Latest Posts

Welcome to the United Church of Social Work

26. January, 2015Blog Post17 comments

Cupich_2About a year ago, I suggested that a Franciscan pontificate of five years or more would produce a new wave of seminarians that are best understood as wannabe Peace Corp volunteers, community organizers and social workers.

While it’s too soon to say “I told you so,” there are any number of reasons to believe that this particular prediction remains well on track.

On January 22nd, Commonweal Magazine published an interview of Archbishop Blasé Cupich, the man sometimes called, “the American Bergoglio;” a title that Cupich appears to consider reasonably accurate.

In fact, it may even be the case that he considers it more accurate to say that Pope Francis is an “Argentinian Cupich.”

Speaking to Grant Gallicho of Commonweal, Cupich said:

People ask me whether I like what the pope is saying. I say, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been saying this for forty years as a priest.’ I’m moving along on the crest of the wave that he has created. That’s to my advantage, because there is a new enthusiasm, an awareness of what it means to be church … the Holy Father is opening us to look at how the church can be of service to the world.

Cupich, just like his Roman counterpart, speaks as if the Catholic Church just recently figured out how to serve mankind, and for the record, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the mission that Jesus gave to His Church.

When questioned about the Church’s atrophying condition, or what Gallicho called the “leaner times” through which we are currently living, with bankrupt dioceses and parish closings so commonplace as to scarcely even be considered newsworthy, Cupich articulated his vision for the Church moving forward:

The way to [reverse the trend] is not by saying, “You’re not going to Mass and so there’s a problem.” Rather, we can say, “We have an opportunity to better society and to better the common good. We work for the poor. Come and work for the poor with us.”

Understand that when Cupich speaks of this new “awareness of what it means to be church” that he and Francis share in common, he speaks not of the Holy Catholic Church that was charged by Christ with the mission of baptizing and teaching the nations; rather, he speaks of a new church altogether, an earthbound institution that calls all men to engage in little more than social work.

Making it clear that this is indeed the mind of the pope as well, Cupich offered:

Pope Francis recently met with the Pope St. John XXIII Community, which was created in the 1960s to address the problem of young people who were alienated from the church. What this group did was to say to them, “We’re not going to bug you about church attendance. But here are the poor. Let’s work for those who are disabled.” This has been a public association of the faithful for almost fifty years. Pope Francis celebrated their work.

MaradiagaNaturally, this new “awareness” of church demands a new awareness of priesthood.

In a recently penned essay, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the man hand-chosen by Pope Francis to head up his Council of Cardinal Advisors, reflected on his, and most certainly the pope’s, vision of the priesthood.

Cardinal Rodríguez begins, as modernists and protestants are so often wont to do, by misappropriating Sacred Scripture in order to paint a desired image:

“The Parable of the Good Samaritan, which is the parable of the true practice of mercy and fraternal love (Luke 10: 25-37) … The priest was not a brother of the Jew and neither was the Levite, the Samaritan was.”

From here, Rodríguez uses the hardheartedness of the priest in this parable as a springboard for subtly recasting the function of the Catholic priest in such way as to relegate the sacraments to a secondary status:

It is not just Christ’s pain and his passion that redeem, it is not just the cross that saves us: his pain, his passion and his cross have redeeming power because of Love. It is then Christ’s crucified Love that gives back meaning to human existence and elevates it to the dignity from which sin deprived it and that Jesus’ decision, dying for love in the cross, recovered.
 
If the world experienced how big God’s love and salvation initiative are, all temples would be filled with people asking for the holy sacraments of Confession, Baptism, Anointing of the Sick and Eucharist. Priests would not be able to handle such a need for absolution, blessing or communion since entire multitudes —convinced of that infinite love of God, origin of salvation—, would understand that truth and life have a name: Jesus. And his name is Love.

Yes, the priest in this twisted little scenario is acknowledged as he who absolves, blesses and gives Holy Communion, but the cardinal has his presbyteral priorities exactly backwards.

He elaborates:

Indeed, the mission, the mercy and the service to the poor and to all brothers as a human and missionary experience must be a place of discovery of God, of greater knowledge of the face of God.

The mission that Jesus gave to His Church was, in a manner of speaking, one of carrying God to the people; i.e., to impart the Divine life to fallen man via baptism while exercising the authority to teach in His name everything whatsoever that He commanded (cf Matthew 28:16-20).

The popes of tradition understood well that the mission of making and forming Christians is the very mechanism by which humankind is empowered to form a truly just society.

Pope Leo XIII, for instance, wrote:

Neither must it be supposed that the solicitude of the Church is so preoccupied with the spiritual concerns of her children as to neglect their temporal and earthly interests. Her desire is that the poor, for example, should rise above poverty and wretchedness, and better their condition in life; and for this she makes a strong endeavor. By the fact that she calls men to virtue and forms them to its practice she promotes this in no slight degree. Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure-twin plagues, which too often make a man who is void of self-restraint miserable in the midst of abundance;(23) it makes men supply for the lack of means through economy, teaching them to be content with frugal living, and further, keeping them out of the reach of those vices which devour not small incomes merely, but large fortunes, and dissipate many a goodly inheritance. (Rerum Novarum 28)

In so writing, Pope Leo XIII shed great light on the sacred hierarchy’s role in meeting the temporal needs of the poor; namely, it is in calling all men to virtue and laboring toward their sanctification that the Church (in a unique way via the ministry of her priests), creates the conditions for justice.

The version of mission proposed by the Captains of Newchurch is quite the opposite.

Theirs is a church charged with discovering God in the poor, and be not confused; their focus is not the spiritual welfare of the spiritually poor, but rather are they focused on the temporal realities of those who dwell on the so-called “periphery.”

NB: Recall Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s pre-conclave speech to the College of Cardinals wherein he stated:

Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from ‘the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.’  

The well-formed Catholic understands that the Church – she to whom the Lord entrusted all that is necessary for salvation – does not so much “gain life” through her evangelizing efforts; rather she gives life to a world darkened by sin and error.

Removing all doubt as to the focus of the Newchurch mission, Cardinal Rodríguez concluded his essay by saying:

Since certainly, the privileged “place” in which Christ’s Mercy becomes incarnate and becomes practice is in the love for the brothers and sisters, and in the preferential love for the poor and the suffering. The temporal reality that summarizes all the incarnations of the mystic, all the realism of the Christian spirit, and that gathers all the demands of the practice of the faith and love, is the brother, is the poor.

It doesn’t require a particularly astute observer to recognize the glaring omission in Cardinal Rodríguez’s flimsy treatise on the Lord’s “salvation initiative;” it’s the Resurrection.

This Christological lacuna is precisely what led Cardinal Rodríguez to say in his well-publicized speech given at University of Dallas in October of 2013:

The hierarchy has no purpose in itself and for itself, but only in reference and subordination to the community. The function of the hierarchy is redefined in reference to Jesus as Suffering Servant, not as “Pantocrator” (lord and emperor of this world); only from the perspective of someone crucified by the powers of this world it is possible to found, and to explain, the authority of the Church. The hierarchy is a mi nistry (diakonia = service) that requires lowering ourselves to the condition of servants. To take that place (the place of weakness and poverty) is her own, her very own responsibility.

You see, for the likes of Archbishop Cupich, Cardinal Rodríguez, and the pope they both admire so very much, the priesthood is not configured to Christ the King, risen from the dead and gloriously reigning over the powers of this world; rather, they seem to imagine a priesthood configured exclusively to the humanity of the Nazarene who is destined to be crucified in his priests all over again, even as they toil in service to the temporal needs of the poor.

As such, mark my words, if the reign of Pope Francis lasts for just a few more years, that wave of tradition-minded seminarians who answered the call to the priesthood of Jesus Christ during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will soon be outnumbered by men (and a disproportionate number of soft bellied men at that) answering the invitation to little more than a life of glorified social work.

 

Francis reaping as Francis has sown

24. January, 2015Blog Post16 comments

On the heels of the “People’s Pope” video that I posted on Thursday, I had to laugh yesterday when I saw a copy of Catholic Review, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (yea, the same newspaper that ran that sacrilegious image of a Crucifix held aloft in LGBT flavored hands).

Peope Person

Oh, yes… he’s a people person alright; provided you’re not one of those people. You know, the kind who happen to think and feel and live like a Catholic.

The pope’s recent press conference has any number of commentators talking about the interior makeup of Jorge Bergoglio the man, and one can only imagine that it won’t be very long now before the Defenders of all things Francesco burst onto the scene to admonish us to cease focusing on the man’s personality.

After all, one can just hear them saying, that isn’t really pertinent to the faith; surely we’ve had good popes whose personal disposition would have invited similar criticism.

Now, they might just have a point save for just one inconvenient fact; Francis is reaping precisely what he himself has sown.

From day one, this pontificate has had precious little to do with the Office of Peter and the duties that go with it; rather, it has been all about Jorge; what Jorge will wear, where Jorge will live, and how Jorge will get there.

It is he who unceremoniously thrust his personality, opinions and preferences on the Petrine Office, remaking the papacy in his own image and likeness to such extent that he’s probably graced the covers of more pop culture magazines in the last year than Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga combined.

And let’s not forget the near endless stream of Humbleganda that began flowing out of Rome like so much waste from a sewage pipe even before the new “Bishop of Rome” had time to descend from the balcony at St. Peters.

From there, photo-ops just coincidentally began to present themselves before the ever-ready cameras of a media hungry to keep the illusion going, like that unforgettably candid image of the pope kneeling at the confessional; yes, the same whose knees simply will not bend in genuflection before Christ the King present on the altar at Holy Mass.

Let’s be honest: The general thrust of this pontificate has never truly been ordered toward protecting and passing on the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles; it has been leveraged instead as a mechanism for revealing the thoroughly Jesuitized mind of Jorge Bergoglio. (Forgive me, St. Ignatius, for I trust you know what I mean.)

Even the much ballyhooed display of collegiality-in-action, the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 2014, was really just another opportunity to broadcast, and then to place a counterfeit stamp of Catholic approval upon, Jorge’s personal desires.

Indeed, even the most noteworthy papal instrument to date attributable solely to Pope Francis, that wretched 53,000 word tome, Evangelii Gaudium, is really nothing more than Jorge’s personal diary wherein every stray thought that ever entered his modernist mind is recorded for precisely what purpose God only knows.

No, the attention being paid to the personal character of the current Bishop of Rome isn’t unwarranted in the least; rather, it is precisely what happens when the man chosen (be it by collusion or otherwise) to ascend to the Chair of St. Peter makes the Office all about himself.

Giving credit when due

23. January, 2015Blog Post11 comments

As Mike pointed out in the comment section of the previous post, Catholic News Agency was the source of the mistranslation of the pope’s words concerning the pregnant woman that he mentioned during his in-flight press conference.

The text read:

I met a woman some months ago in a parish who was pregnant with her eighth child, who had had seven C-sections…

I was able to get in touch with the director of CNA, Alejandro Bermúdez, who has always treated me kindly even after they decided to stop publishing my columns, and he’s had the necessary corrections made. The transcript now reads:

I reproached a woman some months ago in a parish because she was pregnant with her eighth child, after having had seven C-sections…

There’s no telling how often that initial text has been quoted up to this point, but hopefully those who relied on it as evidence that the pope didn’t treat the woman as harshly as the actual quote indicates will become aware of the revision and adjust their own commentary accordingly.

In any case, the correction has been made. So, let’s give credit where credit is due.

Well at least the man is kind, right?

22. January, 2015Blog Post30 comments

I used to imagine that Jorge Bergoglio, even though he’s proven himself to be a terrible pope, would probably make for a pretty decent neighbor.

Man… what was I thinking?

The story he told during his in-flight press conference on Sunday about the pregnant woman he reprimanded tells me that the image of this man as kindly and warm is as much illusion as reality.

In the video below, in addition to providing some commentary to that end, I’ve included a brief video clip showing the pope telling that story. Even if you don’t speak Italian, notice his expression as he recounts that shameful tale. The contempt is palpable. Take a look for yourself.

I wonder… could that contempt be coming from his having pegged her as one of those “neo-Pelagians”?

In any event, I’ll keep the neighbors I have, thank you very much.

News and Notes

20. January, 2015Blog Post49 comments

- The darkened intellect of the liberal left
- The Holy Father’s “traditional” homily
- And finally, could the blinders finally be falling off of our “conservative” friends?

See January Newsletter of EWTN program host Marcus Grodi

No More Outdoor Mega-Masses

19. January, 2015Blog Post49 comments

Papal Mass PhilippinesThere has been a great deal of outrage expressed, and rightly so, over the manner in which the Blessed Sacrament was distributed at the Papal Mass in Manila yesterday.

As shown in the video below, the sacred Host, after initially being placed in the hands of people on the outside edge of the densely packed crowd by a priest, was then passed along from person to person.

Eventually, as the number of consecrated Hosts presumably began to dwindle, people can be seen in the video passing fragments of the Host to one another.

Scandals of this nature, wherein the sacred Host is treated profanely, aren’t all that unusual at large outdoor celebrations of Holy Mass. The use of disposable plastic cups as ciboria at World Youth Day in Rio comes to mind. (See Catholic Family News.)

News outlets are reporting that some six million people were present for the Papal Mass in Manila, causing many to wonder just how, logistically speaking, the distribution of Holy Communion should take place in such circumstances.

The answer is simple; it shouldn’t.

Is that to say that no attempt should have been made to distribute Communion to the millions of people clambering for the Eucharist yesterday; sending them away having not received?

Certainly that would have been better than what actually did take place.

Even so, how best to handle the distribution of Holy Communion in such cases is the wrong question to ask; what we really need to consider is whether or not such Masses should be celebrated in the first place.

Again, the answer is simple; they shouldn’t.

While the mega papal liturgies drawing hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of faithful have become somewhat commonplace in recent decades, they’re not only entirely unnecessary; they actually cause great harm even beyond the obvious.

How so?

By obscuring the reality of what the Mass is; its purpose, and its benefits.

Look, it is perfectly understandable for Catholics to desire to be in the presence of the Successor of St. Peter, to lays eyes upon him and to hear him speak in person.

That said, Holy Mass celebrated by the pope, while perhaps an occasion of noteworthy solemnity (even though the sacred signs all-too-often say otherwise), is of no more “value” than the Mass that is offered by the local parish priest.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that a Mass is a Mass is a Mass.

For instance, the celebration of the Usus Antiquior that was celebrated at St. Alphonsus in Baltimore yesterday where I had the great privilege of assisting was head and shoulders of more benefit than that spectacle in Manila. For the present discussion, however, we’ll largely set aside the great disparity between the benefits derived from the traditional Mass versus the Novus Ordo.

That having been said…

In all cases, Jesus Christ is the true high Priest of the Mass; it is He who makes the offering, and it is He who is the propitiatory Sacrifice that is offered to the Father in reparation for our sins. This is the case whether it’s the pope or Fr. Joe at the altar.

This is a truth lost on many in our day, and it’s not a mystery why.

The Novus Ordo Missae as it is commonly celebrated (even by the popes) is such that the personal attributes of the celebrant have a tremendous impact on the faithful; their experience of the Mass and the manner of believing derived therefrom.

For example, if Father is reverent and pious, the Mass is experienced in one way; if he is lackluster and casual; the experience is altogether different.

In other words, the Novus Ordo, with the priest’s nearly every word spoken aloud, almost always while facing the people, his every gesture on display, is inherently performance driven.

Add to this the fact that the Bishop of Rome, from the time of John Paul II on forward, has been viewed (and all-too-pleased to behave) more like a Holy Roman Rock Star than the Vicar of Christ, and the papal Mass has taken on the appearance of being as much dramaturgical as liturgical; even to the point of obscuring the Holy Sacrifice.

The solution?

Put an end to the outdoor Papal Mega-Mass altogether.

For starters, the pope need not behave as a globetrotting religious ambassador such as we’ve grown accustomed. If he simply stayed put more often, the problem under discussion would become less relevant.

In lieu of that, if the Holy Father wishes to address the faithful of a given place at some large venue capable of accommodating hundreds of thousands or millions of people, great; gather the people, deliver an address, and impart an Apostolic blessing.

As for the liturgy; the pope should celebrate Holy Mass in a fittingly sacred place (e.g., the local cathedral, or some other church building of note), offering special intentions for the people of that nation if he so wishes.

Exactly who is invited to attend that liturgy is a matter that can be discussed, but in any event, a papal Mass with a limited number of people in a truly sacred place is clearly a move in the right direction.

Local parishes could choose to celebrate the liturgy at the same hour as the Papal Mass as an expression of solidarity with the pope, but even this would be largely superfluous. What really matters is that every celebration of Holy Mass is carried out in a truly sacred place, and under the conditions necessary to allow for reverence when distributing and receiving Holy Communion.

The conservative dethronement of Christ

16. January, 2015Blog Post43 comments

Jones ZmirakCharlie Hebdo, publisher of such vile images as God the Father being sodomized by Our Lord Jesus Christ, is part of His Mystical Body.

This according to Jason Jones and John Zmirak (in what order or proportion is anyone’s guess) who recently pontificated on the Catholic Thing blog:

The attack on Charlie Hebdo was an assault on Christendom. Magazines that publish sophomoric cartoons mocking religion are, paradoxically, part of the Body of Christ – if perhaps its lower intestine. In a society formed by the profound Christian notion of human dignity, there is also room for bad Christians and non-Christians, just as there are cells for mystical Carmelites. The broadest vision of a real, earthly, Christian society can be found, not in monastic tracts, but in The Canterbury Tales.

While one might feel compelled, and justifiably so, to reject as unworthy of consideration the opinions of any self-identified “Catholic” whose worldview is admittedly informed more by the stories of Geoffrey Chaucer than the magisterium of saintly popes, such in this case would be unwise.

The unfortunate truth is that the propositions put forth in this article are in some appreciable measure the logical fruit of the Americanist brand of liberty adopted at Vatican Council II, and therefore more widespread than one might care to imagine.

As such, this article merits a closer look.

Before digging in, however, let me state at the outset that it’s not my intention to offer a point-by-point refutation of every laughable idea these writers put forth. For one thing, the sheer number of such remarks would make the task entirely too unwieldy.

More importantly, however, is that the level of ignorance (quite possibly invincible) on display in this article is such that it simply cannot be overcome by a handful of paragraphs; rather, it requires first and foremost that those attracted to such opinions find within themselves a sincere desire to sentire cum ecclesia, along with a willingness to embark upon a thorough examination of the pre-conciliar magisterium.

Evidence for the lack of just such a desire and willingness on the part of Jones and Zmirak litters their entire article. For example:

Attempts to forcibly “purify” Christian societies of dissent and sin always ended in catastrophe – with “heretics” chained to stakes, Jews labeled with badges and artworks piled on bonfires. Such fitful attempts to truncate the Body of Christ of its “impure” members planted seeds of vengeance – which sprouted in France in 1789, and in Spain in the 1930s.

Debates concerning the details and the relative merits of those measures that may have occasionally been undertaken in previous ages with the stated goal of building a Christian society are entirely irrelevant.

One can readily admit that certain of these actions would only serve to undermine the common good in our own day; we might even say that some were condemnable even then.

This, however, in no way justifies consigning to the trash heap, as Jones-Zmirak clearly does, the immutable principles that formed the foundation of the Church’s traditional (and enduring) understanding of the Social Kingship of Christ and the rights and duties of individuals, families and States.

It is noteworthy just how eager these writers are to suggest that blame for the French Revolution lies squarely at the feet of the Catholic State and perhaps even the Church herself, and yet they’re at pains to excuse the activities of Charlie Hebdo while lecturing, “Christianity can bear mockery and assimilate it.”

As to how they imagine Christianity might assimilate mass produced images of Jesus Christ depicted as an incestuous homosexual is anyone’s guess, but the suggestion alone betrays a mind nearly devoid of sensus Catholicus.

As if their arguments in favor of unbridled liberty had not already been advanced beyond the point of absurdity in the brief excerpts provided, the duo goes on to assert:

So the Church and the West, in a sense, need Charlie Hebdo. If France must defend that magazine’s offices with squads from the Foreign Legion, it’s well worth the price – instead of surrendering Western freedoms to the bearded thugs of the banlieues.

With the sort of puerility that one might expect only of the entirely unchurched, Jones-Zmirak here offers an utterly false dichotomy; one that sets unlimited license for the Charlie Hebdos of the world against a society ruled by the might of violent extremists, as if it must be either one or the other.

Just a small taste of the authentic Christian wisdom presented with such great clarity by Pope Gregory XVI is enough to expose the insanity of their position:

Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again? (Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos)

What on earth would cause otherwise intelligent men to reject such fundamentally logical thoughts as these?

Perhaps we need look no further than the Council; that anthropocentric bloodless coup wherein Christ the King was duly supplanted by man to whom “all things on earth should be related as their center and crown” (cf GS 12).

According to Jones-Zmirak:

At the Second Vatican Council, the Church fully renounced any aspiration to dominate men’s souls through the sword of the state – recognizing that religious persecution is intrinsically evil, just like adultery or abortion.

In spite of the implicit, childish, and entirely unsustainable suggestion that the traditional (and as yet still entirely applicable, albeit ignored) doctrine of the Church relative to religious liberty and Church-State relations was intrinsically evil, one might see in their commentary the threads of a potential insanity defense.

It appears that these men are, at least in some measure, victims of the post-conciliar tidal wave that has been crashing upon the rock of sure doctrine for nearly five decades, rendering it but a pile of sand unworthy of the firm foundation of a truly just society; at least in the eyes of the disoriented.

In any event, I would invite you to undertake the bitter experience of reading the rest of their arguments directly.

What you will discover if you do is the sort of “dynamic language, emotional and high-sounding words” of the French Sillonists who were condemned by Pope St. Pius X for their gross misunderstanding of human dignity  “in the manner of some philosophers, of whom the Church does not at all feel proud.”

“The first condition of that dignity is liberty, but viewed in the sense that … each man is autonomous,” wrote the Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter, Notre Charge Apostolique.

“This is the basis principle from which the Sillon draws further conclusions,” he continued, “today the people [must not be] in tutelage under an authority distinct from themselves; they must liberate themselves.”

This was an idea popularized by such 18th century philosophers as those held up for scorn by Pope Pius X, freethinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire, whose prose inspired the so-called “great American experiment,” the ideals of which neo-conservative Catholics like Jason Jones and John Zmirak are all-too-pleased to enthrone in the place of Christ the King.

SSPX Conference – Portland, OR – Nov. 2014

15. January, 2015Blog Post23 comments

In November I was privileged to speak at a dinner hosted by Our Lady of Fatima Church (SSPX) in Portland, OR.

In addition to discussing the current crisis in the Catholic Church, this conference (recording below) addresses the stark contrast that exists between Pope St. Pius X and Pope Francis relative to each man’s understanding of the duties that are incumbent upon the Successors of St. Peter.

I’d really like to give more such talks in 2015. At present, I only have three upcoming this year; I’ll give more details as they are confirmed.

If you happen to be part of a group that can handle straight talk rooted in Catholic tradition, or even if you’re part of one that would like to take me to task, consider getting in touch with me to see if we can put something together.

Sayonara, Charlie

14. January, 2015Blog Post44 comments

sayonara charlieIn the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France at the hands of faithful Muslims (otherwise known as terrorists), people the world over have been taking up the “JE SUIS CHARLIE” placard as if doing so represents a service to “Peace on Earth;” drawing a line in the sand that says:

It’s either freedom of expression or terrorism, and this world ain’t big enough for both.

Though others are perhaps too afraid, too ignorant, or degenerate to say the same thing aloud, my take is a little different:

While the murder of the Charlie Hebdo staff members is a condemnable act in itself and a direct fruit of Islam, the single most violent religion any false prophet ever conjured up in his wicked little brain (albeit with Satan’s help), there can be no question whatsoever that this world is far better off without the garbage these now deceased individuals produced.

Sayonara, Charlie. Your ‘talents’ won’t be missed; at least not by anyone with a modicum of decency.

I just regret that those who survived the attack are as yet still intent on cranking up the presses; an act not of heroism as some would have it, but rather a sure sign of depraved intransigence. I would have much preferred to see them scurry off into the sunset never to have their craft put on display anywhere ever again.

For me, this view of the Charlie Hebdo attack is just no-brainer Catholic common sense.

By contrast, however, the entire affair is creating a serious conundrum for so-called “conservative” Catholics, especially here in God-Bless-America.

As staunch advocates for “freedom of speech,” their libertine ideology compels many of them to look at Charlie Hebdo while holding their collective noses and chanting in unison, “I may not condone what they are saying, but I defend their right to say it!”

Joshua Bowman of CatholicVote.org, for instance, cited the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as an ideal, proclaiming, “Even though Charlie Hebdo published little more than puerile smut, they have the right to be wrong so that others can have the freedom to be right.”

William Donohue of the Catholic League also cited the Constitution as an ideal, but offered a more nuanced view of the situation, saying:

The cartoonists, and all those associated with Charlie Hebdo, are no champions of freedom. Quite the opposite: their obscene portrayal of religious figures—so shocking that not a single TV station or mainstream newspaper would show them—represents an abuse of freedom.
 
Freedom of speech is not an end—it is a means to an end. For Americans, the end is nicely spelled out in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: the goal is to “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
 
No fair-minded reading of the Preamble suggests that it was written to facilitate the right to intentionally and persistently insult people of faith with scatological commentary. Moreover, the purpose of free speech is political discourse: it exists to protect the right of men and women to agree and disagree about the makings of the good society.
 
Let’s forget about legalities. As I have said countless times, everyone has a legal right to insult my religion (or the religion of others), but no one has a moral right to do so. Can we please have this conversation, along with what to do about Muslim barbarians who kill because they are offended?

While Donohue did well to distinguish between “legal rights” (man-made civil rights) and “moral rights” (those that have their founding in God), his attempt to articulate certain limits to free speech relative to the Charlie Hebdo case leads to a number of incredibly important questions:

To whom and from whom comes the authority to determine what is “so shocking” that it is unworthy of publication, and how is that determination made?

According to Joshua Bowman’s way of thinking, it would seem that the individual writer, cartoonist or publisher alone has that right, while Bill Donohue’s approach appears to suggest that “we the people” get to make that call by applying a largely undefined subjective standard via some unidentified mechanism.

While the Preamble to the Constitution does indeed cite “justice, tranquility, and the blessings of liberty” as the ends toward which it is ordered, who has the authority to define these concepts in such way as to guide  the actions of individual citizens and States in service to their attainment?

For Bowman’s part, it would seem that the very suggestion of regulating free speech is anathema, and so it is left for each man to define “justice, tranquility and liberty” for himself as he exercises freedom of speech in its pursuit.

Donahue, on the other hand, appears to believe in a form of self-regulation wherein it is enough for reasonable men to simply undertake a “fair-minded reading” of the Constitution in order to gain a clear understanding of the duties incumbent upon the those who would exercise their right of free speech in search of “justice, tranquility and liberty.”

In the end, the views of both Joshua Bowman and William Donohue, in spite of the names of their respective organizations, lack a fully Catholic view of the situation, and the reason is simple:

As good “conservatives,” each one is unduly infected with the conciliar disease that causes one to behave as if the separation of Church and State is a dogma of the Catholic faith as opposed to the “most pernicious error” it truly is. (cf Vehemeter Nos, Pope St. Pius X)

In other words, while the Second Vatican Council largely adopted the U.S. Constitutional model of freedom of religion (and by extension, its closely related cousin, freedom of speech), that’s not the Faith of the Church.

Even so, every pope who has reigned ever since (and every Catholic worthy of the “conservative” label) has essentially taken as his own the Americanist view that the State is guided not so much by the Law of God as entrusted to, and made known by, the Catholic Church alone, but rather “from the bottom up, by the layman acting under the guidance of his Christian conscience” (John Courtney Murray – Memorandum to Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, 1950).

As such, it is no surprise that missing from the commentary of both Bowman and Donohue (to say nothing of the pluralistic reflections offered by Pope Francis) is any hint of the Catholic Church’s unique, God-given, role in defining the rights and duties of both individuals and States.

From a truly Catholic point of view, the Charlie Hebdo “satirists” had no right, properly speaking, to publicly disseminate much of the filth that came to define their rancid publication.

The limiting factor to so-called “free speech” in this case, however, has little to do with such subjective determinations as relative offensiveness to “people of [generic] faith;” rather, it has to do with the objective truth that no one has the right from God to denigrate Him, nor to mock Jesus Christ who is the fullness of Divine Revelation, nor to publish and distribute that which draws others away from the one true faith established by Him, etc.

No such “right of expression” ever exists regardless of what the civil law in a given land might state. This would be the case even if there wasn’t one solitary Catholic alive to take offense.

As for the rights of the State:

  • God, from whom all authority comes, most certainly does grant to the State the right, and at times even the duty, to suppress the works of vile blasphemers like Charlie Hebdo.

By contrast, the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, a self-identified Catholic, recently put conservative disorientation on display as he lectured the media:

Australian media organizations don’t normally hold back when, for argument’s sake, they are criticizing Christianity. Catholicism comes in for a particular dose of scorn … it’s important that we don’t engage in self-censorship as a result of this kind of attack.

He seems to be saying, in other words, go ahead, criticize all religions with equal vigor because, after all, we mustn’t treat one as if it is any different than the other!

Lost in such men is an authentic Catholic worldview; one that necessarily accounts for the simple fact that one religion really is different than all of the rest in that it alone is true.

  • God also grants to the State the right to tolerate such activities as those that might denigrate the one true faith, if, as a matter of prudential judgment, the legitimate civil authority determines that doing so would prevent a greater evil than suppression would invite; therefore rendering a greater service to the common good.

There is a world of difference between the State that tolerates offenses against the truth according to the judgment described above, and those that would make of such things a “civil right.”

Likewise, is there a chasm between the mind of the Church properly understood and those Catholics who seem to imagine that the State does well to treat all forms of “free speech” as sacrosanct, or perhaps subject to limit according only to some man-made standard of offensiveness based on feelings.

  • God does not grant to the State the authority to make a “civil right” of that which opposes the one true faith, any more than He grants it the authority to make a civil right of that which contradicts the Divine Law.

Most Catholics readily accept that heads of State who enact laws promoting such “civil rights” as access to abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex “marriage,” are guilty of abusing their authority, and yet many a “conservative” simply gives a pass to those who would make a “civil right” of the freedom to mock Our Lord. Some would even encourage as much!

So, with all of this said, how are we to view those unflattering Charlie Hebdo depictions of Muhammad or other figures revered by the many false religions of the world?

While there can indeed be sinful intent in their publication, they are different in kind than those images mocking Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Catholic Church, etc.

How so?

The latter is always an offense against the God who is Truth and objectively so; the former, by contrast, is largely an offense against men and public order, and this often in a subjective sense.

In the exercise of its God given authority, the State does indeed have the right to suppress such subjectively offensive activities as those things published by Charlie Hebdo against the false religions.

Importantly, however, this right stems from the State’s duty to promote the common good; in this case, by regulating that which threatens to invite civil unrest.

That said, the State does not have the right to place the false religions on an equal footing with the one true religion, and it never has the right to suppress the activities of the latter, the Catholic Church, which is always and everywhere eminently free.

One will notice that an authentic Catholic view of the State places a substantial burden upon those who exercise civil authority. While much is left to their discretion and prudential judgment in the ordering of temporal affairs, however, the Church does not simply abandon the State and its rulers to find their own way.

Rather, it is recognized that rulers of State (both Catholic and non-Catholic alike) desperately need the guidance of Holy Mother Church, which is nothing less than the wisdom of God, in order to govern well in service to the common good.

As it is today, those who exercise civil authority in the world have largely been left orphaned as our churchmen have been all-too-content, for more than half a century, to engage in an earthbound brand of religious diplomacy that scarcely resembles the mission that Christ gave to His Church.

If the Charlie Hebdo massacre contains a lesson, it is not to be found in the overly-simplistic false dichotomy that would have one choose between Islamic terrorism and free speech; rather, it is simply in recognizing this:

When the Holy Catholic Church established by Christ the King to guide the affairs of individuals, families and States (Catholic or not) in His name ceases to do so according to the immutable truths entrusted to her; behaving instead as a mere mediator among men and but one religion among many, we can well expect those who govern to flounder and fail in the face of every crisis, just as they are in the present moment.

Was the post-conciliar liturgical disaster inevitable?

8. January, 2015Blog Post66 comments

Imagine no CouncilWriting on the Archdiocese of Washington blog, Monsignor Charles Pope posed the rhetorical question:

If the Second Vatican Council had never happened, would we still have a ‘New Mass’?

The relative inevitability of the unprecedented changes that have taken place relative to Catholic life over the last fifty years – in general and not just liturgically –  is often cited by those who are loathe to recognize the disastrous consequences of the Council.

If for no other reason than this, Msgr. Pope’s question merits close consideration.

His answer: “Quite possibly.”

Rather than quote from the article extensively, I would invite you to visit his blog to read his supporting arguments, including the assertion that “the Liturgical Movement,” even prior to the Council, “was already moving along quite rapidly and deeply and would likely have continued to do so.”

In his concluding remarks, Msgr. Pope offers this word of advice for those who love the Mass of all ages, as clearly he does:

Be careful to distinguish the Second Vatican Council from the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I encourage this for the two reasons stated above: first, a strategy that allows us to be identified (fairly or not) with the repudiation of an entire Ecumenical Council is an unwise strategy; second, knowledge of the history of the whirlwind 20th century shows that the relationship of the liturgical changes to the Council are more complex than generally appreciated by a simplistic “pre-Conciliar vs. post-Conciliar” mentality.

I’d like to offer a few thoughts of my own on these points.

First, when one references the pre-conciliar “Liturgical Movement,” a distinction must be made between the papal commission established in 1946 under the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and the largely clandestine subversive movement spearheaded by the Belgian monk, Dom Lambert Beauduin, who envisioned a reformed rite crafted specifically to serve as a tool for catechesis, social justice and ecumenism.

(NB: the Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, was in part a direct response to Beauduin’s ecumenical aspirations.)

As Msgr. Pope pointed out in his piece, Fr. Annibale Bugnini (the architect of the Novus Ordo) was the secretary of the aforementioned papal commission, but what he failed to address is the widely accepted understanding that even then Bugnini was sympathetic to the cause of the subversives, but only secretly so.

Secondly, while I’ve not read the some 300 page document that was produced by the papal commission, Memoria sulla riforma liturgica, summaries written by credible scholars indicate that the document is largely devoted to addressing matters surrounding the liturgical calendar and the Breviary.

Even then, the papal commission’s primary purpose was to propose fundamental principles that should be observed if and when any such efforts to reform the liturgy were undertaken.

Nothing that I’ve encountered in my reading suggests that the Memoria in any way presaged the kind of destruction that was wrought on the Roman Rite following the Council. In fact, according to Dom Alcuin Reid, in the Memoria one will find “no explicit desire for a major structural reform or recasting of the Liturgy.” (The Organic Development of the Liturgy, pg. 152)

This brings me to the suggestion that one does well “to distinguish the Second Vatican Council from the Ordinary Form of the Mass,” and more specifically, to Msgr. Pope’s reasons for encouraging as much, beginning with the following:

“A strategy that allows us to be identified (fairly or not) with the repudiation of an entire Ecumenical Council is an unwise strategy…”

It isn’t immediately clear to whom Msgr. Pope may be referring if indeed anyone, but it would seem that he may have in mind the Society of St. Pius X and people like me who, though not a part of the Society, hold a similar view of the Second Vatican Council.

Whatever the case may be, let’s examine briefly this notion of “repudiating an entire Ecumenical Council.”

Msgr. Pope seems to be making the rather common mistake of lumping Vatican Council II together with the previous twenty ecumenical councils of the Church, as though each one is of equal stature as the others.

This simply isn’t the case; Vatican II stands out as unique in that the intents to define and bind are entirely absent from it.

That said, what clear thinking Catholics cannot help but reject in any text that proposes to articulate the true faith is that which either misrepresents authentic Catholic doctrine, or even simply invites confusion as it concerns the same.

Examples of this nature in the conciliar documents have been discussed at length on this blog.

With this in mind, if one simply applies the “little leaven” standard to the “entire Council,” the idea of repudiation isn’t very radical at all; on the contrary, it is eminently Catholic.

The second reason Msgr. Pope offered for detaching the Council from one’s concerns over the Novus Ordo is as follows:

Knowledge of the history of the whirlwind 20th century shows that the relationship of the liturgical changes to the Council are more complex than generally appreciated by a simplistic “pre-Conciliar vs. post-Conciliar” mentality.

Again, I’m not entirely certain who, if anyone, he has in mind here, but for my part I will readily concede that the matter is far from simplistic, and it would be a mistake to imagine that the Council was the very birthplace of the assault on the Roman Rite that ensued after its closing.

What I will not so readily concede is Msgr. Pope’s conclusion:

Clearly, I speculate here. But, frankly, so do those who would dispute the answer … Some significant overhaul of the liturgy seemed to be in the offing, for better or worse, Council or not.

While it is true that people on both sides of the “what if the Council never happened” question are largely left to speculate, that does not mean that every aspect of the conversation concerning those things that contributed to the making of the Novus Ordo are matters of mere speculation.

In other words, there are quite a few well-known facts that cannot be overlooked.

Though a number of these have already been stated, reviewing the relevant “history of the whirlwind 20th century” chronologically suggests that there is a substantial, one might even say inextricable, link between the Council and the Novus Ordo Missae:

- There is no indication that the official “Liturgical Movement” instituted in 1946 was in any sense suggestive of a “significant overhaul” of the Rite of Mass to come. In fact, one of the three principles set forth in the document issued by the official papal commission (Memoria) is ordered toward preventing as much.

“Valiantly renew, therefore, when it is truly necessary and indispensable to renew, and preserve with zeal, when you can and must preserve.” (As quoted by Fr. Carlo Braga, La Riforma Liturgica, pg. 16)

- The “Liturgical Movement” associated with Dom Lambert Beauduin was forced to operate in the shadows prior to the Council thanks to those responsible popes who saw fit to safeguard the integrity of the sacred liturgy from the corruption this movement’s aims portended.

- This same subversive movement labored behind the scenes in the hope of seeing a reformed rite that would serve as a tool for catechesis, social justice and ecumenism.     

- Annibale Bugnini secretly favored the vision of the subversives even as he acted as secretary for the papal commission established by the Sacred Congregation for Rites in the 1940’s.

- Bugnini served as the principal author of the Second Vatican Council document, Sacrosantum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

- Sacrosantum Concilium includes propositions that directly mirror, and encourage, certain of the reforms desired by Dom Beauduin, et al., and the subversive movement previously mentioned.

For instance, in the opening article of the Constitution, ecumenical aims are placed at the very forefront of the liturgical reform it intended to set in motion:

This sacred Council desires … 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. (SC 1)

(For a more detailed treatment, please see “Liturgical Reform gone wild: Is Vatican II blameless?”)

- The Novus Ordo Missae, having been constructed upon the conciliar propositions, has become precisely what the subversive movement envisioned; namely, a rite that is comfortably received by those with a protestant mindset (a tool for ecumenism, see SC 1 cited above), a rite that has been stripped of sacred mystery so as to be “easily understood” by the faithful (a catechetical tool, see SC 21), and a rite that can be leveraged to promote social justice causes (often via the “Prayer of the Faithful,” see SC 53).

NB: With respect to the so-called “restoration” of the “Prayer of the Faithful” as encouraged in Sacrosanctum Concilium, an article by Fr. Romano Tommasi for Latin Mass Magazine demonstrates that this element enjoys no standing in the Church’s liturgical tradition.

Lastly, when considering the connection between the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae, I would remind readers that the full name of the body that ultimately created the new rite was the “Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia,” or the “Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.”

This fact alone seems to suggest that any attempt to build a wall of separation between the Council and the Mass that emerged from the Consilum is tantamount to a denial of history.

Taking all of this into consideration, one is hard pressed to deny that the Council provided the very gateway through which the subversive aims of the liturgical movement associated with Dom Lambert Beauduin passed from the condemnable aspirations of an underground fringe group to the “official” desires of the Church (in the form of directives that emanated from no less than an ecumenical council, albeit one unlike any other as previously noted).

With all of this said, let us now return to the rhetorical question initially posed:

If the Second Vatican Council had never happened, would we still have a ‘New Mass’?

It is not unreasonable to answer, as Msgr. Pope did, that it is “possible” (quite possible, I am not so sure) but not at all for the reasons he cited.

At this, I think it’s important for us to take a step back to consider very carefully just exactly what we’re discussing here; a “significant overhaul of the liturgy.”

While all concerned realize that this is precisely what happened after the Council, let it be said in no uncertain terms that the very concept of a “significant overhaul” is entirely antithetical to the sacred liturgy of the Catholic Church!

For the record, I feel compelled to say that re-ordering the prayers of the Breviary, as Pope St. Pius X did (regardless of one’s opinion of that re-ordering), does not constitute what one might reasonably consider an “overhaul,” the likes of which took place after the Council.

No intent to disparage, but frankly, I find it very surprising that anyone with a love for the traditional liturgy and a strong knowledge of the same (as Msgr. Pope most certainly has) would so easily concede that such a thing was in some way inevitable; at least apart from a substantial dereliction of duty on the part of Peter’s Successors.

In order for the Novus Ordo to come into existence, it was absolutely necessary for the aspirations of Dom Lambert Beauduin et al. to gain at least the appearance of “official” approval, that they might make the transition from the wild ideas of dreamers whispered in the shadows, to the “inspired” proclamations of respectable clerics openly expressed in very halls of ecclesial power.

I suppose that it is at least possible that this could have taken place directly at the hands of Paul VI or some other utterly feckless pope, but without the gravitas of the Second Vatican Council masquerading as the “higher authority” that was driving the process, it is perhaps just as likely that a perfectly well-justified rebellion would have ensued at the Novus Ordo’s introduction.

In the end, it would seem to me that the “engine” that brought the Church to this place where she stands today; that is, mired in a crisis more than a half-century old with no end in sight, is none other than the ever-present reality of sin.

Be that as it may, let us not be afraid to admit that the fuel for the operation was, and is, none other than the Second Vatican Council.