Thursday, October 31, 2013

Heh ... Only an EF fan would notice this

Habemus ad Dominum: Francis turns towards God (Rorate Caeli, October 31, 2013):
In a Paul VI mass celebrated on the tomb of John Paul II this Thursday, the Pope celebrated versus Deum, apparently for the first time in this pontificate.

Rorate wisely warns readers not to read anything at all into this. Move along, folks. Nothing more to see here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CNS uses Pope to correct St. Francis fans' feel-good spirituality

Some people just won't "get" this. These non-Catholic fans of St. Francis are so nice! They just want to channel his energy and love everyone and sing hypnotic 70s melodies. It feels soooo "right."

Then, without comment, comes Pope Francis saying, at Assisi, that none of this is what St. Francis was about. But since Pope Francis has nearly been painted in the media as New Ager himself, it's almost too easy to miss.

And if you "get" it, it almost seems cruel and "mean-spirited" of CNS to imply that these generous-spirited good-energy-channeling seekers of love are simply dreaming nonsense.

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dale Price's dyspeptic mutterings about Pope's "conservative" defenders

Dale Price has been blogging his "Dyspeptic Mutterings" for some time, and has an intelligent and respectable following (I flatter myself).

Recently he has been muttering dyspeptically about the papal "cult" of Pope Francis's "conservative" defenders -- a fact that occasioned one reader, Michael Liccione, to remark thusly: "I think Dale fails to take account of another possibility. Some of us see the Pope's verbal missteps as an opportunity for confirmation of the papacy's divine origin. The Rock known as Peter stands as much in spite of as because of those tasked, for a time, with embodying it."

Fair enough. Just like Boccaccio's story in his Decameron of the Jewish merchant, Abraham, who converts after a visit to Rome and witnessing unbelievable corruption, because, he says, so corrupt a Church couldn't possibly have survived all these centuries if it didn't have God behind it.

Still, Dale Price's Dyspeptic Mutterings are worth a visit, if only for more fodder for the debate about the state of the Church. For his latest, see "Taking a break from all your worries, Part III" (October 26, 2013), where he reflects on (1) the Bishop, (2) the Pope, and (3) Escaping The Papal Personality Cult.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

IRAN: Christians sentenced with 80 lashes for drinking communion wine

THEN: Fr. Z reports: "In North Africa during the reign of Diocletian, at Abitina, a group of 49 Christians were convicted of celebrating Mass.... They were sentenced to death."

NOW: FNC reports today: "Iran gives Christians 80 lashes for communion wine as UN blasts human rights record."

Is this a priest in a cassock or Neo in the Matrix?

For an interesting discussion, see Fr. Z's take on the matter, which is a bit different from what this may suggest.

Tridentine Travelogue: St. Agnes Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

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

Tridentine Community News (October 27, 2013):

One of the best-known parishes in the world for Latin Liturgy is undoubtedly St. Paul, Minnesota’s St. Agnes Church. This bustling parish – complete with K-12 school – incorporates one of the world’s most impressive liturgical music programs. Its German Baroque-style church is elaborately outfitted and was redecorated even more lushly several years ago by the crème-de-la-crème of liturgical painting firms, Conrad Schmitt Studios, who have a page on their web site filled with photos of the St. Agnes project.

The story of St. Agnes is also the story of the late Msgr. Richard Schuler, its long-term former pastor, who set about making St. Agnes a bastion of traditional liturgy in the 1970s, well before the Tridentine Mass was re-authorized in 1984. Msgr. Schuler was a leader in the Church Music Association of America for decades, and its magazine Sacred Music was published out of St. Agnes for many years.

The parish offers the Ordinary Form in English, the Ordinary Form in Latin, and the Extraordinary Form. All Masses are, and always have been, celebrated ad oriéntem at the High Altar. Even the parish’s more humble lower level chapel used for weekday Mass is constructed to permit only ad oriéntem celebrations.

There are five choirs in the parish, each of which sings for designated Masses. All quotes are from the parish web site:
1. The Children’s Choir, consisting of youth age 9-14. “The repertoire of the Children’s Choir will include various settings of the Ordinary of the Mass in both Latin and English, psalm settings, hymns, and sacred anthems appropriate to the season. Repertoire will be chosen from the rich tradition of sacred music of the Catholic Church spanning the eras of Plainchant, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern liturgical music.”

2. The Concert Chorale, consisting of high school students that sing a similar repertoire as the Children’s Choir, and also perform concerts locally, nationally, and internationally. For example, the Concert Chorale recently performed Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

3. The Chamber Choir, a women’s group. “The Choir’s repertoire includes more than a dozen Renaissance Masses and scores of polyphonic motets, both of Renaissance and contemporary composers.”

4. The Schola Cantórum, a men’s group which sings the Propers in Gregorian Chant year-round, and which sings Gregorian Chant Mass settings during Advent, Lent, and the summer months.

5. The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale: This unique choir is Msgr. Schuler’s most impressive legacy. Formed in 1956 and consisting of 65 volunteer singers, 4 professional lead singers, 15 professional orchestra members, and led by a professional Music Director, the Chorale sings elaborate polyphonic Masses on approximately 30 Sundays of the year. Equally impressive, the Chorale is a self-supporting, standalone non-profit entity, not dependent on the parish to pay its formidable operating costs. To this writer’s knowledge, there is no other church in the world which offers orchestral Masses this frequently, or with such a large number of musicians. The principal choral Mass at 10:00 AM on Sundays serves a full church, something not often seen.

Read more about St. Agnes on their web site,, as well as on the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale web site at:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Ss. Simon & Jude, Apostles)
  • Tue. 10/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Votive Mass for the Sick)
  • Fri. 11/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (All Saints) [First Friday]
  • Sat. 11/02 9:00 AM: Low Mass at St. Hyacinth (All Souls) [First Saturday]
  • Sat. 11/02 9:30 AM: High Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular (formerly Our Lady of Mt. Carmel), Wyandotte, Michigan (All Souls)
  • Sat. 11/02 4:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at St. Hugo Stone Chapel, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (All Souls) – NOTE TIME CHANGE – At the parish pastor’s request, there will be no Mass at 5:00 PM, therefore the previously scheduled Low Masses at the Side Altars have been cancelled, and the Solemn High Mass has been moved to 4:00 PM.
  • Sun. 11/03 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Resumed Fourth Sunday After Epiphany) – Bishop Ronald Fabbro will attend and preach the Homily. A reception in honor of Bishop Fabbro and the 22nd Anniversary of the Windsor Latin Mass will be held in the Social Hall afterwards.
[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 October 27, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Your suggestions & prayers urgently needed

I have been contacted recently by a traditionalist Catholic woman with lymphoma, who is asking for suggestions for audio CDs of prayers.  She is planning ahead for the stages of illness when it may be difficult to pray, and she would like to be prepared by having CDs or something of that sort.

She is still well enough to say her morning prayers, the Rosary, St. Bridgit prayers, evening prayers from a Tridentine Missal, etc.  But she is planning for those conditions that chemo therapy and its side-effects can bring.

Please remember this woman in your prayers (call her "Jane Doe" until and unless I receive permission to disclose her name: God will know who she is).

And if any of you have suggestions as to audio CDs that might work for her, please submit them in the "Comment" box below.

Kind regards,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

More from the overheated laptop of George Weigel

As reported in Rorate Caeli's recent celebration of George Weigel's [ouch!] small-mindedness:

In a new Americanist manifesto, George Weigel forges ahead against his favorite scapegoat:
"For the challenge now is to give America a new birth of freedom ... . This challenge will not be met by Catholic Lite. The challenge also won’t be met by Catholic traditionalists retreating into auto-constructed catacombs."
Now, it is almost "adorable" to watch men like Weigel seeing their life's work of a "new" kind of "Catholicism" (let us call it pseudo-Wojtylianism) dead and buried -- and so trying to ingratiate themselves with the new Roman order. In the new order of things, like roaches hit by insecticide, they do not know what to do, or where to go, or whom to ask for help. The easiest way for them, of course, is to attack "Catholic traditionalists".
Weigel usually attacks us for our "Constantinian", "Triumphalist", heritage. Now, he also attacks for "retreating into auto-constructed catacombs" -- catacombs being the epitome of the pre-Constantinian Church. For Weigel, cursed if you do, cursed if you don't, as long as you are a Traditionalist.
What Weigel sees as insults, though, we consider integral parts of our heritage. The image of "auto-constructed" as applied to a catacomb certainly sounded better and clearer in Weigel's mind than printed out, as so much of what appears under his prolific and careless authorship. Yet we are joyful of being Catacombs and Constantinian, Medieval and Renaissance, Tridentine and Ultramontane: throw them at us, and we will accept them, because this is what being a Traditional Catholic means, that is, to love and to live the fruitful organic growth of our Catholic patrimony.
We are not "to the right" of Weigel as he presumes in order to dwell in his own imagined "via media", but we remain above such concerns and epithets. We invite men like Weigel to stand back from the smallness and pettiness of the present moment and view with awe the greatness of the edifice that is the Catholic Church, that has outlasted and will outlast all worldly empires, including America, as incredible as it may seem. Yes, it is ironic that Weigel, of all people, accuses us of small-mindedness...
All parts of our Traditional heritage are precious to us, we do not disregard them because we cannot do so, bathed as they are in the apostolic rivers flowing directly from the Living Heart of the Lord. In the catacombs, our Dead who bequeathed us the treasures of Tradition await the resurrection, and so shall we, when all fads and politicking of the present time will give way to the Everlasting Jerusalem, under the sempiternal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Happy Sunday of Christ the King!

Mother Angelica: "I am so tired of you, liberal Church in America"

Responding to reports of scandalous goings-on at the World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, Mother Angelica vent her spleen thus:
This is it. I've had all I'm going to take ... You know, as catholics we've been quiet all these years.... I'm tired, tired of being pushed in the corners. I'm tired of your inclusive language that refuses to admit that the Son of God is a man. I'm tired of your tricks. I'm tired of you making a crack, and the first thing you know there's a hole, and all of us fall in. No, this was deliberate ... you made a statement that was not accidental. I am so tired of you, liberal Church in America. You're sick.... You have nothing to offer. You do nothing but destroy. You don't have vocations, and you don't even care -- your whole purpose is to destroy... You can't stand Catholicism at its height, so you try to spoil it, as you've spoiled so many things in these thirty years....

- Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story
of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles

(New York: Doubleday, 2005), p. 240.

And might I add: have a nice day.

Frank Sheed as street preacher

The piece that inspired this post was suggested by a link emailed us by our trusty correspondent, Guy Noir, to this article by Andrée Peterson (World, October 18, 2013), on history's storied street preachers, which I commend to you. The quotation below is the "ecumenical insertion" added by our own intrepid Mr. Noir, to remind us that Catholics, too, have had their storied street preachers:
And Roman Catholic Frank Sheed, realizing that the priests who said Mass might not reach his fallen-away Catholics -- much less the majority of the rough and tumble of this world -- scandalized fellow churchmen by mounting a soapbox in London's Hyde Park in what looked like an appropriation of Holy Roller tactics. Wife and fellow preacher Maisie Ward recalled with a wink, “my first intimation that my aunts had heard about me came from Aunt Anne Kerr, who told me with a smile that a hat I was wearing looked just like a Salvation Army lassie’s bonnet. So, the murder was out ...” (Unfinished Business 105). Of the eclectic crew that made up their Catholic Evidence Guild Sheed wrote, “[Our] sole eccentricity was that [we] could not sleep quietly while millions were starved for food Christ meant them to have. [We] were an unusualcombination of dead seriousness and total lightheartedness” (The Church and I, 47).]
[Hat tip to JM]

Bishop Paprocki: same-sex 'marriage' activists not to be admitted to cathedral

Springfield Bishop Paprocki seems to be a “hard identity” Catholic. We need “hard identity” Catholicism, as Fr. Z says. "That doesn’t mean being mean. That means being clear. “Hard identity” Catholicism doesn’t reject compassion or diplomacy or joy. That’s what liberals do. “Hard identity” Catholics wants it all: compassion, joy, reverence, clarity and fidelity in our cult, our code and our creed."

Back to Bishop Paprocki:

[Hat tip to JM]

New Age & Occult rosaries?

You've seen those cheap, made-in-China plastic "rosaries"? They're being marketed as New Age rosaries. Under titles like: "Powerful Wishing Rosaries," "Worship Rosaries with Anthrax worship music," "Satanic Rosaries" with upside down crucifixes. Some of them contain occult symbols. Never noticed. But here's a video from entitled "Dodgy Rosaries" that was sent out by a concerned priest.

A New Age woman of some sort offers instructions on how to say these "rosaries":
First make the sign of the Pentagram on you body, and then a circle, like this:

"In the name of the father, and the mother, my holy spirit consciousness, my holy angel, and myself. Be it unto me according to my word, amen."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Oxford Review on the Pope

"Is Francis Flogging Conservative Catholics?" (New Oxford Notes, October 2013):

Religion News Service reporter David Gibson is really enjoying himself these days. The left-leaning journalist has been playing first horn for the media trumpet section covering the fledgling pontificate of Jorge Mario Bergolio. In an August 8 RNS wire article, Gibson ostensibly gives voice to conservative Catholic concerns about Pope Francis’s “new direction.” In thinly veiled triumphalist language, he laughs his way through a string of quotes from orthodox quasi-luminaries (like Jeffrey Tucker, Raymond Arroyo, and someone named Katrina Fernandez, whose claim to fame is a blog) designed to show that, after thirty-five years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the pontifical tables have finally turned. Now, he suggests, you right-wingers will see how it feels, how much it hurts to be at loggerheads with the Supreme Pontiff.

It is important to note that Gibson’s article, “Pope Francis Is Unsettling — and Dividing — the Catholic Right,” is just another example of the media’s extended honeymoon treatment of a new Pope, about whom they know next to nothing: reportage thrown together haphazardly to create the effect of dissension, upheaval, confusion, and general disenchantment among the so-called Catholic Right.

Gibson begins with the dubious assertion that, for the past three decades, “the Vatican of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI operated on a version of the conservative maxim, ‘No enemies to the right.’” That’s disingenuous, and a veteran like Gibson ought to know better. Has he so quickly forgotten both Popes’ struggles with the leadership of the Society of St. Pius X (especially now-banished Bishop Richard Williamson) and the silencing and exile of Fr. Marcial Maciel and the virtual dismantling of his Legion of Christ, arguably the premier conservative Catholic congregation of the past two decades? How can Gibson pretend to know nothing of the harsh criticism conservatives heaped on John Paul II for his approach to pontifical liturgical celebrations, his kissing of the Koran, his participation in the ecumenical prayer festivals at Assisi and the annual World Youth Days, his authorization of the revised Code of Canon Law, and his seeming lack of concern over the priestly sex scandals? Why does Gibson choose to ignore both Popes’ criticisms of Western consumerism, the excesses of capitalism, and the lack of due concern for the most vulnerable among us — sore subjects for members of the Catholic Right? Has he never heard of Centissimus Annus, Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical on Catholic social teachings, much beloved by Pope Francis? Hardly a case of “no enemies to the right.”

Contrary to the media-manufactured myth, neither John Paul nor Benedict went on witch hunts to ensnare imagined theological or liturgical enemies on the left as part of some perverse political vendetta. Part of any Pope’s duty is to maintain the integrity of the faith — and sometimes that means disciplining theologians and other churchmen who have deviated from the mainstream of Church doctrine so much that they are leading the faithful astray. Gibson invokes bad-old-days rhetoric to suggest that in the near future, under the sunny skies of the Francis pontificate, liberation theologians, clown-Mass advocates, and wanna-be womenpriests can come back out to play without having to fear heavy-handed reprisals from some pontifical boogeyman.

The most hilarious bit here is that the “bad old days” are no longer those pre-Vatican II years of the 1940s and 1950s and earlier but the pontificate of John Paul II — when the Church in the U.S. was run by the likes of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (disgraced archliberal and now deceased, rumored to have died of AIDS), Roger Cardinal Mahony (archliberal and now disgraced), and Archbishop Rembert Weakland (also archliberal and now disgraced). Remember, it was John Paul II who appointed Mahony and Bernardin to the two largest U.S. archdioceses and made them cardinals. Let’s be honest here: Gibson is simply advancing the vilification and caricature of an easy public target. What a short memory he and other members of the media have — and that’s being generous, because no doubt among the older set many of those memories are highly selective, and as for the newbies under age 35, they probably can’t even spell Wojtyla, and wouldn’t know who he is anyway.

But back to Gibson, whose second assertion is equally as sophomoric as his first. He claims that while left-wing theologians were “silenced” and moderate bishops were shunted aside in favor of “hard-liners,” traditionalists were courted and “cultural conservatives” were given “direct access to the apostolic palace.” Seriously, it’s hard to believe that Gibson has been covering the Church beat for the past decade. Anyone who even entertains the idea that doors to the apostolic palace have been open only to conservatives needs to take a refresher course on the post-Vatican II Church. Liberals and moderates and conservatives all abound. Does Gibson honestly believe that the leftover corps of Vatican curia that seeks to “handle” Francis and so-mishandled Benedict XVI is made up of staunchly conservative churchmen?

Two takes on Islam and Muslims

Both worth reading, if you're so inclined:

(1) Robert Louis Wilken, "Saracens and Dominicans: A review of A Christian Prilgrim in Medieval Iraq: Riccoldo da Montecroce's Encounter with Islam, by Rita George-Tvrtkovic.  Excerpt:
Riccoldo was not the first Dominican to live among Muslims for an extended period of time....
Though Riccoldo arrived in the Muslim world with customary Western views of Islam, he was a ready learner, and his book is filled with wonder at what he observed. One of his favorite words is “stupefied.” “I was stupefied by the Muslim devotion to prayer,” he writes....
He esteemed the Qur’an and treated it with reverence, even though he thought it morally lax, confused, obscure, mendacious, irrational, and violent (“their law began by the sword”), and he held that the law of Islam is not of God. He learned to read Arabic and was captivated by the Qur’an’s language: “The order of the words is grammatically and rhythmically very beautiful. . . . For the whole book is resonant and rhythmical.”
And in an even more striking passage he addresses Christ: “I beg you, read what [the prophet] says about your mother, and your apostles...."
 (2) Stan Guthrie, "Whose Submission? A Muslim-Christian Dialogue" (Books and Culture, March/April 2010).  Excerpts:
It is November 22, 1963. Three luminaries—John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and Clive Staples Lewis—have just died and will soon commence a great debate about issues of ultimate significance. In the first line of Peter Kreeft's classic 1982 book, Between Heaven and Hell, JFK asks, "Where the hell are we?" Reading the prolific Boston College philosophy professor's latest work, Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims, I had a similar reaction.
This book seems to stand the earlier one on its head—or at least its spine. In Between Heaven and Hell, Lewis the Christian apologist asks penetrating questions and steers his nominal Catholic and liberal intellectual compatriots toward the truth of Christ. In Between Allah and Jesus, however, it is the Muslim protagonist who serves as the primary light-bearer in religious matters, who usually gets the last word and exposes the prejudices and logical fallacies of the Christians around him.
I'm not sure where Kreeft is going with his treatment of Islaam, but his disposition reminds me a bit of Pope Francis.  It can be a bit disorienting.  Still, the reviews are worth reading, and perhaps the books too.

[Hat tip to JM]


"Dances With Wolves, Vatical Edition

“Romano Guardini said the Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from his Cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.” — Dorothy Day

In the first six months of Pope Francis’s pontificate, a few things have become clear. First, the former Cardinal Bergoglio is a tireless advocate for the poor and marginalized, having shown solidarity through the witness of his simple lifestyle. He has, for example, decided to eschew the baroque excess of the traditional papal apartments in favor of the more modest accommodations of nearby Domus Santa Marta.

Second, Francis, taking his cues from Benedict XVI and members of the College of Cardinals, is intent on reforming the Roman curia. His modus operandi thus far indicates that he wants a reform of the Church’s finances, bureaucracy, and old-boy network, including the long entrenched Lavender Mafia. “In the curia there is talk of a gay lobby. And it is true. It’s there. Let’s see what we can do,” the Pope said to a group of Latin American religious he received in audience on June 6.

Perhaps most distinguishing of all, Pope Francis has made it clear that he isn’t shy about doing whatever he feels is the right thing for the Church and for the world — despite his Vatican handlers. In an interview earlier this summer, the Holy Father told Argentine journalist Jorge Milia that “here [in the Vatican] there are many ‘masters’ [padroni] of the Pope, and with a lot of seniority in years of service.” He explained to Milia that every change he’s introduced so far has taken him great effort because of the parallel powers that exist in the Vatican. His goal is to avoid becoming a prisoner of his secretaries. He wants to be in control of his own schedule and, most importantly, he doesn’t want to be kept in the dark. This is another reason Pope Francis decided to reside at Domus Santa Marta.

Ironically, Domus Santa Marta is where Cardinal Bergoglio got to know and appreciate Msgr. Battista Ricca, the priest Francis appointed on June 15 to serve as his personal representative to the scandal-ridden Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) — the Vatican “bank.” For the past year, Ricca has served as director of the Domus Santa Marta, where he was brought into regular contact with Bergoglio, before and after the conclave. The appointment was intended to place a trusted person inside the IOR for the express purpose of cleaning house.

Francis, however, did not find out until after he made the appointment that the priest he personally selected was a bona fide member of the so-called gay lobby he denounced just a week earlier. In the wake of Ricca’s appointment, the Pope received incontestable information about Ricca’s “scandalous homosexual conduct” when he served as a Vatican diplomat to the Uruguayan nunciature from 2000-2001. In Uruguay at least five bishops who were direct witnesses to the scandal are ready to report. Es todo verdad — it’s all true — ecclesiastical sources told El País, the leading daily newspaper of Montevideo, the nation's capital.

In other words, the parallel powers in the Vatican not only failed to inform Francis of Msgr. Ricca’s compromising past, but they appear to have actively covered up the priest’s black record. It is highly doubtful that the Pope would have appointed Ricca to such an important post had this crucial information not been kept from him. This was Francis’s first major appointment in the move to reform the curia — and it’s turned out to be a disaster.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Atheists cannot be saved and cannot have clear consciences"

Now before anyone has what Fr. Z calls a "spittle-flecked nutty," let's remember that St. Paul in the first chapter of Romans denies that there is such a thing as a bona fide atheist. Speaking of the Gentiles (that is, the "pagans" of the time), he writes:
... what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Rm 1:19-22, emphasis added)
Then again, the Psalmist (in both Ps. 14:1 and Ps. 53:1) also declares that anyone who says there is no God is a "fool" -- a point that wasn't lost on St. Anselm when he compiled his ontological proof of God's existence in which one of his minor premises are nothing other than the very words of the "fool"!

But the article that prompted this post is a sermon by a traditional mission priest that one can listen to in its entirety here (Audio Sancto podcast), or read in text form here: "Atheists cannot be saved and cannot have clear consciences" (Rorate Caeli, October 23, 2013).

The basic point is that even allowing for invincible ignorance, one cannot take refuge in that doctrine over the long haul:
It is held by eminent theologians like Ludwig Ott that “Inculpable and invincible ignorance regarding the existence of God is not possible for a long time in a normal, grown-up person ...” (cf. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 16). Such people choose to ignore their very nature. As, St. Paul says this is “inexcusable.” They are fools and foolish....
There's a lot more where that came from. Read more >>

If anyone finds this "unpleasant" or "undiplomatic," I would ask that he think of the matter in this way: Kierkegaard found himself living in a time when everyone around him seemed bent on doing everything he could to make life easier, whereupon he concluded that his mission in life must be to make things harder again.

Surely we live in such a time as Kierkegaard describes. Since Vatican II, those in charge of the Church have thought it best to make life easier, moving mid-week holy days of obligation to weekends, allowing Saturday evening vigil Masses to fulfil one's Sunday obligation, dispensing with the overnight fast before Mass, Friday penance, etc. Pastors have dropped from their vocabulary offensive words like contraception, fornication, masturbation, adultery, and the like, in preference for words like love, compassion, love, mercy, love, forgiveness, and more love. And pastors at Catholic funerals assure us that the departed are assuredly safely in heaven, smiling down on us, whether or not they darkened the door of a church in the last twenty years of their earthly lives, committed scandalous sins, or even committed suicide. All in all, the new "pastoral" approach has made life much easier all around.

So let's take it upon ourselves to do right by Kierkegaard and help make things harder again. A good place to start is thinking about death, hell, and damnation.

And might I add: have a nice conscience-troubling day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How's my driving?

[Hat tip to Fr. Z.]

Gun Control in the Third Reich

A review of Stephen P. Halbrook's "Gun Control in the Third Reich" (Independent Institute):
Based on newly-discovered, secret documents from German archives, diaries and newspapers of the time, Gun Control in the Third Reich presents the definitive, yet hidden history of how the Nazi regime made use of gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power. The countless books on the Third Reich and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered political opponents and Jews defenseless. A skeptic could surmise that a better-armed populace might have made no difference, but the National Socialist regime certainly did not think so—it ruthlessly suppressed firearm ownership by disfavored groups.

Gun Control in the Third Reich spans the two decades from the birth of the Weimar Republic in 1918 through Kristallnacht in 1938. The book then presents a panorama of pertinent events during World War II regarding the effects of the disarming policies. And even though in the occupied countries the Nazis decreed the death penalty for possession of a firearm, there developed instances of heroic armed resistance by Jews, particularly the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Pope Francis describes ‘ideological Christians’ as a ‘serious illness’ within the Church"

I know some of my anti-Catholic friends who will love this, but I also know some Catholics who would agree with this statement. Peter Kreeft has a chapter in his book, The Best Things in Life, where a tie-dye T-shirt wearing "Pop Syke" tells Socrates that "feelings unite, dude, but reason [and here we could insert "doctrine"] divides!" This is the folly we're up against.

Eric W. Dolan, "Pope Francis describes ‘ideological Christians’ as a ‘serious illness’ within the Church" (The Raw Story, October 21, 2013)

Pope Francis also distinguished between praying, and merely "saying prayers," which has a possible interpretation that is perfectly reasonable, distinguishing between praying so that you mean what you say in a personal relationship with Christ or someone's intercession (like Mary's) you are requesting, and praying empty words. But it will be taken by many to be dismissive of traditional prayers which Catholics are taught to recite, including the Our Father (taught by Our Lord Himself to His disciples), not to mention the Hail Mary, so that the only prayer that is thought meaningful or praiseworthy is ad hoc extemporaneous praying, if not praying in tongues (typically unintelligible to hearers).

Here are some responses from Remnant to these thoughts on prayer:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Authority of Bishops

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

Tridentine Community News (October 20, 2013):
On the occasion of His Excellency, Bishop Ronald Fabbro’s upcoming first visit to the St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Assumption Church on Sunday, November 3 for the 2:00 PM Mass, it is fitting to recall St. Ignatius of Antioch’s words with regards to one’s bishop:
“See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. […] Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. […] Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 8)

“Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 9)

“It is becoming, therefore, that ye also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Magnesians; Ch 3)

“It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all [...] let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church [...] he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons, such a man is not pure in his conscience.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Trallians; Chs 2-3, 7)
Let us rejoice in the unity that Catholics enjoy, from the local church and priest, through the diocesan bishop, to the Holy Father in Rome. Our Lord intends for us to worship and grow spiritually together as members of the Church which He founded. Mankind gains graces by following authentic authority according to His plan. Flint Anniversary Mass on October 27

Next Sunday, October 27, the Tridentine Mass Community at Flint’s All Saints Church will celebrate a milestone – its 25th Anniversary – with a Solemn High Mass. The guest celebrant will be Fr. James Buckley, FSSP, Spiritual Director of the Fraternity of St. Peter’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska. Music will be provided by the choir of Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Assumption Church. A dinner will follow the Mass in Our Lady of Lebanon Church Hall.

All Souls Day Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular

All Souls Day, Saturday, November 3, is shaping up to be one of the busiest ever in local Tridentine history. Wyandotte, Michigan’s Our Lady of the Scapular Parish (formerly known as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) will hold a High Mass at 9:30 AM. This is in addition to the 9:00 AM Low Mass at St. Hyacinth Church, and the 4:00 PM Low Masses and 5:00 PM Solemn High Mass at St. Hugo’s Stone Chapel in Bloomfield Hills.

Schola Sancta Caecilia Releases CD

One of Michigan’s most unique and interesting Tridentine Mass choirs is the Schola Sancta Caecilia from Grand Rapids’ Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. This is a group of high-school aged young ladies who sing sacred music. They have just released their first CD, entitled Stella Splendens. It’s an ethereal sound, rarely heard elsewhere and well worth a listen. Further information and audio samples are available at:

Rosary Crusade in London, England

Providing further evidence that traditional Catholicism seems to have a higher public profile in London than in almost any other major city, Latin Mass Society of England and Wales Chairman Joseph Shaw reported that approximately 2,000 people took part in the annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation last Saturday, October 12. The procession made its way from Westminster Cathedral through the busy retail streets of Sloane Square and Knightsbridge, ending at the London Oratory. [Photo by Joseph Shaw]

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Hilarion, Abbot)
  • Tue. 10/22 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Votive Mass for the Unity of the Church)
  • Sun. 10/27 4:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at All Saints, Flint (Christ the King)
[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 October 20, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How the Pope's remarks are being exploited by Catholic revisionists

The example in this case is Julie Sullivan, the President of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and her address at a recent school opening convocation. Using the reported words of one of Pope Francis' recent interviews to make her views sound respectably Catholic, conflating "love" and "support" with acceptance and toleration of objective evil, she declared: "We are called to love and support everyone in our community regardless of their sexual orientation ... And, I might add, regardless of the gender of their spouse." Sounds nice, I know, when considered superficially. But when you think about what the words mean, they involve a denatured and disordered use of language (words like "spouse") in order to approve of objectively disordered and perverted relationships.

Particularly egregious is her nefarious references to "Catholic" buzzwords to garner connotations suggesting that her words (and her administration) still reside securely and comfortably upon the pillow of Catholic tradition: "... and I also want to assure the entire community that we will not deviate in our commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic values that have been a St. Thomas hallmark. I have the deepest respect for the Catholic Church as a vibrant and living institution. A Catholic university is a special place where we engage with the Church in a spirit of free inquiry and robust dialogue, and scholars here at St. Thomas will always play a vital role in that regard." (emphasis added)

Pfffffft! When someone talks like this, beware. It reminds me of Brunhilde the Hospice nurse, who tenderly pats the hand of an ailing grandmother, saying "God bless her," before injecting her with a cocktail of euthanizing pharmaceuticals.

Related: "The F1 F/X redux ..." (FCA, October 21, 2013):
"I like Michael Voris, but I’m beginning to wonder: is he being incredibly coy about Pope Francis or just incredibly wooden? Is he resisting with all his filial might to avoid criticizing the Pope, or is he being compelled, for internal or external reasons, to carry soft-ultramontanist water?" Read more >>

Friday, October 18, 2013

Did Noah's ark carry rodents too? (In praise of Catholics who don't deride fundamentalist inerrantism)

Catholics (or anyone else) who mock fundamentalists for their "inerrant" view of Scripture, as it is all-too-fashionable to do in self-congratulatory academic venues, are not only inveterate snobs, who want nothing more than to glom the chortling adulation of their peers, but ignorant fools. Too often they forget that the wisdom of religious insight comes, not from the contemporary trends of in scientific epistemology, but as Matthew the Evangelist says, "out of the mouths of babes" (Mt. 21:16) and their simple trust in the word of their parents and their Savior, Jesus. Even on technical epistemological grounds, their views of such mockers are often simply stupid. As the Angelic Doctor never tires of telling his readers, there are multiple senses of Scripture, and the fact that one sense is spiritual does not mean that the literal sense cannot be true.

Peter J. Leithart, at least, gets this, as he makes amply evident in the balance of his article on "Inerrancy" (First Things, October 15, 2013). Thank you, Mr. Leithart, for targeting the silliness of David Bentley Hart's "fun" at the expense of fundamentalists, whom, Hart thinks, provide "soft and inviting targets."

[Hat tip to JM]

"No one has asked Pope Francis what he makes of this alleged miracle."

Alicia Colon, "What the Secular Media Doesn't Know about Pope Francis" (American Thinker, September 22, 2013):
"On August 18, 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at Holy mass, a woman discovered a discarded host on a candleholder and brought it to Fr. Alejandro Pezet who placed it in a container of water inside the tabernacle of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The following Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, the priest was astonished to find that the Host had become a bloody substance and he notified his Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis I), who gave instructions that the bloodied flesh be photographed. When the photographs were taken on September 6, the bloodied flesh had grown significantly in size. After it had been kept in the tabernacle for a few years the Bishop decided to have it scientifically analyzed since it had not suffered any visible decomposition.

"... In 1999, in the presence of then Cardinal Bergoglio, Dr. Ricardo Castanon, an atheist at the time, sent the fragment to New York for analysis, but did not inform the team of scientists its origin so as not to prejudice the study. One scientist, Dr. Frederic Zugibe, a cardiologist and forensic pathologist, determined that the substance was real flesh and contained human DNA, and furthermore he concluded was a piece of heart muscle.

"DNA tests on the sample showed it to be that of a male, AB positive blood type. What is extraordinary about this fact is that the DNA is the exact same match as another Eucharist 'miracle' that took place in the 8th century in Lanciano, Italy confirming that both samples came from the same person. ...

"In all the interviews since his ascension to the Papal chair, no one has asked Pope Francis what he makes of this alleged miracle."

I don't know that any profound conclusions about Pope Francis can be drawn from this reporting of an alleged miracle, but any possible forthcoming answer to the question implicit in Colon's last sentence may hold some promise.

[Hat ti to J. Kortes, Sr.]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Benedict sighting

As Damian Thompson put it: "I know there aren’t two popes, but to see Benedict up close (and apparently thriving) is disorientating as well as delightful, don’t you think?"

[Hat tip to Fr. Z.]

Parish priests declining by approx 448 per year

There were reportedly about 60,000 priests in the U.S. at the high point of 1967. Since then, the American church has experienced a net loss of approx. 448 priests per year. This figure includes both the approx. 450 new ordinations each year and the larger number of priests who die each year. There are now more priests between the age of 80 and 84 than between the ages of 30 and 34. If we project the trajectory from 1967 to the present and another forty-five years into the future at the same rate, the number of American priests in 2057 would be approx. 19,000. Will the last priest in America please remember to turn out the lights?

Quick, someone tell Pope Francis to allow priests to marry, to start ordaining women, and to open the priesthood to committed gay partnerships! That should take care of the problem! That should bring renewal!! (Disclaimer: for those who may be handicapped by Demideckia, I'm being sarcastic here, alright?)

For the record: everything you could ever want to know about Pope Francis' America interview

"Pope Francis: The Interview" (Jorge Mario Bergoglio: Pope Francis, September 19, 2013) - a massive synthesis by Christopher Blosser.

The purging and exile of traditionalists

The language is not mine. First, Fr. George Rutler was moved by Cardinal Dolan from the Church of Our Savior in midtown Manhattan and sent off packing to St. Michael's Hell's Kitchen.

And now two of the best known members of the Fransicans of the Immaculate, Father Serafino Lanzetta Mary and Father Paolo Maria Siano, have been discharged from their previous tasks and transferred -- the former to Austria and the latter to Africa.

What each of these individuals has in common is a deep commitment to the traditional Latin Mass whose free use was promoted by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum.

Details on the Franciscans are provided in "The Way to Exile -- Purge Against Franciscans of the Immaculate" (The Eponymous Flower, October 16, 2013):
(Florence) The dismantling of the Franciscans of the Immaculate continues. Two of the best known members of the order, Father Serafino Lanzetta Mary and Father Paolo Maria Siano were discharged from their previous tasks. Coordinamento Toscano formed in the wake of Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is speaking of "purge" and "exile". Father Lanzettta was transferred to Austria, Father Siano to Africa. (Emphasis added)

Father and Father Paolo Serafino are among the most prominent participants in the discussion initiated by Benedict XVI. in the discussion of the Second Vatican Council and its interpretation. Both participated in the apostolate in lengthy and notable lecturing activity. Father Serafino M. Lanzetta participated as speaker at annual conferences for all Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and he himself organized such meetings in the context of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Father Paolo M. Siano is a renowned Church Historian. Recently on the 10th of September, he presented his latest book in Rome about Freemasonry ( see separate report ). He dealt extensively with the spiritual roots and positions of the Lodges and their incompatibility with the Catholic faith. Similarly, the harmful influence of the Lodges and their fight against the Catholic Church.

Request to be Allowed to Continue to Celebrate the Old Rite as a Dividing Line?

With the approval of Pope Francis, the Congregation of Religious had placed the Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate under provisional administration of the Holy See last July. From the 11th of August all the priests of the Order are prohibited from celebrating the Traditional Rite. Everyone must seek a special permit, which allows a precise filing of each individual. Father Serafino and Father Paolo immediately sought the special permission and therefore were not presented the desired page. The Apostolic Commissioner granted permission, but with conditions.

Father Serafino is a young priest and promising theologian. His most recent book release includes Iuxta Modum, in which he mentions tradition as the only possible interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Together with the Founder and Superior General, Father Manelli, he oversaw the publication of several conference proceedings of the Order, on topics such as Hell and The Second Vatican Council: a Pastoral Council. Historical-philosophical-theological Analysis. Under Pope Benedict XVI. he was welcome author in L'Osservatore Romano . In 2011 he was among those who warned against the "Spirit of Assisi".

The Famous Moral Theologian and Confessor Father Lanzetta to Austria

Father Lanzetta is mainly known, however, for his pastoral zeal, his devotion to Mary, and his work as a confessor. He has now been removed as pastor of Ognissanti in Florence, a Parish of the Order and one of their most important religious centers and has to also had to give up his teaching as a moral theologian at the Seminary of Mary Mediatrix. Originally it was effective immediately on the 4th of October that he was to leave Florence. Because of a bureaucratic settlement he may stay until the 21st of October. As an exile he was assigned to Kitzbühel in Tyrol, where is the only monastery of the Order in the German speaking area. In the absence of German language skills for a confessor a double turning point.

The Church Historian and Freemason Expert Father Siano Banished to Africa

Father Paolo M. Siano, whose recent publications on Freemasonry, as expected, could not remain without response, was transferred to Africa.

When the news became known on traditional internet sites in Italy, there was a flood of comments in which believers disappointed, appalled and disgusted feel of the procedure against the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Many commentators questioned the frequent calls to "Mercy" by Francis Pope and point towards the fact that the action against the Order has his endorsement and he even refused the Order the opportunity to file a protest. As Chiesa e Postconcilio (Post-Conciliar Church) states:
"Probably Pope Francis sees in the Franciscans of the Immaculate what he has called Pelagian. In the strange diction and liturgical 'sensibility' of the Pope it is probably: the Franciscans of the Immaculate celebrate the Old Mass, so they are nostalgic, because why else would you need the old, where the new is available, that which is exactly suitable, as Franciscans of the Immaculate deal intensively with the causes of the Church crisis, arranged on the coat tails of Benedict XVI and also suitably make heard their criticism of the Second Vatican Council but that is an 'ideological struggle' and that he does not understand. It is strange and painful just how one-sided is the perception of the Pope."
[Hat tip to G.M.]

Russell Shaw: stop blaming the media

Russell Shaw, "Shaw: Getting a grasp on Pope Francis' strategy for reform" OSV, October 13, 2013):
Among Catholics who've been rattled by remarks by Pope Francis in his famous interviews, some have sought solace in blaming the media. They have a point. Sensationalism, oversimplification and ignorance (headline writers notwithstanding, "proselytism" and "conversion" are two quite different things) really have marked some of the papal coverage to date.

But when you're through criticizing the press, the fact remains that the reporters have gotten it essentially right. Pope Francis truly is saying something different while apparently preparing to set the Church on a significantly new path. This makes it a matter of urgency that Catholics, instead of getting hung up on media mistakes, grasp where the pope's newness really lies.

Italian Vaticanologist Sandro Magister offers a helpful insight on that. To comprehend Pope Francis, he says, he should be seen in the line of two larger-than-life figures of the not-so-distant past — Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.

Cardinal Martini, a Jesuit like Pope Francis, died in 2012. For many years he was Catholic progressives' favorite candidate for election as pope. Cardinal Bernardin died in 1996. During most of the preceding two decades he was the dominant figure among his brothers in the U.S. hierarchy.

By no means is Pope Francis' resemblance to the two cardinals a perfect likeness. The pope is very much his own man, with his own style and his own priorities. Still, no one who knew either Cardinal Martini or Cardinal Bernardin can help but notice the similarities. Especially, as Magister suggests, these concern the stance the Church should adopt in addressing the secular culture.

In modern times, the stance has generally been confrontational and combative: error must be corrected, evil resisted, no matter the cost. By contrast, the Martini-Bernardin approach is notably different: instead of confronting the secular culture, seek common ground; where no common ground can be found, downplay the conflict as much as can be done without sacrificing principle.

And the pope? His strategy is reasonably clear from the metaphor used in his interview with several Jesuit journals to describe the role of the Church in today's world.

"I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugar. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds ...”

Here is the context in which to read Francis's words later calling on Catholics to talk less about abortion, gay marriage and contraception. First, he's saying, stop the spiritual hemorrhaging from the wounds inflicted by the culture on faith and hope, and only then turn to specific problems.

We now have clear evidence that Francis doesn't intend only to talk about these things. It's his move in summoning an "extraordinary" — that is, out of the regular cycle — session of the world Synod of Bishops a year from now to consider "the pastoral challenges of the family."

This consultation with bishops from around the world reflects his commitment to collegiality as well as his concern for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. If Pope Francis has anything to say about it — and it hardly needs saying that he will — the Church's pastoral approach to them will be at the top of the Synod agenda.

So, unavoidably, will questions this unavoidably raises regarding Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. Never mind the press — the truth is, we're in for an exciting ride.
Ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times!"

[Hat tip to GM]

"Westerners are attracted to Islamist radicalism because, to be blunt, they think it is sexy"

John Herried, "An Interview with novelist Dorothy Cummings McLean" (Ignatius Insight Scoop, October 16, 2013) - excerpts:
J.H. - In Joseph Ratzinger’s (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) book A Turning Point for Europe? he declares that the term “fundamentalist”, primarily associated with American Protestantism, does not really apply to current Islamist radicals, instead pointing to a fusion of Marxist and Islamic theories of liberation as being the undercurrent driving Islamist terrorism. So, despite being used as a weapon against the West, this form of terrorism has some roots in Western ideologies. Does this attraction to a kind of Marxist “liberation” play a part in the plot? Does it explain why a Westerner might be attracted to Islamist radicalism?
D.C.M. - I think Westerners are attracted to Islamist radicalism because, to be blunt, they think it is sexy. It is strong, it is well-funded, it is exotic, and it claims to fight for the underdog. It also aligns itself with the religion of Islam, which is itself culturally strong and, thanks to the jaded Western palate, appeals to Orientalist sexual fantasies of masculine domination and feminine submission.
By contrast, Western culture divorced from Christianity and its own past is pallid, shallow, consumerist, and even distasteful, and that is the culture most Westerners of the post-Vatican II, post–mainstream Protestant era have grown up in. Unfortunately, millions of Europeans and Americans have been indoctrinated by the culture to believe that the Christianity of their ancestors is uncool and therefore bad. The victory of the counter-culture has also given rise to North America’s fratricidal culture wars and, where Islamism is concerned, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
I am certainly concerned by what Western teenagers, especially in the English-speaking world, are taught about their ancestors and the histories of their countries or, rather, what effect it has on the teenagers. If the teenagers feel inspired to make their countries better places to live, good. If the teenagers despair and think Al Qaeda is justified, bad.
Meanwhile, I am very concerned about idealistic teenagers being sucked into causes by manipulative adults, no matter what the cause.
[Hat tip to JM]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What makes Pope popular (like Obama?), worries some conservative Catholics

"U.S.: Conservative Catholics not convinced by Bergoglio's approach" (Vatican Insider, October 15, 2013) details the reason why "Pope Francis’ communicative approach has caught many faithful and Catholic groups by surprise":

Puzzled by Pope Francis’ approach many conservative Catholics in the U.S. are doing what only recently seemed “unthinkable”. “They are openly questioning the pope”, The Washington Post reports.

“Behind the growing scepticism is the fear in some quarters that Francis’s all-embracing style and spontaneous speech, so open as it is to interpretation, are undoing decades of church efforts to speak clearly on Catholic teachings. Some conservatives also feel that the pope is undermining them at a time when they are already being sidelined by an increasingly secular culture,” The Washington Post writes.

Francis is “a remarkable man, no one would deny that,” Robert Royal, president of the D.C. think tank Faith & Reason says. “But I’m not sure if he cares about being accurate. He gets into an [evangelizing] dynamic with people and that seems to be the most important thing. . . . In some ways it makes people very anxious. If you do this, what’s the next thing?” Royal asks.

“In the past everything you heard from a pope was prepared or formally released. And that was intentional — not to say anything ad hoc. And it’s also intentional that this one does,” says Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News.
Then the article concludes, remarkably:
Gregory Popcak, a Catholic marriage counsellor in Ohio, was surprised when some couples started contesting what he said, quoting Francis. At first he felt frustrated and then ashamed. After some reflection and prayer, he saw himself as the prodigal son’s good brother, the good boy who stays in the background and obeys his father.

“People who left the Church, who hated the Church (and yes, hated and sometimes abused me for loving it), who wouldn’t give the Church a second glance were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.” Popcak wrote about his reflections online, getting dozens of responses from people who share these same thoughts.
Our correspondent we keep on retainer from an Eastern city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, comments:
Seriously? I thought the story was cut off, but that is how it ends. I am ashamed for this report. The Francis coverage very much parallels the Obama coverage. It is laughable in its one-sidedness. This is the vengeance of Vatican II with a warm and fuzzzy fury...
[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Will there soon be martyrs?" or why the South Poverty Law Center is a rabidly anti-Catholic hate group

Related: "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hate Mongers" (CFN, August 23, 2013).

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

Tridentine Community News (October 13, 2013):
Bishop Fabbro to Attend and Preach at Mass at Assumption Church on November 3

Diocese of London Bishop Ronald Fabbro will make his first pastoral visit to Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community on Sunday, November 3 at the usual 2:00 PM Mass. His Excellency will sit in choir during the Mass and will preach the homily. A reception will follow the Mass in the Social Hall.

The timing of His Excellency’s visit coincides with the 22nd Anniversary of the Windsor Tridentine Mass – a most fitting happenstance.

Solemn High Mass in Lansing’s St. Mary Cathedral

Lansing’s Blessed John XXIII Tridentine Community will hold its first Solemn High Mass in the main, upper church at St. Mary Cathedral on Sunday, November 24 at 5:00 PM. This community normally uses the more humble lower church of the Cathedral. Music will be supplied by the choir of Assumption Grotto Church. The Mass is being promoted to the broader Lansing community as a musical event, a rare opportunity to hear sacred music in the setting for which it was composed. The Blessed John XXIII Community is to be commended for undertaking ventures such as this with very little guidance or local examples to follow. We can learn a lesson from their creative promotion of the event, a good way to introduce people to the Extraordinary Form who might otherwise not go.

For more information, visit

Why Latin?

A reader asked a basic, but good question: Why does the Church mandate the use of Latin as the language of the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass? The reasons are several:

Universality: Using one language of worship ensures that all Catholics worldwide who worship according to this form employ the same texts, a vivid example of the catholicity (small “c”) of the Church.

Timelessness: Latin is free from the whims of language evolution. Expressions in Latin mean the same today that they did hundreds of years ago. This is one of the advantages of using a “dead” language: one doesn’t have to worry about adapting the wording every decade or two to suit the generally evolving phraseology of a vernacular tongue. Our Catholic faith does not change, and neither should the meaning of our worship.

Consistency: Latin texts are typically given quite literal translations into the vernacular in hand missals and worship aids. These translations are relatively free of politicization. The translations express the same meaning regardless of which vernacular tongue is employed. As a result, the vernacular translations have essentially the same meaning worldwide.

A gateway to culture: The use of a specifically-designated sacral language encourages the development of music and sacred art which employs that language for sacred ends. Composers, painters, and artists of all sorts are thereby moved to employ Latin within their respective arts in service to the Church, knowing it will have worldwide appeal.

The above reasons have stood the test of time for centuries. They make arguably even more sense nowadays, when technology makes it easy to publish worship aids, booklets, and missals to assist the faithful’s comprehension. Furthermore, Latin is not the only liturgical language. Other faiths worship in designated languages, perhaps most notably the Jewish faith’s employment of Hebrew. Many of the same considerations apply.

It’s also interesting to note that while the Church obviously “owns” the texts of the Extraordinary Form, those Latin texts, and the commonly-used Douay-Rheims-based English translations of them, are free from the copyrights that restrict use of the Ordinary Form vernacular translations. That freedom has allowed for a cottage industry of worship aids and tutorials to arise, helping to teach and promote the Tridentine Mass in our internet age.

An Act of Contrition

A beautiful prayer found on an old prayer card:
Forgive me my sins, O Lord,
forgive me my sins;
the sins of my youth,
the sins of my age,
the sins of my soul,
the sins of my body;
my idle sins,
my serious voluntary sins;
the sins I know,
the sins I do not know;
the sins I have concealed for so long,
and which are now hidden from my memory.

I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial,
for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.

I know my sins have wounded Thy Tender Heart,
O My Savior, let me be freed from the bonds of evil through
the most bitter Passion of My Redeemer. Amen.

O My Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been. Amen.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/14 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Callistus I, Pope & Martyr)
  • Tue. 10/15 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin)
  • Sun. 10/20 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost)
[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 October 13, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Civiltà’s Present Critiqued by its Living Past

John Rao, "Dialogue with the Living Dead" (Remnant Online, October 3, 2013), offers "A Deadening Moment in the Civiltà’s Present Critiqued by its Living Past" -- that is, a discussion of the background assumptions behind Pope Francis's recent interview with La Civiltà Cattolica in light of the earlier tradition of La Civiltà Cattolica itself (which was founded in 1850 to combat modernism), as well as the teachings passed down from Popes Gregory XVI, Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, and the historical tendencies of the influence of Abbé de Lamennais, and so forth.

Worth noting is the opening quotation from A. Dioscordi, “La rivoluzione italiana e la Civiltà Cattolica”, Atti del XXXII congresso del Risorgimento italiano (Rome, 1956), p. 94:
“The Syllabus in complete form is already in La Civiltà Cattolica in 1850. It is nothing other than the codification, the unconditional approval, the supreme papal sanction of those principles and doctrines that, already at the time of the definition of the Immaculate Conception, that periodical had assumed the task of promoting, and which for years and years it tenaciously supported.”
[Hat tip to L.S.]

"A breath of fresh air"

Elizabeth Scalia, "Is There Room, for Sarah?" (On the Square, September 24, 2013) observes that "In his remarks to the press this past Sunday, following the release of Antonio Spadaro’s broad-ranging and inspiring interview with Pope Francis, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan called the pope’s pronouncements 'a breath of fresh air' and added, 'He’s a great relief to all of us.'”

The article goes on to ask whether the Church has room for Sarah, a transgendered 'woman', and to make it's point about the relief spelled by the Franciscan pontificate.

And then, to spoil it all, here comes a wire from the correspondent we keep on retainer -- yes, in that city that knows how to keep its secrets -- Guy Noir, Private Eye:
Who knew that all during Benedict XVIs pontificate of harsh rules, stringent morality, and insistence on liturgical rigidity, we were all quietly but desperately waiting to exhale. Excuse my crudity, but what an emotional pile of crap. Scalia reminds me of why I so often cannot tolerate Peggy Noonan. If you already agree with her, then her columns are pat on the back affirmations of Why We Are Right. But if for any reason you don't agree wiht her, you are uptight, backwards, or simply not helping things at all. It is the "Reasonable People know...." mantra: of course Reasonable People know... that evolution must be true, we all want the same thing, God could never condemn *anyone*, we must acknowledge the complexities of homosexual and transgendered experience, we must come to terms with the genius of the modern experience.

But I have yet to meet Traditionalists who view the world in black and white terms. They view revelation in the rather black and white terms it was given, and believe in the accurate and effectual nature of language. But they also are familiar with the more difficult and ambiguous nature of experience. And despite the stereotype of wanting easy answers, they seem more comfortable than liberals in living with a tension between the two. Here are the Church's teachings. Here is your experience. It is not for me to make the two easily reconcilable with each other. Just as with physical sciences, the mysteries remain. Group hugs really solve nothing, They just makes us feel good. There is "room" in the Church for everyone, but no one can bring with them anything they please or any non-negotiables. Death to self means come as you are, but leave as someone else. That is not necessarily at all comfortable. God's mercy is inviting. His love is actually challenging. If you look at the narrative arc of the New Testament, it is not what the world considers a feel good program.

Scalia writes, "a soul seeking the Lord would not have stood at our steps feeling too prejudged to even inquire." Not affirmed. Prejudged... Are they the same thing?

And in a culture which will soon have generations of people who have scarred large areas of their journeys with sin, just how do you not prejudge, or judge, those experiences? All this rhetoric ignores the very real difficulty of that question. I have a very good friend who chose a gay lifestyle after 30. People all say "oh, that should not make any difference." And believe me I have worked to maintain the relationship. But it makes a all the difference, and the only way it cannot is if questions of truth are fudged, and the relationship is one so superficial that it becomes entirely sentiment and zero substance.
[Hat tip to JM]

Clarity from Cardinal Burke

"Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The Church And Modern Society" (the Wanderer, September 5, 2013):
By DON FIER (Editor's Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, who formerly served as bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., and archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo., recently spent some time in the United States. The Catholic Servant was granted the opportunity to interview His Eminence in mid-July on a variety of topics at Eternal Life's The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky. The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis- based newspaper, gave The Wanderer permission to reprint the interview.

(Don Fier serves on the Board of Directors for The Catholic Servant and he writes the Learn Your Faith column for The Wanderer.) + + +

Q. Six years ago, Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for the usage of the Tridentine Mass on a wider scale in the Church. In his accompanying letter to the bishops, the Holy Father stated that the "two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching." Do you see concrete benefits that have come to the Church in the past several years because of Summorum Pontificum?

A. I have witnessed a number of benefits. First, there is now a much stronger sense of the divine action in the Ordinary Form. There was a certain tendency in the celebration of the Ordinary Form to center attention on the priest and the congregation rather than on Christ, Who comes into the midst of the congregation through the ministry of the priest acting in His Person to give the gift of His life as He first gave it on Calvary and to make that sacrifice new for us in each holy Mass.

Another closely connected benefit is an appreciation of the true reform of the liturgy desired by the Council, namely a reform that would be in continuity with the centuries-long tradition of the Church, not a renewal that would be a break from that liturgical tradition. The celebration of the two Forms of the Roman rite have led to a growing consciousness of the need to retrieve some of the elements of the liturgical tradition too quickly discarded after the Council, contrary to the intention of the Council.

In other words, what Pope Benedict XVI had in mind was to promote the reform as it was truly desired by the Council, namely a reform in continuity with the centuries- long tradition of the Church and not a rupture. The renewed

reformed rite of the Mass is not a new Mass, but is in continuity with the holy Mass as it has always been celebrated.

Q. It has been about four months since Pope Francis became the 266th Roman Pontiff. From the vantage point of your office in Rome, have you observed any tangible changes in tone or day- today operation in the Vatican? What is the role of the group of eight Cardinals formed by Pope Francis?

A. Certainly Pope Francis, as is the case with every Pope, has his distinctive style which is not the same as Pope Benedict's. Everyone is adjusting to that. It is a style that has very much appealed to the faithful in terms of the number of pilgrims coming to Rome and their positive and overwhelming response to the new Holy Father. He has a way of communicating with people that is direct and which demonstrates his fatherly concern for them as individuals. When people see the fatherly and spiritual care that he gives to others, they understand that he also has the same care for them.

With regard to changes, the Holy Father has indicated that he wants to study a reform of the Roman curia and that would necessarily mean also a reform in his way of relating to the particular churches throughout the world. He is studying all of that at the present moment. Those of us who hold offices in the Roman curia have been confirmed provisionally until he has finished this study. As Pope Francis has himself said, he was not part of the Roman curia and is just now coming to know the operation of the curia, and that takes time. He has only been in office for four months, so we are waiting to see.

The group of eight Cardinals Pope Francis named [ to advise him on the reform of the Roman curia] is the result of a suggestion made during the general congregation before the conclave and is actually a suggestion that was discussed some years ago. The norms for the functioning of the body have not yet been published and so I cannot say exactly what will be the scope of the considerations presented to the group or precisely how it will operate. I imagine that that type of document will be forthcoming and then we will know more about it. What seems clear is that the Holy Father wants to have a group of close and highly qualified advisors to consult with in carrying out his responsibilities.

Q. On May 13 Pope Francis consecrated his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima. What is the significanceof this action?

Fr. Z does a double back flip and a celibate gay Catholic comments

Here is the double back flip, over Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality in the America interview.

And here is the comment.

[Hat tip to JM]

Is Church teaching clear to parishioners?

Pope Francis, it will be recalled, in his recent interview in Civiltà Cattolica insisted that we should not insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," just as he said in his America interview that the church had grown "obsessed" with these issues.

Quite apart from the question whether any priest in any parish of the world can be found who ever preaches on these issues, let alone "obsesses" over them, it should not pass notice that Pope Francis remarks in the former interview that the "teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

The operative term here is "clear."

But is the teaching of the Church on these matters clear? I don't mean in the catechisms but in parishes. Is it clear to the pew sitters?

Guy Noir comments:
I demur....

Ask any Catholic these questions, and see how CLEAR the Church teaching actually is....
  1. Is Homosexuality a mortal sin?
  2. Can you be homosexual, be involved in a physical relationship, and be a faithful Catholic?
  3. Is gay marriage always a bad thing?
  4. Why can't gays adopt need kids?
  5. What is the big deal with sexual strictures since most people have happy sex lives outside of marriage without being promiscuous?
  6. Isn't it time the Church repented of its dated views?
I think for all his talk of laity and reform, Pope Francis shows himself to be the ultimate case example of someway clerically hidebound. How on earth could anything else explain the thinking that teaching on these maters, at any practical level, is remotely clear? Homosexuality... how 'wrong' is it anyway, and why, and can't that change? I can't think of more than two or three voices ever answering these things in anything but timid tones.

It's Extraordinary

Nicholas Frankovich, "It's Extraordinary" (On the Square, September 26, 2013), ponders the demise of the traditional Latin Mass at the vibrantly orthodox Church of Our Savior in Manhattan after Cardinal Dolan's "lateral promotion" of its pastor, Fr. George Rutler, to Hell's Kitchen.

An interesting conclusion:
As Pope Benedict noted drily in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, ”The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.” The extraordinary form is difficult in the way that anything that’s rewarding but exacting is difficult, like classical music when what we know is mainly popular music.

At Mass in the ordinary form, we experience it as something that projects itself from the sanctuary into the pews: It meets us halfway. At Mass in the extraordinary form, “Introibo ad altare Dei,” I will go to the altar of God. In the United States, a number of Catholics higher than anyone might have predicted from a survey of Catholics worldwide prefer to do the harder thing. Call it American exceptionalism.
[Hat tip to JM]

Generational shifts and fissures

"Point: The Inevitable Pope" (Rorate Caeli, September 27, 2013).

Guy Noir, our private eye correspondent reporting from an Atlantic seaboard city which knows how to keep its secrets, comments:
Yes, exactly yes. What parents allow in moderation their children will live in excess.

To wit, "we are not saying no one is in Hell. No! We are not saying that at all. But we can hope all are saved...."

The result: no preaching about salvation, since what is the point? I'm OK, You're OK is not preached, but it is the upshot.

"We are not saying homosexuality is OK, but we are saying we should not be emphasizing Do's and Don'ts." Acceptance of same sex relationships is not preached, but it is the upshot.

And ironically, even when something IS said, as in Vatican II's "Keep Latin in the Mass!," the vernacular, allowed in moderation, becomes the next generation's default.

Same holds for contraception. Abortion is a bit different, since it is not a lifestyle but a one-time, done in secret thing. Far more dramatic, and far more removed from many.

You would think an institution that claims tradition as part of its lifeblood would know such things all too well. You would almost think there is afoot some sort of inexplicable curse or conspiracy. But that all sounds like talk of the supernatural, right?

[Hat tip to JM]

The danger of good popes, and the benefit of bad popes

The benefit of bad popes is that they remind us that they are, despite all their God-given charisms, mere men with feet of clay, fallen sinners like you and me. The danger of good popes is that they can prevent us from remembering this fact.

Brantly Millegan, "The Danger of Good Popes" (On the Square, September 27, 2013). Excerpts:
Pope Benedict IX was elected pope in 1032 when he was just a teenager: different sources put his age at somewhere between 11 to 20 years old. His father was the Count of Tusculum and used his influence to obtain the papacy for his son. Benedict IX indulged in extreme sexual immorality, including orgies and unnatural acts. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him “a disgrace to the Chair of Peter.” Papal historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote regarding Benedict IX: “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest . . . occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses.” In an attempt to end the shame, Benedict’s godfather Fr. John Gratian offered Benedict a large sum of money to resign the papacy, and Benedict took it. He’s the only pope in history who’s known to have sold the papacy.

... Another story from papal history: A major dispute in the Church in the seventh century was whether Jesus had one will (monothelitism) or two wills (one human, one divine; dyothelitism). Pope Honorius I sided with monothelitism. Fortunately, forty years after his death, the ecumenical Third Council of Constantinople (approved by Pope Leo II) defined dyothelitism as dogma, and monothelitism as heresy. Pope Honorius I was listed as a heretic among those who had taught monothelitism. That’s right: an ecumenical council dogmatically defined a previous papal teaching as heresy and listed the past pope as a heretic.

A number of Catholic authors have endeavored to defend Pope Francis from criticism, particularly stemming from his recent interview. They have tried to defend him not only from misinterpretation, but also from criticisms of what he actually did say, his style, his choice of what to emphasize, etc. Their goal is admirable, and I largely agree with their sentiments, but in an effort to defend Pope Francis, Catholics must be sure to not overstate the role, powers, and privileges of the papacy.


Was the Holy Spirit at the Conclave?

... while God’s providence certainly extends over all of history, there’s no guarantee at all that the Holy Spirit will guide the Cardinals to a good pope or that the Cardinals will listen accurately even if the Holy Spirit is prompting them. I have no reason to doubt that the Cardinals at recent conclaves have taken their duty seriously and prayerfully, but praying before making a decision doesn’t make the resulting decision the direct working of God. Very bad people can be chosen to be pope and in fact have been chosen to be pope. The only guarantee is that whoever they choose, the pope won’t infallibly teach something that is incorrect.
[Hat tip to JM]

Obama "hugely impressed" with Pope Francis

Oh, good! Well, NOW we can all breathe a sigh of relief and know we're in good hands!!

"Pres. Obama praises Pope Francis for shaking off 'obsession'" (Fr. Z's Blog, October 2, 2013):
bama welcomes Pope Francis’ remarks on gays, abortion Wed, Oct 02 17:03 PM EDT WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday welcomed Pope Francis’ recent remarks that the Catholic Church must shake off [blech]an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuals, saying the pontiff was showing incredible humility. “I tell you, I have been hugely impressed with the pope’s pronouncements,” Obama said in a CNBC interview. Obama has worked to expand gay rights as president and last year backed same-sex marriage. He also supports the use of contraception and a woman’s right to an abortion. Pope Francis told the Italian Jesuit Journal last month that the Church had “locked itself up in small things” by its obsession with abortion, contraception and homosexuality. Obama said the pope seemed to be someone who “lives out the teachings of Christ” and shows “incredible humility” toward the poor. “That’s a quality I admire,” said Obama, who has yet to meet the new pope.
"Listening to Pres. Obama speak about the teachings of Christ makes me want to seek a hazmat shower," declared Fr. Z.

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[Hat tip to JM]