Saturday, January 31, 2015

"It couldn't happen here" - What we can learn from Evangelicals

Will the Deposit of Faith, the Apostolic Tradition, the settled truth of Magisterial teaching ever be overthrown? Of course not. But we all know Catholic individuals and dissident groups who have rejected much of it.

It's something like this that our underground correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye, seemed to be worried about in a message he sent me by carrier pigeon this afternoon. Thankfully, the pigeon didn't leave any droppings behind:
"It could never happen here."

That's the Catholic line as we watch Protestant meltdowns.

And we are naive.

See this extremely disturbing report from TIME Magazine: "Nashville Evangelical Church Comes Out for Marriage Equality" (Time, January 29, 2015). Disturbing for so many reasons [of course, is anything now in TIME not?].

Among them:

1. The call for "Dialogue" and "Times of Listening" on settled doctrine and morals is always a warning sign;

2. Can anyone NOT hear in this sermon all the colors of wind that carries Pope Francis? I know in Argentina he came out hard against Same Sex Marriage, but he claims to have evolved a lot since then;

4. Can anyone not imagine Cardinal Schoenborn or Cardinal Kasper delivering umpteen winsome versions of a similar message?

3. Ask yourself if you cannot see a future Catholic pope or synod prompting some similar sort of news report. I can.

Here is Carl Trueman on his own peeps: "The Silence of the Gods" (Postcards from Palookaville, January 30, 2015).

Tell me this doesn't make you too say "Uh-oh."
The evangelical collapse is coming. A set of circumstances is conspiring to make it so. The external pressure is easy to identify: the sentiment, the aesthetics and the rhetoric of the wider world are overwhelmingly on the side of change. Then there is the fact that so much evangelical Protestantism does not possess the resources to resist this pressure....

This is not a time for ambiguity. Ambiguity is the luxury of those who do not have to face the immediate harsh realities of life in the real world as experienced by most Christians, or who know that their pensions are safe whatever happens. Nor is it a time for the evangelical elites to fail to call their own to account and to maintain their usual gentlemanly silence when one of their own steps out of line. If I have learned one thing from my dealings with the conservative evangelical establishment in the USA, it is that the silence of friends is always more significant and more dangerous than the noise of enemies. If a major collapse is to be averted, we need strong, vocal leadership from the leaders of Christian institutions -- denominations, liberal arts colleges and the like. And that sentence sums up why I am so pessimistic.
Even if no official modifications of traditional teaching are soon forthcoming, you're crazy if you doubt unofficial modifications are well on their way, blown along on the clouds of a very biblical sounding moral theology of Christ-centered inclusion. Those taking exception will get reactions like this from a com boxer over at G.G. Hart's blog. Brace yourself for being stereotyped as mean ol' men with damaged authoritarian-type personality disorders. (bold mine)
Bobby Posted January 31, 2015 at 1:33 am |

Frankly, like most in my age bracket, I find the hand-wringing over same-sex marriage a bit difficult to understand. The institution of marriage is a far cry from what it was just 100 years ago. Following the romantics’ and the Freudians’ lead, we came to accept marriage as an institution primarily concerned with the expression of heterosexual desire. It’s no wonder then that the church inevitably had to accept divorce and remarriage as part of the package. After all, if heterosexual desire is the fuel that feeds the flame of marriage, we can’t exactly ask Christians to stay married when that fuel is running low. So now we’re forced to ask what we should do with those who don’t feel any heterosexual desire at all, or whose primary desire is directed to those of the same sex. And we rightly look a little silly demanding that they remain lonely and celibate for the rest of their lives.

And don’t get me started with the rather extra-biblical notions of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood.” When you spend time interacting with gay people, especially gay Christians, the topic of sex rarely comes up in their explaining why they identify as gay. Their explanations largely center around a sense of being excluded by the culture’s normative scripts for masculinity and femininity, namely, in that they want to feel a closer bond to men than what the culture deems to be acceptable. But when we look at Jesus or Paul, we don’t exactly see two men whose persona oozes with the SEC frat bot characterization of masculinity that’s promoted by our cousins over at the Gospel Coalition. Maybe it’s our culture’s misinformed notions of masculinity and femininity that are screwed up, and that those identifying as gay may be more normal than chest-thumping blowhards like Mark Driscoll, Denny Burk, Al Mohler, the BBs, etc.

I do think that there’s a certain wisdom in opposite-sex coupling. But I doubt that that wisdom has much to do with sex, except for purposes of procreation. Paul’s reluctant commendation of marriage in I Corinthians 7 in no way endorses marriage in the way that evangelicals, and particularly Reformed evangelicals, have come to construe the institution–as something of a playground of (male) heterosexual desire. Sadly, most 20-somethings considering marriage would do far better reading Gary Becker than any of the litany of books authored by evangelicals. Or maybe they should consider the wisdom of Nietzsche: “When marrying, you should ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you are going to enjoy talking with this woman into old age? Everything else is transitory, as most of the time that you’re together will be devoted to conversation.”

I understand why many would accuse evangelicals of opposing same-sex marriage merely out of anti-gay bigotry. After all, evangelicals don’t have a very consistent ethic of marriage. But I think that that criticism is too simple. Rather, I’d suggest that evangelicals actually have no ethic of sexuality, marriage, and family. Sexuality is messy and complex. Heck, if we’re honest with ourselves, none of us fits neatly into John Piper’s ridiculous scripts for “biblical manhood and womanhood.” But evangelicals like clear answers. So, we lay out a formula, and then try to cram ourselves into the roles demanded by the formula, all the while hoping that no one discovers that we’re frauds. And we also fear the disorder that could ensue if people started going off script.

I suspect that the storm and drag over same-sex marriage has little to do with deeply felt objections to gay sex. Rather, it’s something more akin to a fear that calamity will ensue if the prevailing script is deconstructed and dethroned. These folks probably have high F-scores on Adorno’s test for authoritarian personalities.

Rethinking Islamic policy, both by Muslims and by the Church?

As reported recently by Raymond Ibrahim in "Egypt’s Sisi Slams Islamism, Calls for ‘Religious Revolution’" (FPM, January 5, 2015): "Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, and in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject." I hope he is not assassinated for it. It was a courageous speech. I have never seen such a prominent leader of a Muslim country take so bold an initiative:

By the same token, William Kilpatrick argues about what is needed in the Church: "Needed: A New Church Policy toward Islam [Pt. 1]" (Crisis, January 28, 2015). Here he offers a critique of current Church policy, and, at the end of his article, promises a sequel in which he will suggest a viable alternative.

[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

For the record, Mullarkey on Extreme Unction and Saint-Making

For the record, both from Maureen Mullarkey at First Things: "Of Sausages and Saints" (FT, May 19, 2014) and "Who Killed Extreme Unction?" (FT, July 22, 2014).

[Hat tip to R.D.D.]

Monica Miller: "Whither the Kasperian Church"

In case you missed it, here is Prof. Monica Miller's endeavor "to understand how Kasper's faction argues its position."  It is a detailed analysis involving careful Biblical exegesis, well-worth reading:

Wither the Kasparian Church? Playing Fast and Loose with Matthew 19
A Critique of Arguments for Permitting Holy Communion to the Divorced and Remarried
By Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D.
The final draft report on the Synod on the Family is out. Those who were concerned about the hijacking of the faith in a heterodox direction can breathe at least a small sigh of relief as the new report scraps language in the draft that appeared to approve of or find “value” in the homosexual “orientation” and also because it did not alas seriously take up the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried as this proposal failed to gain the needed two thirds support of the bishops. However, this does not necessarily mean that this hugely troublesome and controversial proposal is going to simply be shelved in some dark closet of the Vatican. We need to be prepared to provide well reasoned arguments against what may be called the Cardinal Kasparian agenda. It’s not too early to put those arguments forward in anticipation of next year’s Ordinary Synod. This article seeks to respond to two of the arguments put forth in favor of admitting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
It has become as clear as it could be that Cardinal Walter Kasper, in league with a majority of German bishops and other European prelates, did all that he could to facilitate this major pastoral change. While Kasper repeatedly stated that there can be no change in Church doctrine on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage—nonetheless there is just no way of getting around the fact that were such a pastoral change ever to be made it would undermine Catholic teaching on marriage and legitimize adulterous unions contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Faith of the Church.

"Filial Appeal to Pope Francis on the Future of the Family"

Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of His Father both by the testimony of His life and the power of His words, continually fulfills His prophetic office until the complete manifestation of glory. He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in His name and with His authority, but also through the laity whom He made His witnesses and to whom He gave understanding of the faith (sensu fidei) and an attractiveness in speech so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life.
Lumen Gentium, 35

Cardinal Burke’s Appeal to All Catholics

           In an age filled with confusion — as can be seen with gender theory - we need the teaching of the Church on marriage. But we are being
pushed in the opposite direction to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. And this is without even mentioning the obsession to make easier the procedures to annul the marital bond….

I am therefore very worried. And I call upon all Catholics whether laymen,
priests or bishops to get involved — from now until the upcoming Synodal

Assembly — in order to highlight the truth on marriage.  

(Excerpt from an interview granted in Rome to Jean-Marie Guénois - Le Figaro Magazine, 19 December 2014 issue, p. 46)
- See more at:
Cardinal Burke’s Appeal to All Catholics

           In an age filled with confusion — as can be seen with gender theory - we need the teaching of the Church on marriage. But we are being
pushed in the opposite direction to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. And this is without even mentioning the obsession to make easier the procedures to annul the marital bond….

I am therefore very worried. And I call upon all Catholics whether laymen,
priests or bishops to get involved — from now until the upcoming Synodal

Assembly — in order to highlight the truth on marriage.  

(Excerpt from an interview granted in Rome to Jean-Marie Guénois - Le Figaro Magazine, 19 December 2014 issue, p. 46)
- See more at:
Cardinal Burke’s Appeal to All Catholics
"In an age filled with confusion — as can be seen with gender theory - we need the teaching of the Church on marriage. But we are being pushed in the opposite direction to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. And this is without even mentioning the obsession to make easier the procedures to annul the marital bond….

I am therefore very worried. And I call upon all Catholics whether laymen, priests or bishops to get involved — from now until the upcoming Synodal Assembly — in order to highlight the truth on marriage.

(Excerpt from an interview granted in Rome to Jean-Marie Guénois - Le Figaro Magazine, 19 December 2014 issue, p. 46) 
Sign the Filial Appeal

[Hat tip to R.C.]

Friday, January 30, 2015

Synod chief: "Pope Francis approved family synod’s controversial mid-term report before publication"

For the unhappy record, LifeSiteNews reports:
ROME, January 29, 2015 ( – The lead organizer of the Vatican’s Synod on the Family has revealed that Pope Francis approved the controversial mid-term report from the meeting before it was published. Until now, Pope Francis’ role in the document’s publication has been left to conjecture.

Related: "As everyone knew, Pope approved most shocking document in the History of the Church of Rome" (RC, January 30, 2015)

Update: I just received from a courrier the following missive from correspondent Guy Noir, with the words, "File under 'THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE'":
I know, I know. As Mark Shea, Randy Reno, Fr. Dwight, and a phalanx of hopeful witnesses unceasingly reassure us,

But I think immediately of certain particular "separated brethren," as we have so recently witnessed them living through the first throes of such a similar evolution. The Episcopalians in their Book of Common Prayer have a collect the lines of which that Catholic Crowd at Patheos might now want to heed as they "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" this:

“The Pope said: ‘These three points received an absolute majority. They were therefore not rejected with a ‘no,’ as they received more than 50 percent approval. They are therefore issues that still need to be developed. We as a Church want a consensus. These texts can be modified, that’s clear. Once there has been further reflection, they can be modified.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mic'd Up - a disturbing look at all the ways "sodomy" is being smuggled into your parish and parochial school

An interesting roster of individuals on their interview list as well, including Austin Ruse, Mary Ann Kreitzer, Dr. Kevin Vost, Jack Fonseca, Brian Camenker, and Paul Rondeau. On "Smuggling in Sodomy 01-28" (Mic'd Up, January 28, 2015).

Notice the new format with Matt Pierson and Christine Niles sitting across from the show's host, Michael Voris, which promises to become an interesting addition to the program. One nice new addition is the informative, slickly-edited reports that are aired at various intervals throughout the program by a crackerjack team of TV journalists, including Vincent Coleman, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Rodney Pelletier. Brilliant!

Fr. Fessio, S.J., defends Philippine bishops' opposition to nefarious "reproductive health" law

That is, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., defends the Philippine bishops against the vicious attack on them by a leading Jesuit of the authoritative "La Civiltà Cattolica," as reported by Sandro Magister today. Thank God for Fr. Fessio and the handful of other good Jesuits who remain with us.

For the canon lawyers: What does "papal infallibility" mean in the case of Pope John XXII?

Roberto de Mattei has written a study of Pope John XXII, who, he says, according to St. Robert Bellarmine (in De Romano Pontifice, Opera omnia, Venetiis 1599, Book. IV, chap. 14, coll. 841-844), fell into heresy in his ordinary magisterium (with the intention of imposing it as truth on the faithful) but was saved from undermining the principle of infallibility by dying before he could define the dogma. [Advisory: See Rules 7-9]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Introducing St. Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah

I was looking to see if I could find an online edition of St. Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah, and I ran across this, which is very good: Randy Engel's "St. Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah: A Moral Blueprint for Our Times" Related: "Smuggling in Sodomy" (Mic'D Up, ChurchMilitant.TV, January 28, 2015) - an hour-long program with some very good moments and stunning revelations about how "sodomy" is being smuggled into the Church through many different avenues.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beauty, Balthasar, & Boilers

Maureen Mullarkey, "Beauty, Balthasar, & Boilers" (First Things, January 26, 2015).

I received a link to the article above from Guy Noir - Private Eye, along with these observations:
Well... I do not know if Mullarkey thinks all these things as sharply as she says them, or is just having fun.

Who cares?, since she is tremendous fun and certainly well within reason, even if the the Catholic faithful are still suffering aftershocks from her calling the Holy Father "imprudent."

Now here she is at it again, taking aim at the lodestars of the two previous pontificates and tweaking the ears of De Lubac and von Balthasar. And plugging the Japanese and dime store art, to boot!
[Hat tip to GN]

The kind of Franciscan locution I have trouble understanding: Cardinal Martini is "a father for the whole Church"

As reported in the Catholic Herald, on the eve of the first anniversary of Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini's death, September 2, 2013, Pope Francis publicly praised Martini as "a father for the whole Church," a “prophetic” figure and a “man of discernment and peace.”

I know Martini was a fellow Jesuit, like Francis. I know the Holy Father must have searched for something kindly to say about him. But why would he say precisely these things?

Cardinal Martini was notoriously one of the most revisionist liberal prelates of his generation, and a Cardinal to boot. From his writings and interviews, one easily gathers the nature of his perspective and the kinds of things he favored and promoted. He
  • encouraged opening up the reception of communion to divorced and remarried Catholics
  • favored homosexual civil unions
  • called for a more collegial and synodal approach to church government
  • insisted that you can't make God a "Catholic" God
  • claimed that the Catholic Church is 200 years behind the times
  • declared that our liturgical rites and vestments are pompous
  • favored the dissent of the German and Austrian bishops against Humanae Vitae
  • promoted widespread ill-defined ecumenism and inter-religious relations.
Does this sound familiar? Do you see why some might hesitate to draw any inferences here yet find this very troubling? Pray for Holy Mother Church. Pray. Pray. Pray.

[Hat tip to J.V. - Advisory: Rules 7-9]]

"The Strange Notion of 'Gay Celibacy'”

Daniel Mattson, "The Strange Notion of 'Gay Celibacy'” (Crisis, January 26, 2015). For the record.

[Hat tip to JM]

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Why not let the whole western world go to hell? (I speak here of literal, not rhetorical, hell)"

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [Temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, January 25, 2015):

Every year I run into people who attend the annual March for Life in Washington. Some of these are our own parishioners. I have long admired their selfless dedication in making personal sacrifices to be present for this remarkable national gesture of solidarity with those preborn infants who cannot insist on their right to be born and to live thereafter. I have never gone on these trips myself (though I have, in years past, participated in some local events on a smaller scale). One comes to learn that this yearly demonstration which takes place in the Capitol is an event of enormous proportion, the astounding size of which makes it unconscionable for the media to under-report the numbers of the participants and to underplay the significance of the march. It’s well known that this deceptive reporting by the media of such an important event is calculated to downplay the great swell of support of our people to protect life from the death-dealing clutches of abortionists and their powerful supporters–including politicians. This event is more than simply a rally for human life, it is a time for prayer for the conversion of minds and wills of people who are pro-death. 

This protest has been going on for a long time–since 1973. There have certainly been benefits from this annual declaration and protest in favor of life in many ways, encouraging the life-effort and invoking divine help to combat the horrendous crimes that have been legalized. Will this tremendous effort ever finally succeed in ending the massive destruction of elective abortion? The non-violent means, the convincing arguments, the stirring speeches, the fervent prayers–surely these must be to good effect. Yet one wonders whether success will ever attend this laudable work. It seems more probable that our country, at least in the short term, will continue to decline into turpitude, bent as it is now on the acceptance of homosexual practices, with euthanasia already being practiced legally in some places (and often by insidious and surreptitious “health-care” institutions), with fetal experimentation and manipulation of embryos being already practiced. Once the homosexual goal will have been fully achieved, the next stage of declination may be the legal use of children for the sexual pleasures of adults. Yet this cannot yet be the end. The final stages of debauchery will be the allowance of public nudity and–for a grand finale–cannibalism. There can be no stopping, it would seem, the relentless demand to be allowed to do whatever one may wish to do. Freedom has thus been so regarded. Some may find this trajectory of evils excessive, hyperbolic. Yet who of my generation would have thought it possible that the Land of the Free would ever be in such a deplorable state of immoral servitude as it now is? Over time we have tended to grow accustomed to iniquity, have made friends with perversity, while becoming tolerant of evil and evermore impatient with the imposition of moral strictures from any source–the Church included.

My estimate–not wanting to be disheartening–is that we will not soon be getting better, but continue to slide down the way of debauchery. We simply do not have the muscle to halt this moral regression. By this I mean that our faith is too weak, our confidence in the efficacy of prayer, our trust in God diluted. Part of the reason for this may be that too many “good” people are themselves complicit in some of the great evils du jour through a soft acceptance of immorality in our music, TV, internet, films, etc. Another part of the reason is the decline in practicing what our Catholic faith demands in prayer, Mass attendance, Confession and self-imposed penance. And so, while the National Day of prayer and (polite) protest is ever uplifting, I find it hard to believe that there will be success in overturning the allowance of abortion. If we believe that some politicians will do this for us we need only reflect on the fact that they too as individuals may be plagued by the same moral weaknesses as others. This is an admission, often not willingly made today, that the sins of one adversely affect the welfare of all. We are all worse off because of abortionists, pedophiles, pornographers, lewd entertainers, no-fault divorcers, etc. Sin is never a private affair, no matter how secretly it may be done.

I admit having a defeatist attitude at times. Why not just let the whole western world go to hell? (I speak here of literal, not rhetorical, hell). The answer has to do with our responsibility. No one can, before God, allow evil to triumph. There must be resistance. Moreover there are some things that can actually be done to save at least some people from moral death. The most important of these is to become saints ourselves–one by one–people who refuse to be mastered by their own tendencies to sin and who make up to God, by prayer and sacrifice, for the sins that are committed.

Pagan society was once converted to faith and to goodness by the Catholic faith. There is no reason why it can’t be done again, except for the fact that many in the Church are too weak, and the conviction of their faith has been compromised.
God bless the efforts of those who go annually to Washington to pray and give witness to the truth about human life’s intrinsic goodness. (To quibble: I don’t think the expression “sanctity of life” is accurate, though it’s compelling). Unless each individual person makes up his mind and changes his heart to conform according God’s moral laws, our country will never awaken from the moral nightmare of abortion-on-demand and so many other attending evils.

For this reason we at the Grotto, doing our small part, continue to pray the holy rosary after every Mass. I hope you continue to do this together, recognizing the power of fervent, communal prayer with Holy Mary for the saving of many souls from eternal destruction.

Fr. Perrone

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“Homo faber” – Man the Builder by Fr. George W. Rutler

“Homo faber” – Man the Builder by Fr. George W. Rutler metropolis1_0
January 25, 2015
by Fr. George W. Rutler

The great edifices of classical cultures are also morally edifying by their anonymity. The artists and artisans who embellished them are generally unknown because they were honoring something greater than themselves.

The desire to be known, however, is not unworthy of human dignity, provided it is not just selfish pride. Homo faber, man the builder, is entitled to take just satisfaction in an accomplishment, provided thanks for the inspiration are accorded to the Divine Inspirer.

Humility refers all things to God, but it dispenses with the false modesty, like that of Dickens’ Uriah Heep, that solicits praise but pretends not to want it. When Michelangelo carved his name very visibly on his Pietà, he wanted people to know that God had done a great thing through him. That is different from those who want their names known just to advertise themselves. “Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names” (Psalm 49:11).

Once a man desires to please God first, he will begin to understand that he is not just a statistic in the divine regard. “Non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam—Not unto us Lord, but unto thy name give the glory.” St. Paul warned St. Timothy not to be a “man pleaser” because that distracts from the primary relationship with God who made us for his delight. To be dependent on human recognition is to forfeit the radical dignity that God alone gives us. “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

No one wants to receive mail addressed only to “Occupant.” Christ does not address us as statistics, the way a bureaucrat does. St. Paul wrote his epistles to churches composed of individuals, each of whom he was willing to die for, as Christ died for him. He does not end his letter to the Romans without naming them: Phoebe, Prisca, Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junias, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Aristobulus, Herodion, Narcissus, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and Olympas. It is quite like the list of names with which Cardinal Newman ended his Apologia pro Vita Sua. That is the greatest modern autobiography in the English language, and he named his friends because he had shown them that they were friends of God.

The pantheon of fame has its cracks. I recently spoke with a college student who had never heard of Bing Crosby. The only recognition that matters is how we are known to the Lord. Should we be blessed to meet him in glory, he will not say, “How do you do?” He will not even say, “I think I remember you.” He will say, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).

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[Hat tip to JM]

Taking the measure of where we are and where we're headed

The underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic Seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, has been earning his keep lately and keeping me on my toes with as many questions as insights. And here came his three-page telegram today with a gin and tonic to boot (which always helps).

Citing an Ignatius Press add for a new book by Cardinal Schoenborn, he writes:
Ignatius Press has been instrumental as a source in my own journey as a Catholic. I hate to criticize them. And as a major contributor to the CCC, Schoenborn’s has been a name I esteem [in fact, I recall thinking he would be a good replacement for JPII back when his name was being kicked around: now I think, “Hey, either give me a Burke or give me a bonafide conservative. It is easier to steer between clear lines!” Hence Francis may not be quite the pox some think?] . Yet that is actually WHY his waffling on the homosexual question has been a turn I could not help but notice and one that makes me wonder at the theological assumption that enable his turn. “I thought you thought like me,” also means “I thought you thought like the Church,” and most importantly, “I thought I understood the Church and thought like it taught me to think!"

[Mary] Healy’s name is only one here form a list of blue chip names. All of whom I figure are much farther along the road to sanctity than am I. So I will only pose this question:

How are we to know what to believe or who to trust, other than from some party line as it floats from Rome, disconcertingly different in tone each decade? Theological assumptions seem fuzzy, official statements are fuzzy, and regardless of what detours the popular names take, they seem to unflaggingly receive the same hearty endorsements. No, we do not need to be orthodoxy police. On the other hand, if you praise Rowan Williams-types to the sky, don’t be surprise when Rowan Williams-type thinking becomes the reigning paradigm. Evangelicals were relieved when Welby succeeded Williams, but to and behold, it turns out the difference between the two, and their respective ways of thinking, has diminished to the point that one could be the other. When concern for orthodox morality or theology is de-emphasized, religion as human flourishing becomes the mantra. Schoenborn and von Balthasar are IP’s heavy-hitters and yet to me, IP seems, rather naively, stunned and dismayed when anyone pursues a novelty, unless of course it is a novelty already normalized by one of their own over the past 50 years or so. "Tradition matters!" Fr. Fessio’s team seems almost to shout… “As long it is that tradition as espoused by our own orthodox players. If you are part of the JPII-Benedict XVI coterie, you are by definition Truth as we know it.”

As Boniface notes,
. . . this thread demonstrates some inherent problems in the neo-Cath position: To what degree will we see that alleged orthodoxy to the Church is really just a matter of supporting what is viewed as “current policy”? Is there not a problem with viewing a perennial discipline as merely “policy”? Is not the value of discipline and tradition severely downgraded. if so? And if these sorts of matters are simply the “current policy” that can change the way it changes with each American presidential administration, what tools does the Church really have to ensure discipline and continuity in the long run?

Ultimately, the neo-Cath strategy is to insist loudly that certain things can never be changed so long as the current Pontiff does not want to change them; then, when the “policy” changes with another pontiff, suggest just as loudly that such matters were never immune from change to begin with. I’m not suggesting the practical question of whether or not to admit persons with deep-seated homosexuality to the seminary is a doctrinal question or that infallibility is on the line here; I am suggesting that reasoning that the Church’s very old discipline on this matter (it goes back to Trent and before) can be seen as merely “current policy” is destructively reductionist.
[From Boniface, "Facebook fun with His Sheaness" (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, January 23, 2015)]

A bit about angels

Peter Kreeft has a book about angels, which shares (except for the subtitle) a title with a nefarious novel by Dan Brown. It's called Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them?(Ignatius, 1995), which, I'm glad to see, is now back in print. It's written for a popular audience, but contains a great deal of classic angelology in an accessible format.

Some of it's highlights, as a reader recently pointed out, can be found on this post by Kreeft entitled, simply, "Angels."

This same reader went on to write:
Yesterday I lost a close family friend, a 94 year old widow I have known since I was... 1! She leaves a 60+ unmarried daughter, so please say a prayer on both their behalves. I thought particularly of this line:
"Angels are sentinels standing at the crossroads where life meets death. They work especially at moments of crisis, at the brink of disaster—for bodies, for souls, and for nations." [quoted from the CCC]
Kreeft in fact also quoted the CCC in this book (An appendix, I recall), and I remember, pre-conversion, feeling more than a little compelled by the ancient-sounding authenticity of the words. Say what I will about some of Schonorn's recent slippage, or Ratzinger's Modernist-intimidation complex, those guys more often than not hit a home run with the CCC. Overall it is an exceptional -- and given Roman hijinx inexplicably orthodox, LOL -- I think Angels -- most likely Gabriel for one -- were most definitely dispatched for composition intervention there as well ...!
So here are the relevant quotations from the CCC. Quite good!
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.[194] Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.[195]

333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"[196] Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"[197] They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.[198] Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.[199] They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.[200]

The angels in the life of the Church

334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.[201]

335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's Supplices te rogamus. . .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).

336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.[202] "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."[203] Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
[Hat tip to JM]

Maisie Ward's "commentary" on Downton Abbey

From our underground correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye:
Excellent commentary here on the show "Downton Abbey."

Catholics who enjoy the show will do themselves a favor by reading Maisie Ward's thoroughly enjoyable history of her family, The Wilfrid Wards and the Transitionand Insurrection versus resurrection (The Wilfrid Wards and the transition: II). She offers the Catholic reverse reflection of the show. The books document the changing of the guard quite in England and the English Church quite remarkably. Massie Ward admitted to having memorized hugs chunks of passages from Jane Austen, and at points her story reads like a Catholic version of Pride & Prejudice. Of it husband Frank wrote,
We find many people in their natural state. We see the poet Tennyson with his “Block up your ears, Josephine Ward, I am about to tell your husband an improper story”; Newman out driving with Hope-Scott, his face growing longer and longer at the endless stream of puns that poured from his companions lips; Newman again, called upon to speak impromptu and breaking down, unable to finish so much as one sentence; Ruskin drivelling forth a lecture he had not bothered to prepare, and Cardinal Manning giving forth a lecture he had stolen bodily from the speaker he was introducing; old Ideal Ward roaring with laughter at Manning’s invitation that he should come and spend an evening with him whenever he felt depressed; Baron von Hugel thumping the table and addressing Bishops and cabinet ministers, as "you fellows”; Gladstone roaring with laughter at a vocal imitation of Manning, then recollecting himself and becoming doubly statesmanlike; Balfour embarrassed because a relation had indiscreetly told the truth about him; Leo XIII searching for his snuff box and pretending not to hear something he preferred not to hear. And we feel, at the end, as though we had been in the company of giants. But it is not only individuals who are shown with their private faces. The Church herself is similarly shown. The Wards have for the best part of a century been in the unusual position of devoting themselves as laymen exclusively to the service of the Church. They began it with the terrible old man, William George Ward, who had “the mind of an archangel in the body of a rhinoceros” — the first of the Oxford Movement converts, with his thirty years of unrelenting, maddening, half-wasplike, half-lionlike warfare against the Newman he adored. His son, Wilfrid Ward, biographer-in-chief of the Catholic Revival in England, had thirty years of liaison work between Catholicism and the English mind. And Wilfrid Ward’s wife, Josephine, one of the creators of the Catholic novel, began life under the shadow of Newman and the austere old Duchess of Norfolk, and lived to speak on the streetcorner platforms of the Catholic Evidence.
“Such a family,” Sheed hardly needed to say, “grows to a special kind of intimacy with the Church as a living organism going about its daily work — Church, to return to a previous metaphor, in shirt-sleeves." And when such a family interacts with people like Loisy, Tyrell, and the early Modernists, they also have lessons that seem 100 percent timely today. [emphasis added] Those people who love the Church and also like "Downton Abbey" -- they will also very much like the family history of Maisie Ward.

Extraordinary Community News - historical ordinations, news, the Ánima Christi, Latin Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News (January 25, 2015):
Assumption Church Update

The Windsor Star newspaper reported last week that a major donor has stepped forward to fund the bulk of the cost of restoring Assumption Church. The Diocese of London is evaluating the credibility of the offer. Let us pray that all parties find a way to save this beautiful and historic edifice.

Ordinations in the Field

The Pópulus Summórum Pontíficum Facebook group published the below photo this past week. This intriguing scene is a mass ordination of priests at the XXXV Eucharistic Congress in Barcelona in 1952. An incredible 842 ordinations were performed that day, outdoors.

After the event took place, the Vatican prohibited simultaneous ordinations like this, presumably because of their spectacle nature. By today’s standards, such an event seems less of a liturgical abuse and more of a miraculous occasion, having so many men ready to be ordained at the same time.

Bloomfield Family Books

The Bloomfield family is well-known around metro Detroit for their dedication to Traditional Catholicism and the Sacred Liturgy. Deacon Richard Bloomfield is the area’s most experienced – and available – deacon for the Extraordinary Form. His wife Debbie is one of the most energetic and effective promoters of local Catholic events, most notably the Call to Holiness conferences. It should come as no surprise that the next generation of Bloomfields is making its own mark on the Catholic world, among other ways with some recently published books:
I’m Bernadette! by Emily (Bloomfield) Ortega is especially for Catholic girls ages 6-10. In Bernadette, they’ll meet a modern, relatable character finding her way through real world troubles in a Catholic family.

A Collection of Christmas Carols by Benjamin Bloomfield is a spiral-bound collection of sheet music of a wide variety of Christmas carols, Latin and English, many not widely known.

Sacred Art Series Rosary Meditation Book by William Bloomfield comes in two sizes, 4”x5” and 8”x10”. It is a flip book with a built-in desktop easel which contains full page color images, each depicting one of the mysteries of the Rosary.

All are available on
The Ánima Christi

One of the most famous prayers in the Catholic canon, sometimes set to music, is the Ánima Christi. Holy Mother Church has enriched this prayer with a Partial Indulgence when said as an act of thanksgiving after Holy Communion.
Ánima Christi, sanctífica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inébria me.
Aqua láteris Christi, lava me.
Pássio Christi, confórta me.
O bone Jesu, exáudi me.
Intra tua vúlnera abscónde me.
Ne permíttas me separári a te.
Ab hoste malígno defénde me.
In hora mortis meæ voca me:
et jube me veníre ad te,
ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te,
in saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come to Thee,
That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee
for ever and ever. Amen.
No OCLMA Mass on February 8

There will be no Latin Mass at the Academy of the Sacred Heart on Sunday, February 8. The school needs the chapel for a special event. The Tridentine Mass will resume as usual the following Sunday, February 15 at 9:45 AM.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 01/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr)
  • Tue. 01/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (St. John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for January 25, 2015. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to the metro Detroit and East Michigan area

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flea market? Archdiocese of Chicago recycles old threadbare Protestant social gospel, and much, much more

In "A Listening Church," a Commoneweal interview with Chicago Archbishop Kaput, published on January 22, 2015, we get an opportunity to see Kaput up close and personal.
On how to deal with the overall decline of the Church in the USA:

... The way to do it is not by saying, “You’re not going to Mass and so there’s a problem.” Rather, we can say, “We have an opportunity to better society and to better the common good. We work for the poor. Come and work for the poor with us.”

On the 2014 Synod:

I think the media reported what actually took place. What really took place at the synod was that a majority of the bishops voted for all the proposals that were there in the final summary document.... It’s true that three of the paragraphs [about divorce and gay people] did not get two-thirds majority support, but they got more than a majority. That’s what’s new. That’s the story.

Promoting Kasperite theology and the theology of the 2014 Synod "Relatio" in Chicago:

I have met with my archdiocesan women’s council, the presbyteral council leadership, and my archdiocesan pastoral council. I gave them the relatio of the synod [the summary document] and asked them to propose a way in which there can be an effective—not necessarily widespread—consultation with their various constituencies ....

What I did last year in Spokane I want to do here too. We’re going to have a day-long presentation for priests on two things: First, what are the canonical issues here? A good canonist will tell you that there are multiple ways in which we can be sensitive to our people’s needs. Second, we have to unpack this notion of the theology of the family. Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a talk about this to the cardinals last year, which has been published as a book called The Gospel of the Family. In Spokane, I gave all my priests a copy. Then I brought in a priest who knows Cardinal Kasper’s theology quite well, Msgr. John Strynkowski, and he helped them understand what Kasper is saying.

And on doctrine:

[The Church's doctrinal tradition] is a living tradition not because of anything we say, but because the risen Christ is always doing something new in the life of the church. In Pope Francis’s Evangelii gaudium, there is a whole section in which he talks about the idea that Christ is always doing something new in the lives of his people as he accompanies them.

The link to the above article was sent to me by Guy Noir, who said in his own remarks:
You have to admit, he is much easier to understand than Francis! Maybe we can call it Concupichscence? [Or, I would add, Kaputscence.]

Note that now we will be getting lectures on Kasper's Theology of Mercy. Attach these to Theology of the Body and you have the key ideas of modern Catholicism: 1) a strong affirmation of pre-emptive forgiveness and a retreat from non-contradicting doctrine or hard sayings found in Scripture, and 2) a strong pre-emptive affirmation of sex and a retreat from a prohibitive morality. Someone's Jesus is certainly doing something new. But when you're essentially handing out loan forgiveness, condoms, and smiles, forgive me if I can't tell if this is a Jesus seminar or a Jackson Browne concert.

Kasperite Indoctrination for the Archdiocese of Chicago? Cupich on the 2014 Synod: "the media reported what actually took place" (Rorate Caeli, January 23, 2015).
[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli and G.N.]

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cardinal Bergoglio: "Interviews are not my forte"

Phil Lawler, "Guess who thinks Pope Francis shouldn't give so many interviews?" (, January 23, 2015):
"Nearly two years into his pontificate, with a whole series of puzzling and/or damaging statements on the record, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Cardinal Bergoglio was right [when he once said] interviews are not his forte."
Ya think???

Did Pope Francis inadvertently condemn Muhammad???

So suggests intrepid Islam-critic David Wood in "Pope Francis Condemns Muhammad!" (Answering Muslims, January 22, 2015):
Following the recent Charlie Hebdo Massacre in Paris, Pope Francis condemned Muhammad ... without even realizing it. According to Pope Francis, it is wrong and immoral to insult another person's religion. Yet history shows that Muhammad and his companions regularly insulted other people's religion. Hence, the Pope has declared that Muhammad and his companions were immoral!

Magister on the Curial reform, Papal flogging, and gap between words and deeds

Sandro Magister, "Francis Flogs the Curia. But What a Gap Between Words and Deeds" (www.chiesa, January 23, 2015): "The summit on the reform of the Church’s central government is approaching. But in the meantime, the pope is moving forward on his own. In some cases, driving out the good and rewarding the bad ..."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Post-Epiphany blues, Cardinal Burke, pornography, and the recovery of a healthy masculintity in the Church

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [Temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, January 18, 2015):
Are you suffering from those proverbial post-Epiphany blues? Well, that may not be the name of the malady but it’s a common experience. After the excitement of the Christmas season we’ve had to resume the humdrum of life, though many of you may do this with greater equanimity than your less temperate pastor. The duties of every day, the far-away distance of fulfilling goals, the length of winter with its often dreary skies can leave one in a rather sour mood. There is a spiritual lesson hidden in this, as there is in so much else of life. We are ordinarily perfected by the regularity of life, by the faithful fulfillment of our daily duties, uneventful as they often seem. Recall the commendatory words our Lord directed to the dutiful, “Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in small matters you will be awarded greater.” And so: patience, forbearance. Better days inevitably come. This can be said confidently by the virtue of hope.

Cardinal Raymond Burke has apparently been under fire for restating what would be considered, in a more sane age, ordinary Catholic teaching. His Eminence seems not to notice or care about the reaction to what he says. He speaks the truth as his high office and calling demand of him, though many of his peers, sad to say, do not follow his example. Recently he voiced his concern over the feminization of the Church, an undue emphasis on so called women’s issues, to the detriment of the men of the Church. The Cardinal cited the neglected issues of concern as the importance of fatherhood, the masculine character of the priesthood, virility in general, and a man’s self-sacrificial devotion to work for the sake of the family. The outcome of the eclipsing of the masculine presence and manner of conduct is that children now often suffer growing up without that sense of stability, responsibility and discipline which are–no matter how poorly exemplified in practice–characteristic of the husband-father of a home and communicated through him. (The corresponding aggressive assertiveness of women has further exacerbated the diminishing manliness.) This remaking of the male may not be noticed, masked by the apparent brutish power of ubiquitous pornography which can seem so manly but which is actually a pitiful weakness. Manly character is essentially something spiritual, though it may also be manifest in the body. It takes fortitude to be a good man (and, of course, the same virtue, manifest in different ways, is needed for good women as well). Clear Catholic teaching and upright Christian living produces healthy people, psychologically speaking. I know that the contrary is being asserted over and over again, but falsehood does not become true by repetition. “The culture in which we live is bankrupt and young men, especially, recognize the brokeness of the culture... We have to be very clear with men about purity, chastity, modesty and even the way men dress and present a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and children.” Needless to comment that such frank talk bristles those who have compromised their sexual identities or evaded the duties inherent in them.

Cardinal Burke is also convinced that the way Mass is celebrated reflects (I might add, in a somewhat mysterious, subliminal way) the basic psychological reality of our human constitution, as men and women. And so it is that men often drop out from the ‘burb Masses of good feeling and sentimentality. Not only do real men resent them but well-adjusted women do as well.

Whether it is the effect or the cause, I don’t know, but porn is a real nemesis with which we must contend today. Whatever its more essential evils (mortal sin, damnation for the unrepentant, the ruination of marriages, etc.), produces sissies. It weakens, enfeebles manliness and reviles true womanliness. Again the Cardinal: “We are so blessed God gave us this gift of being a man or being a woman. It’s a matter of us to respond to God’s will to develop our gifts of being a man or a woman.”

Oh brother. Not again.

Mark Brumley, "Should We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"? (Catholic World Report, January 19, 2015). "Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar's soteriology has often been misunderstood or misrepresented. Here is a short primer on what he actually wrote." Say it ain't so, Joe ... Yes, Virginia, there is a hell, and you can bet your bottom nickel it ain't empty.

[Hat tip to JM]

Demythologized marriage is far more romantic than anything written by Nicholas Sparks

Some good thoughts on marriage by Matt Walsh in "My Marriage Wasn’t Meant to Be" (The Blaze, January 13, 2015).

[Hat tip to JM]

C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism

David J. Theroux, founder and president of The Independent Institute and the C.S. Lewis Society of California, discusses the writings of C.S. Lewis and Lewis's views on liberty, natural law and statism.

The presentation was the keynote talk at the first annual conference of Christians for Liberty, that was held at St. Edwards University in Austin, TX, August 2, 2014.

[Hat tip to D.J.T.]

Hands down, the most inspiring native autobiography from the Vietnam War

Le Ly Hayslip, with Jay Wurts, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese woman's journey from war to peace(New Yori: Doubleday, 1989; Plume, reprint edition, 1993). "This is the haunting memoir of a girl on the verge of womanhood in a world turned upside down. The youngest of six children in a close-knit Buddhist family, Le Ly Hayslip was twelve years old when U.S. helicopters langed in Ky La, her tiny village in central Vietnam. As the government and Viet Cong troops fought in and around Ky La, both sides recruited children as spies and saboteurs. Le Ly was one of those children.

"From the age of sixteen, Le Ly had suffered near-starvation, imprisonment, torture, rape, and the deaths of beloved family members—but miraculously held fast to her faith in humanity. And almost twenty years after her escape to Ameica, she was drawn inexorably back to the devastated country and family she left behind. Scenes of this joyous reunion are interwoven with the brutal war years, offering a poignant picture of vietnam, then and now, and of a courageous woman who experienced the true horror of the Vietnam War—and survived to tell her unforgettable story." (From the back cover)

The story is told alternately from the point of view of the author growing up during the Vietnam War, and from the later point of view as an American citizen returning to Vietnam to visit her family for the first time since the war. The cross-cultural observations are telling, penetrating, but also graced with good will. The writing is engaging, elegant, even lyrical in places, something for which Jay Wurts undoubtedly deserves major kudos.

Readers familiar with the book will also likely know of the 1993 film directed and written by Oliver Stone, the third and final film in Stone's Vietnam War trilogy, which also includes Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Based on Hayslip's When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, as well as her second book, Child of War, Woman of Peace (New York: Doubleday, 1993), the film is called, simply, Heaven and Earth. It stars Tommy Lee Jones as Hayslip's American husband, along with Haing S. Ngor, Joan Chen, and Hiep Thi Le. The cinematography is beautiful; and for most viewers, particularly if they haven't read Hayslip's autobiography, the film would seem nearly perfect. But the book is far more detailed, and more compelling. In the first place, while Oliver Stone does a masterful job, he simply bites off more than he can chew, and tries to pack too much into the film. In the second place, some of his "ugly American" biases do come through a little too ham-handedly at times. By all means, read the book. Skip the film, unless you're just not a reader.

Heck, I just discovered that the whole film is available on YouTube. Enjoy:

On "breeding like rabbits" and very happy Catholics

Damian Thompson, "Catholics must not breed like rabbits, says the Pope. Yes, you read that right" (The Spectator, January 19, 2015):

Catholics should not breed like rabbits and gender theory is a bit like the Hitler Youth. Yup, the Supreme Pontiff is giving another of his in-flight interviews and yet again he leaves everyone shaking their heads: ‘He said what?’

Now, let’s be clear. Francis reaffirmed Catholic teaching on birth control (sort of) while observing that ‘God gives you methods to be responsible. Some think that – excuse the word – that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.’
I know what he means. I think. Contraception and family planning are fine so long as you don’t artificially block procreation. But the subliminal and unintended messages are (a) that Catholics have a reputation for breeding like rabbits and (b) birth control is OK, full stop.

Now, I won’t pretend that I’ve ever agreed with the Church on the wickedness of the pill [This is Damian Thompson writing, not Blosser!], but better Catholics than me who observe Humanae Vitae to the letter will be dismayed. Because they know that the media will seize on this interview as evidence that Francis is softening Church teaching.

It’s a bit like his ‘Who am I to judge?’ comment regarding homosexuality. In context, you could argue that nothing had changed. But journalists filing to deadline aren’t into magisterial context and canon law, and so they settle for the easy option: ‘unprecedented’ signals from Rome that the Church is easing up on sexual matters. Which it isn’t, so far as I can tell, though cardinals do now feel free to shout at each other in public.

What is unprecedented is the sight of a Pope who, as soon as the seatbelt sign is turned off,  jumps to his feet to improvise on the most delicate matters imaginable. He has the stream-of-consciousness manner of a standup comic, segueing from foreign aid to gender theory to the Hitler Youth in a matter of seconds – read the details here.

Like everyone else, I was impressed by the crowd of six million who assembled to hear Francis in the Philippines. But did it go to his head? The Vicar of Christ has (thanks to his own misjudgments) a gruesomely difficult Synod on the Family to run and rule on in October. At this rate it will all end in tears.

Meanwhile, I have this vision of an elderly Bavarian gentleman with his head in his hands, asking: ‘Lord, was this really what you wanted?’

[Hat tip to JM]

A sample daily dispatch from Guy Noir

Private Eye ...  FYI: "Three good links" ~

Rod Dreher remains pretty good. He most not realize that Arturo Vasquez ended up jading himself into disbelief after becoming ever more critical. I too was a fan of his early and middle stuff. Shades of Greg Kriehbel.
Meanwhile, I am a moderate by John Allen's definition! Some nice things about Francis. Carl Olson over at CWR relatedly wonders aloud why CRUX employs a spirituality columnist who disputes Catholic teaching. No, he really does. Really. I have suggestion for him: why doesn't he go cry on Fr. James Martin's shoulder. Or Fr. Barons?  The fake posturing in American clerical Catholicism ... I choke on it. At least Hans Kung has the balls to be unapologetically heretical out loud and without hedging. 
I loved this, even if after re-reading I still think the last sentence is missing a word somewhere.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Random cool factoid about Pope # 5

Pope #5 was Pope Saint Evaristus (c. 101- c. 109), a Greek from Antioch, the son of a Jew named (surprise!) Juda from Bethlehem. One of my favorite things about him is that in his first epistle, addressed to the bishops of Africa, he decreed that seven deacons were to monitor a bishop's preaching in order to ensure that he did not lapse from the authentic traditions and teachings of the Faith. (Is that not cool, or what?!!) Of course he reserved to the See of Rome the power to terminate any bishop as a result of such an indiscretion, but the practice has something to commend it in keeping a bishop on his toes. It reminds me of how Dutch Reformed churches used to have elders from the congregation give immediate feedback to the local pastor after his delivery of the Sunday sermon; and if he made any doctrinal mis-steps or flirted with danger a bit by pushing the edge of the envelope, they would let him know it in no uncertain terms.

The State of the Union Empire -- Bread and Circuses ... and B.S.

A recent montage, a compilation of video clips from previous State of the Union addresses by the President, highlights Mr. Obama at his impressive best. The excitement of his speeches is infectious. The rhetoric is, at times, electrifying. Members of congress, on both sides of the aisle, rise in standing ovation after standing ovation at the positive vision he presents for each new year of his unfolding administration. It's not hard to see what made Mr. Obama a first-rate community organizer. He's a mesmerizing speaker. The effect is almost psychotropic. But it's not just his style. It's what he actually says. If you actually take the time to listen to the content -- to the promises he makes and the picture he paints of the America he wants, it would be hard to imagine a more idyllic republic. Quite sincerely, he's inspiring. The values are positive -- values any of us could readily embrace. Never mind that each of the 112 promises in the montage, in retrospect, was as empty as the suit that failed to deliver on it, or that we've been left with our treasuries emptied, our currency devalued, and an $18,000,000,000,000.00 national debt that will surely surpass $20 trillion before the golden-tongued speech maker is out of office (unless he's crowned Emperor). That's the unyielding reality beneath the rhetoric -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. More taxes! More free giveaways! More spending on the national credit card! Bread and circuses!

There is a reason why Harry F. Frankfurt, philosopher emeritus from Princeton University and a thinker of fairly traditional cast, wrote in his little book, On Bullshit(Princeton University Press, 2005), that bullshit is a far more dangerous thing than lying. If a man was lying to you, you could be sure that he knew, or at least thought he knew, what the truth was. You would at least be playing on an even field -- a playing field in which the truth mattered. Even when the other guy is cheating by trying to conceal the truth from you, the truth matters. But when a man is bullshitting you, he doesn't give a rip about what is true. For all you know he may not even know what's true, or even care -- like the other Princeton Professor, the late Richard Rorty, who defined truth as "what your peers let you get away with saying." All he wants is to create a certain response, to inspire or impress or bedazzle or placate or pacify or distract you. And nobody I know in recent history does that better than Mr. Obama. He is the man Plato warned us about in Book VIII of his Republic, the future tyrant who comes out of nowhere and ascends to meteoric heights of influence amidst the breakdown of a democracy by making empty promises he has no intention of keeping, and by keeping the ignorant masses in perpetual distraction in order to keep their minds off his machinations and increasingly extravagant personal lifestyle. Crown him Emperor? Caveat emptor.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Aberrations, Confusion, Synodal Machinations

From "New Oxford Notes" (New Oxford Review, December 2014):

Aberrations, Confusion, Synodal Machinations

December 2014

When asked for his thoughts on this October’s highly controversial Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said, “I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion.” His off-the-cuff response during a question-and-answer session following a lecture sponsored by the journal First Things does not translate, as many press pundits have suggested, into a full-on condemnation of the synod or the synod fathers. He didn’t actually go so far as to say that the synod itself was a cacophony of confusion. Nonetheless, Archbishop Chaput was disturbed — disturbed enough to remind everyone present that “confusion is of the devil,” a theological aphorism unpopular in the contemporary culture.

This “image” of confusion was substantially formed by the ill-considered — and, yes, confusing — language in the synod’s interim relatio (released Oct. 13), a working document offering proposals that would push the Church to be “more welcoming” to gay Catholics, cohabiting couples, and the divorced and remarried. Vatican reporter John Thavis called the relatio a “pastoral earthquake” because many of its proposals were unprecedented, and many Catholics found them confusing at best. But to suggest that the confusion was entirely a byproduct of media coverage — and for the record, Archbishop Chaput did not do this — is to misunderstand the substance of the synod. The interim report, offered up by the Vatican Press Office halfway through the two-week- long synod, afforded the public a glimpse into the inner workings of the Vatican’s task force, manned by prelates handpicked by Pope Francis and widely regarded as his ideological counterparts. It shone a light on a house divided between reformers who seem bent on transforming the Church into a replica of the Anglican Communion, and Catholic leaders who want to clarify and strengthen the Church’s positions on marriage and the family in the face of the trend to ratify same-sex marriage, cohabitation, and permissive divorce.

Some have suggested that the widely publicized release of the interim relatio — an action contrary to standard operating procedure — was a calculated maneuver by media-savvy reformers seeking to garner support for the implementation of their agenda by giving the impression that a consensus on the debated topics had already been reached. Whether or not this is true, not all synod participants were happy with the release of this working document. “The message has gone out: This is what the Synod is saying. This is what the Catholic Church is saying,” South Africa’s Wilfrid Cardinal Napier said at a Vatican press conference the day after the release of the relatio. “And it’s not what we’re saying at all. No matter how we try correcting that…there’s no way of retrieving it.” He explained that some controversial statements made by certain individuals were included in the report as if those statements reflected the majority view of the bishops in attendance.

The release of the relatio was more revealing than confusing. Anyone who followed the preparations for the synod will know that Pope Francis enlisted the help of Walter Cardinal Kasper and Óscar Andrés Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, both of whom are followers of the late reformer Carlo Cardinal Martini, to push through several controversial proposals for serious discussion. First and foremost, Cardinal Kasper, a combative supporter since the early 1990s of dropping the Communion ban for the divorced and remarried, was given a high-profile opportunity to present his pet proposal to a consistory of cardinals in February. Pope Francis lavished praise on Kasper’s presentation, lending credence to the German cardinal’s repeated claim in the ensuing months that he has “coordinated” with Francis and was speaking for the pontiff. (Pope Francis, by the way, never made a move to correct this conception.)

Meanwhile, Rosman the provacateur asks: "To What Degree is First Things Responsible for Iraq?"

In case you missed it: now HERE's a brazen move: Artur Rosman going for the heart of Neo-Con-dom (no pun intended): "To What Degree is First Things Responsible for Iraq?" (Patheos, July 23, 2014).

Pope Francis earning street cred in "Thug Life" rap

Signs of the times, eh? Listen to the end of the video. The rap number starts at about 25 seconds into the video.

I'm not quite sure how to take this video. As you can see for yourself, some of the comments claim that the video was intended a defence of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. I'm not sure.

There's a bit about the group HERE and a compilation of Thug Life music video's HERE.

Muslim immigrants smash, urinate on statue of Mary in Perugia, Italy

As reported by Jim Hoft on Sunday (Gateway Pundit, January 18, 2015), and cited by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf HERE.

Muslims traditionally have a devotion to the Blessed Mother and believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus. What was it that led them to override this traditional devotion here?

Raymond Ibrahim reports:
A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.”

The first thing they did was rip the photo from his hands.

Next they unleashed their hatred against the image of the Virgin Mary. They broke the statue to pieces and then urinated on it.

The incident has caused a stir among locals. Some have lambasted Pope Francis who is accused of appeasing immigrants—mostly Muslims—to wild extremes. [Fr. Z's emphasis] Earlier he had said that “Migrants, through their own humanity, cultural values, expand the sense of human brotherhood.”

Is the Qur'an the real root of Islamic extremism?

One has to wonder. Vittorio Messori (Corriere della Sera) appears to think so. See his article, translated by Francesca Romana HERE.

Extraordinary Community News - Episode 3 of EWTN's "Extraordinary Faith" now online, new Tridentine Mass sites, St. Joseph's closed for repairs, Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News (January 18, 2015):
Extraordinary Faith Episode 3 Available for Viewing On-line

Episode 3 of Extraordinary Faith – Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota – has been posted for viewing on the Episode 3 page of our web site, The episode has been posted in full 1080p HD quality, so that you can see the fine architectural details of the beautiful churches we visit. This video, as usual, is hosted on Vimeo because of its high quality standards.

Episode 3 has also been posted to Extraordinary Faith’s YouTube channel, for those who prefer to view on that site.

Cathedral of St. Paul Mass in October, 2014

One of the churches we visited in Episode 3 was the gargantuan Cathedral of St. Paul, located on a hill overlooking the city. This beautiful edifice has every architectural feature one could wish for a worthy celebration of the Extraordinary Form, including a High Altar surmounted by a magnificent baldacchino.

As it turns out, this past October 11, the cathedral hosted its first Tridentine Mass in over 40 years, along with the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the Traditional Rite. The celebrant was Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens. Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter founding Superior Fr. Josef Bisig, who has celebrated Mass for us in Windsor several times, was Assistant Priest for the ceremony. Seminarians from Saint Paul Seminary along with members of the FSSP’s All Saints Parish in Minneapolis served at the altar. [Photo from]

St. Thomas the Apostle, Ann Arbor to Host Candlemas Tridentine Mass

Many of our Ann Arbor readers, including leaders of Juventútem Michigan, consider St. Thomas the Apostle their home parish. The parish has hosted Saturday 6:00 PM Vespers in the Extraordinary Form for a long time. At least one Tridentine Wedding Mass has been celebrated there, and this past June, their first public Mass in the Extraordinary Form was offered.

On Monday, February 2 at 7:00 PM, Gabriel Richard High School Chaplain Fr. Richard Lobert will celebrate a Tridentine High Mass for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast is also known as Candlemas, as the Mass is preceded by a blessing of candles and a procession. The faithful are invited to bring candles to be blessed.

Music will be provided by a choir consisting of parishioners and members of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club.

Please note that this Mass will take the place of Juventútem’s usual Last Friday Mass for January.

St. Joseph Church Closed for Repairs

St. Joseph Church has closed temporarily for work on the exterior of the building. All Masses at the church, including the 7:00 PM Monday and First Friday Tridentine Masses, have been relocated to St. Josaphat Church.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 01/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Ss. Marius, Martha, Audifax, & Abachum, Martyrs)
  • Tue. 01/20 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, [Canada] (Ss. Fabian, Pope, & Sebastian, Martyrs)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for January 18, 2015. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]