Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Answering The Liturgical Heresy

I am not a "Traditionalist" but I love and wholeheartedly promote the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as the greatest explicit expression of the deepest realities of the Catholic religion in our present day Western Civilization, in complete conformity with the Second Vatican Council.

Father John F. Baldovin, S.J. published an article in America Magazine (May 27, 2013) on the state of the liturgy today ("An Active Presence: The Liturgical Vision of Vatican II 50 Years Later"), which he poses as an objective assessment of the Church's liturgical progress. However, Father Baldovin's article represents the attitude of self-hating Catholics (many of whom are unfortunately still in positions of authority) who reject the Church's traditions and magisterial teachings on the liturgy without providing any arguments or reasoned responses to the great "Reform of the Reform" which is presently underway.

In his assessment of the past 50 liturgical years Father Baldovin's chief concern is to criticize the "Reform of the Reform", or, what Pope Benedict often called the Hermeneutic of Continuity. He is worried about the growing trend of the devotion to and promotion of the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite. Why? Because "...this development is somewhat divisive...the older liturgy is clearly symbolic of a vision of church, theology and the world that the Second Vatican Council consciously moved away from in some very important ways...to reject the liturgy that resulted from the Vatican II constitution is to reject the council itself" He reduces his whole argument to an ad hominem attack, giving no logical response to the real concerns and legitimate aspirations of those who love the traditional form of the Mass, roundly ignoring the in depth analysis of the hot liturgical issues in light of our faith and tradition in the widely read various books of Joseph Ratzinger on the subject. This kind of rhetoric is not worthy of Boston College or the chair of liturgical and historical theology held by the author. Unfortunately this is and has often been the most common approach of modernist liturgists and Church hierarchy on matters liturgical. Their attitude is that they are right and they do not need to prove it. They are right because they are in power. And so, since Benedict is retired and Francis is Pope we can forget Benedict's liturgical magisterium and continue with the status quo. No dissent is tolerated.

What is clear here, in the lack of academic seriousness of the author, and in the widespread acceptance of his approach (e.g. this article was reprinted in the Archdiocese of Newark newsletter "Word and Worship") is a wholesale rejection of the liturgical magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI, which is enshrined both in Summorum Pontificum and in the accompanying letter to the Bishops of the world. It is ludicrous to pit Ratzinger against the Second Vatican Council (he having contributed at least a couple of the chief dogmatic developments thereof). To reject the liturgical magisterium of Pope Ratzinger is to reject the Catholic religion! viz. heresy. What the author charges against his caricature of traditionalist popes, bishops, priests, seminary rectors and seminarians, viz. that they reject the council if they reject the liturgy that resulted from it, applies equally to those who reject the extraordinary form of the Latin Liturgy! Those who reject gregorian chant, polyphony, Latin in the liturgy, lace, cassocks, biretta's, etc. reject the Council of Trent and Vatican I and Vatican II and Blessed John XXIII, Blessed John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis! This approach is reminiscent of the post Humanae Vitae hierarchy who have been trying to muffle and distort the truth contained in that post Vatican II marital magisterial development. To reject the magisterium of our great liturgical Pontiff and the wonderful fruits thereof (myriad traditional young priests and seminarians throughout the world!) would be equivalent to rejecting the magisterium of his predecessor's magisterium on marriage and the family.

So, Father Baldovin, with his myopic, self-referential concern recommends two liturgical tasks for the future of the liturgy: 1) careful and prayerful preparation of the liturgy and 2) catechizing the people regarding the meaning of the liturgy. My respone is 1) that many of the abuses of the liturgy have been and are carefully and prayerfully prepared (e.g. the ubiquitous use of "extraordinary" "ministers" which he approvingly references). And 2) for helping the people to understand the nature of God and of the Mass the older form of the Mass is much clearer and more instructive as pointed out repeatedly by Ratzinger in his liturgical books. It is exactly that liturgical clarity which the Reform of the Reform is finally attempting to achieve, despite the self-hating Catholics' efforts to the contrary.

Furthermore, the Vatican II liturgical reform insisted upon the preservation of the various liturgical traditions throughout the Catholic world. Consistent with that norm, why should we oppose the most universal and venerable of those traditions, the one most a part of the formation of our own civilization? the Traditional Latin Rite. That problem, the root of our Catholic self-hatred is part of a larger crisis of thought in our postmodern world. That problem is fundamentally a problem of cultural relativism resulting from a distorted metaphysics, cf. Truth and Tolerance, Ratzinger. In our attempt at openness to everything we lose our sense of anything! We must have and love our clear foundation and it is called Peter, the Rock, the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which alone determines the legitimate Liturgy.

Evangelii Gaudium is Ordinary Magisterium

Below, my friend Father Bob Connor (Opus Dei!, of The Truth Will Make You Free Blog) convincingly shows that the economic teaching of Pope Francis in his first Apostolic Exhortation is binding authoritative teaching of the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church, consistent with the teaching of Pope Francis' predecessors and with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

The world of the "bottom line" needs to change. The bottom line must become the good of each individual worker and human person, and always remain thus!

N.B. Read the full Apostolic Exhortation document yourself before precipitously forming your own bias! May it not be said that conservative Catholics are against the Holy Father's magisterial pronouncements! It seems that the "neo-con" American Catholics are often more American (i.e. self-referential) than Catholic (Papally guided in social concerns). But morality surely includes the social sphere! What is morality if not social and religious! It seems that the conservative American Catholic is quite prone to ignore the Gospel on money and the proper Christian disposition towards it (cf. Matthew 6:16-34)!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Remarks on Cardinal Burke's Opinion on the Magisterial Authority of "Evangelii Gaudium."

CNSNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the highest court at the Vatican, said he did not think that Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation -- a 224-page document entitled The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelli Gaudium), which touches on myriad issues and has been widely quoted by the media -- was intended to be part of the papal magisterium, the ordinary teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

It seems that Pope Francis makes it clear in the Exhortation's introduction "that these are a number of reflections he's making, that he doesn't intend them to be part of the papal magisterium," said Cardinal Burke, an American, whose official title is Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

Cardinal Burke, the former archbishop for the archiocese of St. Louis, Mo., made his comments during a Dec. 13 interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo on the program, The World Over.

During the exchange, Arroyo asked, "Let's talk for a moment about this recent exhortation, the Apostolic Exhortation. It has been getting a lot of play in the media and, of course, lines have been pulled about capitalism and all these other things, and I think over-exaggerate at moments what the Pope's intentions are. In the total, do you agree that that docuemnt is a part of the continum of the teaching we saw with John Paul II, Benedict, and now Francis and that it's only the expression and the tone that has shifted?"

Cardinal Burke answered,  "I don't know. I think that one has to look at the Introduction to the document itself and it seems to me -- and I would have to have the text in front of me -- it seems to me that the Holy Father made a very clear statement at the beginning: that these are a number of reflections he's making, that he doesn't intend them to be part of the papal magisterium."
Arroyo: "He said they're programmatic."
Burke:  "Yes. They're suggestions. He calls them guidelines, there's programmatic. And so, to me, it's a distinct kind of document and I haven't quite figured out in my mind exactly how to describe it. But I would not think -- I don't think it was intended to be part of papal magisterium, at least that's my impression of it."

Blogger's comment

      It seems that one would be hard pressed to say Evangelium Gaudium is not Magisterium. What level of Magisterium is another question.

     Consider Lumen Gentium #25"(T)he faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decisions made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not  speak, ex cathedra. In such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in  question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated(my underline).

   It must be added that the bishops of the Church do not speak infallibly "taken individually"... But the pope does. That is, the pope can be speaking infallibly as an individual when the document speaks on faith and morals, is directed to the universal Church in an authoritative tone as Chief Shepherd and is reiterating doctrine that has been proposed. This can be the infallibility ofordinary Magisterium
            With regard to his remarks on economics and what can be clearly understood to be capitalism, he is repeating what Vatican II said in Gaudium et spes #65“Economic development must remain under man’s direction; it is not to be left to the judgment of a few individuals or groups possessing too much economic power, nor of the political community alone… Nor should development be left to the almost mechanical evolution  of economic activity nor to the direction of public authority.” John Paul II in “Of Social Concern:”

Of Social Concern:
#21. In the West there exists a system which is historically inspired by the principles of the liberal capitalism which developed with industrialization during the last century. In the East there exists a system inspired by the Marxist collectivism which sprang from an interpretation of the condition of the proletarian classes made in the light of a particular reading of history. Each of the two ideologies, on the basis of two very different visions of man and of his freedom and social role, has proposed and still promotes, on the economic level, antithetical forms of the organization of labor and of the structures of ownership, especially with regard to the so-called means of production.
It was inevitable that by developing antagonistic systems and centers of power, each with its own forms of propaganda and indoctrination, the ideological opposition should evolve into a growing military opposition and give rise to two blocs of armed forces, each suspicious and fearful of the other's domination.
This is one of the reasons why the Church's social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. For from the point of view of development the question naturally arises: in what way and to what extent are these two systems capable of changes and updatings such as to favor or promote a true and integral development of individuals and peoples in modern society? In fact, these changes and updatings are urgent and essential for the cause of a development common to all.
#15. The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior. It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology.

#41: The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior. It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology.

Centesimus Annus #42: If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a ‘business economy’, ‘market economy’ or simply ‘free economy’. But if by ‘capitalism’ is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

   This last sentence, "freedom in the economic sector" that is at the service of human freedom in its totality, and of which "it is a particular aspect," demands a comment.
    What is this "freedom in its totality?" It is the freedom of being out of oneself and for the others. Work is work only because there is the development of the self or "I" in creating an "it" or product that is to become "gift" for another. If that does not happen, that is, if there is no giftedness of a product that represents the "I" [and work is always an "artistic" production whose quality is the creating "I" incarnate in it], then there is no economy. This giftedness is freedom. Economy is freedom as interchange of gift based on trust. 
   To reduce the economy to a mathematical and mechanical calculus of supply and demand, and work as a commodity - an "it" - separated from the person, is to condemn the economy to failure for having failed to understand its true dynamic. And you can't fix it unless you understand how it works. 
Quid Ad casum:

 The pope is clearly manifesting his mind and will in the first person singular when - in just two examples - the semantics read: "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" (#1).  And: "I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded" (#203). 

   Also, the document is offered as an "Apostolic Exhortation... of  the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful..." and ends officially: "Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on November 24, the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, and the conclusion of the Year of Faith, in the year 2013, the first of my Pontificate" and signed: "Franciscus"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"'Seasons' Greetings"

Why is it that the only season of greetings happens to be the Christmas season? No one ever says happy Summer or Merry Spring!

Answer: the birth of Christ!

Happy Anno Domini MMXIV!

Hanukkah is a Jewish feast commemorating the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem; which, since the Roman destruction of 70 A.D., no longer exists!  So, instead of the birth of the Son of David, in the city of David (Bethlehem), the King of the Jews, the Son of God (viz. Christmas) you celebrate His Temple that no longer exists?  Sounds like a time of mourning rather than any cause for celebration. For Jews to be happy at the thought of Hanukkah would be like Americans making merry on 9/11!

Kwanzaa is an modern political invention with no religious roots whatsoever. It's inventor, Maulana Karenga, created it in the USA in 1966 in order to contradict Christmas!

So, in this Season of seasons all of the lights, music and mirth is entirely a testimony to Christ's Birth. Face it (Him), accept it (Him), enjoy it (Him).  Merry Christmas!  Jesus Christ is God, the son of Mary, the perfect Jewess, and protected by Saint Joseph, the perfect Jewish gentleman, Guardian of the Ever Virgin Mother of God and of the God Child of Bethlehem. Salvation is from the Jews! Jesus, Mary and Joseph! forever.

...and the world will scoff, deny it, and try to quiet and ignore it. But the lights and the music goes on all in celebration of the King of Kings and Lord of All.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Work of Pope Emeritus Benedict

There are two public statements, thus far, by the Emeritus Pontiff.

--The 1 September Vatican homily for the closing Mass of the Ratzinger Student Circle.

--The 3 September letter to the atheist journalist Piergiorgio Odifreddi, the full text in English in now on the National Catholic Register website.

The former is a reflection on humlity: on the grandeur of seeking the lowest place. The latter is a deep philosophical response to atheist bias, the full text of which is expected to be published with Odifreddi's new edition of his book to the Pope Emeritus.

Memento Domine famulum tuum Papam Emeritum Benedictum

A suggestion for the first memento of the Roman Canon: "Remember Lord your servant Pope Emeritus Benedict!"

Since the resignation I have been saying every Mass thus, to keep the Emeritus Pope in the heart of the prayer of the Mass daily.

Oremus pro pontifice emerito nostro Benedicto

Dominus conservet eum,
et vivificet eum,
et beatum faciat eum in terra,
et non tradat eum
in animam inimicorum eius.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Extraordinary Form Carmelite Monastery, Alencon France

The Carmelite Nuns of Alencon (Saint Therese's hometown) have just reverted to the extraordinary form for all of their sacred liturgies.

Saint Therese, from heaven, is undoubtedly pleased.

So is the Church militant!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Making a Case for the Saturno (Priest) Hat

In Rome for a year of studies, it's getting cool out, I'm habitually in my cassock, mostly bald headed, it rains alot; and so, I need a hat. What type of hat? The saturno of course!

The jew wears his distinctive jewish hat.
The muslim men and women wear their distinctive muslim head gear.

The Catholic priest is ashamed or afraid of his peculiar hat, above all before his peers and even in his own part of the world! Even in Rome!

You see priests wearing all sorts of non-clerical hats (baseball caps, golf caps, etc., but, most rarely, a Catholic hat!) Shall we call this cultural self-hatred of believers and especially clergy and Catholic hierarchy. Shame! I will wear my priest hat, even if they kill me for it!

There is an Italian fourteen year old seminarian, Blessed Rolando Rivi, who was recently beatified as a martyr of the cassock, and praised by Pope Francis who set him as an example to be followed. He was killed by the Nazis simply for wearing the cassock! public testimony to his Catholic faith.

I should like to put the saturno (priest hat) wearing for the faith in the same category! It's a sign of heaven as the cassock is, and I wear it as an act of piety!

After the Angelus on  7 October 2013 the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Modena Rolando Rivi was proclaimed blessed. He was a seminarian of that land, Emilia, who was killed in 1945 when he was 14 years old out of hatred for his faith. He was guilty only of wearing a cassock during a period when violence was unleashed against the clergy for having raised their voice in the name of God to condemn massacres that immediately followed the war. But faith in Jesus conquers the spirit of the world! Let us give thanks to God for this young martyr and for his heroic witness to the Gospel. And how many 14-year-olds, today, keep their eyes fixed on this example: a courageous young person who knew where he had to go, who knew the love of Jesus in his heart and gave his life for him. A beautiful example for young people!
I would like to remember together with you the people who lost their lives in Lampedusa this past Thursday. Let us all pray in silence for these our brothers and sisters: women, men, children... Allow our hearts to weep. Let us pray in silence.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Vatican Secretary of State and Curial Confirmations

Whispers has an article on Bertone's replacement announced yesterday: Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the nuncio to Venezuela (along with some other curial appointments [e.g. Archbishop Georg Gänswein stays as the prefect of the Papal Household.). Lumen Fidei has a detailed biography of the new State Secretary of His Holiness Pope Francis, en ESPANOL.

N.B. Check out Sandro Magister's masterful article (in Italian) on the role of the Secretary of State and the perfect Secretary of State: the Spaniard Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, the genius of a diplomat tapped by Pope Saint Pius X.

Cardinal Merry Del Val is the author of "The Litany of Humility."

Pius X Annual Pilgrimage to Fulda

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Just Call Me 'Father'"

If you have had much contact with priests over the past fifty years you must have heard a priest say "Just call me 'Joe'" (or whatever his baptismal name is), by way of humility, simplicity and being "more personal" and "with the people." Now there is a generation of priests who want everyone to call them "Father" including their natural parents and their priestly comrades. My experience of both trends is that the men who rejected the title tended to be lax and disoriented in many other areas of their priestly call and identity whereas the new men have a clear notion of the priestly dignity as a ministry of sacramental service and fidelity to the Church.

The title "Father" is actually more supernatural, and therefore humbler, and more intimate. It is more supernatural because it is given by the bishop who ordains the priest whereas the baptismal name is given by the priest who baptizes. "Father" is a reference to the representational nature of the priesthood, that the priest is God's representative, and that that representation is not primarily a matter of function but of essence: he "is" a priest. That is "who" he is, not just what he does. If he continues to be "Joe", than where is the change? And that change is the same regarding even his natural parents and his brother priests. All should feel honored to acknowledge the reality of the sacrament in the ordained minister by always using his title. It is a confession of faith in God. This is particularly striking with some Hispanic children who will endearingly call the priest "Papa Dios" (Daddy God). Priests represent God!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Applying The Gun Control Argument to Pornography

In a moment of passionate weakness it is helpful not to have it on hand (in house).

If you have no access you won't use it, because you can't use what you do not have.

Both are deadly! The guns are necessary sometimes, the porn never!

Eliminate indecency in all it's forms.

Flight is the only fight in matters of the flesh.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cardinal Dolan Questions Pope Francis' Managing Skills

The following is a transcript of the July 24th (Rio de Janeiro) interview of John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York on Pope Francis, etc.
* * *
You were one of the cardinals who elected Francis, and presumably you had some idea of what kind of pope he would be. To what extent has it turned out the way you expected?
In some ways, it's been exactly what I expected. One of the things we looked for was a very savvy pastor, a good man on the ground. To use the expression of [Cardinal] George Pell [of Australia], we wanted somebody with "dirty boots," because he's used to going through the sheep fields. We got that, and we got it in spades.
The simplicity, sincerity, humility, that ability to speak from the heart which the world is seeing now, are all things we'd heard about him. One of the cardinals said we needed somebody with the mind of Benedict and the heart of John Paul, and I think we got it. He's been called the world's parish priest, and I think that's right on target.
If there's a surprise, it's that he's even better at it than we had anticipated. We thought he was pretty good, and the reports we got about him in Buenos Aires were excellent, but he's doing it all on steroids.
What would your biggest surprise be?
We also wanted someone with good managerial skills and leadership skills, and so far that hasn't been as obvious. It's a little bit of a surprise that he hasn't played his hand on that front yet. However, I think that's part of his strategy. He knows that the things we talked about a moment ago are more important because, in many ways, impression is reality. Having created this extraordinarily appealing impression -- which, by the way, is very genuine -- that he's a man of simplicity, holiness and simplicity will make it easier to do other things down the line. I think that was his first goal, and he's done it.
I would expect that after the summer lull, we'll see some more signs of management changes. In the meantime, I think calling the eight cardinals together was brilliant. As you know, that came up in the meetings before the conclave. Many of the cardinals said the new pope would have to look at some sort of "council of wise men," some more precise way to exercise collegiality beyond the Synod of Bishops. (By the way, the congregations said the synod needs to be reformed, too.) The idea was an ongoing exercise of collegiality that would assist the pope permanently. His "G8" with the cardinals was a good move in that direction.
Are you surprised, for instance, that it's taken this long to make a change in the Secretary of State?
If something doesn't happen by October I'd be surprised, but I don't think there's anything surprising that he wants to take his time with it. First of all, this is a man of exquisite charity, and I don't think he wants to hurt anybody's feelings. Second, he realizes that he needs somebody for a transition period. I mean, he's got to have somebody who knows where all the keys are. I thought maybe it would come at the end of June or July, but it hasn't, and so now I think it's probably going to be the fall.
You're known for media savvy. Are you struck by how positive the media tone has been about Francis?
Yes, very much so. New leaders always enjoy a sort of honeymoon, but this guy's early reputation is just extraordinary. For instance, when I take my walk in the morning and talk to the trash collector or to the policeman or to the cab driver, the waiters, the bartenders, they all love this guy. It's basically unanimous. They say, what a great gift, you did a good job with this Pope Francis. It's a real booster shot for the church.
You're a big fan of Benedict. How do you react when you see people praising Francis for being different from Benedict?
It bothers me. Personally, I love Benedict, but beyond that a lot of it just isn't accurate. Take all this talk about how Francis has rejected the "opulence" of the Apostolic Palace. I've been in the pope's apartment, and sure, that public study is very nice, but the rest of it is just functional. It's as if Benedict is being caricatured as this more regal, monarchical kind of pope. It's the same with the business about Francis not going to the "palatial" summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, which is actually fairly simple, too. All these comparisons bother me, both because I think they're probably hurtful to Benedict, and I also think they're not accurate.
The Brazil trip has caused a few security scares around Francis. You're somebody who likes to be close to people, too. Over the years, have you had to learn to let yourself be handled?
Yes, I have, and it started right away. Since the days of Cardinal [Francis] Spellman, the New York Police Department has assigned a detective to accompany the archbishop, and when I got there, I told the commissioner, "Thanks a lot, but it's really not necessary. I don't need one." He said to me, "It's really none of your business. If something happens to you, I'm the one who's in trouble, so grin and bear it." I did, and I've learned to listen to them. There will be times in a group when I'm trying to greet as many people as possible, he'll say, "Turn to your right, there's trouble coming on the left." I don't know what he's talking about, but I do it. Or he'll say, "We're going out this door rather than that one," and so on, and again, I listen.
Of course they know that I want to see as many people as possible, and they know their job is to try to get people to see me, not to keep them from me. But within those confines, if they say to me, "We're not going to do this" or "We're not going that way," I have to listen.
Do you think that's something Francis may have to learn?
I think so, and it's probably happening right now. That said, I don't believe his drive to be close to the people is some sort of strategy. I think he just does it naturally and spontaneously.
Are you worried for his safety?
Yes, definitely. I didn't see the pope's arrival on Monday, so I asked somebody how it went. They said the crowds were so enthusiastic, and when his car took a wrong turn, they were really worried. They told me he's OK now, but it was really touch-and-go. I turned on the news and watched the video, and I was scared, too. There's a wisdom in people being able to see him, and he's not visible if he's in the back seat of a limo. There's also, however, a wisdom in some kind of safety. They're going to have to figure that out without cramping his style.
You were criticized recently for your handling of sex abuse cases in Milwaukee, when the archdiocese released a series of documents. What did you make of it?
I was disappointed. Naively, I thought that was behind us, that we had done our best, meaning the people both in Milwaukee and New York.
Basically, they criticized me on two things. One was the transfer of cemetery funds to a more secure, segregated account, but that was in conformity with Wisconsin law and it was at the direct recommendation of the finance council of the archdiocese of Milwaukee. I felt like I was being criticized for obeying the law. The other was giving some type of sustenance to priests while they were waiting for laicization, which I think most bishops view as a step that may be regrettable, but in justice and charity, you're obliged to do it. Canonically and morally, you're still responsible for them, so some type of provision for housing and health care and so on seems like the charitable thing to do.
Does it help to have a popular pope?
Sure, because the reputation and the credibility of the church are much higher now. Even the cynics and those who are constantly carping are standing back and saying, "Let's give this guy a chance." He's the talk of the town.
I've said before that we bishops lack a lot of credibility in many areas, and it's clear that the goodwill Francis enjoys right now makes things a little easier.
Is there any way in which Francis is having a personal impact on you?
I find myself examining my own conscience ... on style, on simplicity, on lots of things.
For instance, I saw the pope open his own car door, close his own door, and carry his own carry-on bag. That says something to me. I used to do those things for myself, and it's not that I think I'm above it now, but it's just that as archbishop of New York people are doing it for me all the time. That's a very down-to-earth example, but I'm beginning to say that I need to watch this guy closely because he's a good example for me.
I also find myself thinking about living arrangements, because that's a pretty nice house I'm living in. In some ways it's not clear what I could do about it, because it's the historic, traditional residence of the archbishops of New York, and it's not like we can sell it. [Note: The residence is attached to St. Patrick's Cathedral.]
In general, I find myself thinking about some of the perks, the cushiness, we associate with being a bishop. He's pushing me to ask whether they're necessary, and if they might actually be counterproductive.
[Follow John Allen on Twitter: @JohnLAllenJr]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chinese Intellectuals Turning to Thomism for Light

LifeSiteNews has an article summarizing this week's Rimini lecture by the Catholic Chinese philosopher Tianyue Wu on China's need for Christian Philosophy, the video of which is above. He spoke in English. Enjoy! He sounds so much like the new encyclical Lumen Fidei and Pope Benedict's encyclical Spe Salvi.

The theme of The Rimini Meeting 2013 (which ends today) is "The Human Person: A State of Emergency."

Friday, August 23, 2013

His Holiness Benedict XVI Will Offer Ratzinger-Student-Circle Mass

The customary student conference begins on August 29th.

Vatican (German Vatican Radio [Translated by Plinthos]). This year's meeting of the annual Ratzinger Student Circle (Ratzinger-Schülerkreise) begins on August 29th at Castel Gandolfo. For the first time Benedict XVI will not be participating in the lectures, as coordinator Father Stephan Horn reported last Thursday.

On Sunday, September 1st, however, the Emeritus Pontiff plans to celebrate Mass at the Vatican with the 150 participants. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, and Cardinal Kurt Koch will attend.

This year’s  theme for the conferences is "The God Question on the Horizon of Secularization." The main speaker will be the retired historian, philosopher and scholar of religion Remi Brague. These regular meetings with previous academic students began in 1977 and were among the few fixed dates the former Professor Ratzinger continued to keep as Pope.

Plinthos--Presumably this means that we should expect a homily from the Pope Emeritus, his first public words since the historic February 11th retirement.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Cairo the Lecture of Regensburg Is Relevant Again

Never has a pope been so clear and courageous in unveiling the roots of violence in Islam, before Benedict XVI. And not afterward, either. Two obligatory rereadings, to decipher the Egyptian crisis 

by Sandro Magister

ROME, August 20, 2013 – In a few days many dozens of churches, convents, homes of Christians in Egypt have been attacked or burned. A tragedy within the tragedy, after the coup d'état that has plunged the nation of the Nile into a civil war with hundreds if not thousands of victims.

In covering the news of the numerous appeals for the cessation of violence, “L'Osservatore Romano” of August 18 did not, however, succeed in listing among these invocations even one from the Muslim world.

This public silence of the Islamic spiritual guides does not come as a surprise. It accompanies almost every act of political violence that sees Muslims in action, in one or another region of the globe.

It is a silence that is not explained by calculations of timeliness alone, or by the fear of retaliation. Nor by the fact alone that today in Egypt the greatest clash is between opposing Muslim factions, both of them determined to assert with force the precepts of Islam: because it is not only the Muslim Brotherhood of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi that has a conception of the political struggle as jihad, as holy war, but this is also held by its adversary, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the general placed at the head of the armed forces by Morsi himself because he was believed to be the most faithful Islamist of all.

In order to understand the ultimate root of the silence of Muslim spiritual leaders in the face of the explosion of violence of Islamic inspiration, one need do just one simple thing. It is enough to reread the initial part of the lecture given by Benedict XVI on September 12, 2006 in the aula magna of the University of Regensburg.

The aggressive actions with which Muslim men and groups reacted to this lecture were the tragic confirmation of the correctness of the theses presented by pope Joseph Ratzinger. According to whom violence associated with faith is the inevitable product of the fragile connection between faith and reason in Muslim doctrine.

No pope before Benedict XVI had ever had the clarity of vision and courage to express such a blunt judgment of Islam, nor to formulate with such rigor the difference between Islam and Christianity.

Within the Catholic Church Benedict XVI was highly criticized for having dared so much. He was accused of having destroyed the “dialogue” with the Muslim world.

In reality, just two months after Regensburg pope Ratzinger recollected himself in silent prayer in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul. And he was able to perform this gesture - otherwise incomprehensible - precisely because he had stated clearly what was his thought in this regard.

And it was precisely from the lecture in Regensburg that there came to life that sprout of Islamic-Christian dialogue that found its expression in the “letter of the 138 scholars” written to the pope by Muslim representatives of various orientation.

Not only that. Also in that autumn of 2006, during his voyage to Turkey, Benedict XVI said clearly to the Muslim world that it was facing the same challenge that Christianity had already faced and overcome positively: that of “welcoming the true achievements of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its exercise.”

Here as well, no pope had ever gone so far before Benedict XVI. Nor afterward. Even today.

To the civil war that is inflaming Egypt Pope Francis dedicated these words, after the Angelus on the feast of the Assumption:

"Unfortunately sorrowful news is arriving from Egypt. I wish to pledge my prayers for all of the victims and their relatives, for the wounded and for those who suffer. Let us pray together for peace, dialogue, reconciliation in that dear land and in the whole world.”

And three days later, at the Angelus of Sunday, August 18, he may have alluded to it:

"The Gospel does not authorize in any way the use of force to spread the faith. It is precisely the contrary: the true force of the Christian is the force of truth and love, which involves renouncing all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible.”

But let us return to the Ratzinger of 2006 and to those memorable words of his on Islam, which are also decisive for understanding the Egyptian tragedy.

The following is what he said in the lecture of Regensburg on September 12 and how he commented - after he had returned to Rome - on his voyage to Turkey that same autumn.



[…] I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. […]

In the seventh conversation ("dialexis"  - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably ('sun logo') is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God.

Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the logos". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, "sun logo", with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God […]


[…] In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church. […]

On the one hand, one must counter a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the life of the community and from public organizations, thereby depriving man of his specific criteria of judgment.

On the other, one must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognize these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion. As in the Christian community, where there has been a long search to find the correct position of faith in relation to such beliefs - a search that will certainly never be concluded once and for all -, so also the Islamic world with its own tradition faces the immense task of finding the appropriate solutions in this regard.

The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom. […]


The complete text of the lecture in Regensburg on September 12, 2006, with the notes added subsequently:

To the representatives of science

And the complete commentary made by Benedict XVI on his voyages of 2006, including those in Germany and Turkey:

To the Roman curia, December 22, 2006


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

Benedict XVI Speaks to his Closest Friends of the Wonders that the Holy Spirit does with Papa Francisco

Maybe he needed to breathe a different air to that of the Vatican gardens; or perhaps at the end of the European Summer he wanted to see the residence which received him eight times and Lake Albano that is seen from there.

The fact is that this past Sunday the 18th in the afternoon, Benedict XVI took a short walk at Castel Gandolfo, the palace that has been the Summer residence of the popes from the time of Urban VIII, where he spent the first two months after his resignation from the Petrine ministry.

The Pope Emeritus, according to Vatican sources, spent about three hours at Castel Gandolfo, where he strolled the palace gardens, prayed the rosary  and attended a classical piano concert.

In the evening he returned to the Vatican,  Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he decided to live hidden from the world after the historic resignation of Feb. 11.
He was accompanied by the ladies Loredana, Carmela, Cristina and Manuela, 'memores domini', consecrated lay women of Communion and Liberation, who took care of the Pontiff's apartment, chapel and clothing during his pontificate, and assist him still.
Pope Francisco invited the Pope Emeritus to go to Castel Gandolfo this Summer, given that he would be staying in Rome for work. The Emeritus Pope declined the invitation preferring to keep the low profile he had chosen. Within his cloistered life, however, Pope Emeritus Benedict sporadically receives some visits in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.

At these meetings the Pontiff Emeritus says nothing and give no statements that could be understood as the words of the other Pope. At most he makes remarks regarding the wonders that the Holy Spirit is doing with his successor, or he talks about how this decision to resign was divinely inspired.

One of the guests at these meetings with Benedict XVI commented anonymously on his resignation: "God told me to do it." saying that it was not an apparition or phenomenon of this type, but a "mystical experience" in which the Lord made "an absolute desire" to stay only in prayer with Him" arise in his heart.

Benedict's decision was not so much an escape from the world, but rather a taking refuge in God and living in his love. The Pope Emeritus himself declares (as the anonymous source reveals) that this "mystical experience" has continued during these months and that the more he sees the charism of Francis the more he understands that his decision was the will of God.

My translation of the Spanish article from lumenfidei.com.ar.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saint Joseph in the Reform of the Reform

It makes sense that the name of Saint Joseph should be included in every Canon of the Mass so as to conform to the mind of the Legislator (Blessed John XXIII), who included the name of Saint Joseph in the Canon of the Mass when there was only one!

The furthest thing from his mind was multiple Canons! On the other hand, the Council is the work of the Holy Spirit which is much greater than the mind of the Holy Father, by definition!  So, the great Pontiff of the Reform of the Reform (Pope Emeritus Benedict the Great!) had approved the action of the addition and most appropriately his humble Successor His Holiness Pope promulgated it. And there you have it!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Names (and Dates)

English names are confusing.  Take, for instance, the name of a Saint who's feast has moved three times since the Second Vatican Council: Saint Jane Frances of Chantal (Jeanne Françoise de Chantal).

How is Jeanne to be translated?

We say Jane of Chantal but Joan of Arc for the same Jeanne.  There is also Joann(e) and Johanna, all of which come from the same Latin root word Iohanna.

To avoid all the confusion the English language should simply leave proper names the way they are originally, spelling and saying them as their owners and originators intend(ed)!  Or, at least use the Latin (as the Germans do with most names: e.g. Johanna).  But, please, let's be consistent!  If we say Jane of Chantal we must say "Jane" of Arc; and vice versa, if it's Joan of Arc it must be "Joan" of Chantal!

It always gets me when we say "Charles" (a French name!) for Carlo on the feast of Saint Carlo Borromeo. Of course, in the Spanish Missal we say "Carlos."

Welcome to English eclecticism!

On this matter of names there is a norm for the choosing of a name, in the traditional Ordo of the Baptism of Infants, which is today almost universally unknown.

70. Since a name is given to those who through baptism are to become children of God, newly born in Christ and enrolled in His service, let the priest see to it that ugly, notorious, or ridiculous names are not imposed, nor those of false deity or heathen profligates.  Rather let names of the saints be selected so far as possible, whose example the faithful may devoutly imitate and to whose patronage they are consigned.

N.B. In my Hispanic parish community I recently met a "Hitler."  We would do well to go back to that norm.

N.B.B. The Gospel records Our Blessed Lord changing one man's name (and that of man only!): "Simon Bar-Jona...I say to thee: That thou art Peter ("Rock"); and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18
That fact alone should make the who world Catholic (following and venerating the Pope: Peter).  That is why Popes choose a new name upon receiving the office of Peter, because their reality changes when they are made Vicar of Christ and head of His Church. Jesus Christ changes them, so they take a name to signify the change. The Vicar of Christ represents Christ and thus weds the Church on earth in His name.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saint Mary Major: the Most Priest Friendly Church in the World

The Mother of all Marian Shrines, The Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome (to which Pope Francis has a particular devotion [having officially visited five times so far as Supreme Pontiff!]) is the Church which best accommodates priests who go there to say Mass.  It seems that any priest with his celebret can arrive anytime and the good brothers (The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate) will set him up immediately to say Mass on any of various altars in either the extraordinary or the ordinary form with the proper and most dignified vestments (they have very worthy roman sets) and the proper books.  This type of priestly hospitality and priestly sense I have never found anywhere in the world, it is indeed better hospitality than the Vatican itself and more flexible and accommodating to the traditional form of the Mass.  A veritable buttress to the holiness of Our Lady's holy priests, as it should be.

It is most fitting that the preeminent shrine to Our Lady should be the place where priests are best cared for. Would that all the basilicas, shrines and cathedrals of the world should be half as welcoming as the Church of Churches of Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Protecting God's Priests

In their zeal to "protect God's children" many Church administrators are wrongly blocking the right of the visiting priest to say Mass.

The canonical norm for a priest while travelling is to obtain within the year a "celebret" from his Ordinary which he may present at any church in the world and is to be allowed to say Mass.  Since the Dallas Charter most dioceses in the United States have adopted the policy of rejecting that canonical norm and imposing practically impossible bureaucratic regulations (a case by case letter of good standing with the place, date and time of the mass(es) to be said), all but shutting the door to the basic priestly piety of saying mass in church while travelling away from his parish.

Canon law actually says that even if the priest does not have the "celebret" he is to be allowed to say Mass provided his good standing may be presumed.

Can. 903 A priest is to be permitted to celebrate the Eucharist, even if he is not known to the rector of the church, provided either that he presents commendatory letters, not more than a year old (viz. "celebret"), from his own Ordinary or Superior, or that it can be prudently judged that he is not debarred from celebrating.

In other words, innocence is presumed.  This law is to be interpreted broadly.  Let them say Mass; do not try to unnecessarily stop them, for the good of the Church and of the priests themselves.

Could it be that some in the hierarchy are using the priestly sexual abuse of children as an excuse to promote their own anti-clerical agenda (i.e. against the basic distinctive rights and identity of the priest).

What is often happening in parishes is that visiting priests are simply sheepishly hidden among the laity in the pews because the way to the altar is wrongly barred to them.  This has nothing to do with "protecting God's children" but with laicizing the clergy!  While the lay people are doing the clerical roles (i.e. being clericalized in those same parishes).

The canonical logic requiring the rectors of churches to allow every legitimate priest to say Mass is related to two other canons: the one urging priests to say Mass daily, even if it must be done alone (it is "earnestly recommended" can. 904); and the other requiring that Mass be said in a sacred place and on a dedicated or blessed altar, except in a particular case of necessity (can. 932). That priests (in good standing) might fulfill this solemn and sacred priestly duty of saying daily Mass (for their own salvation and that of the world) they have the right to do it properly in church, wherever they are, without unnecessary legalistic (pharisaic and non-canonical) obstacles.  He's not asking to baby sit.  He's just asking to say Mass, i.e. to pray in his distinctive capacity of priest!

This need to say Mass daily in church is not clericalism, it is basic priestly piety.  The altars of our churches are not private property but they belong to the entire Catholic body and should be open to all, including, especially, our beloved priests.  To oppose this fundamental priestly duty in any way is to oppose Christ in His sacred ministers, a subtle but very real form of anti-clericalism within the ranks of the Church hierarchy and administration which needs to be corrected.

We need to get this straight before we can even consider the same right to say the Extraordinary Form as set out in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum below.

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.

Art. 5.  § 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

N.B. All of these directives are to be interpreted liberally, give the people and the priests what they legitimately want, even if it is traditional!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sacra Liturgia Conference 2013 and What it Means

Having attended the milestone liturgical conference Sacra Liturgia 2013 in Rome last June on the Reform of the Reform, I was most struck by one fact which was a complete novelty, and due completely to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and especially Summorum Pontificum.  That fact which impressed me was that this event was the first international conference in Rome of a significant group of Church hierarchy, clerics and laity who--hundreds of men and women in administrative roles in the Catholic Church throughout the Novus Ordo world--defend, promote and often prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

What tipped me off to that novel fact was the fact that the "Traditional" movements (exclusively Tridentine) were manifestly absent: (e.g. the Fraternity of Saint Peter and the Institute of Christ the King). That makes sense because those exclusive organizations are, by definition, on the fringes of the universal Catholic activity, like it or not! Here we finally have a conference composed of a body of people--representative of a much larger world wide body--solidly in key positions in the post Vatican II Church with all of its consequences. What this conference shows is that there is a significant, youthful, powerful and rapidly increasing number of leaders of the Church mainstream finally promoting the ancient form of the Liturgy alongside the new form in their respective capacities as heads of dioceses, seminaries, parishes, etc.  That is exciting and very promising for the future of the Church's every ancient liturgy in the heart of the Church. Deo Gratias Pro Papa Emerito Benedicto!
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