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A response to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation December 3, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, disconcerting, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Papa, secularism, Society, the return.
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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?

————End Quote————-

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.

Some video gold for you December 3, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, family, fun, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Latin Mass, Liturgy, priests, religious, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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I’ve gotten some real Catholic gold in my Youtube video feeds of late.  Video Sancto always has great stuff, but in the past few days they have put up some very helpful videos of talks by Fr. John Hardon, SJ, one of the last truly great Jesuits – God rest his soul.   Here is one talk from an early 90s Fr. Hardon conference on the Family in these days of Church crisis:

For something rather different, without a strong influence on formation, but just for the glory of it all, a Solemn High Pontifical Mass for the ordination of a number of FSSP men to the Diaconate.  This Mass took place at the FSSP seminary in Denton, NE on Oct. 19 with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz offering.  12 men received their first clerical tonsure and another 3 were promoted to the subdiaconate.  I pray they all become priests!

And a video of some Church glory offered by a Polish priest.  It is centered on the glories of the Chair of Peter, but I have to wonder if a few of the photos of papal tiara were not photoshopped, especially those of Paul VI.  Paul VI, of course, very solemnly laid the tiara on the altar in a move of enormous symbolism and import.  Many faithful souls would very, very much like to see the tiara adorn the head of Christ’s Vicar on earth, again.

And, since Nov. 27 was the 918th anniversary of the summoning of the First Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from muslim oppression at the Council of Clermont, another video from the same priest.  Apparently, they make unapologetic, unabashedly Catholic movies in Poland, still!  What a thought!

There you go, short or long, catechesis or inspiration, some videos for you.

A good exegesis on Limbo of the Infants December 3, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, catachesis, contraception, episcopate, error, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Grace, Holy suffering, sadness, sickness, Society, Tradition, Virtue.
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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.

Help Loreto House procure a mobile sonogram unit December 3, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, awesomeness, Basics, contraception, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, North Deanery, Society, Tradition, Virtue.
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Loreto House is a Denton-based pro-life apostolate that is in the process of acquiring a mobile sonogram unit for use outside local area abortion mills.  They have acquired a van for housing and moving the unit, and have access to grant monies to help pay for much of the remaining conversion and acquisition costs, but they need donations now to help pay for the rest.  In a recent entry on their website, they provide additional details and also inform us that the Whole Women’s mill in Fort Worth is now re-opened with a doctor with admitting privileges at a local hospital, and that Planned Barrenhood in Ft. Worth will also be opening a new facility soon.  So, after some great progress from the recent state law greatly cutting down on the number of abortuaries around, the number is going back up.

The enemies of life, the agents of demonic human sacrifice, never give up.  So, the need for this mobile sonogram unit is very pressing.  While we are blessed with three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in the Diocese, they cannot always perform sonograms. That is where the mobile sonogram van comes in.  Statistics show that 80% of women who see their baby’s heartbeat on a sonogram will NOT procure their planned abortion.  See below details of the need from Loreto House:

A benefactor has made a Ford cargo van available and another benefactor is providing funds to complete most of the interior finish out.
At this time, there is no other mission we know of that is providing mobile ultrasounds in the DFW area and we must act soon! 
The approximate cost for a portable ultrasound is about $30,000 and there will be additional needs such as wiring, monitor, exam table and work station. 
We are applying for a grant from the Knights of Columbus to cover 50% of the ultrasound cost but we must raise the remaining funds to be eligible for this grant. Miscellaneous costs above the grant amount will be about $20,000 or more.

We have been blessed with a benefactor who is willing to match, up to $10,000, the amount we are able to raise by December 15th.

We ask for your prayerful support to meet this extraordinary need. 
Please send a donation now to:
Loreto House
PO Box 2533
Denton, Texas  76202-2533
Has God been tugging at your heart to help the pro life effort? We need more volunteers to help staff Loreto House so that we can go on the road as often as possible. Also, if you are a sonogram tech with some time to donate please contact Loreto House.
God bless,
Office: 913 Avenue C, Denton, TX  76201
24 hour hot line….1-866-602-5951
Advent is a time of spiritual and corporal mortification!  Please, in your charity, consider supporting this pro-life effort in the Dallas/FW dioceses, with prayers and/or donations!
Dominus vobiscum!

The most anti-Catholic president in US history December 3, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Abortion, Basics, contraception, disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, persecution, scandals, secularism, self-serving, sickness, Society.
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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.