibility. We will maintain our own sacramental records: Baptisms, weddings, and Confirmations, for example, will be recorded in our own registers. Formerly these sacraments were recorded in the register of our host parishes, Assumption and St. Michael/Immaculate Heart prior to 2007.

Why is the Bishop doing this?

Twenty-one years of solid, reliable existence has proven to the diocese that we are a stable community. A more formal canonical structure recognizes that we are more than a glorified club that meets for Mass. It grants us security and assures us of a more permanent role in the life of the diocese. Our community is growing up.

What will happen to the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association?

The Diocese of London will no longer recognize the WTMA as the entity responsible for the Windsor Tridentine Mass, as it is being succeeded by the St. Benedict entity. It is possible that the WTMA may be maintained for specialized fundraising purposes.

Is the governance of the community changing?

Yes. Instead of being led by a board of directors, the Community will be led by a Chaplain, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk. As with a full parish, there will be a Pastoral Council and a Finance Council who will advise the Chaplain. The Church is a hierarchy, and we are changing from an ad-hoc organization to one formally led by a member of the clergy.

Will there be anything new?

We hope to start some form of social action or charitable activities. The community has grown to where it cannot only be a place where we have Mass. We must live out our Christian social service responsibilities, too. We also hope to hold occasional fundraising events, such as dinners.

Will we be getting our own church?

This is a matter of finances and common sense. Current revenue levels do not permit such an acquisition. Even if the diocese were to give us an unused church at no charge, the cost of restoring and maintaining the building would exceed our current abilities.

Those of us in metro Detroit and Windsor owe a debt of gratitude to Bishop Fabbro for supporting us through various “upgrades” since 2003. With this latest move, His Excellency once again sets a model which may be useful at other Tridentine Communities in the area.
WWJ Radio Reports on Chant Workshop at Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral

For the first time in memory, Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral hosted a Gregorian Chant Workshop this past Tuesday-Thursday, July 9-11, under the direction of Archdiocese of Detroit Music Director Joe Balistreri. Approximately 40 people across a broad spectrum of musical backgrounds attended. WWJ found the event newsworthy enough to merit a story on Thursday morning.

As Portland, Oregon Archbishop Alexander Sample has stated in at least two speeches delivered in recent weeks, “We are on the brink of a profound renewal of divine worship.">
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for July 14, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Philadelphia Archbishop Caput offers evaluation of Pope Francis

John Allen, Jr. "Right wing 'generally not happy' with Francis, Chaput says" (NCR, July 23, 2013):
Rio de Janeiro-- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is renowned for speaking plainly, which in part means he's often willing to say things out loud that others in his position may sense but are hesitant to acknowledge.

During an interview in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, for instance, Chaput bluntly tackled three questions about Pope Francis, his early record, and his current trip to Brazil:
  • The 68-year-old Capuchin conceded that last night's mob scene with the papal motorcade was a "frightening moment," hinting that perhaps Francis could listen a bit more to handlers charged with his safety and saying, "There has to be some distance between the crowds and the Holy Father."
  • Chaput acknowledged that members of the right wing of the Catholic church "generally have not been really happy" with some aspects of Francis' early months and said the pope will have to find a way "to care for them, too."
  • Chaput defended Francis on concerns in some circles that he's been silent on abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia, saying, "I can't imagine he won't be as pro-life and pro-traditional marriage as any of the other popes." He insisted the bishop of Rome "has to talk about those things."
[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Prayer requests

I have received requests for urgent prayer from several sources near and dear to me and my family, so please permit me to share them with you:
  • Thomas Peters, son of canon lawyer Ed Peters, suffered a broken neck from a swimming accident and is in critical but stable condition in the DC area. Peter's was married just three months ago. Those who wish to help in some way, besides praying, may wish to consult the Update and Information Center.
  • Richard McDonald, a family friend and grandfather to thirteen, is suffering Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease(CJD) a rare and degenerative brain disease that is considered incurable. Symptoms include rapidly progressive dementia and involuntary movements, and prognosis is average life expectancy of six months after symptoms first appear. I just saw him at Mass this morning with his wife and family, tried talking, and wept together.
  • Anita C., a family friend and mother of five, and fellow parishioner when our families attended the same church, who is recovering from a double mastectomy following protracted chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.

Meanwhile ... at Calvin College

Katelyn Beaty, "Calvin College's New President Talks Budget Pressures, Diversity, and the Biggest Theological Issue Today" (Christianity Today, May 28, 2013)... First of all, forgive me, but this is one of my several quasi-alma maters, though I spent only two years at Calvin in the 1970s. It's interesting to me that they've finally chosen a non-Dutch president, on a campus which sports bumper stickers declaring "You ain't much if you ain't Dutch," and the like. When I was a student there, I don't know if there was another non-Dutchman on campus. In fact, I cobbled together a "Dutch" name for myself by stringing together all the typical personal nominal prefixes and suffixes I could round up, calling myself "Henk KonynDeVanderDykeSmaDorff." But they had a strong philosophy program, eight philosophers, including Alvin Plantinga, twice president of the American Philosophical Association, and philosophy was one of my big draws there.

It's also interesting that although quite a number of the faculty (and obviously students) have gone soft on LGBT issues, as I know from other sources, this article shows the president as still somewhat towing the official and historic Christian Reformed Church position on the issue. It's probably only a matter of time . . . The language of theological identity is already growing spongy.

[Hat tip to JM]

Fuller races not to be left behind by LGBT bandwagon

Aimee Stauf, "One Table, Many Theologies" (World magazine, July 19, 2013): Like a reed bending in the wind, the post-Richard Mouw administration of Fuller Theological Seminary is bending over, shall we say backwards, to open its doors to an LGBT student group. My only personal consolation here, is that this sadly predictable event occurred after the retirement of erstwhile Fuller President Richard J. Mouw, who was the first philosophy professor I ever had, when he taught my Intro to Philosophy class at Calvin College during the two years I spent there back in the '70s. Mouw was a good and decent man, overall, possessed of eminent good sense and an uncommonly fine sense of humor.

Fuller, one of the several flagship "seminaries" of Evangelical American Christendom hereby signals its capitulation to the nefarious prevailing winds of self-congratulatory enlightened liberal doctrine, retarded in its eagerness to play catch-up only by its relative erstwhile conservatism. But not to fear: soon enough they'll doubtless be sporting an Elton John Crouching Tiger Hidden Drag-queen Chair of LGBT Theology, or some such.

Sodom, Oh Sodom! Thou villainous smooth-tongued, toxic-venomed, guts-griping fustilarian calumnious goatish milk-livered puke-stocking.

[Hat tip to JM]

Straight eye for the queer guy

“When I joined the military it was illegal to be homosexual, then it became optional, and now it's legal. I'm getting out before the Democrats make it mandatory.”

- Sgt. Harry Berres, USMC

[Hat tip to D. Stewart]

More scandalous connections involving CCHD and pro-abrots

Georgetown prez announces healthcare coverage per Sandra Fluke

Our undercover correspondent, Guy Noir, Private Eye, wired us the following sardonic memo this morning:
Georgetown University's new insurance policy was announced by a university-wide email blast from the school president himself, effectively declaring that the school health plan will now cover all the condoms and birth control pills necessary to let GU co-eds be as sexually active as they want to be. Hooray!!

From her own perch Sandra Fluke tweeted “@Georgetown will comply w/ #ACA #Obamacare #birthcontrol student policy this year! At last! Thx2 all who stood w/us!”

That steadfast opposition from the American Bishops was really something, wasn't it?
[Hat tip to JM]

For the record: John Heard (a.k.a. "Dreadnought") now supports same-sex marriage

Not terribly surprising news, really (thanks to one of our commentors). Our interest was chiefly in the fact that he at one time banned Fr. Joseph O'Leary from his own website (back in 2005) because of the latter's heterodoxy and opposition to Church teaching on sexual morality. As Heard's readers would know, however, he has been struggling with same-sex attraction and the challenge of conforming to Church teaching himself for a long time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bullish demographic stats on US Church

When those who are 65 or older are dead and gone in 20 or 30 more years, the US Church will have shrunk in real numbers by upwards of 60%.

AmChurch is dying, folks.

Another round of golf, anyone?

Challenging task of leaning to think & live as a Catholic

I don't have a TV and have rarely seen anything on EWTN, but someone called to my attention the "Journey Home" interview on YouTube of Former Episcopal clergyman, Taylor Marshall, which I found notable for one reason. The interview touches on a number of interesting issues, including the role of Our Lady in the story of our salvation; but the key issue, for me, is what Dr. Marshall says about the challenges involved in learning how to think and live as a Catholic.

This is something I have become particularly sensitized to by looking back over my shoulder over the past two decades since I was received into the Church. Old habits of being, thinking, and acting die hard; and this is as true of the former Protestant habits of those of us who are converts as anyone else.

To become Catholic is a process of growing into new habits of being, thinking, and behaving that mean -- in a much fuller sense that even we as Catholics can imagine -- "putting on Christ," taking on the new nature that grace engenders within us, new habits that will hopefully lead us and our families and loved ones to Heaven. And this simply doesn't happen overnight. One doesn't become a Catholic by signing a membership card.

Looking backwards over my shoulder, I can see so many ways in which, even after having been received into the Church, I had not yet "become Catholic." Some of you have pointed out how true this is of many individuals who assume the mantle of speaking for the Church who are former converts, whose Catholicism is still very "Protestantized" by old habits that have not yet died out. In some respects, one could argue that many Catholics are not yet sufficiently Catholic, that even various ministries of EWTN have a certain Protestant patina evidenced in habits of speech and interaction and language of prayer.

Nevertheless, I find this interview pointing powerfully in what I would consider the right direction. There are all sorts of gifts that former Protestant converts to Catholicism bring with them into the Church. In other words, converts can have genuine gifts of insight and discernment that one would not wish them to leave behind in becoming Catholics. Yet there are also ways, deep ways, in which all of us -- former Protestants and "cradle Catholics" alike -- can profit in our pilgrimage through life and hope of Heaven by learning to think, live, and act as true Catholics.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pope Francis and the mystery of the world's recognition of truth

So now that the Italian edition of Vanity Fair has named Pope Francis "Man of the Year"; Elton John has declared that "Francis is a miracle of humility in an era of vanity"; and Kathryn Jean Lopez, in her article "Franciscum Revolution" in the National Review has stated that what the world sees in Pope Francis "is the love of Christ made manifest," what are we to make of this? It all seems a bit over-the-top, does it not?

It might be tempting to believe that "the Gospel" is reducible to something so easily recognizable, so simple, that even the secular entertainment industry could recognize it through gestures of sacrifice and kindness, and their "ring of truth."

The Gospels, after all, do have passages that seem to suggest something like this -- that others should be able to discern the identity of Christians by their love and good works and glorify the Father:
  • "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Mt 5:16)
  • "By this all men will know what you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13:35)
Yet again, there are some hard passages to reconcile with leaping too readily to the conclusion that the "world" comes by such powers of perception easily:
  • "The world cannot accept [Christ], because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you." (Jn 14:17)
  • "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (Jn 15:19)
Let us be honest about the spiritual profundity of this question. It is true that there are gestures of self-sacrifice -- St. Maximilian Kolbe's willingness to take the place of a condemned prisoner at Auschwitz comes to mind -- that clearly do point beyond themselves to deeper truths about the way things actually are in the world -- what Aslan calls the "deep magic" of the universe. Yet we know from St. Paul's discourse in the opening chapter of Romans that the availability of true knowledge to the Gentiles cannot be equated automatically with their appropriation of that knowledge. There is such a thing as duplicity of mind and repression of truth, and, as the Prophet Jeremiah says: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9).

Faith is a supernatural gift, and nothing short of God's grace can generate it within the human heart. Therefore, while feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and self-sacrifice are essential elements in the life to which Christians are called by their Lord, these are nothing without the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity. This is why, in the final analysis, prayer is more important than mere activism. Counter-intuitively, it is the most heavenly-minded that are often the most earthly good. Not Vladamir Lenin, but Mother Teresa.

[Hat tip to JM]

Tracey Rowland flap on "barriers" to the TLM

First of all, here's the source of the controversy, a brief video segment of an interview with Tracey Rowland about the TLM in which she discusses what she calls "three barriers" to the Traditional Latin Mass: (1) "aestheticism," (2) traditionalists' "funny clothes," and (3) the association of the TLM with "opposition to Vatican II." So much could be said about this, it's not funny. I was going to write: "spoiler alert" with a comment of my own; but I shall restrain myself and leave the commenting to you.

Here are some of the initial replies to Tracey Rowland [advisory: the give and take can be somewhat brutal]. But watch the video and respond for yourself. I had to laugh at the comment about "funny clothes," which (like the "aestheticism" remark) belongs in my opinion on the other foot, the one with the sneakers or flip-flops tapping out the beat of the Praise Band. But maybe that's just me. Excerpts from Joseph Shaw:
The first thing which strikes me is that the first two criticisms are pulling in different directions. What she is saying, essentially, in the first is that EF-goers are too middle class. They are educated, articulate, can detect 'buff notes', and like talking about it after Mass. The sort of people, in short, who might be friends of Tracey, and might accompany her to Mass or talk to her afterwards. Or who might turn up to a one-off special occasion Mass in a Cathedral with a special choir and so on. Perhaps this is the only kind of EF the great Professor has made it to.
In the second criticism, she is saying that EF-goers are not middle class enough. They are the sort of people who take the obligation to dress modestly more seriously than the demands of the modern fashion industry .... Rowland's second criticism could be described as social, or moral (because those trads take morality too seriously - shame on them!), but above all it is aesthetic. Professor Rowland thinks it is wrong to criticise a professional choir for fluffing Lassus, but quite appropriate - indeed, a good thing - to criticise a Catholic mother for not having enough money to get the latest dress.

What of the last point? ... She is annoyed that too many people attending the EF don't agree with her take on Vatican II.... Like the people criticised in the second point, the people she is talking about now do not just 'love the EF because it is beautiful'. It is hard to resist the idea that Rowland thinks that it would be better if they did. Their crime is to ponder the implications of the Catholic Faith which are so eloquently represented by the Traditional Liturgy, and to allow those implications to transform their lives and their thinking about a range of issues. If only, she seems to be saying, if only they were more superficially interested in the liturgy, if they just popped in and out of different kinds of Mass for a bit of 'enrichment' without thinking too hard about the theological issues this variety raises. Pope Benedict, of course, is a prime example of someone who doesn't just enjoy the variety of Masses facing the people or facing East, people kneeling for Communion or standing, and so on, but has to spoil the 'enrichment' by pointing out that there are serious theological problems with the usual OF practice, and insofar as that can be blamed on the Spirit of the Council, too bad for the Spirit of the Council.
See also Fr. Dickson's remarks linked above.

Update: "Final reply to Tracey Rowland, by the Melbourne Latin Mass Chaplain" (Rorate Caeli, July 16, 2013): "A definitive reply to Rowland's remarks, by Fr. Glen Tattersall (comment to previous post)":
Dr Rowland is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. She is a person of some prominence in the Church in Australia.

As chaplain for those Catholics in Melbourne attached to the Extraordinary Form, I feel compelled to offer the following observations, given that Dr Rowland claims to speak from experience:

1. Dr Rowland rarely attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne - I can recall having seen her once at Mass (a Low Mass on a weekday) in the last two years;

2. I do not recognise as present among the Catholic Faithful I am privileged to serve any of the problems she alleges in her interview.


Fr Glen Tattersall Senior Chaplain, Catholic Community of Bl. John Henry Newman [Arch. of Melbourne, Victoria]
[Hat tip to JM]

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fr. Rodriguez homily: Pope Francis faces a Devastated Vineyard

On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2013, Fr. Michael Rodriguez preached on the Passion of Christ and Passion of the Church at San Francisco Javier Catholic Church, in El Paso, Texas. This was just days after the election of Pope Francis.

The title of the homily, shown on YouTube, is given as "The Passion: Pope Francis faces a Devastated Vineyard." The remarks about Pope Francis begin at 18:34 minutes into the homily. As you can see, traditionalists in El Paso don't monkey around with 8 minute sermonettes for Christianettes.

Although the following is quite beside the point of the homily, I must say that I was amused by the remarks of the woman who was the first to post a comment on the YouTube page, who wrote: "It is people like this priest who have helped empty the vinyard!! take off those reminants of the past and LIVE in CHRIST!! not lace and brocade!!!  and Birettas!!!!!"

Nevertheless, in defense of the woman, I'm quite sure this would be the knee-jerk reaction of most mainline Catholics today. It's all just as strange and alien as an Armenian Orthodox Mass or something of the like. Catholic culture has spiritualized the Faith, a move historically native to Protestantism, but not Catholicism, whose worldview has always been 'sacramental', 'incarnational'.

The responses posted by the representative of the production organization that posted the video is equally interesting: "Do your history-attitudes such as yours that HAVE emptied the vineyard,& worse," he writes, going on to related that he has "personally seen Fr. Rodriguez wearing worn out shoes and a cassock," but as in the video, dons the best to give "Christ our King His due glory and honor."

It's not an easy notion for people to fathom who are accustomed to driving expensive SUVs but objecting to chapel veils or golden chalices.

[Hat tip to Mr. A. Sistrom]

The Historical Roots and Untenable assumptions of Biblical "Historical Criticism"

Here's a book I wish I had written! Twice (once at Lenoir-Rhyne University in NC and once at Sacred Heart Major Seminary) I have taught courses on the philosophical background of historical-critical biblical hermeneutics.

So I am delighted that now, finally, someone has tackled head-on the overwhelming bias of modern "historical criticism," long treated as though it were something scientific, neutral and objective. The authors have painstakingly analyzed and exposed the uncritically-assumed philosophical biases underlying modern "higher criticism," showing in many cases how these assumptions were embraced for political reasons. From the late-medieval nominalist sources and concomitant univocal conceptions of God up through 17th century critics, the authors leave nearly no stone unturned. Interestingly, their books ends where others usually begin, thus giving the sorely missing background to later developments.

The book, of course, is Scott W. Hahn and Benjamin Wiker's Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700(Crossroads, Herder & Herder, 2013).

Chapters are devoted to Marsilius of Padua, William of Ockham, John Wycliffe, Machiavelli, Luther & the 'Reformation', England and Henry VIII, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinioza, the Enlightenment, Richard Simon, John Locke, and John Toland. I was surprised there was no mention of the indirect influence of Islamic traditions of Qur'anic interpretation on western Biblical interpretation, and I might have devoted far more attention to the influence of Kantian philosophical assumptions on the "Jesus of History" vs. "Christ of Faith" dichotomy, and of the neo-Kantians (and, later, of Heidegger) on thinkers like Barth and Bultmann.

Yet this is an invaluable and truly ground-breaking study, and one I recommend to ANYONE (and certainly students of Scripture) interested in making their way safely through the minefields of contemporary Biblical studies and the widely and uncritically accepted historical-critical assumptions such as the Documentary Hypothesis, 'JEDP' source criticism in the OT (which I have seen even in footnotes of NAB Catholic Study Bibles!), redaction criticism, form criticism, Q as the source of Mark, etc.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Vatican II Must be Clarified" - Extensive interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider by Michael Voris

Related: Excellent book on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the proper mode of receiving Holy Communion by The Most Reverend Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Dominus Est – It Is the Lord! Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion(Newman House Press, 2009):

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Popular suicide spots in Japan

Larissa Macfarquhar, "Last Call" (The New Yorker, June 24, 2013) - a Buddhist monk confronts Japan's suicide culture:
From time to time, Ittetsu Nemoto gets a group of suicidal people together to visit popular suicide spots, of which there are many in Japan. The best known is Aokigahara forest, the Sea of Trees, at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The forest became associated with suicide in the nineteen-sixties, after the publication of two novels by Seicho Matsumoto, and even more so after Wataru Tsurumi’s 1993 “Complete Manual of Suicide” declared it the perfect place to die. Because its trees grow so closely together that they block the wind, and because there are few animals or birds, the forest is unusually quiet. The Sea of Trees is large, fourteen square miles, so bodies can lie undiscovered for months; tourists photograph corpses and scavenge for abandoned possessions. Another common suicide destination is Tojinbo cliff, which overlooks the Sea of Japan. Visiting such a place turns out to be very different from picturing it. The sight of the sea from a cliff top can be a terrible thing.

At other times, Nemoto, a Buddhist priest, conducts death workshops for the suicidal at his temple. He tells attendees to imagine they’ve been given a diagnosis of cancer and have three months to live. He instructs them to write down what they want to do in those three months. Then he tells them to imagine they have one month left; then a week; then ten minutes. Most people start crying in the course of this exercise, Nemoto among them.

One man who came to a workshop had been talking to Nemoto for years about wanting to die. He was thirty-eight years old and had been institutionalized in a mental hospital off and on for a decade. During the writing exercise, he just sat and wept. When Nemoto came around to check on him, his paper was blank. The man explained that he had nothing to say in response to the questions because he had never considered them. All he had ever thought about was wanting to die; he had never thought about what he might want to do with his life. But if he had never really lived, how could he want to die? This insight proved oddly liberating. The man returned to his job as a machinist in a factory. Previously, he had been so averse to human company that he had been able to function only in certain limited capacities, but now he was able to speak to people, and he got a promotion. . . .
[Hat tip to Saleem P.]

Related: a scene from the Japanese movie, "Departures," which portrays the respect and tenderness with which the dead are treated in Japan, a film well-worth seeing, in my opinion:

Catholic relief services gave $13M to pro-abort group

Patrick B. Craine, "Catholic Relief Services gave over $13 million to pro-abortion group in 2012" (LifesiteNews, July 10, 2013):
BALTIMORE, July 10, 2013 ( – As the U.S. Bishops’ development agency was taking heat last summer for handing out over $5 million to the abortion-supporting group CARE, they were in the midst of giving a total of $13.8 million in grants to the same pro-abortion group during 2012, according to its recently-published IRS filings.
[Hat tip to New Oxford Review]

Pope cracks down

... criminalizes leaks, sex abuse, in first laws ... (July 11, 2013).

Where's the Devil's Advocate on the proposed canonizations?

Of course the "Devil's Advocate" was done away with in the reforms of the last century, and it seems that the traditional number of required miracles is being done away with as well.

The world loved both of the two Blessed's -- John XXIII and John Paul II. They were the beloved superstars of the conciliar and post-conciliar period. Like many, I shook hands with the latter and was pretty giddy about the event.

Honesty and fair-mindedness, however, requires that we listen to the voices of those who tell us they have reason to be scandalized by the prospective canonizations, those reasons that would traditionally have found expression in the voice of the "Devil's Advocate," intended to keep the process honest.

Here's a brief summary of the kinds of objections raised: "Saints aren't perfect" (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, July 7, 2013).

Related: History of the Devil's Advocate (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, 2013 Article)

[Hat tip to IANS]

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The good press on Catholics

The late, great Deacon Hugo May, who was became good friend of mine after I was received into the Church, and who baptized our daughter eight years ago, used to say that the Catholic Church is a precious jewel passed from one dirty hand to another down through the years.

He had, of course, a point. It's easy to see only the dirty hands, but one must also remember the precious jewel. That is, at least, half of his point:

The other half of the point, of course, is that we must not so romanticize the jewel that we fail to see the dirt on the hands, and the fact that the dirty hands are also, at times, our own.

Only Christianity avoids these two dangers -- (1) the danger of an idealism that so romanticizes the aspirations of human nature that it loses sight of our aberrations, and (2) the danger of a realism that is honest about the aberrations of human nature, but at the cost of denying our aspirations.

We have two core doctrines that speak to both sides of this dilemma -- (a) the doctrine of creation, which tells us that we were made in the image and likeness of God, for glory and greatness, and (b) the doctrine of original sin, which tells us that we have fallen, through our own grievous fault, into Gollum-like selfishness, smallness, malice, cruelty and sin. Only a religion that does justice to both our aspirations and our aberrations can be true. The Church, a precious jewel passed from one dirty hand to another down through the years.

Related: Thomas E. Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization(Regnery, rpt., 20012).

Monday, July 08, 2013

CDF Prefect wants to break all contact with the SSPX?

From Rorate Caeli (July 7, 2013):
German weekly FOCUS reports this Sunday that Archbishop Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wants to break contact with the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). A statement to that effect is about to be published, according to a source of FOCUS within the CDF.

The reason for ending contacts with the SSPX is the recent declaration of the three SSPX Bishops, in which they not only criticize the texts of Vatican II, but also the Magisterium, "a magisterium resolved to reconcile Catholic doctrine with liberal ideas". Furthermore, they state that the church is "imbued with this liberal spirit which manifests itself especially in religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality and the New Mass."

According to FOCUS's source, the reaction of Archbishop Müller was: "That's it!" ("Jetzt reicht's!", i.e., "enough!")

(Tip: Reader; First source: Focus; Second source:

Rorate note: what exactly happened one year ago, anyway? What caused the unbelievable turn between April and June 2012? We will try to explain it in a specific post on the matter [See previous post below].

Côme de Prévigny: what exactly happened between the SSPX and Vatican?

Côme de Prévigny, "One Year Later," via "Setting things straight about the SSPX-Vatican talks: What exactly happened in April-June 2012? A guest article by Côme de Prévigny" (Rorate Caeli, July 7, 2013), with this introduction:
A narrative has dominated the news on the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) in the past year: those difficult priests did not accept the extended hand of Pope Benedict XVI; hard-hearted people with stubborn demands, they missed the chance of a lifetime. As in the narrative created by news-creators such as John Allen Jr:
Short of standing outside their headquarters in Econe, Switzerland, in the snow and begging forgiveness like Henry IV at Canossa, Benedict XVI did everything possible to heal the split, and yet the society balked. In an Easter letter to friends and benefactors, Bishop Bernard Fellay asserted that Rome has imposed acceptance of the Second Vatican Council as a sine qua non -- a prerequisite, Fellay wrote, "to which we could not and still cannot subscribe."

Many observers believe it's now "game over," at least for the foreseeable future and barring some surprising concession on the Lefebvrist side.
... Our readers know we have covered more extensively this matter than practically any other online source - even moments ago, on a matter reported on Sunday by the German press.

In April 2012, a probable regularization certainly seemed to be the case, and who can forget the (leaked) letter of SSPX Superior-General Bp. Bernard Fellay to his fellow bishops? On June 13, 2012, what seemed to be a meeting that would set the path for such reconciliation, following the acceptance by the Vatican of the negotiated Doctrinal Preamble, ended in flames as Bp. Fellay and his assistant met a Vatican side that suddenly came up with new demands - more stringent even than those contained in the May 5, 1988 Protocol. Why would the side that always has the upper hand in any Catholic discussion - that is, Rome - do this, that is, raise new stakes near the end if not from an interest to derail any agreement? Who in the Vatican forced the Supreme Authority's hand at the eleventh hour? Why?

We now know that, in the middle of Vatileaks (which were also made public at around the same time), the Pope's position gradually became untenable. We know that because of what would happen on February 11, 2013. We know now that his isolation, always present throughout the Pontificate, had become critical since the explosion of Vatileaks in the heart of the Pontifical Apartments - that Francis (rightly, it seems, considering what happened with his predecessor) has refused as his living quarters. And we can presume that the pressures on the Pope reached unbearable levels. Truly unbearable.

We asked our friend Côme de Prévigny to present a brief history of those decisive months: something happened in the Vatican between April and June 2012 that created the need for unprecedented demands, more stringent even than the contents of the 1988 Protocol; the "stubborn SSPX" narrative, regarding what took place in June 2012, is simply unsustainable.

Côme de Prévigny, "One Year Later" (scroll down at linked site)

Saturday, July 06, 2013


We received this from our underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an eastern seaboard city which knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir, Private Eye:
This from the com box at Rorarte C caught my eye and made me chuckle. I imagine DeLubac was probably very much Ratzingerian-like, without the last few decades to furhter shape him:
Johannes de Silentio said...

“If heretics no longer horrify us today, as they once did our forefathers, is it certain that it is because there is more charity in our hearts? Or would it not too often be, perhaps, without our daring to say so, because the bone of contention, that is to say, the very substance of our faith, no longer interests us? Men of too familiar and too passive a faith, perhaps for us dogmas are no longer the Mystery on which we live, the Mystery which is to be accomplished in us. Consequently then, heresy no longer shocks us; at least, it no longer convulses us like something trying to tear the soul of our souls away from us.... And that is why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them. It is not always charity, alas, which has grown greater, or which has become more enlightened: it is often faith, the taste for the things of eternity, which has grown less.”

- Henri de Lubac
See, de Lubac does come in handy every so often!
[Hat tip to JM]

When "Guitar Masses" became a chew toy

Bonnie Tyler, Call Your Office...
A very good discussion with many quotable quotes:
... "Where power ballads go, praise bands follow" ...

... "Yet smart pastors no longer shepherd their flocks in terms of equations like 'memorable sermon + rocking band = full collection plate'" ...
Patrick O'Hannigan, "Can Litugical Music Be Saved? - Reassessing the quarrel between the power ballad and the hymn" (The American Spectator, June 17, 2013):
Remember the power ballad? It was a subgenre of rock music pioneered by Boston in 1976 and Styx a year later. From near-symphonic beginnings in “More Than a Feeling” and “Come Sail Away,” the power ballad elbowed its way to prominence in the early Eighties.

Tom Scholz of Boston and Dennis DeYoung of Styx welded songwriting craftsmanship to imaginative orchestration and “wall of sound” microphone placements, mixing electric and acoustic guitars in tunes that did more than build to crescendos. Artists like Bonnie Tyler and REO Speedwagon then parlayed their own examples of the form into successful recording careers.

Power ballad pioneers play now in places like state fairs. But when the power ballad fell out of fashion, it found a home among the “praise bands” of “Christian Rock.” Where power ballads go, praise bands follow. That unabashedly Christian lyrics can be heard on FM radio is a good thing, but that power ballads also enabled praise bands to displace so many church choirs ought to give us pause. Power ballads are not hymns. That is precisely the problem with singing them during church services, even — perhaps especially— services aimed at younger people.

[Hat tip to JM]

Is Christ bored with "Europe"?

David Warren, "An alteration of course?" (Essays in Idleness, March 15, 2013)
My sense of things, when Pope Benedict resigned, is my sense now: that we have rounded the cape, that we are in a new ocean. There is a new man at the helm of our barque: the first to have become a priest after Vatican II, the first Jesuit, the first from the New World, &c. That his “style” is a radical break from the last is already apparent. His choice of the name “Francis,” unused by popes over all these centuries, was our first indication. It is as if the polarities were reversed at Rome, & the strange dishevelled saint of Assisi, who was absolutely loyal to the resplendent papacy, now receives the fealty of the robes. I am convinced there is a Hand on the hand of our tiller.

There will, perhaps, be other popes from Europe, but Benedict XVI may still come to be remembered as the “last European pope,” & his resignation to be pregnant with that spiritual message. Here I am not using the term “Europe” geographically; nor would I dream of dismissing the popes who came before, now a heritage to all ages. It is to Europe as the Christian culture I am referring....

Here is a son of Piedmont: removed somehow to Buenos Aires, “to the ends of the Earth.” Tied to Italy by one last thread, he still speaks some words in the old Occitan. The thread is inseverable; but a time will come when we can no longer trace it along its full length....

The seed is now planted abroad; Christ has moved on from where He is not wanted....

There are moments when, even as an old European, I think we should blow up the cathedrals, rather than let them fall into enemy hands.... But no, let future generations see their beauty, even in their ruin. Let them know that Europe was not always a dance of death in the pigsty of consumerism; that we once put our wealth & all our art at the feet of our Saviour.

A great majority of Catholics now live outside Europe, & the Rome of the Vatican is once more being transformed into the capital of a different kind of “empire.” The faces of the cardinals streaming out of the conclave were still in their majority white, but this may only be the case for another generation....

These are things that go beyond the election of Pope Francis, but to which his election now points. He is an old man, with sciatica, on one lung; we cannot expect to have him with us for long. We can, however, believe that God has entrusted him with a mission, upon which he is acting with the energy of a youth. We can expect that some of it will be incomprehensible to us, in a way perhaps as Francis of Assisi was incomprehensible at first to so many of his contemporaries, who saw in him very worrying departures from conventional religious custom, & did not yet see that he was heroically loyal to the Church; that he honoured the Magisterium, & had come not to destroy but to renew.

Christ, I believe, is bored with Europe, bored with our wealth, bored with our sleaziness, bored with our narcissism, sick through the nostrils with our Paris perfume. He will never, however, be bored with our hunger for the Bread of Life. We must rise & be on our way: Europe has died, & Christ liveth.
[Hat tip to JM]

Friday, July 05, 2013

"Official: Pope Francis will canonize John XXIII and John Paul II"

From today's Bollettino via Rorate Caeli (July 5, 2013) ... "The first Pontiffs to be canonized since Saint Pius X, in 1954." Rorate asks: "Is there a Pope that links all three? Yes, the one who beatified and canonized Sarto, who made Roncalli a cardinal and who named Wojtyła bishop. Pope Pacelli's cause is gathering dust somewhere."

Meanwhile, Fr. Z weighs in with "Wherein Fr. Z explains what is really going on with the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II" (WDTPRS, July 5, 2013:
The decision to canonize Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II at the same time, at the time when we are observing the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, is a kind of “canonization” of the Second Vatican Council....

The canonizations have even more to do identifying the proper lens or hermeneutic by which we are to interpret the Council: the pontificate and the magisterium of St. Pope John Paul II.

This move is intended to identify John Paul II as our helper in interpreting difficult and controversial aspects of the Council.

... John Paul, in his magisterium, commented at some point on virtually every controversial or disputed point in the Council documents and on the event of the Council itself.
He may not have solved, settled, definitively pronounced, on every controversial issue, but he offers commentary and insight on them.

New Encyclical: Lumen Fidei

The encyclical carries the name of Pope Francis, who acknowledges in it that actually it was substantially the work of Benedict XVI, nearly completed in its first draft before his resignation to supplement what he (Benedict) had said about charity and hope. Francis gratefully acknowledges the work of Benedict, adding that he (Francis) took up this work and added "a few contributions of my own."

LUMEN FIDEI [The Light of Faith]

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Dependence Day

No, that isn't a typo. I was going to post the picture below and wish everyone a "Happy Independence Day!" But then I remembered something ...

I remember the feeling I had whenever I travelled abroad and returned home to the United States in decades past. I remember in particular, one trip to Europe to present a paper at the University of Jena in what used to be East Germany. After the conference, I took the train up through Germany and Scandinavia to Stockholm, where I caught a boat to Turku, Finland, and visited friends in Helsinki.

After this long trip, I returned home to the United States, flying into JFK in New York. Going through customs took some time. The last officer I met was an African American man who stamped my passport, flashed me a smile, and said, "Welcome home!" I'll never forget the feeling, a happy feeling of solidarity and security in being home in the United States again. This, despite the fact that the first twenty years of my life were lived outside the United States.

Then I remembered listening to Teresa Tomio on the Catholic radio station during my morning drive the other day, and something she said stuck with me. She said that on recent trips abroad, she noticed how different she felt when returning to the United States -- a certain "heaviness" and unshakable burden of concern that she often felt upon her arrival back in the United States.

Many of us, I think, know all-too-well what she means, sad-to-say. This is no longer the country that our parents knew when they were growing up, or even the country we knew when we were growing up -- before Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) Roe v. Wade (1973), or Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), or the recent Supreme Court Ruling striking down DOMA (2013).

It was, in retrospect, a time of comparative innocence, a time of relative simplicity, in many respects. Now we have Obamacare, same-sex "marriages," and a government few people trust. What there seems little doubt about, however, is that the majority of people are now ready to turn John F. Kennedy's dictum on its head and say: "Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you." We have become a nation of takers.

So, perhaps it seems a bit cynical (and maybe it is); but Happy Dependence Day! (... Or not so happy, as the case may be ...)

Obama’s tapped-out trust

George F. Will, "Obama's tapped-out trust" (Washington Post, May 16, 2013):
Leaving aside the seriousness of lawlessness, and the corruption of our civic culture by the professionally pious, this past week has been amusing. There was the spectacle of advocates of an ever-larger regulatory government expressing shock about such government’s large capacity for misbehavior. And, entertainingly, the answer to the question “Will Barack Obama’s scandals derail his second-term agenda?” was a question: What agenda?

The scandals are interlocking and overlapping in ways that drain his authority. Everything he advocates requires Americans to lavish on government something that his administration, and big government generally, undermines: trust.

Liberalism’s agenda has been constant since long before liberals, having given their name a bad name, stopped calling themselves liberals and resumed calling themselves progressives, which they will call themselves until they finish giving that name a bad name. The agenda always is: Concentrate more power in Washington, more Washington power in the executive branch and more executive power in agencies run by experts. Then trust the experts to be disinterested and prudent with their myriad intrusions into, and minute regulations of, Americans’ lives. Obama’s presidency may yet be, on balance, a net plus for the public good if it shatters Americans’ trust in the regulatory state’s motives.

Now, regarding Obama’s second-term agenda. His reelection theme — reelect me because I am not Mitt Romney — yielded a meager mandate, and he used tactics that are now draining the legitimacy that an election is supposed to confer.

One tactic was to misrepresent the Benghazi attack, lest it undermine his narrative about taming terrorism. Does anyone think the administration’s purpose in manufacturing 12 iterations of the talking points was to make them more accurate?

Another tactic was using the “federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” The words are from a 1971 memo by the then-White House counsel, John Dean, whose spirit still resides where he worked before going to prison. Congress may contain some Democrats who owed their 2012 election to the IRS’s suppression of conservative political advocacy.

Obama’s supposed “trifecta” of scandals — Benghazi, the IRS and the seizure of Associated Press phone records — neglects some. A fourth scandal is power being wielded by executive branch officials (at the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) illegally installed in office by presidential recess appointments made when the Senate was not in recess.

Monday, July 01, 2013

The secret that died with Andrew Greeley

Matt C. Abbott (Renew America, June 30, 2013), via JM:
Father Andrew Greeley has died at the age of 85.

I've mentioned him a number of times in this column over the last several years. I was no fan of his, to say the least. He even sent me a cryptic email a while back.

Out of Christian charity, we should pray for his soul. But I do want to remind readers of the following excerpts in Father Greeley's non-fiction book Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest – something he never (to my knowledge) revealed while living:
80 Windmills

There are some exceptions of course, including Chicago. But even in Chicago, the ring of predators about whom I wrote in the paper-back edition of Confessions remains untouched. There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them.1 Those who have been removed are for the most part lone offenders who lacked the skill to cover their tracks. The ring is much more clever. Perhaps they always will be. But should they slip, should they get caught, the previous scandals will seem trivial. Others like them still flourish all around the country.

  1. They are a dangerous group. There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder and may perhaps have been involved in the murder of the murderer. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. They know that I have in safekeeping information which would implicate them. I am more of a threat to them dead than alive. [back]
[Hat tip to JM]

Beheadings of Christian clergy by Syrian opposition supported by U.S.

Makes one wonder whether Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin doesn't have the better of the argument, doesn't it? I've thought so for a long time. My Chaldean students readily acknowledge that former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was repressive, cruel and dictatorial; but they also point out that there was a great deal more stability as well as safeguarded civil rights for Christians in Iraq under Hussein, whereas they have mostly fled Iraq for their safety under the present "democratic" regime. Is Obama repeating the mistakes in Syria that G.W. Bush made in Iraq?

Clarification: It seems my title confused at least one individual. My intent is not to state that the beheadings are supported by the U.S., but that the Syrian opposition responsible for the beheadings are supported by the U.S.