Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand on the Lethargy of the Guardians December 10, 2013Posted by tantamergo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, disaster, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Papa, persecution, reading, scandals, secularism, the return.
Years ago, one of the first books I read on the crisis in the Faith was Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand’s The Devastated Vineyard. My friend and reader SB gave me a wonderful first edition copy in hardback. I did not get far in the book. Much of it was frankly beyond me, at that time. But I have recently returned to it, and I am enjoying it immensely. The book begins with Dr. von Hildebrand’s assessment of the state of the episcopate as it was in the early 70s, 40 years ago. It is a searing indictment, and even more apropos today. For those who do not know, Dr. von Hildebrand was one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of the 20th century, winning huge accolades from Venerable Pius XII and many others. The excerpt (with my emphasis and comments):
One of the most horrifying and widespread diseases in the Church today is the lethargy of the guardians of the Faith of the Church. I am not thinking here of those bishops who are members of the “fifth column,” who wish to destroy the Church from within, or to transform it into something completely different. I am thinking of the far more numerous bishops who have no such intentions, but who make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship. [The national conferences play a certain role in this. While a bishop is always free to act in his Diocese regarding denouncing error and heresy - as Bishop Bruskewitz demonstrated to a degree - there are powerful pressures via the national conferences against doing so. Such bishops who were to, for instance, formally excommunicate a pro-abort katholyc politician would find their ambitions blocked and themselves ostracized.] They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God. The words of St. John Bosco apply to them: “The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.”
…….this sickness [all the disturbing cultural trends] has even penetrated the Church, and is a clear indication that the fight against the spirit of this world has been replaced with swimming along with the spirit of the times in the name of “aggiornamento.” One is force to think of the hireling who abandons his flocks to the wolves when one reflects on the lethargy of so many bishops and superiors who, though still orthodox themselves, do not have the courage to intervene against the most flagrant heresies and abuses of all kinds in their dioceses or in their orders. [One could hope most bishops were orthodox in personal belief in the early 70s, due to formation prior to the 1960s. But today, with almost all bishops formed after the Council, such an assumption may be less well founded]
But it is most especially infuriating when certain bishops, who themselves show this lethargy toward heretics, assume a rigorously authoritarian attitude towards those believers who are fighting for orthodoxy, and who are thus doing what the bishops ought to be doing themselves! [Have you ever personally experienced or witnessed the above? I have!] I was once allowed to read a leter written by a man in high position in the Church, addressed to a group which had heroically taken up the cause of the true Faith, of the pure, true teaching of the Church and the Pope. This group had overcome the “cowardice of good men” of which St. John Bosco spoke, and ought thus to have been the greatest joy of the bishops. The letter said: as good Catholics, you have to do only one thing: just be obedient to all the ordinances of your bishop.
[The most important part.....] This conception of a “good” Catholic is particularly surprising at a time in which the coming of age of the moderns layman is continually being emphasized. [Obviously, 40+ years of experience has shown that only a certain kind of outspokeness from the laity is desired. In fact, clericalism is at least as strong, if not far more so, than it was before the Council. It is simply clericalism of a different kind.] But it is also completely false for this reason: what is fitting at a time when no heresies occur in the Church without being immediately condemned by Rome, becomes inappropriate and unconscionable at a time when uncomdemned heresies wreak havoc within the Church, infecting even certain bishops, who nevertheless remain in office. Should the faithful at the time of the Arian heresy, for instance, in which the majority of the bishops were Arians, have limited themselves to being nice, and obedient to the ordinances of these bishops, instead of battling the heresy? Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop? It is not precisely by virtue of their obedience to the revealed truths which they received from the Magisterium of the Church, that the faithful offer resistance? Are the faithful not supposed to be concerned when things are preached form the pulpit which are completely incompatible with the teaching of the Church?……[Exactly. We are in a crisis unprecedented in the history of the Church. Many devout souls have pointed to the laity as the source of any possible restoration. While we must always act with charity and prudence, I do not accept blanket condemnations of any criticism of ecclesiastical superiors by the laity as being inappropriate or "unCatholic." There is a nuance involved, of course, and some go too far, but in this present crisis, it is our duty as faithful Catholics to adhere to the Faith of our fathers and to fight error and abuse everywhere it appears.]
…..The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated: the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should be all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace……This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops’ failure to use their authority. [Hard words, especially considering the impeccable credentials of the source. Dr. von Hildebrand was a friend of many popes, including Benedict XVI. His criticisms cannot be dismissed as some emotional rantings of the unhinged. Many years have passed since this was written, and some things have changed, but not many. I think much of the reaction against the faithful (which includes general opposition to the traditional Mass and the traditional practice of the Faith in general) is driven by shame. At least certain behaviors and some of the vindictiveness we see seem inexplicable without a powerful emotional driver, like shame.]
I strongly recommend Dr. von Hildebrand’s works. It is a shame, and a sign of the crisis in the Church, that he is most well known for his two books analyzing the crisis (Devastated Vineyard, and The Trojan Horse in the City of God), when he wrote at such depth and eloquence on very deep theological topics.
His wife, the estimable Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year. This other Dr. von Hildebrand helps keep Dietrich von Hildebrand’s memory alive, while being a great author in her own right.
Ad multi annos!
Coup against Franciscans of the Immaculate because “crypto-Lefebvrian, always traditional” December 9, 2013Posted by tantamergo in disaster, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Holy suffering, horror, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Papa, persecution, religious, scandals, secularism, self-serving, shocking, the return.
Tancred at Eponymous Flower has posted some recent Italian articles dealing with the Franciscans of the Immaculate, including a response for the Vatican-installed apostolic commissioner, Fidenzio Volpi OFM Cap. In Father Volpi’s own words, the FFIs leadership of the FFIs was sacked for being “crypto-Lefebvrian, always traditional.” Even more details have been revealed about the moves against the order, which has included removal of almost all heads of seminaries, numerous priors, the entire top leadership of the order, and the more or less blanket refusal to allow the TLM or the prayer of the Breviary according to the traditional Liturgy. The few progressive elements in the order have been given all the positions of influence.
The progressive Vaticanist Mario Tosatti had published a few days ago in the daily newspaper La Stampa a letter from a member of the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in which the radical approach of the Commissioner has been criticized (see separate report “Unrestricted War” against the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception? The Unspeakable “Blemish” ). [You must read this link. It details all the actions against the FFIs. Very uncharitable actions, which seem totally counter to Pope Francis' interest in being always loving and never dogmatic. Some of the former FFI leadership are essentially being held incommunicado under what amounts to house arrest. Incredible.] The interventions affect not only the male religious branch, but also the Third Order, which was completely paralyzed by Father Volpi.
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!
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.
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!
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.
The Diocese of Fort Worth has a new bishop – and Dallas’ influence continues to grow November 19, 2013Posted by tantamergo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Papa, priests, Society, Victory.
Congratulations to Father Michael Olson, Rector of Dallas’ Holy Trinity Seminary and now, God willing, the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Bishop-Elect Olson is 47 and has been rector of Holy Trinity for the past 5 years. He is actually a priest of the Ft. Worth Diocese, the first such “home” priest to be elected bishop of that diocese. He has been a fast riser – he was ordained in 1994, served as formation adviser at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston (where many Dallas priests have been trained) from 2001-2006, and was vicar general of FW Diocese from 2006-8. He is a native of Illinois.
Bishop Farrell has written a congratulatory note here.
Interesting, Bishop-elect Olson adds to a list of several recent prelates appointed with strong ties to the Diocese of Dallas. We of course saw Bishop Mark Seitz depart to head the El Paso Diocese (where, I understand, he is already doing some good things), and Michael Duca was installed as the Bishop of Shreveport a few years ago. There was a long stretch of time when the Archdiocese of San Antonio provided many of the bishops for the remaining sees in Texas and nearby states. In fact, there have been periods when almost all the bishops appointed to various Texas sees came from or through San Antonio. And San Antonio, being such a large and influential diocese, will of course continue to do so – as Bishop Oscar Cantu from San Antonio was named to head the Las Cruces Diocese earlier this year. But it is interesting that many appointments of late have “run through Dallas,” if you will. I don’t know if that is significant, or not. Perhaps it’s a reflection of Dallas now being seen as a major/influential diocese in its own right.
I really don’t know much of anything about Fr. Olson, so sorry to the folks in Ft. Worth, I can’t help you much there. I do know that Holy Trinity Seminary has turned around quite a bit, with far, far more men entering and staying to be ordained than was the case 10 years ago or so. That process had started prior to 2008, but it certainly seems Bishop-elect Olson hasn’t done anything to upset that continued improvement, and probably – given recent ordination trends – helped it continue. That’s about all I can say on that front.
Another member of the Group of 8 Cardinals makes the news – Church must “repent of scaremongering hell,” according to Cardinal Marx November 18, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, disconcerting, episcopate, error, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Papa, sadness, scandals, secularism, shocking, Society, the return.
I’d have to say, with a name like that, I’d think twice before giving him a red hat. But that’s just me, and certainly patently unfair. But still……
Another member of the group of 8 “super-cardinals” appointed to advise Pope Francis on the future of the Church and, especially, further implementing Vatican II’s ostensible calls for a great new “collegiality” in the Church, has said some disconcerting things. Cardinal Marx has criticized the Church’s past presentations on hell, according to an article on the German site Katholisches translated by Tancred at Eponymous Flower (I add comments):
The resurrection says the Cardinal, that God gives us the assurance that He will transform and lead us with His help to the end, “but without moralizing and without a hell of torture, imprisonment and a burning oven”. The Church caused this with pictures like that of purgatory and hell, fear of death. Not only that, the Church must “repent” for this scaremongering images that a malicious invention [so, images of hell painted so well by great Saints like Alphonsus Liguori were just "malicious inventions?"] will be obvious to Catholics……”and for that we need to repent.” And you wonder where the Cardinal actually lives. After half a century of the abolition of the sign of hell, the problem is not the [excessive, overly negative] belief that there is a hell, but that many Christians no longer believe in the existence of hell and purgatory. [and many have been helped on their way in this rejection by many perhaps well meaning but severely deluded priests and prelates]
Finally, the Cardinal proffered a logical conclusion to universal salvation: Because Jesus went about not to enumerate sins, but to pledge every man to healing and salvation. ”The Church must completely drive out fear ,” emphasized Cardinal Marx. To imagine what would come after death, the person needs images, “but this must be images of confidence, hope, images and help to continue on, even if they can not give us a definitive answer.” What the Archbishop did was give the impression that the Church has not allowed in its two thousand year history, a great show to salvation, redemption and salvation of souls. [But this is precisely the program that has led to the utter collapse of the Faith. First of all, hell is real and souls go there, we have the assurance of Our Blessed Lord Himself on this matter. The entire Doctrine of the Church is oriented around this reality, and the avoidance of it for as many souls as possible. But practically speaking, collapse in belief in the reality of hell is directly correlated with the collapse in the practice of the Faith and all indicators of that practice: Mass attendance, material support for the Church, reception of the other Sacraments, number of people claiming to be Catholic, etc., etc. This is the same post-VII program we've been getting for decades, and it is directly related to the collapse of the Faith. Disbelief in hell, if not the only cause of the collapse, is one of the prime reasons causes.]
However, the church follows the true teachings of Jesus Incarnate, which also says, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him, which can not only kill, but has the power even to throw you into Hell. Yes, I say unto you, Ye shall fear him “(Luke 12:5).. Or in his Mount Olive Discourse: “Then he will turn to the on the left side and say unto them, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25, 41)Christianity is realistic demonstration of creation, human nature and God’s work of salvation. The denial of hell and purgatory is a betrayal of Christ and the believer. Whoever preaches a universal salvation, is in danger of leading people astray and will make them lose their souls.