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Tag Archives: Cardinal Burke

September 20th, 2017

Francis the ‘Dialoguing’ Dictator

As  I think I’ve said before, my favourite “conservative” as opposed to “trad” Catholic magazine is the American New Oxford Review. (By conservative I mean orthodox but with a tendency towards papal positivism. The  (formerly Anglican) NOR has always tried hard to approach the subject of   Pope Francis with an eye  (in its own words) to always giving him  benefit of the doubt, despite his “confusing statements, pontifical missteps, muddled theological writings and misguided initiatives”.

But now it has had enough. The latest issue which arrived a few days ago contains a hard-hitting editorial entitled “A Pontificate of Mercy—or a Merciless Pontificate?”  This is such an important piece that I am reproducing most of it here. It shows that it’s no longer just dyed-in-the wool traddies but mainstream Catholics who are fed up with  this cack-handed, bullying pontificate:

We respect the Petrine ministry and we respect the office, but that presupposes the man elected to that office respects the ministry too. The time has come to offer an unvarnished look at the fruits of this papacy and to suggest that we move beyond giving Francis the so-called benefit of the doubt. Frankly, doubt is no longer an issue. Four-and-a-half years of evidence shows that Francis has fomented division, preached politics over the Gospel, and conducted himself more like a South American strongman than a vicar of Christ. 

Leaving aside for now the theological hubbub and ensuing kerfuffle surrounding Francis’s controversial apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, his accommodation and appeasement of Islam, his enigmatic comments on shared communion, his serial insults of orthodox Catholics, his equivocal statements regarding contraception ,and his wilfully vague and confusing comments to reporters at 30,000 feet, let’s simply look at the current state of the Church vis-à-vis Pope Francis and the Bergoglio Vatican. 

Longtime Francis watchers will know that, shortly after being elected, the Holy Father gave every indication that, as an outsider, he would “clean house” — ridding the Vatican of bureaucratic excesses, financial scandals, and the horrific sexual immorality among the Roman clergy, late lamented by Pope Benedict XVI. Although Francis has effected some much-needed streamlining of the Holy See’s offices, he has shown himself more intent on removing every last vestige of the St. John Paul II and Benedict eras, up to and including the Church’s commitment to life issues, defense of marriage, and support of believers who suffer persecution.

Add to that, in recent months, Pope Francis has championed Islam as a “religion of peace,” hammered Catholic Poland as a nation of xenophobes, supported the “fake” government-sponsored Catholic church in communist China, floated the idea of ordaining married priests and women deacons, and marginalized conservative prelates who question his pontifical trajectory or uncover inconvenient truths that might cast his ideological allies in an unflattering light.

Let’s look at personnel: Much has been made of the Pope’s ham-fisted treatment of Raymond Cardinal Burke, the U.S.’s premiere canon-law expert. After Burke publicly aired his “conservative” views on divorce and “remarriage” at the 2014 Synod on the Family, Francis summarily removed him as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, where he served as the highest-ranking canon lawyer in the Church, and reassigned (read: demoted) him to the obscure position of patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Earlier this year, Francis removed Burke even from this largely ceremonial post after Burke uncovered the order’s promotion of condom use in Africa. To make a long story short, Pope Francis came down on the side of the condom promoter, Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager, over the whistleblower, Cardinal Burke. Not to go unnoticed: Burke was one of the four cardinals who signed the dubia asking the Pope to clarify certain passages in Amoris Laetitia, which Francis has refused to do, either publicly or privately.

There’s more: For four years running, Pope Francis has passed up awarding the red hat to either of the longtime leaders of the archdioceses of Los Angeles and Philadelphia, two of the largest sees in the U.S., both of which are traditionally home to cardinals. L.A.’s José Gómez and Philly’s Charles Chaput, appointed to their posts by Pope Benedict, are widely known as faithful, orthodox prelates. Some Vatican watchers have tried to explain this away by citing Francis’s desire for a more diversified College of Cardinals and admitting that — to put it bluntly — the Holy Father doesn’t like Americans. 

That might explain why Francis has awarded cardinalates to prelates in obscure sees in far-flung parts of the world that have minuscule Catholic populations (relatively speaking), such as José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of the diocese of David in Panama, Philippe Ouédraogo of the diocese of Ouahigouya in Burkina Faso, Patrick D’Rozario of the diocese of Dhaka in Bangladesh, Sebastian Koto Khoarai of the diocese of Mohale’s Hoek in Lesotho, and Charles Bo of the diocese of Yangon in Myanmar, to name a few. But that doesn’t explain why Francis, after appointing Blase Cupich as archbishop of Chicago and Joseph Tobin as archbishop of Newark (New Jersey), immediately raised them to the College of Cardinals. 

Francis appointed Cupich to his post in September 2014 and named him a cardinal less than two months later, one day after Cupich’s installation as Chicago’s new archbishop. Francis named Tobin a cardinal in November 2016, just 12 days after appointing him archbishop of Newark. For the record, Newark has never been home to a cardinal, perhaps because a cardinal has always lived eight miles away in Manhattan. According to The New York Times, Tobin “is considered a friend and ally of Pope Francis in a potentially important spot in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States not far from New York City, where Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan has been the face of American Catholicism in the nation’s media capital” (Jan. 6). More recently, the Times contrasted him with Dolan, noting that “Cardinal Tobin is emerging as a champion of progressive, center-left Catholics” (July 16). 

As for Cupich, not only is he an ardent Francis ally, the hyper-liberal National Catholic Reporter (NCR) said his appointment is symbolic of the Pope’s personal involvement in “reorienting the U.S. hierarchy after 35 years of seriously conservative, dogmatic appointments” (Sept. 25, 2014). Presumably, NCR and Pope Francis would lump Gómez and Chaput in the pile of “seriously conservative, dogmatic appointments” — in other words, orthodox in their views of the Church and her teachings. (By the way, it is just silly for NCR to speak of 35 years of conservative appointments, considering the extremely liberal cardinals Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Joseph Bernardin of Chicago were appointed during that time and became the two primary kingpins in recommending U.S. bishop appointments. That said, after Bernardin died and Mahony retired, the appointments did get more “conservative.”)

Make no mistake: Francis is politically astute. His modus operandi is to marginalize Benedict’s “conservative, dogmatic” picks and promote his own like-minded ideologues. Francis knows that, if nothing else, his appointees to the College of Cardinals will be hand-picking the next pope, and maybe the one after that. Those whom Francis passes over — the Chaputs and Gómezes of the Church — will be locked out of the conclave. This is the surest way for Francis to promote his legacy for decades to come. 

But Francis hasn’t stopped there. Oh no. He has extended his legacy-promoting plan by ridding the Vatican of other Benedict holdouts. In early July, Francis abruptly removed 69-year-old Gerhard Cardinal Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Müller, whom Benedict appointed to the Church’s chief doctrinal post in 2012, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that Pope Francis “did not give him a reason” for his dismissal, “just as he gave no reason for firing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier” (July 19). Müller also told Allgemeine Zeitung that the Pope justified his dismissal by claiming that he “no longer intends to prolong roles in the Curia beyond five years,” and that Müller was the first one to whom this practice has been applied (July 10). It is instructive to note that Müller’s dismissal came on July 2, the exact expiration date of his five-year term, and that prior to that date, it had been customary for the head of the CDF to continue in his post until he resigned or reached the age of retirement, which is 75. Why the change for Cardinal Müller? Francis won’t say, but it bears mention that Müller, serving as the Vatican’s top doctrinal watchdog, has been critical of Amoris Laetitia, instead upholding the Church’s traditional teaching on Holy Communion and divorced-and-remarried Catholics. Further, he cannot have won brownie points with Francis by criticizing the Pope’s cult of personality and the accompanying “sanctimonious papolatry” he says is rampant within the Vatican. In a nutshell, it seems that Müller is too “dogmatic” for a Bergoglio Vatican. Francis prefers sycophants in his service.

Are we really supposed to believe that the Pope is going to oust every Vatican prelate at the end of his five-year term? The ever-reliable Vatican watcher Sandro Magister of Italy’s L’Espresso has noted (July 10) that Francis has kept in place other curial officials whose terms have expired. Msgr. Pio Pinto, for example, despite being 76 years old (one year past the mandatory retirement age) and at the end of his five-year term as dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, remains in his position. Pinto, charged by the Pope to revise the annulment process in the Church, is a well-known Francis supporter. And then there’s Argentine cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation of Oriental Churches, whose second five-year term has expired. He’s still there. Is he a big Francis supporter? Yep, you bet. 

The list goes on! Most notably, February 15 of this year brought the end of the second five-year term of one of the Pope’s closest collaborators, 79-year-old Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Coccopalmerio published a book earlier this year defending Amoris Laetitia and promoting unmarried, cohabiting couples receiving Holy Communion. (Cardinal Cupich wrote the foreword to the English-language edition of the book, by the way.) Of course, Coccopalmerio is still in his position, despite his age, despite his double-term expiration, and despite a bizarre drug-sex scandal involving his secretary, Luigi Capozzi. Msgr. Capozzi, a 49-year-old canonist, was arrested by Vatican police this spring after they caught him hosting a cocaine-fueled homosexual orgy in the former Palace of the Holy Office — a mere 500 yards away from Francis’s Santa Marta residence. Lord have mercy! Accounts by Italian news service Il Fato Quotidiano, which broke the story months after the fact, reported that Capozzi, whom it described as an “ardent supporter of Pope Francis,” was so high on cocaine when arrested that he had to be hospitalized for detoxification (June 28). Interestingly, Capozzi’s arrest came on the verge of his appointment as a bishop — on the recommendation of Cardinal Coccopalmerio, who, incidentally, made news in 2014 by emphasizing, in an interview with the Italian Catholic website Rossoporpora, the “positive realities” of homosexual relationships. No, the cardinal hasn’t yet shared his thoughts on the possible “positive realities” of cocaine use.

As of this writing, Capozzi remains Coccopalmerio’s secretary. Further, in follow-up accounts of the coked-up gay orgy, a senior member of the Curia told veteran Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin that homosexual activity among the clergy in Rome has “never been worse” (National Catholic Register, July 8). According to the NOR’s boots-on-the-ground sources in Rome, the Vatican is filled with an active gay subculture that is flourishing under Pope Francis. Why? It just so happens that those who are members of this subculture are the Pope’s most ardent ideological supporters, in a certain sense “friends of Francis.” No wonder he tends to look the other way. (Il Fato Quotidiano reported that Francis knew all about Capozzi’s orgy and arrest, months before the story broke in the news, but has remained silent about it.)

Francis is also hard at work undoing the great pro-life work begun by John Paul II. This May, Francis dismantled and reconstituted the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. He dismissed those, appointed by John Paul and Benedict, who believe abortion is an intrinsic evil, in favor of new members who aren’t so sure. In at least one case, the Pope appointed a pro-abortion theologian who has expressed support for euthanasia in certain circumstances. Francis began his initiative last November when he released new statutes for the academy that summarily ended the terms of 116 of its 139 members (23 of them were re-appointed). The revised statutes no longer require Francis’s new appointees to sign a declaration that they uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. Among the new appointees who won’t be signing that declaration is Nigel Biggar, a professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford. Biggar has supported legal abortion up to 18 weeks and has expressed qualified support for euthanasia. And this man now represents the Vatican on life issues!

Founded by John Paul II in 1994, the academy is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic and carries out research in bioethics and Catholic moral theology. It has promoted and developed the Church’s teaching on medical ethics, including in-vitro fertilization, gene therapy, euthanasia, and abortion. Francis has now expanded the academy’s mandate to include a focus on the environment and street violence, giving Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” concept a further watering down.

For those wondering (1) why the Pope has summarily dismissed longtime, faithful, intelligent, and effective pro-life leaders around the world, and (2) why he wants to “refocus” the efforts of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the newly appointed head of the academy provides some insight. In an interview with Cruxnow.com (July 19), Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia — a close collaborator and ally of Pope Francis? but of course! — explained that the academy “now aims to be missionary in outlook…in collaboration with believers of other churches and faiths as well as non-believers.” The Pope’s new appointments include two Jews, a Muslim, an Anglican, and a number of those “non-believers.” Paglia went on to criticize the current Catholic pro-life movement, calling it ineffectual. “If I may say so,” he told Cruxnow.com, “there is a certain way of defending life that doesn’t defend it.”

And so, Francis is entrusting the pro-life mission to Archbishop Paglia, who presumes to know more about promoting the pro-life ethic (as redefined by Francis) than those dismissed from the academy, including philosopher Robert Spaemann of Germany, Maria Mercedes Arzú de Wilson of Guatemala, Christine de Marcellus Vollmer of Venezuela, Andrzej Szostek of Poland, Mieczyslaw Grzegocki of Ukraine, Jaroslav Sturma of the Czech Republic, and Etienne Kaboré of Burkina Faso, whom Sandro Magister describes as “perfectly in line with the positions of the African Church on marriage, family, and sexuality, seen at work during the last two synods” (L’Espresso, March 13). These are just some of the dismissed members, but the list illustrates how geographically diversified the former members of the academy were. What all the dismissed members have in common is that they ardently believe in the teachings of the Church on critical life issues. What many of the dismissed members have in common, according to Magister, is that “they have distinguished themselves in publicly criticizing the new moral and practical paradigms that have entered into vogue with the pontificate of Francis.” 

Have you noticed a pattern yet?

Interesting, isn’t it? Pope Francis has consistently removed those who dare to try to “dialogue” with him or who publicly criticize his initiatives, his offhand utterances, his publications, or his “moral and practical paradigms.” If you’re tempted to draw parallels between Francis’s managerial playbook and that of your run-of-the-mill 20th-century communist dictator, you wouldn’t be alone. Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan made the same comparison, likening the Bergoglio Vatican to the Soviet “regime” under which he was born, where those who didn’t “follow the line of the party” weren’t allowed a voice (LifeSiteNews.com, Dec. 6, 2016).

Certainly, in any institution, a case can be made for removing those in positions of authority who seek to undermine that institution through public words and actions. But it is important to note that, by and large, those who are being “silenced” in the Church of Francis are those who have consistently upheld and defended what the Church has always taught, not those liberal Catholics who have made a career of undermining those teachings in a very public manner.

One last point about personnel, and this one is arguably the most troubling of Pope Francis’s pontifical trajectories. One would think that, given the Pope’s penchant for naming cardinals throughout the world — even in traditionally non-Christian countries — he would readily accept the advice of Joseph Cardinal Zen when it comes to the Church in China. Zen was China’s first cardinal and a key adviser to Pope Benedict regarding China-Vatican détente. But now it seems that Francis is ignoring the longtime advocate of religious liberty in communist China. Back in 2014 Cardinal Zen warned Francis not to visit China, cautioning that he would be manipulated by the government, which controls the “officially recognized” church on the mainland and persecutes the Chinese Catholics who make up the Vatican-aligned “underground” Church. The government-sanctioned church includes illegitimate bishops, three of whom have been excommunicated by the real Church. Nevertheless, Pope Francis disregarded Cardinal Zen’s warning. In an interview with Spanish daily El País, the Pope stated in a very dramatic manner that he would like to go to China, and that he awaits his invitation. “In China, the churches are packed,” he said. “In China they can worship freely” (Jan. 24). 

Cardinal Zen knows there’s no truth to the Pope’s statement. The Catholic Church in China — the real Church — remains small and persecuted. In 2016 alone, five “underground” bishops from mainland China who had served time in prison or labor camps died either in prison or from health complications arising from their confinement. In 2016 the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom recommended that China be designated a “country of particular concern,” meaning it is one of the world’s worst violators when it comes to respecting the right to religious liberty. Are we to believe that Francis, the alleged Pope of the peripheries, is unaware of the realities in China, given the advice from Cardinal Zen and the widely available reports issued by international agencies?

In response to the Pope’s inaccuracies, Cardinal Zen said he feared that the Vatican, in its desperation to make a deal with China, would sell out the long-persecuted underground Church, the only legitimate Catholic presence in the communist country. The situation regarding religious liberty in China, Zen has said, is worse today than ever.

And now Pope Francis’s Vatican has indeed made an agreement with the Chinese government. Although Benedict stated that China has no legitimate Catholic bishops’ conference, the Holy See under Francis has given the initiative of choosing bishops to the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. This agreement amounts to giving an atheistic government the power to choose bishops for its state-sponsored church. 

Cardinal Zen has repeated Benedict’s insistence that no legitimate bishops’ conference exists in mainland China. “The whole thing is fake,” he explained in an interview with the Polish outlet Polonia Christiana (July 14). “I really cannot believe that the Holy See doesn’t know that there is no bishops’ conference! There is only a name. They never really have a discussion, meetings. They meet when they are called by the government. The government gives instructions. They obey.” Francis’s Vatican, continued Zen, is “too eager to dialogue, dialogue so they tell everybody not to make noise, to accommodate, to compromise, to obey the government. Now things are going down, down.” 

Clearly, Francis has his own ideas, regardless of what Pope Benedict might have said and despite Cardinal Zen’s warnings and the reports of violations of human rights and religious liberty from the international community. Pope Francis will plow determinedly ahead, with his sycophants at his side, just as he has done vis-à-vis his detractors in the hierarchy, even while preaching mercy, mercy, mercy and dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. But where exactly is the mercy for those with whom he disagrees? Where is the dialogue?

To recap: Pope Francis is making deals with the state-sponsored church in communist China, diluting the Church’s pro-life ministry, sidelining his critics in the hierarchy, and looking the other way when it comes to homosexual activity that takes place right under his nose (when those involved happen to be his ardent supporters). He has consistently demonstrated that he rejects orthodox Catholicism, a Catholicism that recognizes and respects the legitimate structures and devotional life of the Church — e.g., the parish, the priesthood, religious life, the liturgy properly celebrated, traditional devotions and devotionals, a faith life built on prayer, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and so on. 

A recent article in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper and often considered a “mouthpiece” of the papacy, illustrates well Francis’s attitude. The article, penned by Giulio Cirignano, an Italian Scripture scholar, asserts that the “main obstacle” to implementing Pope Francis’s vision for the Church is “closure, if not hostility” from bishops and priests. Fr. Cirignano believes that the laity understands and supports Francis’s vision, but those pesky bishops and priests keep getting in the way. Fr. Cirignano charges that “seriously conservative” and “dogmatic” clergymen are unfit for a 21st-century Church. He says, for example, that they hold to an “antiquated image of the priesthood,” one that sees the priest as the “boss” or a “sort of solitary protagonist”; that they are relatively uneducated, their “theological and Biblical preparation is often scarce”; and — wait for it — these “seriously conservative” priests and bishops subscribe to a kind of counterreformation theology that is “lacking the resources of the Word,” is “without a soul,” and has “transformed the impassioned and mysterious adventure of believing into religion,” resulting in a “limpid faith.” Yow!

It’s actually reassuring, assuming Fr. Cirignano is correct, to know that bishops and priests present the greatest obstacle to the implementation of Pope Francis’s program. Further, Fr. Cirignano has unwittingly revealed that the Pope just might be the one who considers himself a “sort of solitary protagonist,” that he is unwilling or unable to be collaborative, to listen to other authentic voices in the Catholic Church.

But we’ll give Francis this: His perseverance in reversing so many of the great strides made during the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI is impressive. For Francis, his pontificate has become about his geopolitical agenda, his scattershot efforts at “reform,” the installation of his comrades in high places, and the exercise of his own personal power. The aim of his pontificate seems to be to remake the Church in the idiosyncrasies of Jesuit-trained Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, son of an Italian communist. As Cardinal Zen said, “Now things are going down, down.” Perhaps that’s exactly Pope Francis’s intent. The question is: How much further will things descend?

 

January 17th, 2017

Maltese Bishops Murder Marriage

Australian theology professor Fr Brian Harrison has written a devastating condemnation of the Maltese bishops who have used Amoris Laetitia to “inflict sudden death on Catholic marriage in their jurisdiction”. As he says (in the blog One Peter Five)  from now on there will be no enforceable limits whatsoever on the right of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion in the islands of Malta and Gozo. His post is so important and  so compelling that I am reproducing it here in full.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently published a widely circulated commentary on the recent fall-out from Amoris Laetitia entitled, “The End of Catholic Marriage”. In it, he argued persuasively that if Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marital love comes to be generally interpreted and applied as liberally as it has been in the Diocese of San Diego, California, it will in effect mean the death of this sacrament as the Gospel of Christ and the Catholic Church have always presented it: a sacred covenant whose indissoluble character means that remarriage after divorce constitutes adultery – a violation of the Sixth Commandment that excludes one from sacramental absolution and Eucharistic communion.

Almost as if to corroborate the accuracy of Douthat’s warning, the two bishops of a Mediterranean island nation have descended like birds of prey to inflict sudden death on Catholic marriage in their jurisdiction. Malta has been famous as a bastion of fervent and orthodox Catholicism almost since St. Paul evangelized it in the first century. No more. For in one fell swoop, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta and Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo have avoided superficial flesh wounds and darted straight in for the jugular. They do admittedly try to disguise their death-blow with the standard bland rhetoric about the need for a sincere search for God’s will, serious prayerful discernment, “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching”, etc. But their bottom line is that in Malta there will now be no objective and enforceable limits whatsoever on the right of (non-continent) divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Holy Eucharist. Priest confessors are being told they may no longer be deciders in such matters, only ‘accompaniers’; for access to the sacraments for all persons in these illicit unions will ultimately depend entirely on their own subjective decision of “conscience”.

How and when did this revolution occur? On January 13, the two aforesaid bishops made public an eight-page pastoral letter to Maltese priests entitled Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. (It is dated January 8, 2017, Solemnity of the Epiphany.) Here you can read the full text.

I have no inside information as to whether Pope Francis had prior knowledge of this document, but in any case the Pontiff’s predictable failure to censure it will signify his assent to its content; indeed, that message has already been spread abroad by the instant publication of the Maltese letter in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Apart from noting two articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about factors that can diminish personal culpability for objectively sinful acts, this letter contains no references to any pre-Francis magisterial teaching. So in Malta the year 2017 has started off looking like Orwell’s 1984, wherein inconvenient history simply vanishes down the memory hole. This is papal positivism with a vengeance: the very pontiff who constantly berates traditional Catholics for “seeing everything in black and white” is now being turned into a Superpope whose authority trumps that of all his predecessors if he chooses to call white what they called black.

Let’s take a look at the text of the document. Its general approach is clearly established right from article 1, wherein relationships that the Gospel and the Catholic Church call adultery and fornication are soothingly sociologized under the term “complex family situations”. Indissolubility is nowhere mentioned in this letter, and even an initial nod given to our Lord’s teaching on marriage reads like lukewarm lip-service. Before the two bishops turn to the manifold merciful mitigations of God’s law that really warm their hearts, they write, “As priests, we have the duty to enlighten consciences by proclaiming Christ and the full ideal of the Gospel” (art. 1). Ah, yes. Gospel teaching on lifelong marital fidelity is now just an ideal, no longer a grave obligation imposed on all spouses by Christ himself.

The same disingenuous airbrushing of Jesus’ demanding teaching is apparent when the Maltese bishops come to discuss continence on the part of invalidly remarried couples in cases where there are serious reasons for them not to separate. In article 9 we read (with emphasis added here):  “Throughout the discernment process, we should also examine the possibility of conjugal continence. Despite the fact that this ideal is not at all easy, there may be couples who, with the help of grace, practice this virtue without putting at risk other aspects of their life together.”

In this passage, note first of all the word “conjugal”: the bishops are whitewashing an adulterous relationship with an adjective that refers to true marriage. Next, continence is again described as a mere ideal, not a binding obligation. Indeed, the bishops depict this “ideal” as virtually unattainable by commenting coyly that there “may be” couples who actually observe it! In fact, their existence is far from hypothetical, as most experienced pastors are aware. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke told me several days ago (January 14th) that, in speaking to the faithful who attend his Masses and lectures in various countries, he very frequently meets divorced and remarried couples who tell him they are practicing that demanding self-discipline – and finding peace and happiness in doing so. (His Eminence was in St. Louis visiting St. Mary of Victories Church, of which I am the rector, to celebrate Mass at the invitation of ‘Juventutem’, the international young adults’ organization that promotes the traditional Latin liturgy.) The Maltese bishops go on to imply that even those invalidly married couples who “may be” able to “practice this virtue” (i.e., continence) should do so only if this doesn’t “put at risk other aspects of their life together”. In plain language: Go ahead and practice vice instead of virtue – adultery instead of chastity – if that’s what it takes to safeguard “other aspects of [your] life”. The good end will justify the evil means.

Yes, it’s frightening to see Successors of the Apostles uttering such pernicious doctrine – especially by appealing to a papal document. But it gets worse. In the next sentence all pretence of seriously advocating a ‘brother-sister’ commitment for these couples is dropped. For the bishops continue thus: “On the other hand, there are complex situations where the choice of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ becomes humanly impossible and gives rise to greater harm (see AL, note 329)”. “Humanly impossible”, Your Excellencies? Have you forgotten that the Council of Trent has anathematized as heresy the view that, even with the help of sanctifying grace, compliance with God’s commands can sometimes be impossible? (Cf. canon 18 on justification, Dz 828 [DS/DH 1568].) And how could obeying a divine command ever “give rise to greater harm” than disobeying it?  Would it not be blasphemous to suggest that our loving Father could ever command us to do something that is to our real detriment, not our benefit?

It is all too easy to foresee the conclusion that will naturally be drawn from this paragraph (art. 9) by invalidly remarried Maltese Catholics: “Our official teachers of the faith are clearly telling us that sex between divorced and civilly remarried couples is not always gravely sinful; for they’re saying that the ‘brother-sister’ option is no longer a prerequisite for receiving the sacraments. And their rationale is that continence is not only humanly impossible for most couples but will in any case usually do more harm than good.  So why we should even attempt to live according this so-called ‘ideal’ when our bishops are saying that if we find it too burdensome we can go to Communion anyway?”

The coup de grâce for the perennial doctrine on marital fidelity and sacramental integrity comes in the succeeding paragraph of the letter. Article 10, in full, reads as follows:

“If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with ‘humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it’ (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are [sic] at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).”

Please note the inclusion of “separated” persons above. Our two Maltese falcons (unleashed, it must be remembered, by the chief Falconer in Rome) have not only pried open the sacramental doors for those in bigamous unions that enjoy civil recognition. Their sharply logical beaks have simultaneously ripped out and discarded the need for divorce – so often a stressful, time-consuming and expensive process. Thus, Catholics in Malta who are cohabiting with one partner while still legally and sacramentally married to another will henceforth have access to the sacraments on the same basis as the divorced and remarried. Note also the ominous word “cannot” in art. 10. The island nation’s priest confessors are being told they not only may, but must, grant absolution (and thus, access to Communion) to unrepentant adulterers provided only  that the latter insist they have “manage[d], with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that [they] are at peace with God”. What, then, of the priest whose own “informed and enlightened conscience” tells him he may not comply with this revolutionary diktat? Once again Orwell’s scenario springs to mind: in Malta, it seems, all Catholic consciences may (perhaps) be equal, but some are now clearly “more equal than others”.

As if all this were not bad enough, more is in store a little further down the road. In article 3 of the letter, the bishops say that before treating their main topic (those who are “separated or divorced” from a true spouse), they “would like to address the situation of those who cohabit or who have only married civilly”. That is, Catholics who have never been validly married. While this paragraph rightly recommends a pastoral approach that would encourage these couples to move toward true marriage, it is silent about whether or not they can ever approach the sacraments in their present condition. However, the bishops hasten to emphasize, in accordance with AL #294, that among such couples “the degree of moral responsibility is not the same for all cases”, i.e., that they are not necessarily in mortal sin. So it is not hard to see what conclusion about sacramental reception will be drawn from art. 3 by many unwed sexual partners whose “informed and enlightened consciences” also tell them they’re “at peace with God”. Indeed, they will be able to tell themselves that, if anything, they should have a greater right to receive Communion than the divorced and remarried. For as simple fornicators in God’s sight, they cannot be accused of the graver sin of adultery, which violates the cardinal virtue of justice as well as that of temperance.

An explicit authorization for these folks too to approach the sacraments is probably just round the corner; and, since logical conclusions have a way of stubbornly following from their premises in practice as well as on paper, a similar permission for same-sex couples who find themselves “at peace with God” will surely not lag far behind. Not to mention corresponding concessions to polygamists all over Africa, as the orthodox Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban has recently warned us.

All in all, 2017 seems to be shaping up pretty well for Protestants as they celebrate (with more than a little encouragement from our Catholic leaders) the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  For if little Malta turns out to be a canary in the coal mine – an indicator of impending death for indissoluble marriage on a wider international scale – then our separated brethren will surely rejoice that we Catholics are finally seeing the light that Luther received five centuries earlier when he boldly relativized the Gospel’s stern teaching on this matter. Whether that ‘light’ really comes from Christ, who sent His Blessed Mother to appear at Fatima 100 years ago, is of course another matter. Among other things, she warned us then that “sins of the flesh” are those which most frequently send souls to Hell.

December 7th, 2016

Well, is it Yes or No?

And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

Matthew 11: 6.

Fr John Zuhlsdorf (“Fr Zed”), one of the best-known orthodox Catholic bloggers, sometimes asks readers to let him know if they heard an outstanding sermon at Mass the previous Sunday, and if so, to  describe it. Well, I heard one that fits the bill, but I’m not going to say where or by whom because I don’t want to be responsible for having Fr X mugged by  the Modernists.

Fr  X began by pointing out that verse six, chapter 11 of St Matthew’s Gospel (above) could really count as one of the beatitudes, even though unlike the other nine it doesn’t occur in the Sermon on the Mount.

Who, he wondered, are those who are scandalized by the words of Our Lord? Those who ask questions, or those who refuse to answer  them? He then turned to the five dubia (questions demanding the answer Yes or No) of Cardinal Burke and his colleagues, and dealt with them one by one. (He didn’t mention the cardinals, or even say who asked the questions.)

l. Does someone who asks if divorced persons living in a new union more uxorio (“having sex”) may be admitted to Holy Communion have a problem with the clear teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels? Or does the person who refuses to answer that question?

2. After Amoris Laetitia, can one still say there are absolute moral norms prohibiting intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions? Is someone who asks that question scandalized by the teaching of Christ? Or is the person who refuses to answer?

3. Similarly, does an habitual adulterer find himself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin? Who is scandalised by Our Lord? The questioner, or the one who won’t answer the question?

4. Again, can one still say, as Pope St John Paul II did in Veritatis Splendor, that circumstances or intentions can never transform an intrinsically evil act into one that is subjectively good? Yes or No? Is it the questioner who is scandalized, or the one who won’t answer?

5. Finally, again taking Veritatis Splendor, was Pope St John Paul right to emphasis that conscience can never be authorized to allow exceptions to absolute moral norms? Is it the questioner who is scandalized by Our Lord, or is it the person who refuses to answer?

 

 

November 19th, 2016

Pope Francis ‘Boiling with Rage’

Remember Edward Pentin? He’s the reporter who proved conclusively, using his tape recorder,  that Cardinal Walter Kasper was not only a liar but a racist as well. Thanks to Mr Pentin we know that Kasper doesn’t like African prelates: they tend to be far too orthodox.

It now appears that Ed Pentin has got another scoop. His sources within the papal residence Santa Marta have told him the Holy Father is “boiling with rage”  about the questions on Amoris Laetitia  put to him by four Cardinals, including Cardinal Raymond Burke.

After the cardinals went public with their yes-or-no questions, or dubia, Pope Francis seems to have been shamed into giving some kind of evasive non-answer in La Stampa, without mentioning the four cardinals, but criticising “a certain legalism”.  “Some people”, he said,  thought issues were “black and white”, but in  the course of life we were called upon to “discern”. Which reminds me of the pro-aborts during the original Eighth Amendment debate, who kept on telling us that abortion was not “a black and white issue”.

At the consistory this weekend, the Holy Father cancelled a preliminary session, where cardinals are  accustomed to raise issues of concern.  No reason was given, but you won’t be surprised to learn there is speculation that other cardinals besides the Four may have wanted to ask Pope Francis about the dubia.

November 15th, 2016

Pope Snubs Faithful Cardinals

At last! Four faithful cardinals have stuck their necks out and  challenged Pope Francis to explain exactly what he means in Amoris Laetitia. Is he saying it’s sometimes OK to commit adultery or is he not? Yes or No?

They wrote the letter privately on September 19. As it’s now quite clear the Holy Father has no intention of replying, they have gone public.

What can one conclude from the papal silence? There’s only one possible answer: As St Thomas More said at his trial, “Silence gives consent”.  The Pope  doesn’t want to clear up the ambiguities, because he prefers confusion to clarity, darkness to light. Theologians, priests and bishops can go on giving different interpretations. That way, there is a doubt, and some of those living in irregular situations will take advantage of the doubt and receive Holy Communion. But as far as the Holy Father is concerned, it’s a case of the old Irish expression: “Mind you, I’ve said nothing.”

It is contemptible.

The four cardinals are Raymond Burke (of course!), Walter Brandmüller,  Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner. Cardinal Burke is the only one who is not retired.  Fr John Hunwicke says it must be a matter of grief that other Cardinals and locorum Ordinarii have felt unable to join this initiative because they still have diocesan or curial responsibilities. The Holy Father has several times shown his willingness to sack those who decline to go long with his novel ideas. Maybe we should call him the Merciful Martinet.

The Cardinals’ letter tells the Pope of the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from Amoris Laetitia. They explain that they are “compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility” to call on Pope Francis “with profound respect” to give answer to the questions posed,  reminding him that as Pope he is “called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith” and to “resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity”.

UPDATE ON NOVEMBER 18th: I am grateful to a reader identifying himself as “James”, who sent me an article from the New Oxford Review, which he submitted as a comment. I quote two short extracts here:

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said it may be necessary to make a “formal act of correction” if Pope Francis doesn’t answer a letter from four cardinals asking him to clarify aspects of Amoris Laetitia. In an interview with Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke said that if the Pope were to teach error or heresy, “It is the duty in such cases, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.”….

…Such an act of formal correction would be extremely unusual. One example is the challenge to Pope John XXII in the 1330s. He had publicly taught – though only as his personal opinion – that souls in heaven would not actually see God until the Final Judgment, a teaching contrary to Church doctrine.

In response, several theologians challenged Pope John. A few were punished, but the Pope backed down after a joint letter by theologians from the University of Paris, under the leadership of Paludanus, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The letter professed total obedience to John, but affirmed that the teachings being attributed to him were contrary to the Catholic faith. Before his death John withdrew his heretical opinion.

May 24th, 2016

Do We Need Spluttering Expletives?

Do you recall my noting a month or so ago ago that some ultra-Traditionalists  were accusing Cardinal Raymond Burke of pussy-footing around  because he doesn’t yell abuse at Pope Francis?  Hilary White of the blog What’s Up With Francis-Church went so far as to suggest that the Cardinal had thrown his most loyal supporters under the bus. And all because he has confined himself to noting that Amoris Laetitia is not part of the magisterium. Well, Fr Hunwicke has recently defended Cardinal Burke in much the same terms as myself—only with wit and learning, as you would expect:

Cardinal Burke has made himself quite unpopular in some Traddy circles by not denouncing  Amoris Laetitia ut Leo rugiens* from his Maltese housetops. There are fierce people around who feel that, for a top lawyer simply to say that the document has no Magisterial authority, is just not nearly angry enough. Spluttering expletives, apparently, are called for. Raymond Leo Burke, they say, should put a lot more work into his spluttering techniques.

I must declare an interest here. When AL emerged, my own first comment (April 9) was to observe immediately that an Apostolic Exhortation  is “not doctrinally constitutive nor juridically legislative”. Burke … and I! … are exactly right. That is why we do not splutter.

Some critics have claimed that AL must be magisterial because Bergoglio is on record as saying “I wrote an encyclical … and an Apostolic Exhortation, I’m constantly making statements, giving homilies. That’s magisterium.”

If this Pope really does imagine that his Petrine Magisterium extends to Apostolic Exhortations, to “statements”, and even to his endless homilies, then this is quite a serious and worrying misunderstanding on his part of his own office.

But however much this apparent claim may impress the hyperultrapapalists who surround the Holy Father but have never read Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, it should be an irrelevance to those of us who know better.

Apostolic Constitutions are way above the pay grade of Apostolic Exhortations. And the principle that “remarried” divorcees should not receive Holy Communion is embodied in the Catechism, which rests upon the authority of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of S John Paul II. Moreover, it was given to the Ordinariates as our doctrinal norm in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI.

This is the Catholic Faith which we have received.

It is the duty of every Catholic, high and low, to guard and hand on the Deposit of Faith which we have received, sancte et fideliter. Vatican I, unsurprisingly, took the view that this is especially the duty of the successor of S Peter (Denzinger 3070).

I still share that view, even if some of Bergoglio’s closest associates do not.

*like a roaring lion. 1 Peter 5: 8.

Now, if you’d like to see some real foam-flecked spluttering about the Holy Father, here is some:

September 12, 2015

Nullity on the Nod: Catholic Divorce?

The Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei  says Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus has inflicted  a grave wound on Christian Marriage, putting the interests of the spouses above that of marriage. I would like to be able to disagree; but well, I just can’t.  See if you can. Dr Mattei writes:

The indissolubility of marriage is a Divine and unmodifiable law of Jesus Christ. The Church cannot “annul” a marriage in the sense of dissolving it. She can, through a declaration of nullity, verify its non-existence, due to the lack of those requisites which assure its validity. Which means that in the canonical process, the Church’s priority is not the interests of the spouses to obtain the declaration of nullity, but the validity of the marriage bond itself. Pius XII, regarding this, reminds us that:

in the matrimonial process the one final end is the judgment in compliance with the truth and and the law, consisting, within the procedure of nullity, of the assertion of the non-existence of the marital bond” (Allocution to the Roman Rota, October 2nd 1944).

The faithful can deceive the Church in order to obtain the annulment: for example, by using false witnesses, but the Church cannot fool God and has the duty of rigorously verifying the clear and precise truth.

In the canonical process, what has to be defended first of all is the supreme interest of the Divine institution which marriage is. The recognition and protection of this reality are formulated in the juridical sphere with the concise expression favor matrimonii, that is, the presumption, until proven otherwise, of the validity of the marriage. John Paul II explained well that indissolubility is presented by the Magisterium as the ordinary law of every celebrated marriage, precisely because the validity is presupposed, apart from what takes place in the conjugal life itself and of the possibility, in some cases, of the declaration of nullity. (Speech to the Roman Rota, January 21st, 2000).

When the Enlightment attempted to deal a death-blow to Christian marriage, Pope Benedict XIV with the decree Dei miseratione, of Novemeber 3, 1741, ordered that there be nominated a defensor vinculi to every diocese, and, introduced the principle of the necessary conformity of the sentences on two levels of ascertainment, in order to obtain the declaration of nullity. The principle of the double-sentence in conformity [i.e. double confirmation] was consecrated by the 1917 Code of Canon Law and received into the codification promulgated by John Paul II on January 25, 1983.
In Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio this view has been overturned. The interest of the spouses has primacy over that of marriage. It is the document itself that affirms this, by summarizing the fundamental criteria of the reform in these points: the abolition of the double-sentence in conformity, substituted by only one sentence in favor of the enforceability of the annulment; the attribution of monocratic power to the bishop, qualified as sole judge; the introduction of an expedite process [brevior], de facto uncontrollable, with the substantial downsizing of the role of the Roman Rota.
How else, for example, can the abolition of the double-sentence be interpreted? What are the grave reasons for which—after 270 years—
this principle has been abrogated?
Regarding this, Cardinal Burke recalled a catastrophic experience. In the United States from July 1971, the so-called Provisional Norms came into effect, which eliminated de facto the obligatory double conforming sentences. The result was that the Episcopal Conference did not negate one single request for dispensation among the hundreds of thousands received, and, in the common perception, this process began to be called “Catholic Divorce” (Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, Cantagalli, Siena 2014, pp. 222-223).
Graver still, is the attribution to the diocesan bishop of the faculty, as sole judge, of instructing, at his discretion, a short process to reach a decision. The bishop may exercise personally his jurisdictional power or delegate it to a commission, not necessarily made up of lawyers. A commission formed in his own image which will naturally follow his pastoral indications, as already happens with the “diocesan counselling centers”, which still today are devoid of any juridical competence.
The combination between Canon 1683 and article 14 on the procedural rules in this respect has a shocking implication. Upon the decisions there will inevitably weigh considerations of a sociological nature: the divorced and remarried will have, for reasons of “mercy”, preferential treatment. “The Church of Mercy – notes Giuliano Ferrara – “has started its race” (Il Foglio September 9, 2015). It is not racing along an administrative road, but a “juridical one” where there is very little left that remains juridical.
In some dioceses the bishops will try to guarantee the seriousness of the procedure, but it is easy to imagine that in many other dioceses, for example, those in Central Europe, the declaration of annulment will become a pure formality. In 1993 Oskar Saier, Archbishop of Friburg, Karl Lehman, Bishop of Mainz and Walter Kasper, Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuutgart, produced a document in favor of those that were certain in conscience of the nullity of their marriage but did not have the elements to prove it in court (Bishops of Oberrhein, Pastoral Care for the Divorced, “Il Regno – Documenti” (The Kingdom Documents), 38 (1993), pp. 613-622). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replied with the Letter Annus Internationalis Familiae, of September 14, 1994, affirming that this way was not practicable, as marriage is a public reality:“not recognizing this essential aspect would mean denying the fact that marriage exists as a reality of the Church, that is to say, as a Sacrament”.
Nevertheless, the proposal has been taken up again recently by the pastoral office of the Diocese of Freiburg (Orientation for pastoral care of the divorced “The Kingdom Documents”, 58 (2013), pp. 631-639), according to which the divorced and remarried, following the “conscience-nullifying” of the previous marriage, will be able to receive the Sacraments and have assignments inside parish councils.
Favor nullitatis comes to be the primary element of the law, while indissolubility is reduced to an impracticable “ideal”. The theoretical affirmation of indissolubility of marriage, is accompanied in practice with the right to a declaration of nullity for every failed marital bond. It will be enough, in conscience, to deem one’s own marriage invalid, in order to have it recognized as null by the Church. It is the same principle with which some theologians consider a marriage “dead”, where according to both, or one of the spouses, “love has died”.
On January 29, 2010, Benedict XVI exhorted the Tribunal of the Roman Rota not to indulge in the annulment of marriages in “compliance with the wishes and expectations of the parties, nor to the conditions of the social environment”. But in the dioceses of Central Europe, the declaration of nullity will become a purely formal act, as occurred in the United States at the time of the Provisional Norms. According to the well-known [Gresham’s] law, that says: “bad money takes the place of good money”, in the chaos that is coming, “quick divorce” is destined to prevail over indissoluble marriage.
We have been hearing talk of a latent schism in the Church for more than a year, but now the one to say this is Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect for the Congregation of the Faith. In one of his discourses at Regensburg he warned of the risk of division in the Church, inviting careful vigilance, without forgetting the lesson of the Protestant Schism which set Europe on fire five hundred years ago.
On the eve of the October Synod on the Family, Pope Francis’ reform does not extinguish any fire, but feeds it and paves the way for other disastrous innovations. Silence is no longer possible.

March 12th, 2015

‘OUR SHEPHERDS WERE LIKE DRUNKS AND MADMEN’

In a trenchant and challenging interview given to Mass of Ages, magazine of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, American Professor Peter Kwasniewski of Wyoming Catholic College says the recent synod in Rome was a colossal wake-up call to the Church and to the faithful. “It showed us, in no uncertain terms, that many of our ‘shepherds’ were like drunks and madmen, and that we cannot sit back and take for granted that the Faith is safe.”

Modern Catholics, says Professor Kwasniewski, are trained to take what is given to them and don’t stir themselves to action very easily.

That was the problem with a the reception of Vatican II and the reformed liturgy: the ‘experts’ spoon-fed us all this stuff and we choked it down, instead of spitting it out and demanding to see the ingredients. But you can see to an astonishing extent that this wasn’t working with the Synod. The experts tried to pull the wool over our eyes and it failed not only among us, but even among themselves. The Machiavellians were too clever by half. It came as a resounding warning to the Church militant.

So, in short, the Synod galvanised many Catholics around the world to take up their catechisms and defend the Faith. This is all to the good and, in God’s mercy, may portend a still greater opening of minds and hearts to traditionalism, which has been attentively clued in to the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity  for five decades and offers a coherent, convincing way out of the madness.

Professor Kwasniewski describes  Cardinal Raymond Burke as a truly outstanding defender of the Catholic Faith, and believes he will become, more than ever, a worldwide ambassador for the Old Rite—for the theology, spirituality, fine arts, discipline and law that sustain it, and for the traditional Catholic doctrine on faith and morals. “However you look at it, Cardinal, Burke occupies the moral high ground and the cause of Tradition will continue to enjoy his wise, gentle and generous patronage.”

 

 

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 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

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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?