Monday, January 16, 2017


Most Catholics who are old enough to remember the pre-Vatican II Church can remember how dogmatic priests and bishops were. The laity were often treated as children rather than adults. In part, this has a great deal to do with the laity's rebellion in the late 1960's when the Church after Vatican II began to be more pastoral than dogmatic. Many Catholics under the heavy yoke of authoritarianism, like a child, moved from childhood to adolescence using and abusing their new found freedoms. They did not move to their adult state.

Today, heterodox, progressives continue to promote a pastoral council, which Vatican II was, as well as more recent documents coming from the Holy Father in a dogmatic, pre-Vatican II authoritarian way just as it was done by the Magisterium after Vatican II and their cohorts. Just think of the Maltese Falcons, I mean, bishops.

The orthodox, though, should keep in mind that prior to Vatican II, pastoral theology was often promoted in a dogmatic, authoritarian way. Just think the the theology of Limbo for unbaptized infants. It was a pastoral theology that presented a better option than eternal damnation for unbaptized infants. It was a more merciful pastoral approach not only for the infants but for their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. But it was never a formulated doctrine let alone dogma. It was a pastoral theology.

The greatest area in which progressives highjacked and dogmatized the Second Vatican Council is on its pastoral perspective (which can never be dogmatized, by the way) as well as on the reform of the Liturgy. One gets a sense of this in a recent interview by Italian media with the Liturgist, Fr. Andrew Grillo, professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm. (Keep in mind, though, how Pope Francis described liturgists recently: "what's the diffference between a liturgist and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist!" )
This originally appeared as a feature on Rai Newsand was conducted by Pierluigi Mele:
 Professor, there is a debate in the Church of Rome, which at first might seem only to be of interest to the “insiders,” but which is in reality important to all the people of God. We are talking about translation of the liturgy. As you know, the Second Vatican Council initiated a Copernican revolution in Catholic liturgy. Under Pope John Paul II, the document Liturgiam authenticam was issued. It provides the criteria for the translation of the liturgy from Latin to the various languages. We know that the current Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship is the ultra-conservative Cardinal Sarah, who dreams of a “reform of the reform” of the Catholic liturgy. What, in your view, are the limitations of Liturgiam authenticam?
The first thing to say is that the 2001 document is part of a long chain of texts produced by the central magisterium – papal and curial – between the late 1980s until the first decade of the new century. All these documents are united by one characteristic: they are the fruit of fear. They are a reaction to the trust and confidence that the Second Vatican Council had introduced into the Church of the 1960s and 1970s, overcoming the anti-modern trauma that had paralyzed the Church for more than a century. Now we move back to the old mistrust and suspicion. They brought back the nineteenth-century frame of mind. In this particular case, it is the mistrust and suspicion of modern languages ​​and modern cultures. The authority to translate them has been taken away, and keeping in line requires a method of translation from Latin that yields a result that is, one can say without exaggeration, comic: If you follow the rules laid down, the resulting text is incomprehensible; but if you want a text that is understandable, you have to violate the rules. This is the experience of all the national episcopal conferences for the past 15 years. It is happening widely. The events related to the Missal translation into English, German, French, and Italian are just the best known examples.

After reading the authoritarian, myopic, narrow views of Grillo above, compare this with the common sense approach of Cardinal Ratzinger the future pope. His views are certainly more pastoral, middle of the road and beneficial for the Church:

In this 2003 video, Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of ad orientem celebration:

He also speaks about a future document favorable to the Traditional Mass:

"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

My final comments: What Cardinal Ratinger and later as pope, wanted to do was to promote inner healing in the Church which was happening under his pontificate as Catholic identity was being recovered in a marvelous way and polarization was being reduced. Pope Francis and his friends still enamoured with the post Vatican II confusion and rupture want to restore the wounds to the Church that Pope Benedict so valiantly tried to heal. What a mess we are in now and very similar to what happened after Vatican II by these very same dogmatists who are so very authoritarian.


Wow! How do you spell bamboozled?

Ethicist says ghostwriter’s role in ‘Amoris’ is troubling

Ethicist says ghostwriter’s role in ‘Amoris’ is troubling
Archbishop Victor Fernandez with Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, at the Synod of Bishops. (Credit: CNS.)
It turns out that the most important footnote in 'Amoris Laetitia' may be one that's not there, because a key passage of the document is lifted almost verbatim from a 1995 essay in theology by Archbishop Victor Fernandez -- raising troubling questions about Fernandez's role as ghostwriter, and the magisterial force of his ideas.


[Editor’s note: In this essay, Professor Michael Pakaluk of the Catholic University of America examines the role of Argentine Archbishop Victor Fernandez, a theological adviser to Pope Francis, in Amoris Laetitia, the pontiff’s document on the family. Crux invited Fernandez to respond, and his comments appear at the bottom of the article.]
The most important footnote in Amoris Laetitia may not be, as many suppose, one dealing with access to the sacraments for Catholics in “irregular” situations. Instead, it may be a footnote that’s not actually in the document but which should be, since one of the sentences in Amoris is lifted nearly verbatim from an essay published in 1995 in a Buenos Aires theological journal.
The sentence, from the notorious chapter 8, is this: “Saint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well; in other words, although someone may possess all the infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult: ‘Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues.’” [Cf. Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 65, art. 3 ad 2 and ad 3].
One must see the Spanish to see the plagiarism clearly.  In Spanish, the Amoris sentence is this:
“Ya santo Tomás de Aquino reconocía que alguien puede tener la gracia y la caridad, pero no poder ejercitar bien alguna de las virtudes, de manera que aunque posea todas las virtudes morales infusas, no manifiesta con claridad la existencia de alguna de ellas, porque el obrar exterior de esa virtud está dificultado: ‘Se dice que algunos santos no tienen algunas virtudes, en cuanto experimentan dificultad en sus actos, aunque tengan los hábitos de todas las virtudes.’”
And the corresponding sentence from that 1995 theological journal is this:
“De hecho santo Tomas reconocia que alguien puede tener la gracia y la caridad pero no ejercitar bien alguna de las  virtudes “propter  aliquas dispositiones contrarias” (Summa Th., I-IIae., 65, 3, ad 2), de manera que alguien puede tener todas las virtudes pero no manifestar claramente la posesion de alguna de ellas porque el obrar exterior de esa virtud esta dificultado por disposiciones contrarias: “Se dice que algunos santos no tienen algunas virtudes en cuanto tienen dificultades en los actos de esas virtudes, aunque tengan los habitos de todas” (Ibid, ad 3).”
And here is the footnote that should be there, but isn’t: “Victor M. Fernandez, Romanos 9-11 : gracia y predestinaciónTeologia, vol 32, issue 65, 1995, pp. 5-49, at 24.  Cf. Victor M. Fernandez, La dimensión trinitaria de la moral II: profundización del aspecto ético a la luz de “Deus caritas est”Teologia, vol 43, issue 89, 133-163 at 157. Evangelii Gaudium 171.”
One must add the bit about Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the joy of the Gospel, because the same sentence was used there too without attribution, and one must also refer to another article by Fernandez, with yet another version of the sentence.
Naturally, I use the term “plagiarism” in its material, not formal sense.
You and I will suspect that Fernandez, now an archbishop and close friend of the pope and said to be the ghostwriter of Laudato Si, was also the ghostwriter of Amoris chapter 8 and parts at least of Evangelii Gaudium. In the sentence cited above, he was simply helping himself to his own, earlier writings.
But materially, for an author to present the words of another as his own words is still plagiarism, and Pope Francis, not Victor Fernandez, is the author of Amoris and Evangelii Gaudium.
In fact, the use in Amoris of material from Fernandez’s earlier writings is more pervasive than a single missing footnote. At one stage, an entire section of the document is largely lifted from a 2001 essay by Fernandez, though it’s of lesser theological and ethical import.
Here is a chart showing the dependence:
Amoris Laetitia 129
Victor Manuel Fernandez,
“Danza de alegria en el cielo y en la tierra,” Revista Criterio No. 2268, Dec 2001, p. 4.
La alegría de ese amor contemplativo tiene que ser cultivada.
Puesto que estamos hechos para amar, sabemos que no hay mayor alegría que un bien compartido: «Da y recibe, disfruta de ello» (Si 14,16).Puesto que estamos hechos para amar, sabemos que no hay mayor alegría que en un bien compartido: Da y recibe, y alegra tu vida (Eclo 14, 16).
Los carismas que hemos recibido son para iluminar la vida en sociedad con el gozo de dar y recibir. Por eso, dice el Eclesiastés que no hay mayor placer que gozarse en el fruto de un trabajo (Ecli 3, 22).
Las alegrías más intensas de la vida brotan cuando se puede provocar la felicidad de los demás,Las alegrías más intensas de la vida brotan cuando un don recibido provoca la felicidad de los demás,
en un anticipo del cielo.
ya que hay más alegría en dar que en recibir (Hech 20, 35) y Dios ama al que da con alegría (2 Cor 9, 7).
Cabe recordar la feliz escena del film La fiesta de Babette, donde la generosa cocinera recibe un abrazo agradecido y un elogio: «¡Cómo deleitarás a los ángeles!». Es dulce y reconfortante la alegría de provocar deleite en los demás, de verlos disfrutar. Ese gozo, efecto del amor fraterno, no es el de la vanidad de quien se mira a sí mismo, sino el del amante que se complace en el bien del ser amado, que se derrama en el otro y se vuelve fecundo en él.Cabe recordar la feliz escena del film La fiesta de Babette, donde la generosa cocinera recibe un abrazo agradecido y un elogio: «¡Cómo deleitarás a los ángeles!». ¡Qué dulce y reconfortante alegría es la de provocar deleite en los demás! Ese gozo, efecto del amor fraterno, no es el de la vanidad de quien se mira a sí mismo, sino el del amante que se complace en el placer del amado…. No basta derramarme en el otro, hacerme fecundo en él.
I wish that these lapses could stand as a regrettable but isolated fact about Amoris, but they cannot. I will point out three broader implications.
The first is that Amoris needs to be “taken back to the shop,” to have various flaws removed or corrected.  I have already pointed out how footnote 329 misquotes Gaudium et Spes, and that it must deliberately misquote that document to advance its implicit argument.
Surely no text published under the name of the Roman pontiff should contain an inaccurate quotation of an ecumenical council.
There are seven or eight other instances of poor scholarship-misquotation, misleading quotation, misattribution, and so on-which should be corrected.  I would be happy to supply a list. But there are many competent scholars, with goodwill toward the pope, who could have vetted the document in advance and who could still help clean it up now.
I suppose if Amoris were “taken back to the shop” for these relatively minor flaws, it might be good if Pope Francis at the same time definitively resolved its widely-noted ambiguities.
A second implication is that these instances of material plagiarism call into question Fernandez’s suitability to be a ghostwriter for the pope.  A ghostwriter should remain a ghost. By quoting himself, Fernandez has drawn attention to himself and away from the pope.
In secular contexts, a ghostwriter who exposed the author he was serving to charges of plagiarism would be dismissed as reckless.
Worse than that, Fernandez strains the consciences of the faithful. Not a few bishops and cardinals, putatively speaking on behalf of the pope, have been saying to laypersons who find difficulties in Amoris, “It is the magisterium.  You must accept it.”  But in the plagiarized sentence do we find “the magisterium,” or Fernandez’s own theological speculations?
You may say that, as the pope has approved of the text, so he has approved those speculations. But surely each sentence in the text is approved in the manner appropriate to it.  When Francis quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., Jorge Luis Borges, and Mario Benedetti, we rightly take the quotations to have exactly the weight that should be given to what poets and activists have astutely said, and no more.
Likewise, an explicit quotation of a theological journal article would be received as having its own distinctive force and weight. To say about it, then, in an unqualified way, “it is the magisterium,” would be a kind of spiritual bullying.
In fact, there is a distortion of St. Thomas in the first line from Fernandez quoted above, as he seems to want to use St. Thomas’s sound point (that some saints have found difficulty in doing some virtuous acts easily and well) to support an unsound point (that some persons have been saints while acting contrary to some virtues). I reject as contrary to the thought of St. Thomas what the sentence seems to intend to suggest, as do other scholars.
But a third implication arises from the fact that these earlier texts were even consulted at all.  Why should someone ostensibly writing about “the joy of love” be rummaging about in obscure theological articles?
Since Fernandez did go to these articles, we should expect their bigger themes to be connected to what he wrote in Amoris.  The suspicion is not wholly unjustified that perhaps he might aim to have his own speculations win out, not through the usual tug-and-pull of theological debate, but by slipping them in as papal teachings.
If one reads the 1995 article, it presents an argument from Scripture and tradition that, by virtue of the Passion of Christ, each member of the human race, past and present, without any exceptions, and even apart from the instrumentality of baptism in any ordinary sense, has been saved and “effectively predestined” by God to eternal happiness.
He regards this view as the proper development of the tradition and, although he concedes it is not a “truth of the faith,” still, he feels so strongly about it that at the end of his article he concludes with a passionate Credo: “I rely firmly upon the truth that all are saved.”
It follows, Fernandez says, that the Gospel needs to be presented with an emphasis on God’s mercy and in a purely positive light, emphasizing its beauty and joy.  Fear is never a good Christian motive, as the only question facing the soul is what degree of glory it will attain in the life to come.
If everyone is effectively predestined to salvation, then should everyone also be invited to share in Holy Communion?  Fernandez seems sympathetic to the suggestion, although he takes up the question only indirectly.
He says Catholics who believe that only those already in a “state of grace” should receive Communion are not simply excluding others, they also seem to be “flouting” or “boasting about” freely given grace.
Fernandez seems to prefer, in contrast, sinners who would approach the Communion table without that kind of boasting, although, he puts it delicately, this approach “points in the direction of a dialogue with Luther’s doctrine of simul iustus et peccator” (that everyone is at the same time both justified and a sinner).
Fernandez uses the plagiarized sentence in arguing that persons might be in objectively sinful situations yet still be “effectively predestined to salvation.”  To be concerned that such persons risk eternal damnation, is to suppose that human creatures just on their own could reverse God’s will.
These are the main speculations of the article.  If they are affirmed, it seems, the essential nature of Christianity as involving test and probation changes; the moral law is rendered irrelevant; and the distinction between mortal and venial sin breaks down. That is, Fernandez’s essay is deeply problematic.
Yet now an apostolic exhortation of the Holy Father references it. Worse than that, a plagiarized passage is plucked right from a line of thought which bears a superficial similarity to the Holy Father’s.
This can only cause confusion-because in the Holy Father too, of course, one finds an emphasis on mercy, including: a confidence of God’s action even among sinners in seemingly desperate conditions; a concern to hold up the appeal of a Christian way of life as beautiful and joyful; and a solicitude to welcome and foster (by “accompanying”) even the most fragile signs of movement toward God in souls.
These attractive themes are among the most loveable and helpful notes of Francis’s papacy. It seems obvious that they mark a good path for the Church now. Yet how can anything but mischief be the result if the problematic speculations of Fernandez are yoked to them?
It is not difficult to imagine the Holy Father and his ghostwriter as inadvertently at cross-purposes. This need not be deliberate; in professional ethics one speaks of a “conflict of interest.” What the pope understands as special solicitude for the weakest Christians, the theologian might view, perhaps even in spite of himself, as the fuller expression of everyone’s effective predestination.
In fact, Fernandez has a track record of distorting papal teaching to match his own theological ideas.
In the 2006 article, Fernandez applies his 1995 view to Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est. After using that sentence about St. Thomas and citing the Catechism at 1735 and 2352, Fernandez says, “There can be no doubt that the Catholic magisterium has taken the position with clarity that an act which is objectively wrong, such as a premarital relationship, or the use of a condom in sexual relations, does not necessarily lead to the loss of the life of sanctifying grace, from which the dynamism of charity springs.”
Rather, in such couples who have diminished culpability (including same-sex couples, he says), it is precisely their sexual relationship which can realize subjective values which have “a theological and Trinitarian richness.” Sex for them becomes “an expression of the ecstatic dynamism of the love which imprints sanctifying grace.” It involves “a sincere and genuine search (búsqueda) for the happiness of the other,” which is the essence of charity.
To propose, then, that such couples should continue this search while refraining from sexual relations, “to exclude completely bodily desire and pleasure,” Fernandez says, would be to place eros and agape in opposition, which Pope Benedict in his encyclical “has rejected with overwhelming force.”
It follows from Benedict’s teachings, he says, that the sexual acts in such relationships have “a deep Trinitarian content, which is at the same time a positive moral reality.”
It is shocking enough that Fernandez says such things, but even more disturbing that he says that Pope Benedict is committed to them also.
As for Amoris, Rocco Buttliglione argues that its silence on some key teachings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict - silence, not a contrary assertion- can be construed as a continuous development or extension, involving a small group of problematic cases. Others, such as Ed Feser, are not so sure, and think they see, even in the absence of an affirmation, the risk of a surrender to the sexual revolution or a collapse into antinomianism.
Whatever we hold on these matters, it cannot be denied that Fernandez’s “I rely firmly upon the truth that all are saved,” and then what he seems to regard as the concrete pastoral implications of that doctrine in his “extramarital sex can be an expression of the ecstatic love of charity,” represents a fundamental, not a slight, difference.
Michael Pakaluk is Professor of Ethics at The Catholic University of America and author of The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God (Ignatius).

Archbishop Victor Fernandez responds:
First, Fernandez said that anyone wishing to understand his views on grace and the sacraments should consult this article published in 2011.
Second, he sent two paragraphs of response to Pakaluk’s analysis:
“The article about predestination has no connection with much later articles on the Trinitarian dimension of morality. The commentator also imagines that I make a connection between predestination and the possibility of Communion of a sinner, but that is in his imagination and cannot be based on my texts, because I would never make that connection. Why? Because predestination is related to the final state of the person and therefore with the grace of final perseverance (at the last instant), but not directly with the historical path of the person.”
“I would never admit that anyone can receive Communion if the person is not in a state of sanctifying grace. This profoundly contradicts my own theology, and cannot be based on my texts. I say only that an objective situation of sin can be subjectively not guilty. In that case, the objective situation of sin would not deprive the state of sanctifying grace.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017


And read the story from CBS HERE.

 Praytell is reporting that Pope Francis has named several priests, two lay women, and a layman as consultors for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. They are predominantly liturgy faculty members in Europe, especially Italy, and several musical figures are also on the list. Among those named are Massimo Palombella, director of the Sistine Choir; the presidents of the pontifical institutes of sacred music in Rome and in Milan.

I don't know the others very well, but Msgr. Massimo Palombela has greatly improved the Sistine Choir, in fact it is now magnificent. 60 Minutes did a story on him and also how poor the choir was prior to him and even choir members remarked on it.

This is another description of the papal move and of the new appointees from ABC News:
Pope Francis is extending his controversial overhaul of the Vatican's liturgy department, adding a host of new advisers after an initial shake-up removed some leading conservative cardinals.
The 17 new advisers named Saturday include priests, laymen and two women. The experts in liturgy and theology join 27 cardinals and bishops named as full members in October. That reshuffling removed tradition-minded cardinals Raymond Burke and George Pell from the roster, although other conservatives were kept on.

The office is responsible for ensuring Masses and other sacraments are celebrated around the world according to Vatican standards. It is headed by Guinea's conservative Cardinal Robert Sarah.

In July, the Vatican publicly reprimanded Sarah for urging priests to celebrate Mass facing away from the congregation, as was done in the pre-Vatican II-style Mass.

If Msgr. Palombella can help to assure that sacred music in the Liturgy is to his high standards, then I would say this is good news. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017


When and where will this end? It seems to me we are heading quickly to the final solution. I'd like to corroborate an example Cardinal Caffarra uses in terms of a priest writing him to tell him that a penitent in an active irregular union, was going to receive Holy Communion because the pope said he could. I have had that told to me a few times now also, the first in late 2014!

From CRUX:

Cardinal says ‘only blind man’ could deny confusion caused by Pope

Cardinal says ‘only blind man’ could deny confusion caused by Pope
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. (Credit: CNS.)
Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, retired archbishop of Bologna and one of four cardinals who recently asked Pope Francis to clarify his positions in 'Amoris Laetitia,' said on Saturday the cardinals acted because “only a blind man could deny there’s great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church.”
ROME - One of  four cardinals who recently asked Pope Francis to clarify his position on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics said Saturday they acted because “only a blind man could deny there’s great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church.”
“It’s caused by some paragraphs in Amoris Laetitia,” said Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the retired archbishop of Bologna, referring to a document released by Pope Francis in April 2016 drawing conclusions from two contentious Synods of Bishops on the family.
“In recent months, on some very fundamental questions regarding the sacraments, such as marriage, confession and the Eucharist, and the Christian life in general, some bishops have said A, and others the contrary of A,” Caffarra said.
Caffarra appeared to be referring to the fact that since Amoris Laetitia appeared in April 2016, some bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world have interpreted it to mean that at least some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive Communion, while others have held that unless those Catholics are living as brother and sister rather than husband and wife, they remain ineligible.
Caffarra’s comments came in an interview with Italian journalist Matteo Matzuzzi, published Saturday in the newspaper Il Foglio.
Caffarra, who joined American Cardinal Raymond Burke and German Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Walter Brandmüller in submitting questions to the pope, said that when Amoris appeared, he tried to argue that it was consistent with Familiaris Consortio, St. Pope John Paul II’s 1981 document on the family, which decreed that only divorced and remarried couples who live as brother and sister are eligible for Communion.
Yet, Caffarra said, he eventually realized that interpretation wasn’t ending the debate.
“There was only one way to deal with it,” he said, “which was to ask the author of a text interpreted in two contradictory manners which one is correct. There was no other choice.”
Out of respect for the pope, Caffarra said, the four cardinals acted first in private, and only when they had the “certainty” Francis did not intend to respond, he said, did they make the decision to go public.
According to Caffarra, the four cardinals decided to act based on requests from ordinary Catholics.
“Many faithful began to be scandalized,” he said, “almost as if we were acting like the dogs that didn’t bark mentioned by the Prophet. That’s what’s behind those two pages.”
Caffarra insisted that it’s “false and calumnious” to describe the questions the four cardinals submitted to Pope Francis, technically known as dubia, as an act of disloyalty.
“I can be obedient to the teaching of the pope if I know what the pope teaches in matters of faith and Christian life,” he said. “But that’s exactly the problem - on some fundamental points it’s hard to understand what the pope is teaching, as the conflict among bishops demonstrates.”
Caffarra vigorously denied that the four cardinals have created division by putting questions to the pope.
“The division that already exists in the church is the cause of the letter, not its effect,” he said.
To explain the “confusion” and “uncertainty” he believes exists in Catholicism today, Caffarra cited a letter at length he said he’d recently received from a parish pastor.
“In spiritual direction and in confession, I don’t know what to say anymore. To a penitent who says to me, ‘I live in every sense as a husband with a divorced woman and now I’m taking Communion,’ if I propose a course to remedy the situation, the penitent stops me and says, ‘Look, Father, the pope has said I can have the Eucharist, without having to live in continence.’ I can’t take this situation anymore. The Church can ask anything from me, but it can’t ask me to betray my conscience. My conscience objects to a supposed papal teaching to admit to the Eucharist, in certain circumstances, someone who lives as a spouse without being married.”
“We’re talking about extremely serious questions for the life of the Church, and the eternal; salvation of the faithful,” Caffarra said.
Aware that some have styled Pope Francis’s treatment of the Communion issue in Amoris as a triumph of pastoral practice over doctrine, Caffarra demurred.
“A Church that pays little attention to doctrine isn’t a more pastoral Church,” he said. “It’s a more ignorant Church.”
Caffarra also rejected the idea that what happened in Amoris is a “development” of doctrine, saying that a development is one thing and a contradiction is another.
“According to many bishops, it’s a contradiction, while many others say it’s a development,” he said. “That’s the reason we asked the pope.”
According to Caffarra, it all comes down to a simple choice: “Can a priest give Communion to a person who lives like a husband or wife with a man or woman to whom they’re not married, without intending to live in continence?”
Familiaria Consortio, the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church all say no,” Caffarra said. “Some believe Amorissays yes, and pastors have the right to know.”


Now that the bishops of Malta are going way beyond  Amoris Laetitia's footnote, we can be assured that other bishops will do the same. And thus the Catholic Church is seeing the "tip of the iceberg" as it concerns the dismantling of Catholicism and making us like liberal Protestantism which as Cardinal Pell makes clear in the video below, taped in October of 2014, will happen to the Catholic Church too if the radical cardinals and bishops in the Church have their way. Cardinal Pell tried to reassure us that this wouldn't happen, but now His Eminence will have to eat his words as in cropophilia:


Let's face it, it was an intentional virus planted in an overall remarkably good document on marriage and the family that has once again opened up Pandora's Box in terms of unraveling Catholic moral teaching revealed to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church  by God in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and to everyone else in Natural Law.

Of course that virus is a little old footnote, as we say in the south, that corrupts everything. It is the cropophilia of Amoris Letitia! Who wants to eat anything knowing that a dab of shit has corrupted the whole?

This is what His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell said in the middle of October in 2014:

From the Tablet, AKA, Bitter Pill:

[Pell says the relatio is]“tendentious and incomplete,”... an “incomplete resumé” of what the Synod Fathers had said it needed to be “enhanced and corrected”.

He added that after the relatio had been presented three-quarters of the participants in the synod hall who had made interventions had voiced problems with the text.

“The question of Communion for divorced and remarried is only the tip of the iceberg"... "In seeking to be merciful, some want to open up Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, civil unions, homosexuality in a radically liberalising direction, whose fruits we see in other Christian traditions”...

“[It is] strange that there was so little in the document on scriptural teaching and magisterial teaching on marriage, sexuality, family.” “The task now is to reassure good practising Catholics that doctrinal changes are not possible; to urge people to take a deep breath, pause and to work to prevent deeper divisions and radicalising of factions.” He pointed out Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce is a fundamental, which needs to be accepted. He added that children “have a right to a mother and a father”. (Source)

Friday, January 13, 2017


While the producers of the show don't get papal dress correctly portrayed, it does seem that the writer has capture the sentiment of more conservative Catholics, especially since Pope Francis, in terms of what they would like a new young pope to say. This video gives new meaning to the foot ceremony! YIKES:


Below is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ letter to young people on the occasion of the presentation of the preparatory document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. It was released by the Vatican this morning:


My Dear Young People,

I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.

I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.

When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?

But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).

I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.

In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).

With paternal affection,


Given at the Vatican, 13 January 2017


Of course the young Holy Father needs to know that the hat should be red! Shish!

The Young Pope’: A Radical Conservative Rules

As much an HBO fantasy piece as Game of Thrones, The Young Pope is a novel exploration of what it might be like for Rome to name an American pope who is embodied by a British actor. The actor is Jude Law, his un-pope-ish name is Lenny, and he arrives at the Vatican with the only person he trusts in the world: a nun played by Diane Keaton.

An avowed conservative who seems also to be homophobic, the new pope confounds everyone around him — except perhaps his mentor, Cardinal Spencer, played by James Cromwell, who observes that “the young are always more extreme than the old.” Lenny — his chosen name is Pope Pius XIII — puffs on cigarettes and doesn’t mind blowing smoke at the niceties of papal decorum and traditions. His arrogance is matched only by his confidence. Will you want to watch 10 episodes about such a man? It really depends on how drawn in you are by the Vatican intrigue crafted by show creator Paolo Sorrentino, and how beguiled you are by Law’s performance.

The Young Pope looks great — the photography is lush and vivid — and I was as surprised as many of the people Pope Lenny encounters by his unpredictable behavior. But surprises, when taken in succession, are only effective for as long as surprise does not become predictable, and by the third episode, I was beginning to be a little impatient with Lenny’s curtness, his summary scolding of the church officials surrounding him. Still, Law makes the most of juicy scenes, such as a moment when he prays to God with apparent impiety, declaring that he believes only in himself, that he is omnipotent. But whenever this pope seems on the verge of going too far — whenever the show itself seems on the verge of going so far that we might abandon our interest in this character —The Young Pope pulls back and gives Lenny a scene in which he redeems himself with a moment of kindness, or a remembrance of his troubled youth, or a flash of comic relief.

Already renewed for a second season, this international production is novel programming for HBO. It’ll be interesting to see if its combination of religion and politics attracts a substantial audience.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


A template for real Catholic reform in 2017

A template for real Catholic reform in 2017
An image of the 16th century Council of Trent, which launched what came to be known as the Catholic Counter-Reformation. (Credit: Wikicommons.)
One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.


Among other things, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, an event-or series of events-that split Western Christianity into a series of factions, denominations and ecclesial communions.
While targeting real abuses and errors, the reformers ended by radically altering core Christian beliefs on issues ranging from the Canon of Sacred Scripture to the nature of the Church to the number and meaning of the Church’s sacraments.
The Church responded with her own “reformation,” which has been called variously the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Reformation and the Catholic Revival. Culminating in the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Catholic reform curbed abuses, clarified doctrine, purified practices, unified the Church and found new ways to present the beauty of Christian teaching.
In his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, Pope Francis once again centered his words on the need for continuous reform, and while he was speaking first and foremost of the reform of the Curia, he extended the scope of his words to the reform of the Church herself.
Reform, Francis said, “is first and foremost a sign of life, of a Church that advances on her pilgrim way, of a Church that is living and for this reason semper reformanda, in need of reform because she is alive.” Or as the Second Vatican Council taught, “Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth.”
One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.
For Catholics, this anniversary year offers a sterling opportunity to reevaluate and come to a deeper appreciation of the way the Church herself responded successfully to the need for reform 500 years ago, and in this way to draw out lessons for the ongoing reform required by the Church today.
Of the many important characteristics of the Catholic revival, five stand out as particularly crucial as well as immediately applicable to the present historical context.
The centrality of the sacraments
Martin Luther’s rejection of a number of the traditional seven sacraments led the Church to reaffirm the importance of each of the sacraments and their centrality in the Christian life as visible signs instituted by Christ to give grace.
In this flourishing of sacramental theology, the Church asserted that the sacraments are not mere symbols or empty rituals, but actually bring about what they represent. The holy water employed in baptism didn’t just symbolize washing; it really cleansed the soul from original sin and regenerated the person as a son or daughter of God.
The words of absolution don’t just help a person to appreciate God’s merciful love; they really bring about true reconciliation with God and the Church.
Nowhere is the reality of the sacraments more evident than in the Eucharist. The Council of Trent taught that Jesus is “really, truly, substantially present” in the consecrated bread and wine, and not just figuratively or symbolically represented.
Contrary to Protestant criticism, the 13th session of the Council reaffirmed and defined the doctrine of Transubstantiation as “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood.”
The Catholic reform saw a burgeoning of Eucharistic devotion in various forms. Eucharistic adoration by the laity, for instance, was born in the 13th century but experienced widespread growth during the 16th and 17th centuries, and emphasized the doctrine of the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.
One of the greatest examples of Eucharistic art from this period is Peter Paul Rubens’s 1625 painting, The Defenders of the Eucharist. Produced during the Church’s Reformation efforts to defend and reclaim her Eucharistic doctrine, Rubens assembled seven outstanding saints known for their Eucharistic witness in one scene.
In this moving work, Rubens featured St. Jerome, St. Norbert, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, and finally St. Augustine.
Saint Peter and the papacy
The work of the Protestant reformers and their rejection of the pope gave Catholics the occasion to rediscover the gift of the papacy and its importance for Christian unity. Devotion to Saint Peter prospered during this period, which also saw the completion and consecration of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1626.
The papacy had suffered a loss of esteem during the years leading up to the Protestant Reformation, due to a series of scandals and a general spirit of worldliness that had taken hold of the papal office. The popes of the period of the reform-St. Pius V, Gregory XIII and Sixtus V-each contributed in his own way to the much-needed Catholic revival following the Council of Trent.
Pius V gave the personal witness of a life of heroic virtue, and was proclaimed as a model of penance, asceticism, and prayer. Though known especially for the reform of the calendar, Gregory XIII was a great patron of the missions and of Catholic education, and founded the German, English, and Greek colleges in Rome while also sending out missionaries at his own expense to various parts of the world.
Sixtus V carried the Catholic reform over into the renewal of the city of Rome itself.
In his five and a half years as pope, Sixtus completed St. Peter’s Basilica and erected the obelisk of Nero in front of it, built the Vatican Library and its wing in the papal palace, practically reconstructed the Quirinal and Lateran Palaces, created straight streets for pilgrims connecting the major basilicas, built the Aqua Felice aqueduct and the Via Sistina, and established the hospital of San Girolamo.
Great saints, mystics and martyrs
True Christian reform is above all spiritual in nature and is exemplified and shepherded by the saints. The Catholic reform of the 16th and 17th centuries provides a magnificent example of this, with a proliferation of holy men and women of all stripes, from mystics to missionaries to martyrs to saints given over to charitable works.
As emeritus Pope Benedict wrote many years ago: “Saints, in fact, reformed the Church in depth, not by working up plans for new structures, but by reforming themselves. What the Church needs in order to respond to the needs of man in every age is holiness, not management.”
At this time, St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), who took up the banner of the Counter-Reform with great vigor, bolstering the faithful and sending missionaries like Sts. Francis Xavier, Matteo Ricci and Peter Claver to the far corners of the earth.
Later during the revival, St. Philip Neri, the great preacher and apostle of Rome, founded the Congregation of the Oratory and St. Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentians, who dedicated themselves to missions and works of charity.
Meanwhile, the holy Franciscan bishop of Geneva and patron of journalists, St. Francis of Sales, was revitalizing the local Church in innovative ways, with a special outreach to lay spirituality with his Introduction to the Devout Life.
This spiritual reform of the Catholic revival included a reform of religious life, which in many areas had fallen into every sort of decay and languor. Spearheading the reform of the Carmelite order were two mystics, St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross, who championed a Christ-centered spirituality suffused with love for the person of Jesus.
Martyrs, too, came in many forms in this period. Some, like Paul Miki and his 25 companions in Japan, or at the end of this period the great French Jesuit martyrs Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues in northern New York State, gave their lives for Christ while preaching him to those who had never heard his name.
Others, like the Englishmen John Fisher and Thomas More bore witness to the Catholic faith at the hands of an absolute state that demanded they betray their faith, and later Edmund Campion, who died at the hands of a Protestant reform run amok.
Evangelization and mission
The rediscovery of the richness of the Catholic faith inspired a zeal to share this faith with others, and indeed to carry it to the ends of the earth. As we have seen, the Jesuits sent missionaries to the farthest reaches of the earth: China, Japan, Africa, North, Central and South America.
The Catholic reformation coincided with the exploration and evangelization of the new world, which had only been discovered a few decades earlier. Along with the Jesuits, other orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians carried the Catholic faith to faraway lands, setting up schools, hospitals and missions.
The founding of the Roman Congregation “De Propaganda Fide” in 1622, with its organized missionaries, gave a great impetus to the Church’s evangelizing outreach and helped missionaries extricate themselves from overly close ties to national governments and secular ambitions.
As Pope Francis wrote in his first teaching letter, Evangelii Gaudium(“The Joy of the Gospel”), “we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ.” This was the driving force behind the enormous missionary outreach of those years.
“All of them have a right to receive the Gospel,” Francis continued, and “Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Protestant reformers often saw Catholic devotion to the saints as a lessening of Christ’s unique mediation between God and man. Martin Luther himself came to consider the Roman Catholic practice of offering intercessory prayers to Mary and the saints to be idolatry, and John Calvin oversaw  the destruction of Marian images and paintings of the saints.
While condemning abuses, the Council of Trent strongly reaffirmed the veneration of saints and relics, and particularly the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The period of the Catholic reform saw Marian devotion thrive and expand, especially during the pontificate of the Dominican Pope St. Pius V.
On October 7, 1571, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states sailed from Sicily to engage a materially superior Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, Pope Pius summoned all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory, and he personally led a rosary procession in Rome for this intention.
To commemorate and give thanks for Mary’s intercession, Pius instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory (later changed to Our Lady of the Rosary), which is celebrated on October 7, and this brought the rosary into the General Roman Calendar.
As much as the world has changed in the intervening centuries, much has remained the same. In many ways, the world today remarkably resembles the world of the Catholic reformation. The challenges of doctrinal confusion and ambiguity, diminished religious practice, radical Islam and worldliness are every bit as acute today as they were 500 years ago.
More importantly, the reform of the Church always requires a return to what is central in Catholic belief and practice. The gospel itself, though 2,000 years old, will always be “good news” for all generations.
Looking through the keys to the great Catholic revival, it isn’t hard to discover a program for the reform of the Church today. A renewal of appreciation for the seven sacraments and our active participation in them is critical for true reform, as is a focusing on sanctity as the goal of our lives, gratitude for the unique gift of the papacy, loving veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and fervent evangelizing outreach.
The beauty of this program of renewal is that no one needs to wait for others to take the lead-it is within the grasp of every man, woman and child.
Thomas D. Williams is a Rome-based Catholic theologian, author and professor of Ethics at the University of Saint Thomas. His fifteen books include The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation (Crossroad) and Who Is My Neighbor? Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights (CUA Press). He is also a contributor for Breitbart News.