Bishop Gracida: “Chaos looms on the horizon if episcopal conferences are given doctrinal power” December 5, 2013Posted by tantamergo in abdication of duty, Basics, disconcerting, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, scandals, secularism, shocking, the return.
In the second of my posts examining the recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Guadium, I will look at another aspect where Pope Francis appears to be taking a rather radical turn away from the policies of even his immediate predecessors (let alone his distant ones) – so called “collegiality.” I will use a recent column by Sandro Magister as a starting point to introduce some of my own thoughts. The only thought Bishop Gracida had on this matter is what I included in the lede. Magister (I add comments, emphasis in original):
In the voluminous apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” made public one week ago, Pope Francis has made it known that he wants to distinguish himself on at least two points from the popes who preceded him.
The first of these points is also the one that has had the greatest impact in the media. And it concerns both the exercise of the primacy of the pope and the powers of the episcopal conferences…….
1. ON THE PAPACY AND THE NATIONAL CHURCHES
On the role of the pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio credits John Paul II with having paved the way to a new form of the exercise of primacy. But he laments that “we have made little progress in this regard” and promises that he intends to proceed with greater vigor toward a form of papacy “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.” [This statement by Pope Francis is a strong - one might even say searing - indictment of his hundreds of predecessors. He is claiming they did not act with the Will of Christ in creating the papal-centric mode of governing the Church, something many early Church Fathers I think would find rather surprising.]
But more than on the role of the pope – where Francis remains vague and has so far operated by making most decisions himself – it is on the powers of the episcopal conferences that “Evangelii Gaudium” heralds a major transition.
The pope writes in paragraph 32 of the document:
“The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position ‘to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit.’ [That's odd, because the "ancient patriarchal churches" were made up of individual sees headed by individual bishops. Dozens or hundreds of bishops did not band together into pseudo-democratic highly bureaucratic organizations founded more on structures of modern government than any type of Church governance.] Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.” [Interesting. Your two immediate predecessors, Holiness, thought rather differently on the matter, as we will see below.]
In a footnote, Francis refers to a 1998 motu proprio of John Paul II, concerning precisely “the theological and juridical nature of the episcopal conferences”:
But if one reads that document, one discovers that it attributes to the national episcopal conferences a function that is exclusively practical, cooperative, of a simple intermediate auxiliary body between the college of all the world’s bishops together with the pope on the one hand – the only “collegiality” declared to have a theological foundation – and the individual bishop with authority over his diocese on the other. [And that's true. For 40 years, orthodox Catholics have been trying to explain the strange role played by episcopal conferences in just those terms, as being entirely unsupported by Tradition and Doctrine and being, essentially, novelties of a practical nature stood up by the Council. Heretofore, there has been absolutely NO doctrinal foundation for giving conferences run almost entirely by progressive bureaucrats (many of whom have spent time at Planned Barrenhood and other far left NGOs) any role in Doctrine. For reasons why, look to Blessed Pope John Paul II's words below]
Above all, the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” strongly limits that “authentic doctrinal authority” which Pope Francis says he wants to grant to the episcopal conferences. It prescribes that if doctrinal declarations really need to be issued, this must be done with unanimous approval and in communion with the pope and the whole Church, or at least “by a substantial majority” after review and authorization by the Holy See. [I wish it did not have that caveat. In practice, the conferences have served often as bullies to prevent orthodox prelates from speaking out or taking action. But, in their defense, they have also checked a few of the excesses of progressive bishops.]
One danger warned against in the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” is that the episcopal conferences might release doctrinal declarations in contrast with each other and with the universal magisterium of the Church. [Gee, ya think?!? Anyone ever hear of the "Winnipeg Statement," which rejected constant Church Dogma on contraception? Individual conferences somehow get to pretend to define Doctrine (and I think their acts will never go beyond that, pretensions unsupported by the preconciliar Magisterium) and unleash potential doctrinal chaos.]
Another risk that it intends to prevent is the creation of separation and antagonism between individual national Churches and Rome, as happened in the past in France with “Gallicanism” and as takes place among the Orthodox with some of the autocephalous national Churches. [Precisely. As I said in a post some time ago, the Orthodox are more at war with themselves than with anyone else. They have been trying to arrange a "pan-Orthodox" council for nearly 1000 years, and are no closer to having one today than they were 200 years ago, largely due to issues of national precedence and which national Church would get to declare to itself the "primacy."]
That motu proprio bears the signature of John Paul II, but it owes its framework to the one who was his highly trusted prefect of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
And Ratzinger – as was known – had long been very critical of the superpowers that some episcopal conferences had attributed to themselves, especially in certain countries, including his native Germany.
In his bombshell interview of 1985, published with the title “The Ratzinger Report,” he had resolutely opposed the idea that the Catholic Church should become “a kind of federation of national Churches.”
Instead of a “decisive new emphasis on the role of the bishops” as desired by Vatican Council II, the national episcopal conferences – he accused – have “smothered” the bishops with their weighty bureaucratic structures. [Well.......that's because they have. If you want to know why Nancy Pelosi gets to commit sacrilege daily receiving the Blessed Sacrament, look no further than the USCCB.]
“It seems wonderful always to decide together,” but “the truth cannot be created through ballots,” both because “the group spirit and perhaps even the wish for a quiet, peaceful life or conformism lead the majority to accept the positions of active minorities bent upon pursuing clear goals” and because “the search for agreement between the different tendencies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents in which decisive positions (where they might be necessary) are weakened.” [Great points. Even more, there is a tendency in such democratic and bureaucratic organizations to be completely dominated by worldly concerns, to seek to always placate and mollify the demands of the world (esp. the press), and to lose sight of the supernatural. Any one of which is a profound reason NOT to give them any supposed doctrinal authority, which I still think would be illusory, at best. JPII said in Apostolos Suos that national conferences could not decide Doctrine on a plane with the Holy See because they weren't constituted by God to do so! They don't have the charism of infallibility! This will lead to unprecedented chaos and, very shortly, disaster.]
John Paul II and Benedict XVI after him judged the average quality of the world’s bishops and of most episcopal conferences to be modest. [Boy, they were being generous! I would judge them as......something else!] And they acted accordingly. Making themselves the leader and model and in some cases – as in Italy – resolutely intervening to change the leadership and marching orders.
With Francis, the episcopal conferences could instead see a recognition of greater autonomy. With the foreseeable repercussions exemplified recently by Germany, where prominent bishops and cardinals have been clashing publicly over the most varied questions, from the criteria of diocesan administration to communion for the divorced and remarried, in this latter case anticipating and forcing solutions on which the double synod of bishops of 2014 and 2015 has been called to debate and decide.
The modernists, of course, love the idea of collegiality, the better to introduce still more chaos and confusion into the Doctrine of the Faith. Modernists are seeking a path to continue their revolution with a seal of episcopal doctrinal approbation. That is why they have been pushing for this collegiality for over a century. It has always been one of their prime goals to “democratize” the Church, because they know with people being as fallen and tending towards sin as they are, the majority will happily revel in sin and error and call it virtue and truth. Such would confirm the modernists in their positions of wealth and authority for decades to come, which is what I think much of this comes down to. Power. The Council unleashed a revolution that was all about grabbing power for what had before that time been a small, disaffected, and rightly persecuted clique.
Look, the matter is simple. Individual bishops, and even groups of bishops in conference, have NO special charism to define doctrine. They do not have the special protection of the Holy Spirit afforded the Pope when making definitions of a dogmatic nature. They can err with wild abandon. Almost ALL the major heresies came from bishops!
Lord, please deliver us from collegiality! Pray and fast like mad for the Pope, he hasn’t DONE anything yet, he can still change his mind! We have almost a year! Storm Heaven!
Some moving quotes from Martin Mosebach’s The Heresy of Formlessness December 5, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, scandals, secularism, self-serving, the return.
I’ve been reading Martin Mosebach’s The Heresy of Formlessness. The Ignatius Press version, from which Fr. Fessio personally removed some of the more provocative bits. He didn’t want it to be “too controversial.” Whatever. There is still plenty of gold. I quote some random bits below, particularly pithy or effective quotes that I thought made important points. I hope you enjoy them. The book is a must read, even in its somewhat truncated and neutered Ignatius version. I do add some comments.
……the reformers of the Mass, preoccupied with their notion of early Christianity, were intent only on impoverishing and curtailing; they were actually pursuing a late Catholic puritanism rather than drawing on the wealth of forms of worship of the first millenium. [Indeed, if the reformers were so set on slavishly returning to early Christian practice, why aren't women and men segregated at the Mass, as they were for the first several hundred years of Church history? Why don't we have the severe penances and public Confession? For that matter, why is the Mass not in Latin? The Mass was never offered in Old English or one of the hundreds of Germanic languages. In point of fact, the "return to early Church practice" was simply an excuse to impose the revolution.]
…..a low Mass in the traditional Rite, read silently in a garage, is more solemn than the biggest Novus Ordo church-concert with spiritual trimmings…….if there is ever to be significant religious art again, this art will come from the “old” Liturgy, which expresses the sacred. [The first part might be debatable. I tend to agree, but it's an arguable point. I don't think any argument can be made against the latter.]
The Mass is not some basic core activity to which various decorations can be added [or taken away] , according to opportunity, in order to height the participant’s awareness. The rites “contain nothing unnecessary or superfluous.” [The Council of Trent solemnly declared that the Mass contained nothing unnecessary. But Vatican II called for the removal of pointless accretions and "useless repetitions.] Who would dare to pretend to find “unnecessary or superfluous things in a great fresco or a great poem?……..At all times there have been people who have made themselves ridiculous by trying to eliminate the “mistakes” in masterpieces, applying their half-baked scholarship to Michelangelo’s frescos and Shakespeare’s tragedies. Great works have a soul: we can feel it, alive and radiant, even where its body has been damaged.
The Liturgy must be regarded with at least as much respect as a profane masterpiece of this kind. Respect opens our eyes. Often enough, even in the case of a profane work of art, if we study conscientiously and ponder the detail, especially the apparently superfluous detail, we find that the offending element comes unexpectedly to life; in the end it sometimes happens that we come to see it as a special quality of the work. This is always the case of the rites of the Sacred Liturgy. There is nothing in them that, given intensive contemplation, does not show itself to be absolutely saturated with spiritual power. [I agree wholeheartedly, and would add, that those older folks who tell us how very, very glad they were when the Novus Ordo was put in place and they finally got rid of that terrible old Latin Mass never understood the Mass. They don't understand it now. Well prior to the Council, a sense had permeated many in the Church that the Mass was old fashioned and out of date. They didn't understand what was going on. This is a damning indictment of the priests and bishops of the pre-conciliar era, that so many people apparently never came to appreciate the Mass in all its glory. But then again, that bad catechesis and priestly formation was at least in part a result of the growing modernist influence in the Catholic seminary and university, thoroughly laced with a good deal of hostility towards the Mass. In the end, the modernists are at least partly responsible for everything, although there was a good deal of just plain ol' apathy around, too, I think.]
The [preconciliar] liturgy became a rich image with a welter of tiny details, greater than the sum of its parts; thus it must be contemplated and can never be entirely understood. [Yes! And in order to make the Mass "understandable," it had to be so dumbed down and stripped of content that it became a banality.]
Quote 5, on why the Consecration should take place “secretly,” obscured by the priest, or, in the Byzantine Liturgies, behind the ikonostasis:
The hermetic aspect, the aspect of rapture, that surrounds the Consecration in the “old” Latin Liturgy represents nothing other than the Holy Sepulcher, shut with a stone, in which the God-man awoke from death. This even had the whole cosmos for a witness, but no living man saw it. Something that, in the Liturgy, seems to be a later accretion, an accompaniment found in Byzantine basilicas and Gothic cathedrals, thus proves to be intimately connected with the core of salvation history. Christian liturgy is a withing beneath the Cross and outside the grave. This is another image the liturgical reform has tried to erase. [Why? Why can there be no mystery in the Mass? Why must everything be conducted like a crass commercial display? In fact, the hiding of the Consecration is about as ancient a liturgical act as one can find. Ever since the Christians built churches, the Consecration was especially set apart. But modernists didn't like that, because the vast majority of them DON'T BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE. To even hint at the Real Presence is hateful to them.]
That’s enough for one day. If you like, maybe some more, later.
If the liturgical reform failed totally, is it time to revisit Sacrosanctum Concilium? December 4, 2013Posted by tantamergo in abdication of duty, Basics, disaster, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, sadness, scandals, secularism.
I saw a post at Louis Verricchio’s blog that discusses the more radical aspects of Sacrosanctum Concilium. For those that don’t know, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) is the Vatican II document on the reform of the Sacred Liturgy. It was the first document promulgated at Vatican II, and set the tone for the rest with its either/or or “declaration followed by obfuscation” format. While Verricchio raised a number of valid concerns in making his point (which is that while many conservative Catholics try to point to SC as a “conservative” document of VII, there are many problematic statements in it that have been used to make very destructive changes to the Mass), I was struck by how much the reform of – or revolution against – the Liturgy has failed according to the goals set out in SC itself.
The entire reform of the Liturgy proposed at Vatican II was sold as being one that would dramatically improve the practice of the Faith in the lives of all the faithful. It was also supposed to make the Liturgy irresistibly attractive to protestants and those in other schismatic/heretical sects. In short, the “reform” was sold as being the main harbinger of that great new springtime that was so hoped for back in the days of the Council. This is apparent from the opening paragraph of SC, which states:
1. This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.
While the reform (or destruction, according to many experts) of the Roman Rite was supposed to instill “increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful,” what we have seen, from any metric one could care to choose, is the exact opposite! We have seen a deeper, faster and more universal collapse in the practice of the Faith – especially in Mass attendance! – than in ANY other period in the entire history of the Church!
Whatever changes were made to the Mass, which were intended to “adapt it more suitably to the needs of our own times,” (and what hubris in THAT statement!), that adaptation has apparently failed spectacularly. Not only has Mass attendance collapsed, but so has participation in almost all other aspects of the life of the Faith, from Confession to Adoration (which, in many places, is still actively debased as “medieval superstition”) to material support for the Church to personal prayer life to…….I could go on and on, but they have all fallen precipitously.
Furthermore, the reformed Liturgy has failed to attain the union it set out to achieve, either through attracting more converts or – and this was incredibly dubious from the start – resulting in a single, universal “mass” used by mainline protestant sects and the Church. In fact, this dream was impossible from the start, because only the Lutherans and Anglicans had retained enough semblance of the Mass to make such a union possible. But so very, very much was lost in the futile attempt. Things have gotten so bad, now, that at ecumenical confabs with orthodox Lutherans and Catholics present, the Lutherans are frequently scandalized by the impious handling of the Blessed Sacrament and casual disregard for the sacred! If anything, the Novus Ordo has turned off more of the separated sects than it has attracted!
Again, I could keep going on and on, showing how each individual aim of the reform of the Liturgy, as outlined in Sacrosanctum Concilium, has apparently failed, and massively. I could quote statistic after statistic showing the collapse in the practice of the Faith in this country and around the world.
But instead of beating this dead horse, I’ll simply ask a question – if the reform has so manifestly failed in ALL its stated objectives, perhaps it is time to end the experiment and return to the timeless Liturgy of the Church? Or, I’ll ask another way – why do converts make up a hugely disproportionate number of those who find their way to the Traditional Latin Mass?
Could it be the Mass the starry-eyed reformers were looking for, dreaming of a single Liturgy to unite all the “separated brethren,” is the one they had all along?
A response to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation December 3, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, catachesis, disconcerting, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Papa, secularism, Society, the return.
I have seen a wide variety of reactions to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, from cries that it is a master work of the post-conciliar theology, to claims that it is a middling and muddled effort, to Fr. Paul Kramer going full-on sede vacantist over it. It is a massive document, and I have not studied it all in depth, but I have read it, contrary to a commenter’s claim. It is far too much to deal with in one post. But to start, I thought I would re-post and comment a bit on Boniface’s own response to a portion of the document, in the form of an open letter he has penned to Pope Francis expressing his grave concerns over portions of it. Boniface’s post asks very pertinent questions that deserve not to be ignored or shouted down because they make people feel uncomfortable.
Boniface’s questions deal mostly with the portions of the documents with paragraph numbers in the mid-200s, concerning inter-religious relations, or, the famous “ecumenism.” Boniface is concerned that the exhortations towards ecumenism with non-Christian religions greatly undermine similar efforts with protestants and other disaffected Christian Churches/sects, thus undermining the goal of Christian unity. I have not seen this particular matter addressed elsewhere, but I think it raises very important questions and concerns (emphasis in original, I add comments):
Your Holiness, I share your desire that the Gospel should be spread as far and as wide as possible, that Jesus Christ be proclaimed boldly and without fear. However, some of the content of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be counter-productive to that end. Take the issue of our Separated Brethren. The Second Vatican Council took special pains to reach out to our Protestant friends, [boy ain't that the truth] hoping thereby to end the spirit of mutual suspicion that had been dominant since Trent; in many cases, amiable relations with Protestantism were pursued even at the expense of relations with the Orthodox. In fact, to an impartial observer, the post-Conciliar Church looks closer to Protestantism than Greek Orthodoxy, despite the fact that the historical and sacramental bonds between the Catholics and the Orthodox are much greater. [This is a very valid point. The Orthodox have been offended by many Catholic ecumenical efforts with protestants, as they point in a direction away from Orthodox (and traditional Catholic) belief. The Orthodox have repeatedly lambasted many protestant sects for their embrace of liberalism and other doctrinal errors, and rightly so. One must wonder, is there more concern for ecumenism with protestants rather than orthodox, because protestant belief lines up better with the new theology of the post-conciliar "reforms?"]
Your Holiness knows all this; I mention it only to point out that ecumenism with Protestants in particular seemed to be particularly dear to the Council Fathers, whose vision you are so admirably fulfilling in your pontificate. [heh. Now that is a loaded statement] You yourself restated this commitment in the exhortation, encouraging Catholics to recall that we all are pilgrims on this earth, “putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face” (243).
Yet a few paragraphs later we find this statement: “Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”, and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ” (254).
It is not my place to lecture the Successor of Peter on sacred theology, especially when I myself am no expert. But leaving aside questions of theology, of what it means for a non-believer to follow his conscience, of the formation of conscience, of how we are justified, etc., I feel compelled to point out, Holy Father, that from a strictly ecumenical viewpoint, no statement could be more offensive to our Protestant brethren than this. Though Protestants obviously disagree with us on many fundamental points, they ought to be commended in that many of them solidly affirm that one becomes a son or daughter of God solely through the mediation of Jesus Christ; in other words, despite our disagreements, most Protestant sects, at least in my country, still understand the fundamental connection between evangelization and salvation in the traditional supernatural sense. [this is a huge point, and I admire Boniface's discretion. There is no caveat about the duty to rightly form our consciences in para 254, and this kind of wide open statement is theologically very troubling. I won't say more than that]
Were I to take this passage to my Protestant friends, it would be not an aid to evangelization but an insurmountable obstacle. Not that we should be afraid to preach truths that Protestants may take umbrage with; otherwise, how could we discuss the Petrine authority, the Assumption of Mary, or other like doctrine? But this is different; in the teaching you have elucidated in Evangelii Gaudium 254, the traditional connection between evangelization, salvation, and the necessity of entering the Catholic Church is sundered. You would be asking me not to defend the traditional Catholic Faith, but a novelty – a novelty which the Protestant would be understandably justified in rejecting. [I should note that paragraph 254 goes on to assign a pseudo-sacramental role to the signs and symbols of non-Christian religions, claiming that these are similar but less efficacious vehicles of Grace. There is no qualification made to this statement, so that one must wonder how far these near-sacraments extend, even to animal sacrifice or other practices. While I'm certain the intent is very different, statements such as these in the past have had a very destructive effect on the Church's evangelizing efforts.]
If we are speaking of following our consciences, Holy Father, I must tell you frankly then that I cannot in good conscience take this teaching to a Protestant and expect it to be convincing. I would be laughed out of the dialogue, and rightfully so.
How different is this teaching from the words of St. Irenaeus, who wrote:
“Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace. But the Spirit is truth. Therefore whoever does not partake of this Spirit is not fed at the breast of Mother Church, and cannot drink from the crystal clear spring which flows from the body of Christ.” (Adversus Haereses, III.24:1)
Or St. Cyprian, the great martyr-bishop of Carthage, who wrote:
“Can he who is not inside the Church draw water from the fountains of the Church?” (Epistle 73, 10-11).
Of course, Holy Father, Catholic theology has always posited the possibility that men could be saved outside of formal membership in the Church; this was understood in the patristic era and taught at Trent. But I fear that what was once understood to be a possible exception is becoming understood as a normative teaching, [I share this concern. In practice, especially in this country, this is exactly what happens. Most souls are not richly educated theologians, able to draw fine distinctions over the operations conscience. When beliefs such as para 254 are presented, rightly or wrongly, they show up as "don't bother evangelizing Hindus/Muslims/Buddhists/etc, they are saved through their own understanding of "God." I have personally seen these kinds of presentations dozens of times.] and that this teaching is having deleterious effects on our efforts of evangelizing. Why would non-Christians convert to our faith if they can attain eternal life just by “following their conscience”, which almost any human being can do with a little effort? Why would Protestants or any other Christian sect seek to reconcile with Rome when we seem to be saying that Christianity and the Church are not even really necessary for salvation? And, as apologists, how we are supposed to reconcile these newer teachings with statements like those of St. Irenaeus and Cyprian above, or with the famous dictum Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus or with many other authoritative statements on the normative necessity of the Church for salvation? [I added some emphasis to the last few sentences]
Dearest Holy Father, successor of St. Peter, Bishop of Bishops, Servus Servorum Dei, keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven (for so you are all these things), I pray thee, understand my distress and realize how damaging these statements are to the efforts of faithful Catholics to witness to the faith and bring souls to God through Christ. This is still the final end of evangelization, we must presume? We still do wish for members of other religious and Christian sects to convert and return to Holy Mother Church, don’t we?
Thanks to Boniface for the great piece. I only copied about half of it, please go to his site and read the rest, he really deserves the hits and I probably unfairly copy and paste too much of his stuff. But it’s great! I hope he doesn’t get mad at me.
I may delve into this document more, later. It’s a real challenge, it is so long and covers so much ground it’s difficult to respond to. There are many paragraphs, probably dozens, on which 1000+ words of commentary could easily be written. So, we’ll see what develops. But I thought Boniface’s thoughts very worthy of sharing.
A good exegesis on Limbo of the Infants December 3, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Abortion, Basics, catachesis, contraception, episcopate, error, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Grace, Holy suffering, sadness, sickness, Society, Tradition, Virtue.
Presented below is a sermon from an FSSP priest on the subject of the Limbo of the infants. I did a post on this subject a couple of months ago that was taken exception to by one fellow blogger, who made some statements that led to a falling out between us, at least on a blogging level. I don’t cotton to calling good priests heretics because you don’t like their presentation of a belief that has been widely accepted throughout the history of the Church, if it is not a formal doctrine. So, this post may be controversial.
In the previous post, I took a less strong view than does the priest in the sermon below. He argues quite forcefully for the existence of Limbo, and claims that is where unbaptized babies (and aborted babies) go. This is a serious issue and has constant real-world implications. I have personally found, as have others, that many women intending to abort their women have convinced themselves that the abortion is a “good thing,” because they have been told, or come to believe, that their baby will immediately fly to Heaven and not have to experience the travails of this life. Even if true – which, the vast preponderance of belief from the Tradition weighs against this belief – this “abortion as salvific act” would do nothing to assuage the mother’s guilt for involvement in the murder of her own child, a sin that certainly cries out to Heaven.
This is a most pernicious idea. It is very difficult to convince women otherwise, when they have been led to believe that their abortion is actually a good and holy thing. Unfortunately, in our current day and in the Church we presently have, there is a very widespread belief that aborted babies DO go to Heaven. Even many priests and theologians share this view. To say such a view greatly undermines pro-life efforts would be a tremendous understatement.
But aside from the practical aspects of what I consider to be the almost certain error of abortion as Sacrament, there is the matter of Truth, and the preponderance of theological/Magisterial opinion. Without question, the understanding that unbaptized but otherwise sinless infants and children go to Limbo, not Heaven, has been the dominant belief of Saints and theologians going back to the earliest Church. Limbo is not a medieval concept. It was posited in the early Church by great Church Fathers.
The sermon. There are some powerful quotes from early Church Fathers and Church Councils. It is critical to note that the recent opinions given casting doubt on Limbo have no authority. I also found the distinction between the hope we can have for infants who die from natural causes, to faithful Catholic parents, prior to baptism, and those who die in abortion very important. There is much greater reason to have hope for the former, than the latter:
One more small addendum. To claim that arguing strongly that unbaptized babies go to Limbo makes one a heretic is simply untenable. The great St. Augustine, one of the two or three most influential theologians in the history of the Church, posited an even “stronger,” if you will, belief – he claimed it was certain Doctrine that unbaptized babies, and all unbaptized souls, go to hell. If strongly supporting Limbo makes one a material heretic, I guess the Church is really screwed up, because one of her greatest and most influential lights was even more in “error.”
But in reality, one can believe very strongly for Limbo (or even hell) in this matter and remain a faithful Catholic, because the Church has no authoritative Dogma on the matter. However, the conservative position, if you will, is that unbaptized but sinless children most likely go to Limbo. Thus, the traditional Catholic practice of quickly baptizing newborn infants has a strong theological basis, and is not just a superstitious act as some modern theologians try to claim.
The most anti-Catholic president in US history December 3, 2013Posted by tantamergo in abdication of duty, Abortion, Basics, contraception, disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, persecution, scandals, secularism, self-serving, sickness, Society.
Barack Hussein Obama, our first communist-raised president, has displayed an antipathy towards the Church that is just startling throughout his administration. Two recent episodes just highlight this very disdainful attitude towards the Church. The first is the closure of the US Embassy at the Vatican, allegedly on security grounds. This, according to former US Ambassador to the Vatican James Nicholson, was driven equally by Obama’s disregard for the Church, and the increasingly anti-Christian views of the deeply embedded – and dominant – progressive elements in the State Department:
“It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican – and to Christians in the Middle East. This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East. This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.
“The State Department has for a long time wanted to do this. It came up when I was an ambassador. I explained the folly of this and it went away. But now they seem determined to do this. The perception is [with this action] that the United States is showing a lack of appreciation for the relevance of its diplomatic partner in the Vatican.”
But coupled with this latent Church bias in the State Department is the Obama administration’s own internal biases against the Church. These biases are most evident in Obama’s incredibly strident support for abortion and the forced dissemination of contraceptives around the world, all at US taxpayer expense. This ties in the other repressive, anti-Catholic action taken by the Obama administration I wanted to mention – the HHS Mandate. In an extremely revealing article at the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney reveals that the HHS contraceptive mandate is largely a kick-back to huge drug companies like Merck and Phizer for their massive lobbying efforts in favor of Obamacare:
The audacity and mendacity with which the Obama administration defends its illegal contraception mandate is standard fare for politics. What’s distinctively Obamian in this fight is the insidious corporatism underlying it all.
Look at the contraception mandate from almost any angle, and you see the corporatism. Sometimes it’s on the surface, and sometimes it’s implicit in the arguments.
The contraception mandate is nakedly a huge subsidy to the industry that most firmly supported Obamacare: the drugmakers.
The drug industry has spent more on lobbying under Obama than any other industry. Top lobbyists at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in 2009 met behind closed doors with the White House and Senate Democrats, promising political support for Democrats in exchange for friendly provisions in Obamacare.
Top Obama bundler Sally Susman oversees the lobbying shop at drug giant Pfizer, which sells $7.6 million a year in name-brand birth control pills, while also selling contraceptive injections and generic drugs. Pfizer’s CEO during the Obamacare debate was Obama donor Jeffrey Kindler. In a corporate filing, the company justified his salary increase by pointing to his Obamacare lobbying.
Obama’s contraception mandate requires all employer-sponsored health care plans to cover 100 percent of the cost of all FDA-approved contraception. [And this, of course, includes the coverage offered by the Catholic Church to its myriad employees and agencies in this country] That gives customers incentives to choose Pfizer’s name-brand pills, because the entire cost is passed onto employers and thus onto customers and colleagues. And of course, this means more profit for Pfizer.
Hey, Obama wants his “signature health care law” passed, no matter what. If a few million Catholic consciences have to get hurt in the process, that’s a small price to pay for the advance of socialism, right?
I would also be remiss if I did not mention Obama’s reflexive, almost obeisant support for the pro-abort lobby, which is also the pro-contracept lobby. Tie all these things together, and we have the most anti-Catholic president in US history, and even the most anti-Catholic major politician in about a century. All is done stealthily, under the cover of corporatist socialist wealth transfer schemes and concerns over alleged security failings – concerns which came far too late for several Americans in Benghazi in 2011. Which concerns are just ludicrous political cover for an anti-Catholic bias, anyway – can you imagine the US closing its embassy in Switzerland and relocating it to Germany? It would never happen. The Swiss (or whomever) are “valued partners in X, Y, and Z.” There would never be even an intimation of doing so. But when it comes to the Church and the sovereign Vatican City state, that’s entirely different. Who cares about the Vatican, anyway?
That latent anti-Catholicism built into the fabric of this protestant-founded nation is never very far from the surface.
No evidence for a “Francis effect” so far December 2, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, disconcerting, episcopate, General Catholic, manhood, Papa, pr stunts, Sacraments, sadness, secularism, self-serving, shocking, Society, the return.
Many in the press, some Catholic pundits included, have tried to put forth a pious hope (or a forlorn hope) that, while we might find some of Pope Francis’ actions and statements disconcerting and troubling with respect to the constant belief and practice of the Faith, he was reaching new heights of outreach to disaffected Catholics and those outside the Faith, comforting them by dispelling all that troubling “mess” concerning dogma and beliefs, presenting a picture of a very warm, inviting and non-judgmental Church that would open its arms to receive all these lost sheep back into Her fold. We have been told there was a great “Francis effect” brewing, and that this effect would soon produce all kinds of beneficial results for the Church. We have been presented with anecdotal evidence of long lines for Confession in Italy, all kinds of excitement brewing in the Holy City, and a general, hoped for boom in the very long-delayed “new evangelization.”
Well, the data is in, and so far, it doesn’t look like the results have materialized as hoped for. In fact, Palmaro and Gnocchi claim that Mass attendance has continued to fall in Italy since last March, and we now have data from a secular polling firm that Mass attendance in the US has, thus far, remained completely unmoved by any “Francis effect” (h/t Rorate):
Now, obviously, it’s very early, but data from at least two countries, and some anecdotal evidence from others, suggests any “Francis effect” is going to be rather small.
Historically, haven’t we been down this road before? One of the progressive’s major selling points for the changes they foisted on the Church in the 60s/70s timeframe, was that finally getting with the liberal program would lead to just scads of converts and that the Church would experience a new springtime that would make the original Pentecost seem tame by comparison.
Well, around 50 years later, we’re still awaiting a prolonged thaw in the frozen nightmare of this long-delayed “new springtime.” The fundamental error in the progressive’s claim was that those who they are trying to reach have already checked out of the Church, pretty much permanently, and these types aren’t going to respond to more of the same liberalism that played a huge role in leading them out of the Church in the first place. The only thing that has proven effective in the past few decades at re-energizing the Faith and even bringing some people back in is solid orthodoxy/praxis.
Once again, the progressives in and outside the Church are convinced they have their man in Rome, and that their dreams of a great new Pentecost of liberal embrace of the Church is just around the corner. I suppose we’ll see, but the data thus far looks like more of the same is only going to produce more of the same sad, failed results.
On a somewhat related note, I hope to have some thoughts on the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium tomorrow.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, miserere nobis!
Dom Prosper Gueranger gives an exhortation for our age November 26, 2013Posted by tantamergo in abdication of duty, Basics, Christendom, disaster, episcopate, error, family, General Catholic, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, the enemy.
I read the following several days ago, on the Feast of St. Cecilia. Due to other commitments, I was not able to post the below until now. I find in the below exactly the kind of exhortation we need for our day, for the crises that afflict the Church and the entire world. We need great Saints. Saints rarely, if ever, are made through some secret action of Grace, just suddenly emerging one day totally imbued with sanctity and virtue. No, Saints are made through suffering and denial, but also apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls and the conversion of the world. What the Church has been missing most of all these past several decades is that latter, critical part: zeal of souls.
God have mercy on us. Gueranger, via Ars Orandi (which saved me from having to type all this in!), below:
The Church recognizes and honours in St. Cæcilia three characteristics, which, united together, distinguish her among all the blessed in heaven, and are a source of grace and an example to men. These three characteristics are, virginity, apostolic zeal, and the superhuman courage which enabled her to bear torture and death. Such is the threefold teaching conveyed by this one Christian life.
There is a place for charitable criticism of prelates….. November 21, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, episcopate, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Papa, sanctity, Society, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
…..even at the highest levels of the Church. So says a noted Italian Catholic below.
I posted earlier today on Michael Matt’s chastisement of overly critical traddies. I wrote a response, but it was probably muddled. Here, via Tancred (who has been bringing the gold of late), is a commentary from Mario Palmaro (he who received the papal thanks for criticism from the traditional perspective) on the subject of papal criticism and bad behavior of trads. He sums up very well, even beautifully, my own feelings I could not articulate earlier today:
Whether people “like” the pope is completely irrelevant in the two thousand year old logic of the Church: the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and must please our Lord. This means that the exercise of his authority is not absolute, but subordinate to the doctrine of Christ, which is found in the Catholic Church, in Her tradition, and is nourished by the life of grace through the sacraments. This means that the Catholics may be critical of the Pope himself and criticize under the condition that this is done out of love for the truth and that the tradition, the Magisterium is used as a standard gauge. [My sentiment exactly. And I think an excessive ultramontanism inculcated after Vatican I played a huge role in the success of the revolution after Vatican II, because Catholics had been taught to never, ever criticize.] A pope who would contradict a predecessor in matters of faith and morals should be criticized without doubt. [And failing to do so is a tantamount joining in the criticism of the predecessor?] We must be against both the secular logic and suspicious of a pope, assessed according to the good pleasure of the democratic majority, as well as to the temptation of a papolatry, according to a “the Pope is always right”. In addition, we are accustomed for decades to criticize destructively dozens of popes of the past, by applying the small historiographical seriousness of the day. So there is no apparent reason why the reigning popes should be immune from all forms of criticism. When Boniface VIII and Pius V is evaluated, why doesn’t that also go for Paul VI, or Francis? [Yes! That was the point I tried to make in my post earlier today. I read and hear some folks just blasting traditional/conservative Catholics for expressing criticisms or concerns about the current pope, and yet many of these same folks will turn around and blast Alexander VI, Formosus, etc. Why is it only the current popes, or at least the post-conciliar ones, that are above reproach? Is there a time limit, because I read critiques and analyses of popes long dead, and yet we aren't allowed to discuss the current pope? Very convenient!]
[When asked about grouchy, uncharitable trads....] The attitude of some of the individuals or groups connected to tradition is a serious problem and can not be denied. [I agree.] One explanation advanced is that truth without love is a betrayal of truth. Christ is our way, our truth and our life, so we have to take Him as a model, who was unbeatable in the truth, always inflexible, and in love. I think the world of tradition is sometimes pointed and polemical for three reasons: First, because of a certain syndrome of isolation that they can be suspicious and resentful, and it is also expressed by problematic personalities; Second, because of the sincere scandal, the specific directions of contemporary Catholicism provokes in those who know the doctrine of the Popes and the Church well up to the Second Vatican Council; Third, because of the lack of love that is shown by the official catholicity towards these brothers on the day, who are entitled with a contemptuous tone as “traditionalists” or ” Lefebvrians”, in which one forgets, that in the Church they are definitely much closer than any other Christian denomination, or even any other religion. For the official Catholic media this reality of hundreds of [traditional] priests and seminarians isn’t worth devoting a line, while devoting entire pages to some thinkers who have not once said anything remotely Catholic.
I’ve beat you guys down with enough long posts today, so I won’t add anymore commentary. I will say again, these are difficult times, and many people are going to have to make choices with respect to how they conduct themselves, always keeping within the bounds of charity. There can be respectful disagreement on the best manner in which to handle scandal in the Church, especially when it comes from the highest level. Some may feel very powerfully that the only thing to do is to pray and practice mortification, but some may feel called to take a more active approach. I would think there might be room, and a genuine need, for both.
But, then again, that could just be some self-serving thinking on my part. But there is much of that to go around.
Michael Matt – traddies behaving like imbeciles? November 21, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, blogfoolery, disconcerting, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Papa, scandals, Society, the return, Tradition, Virtue.
I first saw this video pop up on Youtube a couple of days ago. I read the description, and decided I didn’t really want to watch it. But I’ve seen it get some coverage elsewhere, so I finally did watch this video below.
In it, Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant – a quite traditional publication – chides, pretty strongly, traditional Catholics for excessive cynicism in general, and criticism of the Pope in particular. I know there are some folks – Louis Verricchio, Mundabor, and that’s about it, from the people I read regularly – who have pretty much determined they know who and what this Pope is, and they have made clear they stand in full-throated opposition. I haven’t seen some of the more extravagant criticisms that Matt alludes to in his video. Perhaps he’s even pointing some of the criticism at this blog, although that would be surprising, as The Remnant website has linked to some of my writings on Pope Francis.
In fact, the traddy-bashing overall is somewhat surprising, as The Remnant has published pieces from Christopher Ferrara and others which have been quite strident in their criticism, if not outright condemnation, of the Pope. Mr. Matt himself has reacted rather strongly to things like the Jesuit interview and the Scalfari interview. But it seems like Mr. Matt goes to Rome periodically, and somehow gets a great feeling of reassurance from that experience. And then some scandal would occur, and the rosy disposition would fall by the wayside again. I think he has even said, this papacy looks much different in Rome than it does here. In Italy, apparently, the Pope’s new approach has led to a number of people returning to the Faith, at least for a while. We must pray these reversions are truly committed.
Below, Mr. Matt makes much of certain “olive branches,” if you will, that Pope Francis has extended towards the conservative/traditional souls in the Church. These efforts – the greetings to the FSSP on their anniversary, the greetings to the Summorum Pontificum pilgrims, the “embrace” of Bishop Marchetto’s vision of the hermeneutic of continuity – have received some positive coverage. But I don’t know how significant they are, to some degree, they are a sort of perfunctory diplomatic exercise in which the Papacy, as any government, engages every day.
One item I don’t recall Matt mentioning was the statement to the Italian traditional critics by Pope Francis – thanking them for their criticism. The other positive acts Matt refers to have occurred in the past month. Perhaps these are an indication of a change in disposition by the Holy Father. I don’t know. Or perhaps, things are becoming more clear over time. But the thanks of the Pope to some pretty strong criticisms by those two Italians would seem to indicate that those engaging in criticism of the papacy are, perhaps, having some effect which could be perceived as being beneficial to the cause of Tradition.
I’m sure there are people going too far. There almost always are, on any subject. I have found some criticisms that have made me uncomfortable on a few occasions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in an argument and proving one’s point, and forget charity. If I have done so here, I pray I will not. But I’m almost getting a sense from a few quarters that Catholics attracted to Tradition should pretty much just shut up and pray, that to engage in any criticism, expressions of concern, or even questioning – and not just in reference to the Pope, but even bishops or cardinals – is pretty much an invariably sinful activity. What’s funny, is that some of the folks saying this have engaged in massive criticism themselves, in the recent past. But now that it might, in some quarters, point at the Holy Father, they’re now quite certain all of that is wrong. We are, of course, free to re-evaluate our actions at all times and certainly should, but it’s an interesting phenomenon to observe, nonetheless.
This is a very trying time for many souls. There has been a huge shift in the behavior of the Pope compared to his predecessor. That is bound to be shocking and upsetting to some, or many. And there have been, unfortunately, statements made and a few actions taken that some souls may feel bound, in conscience, to respond to. I think there is a bit of a sense developing that any criticism or even questioning of the reigning pope (note, dead pontiffs get criticized, even slammed, all the time – especially if they are pre-conciliar) is completely forbidden, even sinful. I think this is a dangerous trend towards ultramontanism that is not healthy. But I also recognize this is a very touchy subject – some people just can’t “go there.”
I do think we all need to constantly check our motivations and improve our practice of charity. It’s never a good idea to release a blog post, an article, or a video when one is upset, and I will admit I have done so in the past 8 months. I understand what Mr. Matt is trying to say below, and I think there are some good things to pull out of it. I think we traditionalists need to strive to live up to the examples of the great Saints of our Tradition in all that we do, while keeping in mind, there have been times when even the Saints have been fiery in their rhetoric. I might add, this was especially prevalent in the early days of the Church, when She was riven by heresies and great controversies regarding core, bedrock aspects of theology like Who Christ Is. I have read statements by Saints that are as inflammatory as anything I’ve ever read on a blog, and a few of those statements were even directed at the popes of their time. Read St. Jerome from time to time, and you’ll see what I mean.
Finally, the video:
PS – I really don’t consider this post “blogfoolery,” or internecine warfare between Catholic blogs, because I am not strongly disagreeing with Mr. Matt, whose estimation in my eyes has grown a great deal in the past year or so. I get what he’s trying to say, and I think his words have some merit. I don’t think I quite agree with the final conclusion, and I also think he chose a poor expression in likening Catholic bloggers to dorkish imbeciles. I also strongly disagree that we should all be striving mightily to spin the Pope’s more controversial statements into some endorsement of orthodoxy, as some blogs seem dedicated to doing. It’s disingenuous and frankly disrespectful to put words in the Pope’s mouth. But that applies to the critics, too.
I’m not sure this post made any sense! Sorry if I’m just rambling. If you can’t tell, I’m discombobulated on the entire matter.