Home > Tag Archives: Synod on the Family

Tag Archives: Synod on the Family

December 30, 2015

Bashing the ‘Schismatic’ Pixies

The Irish Catholics Forum often contains material of great interest: but I will never understand why, at a time when, humanly speaking, there appears little reason to believe that the Church in the West will survive more than a few  more decades, some of  its contributors seem so obsessed by trivia.

For instance, while large numbers of influential cardinals (and, it would appear, possibly the Holy Father himself) appear determined to undermine Catholic teaching on the non-admission of unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion, you will find ICF contributors exercised by such matters as  the status of the Society of St Pius X, and the blessing of religious objects.

To concentrate here on the former, there is still a long-standing  thread devoted to “The SSPX Schism in a Nutshell” which continues even after Pope Francis’ decision to “establish” the validity of confessions to an SSPX priest—at least during the Year of Mercy which began on December 8.  His actual words are well worth examining:

A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity [sic] of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime,  motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. 

Are we  expected to believe that God’s mercy can be turned on and off like a tap? That any repentant mortal sinner who confesses to a Pixie priest one minute later than 11.59pm on December 8,  2016 will remain, objectively, in a state of damnation?  Is that what Pope Francis really meant?  Isn’t that exactly the kind of pharasaical legalism that the Pope frequently condemns among what he calls “so-called traditionalists”.

The claim that the SSPX is in an ongoing state of schism is now completely untenable. If the Pixies were really schismatic, the Church would regard all their sacraments as valid, just like those of the Orthodox, and the Pope would have no jurisdiction over them. His statement would then be completely pointless. He clearly regards the clergy and laity of the SSPX as truly Catholic, with “good faith and sacramental practice” although in a  grey area canonically.  The concept of schism cannot rationally be extended to include those in an “uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint ”.

No, the Pixies are not schismatics, whatever else they are.

Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.tv is another Pixie-basher.  But unlike some contributors to the ICF he gives the impression of rather relishing the prospect of SSPX adherents facing the prospect of hell.

If you have time, you might like to read a letter to Pope Francis about the recent synod.  Note who it’s from…..

Holy Father,

It is with grave concern that we see around us the gradual degradation of marriage and the family, the origin and foundation of all human society. This decay is beginning to accelerate strongly, notably through the legal promotion of the most immoral and depraved behaviour. The law of God, even the natural law, is today publicly trampled underfoot, the most serious sins multiply dramatically and cry to Heaven for vengeance.

Most Holy Father,

We cannot hide from you that the first part of the Synod dedicated to “Family pastoral challenges in the context of evangelisation” alarmed us very deeply. We have heard and read, according to some bishops – who support you without contradiction – statements so contrary to the truth, so opposed to the clear and consistent teaching of the Church regarding the sanctity of marriage, that our soul has been deeply troubled by them. What worries us even more are some of your words implying that there could be an evolution of doctrine to meet the new needs of Christian people. Our concern is that St Pius X condemned in the encyclical Pascendi Gregis such a development of dogma  on the pretended basis of contemporary requirements. Pius X and you, Holy Father, have received the fullness of the power of teaching, sanctifying and governing in obedience to Christ who is the head and shepherd of the flock at all times and in every place, and whose Pope must be the true Vicar on this earth. The object of a dogmatic condemnation does not become, over time, an authorised pastoral practice.

God, the author of nature, has established the stable union of man and woman to perpetuate the human species. The revelation of the Old Testament teaches us, in the most obvious way, that marriage, unique and indissoluble, between a man and a woman, has been directly established by God, and that its essential characteristics have been given by Him to men of freewill to live under a very particular divine protection: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife” (Ex 20, 17).

The Gospel teaches us that Jesus Himself, by virtue of His supreme authority, definitively restored marriage, changed by the corruption of men, to its primitive purity. “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt 19: 6).

It is the glory of the Catholic Church, throughout the centuries, to have defended the human and divine reality of marriage against the wind and the waves, despite demands, threats and temptations. She has always carried high – even when corrupt men abandoned her for that reason alone – the standard of faithfulness, purity and fertility that characterise true conjugal and family love.

As we approach the second part of this Synod dedicated to the family, we are conscious of our duty to express to the Holy See the deep anxieties that seize us at the thought of “conclusions” that could be proposed on this occasion, if by great misfortune they were to constitute a new attack against the sanctity of marriage and the family, further weakening the status of couples and households. We hope with all our heart, however, that the Synod will perform a true work of mercy recalling, for the good of souls, the integral saving teaching on marriage.

We are fully aware, in the current context, that people who are living in irregular marriage situations should be welcomed pastorally, with compassion, so as to show them the merciful face of the God of love made known by the Church.

But the law of God, an expression of His eternal love for men, constitutes by itself the supreme mercy for all times, people and situations. We pray therefore that the evangelical truth of marriage that the Synod should proclaim may not be circumvented in practice by multiple “pastoral exceptions” that would distort its true meaning, or by new legislation that would abolish (quasi infallibly) its true scope. On this point, we cannot conceal from you that the recent canonical provisions of the motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, facilitating accelerated declarations of nullity, will open the door de facto to a procedure of so-called “Catholic divorce”, despite the reminders about the indissolubility of marriage that accompany it. These provisions follow the evolution of contemporary mores, without trying to rectify them according to the divine law; since then, how can we not be upset about the fate of children born of these marriages annulled with such speed, the sad victims of the “culture of waste”?

In the sixteenth century, Pope Clement VII refused Henry VIII of England the divorce that he demanded. Faced with the threat of the Anglican schism, the pope maintained, against all pressures, the intangible teaching of Christ and His Church on the indissolubility of marriage. Will his decision now be disavowed in a “canonical repentance”?

Today, around the world, many families have mobilised themselves courageously against civil laws that undermine the natural and Christian family, and publicly encourage vile behaviour contrary to the most elementary morality. Can the Church abandon those who, sometimes to their own detriment and always mocked and jeered, lead this necessary but difficult battle? This would be a disastrous counter-witness, and would be a source of disgust and discouragement for these people. Men of the Church, on the contrary, by their very mission, must give these people clear and reasoned support.

Holy Father,

For the honour of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the consolation of the Church and all the Catholic faithful, for the good of society and all humanity at this crucial time, we implore you to make resound throughout the world a word of truth, clarity and firmness in defence of Christian and even simply human marriage, in support of its foundation, namely the difference and complementarity of the sexes, in support of its uniqueness and its indissolubility . Filially, we beseech you to make that word ring out, accompanied by effective measures showing your support of the Catholic family by your actions.

We entrust this humble petition to the patronage of St John the Baptist, who underwent martyrdom for defending publicly, against a civil authority compromised by an outrageous “remarriage” , the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage; begging the precursor to give Your Holiness the courage to remind the whole world of the true doctrine concerning natural and Christian marriage.

+ Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X





January 1, 2015

 More on Bishops and B******t

I’ve been having another look at that curious Reflection Document for the Clergy on Marriage and the Family put out by the English hierarchy.  At one point it appears to imply that those insisting on upholding the Church’s constant teaching on such matters as Communion for unrepentant adulterers are a bit like the Donatist heretics of North Africa, who were refuted  by St Augustine and St Optatus.

These Donatists believed that the traditores—those bishops and clergy who had handed over the sacred Scriptures to the Roman authorities to avoid martyrdom—were beyond repentance,  had forfeited their authority, and were permanently excommunicated. The Donatists were extreme rigorists, (or “riggies” to use the term employed by modernist  seminary professors to put down orthodox clerical students) . They were of course quite wrong, because no repentant sinner is beyond God’s forgiveness.

The Donatists regarded martyrdom as the supreme Christian virtue. Their most extreme faction, the Circumcellions, were a bit like 21st century  Moslem suicide bombers.  They called themselves agonistici (“fighters [for Christ”]). They  used to  bring about their own martyrdom by attacking random travellers  on the road, shouting “laudate Deum!” and demanding to be killed.  The Circumcellions used to assault Roman legionaries with wooden clubs, which for some reason they called their “Israelites”. They declined to use swords,  because of Our Lord’s rebuke to St Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. On other occasions they would interrupt  the law courts so that the judge would order their immediate execution for contempt of court.

Anyway, the anonymous authors of the English bishops’ document  think we can derive from the Donatist controversy  “”a way to reach out to people  in their very diverse situations”, and that St Augustine, in his dealing with the Donatists, “offers us a way of looking at the Church from his age which is still relevant today”. St Augustine, they tell us, favoured “patience and tolerance”, not the exclusion of sinners from the Church.  But then, of course, no one on the orthodox side of the present  debate has ever suggested that repentant sinners should be denied Communion.

Let’s have a look at a truly relevant passage from  St Augustine on Our Lord’s words to the woman taken in adultery:

‘Neither will I condemn you’. What is this, Lord? Do you therefore favour sins? Not so, evidently. Mark what follows: ‘Go, henceforth sin no more’. Therefore the Lord did also condemn, but condemned sins, not man. For if he were a patron of sin, he would say ‘Neither will I condemn you; go, live as you will: be secure in my deliverance; how much soever you will sin, I will deliver you from all punishment,  even of hell, and from the torturers of the infernal world’. He said not this. Let them take heed, then, who love this gentleness in the Lord, and let them fear his truth. For ‘The Lord is sweet and right’. You love him in that he is sweet; fear him in that he is right. As the meek one, he said ‘I held my peace’; but as the just one, he said ‘Shall I always be silent?’  ‘The Lord is merciful and pitiful’. So he is, certainly. Add yet further: ‘Long-suffering’; add, even further still: ‘And very pitiful’. But fear what comes last: ‘And true’. For those whom he now puts up with as sinners, he will judge as despisers. ‘Or do you despise the riches of his long-suffering and gentleness, not knowing that the forbearance of God leads you to repentance? But you, after your hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up for yourself wrath against the Day of Wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgement of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds’ [Romans 2:4-6]. The Lord is gentle, the Lord is long-suffering, the Lord is pitiful; but the Lord is also just, the Lord is also true. He bestows on you space for correction; but you love the delay of Judgement more than the amendment of your ways.

Fr John Hunwicke sums it all up perfectly:

The style of much modern dialogue is to set things against each other as polar opposites. Law vs Freedom; Judgement vs Mercy; Cultus vs Prophecy; Demands-of-the-kingdom vs Compassion-and-Love. Any such cheap game needs to be exposed to the fact that Jesus is both. Writers often give me the impression that the Demands of the Kingdom, God’s commandments, are something which we can’t, unfortunately, get out of, much as we might wish to. So we grit our teeth and loyally get down to compliance with as much dutiful obedience as we can muster. But … if only we could square it with our consciences … we would so very much rather be singing, to our congregations and to the World, great paeans of sentiment about God’s Compassion and Love. So we do our best to circumscribe and render practically ineffective the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, out of our fear that, by laying too much emphasis there, we shall be robbing people of the Compassion and Love which we would so much rather be seen to be dispensing to a waiting World. I hope I am not being unfair or too cruel when I share my fearful suspicion that the anonymous ghost-writer of the CBCEW document is, with the best will in the world, at just that about stage of thought.

But Jesus is there in both places. The Truth that you cannot divorce a spouse and then acquire a replacement, without committing Adultery, is the Compassionate Love of Christ. He is like the loving and compassionate Land-owner who puts a safe fence along the edge of a dangerous cliff in countryside where people are strongly tempted to behave carelessly, and then sets up as Law the truth (which in fact is inscribed into the very situation itself) that we cannot leap over that fence without falling to destruction. Any contradicting definition of Compassionate Love is a fabrication of the Anti-Christ, who decks himself with devastating plausibility in the most apparently authentic religious language so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

You can’t set Love against Law because Christ has you in the most unavoidable of all pincer-movements: He is both.

December 30, 2014

Bishops, Buts and B******t

Both sides in the  synod debate are already squaring up for the battle ahead. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales clearly belongs to the faction favouring the admission of  unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion.  You can tell this by the way they have constructed the following sentence:

The Synod does not shirk from the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, urging us to make the demands of the Kingdom of God, but this must be accompanied with compassion and love, seeing firstly persons who are loved by God.

Now if you summarise that sentence in three words, it means “We are nice.” If you turned the sentence the other way, to say  “[Action] must be  accompanied with compassion and love, seeing firstly persons who are loved by God,  but the Synod does not shirk from the truth of the Gospel and Kingdom, urging us to make the demands of the Kingdom of God”, it would mean something quite different: “We are strict.”

It’s a rhetorical device, employing the golden rule that when you oppose two ideas and put a “but” between them, it’s always the part which follows the “but” which is the most important and the one you want to prevail.

I have summarised the above argument from Fr Hunwicke’s blog. One contributor to his combox puts it neatly, if crudely: “As an advertiser, well versed in this device, said, ‘Before the BUT is b*****t’.”

More about this in my next post.

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


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?

November 3, 2014

The Gulag and the Synod

This is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s reflection on how Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago might have been stopped in its tracks if only people had put up some resistance when the secret police came to take them away:

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more–we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterwards.

It may be fanciful , but I can’t help feeling that the same would  apply  to us if we meekly acquiesced in the attempted takeover of our beloved Church by  modernist prelates who believe that with the present pontificate, their hour has come. Thank God for courageous churchmen like George Pell and Raymond Burke.

November 2, 2014

The Tablet Stuck in a Time-Warp

For a penance, once or twice a year I buy a copy of the Tablet in one of our local churches, just to see what the British mods are thinking . The most revealing section is probably the Letters column. You get an eerie feeling that we are still in the 1960s or early 70s.

The first letter is from France, by a doctor with an Irish name, regurgitating the same ideas about “conscience” as we used to hear just after the Second Vatican Council. He quotes with approval the suggestion by the confessor of one divorced and “remarried” woman that it was up to her own conscience whether she should “take” Communion. ( With Catholic mods, as with Protestants, it’s always “take”, never “receive”.)  This doctor scorns the idea that the Church is “some kind of overarching monarchy from which one has to request permission for one’s actions”. Monarchies, he says, were discredited in the French Revolution over 200 years ago. (“Discrediting” is surely rather an odd way to describe slicing your monarch’s head off.) The doctor concludes by asserting that most of us are quite capable of thinking things through for ourselves “without the need for clergy to tell us what to think, what to do and how to do it”. I am quite unable to understand why people who no longer believe in the magisterium still want to remain part of the Church. Can anyone explain it to me?

Another writer, from Co. Donegal, wishes piotiously : “Perhaps the Holy Spirit will inspire the Synod  Fathers to find a way of not denying the Lord to those who have trouble with their marriages”.  Well, if the synod had come up with such a formula, it would not have been  the Holy Spirit who put them up to it. Anyway, Holy Communion is not denied to “those who have trouble with their marriages”, but to people who refuse to repent of ongoing adultery. It’s not the same thing.

Then we have the “Movement for Married Clergy UK”, suggesting that the fulfilment of their goal might render multiple funerals unnecessary.  Another letter likens the situation of women who have affairs with Catholic priests, to that of the wives of Anglican clerical converts–as though the two were in any way comparable. Yet another, from a woman in Cambridge,  suggests that acceptance of “the teachings of Vatican II” should be a “2014 test of orthodoxy”. She hopes the Synod Fathers “can put collegiality really into practice”.

Next comes  a letter from a woman in Coventry likening the agnostic writer  George Eliot with St Teresa of Avila, “the unconventional and rebellious saint  who struggled with her male  `superiors`”. (The single quotes are not mine, and not St Teresa’s–they are the letter writer’s.)  Finally, the letters column carries a brief item, also from Coventry, this time from a man. He quotes from the Deist encyclopaedist  and anti-religious propagandist Denis Diderot, of all people,  in support of the contention that the synod bishops have no business discussing marriage, because they not married themselves.





October 29, 2014

Peace Be Upon the Irish Catholic…

A few days ago, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.”

A friend of mine was so incensed by a silly article in the Irish Catholic on  dialogue with Islam, written  by a Columban missionary nun, that he wrote a letter to the editor and was given to understand that the paper was going to carry it the following week.   (This nun must be a brave woman; she has spent a long time in Pakistan, presumably at considerable risk to herself. But she really should have known better.)

Here’s the letter:

Dear Editor,

Sr Rebecca Conlon is naive in the extreme when she writes about dialogue with Islam in Pakistan (Notebook, 16/10/14).

She talks about “reaching out to marginalised women”. Has she not read Sura 4:34 in the Islamic holy book, the Koran? My copy translates the Arabic as saying that, if a man fears “disloyalty or ill conduct” from women, he should admonish them, refuse to share their beds and beat them”. Not much room for “reaching out” there, I should have thought.

The man whom Sr Rebecca describes as a prophet, Mohammed, even took a six year old girl (Aisha) as one of his wives. Oh, but he didn’t  consummate the relationship with her until she was 10 (and he was 53). Sr Rebecca even ventures to dignify him with the Moslem phrase “Peace Be Upon Him”!

And, as Sr Rebecca knows full well, Islam teaches that the penalty for a Moslem becoming a Christian is death. The Catholic she cites, Shahbaz Bhatti, paid the ultimate  price, with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claiming responsibility for his killing as “a blasphemer of Mohammed”. Others, particularly in areas of Syria and Iraq controlled by Islamic State, have suffered a more gruesome fate.

Islam is now the greatest danger faced by Catholics, both outside and in Europe. The sooner people like Sr Rebecca realise that, the better.

Please don’t print my full address; I don’t want to get my head sawn off.

Yours etc.

In the end the Irish Catholic decided not to print the letter after all. Presumably a case of discretion being the better part of valour?


Alive Sees No Evil

Ì picked up  the Catholic freesheet Alive this morning with considerable anticipation, hoping to find something helpful on that Synod on the Family.  But the only relevant item came on page 5.  It was a quotation from the American theologian Fr Robert Barron, taking the line: “Nothing to see here, people, move along now.”

Fr Barron told worried Catholics not to be upset about the “hysteria and distorted media reports”, insisting that that–as in general councils of the Church–consensus would evolve after lengthy and often acrimonious debate.

It’s not good enough. You can’t just brush under the carpet a determined and almost successful attempt to subvert the constant teaching of the Church on marriage and  the Eucharist–an attempt, moreover, which is certain to be renewed before long.

Sometimes I think the problem with “conservative” Catholics is that they are just too nice. Unlike us curmudgeonly trads, they  can’t accept  that there is a rottenness in the Church reaching  to the very highest levels. The fact that they can’t see it does them credit, in a way…





October 24, 2014

Knavish imbecility

Yet more on the Synod. The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog  sums the thing up beautifully:

Well that wasn’t a very edifying spectacle was it, the Synod? An outrageously dishonest attempt at procedural manipulation at the highest level, publicly shoved into the turf nose-first by decent men who just couldn’t stomach any more of it. Thanks be to God for Cardinal Pell and Cardinal Burke: at least we have heroes to sing of after the debacle.

I suppose in advance of the follow-up Synod, we now have to face another year of false hopes and unnecessary confusion over Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family while the wrong targets are routinely chosen for praise and blame, promotion and demotion.

Sorry – I have been very busy with pastoral work, haven’t much time to post, wanted to say something, and find it hard to be patient with what has gone on. I was glad to be able to quote Belloc recently to a concerned young man who had not heard his famous words: `The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine; but for unbelievers, here is proof of its divinity, that no merely human institution run with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.`


October 23, 2014

The Enigma of Pope Francis

Another wise take on the Synod–and Pope Francis. It’s from Fr Ray Blake’s blog.  It’s obviously been written in a bit of a hurry, so I’ve taken the liberty of straightening out some of the word order and  and punctuation a bit. I hope Father won’t mind.

I must admit I still don’t understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?

I have never done the Benedict through Francis thing at least, but neither am I entirely convinced of the Francis against Benedict thing. I am still perplexed and confused by him. Perhaps  in Francis, rather than having an Emperor who is wearing no clothes we actually have clothes with no Emperor. I mean those morning homilies that come out of the marble halls of  Santa Martha that are full of barbs but actually teach nothing. Perhaps we should expect nothing!

It is worth remembering that what many of the Cardinals were calling for before the Conclave was a de-centralised Church and greater Collegiality. The BBC, foolish people, have been talking about progressive Francis against the conservative Synod and how he failed to move the Church forward, as if the Synod was solely about the divorced and remarried, or practicing homosexuals. What seems to go under the radar is that for the first time in modern times Cardinals and Bishops have stood up to the Pope and very publicly defied him; some, like the Lion of the Synod Raymond Burke have even dared to demand he do his job and defend the faith, like Paul rebuking Peter.

What has happened in the Synod is that  those of us who would hope that the successor of the Apostle Peter should defend the faith from other Bishops, have turned our gaze from the successor of Peter to the successors of the other Apostles. This I think was the defining action of the Synod: for the first time most Catholics looked to Bishops, not the Pope, to defend the Faith.