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November 27, 2014

Freke, Gandy and the Gnostics

They’ll be a bit dated, but from time to I’m giving a fresh airing to items from early back numbers of the Brandsma Review. These are “Straws for the Camel’s Back” from issue 42, just before the millennium:

Gnosticism—the syncretistic heresy first combatted by St John—is on the attack again. Its ideas have been promoted on television, and recently I was sent an expensive book by two English academics called Freke and Gandy who argue that early Christianity sat quite comfortably with contemporary belief systems in the Roman Empire. According to the authors, we Fundies (actually they call us “Literalists”) must drop our rigid ideas about the Incarnation and Redemption and form a synthesis with pagan religions. The book is nearly 350 pages long, but I think that’s a fair summary of its contents.

A Newman, Knox or C.S. Lewis would have destroyed this thesis in a trice; but today, unfortunately, there are Gnostics actually in positions of authority within the Church, proselytising without fear of rebuke.

Our English mole confirmed my thoughts on this subject when she reported on the London launch of a book with the encouraging title Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience by a Sacred Heart Missionary, Fr Diarmuid O’Murchu. The shop was crowded with elderly women, many obviously nuns in mufti. Father was in civvies, too. He began with some re-definitions:

Poverty is having just enough, so that no one is in need;

Celibacy needs a new appraisal in the light of modern scholarship;

Obedience means mutual collaboration.

Father quoted from Walter Wink, described as an American Scripture scholar, who wrote Engaging the Powers. This explores the “domination system started by the myth (sic) of Redemptive Salvation” Why, asked Father, was there so much violence in our society?

Original sin?” suggested one of the few Fundies present.

Father ignored her. The answer, he said, was that “our religion was born out of the blood of a slaughtered God and this leads to violence”. Moreover, this religion of ours had “murdered the goddess humans had worshipped for 30,000 years”. Our religion wanted to erode this memory and label it as paganism. Some people thought his books were pagan, too, he said.

He concluded by asking everyone to bear with him because he was searching for the truth, as many others were today. The “institutional Church” would have to take notice of them if it was to survive. This brought sniggers of encouragement from the sisters, followed by plenty of applause.

Our Mole suggested to Father that although what people had worshipped 30,000 years ago was interesting it was hardly relevant, as 2,000 years ago God became Man and revealed the Truth to us. Father said our Mole must broaden her outlook. When she asked him to explain what he meant by this, he told her about some ancestor worshippers he had met in Africa, who were very good people.

Our Mole sought out the shop manager, a nun, remonstrated with her about allowing paganism to be promoted in a Catholic bookshop, and suggested she should examine her conscience carefully. She didn’t answer, but merely gave our Mole a kiss.


Come Back, Pelagius…

Another heresy is also in the ascendant, it seems. Celtic Newchurch has rehabilitated the old heresiarch Pelagius—apparently because they don’t like the idea of original sin and think that good works are much more important than stuffy old faith. Pelagius has Pat Robson—a Welsh Anglican priestess—to thank for his rehabilitation. In her new little work The Celtic Heart (Harper Collins, London) we learn that men and women are created good and that even before the coming of Christ there had been people wholly without sin. “Even now,” she writes, “the old Celtic hatred of the concept of original sin and predestination lingers on in fiercely independent British hearts.” (Can I hear a Royal Marine brass band in the distance, playing Hearts of Oak?)

Ms Robson’s little book reminds me of Hilaire Belloc’s Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men’s Backs and the Very Robust Out-Thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual.

Pelagius lived in Kardanoel

And taught a doctrine there

That whether you went to heaven or hell

It was your own affair.

How, whether you found eternal joy

Or sank forever to burn

It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy

But was your own concern.

Oh he didn’t believe

In Adam and Eve

He put no faith therein

His doubts began

With the fall of man

And he laughed at original sin.

There’s lots more, but that’s all I’ve room for. It’s from The Four Men, Thomas Nelson, London (1952). St Jerome said Pelagius had dulled his wits by eating too much Scottish (read Irish) porridge. He was, in fact a Welsh monk, and his real name was Morgan. But some very good things do come from Wales: our contributor Robert Williams has pointed out to me that it took a Welshman to drive the snakes out of Ireland.


Timmy’s Vaccination

Dear Mom,

Gosh, can you believe it? 2023 already. I am still putting 22 on nearly everything. Seems like just yesterday I was sitting in first grade celebrating the millennium change. I know we haven’t really chatted since Christmas. Sorry. Anyway, I have some difficult news and I really didn’t want to call and talk face to face.

Ted’s up for promotion and I should be up for a hefty raise this year if I keep putting in those crazy hours. You know how I work at it. Yes. we’re still struggling with the bills. Timmy’s been “okay” at kindergarten although he complains about going. But then, he wasn’t happy about day care either, so what can I do? He’s been a real problem, Mom. He’s a good kid, but quite honestly, he’s an unfair burden at this time in our lives.

Ted and I have talked this through and finally made a choice. Plenty of other families have made it and are much better off. Our pastor is supportive and says hard decisions are necessary. The family is a system and the demands of one member shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the whole. He told us to be prayerful, consider all the factors, and do what is right to make the family work. He says that even though he probably wouldn’t do it himself, the decision is really ours. He was kind enough to refer us to a children’s clinic near here, so at least that part’s easy.

I’m not an uncaring mother. I do feel sorry for the little guy. I think he overhead Ted and me talking about “it” the other night. I turned around and saw him standing at the bottom step in his pyjamas with the little bear you gave him under his arm and his eyes sort of welling up. Mom, the way he looked at me just about broke my heart. But I honestly believe this is better for Timmy, too

It’s not fair to force him to live in a family that can’t give him the time and attention he deserves. And please don’t give me the kind of grief Grandma gave you over your abortions. It is the same thing, you know. We’ve told him he’s just going in for a vaccination. Anyway, they say it is painless. I guess it’s just as well you haven’t seen that much of him. Love to Dad…Jane.


Happy Earthday, Bishop Bill

How about this?

KERRY EARTH DAY 1999—JUBILEE 2000 PREPARATION…This day will be informative and will also be a day of celebration…There will be workshops dealing with some of the following topics: creation spirituality, environmental issues, development education, human rights, refugees, justice, recycling, heritage, composting, organic farming, fair trade, world debt, animal rights, trees talk, bird watching in Kerry, Kerry walks, etc….The day will include an opening interfaith liturgy and table quizzes…This day is organised by the Kerry Diocesan Justice Millennium Committee.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rather feeble Kerry joke. It has the blessing of Bishop “Bill” Murphy, a begetter of the disastrous Children of God series before his elevation to the episcopacy.

In his Easter pastoral, “A stirring and challenging time for all” (the word “challenge” occurs nearly a dozen times) Bishop Murphy goes on about the necessity of right relationships. “This idea of right relationship offers us a liberating, invigorating opportunity to focus our lives on what is really essential for the new Millennium.” God gets a mention, but there’s nothing about the need for individual repentance and a good Confession. There’s lots about world debt, rain forests, the ozone layer, etc., and the bishop hopes “we will continue to debate with and challenge each other in relation to the questions that are before us”.

Lots more talking shops—that’s the way to usher in the Millennium!


More Grovel, Grovel…

In our last issue we published an apology check-list for the year 2000, covering everything from the Inquisition to red shoes and votive candles. From a report in the Sunday Telegraph, it appears we should have mentioned one very important matter to grovel about in 1999. It’s the capture of Jerusalem by the crusaders, who liberated the Holy Places from the Saracens 900 years ago this July.

Where is this apology business going to end? Are the Irish going to have to say sorry to the British for carrying off St Patrick and making him a slave? Must the Italians send a contrite delegation to Colchester because the Romans beat up Queen Boadicea? Will we see Greek officials weeping tears of repentance at the site of Troy in present-day Turkey?

The report was accompanied by a photo of an Anglican minister wearing a tee-shirt with the words “I apologise” in Arabic. Personally, I’d rather wear the politically and religiously incorrect tee-shirt I saw advertised in L’Appel de Chartres, which showed a muscular Christian in chain mail with shield, spear and sword, over the words “14 juillet 1099”. The text translates as follows:

TRUE HISTORY offers you, on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the deliverance of the Holy Places by the First Crusade, a red and black tee-shirt portraying a crusader before Jerusalem. You can order it for 60 francs from HISTORIA VERA, 51 rue du Mal Foch 78000, Versailles.

Yes, I do know the First Crusade was marred by an atrocious massacre. I also know that military conquest is not what our Faith is about. Yet it was an astonishing achievement to capture the Holy City from such a formidable power and hold it for nearly a century; and the enterprise was regarded as a sacred duty at the time by virtually all Christians. It has to be remembered, too, that the conflict with the Islamic world was not begun by the crusaders but with the Moslem conquest and 700-year occupation of Christian Spain, and attacks on Christian settlements in Lebanon. Anyway, it is absurd to condemn the crusaders from the perspective of the late 20th century.

One day soon, I hope, we will carry an article on Christianity and Islam. In the meantime, let’s just note that today, Moslems are welcomed in most Western countries, while Moslem states—notably Pakistan and Sudan—are persecuting their Christian minorities. Now there’s something our clergy should get indignant about…


In the Confessional

What can I do for ya?” asked the voice behind the optional, portable screen. Oh oh, this rather odd salutation had all the earmarks of one used by one of those priests who has but one goal in life: to be everybody’s buddy.

Well, I had hoped to confess my sins,” I responded.

Well, let’s do it up,” the incongruously cheery voice responded.

Deeply unsettled, I presented my list to him.

O.K., you sound like the type who might enjoy saying a whole rosary, like they used to do in the old days. So, how about it? Do you know the rosary?”

Ah… yes, Father.”

Super! Now, why don’t you go ahead and tell God—in whatever words you choose—that you’re not too thrilled about what you’ve done.”

You mean you want me to recite an Act of Contrition, Father?”

Oh, wow, whatever you say, Chief. Ya, an Act of Contrition will do fine.”

O my God, I’m heartily sorry,” I began.

I had not even finished, however, when Father Buddy chimed in: “I absolve you from your sins.”

That was it—“I absolve you”—I couldn’t believe my ears.

Excuse me, father, but isn’t it customary to absolve through the power of Jesus Christ and by the authority invested in you by the Church?”

What? Oh, ya, well, I said all that in my head. Don’t sweat it. Now, you have a real nice day.”

From “An Archdiocese on the Brink”, an article in The Remnant by Michael J. Matt, on his search for a confessor in St Paul, Minnesota.


Bless you, sister!

Have the dear New Age nuns gone totally potty? In recent issues we related how they consider themselves dying but vibrant, and how they want to turn themselves into compost.

Now I am told that a senior Irish Mercy sister sent the following New Year blessing to her colleagues. No mention of Our Lord or Our Lady, just: “May the greening life force (Virititas) moisten your soul, mind and spirit in 1999.”

What does it mean? Is it a new cult of triffid-worship? Or is it some ritual Wiccan curse, meaning: may you catch a particularly nasty cold?

November 24, 2014

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Pope Francis? 

Only one sin is nowadays severely punished: the attentive observance of the traditions of our Fathers. For that reason the good ones are thrown out of their places and brought to the desert.

St Basil the Great

I’m glad I’m not still editing the Brandsma Review. If I were, I would feel compelled to adopt some kind of editorial policy towards Pope Francis, nailing my colours to the mast (and thus losing lots of subscribers).

Lots of traditional Catholics have  formed a sort of circular firing squad. To take just two examples, The Remnant and ChurchMilitant.TV, both stalwart traditionalist outfits, have been knocking lumps out of each other. The latter thinks it  is quite beyond the Pale—indeed, unCatholic—to conclude that the Holy Father himself is in large part responsible for the scandalous mess the Church is in—in effect, that the blame must be laid elsewhere because a reigning Pope is above such criticism. The Remnant feel free to bash Pope Francis as hard as they believe he deserves.

I don’t like being a fence-sitter, but I don’t fully accept either of these alternatives. I indicated three months or so ago that I was finding it difficult to work out a coherent position on this tangled problem, and after that  Synod, I still am.

I asked myself some questions back then, and now I have some more to ask.

Was it not Francis who conceived and called the Synod on the Family?

Didn’t Francis praise Cardinal Kasper’s “profound and serene theology” of “mercy” according to which public adulterers would be allowed to receive Holy Communion while continuing in their adultery (as Francis appears to have authorised when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires)?

Was it not  Francis who appointed all of the Synod’s radically progressive controllers?.

Was it not Francis who presided over every minute of the Synod, constantly passing notes to his handpicked General Secretary, Cardinal Baldisseri?

Was it not Francis who stacked the Synod’s drafting committee with six additional radical progressives?

Was it not Francis who overrode the Synod’s vote by ordering the publication and distribution worldwide of the totally rejected and shamefully heterodox mid-term report—a veritable transcript of Kasper’s “profound and serene” theology—which called for Holy Communion for public adulterers on a “case-by-case basis” and an “opening” to “gays” that would include “guaranteeing to them a fraternal space” and “accepting and valuing their sexual orientation”? 

Was it not Francis who ordered the publication of three objectionable paragraphs in the Synod’s final report even though they failed to receive the required two-thirds majority and thus should not have been part of the report?

Was it not Francis who, at the Synod’s conclusion, denounced “so-called traditionalists” for not being open to “the God of surprises” and who declared the next day that “God is not afraid of new things”?

Was it not Francis who sacked Cardinal Raymond Burke from his influential  position as head of the Apostolic Signatura,  the Church’s highest court, and put him in charge of the Knights of Malta instead?

Was it not Francis  who ruthlessly crushed the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, not for any recognisable offence, but for their devotion to the Church’s perennial liturgy?

The answer to all these questions, as I think you will agree, is Yes.

What can we do about it? Not a lot, I fear, except pray for the Holy Father and  just hang on in there.  The modernists would be delighted to see traditional Catholics go into schism or sedevacantism.  It’s a case of illegitimis ne carborundum.

If any readers of this blog have any helpful ideas, please help me out. I’m still perplexed.


November 21, 2014

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus: Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard
Yesterday, relying heavily on the Rorate Caeli  blog, I outlined the disastrous decline of the Catholic Church in Latin America, attempting to show that the abandonment of traditional spirituality and liturgy is always bound to be an unmitigated disaster, and that the only answer is to restore the Faith in all its fullness.  Today I want to show how this might be done–indeed, how it is already being done. To do so, I am quoting wholesale  from Mark Lambert’s blog De Omnibus Dubitandum Est (which I had never come across before, and can heartily recommend).
Mr Lambert begins by  noting that that the new Archbishop of Sydney has said that by the time of his retirement he wants a Church filled with vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In his homily at St Mary’s Cathedral during his installation Mass, Dominican Archbishop Anthony Fisher said:

What will this Archdiocese look like when, God willing, I retire in 2035? My hope is for a Church in which the Gospel is preached with joy, the wisdom of our tradition mined with fidelity, the sacraments celebrated with dignity and welcome, and the seminaries, convents and youth groups are teeming with new life. That will depend hugely on three factors: our clergy and religious; our families; and our young people.

Some simple research, says Mr Lambert, would suggest that the best way to get there is quite simple: be Catholic. He  notes that vocations from more orthodox dioceses are outstripping others by 500%.

2014 figures from Frejus-Toulon shows 60 candidates for 2014 out of a population of 660,000 Catholics, according to Wikipedia.

Albenga-Imperia in Italy which includes only ten percent of the Catholics of Liguria, has more seminarians than the whole of the rest of the region.

Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) are preparing more than 250 candidates for the priesthood as of 2014 from a population of 590,000 Catholics.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, with a relatively small Catholic population of approximately 82,000. there are currently 47 young men undertaking seminary studies.

In Mr Lambert’s own diocese (Brentwood, in England) with 225,700 Catholics, they have six seminarians.

So what needs to be done to engender more vocations from our dioceses? A look at Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard could be instructive in this regard. He is the Catholic Primate of Belgium, who took over from Cardinal Godfried Danneels in 2010. In four years, he has been responsible for a surge of priestly vocations in the country .

…Cardinal Danneels was certainly part of the reason for the decline. He publicly questioned the Church’s teachings on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and contraception, and, in this period, Belgian Mass attendance fell to between five and 10 percent. Belgium was among the first nations to legalise abortion on demand, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage—with little Catholic opposition. Priest shortages became endemic. Once a world capital of Catholic learning, the Catholic University of Leuven today makes Georgetown look like Ave Maria.

Who is going to commit their life to an ideology they do not believe in? I would be worried that, if the unchangeable teachings of Christ, the deposit of faith, has no value, the only people who are going to want to be priests are those with ulterior motives. Men become priests because they believe in the teachings of Christ as held and taught by His Church.

During the 2005 conclave, Danneels was the top papabile “progressive” Catholics dreamed of seeing in white on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. However, a couple of  years later his reputation declined as it was revealed that he knew of the sexual abuse of children by priests in his diocese, yet did nothing. When Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard succeeded Danneels as primate of Belgium in 2010, he made immediate changes. Not since the 1960s has the Belgian Church been so vocal. When Belgium recently legalised child euthanasia, the Archbishop implored his faithful to pray and fast against the measure. On February 6, the day Belgium’s Parliament voted on the measure, Léonard organised prayer vigils on the streets of every city in the nation, hoping that the sight of thousands praying against this travesty would move the deputies’ consciences. Léonard revived traditional Catholic piety, too, quickly introducing the first Eucharistic procession on Corpus Christi in Liège since 1970. He celebrates the Latin Mass regularly, offering it as a remedy to the liturgical abuses of recent history. He has formed the Community of the Holy Apostles, which consists of three priests and seven seminarians who base their philosophy on the spirituality of Rev. Michel-Marie Zanotti-Sorkine, a French luminary of the new evangelisation. They wear cassocks (a rare sight in the post-Conciliar Belgian Church) while talking to Belgians about God. Last month, the community saved from deconsecration St. Catherine’s parish in central Brussels that was closed three years ago due to a lack of priests. Not long ago, St. Catherine’s was to become a fish market; now, it is the seat of one of contemporary Europe’s most dynamic groups of evangelists.

Many remain unenthusiastic about Léonard. When he became the country’s primate, Belgium’s health minister contrasted him with “open” and “tolerant” Danneels, claiming that his election threatens the separation of Church and state. (Ironically, the fact that a government official wants to impose what kind of bishops should be elected smacks of Josephinism). In 2011, homosexual activists threw pies at Léonard during a lecture. Who can forget the Archbishop’s gentleness and humility when, whilst giving a pro-life lecture at the University of Brussels last year, radical feminists doused him with water. Léonard started to pray and blessed his attackers:

Despite such attacks, Belgian Catholicism has started to show signs of growth for the first time in many decades. The numbers speak for themselves: in the 2012/2013 academic year, the number of Belgian seminarians has grown from sixty-seven to eighty-nine. When Léonard was bishop of Namur, the number of vocations mushroomed there, too.
 The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports on a study commissioned by the U.S. bishops. For more than three years, a working group at the bishops’ conference has conducted research aimed at finding ways to more effectively communicate the Catholic faith. The research examined “Catholics in the pew,” looking at why they accept or disregard Church teaching on various subjects. Surveying different segments of the Catholic population offered a portrait of the Catholic landscape, and some of the different motivations, challenges and desires facing people in the Church.

As one could easily anticipate, young adults surveyed “simply identified the rules as ‘to be nice to everyone, the Golden Rule’,”
“They feel completely Catholic even while disagreeing with the Church. We often heard ‘the Pope is entitled to his opinion’,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami stated, summarising responses given by young people to a survey conducted on behalf of the U.S. bishops.

So what have we learnt? Basically, the faith has not been effectively communicated for forty- odd years. Young people have a cultural affiliation with the Church and acknowledge that God is real, but this is almost exclusively on their terms.

Our beleagured clergy are more concerned with being liked and not being criticised, than preaching the Gospel which does not bring peace, but a sword (Mt 10:34). If the Gospel does not challenge us to question how we live our lives, it has no power. Christ turned the world upside down with His message in just 3 years.

The lack of connection between faith professed (the Creed), faith celebrated (Liturgy and the Sacraments), faith lived (our moral life in Christ) and faith prayed (Prayer and the Our Father) is one of the biggest issues in modern catechetics. If we do not know who God is, and who we are as God’s beloved, called to share in the divine life through the Sacraments, then morality can often come across as remedial or arbitrary, rules that one can pick and choose as one likes, rather than the freeing instructions for a happy life they actually are. In essence, Catholic morality is not by nature oppressive; nor is it in principle conservative, rather it seeks to educate for growth.

That is why following the structure as well as the content of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is profoundly important in catechesis. If we do not understand why we believe what we believe, the Sacraments, moral life in Christ and prayer do not make sense. It is like building a house. If the foundation is shaky, the house will not stand. It is one of the reasons why catechesis at all ages should follow the structure and content of the CCC in an age-appropriate format and why the General  Directory for Catechesis recommends catechesis be a “a school of faith, an initiation and apprenticeship in the entire Christian life” (GDC 29).

As vocations dwindle due to relativism and progressive attitudes by our prelates, we have to ask why some clergy are so reticent to teach the truth of the faith? Are they personally compromised like Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton? The solution, based on evidence from around the world seems blindingly simple. Be Catholic. Restore the faith we all recognise as Catholic. Hold it, teach it, live it, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest!





















November 20, 2014

The Preferential Option for Protestantism

On November 10  I mentioned  Hilaire Belloc’s prophecy in 1937 that Islam would eventually recover its power, and that the former Christian nations of Europe lacked  the spiritual strength to defeat it. He was dead right.

But another prediction  of Belloc’s, that  Catholicism would grow while Protestantism would decline, has proved to be quite mistaken. (I mean real Catholicism and real Protestantism.)

In  this present  post  we  see  just how serious the falling away has been, using the extreme example of what’s been happening in Latin America. (With acknowledgments to the Rorate Caeli blog, from whom I quote extensively)  In the next post,  I hope to suggest  how this disastrous trend could  be reversed.

So first, have a careful look at this table. It’s really scarifying.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic.

What happened exactly in the 1960s?…It is always affirmed by those who say that the collapse in almost all Catholic indicators that followed the Second Vatican Council was a coincidence;  that the 1960s and 1970s were an era of strong secularisation and that the collapse would have happened anyway.
Well, that might conceivably help to explain the collapse in Western Europe, North America, and Australia. But in Latin America (where the current pope studied to be a priest during the 1960s, being ordained in December 1969), what happened instead during the same period was an intense religious revival. But instead of it being channeled through the traditional structures of Catholic life, these same traditional structures were being dismantled by the Latin American hierarchy inebriated with the spirit of aggiornamento, and Latin Americans, who just wanted pure religious life, converted in droves to Protestantism, the only ‘space’ in which they could find signs of the Christian message. In Honduras, the country of the most powerful man in the Roman Curia today after the Pope, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga (who has been a bishop in the capital since 1978, first as auxiliary then as Archbishop), the hierarchy led by him managed the amazing feat of transforming that country in the first Catholic-minority nation in Central America, a vertiginous fall from 94% to 46% in the same period–and the same happened in Uruguay, across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires:

In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, whose influence in Latin America was widely and deeply felt by all the faithful in the region since the beginning, in particular by way of radical and immediate liturgical upheaval and of the various ‘Latin American conference documents’ (Medellín, Puebla, Santo Domingo, Aparecida), it can only be said that, as the Latin American Church insisted on a poorly-understood and anti-traditional version of Christian poverty, making what the hierarchy thought would be a ‘preferential option for the poor’, the poor made a preferential option for Protestantism. As the Church abandoned traditional spirituality and worship for mundane politicised concerns and liturgy, many faithful looked for authentic spirituality wherever they could find it. They found it elsewhere.

The Maradiaga principle has been tried and tested; its effect is abysmal, as proved by the clear numbers. The liberal-and-liberation-theology experiment in Latin America did not work. It will not work when applied to the world stage, either, and may even hinder the growth of Catholicism in those few strongly conservative nations, such as those in Africa, where a muscular, morally strong, and orthodox Catholic faith is still spreading out confidently.

I think that comment from Rorate Caeli  is absolutely right.  Surely two  of the positive things about evangelical Protestantism  are a) its emphasis on the Bible as the inspired word of God, and b) its emphasis on salvation. People need both these things, and the Catholic Church, sorry to say, frequently fails to provide them.  Liberation theology, and the kind of secularised religion served up by progressive  Catholic prelates, just don’t provide the kind of spiritual sustenance we fallen humans require as a bare minimum.

November 18, 2014

Bishop Semeraro and the Pixies

Bishop Semeraro of Albano in Italy has taken it upon himself to excommunicate lay people who attend Masses of the Society of St Pius X. Now, I hold no brief for the Pixies (who can be extremely tiresome, see below) but His Lordship is talking through his nasty little sawn-off mitre and I hope he is ignored.

Many years ago now, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Liturgical Texts (whose job it is to clarify such matters) declared that while bishops and priests of the SSPX could be considered excommunicate, in the case of lay people…

…Those who participate occasionally and without the intention to adhere formally to the positions of the Lefebvrist movement towards the Holy Father do not incur the penalty of excommunication.

And the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei declared, in answer to an inquirer…

1. In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of Saint Pius X.

2…If your intention is simply to participate in Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin.

3. It would seem that a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified….

It all seems clear enough. So why do we  now have this nasty piece of bullying from a bishop who is regarded as being close to the Holy Father?

A contributor to the combox of Fr John Zuhlsdorf summed up the present situation in the the Albano diocese rather well, with this offering which is meant to be sung “in your best Bob Dylan voice”:

Oh yeah, we gotta luhhhhve one another!

No rules gunnah work for me!

I just wannuh be free to luhhhhhhhhve my brother!

Even if it’s carnally!

Them hardline conservatives are so full of hate! They don’t know how to luuuuhhhhhve!

They judge everybody with their mean ol’ rules,  Jes’ coz they come from abuuuuhhhhhve!

He concludes:

So if you “love” another man, or a woman you’re not sacramentally married to (switch genders if need be) then the church ought to welcome you with open arms, without judging, but if you’re in love with the way the church USED to be before they changed it…?

No love songs for you. Conform or you’re outta here.

However, as I made clear above, I’m not too keen on the SSPX. Two reasons:

1.  At St John’s in Mounttown, Co. Dublin, the main SSPX church in Ireland, I was handed an official leaflet which stated, inter alia, that one could be excused one’s Sunday obligation if one could only attend either the Novus Ordo or what was then described as the indult Mass (celebrated by a priest in communion with the ordinary of the diocese.)

2. I was recently told of a Pixie priest in the West of England, who preached about the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in London, and about how the Queen had been praying at the cenotaph. “Of course, said Father, “God would not hear her prayers.”


Who’s ‘Damaging Women’s Health’ ?

There is something quite brazen about the way TDS of  not only the Labour Party,  but also Fine Gael, now openly defend the indefensible when it comes to abortion. You are unlikely to have read this news release from the Pro-Life Campaign in any of the Big Media outlets, so I’m publishing it here.

The Pro Life Campaign has criticised Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell over remarks she made in a Sunday newspaper attacking those involved in an undercover investigation that exposed life-endangering counselling practices at clinics run by the taxpayer-funded Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

Deputy Mitchell was responding to news that the DPP does not intend to prosecute the IFPA over the dangerous advice they gave to women in crisis pregnancy. In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Deputy Mitchell welcomed the DPP’s decision not to prosecute and she said that undercover investigations like the one carried out are potentially “damaging to women’s health.”

Responding to Deputy Mitchell’s comments, Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign said:

‘It is an absolute disgrace the way Deputy Mitchell has chosen to vent her anger at those who carried out the undercover investigation and not those who gave life-endangering advice to women. By adopting this stance she is displaying a crass disregard for women’s health. It is simply ridiculous to claim that exposing life-endangering practices somehow damages women’s health. The refusal of so many politicians to condemn what was going on in IFPA clinics is a very graphic illustration of how one-sided the debate on abortion is at present.’

Ms Sherlock continued, ‘The fact that the DPP is not prosecuting in this particular case does not mean that the story ends there. The undercover investigation team proved that pregnancy counsellors were telling women to lie about their own medical history, advising them to take illegal abortion drugs without medical supervision and telling them not to tell their doctors if they had complications arising from the abortion.’

‘The way Deputy Mitchell has sought to downplay this scandal is appalling. The women of Ireland deserve better than this from their public representatives,’ Ms Sherlock concluded.

November 15, 2014


By Stramentarius

Once every week or so I hope to give a new airing  to  articles that appeared in  The Brandsma Review during its early days. The first one  is a review of a book by Michael Davies on  the Catholic rising in the Vendée  during the French Revolution.

NOWADAYS, nearly everybody believes that the Revolution of 1789, while it may have been marred by excesses, was a thoroughly Good Thing. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are valued as highly as the Theological Virtues—even, it would seem, by most of the French hierarchy.

The only modern politician, as far as I know, to suggest that all the bloodshed and tyranny was unnecessary was Mrs Margaret Thatcher, who was denounced as a party-pooper for expressing anti-revolutionary sentiments during the bicentenary celebrations. Abbot Gérard Calvet of Le Barroux went much further than the Iron Lady. In the course of a sermon in Chartres cathedral I heard him describe the Revolution as “satanic”.

So it was. A strong case can be made for the view that most of the butcherings of the 20th century, including those perpetrated by Communism and National Socialism, have their origin in the French Revolution. The blinkered ideology of St Just and Robespierre, carried to its logical conclusion, terminates in Pol Pottery. Indeed, the Cambodian dictator absorbed most of his Leftist fundamentalism while studying in Paris: unhappily for his country, he was given the opportunity to put his ideas into practice, demonstrating once again how man-made schemes to create a heaven on earth tend to end up producing a mass of human misery instead.

Chattering classes

Michael Davies, whose name will be familiar to most of our readers, has written an enthralling account of an attempt to overthrow the Revolution. For Altar and Throne: The Rising in the Vendée is a story regrettably unfamiliar to most Irish Catholics.

How did the Revolution happen? Was it just a matter of a downtrodden people overthrowing a despotic king and a selfish aristocracy? Not at all. It had little to do with the Common Man. Michael Davies shows how the ground had been well prepared by the likes of Rousseau and Voltaire; nd how the French chattering classes had been thoroughly imbued with revolutionary sentiments, years before the first outbreak of violence.

The French government was not in fact too bad, and many political and social reforms had recently been introduced. France was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and the French peasants were better off than most of their European counterparts. The French Church, too, was in a comparatively healthy state. Mr Davies maintains that the French clergy were, as a whole, devout and dedicated to their parishioners. He quotes the great historian, Alexis de Tocqueville:

I am not sure whether, despite the faults of certain of its members, there was ever a clergy more remarkable than the French, at the moment of being engulfed by the Revolution, more enlightened, more national, less limited in the performance of private virtue, or better imbued with public morality and religious faith.

The immediate cause of the Revolution was French participation in the American War of Independence. King Louis XVI had bankrupted his Exchequer, quite unnecessarily, by sending the equivalent of $240,000,000 to the colonists; and many French officers returned home full of revolutionary zeal, reinforcing the hold that such ideas already had among the intellectuals. When the King called the Estates-General together in order to raise taxes, they defied his authority and set up a national assembly.

The bloodletting began soon afterwards, with the King and Queen as the most prominent among hundreds of thousands of victims. Mr Davies notes in an acid aside that the American Thomas Jefferson, who had helped the French revolutionaries draft their “Declaration of the Rights of Man”, justified the slaughter with an agricultural metaphor: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Jefferson believed that people must be “forced to be free”, although he did not apply this principle to the slaves on his own estate.

Priests and landlords

Why did the main resistance to the revolutionaries occur in the Vendée?

For one thing, it was certainly the most ardently Catholic region of France. The people were devoted to their priests; they expected, and got, a very high standard of piety and moral rectitude. Five out of every six of the Vendéen clergy refused to take an oath of loyalty to the republican regime, even though the result was destitution. The republicans infuriated the peasantry by replacing their“ non-juror” priests with “jurors” from outside the Vendée:

The faithful would not assist at the Mass of a juring priest, as they considered their church to have been profaned by his very presence. When the Abbé Peyre from Paris was installed as the parish priest of May-sur-Evre, he was followed into church by women who scrubbed every trace of his footprints, which they believed had polluted their church, from the stone floor.

The Vendée was also unique in another respect: it seems that the peasantry actually quite liked their landlords! Complaints of injustice and absenteeism were virtually unknown, and the nobility had not exercised their feudal privileges since the 17th century. It was the general practice for the parish priest to announce from the pulpit the dates of local hunts organised by the lords, and to invite the peasants to take part. (Thoroughly un-PC, of course.) A contemporary wrote:

 The nobility had grown up with their tenants under the same oak trees, shared the same country pastimes, and had been suckled at the same breast. These noblemen who hunted and drank with their peasants and tenants had already sown the seeds of egalitarian principles.

It would certainly seem that these Vendéen Catholics, of all social classes, had far more fun than the dreary, bloodthirsty Jacobins in Paris.

Reluctant leaders

The immediate cause of the uprising was the government decision to conscript 300,000 men into the revolutionary army. As one peasant put it: “They have killed our king; chased away our priests; sold the goods of our Church; eaten everything we have; and now they want to take our bodies. No, they shall not have them!”

Some writers have maintained that it was the clergy and the gentry who stirred up the peasantry to revolt. Mr Davies demonstrates convincingly that this was far from the case. The priests were by and large a restraining influence, and there was more than one instance of the peasantry shaming the aristocrats into leading them. The nobleman who became the most celebrated of the Vendéen generals, François-Athanase Charette de la Contrie, is reported to have hidden under a bed when the peasants arrived to put him at their head. He eventually agreed to lead them, and took a solemn oath never to return home unless victorious or dead.

The last crusade

Another aristocrat, Henri Marquis de la Rochejacquelein, told a group of peasants it would be sheer folly to rise up against the trained soldiers of the republic. One young farmer shouted: “Monsieur Henri, if your father had been here, he would not have been afraid to fight!” The young nobleman turned white with anger, but by the following morning he had completely changed his mind. He told 3,000 men assembled in the courtyard of his château: “If I advance, follow me; if I retreat, kill me; if I am killed, avenge me.”

The rising in the Vendée has rightly been described as the last crusade, and the rebels displayed an astonishing willingness to give their lives for their religion. In the 17th century the region had experienced a thoroughgoing spiritual revival, stirred by the preaching of St Louis Grignion de Montfort, the effects of which were still very much alive. The peasants’ deep faith was exemplified in one of the most attractive of their leaders, Jacques Cathelineau, known as the Saint of Anjou. Unlike most of the royalist commanders, he was no aristocrat but a wandering pedlar with a wife and five young children.

When the revolt started, Cathelineau armed himself with a rosary, a pistol, and a sabre, pinned a Sacred Heart badge on his tunic, and addressed a handful of young men in the village square. After praying in the local church, they marched through the neighbouring villages, their numbers swelling to 500. Then, falling on their knees,they intoned the Vexilla Regis: “The banners of the king go forth; the mystery of the Cross shines, by which our Life bore death and by death gave us life.” Armed mostly with cudgels and scythes, they captured first the little town of Jallais: then, their ranks having grown to 2,000, they went on to take the larger town of Chemillé, which was defended by 300 well-armed republican regulars with three cannon. After only four months of brilliant military successes, Cathelineau was mortally wounded in an attack on the city of Nantes. He had done more than any other individual to build up the resistance.

The Catholic army eventually had about 80,000 poorly-armed peasants in the field, but they soon became a formidable force by capturing firearms, artillery pieces and ammunition from the republican regulars. In a string of victories they seized town after town, defeating the best soldiers of the best army in Europe. For one brief space of time there would have been nothing to prevent their marching on Paris. However, like other untrained troops, they tended to squander their victories by disbanding and returning to their homes.

Le grand choc

Mr Davies describes some of the battles and their aftermath. The peasants—known as the Whites, in contrast to the Republican Blues—had a great advantage in their knowledge of the countryside. Their marksmen hid behind hedges and in ditches, picking off their targets: then at the right moment they would suddenly burst out of cover and fling themselves on the Blues in a tactic known as le grand choc.

Perhaps their greatest achievement was the defeat of the Invincible Mayençais at Torfou. These were elite troops who had distinguished themselves against the Prussians in Mayence (Mainz). After a desperate conflict, the Vendéens fled when the Mayençais advanced with fixed bayonets, singing the Marseillaise. The peasants hadn’t gone far when their wives, who were praying at a roadside Calvary, shamed them into facing the enemy once more. The result was a grand choc to end all grands chocs. The Mayençais, who had retreated before no army in Europe, abandoned the town, leaving behind a huge quantity of booty.

The massacre of Savenay

Of course, the run of victories came to an end. In the final battle at Savenay the Vendéens,outnumbered four to one, were overwhelmed after a series of desperate charges. The Blues then took a terrible revenge. General François-Joseph Westermann, known as the Butcher of the Vendée, wrote to the Committee of Public Safety in Paris:

The Vendée no longer exists. It died beneath our sabres with its women and its children. I have buried it in the swamps and woods of Savenay. I crushed the children beneath the hooves of my horses and massacred the women. I do not have one prisoner to reproach myself with; I have exterminated them all. The roads are littered with corpses… It was necessary to feed them with the bread of liberty, and pity is not a revolutionary sentiment.

No indeed. The following year Westermann met his own death at the guillotine. Unfortunately he was not the only crazed ideologue let loose on the Catholics of the Vendée. At Nantes, the unspeakable Jean-Baptiste Carrier solved the problem of prison overcrowding by tying the royalists together in pairs, putting them aboard barges, then drilling holes in the vessels and letting the occupants drown. More than 5,000 Catholics—priests, old men, young men, women and children—were executed by this method.

Carrier believed that trials were a waste of time, as the very fact of being arrested amounted to proof of guilt. He particularly enjoyed watching the executions of priests, and declared: “Never have I had so much amusement as in seeing the last grimaces of priests as they die.” He too perished on the guillotine.

I will spare the reader any further account of these atrocities, but the horrifying examples given by Mr Davies more than prove his contention that the terror unleashed on the Catholics of the Vendée was unparelleled until the advent of Stalin and Hitler. In the search for cost-effective ways of liquidating the royalists, the republicans even investigated the possibility of developing a poison gas. It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Vendéens were killed. In 1984, one hundred of the victims, known as the martyrs of Avrillé, were beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Piety and ferocity

But surely, readers may quite fairly ask, were the Catholics, for their part, as blameless and lily-white as the Bourbon banner they carried?

The answer, I think, is a complex one. Once on the pilgrimage road to Chartres I was overtaken by a group of pleasant-looking young scouts, singing a most bloodthirsty Vendéen song called La Chasse aux Loups—the Wolf Hunt—dating from those terrible times. The song, which has a refrain like the howling of wolves, illustrates the mixture of piety and ferocity animating the royalist insurgents. (The wolves, of course, are the republican enemy):

Mais pourquoi donc as-tu cousu

Sur ton coeur le Coeur de Jésus

Mis ton chapelet par dessus?

C’est qu’avant de traquer les loups

Tihou hou!

Il fait bon se mettre à genoux!

Tihou hou hou hou hou!

(But why have you sewn the Sacred Heart on your chest, with your rosary above it?

Because before hunting wolves, it’s best to get down on your knees!)

Eh quoi! vas-tu chasser ainsi

Avec le couteau que voici

Sans emporter ton vieux fusil?

Ne sais-tu donc plus que chez nous

Tihou hou!

C’est au couteau qu’on sert les loups

Tihou hou hou hou hou!

(What! Are you going hunting just with this knife, without bringing your old gun?

Don’t you know that it’s a knife we use for dealing with wolves!)

Mr Davies admits that there were massacres perpetrated by the Vendéens—but not as a matter of policy, and usually in hot blood. For instance, when the royalist General Stofflet and his men caught up with a republican column who had just murdered 2,000 sick and wounded in a hospital, they wiped them out to the last man.

However, there is no doubt that the Christian faith of the Vendéens acted as a restraining influence. A classic example is an incident involving the White General Joseph-Louis Maurice Gigost d’Elbée, a retired regular army officer and obscure country gentleman who, like Charette and Rochejacquelein, had been been more or less coerced by the peasants into leading them.

His men had just captured hundreds of Blues responsible for slaughtering the inhabitants of the village of Barré, and had locked them into a church, determined to shoot the lot. D’Elbée stood on the steps of the Church, interposing himself between his men and the prisoners. He told them that if Catholics behaved like republicans, they might as well be republicans. Maddened with rage and grief, the Vendéens insisted there must be no mercy, as none had been shown to the people of Barré.

As a last resort, d’Elbée asked his men at least to say one Our Father before carrying out their resolution.

The peasants took off their hats and knelt down. When they reached the words: ‘Forgive us our trespasses’, d’Elbée shouted: ‘Stop! Do you dare to mention God? You are asking Him to forgive you in the same way that you pardon others.’

The 500 Blue prisoners were spared.

Freedom of worship

The aristocrats who headed the revolt could see, unlike the peasantry, that there was little real chance of overturning the Revolution. One of the conditions for a just war, according to the Catholic Church, must be a reasonable prospect of final success. At first sight, one would be inclined to admit that the Vendéen uprising would have failed this test.

And yet…it depends what you mean by final success. True, the Vendée was devastated and the peasant armies were crushed; but a highly effective guerrilla campaign continued for a couple of years after that.The republican authorities were eventually forced to give up trying to abolish the Christian religion in France. The revolutionary government reluctantly realised that without some measure of religious toleration, there was no way they could permanently pacify the Vendée. Mr Davies points out that whether they were aware of it or not, Catholics in Paris owed the restoration of the right to public worship in 1795 to the martyrs of the Vendée.

Then, in 1799 came the coup d’état of Napoleon, which to all intents and purposes overthrew the Republic. When Napoleon, who described the royalist rebels as “giants”, granted complete religious liberty throughout France, the concession was accurately described as the “victory of the Vendée”. Easter 1802 was celebrated in Paris with a solemn Mass in Notre Dame, to mark the resurrection of the Catholic Church in France.

That was not the only positive result of resistance to the Revolution. Nearly 10,000 priests and 31 bishops had been forced into exile in England, where their conduct so impressed their Protestant hosts that many anti-Catholic prejudices were removed. As the Prime Minister William Pitt expressed it:

Few will ever forget the piety, the irreproachable conduct, the long and dolorous patience of those men, cast suddenly into the midst of a foreign people, different in its religion, its language, its manners and its customs. They won the respect and goodwill of all by a life of unvarying godliness and decency.

This contact, says Mr Davies, helped in a large measure to obtain for English Catholics equality of rights, and also pioneered the renaissance of English Catholicism in the 19th century.

In addition, it may well be that the Vendéens played a crucial role in ensuring the defeat of the Napoleonic army at Waterloo in 1815. There was a pro-Bourbon uprising during Napoleon’s “100 days” of power following his escape from Elba, and the Emperor was forced to despatch 20,000 troops to the Vendée. The Duke of Wellington described Waterloo as “a damned close-run thing”: it is more than likely that 20,000 extra French soldiers would have tipped the scales.

It view of all this it can be confidently asserted that the the sacrifices made by the Vendée were not in vain.

I have just one criticism of this remarkable book. It would have been greatly enhanced by a map of the region.

* * * *

Reading through the above, I am aware of the confusion likely to be caused, in an Irish context, by the word “republicans”. Some French people are equally puzzled by the fact that in Ireland, while Catholics tend to be republicans, those who support the Crown are often Presbyterians—disciples of the anti-monarchist Calvin. One of the many ironies of the rebellion of 1798 was that when General Humbert landed in Co. Mayo, the local people thought he had come to restore the Catholic faith.

If Irish nationalism had not mutated into a form of republicanism, a few problems might have been avoided, or at least alleviated. Arthur Griffith’s idea of an Austro-Hungarian-style dual monarchy for two sovereign states of Britain and Ireland was always a non-starter; but to have somebody descended from one of the high kings as hereditary Irish head of state would have certain advantages over the present presidential system. That may seem fanciful, but a man or woman with no personal political or religious agenda beyond fulfilling the letter and spirit of their Constitutional duties (properly interpreted) would surely make a nice change. Just think what a boost someone like King Baudouin of Belgium would have given to the morale of pro-lifers in Ireland..

For Altar and Throne: The Rising in the Vendée was published by The Remnant Press, Morrison Avenue, St Paul, Minnesota 55117 USA, Price $14.95. As far as I know it is still in print.

November 14, 2014

Vatican Corruption?

There is little doubt that something very fishy is going on in the Vatican, something that amounts to corruption on a very large scale. How far up the chain of command  this corruption extends is something we shall never know; so we should assume, in charity, that it doesn’t go to the very top.  But that doesn’t mean we should just avert our gaze from what’s been going on.  It needs to examined thoroughly, so that we can make as much sense of it as we can. One person who had done his homework is Michael Voris  of ChurchMilitant.TV.

Michael Voris is not everyone’s cup of tea. For instance,  he is a bit inclined to bang on too much and too often about hell, and the likelihood that certain modernist prelates are likely to end up there if they don’t repent. But he is a fine investigative journalist, completely orthodox , and  ChurchMilitant.TV is a truly  professional outfit.

Here is the script  of one of his latest programmes:

Hello everyone and welcome to The Vortex where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed. I’m Michael Voris.

There are simply too many things going on in Rome these days to not call into question the intent of many prelates.

First, what has all the hallmarks of a demotion of Cardinal Raymond Burke. No reason was given, and no cause seemed apparent, so a great mystery has developed.

The question being asked is simplywhy did the Pope sack Cardinal Burke? The APPEARANCE that he sacked him is all that matters at this stage, precisely because there appears to be no reason or just cause.

Add to this, that it is well known that Washington DC Cardinal Donald Wuerl has had it in for Burke for a long time, and Wuerl is a constant on the Roman scene. You can’t see a picture of the Pope, and that includes back when Benedict was Pope, without Cardinal Wuerl lurking in the not-so-far background.

This situation was made even more public when Cardinal Burke was removed from the Congregation of Bishops and then Wuerl was promoted to it. Coincidence?

Then there is the what could only be described as a disaster of a synod. A synod called to discuss the struggles and challenges of passing on the faith in families in a world hostile to families, was quickly de-railed by heterodox bishops into a symposium on divorce and remarriage, and gifts and qualities that flow from homosexuality.

And then there is the never-ending, continual swirl of questions over the WAY in which documents are produced and translated into English by Vatican officials. This has been a persistent problem, not just under Pope Francis’ pontificate, but for years now.

English is the leading language in the world, largely owing to it being the language of finance. But despite this fact, English may as well be aboriginal to those charged with doing translations in Rome. They come out late and incorrect more often than not.

Which adds fuel to the conspiratorial view of the Vatican as corrupt, run by those who want to weaken the Church.

Take the Synod documents for examplethe by now INFAMOUS Relatioboth the mid-term one and the final one.

The mid-term one, to refresh your memory, is the one that was crawling with all sorts of anti-Catholic positions in it regarding homosexuality and divorce and remarriage.

It made headlines all over the world. But here’s the background which may not be immediately apparent.

That Relatio was available to the press in HARD copies in the Holy See Press Office Monday morning at the midway point of the Synod.

It PURPORTED to be a summary of all the discussions that had been had up to and including Saturday, less than two days earlier. It contained 62 paragraphs.

Reporters from the world press walked onto the press office and there it was, all printed off, translated into various languages.

When you consider the time it would have taken to prepare the original official Italian, then make all the translations, then run off all the copies and collate them and have them ready for hundreds of reporters by Monday morning–it is beyond astonishing.

Then when you add on that the bishops in the actual synod saidone, they had never seen it; two, it was nowhere near reflective of the ACTUAL discussion that had gone on, and throw in the furious pace at which the actual paperwork would have to have been done–the whole thing stinks.

In fact, it would appear that the mid term Relatio could have been written before the synod actually had even begun. If THAT happened, then the word conspiracy takes on a while new life.

Now in the realm of conspiracy, consider the following: the FINAL Relatio, which was distributed to reporters in Italian, took more than two WEEKS to translate AND when it came out, has wholesale errors in the Englishagain with the Englishthe language spoken by most of the powerful media outlets in the worldyou know, the ones that shape public perception.

As some outlets have noticed, the bad English one said in paragraph 4, “.…to discern how the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family.” Harmless enough, right? No big deal, right?

However, when you read the original Italian, the sentence doesn’t end there like it does in the English. The sentence continues .“to discern how the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family, FOUNDED ON THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN.

THAT is a huge translation difference. It’s a whole statement JUST MISSING.

Why does this stuff keep happening? Why are there always such problems with the English translations? And its not just BAD or incomplete translations, but that these translations ALWAYS tilt toward bad theology, progressivist language or interpretations.

It’s almost like those responsible WANT to corrupt the faithwith either active or passively rotten translations.

And what’s morewhen you add all these types of situations togetherCardinal Burke no longer a Curial member, Cardinal Wuerl, with his history of ignoring Canon Law being assigned to a curial post, rotten translations always supporting liberal ends and so forth–and there is LOTS of so forth–faithful Catholics smell a rat: or better yet, a demon.

God Love You.

I’m Michael Voris

That says it all, I think. The Holy Father is in need of our prayers, as is  Raymond  Cardinal Burke.

Fortuitously, Cardinal  Burke is in Limerick  this weekend for  three days of prayer and conferences on marriage and the family.  The event is being organised by the Catholic Voice newspaper in collaboration with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  It starts at 7pm tonight with Mass in Sacred Heart Church, and concludes at 9am on Sunday with Pontifical low Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke

November 11, 2014

When Is a Sin Not a Sin?

There’s been a lot of good stuff on the blogosphere about the casuistical  manoeuvrings of the modernist cardinals at the synod on the family. The best debunking job I have seen–you will not be surprised to learn–comes from Fr John Hunwicke  of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Here it is, in full:

In Mgr Ronald Knox’s brilliant collection of Essays in Satire, there is a piece about a ‘Professor’ who invents a new sin. Now, even Knox’s brilliance has been quite superseded. Now, you see, we have completely new types, genres, of Sin. The Third Millennium has branched out into a whole novel taxonomy of Sin. Earlier this month I approached this subject and asked three simple questions, as tests to apply to any newly fashionable theory about Sin. Here they are again:
(1) Can you square it with the Sermon on the Mount and the ethical teaching of S Paul?
(2) Can you square it with the Lord’s parables about not knowing ‘the Day or the Hour’?
(3) Does it apply to murderers and paedophiles?
Let me remind you what the New Casuistries teach about Sin.
(a) Graduality. “People cannot give up their Sin instantaneously. They should be given the time, and the grace of the sacraments, to wean themselves off it gradually.”
(b) Acceptance without Approval. “Remarried divorcees may be in a position to which the Church cannot give formal approval; but she may welcome them as they are into her Sacramental life.”
(c) Elements of truth. “Outside the relationship of heterosexual monogamy, other models of relationship exist in which important elements exist of the values proper to Marriage itself: and it is these elements which we should emphasise (permanence; self-sacrificing love …).”
Now apply Fr Hunwicke’s Question (3).  Would you accept that, since a paedophile has very strong inclinations, his aim should be to work hard to abuse children less and less frequently? How do you feel about the Church accepting that some paedophiles are gentle and affectionate to the children they abuse, and that we should concentrate our attention on those good elements of gentleness and affection? Take someone with a pathological impulse to murder: would you want the Church to continue to maintain the teaching of the Ten Commandments about Murder, but, without approving of the murders, to accept the unrepentant murderer as he is?Probably you wouldn’t. Probably most people, even very liberal Catholics wouldn’t, unless they are themselves paedophiles or murderers or both. Why not?

What we have is, in fact, the adoption by liberals of two quite distinct categories of Sin. There are sins which (most people would agree) are really sinful. Such as abusing and/or killing children. The clever little games (a), (b), (c), would never be acceptable here. If somebody suggested that it really is in accordance with a nuanced Christian morality for a paedophile to abuse children as long as he does it gradually less frequently, most of us would probably kick him. However they contrive to control their behaviour, paedophiles should just give up, or genuinely try to give up, their vice. They should receive Absolution and then ‘Go and Sin No More’.But there is now, for the Liberals, an additional, quite different category of Sin.It consists of things which, because they are condemned by Christ or by long centuries of Christian Tradition, liberals might agree are in some sense technically sinful. But liberals do not feel that they are really wrong. So they devise sophisticated ways of avoiding the requirement of the Gospel: repentance and a firm purpose never to offend again and to avoid the occasions of Sin. Like children who have cheated and found out the answer to a sum, they start with the conclusion and then try to find the right ‘workings’ to get to the answer. ‘I want to argue that a homosexual couple may continue to live in a genitally sexual relationship: where can I find clever arguments to support that conclusion?’SO WE NOW HAVE

(I) REALLY WRONG SINS; they really turn me upside down in my tummy.

(II) SINS WHICH ARE ONLY TECHNICALLY WRONG; my tummy feels completely OK about them. We’ve just got to find a way for the Church to shift her line without completely losing face.

Those are the two radically distinct categories of Sin in which Liberals now believe.

Neither in the Bible nor in two Christian millennia is there evidence for (II).


Bibliography: the important discussion here in the Church’s Magisterium is paragraphs 79-83 of the Encyclical of S John Paul II Veritatis splendor, together with its footnoted sources. The Holy Pontiff quotes (para 81) a passage of S Augustine in which that Doctor discusses the ‘absurdity’ of any notion that sins done for good motives (causis bonis) might be thought of as ‘sins that are justified’ (iusta peccata: I think this would have to be S Augustine’s Latin term for what my account above calls (II) SINS WHICH ARE (in the view of Liberals) ONLY TECHNICALLY WRONG).

The Holy Pontiff cleverly takes (para 80) the list of sins in para 27 of Gaudium et Spes and says that they are good examples of acts intrinsice mala, that is, always wrong, independent of circumstances. What is neat about this is that it includes sins which Liberals would consider (I) REALLY WRONG SINS (such as genocide, trafficking in women, slavery) and mixes them up with (II) SINS WHICH ARE (in the view of Liberals) ONLY TECHNICALLY WRONG (such as abortion). He then goes on to the intrinsically evil contraceptive acts and, in para 81, includes S Paul’s condemnation (I Cor 6:9-10) of categories including the sodomised and the sodomites (malakoi, arsenokoitai; molles, masculorum concubitores).

I’d like to see what answer Cardinal Kasper and his co-conspirators would make to the above.

November 10, 2014

Belloc’s Prophecy Fulfilled

In January 1937, the month I was born, Hilaire Belloc wrote the following prophetic passage at the end of his book The Crusade:

The comparatively recent domination of Western Europeans, English and French, over Mohammedan lands, is due to causes mainly material and therefore ephemeral. One must always look to moral (or, more accurately, to spiritual) causes for the understanding of human movements and political change. Of these, by  far the most important is the philosophy adopted by the community, whether that philosophy can be fully expressed as a religion, or taken for granted without overt definition.

Now it is true that on the spiritual side Islam had declined in one factor wherein we of the West had not declined, and that was the factor of energy allied to, and productive of, tenacity and   continuity of conduct. But on the other hand, in the major thing of all, Religion, we have fallen back and Islam has in the main preserved its soul. Modern Europe and particularly Western Europe has progressively lost its religion, and especially that united religious doctrine permeating the whole community, which unity gives spiritual strength to that community.

There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine, where religious doctrine is still held, and even in that part of the European population where the united doctrine and definition of Catholicism survives, it survives as something to which the individual is attached rather than the community. As nations we worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice. Those who direct us, and from whom the tone of our policy is taken, have no major spiritual interest. Their major personal interest is private gain, and this mood is reflected in the outer forms of government by the establishment of plutocracy.

Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world, as lively in India as in Morocco, active throughout North Africa, even inflamed through contrast and the feeling of repression in Syria–more particularly in Palestine–lies our peril.

We have returned to the Levant, we have returned apparently more as masters than ever we were during the struggle of the Crusades, but we have returned bankrupt in that spiritual wealth which was the glory of the Crusades…These lines were written in the month of January, 1937; perhaps before they appear in print the rapidly developing situation in the Middle East will have marked some notable change. Perhaps that change will be deferred, but change there will be, continuous and great. Nor does it seem probable that at the end of such a change, especially if the process be prolonged, Islam will be the loser.

I believe Belloc would have quite surprised at how accurate his prediction has proved to be, even though that change was in fact deferred by the Second World War.  But he would have been astonished, and indeed appalled, by how much the change has been in Islam’s favour. The tables have been turned: France is menaced by hundreds of thousands of Algerian settlers who have no intention of being assimilated, and Britain has been quietly swamped by  equally intransigent Moslem immigrants from Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Somalia and elsewhere. Neither country has the spiritual strength to withstand the peril it is now facing.

One man who does understand the situation  very well, even though he is totally anti-religious, is David Abbott, who sums up  the situation very well in his book Dark Albion:  A Requiem for the English:

[P]arts of our towns now resemble Islamabad, complete with sharia law, political corruption, paedophile grooming gangs, burkas, oppression of women and female genital mutilation. Twenty-five thousand immigrant girls suffer this abuse every year in Britain, with not a single arrest for this criminal offence…

Britain is now a society loosened to its very foundations by a copious admixture of foreigners, an imperfect fusion of races, its people disunited by successive immigrations and threatened by a totalitarian religious ideology. The contemporary sound of our island is the noise of the Tower of Babel.

And all this was deliberate policy, epic treachery on a scale with that of classic traitors such as Coriolanus, who waged war on his native Rome, and Judas, the greatest sinner in Dante’s Divine Comedy, in which traitors suffer the worst torments in the deepest part of hell.

He is referring of course to politicians of all three of the main political parties–particularly the Labour Party. The middle-class socialists and liberals who decide what is politically and socially acceptable don’t live anywhere near the working-class in whose interests they purpose to act but whom, in reality, they  despise. No, they dwell in nice leafy suburbs far from the Islamified neighbourhoods so graphically described in Mr Abbott’s furious diatribe.  (His chapters “Hideously Moslem” and  “What a Load of Ol’ Shiite” are particularly vituperative.)

Abbott quotes a vicar’s wife who wrote that Inner-city Birmingham has been a police no-go area for 20 years. Whenever she went out of doors after dark, locals assumed that as a white woman she must be a prostitute. Most of the run-down Irish pubs had been turned into mosques. An increasing number of Moslems had been arriving in the area with EU passports. She asked one of them, newly arrived from Antwerp, why he had come. He was surprised she should ask such a question, and replied: “Everybody know. Birmingham best place in Europe to be pure Moslem.”

Abbott finishes his book with a scary but quite believable chapter entitled “William the Conquered 2066”, in which he imagines what Britain might be like in just over 50 years’ time. Moslems are in control of government.  Churches are being turned into mosques or madrassas.  Sharia law is rapidly being  introduced. Ambitious men are converting to Islam in the same spirit as many people in the Soviet Union  joined the Communist Party, as a career move.  Virtuous Moslems are campaigning to change the names of streets, replacing the names of  monarchs and ministers, soldiers and sailors with heroes of Islam . Society is ruled and policed by swarthy sanctimonious men who consult nothing but their old books.  Ham and bacon are outlawed. During Ramadan, restaurants are  open for only two hours,  at dusk.  Doddery old King William (the present Queen’s grandson) receives a delegation of a dozen Moslem politicians, with bushy beards and shaven upper lips. They have a series of  non-negotiable demands, one of which is that his  granddaughter be made to marry a Moslem.

I had intended to mention Abbott’s attitude to religion in general, which is somewhat inconsistent. But I think I’ll leave that for the present.







November 6, 2014

Pope Francis Faces Civil War

Damian Thompson, formerly of the Daily Telegraph, now of the Spectator, has an interesting  take on that Synod.  I suspect he has got it about right, although  the civil war  between orthodox and modernist Catholics has surely been going on ever since the mods hijacked Vatican 2. Now it’s certainly hotting up, and Pope Francis doesn’t seem to know what to do. Thompson writes:

‘At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,’ said a prominent Catholic conservative last week. No big deal, you might think. Opponents of Pope Francis have been casting doubt on his leadership abilities for months—and especially since October’s Vatican Synod on the Family, at which liberal cardinals pre-emptively announced a softening of the church’s line on homosexuality and second marriages, only to have their proposals torn up by their colleagues.

But it is a big deal. The ‘rudderless’ comment came not from a mischievous traditionalist blogger but from Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura—that is, president of the Vatican’s supreme court. As it happens, Pope Francis intends to sack Burke, whose habit of dressing up like a Christmas tree at Latin Masses infuriates him. But he hasn’t got round to it yet. And thus we have the most senior American cardinal in Rome publicly questioning the stewardship of the Holy Father—possibly with the tacit approval of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Nothing like this has happened since the backstabbing behind the scenes at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. It raises the question: is the Catholic church in the early stages of a civil war between liberals and conservatives, fought not over liturgical niceties (the source of relatively harmless squabbles under John Paul II and Benedict XVI) but fundamental issues of sexual morality?

The October synod was a disaster for Pope Francis. Before it started, he had successfully tweaked the Catholic mood music relating to divorcees and gay people. The line ‘Who am I to judge?’, delivered with an affable shrug on the papal plane, generated friendly headlines without committing the church to doctrinal change. Conservatives were alarmed but had to acknowledge Francis’s cunning. ‘Remember that he’s a Jesuit,’ they said.

Then Francis did something not very cunning. Opening the synod, which would normally be a fairly routine affair, he encouraged cardinals and bishops to ‘speak boldly’. Which they did, but not in the way he intended.

The Pope’s first mistake was to invite Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s 81-year-old retired head of ecumenism, to set the agenda for the synod by addressing the world’s cardinals back in February. Kasper told them that the church should consider giving Holy Communion to remarried Catholics.

Even if Francis supports this notion—and nobody knows—his choice of Kasper was a blunder because the cardinal, in addition to being a genial and distinguished scholar, is leader of a German-led faction that represents, in Catholic terms, the far left of the theological spectrum. In 1993 Kasper, then Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, co-signed a letter by German bishops demanding that Catholics living ‘in a canonically invalid union’ should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to receive the Eucharist. The German church is a law unto itself: although its services are empty, it is rich, thanks to the country’s church tax, and arrogant. To cut a long story short, this faction — which had ruthlessly undermined Benedict XVI’s authority when he was pope –  tried to hijack the synod.

They messed it up. The synod’s ‘special secretary’, the Italian archbishop Bruno Forte wrote a mid-synod report suggesting that the participants wanted to recognise the virtuous aspects of gay unions. In doing so, Forte—an even more radical figure—overplayed his hand. Most synod fathers wanted no such thing. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s finances, were horrified. They ensured that the final report kicked Communion for divorcees into the long grass and did not even mention homosexual relationships. ‘Synod rebuffs Francis on gays,’ reported the media—the last thing the Pope wanted to read.

To make matters worse, Kasper gave an interview in which he said that anti-gay African Catholics ‘should not tell us too much what we have to do’. At which point Cardinal Burke called him a racist. Kasper reacted furiously and is telling anyone who will listen that the church will soon drastically change its rules on access to Communion. This is wishful thinking.

And now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ‘I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ‘Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ‘He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’

Where does this leave Francis? Looking a bit like ‘the Hamlet Pope’, Paul VI, whom he has beatified. He supports some sort of reform, but uncertainty is breaking the church into factions reminiscent of the Anglican Communion. Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour. Meanwhile, Burke has emerged as leader of the hardline traditionalists. ‘He did not want this role but perhaps he sees himself as a St John Fisher figure,’ says one Vatican source, a comparison that casts the successor of Peter in the role of Henry VIII.

What should worry Francis is that moderate conservative Catholics are losing confidence in him. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who is no one’s idea of an extremist, believes that ‘this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him’. Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald, says that ‘Francis achieved miracles with his compassionate, off-the-cuff comments that detoxified the Catholic brand. He personifies optimism—but when he tries to turn this into policy he isn’t in command of the procedures or the details. The result is confusion.’

All of which suggests a far closer analogy than with Henry VIII. There is another world leader, elected amid huge excitement, who has surprised and disappointed the faithful by appearing disengaged and even helpless in moments of crisis. This is an awful thing to say, but we could be watching Jorge Bergoglio turn into Barack Obama.

Cardinal Burke will be in Limerick on November 15-16, for the Catholic Voice Conference on marriage. If you would like to attend,  contact http://www.catholicvoice.ie/index.php/shop – or  phone  05986 27268


The Novus Ordo Is No Joke

 I  just must get this one off my chest. I used to think Hilary White got it wrong when she stated in her blog Orwell’s Picnic that “Novus Ordoism isn’t Catholicism”, but now I’m an agnostic on that topic. Yes, yes, I know it is possible to celebrate the Novus Ordo  properly and reverently, doing the red and saying the black (Opus Dei priests and many others do it every day) but it does lend itself to the  most grotesque abuses.

This morning I went to Mass in a South Dublin chapel.  Father bumbled on to the altar, said his good morning everybody and welcome and then greeted a friend of his back from holidays in some sunny clime, where the temperature had been 26 degrees. It’s only 14 here, said Father, to amused titters. We had more off-the cuff- interjections from Father, who seemed to think a celebrant’s job was to goof around and imitate a fourth-rate television compere rather than to act in persona Christi.

 It was the feast of all the Saints of Ireland, and Father announced before the blessing that as we all hoped  to join them one day we would be singing as a final hymn “When the Saints Go Marching In. ” I thought he was joking. This time he wasn’t.  I got out as fast as I could, in  the foulest of tempers, even  though I had just received Holy Communion. Surely the Mass was never meant to be like this?