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Conversations with Francis: Salvation

29. January, 2015Blog PostOne comment

Conversations with FrancisToday I’d like to launch a new feature called Conversations with Francis. Whether it’s a one-time thing or not remains to be seen.

For better or worse (and we all know which one), we have a pope who frequently expresses himself with the kind of theological precision that one might expect from a guy in a bar mixing it up religious with his buddies over a couple of cold ones.

Thanks to the efficiency of global communications, the pope’s words are almost immediately broadcast to the waiting ears of impressionable people worldwide, and this on a near-daily basis.

As you well, know, it’s not uncommon for these informal one-way “discussions,” which often pertain to important matters of faith and morals, to contain ideas that are ambiguous, misleading and sometimes even flat out erroneous.

With this in mind, it occurs to me that injecting a reasonably well-formed Catholic voice into these papal soliloquies just might provide a degree of clarity for those who are listening in, sincerely seeking the truth.

At this, I’ll take my place on the other side of the table to chat with Pope Francis about today’s Santa Marta homily, and we’ll see how it goes.

__________________________________________________________________________

Francis: It’s true, Jesus has saved us all, but not in a general fashion. All of us, each one with their name and surname. And this is our personal salvation.

Louie: Jesus has saved us all? Papa, please! Being “saved” refers to the work of salvation; a work still unfolding in the lives of individual people here in this vale of tears. That’s why St. Paul could encourage the Philippians, and us, “work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”

Francis: I am truly saved, the Lord looked at me, gave his life for me, opened this door, this new life for me and each of us can say ‘For me.’

Louie: As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again! Seriously though, and with all due respect, you’re confusing salvation with redemption – which, by the way, is a work as yet still being carried out in the life of the Church, in a most profound way in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but we’ll save that for another conversation.

Look, Holiness, by His Cross and Resurrection, the Lord redeemed us; that’s what it means to say, “He opened this door.” And yet, one may either walk through that door, or not. Those that do are saved; those that do not are lost.

Francis: But there’s a danger of forgetting that He saved us individually but at the same time as part of his people or community.  His people.  The Lord always saves his people.  From the moment he calls Abraham and promises to make them his people. And the Lord saves us as part of this community.  That’s why the writer of this Letter (to the Hebrews) tells us: ‘Let us be concerned for each other.’

Louie: OK then, I’m concerned for you. No more Châteauneuf-du-Pape! No, seriously, want another one? I got this.

Anyway, in his Epistle to the Hebrews read at Mass today, St. Paul is telling his fellow Jews that they are not saved! So much for “always saving His people,” eh! He tells them that in order to be saved, they must leave behind the Old Law and embrace the New Covenant established by Christ, since this is the only means of salvation.

Francis: There is no salvation solely for me.  If that’s the way I understand salvation, I’m mistaken and going along the wrong path.  The privatization of salvation is the wrong path.

Louie: It’s true that there is no salvation outside the Holy Catholic Church, this Mystical Body of Christ of which we are called to be members. So, if by “privatizing” you’re referring to the protestant who behaves as a free agent, detached from the Church and her visible head, that’s you big guy, confident that he is saved, then you’re entirely correct.

Francis: And when I’m in a parish, in a community —  or whatever it is – I am there, I can privatize salvation and be there only on a small social level.  But in order not to privatize salvation, I need to ask myself if I speak and communicate the faith, speak and communicate hope, speak, practice and communicate charity.

Louie: Hahahahha! Sorry. For a minute there I thought you said “communicate clarity.”

Alright, I think I get it now. Faith, hope charity… You’re speaking specifically of the baptized, since it is in baptism that we receive these theological virtues, right? You’re saying that we must be concerned for the other baptized individual’s salvation as well as our own, right? Well then, yes, I agree! We must communicate the faith, striving like St. Paul did to convince others to accept the promise of salvation made available only through Christ in His Holy Catholic Church. One might even say that we are called to proselytize. Is that what you’re saying? Please tell me it is!

Francis: If within a particular community there is no communication between people and no encouragement is given to everybody to practice these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized their faith. Each of them is looking for his or her personal salvation, not the salvation of everybody, the salvation of their people.

Louie: Are you saying that “communicating the faith” means doing so only “within our own particular community” or “whatever it is”? You’re losing me again.

Francis: And Jesus saved all of us but as part of his people, within a Church.

Louie: Well, again, it’s more accurate to say that Jesus offers salvation to all through the Church, but I have to say, Holy Father, now I’m encouraged! I can’t wait to hear you call the heathens, heretics, and Jews to enter the Church so they might be saved!

You do mean to speak of the Catholic Church, right? In any case, can you give us an example of how people who “privatize” salvation behave? I’m not sure I ever met one.

Francis: They scorn the others, they stay away from the community as a whole, they stay away from the people of God, they have privatized salvation: salvation is for me and my small group, but not for all the people of God.  And this is a very serious mistake.  It’s what we see and call: ‘the ecclesial elites.’

Louie: Oh, I see now! You’re referring to people like me; those “self-absorbed Promethean, neo-Pelagians,” otherwise known as those who hold firm to the doctrines of the faith, think and feel and live according to the mind of the Church as expressed throughout the centuries, and who long to worship as did their ancestors for many generations, etc. Gotcha.

Francis: When these small groups are created within the community of God’s people, these people believe they are being good Christians and also are acting in good faith maybe, but they are small groups who have privatized salvation.

Louie: Really, Holy Father? All of this simply to tell me and other tradition-minded Catholics to let go of the rich doctrinal and liturgical heritage that nurtured so many previous generations? Seriously? In exchange for precisely what; the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from replacing evangelization with endless dialogue, and acting as if the mission of the Church extends no further than meeting the temporal needs of the poor?

No thanks; I have a better idea. How about you leave all of that earthbound nonsense behind and join us!

Alright, bottoms up. I have an early day tomorrow.

Website issues

28. January, 2015Blog PostNo comments

Thanks to all who let me know they’re still getting the iPower page when visiting the site.

The problem (I believe) is that a cached version of the page is coming up (in this case, the iPower page). When this happens, refresh the page, and it should load from there. You may need to close an reopen your browser.

So far, this has resolved the matter for others. If it doesn’t for you, please let me know, but all appears to be working as it should otherwise as far as I can tell.

Blase Cupich: Poster Priest of Newchurch

28. January, 2015Blog Post15 comments

In his recent interview with Commonweal Magazine, Archbishop Blase Cupich provides an interesting glimpse into the activities of the Extraordinary Synod.

Final Extraordinary Synod document.

View a transcript for this video.

Welcome to the United Church of Social Work

26. January, 2015Blog Post29 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 Post17 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.