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Tag Archives: Pope John Paul II

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?

 

 

July 13th, 2016

Drop This Luther Nonsense, Pope Urged

At the end of my last post I said I’d be telling you more about the Roman Forum symposium held at Lake Garda earlier this month. If you’ve been following this blog for more than a year you may recall that the 2015 symposium issued a respectful but firm appeal to Pope Francis to end the disasters   which have been plaguing the Church for the past half century.

If the Holy Father ever saw this appeal—which I very much doubt—he has  taken no notice whatever. It’s just been more of the same, only even worse. The pantomime is to culminate in October, when the Pope is to meet pro-sodomy, pro-abortion pseudo-bishops to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the shipwreck of Christendom by Martin Luther, who was, we are now expected to believe, right all along about “justification”.

The  second Lake Garda statement, issued at the end of this year’s symposium, deplores what it calls the “Catholic” apotheosis of Luther. It appeals to Pope Francis, as the successor of the great  popes of the Catholic Reformation that fought against the horrors of 1517,  to abandon this  misguided attempt to masquerade what Luther and his “freedom” actually wrought.  Here is the statement in full.

Our civilization is so sick that even the best efforts to prop up its few tottering remnants manifest the pathetic illness that has step by step brought the entire structure crumbling down. The disease in question is a wilful, prideful, irrational, and ignorant obsession with “freedom”. But this is a malady that gained its initial effective entry into Christendom in union with the concept of the natural world as the realm of “total depravity”.

It is crucially important that we recognize both the ultimate responsibility of this wilful liberty for the destruction of our Christian and Classical culture as well as the role played by the idea that “incarnated” it historically in our midst. This is so for two reasons. The first is in order that we may attempt seriously to rid ourselves of their monstrous influence over our own minds, souls, and bodies. The second is because a massive attempt to masquerade the truth regarding their real character and practical alliance is being mounted in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s devastating appearance on the public scene in 1517—and this for the sake of maintaining their nefarious impact upon believers and delivering the Faith its coup de grace as a meaningful social force.

1517 is not the source of our woe—any more, for that matter, than was 1962 with the opening of the Second Vatican Council. In both cases spiritual, intellectual, political, and social diseases that had already long hovered about the Camp of the Saints had by those dates finally coalesced, and were ready for injection into the lymphatic system of Catholic Christendom as one “mega malady”.

All of these disorders ultimately reflected a revulsion over the need for the individual and his entire environment to be corrected, perfected, and transformed under the Kingship of Christ: with the aid of faith, grace, and reason on the one hand, and social authority, both supernatural and natural, on the other. Anyone in 1516 looking for a simple explanation for why he should reject such aids thus had available to him an embarrassment of errors from a myriad of sources indicating that he could do so; and that relying upon his own unguided feelings and will was the pathway to pleasing God.

Nevertheless, the conflicted mind of the Late Middle Ages clearly needed a figure with the talent and rhetorical venom of a Luther effectively to inject this mega malady into Christendom. Christian man was too aware of the reality of sin to leap directly into an adulation of individual wilfulness. Luther’s concept of the total depravity of the individual and the world in which he lived gave Everyman the apparently pious excuse for succumbing to the obsession with liberty that was required. After all, a recognition of man’s total depravity seemed to foster such a humble recognition of each believer’s personal need to rely solely on God’s grace to save him; of his need to affirm that “freedom” from “enslavement” to the “despotism” of a Law built upon both Faith and Reason that permitted escape from a “hopeless” and ultimately spiritually “arrogant” attempt to bend his individual, lifelong workaday thoughts and actions into conformity with the commands of Christ.

It proved to be quite easy over the course of a couple of generations for this negative definition of “liberty”—a “freedom” from the supernatural and natural Law—to be transformed, in the Enlightenment, into the means for a positive new and redemptive order of things. In short, it did not take long for the freedom of depraved man in depraved nature from the restraints of a supposedly impossible Law—in the name of an openness to unmerited grace—to be seen as the providential tool for moulding unbridled human thoughts and actions into the building blocks of a new Age of Gold. In other words, the more that a freedom from restraints actually ensured that the sinful passions of mankind were all released in order to allow flawed individuals to became truly totally depraved, the more that same depravity was now looked upon as something intrinsically good, and even pleasing in the eyes of God. Unfortunately, this logical but sick development of “freedom” has not assured the “dignity of man”. Rather, it has led to nothing other than the triumph of the strongest irrational and materialist wills.

Sad to say, it seems absolutely certain that many of our ecclesiastical leaders are turning 2016-2017 into a year-long paean to the errors of Martin Luther and what the great English Church Historian, Philip Hughes, tells us lay behind them for centuries: “all those anti-intellectualist, anti-institutional forces”; “all the crude, backwoods, obscurantist theories bred of the degrading pride that comes with chosen ignorance; the pride of men ignorant because unable to be wise except through the wisdom of others”. (A History of the Church, Sheed & Ward, 1949, III, 529).

In face of this chorus of undeserved praise, it is our duty as loyal Catholics is to do three things:

First of all, to steel ourselves against the contradictory and tragically self-destructive lies that this adulation of Luther and Company’s irrational and wilful principles—what Hughes calls their “five hundred year fling” (Ibid.)—actually fosters in practice.

Secondly, to hammer home to others the anti-Catholic and unnatural misery, both spiritual and purely human, that such errors have inevitably caused.

And, finally, to beseech our Holy Father—the successor to St. Peter as well as to the great popes of a vibrant and seriously Catholic Reformation that fought against the horrors emerging from 1517—to abandon this misguided attempt to masquerade what Luther and his “freedom” wrought. For what they truly wrought was ultimately nothing other than what Richard Gawthrop identifies as that “Promethean lust for material power that serves as the deepest common drive behind all modern Western cultures”. (Pietism and the Making of Eighteenth Century Prussia, Cambridge, 1993, p. 284).

Saints Cyril and Methodius, pray for us!

The Roman Forum was founded by the late Dietrich von Hildebrand, described by Pope Pius XII as “the 20th century Doctor of the Church”, and hailed by Pope St John Paul II as one of the great ethicists of the past century. The forum’s first task was to defend  the encyclical Humanae Vitae against its modernist critics. Its Director is Dr John Rao, Associate Professor of History at St John’s University, New York. The Board of the Forum includes philosophers, lawyers, economists and journalists.

 

 

May 10th, 2016

Amoris Laetitia Is Unmerciful

John Smeaton,  CEO of the Society for the Protection of  Unborn Children, England and Wales, has denounced  the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia for its failure to speak out clearly on adultery. Mr Smeaton  said this  failure showed a lack of mercy, because it  denied Catholics the truth about right and wrong.

I believe Mr Smeaton’ s appeal to Pope Francis is so important it should be read by all concerned Catholics. So here it is, in full.

Your Holiness,

With reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, and as a husband and father, I consider that the section of Amoris Laetitia entitled “The Need for Sex Education” seriously fails parents at a time when parental rights regarding sex education are under serious and sustained attack in many nations of the world, and at the international institutions. This section spans more than five pages without making even one reference to parents, albeit parental rights are mentioned earlier in another context. On the other hand there is reference to “educational institutions”. Yet sex education is “a basic right and duty of parents” which “must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them” as your predecessor, Pope John Paul II, taught the faithful in Familiaris Consortio, Number, 37.

Your Holiness, Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world, including in Britain, are collaborating with our anti-life opponents in the birth control and sex education lobbies, in helping to impose corrupting sex education programmes on primary and secondary schoolchildren. Such programmes, including in Catholic schools, involve providing our children with access to abortion and contraception. Thus, Holy Father, the Bishops’ Christ-given authority, which we the faithful hold in such reverence, is being instrumentalised to scandalise and cause terrible harm to our children. Amoris Laetitia will serve to make this terrible situation even worse.

Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe, that the Pope is Peter, the rock Christ chose on which to build His Church. The Pope serves the unchangeable truth of Christ’s teaching. However, Your Holiness, the Pope is not the master but the servant of the truth.

Your Holiness, once again with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, as well as with my authority as a husband and father, I note that there are references to public adultery in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia which fail to point out the intrinsic evil of adultery. I consider that such references will result in scandalising little ones in the way contained in Jesus Christ’s warning in verse 92, chapter 9, of the Gospel of St Mark.

Even worse, Holy Father, Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation, at the very least, raises the possibility that adulterous sexual acts may be justifiable. This shows a lack of mercy because it denies Catholics the truth about right and wrong. It denies Catholics the knowledge they need to exercise true freedom, freedom from sin. It also shows a lack of mercy because it sends children the false message that marriage is not indissoluble. Arguably, Your Holiness, the most effective way of destroying children is to destroy marriage as an indissoluble lifetime union of a man and a woman.

Holy Father, The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that certain actions are “intrinsically evil”—such things as adultery.

I believe, Your Holiness, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that marriage is indissoluble and, Jesus taught, if someone divorces or puts away their spouse and marries another, he or she commits adultery–which is considered a mortal sin, the kind of serious sin by which one cuts oneself off from God’s love. (Matthew, 19)

I believe, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that in going to Holy Communion we receive the body of Jesus Christ, God Himself: we receive life and the promise of eternal life. (John, 6:54)

Finally, Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe the teaching of St Paul that if a person eats and drinks the body and blood of Jesus Christ unworthily, we don’t receive life or grace, we eat and drink judgement to ourselves “not discerning the body of the Lord”. (Corinthians: 1,11.29)

Holy Father, I know lots of ordinary Catholics both in my family life and through my work. I know women and men who’ve been deserted by their spouse for another person and either left alone with children or left alone without their children. If that deserted spouse were then to see their wife or husband with a new partner, receiving the Body of Christ in Communion, that sends the message to everyone, including the children, that marriage is not indissoluble after all. This is destructive of the truth about marriage. It’s also damaging psychologically and spiritually, not least for the children.

Holy Father, with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, I appeal to you to recognise the grave errors in the recently published Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, in particular those sections which will lead to the desecration of the Holy Eucharist and to the harming of our children, and to withdraw the Apostolic Exhortation with immediate effect.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

John Smeaton

May 6th, 2016

Becoming a Bad Rad Trad

          Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining    many, desire as it were to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.St. Peter Canisius.

          You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds….What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.St Thomas More.

I recently received the latest (September-October 2015) issue of The Brandsma Review,  which proves, reassuringly,  that editor Peadar Laighléis is still struggling manfully to overcome his ongoing production problems.   The layout, I am sorry to say, is still dire, but there are some excellent and up-to-date articles—notably, as one would expect, by Joe McCarroll and David Manly on the Eighth Amendment and abortion. However, one glaring and regrettable omission is any mention  of what seems to be becoming one of the  most serious  crises the Church has ever faced.

I refer, of course to the Holy Father’s ongoing  attack on the Church’s Tradition, most notably in regard to matters of sexual morality, in Amoris Laetitia.  I have referred before to this failure to face facts  as “tiptoeing around the Argentine elephant in the living room”. If  The Brandsma Review is not going to face squarely up to this problem, then what other Irish outlet will?

Is Stramentarius  morphing into a Bad Rad Trad? Well, if so, that’s regrettable, but I really don’t see how it can be avoided.

May 5th, 2016

We Must Resist This Wayward Pope

Part IV of a series edited  from The Remnant newspaper.

After expressing astonishment that a Pope should reduce the precepts of the natural law to the equivalent of a set of traffic regulations, Christopher Ferrara concludes that—just as at the time of the Arian heresy—the number of bishops  refusing to repudiate the teaching of their own Church will be very small indeed:

Finally, in paragraph 305 we encounter the poison pill the entire document and the entire “Synodal process” were clearly designed to administer to the Church: authorization for the admission of public adulterers, and by implication any sort of habitual public sinner, to Confession and Holy Communion in “certain cases.” This means, in short order, every case. For as Francis revealed last November to his trusted friend, the militant atheist Eugenio Scalfari, in another interview whose contents neither Francis nor the Vatican denied: “This is the bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.

Reaching the crescendo of his three-year-long demagogic assault on the Church’s imaginary pharisaical “rigorism,” including that of John Paul II, Francis now announces: “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.” Quoting his own previous eruption of ire at the conservative prelates who dared to stand up to him during Synod 2015, Francis opines that merely to apply moral laws would “bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, ‘sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families’.”

What a strange accusation to hurl at the very prelates who opposed Francis’s relentless drive for a neo-Mosaic return to the Old Testament dispensation respecting divorce, but rather defended its perpetual abolition by Christ, whose vicar Francis is supposed to be. But then Francis has spent much of the past three years doing exactly what he condemns in the members of his flock—above all, publicly deriding observant Catholics he deems inadequate, almost every day, while railing against judgmentalism on the part of others.

Francis will have none of this “hiding behind the Church’s teachings”, for by “thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.” Yes, the Roman Pontiff has actually promulgated a document whose very theme is the slogan of the empty modern mind: “Well, you see, not everything is black and white.” No, there are many shades of grey—probably at least fifty.

And then the outcome the faithful have been dreading since the “synodal journey” began. With little fanfare and a buried footnote, the synod train at last reaches its destination. Paragraph 305 declares: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin… a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.

And what does Francis mean by the “Church’s help”? He means Confession and Holy Communion, as fateful footnote 351 states. In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).

The phrase “prize for the perfect” is taken directly from the intervention by Cardinal Kasper with which Francis began the whole charade of a “Synod on the Family”: Kasper’s speech  to the consistory of February 2015 in which he unveiled the “Kasper proposal”—the only address Francis permitted, which he later hailed as “ beautiful and profound.” The circle of manipulation is completed as Francis finally reveals that the “Kasper proposal” was his proposal all along.

Leaving no doubt of the matter, Cardinal Lorenzo (“the book thief”) Baldisseri and the other Modernist subversives Francis tapped for the occasion made this clear even to the most obtuse observer at the press conference where they presented Amoris Laetitia to the public.

Co-presenter Cardinal Schönborn, continuing the systematic misrepresentation of the teaching of John Paul II on “discernment” in Familiaris consortio 84, put the matter thus in his presenting speech: “Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation, in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio (84) (AL 298). ‘Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God” (AL 205)’…In the sense of this ‘via caritatis’ (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given ‘in certain cases’. But for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’ (EG 44), and the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak’ …” 

So, the confessional is a “torture chamber” unless some—meaning ultimately all—unrepentant public adulterers are, at least eventually, allowed to enter without repentance, avoid any commitment to amendment of life, and leave with a declaration of absolution for a continual mortal sin they will simply continue committing because their “weakness” is now being “integrated”. Otherwise, everything would be “black and white”.

Is this for real? Indeed it is. And now we know from Francis himself just how real. During the in-flight press conference on his return from the trip to Greece, Francis was pressed on whether, contrary to those who say nothing has changed, Amoris Laetitia authorizes “new concrete possibilities for the divorced and remarried that did not exist before the publication of this exhortation.” Punctuating the answer with an emphatic hand gesture and a nod of the head, he replied: “I can say Yes. Period” (“Io posso dire sì. Punto.”) He also recommended that everyone read Schönborn’s presentation in which “your question will have an answer.” And Schönborn answer is: “the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given ‘in certain cases.’” So Francis told the reporter to consult Cardinal Schönborn concerning what Francis affirms in his own document—a runaround and a passing of the buck one would expect from a politician, not a Pope.

Consider the moral catastrophe Francis has just unleashed: A public adulterer in a second “marriage” is admitted to Holy Communion as part of a process of “discernment” that allows “integration” while he “gradually” moves toward an acceptance of Church teaching that may never come. Yet once he is made aware by the priest conducting this “discernment” that the Church teaches that his condition constitutes adultery—as if he didn’t know this before!—how can he continue to claim inculpable ignorance of the moral law? Of course he cannot. But, as we saw above, Francis has the answer: even those who know the law are now to be excused from compliance by way of pastoral “discernment” because they find it “very difficult to act differently (302)” on account of “mitigating factors (301-302).”

This logic obviously leads to the de facto elimination of mortal sin as an impediment to Holy Communion on the part of any and all habitual sinners who find it “very difficult” to change their behavior. In which case, as Fr Schall wonders, why would anyone need to go to Confession at all? “If this conclusion is correct,” he writes, “we really have no need for mercy, which has no meaning apart from actual sin and its free recognition….Therefore, there is no pressing need to concern oneself too much with these situations.”

So, there we have it: Francis calls for an unprecedented new regime of “pastoral discernment” that would bizarrely presume subjective inculpability in the face of endemic conduct objectively constituting public and habitual mortal sin, but now suddenly reduced to mere “irregularities.” In a pair of strategic footnotes sacramental absolution and the Holy Eucharist are recommended to “integrate” and “help” these objective mortal sinners without a prior amendment of life —but only in “certain cases,” as if that constituted a real limitation.

On the other hand, as the new “discernment” is supposedly discretionary with local priests acting under the authority of local bishops, outcomes would vary from parish to parish, region to region, and nation to nation. To recall Robert Royal’s assessment: “In concrete terms, around the globe, what looms ahead is chaos and conflict, not Catholicity.”

BUT NOTE WELL: Nothing in Amoris Laetitia indicates that Francis would extend his amnesty for sexual sinners to the other sorts of sinners he never ceases to denounce, including Mafiosi, arms traders, greedy capitalists, polluters of the environment, opponents of uncontrolled immigration, supporters of the death penalty and, lest we forget, the “rigorist” Catholics who oppose his notion of “mercy.” Would Francis, for example, tell the pastors of the Church that because of “various cognitive or psychological conditions” that make it “very difficult to act differently” greedy billionaires, wealthy arms dealers or “rigorist” Catholics are subjectively guiltless and cannot be expected to change their ways in conformity to “the ideal”? The question answers itself.

So this entire years-long, dismal affair comes down to an “amnesty” extending only to sins of the flesh. But, as Our Lady of Fatima warned, these are the sins that send more souls to Hell than any other. We are reminded that Sister Lucia of Fatima warned Cardinal Caffarra, one of the foremost opponents of the Kasper proposal, that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Did she know that a Pope would be leading the enemy forces?

Every Catholic worthy of the name has a duty to resist this attempted overthrow of the perennial Magisterium by a wayward Pope who clearly has no respect for the teaching of his own predecessors—having misrepresented the crucial contrary teaching of one of them, along with other sources—and who descends to demagoguery by appealing to a “mercy” that would be the worst kind of spiritual cruelty. It is unthinkable that the leadership of the Church, as a pastoral programme no less, could leave souls at risk of damnation in the very condition that places them at risk, even encouraging them to compound their guilt by sacrilegiously partaking of Holy Communion while they consider whether they will cease their continuing adultery or fornication.

This is madness never before seen in the history of the Church. And where are the members of the hierarchy to lead us in the midst of this madness? As it was during the time of the Arian crisis, when Saint Athanasius was almost alone among hierarchs publicly defending the faith, so will it be today: the prelates who stand fast and refuse to repudiate the teaching of their own Church will be very few in number, perhaps so few they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Concluded