Home > Tag Archives: Pope Paul VI

Tag Archives: Pope Paul VI

June 17th, 2017

Papal Purge of Pro-Lifers

In a week when Italian history professor Roberto de Mattei has predicted that  Pope Francis is to “revisit” Pope Paul’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Holy Father  has purged the  Pontifical Academy of Life of dozens of  members renowned for their fidelity to Catholic teaching. These include Australian professor John Finnis who had criticised the Pope’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia,  German philosopher Robert Spaemann—a longtime friend of Pope Benedict XVI—Englishman Dr Luke Gormally  who had asked the Pope to remove a problematical section on contraception from the preparatory document for the Synod on the Family,  and three eastern Europeans who were influenced greatly by John Paul II.

[Back in the 1990s Drs Finnis and Gormally spoke at a meeting in Maynooth and criticised in vitro fertilisation. My wife  Stramentaria covered this rather dodgy conference for the old Ballintrillick Review, and editor Doris Manly headlined her article  “Take-Away Babies with Maynooth Sauce”.]

The Pope’s 17 new appointments to the Academy include Nigel Biggar, an Anglican professor of moral and pastoral theology who has expressed support for legalised abortion up to 18 weeks, and qualified support for euthanasia; and  Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, an Italian moral theologian and professor who has openly criticized Catholic teaching on life issues, including Humanae Vitae

Last November the Holy Father  released new statutes for the Pontifical Academy for Life, in which members are no longer required to sign a declaration that they uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. He also expanded the Academy’s mandate to include a focus on the environment.

According to Professor de Mattei a commission has been nominated by Pope Francis to “reinterpret” Humanae Vitae in the light of his own encyclical Amoris Laetitia . Next year will see the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s condemnation of artificial contraception. The Commission has been ordered to procure from the Vatican archives the documentation on the preparatory work on the encyclical, lasting  three years.  In 1966 the “experts” delivered their conclusions to Pope Paul VI, and suggested  opening the doors to birth control. After two years of wavering, the Pope followed the perennial teaching of the Church and rejected the idea in Humanae Vitae. As the philosopher Romano Amerio said, it was the most important act of his pontificate.

The Commission is to be co-ordinated by Mgr Gilfredo Marengo, who has made it clear in his writings that he supports the view of Pope Francis that  one should “abandon models of of life derived from too abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals”.  Professor de Mattei believes this indicates that praxis rather than doctrine will be followed in this “reinterpretation” of Humanae Vitae. And he wonders whether any Catholic theologian will have the courage to declare “heresy” when faced with this reinterpretation.

 

 

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July 18th, 2016

Novus Ordo Watch: No. 1

I’m opening a Novus Ordo Watch, to chronicle the horrors perpetrated by some priests when  celebrating Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI.  Here’s one for starters.

A few weeks ago, a little girl well known to me—let’s call her Polynesia—quarrelled with her big sister and tried to kick her. Polynesia lost her balance, fell over and sprained an ankle. At Mass the following Sunday, hobbling on crutches, she joined the queue for Holy Communion.

When she reached the priest, he beamed  and said: “Whatever have  you been doing to yourself? Aren’t you the terrible girl now? Body of Christ.”

 

May 31st , 2016

Traddery and Trumpery

There has been quite a rumpus recently in Traditional and Conservative Catholic circles about an article in the American Trad newspaper The Remnant by Ann Barnhardt,   describing  Pope Francis as “personally responsible for the most loss of human souls to eternal damnation, above Luther, above Mohammed, above Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), above Paul VI Montini”.

Well, I think most readers, even those most critical of the present pontificate,  would agree that such language is more than a little over the top. And Miss Barnhardt goes on to insist that the Pope  must be “deposed and anathematised for being a heretic” by  what she describes as “those bishops remaining who still hold the Catholic Faith”, called together in an “imperfect Ecumenical Council”.

Whoa! In the first place she can’t possibly know how many—if any—souls have been lost because of the Holy Father’s admittedly destructive polices and heterodox utterances. In the second place, it is not our business as lay people to advocate what would amount to a schism.

All the same, I can’t go along with John Médaille, (a theology teacher, a retired businessman and a Distributist more or less on the lines of Belloc and Chesterton) who bitterly attacks The Remnant‘s editor Michael Matt for carrying Miss Barnhardt’s piece at all. He insists that Mr Matt is just trying to  increase his circulation by appealing to the worst passions of his audience and saying the most outrageous things—thus becoming “the Donald Trump of Catholic Traditionalism”.

Now, every editor wants to increase his circulation. But I’ve met Michael Matt on several occasions, and I’m sure his motives are worthier than that. I think he felt that Ann Barnhardt’s voice was one that should be heard, and I think—despite the  hysterical tone of the piece—that he was probably right. You can read John Médaille’s critique on www.ethikapolitica. org. In the appropriate  combox on that site you will find dozens of entries arguing for and against Mr Matt’s decision to carry the article. Mr Médaille concludes:

And who can fail to note the irony that on the eve of the five-hundredth anniversary of Luther’s famous 95 Theses that split the Church apart, some Traditionalists, with their own theses, want to do the same? And to make the irony complete, they seem to want a council to overrule the Pope, which sounds a lot like the conciliarism they pretend to oppose.

Christopher Ferrara, distinguished pro-life lawyer and Remnant columnist retorts:

And who can fail to note the irony that Francis is going to Sweden next year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of that same “Reformation”, including participation in a joint liturgy with faux Lutheran “bishops” who condone abortion, contraception, divorce, the “ordination” of women and practicing homosexuals, and who would be viewed as worthy of the flames by Luther himself? Surely we Catholics have not lost the capacity to recognize this kind of thing as simply insane. There is more to the Remnant‘s position than the rhetoric and tone of one column.

And in a separate comment,  Mr Ferrara says: “No Pope in Church history has received the world’s praise like this Pope. That is a very bad sign, as Our Lord himself made clear.”

In another comment, one Stephen Hand notes:

Just weeks before the Irish same sex referendum in which Ireland was lost to the Catholic Church for the first time since St. Patrick, Francis appointed the notorious gay advocate, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, as Consultor to the Vatican’s Peace and Justice Commission. What a sly signal to the Irish in that critical hour. And that appointment also illustrated that Francis, unlike JPII and BXVI has been driving a sly wedge between Church praxis (works of mercy) and traditional Catholic doctrine. The former must ever be the “fruit” of orthodoxy, sound doctrine, never a substitute for it.

I would agree with John Médaille that no matter how bad things get, schism is never the answer. Perhaps our best course  would be to heed the advice of Cardinal Raymond Burke:

I think of so many faithful who express to me their profound concerns for the Church in the present time, when there seems to be so much confusion about fundamental dogmatic and moral truths. In responding to their concerns, I urge them to deepen their understanding of the constant teaching and discipline of the Church and to make their voices heard, so that the shepherds of the flock may understand the urgent need to announce again with clarity and courage the truths of the faith and to apply again with charity and firmness the discipline needed to safeguard the same truths.

Both Mr Matt and Mr Médaille were at last year’s symposium of the Roman Forum in Gardone on the Italian lakes. I hope they’ll both be there again.

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.

February 22nd, 2016

Francis and Paul, Nuns and Contraceptives

I bet you were as puzzled as I was by that remark of Pope Francis on the plane back from Mexico:
“Paolo VI – il grande! – in una situazione difficile, in Africa, ha permesso alle suore di usare gli anticoncezionali per i casi di violenza.” … Paul VI – the Great! – in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted sisters to use contraceptives for cases of violence.

Fr John Zuhlsdorf, in his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say, gets to the truth of the matter:

I’ve heard this before. I never believed it.

Years ago on the COL Forum (which I ran) we had a discussion about this.  One of the staffers tried to dig up the old files.  In the meantime he  sent this information.  It was not originally written in English, so I touched it up here and there… but not very much.

This reads like a soap opera, on the one hand.  It reads like a vicious campaign of lies and disinformation designed to confuse the faithful and undermine the Church, on the other.

The urban legend (lie) is now so common that even high-ranking churchmen cite it as if it happened.   They aren’t lying, per se.  They are passing on something that isn’t true but that they think is true… even if it really doesn’t pass the smell test.

This whopper doesn’t pass the smell test.  Paul VI told nuns they could use contraceptives… riiiiight?

You decide.

My emphases and comments.

So far, I was unable to retrieve the COL Forum thread on this urban legend about Bl. Paul VI and contraception for nuns in Africa, but I had some notes stored and then idiocies about our Holy Faith have the ability to switch on my memory neurons to combat mode,  like yelling Saracens would do to a Templar knight who had been fasting and praying for a good fight the whole Quattuor Tempora of Lent.

You can search any archive, google any keyword, ask any historian or moralist, all you will be served with is old articles of pro-contraception authors repeating this story either with no supporting references or with no other evidence than references to older articles saying that Rome had OK’d contraception for endangered nuns in Africa at some point.

Notice, the more you go back in time, the more “Paul VI” becomes, more vaguely, “Rome”. Dig deep enough and you will find that Rome” turns out to be just an article published, you guessed it, in Rome, precisely by the magazine Studi Cattolici, n° 27, in the year of our Salvation 1961. Title: “Una donna domanda: come negarsi alla violenza? Morale esemplificata. Un dibattito” (A woman asks, how to subtract oneself from violence? Exemplified morals. A debate).

Yes, I can hear you yelling at the monitor. Paul VI ascended to the Throne of Peter only in 1963.

And now I want somebody to tell me, with a straight face, that St. John XXIII allowed contraception.  Above all, I want them to show me where and when he did it.

Back to the article. The authors were 1) Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, later a bishop and a Cardinal but back then a respected moral theologian and the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Council, 2) Professor Francis Xavier Hurth, S.J., of the Pontifical Gregorian University, and 3) Msgr. Ferdinando Lambruschini of the Pontifical Lateran University (later Archbishop of Perugia).

Long and verbose story short, in that article Palazzini and Lambruschini explore a possible application of the “principle of the double effect” to the case of rape, where a legitimate end is pursued and the probable evil consequence is unintended.  [NB: Double-effect!]

Fr. Hurth attempts an elaboration of Aquinas’ concept of genus moris and genus naturae where the moral status of an act can be different depending on its spiritual and physical characteristics. In fairness, I’ll note that, back then, chemical contraception was a relatively new subject. Tonsured moralists were unlikely to be all that familiar with the science and the physiology involved and it will take until 1968 to hear an authoritative pronouncement on this specific subject, the reviled Humanae Vitae. And it came from that same Paul VI who is said to have allowed contraception, if only by way of exception.

That’s all.

No, really, there is nothing else.

The opinion of three moralists in a magazine, attempting to offer, I repeat, an opinion on a complex matter, gets quoted loosely and ad nauseam by other moralists and journalists and becomes “Rome” and later “Paul VI”.

They will tell you that that article legitimized the concept of “lesser evil”. Leaving aside the fact that we can never choose evil, no matter the scale of it, the fact is that in 1957 Palazzini had co-edited a widely used manual where the following is said (I quote a 1962 English edition of this manual):

“To choose the lesser of two evils is permissible [NB] if the lesser evil is not in itself a moral evil (sin), but a purely physical evil or the omission of something good or indifferent, from which in a specific case an accidental bad effect will follow, less serious, however, than that which another course would provoke” (Ludovico Bender OP, in Dictionary of Moral Theology, Ed. Roberti, Francesco, Palazzini Pietro. Transl. by H. Yannone. Westminster, MD: Newman, 1962).

Now, I am no moral theologian but contraception is in fact a moral evil in itself (see Humanae Vitae 16) and not a “purely physical evil”, much less “something good or indifferent”. Case closed.

Not many outside Italy know, however, that Cardinal Palazzini was asked about this matter years later, and precisely in the ‘90s when another such myth was concocted, had seen that the Paul VI-Congo nuns version was losing credibility.  I am talking about the John Paul II-Bosnia nuns myth.

Those of us old enough will remember that during the Balkan wars articles begun to be published about “the Pope” or “Rome” authorizing nuns in Bosnia to take the pill in war zones. Palazzini is quoted in an article on that paper sewer some call La Repubblica which seems to have taken the place once occupied by the Osservatore Romano lately (OTOH, natura abhorret vacuum). The article was published on March 5, 1993.

Translated title: “The pill? Forbidden also for missionary nuns at risk of rape”.

Palazzini explains that all they were trying to do was to explore the possibility of actions aimed at preventing a pregnancy after a rape and before conception, supposing that possibility existed, in ways that have nothing to do with taking the pill for weeks for fear of a potential rape. So “Rome” (read: the author of an old article) denies having ever said that contraceptives are OK in certain circumstances.

[QUAERITUR] But what was this new article about and why were they interviewing Palazzini after 30 years?

Bear with me.

There had been stories of women raped in Bosnia (nihil sub sole novi).  Fr. Bergamaschi, a Franciscan friar, had accused St. John Paul II of hypocrisy because the Great Pole had reaffirmed the constant teaching of the Church on contraception to the point of exhorting raped women to keep their babies but, according to Bergamaschi, had also authorized nuns to take the pill.  So journalists began to ask questions. [Agere sequitur esse.]

With the typically half-horrified and half-snarky tone, the reporterette of La Repubblica has to write that the Vatican is in fact unwavering in its position on contraceptives, even in the case of rape. The inhumanity! She quotes the then vice-director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Piero Pennacchini. His words:

“The Holy See never issued texts authorizing women religious to make use of contraceptives, even if they run the risk of being raped”. “I know of no official document by the Holy See on this”.

Disappointed, the journalist evokes Fr. Efrem Tresoldi, a missionary who says that he doesn’t know the extent of the phenomenon. “Surely” there is “talk” of contraceptives among missionaries. “Certainly” some nuns have been told to make use of contraceptives, says Tresoldi.  So, there are disloyal confessors or superiors of religious orders who tell nuns to act contrary to the doctrine of the Church.

OK Father, and what else is new?  [Not much.]

Above all, since when are disloyal members of religious orders “the Pope”, or “Rome”? [When it fits.]

Unsatisfied, the reporterette turns to a missionary nun (she couldn’t find one from Bosnia so she asks one who had been in Africa for 12 years. Says the missionary nun: “Personally I have never heard of contraceptive pills”, “but there has been certainly the risk of (sexual) violence for many of us who lived though the great African upheavals. I don’t know if other sisters have been advised to take precautions”.

Back to Tresoldi, we are told that, of course, there is no official pronouncement, but that’s because John Paul II and his merciless minions are hypocrites who tell nuns to take the pill in secret even while they tell lay women to accept their fate and keep the baby.

That’s when the Repubblica hack turns to Card. Palazzini, hoping to save the day with the lies of 30 years ago.

A few months after this article and others of the same kind, in July 1993 the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica (surprise!) [NOT] published what to this day remains the “doctrinal” foundation to the John Paul II- Bosnia nuns version of the myth: G. Perico, Stupro, Aborto e Anticoncezionali, volume III, Quaderno 3433, 3 luglio 1993.

Search all you want, this stream of the myth always goes back to this article.  [It sounds almost like the way all myths about Pius XII and the Jews go back to one source, a play in 1963, and that source was cobbled up by the KGB in a campaign of disinformation.]

No need to summarize it. Go read it if you want. I did.

He harkens back to the 1961 article and moves from there. [Surprise.] As happened with the Palazzini, Hurth and Lambruschini article, and even more given the firepower of the media of 30 years later, Perico’s piece sparkled lively discussions among moral theologians on the subject of contraception. Fine. But that’s not the point. That point is that they have nothing, not one thing they can come up with to support the notion that Paul VI or John Paul II ever allowed contraception, when the facts, the known and easily accessible, official, constant and binding pronouncements of the Church show the exact contrary.

Discussions are NOT the teaching of the Church.

Off-the cuff-remarks are NOT the teaching of the Church.

This is why on my bended knees I beg you all, Fathers, check your facts and, in John Wayne’s immortal words:

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much”.

So: Who is going to tell Pope Francis that he should stop doing these stupid, self -indulgent mid-air Press conferences? They are doing enormous damage to the credibility of Holy Mother Church.

BTW, that last paragraph is  Stramentarius, not Father Zed.

 

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February 10, 2015

You Don’t Have to Have a Bit of the Other

When I was in the East Surrey Regiment back in the mid-1950s, the two main topics of conversation among my comrades were football and what they delicately referred to as The Other. (When they were being somewhat  less delicate it was known as Your Oggins.)  It was regarded as beyond debate that a regular Bit of The Other was absolutely essential to a man’s general well-being.

During the next decade this view  came to prevail among most Catholics: hence the wails of distress when Pope Paul VI overruled the majority report of the Papal Commission on Birth Control and produced the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which basically confirmed the provisions of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii, only in somewhat less forceful terms. I seem to recall that  one progressive book entitled Contraception and Holiness (which my friend Fr Brendan Purcell later dubbed  “Fornication and Mental Prayer”)  maintained that married couples had an absolute  right to a Bit of the Other several times a week, and if they wished to be sure of avoiding pregnancy this would only be possible if contraceptives were used. It was all put in the most delicate language; lots of references to love, responsible parenthood and “the totality of marriage”.

It was just special pleading; self serving nonsense.  Pope Paul’s  prophecies about the woeful effects of the widespread  use of contraceptives have been more than vindicated.

I am sorry I may have offended some readers by expressing myself so crudely.   Of course sex is a most vital component of marriage, for reasons spelled out in detail by the Church’s magisterium over the centuries. One of these reasons is the fact that it nurtures and sustains the mutual love of  spouses (or it should do, anyway). But the point I’m labouring is that today it has come to be worshipped as a false god—perhaps particularly by  the thousands of priests who have jettisoned celibacy. Some of these have tried to use the existence of married Anglican Ordinariate Catholic clergy to justify their own betrayal.

Fr John Hunwicke, himself a married Anglican convert, has no time for  this sleight of  hand:

I suspect that few of us would want the tradition we have inherited to be used as, or in some way become, an engine for the demolition of the Western norm. In this sexually obsessed world, there has never been a greater need for the bright light of Celibacy as a Sign that Sex is not inevitable; not dominant.

And we must not over-romanticise the Married Priesthood. Somebody once sent me a page or two of the American Clergy List, which detailed the matrimonial history of PECUSA [Episcopalian] clergy … and how very common divorce seemed to be; often, multiple divorce. Nor does a permission for clerical marriage guarantee that there will be no sexual hanky panky. On the contrary: priests’ wives themselves are not ring-fenced from the snares of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil! And husbands, even clerical ones, can do wicked things in frustration because of problems in their marriages. We all need to be very careful indeed, and not clutch at facile ‘solutions’.