Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Figueiredo Report

Plinthos testimony: I am a personal friend of Mons. Figueiredo for over 25 years and can attest to his moral integrity. His testimony below corroborates the testimony of Archbishop Vigano regarding the Church's knowledge of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's homosexualist perversion of publicly sharing his bed with his seminarians (seminarians in college or in theology, typically in their twenties and thirties). Archbishop McCarrick deliberately pretended, at the very least, before his presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Newark, and beyond, to be a homosexual predator. Note that even Monsignor Figueiredo studiously avoids explicitely naming homosexuality! None dare call it gaydom!

‘Follow the Path of Truth Wherever it May Lead’

By Monsignor Anthony J. Figueiredo

May 28, 2019
The former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick ordained me to the priesthood 25 years ago today.  I served as his personal secretary in the Archdiocese of Newark (September 1994 – June 1995) and also assisted him in a secretarial capacity during his many visits to Rome in my 19 years of ministry there.After long consideration, I have made the decision to place in the public domain some of the correspondence and other information related to McCarrick that I possess in my many years of service to him. I have spent time in prayer and discernment about the moral basis for revealing these. My decision follows attempts since September 2018 to share and discuss these with the Holy See and other Church leaders.
Realizing full well that the debate about McCarrick has become highly politicized, I wish only to present facts that will help the Church to know the truth. From the outset of this report, I pledge my unswerving affection, loyalty and support for Pope Francis and his Magisterium in his tireless ministry as the Successor of Peter, as I manifested also to Pope Benedict XVI, grateful for their paternal solicitude and efforts to address the scourge of abuse. Indeed, my actions in releasing this report at this time are encouraged by the Holy Father’s motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Mt 5:14), based on the overriding principle that it is imperative to place in the public domain, at the right time and prudently, information that has yet to come to light and impacts directly on allegations of criminal activity, the restrictions imposed on my now laicized former Archbishop, and who knew what and when.
It is my firm hope that this information will help the Church as she further endeavors to create a culture of transparency. This report, which may form the first of others, is a contribution to the wish of Pope Francis and the Holy See “to follow the path of truth wherever it may lead” in terms of the ongoing McCarrick investigation (Pope Francis, Philadelphia, USA, September 27, 2015;  Press Statement of the Holy See, October 6, 2018). It aims to help the US Bishops in their promise last August to “pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct … we are determined to find the truth in this matter” (Statement of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President, USCCB, August 1, 2018). What Archbishop Wilton Gregory expressed for his local Church, upon his appointment to the Archdiocese of Washington, I wish to do for the Universal Church: “The only way that I can serve this Archdiocese is by telling the truth” (Press Conference, April 4, 2019).
In the subsequent sections, I present facts from correspondence that I hold relevant to questions still surrounding McCarrick. These facts show clearly that high-ranking prelates likely had knowledge of McCarrick’s actions and of restrictions imposed upon him during the pontificate of Benedict XVI. They also clearly show that these restrictions were not enforced even before the pontificate of Francis. It is not my place to judge to what extent the fault lies with the failure to impose canonical penalties, instead of mere restrictions, at the start, or with other Church leaders who later failed to expose McCarrick’s behavior and the impropriety of his continued public activity, and indeed may have encouraged it. My intention throughout this report is to present facts – not judgments or condemnation of anyone – for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons, the salvation of souls, and the good of the Church Universal. As a priest ordained by then Archbishop McCarrick and one who served him closely, I reflect often upon how much damage to the physical, psychological and spiritual lives of so many might have been avoided had the restrictions been made public and enforced as soon as they were imposed.
The hierarchy’s abuse of authority and cover up, in their various and serious manifestations, have inflicted consequences upon me, too. As Pope Francis has noted: “Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction” (Homily, July 7, 2014). Especially as a priest, I regret unreservedly the harms that I caused as a result of them through seeking consolation in alcohol. Now I am deeply grateful for the therapeutic treatment that I am receiving, which has allowed me to embrace a life of sobriety. It is my hope that my openness will encourage and help other priests, religious, and seminarians, who have found themselves trapped in similar abuses of authority and cover up by Bishops and Superiors. If God wills, the attached webpage ( and my private and secure email address ( can become vehicles for sharing these experiences in a safe and, whenever desired, confidential context.
My desire is for my experience to contribute to a new culture in the Church – a culture in which no victim, young or old, no priest or seminarian, no religious or superior, no bishop or nuncio need fear to speak the truth, a culture in which each knows where to seek help and all are held accountable, a culture in which no secret sins can fester and no corruption mar the Church’s maternal care. The Holy Father’s bold motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi” guides us in this direction. Only by such humiliating transparencydoes the Church imitate her Lord and fulfill her vocation as “the light of the world”: Wherever the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments are public, let the self-discipline of the Church also be!
Monsignor Anthony J. A. Figueiredo

Facts Surrounding Letter of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, delivered to Theodore McCarrick on August 22, 2008

  • In an August 25, 2008 letter to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2005 until his death in 2011, McCarrick recalls their meeting on the previous Friday (August 22, 2008) at which Archbishop Sambi presented to him a letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops:

  • “However, having studied the letter of Cardinal Re and having shared it with my Archbishop, I pledge again that I shall always try to be a good servant of the Church even if I do not understand its desires in my life. Of course, I am ready to accept the Holy Father’s will in my regard.”

  • “I could find a place to live in one of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archbishop is willing to arrange for that in any area that the Holy See would desire.”

  • “In summary, in the future I will make no commitments to accept any public appearances or talks without the express permission of the Apostolic Nuncio or the Holy See itself.”

Key findings:

  • By acknowledging in the letter that Archbishop Sambi had presented him a letter from Cardinal Re, McCarrick provides evidence that such a letter exists and should be in the archives of the Congregation for Bishops and Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.

  • By stating that he had “shared the letter with his Archbishop,” McCarrick indicates that then Archbishop Wuerl was aware of the letter and restrictions in 2008 and that a copy might exist in the archives of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Two restrictions are clearly revealed:

    1. A change of residence
    2. No public appearances without permission from the Apostolic Nuncio or Holy See.

  • According to McCarrick, Archbishop Wuerl is involved in the change of residence.               

  • On September 1, 2008, a week after he sent the letter to Archbishop Sambi, McCarrick drafted a letter to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of State of the Vatican, offering an account of his behaviors in light of the restrictions placed on him in the letter from Cardinal Re. As per McCarrick’s request, I translated the letter into Italian for Cardinal Bertone’s ease of comprehension. From my correspondence, it is not clear whether the letter ever reached Cardinal Bertone. The pertinent details facts of the letter remain:

  • “In the event that Your Eminence is not familiar with my personal situation, I would like to give you a brief background on it, together with a letter, which I have sent to the Apostolic Nuncio for delivery to Cardinal Re” (N.B. I have never seen the letter from McCarrick to Re).

  • “I do recognize that in one particular [case] I had been at fault in an unfortunate lack of judgment. I have always considered my priests and seminarians as part of my family, and just as I have shared a bed with my cousins and uncles and other relatives without thinking of it being wrong, I had done this on occasion when the Diocesan Summer House was overcrowded. In no case were there minors involved, but men in their twenties and thirties.”

  • “Cardinal Re is rightly concerned about the good of the Church and I am, of course, willing to do whatever the Holy See asks of me, whether I personally may feel it to be just or unjust.”

  • “I have never had sexual relations with anyone, man, woman or child, nor have I ever sought such acts.”

  • “I have replied to the Cardinal’s directive by suggesting ways in which I can be less public a figure and I just wanted your Eminence to know the background, since I do have great regard for your person and great appreciation for your friendship.”

Key findings:

  • McCarrick confesses to a lack of judgment in sharing his bed with priests and seminarians;

  • McCarrick denies any sexual relation ever;

  • McCarrick reiterates his willingness to follow the Holy See’s restrictions and his own suggestions to be “less public a figure.”

In an October 7, 2008 email to Monsignor Figueiredo, McCarrick confirms three decisions made by Cardinal Re without indicating through whom these were communicated or in what form or context:
  1. “Cardinal Re has approved my moving to a parish and my Archbishop has been great in beginning to work that out.”
  2. “I’ve agreed to make no public appearances either here or abroad without his permission and resign from all Roman and USCCB entities.”
  3. “[Cardinal Re] has forbidden me to come to Rome.”

The correspondence also indicates:

  • “The original letter [McCarrick’s letter to Re] is going from the Nuncio to [Cardinal] Re in the pouch.”

  • In an October 9, 2008 email to Monsignor Figueiredo, McCarrick writes: “I have sent the copy directly to Archbishop Wuerl.”

Key findings:

  • Cardinal Re and Cardinal Wuerl appear to be directly involved in the implementation of the restrictions;

  • McCarrick again promises “no public appearances” either here or abroad with resignation from all Roman and USCCB entities;

  • Cardinal Re forbids McCarrick from coming to Rome;

  • Copies of McCarrick’s letter to Cardinal Re should exist in the Archives of the Congregation for Bishops and the Archdiocese of Washington.



McCarrick ignores restrictions, continues public ministry

Since the restrictions imposed were not made public and despite McCarrick’s promises, he continued his public ministry, including taking a highly visible public role, interacting with high-ranking Vatican officials (including Cardinals Sodano and Bertone and heads of Dicasteries), public officials in the United States and around the globe.
  • Examples of travel in the pontificate of Benedict XVI:
    • I have written with the Nuncio’s encouragement to see if I can come to Rome for APSA and the Palliums” (email from McCarrick to Monsignor Figueiredo of May 28, 2009)

    • I’m coming to Rome for the APSA meeting” (email from McCarrick to Monsignor Figueiredo of June 13, 2009)

    • I just landed back home. You know how special yesterday was for me … seeing the Holy Father after more than two years” (email from McCarrick to Monsignor Figueiredo of April 17, 2010)

    • In late January 2012, McCarrick is invited to travel on behalf of Catholic Relief Services to Bosnia-Herzegovina: “Your Eminence, On behalf of the CRS/BiH team, I can tell you that we eagerly await your return to Sarajevo … I am attaching a working draft itinerary for your 3 days with us … your arrival on the 25th” (email from Jake Hershman, CRS/Bosnia-Herzegovina, January 18, 2012)

    • You make me jealous going to China! It has been five years since I last made that journey for the Holy See … I have started the journeying again. I was in Doha last week and go to Ireland for the IEC [International Eucharistic Congress] and following that … I begin one of my longest trips – Beirut, Jordan, Egypt, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Hong Kong … before I start again in the Holy Land and Belarus” (email from McCarrick to Monsignor Figueiredo of June 7, 2012)

    • Correspondence during Pope Benedict’s Papacy also includes a letter (January 13, 2012) from then U.S. President Barack Obama to Pope Benedict mentioning McCarrick’s offer “to carry a message to you on my behalf,” as well as a letter with a request from the Librarian of Congress, Doctor James H. Billington, noting also McCarrick’s role in the Library of Congress as “a distinguished visiting scholar” (January 11, 2011). This latter request involved correspondence between McCarrick and Monsignor Peter Wells, then Assessor in the Secretariat of State (now Apostolic Nuncio in South Africa), with the request to be approved by Cardinal Bertone.

Travel on behalf of the Church:

Without any sense of the lifting of the restrictions, McCarrick continues his foreign travel after the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, as evidenced by a number of communications from him regarding his extensive activity around the globe. Among the many:
  • McCarrick cites travels to locations on behalf of the Church and direct engagement with high-ranking Church officials, Government leaders, and even Royalty, including, among other places: Mainland China, Central Asia, Cyprus, the Balkans, the Middle East, Lebanon, the Holy Land, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, and the Philippines. A few examples of the extent of then-Cardinal McCarrick’s influence as gleaned from the correspondence:

  • “I have been traveling a good deal, perhaps more than I should, during these last few weeks … Cyprus … the Balkans … the Middle East, both in Lebanon and in the Holy Land … In the latter area, I was able to speak to many of the American diplomats who are working in the peace process, as well as to visit with the Nuncio … I have put off my return trip to China and I will make sure that I speak to Archbishop Parolin before I go the next time … I would hope to have his counsel before I go again to that complex land … last week I had the great privilege of going to the Philippines” (letter to Pope Francis of November 24, 2013)

  • “I leave for China on Thursday the 27th … I will only be able to stay [in Rome] for the summit of Muslim Christian relations … I am sure that Cardinal Parolin would see me since he is involved with my China trip” (email to Monsignor Figueiredo of November 21, 2014).

Shortly after the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, then-Cardinal McCarrick writes the Holy Father:

  • “When you greeted me so cheerfully in Washington as an adjunct member of the foreign service, I received this as a challenge to continue as an amateur in the very noble work of the foreign relations of the Holy See. I have maintained on a quiet level our relationship with China and have been developing new relationships with the Arab countries of the Middle East. They have been inviting me to many of their meetings where I can continue to assure them of Your Holiness’ interest, concern, and love for our Muslim brothers and sisters … With God’s help, before He calls me home, I will help to bring you China and the great dream of Matteo Ricci will begin to be realized once again” (letter to Pope Francis of September 30, 2015).

  • “Next week I will be going to Morocco at the invitation of His Majesty, the King Mohammed VI to attend a meeting of the religious leaders of Islam and Christianity. From there I go to Kurdistan where I have been in the past and have had the opportunity of speaking with their governmental and religious leadership … I have been invited to Najaf in Iraq for a meeting with the Shiite leaders later this year. Their great spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Sistani has agreed to see me at that time … This will be a hopeful meeting for me since I have been invited to return to Iran sometime after that for meetings with their religious leaders and possibly a meeting with their supreme leader … I am blessed to keep in touch with Cardinal Tauran who is a dear friend and a very wise counselor ... I have not been back to China since the fall but I have received some indication to continue my conversations with some of the leaders of that great country as well … Holy Father, forgive me for giving you all this information, but I always feel better if I know that You are aware of what I am trying to do” (letter to Pope Francis of January 20, 2016).

  • “My travel plans for these last few weeks have been intense. I was invited to Marrakesh in Morocco by the King and ended up there the only Cardinal at this extraordinary meeting. Have you seen the Marrakesh declaration? It is a most important work and could truly change Christian-Moslem relations in the future. I ended up being the one who was asked to receive it after it was approved. From there I went to Kurdistan to see the refugee camps and talk to the government and the bishops … I returned to DC on a Tuesday evening and flew to Beijing the Thursday morning … The reason for the China trip was an invitation by the son of a former Communist Party General Secretary who is still very close to [President] Xi … I go to Iraq this Saturday for a surprising visit with the Grand Ayatollah Sistani who has not been open to US visitors before” (email to Monsignor Figueiredo of February 9, 2016).

  • “My visit [to Rome] was so very helpful and it looks as if two projects – China and Islam – continue to move forward slowly. To try to monitor them a bit, I think it would be useful for me to come to the Papal Foundation Board meeting … I would have to leave for some national Muslim meetings back here in the States … I will try to be in contact with Cardinal Turkson and Cardinal Parolin to check on the progress of the planned meeting with the Chinese” (email to Monsignor Figueiredo of March 23, 2016).

Communications with the Secretariat of State (some quotes repeated from above):

  • “Cardinal McCarrick asks me to inform you: he meets with Archbishop Becciù Thursday at 12 NOON. If you are available, he could see you either before or after – even for a few minutes” (email to Monsignor Peter Wells from Monsignor Figueiredo, February 12, 2013).

  • “I will make sure that I speak to Archbishop Parolin before I go the next time [to Mainland China]. He has been a great expert in that field and I would hope to have his counsel before I go again to that complex land” (letter to Pope Francis of November 24, 2013).

  • “I am sure that Cardinal Parolin would see me since he is involved with my China trip” (email to Monsignor Figueiredo of November 21, 2014).

  • “I brought Ambassador Clark and two other Protestant ecclesiastics in to see the Foreign Minister, Archbishop Gallagher, which has a bit about the idea of a special study group that might discuss the problems of the Middle East, even as the China group does now” (letter to Monsignor Figueiredo of September 10, 2015).

  • “I have not been back to China since the fall, but I have received some indication to continue my conversations with some of the leaders of that great country as well. I have always been in touch with Cardinal Parolin and his staff and I believe that they are peaceful with my continuing to foster another channel for possible future discussions” (letter to Pope Francis of January 20, 2016).

  • “I have written to the Holy Father and, of course, to Cardinals Parolin, Turkson and Tauran, as well as to Archbishop Gallagher” (letter to Monsignor Figueiredo of March 8, 2016, regarding visits to Iran, Mainland China, and the Holy Land).

Interaction with Apostolic Nuncio of the United States

  • “I just received a note from the Nuncio enclosing a message he had received from the Substitute to me indicating that the Holy Father would receive me when I come to Rome and I should make contact with the Palace to set that up. Could you once again be my agent in this?” (email from Archbishop McCarrick to Monsignor Figueiredo, February 11, 2016).

  • “I am grateful to His Excellency Archbishop Pierre for his kindness in enclosing this letter in his diplomatic pouch, so that I may give your Holiness some idea of a number of the questions which were brought up during my recent visit to China” (letter to Pope Francis of January 27, 2017).

  • “I have written to the Apostolic Nuncio and requested that the letter to His Holiness might be included in the diplomatic pouch. I am sure he will have no objection” (letter to Monsignor Figueiredo of January 27, 2017).

Involvement with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

  • Letter of June 27, 2016 from Most Reverend Oscar Cantù, then Bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to Monsignor Figueiredo, concerning the visit of a high-ranking Iranian delegation to the Vatican on the theme “Moral Dialogue between U.S. and Iranian Religious Leaders.” McCarrick is listed as “Member, Committee on International Justice and Peace, USCCB”:
“On behalf of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop Denis Madden, Dr. Stephen Colecchi and myself, I want to thank you for everything you did to welcome the participants in our moral and religious dialogue in Rome on June 5-9, 2016 … The public audience with Pope Francis was a highlight of the week for all of us … The visit to North American College and the interactions with seminarians were especially meaningful.”

Conclusion: A Moral Imperative to End the Cover Up Surrounding  the Abuse of Power, Conscience and Sexual Abuse

  • It is clear that for far too long, a culture has existed in the Church that allowed those like McCarrick to continue their public activity after serious and even settled allegations had come to the attention of Church leaders. Moreover, it is all too evident that Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops – in their cover up – until quite recently have enjoyed the propitious benefit of a more “forgiving” and “lenient” standard of evaluation as compared to those applied to lower ranking clerics and religious. A double standard and non-independent accountability harm the credibility of Church leadership and impede efforts to reestablish fundamental trust in the Catholic clergy.

  • The saddening nature of the allegations against McCarrick, as well as the silence by Church leaders who ignored or enabled his actions, illustrates anew the moral imperative to all people of good will, and especially leaders of the Church, to address and inform all appropriate persons of this type of behavior at the earliest opportunity, first and foremost for the safety of minors and vulnerable persons, and ultimately for the salvation of every soul. For this very purpose, Jesus Christ came into the world.


The documents used in this report have been vetted for their authenticity by lawyers and journalists. Additional documents and other sensitive correspondence from McCarrick that offer further background on these and other issues are in my possession. They will form the basis of further possible reports if this contributes to the good of the ongoing investigation and efforts to address the abuse crisis, love of Holy Mother Church, and ultimately the salvation of souls.  

This report and other documents can be found on the website: www.the Monsignor Figueiredo may also be contacted directly and confidentially on his personal and secure email account:

"The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse" --Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

McCarrick Homophile Conspiracy Includes Pope Francis --Archbishop Viganò

Friday, May 24, 2019

"Bist du bei mir"

Just heard this in a movie. A familiar Bach melody sung by the Hungarian soprano Ingrid Kertesi.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rape/Incest Abortion Condones and Promotes Rape/Incest

One of the things achieved by pregnancy is that it exposes the fact of sexual activity between a particular man and a particular woman. Abortion, murder of the conceptus, is a cover up for that fact.

If you allow abortion for rape then you cover up the crime of the rapist, often an adult man with an under-aged girl, and the rape can continue undisturbed and unpunished. Same thing goes for incest, and for adultery and fornication for that matter. That is why an exception in abortion laws for rape and incest aids the criminals by covering up for and thereby encourages their crimes. It is a law which doubly harms the girls, killing her child and damaging her by abortion, making her a murderer, and covering up for the crime of her assailant so he and others can come back for more violent, criminal, immoral and perverse sexual activity without consequences.

No. The law should rather require the exposure of the criminal and that he should have to pay child-support, in addition to any other penalties. A secret and anonymous abortion is harmful to every form of justice.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Entire Church's Role in Condemning False Innovations

"The function of the total Church lies..., as history teaches, in the idea of perseverat, to which [article 10 of Dei verbum] gives a central place: in the power of persistence, which recognizes as such the false innovation that is contrary to the faith and condemns it, while holding firmly, on the other hand, to the original truth."

Joseph Ratzinger, "The Transmission of Divine Revelation" in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. III, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler, New York: Herder, 1969, 196.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Violent Logic of Relativism

New York State Supreme Court, New York City

"If truth is nothing but opinion, right springs from the barrel of a gun."

John Senior, The Death of Christian Culture, Norfolk, VA: IHS Press, 2008, 148.

The inscription on the Justice building of New York says "The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government," which means that the right ordering of society, "good government," depends on true justice, the "true administration of justice." Everything depends on the discovery, the defense and the promotion of truth.

The good depends on the truth. And the truth is not a matter of opinion but of reality, what is real as opposed to what is fake. If what is not real takes precedence over, or is put on an equal plane with, what is real then the world becomes a competition of lies. Then the administration of society is determined by the "best" liars and those who hold the greatest power to promote and enforce their own lies. Where truth is denied violence rules. The denial of truth is the first violence, it is a violation of man at the very core of his being. The denial of truth is the denial of man because it is the denial of anything over man. Man's great stature is determined by his acknowledging and defending and living and dying for truth to which he is beholden, which he does not invent and cannot manipulate without compromising himself. The truth is of God and man is the humble servant thereof, if he is to be a true man. Christ is the Truth. Only in him is man perfectly conformed to reality "I and the Father are one." John 10:30

"Then Jesus said to those Jews, who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 10:31-32

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus, Paschaltide

The hymns of the minor hours in the 1962 breviary all follow the melody for Terce's "Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus" which has 13 different melodies for the various seasons and feasts of the year, and are contained in the Liber Usualis. The one for Paschaltide is on page 808.

Compline's "Te lucis ante terminum" also has 13 different melodies, respectively. The one for Paschaltide is on page 268.

The index for those hymns and all their melodies is on pages 1910-1911.

Christus resurrexit!

Friday, May 17, 2019

"I no longer celebrate with my back turned to Christ" --Wim Cardinal Eijk

Here is a passage from a recent interview with His Eminence Wim Cardinal Eijk of Utrecht on why to say Mass ad orientem.

LifeSite: On the liturgical level, I have read that you have recently chosen to say Mass ad orientem in the chapel of the archbishop’s palace. Why?

Eijk: A journalist who often speaks critically about me has written derisively that it is not even ad orientem because in this chapel, the altar faces the northwest. Why were churches built ad orientem in the past? We turned to pray towards the east, where the Sun of Justice, Christ, arose. But in the end it doesn’t really make any difference: the church can also have a different direction. By the words ad orientem, we mean that we are celebrating Mass turned towards Christ. Someone else wrote critically that now I celebrate Mass by turning my back on the people. No, I do not celebrate Mass with my back to the people, I say it by turning my face towards Christ, towards the tabernacle, so that everyone in the church or chapel is turned towards Christ.

What triggered it all was actually a very practical reason. The chapel is neo-Gothic, but the auxiliary altar that was installed in the 1960s was a Renaissance table – for the art connoisseur, it was obvious that it was not in its place. I must also say that this altar was quite low, which is not practical for the celebrant, especially as we get older. I now have bifocal glasses, and reading has become complicated. It’s awkward.

So there was a reason related to art history, an artistic reason to say that the auxiliary altar didn’t “fit”; a practical reason: it was too low; and there was also a third reason. The high altar of the chapel is decorated with a very beautiful engraved wooden panel representing the holy bishops of Utrecht: Willibrord and others. It is an altar that existed before this building became the archbishop’s palace – the chapel was built on that occasion. You know that in the Netherlands since 1853 it was possible to have an episcopal hierarchy again, but the Archbishop of Utrecht still had to keep a low profile, stay a little under the radar because it was a fairly orthodox Protestant city. He did not have an archbishop’s palace but lived in the residence of the priest of the cathedral. These days we still find the room where he lived, including his box bed. There he had a private chapel where this high altar was located. The auxiliary altar, which does not correspond to it at all, blocked the view of this high altar, with its beautiful panels, for the faithful. So these were a series of practical reasons why we would prefer to celebrate at the main altar.

I must say that I did it several months before the chapel was put into work for its restoration, and that it really suited me very well. Together with the people, we are truly turned towards Christ. I no longer celebrate with my back turned to Christ but looking at Christ, who is present under the sacrament of the Eucharist in the tabernacle. For me, this could be done everywhere, but this is obviously something that cannot be imposed because the Second Vatican Council authorized the presence of an auxiliary altar, and there are also practical reasons: in some churches it would be impossible. But I find it very beautiful to celebrate in this way. I find it enriching.

Plinthos: His Eminence Cardinal Eijk also spoke of the connection between apostasy and the culture of death.

LifeSite: Do you think there is a link between the culture of death and the death of the cultus?

Eijk: Yes, this link certainly exists. Why did the Netherlands secularize so quickly, to the point of being at the forefront of European countries in this respect? This is the result of the growth of prosperity – a real comet trajectory during the 1960s. And what was the result? Successful people have come to be able to live without depending on others, they can become individualistic, and that’s what happened. We live in a hyper-individualistic culture. People do little together, unless it is necessary, for example in a sports association or when it takes several people to defend a collective interest. But for the rest, we rely heavily on ourselves; that’s a very strong trend in our country.

So what happens to the young individualist? He puts himself on a pedestal and sees others as people around him, nothing more; he must distinguish himself from others – he not only has the right to do so, but in fact the duty. And he also does this by choosing his religious convictions, his life vision, his set of ethical values. In practice, the truth is that most people simply let themselves be led by public opinion, by what they see in the media or on social networks or in advertising. But the idea is to feel autonomous.

Such an autonomous individualist has no need for someone who transcends him.

He does not need it in society – the State – and that is how some forgo civil marriage and just live together, justifying it by saying: “It is our relationship, why would anyone else have anything to do with it?” This is a consequence of individualism.

Individualism has also led us to push God to the margins, if we have not become total atheists already. Most Dutch people today no longer believe in a personal God. And if you do not believe in a personal God who is a creator, and who is, in fact, Father to us all, neither do you believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Autonomous individualists believe that they themselves have the right to control their own lives and deaths – through euthanasia, assisted suicide – because they no longer need all that, not to mention a God. The rise of individualism, the disappearance of the Christian faith or at least its weakening, in the very large numbers of people, are certainly linked to the appearance of the culture of death. That’s an absolute certainty, there is a direct link.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

"The Modern Manichee" --G.K. Chesterton

He sayeth there is no sin, and all his sin
Swells round him into a world made merciless;
The midnight of his universe of shame
Is the vast shadow of his shamelessness.
He blames all that begat him, gods or brutes,
And sires not sons he chides as with a rod.
The sins of the children visited on the fathers
Through all generations, back to a jealous God.

The fields that heal the humble, the happy forests
That sing to men confessed and men consoled,
To him are jungles only, greedy and groping,
Heartlessly new, unvenerably old.
Beyond the pride of his own cold compassion
Is only cruelty and imputed pain:
Matched with that mood, a boy's sport in the forest
Makes comrades of the slayer and the slain.

The innocent lust of the unfallen creatures
Moves him to hidden horror but no mirth;
Misplaced morality rots in the roots unconscious,
His stifled conscience stinks through the green earth.
The green things thrust like horrible huge snails,
Horns green and gross, each lifting a leering eye
He scarce can call a flower; it lolls obscene,
Its organs gaping to the sneering sky.

Dark with that dusk the old red god of gardens,
Still pagan but not merry any more,
Stirs up the dull adulteries of the dust,
Blind, frustrate, hopeless, hollow at the core;
The plants are brutes died with green rope and roaring
Their terrible dark loves from tree to tree:
He shrinks as from a shaft, if by him singing,
A gilded pimp and pandar, goes the bee.

He sayeth, "I have no sin; I cast the stone,"
And throws his little pebble at the shrine,
Casts sin and stone away against the house
Whose health has turned earth's waters into wine.
The venom of that repudiated guilt
Poisons the sea and every natural flood
As once a wavering tyrant washed his hands,
And touching, turned the water black with blood.

The Collected Poems of G.K. Chesterton, Cecil Palmer, 1927, 4-5.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Litany of Saint Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene, El Greco

I just received a holy card of Saint Mary Magdalene, with a fine litany on the back.
Here is my rendition of that litany in contemporary English.

Litany of Saint Mary Magdalene

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalene, Pray for us.

Sister of Martha and Lazarus, Pray for us.

Who entered the Pharisee's house to anoint the feet of Jesus, Pray for us.

Who washed his feet with your tears, Pray for us.

Who dried them with your hair, Pray for us.

Who covered them with kisses, Pray for us.

Who were vindicated by Jesus before the proud Pharisee, Pray for us.

Who received from Jesus pardon of your sins, Pray for us.

Who before darkness were restored to light, Pray for us.

Mirror of penance, Pray for us.

Disciple of Our Lord, Pray for us.

Wounded with the love of Christ, Pray for us.

Most dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us.

Constant woman, Pray for us.

Last at the Cross of Jesus, Pray for us.

First at the Tomb of Jesus, Pray for us.

You who were the first to see Jesus risen, Pray for us.

Whose forehead was sanctified by the touch of your risen Master, Pray for us.

Apostle of Apostles, Pray for us.

Who chose the "better part," Pray for us.

Who lived for many years in solitude being miraculously fed, Pray for us.

Who were visited by angels seven times a day, Pray for us.

Sweet advocate of sinners, Pray for us.

Spouse of the King of Glory, Pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalene, earnestly intercede for us with your Divine Master.

That we may share you happiness in heaven.

Let us pray. May the glorious merits of blessed Mary Magdalene, we beseech You, O Lord, make our offerings acceptable to You: for Your only-begotten Son vouchsafed graciously to accept the humble service she rendered. Who live and reign with You and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

May the prayers of blessed Mary Magdalene help us, O Lord: for it was in answer to them that You called her brother Lazarus, four days after death, back from the grave to life. Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Unity in Trinity, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hell, Saint Jacinta, Sister Lucia -- Our Lady of Fatima

...[Jacinta] said: "That Lady said that many souls go to hell. What is hell?"
"It is a pit full of worms and a very big bonfire," replied Lucia, perhaps quoting her mother, "and people go there who commit sins and don't confess them, and they stay forever and burn."
"And never get out any more?"
"Not after many, many years?"
"No. Hell never ends. And heaven doesn't either. Whoever goes to heaven never gets out of it, and whoever goes to hell doesn't either. Don't you see that they are eternal, because they never end?"
Jacinta found this concept of endlessness at once baffling and tantalizing. She could never put it wholly out of mind. Often in the midst of some game she would stop suddenly and say:
"But look here, doesn't hell end even after many, many, many, years?"
"And those people who have to burn there never die? Never? And they never turn into ashes? And if people pray a great deal for sinners, Our Lord will save them from that? And with sacrifices too? Poor we have to pray and make many sacrifices for them."
Then, when the thought of the burden of sin became almost unbearable, she would remember the consolation that had been granted with it.
"How good that Lady is! Yes, she has promised to take us to heaven!"

William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947, 89-90.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

On "Priest Material"

A homeless man, as I dismissed him from the parish perpetual adoration chapel where I am a priest, in which he lay on the pew, sleeping, shoes off--with the resulting persistent stench--exclaimed "you ain't priest material." For 24 hours I thought about that idea. Then it occurred to me that he is right. Here's why.

It's in the very nature of the Sacrament. Christ alone is the Priest Material! My ministry, if it is real, is not my own. I belong to another. The "priest material" is not one's own. No one, only Christ, is priest material.

That is what the Church means by calling ordination to the ministry of priesthood a "sacrament." Here is how Joseph Ratzinger says it.

"This man is in no way performing functions for which he is highly qualified by his own natural ability nor is he doing the things that please him most and that are most profitable. On the contrary, the one who receives the sacrament is sent to give what he cannot give of his own strength; he is sent to act in the person of another, to be his living instrument. For this reason no human being can declare himself a priest; for this reason, too, no community can promote a person to this ministry by its own decree. Only from the sacrament, which belongs to God, can priesthood be received. Mission can only be received from the one who sends, from Christ in His sacrament, through which a person becomes the voice and the hands of Christ in the world. This gift of himself, this renunciation and forgetfulness of self does not however destroy the man; rather, it leads to true human maturity because it assimilates him to the Trinitarian mystery and it brings to life the image according to which we were created. Since we were created in the image of the Trinity, he who loses himself will find himself... According to the Gospels Christ Himself handed on the essential structure of His mission to the apostles, to whom He grants His power and whom He associates with His power. This association with the Lord, by which a man receives the power to do what he cannot do alone is called a sacrament. The new mission created in the choosing of 12 men has a sacramental nature. This structure flows, therefore, from the center of the biblical message. It is obvious that this ministry created by Christ is altogether new and is in no way derived from the Old Testament, but arises from Jesus Christ with new power. The sacramental ministry of the Church expresses the novelty of Jesus Christ and His presence in all phases of history."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Nature of the Priesthood," October 1, 1990 Speech, in The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches, eds. Thornton and Varenne, New York: Harper One, 2008, 297-298.
Also at

Friday, May 3, 2019

Truth and Love Coinhere

The purpose of truth is to know and love the good. Man's natural urge for truth is the love of the good to be known, desired and enjoyed by the light of truth. The truth is good. And, what is good is true.

"Man desires to know – he wants truth. Truth in the first instance is something discerned through seeing, understanding, what Greek tradition calls theoría. Yet truth is never purely theoretical. In drawing a parallel between the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and the gifts of the Spirit listed in Isaiah 11, Saint Augustine argued that there is a reciprocity between scientia and tristitia: knowledge on its own, he said, causes sadness. And it is true to say that those who merely see and apprehend all that happens in the world end up being saddened. Yet truth means more than knowledge: the purpose of knowing the truth is to know the good. This is also the meaning of Socratic enquiry: What is the good which makes us true? The truth makes us good and the good is true: this is the optimism that shapes the Christian faith, because this faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, of creative Reason which, in God’s incarnation, revealed itself as the Good, as Goodness itself."

Benedict XVI La Sapienza Address, 2008 in Pope Benedict XVI, A Reason Open to God, Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2013, 23-24.
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