9. December, 2013Blog Post10 comments
For those who, surprisingly, can’t quite get their hands around Saturday’s post… This isn’t real complicated.
There isn’t a “conservative” Catholic commentator alive who hasn’t publicly confronted the notion that political leaders who promote abortion-on-demand are to be esteemed as champions of “human dignity… non-violence, reconciliation and truth … justice and the common good” as the Church understands them, and they do so for the simple reason that this bastardization of Catholic social doctrine represents a grave danger, not just for society, but for the individual faithful who support such politicians.
Karl Keating is just one such person among many. Catholic Answers can be applauded for producing a Catholic Voter’s Guide and for offering articles and programs aimed at setting the record straight on the “seamless garment” mentality that, here in the United States, has led to election after election wherein the majority of self-identified Catholics vote pro-death politicians into office.
For example, how many of these conservative voices, certain members of the sacred hierarchy included, have been raised over the years against the Nancy Pelosis of the world for daring to suggest that their political aspirations are worthy expressions of authentic social justice?
Now I ask you, who threatens to lead human society and individual souls away from the truth, apart from which each will perish; the pro-death politicians who disguise themselves as praiseworthy promoters of “human dignity … non-violence, reconciliation and truth … justice and the common good,” or the visible head of the Catholic Church who validates them as such?
The bottom line here should be obvious: Those conservative Catholic voices who position themselves and their apostolates as dedicated to helping good Catholics become better Catholics, and bringing former Catholics back to the Church, and yet remain silent to the grave dangers posed by the hierarchy’s praise for Nelson Mandela, the pope included, invite one to wonder exactly who they are serving; is it Christ, or is it their own self-preservation?
This question is especially valid when said persons are willing to go out of their way to publicly single out the supposed danger posed by traditional Catholic voices, some even going so far as to lobby behind the scenes (albeit in vain) for their demise.
7. December, 2013Blog Post80 comments
As reported by Vatican News Service, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, addressed the reality of Nelson Mandela’s legacy:
Is it possible for churchmen to reconcile the reality of having denied over one million unborn children the right to life with “promoting human dignity … non-violence, reconciliation and truth … justice and the common good” without exposing the souls in their care to confusion at the very least, eternal damnation at worst?
For those who have the Catholic faith, we know that it is not. This much is entirely obvious.
Consider: If the Holy Father and the world’s bishops had simply limited their comments to offering prayers for the repose of Mandela’s soul even without confronting his complicity with evil, and the likes of Nancy Peolsi and Joe Biden had said exactly the same things Pope Francis and Archbishop Kurtz said, the “conservative” Catholic army would have lambasted them. I know it, and they know it.
And yet, where are those same Catholic voices that went out of their way to criticize me, both publicly and privately, for the way that I attempt to defend, albeit imperfectly, the Holy Catholic faith?
Karl Keating, where is your Catholic Answer?
7. December, 2013Blog Post4 comments
Nelson Mandela has earned all of the effusive praise he’s receiving from abortion rights groups by replacing South African anti-abortion laws with abortion-on-demand, even for girls under 18 years of age without parental consent.
The nerve! Attaching the pope’s good name to a man like Mandela! The biggest problem with the statement above is that it isn’t from Planned Parenthood or NARAL, it’s from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who went on to say in the name of the United States Bishops:
Yes, let us thank the Good Lord for Nelson Mandela’s bravery in seeing to it that more than a million human beings might be mutilated in their mothers’ wombs in a “safe and legal” way lest they may have come to sadden the world by their very presence.
If you’re wondering where Archbishop Kurtz gets the nerve, wonder no more:
Sure, there’s a new man in charge at the USCCB, but it’s the same old Devil pulling the strings, and his reach extends well beyond American shores.
5. December, 2013Blog Post18 comments
My first impression of Evangelii Gaudium was that it demonstrates once more the Holy Father’s fascination with novelty; that tendency among modernists of which Pope St. Pius X solemnly warned in Pascendi.
In this post, I’d like to take a closer look at this theme, with quotes from the exhortation offered below in boldface.
In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.
On the one hand, Pope Francis is pointing to the same “old” path upon which the Church has been stumbling for the last fifty years; the pathway of dialogue with the world whereupon the call to conversion to the one true faith is strictly verboten.
On the other hand, all indications are that we are being prepared for real changes to come as well; changes that one imagines may well shake the faith of many, but more on that in future posts.
If nothing else, Pope Francis is consistent. For some time now he has spoken of a need to embrace the new; even going so far as to suggest that the faithful do well to favor uncertainty in matters religious, as though such were a virtue.
Also by way of consistency, or perhaps better stated, predictability, even as he lauds novelty while preparing the rank and file for still more, the Holy Father cannot help but take aim at faithful Catholics (or “traditionalists” if you prefer) along the way. Evangelii Gaudium is no different, but this too will be the subject of a separate post.
Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”.
Notice that “newness” is being presented here after the manner of the conciliar progressives, who in the process of chipping away at tradition, did so under the banner of ressourcement, deftly convincing the naïve that theirs was but a quest for Christian purity. (Sound protestant? It should.)
As an aside, I am reminded here of Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga’s insistence upon returning to “the original priesthood of Jesus,” as if Our Blessed Lord had failed to rise from the dead to reign in glory.
In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit. The real newness is the newness which God himself mysteriously brings about and inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies in a thousand ways.
Pay close attention! The Holy Father, again predictably, is attempting to convince us (as he himself appears to be convinced) that all of this magnificent “newness” is not the fruit of mere human beings; no, it is a gift from God Himself who is leading His Church to depart from the sure path traveled by the Saints over the course of nearly two thousand years!
This comes as little surprise from a pope who attributes to the content of Vatican II, without distinction, the voice of the Holy Ghost.
Nor should we see the newness of this mission as entailing a kind of displacement or forgetfulness of the living history which surrounds us and carries us forward. Memory is a dimension of our faith which we might call “deuteronomic”, not unlike the memory of Israel itself.
Note the subtlety! The Holy Father is urging us to think of tradition not so much as the bedrock of doctrinal certainty that it is (and who can forget his harsh words for those who might dare to seek such certainty), but as little more than a fond memory.
Does the Holy Father really mean to suggest that Catholics in our day must shed their attachment to tradition just as the People Israel were called to leave behind the idolatrous ways of their erstwhile Egyptian masters? One is hard pressed to understand his words otherwise.
In any event, if as yet it had not abundantly clear, the Holy Father, in speaking of “the newness of this mission” is indicating that the “new path” of which he speaks refers to nothing less than a departure from the “old” mission, this being the one that Jesus gave to His Church:
“Go ye therefore to all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them everything whatsoever that I have commanded.”
Indeed, one finds in Evangelii Gaudium many indications that the mission of the Church as this pope envisions it is very different than the one given by Christ.
Consider, for example:
He sends his Spirit into our hearts to make us his children, transforming us and enabling us to respond to his love by our lives.
Bear in mind, this quote hasn’t been lifted from a secular newspaper, and it causes one to wonder why, the pope of all people, feels the need to avoid plainly stating one of the most basic tenets of our faith; namely, that God “makes us His children” through Baptism?
One answer immediately comes to mind, his affection for the People well defined as having rejected Jesus Christ; the Jews. The Holy Father, it seems to me, is using the language of Jeremiah 31:31-34, quite deliberately.
Whatever the motivation may be, one thing is certain, in sidestepping Baptism one is necessarily avoiding the Great Commission.
Here I have chosen to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality.
Indeed, this “new phase” is one in which calling out to those in darkness to enter the one true Church through the waters of Baptism will no longer do; rather:
We are called to bear witness to a constantly new way of living together in fidelity to the Gospel.
From where does the impetus toward newness come? As stated, we are being urged by the pope to understand that the driving force is God Himself, and yet, the attentive reader of Evangelii Gaudium will have noticed that the pope, in a moment of candor, appears to give us a glimpse at the true source of this quest for novelty. It is, of course, humankind:
Young people call us to renewed and expansive hope, for they represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future, lest we cling to a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in today’s world.
If what we have examined thus far is not disturbing enough, the Holy Father seems to come uncomfortably close to professing the belief that Divine Revelation is continuing!
In the Christian customs of an evangelized people, the Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face.
Having already been instructed by Fr. Federico Lombardi that we are witnessing in Pope Francis “a new genre of papal speech that’s deliberately informal and not concerned with precision,” perhaps he really means to say that the Holy Spirit is granting us a deeper understanding of that which has already been revealed.
God knows, and perhaps so will we in time.
At this, I will conclude by saying that the sage advice of Pope St. Pius X below is more needed today than ever:
4. December, 2013Blog Post6 comments
Fifty years ago today, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Second Vatican Council document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
To mark the occasion, most “conservative” commentary seems to be centered on those faithful portions of the text that have been largely ignored; e.g., “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (SC 36).
I, however, think it far more important to acknowledge the shortcomings of this document; to come to terms with how these have contributed to the protestantization of Holy Mass.
This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. – SC 1
This unfortunate nonsense about “fostering union” as a goal to be achieved by way of the liturgy’s reform set the stage for removing from the rite anything that might be found objectionable to the heretics; the first thing to go being the Offertory, since, after all, “it smacks of sacrifice” as Martin Luther so correctly observed. And we wonder where our sense of the sacred went…
To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence. – SC 30
Seized upon by progressives, this statement has been leveraged as a command to dole out liturgical activities, as if “doing something” is the equivalent of active participation.
Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful. – SC 33
Offered under the heading “Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the Liturgy,” this underdeveloped proposition has given rise to treating Holy Mass as a teaching moment. Yes, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass contains what we might call “instruction” in that it forms the faithful to the likeness of Christ who redeems us, but it is not, properly speaking, a venue for teaching.
The Council footnotes the Council of Trent here, but this is what Trent said:
“Although the Mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be everywhere celebrated in the vulgar tongue … Pastors are encouraged to expound upon some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord’s days and festivals.”
The Fathers of Trent are talking about the homily, not about treating the rite itself as if it were a time for catechesis.
The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation. – SC 34
The phrase “noble simplicity” is not new; it had previously been used to describe the traditional rite, and yet, the above directive has served to embolden those who desire an impoverished liturgy, a rite sufficiently brought down to earth such that it is “within the people’s powers of comprehension,” a ludicrous notion given the nature of Holy Mass.
On a similar note:
In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community. – SC 21
The idea that the mystical encounter with the Lord effected at Holy Mass can be “understood with ease” is utterly ridiculous.
Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity … rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples … Anything in these peoples’ way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she … sometimes in admits into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit … Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands … In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. – cf SC 37-40
It is thanks in part to this encouragement to promote “variations, adaptations,” and even “more radical adaptations” that the Mass has been so customized that even in any given diocese there are as many variations of the Novus Ordo as flavors at Baskin Robbins.
In conclusion, while it is important to point to those all-too-often ignored faithful expressions found in Sacrosanctum Concilium, we are far better served facing head-on the leaven of unorthodoxy contained therein, as most assuredly the entire lump has been corrupted.
4. December, 2013Blog Post12 comments
It’s my nature, for better or worse, to shoot from the hip all-too-often, but I deliberately forced myself to take some time to reflect before commenting on Evangelii Gaudium in any great detail.
Before highlighting specific points, however, I must first say that I’m struck by the degree to which this exhortation is not so much “Apostolic” in tone as it is “Bergoglian.” It reads far more like a journal comprised of personal reflections than as an instrument of the papacy wherein the Vicar of Christ intends to encourage the children of the Church in the ways of the Faith.
If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality… (EG 208)
Setting aside the richness of this reference to individualism, there’s little pretense being made here; this document is very much the pleading of the man Jorge Bergoglio, and in this one must grant that he is entirely consistent.
If nothing else, the experiences of the last eight months have amply indicated that Jorge Bergoglio did not so much become pope as the pope became Jorge Bergoglio.
Sure, every Roman Pontiff brings his own gifts and experiences to the papacy, but who can deny that the storyline of this pontificate, at least thus far, is Jorge Bergoglio Goes to Rome, and it has been this way from moment one.
Consider, by way of contrast, the elevation of Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti to the papacy in 1846, a cardinal who was widely considered a liberal and who was even the subject of unsubstantiated rumors of having joined the Freemasons.
As Pope Pius IX, his pontificate became an expression of the Petrine Office, the Office did not serve simply as a platform for expressing him, and he left to the Church such lasting gifts as the Syllabus of Errors and Ineffabilis Deus, dogmatically defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We must fast and pray that a similar transformation will take place with Pope Francis as well.
3. December, 2013Blog Post16 comments
Forgive me for beating this wretched horse to death, but for those who can tolerate another, more detailed look at Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga’s speech, wherein he arguably provides an overview of the current pontificate’s vision for the Church, I offer the following.
I recently sent the PDF linked below to my spiritual director, at his request, in order to facilitate future sessions. It is the complete text of the cardinal’s speech, with certain of the more troubling sections in boldface followed by my own commentary in red.
In spite of the “dead horse” euphemism above, the unfortunate truth is that this particular beast is very much alive, and barring some unforeseen change, it sheds a great deal of light on the direction in which the Church will be taken.
3. December, 2013Blog Post11 comments
The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). – Evangelii Gaudium – 169
Remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other? Am I the only one who finds this misappropriation of Scriptural imagery outrageous? What’s next, a reflection on WE ARE WHO ARE?
“Whatever you do for the least of these…” OK, I get it, we encounter the Lord in others, but taking liberties with Sacred Scripture in such way as to suggest that mere human interaction, even that interaction that is ordered toward the work of evangelization, is tantamount to a Theophany offends pious sensibilities.
Then I fell down at the Angel’s feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” (Rev 19:10)
2. December, 2013Blog Post11 comments
A few weeks ago, any number of Catholic commentators wildly applauded Pope Francis’ letter to Archbishop Marchetto, trumpeting it as proof positive that the current pontificate is committed to Pope Benedict’s approach to Vatican II, some even going so far as to proclaim that Francis clearly shares his predecessor’s vision for the Church. I disagreed.
More recently, even some tradition-minded Catholics are making similar hay over a letter Pope Francis sent to Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, in which he once again affirmed Benedict’s so-called “hermeneutic of continuity” while also offering praise for the Council of Trent. (Translated text available at Rorate Caeli.)
Of the Tridentine council, Pope Francis said in part:
Most notably, he then goes on to say:
Once again, I feel compelled to caution that this may not be the wonderful news it’s being made out to be.
Before I get to the letter itself, let me first say that there’s a disturbing trend developing among some Catholics “on the right” of late, wherein the pontificate of Pope Benedict is being looked upon in hindsight as though it represents “glory days” for the Church. While we certainly have things to recall fondly (very fondly in the case of Summorum Pontificum), how soon we forget Assisi III!
Sure, I get it, relative to the madness of the last eight months, Benedict can begin to resemble Pius X in the nostalgic mind’s eye, but that’s not reality.
Even after seven years at the helm, Benedict’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” failed to provide clarity relative to Vatican II, and it did so for the simple reason that the entire program is constructed upon the false premise that everything the Council proposed dovetails nicely with the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles if only it be read a certain way.
For a dose of reality, one might do well to revisit one of the Holy Father’s most detailed reflections on the Council, published on Oct. 11, 2012 in L’Osservatore Romano. (A remarkable text that I commented upon here.)
Undeterred, some will continue grasping for traditional straws saying, But Francis lauded Trent! Surely that’s terrific news!
Really? Is that how far we’ve fallen? Only in severely unhealthy times can it be major news when the Roman Pontiff offers praise for the greatest ecumenical council in the last five hundred years.
Beyond this, every commentator that I have read thus far seems to be missing the most salient point of all relative to the pope’s letter to Cardinal Brandmuller:
Not only does Pope Francis laud the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council, he intimates that he considers Vatican Council II to be on par with them!
He is, after all, only being consistent. One may recall that the first time Pope Francis publicly commented upon Vatican II, he did so saying:
In other words, for Pope Francis, the content of Vatican II, just like the content of Trent and Vatican I, is the voice “of the very same Holy Ghost.”
This, my friends, is perhaps the most unrealistic, and flat out dangerous, approach to the Council that the pope could possibly take.
27. November, 2013Blog Post54 comments
I am presently about a third of the way through the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium.
In a previous post, I mentioned what appears to be a certain fascination with all things new that Pope Francis shares with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Even at this point in my reading of Evangelii Gaudium, this particular theme is unmistakeable.
With this in mind, I took a look at the footnotes to this 50,000+ word document, and lo and behold, of the 217 references, a grand total of 20 predate Vatican II.
Think about it. More than 90% of the footnotes in this document are anchored in a “rich inheritance” of just 50 years, in a Church that boasts nearly 2,000 years of sacred Tradition through which countless popes, Saints and Doctors of the Church transmit the immutable Faith that comes to us from the Apostles.
For comparison, I took a look at the first pre-conciliar encyclical that came to mind, Immortale Dei of Pope Leo XIII. The footnotes to this document overwhelmingly reference Sacred Scripture, with a number of references from Church Fathers and just one reference to the encyclical of his immediate predecessor, Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura, a document for its part that is footnoted almost entirely to the Church Fathers.
Could it be that the sources cited in Evangelii Gaudium indicate the very “unchecked passion for novelty” (Pascendi 13) that Pope St. Pius X warned about?